The library’s door flung open, slamming against the far wall, as Spike staggered inside, panting heavily. "Spike, what’s wrong? You look like you’ve seen a timberwolf, and where are the groceries?" Twilight asked, slightly annoyed at the interruption from her assistant.
"Blood. Scootaloo. Gilda. Rainbow. Dash." He got out between breaths.
Twilight’s eyes went wide at the short phrased answer. "Wait, what! Okay, just breathe tell me what happened." She said, walking towards the little dragon putting a comforting hoof on his shoulder.
After a few deep breaths, he began to tale the events of what just transpired only minutes ago. "I was shopping, just like you said. I had almost everything on the list before Gilda just landed in the middle of town. She just started yelling at everypony as they ran away. That's when she saw me. She started saying something about the hospital. To make it worse, she was covered in blood and holding Scootaloo. I was so scared Twilight, all I could do was just point. But, then she ordered me to take her there. As soon as we got there, she just barged into the hospital. I heard yelling for a while, before she came back without Scootaloo. That’s when Rainbow Dash flew down and tackled her, screaming how she wasn't going to get away with hurting Scootaloo. That’s when I came to get you." Spike finished, taking in a few deep breaths, to a now, just as shocked unicorn.
"What in Celestia's name!" Twilight yelped, her ears laying back in response of the loud noise. Walking past the nervous dragon she took a careful look around outside as a familiar blue blur flew past, as another crash rang out. “Dash! What in Equestria is going on?” She nearly shouted, quickly following the direction the Pegasus flew off too. Her eyes grew in size as she saw a blood covered griffin was doing her best to dodge the barrage of attacks by the Pegasus.
Rainbow Dash did a quick round house kick, nailing the griffin in the chest and sending it into a nearby bench, shattering the object upon contact. As the griffin tumbled away, bouncing across the ground, it struck its claws into the ground with a single talon, slowing herself to a crouching stop, shaking free the debris of the destroyed bench..
"You're going to pay for what you did to Scootaloo, Gilda!" Dash screamed out, dive bombing straight at the battered griffin.
"For the last time, my name is not G---" Was all I got out, catching the crazed Pegasus in my talons by her front hooves. Using her own momentum as a counterbalance, I chucked her onto the ground as she slid a few feet, quickly recovering on her hooves. "I don't want to hurt you! But if you keep this up you oversized chicken, I’m going to rip off your damn legs and beat you to death with them." I threatened, spitting a glob of blackened blood out, ready for another assault.
"STOP FIGHTING!" A near by voice demanded.
Breaking eye contact with the Pegasus, I looked to my left and noticed the purple unicorn for the first time. She looked completely distraught, while she was surrounded by a yellow glowing emotion aura. Unfortunately for me, Rainbow Dash took the opportunity of the distraction. Hearing a vicious battle cry, I glanced back to catch the sight of a muddy, red covered, cyan torpedo slamming into my gut, effectively knocking most of the wind out of it. I doubled over to try to catch my breath only to receive a hoof shaped uppercut.
Landing on my back, she took no time taking to the air before slamming her back hooves into my chest. I seriously think I heard cracking upon impact, but that train of thought was shortly interrupted. Feeling a heavier weight on my chest I caught sight of her front hooves that began to mercilessly bombarded my face. After a couple of strikes I was able to semi defend myself, by raising my arms to guard against the onslaught. But that just made her hit harder, which to say the least, hurt like hell. My arms were sure to fracture and snap in just a few seconds. Just as I thought I was sure to die by of the ‘Element of Butchery’, the onslaught suddenly just stopped, as her weight lifted off of me.
Carefully, I glanced around my guard, noticing that Rainbow was now several yards away from me, and wrapped in a purple haze. Even though, she wasn't my favorite of the main six, she definitely lost a rank on a very short totem poll. Eyeballing the demon with wings, I secretly wished that she wasn't necessary for Elements of Harmony to work. And if looks looks could kill, I would easily be dead twice over. Yet, for whatever reason, I couldn't help but wonder if poking her with a stick would do anything.
"What the buck Dash! This isn't like you." Twilight tried to rationalize with the angry Pegasus.
"For starters, Gilda! And the moment she comes back to town, shes covered in blood, holding Scootaloo! For Celestia’s sake Twilight, you can still see it drying on her!" Rainbow growled, not releasing her glare off me.
Bring it on cupcake. I suddenly felt the need to cause her immense pain and then some.
"Is that true, Gilda?" Twilight asked, now looking towards me as well.
My mouth dropped agape, as I was brought back from the dark thoughts. Great, even she thinks I'm that bitch bird. Though, getting my ass handed to me by Dash probably didn’t help the case of mistaken identity, even though she started it. Looking at lavender unicorn, I had to make sure that each word that come out, didn't involve me knowing who they were, or their deeds, past, and future. Because, one wrong slip, there was a huge possibility, it would lead to more questions, the involvement of a few monarchs, and blow any type of cover I was trying to have.
Picking myself up, I took a seat on the ground, gingerly rubbing my aching arms. "Like I was trying to say earlier. I have no idea who this ‘Gilda’ is, nor do I care. But, yes, I did bring a little filly to town and got a dragon to take us to the local hospital. Where last I checked, she was being treated for shock. But, instead of a simple thanks, all I get is an overzealous rainbow trying to kill me and a interrogation from…”, I paused for a moment, catching myself from saying what I wanted to, so I went with the next best answer. “I got nothing on you and considering you probably just saved my feathered hide, I’ll be nice to you. But, whatever the case maybe, and with the day I’ve had, it must be a Wednesday." I sarcastically stated, shrugging my shoulders.
