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Nothing special here, move along, nothing to see, just ignore the lump under the sheet and the red stuff...



This story is a sequel to The Traveling Tutor and the Diplomats Daughter

“You should have burned their aerie to the ground two centuries ago and killed every one of them when you had a chance, Tia.”

These words trigger a series of events that send four ponies to the far northern Misty Mountain Aerie where Wingmaster Talon is threatening to invade the newly discovered Crystal Empire. The Diplomat, Luna's Hoofmaiden, and two Royal Guards are to face hostile griffons and dangerous mountains in order to bring peace to the region and prevent a war.

But what they find in the mountains is far worse than they could imagine, and their only chance for survival becomes a race to escape in a battle to the death.

Featured on Equestria Daily [Adventure][Sad]

Written to stand alone, but follows :
The Traveling Tutor and the Diplomat’s Daughter
Diplomatic Security
Genealogy (or the mating habits of Nocturnes Pegasi)
To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Editing assistance provided by Peter and Tek.

Original line drawing by Ralph Hayes Jr.
Background Summer Campfire by BonesWolbach
Colors and shading by Shaleclaw
Special mention to JoyfulJ for shading on Pumpernickel’s armor.

Chapters (18)
Comments ( 226 )

Darn, Diarch got here first.
Author Comments:

Be warned: There is a lot of blood and other nasty things in this story. I'm keeping it as far from Dark as I can, although one of the characters who shows up in The Traveling Tutor and the Diplomat's Daughter will be killed. I'm going to try to cover the blood and guts in a tasteful fashion (now that's a phrase I never thought I would use), but remember first of all that Griffons are omnivores.

Wipe your hooves when finished.

Published from Oct. 7 to Nov 2. In June, the cover art was converted to color and it has been submitted to EqD as a sequel on July 8. The Traveling Tutor and the Royal Exam will be submitted soon to finish up the arc.


This is gonna be a good one...

~Skeeter The Lurker

Celestia, you sly pony.

I have a feeling this story is going to be rough on poor Pumpernickel, but I have faith in him.

That's interesting; I never thought that Pumpernickel has a seed of evil and murder in him. He is capable of fighting and killing for Luna and, yes, even for Celestia, but I don't think that he's a psychopath who'd go out of control after his very first combat engagement. If I were Luna, I'd be more worried about his other... er... psychological issues that may make him a bit too helpful on a vital mission.

As for Talon? Celestia maybe has a point about an old bird trying to wave his flagging powers about but she shouldn't be so unwilling to prepare for a fight if one comes. A show of strength, even if at some distance from the borders... say a major exercise in Equestria proper... would make the other Aeries think carefully and, perhaps, leave the old bird to the disaster of his own making should he be so foolish as to invite it.

Is it me or are you trying to turn Pumpernickel into a Nocturne version of The Incredible Hulk?

Still... I've got a feeling that we've had an important character introduced here: Specifically that young Griffin hen. My heart tells me that she will be important in the outcome of this affair; for good or for ill remains to be seen.

an epic drinking contest, six mares, and an Academy chariot that had been left unattended

Six mares, eh? Those girls certainly get around!

“Be right back,” he whispered. “Save a kiss for the winner.”

:twilightoops: That's not going to go over well.

Aaaaaand it didn't.

Oh my, that ending. Didn't we just see the lowest ranking member get inducted? Might be a short period of service for him.

3318446 No, just a Barbarian of a sorts.
3318666 Lowest *sparring* rank. That's still Lumpy. At this point, he's lower ranked than a Night Guard who hasn't even been sworn in yet.
3315076 Rough? You haven't seen rough yet. Chapter 3 is only a little rough on him.
3318431 (first part) Whistles quietly. (second part) A "show of strength" at this point would only "crank up the tension" between the two nations leading to "incidents" and "misunderstandings." (in Diplomat Speak) I'm trying to portray the griffon empire as more a loose confederation of independent entities filled with internal stresses, but able to react to an external threat as a unified entity. There are parallels among the European states and the Crusades, and a great number of modern countries with huge internal factionalism only able to react to invasions or attacks unified before degenerating back into their normal chaos.

A very apt description you can't really call him a beserker since they willingly go into the state to fight were as Pumpernickle does his best to avoid it. I have to say I am really enjoying this story just as much as the precious one, I find them well thought out and playfully funny as well as having there more serious moments.

Actually, I wonder how the Aerie is going to react when they find the name of the Nocturne guard assigned to the ambassador?

