• Published 13th Mar 2012
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Double-edged Sword - fic Write Off



/fic/ Write Off Mar 10 Entries

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Minotamed

“Bath time, Angel!”

Fluttershy smiled eagerly at the rabbit before her, hoping that he’d go upstairs without a fight just this once. No such luck. Angel stood there, crossing his arms in defiance.

“Angel…” Fluttershy warned, giving the bunny one last chance. His sour expression didn’t budge. Frowning, Fluttershy took a deep breath, widening her eyes into the expression that would strike fear into any creature’s heart.

The Stare’s effect was immediate. Angel gulped, quickly scampering to the staircase. Fluttershy turned off her stare and smiled, watching as her animal friend hurriedly hopped up the stairs to the restroom. “Please start the bath water,” Fluttershy called. “I’ll be up after I get you a towel.”

Fluttershy trotted over towards the closet under her staircase, humming to herself. Angel may still have been a rebellious little critter, but Iron Will’s recent motivating had inspired Fluttershy to make use of her talent more often. If Angel acted up, the Stare quickly moved him to comply. It’s nice having a way to care for Angel, Fluttershy told herself as she opened her closet, digging through its contents for the fluffy pink towel she knew was buried somewhere. Without turning into that… monster, she continued, shuddering at the thought.

Bam!

Fluttershy squeaked, diving into her closet and slamming the door behind her. She landed face first on something fluffy. Oh, there’s that towel I was looking fo- She shook her head, scrambling up and pushing herself against the wall. What was that noise? It sounded like somepony was breaking into my house! Thoughts of what it could be ran through her mind, growing progressively worse. A burglar… a lion… or w-what if… it’s a d-dragon!

Klck.

The jingling of the closet’s doorknob scared her out of her panicked reverie. Fluttershy scooted as far into the wall as she could, shivering. Whatever it was, she was about to find out. The door creaked open slowly, moving outward to reveal…

“Huh. Does Iron Will want to know what’s going on?”

Fluttershy let out the breath she was holding in, holding a hoof to her chest. “Oh, my… you scared me, Mr. Will.” Something clicked in her mind. “Wait… if you don’t mind me asking, what are you doing here?”

Iron Will stood there, an eyebrow arched up as he held the door open wide. “Iron Will was getting to that,” he stated. “But he’s more worried about why you’re shivering in the corner of your closet with a towel over your head.”

Fluttershy felt her head, pulling off the fluffy drape she’d wrapped around it. She giggled nervously, letting Iron Will make way for her to flutter out of the closet. “That’s, uh… not important. No worries. What brings you here?” she asked, eyeing her living room. Iron Will had brought company with him; the goats scrambling around and checking out her home proved that. “And them too, I suppose…”

“Why is Iron Will here?” he asked, jabbing a finger in Fluttershy’s face. “I’ll tell you! Iron Will is here because he has a proposition for you!”

Fluttershy scratched at her mane, already remembering the last proposition he’d made. Just weeks ago, he’d offered to train her to assert herself, and if she wasn’t completely satisfied, the training was free. It had helped her in the end, but it just wasn’t worth the cruel pony that she turned into. “Well… I can’t guarantee I can help with that, but I’ll listen. What is it?”

Iron Will looked back and forth shiftily, paying specific attention to the goats. He leaned forward, motioning for Fluttershy to move in closer and listen. “Ya see,” he whispered, “Iron Will remembered you from that whole deal a couple weeks back. I’m not exactly happy about losing the money, but I can respect a levelheaded mare like you.”

“Levelheaded?” Fluttershy repeated. “Me?”

“Yes, you!” he shouted. He caught the goat’s staring at him, and he lowered his voice back down. “Yes, you. Ya see, before Iron Will worked his magic on you, you were a weak, gentle, kind little critter. And that is what Iron Will wants you to make him!”

Fluttershy blinked. “I… huh… what?”