"That’s a bunch of horseapples, you probably got caught hurting her and wanted to make up for it." Dash snapped. Her aura increasing into darker red as she stared at me.
Now was my turn to be confused. “What is wrong with you? Why would...you know what? I’m done talking to you, when you get your head out of your rear, let me know.” I turned back to Twilight before continuing. “Now, as for the blood that seems to have every...pony in town all worked up. Its from a rather good sized, but now very dead cockatrice. I'm sure it's something’s dinner right about now or decomposing in the forest. But not before I had a few bites of course." I smiled, gently patting my sore stomach.
The unicorn seemed slightly repulsed by the visual thought, but it seemed to get the point across well enough. "Okay. Say, I believe you. How did you manage to get a hold of Scootaloo, hmmm?" Twilight asked, pressing the matter as the yellow glow around her grew slightly brighter.
Oh, you gotta be kidding me? Really! That the best question you could have thought of? "That's easy, the chicken snake tried to eat your Scootaloo, and I ate it, saving her life in the process. I doubt you still believe me, so why not ask her when she wakes up. Heck, I'll even stick around until then. And if you're still not satisfied, then I will give myself up, willingly." That should keep them busy, at least for awhile.
"I vote we just toss her in jail and let her rot." Dash smugly mentioned.
That idea instantly boiled my blood, reminding me all too well about the freedom I fought for, and had fought for the last two years, was about to be jeopardized by this over sized plushie with an attitude. "You dare put me in a cage like some animal, I will personally remove your entrails through your anal cavity, then hang you with them, before skinning you alive! Do I make myself clear!" I shot forth in anger, glaring at the flying nuisance. Both of the equines faces went extremely pale and Dash's aura quickly became a blue as she swallowed whatever comment she was holding back.
"But you said th-" Twilight tried to respond before I cut her off.
"I said, only if you're not satisfied with the filly's answer, not before." I snapped at the unicorn, not caring that she was one of the Elements of Harmony. That was a personal button and I was through playing their game.
A awkward silence hung over the air, giving me ample time to think. I reeled in my emotions the best I could though the anger was there lingering in the back of my mind. Something about that outburst didn't feel right and I had to fix this situation quick, or it would all be over. "Listen. I'm sorry.” I murmured.
“What?” Twilight replied, tilting her head to the side not budging from her spot.
Taking a deep breath I voiced my reply. “I said I’m sorry. But being imprisoned for doing nothing other than saving a life and defending myself is wrong on so many levels. I have been without food for the last two days, besides the cockatrice, which didn't do anything other than quell my appetite. On top of that I'm dirty, tired, injured, interrogated, and have no idea where the Tartarus I am. So yeah...I’m a bit stressed." Bending my head down in defeat. I had to keep the lies up, but in a sense I was lost, and hungry even though I just recently ate. Something was nagging at my senses on a food source and I didn’t like the idea or where it was going.
Twilight lowered her friend down while shifting in place unsure on where to go with the recent events from what I could tell. But after a few more awkward minutes, Dash decided to say something. "How do we know you won't fly away the first chance you get."
Shaking my head, "I won't fly away, and with the speed you had tackled me with, I doubt I will get very far if I even tried." I replied.
"I am, the fastest flier in Equestria after all.” She boasted hovering in the air. “But, I don't believe you won't at least try.” Edging closer to my slumped form.
"And I still don't believe you." Dash moved extremely close to where I sat, almost daring me to try something.
Shrugging my shoulder, "believe what you want, but what I’m telling you is the truth. Heck, if you want, you can keep an eye on me, till the filly gives you her side of the story." I suggested, giving her something to chew on.
Twilight just sat there listening to our conversation going back and forth, oblivious to the crowd that was starting to form around the scene. Finally she decided to make a decision to end the squabbling. "Alright, Rainbow Dash will keep an eye on...you know, we never did get your name.”
“That’s cause you never asked, then again hard it's to exchange pleasantries when you’re getting your faced smashed in by this thing here.” I commented, pointing to the already too close Pegasus.
“HEY!” Dash barked, not in the least bit amused.
Twilight ignored her friend for a moment, “True we can at least introduce ourselves.” She sat up straight placing a hoof on her chest. “My name is Twilight Sparkle and this here is Rainbow Dash.” She finished pointing towards the suspect.
“Right, well as much as it is a pleasure to meet you and this thing, I rather not give out my name until I’ve at least had a bath.” I said, feeling a tad uncomfortable with the growing crowd and the fact I didn’t really have a name thought up yet.
"That’s not fair!” Rainbow almost growled in my face.
“And neither is getting dealing with you!” I snapped back.
Twilight yelled loud enough to get our attention. “Girls calm down, or do I need to separate you two?”
“Fine!” Dash growled, backing up a bit and folding her forelegs “But, if you take one wrong move I'm putting you down! You got that."
"Fair enough. Though as much as being covered in blood doesn't bother me and I don't think the rest of the town approves." I mentioned, pointing at the gathered crowd.
"Oh good point." Twilight nervously laughed just now realizing all the ponies that came to look at what was going on near her home. "I'll head to the hospital and will let you know when Scootaloo is awake and able to talk. Till then Dash treat her as a guest and not a criminal. Would you mind taking her to your place Rainbow and I'll go check on---"
"YES!" both me and Dash said in unison, though I was pretty sure it was for different reasons.
