• Published 6th Mar 2012
  • 12,686 Views, 450 Comments

The Risks of Braving a Storm - Wintergreen Diaries

Storm Blitz, a massive pegasus, comes to Ponyville after his grandfather dies.

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Not So Proud

Chapter 17: Not So Proud

“What in Equestria are you doing here?!?” Proud cried as Storm approached, leaping upright and painfully banging his legs on the table. Storm met his glare with his own, and the two ponies stood staring in silence for a time while the rest of the dinner guests watched. Proud Skies always put his career and his image first, so who was this stallion that could throw him off balance by simply being in the same room?

“I see you have taken the place of honor at the head of the table as usual, Proud Skies. However, I have two additional guests tonight, so I’m going to have to ask you to yield your seat to Storm Blitz.” The whispers of the other dinner guests only fueled Proud’s fury, and Storm suddenly understood why the princess wanted him here as “entertainment.” Adopting a regal countenance Storm swaggered over to where Proud was standing, not having moved an inch and towered over him, dangerously narrowing his eyes.

“Correct me if I am wrong, but when the Princess requests you move, you move.” Proud stomped over to the other side of the table and sat across from the pair, another pony making room for the couple as they sat down together.

“Hey, Storm, is that who I think it is?” Rainbow Dash whispered, motioning towards the glowering pony.

“Aye, that’s my nemesis, Proud Skies,” Storm murmured as they were served, the princess’ arrival signalling the start of dinner.

“So I can beat the stuffing out of him now, right?” Storm shot her an adoring smile as he brought his glass to his mouth, taking a long draught before shaking his head slowly.

“As much as I’d love to see that,” he started with a low chuckle, “the Princess did say we were not to hurt anypony. Not physically, anyways. And if there’s one thing that he values most, it’s his pride. Hitting that will almost assuredly last much longer than any physical trauma we could ever inflict. Got any ideas?”

“Oh, I’ll think of something, rest assured,” she replied as a devious grin spread across her face, eyes glinting as she turned off her self control and let her mischievousness have free reign. She did have to be careful, as any action too irate and any statement too crass would simply backfire back onto them. She began threading through various subjects in her mind as she chewed thoughtfully on the gourmet cuisine. “Hmmm, I still prefer a nice stir fry,” she muttered under her breath before again turning her mind back to the pony furiously making his way through his meal across from them.

Proud allowed himself a quick, scathing glare in Celestia’s direction, his mind reeling as he attempted to find a way to redeem the situation. He had hoped to use this time as a chance to win new supporters for his campaign, as most everypony present were among the undecided. They simply followed the flock, and if he could distinguish himself before Celestia, then it would make his victory in the upcoming elections of Cloudspire all but guaranteed. Steeling his nerves he set down his glass and turned towards the Princess.

“So, Princess Celestia, I assume you looked over my proposal for Cloudspire’s reform?”

“I did, all seven copies you sent me,” she replied, her dull tone carrying her utter disinterest to everypony in the room.

“You’ll forgive me for being efficient, your majesty. I seem to recall you losing my documents countless times,” he countered, his inference all too clear and causing a murmur as the other ponies acknowledged his boldness. He allowed himself a slight smile as Celestia seemingly stalled, lifting her glass to her mouth slowly and taking a sip.

“I cannot help that my desk is consistently piled high with a myriad of other proposals every bit as valid as yours. And as for your most recent plan, well, I for one do not approve. The tax suggested would hit the ponies with the least bits the hardest, while offering no real return to the lower class. Additionally, it would effectively lock everypony into whatever strata they currently reside in, with no hope for advancement and only the ability to fall. Is that what you wish?”

Proud Skies scrambled for a response. While that is exactly what was ultimately intended, the way the Princess has spun it cast him in a poor light, even if nopony present would be personally affected.

“On the contrary, Celestia. If my bill were approved, then everypony would have their proper place, with nopony being greater than another. Equality, if you will.” It was a lie, of course, but it sounded good, and to anypony who didn’t know better they would be forced to reconsider Celestia’s words.

“Hey, Storm, do you have any idea what he’s talking about?” Rainbow Dash asked in a low voice.

“No idea, but the Princess doesn’t look too happy about it. Let’s throw him off a bit, shall we? When I take a drink, brush my side with your wing.” Rainbow Dash nodded, and as Storm filled his mouth the sudden tickling sensation caused him to gleefully spray the contents all over Proud’s face. The politician immediately jumped upright, livid as Storm sputtered, having actually inhaled some as he laughed.

“My apologies, Proud Skies. Henceforth, I shall take proper care while drinking.”

“Here, have a napkin to get yourself presentable,” Celestia said calmly, her ability to cram her laughter deep inside perfected over a millennium of dealing with the bureaucracy. Proud snatched it out of the air and cleaned his face, sitting slowly and locking eyes with Storm.

“You’d best watch yourself. I have little patience with colts who don’t know their place.” To his intense chagrin Storm snickered freely at the statement. “Is something funny, Storm Blitz?”

