• 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.

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Chapter 6: Lessons in Magic

As the bell rang again and the next lesson began, Flurry Heart and Sunny Spirit entered the classroom to get ready for it. Coincidentally, Magnolia entered the room at the same time and the bully didn't pay them any attention, except for a shy glance she presented Flurry Heart with. Her eyes were still puffy and red.

The meaning of all of this was still a mystery to Flurry Heart. After Magnolia's teary breakdown during recess, she and Sunny had returned under the trees for the last few minutes to talk about the incident. Magnolia's reaction was aligned with what Sunny suspected, yet the intensity of it completely surprised her. She expected a reluctant apology out of repentance, though not without a certain amount of stubbornness that would let it shine through that she was still the old one. Now Sunny wasn't sure anymore if Magnolia was really still the old one.

There was the fact that she said that she's still hating Flurry Heart. It seemed to confirm that the bully didn't really change, but at the same time, what Magnolia did there was a confession. A confession about her feelings towards Flurry Heart, perhaps the first time she ever told somepony about them. There was something Sunny didn't want to just dismiss, the possibility that Magnolia confessed her hate because of guilt, that she just wanted to get it off her chest. Saying to still hate Flurry Heart did not necessarily mean that the hate would persist and maybe the pegasus filly would now work on it to leave this hate behind, after she realized what it could cause.

She had discussed these things with Flurry Heart before recess was over, but Flurry shook her head vehemently over Sunny's presumptions. Despite the heartfelt apology the bully made and all the distress she had demonstrated while doing so, Flurry Heart decided in the end to not buy it. Magnolia was always cunning and she liked it to play schemes, that's something both of them knew well from the past. Flurry was convinced it was a trick and that Magnolia was just a very good actor. Why she would do this, despite that nopony who could become dangerous for Magnolia knew about the incident with her wing in front of the school's gate, was something Flurry was as clueless about as Sunny was, but nonetheless, her decision was to continue to be careful around Magnolia and to avoid her path as best as she could. It was the one thing Sunny agreed with her on, yet she still continued to hope for it that Magnolia would change now, despite Flurry's persistent scepticism. The shy glance at Flurry Heart seemed to confirm her hope.

Smiling, she looked over to her friend as well, to see if there was a sign of her warming up for Magnolia, but she was met with a disapproving frown. It was something Sunny couldn't mind her for, after all that happened. She nodded at Flurry Heart as a sign of understanding.

As they were sitting at their desks, Austere Knowledge already entered the room, being early as usual, and without losing time, he began his lesson.

As on every Wednesday, their last lesson of the day would be Magic Class, the one lesson that was exclusively visited by unicorns and Flurry Heart, so it was now time for Magic Theory. The lesson about all the theoretical aspects of magic was placed at this time in their class schedule to serve as preparation for the lesson in which they would use magic practically. Often, the subjects of the two lessons would be connected in some way and build on each other, so when Austere Knowledge announced this theory lesson's subject to be about protective shield magic, Flurry Heart expected that this would be what she, the unicorns in her class and the unicorns from the other classes would practice next lesson. For now, it was just theory, though, and after announcing the subject, Austere Knowledge was busy with drawing a sketch of a magical shield from his book on the blackboard. As he was done, he turned around to his class and after igniting his horn, the aura surrounding it formed a black barrier around him. It was see-through, yet his dark coat color made it still hard to spot him inside of it. But his voice could still be heard clear, as became apparent when he started to explain.

“Shield Spell A,” his loud voice echoed across the classroom. “A light protection spell that is almost as old as magic itself. The inventor of this spell is unknown, but the spell's first mentions in history books date back as far as right after the founding of Equestria, so it is assumed that the spell already existed before Equestria was discovered by ponies. The shield that is created by the spell does not withstand magical impacts, but it is suitable to protect from the impact of small physical items, a fall from heights not bigger than thirty-five feet and it is often used to protect fragile items from breaking as well. A simple spark of magic shot at it lets the shield dissipate.” Done with the explanation, he turned his attention back to the blackboard and wrote on it what he just said.

