Shaw looked up and saw the golden towers of Lady Zephyr’s eyrie reaching up trying to touch the heavens. The looks the residents of the Golden Eyrie were giving him and his companions were giving him pause. Considering whom his traveling companions were, he realized how crazy this task really was. Here he was a griffin with rainbow hued wings going up to Lady Zephyr of all feathers, to ask for the talon in marriage of a unicorn mare under false pretenses to steal three of her feathers. Now with his new red plumage he was probably going to be stuck mounting every female from here to the Equestrian Badlands in the south.
This has all the markings of drunken barroom tale, Shaw thought to himself. Looking behind him, he saw Showboat trying her best to not look at his plumage. He could tell by how her tail twitched, that she was having a hard time resisting the temptation to use her magic. She would probably hold him down and have her way with him until they were both too exhausted to move, arrested for making a scene, or most likely both. Fortunately, the wide brimmed hat he was wearing covered most of the red feathers in his plumage. Otherwise, walking out in the open would probably cause him to be mobbed by every female of breeding age, resulting in an orgy of sex. Thinking about the possibility of actually living his favorite erotic fantasy, he remembered that dying of a crushed pelvis would probably be a painful experience.
Besides, he thought, Lady Zephyr will probably be the ride of a lifetime.
As they approached the golden towers of Lady Zephyr’s eyrie, two rather large griffiness guards landed in front of them. “Just where do you think you’re going?” The first griffin said, she was covered with golden feathers and wore a tawny hide.
“Yes,” the second echoed, her grey feathers fluttering in the wind while her white hide bristled at the intruders. “No feather can just waltz into Lady Zephyr’s eyrie without an appointment.”
“My name is Shaw, and I’m here to make a supplication to Lady Zephyr,” Shaw said, gesturing towards Showboat and Slick.
“You want to mate with an adolescent male dragon?” the first griffiness guard said, disgusted at the thought of homosexual interspecies sex.
“Degenerates like you, give all us normal griffins a bad name,” the second guard accused, pointing a wickedly curved talon in Shaw’s direction.
Shaw looked at Slick and grimaced. Mating with the dragon was the furthest possible thing from his mind. “Why in the world would you assume that?” Shaw asked, pointing a talon at the guard with the golden feathers. “Especially when I have a beautiful unicorn mare accompanying me to see Lady Zephyr.”
“It’s obvious Shaw,” Slick said, “I’m just that sexy.”
“Well we just saw your wings and kind of assumed…” the grey feathered guard replied.
“That’s my natural wing color,” Shaw said, flaring out his full wingspan, “they were a gift from Lugh and Loki themselves.”
“Why would the gods bother with a scrub like you?” the golden griffiness sneered. “You probably couldn’t find any griffinesses willing to be mounted by you, so you had to stoop to mating with your lunch.”
“How dare you, you tramps!” Showboat shouted. “Shaw could have any female he desires should he choose.”
“Shut your muzzle, you nag!” the golden griffiness screeched. “Perhaps if you annoy me, I may feed upon pony flesh.”
“You touch my mare and I’ll gut you,” Shaw hissed, gripping the earth tightly with his talons and fully extending his wings.
The grey griffiness nudged her golden companion. “By the look of things I’d say some feather already regularly dines on pony flesh,” she said with a snicker.
“Yes,” the golden griffiness agreed, “the hatchling wouldn’t even know how to satisfy a real griffiness, even if she lifted her tail and stood at the ready to receive his pony tainted member.”
“Hey!” Shaw said, pointing towards Slick. “Watch your mouth’s, there’s a young one present.”
“Probably another one of your perverse lusts,” the golden griffiness said.
“Listen you molting harpy,” Shaw growled, “I don’t have to take this from you. The law says I get an opportunity for supplication to my liege for permission to make a non-griffin my mate. So I’ve journeyed to the Golden Eyrie to see Lady Zephyr to do just that.”
“Well the law also says no feather sees Lady Zephyr without an appointment,” the golden griffiness retorted.
“And the only way you can make an appointment to see Lady Zephyr is by going through us,” the grey griffiness said.
Showboat felt steamed, nopony insulted her stallion and got away with it! Using her magic, she lifted the hat Shaw used to cover his plumage ever so slightly, allowing the two griffiness guards to subtly get affected by its power. Showboat felt her own heat rising, and smiled when she saw the griffiness’s tails twitching in need.
The golden griffin looked hungrily at Shaw. “Hmm,” she purred, with a predatory look in her eye. “Perhaps we got off to a bad start. We just might be willing to let you and your mare in to see Lady Zephyr after all.”
The grey griffiness, seeing what her companion was attempting to do and hungry for her share decided to play along, “Yes,” she cooed, “but first you must do us a small favor.”
“What makes you think I want to do you any favors?” Shaw replied, giving Showboat a dirty look.
Showboat smiled in return and winked at him. Shaw knew how proud Showboat could be, and was trying to figure out what her plan was. Deciding to follow her lead he smiled, “What kind of favor would that be?” he asked.
“Let us show you what a good time with a griffiness can be like,” the grey griffiness said, rubbing up against Shaw suggestively.
The golden griffiness followed suit by using her tale to flick Shaw under his chin. “Yes,” she said. “You need to know the touch of a griffin first before deciding if you really want a weak little pony. We can do things that your mare couldn’t possibly dream of.”
Shaw feigned affection and caressed the grey griffin’s flanks with his talons, causing her wings to fully extend. She blissfully closed her eyes in relish and raised her tail in anticipation. Moving towards the golden griffiness, he ran his talons against her wings lightly making her quiver with desire. “Well,” he said, taking turns lightly stroking their fully extended wingtips, “perhaps once my business with Lady Zephyr is completed, I might be willing to give each of you a private audience. I would hate to make Lady Zephyr upset if I’m unable to perform the primae noctis to her complete satisfaction.”
Both griffinesses badly ached with desire for him, rubbed up against Shaw as they tried tempting him into giving them what they both desperately needed. Ignoring their offered flanks, Shaw continued running his talons along their extended wings and cruelly teased them with his tail. “Well…” the golden griffiness said, her mind clouded with lust, “I suppose we could wait till after Lady Zephyr has had her fill.”
“Yes,” the grey griffiness added, “but you have to spend time with both of us until we are completely satisfied.”
Shaw winced with the memory of Showboat’s desire. There was no way he could completely satisfy two griffinesses at the same time. All by herself, Showboat had completely drained him of all his strength. “Alright,” Shaw agreed, running his talons up and down their wingspans before stopping, “but it’ll be one at a time and at the time of my choosing. I don’t think I could handle you both simultaneously.”
When the pleasant sensations stopped, the griffinesses fidgeted impatiently against Shaw’s talons. “I suppose we could postpone your payment for a little while,” the golden griffiness said, trying to move her wings against his talons unsuccessfully. “But we expect you to finish what you’ve started.”
“Yes,” the grey griffiness said, sighing with desire, “you’ll need to finish what you started. It’s bad form to keep a lady waiting.”
