• Published 19th Nov 2013
  • 9,773 Views, 90 Comments

Soft Diplomacy - Bastinator



After arriving in Equestria, Anon was at the mercy of life. He has a crap job, a boring life and he can't even speak up for himself if his life depended on it, but books have always been there for him. What if they got the attention of royalty?

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Chapter 11: True Colors

Rubbing your eyelids the train comes to a screeching halt back home in Canterlot Station. You do quick schedule check since you have the time; the only real appointment you care about is your meeting with the princess. Oh good, you’ll be meeting her tomorrow. That’ll give you a day to clean yourself up before you give her the good news. Meeting Zecora was much more pleasant than you expected, Evertrap and all. With the open doors you step outside with a grin on your face and dust off your clothes. ”Sir,” a stallion comes over with your luggage, “I believe this is yours.”

“Ah it is, much obliged sir,” you dig two bits out of your pocket and give it to the gentecolt.

”My pleasure sir.”

”Passengers to Ponyville may now begin boarding.” You take that as your cue to skedaddle and head on up the street. The tap of your shoes against that familiar Canterlot stone takes a weight off your heart. It’s been quite a while since you last felt at home. For the past few months it’s felt less as such and more as a business dormitory if anything. Waving at some of the locals you catch yourself feeling a nostalgic rush of joy. Not even the incessant scratching of your arm can diminish this feeling, although it does provide a slight annoyance. It feels good to be home after all…

Perhaps you should celebrate? It’s been a good week since you’ve seen either Gilda or Iron Will. You can only imagine what they’ve been doing since- Nope, that’s an image you’re going to burn out of your head. An interspecies plowing is not exactly the most pleasant image in your head. You already did well to repress your plight last time you drank a bit too deep from the bottle. Maybe all this drinking is starting to get to you? In fact… Thinking back you’ve noticed a trend. It starts small, an innocent sip to introduce you to their culture or provide an edge. Then it’s a custom you abide by, slowly increasing the dose. Before you know it you’re drinking daily and growing reliant on a temporary thrill. You never saw it until it all came crashing back like a pendulum. Starting today things are going to be different. No more alcohol. No more smack. No more of this… thing you’ve become.

If Celestia doesn’t like it then… You guess she’ll have to get someone else for the job. You’ll fight through the nightmares and constant itching because it’s not worth the alternative. You won’t be a slave to a needle or bottle. You’re better than he was. You can persevere. You- Well look who it is.

You saunter behind the apricot mare and signal her date to be quiet before you clasp your hand over her eyes. “Guess who?”

”A boring old pony…” you catch her grin before swiping your hands away, “Nice to see you back.”

“That’s all the welcome I get? No hug or anythi- There we go,” you spin her around just for fun before setting her back down.

”How’ve you been?” Petal asks as you pull up a chair.

“Good. Real good in fact. How about you?”

”I’ve been good.” She spots the cast on your arm and almost freaks the fuck out, “You didn’t go where I think you went, did you?”

You chuckle at her reaction, somewhat glad that she still cares about you. “Just a run-in with the infamous Evertrap. Nothing permanent.” Petal Peach begins riding your ass with her worry, but you’ll happily take them if it means talking to her. *acheem* Her date clears his throat realizing that he’s being promptly ignored.

He’s clad in the royal armor and you can’t help shrug the feeling you met him before. ”Oh I almost forgot to introduce you to my- special somepony. Anon, this is Chain Mail. Chain Mail…”

”Thanks but we’ve already met before,” he deepens his tone trying to appear more masculine for her. If only you could remember… That’s where you remember him.

“Indeed we have. Did you find the Royal Requisition Articles easy enough?”

”With the help of a rather special mare, yes. Though I haven’t spent a lot of time reading them, if you know what I mean…”

”Chain Mail!” she flushes, “How could you say that?”

“It’s quite alright,” you assure her, “Just playful banter between boys. Nothing more, right Mail?”

