• Published 17th Dec 2013
  • 502 Views, 13 Comments

The Big Orange - Lexomancer

Celestia sends Twilight to Manehattan for some hooves on experience being a princess. Rainbow Dash comes along to make sure that Twilight gets used to her new wings. However, sompony thinks that she's supposed to teach Twilight to fly...

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The Mended Spine

"What in the hay do you mean, I can't come in?" Dash asked angrily. She wasn't shouting, but she wasn't talking either.

"I'm sorry miss, but I believe the meaning is obvious," the guard replied, as he eyed the three ponies in front of him.

The four friends had woken up that morning, and eaten a luxurious breakfast (courtesy of Mayor Rook's pocketbook). Pinkie Pie had babbled something about searching for castanets, Rainbow Dash's train of thought, and acquiring more cupcakes, before disappearing as only she could.

Twilight, Dash, and Applejack had come down to the training facility so that Twilight could get some practice in. That, is when the morning had turned south. The stocky pegasus security guard refused to admit Rainbow Dash into the the large hanger like building.

Twilight looked between the guard and Dash. "It's okay Dash, we can go do something else."

"I appreciate what you're saying Twi," Dash said. "But I'm not going to put you in that position." She took a deep breath. "Princess Celestia sent you here to learn to fly. Go on in, I'll be fine."

Twilight wasn't convinced. "Princess Celestia also said that you were supposed to be my teacher."

"'Sides," added Applejack, "Ah'm not so fond of ponies that are so exclusive."

Twilight looked at the tall buildings that surrounded them. "You can teach me to fly out here."

Dash gave a very dry smile. "I wasn't kidding when I said these facilities were top notch." She then glanced at the tall buildings around them. "Besides, these buildings act as a wind funnel. They are the last place a beginner should learn to fly."

Twilight decided not to question Dash on this point. She still felt uneasy leaving her friend outside, however. "I'll go talk to Captain Squall right now, and sort this out."

The guard shook his head. "You wont be able to talk to him right now. There is an exhibition race later this week against the Las Pegasus Harlequins; he's in meetings with public officials until much later in the day."

"Would I be able to schedule an appointment with him?" Princess Sparkle asked. "This is very important."

"Almost definitely," the guard replied. "It wouldn't be until much later in the day, though."

I can't believe I'm saying this, thought Rainbow Dash. "Just go get your training done for the day, and talk to the Captain later. I'll be fine." It'll kill me inside, but other than that fine.

It wasn't the first time Twilight had seen Dash put her friends first, but she could hardly believe that she was going to let this go.

"Are you sure?" Twilight winced as she asked the question. It sounded weak to her, but what else could she say?

"I'll keep her company," Applejack said. "You go get a flyin'..." She trailed off as the guard cleared his throat into his hoof. "Ya' have a cold there, pardner?" The country pony asked.

"Actually, I believe Vice-Captain Cloud wanted to speak with you, Miss Applejack." For such a big stallion, the guard looked surprisingly sheepish as he said this.

"Aww, seriously?" Rainbow Dash was incredulous.

"Yeah," added Applejack. "What gives?"

The guard looked sadly at Dash. "I'm truly sorry, but I don't give the orders, I just enforce them."

"Whatever," Dash growled. "You two go, I'll be fine." After assuring her friends that she would indeed be fine, Rainbow Dash watched them disappear into the building. Without a second word to the guard, Dash took off, leaving a distinct contrail in her wake.

As soon as she stepped through the door, Twilight ran into a familiar face. Literally.

"Ow," the other pony grunted, taking a step backwards down the hallway to steady herself.

"Ohmigosh," Twilight cried as she saw the other pony grab her muzzle in hoof. "Are you all right? I'm so sorry."

Lorain shook her head, and then seemed to notice who exactly she ran into. "Your highness," she said with a slight bow. "Completely my fault. I should watch where I'm walking."

