• Published 23rd Apr 2014
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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 5

"Pot Pie? Wake up, Pot Pie. It's morning."

Snow Bolt was awakened by a nudge from one of Scarlet's enormous toes. She sat up and rubbed her eyes, while Scarlet made her way to the mouth of the cave. As she rolled the door aside, a brisk winter wind whipped all through the cave, blowing a small flurry of snow with it.

"Yes!" Snow Bolt cried, and galloped outside. She stopped at the lip of the ledge and looked out across the snowy valley, smiling as she felt the brisk winter wind on her face.

Scarlet was still by the mouth of the cave, unfurling some large piece of fabric. Snow Bolt realized that it was the canopy of a hot-air balloon, and from the say she was carrying it, Snow Bolt surmised that Scarlet used it as a sort of purse. "I'm going out, Pot Pie. If you think you've got the hang of hovering, you can experiment with soaring back and forth across the face of the cliff. If you display satisfactory progress, I shall feed you again tonight. And don't try to fly away while I'm gone, or I'll grind you into a sausage."

"I won't!" Snow Bolt called back, already preparing to launch herself off the ledge. As Scarlet flew off to the south, Snow Bolt backed away from the ledge until she had room for a running start. She scraped each hoof on the ground, then sprinted headlong into the wind and leaped off the ledge. As she spread her wings, the wind caught her and gently held her aloft, and she squealed with joy at the sensation.

After gaining some altitude and hovering in place for a moment, Snow Bolt was ready to do as Scarlet suggested and try gliding back and forth across the cliff. She was somewhat unnerved at the prospect, and hovered for several minutes more while she gathered her courage. When she was ready, she took a deep breath and dipped her left wing ever so slightly, and she slowly veered southward. It seemed to be going well at first, and she started a slow, easy glide along the mountain's face. But she found her turn was not stopping after she was parallel to slope face, and her course was now taking her uncomfortably close to the mountain. In a panic, she tried to steer back into the wind, overcorrected, and found herself upside-down and plummeting straight downwards.

Snow Bolt squealed as she struggled to regain control. After much flailing and twisting, she managed to right herself and open her wings, but not soon enough to avoid colliding with the snow-covered slope of the mountain. She landed roughly, rolled and slid down the slope a short ways, then came to a stop flat on her back in the snow. She did not try to rise right away, but instead stared upwards at the clouds and waited for them to stop spinning.

Presently, she heard a small scampering sound in the snow, coming from beside her. She turned her head to see a familiar brown squirrel making her way through the snow toward her.

“Cheeky!” Snow Bolt said, smiling.

The squirrel’s tiny face showed concern. She chittered worriedly at Snow Bolt.

“Oh, I’m fine,” Snow Bolt said, slowly raising herself to a sitting position. “I’m just learning to fly, as you may have noticed.”

The flying squirrel chittered affirmative.

Snow Bolt narrowed her eyes, feigning suspicion. “Were you spying on me?” she asked.

Cheeky put her tiny claws behind her back and nodded abashedly. Snow Bolt laughed and waved her off. “It’s alright, I don’t mind. I imagine I’m probably pretty entertaining to watch. Have any pointers for me?”

Cheeky nodded, then scurried over to Snow Bolt and stood on one of her hooves. The squirrel made a gesture with her claws that looked like she was tossing something straight upwards.

“You want me to toss you?” Snow Bolt asked. Cheeky nodded and turned to face the wind. The filly was worried about hurting her new friend, but she supposed the little squirrel knew what she was doing. She took Cheeky in both hooves and tossed her straight upwards. Cheeky spread her arms and legs at the top of the arc, and the rising air caught the membrane between her wrists and ankles, and the little squirrel came to a hover directly above where Snow Bolt was sitting. Then Cheeky veered to the left and soared along the slope for a short ways, then turned back and soared to the right. She looked down at Snow Bolt for a moment before repeating the maneuver, this time more slowly and deliberately so Snow Bolt could observe.