While Flurry Heart was busy with copying the text into her notebook, the words of her teacher brought her back to a conversation with her mom she had some time ago. It was after she read about creatures called “Windigos” in a book in the castle's library and eager to find out more about them, she asked her mom for information.

It was this way that Flurry Heart heard about how Equestria was founded and what the windigos did to their former homeland their race originally came from. It was something that frightened her, so she wanted to know if the windigos could return and bury the empire too. In her fear, she was drawing connections to the cold weather around the Crystal Empire that was only kept outside by the magic of the Crystal Heart, assuming that they could already be here. Her mom just chuckled at the notion and clarified that the windigos were long gone and that they won't return as long as the ponies of Equestria would live together in harmony, which calmed Flurry Heart's worries. As she wanted to know why the Crystal Heart was needed to live here in these weather conditions, her mom explained her that the weather was just too strong up north to be controlled by pegasi, which was the reason why only powerful protection magic could make it possible to live here.

All these facts amazed Flurry Heart, yet what stuck in her memory the most from this conversation was a strange nervous reaction by her mom when she came to talk about the protection the Crystal Heart offered them. What she took away from that was the importance the Crystal Heart had for the citizens of the empire, so she didn't ask any questions about it.

The question Flurry Heart asked herself now, though, was if a pony could manage to cast a protection spell as powerful as the one the Crystal Heart created around the empire to protect it from the weather of the arctic north. While musing about it, she was thrown out of her thoughts again as Austere Knowledge continued his lesson. A magical shield bigger than the one before was now drawn on the blackboard and Austere Knowledge was already facing the class again, once more surrounded by a barrier. It didn't look much different, though it was slightly bigger and Austere Knowledge seemed to have completely vanished inside, if it wouldn't be for his voice that indicated he was still there.

“Shield Spell B,” his taut, stoic voice rang out to the class. “Allows protection from falling down heights not bigger than seventy feet and can reflect small amounts of magic. As the spell before, the inventor of it and the exact time of its creation are unknown.” Like before, he deactivated the spell and wrote on the blackboard what he just said, followed by his students copying the text into their notebooks.

This formula was continued by Austere Knowledge who explained spell after spell, until they were close to the end of the lesson. As Flurry Heart had already guessed, they would actually practice the first of the spells, Shield Spell A, as the book of her teacher called it, and learn how to use it.

Austere Knowledge shut his book and returned the piece of chalk he had used back to the blackboard. “Unicorns,” he said while he let his eyes wander over the unicorn foals in the class, without giving Flurry Heart any mention, “get ready for Magic Class now. I expect you in a few minutes in the schoolyard.”

The schoolbell rang the moment he had finished and the foals in the class began to pack their saddlebags after this announcement and as the first ones already wanted to leave the classroom, Austere Knowledge unexpectedly addressed them again. “And here is an announcement for tomorrow. Since we approach the end of the chapter about Starswirl the Bearded and his numerous contributions to the Equestria as we know it, I want you to contemplate what you can contribute to Equestria one day when you are older. To do this, I expect all of you to retrieve a certain information until tomorrow. I want that all of you who don't know it yet ask their parents about the origins of your name, which you will then recite in front of the class.” He paused for a moment to see if everypony in the class understood, then he continued to speak. “Everypony except for the attendees of Magic Class are dimissed now.” Then he left his position at the blackboard and headed out of class, the book about the magic spells hovering at this side wrapped in his black aura.

Immediately when Flurry Heart had heard what Austere Knowledge asked of them to find out until tomorrow, she looked up. For her teacher, it was just a method to hopefully get his students realize their special talents earlier, as names of ponies usually reflect those. But for Flurry Heart, it was an assignment that let her start pondering.

As curious as she often was, this was something she had never asked her parents about. “Flurry Heart” was just her name, what should be special about it? It never crossed her mind what it stood for, but now the alicorn filly was hooked. And now that she thought about it, she found that her name was a riddle to her. The meanings of the names of the ponies she knew were obvious, or at least easy to explain once you did some thoughts about them. “Sunny Spirit”, “Austere Knowledge”, “Shining Armor”..... All of them seemed to have to do with the special talent of a pony or at least their personality. But hers? What was “Flurry Heart” supposed to mean? Did it mean that she had a big heart? But this was true for a lot of ponies and this alone couldn't be everything that was to it. And she had never heard that having a big heart could be a special talent of a pony. And why the addition “Flurry”? This was a term that Flurry Heart had never heard of before, aside from her own name.

