• 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 3

The next day, Snow Bolt was awakened by the floor shaking as enormous, taloned feet walked around the cave. She did her best to ignore the sensation and get back to sleep.

“Pot Pie. Wake up, Pot Pie. Time for your first lesson,” said a voice.

“Mmm.” Snow Bolt rolled away from the voice.

“I said wake up!” the voice boomed. She found herself roughly scooped up and tossed a short ways, which did a good job of rousing her from her sleep. She landed on her side a few paces away with a soft grunting noise.

Rubbing her the last of the sleepy out of her eyes, Snow Bolt saw that Scarlet was already rolling aside the boulder at the cave entrance. The dragoness looked back at Snow Bolt and beckoned for her to follow. “Come on, little Pot Pie. I haven’t got all day.”

Snow Bolt begrudgingly obliged, muttering to herself as she limped towards the cave’s mouth. A part of her wished this dragon would just eat her already and be done with it, and spare her this humiliation. “Why are you doing this again?” Snow Bolt asked.

“I am teaching you to fly, Pot Pie, so that you won’t taste quite so...suburban when I eat you."

"Even assuming you can teach me to fly, what’s to stop me from flying away once you do?” Snow Bolt quipped.

Just outside the cave, Scarlet chuckled and patted the little pegasus on the head as she passed. "I suppose there may be a few ponies in Equestria that have the speed to outfly a fully-grown dragon, but you're not one of them, little Pot Pie. We'll cross that bridge if we come to it.”

“I’m hungry,” Snow Bolt complained, and it was true. The night before she had eaten only leaves from the trees Scarlet had brought into the cave for firewood, which were unsatisfying to say the least. Now her stomach was grumbling in protest and would not be silenced.

“If you display satisfactory progress today, I shall feed you. If not, you go hungry.” Scarlet plopped down on the snowy incline to one side of the cave entrance, looking somewhat bored. “Alright then, my little pony. Show me what you can do.”

Snow Bolt rolled her eyes and sighed. She spread her wings and gave a few halfhearted flaps.

“Come on, Pot Pie. You’re not even trying. If you want to eat today, I expect you to do much better than that.”

Snow Bolt glared at Scarlet, then gritted her teeth and redoubled her flapping. A few wisps of snow wafted up from the ground, but her hooves remained solidly planted. Snow Bolt even attempted a little hop in an effort to get airborne, but failed miserably. After a moment, her flight muscles tired and she stopped, panting.

Scarlet nodded to herself. “That was absolutely pathetic, Pot Pie. I think I’ve seen cows fly better than that. It’s like you’ve never even tried to fly before.”

Snow Bolt glared at Scarlet with absolute contempt, then looked down in sadness. "I didn't have anypony to teach me, okay?"

"Oh, here we go with the pity party again,” Scarlet said, rolling her eyes. “'Oh boo hoo, my mother died, boo hoo, my legs are crippled, boo hoo, I'm going to be eaten by a dragon.' I really do grow tired of your whining, Pot Pie."

Snow Bolt stamped her hoof in anger. "Look, it doesn't matter how hard I flap, I'll never be able to get off the ground. My wings are too small, you can ask anypony."

Scarlet threw up her claws in frustration. "Look, I don't know how ponies fly, but I do know how dragons fly. And by dragon standards, your wings are more than large enough. Personally, I don't see why you ponies always feel the need to go flapping around all the time anyways; it looks absolutely exhausting."

Snow Bolt was about to make an angry retort, but she was suddenly intrigued by what Scarlet had said. "You mean...dragons don't flap their wings when they fly?"

"Not if we can help it, anyways. Once we get up to altitude, we mostly use rising air currents instead. Sometimes it’s necessary, of course. We have to flap a lot while hunting, or when it’s necessary to prevent one’s dinner from tenderizing itself prematurely.” Scarlet patted her belly. "We dragons are heavy with all this armor, you see. Flapping is a lot of effort."

Snow Bolt tilted her head to one side as she considered this. "But how can you fly without flapping?"

"It's called soaring, Pot Pie, and it's the first thing a young dragon learns. You just find a place where the air rises upwards. Like right here." Scarlet pointed away from the mountain, to the west. "The wind is blowing from that direction. When it hits the mountain, it is forced to rise. If you were flying across this mountain, you would rise with it. Understand?"

Snow Bolt was not at all sure that she did. Seeing her look of confusion, Scarlet rolled her eyes and got to her feet, making a big show of just how much effort this required. "Just watch me, alright? And pay close attention, I don't want to have to show you more than once."

Snow Bolt watched as Scarlet walked over to the edge of the shelf, towards the windward side of the mountain. There was a noise like a sail unfurling as she spread her leathery wings, then Scarlet walked off the edge of the shelf. She glided into the wind a ways, then let herself drift backwards and upwards, until she was hovering directly above Snow Bolt, about fifty feet in the air.

"See, Pot Pie?" Scarlet called down. "No flapping required. If the air here were still, I'd be gliding downwards and forwards. But since the wind here is flowing upwards and backwards, I can hover here if I wish. Understand?"