After repeating the move a few more times, Cheeky landed in front of Snow Bolt and demonstrated the turn on the ground, perched upon a rock with her flying flaps outstretched. Snow Bolt watched carefully as the little squirrel mimed a roll and turn, and more critically, a counter-turn. Cheeky turned back around, miming that the young pegasus should imitate her, which she did. Cheeky mimed a turn to the left, then froze in that position. When Snow Bolt was in the same position, Cheeky turned and held both her tiny paws out, indicating that she should freeze. Cheeky considered Snow Bolt’s posture for a moment while she stroked her tiny chin, then scurried up Snow Bolt’s leg and onto her back.

Snow Bolt giggled as the squirrel’s paws tickled her hide. Cheeky promptly scurried to the top of her head and leaned far over to look Snow Bolt in the eye, chiding Snow Bolt for her outburst.

“Right!” Snow Bolt forced herself to suppress her giggles. “Okay, I’m sorry.” She resumed her previous stance, with her wings outstretched and angled to the left. Cheeky scurried back onto her wings. She hopped up and down on Snow Bolt’s left wing, and Snow Bolt lowered it to a position about ten degrees down from horizontal. Cheeky then went to the other wing, grabbing the feathers on its outer tip and prying them upwards until Snow Bolt lifted it to a position just short of vertical. Cheeky then scurried back down Snow Bolt’s leg and back down onto the rock, considering Snow Bolt’s posture again. Apparently satisfied, Cheeky then turned around on her rock and mimed a turn to the right. Snow Bolt followed suit, and Cheeky again scurried onto the pony’s back to adjust her wings to the correct position.

Snow Bolt thought she understood where she made her mistake the first time. She had dipped the wing of the side she was steering to, but from Cheeky’s corrections she gathered that it was better to instead raise the wing on the opposite side. After scurrying back down to her rock, Cheeky made Snow Bolt demonstrate the posture for both left and right turns in quick succession until the moves became second nature. Once satisfied, the little squirrel crawled atop Snow Bolt’s head. She grabbed a lock of the filly's mane in each claw, which she apparently meant to use as reins. At Snow Bolt’s hesitation, Cheeky shook the locks gently and made a noise that resembled “giddap.”

Snow Bolt giggled. “Well, okay. So long as you know what you’re in for,” she said. She galloped into the wind, leapt off, and came to a hover as she had before. Atop her head, cheeky leaned over to look Snow Bolt in the eye, then chittered a question.

“Ready if you are!” Snow Bolt replied. With that, Cheeky gave Snow Bolt’s mane a firm tug to the left, and Snow Bolt adjusted her wings to the posture Cheeky had shown her on the ground. She banked left, and she found herself drifting to the left along the cliff’s face. Just a second or two after, Cheeky gave Snow Bolt’s mane a firm tug to the right. Snow Bolt adjusted her wings to the opposite position until she was level again, and she found herself drifting steadily along the cliff’s face.

“Yeah!” Snow Bolt shouted, but with a quick spur of her heels, Cheeky made it clear that it was not yet time to celebrate. They soared south, following the face of the slope. After a time, Cheeky tugged Snow Bolt’s mane hard to the right, and they turned back to the north, steering and countersteering in turn. Soaring perpendicular to the wind’s direction proved to be more challenging that flying headlong into it, and many small corrections from Cheeky were needed to keep from losing control. After a few more passes back and forth across the slope, however, Snow Bolt began to get the hang of it, and little by little Cheeky let her impromptu reins go slack. Some time later, she jumped off of Snow Bolt’s back completely and soared alongside Snow Bolt as she flew.

They flew all morning and into the afternoon, until Snow Bolt decided to take a break for lunch. After the pair landed on the ledge, Cheeky mimed that it was time for her to go.

“Okay, little friend! Thanks for all your help today!” Snow Bolt said. With a final chitter and wave, Cheeky leapt off the ledge and began her glide back down to the valley floor.

Snow Bolt stopped only long enough to eat a few mouthfuls of grass she dug out of the snowy mountainside with her hoof, then resumed her practicing. As the hours wore on, her confidence grew, and she was now gliding back and forth across the face of the cliff with ease.