Ouch, sounds like Pumpernickel got in a good shot at the end.

Uh oh, hope we don't have to clean Pumpernickel off the walls after Luna's reaction to that last hit.

A feminine face frozen in a rictus of horror matched the feeling of fire and ice he carried in his own heart, but there was a second spark of dissimilar frozen fire within her. Very small, but it burned with an intensity that rivaled his own. A child. His son.

Yay, a foal. We can't have Pumpernickel die now, that kid needs a daddy.

With great care, the alicorn lifted her wing to expose the bloody hole where Pumpernickel had ripped a long ragged tear in her powerful muscles. Along severed arteries and veins, large drops of blood were held against her body by an indigo glow.

Ouch, that sounds nasty, I would hope that Celestia could do more than just sew the wound up, it sounds like it needs it as well.

Woah, I didn't realize my comment about Pumpernickel and the wall would be quite so prophetic. Now that was quite a fight.

And a bun in the oven for Laminia! :pinkiehappy:

It's worth noting that Pumpernickel has beaten Luna before; admittedly he had surprise on his side then but, in some ways, Luna's current divided and distracted mind is just great an advantage to him now.

Yeah, there is a touch of The Hulk and Hyde in Pumpernickel but it is more Hulk than Hyde, in my view. Hyde was a whole separate persona with his own standards and objectives. Hulk is Bruce Banner and still values what Banner values and hates what Banner hates even though his intellect is repressed and his animal instincts in control. I think that's the case with Pumpernickel.

It should be interesting to see how Luna heals up, actually. I've read stories where alicorns have healing factors that regenerates their bodies after injuries (this is the true secret of their functional immortality).

Poor Laminia, though! She's perpetually condemned to be the sane, sensible one in a band of crazy near-barbarian warriors!

Hmm, despite the unconventionalness, judging by the reactions it's apparently a good look for Laminia.

They were eyes that said quite clearly, “If you make my wife unhappy, I will break you in half. Lengthwise.”

Heh. Gotta love Pumpernickel.

I think we'll be learning a lot of Griffin profanity over the next few chapters.

I also wonder if little Sunny will like her Uncle Lumpy and Aunty Laminia? Something tells me that this will be a weird mix of dark politics, darker threats, a possible violent confrontation or two and, bizarrely, cute hatching hijinkz.

3369104 You did catch the 'Sad' tag, right?

Poor Laminia, though! She's perpetually condemned to be the sane, sensible one in a band of crazy near-barbarian warriors!

Um. Yeah. Uh. They are so (censored).
3319756 Badly. Very badly.
3319317 This will be more serious moments with occasional whimsy than the other way around.

Good to see that Pumpernickel knows the values of not asking questions where pay raises are involved. I'm assuming they're paid weekly? Or at least by-weekly. Otherwise if Optio is anything like the Roman rank of the same name that seems like a small raise.
I really do love the Griffins' overly long names. Though the Gilda is nobility thing weirds me out a bit.
Sharp Edge knows who Pumpernickel is. Oh dear.

“Oh, you mean a servant.” The griffon sniffed, and looked away. “Does your misstress beat you for misbehaving?”

:rainbowderp: Sounds like the gryphons are terrible masters.

Hmm, and I see we've had a little revisionist history combined with what's potentially a prophecy about this very diplomatic visit.

The fortress was at a slightly higher elevation than Canterlot, but that did not explain the hunted look about the servants, and the fearful way they treated their employers.

“Are you going to go away too?”

“You must have been bad. Like Stargazer. I didn’t think she was bad, but…”

“My apologies for the words of my daughter, Optio. She is worried about the absence of her friend. Excuse me.”

My sense of intrigue is.... no, not tingling. The sensation is more like this:
But I might be overreacting. I certainly hope I am.:pinkiesad2:

I noted this in "diplomat's daughter" - both sides have their own version of history. Because of that differing history, both sides consider themselves the victims of aggression. This can only lead to harder negotiations because neither side has a common frame of reference.

It had been decided by female forces greater than himself,

Aren't they all Lumpy, aren't they all?

Been sneaking in some chapters of DBOM between my RCL reading duties and my latest writing project. Great chapter! It's pretty clear this story's Blade is going to make a much better Night Guard than mine. And I'm definitely looking forward to seeing Luna kick some plot in the ring …

Pretty good chapter spotted one error thou. "on his hooves and the hanger faded in"
Should be be Hangar. :pinkiehappy:

Hmn, not sure fraternizing with the Princess is going to go over particularly well, Lumpy.

