• Published 23rd Apr 2014
  • 1,303 Views, 90 Comments

How to Train Your Pegasus - L3gion

A troubled young pegasus struggles with her self esteem, until she gets a little help from the most unlikely of tutors.

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Chapter 2

Gradually, little Snow Bolt regained consciousness. When she first opened her eyes, she was confused by the mess of twisted rocks high above her. Then darkness took her again, and she slept. She could not say how long it was before she woke again, but it felt like a long time, many hours at least.

She was laying on her back, looking up at ceiling made of rock with sharp, stony protrusions hanging down from it in places. Blearily, she sat up, and saw that she was in what appeared to be a large cave. It was as big across as the Vanhoover’s market square, and higher than its town hall. In one corner of the cave there was a bubbling cauldron, as big as the little cottage she grew up in. It was heated by a fire fed by several full-grown trees, leaves and all. Arranged around the cauldron were several more trees, pulled up by the roots and stacked neatly, and several stone bowls as wide across as her kitchen table. In another corner, a steady trickle of water ran down from a stalactite and collected in a small pool beneath.

“Wha…? Where am I?” Snow Bolt wondered aloud. She tried to stand, but her legs were still sore and stiff from cold. Laying with her back to the ground, she slowly stretched them out. When she could extend them fully, she painfully made her way to her hooves.

She explored her surroundings. She went first to the fire, and let its heat warm her aching limbs for a few moments. Then she went to the pool, and took a long drink. In the adjacent corner, she discovered a pile of gemstones as big as a house. She could see rubies, diamonds, emeralds, and a few more exotic stones she didn’t recognize. Nearby was a wide bookshelf, filled with neatly-ordered books on every subject. On the wall adjacent from the pool, there was a few crack in the wall that the wind whistled through. Looking through it, she could see the snow still falling, and every now and then, a glimpse of a snow-covered river valley far below. She guessed that this cave must lie on a mountain face somewhere.

Snow Bolt walked a short ways back into the cave, collapsed to the rocky ground, and began to weep. She didn’t know where she was or how she got there, but she still missed her mother and her home just as much as before. Now, things were even worse. She was in some monster’s lair, probably about to be boiled alive and eaten.

Suddenly, the entire cave wall she had been standing at only a moment before her lifted and rolled away, and a freezing wind whipped past her, instantly chilling her to the bone again. A few seconds later, an enormous red dragon ducked low through the mouth of the cave, carrying a bundle of full-grown trees under one arm. Snow Bolt shrieked and scampered backwards a few steps before tripping and falling onto her back. She could only watch in amazement as the dragon calmly stepped into the cave and rolled the enormous boulder back in place behind it. Turning, the dragon spotted Snow Bolt lying on the ground, still staring up at it in amazement.

“Oh, good. My dinner is awake,” the dragon said. Snow Bolt could tell by its voice that this dragon was female. Her voice was low and sultry and incredibly loud, echoing back and forth through the cave for what seemed like an eternity. Without slowing down, the dragon walked straight over Snow Bolt, who could only watch in awe as claws and scales passed over her. The dragon then calmly began stacking her armload of trees next to the fire with the others.

“Now then. How do you suppose you taste, my little pony?” the dragon asked, without turning around. “Is it mostly corn you eat? Oats, perhaps? I mostly prefer oat-fed ponies, but I've been known to enjoy a nice corn-fed earth pony every now and again. But you know, I don’t think I've ever eaten a pegasus before. You’d probably be more dark meat, wouldn’t you think? I was thinking of putting you in a nice pot pie, with sapphire and a little bay spruceling for seasoning. Doesn't that sound nice?”

Snow Bolt collapsed to the floor again, her fears confirmed. She buried her face in her hooves and sobbed loudly.

At this, the dragoness turned. “What’s this, now? Your recipe doesn’t call for brining, little Pot Pie. Stop that this instant!”

“No, it’s alright.” Snow Bolt said through her sobs. “You can eat me if you want. I don’t care anymore.”

“Ugh,” the dragon said, rolling her eyes. “You’re not depressed, are you? I do hate it when my dinner’s depressed. Spoils the flavor.” The dragon sighed her annoyance, and a great puff of steam escaped from each of her giant nostrils. “What’s a pony like you got to be depressed about, anyways?”