“Very well,” Shaw said, as he resumed stroking his talons against their wings. Slowly picking up the tempo, he played with their wings until both griffinesses were flapping their wings uncontrollably. Screeching out their desires, they rolled their eyes back and clutched the stony ground with their talons leaving deep gashes in the earth. Spent and exhausted, both griffinesses rolled to the ground with their tongues hanging out from their beaks.
“Wow,” the grey griffiness panted, looking up at Shaw with lust. “Are you sure I can’t talk you into paying us now?”
“Sorry,” Shaw said, running his talon lightly against her wing, causing her to shudder uncontrollably once more. “We really need to speak with Lady Zephyr.”
“Come on Sonja,” the golden griffiness said, as she got up from the ground and dusted herself off. “The sooner we see him to Lady Zephyr, the sooner we get him to ourselves.”
Sonja sighed in disappointment, her voice full of longing and unfulfilled desires. “Alright Angela,” she said. “Shaw, both you and your companions follow me to the Lady Zephyr’s eyrie.”
Nodding in agreement, Shaw silently followed after the griffiness leaving Angela behind. When Shaw followed after Sonja, he saw her flanks swaying seductively in front of his beak. Before he had the chance to think about the delectable sight before him, he felt a sharp pain from somefeather biting down hard on his left wing.
“Ouch!” Shaw squawked. Looking behind him, he saw Showboat looking back at him with a pointed look on her muzzle.
“Shaw darling,” Showboat said in warning, “your wing entered my mouth again and I bit down on it. Please mind them in the future. I know how sensitive your wings can be when you’re feeling a bit excited. I’d hate to cause you any further discomfort.”
Taking the mare’s hint, Slick looked away from the griffinesses enticing flank. Showboat nuzzled against Shaw’s face in gratitude. “Remember darling,” she said tenderly, “I expect you to be on your best behavior with Lady Zephyr. I don’t expect you to refuse her advances if they occur, but I do expect you to remember I love you.”
“I love you too dear,” Shaw said, kissing her muzzle lightly.
Slick rolled his eyes at the two lovers. I wonder when we can get back to the fun part of the adventure, Slick thought to himself, while rubbing his neglected stomach sorrowfully. Soon I shall feed you, and never let you go hungry again, he thought.
The party climbed up the winding stairway that led up to Lady Zephyr’s eyrie. The building was magnificent. Every surface was covered in gold, silver, and precious stones of all kinds. On the walls made completely from gemstones were animated murals depicting events from Equestria’s past. As they passed by one of them, Slick saw the great battle that Lady Zephyr and Lord Darkpaw had once fought being shown. The mural depicted a great griffin above a mountain and a mighty diamond dog below it. Slowly the mural shifted to show the two great warriors facing each other, and then rushing towards one another to engage in mortal combat. The mural then showed them looking tired and exhausted from their great battle, unable to fight any further. Above the two warriors, a red phoenix flew overhead showering them with its feathers. Then the mural morphed into a picture of the two lying together as the phoenix flew away, leaving the lovers alone.
Sonja pointed towards the mural. “That one used to be Lady Zephyr’s favorite,” she said. “But since Lord Darkpaw fell, all she does anymore is weep.”
Shaw didn’t reply, but thought about how he might feel if Zephyr forbid he should lose Showboat. Realizing that if they didn’t perform their tasks, that might become an actuality he felt a bit ill. Showboat I’ll never leave you, he thought as he entered into Lady Zephyr’s ornately decorated throne room. Hanging along the walls were tapestries showing both her and Lord Darkpaw together. The thick incense that filled the air nearly choked him, while the dim lighting of the throne room reminded him of a sepulcher. Sitting all alone on her unkempt nest made from branches of silver and gold, and raised high on a dais was a silently weeping Lady Zephyr. Her tears blackened from her dyed feathers, fell to the ground staining the floor of her throne room.
Lady Zephyr was both beautiful and terrifying all at the same time. Looking at her was like looking into a maelstrom that was heading towards you, if you looked too long at her fierce beauty it would consume and destroy you. Her once blue feathers used to be the color of clear summer’s afternoon, were now dyed as black as a moonless night in mourning. Her blackened feathers shimmered in the dim light of the room. Her silvery hide nearly as bright as Luna’s full moon on an autumn’s night, was dirty and unkempt. When she extended her wings, electricity crackled along their edges arcing and leaping from feather to feather. Her piercing blue eyes were once as beautiful and as mysterious as a deep mountain lake, were now red and puffy from her bitter tears.
Sonja walked up to the grieving griffin and whispered something into her ear that Shaw couldn’t hear. Lady Zephyr looked up and studied Showboat and him intently. Wiping her eyes with a handkerchief that was stained black with her tears, she sat up and tilted her head inquisitively. Turning towards Angela she said, “Thank you for escorting them here. Please leave us.”
Angela bowed deeply before Lady Zephyr and then turned to leave the throne room. Before exiting, she flicked her tail under Shaw’s beak. “I look forward to receiving my payment,” she whispered, before exiting the room and leaving them alone with Lady Zephyr.
“I understand you’ve come seeking my blessing for your union?” Lady Zephyr said, her voice desperately trying to conceal her grief in vain.
“Lady Zephyr,” Shaw said, extending his rainbow hued wings, removing his hat revealing his plumage to her, and bowing, “yes I do. My mare and I seek your blessing to our union.”
When she saw Shaw’s plumage, Lady Zephyr felt her broken heart singing with joy. For the past two years her heavy heart had prevented her from knowing anything but sorrow, and now here was somefeather that made her feel like a hatchling again. Looking at the griffin before her, she was overcome with the same familiar hunger that both Lord Darkpaw and that monster now inflamed her heart with. Approaching him, she circled Shaw like a predator stalking her prey. Familiarizing herself with his scent, she detected many to her surprise. She detected the griffin’s and the mare’s scents of course, followed by the intoxicating scent of the Earth and somefeather else’s scent that she couldn’t quite lay a talon on. Additionally she detected several other unknown, yet vaguely familiar scents as well.
“What is your name my vassal?” Lady Zephyr asked, moving her flank in front of Shaw’s beak to allow him to smell her arousal.
“Lady Zephyr,” Shaw said, trying to keep his mind clear from the rising desires he began to feel for her, “I am Shaw, and my mare’s name is Showboat.”
“Shaw,” Lady Zephyr said with a silken voice, while running her talons along his slowly rising wings. “Tell me why such a strong and handsome griffin like you, seeks a mate among Celestia’s children?”
“I love her, what else can I do?” Shaw replied, trying hard to control himself.
“Are my griffinesses not enough for you?” Lady Zephyr said, ignoring everything else in the room and positioning herself in front of Shaw. Lifting her tail to expose her flanks and fully extending her wings, she extended the traditional griffin invitation to mate. “Surely dear Shaw, you realize you’re violating your duty to your clan by mating outside your race.”
“I think my clan will survive the loss of a single griffin,” Shaw replied, feeling overwhelmed by the heavy smoke from the incense burner filing the room. “I was somefeather of no consequence anyways. I only ever did the jobs back home nofeather else would do.”
“But think of your progeny,” Lady Zephyr countered, gyrating her flanks slightly. “Certainly you have a duty to ensure that the next generation are strong and powerful griffins like yourself and not weak like a pony.”
