Barrier’s ears swiveled towards the door of his cabin as the sound of another door being slammed loudly reached his ears. ’Tis far too early for such noise… Perhaps he should have opted for a later train rather than his originally planned five o’clock morning trip.
“And you’re an inconsiderate slob!”
Barrier’s ear flicked at the sound of a mare’s voice. Despite the apparent anger, he could sense an undercurrent of sophistication. A noble mayhaps, his mind suggested. A short knock on the door to his cabin cut off any further speculation.
“‘Tis open,” Barrier replied in a level tone, horn flaring to slide his door open to reveal a light-grey mare with a dark-grey mane and a pair of soft, mulberry eyes.
“I apologize for interrupting you, sir,” the mare began politely, “but I’m having issues with my cabin-mate. Would you mind terribly if I joined you for the duration of our ride?”
Cute accent, Barrier thought as he nodded yes. “By all means, mist... good miss.”
The mare quirked an eyebrow at the odd manner of speech, but otherwise didn’t question it as she stepped into the cabin, tugging a large case behind her. “I’m terribly sorry for this,” she apologized as she hefted the instrument onto the bench opposite of the unicorn and clambered up alongside it. “I’m Octavia Melody.”
“Magic Barrier,” the unicorn returned. “Well met, miss.”
After a short awkward silence, Octavia opened her muzzle once again, this time with the slightest hint of hesitation. “I apologize if this comes across as rude, but your speech patterns are a bit peculiar. Not to seem nosy or anything, but…”
“‘Tis a…” Barrier stopped to think about it, “work in progress, I suppose. I am from a very different time. My speech patterns reflect my home. I’m making an effort to modernize my speech, but I seem to be making little progress. It’s not as simple as Miss. D-” the unicorn stopped himself again. “Miss Yearling, that is, made it seem.”
“You’ve met A.K. Yearling?” Octavia asked, Barrier noticing the surprise.
“We’ve crossed paths,” Barrier affirmed. “She’s a nice enough pony.” Once you get past the attitude.
“So where are you from if not Equestria?” Octavia tilted her head, curiosity rising at the archaic speech patterns and apparent acquaintance with one of the most hard-to-meet authors in Equestria.
“You wouldst not believe me if I told th...you.”
“'Tis been a pleasure, Miss Melody,” Barrier waved as the light-gray mare departed, case hefted upon her back. Nice mare. I might’ve pursued her once upon a time, Barrier mused as he departed the train platform, pondering the offer of dinner with Octavia and her roommate the following day. Methinks. it would do me some good… Barrier pressed a hoof to his chin, contemplating whether or not to accept. Peradventure, Applejack cou- the thought was cut short as the very familiar roar of a griffin pierced his thoughts. Almost on instinct, the stallion disappeared with a sharp pop of magic.
Barrier winked back into existence in the town square, narrowly avoiding Fluttershy as she bolted away, tears flowing freely down her face.
The griffins are allies, Barrier’s mind reminded him, flaring back to his discussion with Luna as his gaze fell on the brown-plumed Griffin standing in the market and giving any nearby ponies an aggressive stare.
Barrier set his icy eyes on the fierce-looking Griffin as she continued gazing around the market, slinking into the crowd with practiced movements as he carefully trailed behind, carefully watching how the muscles shifted ‘neath the fur.
Tail carefully snaking around another apple, Gilda tossed it forward, catching the fruit in a claw before burying the apple in a single bite, body doing a one-eighty as she did so. “Quit starin’!”
The hen jerked around to face Barrier; almost immediately, the small crowd he’d been apart of seemed to vanish. “I might be friends with a pony, but I’m sure as hell not taking one to bed, so if you wanna keep your teeth, piss off.”
“If thou keepest acting out, I’ll halve thee…” Barrier warned, eyes narrowing as he took several steps forward.
To the griffon’s credit, she stalked forward, coming close to Barrier before drawing and opening her beak wide as she took in a deep breath.
