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SteelEagle

Schooled (Closed: Taco)

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The School of Friendship towered over education in Ponyville, so far above that it seemed like half the students in the local school had applied to enter it. It wasn't hard to imagine that Cheerilee was a little perturbed by that, but who could blame the students? A large, castle-like school taught by the Elements of Harmony and with all manner of exotic creatures as fellow students. But it wasn't likely for anypony to get into. It was a Friendship School of course, not simply another school. You had to be able to learn something friendship based...and not have a backlog of educational requirements. Ponies had to learn their ABCs and their 1-2-3's after all. The School of Friendship didn't teach that. It taught harmony, it taught friendship, it taught the important elements of Equestrian society that couldn't be covered in a normal classroom. So, of course, Valen applied because it sounded fun.

 

He hadn't expected to be accepted by the School of Friendship. He could only guess that his Academy education in Manehattan had made the education available in Ponyville otherwise redundant. He could only really hope that his acceptance didn't signal something awkward about him, but who was he to say otherwise? The School of Friendship was run by the best of the best. He was excited to join it! He tried to get Applejack to loosen her lips and give him the inside scoop on the lesson plan, but she was tight-lipped. It wouldn't be fair to give him an advantage, now would it? Swatted away from that angle, he resigned himself to excited preparation for the new school. As the days counted down and the summer came to an end Valen found his anticipation rising, especially when Miss Rarity's tour wrapped up a week prior to the start of the school year. Schedule free, he packed and readied himself.

 

The day before the school officially opened he, along with other new entrants, was to arrive at the school and get a guided tour and to get their lodgings squared away. Valen could have stayed at Sweet Apple Acres but found the concept of such a boarding school to be rather exciting- spending time among peers and away from your direct guardians was in a small way a preparation for adult life. He arrived at the school with a large saddlebag and a suitcase in front of the school, watching the path to the school as the water danced and rippled around the stones leading to the door. An excellent source of feng shui, no? With a big breath and nervous excitement, Valen approached the door and went to knock on the giant double doors...
 

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Smolder glanced into a nearby mirror for the sixth time. Scales were shiny. Her letter-jacket was crisp and unwrinkled. Horns were nice and pointy. Teeth. Nice and white. Breath? Ugh. Could be better.
 
She pulled out a small packet of mints from her pocket and tossed one in her mouth. Gallus was right. She needed one. Badly. How she HATED when he was right. And he would KNOW she took his advice later on. Maybe if she was lucky, this new kid was actually a dragon eating monster and would quickly gobble her up the second the door was open. Then she would not need to see the 'look' the scruffy griffon would give her when he knew she took his advice. After letting out a sigh, she returned to her mirror.
 
"Welcome to the School Of Friendship!", she spoke into the mirror. This was not her. She sounded stiff and her smile way to fake. Oh, how did she manage to get forced into this? She knew all of the original students had to serve on 'welcoming committee' at least once, and it was now her turn to step up and to welcome a new student into the fold. Normally, there would be a group of students, and a couple of 'greeters', but for some reason, it was just going to be an 'one on one' tour. How odd.
 
"Yo....Welcome to the school...of higher friend-u-cation!" she sneered back. Nope. Not good at all. She knew she was a very cool dragon, but if you try to fake it, you end up being chilly. And chilly is never cool! And now she was getting a little on the worried side. Overthinking things. She would just open the door and welcome the new student.. The dragon pulled out her clipboard. Valen Orange. Was his full name Valencia Orange? Oh, how ponies had such odd names. She remembered this orange from one of Professor Applejack's field-trips. Valencia was an sweet orange that was perfect for juice. Since pony names usually reflected the personality or skills of a pony, this would be a sweet sort of fella. Her eyes fell back onto her notes. He was kind of young. Did not even have one of those butt marks, which mean he had to be really young. The last time they let a lil' kid wander around the school, she nearly got rid of magic throughout Equestria.  He was also from the 'Manehattan Academy for Foals, Colts, and Fillies'. This was a well respected private school. One thing bothered her. They sent babies to school? What sort of classes did they take? How to properly say 'Goo-goo'? The art and science of the pacifier? Annoying your big brother. Oh, how Smolder would have aced that class!
 
After a knock could be heard, Smolder quickly scurried over and slowly opened the door. There was a little pony behind the door with an orange, yellowish type coat and an well kept, teal mane. This was the part Smolder needed to be careful. Since dragons were still very new to pony society, they could be seen as rather intimidating to your regular Joe-Pony. She needed to look friendly. Smile, but not show off the fangs. Speak with a direct tone, but try not to sound menacing. And also watch out with the sneezes. One does not want to be welcomed with third-degree burns.
 
"Welcome to the 'School Of Friendship'" That sounded friendly enough. "I'm Smolder. I'll be your guide for this little tour." Yep. Smile. Good. Not too deep. You're welcoming, not eating him! "If you follow me, I'll show you around the place.." She kept the door open to allow the pony to enter.
 