“Umm…” Shaw said, while his mind felt like it was being emptied of all reason. All of Lady Zephyr’s talk about mating was beginning to take its toll on his self-control. Desperately he thought of Showboat as he tried resisting Lady Zephyr’s temptations.
Turning around to face her prey, Lady Zephyr looked Shaw in the eyes and placed her beak inches away from his. “Tell me Shaw that you haven’t dreamt of the opportunity to mount your goddess,” she said, licking her beak seductively. “Abandon the mare and I’ll make you my permanent consort.”
Shaw felt himself beginning to lose all control, in a desperate attempt to resist the temptress he bit his tongue until he felt the coppery taste of his blood filling his mouth. “As tempting as your offer is,” he said, “I must decline. I’ve already pledged my love to another.”
A look of sorrow covered her face, as tears escaped Lady Zephyr’s eyes. “He loved me like that before he died,” she sobbed uncontrollably.
“Who did my lady?” Shaw asked, trying to console the crying griffiness.
“Lord Darkpaw,” Lady Zephyr said, “you remind me of him so much. The way you confidently carry yourself and your scent drive me to desperation.”
“I’m sorry for your loss Lady Zephyr,” Shaw said.
Finally regaining her composure, Lady Zephyr gently stroked her talon through Shaw’s plumage stopping to play with the largest red feather among it. “How odd that you make my heart burn with so much desire,” she said, reminiscing about the past. “It’s almost as if Lady Suzaku herself has imbued herself in you.”
“I’ve never met her so I couldn’t say,” Shaw said, desperately trying to hold Lady Zephyr’s attention so Showboat could attempt to switch Lord Darkpaw’s fang with the duplicate that she had managed to silently conjure up while Lady Zephyr had been distracted.
“I find your wing’s coloration rather odd,” Lady Zephyr said, running her talons along Shaw’s extended wings making him shudder from the pleasurable sensations. “Perhaps you could tell me where you managed to receive them.”
“I’ve had them for a while,” Shaw lied, trying in vain to keep his mind clear. “One day my coloration just changed and here I am.”
“How intriguing,” Lady Zephyr mused, “I would almost think that you had been blessed with a gift from Loki and Lugh themselves. But seeing as you don’t recall where the coloration came from I guess we’ll never know for certain.”
“Ah yes a shame that,” Shaw nervously replied, now starting to regret that he didn’t mount her when he had the chance. It would have made getting her feathers and the fang much easier.”
“So tell me my vassal,” Lady Zephyr said, “where did you first meet your mare, in Celestia’s court in Londwhinium perhaps?”
“Ah that’s a funny story actually,” Shaw replied with a weak laugh. “We actually got together in a field out in the middle of nowhere. I was hungry and cold so she offered to share with me her fire and supper before robbing me. I chased her down and we just sort of clicked together.”
“How romantic…” Lady Zephyr said, sighing with longing for her lost love. “Lord Darkpaw and I got together under similar circumstances. He demanded I pay him a tribute for using the tops of his mountains to roost, and I demanded he pay me tribute for bringing the monsoons to his thirsty deserts each season. Eventually we fought each other to a stale mate neither giving an inch to the other until in exhaustion we gave into our mutual attraction for each other.”
“So are you planning on claiming your right of primae noctis?” Shaw asked in curiosity, halfway hoping she would so he could experience the pleasure that her supple flank was sure to provide.
“No,” Lady Zephyr said with regret, “the love you have for your mare is true and I wouldn’t wish to sully it with a night of amazing sex that you could never hope to experience otherwise.”
“That was a bit mean,” Shaw said.
“We’ll Shaw, you did just jilt me after I practically threw myself at you,” Lady Zephyr said testily. “But I would never wish to stand in the way of true love, so I grant my blessing to your union with Showboat. However there’s one small matter I still must discuss with you.”
“What’s that Lady Zephyr?” Shaw asked.
“Did you honestly think I wouldn’t notice you attempting to steal my feathers and Darkpaw’s fang?” Lady Zephyr said, her eyes darkening with anger as she snatched the three feathers and the real fang of Darkpaw from Showboat’s saddlebag.
“Well we’re boned,” Slick said, before belching out some blue flames on a rolled up scroll.
“What was that?” Lady Zephyr asked Slick.
“Just my last will and testament,” Slick replied, shrugging his shoulders nonchalantly.
The Mare of War was docked at the busy island port of Marelantis. While the island itself wasn’t large, the size of the city rivaled that of any of the other great cities of Equestria. While the port itself and a housing district for air breathers took up most of the island’s geography, there were a few public buildings of note like the Academy of Honor, the Hall of Heroes, and the headquarters of the B.A.S.T.A.R.D.S. from the Harpers Guild. The Academy of Honor was where any who desired to join the Order of the Lawgiver would be trained, whether they breathed water or air. The Hall of Heroes was where members of the Order of the Lawgiver would come to rest after a successful quest and recount tales of their heroic deeds to the other members of the order.
Seafoam felt a bit excited, he hadn’t been home in ages and he wondered how much things had changed over the past two years. Noticing his charge’s excitement, Sir Stouthorn smiled before turning towards Captain Undine. “Captain how long will you be in port for?” he asked.
“We’ll probably stick around for a several days at least,” Undine replied, while brushing her purple mane out from her eyes. “I can stay in port for three days but no longer. After that, your retainer fee for transport back to the mainland is forfeit.”
Sir Stouthorn nodded in agreement. “Very well,” he said, “we’ll meet back here in three days.”
“So taking your page to the Lady of the Sea?” Undine brazenly asked, with a wry smile.
Sir Stouthorn’s face flushed a bit, before he chuckled. “No not today,” he said, “the lad’s not old enough yet. I was planning on taking him on his eighteenth birthday.”
“Oh he’s still a virgin? How adorable!” Undine said with a hungry look in her eye. “Seafoam if you tire of waiting for your birthday, I’ll be happy to educate you all about mares.”
“What exactly is Captain Undine talking about?” Seafoam asked in confusion. “What do I need to know about mares?”
“I’ll tell you when you’re older,” Sir Stouthorn said.
“Why does everypony keep telling me that?” Seafoam moaned. “By Triton’s scales, I’m not a foal you know. I’ve fought dragons and lived!”
“Lad, no one doubts your bravery,” Sir Stouthorn replied as they left the docks. “But there’s a time and a place for certain things and when you’ve reached stallionhood I’ll be happy to ensure you’re properly educated.”
“Alright,” Seafoam sighed, “I’m just tired of being treated like a foal sometimes.”
“Lad don’t be too hasty to grow up,” Sir Stouthorn said, placing a large hand on Seafoam’s shoulder, “soon enough you’ll be old and wishing you could return to these years but it’ll be too late.”
“I guess the seaweed is always greener on the other side,” Seafoam replied.
“Ah it is lad,” Sir Stouthorn said with a chuckle. “Foals always want to grow up as fast as they can, and adults wanting to be children again.”
On their way through the crowded streets of the Marelantis port, Seafoam saw them passing by a large ornate looking building. Great gilded marble pillars and large windows with females from all over Equestria were looking out and waving to passersby to come inside. Looking up he saw a carved sign that read ‘The Lady of the Sea’s House of Heavenly Delights’. “So you’re taking me there on my next birthday?” he asked.