She’s a chick, nothing more. Barrier mind scoffed as the stallion’s hoof shot forward, wedging his hoof firmly past her beak and into her throat, the thick appendage preventing her from doing little more than drawing back with a gag and violent heave as her stomach trembled before ejecting its contents violently. As the chunks of apple spilled onto the ground, Gilda slowly began to recover, only for a charcoal-grey hoof to lash out, striking her square in the eye and sending her reeling once more.
“Art thou quite done, chick?” Barrier asked with a small amount of condescension apparent in his voice, coupled with the slightest hint of amusement.
“You’re dead!” Gilda squawked, even as she pressed a talon to her eye and continued to hiss in pain.
“Cute,” Barrier continued to goad, “I almost feel bad, picking on a hatchling.” He backpedaled, avoiding a wild swing. “Peradventure, Princess Luna was right. Mayhaps griffins really are helpless in this modern era,”
“Shut up!” Gilda roared, bodily lunging forward this time, “I’ll show you helpless when I claw your damned eye ou-” Gilda fell silent as the momentum of her lunge was redirected and she went head-over-talons into the ground, her breath departing her with a pained huff.
Wincing, she opened her eyes just in time for her to see a blast of magic charging up in the unicorn’s horn. With a shift of her claws and an erratic wave of her wings, the hen narrowly shifted, the magical energy charge impacting the ground with a violent burst of electricity, charring the ground a disgusting shade of black.
Barrier’s mind only vaguely registered a pony crying out as his horn flared to life, crackling with electricity. “Somebody get the guard!”
“Woah now,” Gilda thrust her wings forward once more, using the slight lift to right herself. “I’m all for a good scrap but that’s a bit much!” Her wings were half-flared, feathers splayed outward in an instinctual display.
“Thou initiated this with thine half-arsed threat,” Barrier stalked forward, slowly covering the distance Gilda was working to put between the two. “Thou thinkest us ponies weak? Little more than prey for thee to push around?”
Gilda made to lift off, only for Barrier to let loose his charged blast, striking her in the wing, arcs of electricity dancing throughout the brown plumage and making her twitch in pain as she was forcibly grounded, eyes searching desperately for an escape.
“I sho-” The stallion was cut off as a deafening boom split the air. With a grunt of pain, Barrier felt his hooves leave the ground as something struck his side. In a moment of panic, the stallion vanished in a pop of magic, only to reappear inside of a transparent bubble that raised itself around him during the transition. Eyes roaming in panic with the griffin completely forgotten, he finally settled his eyes on Pinkie Pie and her…contraption.
“Are you loco in the coco?!” The pony-shaped tuft of cotton-candy shot towards the bubble which the stallion hesitantly lowered, keeping his horn primed.
“I know Gilda was a big meanie-pants...”
pants…? the errant thought made itself known.
“...and a thief, but you can’t just kill her!” Pinkie thrust both of her forehooves out for emphasis.
“I hadn’t planned on killing her, only putting the fear of Faust into her.”
“Oh,” Pinkie stated dumbly. “Well, that’s still pretty darn mean.”
Barrier didn’t get a chance to respond as the electricity of a stun-spell caused his body to seize up as it danced along the cake batter, ending with the charcoal stallion collapsing in a twitching heap.
Barrier winced as the light filtered painfully through his eyes. “Gods, I feel like I went ten rounds with a manticore and lost…” Barrier hefted himself to his hooves, trying futilely to loosen his muscles up. Barrier glanced around to find where he was. He quickly saw that he was in a small holding cell with a wooden cot and a metal bucket that was mostly hidden behind a small divider. At least the cells hadn’t changed in his absence.
“Tch, not surprised. They hit you with that shock-spell and you lit up like the night sky on Gala Night.” Barrier heard Gilda sneer, the griffin hidden behind the divider in her cell across a small hallway from him.
Barrier whirled around at a speed that’d give most ponies whiplash, channeling magic to his horn…only for it to funnel right back down into his skull, setting his head to throbbing.
“Not so powerful without your magic, are you, horn-dog?” Gilda sneered from her cell.
“Dost thou wish to discover for thineself?” Barrier threatened, approaching the bars that separated the pair.
“Save it, dick-head,” Gilda huffed, “Neither of us are going anywhere any time soon.”
Barrier didn’t respond, instead flaring his horn slightly and grimacing as he began to work his magic around the dampening ring.