All these thoughts circled through Flurry's head and she couldn't await now to get home and find out what her untypical name meant. In her mind, she already spun an exciting story around its origins, after all, such a mysterious name had to have a big, epic story behind it!

Buried in her thoughts, Flurry Heart didn't notice the nudge at her side. “Flurry! Hey, Flurry!”

As she felt shaken, she looked aside, to see Sunny who had grabbed her at her shoulder.

“Sunny?” she asked, confusion in her eyes. Then she shook her head. “Sorry, I was just thinking about this assignment. Do you know what your name means?”

Sunny shook her head too now, although for a different reason. “No, but I have a hunch! What about you?”

“I have no idea,” Flurry Heart answered puzzled. “I never asked my parents and can't think of anything that 'Flurry Heart' could mean.”

“Well, you're going to find out soon!” Sunny replied cheerfully. But then she became stern. “But better hurry now! You know how Mr. Know reacts to latecomers.” Hearing this reminded Flurry Heart again on something that she had almost forgotten over the events of the morning:

She still had to face three hours of detention today!

A sigh escaped her throat. The happy mood she was in until now vanished in a matter of seconds.

Sunny Spirit noticed and lifted up her chin. “Hey, should I wait here until after your detention so that we can go home together?”

Flurry Heart gave her friend a smile, but then she shook her head. “No, it's okay. I don't want that you have any trouble because of me. I just see you again tomorrow!” She gave her a hug, then the two friends took their saddlebags and left the classroom together.

As they had also left the corridor leading up to it and entered the lobby of the school, the two fillies exchanged yet another hug, then both of them headed into different directions; Sunny Spirit to the entrance gate and Flurry Heart to the open door that led outside into the schoolyard. The two fillies waved at each other a last time, then both of them headed outside through their respective doors.

In the schoolyard, Flurry Heart quickly took a turn to the right and made her way through the trees to the center of it. The unicorns were already lined up, sixteen in total, as many unicorn students as the magic kindergarden of the Crystal Empire had, and waited for Austere Knowledge's arrival.

At the end of the row, Flurry Heart spotted Starry Skies, who glanced from side to side, nervously rubbing a hoof over her left leg. She galloped up to her and took place at her side. “Hey, Starry!” Flurry Heart presented the young unicorn with a smile.

Shyly, Starry Skies smiled back at her. “Hi, Flurry.....”

Flurry Heart noticed a slight shiver going through her body. “Is something wrong?” she asked her and her lips pointed downwards. She eyed Starry Skies with a sad expression.

“I-It's okay,” the other filly replied, trembling slightly more now. “I-I'm just nervous. Like always..... You know that Mr. Know always chooses me for the performances and demonstrations.”

Without speaking a word, Flurry Heart nodded. It was like this in every lesson. If Starry Skies attended Magic Class and there was a new spell Mr. Know taught them about, it was always Starry Skies who ended up on the receiving end. Flurry Heart didn't completely understand why, but after what happened today, she guessed it was another way to “stop the failing”.

It was true that Starry Skies wasn't exactly talented in a whole lot of things. For some reason, she was always very slow in learning, unlike her classmates, and while she was a cheerful, happy filly like all the others when she came into the school, this quickly changed over the course of a few months when she more and more realized that she wasn't quite as good as the other students. And the way her teacher treated her contributed to this.

Flurry Heart put a hoof over Starry's shoulders and pulled her close. “Don't worry, I'm sure it's going to be fine. It's not the first time he puts you in the spotlight like this and you always made it through!”

But the encouraging words didn't have the intended effect on the unicorn. Desperation in her eyes, Starry Skies looked down on the crystal ground. “Thank you for trying to cheer me up, Flurry. B-But.....” She stopped and closed her eyes. A single tear was dropping out of them. “It's really just hopeless. He will never stop with it and it gets harder every time. I don't know how for how long I can still take it.....” She opened her eyes again and looked over to Flurry Heart. Flurry felt a pain in her chest as she noticed that the unicorn filly's eyes were filled with tears now. “I-It's better you don't try to cheer me up, Flurry. It just makes everything worse.”