“Aye lad,” Sir Stouthorn said. “It’s somewhat of a tradition among the members of the order. Once our pages have received their title and spurs we take them here to celebrate.”
“You mentioned it being an education though,” Seafoam pointed out. “How long does that take?”
“Not long at all,” Sir Stouthorn said. “The girls here work fast.”
“I wonder what sort of education it could be,” Seafoam mused, as they passed the large building, “must be a rather simple thing if it takes less than a day to learn.”
“Some of life’s greatest lessons can be learned in an instant,” Sir Stouthorn replied.
“You mean like knowing what it’s like to fight for the first time?” Seafoam asked.
“Exactly,” Sir Stouthorn said. “Something’s can only be learned by experiencing them directly, and the experience itself needn’t take long.”
“I’m rather intrigued now,” Seafoam said, “I wonder if it’s anything like sparring?”
“Quite a bit actually,” Sir Stouthorn replied, “but enough about that. Once our quest is done we can discuss it in greater detail.”
“So do you think we’ll be granted an audience with Lord Triton?” Seafoam asked.
“Oh getting an audience will be the easiest part of this whole leg of the quest,” Sir Stouthorn said.
“Really,” Seafoam said, “what did you have planned? I always thought that getting in to see Lord Triton would be rather difficult.”
“That can be true for the meek,” Sir Stouthorn said. “However we’re going to take a rather bold step.”
“You don’t actually mean…” Seafoam said.
“Indeed I do,” Sir Stouthorn replied.
“But Sir Stouthorn, that’s madness!” Seafoam objected. “Only desperate fools would dare make the attempt.”
“Well our quest is a rather desperate one,” Sir Stouthorn said. “And besides, I’ve always found that fate favors fools, foals, and the bold.”
“I worry that perhaps we’ve tempted fate too much during this quest,” Seafoam said with worry in his voice.
"Seafoam trust in the quest to provide,” Sir Stouthorn said, chiding his companion. “Besides, I’ve wanted to do this for ages.”
“But think of the consequences should you fail,” Seafoam said. “We’ll both be cast out of the order, and exiled from the realm. Not to mention we’ll have failed getting the pearl we need to appease the Slave King.”
“Then I better not fail,” Sir Stouthorn said outside the large building housing the Harpers Guild. “I can understand if you don’t wish to follow me inside. Being exiled won’t be a problem for me, but could be very problematic for you.”
“Never Sir Stouthorn,” Seafoam said. “I shall follow you to the ends of Equestria in dishonor and still never leave your side.”
The knight took a deep breath preparing himself and nodded to his page. Sir Stouthorn knew that whatever happened next he would have the eternal friendship of Seafoam. “Alright lad, follow after me,” he said.
“After you Sir Stouthorn,” Seafoam agreed, steeling himself for the worst.
Sir Stouthorn pulled open the ornately carved wooden doors of the Harper’s Guild and walked inside. The sounds of instruments and bards singing could be heard in the background. At the front desk was an orange seapony receptionist shuffling pieces of parchment in boredom. His dark red mane stood in a stark contrast to the otherwise muted tones of the office. Looking up at the minotaur and his seapony companion, the receptionist gave them a derisive look before going back to his stacks of ignored parchment.
“Excuse me,” Sir Stouthorn said, approaching the seapony’s desk, “I would like to speak with Grandmaster Philharmonic.”
“Do you have an appointment?” the seapony asked in a bored voice.
“Well no but…” Sir Stouthorn said, before he was interrupted by the seapony.
“Then take a number pal,” the seapony said, pointing a fin towards a group of patrons waiting to see the grandmaster.
“Now see here you lay about!” Seafoam said, puffing out his chest. “Do you have any idea who this is or who I am?”
“Not in the slightest,” the seapony drawled. “Should I?”
“And you call yourself a member of the harpers guild?” Seafoam continued. “This is only just Sir le Boeuf Stouthorn, the chivalrous, of the ‘Most Illustrious Order of Triton the Lawgiver’.”
When he heard the long winded introduction and title he was given by Seafoam, the seapony rolled his eyes in annoyance. He knew that these ponies were going to be a finful. “Listen I don’t care if he’s Lord Triton himself,” he said. “If you’re not scheduled to meet with Grandmaster Philharmonic you get to wait in line.”
Seafoam narrowed his eyes and poked his muzzle up over the desk. He’d be damned if he’d allow a low level flunky keep them from succeeding in their quest. Trying to look as imposing as possible, he reached over the desk and pulled up the seapony so that they were looking muzzle to muzzle. “I want to speak with your supervisor,” he demanded.
The obstinate seapony firmly removed Seafoam’s flippers from him. “He’s currently on lunch,” he replied, in a tone that said make my day. “Feel free to wait if you wish to speak with him. He should be back in ninety minutes.”
Seafoam looked down at a list of names on the seapony’s desk. “Is that the grandmaster’s appointment schedule?” he asked, pointing to the list.
“Yes it is,” the seapony said, pulling the schedule away from Seafoam’s view. “Not that it’s any of your business.”
“How about if we get whoever is scheduled next to trade with us?” Seafoam asked. “Would we be able to speak with the grandmaster then?”
“I guess…” the seapony said, not even really listening to Seafoam anymore.
Seafoam turned around and looked at the ponies waiting to see the grandmaster. “Hey who’s scheduled next to speak with Grandmaster Philharmonic?” he asked.
“I am,” a cute yellow seapony mare said, brushing her light green mane away from her pink colored eyes. “My name is Choral, and I’d be happy to let you take my place.”
“Oh thank you so much!” Seafoam said, kissing her on the muzzle. “You really saved our flanks.”
“Oh that wasn’t a problem at all,” Choral said, blushing furiously. “It would be a privilege to help a strong knight like yourself.”
“Oh I’m not a knight just yet,” Seafoam replied, his pale green coat becoming a rather bright shade of red when he realized he had just kissed a stranger out of the blue. “Oh please forgive my forwardness. I seem to have lost myself in the heat of the moment.”
Choral batted her eyes demurely at Seafoam and smiled. “Oh that was just lovely,” she said with a dreamy look in her eyes. “Feel free to lose yourself with me again anytime you feel like.”
“Choral, maybe I’ll take you up on that offer sometime,” Seafoam said, before heading back towards the desk.
“Alright I got the next appointment to agree to let us cut in front of them,” Seafoam said feeling rather proud that he’d managed to overcome the obstacles the uncooperative seapony had placed in front of him.
“That’s fine,” the seapony said, “but that just means everypony ahead of you slides up a time slot on the appointment schedule.”
Seafoam felt livid, that bucking cretin had failed to mention that little tidbit of info to him earlier. “Fine,” Seafoam growled, “if I get everypony on the schedule to agree to let us go first, can we see the grandmaster next?”
“Yeah sure whatever,” the obnoxious seapony said, trying to rid himself of Seafoam’s badgering.
Looking at the five other ponies waiting, Seafoam floated towards the middle of the room. “Excuse me,” he said. “My liege and I need to meet with Lord Philharmonic regarding an urgent matter. I know you all probably have pressing business as well, but do you think you could find it in you to allow us to go first? I promise that we won’t be long with him.”