“What have I got to be depressed about? What have I got to be depressed about?!” Snow Bolt shouted at the dragon, rising to her hooves. “Oh, I don’t know, let’s see…my mom died, everyone at school makes fun of me and my stupid legs that don't even work right, and –” All the frustration, anger, and sadness that had been building inside Snow Bolt since her mother’s death finally erupted. She just couldn’t keep it all to herself anymore. It didn’t matter that the only audience to her outburst was this giant, uncaring beast. “— and my dad is always yelling at me and sent me to go live with my stupid uncle on his stupid rock farm, and…and these bullies on the train were making fun of me and so I ran away, and now I'm about to be eaten by a dragon and I DON'T EVEN HAVE MY CUTIE MARK YET!" She stopped as her words devolved into sobs, and she sank to the floor. Trembling and crying, her sobs slowly trailed off. “Just eat me,” she whispered. “I don’t care anymore. Just eat me.” She began to shiver uncontrollably.

The dragon regarded the sobbing filly for a moment, then sighed again. “Depressed, and still half-frozen. Well, I guess I’m not eating you tonight, my little Pot Pie. You’re all cold in the middle; you wouldn’t cook evenly. Here.” The dragon scooped her up in one massive claw and set her down by the fire. “Hopefully you’ll thaw out by morning. Get some sleep, little Pot Pie, and perhaps I’ll eat you for breakfast.” With that, the dragon went around to the other side of the fire, yawned, and slumped to the ground hard enough to shake the floor and walls of the cave.

Snow Bolt was still sobbing, cold, and in complete shock from the day's events. But despite all this, a sudden tiredness took her again, and before long she cried herself into a deep, dreamless sleep.

* * *

When Snow Bolt woke again, there was a brief moment when she wondered if the strange events of the night before had actually transpired. But when she opened her eyes again, she found herself still in the same enormous rocky cave as the night before. She no longer felt too cold, and was actually feeling a bit too warm from the heat of the enormous fire.

She groaned and rolled over, stretching her aching limbs. There was no sign of her dragoness captor; Snow Bolt supposed that she must have gone out again. The little filly was thirsty and hungry, having not eaten anything since breakfast the day before. She went to the little pool in the corner of the cave and drank until her thirst was sated. The rumbling from her stomach was still not satisfied, but there was nothing edible to be found in the cave.

For lack of anything more productive to do, Snow Bolt wandered the perimeter of the cave. She went to the pile of gems in the far corner and pondered her haggard, multifaceted reflection in an emerald. When she went over to the boulder that seemed to serve as the door to the cavern, she observed that the gap between the boulder and the cave wall seemed larger than yesterday. New snow had fallen through the crack and made a little pile on the cave floor.

Snow Bolt realized that this might be her chance to escape. Digging with her hooves, she cleared away the fallen snow as fast as she could. When the gap was fully exposed, sunlight came streaming in from the outside. Peering through, she could see all the way down to the snow-covered valley below. Eyeing the gap again, she decided that it was just big enough to squeeze through.

She bit her lip and thought for a moment. Should she try to escape? Would her captor be angry with her? Would she punish her? After a moment’s consideration, she decided that whatever punishment the dragon could dole out could hardly be worse than being baked into a pie. Her mind made up, she set about trying to squeeze through the gap.

She put her head through the gap and started to squeeze and wriggle her way through. The gap was smaller halfway through than she had thought, and there was a moment where Snow Bolt found herself stuck by her middle; unable to push off anything with her hind legs and unable to grasp anything with her forelegs. She panicked for a moment, but after a bit of experimentation, discovered that she could brace her wings against either side of the gap and painstakingly scooch her way along.

Before long, she was through, and she came tumbling out of the hole and into a snow bank. She picked herself up and surveyed her surroundings. She did indeed seem to be on the upper reaches of a tall mountain. Before her, far below, she could see a broad river valley winding its way off into the distance. Behind her, she could see a wide, saddle-shaped precipice towering high above. At the moment, she was standing on a sort of ledge at the entrance to the cave, perhaps two hundred feet from one side to the other. She walked to the edge and looked down. Below the ledge there were a few hundred feet of shallow slope that could be traversed without too much trouble, but below that the slope dropped off sharply, much too steep to walk down.

Snow Bolt turned to the north and began to walk around the mountain to see if she might find a safe way down. The snow was nearly up to her neck in places, and it was very slow going. After nearly an hour of trudging, she was nearly back where she had started. When she got around to the south side of the mountain, however, she thought she may have found a spot where the slope might just barely be shallow enough to traverse all the way down. She peered over the edge nervously, biting her lip. It was still very steep. If she did attempt to go down it, the best she could hope for would be a controlled slide.

She looked around. There was no telling when the dragon would be back, and she would probably not make the mistake of leaving a gap in the door again. If Snow Bolt wanted to escape, it was now or never.

Snow Bolt's heart beat fast in her chest as she carefully crawled over a rocky lip and rolled onto her back. She spread her arms, legs, and wings in the snow to give herself the best chance of being able to slow her descent, then slowly began to scooch her way down.