A piercing voice echoed around the buildings in Canterlot, as ponies gathered to hear the latest news. “Extra, extra! Read all about it!” screamed the Canterlot newscolt, holding a newspaper above him as a crowd of ponies gathered around. “Butterhooves Royal Guard Kills Royal Heir! War Declared By Griffon Empire! Thousands Feared Dead!”

Well that would certainly have made an 'unexpected' end to the story.

3399079 She's only like seven or eight, so it's only association, not fraternization. What is it about insomniac princesses that make them seek out Lumpy anyway, is he Prince Valium or something?
3399092 That would be an epic screwup even for Pumpernickel.

Lumpy is not nearly narcoleptic enough to be Prince Valium.
Also, I am finding it weird that I can recall the character Valium perfectly, but had to look up the actual medicine.

Here's hoping that griffons and ponies are as genetically incompatible as one would expect them to be. The implications otherwise are rather damning for the duke.

I think that the real story of the battle all those centuries ago just proves the old Vorlon saying that the truth is a triple-bladed sword: Your truth, their truth and the real truth. Things are never as clear-cut as they could be.

You know... when Pumpernickel's real name comes out (because it will), this situation could get unnecessarily ugly; he's pretty much the Griffin equivalent of the bogeyman.

Geeze things just keep going from bad to worse.

Eeyup. It begins.

Here's hoping the poor filly's all right.
Hell, here's hoping she's alive. :fluttercry:

“Uncle Plummets?” said Sunny, popping her head up from behind Pumpernickel’s wing to squint at the moonlit griffon crouched on the balcony. “What are you doing here?”

Plummeting, of course! :pinkiecrazy:

Aaand that would be the diary that talks about the attack, wouldn't it. :facehoof:

Of course she's gone! Everyone who's read "Diplomat's Daughter" knows how hard-headed and convinced of Griffin superiority Sunny is! She's probably decided that, because the ponies have failed, she'll just have to do it herself. She'll almost certainly get in over her head and I'm not convinced that her kin would hesitate to harm her if they thought she was a threat to their own plans.

Remember the story of the other Pumpernickel: The Griffins rarely speak with one voice at the best of times so the Griffin negotiators might (without knowing it) actually not be speaking for those who (foolishly) want a war. Worst comes to worst, it will be up to the ponies to stop or defuse a pre-planned 'false flag' that is meant to unite the aeries in war against Equestria.

So Stargazer isn't in the village, and was due back there a month ago? That doesn't bode well for her.

Love the letter, that was hilarious.

It almost feels like the Griffins are trying to get a war economy boost going they know that there in trouble with how many of there people have left, and are perhaps hurting for money as well so there trying to start a war not them as the aggressors of course. :ajsmug:

Not sure I said that as best I could, but at least that's how I am seeing this so far.

Oops, posted the chapter early by accident. Chapter 10 will be released on Saturday as scheduled.

Stargazer and foal are dead, aren't they. Oh dear. As awesome as it would be to see Pumpernickel beat the crap out of people, it wouldn't end well at all.
Gah, Sunday is to far away!

The horseapple has hit the rotary device...

Yeah, it wasn't looking good for Stargazer. Damn.

Pulling the official guard off the door is deeply suspicious, Lumpy may get a chance to indulge his wife's wish sooner rather than later.

I really hope this doesn't end as badly as it looks like it will.

The tension is killing me man! So intense!

That ending is massively out-of-context. I'm assuming that was the sliver of The Nightmare that is within all Nocturnes speaking to Lumpy through his dreams.

You know... when Lumpy tells the Griffins his real name... this is going to get ugly really, really quickly. "Pumpernickel" is pretty much the Griffins' answer to Azrael The Destroyer. Half of them will want his head so they can say they killed him, the others will be fighting their own comrades to get away from the 'Night Demon'.

Holy crap. So not just dead, but murdered and partially eaten. Hopefully in that order. Laminia is right, someone needs to die.

“Some pony, I guess. Plummet’s servant and bedmate. A little creepy. He beats her, you know?”

I've been wondering exactly who's child Stargazer was pregnant with. Considering the Wingmaster's opinion on ponies, his son siring a kid with one was pretty much a death sentence for her.

Strangely enough, she could feel something else settle into her soul, a sense of purpose and solidity that filled her with tingling sparks that crept over her coat and made her knees weak.
Or maybe it was the kiss.


Stargazer was carrying a Hippogriff?

Yeah, that would cause complications.

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