"That was creepy. So whats wrong with your place?." she asked looking at the Pegasus while raising an eyebrow.
"I'm not taking her to my place, simple as that." Dash replied without much more of explanation.
With that, Twilight looked at me obviously waiting for an answer, but I didn't plan to give it away freely with just a look.
"Well." she plainly stated. She didn't seem to be budging anytime soon and in truth I got tired of smelling like I did with everyone standing around us.
"I'm afraid of heights," I whispered.
She took a step closer, turning her ears towards me. "What was that?"
Knowing I wasn't getting out of this and the daredevil next to me was already cracking up, I looked over to Twilight before saying a bit louder. "I said, I'm afraid of heights." Dash on the other hand, or hoof in this case, burst into a combination of laughs and snorts.
Twilight, along with the rest of the crowd, seemed to be struggling to contain their laughter, though the look I shot them seem to help them regain their senses. She hesitated a moment, swallowing the last of her giggles before responding. "Oh, well that's different. If you’d like, you can use my shower."
Looking down at my appearance, the only thing that was semi clean was the bottom of my paws. The rest of me caked in either blood or dirt, and in some places, a bit of both. "If you don't mind, I would appreciate it. Otherwise, I will just ask my warrant officer to bring me down a rain cloud." I said pointing a claw at the cyan chicken hovering next to me. A small mischievous grin crept her face, leaving me a bit confused till I recalled her spin dry. "But, I have a feeling skinning her would be back on the table." Giving her a dirty look that erased her smile.
"So yeah, the library sounds like a good idea." Dash nervously chuckled, rubbing the back of her neck.
"Good, its settled. After your shower, feel free to walk around. Just please don't leave town until we get all the facts straight." Twilight requested.
Nodding my head in acknowledgment, I got up and walked towards the library, taking notice of the different variety of auras surrounding the gathered ponies. As I neared the center of the ponies they parted ways giving me a wide birth, some ready to make a mad dash at the slightest hint of aggression.
Even though the library stood less than a couple of dozen feet in front of me, I paused in place recalling how I told them I was rather new to the area and still unsure of where I was. Continuing to play dumb I looked back at Dash gesturing for her to take the lead. The Pegasus just rolled her eyes before flying past me warning me to keep up.
Twilight watched as Dash lead the rather odd griffin to her house. With the situation somewhat under control, she released a long sigh before addressing the crowd. "Okay everypony, nothing to see here. Please go back to whatever you was doing." After a few groans here and there they finally dispersed, leaving the unicorn alone. Turning around to go to the hospital, a flash of pink and two bright blue eyes entered her field of vision. “GAH!” she exclaimed, falling onto her back, Twilight then got the full few of her friend smiling wide at her. "Pinkie! Seriously don't sneak up on ponies like that." She groaned getting back to her hooves.
"Oh Twilight, you silly filly. Why would I sneak up on ponies other than to surprise them.” She giggled before perking her head up looking around. “Oh by the way have you seen any pony new? Cause I heard there was a new pony in town and that means I have to make friends with them and throw them a welcome to Ponyville party cause everypony loves parties!" She talked bouncing around the lavender unicorn.
"Yes, I just got done sending her to my place to get cleaned up and she is actually a griffin. But right now, considering everything that she has been through so far, I think its best if we gave her some space for now. Besides that Scootaloo is in the hospital a-.” Twilight explained before getting cut off.
The pink mare’s hair slightly deflated, “Oh no! What happened? Is she okay?”
“That’s what I’m going to find out. Besides I'm sure she could use some cheering up. I’ll fill you in on what I know along the way.” The unicorn said walking towards the hospital.
"Okie dokie" Pinkie replied taking her spot beside Twilight who went over everything that just transpired.
Spike was busy stacking a few books that was cluttering the floor when a knock on the door drew his attention. "Doors open" He called out, picking up the now finished stack before shuffling to a near by shelf categorizing each tomb as he went.
Dash flew inside the library to hover just above the dragon. "Hey Spike, we need to use the shower." She said as I walked in, taking in the sight of the library.
"What do you mean w--" he started before dropping the books in front of him. Slightly shocked while looking at me, he pointed a claw up the stairs stuttering as he spoke. "The s-s-shower is up the st-st-s-stairs, first du-d-door on the left."
"Thanks much" I replied, walking 5past him with a blood covered smile and a slight limp, even though I was trying my best not to show I was in pain.
"N-n-no pr-problem." Spike said, forcing a smile. But, as soon as the upstairs door closed and running water could be heard, he looked over to Rainbow Dash. "What did I miss?"
"Seems Twilight thinks its okay for Gilda to walk around and not be behind bars after everything that’s happened. Odd part is, that feather brain thinks she can fool us by saying she isn’t Gilda, even though she looks and sounds a just like her.” Dash explained as she lower herself to the ground.
“Okay so why is she here?”
“For now just taking a show, its best if we just---" Dash was replying before their conversation got cut off from shriek upstairs.
"OH HOLY HELL!"
“Everything okay up there?” Dash yelled up.
A few moments went by before the voice replied sounding a bit flustered. “Yeah, everything is good. Just fine, had a minor incident with the water works.”
The two just stared dumbfounded for a moment before giggling. Spike was the first to say anything, “Wow, I didn’t know anyone sound that happy when taking a shower besides Twilight.” Shrugging as he looked back to the Pegasus.