A large blue unicorn stallion got up and moved his head, causing his silvery mane to shake. “I’m next, and I suppose I could postpone my meeting with the grandmaster. In exchange for something,” he said.
“Oh really, what?” Seafoam asked, drawing closer to the unicorn.
“No kisses for one,” the unicorn said, pulling back in disgust. “You’re a knight of the Lawgiver aren’t you?”
“Well not yet,” Seafoam said. “But Sir Stouthorn is.”
“Good,” the unicorn replied. “I’d like one of the tokens of the Lawgiver that the knights carry with them in exchange for my spot.”
Sir Stouthorn narrowed his eyes. “Now why would you want one of those?” he asked.
“I washed out of the order,” the unicorn replied. “I wasn’t able to earn my spurs.”
“The token won’t do you any good,” Sir Stouthorn said. “They only react to knights who have remained true and faithful to their oaths to the Lawgiver.”
“I know,” the unicorn said wistfully. “But never completing my training has always been one of my regrets.”
Sir Stouthorn pulled out a silver token that seemed almost alive, shining with a holy light. Looking up at it thoughtfully he placed it in the outstretched hoof of the unicorn. “Although this token won’t respond to you,” he said, noticing that the token was now dull and lifeless. “As long as you live by the knight’s code, I would be honored to let you have it.”
“But Sir Stouthorn,” Seafoam said, “that’s your token of knighthood, how will you be able to prove yourself a knight in good standing?”
“Lad,” Sir Stouthorn said, “my reputation should be enough to complete this mission. Afterwards we can worry about getting me another token.”
“Alright,” Seafoam said, before turning back towards the ponies that were waiting their turns. “Is anyone else ahead of us?”
“That would be me,” a surly griffin said, its black feathers were a stark contrast to its golden hide and green eyes.
“Is there any way we could convince you to let us go ahead of you?” Seafoam asked, hopeful that the griffin wouldn’t demand something as valuable as a token for helping them.
“I like that trident you’re carrying,” the griffin said, looking greedily at Seafoam’s prized weapon.
“I think not you scoundrel,” Seafoam said. “A knight’s weapon is his life.”
“Perhaps we could arrange a little contest then,” the griffin said. “I’ll give you a riddle if you answer correctly you can have my place, but if you can’t then you have to give me your trident.”
“Alright you have yourself a deal,” Seafoam said. “But you have to answer one of my riddles in turn to get my weapon.”
“Okay,” the griffin agreed. “Let me go first. A barrel of rainwater weighs twenty pounds. What must you add to make it weigh fifteen?”
“Hmm,” Seafoam said as he thought for a minute. “Oh I know holes!”
“That’s correct,” the griffin said.
“Okay my turn now,” Seafoam replied. “A shimmering field that reaches far. Yet it has no tracks, and is crossed without paths.”
“The ocean,” the griffin said. “Round as an apple, deep as a cup, all the Western Sea, can't fill it up."
“A sieve,” Seafoam said with a laugh. “Celestia causes this to break but never fall. Her sister makes it fall but never break.”
“Day and night,” the griffin replied. “All across the countryside, to front doors he travels. But you never invite him in.”
“A path,” Seafoam said. “Try this one. An untiring servant it is, carrying loads across muddy earth. But one thing that cannot be forced is a return to the place of its birth.”
“A river maybe,” the griffin said, after thinking for a few minutes. “Every creature in the world has seen it. But to their dying day they'll never see the same one again.”
“Oh that one’s easy, that would be yesterday,” Seafoam answered, feeling confident at answering the griffin’s riddles. “Never resting, never still. Moving silently, hill to hill. It does not walk, run or trot. All is cool where it is not."
The griffin began sweating as he tried to figure out the answer to the riddle he had just been given. Suddenly his eyes went wide and he smiled. “Sunshine of course,” he said. “It can move over water, but cannot fly. It can move under water, but stays quite dry.”
“A shadow,” Seafoam said, after thinking for a minute. The riddles were getting harder now. He needed to come up with a real doozey. “It is too much for one. Two it is meant for. But it no longer exists, when the two become more.”
“Uh…” the griffin murmured. Looking at Seafoam impatiently waiting for his answer, he dug his talons into the floor of the Harpers Guild. Unable to answer the riddle he hung his head in disappointment. “Alright I give up what’s the answer?”
“A secret of course,” Seafoam said.
“Alright, I shall give you my hardest riddle yet,” the griffin said. After thinking for a minute he said, “MAGIC. DEATH. TEMPLE. BLESS. REST. At last you might be able to solve this.”
“Hey what kind of riddle is that?” Seafoam protested.
“It’s a valid riddle,” the griffin countered. “Give me an answer or concede the round to me.”
Seafoam mulled the riddle around in his mind. What could the griffin possible mean? Looking down he saw a wooden chest on the floor near his seat. Repeating the riddle in his mind it finally clicked, confident he knew the answer he replied, “That wouldn’t happen to be a chest now would it?”
“By Lady Zephyr’s shell!” the griffin cursed. “How did you figure it out?”
“I saw the chest at your feet and took a lucky guess
“Well met,” the griffin said. “I yield my spot in line to you.”
“Is anypony else waiting to speak with the grandmaster?” Seafoam said. Not hearing anypony say anything, he returned to the obnoxious seapony’s desk.
“Alright,” he said. “Everypony else has agreed to let us go in next.”
“Alright,” the seapony said. “I guess I can put you on the standby list.”
“What!” Seafoam growled. “Listen here you…”
“Why is that Sir Stouthorn I see?” a voice said, interrupting Seafoam’s angry rant.
“Grandmaster Philharmonic,” Sir Stouthorn said, walking over to the speaker. “It’s always a pleasure to see you.”
Turning around, Seafoam saw a lavender seapony with a purple mane shaking fins with Sir Stouthorn. He couldn’t believe it, all that aggravation was for nothing. Shooting a dirty look at the obnoxious seapony manning the desk, he narrowed his eyes, “Mark my words,” he whispered, “I shall have my revenge.”
“Get in line buddy,” the seapony replied, not even bothering to look at Seafoam.
“Seafoam, come here and meet the grandmaster,” Sir Stouthorn said, motioning for his page to join him.
“So le Boeuf, what bring you home? I thought you were still out questing,” the grandmaster asked in curiosity, leading them inside his richly decorated office.
“A quest has brought me home,” Sir Stouthorn said. “I wish to invoke the questers challenge.”
The grandmaster put down the cup of tea he had been drinking and looked Sir Stouthorn in the eye. “I can’t in good conscience allow you to go through with that le Boeuf,” he said.
“But it’s my right as a member of the order of the Lawgiver in good standing to invoke the challenge,” Sir Stouthorn said.
“My friend,” the grandmaster replied, “be reasonable. You’re getting on in years, should you fail the challenge you and your page would be banished from the Domain of Water, forever outcasts.”
“My charge and I are prepared to face the consequences if I fail,” Sir Stouthorn replied.
“If you refuse to think of yourself, at least consider what banishment would do your page. By Triton’s mane le Boeuf, he’s a seapony,” the grandmaster said. “You know we can’t survive for extended periods away from the sea.”
