• Published 3rd May 2016
  • 2,817 Views, 370 Comments

"Princess Flurry Heart, Destroyer of Worlds!" - Fluttercheer

Five years after the Crystal Heart incident, Flurry Heart's life seems perfect. She has loving parents, an amazing friend and a deep passion for flying. But life can turn on you whenever it wants and Flurry Heart was about to learn this.

  • ...

Chapter 4: The Failure

As Flurry Heart and Sunny Spirit arrived at the door of the classroom, they stopped for a moment. Both of them were a little out of breath now. Sunny wasn't as fit as Flurry was, while the latter's exhausted condition was more caused by the general flurry of activity they just went through, rather than the tempo.

As they were sort of rested up, they turned towards the door together, more or less ready to enter. Flurry and Sunny exchanged a glance and each of them could read the nervousness and fear in the eyes of the other. On their way, they were able to take a look at the school's clock, so they now knew that they were exactly twenty minutes late. Soon, their first lesson of the day would be half over. Sunny and Flurry gulped in unison, then they reached for the doorknob, turned it around and hesitantly opened the door. With ducked heads, the two fillies slunk into the room. It was only as a strong, well-known voice shouted their names, that they dared to look up.

“Flurry Heart and Sunny Spirit!” It was ear piercing and went right through them.

They haltingly lifted up their heads. What, or rather who, they saw in front of them was their teacher, Austere Knowledge. A dark brown unicorn stallion with a black tail and mane, the latter of which cut short in an unstylish way. With a book in his hooves and his head turned into their direction, he looked down on the scared fillies with his cold, black eyes, radiating disapproval that was so strong that they felt like the darkness inside was stabbing holes into them. Not even his cutie mark, which was a blackboard with a pointer, was as dark as his eyes.

After a few seconds of just staring at them like this, he continued. “Both of you know that I don't tolerate latecomers. What have you to say for yourself?” His voice became slightly louder at the last words.

Flurry Heart and Sunny exchanged another glance, their teeth clenched and their eyes expressing a mixture of insecurity and fear. They knew that it wasn't their fault and that they could give him an explanation that would save them from punishment, but doing so was also easier said than done.

“We.....” Flurry Heart began, but trailed off before she could even really start the sentence.

Sunny took over for her. “It was just because of–“ A faint snickering from the rows of desks in the classroom let her interrupt her sentence. She directed her eyes where she heard it coming from and let them wander over her classmates, most of them crystal foals like her, with only a few unicorns and pegasi as exceptions, all of them staring at her and Flurry with widely opened eyes, until she had found the source of the snickering.

Unsurprisingly, it came from Magnolia Sunshine. Flanked by her two minions who occupied the desks to her left and right, their faces adorned with smug smiles, she sat at the far left corner of the classroom. She was holding a hoof at her mouth, glee in her eyes and what wasn't covered by her hoof revealed a malicious grin. Flurry's feather still stuck in her mane.

Sunny Spirit sighed exasperated. She looked back at Flurry, who had noticed Magnolia too. Without exchanging a word, they could see that both of them were thinking the same. Sadness was in Sunny's eyes as she looked at her friend, but Flurry Heart just gave her a small nod, not without a good amount of desperation in her eyes, though.

Sunny Spirit sighed again, then she turned her attention back to their teacher, whose own expression had just become more grim in the meanwhile. “Flurry Heart tried to preen her wings a few minutes before the bells rang. She wasn't careful enough and.....” Sunny stopped for a moment, presenting Flurry with another sad glance from the corner of her eyes. “And she ripped out one of her feathers. She hurt herself and was crying, so I had to calm her down first. I went to the fillys room with her and took care of her injury and that's why we are late.”

Austere Knowledge continued to stare down at the yellow-maned crystal filly for a few seconds, his expression a tad more soft now, but still with a lof of strictness emanating from them. Then he began to speak again. “So that's how it happened. I suppose it was a very admirable deed from you to help your clumsy friend. You are excused. But I still expect you to catch up with the first half of the lesson and that you understand it as well as the rest of your classmates. Now go to your desk.”

Sunny Spirit shyly nodded, then she made her way towards her desk, not without exchanging another glance with Flurry Heart, whose expression became bitter again now.

