Owl and Spider
A promise is a bond. A lie is a shackle that weighs down the heart. These were the strange phrases echoing in his thoughts like a catchy song Danny couldn't forget no matter how he tried. The main problem was that these peculiar ravings were so simplistic that they couldn't be anything except the stark truth, if a bit childish. The odd words hung on every breath like syrup, the pegasi trying to speak them himself at times without realizing it. Last time he remembered resting under an apple tree, but now he loitered in a foggy wasteland where nothing could be seen further than a few feet ahead. As confusing as he was to be trapped here, it wasn't particularly scary; sometimes comfort and safety could be found in the strangest of oblivions.
The absence of anything, perhaps it was sweet because there was nothing here to confront or challenge him that he didn't like. There was a truth he had to find, Danny realized, and that was impossible to do in a void where nothing existed. If he awoke without finding it, he would be fine, but he couldn't help but feel as if a significant part of his being were missing. Shouting into the void would gain him no result, as there was nothing to call attention to. At least, he thought he was alone in the milky tinged darkness and dust motes scattered through the air like dull stars.
A dry noise echoed in the air, harsh staccato ripples into the path of the mind's eye. He didn't know what it was at first, captivated by a grey dusty blur approaching him from directly ahead, a slow loud flurry of elegance in motion. It was much slower than normal, giving him the rarest of glimpses, the pegasi scraping his hooves along the ground as he edged over to the vague shape of rustling feathers until the form became clearer to him as his eyes readjusted. He was looking at an owl flying in slow motion; the wings flicking in a circular motion as the joints in the shoulders seemed to dislocate or twist with every flap. As this was the only other creature in this hollow realm to appreciate, it seemed obvious that this was where he was meant to learn.
He took the opportunity to notice every detail and fault of the motion and path of the poor owl as its trajectory was isolated in time, a migration of minute long wing flaps and heaving rotund feathered chest. The legs were tucked up and out of the way, ready to make themselves felt when the predatory creature was on the prowl. The tail was outspread with its plumage of feathers like a paper fan, the nonexistent breeze catching the feathers on the tailtip and making them vibrate as if stiff starched cotton streamers. These were all things he had already known or seen for himself by watching videos on the internet out of curiosity, the disjointed flapping of wings hardly a secret.
Although trying to understand what he was seeing, Danny just didn't get the point of it. It usually took a certain level of boredom to give study the kind of intensity it required, but in this case, that simply wasn't true. This opportunity at study was more inspiring than anything else, and certainly had him pouring himself at every aspect as he fell slowly into a trance of concentration, feeling him falling into the owl as though from a cliff overlooking a great abyss. It was disorienting at first, the way his eyes seemed to unfocus while his head spinned into the void that sucked him into a gauntlet of ideas and concepts that he'd never thought of before, at least, not with a human mind. Slipping into the instincts of the owl was different, as he began to think not as a man who had sprouted wings, but a bird that had been born with them along with a driving genetic instinct that could not be taught or learnt by practice.
The joy and discovery of flight attained by humankind was akin to mockery when compared to those for which it became natural. His promise was a bond to ancestry, to those passing their physical and mental traits ever selflessly to countless offspring throughout millenia. Whatever had been born aloft, had almost known by magic how to use those gifts fluidly, for the punishment of failing this cruelest of lessons was not to have a second chance, but death at the jaws and claws of an awaiting jealous predator waiting far below. Danny was getting it, was understanding the complexitiy of the boon and curse of wings. To be agile in flight was a blessing, and not to gain said ability with their wings would be death, oblivion, an end to the dream. The apple tree was too convenient; not planted by any pegasi worth their wings: he had to wake up, NOW!
Danny managed to stir awake from his sleep with enough clarity of wit to realize the trap about to be sprung. A big outling of a hairy fat body, little shiny eyes, legs the size of bamboo spears shimmering by the dim lights of the starts. It was a giant spider sentient enough to plant a sapling in a place that might attract the fledgling pegasi to rest and let down their guard, and if he'd been just a bit more tired or preoccupied studying the wrong aspects of the owl or even ignoring it completely, he would be dead. It was a sobering thought, but of minor consequence compared to his current foe.
Just as a spindly claw stabbed out for him, Danny was already gone and flying back up to the summit amidst the hisses and clicks of anger left his his hasteful wake. It took a brush with one of his natural predators to finally realize the hidden message of the owl, as well of flight: A promise is a bond, a lie is a shackle that weighs down the heart. The promise of flight was that it was the only thing that would keep him safe, as long as he respected its power as he worked to get stronger and push himself to greater stamina. The lie of false safety on the ground is a shackle that weighs down the heart and makes one a fool, sometimes a dead one, as well. This is the one golden truth that every pegasi learns or perishes.
Written by FluffyPony on 16 December 2016
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