”Of course.” To tell the truth both of you know better, but it convinces Petal Peach easily enough. For some reason you thought he’d transcend the typical asshole boyfriend, but hope makes fools of us all. Maybe you won’t stop drinking after all…

“Well, as much as I’d love to stay and chat I’ve got to get back to work.”

”Do you have to? You only just got back…” Mail chips in as well, though it’s beyond clear just how sarcastic he is.

“Sorry, but who knows what damage’s been done since I’ve been gone. I can’t leave them alone for a day without messing something up.”

That gets the chuckle out of Petal and a stone face from Mail, “I’m sure the guards will fix it.”

“I’m sure they’re the ones who broke it,” you fire right back at him with a smile, “but I’ve overstayed my welcome as it is. Chain Mail, Petal Peach…”

”You’ll come visit the library every now and then won’t you? Don’t be a stranger. I don’t bite.”

”Much…” Mail tacks on as a final middle finger between the two of you. This time it’s your turn to go cold, so you simply nod and go on your way. That could’ve gone better, you think to yourself as you walk through the gates.

”Morning Anon.”

“Morning Sunder. Morning Veil. Working hard?”

”Hardly working more like it,” the guard nudges his partner cheekily.

“Don’t let Shining Armor catch you slacking. I heard he’s got a new disciplinary program in the works.”

”Really?” they ask fearfully.

“Totally,” you lie out of your ass, “You have to sit through a whole hour of him talking.”

They laugh and shake their head, “You’re a kidder Anon.”

“I try.” You smile and nod to another one of the guards who’ve you gotten to know in the past months. They’re not so bad once you get to know them actually. If anything they’re just another pony in armor away from public view. Around the Princess, or any royalty for that matter, they turn to faceless slabs of metal and flesh.

Turning the corner you come face to face with a certain unicorn, coffee cup at his lips and pretentious douche practically oozing off him, “Yeah…”

“Mr. Mosley,” you take a step back to give the two of you some space, “Wonderful morning ain’t it?”

”Yes quite,” he looks you up and down, “Things certainly have gone well for you after all this time.” You make a joke about the cast but, just as you’d expect, he doesn’t laugh. ”It’s a shame we had to let you go. You were always one of our best employees.”

“I think we both know better than that, sir.”

”You might’ve taken longer to get it done, but you worked harder than any of my other underlings.” Underlings. This is how he talks about his employees?

“To be honest, this is the type of stuff I needed to hear a year ago when, and pardon my language, you treated me like shit.” Speaking of, he must like that new brown shade you added all those months ago considering he hasn’t been able to wash it out.

”You know… We just got a new position open up and-“ You make sure to stop him before he embarrasses himself further.