Austere Knowledge watched Sunny Spirit until she had taken her place and began to take her books out of her saddlebag, then he turned towards Flurry Heart and his eyes returned to their ice-cold expression. “However, princess.....” he began. “You are not excused.” His voice was full of disdain now. “Even though I can understand that a member of royalty like you is barely capable to do such a simple task by yourself,” – His lips began to form an amused smile while he spoke these words – “hurting your wing while attempting to preen it is not a reason to miss even just a minute of education, not by all means.” Another faint snickering came from Magnolia, followed by some other foals in the class beginning to laugh over their teachers' remark. All of this made Austere Knowledge's smile bigger and it added sneer to it. “You are in detention, princess. Three hours.” The laughing stopped abruptly and was replaced by audible gasps from the whole class. Only Magnolia continued her snickering unphased. “Now go and sit down and at least try to catch up,” Austere Knowledge commandeered Flurry, his hoof pointing at her desk, that was right next to Sunny's.

Head hanging low, without looking at her teacher again, she crouched to her desk through the rows of her classmates and took seat as she had reached it. With a depressed expression, she placed her face head-on in the desk's surface. “I hate him so much,” she said in a volume that only Sunny could hear.

Worried, Sunny put a hoof on the back of her friend and began to rub over it comfortingly.

“And the day started out so good.....” Flurry continued before she lifted her head again.

“I know, but don't worry too much. It's not over yet, right?” Sunny tried to cheer her up once more. She gave her a smile, the compassion that her eyes radiated at the same time feeling to Flurry like she was suddenly wrapped into a warm blanket.

“I guess you're right,” she said in a more hopeful tone. “A lot of better things can still happen.”

Sunny nodded happily and retracted her hoof from Flurry's back and both of them exchanged grins, before they returned their attention to their teacher as they heard his voice bellow across the room.

“Now concentrate on the lesson again, class! We have lost enough time thanks to our inept alicorn here and I don't want that anyone falls behind.”

Flurry Heart presented him with an angry glare for this statement, but didn't say anything, and so Austere Knowledge continued the lesson where he had left off.

And the first thing on the schedule for today was math class. A class that Flurry Heart didn't like, not because it was hard, but because it was just incredibly boring. All the other classes they had in magic kindergarden were a lot more exciting.

There was magical theory, which was all about how different spells work, what effects they cause and when unicorns use them. As well as how even non-unicorns could defend themselves against such spells and how to apply proper first aid to ponies who got accidentally hit by a certain spell, something that happened especially often with young, inexperienced magic users like the unicorns in their class.

Then there was magic history, which was all about powerful unicorns from the past who became heroes in one way or another and the enemies they defeated or how they contributed to make Equestria what it was today. A class whose purpose Flurry Heart never really understood, if a pony wanted to find out about the past it could just go into the local library inside the castle and read the books there. But it was a fun class, Flurry's second-favourite, right after flight class.

Sometimes after school, when magic history was the last class of the day, Flurry Heart just lay in her bed with closed eyes, imagining the heroic deeds of those saviors of Equestria and how she might do similar things in the future. After all, she was a princess of the Crystal Empire, so sooner or later, she would have to rule over it and this meant to defend it against enemies too. In these moments, she always desired to grow up quickly, even though being a filly had its advantages that she enjoyed as well.

But math class..... It was the exact opposite of that. In each and every lesson of it, she felt that math was just not aligned with her mind. Flurry Heart always felt dull when she came out of one, which usually resulted in a quick flight around the schoolhouse to get the numbers out of her head. If it wouldn't be for the fact that her teacher would probably torment her with even more math during detention today, she would happily accept staying three hours longer at school and doing her homework during this time for missing half of the dreaded lesson.

Flurry Heart groaned and got her notebook, ink bottle and quill out of the saddlebag. She placed everything in front of her, opened her notebook and started to copy the tasks and calculations from the blackboard into it while Austere Knowledge added another one to the bottom. The ones above it where already solved, judging by the different hoofwritings for each by the numerous students in the class, so it was one of those lessons where Austere Knowledge just chose a task from his book, wrote it on the blackboard and called any given student to solve it in front of the class.

While Flurry Heart was concentrated on writing the calculations into her notebook, her teacher was calling another student to come to the front as soon as he had finished writing down the new one. “Starry Skies!” his voice shouted to the last row of desks and the mentioned filly twitched upon hearing her name. With slow movements, she got up from her desk and made her way to the blackboard, her eyes darting over her classmates, of which some looked at her while others were busy solving the task themselves.

She gulped as she had reached the side of her teacher at the blackboard and her legs began trembling. Hesitantly, she took the chalk her teacher offered her into her magic aura and hovered it in front of the blackboard. As her eyes fell on the task that was written down there, her pupils shrunk.

45 * 33 =

It was a multiplication of all things. Starry Skies gulped once more. She released the magical grip around the chalk and took it into her hooves instead. Shaking, she held it in front of her body and tried to solve the calculation. With multiplications anything but her strong point, she aimed for the easiest way to solve it.