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Valen had been very excited to see who would the one to give him the tour. He had enough relation with important members of the faculty to have some inside information not on the courses, but on the students. Made sense since it was a friendship school that your primary concerns were that of your fellow students, since the real education lay with the bonds you made with them. Sandbar sounded like a very relaxed colt, a local one that Valen had seen once or twice around town. Silverstream was a hippogriff who had a bubbly and excitable sensibility about her that was infectious and brought a great amount of joy to those around her. Gallus, the griffon, seemed to pack a prickly personality that simply hid the softness and care inside.

 

Ocellus was a changeling who was changeling perceptions- see, Valen had an amazing sense of humor- one creature at a time. Yona the Yak was a bright spot in everycreature's day who might smash a lot but helped build something great. And that left just one creature and as luck would have it, that was the creature that opened the door and invited him in. Smolder the dragon. Just a few years ago this would have been a terrifying sight. Dragons had a long and storied history of terrifying ponies. Luckily, recent events had helped shift the perception a little bit and Valen had been lucky enough to deal with Spike more than a few times. There was little a dragon could do, as long as it was being sociable and talking. And Smolder was a sociable dragon, known for being a bit coarse and direct but tere was a reason she had a great group of friends.

 

"Hello Smolder, I'm Valen Orange. A pleasure to meet you," he said with a bow that naturally became a curtsy, his experience showing. "Cousin Applejack spoke very highly of you when I decided to apply for this school. I have never spent long along dragons, and I look forward to learning more about you and your kind," he said pleasantly, not having to lie even as he spoke in a practiced manner. It never hurt to be kind and polite, especially to those you did not yet know. The frivolity of personal relationships were always built upon a solid foundation, and he looked forward to building one with her. He trotted deeper into the school, his eyes soaking in the sights and sounds. 

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Ho-Boy. This was one of Applejack’s cousins. Which considering where she was, the young dragon just needed to be next to say ten random ponies, and there was a really good chance at least two of them would be related to the farmer. She also needed to be careful how she acted and what she said in front of this squirt. If she wasn’t the most gracious of hosts, everything she said and did would go right to the cow-pony and then the rest of the professors. Smolder would need to dial back the sass for this one.  He also really wanted to know more about her and her ‘kind’. For some reason, she didn’t like how that sounded.
 
“Well, most ponies haven’t either.”, she gave the pony a wink in response to the colt’s remark on not spending time with dragons before. “Let’s get inside.” There were just too many waterfalls and fountains outside! Ponies loved them! And while she found the sound of falling water to be somewhat relaxing, for the most part, it just made her need to use the little fledgling’s room.
 
Smolder lead the young pony into a long hallway with high ceilings. Whoever built the school spared no expenses as there was beauty everywhere. From the marble floors and pillars, to the impressive busts of famous ponies from Equestrian history. Her eyes quickly fell upon her notebook. She welcomed to the student-to-be into the school. Let him into lobby. Going to skip the welcoming joke. Might offend. Oh. Questions!
 
"One thing I get to ask..", she quickly stashed her notepad back into one of her pockets, "What made you want to attend this school, over say, the private schools you have over in Manehattan?"
 
 
 
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Valen allowed his nervousness, present even in the company of such a quality guide, to settle deep below content and competent surface as he took in the beautiful environment around him. The waterfalls and manufactured pool at the front were pleasing and added serenity to the location that may have otherwise been lost to the hustle and bustle of the village not far away. The structure itself was classically beautiful but shone with all the warmth radiating off of it that was found very rarely in buildings- a testament to the wondrous, inspiring nature of those who taught and studied here. Valen looked at it but was more focused on the cause for it- his guide, and those like her. He was here to learn from them as much as his professors.

 

"My academic education has come along quite well, but there comes a time where everycreature searches for something more. You can learn a lot from books on general subjects and the Academy's academic qualities are without question. But...well, we all miss something of ourselves if we spend our time snout in books and eyes down, do we not?" Valen said before laughing. "Besides, I am located here in Ponyville. The school here is fine, don't get me wrong- but I wasn't learning much there anyway that the Academy hadn't already taught me," he said while giving her a sheepish smile. He wasn't a genius or even that talented a student. He just had a dogged work ethic. That was often times of most use.

 

"This is a beautiful school, Miss Smolder. To be here for recent events and to experience it all firstclaw, must have been in some way exhilarating. I've been the center of attention before but never the center of an event, that much is certain...but you are likely bored of such probes at this point, so onto other subjects. What are the courses like? Does the School offer any after-school activities or programs? What's the food like?" He asked, pulling a small notebook out of his saddlebag and a pencil in his mouth. He wasn't exceptionally studious but he did like to have the preparation for the future, and who better to help?

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