“My mind is made up,” Sir Stouthorn said. “I invoke the questers challenge.”
“Le Boeuf,” the grandmaster sighed, “is fame really that important to you? I know you’ve been disappointed that you haven’t been honored by the Harpers Guild in a while.”
“It’s been over three years since my last quest was found worthy of song,” Sir Stouthorn said. “Not even my exploits in clearing out the mines of the hungry dead near Stableton wasn’t found worthy of being preserved.”
“Sir Stouthorn,” the grandmaster said, “there’s been some talk that you might be embellishing your stories a bit.”
“Are you accusing me of lying?” Sir Stouthorn said, as a scowl marred his normally serene face.
“No,” the grandmaster said. “There are just some in the guild that feel that perhaps your stories have been embellished beyond the scope of the truth.”
“Now hold on for a minute,” Sir Stouthorn said. “Perhaps my numbers are a bit off. Maybe I didn’t singlehandedly slay two hundred ghouls in the mines, there were quite a few and I stopped counting after around one hundred and fifty. But I swear by Lord Triton’s mustache that I only ever told the truth as best I could recall when I applied for my deed to be memorialized into song.”
“Now nopony is calling you a liar le Boeuf,” the grandmaster said, holding up his fins. “We just feel perhaps you’re a bit confused is all. Perhaps you really believe that what you told us was true. You are after all getting on in years.”
“Sir, how dare you insult me,” Sir Stouthorn raged. “You first allege that I’m speaking base lies, and now you accuse me of losing my mind. Grandmaster Philharmonic, I am not some Donkey Capote tilting at windmills!”
“Le Boeuf, when did you last spend time in a labyrinth?” the grandmaster asked.
“Well it has been a few years after all…” Sir Stouthorn stammered.
“The guild reports indicate it’s been over ten years, le Boeuf. Ten!” the grandmaster said, chastising his friend. “Older minotaurs need to spend at least one month every year in a labyrinth to keep their mental faculties sharp.”
“That doesn’t matter,” Sir Stouthorn said. “I expect that you honor my questers challenge!”
“Very well, Sir le Boeuf Stouthorn,” the grandmaster regretfully said. “If that’s what you truly desire, I shall arrange for the challenge tonight. But I warn you, if you fail you’re done as a knight. You’ll never quest again, and you’ll lose your retirement.”
“Grandmaster Philharmonic,” Sir Stouthorn said with a curt bow, “thank you for seeing me on such short notice.”
“Le Boeuf,” the grandmaster replied, “please reconsider, I’d hate to see a good friend lose everything over a little foolish pride.”
“My pride is not foolish,” Sir Stouthorn said, before leaving the grandmaster’s office. “It’s all I have left.”
Once the door to his office was closed, Grandmaster Philharmonic looked down at his flippers and shook his head sadly. Why couldn’t le Boeuf just retire peacefully? He should have retired over five years ago. Removing a flask from his desk drawer, the grandmaster removed its stopper and held the flask aloft. “My friend, I hope you know what you’re doing,” he said, before drinking deeply from the sweet drought it contained.
When the grandmaster looked up he saw a statue of Lord Triton, his muzzle was being pulled up into a mirthful smile. “Lord Triton,” he said, “let my friend pass one last time.”
However, the statue didn’t respond to his pleas, but chose to remain silent.
The winds blowing through the bones of the long dead dragons whistled, making strangely peaceful music in this otherwise dreary place. Treading upon the ground of Utz’ Slith Slaan or the Dragon’s Necropolis seemed somehow wrong to Clover. He wondered once he was gone if somepony would root around his grave looking for treasure. Distracted by his thoughts he didn’t notice when Scourge had stopped. Not paying attention cost him dearly as he felt the huntsdog forcefully knock him to the ground.
“Pay attention pony,” Scourge whispered. “I can’t protect you from your own stupidity.”
“Sorry,” Clover murmured.
“Keep your mouth closed and your eyes open,” Scourge said, glaring at him with his burning eyes.
Clover was about to apologize again, but caught himself before he could utter the words. Looking behind him, he saw Shanks faithfully following behind him in his hoofsteps. He smiled when he thought back to when he first met the tiny diamond dog pup. It had been less than two weeks, but already he felt as if his quest had begun over a lifetime ago. Now here he was trying to retrieve one of Lord Ouroboros’s cast off spines and scales.
As they walked past the remains of a decaying dragon’s corpse, Clover thought back to Travenro’s words, ‘There are many way to end wars, and many kinds of peace to be found. The greatest peace of all is death. Remember that as you serve the Slave king…’ I wonder what he could have meant, he thought to himself. If his experience in the Diamond Vale was any indication, death was far from the greatest peace, especially if the dead were walking about looking for ponies to munch on. He laid his ears back in worry at the terrifying thought.
Looking up towards the middle of the Dragon’s Necropolis, he saw what looked like a large circle of upright stones. Upon closer inspection he discovered that they were actually colossal dragon scales!
“We’re here,” Scourge said with a whisper. “Careful little pony, mind that you don’t disturb the guardian of this place.”
“What guardian?” Clover whispered.
“It’s called the dracoliche,” Scourge replied. “An enormous dragon made entirely out of bones and reanimated by the souls of the dragons that died here.”
“Shanks,” Clover said, “stay close to me.”
“Mister Clover,” Shanks whined. “Me scared. This place very dangerous. I smell bad thing nearby.”
Scourge narrowed his eyes, and raised his hackles. He could smell it nearby as well. “Shanks,” he growled, handing the pup a rag. “This is the scent of Lord Ouroboros. Help me locate one of his scales and spines. I want to get out of here before we’re discovered.”
Shanks growled at Scourge for a moment and then inhaled deeply, committing the scent to memory. He placed his nose to the ground and began smelling about for the fire tyrants scent. While both Scourge and Shanks smelled around the large piles of cast off scales and spines, Clover used his magic trying to look for the divine essence Lord Ouroboros’s cast offs would surely possess. Looking up at the size of some of these massive scales, he had no idea how they could possibly transport them back to the Diamond Vale. Even if Nidhogg burrowed to their position, some of these scales were as tall as small buildings and some of the larger spines the size of logs. He couldn’t fathom how massive the dragons who had cast off these scales must have been.
“Shanks,” Clover said, “find anything yet?”
“Aroo,” Shanks replied, poking his nose into a mountainous pile containing scales of all colors. “Me not smell Ouroboros yet, only finding many other dragons.”
“We could search a thousand years and not find what we’re looking for,” Clover groaned, when he realized just how many piles of scales and spines there actually were
“Silence you fool!” Scourge said. “Do you want to alert the dracoliche that we’re here?”
“But how can you expect us to find them?” Clover replied. “Your master only gave us a week to locate the items we need.”
“Stop making excuses and keep looking,” Scourge said, sniffing at a large pile of spines.
“Hmm,” Clover said. “Perhaps we should ask a dragon for some help then.”
“Little pony,” Scourge said, looking up at the unicorn in annoyance, “are you a fool or just stupid? What dragon would ever agree to aid us? They consider this a holy place.”
“Maybe not every dragon would agree to help us,” Clover said. “But I bet I know at least one that might agree to if we asked him nicely.”