“Ya see, Iron Will likes who he is.” To prove his point, he flexed, striking a pose. “Who wouldn’t? But there’s one thing that bothers me.”

“What’s that?”

“Well,” he said, breaking his pose to lean in again, “Iron Will’s… hrm… abrasive behavior tends to scare some ponies away. Makes it a bit hard to make friends, ya know?”

Fluttershy peeked behind her, noting the goats that were currently making themselves at home. “What about them? Aren’t they your friends?”

“Them? They’re the best coworkers a minotaur could ask for! But, uh…” Iron Will pointed towards the goats, a black one trying to eat Fluttershy’s couch in particular. “They aren’t exactly the best at conversation, if you catch my drift.”

“Well, I have a bunch of animal friends,” Fluttershy commented. “You don’t exactly need conversation.”

“Like I said, they’re great coworkers, but Iron Will wants somepony he can actually hang out with. Get it?”

“I suppose…” Fluttershy said, nodding. “Well then, I suppose I can help you. When do you want to start?”

Iron Will snapped his fingers. The goat trying to devour Fluttershy’s couch stood up, quickly grabbing a scroll from the bag at his side. He trotted over, handing it off to the minotaur. “Let’s see,” Iron Will muttered, unrolling the parchment. “According to my schedule, I have an opening…” With warning, Iron Will tore the paper to shreds, letting the confetti fall down to the floor. “Now.”

“Oh, uh…” Fluttershy eyed the scraps on her floor. That’d have to be cleaned up later. “Well, my bunny is waiting for a bath upstairs. If it’s okay with you, could you wait outside until I’m done?”

Iron Will gave her a thumbs up. “No problemo, teach. C’mon, fellas, you heard her!” With that, Iron Will leapt up, diving over Fluttershy’s head. She squeaked, turning back in time to watch Iron Will somersault out the door. The goats followed after him, spitting out whatever furniture they’d happened to be munching on.

“Don’t keep Iron Will waiting!” The minotaur called, grabbing Fluttershy’s door. “No, seriously, don’t.” He slammed the door shut, making the house rock. Fluttershy gulped, noting that she’d have to make some repairs to her living room later.

I hope this is the right decision, she thought. I guess we’ll see… Fluttershy grabbed the towel from where she dropped it, heading upstairs to give her animal friend a far-too-delayed bath.


She found Iron Will outside her house, doing push-ups to pass the time. He got up when he heard her coming and, on her request, sent his coworkers home. They bleated in recognition, trotting down the path away from her house. “Alright then,” Iron Will began, “where do we start?”

Fluttershy had to think hard on that one. A pony like her was more suited to being the student, rather than the teacher. At last, she settled on a simple first lesson. “Follow me, please.”

She trotted off, making sure Iron Will followed. The minotaur followed her as she moved around her house, heading towards the back yard. Fluttershy let out a whistle, looking around expectantly. A moment later, something rustled in the bushes. A little black bunny hopped out, sniffing the air cautiously. It hopped over to the duo, stopping to let Fluttershy pat his head.

“This is Gingersnaps,” Fluttershy commented. “He’ll help us out with her first lesson.”

“And what’s that?”

“Oh, um…” Fluttershy tapped her head, thinking. “Oh, I know! ‘There’s no need to use force. Just do things calmly, of course!”

Iron Will stroked his chin. “Okay, so what do you want Iron Will to do?”

“Something simple,” Fluttershy stated. “Befriend this bunny. Show me what you would do, if you would.”

“Befriend the bunny, huh?” Iron Will muttered. “Sounds simple enough.” He motioned for Fluttershy to move aside, waiting patiently for her to comply. He leaned down low, getting down to Gingersnaps’ level. Taking a deep breath, he began.

You there!” he roared, jamming a finger right into the bunny’s face, “how would you like the honor of being best buds with the king of confidence, the professor of pride, Iron Will?