Twilight's eye twitched slightly. She took a deep breath. "So what's first on the training schedule today?" Twilight cringed as she imagined what Stygian horrors she would be exposed to today.

"Stretching," Lorain said.

"Stretching?" Twilight took a deep breath of relief. That doesn't sound too bad. "I can do that."

Lorain smiled. "Good to hear princess. I'll show you where you will begin stretching."

"You won't be stretching with me?" Confusion was evident in Twilight's tone.

"Not at first, I need a brief word with Miss Applejack."

"But what about my..." Twilight fluttered her wings nervously.

"Stretch everything else first, then I'll show you how to stretch your wings," Lorain said.

Lorain led the two ponies down several flights of stairs, and through a maze of boring grey hallways. She stopped in front of a door no different from dozens that they had passed. "This is the place, your highness," Lorain said to Twilight. "If you'd care to get started in here, I'll only be a moment."

Twilight walked into the room and blinked. Why are we in a classroom, she wondered. Oh it was lacking desks, and the school foals nervously awaiting the start of class. Those elements aside, it could have been any classroom Twilight had been in before, from the light fixtures, to the chalk board, to the brand of chalk. White lightning, that brings back memories. Twilight shook herself out of her daydream. Focus, she commanded herself. With that she began to stretch.

True to her word, Lorain entered the room before Twilight had even finished stretching. Lorain joined her for the finishing leg stretches, and afterward showed Twilight several ways to stretch out her flight muscles. Lorain then gave Twilight a notebook, emblazoned with the cyclones logo, a grey tornado.

"Today, Princess Sparkle," Lorain said. "We will be going over vital information. If we get all that covered, to my satisfaction we might even get to some flying today."

Twilight's eye twitched, yet again at the mention of her title.

"So, your highness," Lorain continued, "When was the last time you brushed your horn?"

"This morning," Twilight answered instantly. "Right before I brushed my mane."

"Do you do this every morning?" was Lorain's follow up question.

"Yes," Twilight answered, unsure what this question had to do with flying.

Lorian looked Twilight in the eyes. "Would you ever skip a morning?"

Twilight was affronted. "Never."

"Why?" Asked Lorain.

Twilight felt like she was back in Mrs Catterbarks class. "Because proper horn care is vital, for a unicorn's magic." Twilight took a breath before continuing. "If one does not properly maintain the focus for their power, it becomes harder and more dangerous to cast spells, especially as the difficulty of the spells increase."

"Very good," Lorain said, obviously happy with what she had heard. "Now, when was the last time you preened your wings?"

"Uhhhhhhhhh," Twilight could not recall.

Lorain shook her head. "Your answer Princess Sparkle, from this day forth, should be, either 'This morning,' or something more recent. Just as proper horn-care is vital to magic," Lorain continued, "So is preening to flight." Lorain smiled. "Which brings us to today's topic; proper procedures for grooming your wings."

Rainbow Dash wasn't certain how many times she flew past 'The Mended Spine' before realizing it was a book store.

Dash was frustrated. Not at her friends; Twilight had a lot on her plate right now. Gaining wings and becoming an alicorn, being made royalty, almost losing an element of harmony. For the same reasons, she didn't blame Applejack for going with Twilight. Twi gets a bit crazy when too many things go haywire at once, Dash thought.

No, Rainbow dash was frustrated with one pony in particular. She thinks she's so special because she's vice-captain of the Cyclones Dash thought. Ha! Vain is more like it. What non-unicorn takes enough time to braid her mane every morning?

Dash pushed thoughts of Lorain from her head, as she pushed open the door to The Mended Spine. I need a good book, thought Dash, as she failed to notice the tinkling bell attached to the door. One word filled her head, Wow.

The store's walls were bookshelves, each crammed to bursting with different tomes. Their variation in size and color made her mane seem boring. The state of the books showed just as much variety. Some looked ancient, while others seemed brand new.