The concern in Flurry Heart's face turned into confusion. “Why? What are you talking about?”

Now Starry Skies looked back on the ground again, tears streaming down her face in thin rivers now. “I-It's because of Fiery Breeze. She.....” Starry choked. “She tried to cheer me up too today, right after we met you during recess, but it didn't work this time. Then she got mad and yelled at me and then..... Then she just left me standing and galloped into the schoolhouse. She hasn't talked to me since then and left without saying bye..... She hates me now, I know it.”

Flurry Heart increased the squeeze around Starry's shoulders and shook her head. “No, she was just angry. I'm sure she's sorry already and will talk to you again tomorrow. You are very good friends, Starry.”

Starry Skies let out a tear-filled sigh. “She even said that she's tired and sick of dealing with a wimp like me when she left. I don't think she likes me anymore.....”

Flurry Heart started with another reply, as she was interrupted by Austere Knowledge's sharp voice.

“Stand to attention, unicorns!” his bellowing voice washed over them as his towering appearance emerged between the trees in front of them.

Starry Skies twitched and instinctively, she rubbed the tears out of her eyes and removed Flurry Heart's hoof from her shoulders. Flurry Heart could see that Starry was trying to look as strong as possible. It didn't decrease her concern for the young unicorn.

Austere Knowledge took position in front of the row of students and let his eyes wander over them. He scrutinized them intensely before he continued to speak.

“As you are all here, we will start immediately, there is never time to lose.” He averted his gaze from them and trotted to a wooden box at the other end of the row, opposite from where Flurry Heart and Starry Skies stood. A low stack of paper was placed on it. To its right were a large number of round pebbles, all of them neatly arranged in perfect rows. He ignited his horn and hovered the stack of paper off of the box and let each of the papers fly into the unicorn foals' hooves. “These are your instructions. The illustrations and the text on the paper explain how you have to concentrate on your magic and horns to cast the shield spell I told you about earlier. Read everything thoroughly and then we start with the practice.” He took his position in front of the row again, from where he could overlook all the students that stood before him. “I expect everyone of you to give your all. Now start reading!”

All the students did as he had told them and took in the instructions. Austere Knowledge looked from student to student, observing them closely while they did so. Minutes passed and one foal after another looked up from the paper in its hooves and over to Austere Knowledge, signaling that it was done reading. Starry Skies was the last one who finished the task and looked up as well, yet didn't dare to look into her teacher's eyes. As he continued to speak it showed that he had noticed, though.

“Now that you are finally all finished, I want you to cast the spell so that I can see if you understood the instructions. Everyone at once first and then I will test for each one of you individually how stable your magical shield is.” He looked over the students to see if they were ready and as he found this confirmed, he gave them the final command. “Start casting!” he shouted.

All at once, the students ignited their horns. An assortment of differently colored magical auras flashed up in front of Austere Knowledge; blue, dark-purple, yellow, red and many others, that bathed the crystal ground into their multi-colored lights and were reflected by it.

Seconds later, all the magical auras formed a barrier around the foals like they saw their teacher demonstrating it in the last lesson. Her teeth clenched, even Starry Skies managed it to create the magical barrier around her body.

Austere Knowledge nodded satisfied. Carefully, he checked every student's spell. Then he nodded again. “Release it!” he commanded then.

The students let the magic around them dissipate, some of them breathing harder now. Exhausted from the exercise, Starry Skies had to sit down. “Are you okay?” Flurry Heart, who didn't have too many troubles with the spell, asked her worried.

“Mhm,” Starry nodded affirmatively, but her breaths were going strong.

Without hesitation, Austere Knowledge trotted over to the wooden box again, where he turned around to face his students once more. “And now I will test the stability of your spells.” Demonstratively, he hovered up one of the pebbles. “I will use my magic to throw these small rocks at you. The shields you cast will get weaker with every impact, unless you inject more magic into them, but you should be able to cast one that can take three impacts of an object with the size and density of these rocks without having to charge it again. If you can't do this, you need more practice. Did you understand?”