“So,” Gilda grunted slightly, “since we’re stuck in here, why don’t you tell me what I did to make attempted murder seem like a good idea?”
“If I’d planned on killing you, believe me, I would have. Unfortunately, Princess Luna expressly forbade me; I can take nary a a griffin soul.” Barrier closed his eyes as his magic struggled to move beyond the ring, very slowly encompassing the entirety of his horn.
Gilda only grunted in response.
Barrier groaned “Were thee, say… Sombra or Brigadier LeGrande, however… thou wouldst be akin to a fine paste this very moment.”
“LeGrande?” Gilda grunted yet again, “Do you mean Grimhilde,” another soft grunt, “LeGrande? Why the hell would you care about that?”
Barrier took a slow breath through his nose. “My reasons are mine own,” was his simple response.
“Yeah, and what are they?”
“Tales exist of her a-devouring live foals whole. I am skeptical of the claims, but,” Barrier was interrupted by a grunt, “…I know it to be a matter of fact that she did eat and kill many foals.”
“Oh yeah? And where’s your…” the griffin stopped to grunt yet again,
“Why in the blue blazes of High Elysium are you grunting?” Barrier asked, cutting the hen off.
“Don’t worry about it,” Gilda rasped out, seemingly out of breath. “So, where’s your proof?”
His brow furrowing slightly, Barrier responded, “She lead the assault upon Gallopfrey, leading to the conquest and destruction of the city. Countless civilians were slain.”
“Yeah, I know she was pretty much the nastiest bitch to ever come out of the Talone mountains, but that doesn’t explain why you know about her, and more importantly, why you care.”
Because I was one of the ponies who was tasked with dispensing news to the remaining families… to Iron Forge... “I have my reasons. Though, I am curious unto the circumstance of how and why thou knowest about her. The princess informed me that most Griffins long strived to distance themselves from LeGrande’s atrocities.”
“Hard to distance yourself from it when your entire family lives in poverty because of what their ancestor did,” Gilda all but hissed. “Grimhilde’s legacy made my life hell and we don’t even know what she looked like,” the hen started bitterly but fell off as a soft sigh escaped her, followed by the soft plop of something hitting the bottom of a bucket.
“What was that disgusting noise? What are you doing over there?” Barrier asked again, grinning slightly as the ring on his horn cracked and fell to the ground
“I was working on a crossword puzzle.” Gilda came into view across the hall, staring into Barrier’s cell, her eyes widening as she saw his unblemished horn.
“Guard!” she suddenly called out, backing up into her cell and out of his sight once more.
“Would you shut the hell up in there?” a mare yelled back, voice muffled by distance.
“This crazy bastard’s got his horn-ring off!”
“See, Soundwave? I told you we needed military-grade magic dampeners. I suggested those ever since Nightmare Moon attacked, but did you listen to me? Nooooo…”
“Be at ease, Griffin,” Barrier disregarded whatever the guards were discussing, “I admit unto disliking thee, as well as thine kind, but I’d not kill a hatchling without prudent reason.”
Spin another falsehood, why don’t you?
“Magic Barrier, your bail’s been paid,” an unnatural-sounding voice that Barrier could only be described as metallic interrupted any response Gilda had intended to make, followed by the sound of his cell-door sliding open on its own.
Stepping out of his cell, Barrier’s ears swiveled towards the stout wooden door in the distance.
“Hey, what about me?” Gilda suddenly pressed herself to the bars.
Barrier walked into the main room just in time to see the blue unicorn calling down the hall… despite the fact that his lips weren’t moving and his horn was thrumming with violet energy. “A Miss Dash and a Miss Pie are paying for your charges of petty theft and disturbing the peace. Your paperwork should be finished shortly.”
Barrier shifted his eyes to the other side of the stallion’s desk where Twilight was gazing at him with a disturbing intensity. “Please! I have to know how you do that with your voice! Tellmetellmetellme!”
The blue unicorn disregarded her, only lazily shifting his gaze when Twilight’s horn lit up and he began to levitate out of his chair.
“It’s for science!”
“Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to put Corporal Soundwave down…”