Each of us had our own desires. Each of us wanted our words bold, underlined and affixed in memory. We would not leave until we were heard, we would scream until we were heard. I felt something grow within me as we fought, churning like a festering scar. A resolute notion, a ringing truth that no lie could veil from my eyes. There is no harmony here, at home, or within nature. She is as mal tempered as the souls in front of me today. She is as spiteful as the lies we wrote down. There is only silence when she allows, and storms when she desires. Nature herself is disorderly, she has no favors to hold, nor favorites she protects. She does not ward away evils, nor does she promote her defenders.
They are as timeless as her mercy. Pegasi claimed mastery of her weather, Earth-ponies thought their strength could tame her... Unicorns believed all would bow to their arcane puppetry. Even worse, Crystal-ponies could only pretend to manipulate her will, but my secluded kind thought nothing of her physical form, we sought only to harness the astral. We each held our sights of conquest to an entity that would age on without us. We are merely here for the adventure, along for the ride. Burred-paw's words were thick with a passion I could have mistakened as my own. Not a single jib from my father's reserved wisdom could rebut, nor anyone else in the hall. The room was still, frighteningly so. Not a whisper pierced through my ears. My heart beat was erratic, and quaked like a waking volcano. What was this feeling?
Was it anger? Was it suspicion? These words that Griffon belted had stringed tightly to the other ailments I was blighted with. My heightened senses, my growing pride, my inability to sleep. I had, for moment agreed to his words, and it had left my whole psyche shaken. He did not believe harmony was the absolute of justice. The Sacred Tree to him was merely an entity that corrected what it deemed impure. I refused to make eye contact with him, even though I knew my efforts were fruitless. He knew I agreed.
I couldn't stop smiling. As each of the delegates posed their questions and Burred-paw laid them down effortlessly. His kind relished in the spotlight, and rallied to the unquestionable.
"If The Sacred tree is just a free roaming entity, then how does she connect to me?" Mora canted.
"The Tree is connected to us all Mora... Your craft is merely an illusion of progeny. All of us could wield the crystals you covet, and all of us could be empowered by them." He stated.
"Yet through the ages and scripts only ponykind has harnessed her knowledge, and has heard her wisdom." Luna added.
"With respect Ser-" Burred paw cleared his throat. "Luna, that simply isn't so. We are all guided by it. Today it told me to go outside and enjoy the spring blossoms. How? By gifting us with a warm day, the melody of songbirds and the aroma of pollen. I did not need to hear it tell me to, The tree sent its invitation without words... Maybe it has been forced to speak, because you haven't been willing to listen otherwise? My writ will not be added to this treaty, if the ponies at this commune are unable to accept these truths... so now I wonder about house Girgentana."
My heart slowed to that name. I glimpsed back to the griffon. His features were weathered by time. The small ropes of braided hair began to recede as I envisioned him younger, young enough to know that name. In truth I shouldn't have known it either, it was only through my meditative training with my father did I hear the name whisper from his guarded mind. Yet another sign of the ignorance that was unwilling to see him as anything but flawed. I could see him now, Burred-paw. He looked eager, ambitious, traits that would never leave him... but more importantly, his face was recognizable. My father had seen him before, had talked to him, had... had traded herbs for magic crystals.
The crystals late king Baritone was selling at my first commune.
"Aether root, Lover's Lily, and griffin feathers." I whispered. "Who could they possibly aid..."
Burred-paw narrowed his eyes, slowly sitting back to his chair. Within a room of attention seekers, I knew he would hear me.
"Prince de Parnce?" Mora asked. I turned to her and slyly slid my hoof over hers. She flashed pale briefly and with the added grip of my hoof held her secret knowledge.
"Your thoughts Prince?" I heard Finchelstein apprehensively peep. The fury of Burred-paw's coercing gaze had helped the modern griffon from simply spectating.