“Yes, Mr. Know!” it sounded across the row of students as all of them answered at the same time.

“Good, then we start. As always, we begin with the failure. Failure, come out and take position in front of me and the box.” He said these words without so much as looking at Starry Skies.

The little unicorn gulped, then she proceeded to leave the row and do what was asked of her, but Flurry Heart put a hoof on her shoulder and she stopped, looking at her curiously. Flurry Heart had her eyes closed, which gave her face a very serious expression, and slowly shook her head.

“Failure! I said come out and take position in front of me and the box,” Austere Knowledge shouted again as he couldn't hear any hoofsteps approaching him.

A few seconds passed and as there was still no reaction from Starry Skies, he turned around to her swiftly and looked in anger at the filly he assigned this cruel nickname to. “Starry Skies!”, his voice bellowed, noticeably louder now. “I was calling you two times and by now you should know who I mean when I talk about failure! Finally come here or you can join your princess in detention today!”

Now Flurry Heart nodded at Starry Skies and removed her hoof from her shoulder. She gave her a smile, then the unicorn made her way towards the teacher.

As she had taken position in front of him and the box, in some distance so that the pebbles could gather speed before reaching her, her knees were shaking.

Austere Knowledge addressed her. “I know you don't amount to anything, you never got much right in any of my lessons, but let's gets this over and done with for the sake of completion. Cast the spell again,” he commandeered the little filly sternly.

Starry nodded and gulped, then she concentrated her magic and, once more with clenched teeth, the magical shield of a dark-purple color built up around her. Without saying more, Austere Knowledge shot the first pebble, that still hovered in his own magical aura, at the shield around Starry. She closed her eyes and then with a pling, the pebble hit the surface of the shield. Some waves rippled over it due to the impact and the pebble fell down in front of it and hit the ground.

Unimpressed, Austere Knowledge took another pebble into his magical grip and threw it at the shield in the same way as before. Preparing herself for the next impact, Starry Skies closed her eyes again, but the pebble was prevented from reaching her by the magical shield once more.

Raising an eyebrow, Austere Knowledge took the first and last pebble that was meant for her and sent it into her direction. This time, Starry Skies had less luck. With almost the same amount of speed as it had when the aura of Austere Knowledge vanished around it – the shield was still strong enough to slow it down, although not much – it went right through the surface and impacted on Starry Skies' cheek. It slit open her skin a little and a scratch appeared. At the same time, Starry Skies' concentration vanished and the magical shield around her disappeared. Exhausted, she broke down at the spot and gasped for air.

Austere Knowledge's eyes were full of disdain as they fell upon Starry and the miserable appearance she offered right now. “And another fail,” he said casually, yet with slight anger sounding in his voice. “I am not surprised. At least you served as an example for how to not do it. Return to your spot and watch the other students from there. Maybe a miracle happens and you learn something from it.” The last sentence was finished with the attempt of a dry laugh.

Shaking and on unsteady hooves, Starry Skies slowly rose from the ground and began to make her way back to Flurry Heart. Her head felt hot and her surroundings seemed to pulsate and circle around her. Flurry Heart was worried she would collapse again, but eventually, the little unicorn had joined her side again, right when the next student Austere Knowledge had called was finished with his exercise.

Starry Skies leaned against Flurry Heart, still breathing heavy. New tears streamed down her face, the salt in them burning on her scratch. She sniffed. “Now I tried so hard and I failed again.” Unrestrained, she cried into Flurry Heart's coat.

For a few minutes, the little alicorn princess didn't say anything and just let her cry it out. As she began to calm down, Flurry Heart turned around gently and put a hoof onto Starry's mane. “You did great, Starry! Don't listen to him and don't push yourself too hard!” Flurry Heart bent forward and brought her horn down on Starry's cheek. A blue blob of magic left it at the tip and when it touched Starry's scratch, it closed immediately, leaving only a thin line of hairless skin where it once was.

As Starry Skies felt the burning suddenly stop, she looked up and over at Flurry Heart, astonishment covering her face. “How.....” she began, but couldn't finish the sentence in all her surprise.

“Just a little healing spell my mom taught me,” she explained. “But it only works for small wounds, so be careful when practicing!”