45 * 33 =


Austere Knowledge coughed slightly, but audibly, and then put his hoof on the chalkboard right were Starry just wanted to write down the third number. “Not like this!” he said sternly. “This task is for mental math, don't write it down.” He sweeped with his hoof over the two numbers and wiped them from the blackboard.

Starry Skies shyly looked at him from the corner of her eyes, getting greeted with a strict expression that made clear what was expected from her better than the spoken words did. She looked back at the task and could feel her heart beating faster. Sweat broke out on her forehead. The filly with the dark-blue coat bit her lip while the gears in her head worked hard to let her find the right answer, all while she could feel the piercing look of her teacher resting on her. Eventually, she thought that she had found the answer and wrote it down.

45 * 33 = 565

A little relieved, she looked hopefully over to her teacher, but the dissatisfaction in his eyes showed her that she had missed the goal. “Wrong,” he said taut, disappointment clinging in his voice. He reached out with his hoof and sweeped the number away. “Try it again.” He retracted his hoof.

Now Starry's hooves were shaking stronger. She could feel her coat getting wet from sweat. For a moment she thought about turning around and doing a look at her classmates to check if somepony was laughing, but as this just caused a flash of fear spreading throughout her body, she decided against it and focused on the task again. As she once more believed to know the answer, she set the chalk on the blackboard again and wrote down the conclusion she had come to, the numbers looking more crude now.

45 * 33 = 273

Now wrinkles appeared on the forehead of her teacher. Austere Knowledge stretched out his hoof again, impatiently now, so that a faint bang could be heard as it touched the blackboard to wipe away the wrong numbers. Starry twitched and she did a half-step back. “Try it again.” She heard the same words repeated, more strained now.

Starry lifted the hoof with the chalk back to the surface of the blackboard, her whole body trembling now. “I..... I-I think the answer is.....”

“Now?” Austere Knowledge raised an eyebrow. “What is the answer?”

It was at this point that Starry Skies' nerves gave up. Resignated and with clenched teeth, she put down the chalk and turned around to the towering stallion. “I-I don't know it. I don't understand the calculation, Mr. Know.” Then she choked and a moment later, tears began to form in her eyes. She closed them and began to sob quietly, the tears trickling down her face now.

Compassionate looks from across the classroom rested on her. The strict teacher, however, just watched her crying, unimpressed and with his eyes expressing cold disapproval.

After he had silently watched her like this for a few seconds, he brought his hooves close to her face and clapped them together loudly. Starry Skies winced and opened her eyes again, looking at her teacher's face with teary eyes while whimpers still escaped her throat. “Look at the blackboard!” he exclaimed mandatory.

Starry felt another wince going through her body, but the fear she felt now made her somehow acting automatically, so she turned around at the command.

Once more, Austere Knowledge held his hoof at the calculation. “What is fourty-five multiplied by ten?” he asked the filly in a stern voice.
She jumped a little and taxed her brain. “F-Four hundred and fifty,” she said then, quicker this time.

“Now add up this number two times!” he continued.

“O-One thousand three hundred and fifty,” she answered, faster than before.

Austere Knowledge moved his hoof to the second number of the calculation. “And what is fourty-five multiplied by three?”

“Hundred t-thirty-five,” came another answer by the distraught filly between two whimpers.

“Now count one thousand three hundred and fifty and hundred thirty-five together, what makes this?” he bellowed a last time.

The initial answer were more whimpers before Starry managed it to press out the number between her teeth. “I-It's one thousand four hundred eighty-five.”

“Fine,” he said then, his voice sounding only slighter friendly now. “Finally the right answer. Write it down.”

The young unicorn did as she was told and lifted up the chalk again, her hoof still shaking. Barely readable, the right numbers finally landed on the blackboard.

45 * 33 = 1485

As she was done, he hovered the chalk out of her hoof, not without raising another eyebrow at her hoofwriting. “You can return to your desk now. But I want to see a faster result tomorrow. And work on your hoofwriting, young filly.”

Now that the task was solved and the shock over the harsh way her teacher addressed her subsided, the fear returned again and Starry Skies broke out in more whimpers, followed by more tears streaming down her face. Slower than before, she returned to her desk in the last row of the classroom, one hoof wiping over her left eye. As she had sat down, she noticed the stern look of her teacher aimed at her and, despite her distraught condition, hastily grabbed her quill and wrote down the calculation she had just solved into her notebook, while she continued to cry quietly.

Most of the class still looked at her in a compassionate way, their faces showing desire to comfort their classmate, but fear of getting called out for leaving their desks during the lesson as well. And of course, nopony dared to say anything. Nopony, except for Flurry Heart.

She retracted her eyes from the sobbing filly rows behind her and looked at her teacher, her brow furrowed. For a moment longer, she hesitated, but then she began to speak. She was already in detention anyway.