With her neck craned upwards, Snow Bolt nodded. She thought she understood, but she was actually much more interested by the sight of Scarlet's massive wings stretched wide above her.

"Good," said Scarlet. "Now you try." Suddenly, Scarlet folded back her wings and dove towards her. She shrieked and tried to scamper away, but it was no use. Scarlet scooped up the little pony in her enormous claws and glided back into the wind, as Snow Bolt screamed and struggled in the dragon's grasp.

"Stop your squirming, Pot Pie!" said Scarlet, as she tried to keep the wriggling filly from slipping through her claws. "Do you really want me to drop you?"

Snow Bolt looked down and froze. They were already a few hundred feet above the face of the mountain, which was itself impossibly high above the valley floor. She gasped in terror, stopped her squirming, and instead wrapped all four legs around Scarlet's massive index finger.

Scarlet sighed in exasperation. "You won't learn to fly like that, pony. Now come on, I haven't got all day," she said, prying Snow Bolt from her finger. "Look, just stand in my claw, will you? I promise, no harm will come to you. Stand!"

She was set on her hooves in the palm of Scarlet's right claw, but her legs felt like jelly beneath her, and she promptly collapsed. At Scarlet's command, she stood again, and this time remained upright. She whimpered as she looked down at the empty expanse of air separating her from the valley floor below.

"Now spread your wings," Scarlet commanded.

Snow Bolt did her best to obey, but her wings simply refused to unfold. "I can't!" she shouted back to Scarlet, tears rolling down her terrified face.

"Oh for the love of…" Scarlet said, exasperated. The dragon grabbed each of Snow Bolt’s wings in a pincer grip and manually pried them out until they were fully extended. She was now holding the young pegasus by the wingtips, as one might hold a necklace. To Snow Bolt, the sensation only compounded her terror: in part because there was no longer anything supporting her hooves, and in part because she knew the enormous dragon would have no trouble ripping her wings from her body if she so desired.

Snow Bolt was screaming in fright, but Scarlet ignored her. "Now, I'm going to let you go," the dragon said.

"No! No, please!" Snow Bolt pleaded.

"Keep your wings out, Pot Pie. Here we go." And with that, the dragon released Snow Bolt's wings, and the young filly screamed. But instead of plummeting towards the valley floor below, she felt herself drop only a few feet, then hold position in mid-air. Snow Bolt stopped screaming and gasped in shock. The sensation was like nothing she had ever felt before. She felt as if she were a marionette, suspended by her wings from an invisible puppeteer above. Behind her, Scarlet said something, but Snow Bolt was so distracted that it took her a few seconds to realize that she had been addressed.

"What?" Snow Bolt shouted, not turning her head for fear of disrupting the delicate balance she had with the air.

"I said, what are you doing with your legs? Tuck them under you!"

Snow Bolt realized that she had been furiously flailing her legs beneath her, as if she were running on an invisible patch of earth. She did as Scarlet commanded and tucked her legs beneath her body.

A curious sensation overtook Snow Bolt as she hovered there. Time seemed to slow down, and she suddenly became keenly aware of the sound of her own breath in her ears, the sensation of wind on her face, and most importantly, the feeling of being supported by her own two wings, held aloft by the rising wind as it rushed to go up and over the mountain. She became aware of the delicate equilibrium that existed between her wings and the air to hold her in place.

I'm flying! I'm actually flying! No sooner than she had the thought, however, a slight shift in the wind disrupted the delicate balance, and Snow Bolt lost control. She gave a little shriek as she spun away, but she was quickly caught by Scarlet's claw.

Still hovering in the air herself, Scarlet brought the little pegasus up to her face. She regarded Snow Bolt with one giant, ruby-colored eye. "Enjoyed that, did we?" the dragon asked. Instead answering, Snow Bolt turned and looked back into the wind.

"Shall we try again?" Scarlet asked. Snow Bolt looked back and nodded emphatically.

* * *

Scarlet spent the next few hours teaching Snow Bolt how to hover in place. She hovered just behind the young pegasus, her claws poised to catch Snow Bolt if she lost control and spun out. As the morning wore on, this happened less and less often. Early in the afternoon, Scarlet decided that Snow Bolt had made enough progress to warrant a small lunch break. The dragon used her hot breath to melt a patch of snow not far from the cave door, revealing a patch of minty mountain grass for Snow Bolt to eat. Snow Bolt quickly finished her meal, then sat and stared at Scarlet patiently while she finished hers, eager to get back in the air.

Learning to fly in this way seemed completely foreign to Snow Bolt. There were virtually no pegasi in Vanhoover, but her mother had told her about how she had learned to fly when she was a filly. Snow Bolt gathered that most pegasi learned to fly by simply standing in place and beating their wings. When their wings grew to the requisite size and strength, they would simply lift off the ground under their own power, and that was that. The way Scarlet was showing her, the way she gathered all dragons learned to fly, was a completely different approach. As far as she knew, it was completely unknown to ponykind.

