• Published 21st Feb 2017
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The Skyla Pseudonym - iisaw

Young Flurry Heart has no interest at all in being a prim and proper princess, and would much rather have wild and dangerous adventures like her Aunt Twilight.

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1 The Heart of the Problem

The Skyla Pseudonym

by iisaw

Sequel to The Celestia Code, The Luna Cypher, and The Twilight Enigma

Chapter One

The Heart of the Problem

I love my darling niece with all my heart, but….

When she was my little Furry Burry and I was her Auntie Twi-wi everything between us was simple and delightful. But foals grow up, and the only known natural-born alicorn, Her Exalted Imperial Highness, Heir Crystalline, Princess Flurry Heart had some difficult[1] phases in her teenage years.
[1] That isn't the precise word I want, but there is no good word in Equuish for the concept of constantly dancing on the knife edge of catastrophe, so it will have to suffice.

The heart of the problem wasn't something terribly unusual in teenage ponies, or teenagers of any other sapient species for that matter. Rebelliousness is a perfectly natural way for a young pony to begin to form a personality and interests separate from those of her parents. Experimentation with outré music, clothing, and such-like is usually harmless, no matter how irritating it might be. Usually harmless.

Unfortunately, Flurry wasn't a typical teenager. She was the most powerful natural sorceress in recorded history, and inextricably bound to the Heart of the Crystal Empire by destiny, blood, and magic. Her connection to the Crystal Heart that literally sustained the Empire and fed the gentle magic of the Pax Equestria, made her emotional instability a matter of grave concern to everyone in the entire hemisphere, and I'm afraid that the unfortunate direction her rebelliousness took was at least partially my fault.

I suppose I should explain.

With some modifications to the spellwork, the intra-dimensional warped space that King Sombra had added to the Crystal Palace made a fairly secure place to store sensitive material, and Cadance kindly let me use it to squirrel away some of the books, scrolls, and artifacts that I aquired on my travels.

The space had the added benefit that it was convenient for Sunburst when he wanted to do research. He was unable to cast the dark magic required to reveal the hidden archive, but I provided him with a précis of each document I added to the collection, and he called on me to retrieve any particular item he wished to study.

It was on one of these occasions, when she was still my little Furry Burry, that I exposed my niece to a side of me she had never seen before. I had come to the Empire straight over the pole from the west coast of Zebrica to lessen the chance of being ambushed by pirates, while pushing my airship Nebula's engines hard to make sure I wasn't being pursued. The item I was intent on sealing away had caused a great deal of trouble, and several ill-intentioned individuals would be more than eager to get their hooves, claws, or hands on it.

I had learned from hard experience not to dilly-dally before containing such things, and so, immediately upon arrival, I moored Nebula directly to the Crystal Palace and marched into the throne room looking more like a back-alley thug than the Princess of Friendship. I was in aeronaut half-armor, goggles askew on my forehead, mane and tail whipped into tangles by high-altitude winds, wearing my two trusty and battered short blades slung across my barrel.

Unbeknownst to me, Flurry Heart had made a fort on the dais behind the throne with some tapestries, a hoofstool and a couple of ceremonial trumpets, and was involved in a whispered conversation with the nuzzled-to-rags plush bear that Fluttershy had given her. Separated by the throne, we couldn't see each other, but Flurry could certainly hear the boom of the throne room doors being flung open and my clanking hoofsteps. She must have peered around the throne just in time to see my eyes suddenly blaze with dark power and the hidden stairway stand revealed by the black miasma that boiled from my horn.

I hadn't yet dropped the dark magic matrix when a half dozen Crystal Guardponies rushed into the room in response to Flurry's scream of fear, and so I'm sure my appearance was more than enough justification for their unhesitating attack. There were several seconds of confusion before I had gotten them all—including the two who had fallen into the open pit—subdued and securely wrapped in my magical grasp, and was blurting out a hurried explanation. Somewhere in there, Cadance teleported into the room, stuffed her daughter under one wing and teleported away.

As you might imagine, several awkward apologies and explanations to several different groups of ponies occupied most of the rest of my day. The most important of all, of course, was with Flurry Heart herself.

I cleaned up and put on my crown before meeting Cadance, Shining, and Flurry in their private apartments. Little Flurry had been given a light supper and had settled in next to her mother with a mug of hot cocoa in the parlor. Her parents had told her I would be coming and that I was Auntie Twi-wi, and not that scary thing she had seen in the throne room. She was still doubtful, but at least she didn't burst into tears when I made my appearance.

In fact, her reaction, given a few hours to think about the incident, surprised us all.

After I had settled in and said my soft and totally non-threatening hellos to everypony, Flurry wormed her way out from under her mother's wing, trotted over to me, pressed her soft little nose against mine, and frowned in that adorable manner that only completely serious small foals can manage.

"You scared me, Auntie Twi-wi!" She stomped a tiny forehoof that made no sound at all on the plush carpet.

"I know, and I'm very, very sorry, Furry Burry! I didn't mean to. You know I would never, ever hurt you, right?"

Still frowning, she said, "I guess. But you looked super-scary. Like a bad old monster."

No armor could have protected my heart from that barb. I winced. Monsters were real. We all knew that, and ponies who tried to deny the fact did their foals no service.

"Sometimes good ponies can look like monsters. You know how Auntie Luna plays pretend on Nightmare Night?"

She looked at me for a moment and then said, "You weren't pretending."

Ouch. Second touch to Flurry Heart. Cadance gave me a particular version of the stink-eye that suggested I turn the conversation around right now.

"I—I have to fight monsters sometimes. They're strong and scary, so sometimes I have to be strong and scary to stop them. I just forgot to… uhm… to be not scary when I got here."

Her frown became one of puzzlement and I let her think about it, while grinning apologetically at her parents. They didn't smile back.

Flurry poked me in the chest with a dainty hoof to get my attention. "Mummy and daddy are the strongest and bravest ponies in the world. They said they will save me from any monsters. They said I have a whole bunch of guards to help keep me safe."

I sighed with relief. "That's right, Furry Burry; they will always keep you safe."

She frowned again. "You stopped all those guards. They couldn't even move."

Oh roadapples. Third touch and match to the diminutive Princess Flurry Heart.

I made a distressed sort of gugh noise as Shiny winced and Cadance glared. "I… uh… they...uh…"

Ever gracious in victory, my niece suddenly reared and threw her forelegs around as much of my neck as she could. "That means you gotta be Monster Twi-wi for me an' help fight all the bad monsters and did you bring me back a present from Zebrica?"

She was delighted with the little mechanical elephant, and I was not banished from the Crystal Empire.

One must savour narrow escapes as well as victories.

= = =

That day may have seemed like a small incident, but it was the turning point in my relationship with my niece. Sometime thereafter, Flurry added a set of guard ponies to her collection of toys and appropriated their armor to use on my doll from her Equestrian Royals figure set.[2]
[2] I've always been vaguely embarrassed by the toys (or "collectable action figures" as Spike calls them) based on myself and my friends, but I suppose they are no worse than some of the hyperbolic works in the Royal Portrait Gallery.

To add veracity to her make-believe sessions, Flurry began asking all sorts of inconvenient questions about my adventures. I quite correctly discussed with Cadance what would be appropriate to share with her daughter, though the look I received as an immediate answer was a more helpful guide than the rest of the discussion. I tried to stick to travelogue-style descriptions of foreign lands and peoples, but Flurry would inevitably ask something along the lines of, "Were they bad people? Did you fight them?"

I carefully explained to her that there was no such thing as a bad race or culture, and that only individuals could be considered bad, and only if they consistently persisted in bad behavior.

Thereafter, her massive toy battles were fought only against creatures that had consistently persisted in bad behavior. Well, it was something.[3]
[3] And Spike getting Flurry a toy aero-dreadnought for her birthday took a lot of the heat off of me, even though I was a bit miffed that she obviously appreciated it far more than the puzzle box I brought her from Abyswhinnia.

= = =

Flurry's fantasy adventures came to a sudden halt after the battle against Grogar. The appearance of an ancient evil being intent on the destruction of Equestria was a shock to everypony, but it had happened before and the Equestrians are a strong and resilient bunch. After the struggle and devastation, they cleaned up and went on with their lives.

But Cadance had been directly involved in the fight and instrumental in Grogar's defeat.[4] We kept Flurry safe, as promised, but we were unable to keep her from witnessing the brutality and hard truths involved in fighting real monsters.
[4] A popularized account of the incident can be found in the novel The Cadance Conundrum. It is fiction, but the details of all the major events are correct, if simplified for the sake of readability.

Flurry Heart didn't seem unduly anxious or fearful after the event, but her imaginative play took a disturbing turn. After Cadance found several of her daughter's toy figures disfigured and broken, she asked her what had happened.

Flurry replied with uncharacteristic petulance. "They're just dumb toys. I didn't like them, anyway." And she refused to say anything further about it.

Cadance arranged a meeting with Luna and me. Luna, because she hoped to get some more information via the Dream Realm, and me because she somehow got it into her head that I was an expert on abnormal psychology. Or personally experienced in the subject. Or something.

"Well," I said, holding up one of the trampled toys, "this is a little goat that she went to the trouble of painting black before smashing. It's clearly supposed to be Grogar."

"May he rot in Tartarus," Cadance growled.

I ignored her curse and went on. "I think Flurry's just trying to express some sort of retroactive control over a situation where she felt helpless. Perfectly understandable."

"To her credit," Luna put in, "she was most fearful of losing you and Shining Armor, not for her own safety. She occasionally has nightmares, but they are mild, and I intervene quickly when they occur."

Cadance frowned. "But she's broken some of her favorite toys as well. Ones that are… well, good ponies."

Luna and I exchanged a glance, and that brought a smile to Cadance's face. "No," Cadance said, "they were guards and some dress-up mares. All the princess figures still have a place of honor on the shelf above her bed. You two have nothing to worry about."

We pretended that we weren't inordinately relieved by the news.

"Give it some time," I told Cadance. "I'm sure she will be just fine. She's growing up quickly and soon she'll be more interested in boys than toys."

Luna grinned and said, sotto voce, "Or girls."

Cadance's eyes widened. "Do you know something—"

"No, no!" Luna hurried to reassure her. "She hasn't had any of those dreams yet. But it won't be long before she does, I believe."

Cadance sighed and rolled her eyes. "Then it will be Shiny I have to worry about trampling things!"

= = =

And, indeed, Flurry's destructive behavior was only another phase that she quickly outgrew as she matured into an accomplished and beautiful young filly with much more worrisome phases.

The appearance of her cutie mark, a blue crystal heart overlaid by golden swirls representing magic, was a wonderful climax to the 243rd Crystal Fair, and reassured her family that her destiny was secure.

Cadance relaxed, and her husband turned into one big knot of worry.

Shining Armor threatened each of the Crystal Guard personally and individually with dire consequences should any lowly soldier dare to even look at his daughter, the princess, in "that way."

Yes, my darling brother turned into quite the hypocrite, as I never got tired of pointing out to him.

"Just you wait until you have a daughter of your own, Twi!" he rumbled at me after a particularly pointed teasing session. "You'll… oh, wait. Uhm… I guess you won't ever… uhm…" His pale coat was absolutely worthless at hiding a blush.

"Oh, we've no plans at the moment, but I've come across some very interesting old spells that would make it possible," I said, twisting the knife he had stabbed himself with. "In fact, they sound like fun, even if they don't…"

He fled before he had quite achieved the same coat color as Pinkie Pie.

It was easy to find the situation humorous when I wasn't personally involved, but that didn't last long.

= = =

"Oh, Aunt Twilight!" Flurry Heart called to me as I came to a landing on a Crystal Palace balcony about a month after her fourteenth birthday. "I'm so glad you could come!"

"I got your message and came right away." As I hugged her, I couldn't help realizing that she had gotten quite a bit taller than me without my noticing.[5]
[5] Not counting her amazingly long horn, of course. By that measure, she had overtopped me sometime around age eleven.

"I hate to bother you," she said as she broke off the hug and smiled down(!) at me. "But this is really important and personal, and I just don't feel comfortable discussing it with Mother."

Uh-oh. I was certain that Cadance must have given her The Talk by then. Why was she coming to me?

"You can talk with me about anything, Flurry! You know that." I replied, mentally steeling myself. "But surely, your mother…"

She sighed and glanced over her back at the towering spire of the Crystal Palace. "If I was a normal filly, maybe. But I'm not, Twilight! I'm the Little Princess, heir to the Empire, and so stifled by protocol and manners and what's expected of me by a thousands ponies who don't even know me, that I feel like I'm being strangled sometimes." She tossed her head, and her nostrils flared in anger. "If I hear, 'nice fillies don't do that,' one more time, I swear I'll scream! And I don't care if mother has to glue the accursed Crystal Heart back together again or not!"

I suppressed a sigh and promised myself that I would help my niece no matter how awkward or troublesome it might be. "It'll be alright, Flurry. I will do whatever I can for you. And I think you'll find that ponies who pontificate about what nice fillies do or do not do are usually dreadfully mistaken."

She threw her forelegs around me again and squealed in happiness. "Oh, I knew you'd understand, Twilight! I love you so much!"

"I love you, too, my darling niece," I replied, feeling warm all the way down to my hooves. "Now let's go inside and you can ask me your questions."

"Well, I don't have a lot of questions, actually," she said as we walked together into the palace. "I've read everything about it I could get my hooves on. What I really need is a mare with experience." She glanced shyly at me from the corner of her eye. "Somepony who knows, you know?"

All the dry, mechanical advice I had been mentally preparing evaporated. "Uhm… what, exactly—"

She turned to me, blushing slightly. "I want you to teach me; to train me. I want to be better than any other mare, ever!"

I froze. "Uh… that may not be—"

"Oh, I know you're busy and couldn't spend all your time with me! But I know a few other ponies here who aren't too afraid of Daddy to help me practice. And I've heard that Rarity is really good, so maybe you could ask her if she could help me sometimes, too? Yes, Daddy's going to be a bit upset, but he'll get over it. Oh yeah, I forgot! I've saved up to buy all the proper equipment, but I wanted to wait until you could tell me the right things to get."

"Things?" I managed to get out.

"Yes," Flurry said, looking at me questioningly. "I need to get it all fitted, right? And I've always heard that the best fencers always get their blades custom-made."

Blades? Oh, sweet Sun and Moon, blades! A huge wave of relief washed over me. Flurry just wanted me to teach her how to kill ponies with a sword.

On a moment's reflection, my relief began to wane.

= = =


Author's Note:

Thanks to the fastidious Fana Farouche and the judicious Jordanis for pre-reading and editing!

Thanks also to the perspicacious Present Perfect for casting a professional eye on the project.

Special Thanks to the serious Singularity Dream for the title! It sounds so much better than The Flurry Heart Hullabaloo.

And, lastly but not leastly, thanks to the original Oliver for sparking the idea of how to challenge insanely powerful characters.

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