“Don’t call me. I’ll call you,” you respond with the most formal decline known to man. Not a chance in hell you’ll go back there. Giving a nod you head back to your room.

~~~

“Ahhh,” you sigh, “Home sweet home.” Unpacking goes by without a hitch, and it’s only changing your shirt that gives you trouble. Your cast isn’t being very cooperative, but you manage to slip through it with enough effort. How about something to eat? You head into the kitchen and open the door, your blood igniting in your veins.

Trying to control your breathing you pull out the small silver box, that aroma pulling you in. It’s so good… Just that sting… You can feel it already, that thrill. Oh maybe just a small hit to- No. You regain control of your mind, the needle already in your hand. Slamming it back in its home you grip the box. This must be Discord’s work. He’s always there to mess you up. If someone were to come in and check on you… You slip it into your pocket for safe keeping and future disposal. You have to get your mind off of that bundle and onto work. Work, just the thing.

What’s on the schedule? You have a small notebook of upcoming appointments in the case you want some extra work. Thankfully it can also be used if you miss a day or if you get back a day early, which is very much the case. Hmm… There appears to be a slot open for a local debate. Something about deer and crediting writers. It could be interesting but let’s look at what else is up. Ew, dragons. As much as you’d love the scaly fiends to steal the skin off your back, you’ve grown quite attached to it. So you’re going to take a pass on that. *plop* As you’re flipping through the pages a note falls out onto the floor.

’Anon, I’d very much like to meet upon your arrival home. Meet me before speaking with Celestia. It’s a matter of grave importance to me. I’ll be waiting.’ The note has an address near the bottom where you can find the author. You check both sides carefully, but there’s no sign of the author’s signature. Whoever sent it must have had some nice connections to get this note to you. A rather obvious thought kicks in only a few moments after you tear your eyes away.

An ominous message falls out your notebook that tells you to meet someone you don’t know at a random place you’ve never heard of. What could go wrong? But no, you dismiss that idea rather quickly. Whoever put this here had the means to do it and the knowhow of your personal schedule. This may be a pony who’s looking for some help on an urgent affair of theirs and needs someone to guide them through it.

There’s no safe side you can walk on, and you have the feeling this pony really might need your help. Despite that nagging voice in the back of your mind you plan on visiting once you’ve gotten squared away. The intrigue is simply too much for you to ignore.

A knock sounds from the door and you stow your note in your pocket. “Who is it?” No response. First the note and then a mysterious visitor? Today’s going to be a diplomat found murdered in his bedroom kind of day. What’re you thinking Anon? You’re at least twice the size of any pony.

You open the door wide and immediately get clocked across the face, “Long time no see.” If she was hitting you seriously you wouldn’t be smiling right now.

“Nice to see you too Gilda.”

She lets herself in as you rub your jaw. “How long you been back?” she asks, “You look like shit.”

“Why’s it always hit first and ask questions later with you?”

”Why’s it always get hit first and act like a dweeb with you?”

“You know you love it.”

”Whatever…” she opens a cabinet and helps herself to your stash, drinking straight from the bottle. “So answer my question cast-boy.”

“Not long, just got back maybe an hour ago.”

”I was wondering how I was able to smell you from down the hall.” Oh how you’ve missed her constant insults. You wouldn’t have her any other way… Okay maybe if she hit you less.

“So where’s Iron Will? I rarely see you without the big guy. Is he at the club?”

”Last time I checked he was groaning about the pounding I gave him.”

“Ewww. Too much information!”

”Not like that you pervert. Although he does like the way my talons-“

“Why do I even let your over?”

”Because you’d be a shut-in without me.” You’d also have an untainted mind. ”So how went the trip, not like I care anyways?” You tell her it was good, eye opening even, and she raises her bottle in the air, “I can drink to that.” She pours you a glass and you look down at the swirling liquid in your hand. ”You denying a drink from a gryphon now? Does it get you off when I hit you?”

You shake your head but say nothing as you recall your earlier meeting. ”Okay what’s wrong dude? You’re starting to weird me out.”

“I saw Petal Peach earlier…”

”Ok I don’t see what the big deal is.”

“…with her special somepony.”

>Gilda pauses, “Oh.” For a few seconds she seems to sympathize before she stands up taller than before, “And you’re going to let some lousy douche turn you into some crybaby?”

“It’s just- I was thinking earlier about my decisions and… What if this was all a mistake?” You pour your heart out to her, something you’d never think about doing. “Ever since Aviaris… I’ve been different, almost like I was someone else. Someone I used to know back home. I lost Petal Peach because this job, and I’m afraid- I’m afraid of what else I might lose because of it and what it makes me do.” You sit down on your coach with glass in hand, Gilda taking time to gather her thoughts. “I’m more like my old man than I’d thought…” you raise the glass, “Well then, bottoms up I guess.”

You feel Gilda’s talon hold your hand back, the gryphon peeling the glass out of your grasp. ”You don’t have to be anyone you don’t want to,” she mutters quietly with her head low. She sits across from you and takes a swig from the bottle, “Have I ever told you how I met Iron Will? I wasn’t always like this you know, a stuck-up bitch.”