"Right. Wait? What!?" Dash’s wings fluttered a bit before she corrected herself quickly changing the subject, though the blush in her cheeks didn’t quite go away as easily. "Anyway, don't worry about Gilda. I'm keeping an eye on her till Scoots wakes up and then we can go from there. But, I tell you Spike, something about her just seems off." Silently wondering why half of her attacks didn’t at least break a few of the griffin’s bones or why she wasn’t walking in extreme pain.
"I know what you mean. She seemed actually concerned about getting Scootaloo to the hospital. Speaking of which, did she actually thank me for telling her where the bathroom was?" He asked scratching his head.
"Like I said it doesn’t make sense, especially for a her,” recalling how Gilda normally acted, ”not to mention a griffin.” Dash replied rubbing a hoof under her chin. "Also, what exactly happened with Scootaloo?"
On queue, Spike began retelling his side of the story starting with how he was shopping for groceries before the griffin showed up.
As the water heated up to a reasonable temperature, I decided to try changing to a human form. The green flames took their hold and left me standing there as a short haired female that only stood a little over five feet. Looking into the mirror, a woman with green eyes stared back. “Fate, why must you continue to plague me?” I asked the reflection.
Getting no reply, I silently sighed before stepping into the small tub. Being shorter then normal I still stood about a foot taller then the shower head. Which luckily for me seemed to be detachable. Wiping away the blood and dirt as the water cascaded down my frame, I turned to get more of my back before bumping the shower head with my elbow, where it fell to bottom of the tub in between my legs shooting straight up. “OH HOLY HELL!” I practically screamed, quickly picking up the offending shower head.
As I was putting the head back on its hanger I heard Dash ask from a distance. “Everything okay up there?”
Securing the shower head in place, I finally responded, even though I was a bit flustered at what just happened. Not hearing any sounds of hoof steps, I continued to shower making sure not to repeat the same mistake twice.
Ten minutes went by quickly as I finished cleaning as much as I could with my hands, before utilizing the local scrub brush and body wash that smelt of flowers of some sort. Thoroughly rinsing the soap off, I turned off the water before grabbing a folded towel near by. Briskly drying myself off, I dropped the towel in the cloths hamper before analyzing all the black and blue marks covering my body, generally poking a few here and there. After a bit, I switched back to the griffin form and walked over to the fogged up mirror. Wiping off the condensation, the finished product of the transformation stared back at me. I looked almost identical to Gilda including the chest marking. "That won’t do,” I spoke aloud. After some experimentation I finally got the markings to change into more of a red hue instead of the purple. “There we go, much better. Hopefully no one payed close attention while I was covered in blood." I snickered recalling whole ordeal.
I was extremely lucky they didn’t push for a name, so may as well use a couple from a book I use to read, should be good enough as long as they don't press the matter too much. Insuring everything in my form was correct and there was no telltale signs of changeling magic in my eyes, I turned to head downstairs. Opening the door, I could make out a the hushed voices of Dash and Spike finishing up whatever story they were discussing at the moment. Once I emerged at the top of the stairs they both went quiet, eying me with a hint of confusion.
"Sorry if I interrupted anything, don't mind me." I stated, walking down the stairs on my hind legs dropping to all fours once I reached the bottom. "Oh by the way, I rinsed out the tub the best I could so its ready to go for whoever." I casually mentioned strolling over to one of the book shelves avoiding eye contact with the bewildered group.
Grabbing a random book off the shelf I flicked it open to scan over a few pages before closing it. Selecting another I repeated the process a few more times, before giving up by placing the tomb back in place. So much for hoping this would be easy. Silently protesting my luck I turned around with the two still staring at me. "Um, did I miss a spot?" Scanning over the fur and feathers checking for any type of blood or dirt clinging to me.
"How did you do it?" Rainbow asked, while Spike followed up with a head nod in agreement.
"Did what? Take a shower? I didn’t think it was that hard of a concept.” I said sarcastically, a bit annoyed that they where still just staring at me without any real reasons at this point.
“You're completely dry, even I can't do that without flying around for a while.” Dash explained walking around me scanning every inch of me. “Yet, here you are, with not a single damp spot on you. And to top it off, not a single feather is out of place." She finished as she plopped down in front of me.
Shit didn't think about that one. Okay just remain calm you can salvage this just think of something. Slightly concerned I felt a few beads of sweat starting to form, desperate to fall down my face. Forcing a smile, I quickly spurted out. "I always dried fast, as for the feather they pretty well maintain themselves."
The little dragon was the first to respond to my half lie. "Wow, Twilight would love to have an ability like that, it takes her hours to dry her hair without a spell."
Dash on the other hand, or hoof in this case, wasn't buying it by the look she was giving me, but kept her muzzle shut. Ignoring her, I looked over to the little dragon, "Well thanks again Spike for the hospitality." I said, smiling to him raising my talon.
“It was no biggy.” He said as he grasped my extended talon with a chubby claw. “Wait, how did you know my name?”
I chuckled to no one on in particular. “Dash said it earlier when we entered.”
"Thanks again for letting me use the shower and for showing me where the hospital was earlier. But if its okay with my warden, I would like some fresh air." I said before releasing my grip before turning my attention to the Pegasus.
Dash hopped up into the air hovering just inches from me. "Thought you were hungry.” She stated more of a fact then that of a question.
Keeping calm, I found once again my personal bubble being pierced for the third time today. Why do I get the feeling this is going to be an ongoing thing. Straightening up, I decided to try another experiment to see if there is a dominance deal with Pegasi, only problem with that is I had to look into the eyes of the thing that almost ended me less then half an hour ago. "Oh, I still am, but the lack of currency only gets me so far. Besides, this isn't the first time I went without food for a few days. And on that note, I also prefer to work for my meals." I finished looking deep into her magenta eyes.