“Why are you talking with her like this?” The whole class turned towards Flurry Heart and gasped loudly. Even Magnolia looked at her with eyes full of disbelief, her mouth widely opened. Only Starry Skies continued to fixate her notebook while still crying.

Austere Knowledge had turned his back to the class to write down another calculation from his book as Flurry Heart spoke up to him, but now he spun around at the spot and gave Flurry Heart a glare that would be best described as “poisonous”. His face showing cold, unrestrained anger over being challenged like this, he countered Flurry Heart's question. “Is there a problem you have, princess?” he hissed.

Fear pierced through Flurry Heart and she looked down on her desk for a moment. Sunny bent over to her. “What are you doing, Flurry?” she whispered.

Flurry Heart gave her a short, nervous look as answer, but then she composed herself and looked at her teacher again. “Y-Yes, I have. Why are you talking with her like this?”

The disbelief Austere Knowledge felt upon this answer could be read in his face. Flurry Heart expected him to shout back at her now, but nothing like this happened. Instead, he raised a hoof and shot it at Starry Skies. The rest of the class followed his outstretched hoof, only Flurry Heart kept looking at him.

“Starry Skies!”, he now shouted at the other filly, who twitched as a reaction. “You have failed to solve your task today and you even began to cry when you couldn't solve it. In my class” – his voice became more sneering – “I neither tolerate fails nor weaknesses! Do you understand this?”

Starry Skies shot him a look, but instead of answering, she just choked and another sob escaped her throat.

Baffled over not getting an answer, Austere Knowledge became more impatient. “It seems my question didn't come across properly.” He raised his voice significantly. “DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I JUST SAID, STARRY SKIES?”

Now the whole class twitched over the volume of his voice, the filly who was screamed at of course the most. Like before, she managed to answer out of sheer fear. “Y- Yes, Mister Know! I-I understand!”

Now satisfaction in his face, he put down his hoof and returned his attention to Flurry Heart. “There you have your answer. Starry Skies is a failure and this is the way to deal with a failure like her and to stop the failing. This is why I talk with her like this. Of course, I don't expect a princess to understand this. For the likes of you, fails in life don't matter.” His voice was quieter and composed again now, but emanated a coldness that gave Flurry Heart chills.

As the word “failure” washed over Starry Skies for the first time, it sent her into another crying fit. It was stronger now. She let her quill fall and held her hooves over her eyes. Her sobs were audible in the whole classroom now. “I-I'm not a f-failure,” she managed to press out between two of them, luckily quiet enough that Austere Knowledge didn't hear these words.

Finally, a filly with a green coat who was sitting to Starry's left got up and went over to her, rubbing over her back with her right hoof as she had reached her. Then she dried her tears with a tissue in the other one while whispering something into Starry's ears. Starry nodded and her lips formed a small smile as she looked at her friend.

As Starry had begun to cry so loudly, Flurry Heart was retracting her attention from her teacher and looked back at the distraught filly. Now, shock was adorning her face, which Austere Knowledge noticed satisfiedly as she directed her eyes at him again.

“Now.....” he began and paused intentionally before continuing. “Is there any other problem you have? Anything else you would like to ask me now?” He looked at her smugly and with a sly grin.

And there was. A lot more questions were on Flurry Heart's mind after seeing this cruel display. She still didn't approve of this, even less so now, but also didn't dare to criticize her teacher more after what happened. She slumped down onto her stool. “No,” the little alicorn answered his question resignated.

The smug on his face deepened, then he turned around and headed back to his place at the blackboard. Flurry Heart made another look back to Starry Skies, a sorrowful expression in her eyes. Then she turned around, grabbed her quill again and looked back at her notebook. Having noticed the expression, Sunny bent over to her again. “Are you alright?” she asked her.

“Mhm. I'm fine,” she answered with emphasis. Understanding, Sunny Spirit did a short look behind her too, then she focused her attention on her own notebook, out of words for now.

As Flurry Heart had dipped her quill into the ink bottle and was ready to write up the rest of the calculations, she looked ahead to the blackboard, just to see something surprising and worrisome. Instead of having written another calculation at the plenty of space at the bottom of the blackboard, her teacher had erased everything on it.

“Everypony who has not written up all the tasks from the blackboard by now, make sure to have everything complete anyway. I will check your notebooks thoroughly in math class tomorrow.”

An exchanged look with Sunny Spirit showed Flurry Heart that her friend wasn't able to write everything down either.

Flurry Heart sighed. This was a long lesson anyway.

Author's Note:

I'm not sorry for the pun at the top. Upon discovering that "hecticness" can also be described as "flurry of activity", I just had to do it. :scootangel: