The manticore lunged, claws extended as it struck out at a dainty-looking pearlescent unicorn. She ducked under the blow, and in the same fluid motion whirled to deliver a precisely aimed kick.
Such a kick could never defeat such a monster, but it was jarring - enough that the manticore didn’t strike again immediately, instead roaring its frustration at its target-turned-assailant.
Until that moment, Rarity hadn’t known she had it in her.
And that, once the urgency of the quest for the Elements was over and she had time to relax and breathe, made Rarity think.
A kick of such force and precision - where had she learned that?
Applejack sighed, shaking her head.
“I heard you, dear, I just.. but… why?”
Rarity gave the farmpony her most dewy-eyed, flutter-lashed, pouty pleading stare; Applejack stared back a moment before clearing her throat and looking pointedly back at the tree.
“Yer not hittin’ the right place. Not doin’ as much as y’could.”
“I got the apples down!” Rarity cried, stomping an indignant hoof. Applejack smiled, shaking her head.
Somewhere, between Rarity’s frazzled mane, dripping sweat and quaking legs, Applejack reconsidered this entire meeting. In fact, Applejack had her doubts long before; when she had first confronted the problem. Rarity’s problem. As simple and plain as the farm life, Rarity couldn’t fight. Period.
Once before, Applejack may have considered the unicorn’s prowess, given her feistiness during Twilight’s first slumber party. The boldness. The uncracking determination to be on top, to win every argument, no matter how absurd. And the pillow fight… Indeed, it seemed Rarity could hold her own in a physical conflict.
Then came the Diamond Dogs.
Applejack was the first to visit Rarity the day after that fiasco. The problem had to be addressed. Rarity had to understand that fancy words—no matter how whiny or mind-grating—didn’t always work. Applejack was no liar, and Rarity seemed to forget that, actually tearing up a bit at the farmer’s harsh, but true, words.
Rarity couldn’t deny. Anypony who knew Rarity couldn’t deny. Rarity couldn’t fight. So with averted eyes and a sticky, dry gulp, she agreed to Applejack’s terms. Rarity would subject herself to the art of battle. She would foreswear her sense of decency with a puffed chest and a proud chin. She would learn to fight.
Threats of muddy tracks on every square inch of Carousel Boutique helped, of course…
It was well known by everypony that the magic of Equestria often manifested as music. Everypony, no matter how bad a singer or musician, had music in their hearts, and making a town break into song could often be almost disturbingly easy for the right pony. For this reason, musicians held a special acclaim in Equestrian society, sometimes regarded as the accompanists of the pony’s lives. But for the majority of ponies, this innate manifestation of magical music was simply a pleasant distraction every now and again. For a few conspiracy theorists, it was a sign of Celestia’s tyranny, but nopony really listened to them.
But for a very select few, the music wasn’t just music. For those with the aptitude, the focus and the passion, the music was a way to defend their home from whatever might come their way.
The pegasus was soaring over the streets of the city when a bolt of blue magic slammed into his side, as he fell, he tucked one wing in, extended the other all the way out for a brief moment, using the motion to stabilise his fall, and he hit the pavement hooves first. On his way down, he had caught a glance at his attacker, a yellow earth pony mare with a blue mane, and holding a fiddle. The pegasus’ eyes cut to the nearby rooftop as a jaunty tune began to ring out over the nearby streets, and then more bolts of the self-same blue magic began arcing out over the buildings, exploding on contact with the ground, and the pegasus took off, running down the streets, as the magic continued to pepper the ground around him.
“But mom, I don’t want to!” whined the filly unicorn, as an older one dragged her along magically by her hind legs.
“Now look sweetie, just because you’ve got your cutie mark doesn’t mean you can’t do other things. Your father and I both think that you should learn how to defend yourself, and it will stop you from getting too pudgy,” the elder unicorn explained, as she renewed her magical grasp on the filly, “And besides,” she continued, “some of your classmates will be there as well. Don’t you want to see them?”
“I don’t want them to see me, though. I’ll be all icky and gross!”
“Oh look, we’re here,” chirped the elder unicorn, as the two arrived at a large building on the outskirts of town. The outside was well kept, and a small rock garden was laid out next to the entrance, and the sign above the door proudly proclaimed the owner and their rank. Upon entering, they saw ponies of all shapes, sizes and types engaged in various practice routines. Some were limbering up, swinging their legs and stretching, others were running through routines, and towards the back of the hall, a group of fillies and colts seemed to be engaged in a game of tag. As the two unicorns watched all this, one of the unicorns in the class spotted them, and made her way over to them.
“Hello, dears. Are you here to sign up?” greeted the unicorn, “my name is Rarity, by the way.”
Laughter pealed from the largest booth in Sugarcube Corner. Twilight Sparkle and her friends sat around the table enjoying hot chocolate to warm them from the snowstorm outside. It was late, the sun had set hours before and Rainbow Dash was retelling one of her stories from flight school.
“He came right at me, full speed with his hooves ready to beat the hay outa me.” Dash reenacted the scene as she spoke, her audience giving her their full attention. ”Anypony else woulda just gotten out of there but not The Dash! No, was ready for him. He came swinging at me and I just ducked his hooves and,” Rainbow Dash lowered herself in her seat and then popped up, delivering an uppercut to thin air. “Boom. He was out cold.”
A chorus of wows echoed from the circle of friends. Rainbow’s chest swelled with pride. The conversation lulled as Dash drank her hot chocolate. Suddenly Twilight stiffened. A voice whispered in her ear. “Know what you’re facing.”
“Wow, Rainbow! That’s impressive. Did you ever take self defense classes?” Twilight asked, feigning interest.
Rainbow takes in a deep breath, closing her eyes tightly. She can hear her dad coming up the stairs, ready to wake her up as he has every day before flight camp. She grits her teeth, trying to resist crying, even if it’s just for now. “Dashie, it’s time to wake up!” He announces from just outside the young filly’s door.
She wants so badly just to say “no” but she can’t. Every time she tries to respond, her throat closes up and tears run down her face. She wants to tell him so badly about the mean colts who make fun of her and who have tormented her for the past week. And today will probably be no different.
Instead, she sighs, sitting up in her soft cloud bed and yawning. “I’ll be right there, daddy.” She calls, loud enough for him to hear, but so loud that she’s yelling. Quickly, she brushes her teeth and mane before pulling on her saddle-bags that her mom packed with her lunch for today. Looking up into his kind green eyes, she feels so inclined to spill absolutely everything, but she resists. She needs to learn how to fight her own battles. At least, that’s what all the other foals tell her.
As he has every day, her father flies her to the camp, dropping her off and kissing her lightly on the forehead. “I’ll see you in a couple hours, have fun!” He calls back as he takes off back towards home. She waves back until he’s out of sight, and that’s when she hears them.
“Hey there, Rainbow Crash,” He says, his voice coming from directly behind her. He’s a year older than her, but the camp groups campers by age, each containing three ages. Rainbow is the youngest and, since all three of those colts are a year older than her, they are too. “Aww, does daddy still fly you places?” He taunts.
Fluttershy kept her head down low, and kept nodding. Her chest ached with every word Pinkie said to her. Her wings twitched with every syllable. She bit her lip, because she was afraid she might scream if she let her mouth open.
“…It just isn’t working,” Pinkie said. Fluttershy could tell the words hurt Pinkie to say as much as they hurt her to hear them. Her ears sagged, and she kept pausing to sniff back tears between sentences. “You’re really, really nice, and you know how much I love you…”
Fluttershy winced. She had heard those three words from Pinkie so many times, and each time had always been unique, but this one was the first time it had ever hurt to hear them. “I—I know,” she agreed.
Pinkie smiled weakly at her. “…But we’re just really, really different ponies. I thought…” She paused, and took a deep, unsteady breath. “I thought that didn’t matter. I thought it was as simple as ‘I love you, you love me, we can be happy together.’ But we’re not happy.” Fluttershy could swear she saw Pinkie’s mane deflate as she admitted this.
A lump formed in Fluttershy’s throat. She swallowed. Pinkie was right, they weren’t happy. Fluttershy wasn’t happy when Pinkie dragged her to social events she didn’t want to go to. Pinkie wasn’t happy when she saw how little fun her marefriend was having at the very things that Pinkie had intended to make her feel better. Neither of them were happy when it came time to discuss what was going wrong.
That’s all she wrote. The stories will be posted shortly.
As usual on Tuesdays, this is a writing clinic, meaning I will be critiquing all stories I receive today. Critique is a service we always offer on request, but today, it’s standard.
The Prompt: Learning to fight.
(Video not necessarily related. I just think it’s cool.)
This is a 30-minute pony writing prompt. Take as long as you like to think and plan, but once you start writing your story, you’re on the clock. Stories will be accepted for five hours, until 7 PM Pacific time, 10 PM Eastern, and 2 AM GMT. If you do not have a Tumblr account, email your story to us at thirtyminuteponies at gmail dot com.