“Who do you mean?” Scourge asked.
"Travenro the Skygazer might be willing to,” Clover said.
“That wyrm has one claw in the pit,” Scourge replied. “Why would he risk his spot on the eternal hoard to aid us?”
“Well then, do you have any better ideas?” Clover said. “There’s no harm in at least asking if he’d be willing to aid us.”
“Fine,” Scourge snarled, “but if he betrays us to the dracoliche, I’m killing both you and the pup.”
“Shanks,” Clover called out as quietly as he could, hoping that he wouldn’t alert the tomb’s guardian to their presence.”
“Aroo?” Shanks said, popping his head out from a nearby pile of scales. “What you wanting mister Clover?”
“Come, we’re heading to speak with Travenro again,” Clover said.
“Me like that dragon,” Shanks replied, “he nice.”
“Last Gem Biter, you say that now,” Scourge said. “Where he in his prime, he would have made quick work of us.”
“Well luckily for us he’s not,” Clover said. “Let keep silent until we reach him.”
“Humph…” Scourge snorted, bristling at being told to be quiet by a weak little pony.
After about an hour’s journey, they came back to where they had left the ancient dragon. Travenro’s prone form was lying unmoving atop a large rock. “Looks like we came here to late,” Scourge said, smelling the ancient dragon. “He’s already dead.”
“Dead?” Travenro said, opening up one of his sightless eyes. “Who are you calling dead? These old bones still have a bit of fight left in them yet.”
“Oh thank Celestia!” Clover said. “You’re still alive.”
“More or less little pony,” Travenro said. “Why did you come back? Manage to find one of Lord Ouroboros’s scales and spines already?”
“Unfortunately no,” Clover replied, looking down at his hooves. “The place where the scales and spines are being kept is enormous. There’s no way we could find them in time.”
“Ah yes, the repository…” Travenro said. “The guardian gathers up the scales and spines of the dead and places them there.”
“We we’re wondering if you might be able to help us locate what we need?” Clover asked.
“Hmm,” Travenro sighed. “Perhaps I could be persuaded to aid you. But I’ll need something more than what you gave me last time.”
“Wyrm, what exactly is your price to assist us?” Scourge growled.
“Dark one…” Travenro said, “I want to know exactly why you seek Lord Ouroboros’s cast offs.”
“My master had something stolen from him,” Scourge said.
“What makes you think Lord Ouroboros’s cast offs would aid you in getting them back?” Travenro asked.
“I’m not privy to that knowledge,” Scourge said.
Travenro studied Scourge with his clouded sightless eyes, and furrowed his brow. “I believe that you don’t rightly know the purpose to what you seek,” Travenro said before turning towards Clover. “Child of Celestia, do you know the why of what you seek?”
“Well…” Clover said. “When I met with the Slave King for the first time, he told us…”
Clover stood before the great stone throne, the Slave King looked down at him with those terrible eyes. Clover didn’t know what the Slave King would demand that they would have to do for him. He hoped that it wouldn’t be something horrible like from one of those old mare’s tales he had read about as a foal. The evil wizard always wanted a beautiful virgin mare to sacrifice to their dark magic’s. Looking at Showboat, he saw that she was indeed beautiful but somehow doubted her virginity. Steeling his courage he decided to just take the plunge, “So what will it take to quell your fury, and end the famine?” he asked.
The Slave King looked down at Clover with his inscrutable eyes, he saw something akin to a lost soul alone and suffering in those darkened inpony eyes. The few times he had seen Celestia’s eyes he felt the warmth of the sun and her boundless love for him. However all he felt from the Slave King’s gaze was the icy grip of his cold fury and a bottomless chasm full of loss. “I ask for one thing and one thing only,” the Slave King said. “Lord Ouroboros possesses something of great value to me. I task you with returning it to me and taking from him his left eye for the insult.”
After the Slave King uttered his impossible request, everypony in the room seemed to be hit by a stunned silence before they all responded. “What?” everypony shouted, objecting to being assigned with this impossible task.
“Yes,” the Slave King replied, as if he was asking them something as simple as bringing him a cup of tea. “Return to me that which was stolen, along the eye of Lord Ouroboros and I shall give Celestia and Luna whatever they desire.”
“Princess Celestia said we should accommodate any reasonable request,” Clover said. “What you’ve asked for is impossibility itself.”
The Slave King looked down at the little pony that had just stood up to him. Seemingly impressed by the mortal creature’s backbone, he leaned back against his throne and pulled on his greying beard thoughtfully. “Celestia certainly sent a brave pony to me,” he said. “Unicorn, what is your name?”
“Your Majesty, my name is Clover the Clever,” he said.
“Well Clover the Clever,” the Slave King replied, “under normal circumstances, what I asked for would indeed be impossible, but Lord Ouroboros has made a fatal error. His close proximity to my property has rendered him vulnerable to the power of the Earth. Even now he can no longer touch my domain without being constantly drained of his strength.”
“Vulnerable or not,” Shaw said, “Lord Ouroboros is still the greatest of dragons and a deity to boot, even scratching him and surviving the ordeal would be next to impossible.”
“Fear not griffin,” The Slave King said, with a hint of a smile. “The Earth shall provide you a means to obtain what I seek.”
Sir Stouthorn looked up at the Slave King, “Your Majesty,” he said, “what sort of quest are you sending us on.”
The Slave King looked down at the minotaur, seeing the Lawgiver’s sigil he smiled. “Minotaur,” he said, “from each of the four elemental domains, there are items I require to create a weapon that you will be able to use to do what I’ve asked.”
“And what might those items be?” Showboat asked.
“First,” the Slave King said, “far below the endless Western Sea lays Lord Triton’s citadel. Inside his citadel, Lord Triton keeps his pearls. I require one.”
“Lord Triton’s pearls!” Seafoam cried out. “But those contain his very essence. I refuse to be a part of something that could be used against my Lord.”
“Loyal seapony,” the Slave King replied. “I have nothing but the greatest respect for your Lord. I swear by my iron crown that he shall come to no harm by this task.”
“Your Majesty,” Sir Stouthorn said, “since you’ve sworn that no harm will come to Lord Triton, we will try to get you the pearl.”
“Excellent,” The Slave King said. “Lord Triton is fond of martial skills and prowess. Challenge one of his champions, and when you are victorious he shall offer you a boon. Ask for the pearl and he shall give it to you.”
“And what do we have to steal from Lady Zephyr?” Shaw asked with a frown.
“Griffin,” the Slave King said, “the Domain of Air has two things I require, three of Lady Zephyr’s feathers, and the fang of Lord Darkpaw.”
“But you have three other fangs right above you,” Showboat said, pointing her hoof towards the skull of Lord Darkpaw hanging above the Slave King’s throne.
“Yes,” the Slave King said, “however, this particular fang is imbued with the essence of two Lord of the Earth, and is infinitely more powerful than the other three.”
"What about from the Domain of Fire?” Slick asked. “Certainly that will be the most difficult of the three domains to infiltrate.”
“Little dragon, the Domain of Fire is a dangerous place indeed,” the Slave King said. “However every thousand years, Lord Ouroboros sheds his scales and spines in the Dragon’s Necropolis. You are to go there and retrieve for me one of each.”