“You’re not a-“

”Let me finish my story you ass. Anyways,” she continues, “back when I a kid I was- well more or less like you. Shy, timid, whatever you want to call it. I was an embarrassment, not just to my mother but to my race.” Gryphons were renowned for their indeterminable spirit and conviction. To be shy was to be a disgrace. Iron Will had spoken to you of this once before, but you had played it off as an exaggeration. It seems you were wrong.

”We gryphons are left in the care of our mothers until we’re old enough to be sent off to the academy. This happens at the earliest of four years. I wasn’t ready at eight.” With each sentence another portion of the bottle empties as she drinks to drown her memories. ”My mother had… you saw how she was, and between raising me and tending to herself we barely had the money for the morning bread. It was my fault… If I hadn’t been so- so weak, I could’ve been left and she’d only have to worry for herself.”

“Gilda-“

“Let me finish!” she snaps at you sealing your lips, her own eyes red, “Iron Will… He was so young then… He’d heard we could use the help. The bastard didn’t even want the money when it was over… He shamed us, but I know we wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t for him. So I left. I left and didn’t look back. My mother was so proud…” You move across the gap and sit beside her, “I never went to the academy. I left for Equestria, joined the Junior Flight School and drank my days away. Little Gil was gone, replaced by this…” she motions to herself, “A cold hearted bitch. I never did any of those things I said… I just wanted to sound like the hardened gryphon my mother always wanted. I- *sniff* I miss her…”

It was too much for Gilda to take and, for the second time, you saw her cry. She buries her head in her talons, letting the bottle roll away and sobs like a child. You don’t know what to do, so you rub the back of her head to console her. “It’s ok. It’s ok.”

She clings to your chest and holds to you, “I miss her so much Anon…”

“I know. Trust me, I know…”

You allow her to release all this pent up emotion onto your shoulder while you do your best to comfort the gryphon. Out of all the things that’ve happened to you thus far, this is by far the most surprising. To think that the gryphon whose job it was to make your life a living hell, would wind up crying your arms… You can’t help but know her pain. “My mother… she left me when I was a kid. My dad took this harder than most. He never hit me, he never swore at me, but the way he looked at me… It may as well have. I despised living with him, but he was the only one who was there for me.”

You stroke the feathers along her neck as her breathing slows. “He tried, he did, but the more he tried the more I resisted. He drank, and it was my fault. He shot up, and it was my fault. I caused his pain and he still loved me. There was a knock on the door one day and he told me to go to my room… I listened in bed as my father tried to stop those men from taking me away. They said they were taking me to a better place, and the last time I saw my father was that day, held back as he cried for them to give him a second chance. They shut the door and that was the last time I saw him ever again.”

You swallow hard and close your eyes, wiping the memory from your conscious mind. ”That’s what you wanted, right?”

“He was the only person in my life who wanted me and I didn’t. You don’t know what you have until it’s gone… He told me that once.”

She sniffs into your arm, “I’m sorry Anon. I didn’t-“

“Know? No one does. It’s not something I like to talk about.” It tore your heart up once, and you never had the heart to stand up for yourself since

”D-do you miss him?”

You force a smile and tighten your hold on her, “Every day.” And everyday you look in the mirror and see a little more of him in you. Every day you remember what he had lost because of the actions he took to keep it. Now you’re starting to worry how much you might lose the same way. “I love my old man and I would give anything to have him back, but I’m not him and you’re not your mom.”

”I know…” You won’t make the same mistakes he did. You just can’t. ”I guess we’re more alike than we thought, huh?”

“Yeah,” you chuckle and lay your head upon her neck, “I guess we are.”

Together there you just sort of rest, neither of you wanting to go anywhere. Gilda’s a good friend you think to yourself. She’ll be right there with you through thick or thin. Maybe in a different life you’d try and take your friendship a step further, but she has Iron Will and you would never do anything to tear those two apart. You note the sluggish descent of the sun and the note that still sits in your pocket. Looking down you find Gilda snoozing quite soundly on your lap and you’re forced to slip out from under her.

A quick inspection shows that you might need to change your shirt, again. This’ll be the second time since you got here. Tossing the mucus and tear drenched button down you replace it with a clean and proper button down. T-shirts, who has time for those anymore? Still it’d be in bad taste to leave her here without a note or something. You jot down a quick note saying you’ll be back in a few hours and that you had an errand to run. Before you go you do a little cleaning up, tossing out used bottles and that sort of thing.

Lifting up Gilda’s head you slide a pillow just underneath, draping a blanket overtop like you would a child who’d fallen asleep on the couch. “Don’t break anything while I’m gone,” you whisper jokingly and wipe the feather out from her eye. You grab your cloak and set off to the address on the card.