We stood like that for a bit before Spike broke the tension spoke up. "I'm sure Twilight wouldn't mind sharing some of her food and you could pay her back in no time."
Opening my mouth to argue, but my stomach protested against my attempt. Making sure not to break eye contact, I replied to his offer. "If you don't think she will mind, then I would like something to eat, and I will pay her back as soon as possible. Also, would you mind making it a to go order?”
From my peripherals, I saw him nod before walking through an open door which I guess led to the kitchen. Dash and I stayed this way for a bit, neither one of us breaking eye contact. It was like a really bad staring contest. Once he came back with a picnic basket, I knew she would win if I didn’t finish this quickly. Then a dumb idea struck my head, while taking in my breath I took a bit more air as if to yawn. Having filled up my lungs, I blew a quick blast of air into her eyes.
Dash, caught by surprised, flew a bit backward rubbing out her eyes from the sudden gust. “Hey, that’s cheating.” She nearly growled.
I couldn’t help but smile at the cheap shot. “Didn’t know we had a competition going on. Besides, I got tired of you eying me like a piece of candy.” I finished up before accepting the basket from Spike. Dash was just now putting two and two together and had a slight blush to her cheeks. “Thanks for the food Spike, I’ll bring the basket back later today.” I said waving a small good bye as I left the tree house like structure with Dash flying close behind me.
Stepping outside I put the basket down and addressed the colorful gnat behind me. "Listen, I get the feeling you don't like me, and I can respect. Then again I'm not a fan of yours either, but if you're going to have to follow me around, can you at least try to act like civilized?” I asked, getting an annoyed snort as a response.
"Fine, suit yourself," I said. Looking around I found a creme colored mare with pinkish hair and a single rose as a cutie mark. Walking up behind her as she tended to a flower bed, I cleared my throat to get her attention. “Pardon me ma’am,” as she turned around to face her eyes quickly turned went to pinpricks. Ignoring her reaction, I asked a couple of questions and after awhile, the blue aura the was around her slowly dissipated to more pale yellow color. I ended up having a rather pleasant conversation with her on the weather and the green house that she owned nearby. Eventually I brought the conversation to a close by asking for directions to a local park. Getting the info, I bid her farewell before collecting the basket and going about my merry way.
Along the walk, I took mental notes on my surroundings from the placement of the buildings, to more noticeable landmarks. Including a few that I would need to visit later and any possible areas I could use for cover if things got complicated. Following Roseluck’s directions, I easily made it to the park and found a nice shady spot underneath a tree. Plopping against the trunk, I turned my attention to the basket. Removing the cover I found a nice, yet odd layout that involved a couple of apples, two cucumber sandwiches with lettuce and tomatoes, three cupcakes, and a small container of fruit punch.
Starting with one of the sandwiches I quickly scarfed it down. I wasn't a big fan of vegetables, but I was hungry enough not to complain too much. Surprisingly, the aftertaste didn't seem that bad when compared to the vegetables from home. Taking a hesitant bite out of a cupcake, my eyes snapped opened in shock. I practically inhaled two out of the three cupcakes, only to stop on the third to realization something this good can't be healthy. Laying the last pastry back in the basket, I picked up a rather red apple, only to slowly nibble on it. It was a rather simple meal, but was enough to fill me up for the time physically, but I still hungered for some odd reason.
Leaving the rest in the basket, I heard a growl directly above me causing me to look up. There on a tree branch perched like a hawk was my little keeper Dash. "Hungry?" I asked with a slight smirk etched on my face.
"Nah, I can wait. Somepony has to keep an eye on you and I'm not letting you out of my sight for one second." She replied folding her forelegs together.
"Right, well if you want something to eat, here is some extra food." I remarked tossing her the basket before she could protest. "If you need me I’ll be over there." I said, pointing a claw to the open space nearby and leaving her to own devices.
Reaching the clearing under the sun, I moved around feeling the earth below my pads and talons before picking a comfortable spot. Once satisfied, I crossed my hind legs, which was a tad harder than I last remembered, but dealt with it making sure not to pinch my tail in the process. Comfortable, I closed my eyes and began to breathe in slow steady breaths while I took in the sweet clean air. Once calm physically, I moved onto my other senses, closing out each one the best I could. Satisfied with everything, I began to reflect on the past days events and how to proceed from here.
Dash sat on her makeshift seat while keeping a close eye on the ‘guest’. While she was busily snipping away the rest of her juice, she heard her name being called out from below. Looking down, she saw Twilight looking back up at her. "Hey, whats up? Did squirt finally wake up?" she asked descending down next to the mare.
"Yep, seems the griffin was telling the truth after all.” Twilight replied absentmindedly. “You may want to at least apologize to her attacking her and it seems Pinkie is already setting her up a party back at the library.
"Oh come on, what was I suppose to do? She was covered in blood and I heard that she had Scootaloo." Dash almost pouted.
"As much as I would want to argue about what it looked like, we can't deny the facts. It was a honest mistake Dash, just go and tell her you're sorry."
"Fine, but only after I check on Scoots, and how did you know where we were anyway?" Dash asked raising her eyebrow.
"Oh, on my way back from the hospital, I ran into Roseluck. She mentioned that I might find you two over here." Twilight smiled towards her friend.
"Guess that makes sense, well I’m off to the hospital see you ya at the party." She said taking off leaving a rainbow streak behind.