Gingersnaps yelped, darting towards Fluttershy and hiding behind her forelegs. Fluttershy held the rabbit close, soothing it. “No, no, Mr. Will, that’s not how you do it. Watch me.” Fluttershy set the rabbit down gently, trotting over to her garden. She found what she was looking for, plucking a plump carrot from the soil. She went back to the rabbit, leaning down.

“Hey there, little fella,” she cooed. “Would you like a nice treat?” She dropped the carrot in front of the bunny, stepping back to let him inspect it. The bunny gingerly sniffed the vegetable before picking it up and nibbling on it. Fluttershy stepped forward and patted his head, watching as Gingersnaps stopped eating long enough to nuzzle into her hoof. “See?”

Iron Will shrugged. “I guess. Let Iron Will have a go.” The minotaur waited patiently as Fluttershy went and got him his own carrot. Supplied with the treat, he approached the bunny again, who notably shrunk back. “Hey there, uh… little fella. Want this?”

Gingersnaps’ nervousness slowly faded. He looked up at the minotaur, nodding quickly. “Alright then, here ya go. Wait, hold on a second.” Iron Will raised the carrot to his mouth, taking a huge bite. He dropped the remains at the bunny’s feet, wiping his hands.

He caught Fluttershy looking at his disapprovingly. “What? Iron Will was hungry.”

“Friends don’t promise their friends gifts and then take them away,” Fluttershy scolded. “Just look,” she said, pointing towards Gingersnaps. The rabbit had kicked the mostly-devoured treat away, retreating to the shelter of Fluttershy’s embrace again.

“Oh,” Iron Will muttered. “My bad.”

Fluttershy sighed. “It’s fine… but I think we should move on lesson two.” The pegasus set her animal friends down, watching him scamper back into the bushes. “Alright then, this way.” With that, she started down the path towards Ponyville.


They’d made it halfway to town when Fluttershy deviated from the trail. She headed into the nearby field, and Iron Will followed behind curiously. Soon, they reached a bunch of burrows, with gentle snoring coming from within them.

“What’s this?” Iron Will asked.

“It’s where the ferrets live.” Fluttershy stepped towards the closest burrow. “But they’re a teeny bit lazy sometimes… so I check in sometimes to help them wake up. And that’s where lesson two comes in: ‘No need to start a riot, just learn to be quiet‘. I’ll go first this time, watch.”

Fluttershy stuck her head into the burrow, squinting in the darkness. Spotting a silhouette at the end of the burrow, she called out in the gentlest voice possible. “Wakey wakey sleepyheads, it’s time to get up.” The silhouette shifted. “That’s it, I know you can do it. Rise and shine.”

The darkened object split apart and moved towards Fluttershy, revealing itself to be a couple ferrets. They yawned and stretched their legs, stepping outside when Fluttershy moved out of the way. “See? Nothing to it. Now then,” Fluttershy said, pointing to the next burrow, “it’s your turn. Wake them up gently, please.”

Nodding, Iron Will stepped to the next little cave. Kneeling down, he barely managed to stick his head into the little burrow. Spotting his target, he called out to them. “Get up! The early bird gets the worm, you lumps! Iron Will wants you up now!

The ferrets shot up with a squeak, frantically pawing at the back of their cave. Within seconds, they’d extended the burrow by at least a foot, and were still going. Feeling a tap on his shoulder, Iron Will pulled out of the burrow. “Did Iron Will do it, teach?”

“Not exactly…” Fluttershy pointed to the rest of the burrows. Ferrets were in the process of fleeing from every single one of them. “The goal was to wake the critters, not cause a stampede. And it looks like we don’t have any creatures left for you to try to wake up…”

Iron Will scratched the back of his head. “Oops. Well, what’s next?”

“It looks like we’ll have to step it up a little,” Fluttershy stated. “This time, we’re going into town.”


“The Ponyville general store?”

Fluttershy nodded. “Yep, this is the place.”