It went alright at first, though her hooves, wings, and backside quickly became numb from the cold. Soon though, she began to pick up speed, and even digging in with all her limbs at once, she could only just prevent herself from accelerating out of control. Soon even that was not enough, and it became clear that Snow Bolt had no hope of controlling her descent at all. Faster and faster she went, the dry snow pack clouding up around her and making it nearly impossible to see. Then her hoof caught a rock, and she began to tumble, over and over again, completely out of control. After a few gut-wrenching seconds, she managed to right herself again, just in time to see the ground drop off completely before her, and she plunged off a steep cliff.

Snow Bolt screamed as she fell into the open air. She flailed her arms and legs helplessly as she hurtled towards the valley floor below. She had time to scream once, take a breath, then scream again. After that she simply closed her eyes and resigned herself to her inevitable death. But then, over the noise of the wind, she heard a great whoosh of leathery wings, and found herself grasped roughly around her middle.

Snow Bolt grunted from the impact. Opening her eyes, she saw that she was being grasped tightly in the clutches of a familiar red dragon.

“Honestly,” The dragon muttered to herself as she flapped her great wings. “I turn my back for one minute to run a few errands, and my dinner tries to tenderize itself.”

Snow Bolt, still frazzled from her terrifying descent, could say nothing. The dragon rolled the boulder at the mouth of the cave aside, tossed Snow Bolt inside like a set of keys, then stepped inside herself and rolled the boulder shut behind her.

“What I can’t figure out…” said the dragon, turning back to face her, “Is why you didn’t just fly away when you had the chance.”

Snow Bolt, who had landed on the cave floor awkwardly, was just righting herself. Sitting up, she stared at the ground, ashamed. It wasn’t enough that this dragon was going to eat her, it seemed it was also going to humiliate her first.

“I can’t fly,” Snow Bolt muttered.

“What was that? Speak up, Pot Pie.”

“I said I can’t fly, okay?!” Snow Bolt shouted.

The red dragon cocked her head to one side, mulling this over. “Can’t…fly.” She shook her head, as if such a thing was inconceivable. The dragon reached over and picked up Snow Bolt by one wing, examining it closely.

“Hey! Ow! Put me down!” she said, flailing helplessly.

The red dragon ignored her, stroking her chin as she examined the filly's wings closely and muttered to herself. “Well, I mean…I suppose they’re a little on the small side, but the wings could certainly support the weight, it’s not like she weighs that much…” The dragon turned Snow Bolt in mid-air to look her in the eye, and addressed her directly. “Pot Pie, why exactly is it that you ‘cannot fly?’”

“Look, my legs don’t work, okay? See?!” Still dangling sideways by one wing, Snow Bolt held up her inward-turned forelegs for the dragon to see.

The dragon brought Snow Bolt close to her face. She looked at the legs carefully, stroking her chin, then looked Snow Bolt in the eye, then looked back at the legs. The dragon then shook her head, genuinely confused. “Pot Pie, what exactly do your legs have to do with flying? Your legs may be misshapen, but your wings look fine to me. If you were a young dragon, you’d be flying loop-de-loops by now.”

Snow Bolt crossed her arms and made an indignant face, but she also considered the dragon’s words. The truth was, she had been so ashamed of her wings for so long, she hadn’t actually given much thought to flying since her mother died.

“Bah.” The dragon tossed Snow Bolt to the floor again. She made an exasperated noise. “Of all the ponies in Equestria, I had to get the one pegasus that can’t fly. And if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s the taste of white meat.” She huffed, and regarded Snow Bolt, who was sprawled out on the cave floor again. “Alright then, little Pot Pie. I shall teach you to fly. Then, when your flight muscles are strong enough, I will eat you.” The dragon nodded to herself, then walked away. She apparently did not require her meal's consent in the matter.

Snow Bolt watched the dragon walk to the far side of the cave, shove a handful of gems into her mouth, and begin humming to herself as she fussed with the fire. Snow Bolt thought that the dragon’s behavior seemed very unusual, but then again, she had never met a dragon before. For all she knew, this was all perfectly normal behavior for their kind.

“What’s your name?” Snow Bolt asked, her head cocked to one side.

“Hmm?” The dragon seemed to have already forgotten Snow Bolt was there. “Oh. I am called Scarlet. Scarlet Redscale.”

“I’m Snow Bolt,” she said instinctively, and immediately felt silly for doing so. The dragon called Scarlet Redscale probably didn't care how her dinner called herself.

“Hmm.” The dragon weighed the name carefully, stroking her chin. “Snow Bolt. Snow Bolt. No, that won’t do at all. I shall call you Pot Pie.”

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