"I think we have heard enough from the griffons to know that our views are different. Yet I'm not worried over such conflicting views. My father once told me that it is unwise to befriend everyone you meet. I stand by his lesson... You do not have to believe the Sacred Tree is sacred, or that she is the entity of justice and balance. Those are our beliefs... you merely have to believe in what she represents to us. She is the elements of harmony, do you know what harmony requires?"
"of course-" chirped Finchelstein. His voice waned as my eyes were locked on Burred-paws.
"What are the elements of harmony?" I repeated.
Burred-paw gazed to the princesses unamused. "Is this a serious request, King Din would sing of the elements in every commune. I am insulted by the very thought, the very notion that I am being accused of!"
Celestia furrowed her brows. "Why are you insulted... Norm is only solidifying your seat here. He is not asking you to name each element, just that you know what the elements are Burred-Paw. If you do, than you know what is required to be apart of this commune. You must be loyal to your citizens, as well as the members of this table."
"Honesty and generosity should also factor in there-" Finchelstein tweeted as Burred-Paw silence him with a glance.
"Yes, yes..." cawed Burred-Paw " Kindness, laughter and magic. We all know harmony's elements here."
"Then what keeps your writ from our treaty Burred-Paw?" Luna inquired.
"That was Prince de Parnce's base request... I require that you all agree that that tree is nothing but a lone entity. That tree does nothing as my kind,"- his eyes flashed to Mora. " your kind suffer. There is darkness in Equestria, and its smoke is billowing over the mountains... my people's mountains. Do you all not sense it? Or do you need this too be spelled out for you?! "
"I have felt more than just sensing it." Luna cried. "I have seen it, felt it... It's growing within our dreams. It's attacking us." her hoof pointed quickly to me. "Whatever this darkness is, it fears our union."
"Yes." Mora agreed. "Such an alliance is unheard of. Griffon, Goat and all the pony realms. This treaty also unifies my kingdom as part of Equestria's."
"No." Burred-Paw crowed. "My mountains rest between your land... Griffons may live within the same space, but we will never be Equestrians."
"You live in Equestria... you are Equestrian." Mora stated.
"I am not Equestrian!" He roared. "I am Lion and Eagle, I am Griffon!"
I sighed slowly.
"What goat prince?" He growled.
"Bur-" Finchelstein tried to scold the chieftain, but another furious glare silenced him.
"Your race will still remain. Your culture with still be yours. We are not asking you to change, or become something new."I ranted. Lifting from my chair. "I am sure I speak for everyone here at this commune that we require nothing more than your pardons. We are not asking you to refute your beliefs, and yet you claim that we should abolish ours? We do not wish to steal your home and heritage yet you claim what we have loved and cherished is but old sentiments... Parnce may be an ocean away, yet even I know... You did not come here to write, or to reason. Chieftain Burred-Paw came here to curse me." I stated.
"Of all the baseless accusations!" He cawed.
Celestia and Luna rose from their seats.
"The day my mother was ill you were there! The day of my father's passing... You were there! Guess what my pillows have in them Burred-Paw?"
"Somepony please control this kid's rambling before I deem all of Equestria off limits to my citizens." The chieftain roared.
"Again... it has happened again." Mora mournfully sighed.
"Griffon feathers! Aether root is native to your land...You took the crystals from my father."I badgered.
"I did no such thing!" he roared in protest.
I was close. Yet I didn't consider the lengths some would go to keep secrets hidden, or the promises others would die to keep, even in death. There was a secret hidden within the counsel, but it had nothing to do with me, at least not today.
"Hush, Everyone!" Mora commanded. Everyone turned their attention to her, then slowly to me. My fore-hooves shook as they twisted and gnarled. Digits protruded out of them slowly, my fur lighted on the right, and it fell out in clumps on my left fore-hoof.
"I-I'm changing..." A knot of anxiety festered within my throat. No matter how much I tried to gulp or move the muscle it only tightened more. In bated breath I moaned "again?" I fainted.