“Come on! Harder! Harder!”
“That’s as hard as I can do it!”
“What is going on in here?! Oh. I see. Well, carry on, I guess. Just try not to hurt yourselves.”
“OK, now give it to me harder!”
Today’s pony writing prompt will be unveiled in one hour, at 2 PM Pacific time, 5 PM Eastern, and 9 PM GMT.
“C’mon, put ‘em up! Put ‘em up!”
“… Put what up?”
“I— I don’t actually know.”
Today’s prompt will be revealed at 2 PM Pacific time, 5 PM Eastern, and 9 PM GMT.
Those three really should have learned their lesson after the Cheerilee and Big Mac situation. Also all those other times they should’ve learned a lesson. Oh well! Enjoy some strange stories about silly shippers.
The prompt: One of the Cutie Mark Crusaders ships two of the others.
Apple Bloom blinked in confusion as a full picnic service appeared between herself and Scootaloo. A pitcher full of ice-cold lemonade wobbled precariously on her physics textbook, a plate of sandwiches bounced off her saddlebags and fell into the long grass, and an entire bowl of salad sat upside-down on Scootaloo’s head, showering her withers with leafy greens and diced tomatoes. She glanced around behind her, and sure enough, the telltale glint of a telescope lense flared out from Sweetie’s bedroom window across the lake from where they sat. With an ominous whistling sound, a shadow grew in size above her head. Apple Bloom looked up in alarm just in time to catch a faceful of tapioca.
She pulled the bowl from her mane with a wet little splort and sighed through the layers of dessert. “Now this is just getting ridiculous.”
Scootaloo brushed a reluctant cucumber off her neck and sighed in agreement. “I mean, it’s not like we don’t know she’s watching us,” she groused, puffing her windswept purple bangs out of her eyes. “She stopped being subtle weeks ago.”
Apple Bloom wiped the worst of her face onto the grass and clover beside her, sneezing lightly after a faceful of pollen. “I mean, when have we ever shown any legitimate signs of attraction toward each other anyhow?”
Scootaloo rolled her eyes. “I swear she gets it from Rarity, though. Remember the week when Applejack and Twilight were arguing? And she made them matching outfits? The two of them will see anything and call it unrequited passion.”
“Soooooo, Apple Bloom….” Sweetie Bell grinned at her fellow crusader.
Winter had just arrived and Applebloom was was busy making some much needed repairs to the clubhouse after the previous day of crusading. They had decided that Cutie Mark Crusaders demolitions experts probably wasn’t for them after all. Really it had only been a few left over fireworks, but Scootaloo would still need to rest up until at least tomorrow. Luckily the first snow of winter had covered most of the incriminating evidence.
“What’s on your mind Sweetie Belle?”
“Oh, I’m just wondering.”
Applebloom sighed. “Wondering what?” She was looking right at Sweetie Bell now, noticing for the first time her very pleased grin.
“Oh, nothing. I’m just wondering what you think of Scootaloo?”
“Well, you and her are my best friends. I’d do anything for either of you, you know that.”
“Oh yes!” Sweetie continued to grin. “I know how you feel about us, but how how do you feel about her?”
Applebloom blinked. “What’s this all about?”
“Well….I couldn’t help but notice that you got Scootaloo to the lake pretty fast yesterday.”
“Her tail was on fire.” Apple Bloom said in a hesitant tone. Hedging her bets she slowly added “And ah would have done the same for you.”
Scootaloo sighed. She was in detention yet again. “Stupid Diamond Tiara and her stupid insults,” she grumbled under her breath. She got a harsh stare from Cheerilee and shut up. With another deep sigh she took out her math homework. She looked over the sheet with disgust and quickly pushed it aside. Instead, she reached down into her backpack and pulled out the cleanest sheet of paper she could find.
Scootaloo began to doodle, letting her mind wander and draw whatever it would come to. Slowly a castle began to take shape on the paper. It was one simple tower with a balcony near the top. A faraway look washed over Scootaloo’s face as she worked, a story slowly coming to mind.
The knight dove away as fire engulfed the stairs. It wasn’t much further to the room of the Princess if only the dragon could be dealt with. The knight turned brandishing a sword at the dragon. It was a fierce creature. It’s purple and green colors told of the powerful magic and dangerous strength. Bones of countless challengers littered the ground around its feet.
The knight ducked a deadly swipe of the dragons claws and continued up the stairs. The dragon’s scales were too strong to be damaged. The only chance the poor knight had was to get at its head.