~~~

21 jump street? Hmm… You’ve never been to this part of the city before and it’s abundantly clear why. Besides the pungent scent of piss and vomit, this section has obviously seen months if not years of neglect. The buildings here are on the verge of collapse with entire sections chipping off. Alleyways in other areas were adequately lit as per the Nightly Terms oversaw by Luna who had kept her eyes peeled for signs of vagrancy. Unfortunately it seems that the residents here didn’t quite read up on that and now you don’t want to know what dwells in there. Likely viscous dogs or prostitutes. Dare you say prostitutes for viscous dogs?

Thankfully when the ponies spot a hulking creature in the middle of the night they know better than to try something funny. Unfortunately that doesn’t work for everyone as a pony clears his throat and nudges you as you get your bearing. ”Hey uh… you look like someone who needs some… stuff.”

“No thanks,” you respond as deep as you can in hopes of deterring the delinquent.

”I know somepony with the shakes when I see one. What’s the catch? Red Salt? Evergreens? Daisy Chops?”

“Star Spice.” This looks to be the place. It looks better than the others at least.

”Whoa I don’t deal in that stuff man, are you crazy?”

“Then stop wasting my time, before I use up some of yours.”

He scampers off down an alleyway and disappears in blackness, “Looking for a good time? Ruff!” How’d you know?

~~~

You knock on the door, the slot jutting open almost immediately, a pair of yellow eyes staring back through at you, “Name.” This isn’t suspicious at all.

“Anon. I was told to meet someone here.”

The pony behind the door doesn’t look convinced. “Meet who?” he snarls.

“It didn’t say. All I got was an address.”

He grows suspicious at the claim, “So you came to this section of the city at night without knowing who asked for you?” It’s a bit more complicated than that, but it’s the overall gist you guess.

“If he was able to get in my room then he’s going to meet me one way or the other. Now are you going to open the door or am I wasting my time?”

”He said you’d be a smart ass,” the door opens revealing the shady interior which, to its credit, is done injustice by the exterior. Stepping through you find it plain enough, no decoration or windows, just an empty void filled by, gryphons? The door shuts behind you, the doorman bolting it shut and crossing his arms menacingly. You’re less worried about him and more so about the dozen others who’re standing by, each hooded and cloaked in black. ”He also said you’d be here hours earlier.”

“Time makes fools of us all,” you fire back and eye the thug, “Wonder what it had against you?”

This does well to fluster the poor gryphon, “Oh you’re so-“

”Hilarious,” one of the gryphon sounds from the back before coming your way, “Just as I thought you’d be Anon,” he removes his hood.

“Rinn? What are you doing here?”

”That’s all the welcome I get?” he shrugs it off, “Well I guess we didn’t leave on the best of terms.” Don’t be a dick Anon. It’s Rinn after all. You promptly shake his talon, your mind pumping a mile a minute.

“It’s nice to see you again, but… What’re you doing here? Shouldn’t you be in Aviaris?”

”As Senate Overseer I was overdue for some time off,” he explains and leads you away from the rest of his cohort, “I do apologize for the scenery. If there were any other way…”

“I completely understand. If our nations weren’t at each other’s throats we could be having a nice chat up at the castle.”

”Maybe one day, but for now we must face the present and all it entails.” He takes you to another room where the two of you can talk in private. There are a million questions you want to ask him and he can almost sense your anxiety. ”Once again you have my apology for the secrecy of this meeting. Any other way would’ve attracted too much attention.”

“You said in your note that this was a matter of grave importance. I think it’d be best if we get down to brass tacks. What’s the situation?”