A tiny smile flashed over Starry's face, but it was soon replaced by more sadness. She let her head hang. “Practicing..... For what? It won't work anyway.....”

Flurry Heart moved a hoof under Starry's chin and lifted it. “Hey, your performance wasn't as bad as Mr. Know made it sound like! Just look!” She pointed with her hoof into the direction where another student had just taken position to get her shield tested.

The filly looked more nervous than Starry Skies and repeatedly failed to even cast the spell. As Starry Skies didn't move, Flurry Heart engulfed her in her magic and vehemently turned her around. The filly that stood at the spot where Starry Skies was earlier had now finally casted her shield and the first pebble was on its way to hit it. Starry Skies' eyes grew big as it didn't hit the shield, but went through it. The other unicorn filly ducked her head and managed it in the last moment to avoid getting hit by the pebble.

“See? There are foals who are way worse than you, Starry! You are not a failure!”

Unbelieving, Starry Skies turned around to Flurry Heart again, her eyes as big as plates. Then new tears formed in her eyes, this time, though, they stood for a different emotion. With an unexpectedly swift movement, she fell around Flurry's neck, crying more into her coat and uttering a seemingly neverending amount of thank yous.

Flurry Heart responded to the hug and embraced Starry with her hooves. The only thing that interrupted the stream of gratitude leaving Starry's mouth was another command by Austere Knowledge, this time when he called Flurry Heart over. Hesitantly, they released their hugs and Flurry Heart smirked. “He really knows how to destroy a great moment. Maybe he should have gotten his cutie mark for that.” Starry Skies held a hoof at her mouth and giggled, followed by Flurry Heart chiming in.

“Flurry Heart! Would you be so kind and lower yourself to do what the other students already did now or do you want to wait until I call you with your title?” Austere Knowledge's voice was full of mockery now.

Flurry Heart rolled her eyes, then she finally walked over to her teacher and took position where the other fifteen students stood before her. Her test went well. Although it seemed to her that Austere Knowledge was throwing the pebbles much faster and with more force at her shield, all three of them bounced off of it and fell to the ground, on top of a little mountain of pebbles that had grown there by now. Only the last pebble let the shield flicker a little when the impact happened, but in the end, it couldn't get through. As she was finished, Flurry Heart let the shield dissipate and made her way back to Starry Skies, who had a huge grin on her face, admiration clearly visible in her eyes.

Without acknowledging Flurry Heart's success, Austere Knowledge spoke to the class again, a last time on this day, as Flurry Heart was the last one who got her magical shield tested by the strict teacher. “Each one of you who doesn't have a strong enough shield yet, practice the spell with the help of your parents in the way I tested your shields with you. I expect better results from everypony next week. All of you except our princess are now dismissed.” The last sentence was wrapped in glee.

The foals started to move to leave the school and get home, all except for Flurry Heart and Starry Skies. The latter looked with sadness at the young alicorn. “I feel bad for it that you are in detention now. It's probably me who should be there, not you, I could need the extra lessons anyway.....” She dropped her ears and eyed the ground.

Making Starry Skies feel bad over something she wasn't even at fault for was of course the last thing Flurry Heart wanted, so she just laughed. “Don't worry, I can deal with it! I'm just happy that you feel better now.” A trace of doubt appeared in her face. “You feel better, right?” she asked.

Starry Skies' head shot up. “Yes. I do. At least a little..... Thanks for cheering me up, Flurry! But I got to go now. I really had enough school for today.....”

Flurry Heart nodded understanding. The two fillies shared a last hug to say goodbye, then Starry Skies joined the other students, leaving Flurry Heart alone with Mr. Know on the schoolyard.

As it was to expect, the teacher didn't wait long with beginning to torture her.

“And now.” He paused and approached Flurry Heart and then positioned himself in front of her. “Now it is time for your detention.” A smug grin appeared on his face. “Go and bring the material over there into the storeroom and then come to my office.” Without awaiting an answer, he turned around and trottted into the school building.

Flurry Heart watched him disappear between the trees, then she went to the box and turned it around. She rolled her eyes and groaned. Unwillingly, Flurry put the pebbles into the box with her magic and followed her teacher into the building.