“Oh, I just found the irony of being asked if I knew my place quite humorous, seeing as I am seated beside the Princess as a guest of honor. Do not worry, I am well aware of my position,” he replied calmly, lifting his glass and draining it, signaling one of the servants for a refill.

“Can I have a turn?” Rainbow Dash pleaded, eyes shining with anticipation. If it was appropriate, he would have kissed her right then and there, her eagerness to jump into the fray something he found quite appealing. She was, in fact, terrified of Proud, but she wasn’t about to let him walk away with even a shred of pride after what he had done to Storm and his family.

“My, Proud Skies, when was the last time you groomed your wings? They look simply dreadful,” Rainbow declared, adopting a tone befitting an upper class mare and sounding very much like the only posh pony Storm knew that was even slightly tolerable. “The ones towards the outer edges are frayed and look like they haven’t been washed in ages. I, for one, find it quite horrifying that you would present yourself to her Highness, Princess Celestia, in such a manner.”

“You would dare speak to me that way? You little mongrel, you are but a foal!” he shouted, and then quailed as Celestia immediately stood upright.

“It would do you well not to shout at my guests, Proud Skies. I find it most rude,” she growled, her scowl instilling fear in everypony present, even Rainbow Dash and Storm to a certain extent.

“Wings are for flying and nothing more, mare,” he muttered, applying himself to his meal. Rainbow Dash fought to retain her regal poise as she launched her next arrow.

“Well, you do the Princess’ entertainment a grave disservice. Why, just this afternoon she enjoyed a simply marvelous race presented by the Wonderbolts, who I assure you have found better uses for their wings than simple flight. I also perceive by the dreadful condition of your feathers that you certainly must live alone as well.”

“What exactly are you inferring, miss whoever you are?”

“Oh dear, where are my manners. I am Rainbow Dash, a name you would do well to remember. Why, just last year I saved the lives of three of the Wonderbolts at the Junior Fliers Competition in Cloudsdale. They even personally invited me to be their guests at the Grand Galloping Gala.” Storm couldn’t help but be impressed with how she was playing the audience. This mare was not just sticking it to Proud but glorifying herself without coming across as arrogant, endearing herself in the eyes of everypony there.

“You deserve this, Proud Skies,” Storm mouthed across the table as Rainbow Dash continued.

“Now, as I was saying, any pegasus with a single drop of passion would know that wings are also good for this,” she declared before turning to Storm and planting a tremendous and unexpected smooch on his face. He immediately gave in and reciprocated, their wings shooting out full stretch. As cries of shock sounded from the dinner guests arose, Proud whirled on Celestia.

“You would dare let such behavior go by in your presence, Your Highness?” It was then that Luna entered, taking the situation at a glance and smiling sweetly.

“Tis a wonderful display of affection, is it not? You could stand to learn some tenderness yourself, Proud Skies,” she replied cheerfully, sitting next to her sister who gave her an approving nod. “Sister, I thought myself cunning until I entered and beheld what thou hast wrought, tonight. Truly, thou art devious,” she mumbled out of the corner of her mouth, to which Celestia quickly raised her chalice and took a long drink to stem the laughter which threatened to boil over, having been building with every word Rainbow Dash spoke. Storm couldn’t help but beam as Rainbow Dash continued, showing no mercy or signs of stopping.

“I realize that ponies do gossip, but I heard that your lovely wife was recently seen cavorting with a rather dashing stallion in Ponyville, is this true?” A fresh wave of chatter sounded from the other guests as they cast disapproving glances at Proud, his face quickly turning red as the fury rose to dangerous limits. “Perhaps such a travesty could have been avoided if you learned more uses for your wings,” Dash said with a coy smile, eliciting low chuckles all around.

“That mare could sleep with a hundred stallions for all I care,” he grit out, his eyes blazing with hatred.

“Oh my, you would dare insinuate that your wife is loose? That’s not befitting a gentlecolt such as yourself, though perhaps if you had taken lessons from her stallion she may have found your presence more satisfactory.”

“Wow, if you can’t manage your own household, don’t you think it’s a little forward to run for mayor of Cloudspire?” Storm added in, adopting a thoughtful expression. With a howl of anguish for his shattered pride, Proud leapt over the table and slammed his hoof into Storm’s face, who fell to the ground, chuckling softly.

“Guards, restrain him!” Celestia shouted, and Proud found himself immediately pinned against the wall as both princesses approached, their withering glares quelling his anger into silence.

“Heh, just like old times, eh Proud?” He began to struggle against the guards until Celestia slammed a hoof into the stone floor, the sound resounding through the chamber and again causing no small amount of fear on Proud’s part.

“I let you into my castle, feed you, give you lodging and put up with your prattle, and you have the audacity to strike one of my guests?” Rainbow Dash shuddered as Celestia spoke, her voice dangerously soft.

“But they,” he started weakly before screwing his eyes shut.

“SILENCE, KNAVE!” Luna bellowed, everypony but the guards and Celestia cringing. “...my sister speaks,” she concluded, nodding to her sister.