Iron Will shrugged. “You’re the teacher. What’s Iron Will supposed to do?”

“Lesson three,” Fluttershy started. “’There’s no need to fight, be polite’.”

“Iron Will gets to fight someone?!”

“No, no, no,” Fluttershy said. “For now, this lesson is simple. See that door?”

Iron Will eyed the clear-glass front door of the building. “Yeah. You want me to kick it down?”

“No!” Fluttershy let out a nervous cough. “I mean, uh… no. I want you to hold it open.”

Iron Will stared at her blankly. Finally, with a shrug, he went and tugged the door open. “Alright, now what?”

“Now wait.”

“Huh?” the minotaur asked. But before he could get a response, a young mare and her foal strode in through the open door.

“Thanks!” she called back, leaving the two behind. Iron Will turned back to see his instructor practically beaming with joy.

“You did it!” she announced, clapping her hooves together giddily.

“I did?” Iron Will asked.

“Yep, and now we can move onto the nex-” Fluttershy paused, watching as a couple more shoppers arrived. “Oh, wait, here comes some more.”

Iron Will let the shoppers in, grinning as they tossed back their thanks. He did the same for the next shopper. And the next, and the next, and the next. In fact, the flow of ponies entering and leaving never seemed to stop. “Fluttershy, is it supposed to take this long?”

The pegasus, having been asleep for the past ten minutes, opened her eyes and yawned. “It shouldn’t, I guess...”

“So can Iron Will stop now?”

“No, no, that’d be rude. Just wait here and hold the door open until ponies stop coming, okay? I’ll be back later.”

Iron Will watched the pegasus flutter away. He groaned, switching the arm he was using to hold the door open.


Hours passed, with the flow never quite stemming. Pony after pony came and went, and the door never got a chance to close. Iron Will groaned in frustration, watching as yet another mare came by with her saddlebags ready to be filled with produce. As she approached, the minotaur decided he’d had enough.

Crash!

The mare shrieked as the minotaur slammed the door shut, unaware of his own strength. The glass shattered, forming a scattered pile on the ground. The mare fled, all thoughts of shopping having fled as well. Iron Will winced, eyeing the damage. “Sure hope Fluttershy didn’t see that.”

“Ahem.”

Iron Will winced, turning to face a yellow pegasus, her hooves crossed in front of her. “Uh…”

“I’m sorry to say it, Mr. Will, but you failed.” Fluttershy sighed. “And you’ll probably have to pay for that too… not to mention the fact that it’s too late to continue any teaching tonight.”

Iron Will groaned, rubbing his neck. “Tell me, teach, is Iron Will a lost cause?”

“Oh, no, no, no!” Fluttershy assured him. “In fact, while I was away, I took the time to make this for you with the help of a librarian friend of mine.” The pegasus held out a hoof, a neat little stack of papers stacked on top of it.

Iron Will took the papers, reading the title of the first one: Fluttershy’s Full Guide to Friendship. He flipped through the pages, at least fifty of them, each of them filled with various rules and hints. “I want you to study this,” Fluttershy said. “Study them and take them to heart. Do this for a week, and then get back to me. Alright?”

Iron Will held the papers by his side, saluting the pegasus. “Yes, m’am! Iron Will will not let you down!”

Fluttershy smiled, giving a little salute back. “I don’t think you will, Iron Will.”


After Iron Will left, things were back to normal for the meek little pegasus. Days passed without a word from the minotaur, until exactly a week had gone by. That day, Fluttershy found a letter in her mailbox from her student. It described how Iron Will had studied the rules she’d written, and he’d gotten them down with little difficulty.

Fluttershy had written back, encouraging him to follow those rules and praising him for what he’d accomplished so far. She sent it off, and that was that.

For a time, anyway. One month to the day where she’d began instructing Iron Will, she found herself curious as to how he was doing. Making sure all her animals were well-fed, she set out, taking along with her a cake she’d tried making herself.