It's as if the entire Golden Oaks Library was crammed into this room, thought Rainbow Dash. In the back corner she noticed a register and a counter. Both looked like after thoughts. Behind the counter on the opposite side from the store front, was a curtained doorway.

"I'm coming," a muffled voice called through the drapes. A pale green unicorn brushed aside the curtains, and stepped up to the counter. Rainbow Dash caught a glimpse of his cutie mark, a closed leather bound book. "Tell, me," he asked. "From where does the moon rise in these parts?"

"The east," Rainbow Dash said. That's a weird question.

The shop keeper smiled. "That was my answer too. Some drifter asked me that the other day. Completely floored me." The unicorn the pointed to himself. "Xander O'Phil, at your service. What brings you to the mended spine today."

"I'm looking for a book to read," Dash said, as she eyed the shelves. "You don't happen to have anything by Scorching Quill, do you?"

"Big fan of his work myself," Xander acknowledged. "I'm afraid I don't currently have any of his books in stock." He gestured at the shelves surrounding them. "This is a used bookstore, and most ponies don't ever get rid of his work."

Dash nodded. "Yeah, I understand why."

Xander thought for a moment, before grabbing a good sized novel off of a shelf near the counter. "If you like his style, might I recommend the Anika Beck series, by E. Rook?"

Dash thought for a moment. "I've never heard of him before."

"He's not as widely read as Scorching Quill," said Xander. "but, I find his tales just as engaging."

"What's it about?"

"A young Policemare, Anika Beck, is the main character," Xander said. "It's a mystery series, and I just so happen to have the first book right here."

"Interesting, How much for the book?" Dash asked.

Before Xander could respond, the bell chimed. A faint gust of wind blew through the shop.

"Just a moment, miss," Xander said. Turning to the newcomer, "Glad to see you're back from your deliveries. I just finished the custom binding for Silkie Flair's copy of 'Beck and Call' and 'Death Beckons'. Could you take it over now?"

Rainbow Dash turned around to see who he was talking to. She saw a familiar grey-blue foal, with empty saddle bags.

"Jet?" she asked.

Jet grinned and nodded. He then gave dash a bro hoof. His eyes then fell on the book sitting on the counter. He pointed at it, then at himself. He repeated the action several times.

"Are you sure?" Xander asked.

Jet nodded furiously, and then walked around the counter and into the back of the store. He disappeared momentarily through the curtains, before reemerging, this time with noticeably fuller saddle bags. He touched his helmet in salute to Dash, before exiting through the door.

Dash looked at Xander. "Does Jet work here?" she asked.

"Oh indeed," Xander said vigorously. "My nephew is the best delivery pony I've ever had. He's fast as the wind on that scooter of his, and completely reliable. He's worth every bit," Xander paused for a second. "More in fact, but his dad wouldn't let me pay that much. How do you know him?"

"Oh I met him and a couple of his friends by the train station yesterday," Dash said. She went on to explain how she knew Babs.

"Did you sign his signature book?" asked Xander.

"Yeah," Dash answered slowly. "Why?"

"He floated home last night," grinned Xander. "He was happy, because his hero had signed his signature book."

Rainbow Dash blushed. "Anything for a future flier."

Xander was thoughtful. "That explains why he wanted to pay for your book?"

"Huh?" Dash couldn't believe it. "That's sweet and all, but-"

"Don't worry about it," Xander said. "I won't dock his pay. I'll give you the book."


Xander was adamant. "It's perfect; he still earns money, and I don't feel like a tightwad."

"But-" Dash was at a loss for words. "Your shop-"

"Meh." Xander rolled his eyes. "I make all my money in restoration anyway. I have a contract with the museum."

Dash didn't know what to say. Thankfully Xander did.

"In fact," he said with pride, "You should see what I was commissioned to do to a Daring Do book. I can't sell it to you," he added quickly. "But I would love to see what a fellow fan thinks."

It's the least I can do, she thought. "Sure."

With that, Xander led her behind the counter to the doorway. "Step into my work shop," he said.