Twilight remained in the shade of the tree for a short while studying the griffin as she sat perfectly still, reminding the unicorn of a decorative statue back in Canterlot. "Well Twilight,” she said to nopony in particular. “You won’t make friends just by sitting around," She said. putting on her best smile she trotted up to the clearing, stopping just a few feet short of the griffin. "Hello Miss, I'm so sorry for the mix up earlier. We were just taken in by the whole ordeal without getting facts and overreacted to the situation." No reply. Ok, maybe she is still upset. Twilight thought before continuing on. "I think we should start over fresh, my name is Twilight Sparkle, personal protege to Princess Celestia." She finished holding up her hoof. Still nothing. She could see the griffin slowly breathing. Curiosity started to take root in her mind at the stillness and lack of response from the griffin before her.
The silenced lengthened at the odd pair, till the lavender unicorn had inched closer trying a new approach. "Hello? Can you hear me? Do you mind if I get a feather? No? Okay thanks." Grabbing a small secondary feather in her purple aura, she quickly yanked it out.
"Ahhh, what the hell!" I screamed snapping back to reality from what felt like someone had just yanked out a few strands of my hair out.
"Oh, you're up, that's good. I asked if I could have a feather and since you didn't say no, I just took a small one." She beamed at me mischievously. Not noticing the flicker of green the feather gave off beside her.
I on the other hand, noticed right it away and had to get that feather back. "Well, I was in deep thought. Thank. You. Very. Much.” I replied rubbing the tender area on my wing. “And next time just nudge me or something instead of plucking me like a chicken. Speaking of which, even if I didn't give permission doesn't mean you can take samples." Holding up my talon waiting to get the feather back.
Taking longer than I liked she finally placed it back in my grasp. Once back in my possession I clutched it tightly, noticing it crumbling rather easily under the pressure, but I didn't dare look at it with the unicorn so close. "Thank you. So what happened to my little shadow? Did she run off?" I asked, looking where Dash previously was perched.
"Huh? Oh you mean Rainbow Dash! No no, she went to the hospital to see Scootaloo. The little filly woke up earlier and was telling everypony what happened. So we kind of owe you an apology." She nervously chuckled.
"Eh, don't worry about it." I waved a dismissive talon in the air. "It was a simple misunderstanding and everything turned out fine. Oh before I forget, your assistant gave me some food, so I actually owe you some free work." I stated while doing a full stretch, grinding the piece of wing into the ground during the process.
Feeling a few satisfying pops in my aching joints, I glanced around for the picnic basket. I caught a glimpse of the red and white checkered cover sticking out near the tree's canopy.
"What? No, you're fine, saving that little filly more then makes up for it. I never did get your name though." Twilight said trying not to grimace from the cracking sounds emitted from my back during my stretch.
Walking towards the tree, I smiled knowing that I semi prepared for this line of questions. Standing up to get a hold of the basket I looked back to the waiting unicorn. "Name's Wren."
"Oh, that's a unique name." She smiled trotting up to me. "So you have anywhere to stay for the night?"
"Nope, figured I would just head out once my name was cleared." Which was the original plan, but with the way my luck has been running, supplies or not, staying here too much longer would only get riskier as time went on
"But its getting late!” Twilight protested at my idea.
Looking back at horizon, the sun was starting to fall into the hills, but I still had a good hour of daylight life. “And your point being?” I asked confused on what the big deal seemed to be.
“Are you not worried about traveling at night?”
“Wouldn’t be the first time and I doubt it will be the last, besides, it has its own charm.” I finished recalling all the late night operations and strolls I made back home when I needed time to myself.
“You are definitely an odd griffin, but why don't you stay at my place for the night. Its the least I could do for everything that has happened." She said walking in front of me and took the basket from my grasp in her magic.
"You already gave me a free meal, and I rather not impose on my welcome."
"I insist." She said smiling in a way that kind of creeped me out.
"Why do I get the feeling I'm not getting out of this?"
"You're smarter then you look. Oh, I mean-I didn't mean-ah shoot." Twilight ears fell back as her cheeks blushed up in embarrassment.
I couldn’t help but chuckle at the adorableness of it all and figured I could add more fuel to the fire. “You know, you’re cute when you’re flustered.” I said, smiling wide while locking my gaze into her eyes.
"I...I mean…I didn’t...” Twilight sputtered while back pedaling, nearly turning a new shade of purple. I couldn’t help but laugh till my sides hurt. This caused her to see the joke before chuckling a bit herself. “You're really not Gilda. Though I have to say, you sound and look almost like her, though there are a few minor details that separate you two."
Wiping away the few tears that had formed, I replayed, "I’ll have to take your word for it. But considering the way Dash used me for a punching bag, I have to assume she holds a grudge towards her." I lied as rubbed one of the recent bruises on my face.
"You could say that, but it's best if you heard the story from her. After all, Gilda use to be Rainbow's friend." Twilight sunk her head at the memory of events.
"I may have to do that." I stated, before changing to a more important topic "So, I don't suppose you have any maps back at your place by chance."
"Oh yes, I have a few. In fact, I even have some predating the forming of Equestria. Did you know that before Princess Luna banishment she actually had a---" Twilight switch into lecture mode and I quickly drowned her out. But, after a few minutes that involved the variations of quills used by scribes to the breakthrough of everlasting ink, I had to cut her off.
"Um, Twilight nothing personal. But, its a bit late for a history lesson on maps and their creation." I said smiling at the little tutor.