An hour’s walk away, Fluttershy found herself approaching the all-too-familiar maze that Iron Will called his home. The vibrant green cornfield stood out amongst the yellowed field, the stalks bending slightly in the breeze. Fluttershy rebalanced the cake on her back, picking up her pace when she spotted Iron Will out front.

But there was more than just Iron Will out front. Many goats were out on the front lawn too, either eating grass, sleeping, or playing cards with each other. Iron Will himself was laying against the entrance- or where the entrance should be, anyway.

“Huh?” Fluttershy breathed. She picked up her pace, gently tiptoeing around the goats to reach her student. “Iron Will, what’s going on?”

Iron Will looked up slowly, smiling widely. “Good morning to ya, teach. What brings you to my humble abode?”

“I came to stop by to see how you were doing, but, uh…” Fluttershy pointed towards the maze. “…Your front door appears to be missing.”

“Oh, that?” Iron Will scoffed. “Eh, it’s fine. Nothing to worry about, friend.”

“Where’d it go?”

“Oh, it just disappeared one day.”

Fluttershy blinked. “…Huh?”

Iron Will idly inspected his fingers. “Well, you were right, your training helped a lot. Iron Will made a ton of friends who actually wanted to be around him! Buuuut, about a week ago, the maze kicked me out and closed off the front door.”

“…What?”

Iron Will looked up from his fingers, arching an eyebrow. “You didn’t know? Minotaur mazes have a mind of their own. They rearrange at will, closing off and opening up any passages they want. That’s why minotaurs live in them, because our gruff nature won’t take any backsass from the maze. We shout at the maze ‘til it gets how we want it, and stays that way.”

“So why aren’t you yelling at it?” Fluttershy asked.

“Because that violates rules two and eighty-seven,” he stated. He raised a finger up, reciting from knowledge: “’No need to start a riot, just learn to be quiet’, as well as ‘No need to be rude, control your attitude‘.”

“Oh… you actually did read that.” Fluttershy giggled, proud that she’d written something good enough for somepony to consider it worth memorize. Her giggling faded as her face filled with concern once more. “Well, don’t you think this is a situation where the rules can be broken? After all, you‘ve been kicked from your own home…”

Iron Will shrugged. “Iron Will doesn’t break the rules, Iron Will respects them. Respect, that was part of rule twenty-six.”

Fluttershy eyed her student up and down, seeing that he wasn’t budging. But I can’t let him just get kicked out of his house, she thought. There must be something I can do…

But maybe there is something, Fluttershy realized. The cake on her back slid slightly as Fluttershy picked up the plate it was on, holding it out in front of her.

Iron Will smiled. “Is that for me? How thoughtful!”

“Yes, it is for you,” Fluttershy assured. “Forgive me for this…”

She slammed the pastry into the minotaur’s face.

Iron Will spluttered, wiping the chocolaty mess from his eyes. “Why’d ya do that?” he asked, grumbling.

“Because you took my lessons to heart far too much!” Fluttershy replied. “While you should strive to be nice, there’s situations where you have to stand up for yourself.” The goats had looked up from their various activities, eyeing the pegasus that had just vandalized their boss. “If you won’t get angry, I’ll have to make you angry.”

Iron Will laughed, wiping away at the cake on his face. “Ha! That’s funny, Fluttershy.” He chuckled more, clearing away the last of the treat. “Hehe… thanks for the cake though, it was pretty darn tasty.”

Fluttershy scowled. Deciding on something else, she pressed her hoof against Iron Will’s nose, using just enough force for it to be noticeably felt.

“What’re you doing that for?” Iron Will asked. “Please cut that out.”

“No.”

“It’s a bit annoying.”

“I know,” Fluttershy assured him.

Iron Will shrugged, leaning back against the maze. “Eh, suit yourself.”

Fluttershy groaned, taking her hoof away. This wasn’t working. There must be some way to unnerve him, Fluttershy pondered. She tapped the ground idly, thinking hard. And then it came to her.