She was still practicing when Scarlet returned late in the afternoon with a full balloon-purse. “Hi, Scarlet!” Snow Bolt called and waved as she passed over the ledge. The progress Snow Bolt had made that day had left her in a very good mood.

Scarlet landed on the ledge and watched Snow Bolt for a few moments. “Well, aren’t you just the delicate butterfly,” Scarlet said. “Is that all you’ve done today? Just float back and forth like a bit of rubbish caught in a breeze?” Scarlet shook her head sadly. “That barely qualifies as progress, but I suppose I can expect no more from a mere pony.”

As Scarlet turned to go inside the cave, Snow Bolt stuck her tongue out at the dragon’s back. Scarlet’s criticism was not without sting, but there were few things that could really bother Snow Bolt while she was flying. Snow Bolt practiced gliding back and forth across the cliff for another hour or two, until Scarlet called her in.

After dinner Snow Bolt read more Dusty Cornshucker to Scarlet from atop the mound of gold and jewels. After an hour of reading, Snow Bolt came to a part of the story where Dusty was missing his home.

“Dusty curled up under his blanket and tried to get to sleep, but he could not help but think about home. He thought about what his parents must be doing right now. His mother would be reading his little brother a bedtime story. His father would be just coming from his workshop, where he spent most of his nights repairing the farm’s various machines and tools. In that moment, Dusty didn’t care about his adventure or his quest, or fortune or glory. He just wanted to be back at home, so he could help his mother put his little brother to bed and help his…father put away his tools…”

Snow Bolt’s voice caught in her throat, and she sniffled and wiped away a tear. She found herself overcome with a sudden longing for her father, who was also a tinkerer and spent most evenings in their garage repairing various household gizmos.

Scarlet made an exasperated noise and sat up. “By the goddess, Pot Pie! Just when I thought your little voice couldn’t get any more pathetic. What in Equus is wrong with you?”

Snow Bolt glared at the dragon and wiped another tear from her face. “I miss home, okay? You did sort of kidnap me, remember?”

Scarlet snorted a blast of hot breath. “Oh, here we go with the Pot Pie pity party again. I might remind you that you would have never been kidnapped if you hadn't run away in the first place.”

“I miss my daddy, okay?” That opened the floodgates completely, and Snow Bolt began to sob. “I miss him, and he’s probably worried sick about me.”

Scarlet yawned. “I really find it difficult to believe that anyone could miss a pathetic little morsel like you. Can’t fly, forever complaining…” Scarlet gave a little chuckle. “If I were him, I should think I’d be happy that you’re gone.”

Snow Bolt sprinted down the pile of gold and gems and charged towards the enormous dragon, stopping just short of her big toe. “That’s not true!” she shouted.

“Oh really?” Scarlet folded her arms. “Didn't I hear you say that he was the one who sent you away in the first place? If he loves you so much, why would he do that?”

Snow Bolt was indignant. “He only sent me away because he thought it would be best for me! I know it hurt him, but he wouldn't have done it if he didn't think it was for the best. I know he really loves me, and I…” Snow Bolt’s voice faltered. Her anger was swiftly replaced with sadness, and she sat down on the cave floor and closed her eyes. “…and I love him too.”

Snow Bolt sobbed softly to herself for a moment, while Scarlet silently looked on. Finally, Scarlet sighed and turned away. “Pot Pie, of all the ponies I’ve eaten over the years, you are by far the most dramatic.” Scarlet lay down on the cave floor and rolled away from her. “That’s enough reading for now. Do try not to cry too much tonight, won’t you? I may decide to eat you for breakfast, and tears will make your coat all bitter.”

Still sobbing, Snow Bolt curled up by the fire. She thought about home, and about her father, and how worried he must be about her. She thought about her mother too, and how much she missed her. For the first time she also thought about what her father must have felt when she died, and what he must be feeling now that he thought he his only daughter was dead too. Eventually, she sobbed herself into a deep, dreamless sleep.

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