"Oh hehe, sorry. I sometimes get carried away." She said blushing once again.
"I understand where you are coming from, but there is a time and place for all things.”
"So why were you in the Everfree Forest to begin with?" She asked.
"Passing through really, I didn't really have a true destination, just got a case of wanderlust."
"Really, you have to tell me of your travels." She beamed excitedly.
"Nothing really special about them. Besides that I'm sure you already know quite a bit from all those books you have access to." I said feeling a bit nervous from the possibility of having to use references from fanfics to substitute to what may really be out there including the changeling hive.
"But personal experiences are so much more insightful. Though now that you mention it, I don't hear about many griffins that would risk their life to help somepony in need...so why did you?" She asked stopping me dead in my tracks causing her to look back. "Wren? Is everything okay?"
I sighed, before answering to the unicorn. "I can't speak for others Twilight, but leaving someone to die is the same as killing them yourself. I have caused enough death to realize that the only real way to die is in battle saving another. I have lived that way for the last ten years and have yet to waiver from the course, regardless of the situation." I finished my talons forced into a tight fist. After a moment I released my fist before continuing past her trying to rid myself of the past memories.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean anything bad about it." She said while tears started to form in her eyes threatening to fall at any moment.
Hearing a sobbing noise behind me I turned back to see Twilight beginning to cry. Great you ass, you made her cry. Well when in Rome. Walking towards her, I surprised her by quickly pulled her into a tight hug while whispering in her ear. "This is not your burden to bear, you didn't know and couldn't have known. So lets put the past in the past and not worry about it, okay?" Getting a nod from the mare I released her from my grip, wiping a few of her tears away with my talon. Once she recovered we continued on our way keeping any conversations to a minimum.
As the library came into view a variety of colors moved around inside the light-less tree, getting me pause as we approached. But, once we got closer the auras took shape of ponies as they moved into a semi circle against the back wall facing the library entrance. Now that I thought about it, I have yet to be mauled by Pinkie Pie, but I got the feeling that was about to change.
Twilight entered first walking into the dark lit room with me following close behind her. Stopping in the center of the structure, my eyes quickly adjusted to the lack of adequate lighting as dozens of ponies materialized in the center of the glowing colors. Are they even trying to hide? Eh, may as well play along. Keeping a calm voice I spoke to the unicorn, "Listen Twilight as much as I enjoy playing hide and seek with furniture, where are the lights?"
As on queue the I heard the familiar flick of switch as the lights flooded the room, while a unison of a good two dozen ponies yelling "SURPRISE!"
"GAH!" I stumbled a step back covering my eyes, not realizing how good Twilight’s lighting worked till it was too late.
"Oh, were you surprised cause this was meant to be a surprise ‘Welcome to Ponyville’ party. Cause you see I heard about a new pony in town today and knew that if there was somepony new in town I had to make them my friend and then I found out it was a griffin and the last party I threw for a griffin didn't go well at first but then I heard how you rescued Scootaloo and then I thought maybe you weren't a bad griffin and thought to throw you a 'Thank you for saving Scootaloo Party' even though you were going to get a 'Welcome to Ponyville Party' because everyone gets a welcome party which made this a double party." Pinkie Pie excitably said, hopping up and down in front of me.
Blinking a few times to clear the dots in my sight, I wasn’t quite sure what the hell Pinkie just said, but went with it all the same. "Um okay then? I'm guessing your the reason for the party." I stated it more of a fact then anything as the hyperactive pony nodded her head vigorously.
"Yepperoni," She replied while wearing a huge smile that defied her facial structure. “My name is Pinkie Pie,” she finished lifting her hoof up in front of her for a hoof shake.
"Thanks Miss Pie, but I don't plan on staying too long, yet the gesture appreciated." I said returning a smiling as I took hold of her hoof.
Feeling like I just latched onto a few live wires I quickly yank my talon back, shaking it to try to get rid of the numb tingling feeling that occupied the limb while suppressing a few choice words under my breathe. Giving the party pony a small glare of amusement, I should have seen that one coming.
"Pinkie!" Twilight barked.
The hyperactive pony's mane slightly deflated like she just been kicked. Quickly I interjected, "Its okay Miss Sparkle. I don't mind too much, as shocking as it was,” getting a giggle from Pinkie at the lame pun, “but if you don't mind Miss Pie, could we keep the pranks down to a minimum? I had enough surprises to last me a good week and then some." I finished as her mane popped back up.
"See, I knew she wasn't a grumpy griffin." Pinkie giggled, before hopping over to the punch bowl.
Turning my attention back to Twilight I said, “Well may as well enjoy the party, before getting to bed.” Which she gave a short nod with a smile.
As the hours flew by, I was introduced to the rest of the main six and a few others that gained the courage to say hello, others I had to hunt down myself. Fluttershy was rather meek as expected, but she seemed overall happy to meet a friendly griffin. Rainbow Dash was still giving me a stink eye. Applejack gave me a slightly cold look during introductions, but was nice enough not say anything. Rarity was inquiring about latest fashions for griffins, which I had no clue on, so I gave her my wanderlust excuse and have yet to make it back to the griffin kingdom. Pinkie Pie kept dragging me around to all the games which were rather simple enough, though no one could beat her at ‘Pin the Tail on the Pony’. As for Spike, he fell asleep pretty early and was put to bed.
Meeting a few of the background ponies, I figured tomorrow I should go search for the rest that I wanted to meet. Roseluck seemed to be a bit more friendly as we talked about what my plans were for the next few days, but as the night lengthened, the party slowly died down as the guests left one by one, going about their way home.
