The crowd outside was bustling while Pinkie shook in excitement behind the register at Sugarcube Corner. She wanted to go out and meet the royal visitors, but she had to stay put. She was testing a new grapefruit pie recipe required special care, and boy, did it have a strong, bitter-sweet smell. She’d hate to smell it when it burns.
She had heard that the newly crowned Gryphon King was coming to establish stronger pony-gryphon relations. She wanted to go see him, but it’s not like the Cakes would let her go off to see Gilda, let alone visit a foreign country, or save the world whenever she wanted--she had a job to do!
The ding of the egg timer interrupted her thoughts. She flipped the oven off, snatched an oven mitt, and hummed a little tune as she pulled the pie out until she was interrupted again by the ding-a-ling of the front door.
Pinkie skipped out of the kitchen while still holding the oven mitt in her mouth. “Ewu. Wlllcu hu hugrcoo…” She stopped when she saw what her guests were. Gryphons! And not one, but two!
Oh my gosh, oh my gosh! Pinkie spat out the oven mitt, put on a great big smile, and threw her hooves out. “Hello, and welcome to Sugarcube Corner!”
The bigger of the two gryphons turned his attention to Pinkie. He could barely squeeze his huge, bulging muscles through the front door; he looked as though he could rip a tree from the ground. Or maybe he was mostly fluff? The puffy brown feathers certainly made him more intimidating.
The other, smaller gryphon had no such fluff. The light shone off his greasy black feathers. And he was skinny. Alarmingly skinny. Like a snake with legs. Or Discord. He needed a few injections of confectionaries. Stat!
With his head held high as though it were tied to his tail, he eyed all of the condiments on the shelves behind Pinkie and passed his gaze over the few customers that had come in to escape the crowds. He looked at both with the same disgusted frown, like a bird had pooped in his salad. After he observed the store, he sauntered up to the front desk and let out a long sigh. The gold medals on his red sash rattled together, his polished, crooked claws scratched the wooden floor, and his cape spilled over his black, weedy body. Once in front of the counter, the head gryphon took a whiff before shuddering.
But Pinkie wouldn’t let his sour mood take hold of her. He must have just come from a long, tiring journey. She knew. She had once traveled to his homeland as well. “Hi there! Welcome to Sugarcube Corner. I’m Pinkie Pie. What’s your name, friend?”
The gryphon looked down at Pinkie from his long, straight beak. “I am Prince Glut of Gryphonstone, and you will refer to me as such.” He took another waft. “What is that smell?” he said. His voice made the hairs on the back of Pinkie’s neck curl more than usual.
“That, Prince Glut, is my newest treat I just invented: grapefruit pie!” Pinkie cut off two pieces of pie, plopped the slices on a plate, then shoved them into Prince Glut and his friend’s faces. “Go ahead, try it!”
Prince Glut recoiled at the invasion of his space and glared the slice. The other gryphon peered over the prince’s shoulder. Reluctantly, Glut took his plate using only the tips of his claws. At this sign of approval, the other snagged up his plate.
Sweat ran down Pinkie’s forehead as she hoofed over forks. She had just made the recipe, and now her first impression with these new guests relied on the recipe she may or may not have perfected. And these friends were very important poni-- gryphons. How well her impression with them went might even have a major influence on Twilight’s meeting and the future of pony-gryphon relationships.
Time slowed for Pinkie as she watched the prince break off a tiny sliver of the pie and put it in his mouth. He scrunched his face up as soon as the piece touched his tongue. He spat it back on the plate. “Are you trying to poison me?” he screamed.
Pinkie folded her ears back. “Oh no! Nononono! I’m sorry. I guess the pie didn’t come out right. I’ll let you have something else as a ‘welcome to Ponyville’ gift. You can choose anything! I want you to leave here with a smile.”
At this request, Prince Glut scratched his chin. “You’ll let me have anything?”
Pinkie nodded furiously. She couldn’t let her customer leave unsatisfied.
“Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye!”
Then a cruel smile spread upon Glut’s face. A cruel, hungry smile. “Well then, baker,” he said; the tone of his voice oozed into Pinkie’s ears. “I want you to bake me a pie.”
A pie? That’s easy! “I can do that! What kind of pie would you like?”
Prince Glut leaned in close to Pinkie. “Meat pie. A good one.”