“Huh?” Iron Will muttered, watching as the pegasus stepped forward. She leaned forward, catching his tie in her mouth. With a yank, she ripped it off. “Hey! That was a gift from Momma Iron! Give that back!” He cleared his throat. “Please?”

Fluttershy stood there, watching as the minotaur just laid there with his arm out, waiting for her to return it. With a mumbled apology, she flew up, up over the maze. She picked up the tie in her hooves, aimed, and let the tie fly into the field.

“No!” Iron Will roared, standing up. He watched Fluttershy settle back onto the ground, staring up at him. Iron Will heard himself growl, his face twisting into a scowl. An old rule of his came to mind as he bent down, staring his teacher in the face, “When somepony tries to take… show them they made a mistake!

He roared, sending Fluttershy flying back a few feet. Iron Will watched her try vainly to flap her wings, crashing to the ground instead. The minotaur watched the pegasus pick herself up, shivering a little. And that’s when he heard it.

The maze was laughing. The stalks of corn moved gently as the faintest sound of giggling could be heard from within them. Still ticked off, Iron Will turned, eyeing the maze. “When somepony tries to block, show them that you rock!

He roared again. The maze began shuddering, the laughter from within turning into the faintest gasp. Suddenly, the stalks of corn blocking the entrance began moving, swiftly leaping to the side. Iron Will watched, smiling with satisfaction.

The minotaur felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned, seeing Fluttershy hovering next to him, none too worse for the wear. “Now seal the deal,” she told him.

“Hm?”

“Rule fifty-four.”

“Oh!” Iron Will turned to the maze, saluting. “Thank you.”

The faintest whispering came from within the cornfield. Iron Will stepped back, looking just as confident as ever. His assistants filed past him, heading back into their home in the maze.

“Good job,” Fluttershy praised. “What’d you learn, Mr. Will?”

Iron Will stroked his chin. “That everything you taught me was a bunch of junk?”

“No!” Fluttershy said. “Remember the friends you got from what I said? Don’t you want them and your home?”

“Yeah, that’d be great.”

“Then the lesson here is that you should strive to be kind. But when somepony tries to take advantage of you, it’s perfectly okay to stand up for yourself.” Fluttershy patted Iron Will on the shoulder, smiling. “Within reason.”

“I see,” Iron Will agreed. “You really were the right mare for the job, teach. How can I ever repay ya? How much does Iron Will owe?”

Fluttershy shook her head. “Oh, no need to pay me. The deed was its own reward.”

“Aw, c’mon, I can’t let ya go away empty-hoofed.” Iron Will snapped his fingers. “Aha! Iron Will was going to throw a party before the maze kicked him out, so now he can have it for real! All his new friends are gonna be coming, and I’d be honored if you could come too.”

“A p-party?” Fluttershy repeated. Sure, parties with her friends were some of the most fun things the pegasus had done, but she couldn’t see herself mingling with a bunch of strangers. “No thanks, sorry… but hey, maybe we could just get together and have tea sometime?”

Iron Will extended his hand towards her, giving her a firm hoofshake. “It’s a deal, teach.” He released his grip, walking away. “Iron Will’s gotta go get things back in order,” he stated, waving goodbye.

“Oh, no problem,” Fluttershy called out. “And sorry for the tie!”

“No worries,” Iron Will called back. “Iron Will has fifty of them lying around somewhere.”

Fluttershy blinked, watching the minotaur turn the corner into his maze. She chuckled, satisfied that she’d helped out somepony. Humming to herself, she began walking back to her house, smiling.

The walk back was pleasant, the warm air feeling refreshing. She promised herself she’d make herself a warm pot of tea, settle in with a good book, and maybe start planning out a day that she could spend with her new friend. She reminded herself to write down her newest rule, too:

Don’t strive for a fight, but stand up for what’s right.

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