“Your Majesty,” Clover said, “that will be the most dangerous task of all. The Dragon’s Necropolis is full of dead dragons and now even the dead roam free.”
“Yes they do,” the Slave King said. “I shall send lend you the most powerful of my servants to protect you on your quest there.”
“Who shall you send with us?” Clover asked.
The Slave King placed a whistle in his mouth and blew. The whistle’s shrill notes cut through the air of the throne room, like saw through bone. Clover heard heavy footpads approaching the throne room from a side passage. Looking down, he saw Shanks shivering and trying to hide behind his legs. Looking back up, he saw a pair of familiar burning eyes approaching them from the shadows.
“Oh Great Slave King,” the creature from the shadows said. “What need have you for your huntsdog?”
“Scourge, come to me,” the Slave King commanded.
Obediently, Scourge approached the Slave King’s stone throne and bowed low in reverence. “What is your will, my king,” he asked.
“You are to aid Clover the Clever,” the Slave King said. “Some of their number is heading to the Dragon’s Necropolis. You are to protect them in their quest, should any of the hungry dead leave their tombs in search of sweet pony flesh you are to show them the error of their ways.”
“Should any try to molest them,” Scourge growled, “I shall personally send them to back to the pit.”
“Excellent,” the Slave King said. “Also Clover, these tasks must be completed within a week's time.”
“A week,” Clover said. “I don’t know if we’ll be able to make it.”
“In eight days Lord Ouroboros will come to challenge me,” the Slave King said. “That will be your one chance to wound him and retrieve my property.”
“What if we fail?” Clover asked.
“Then I see a war among the Prime Elements,” the Slave King said. “Fire, Water, and Air shall ally against the Earth and will seek my end. The resulting war will cause much devastation and destruction across the Earth. What happened to the Diamond Vale is but a taste of what’s to come to the rest of Equestria.”
“How terrible,” Clover said, thinking about the ruined city he had seen.”
“Child of Celestia, do not fail in your quest,” the Slave King said, getting up from his throne and kneeling down on the ground. Picking up some of the earth he fashioned three coins and handed them to Clover. “Because time is of the essence, my servant Nidhogg will take you where you need to go. Use these coins to summon him from anywhere in Equestria. He will answer your call. Now go with haste.”
Clover took the coins and placed them in his saddlebag. “We won’t fail,” he said, determined that what happened to the Diamond Vale wouldn’t happen elsewhere.
“Clover, that’s quite the story,” Travenro said with a wry smile. “You have entertained me. Come follow me, and I will show you where Lord Ouroboros sheds his scales.”
Clover, Shanks, and Scourge followed after the ancient dragon back to the repository. “What about the dracoliche?” Clover asked, as they walked past a mountain of scales.
“The dracoliche?” Travenro said, lifting up his left eyebrow questioningly. “That old bag of bones shouldn’t bother you while you’re with me.”
Scourge looked up at the dragon curiously, “Why do you say that?” he asked.
“The dracoliche doesn’t bother those who’ve come here to die,” Travenro said, “he would never harm a dying dragon.”
Once they’d reached the center of the repository, Travenro moved a large stone covered with draconic runes to the side. After a minute, the ground collapsed into large stairway going deep into the earth. “Lord Ouroboros likes to hide down here when he sheds,” he explained with a small chuckle. “He’s always embarrassed about appearing naked in front of others.”
Smelling Lord Ouroboros’s scent, Shank’s nose went wild and he ran down the stairs into the darkness below chasing after the scent. “Wait Shanks, it could be dangerous!” Clover cried.
“Mister Clover,” Shanks called out from below. “Me found them. Me found a lot of them!”
Clover and Scourge walked down the stairway into a large underground chamber. What Clover saw amazed him, scales and spines of all sizes were stacked in neat piles all over the room. Each of them glowed as if they were on fire. “Thank you so much Travenro!” Clover said in gratitude to the dragon. “We found what we needed.”
Travenro looked down at the unicorn, "Clover you shouldn’t be thanking me quite yet,” he said, with a wry smile.
“Why's that?” Clover asked.
“Remember how I said that the dracoliche wouldn’t bother you while you were with me?” Travenro said.
“Yes…” Clover replied, not liking where this was going. “You said he doesn’t bother those who’ve come here to die.”
“Clover! Shanks! Get behind me!” Scourge growled.
Clover began cautiously backing away from Travenro, “Clover, you should’ve listened to the dark one before,” Travenro said, while his flesh fell away from his bones.
“Why is that?” Clover asked.
“Because little pony you might’ve lived a longer life,” Travenro replied, his face now nothing more than a skull.
“Why are you doing this?” Clover asked. “I thought you said you’d help us.
“I am,” the skeletal Travenro said. “I’m helping guide you on your way to the pit. All those who come here, come to die.”
Clover filled his horn with power preparing himself to defend them from the creature that had them trapped inside. Looking over at Scourge he saw that the doom hound was preparing to launch himself forward as Travenro’s flesh continued dropping from his bones.
Even the reanimated dragon from the Diamond Vale couldn’t match the terror that Travenro exuded. His bleached bones were covered in draconic runes that glowed with dragon’s fire. Magical energy swirled up and down the length of his bones, inside his skull’s empty eye sockets green bale fire burned with malevolent intent.
“Prepare yourselves for oblivion!” Travenro roared, flaring out his skeletal wings and rearing up on his hind legs.
Feeling fear as never before, Clover wondered how they could possibly survive this.
Gentlereader thank you for reading the latest chapter of The Great Slave King. As always comments are appreciated down below. Please forgive this author for his tardiness in missing last week's release. I was struggling with how to proceed with this chapter, however I think the end result was worth it. As far as the story itself I hope to have it completed by the end of may.
Well it looks like our intrepid adventures have gotten themselves into a rather tight spot now. With Shaw, Showboat, and Slick at the mercy of the talons of the cold hearted Lady Zephyr. How will Shaw talk himself out of this one? Will Showboat be able to steal victory from the jaws of defeat? And what the hay was in the scroll that Slick sent off, pizza delivery perhaps?
Sir Stouthorn and his faithful companion Seafoam seem to be doing a bit better. Seafoam you player, kissing the mares and breaking their hearts, and what's the deal with Sir Stouthorn, I wonder how long he's had his medical issues? Who knew all this time that Seafoam loved his riddles, and how will Sir Stouthorn defeat the questers challenge.
Clover, Shanks, and Scourge really have stepped in it this time. Who knew that all this time that Travenro was actually the dracoliche? Usually I say never look a gift pony in the mouth, but this was one guide they should have asked for references from first. On the bright side they did find the scales and spines they need. They just need to figure out how to survive the dracoliche and they are home free.
And regarding the Slave King, who knew he was so devious? His plan on avenging himself on Lord Ouroboros seems to be going swimmingly, minus the whole disastrous fetch quest he sent the fellowship of friends on, but let's not dwell on the negatives. It looks like Lady Suzaku got her revenge on Lord Ouroboros in the end after all.
Thanks again gentlereader for reading the ongoing story of The Great Slave King. Until next time!