Not quite sure she heard him right, Pinkie replayed the words he just said in her head. “I’m sorry, did you say--”
The Prince slammed his fork onto the counter, bending the tines on the end. “I don’t repeat myself. Do I, Grisly?” he snarled.
Pinkie flinched and looked back up at the bigger gryphon. “No, Your Highness,” he said in a low, grumbly voice. The giant leaned into Pinkie’s face. “His Highness said he wants meat pie. Do you understand?”
Grisly’s hair-curling and vomit-inducing breath pounded Pinkie in the face. Pinkie clenched her back legs together--it was the only thing she could do to keep herself from springing a leak. “I-- I understand. But we don’t sell meat.”
“Then go get meat from the grocer,” said Glut.
Pinkie shook her head. “I’m sorry, but I don’t think there is a place to buy meat in Ponyville. Or even in all of Equestria.”
“That’s your problem. Not mine.”
The clopping of hooves and crying came down the stairs. Mrs. Cake had a worried look on her face as she balanced an upset Pound Cake on her back. “Pinkie! I heard yelling. Is everything alright?”
Before Pinkie could speak, Glut turned to face Mrs. Cake. “I’m terribly sorry, madam, it was just a misunderstanding. We’ll be leaving now.”
“Are you sure? I’m sorry if we’ve troubled you.” Mrs. Cake bounced her attention between the foal on her back and the Prince. “Please, let me make it up to you and--”
“Oh, no problem, madam.” Glut pointed at Pinkie. “She’s promised to make it up to me.”
Mrs. Cake looked at Pinkie, who could do nothing more than smile, nod, and sweat. She turned her attention back to the foal. “Um, alright. If Pinkie has already helped you, then I guess everything’s okay. Just let me know if you need anything, Pinkie.” And with that said, Mrs. Cake rushed back up the stairs, cooing to her baby as she went.
Oh, darn it, Pinkie. Everything is not okay. Everything is NOT okay. Hey… maybe he’s joking. Maybe it’s a bit of gryphon humor. Yeah. That’s it.
She looked back at Prince Glut, who was glaring back at her from the corner of his eyes, a smile split across his beak. “I must say, what a lovely mother and child.”
Pinkie nodded. “Uh-huh. Yeah. And-- yeah, good one.” She forced a small laugh. “Meat pie. Good joke. Asking a plant eater like me to--”
“Oh, it was no joke.”
“I have enough money in my pockets to buy this bakery, demolish it, rebuild it, and demolish it again.” He pressed his sharp beak against Pinkie’s snout. “And if you don’t want those two to be kicked out onto the streets, then I suggest that you have a meat pie for me at eight tomorrow morning. Warm and freshly baked.”
Pinkie felt her eyes water over as the image of the Cakes and their twins were forced out into the streets with only the aprons and diapers on their bodies, Sugarcube Corner in a pile of rubble behind them. The twins would go hungry. What would happen to Mr. and Mrs. Cake?
What would happen to her? She’d have to leave Ponyville. Go back to the rock farm and leave her friends. No, she couldn’t do that. She didn’t want that.
Glut’s slimy voice pulled Pinkie from her delusions.
“If you don’t want anything bad to happen to them--” he tilted his plate and let the piece of pie slide off onto the countertop before smooshing it under the plate “--then I suggest you follow through on your promise.”
Prince Glut turned away and swaggered to the front door. “Let’s leave this place, Grisly. There’s nothing suitable for our palates here. Today.”
The plate fell from Grisly’s claw and clattered on the wooden floor. Without a word, he opened the door for Glut and followed him out, but not without slamming the door shut behind him.
More crying came from upstairs as Mrs. Cake rushed back down. “Pinkie! Are you sure you’re alright?! What was that noise?”
“Oooooh-- Oh-- uhh…” Pinkie looked back towards the sparse customers, who, as soon as they saw her look in their direction, snapped their heads back to the plates in front of them. She brought her hoof up and scratched the back of her head. “He-- Um-- Oh yeah.” She looked back up at Mrs. Cake. “That was one of the visiting gryphons. It’s alright, though. He was just really grumpy and tired after a long trip. That’s all.”
Mrs. Cake licked her lips and looked at the door then back to Pinkie. “That’s it?” She looked once more at the door and then to the customers, who all had their backs turned to her. “Well, if that’s the case then, there’s nothing we should be worried about.”
It took every ounce of Pinkie’s willpower to excuse herself to the little filly’s room without crying.