“Thank you, Luna,” she said with a smile before turning back to Proud Skies. “I have put up with you enough for a day. Guards, please escort Mr. Skies out of the castle.”

“Don’t think this is over, Storm Blitz! I’ll get you for this, you and that blasted mare!” he shouted as he was hauled unceremoniously out of the banquet hall and tossed out of the castle grounds.

“I’m terribly sorry about his behaviour, Storm. Are you all right?” Celestia asked, hiding a smile.

“I would have taken a hundred more to see him like that. Thank you for inviting us to dinner, Princess,” Storm replied, bowing low. The dinner guests nodded their approval as the four walked back to their places and resumed their meal. As the evening sky darkened the princess beckoned them close as the last of the dinner guests filed out, paying their respects and retiring to wherever they were staying in Canterlot.

“Thank you for indulging my request. As an additional reward for an outstanding performance, I would like to offer you the best guest room at the castle.” Storm had already made reservations at a prestigious hotel, but nothing could beat a stay at the castle.

“We would be most honored, your Highness.” Rainbow Dash nodded eagerly and the two princesses led them up to Twilight’s old room, the lavish interior being far and above anything that the hotel could have provided. The massive bed was a brilliant blue, almost matching his fillyfriend’s coat, and an ornate canopy stretched over the hoof carved frame.

“I have some matters to attend to, so I must bid you both good night. Do join me for breakfast in the morning, would you?” Celestia said as she turned to go.

“Uh, your Highness? There’s only one bed,” Storm pointed out.

“Oh, I’m sure that you will figure out an acceptable solution,” Luna said with a grin, and the two sisters left. It wasn’t very late, and Storm passed the time chatting with Rainbow Dash, both of them ignoring the coming evening of awkwardness. The conversation suddenly jumped to the issues of family and childhood, and he noticed an immediate change in Rainbow Dash’s eyes, the laughter and joy slowly draining from her features.

“Dash, did I say something wrong?”

“No, it’s just... I don’t have any good memories of growing up.” Storm immediately sat beside her on the bed, and she took a deep breath before continuing. “Like I said before, I never knew my parents... I grew up in a foster home in Cloudsdale, and Mayor Mare pulled some strings to get me my house when I turned thirteen. I didn’t get along with my adoptive parents, who constantly told me that I’d never have a chance at being in the Wonderbolts... That I needed to be realistic...”

Storm couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “I tried giving up, Storm. I tried becoming the daughter they wanted, but it just made me hurt worse. I couldn’t betray myself or my dreams, so I took the only other option; I forced myself to be strong, even though I didn’t feel like I had anything at all. To prove to everypony that I could do it...”

“Rainbow Dash? Are you...” he started before she buried her face into his chest, her facade crumbling as tears rolled down her muzzle.

“Do you know... what it’s like to never feel the freedom to let your guard down? I was on my own, I couldn’t ease up, even for a moment! So I forced myself to be strong, to toughen up and stand against anypony who would challenge me. But I wasn’t always like that, and there’s still a piece of me that wants to... be a fragile child, just for a moment. To feel a parent’s acceptance for who I am...” Even as she knew she couldn’t hope to quell the tides raging against her eyes, she fought it regardless, the word she let escape seeming too trite to be of any meaning.

“...Let it all out, Dash,” Storm whispered, pulling her close and enfolding her in his wings. Her body quaked as years of unspoken fears and frustration poured forth upon his coat. “Even if nopony else ever does, know that I accept you as you are, all of you. Not just the strong, energetic side, but the weak and frightened side too. Please, don’t ever feel you have to hide it from me...” She wanted to speak, to thank him, something to show just how much those words meant, but she couldn’t coax any movement out of her limbs.

Her body wide tremors continued even after the last of the tears had fallen, and Storm decided that she could use a dream coming true. He scooped her seemingly weightless frame into his arms and entered the bathroom, setting her in a sitting position under the shower nozzle.

“Storm, what are you...” she started before letting out a small gasp as she was drenched by a gentle spray of cold water. Storm climbed in and sat underneath the water beside her for a moment before drawing her close and stopping with his mouth just a hair away from hers.

“Here’s your waterfall, as promised,” he whispered, gently stroking her tear stained face before wrapping her in his arms and kissing her passionately under the soothingly cold downpour. They held their position for a while before retreating to the bed, where they continued. The sensations were new to both of them, and Storm hesitated for a moment before Rainbow Dash gently eased her wings onto his, brushing them softly. She pulled away and moaned softly as his massive black wings wrapped around her, the blue of her coat making the pink blush that much more evident. He was about to pull them away, afraid that he had gone too far when she spread her wings out against his own, pressing firmly and stroking gently. She rolled him over onto his side and lay next to him, caressing his muscular flanks with a hoof as he did the same. Storm’s eyes filled with tears as she pulled away and gently lay a hoof on his face, her smile filling him with a joy he never believed possible.

“Storm, you’re the only colt for me, now and forever. I will never leave you, so please... stay with me.”

“Always shall I be by your side, Rainbow Dash.”