By mid-afternoon, Snow Bolt was almost completely comfortable with hovering in-place, and had even learned to take off and land from the shelf on her own. By subtly shifting her weight and wing position, she learned maintain a balance with the air under her wings, and keep from spinning out. When Scarlet was satisfied that Snow Bolt would not lose control and pulverize herself on the rocks, she allowed the little Pegasus to fly solo. Scarlet, meanwhile, kept one eye on her from the shelf below, idly munching on gems from an enormous golden bowl while reading a book that seemed microscopic in her enormous claws.

The sun was low on the horizon when Scarlet finally insisted that the little pegasus come in for the evening.

"Aww!" said Snow Bolt. "Just five more minutes?"

Scarlet put her claws on her enormous hips. "Well, well!" she said. "It seems my little Pot Pie has found that flying agrees with her. Is this the same pony that was insisting just this morning that her wings were too small to fly?"

Snow Bolt's pride was not wounded. She would gladly admit that her dragon captor had been right and she had been wrong; that was no longer important to her. The only thing that mattered now getting back in the air, by any means necessary. Snow Bolt stared up at Scarlet, her eyes begging.

Scarlet chuckled. "Alright, little Pot Pie. Five more minutes. Then I expect you to come into the cave on your own, without my having to come fetch you. Understood?"

"Yay!" Snow Bolt galloped to the edge of the shelf, spread her wings, and leapt off. Scarlet, meanwhile, went back into the cave to resume her dinner preparations.

Despite Snow Bolt's promise to return to the cave on her own, fifteen minutes later Scarlet was forced to come and fetch the young pegasus. Standing on the edge of the shelf, she reached up and plucked Snow Bolt out of mid-air like apple from a tree. "Such a disobedient little Pot Pie," Scarlet said, tossing her into the cave. Instead of landing roughly on the ground, Snow Bolt spread her wings in mid-air and glided gracefully to the floor. She turned and grinned a smug little grin at Scarlet.

"I suppose you're feeling pretty proud of yourself, aren't you little Pot Pie?" Scarlet said, rolling the boulder back in place at the mouth of the cave. "It may interest you to know that young dragons learn to soar only a week or two after they're born. Your flying skills, as of now, do not even equal that of an infant dragon."

Scarlet's derision did nothing to hamper Snow Bolt's euphoria. She pranced and danced and reared around the cave. She galloped from one side to the other, wings spread wide, making little zooming noises as she went.

“Dinner's nearly done, Pot Pie,” Scarlet said after a while. “See if you can find a bowl or something to eat out of in there.” She gestured at the large pile of gold and gems in one corner of the cave. Snow Bolt did as she was told, and after some rummaging managed to find an enormous golden goblet. The bowl part was almost large enough for her to fit in, but it was the smallest she could find. Scarlet took one last sip from her enormous spoon and, satisfied with the flavor, took the goblet from Snow Bolt and filled it to the brim with a still-boiling stew. "You'll have to eat around the gems, I imagine," Scarlet said, setting the goblet back down in front of her.

Snow Bolt sniffed at the brew suspiciously, then made a face. "Eat up, Pot Pie," Scarlet commanded. "I'll not have my meat getting stringy." Snow Bolt had no spoons, so she took a sip from the lip of the enormous goblet with a small slurping noise.

"Mmm!" Snow Bolt said aloud. Scarlet's stew, whatever it was, turned out to be delicious, at once sweet and savory. Snow Bolt took another swig, awkwardly tipping the goblet towards her with one hoof as she drank.

Before long, both dragon and pony had had their fill. They both leaned back and rubbed their full bellies contentedly.

Scarlet yawned and scratched. "What did you think, Pot Pie? Any good?"

"Mm-hmm." Snow Bolt said, her eyes closed and a little smile on her lips.

"Would have been better with young pegasus though, don't you think? Give the broth a bit more bite?"

Snow Bolt only shook her head. Scarlet's constant threats of consumption could only be taken seriously so many times before they started to lose their weight. And anyways, today Snow Bolt had flown. Even the imminent threat of being devoured could not damper her mood.

Scarlet picked up her book again and went back to her reading. After Snow Bolt was feeling not quite so full, she resumed her zooming around the cave floor. As the fire under the cauldron burned down to coals, Scarlet's yawning became more and more frequent.

"Alright then, little Pot Pie, time for bed. I may decide to eat you for breakfast, so try not to stay up too late, alright?" And with that, Scarlet carefully put her book away, flopped down next to the fire, and was snoring just a few minutes later.

Snow Bolt, however, was not ready for sleep. She continued sprinting back and forth across the cave. Galloping at top speed, she discovered she could just barely get enough wind across her wings to allow for brief, leaping glides. She kept this up for fifteen whole minutes, but it was only when she tried to climb up the dragon's pile of gold in order to glide off that she finally awoke Scarlet from her slumber.

"Pot Pie!" The dragon bellowed. "What in the world are you doing? Scurry, scurry, scurrying around all over the place! Why, I have a mind to gobble you up right now. Go to sleep!"

Snow Bolt slinked away, wearing a sheepish grin like a filly who'd been caught with her hoof in the cookie jar. Reluctantly, she found her little bed of grass by the fire and lay down, giggling to herself all the while. When she eventually dozed off, she had the first flying dream she'd had in a long, long time.

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