As the last of the party goers left, I finished swallowing another cupcake, then walked up to the lavender unicorn as she waved goodbye to all her guests. She closed the door and bumped into me when she turned around. We both stared at each other which was becoming something awkward till I interrupted the tension. "Hey Twilight, some party.” Smooth Casanova.
“Yes it was, but that’s expected at Pinkie Pie’s parties.” She said shuffling slightly in place with a blush slightly on her cheeks.
Taking a step back to avoid making this anymore uneasy, I finally regained my senses on what I wanted to ask. “Not to bother you further tonight, but do you have any beginners books around here, as well as a map I could borrow for a few while?"
Her ears perked up quickly at the reminder of earlier request. “Oh right! Hmm, lets see, I got a few maps in the back that I don't use. As for books, what type are you looking for exactly?" She said heading into a near by room.
"Oh just the basics really, flying would be a good start. Something preferable with detailed pictures." I said walking towards a shelf, scanning the book spines as I went, figured getting an idea on how to fly was better than experimenting aimlessly.
"I think I got a few on flight, though I don't see why you want something with pictures." Twilight slightly yelling back from the other room.
"I'm a visual learner." I quickly replied turning around as I heard her walking back into the room.
"Oh, well that makes sense." She said with a large scroll in tow. Putting it on the nearby table she snatch a hardbound book off one of the shelves sliding it towards me.
Taking it into my talons, I looked at cover that was decorated in few scribbles on it’s surface. Opening it, I began to shift through the pages until I found a picture. Though, instead of flight, it was one of a plant. Ignoring it, I flicked through a few more noticing one after another showed nothing, but of different types of vegetation and irrigation systems. Fuck I looked up at Twilight knowing I been had. She sat there with a smug grin spread across her face. "This isn't about flying." I said closing the book, hoping to pass it off as a bad joke.
"No it isn't. But, I would like you to read the title."
"And why do I have to read it off to you?"
"Cause I don't think you can and you won't be getting this until you do." the unicorn said taking the suspected map back in her magic pulling it closer to her.
Is she blackmailing me to learn? May as well give it the college try I guess. "Plants and irrigation systems for beginners?" I replied weakly.
"No but that wasn't a bad guess. You really can't read can you?" She said sounding rather disappointed.
Signing, I placed the book down on the center table before responding, "What gave it away?" I asked, mentally going through different scenarios on how to get out of town with the map and not have a angry unicorn hot on my tail, much less the princesses themselves.
"I had a hunch considering you were looking at the shelf that had all the books on flying right in front of you." She said, pointing a lavender hoof at a section of books behind me.
“Talk about giving myself away,” I chuckled. “But seriously, I don’t want to be stuck here in town for months trying to learn to read. So is there anyway we can just forget this happened and I can get that map?”
“Nope, not happening.” Twilight said shaking her head.
Great this put a damper on things. “Listen Miss Sparkle, we have a few options since learning to read isn’t on my top priority list due to my own time constraints. One, you give into my request, two, I take the map by force.” That option made the unicorn take a step back, but I knew it wasn’t really an option though she didn’t need to know that. “And three, I walk away. So which would you prefer?” I asked leaning slightly against the center table thumbing my claws against its harden surface.
After a few silent moments she shook her head before responding. “I can’t really stop you from leaving, but at the same time I see that you’re not really wanting to stay here in Ponyville long term.” She levitated the scroll towards me.
Snatching the map out of the air I unrolled it looking at the landmarks dotted across. Hearing a sniffle, I looked up to see that once again Twilight was crying while staring at me. A ping of guilt once again grabbed my heart.
I rolled the scroll up before I laid it down on the table. I walked up to her as she tried to take a step back. Snatching her limb as she tried to get away, I pulled her into a tight embrace letting her cry down my back. After a moment of feeling her fear tension subside, I once again whispered to her. “I’m sorry. If you can forgive me I, will be willing to spend a week here in town. And in that time, you can teach me a bit before I leave.” She was slightly quivering against me but nodded on my shoulder. “If you feel more comfortable, I will sleep outside since I feel I may have overstepped my boundaries with you.” I said as I let her go.
She didn’t respond while she whipped away her tears. Leaving her alone, I went to the front door before it took on a velvet glow and made a locking sound. Looking back, she was staring at me with reddened eyes with her horn aglow. “Are you sure?” I asked her while she nodded her head in response, before letting her magic fade. “Thanks Twilight it--,” was all I could say before being tackled by the mare in a hug.
“It’s whats friends are for,” she said holding tight.
This was rather shocking considering I just threatened her bodily harm for a piece of parchment. I returned the hug and smiled to myself before something new dawned on me. “Um Twilight, as nice as hugging your soft coat is, we are in a rather awkward position.”
“Huh?” She replied as she looked down to see that she was laying on top of me. It took a second for the light to come on in her head, before her cheeks lit up to a cherry red. She quickly got off started to sputter something that I could only assume was an apology.
I couldn't help but giggle at her embarrassment as I got up off the floor. “I think its best if we get some sleep and go from there tomorrow.” I suggested and received a half nod from the purple mare that was trying to avoid looking at me.
"I think that would be for the best." She said, her blush slightly increasing more than I thought possible.
We stood there for a good minute, neither of us saying a word nor looking one another in the eye. Finally I decided to ask an important question. “Um Twilight."
"Yes Wren?" She said shifting in place.
"Where's the guest room?”