”All in time Anon. Let us take a moment to catch our breathes, a drink perhaps?” He’s already getting out the bottle when you politely decline, earning his intrigue. ”No? You understand what rejecting a drink entails, correct?”

“You wouldn’t be the first I said no to today.”

”Ah that Gilda girl you’ve become acquainted with. I still find it odd why a proud gryphon such as herself would wind up in the midst of your company, no offense of course.”

“None taken.”

Rinn pulls a chair away from one of the walls, the only furniture in the room for that matter, and takes a seat. ”I’ve come to understand you recently took a trip to Ponyville. Quite a rural community if I recall.”

“They certainly can be seen that way.”

”I also take it that’s where you got that patchwork done,” he motions to your cast. You downplay the ordeal and say that you just had a stumble in the forest. ”The Everfree Forest. The one who’s reputation reaches beyond the borders of your own country? I find it hard to believe you’d venture into that place.”

“I never claimed to be born with a box of wits.”

He adjusts himself and crosses his legs, claw scratching the underside of his beak. ”Just visiting I suppose. I didn’t feel you to be the small town type, or was I correct?”

“Whoa now,” you chuckle to lighten the mood, “This is sounding more like an interrogation here.”

But when he smiles you don’t see the innocence you’d expect, only contained malice. ”So that was a yes. Tell me,” he raises his tone like a prying parent, “what business did you have in Ponyville?”

“In Ponyville? None at all,” you answer honestly, “Is everything alright?”

He ignores your question, “Perhaps I should clarify. What was your business in the Everfree Forest?”

Okay he’s definitely starting to creep you out in ways no man or beast should. “I don’t think I like the way you’re asking me these questions?”

”How many journals did you scour through before you found that insufferable little band of miscreants?” Your body searches for an exit while your mind focuses on the trickster before you.

“Why did you bring me here? Where’s the real Rinn? I won’t fall for your tricks!”

He openly laughs at your accusation, even wiping a tear from his eye, “You fear me a Changeling while you should be fearing me a true gryphon. Was it Clear’s journal? That pony always did have a way of getting the real scoop.” Have to get out of here. This is wrong, too wrong. You’ve never seen Rinn like this and you never want to again.

“I’d very much like to go now,” you nigh plead to the relaxed gryphon.

”You once told me you’d do anything to help my people. I had trusted that once and you shot us down. Can I trust you this time?”

“What do you want from me?” fear permeating your voice.

”By now you understand the state of my people. They die in the streets because their needs are being casts aside while their ruler sits in his own filth like an aging pet. You know this don’t you?”

“I know this isn’t like you Rinn. Just tell your guards to stand down and-“

”Do not play me for a fool Anon! I have informants placed throughout Equestria and beyond. I know why it was you took an unexpected visit to Ponyville, and I know you didn’t go into that god forsaken forest for a sight-seeing tour.” He pauses and composes himself after his small rant, “I only ask for your help Anon. Nothing more.”

This is crazy. Celestia was right. Iron Will was right. They all were. “What do you want?”

His smile could cause a dragon to recoil in fear. ”My ‘King’ if he could still be called that, has reached his end. Were he any other ruler he would’ve been cast aside long ago when his bones began to creak, but no, they loved him and the entire condition was kept hushed. I want a better Aviaris. I want a better Gryphonnia.”

“You want power.”

”You told me in great detail back in my office of the grand banners that had swayed in the breeze. The music that caused rulers from foreign powers to turn an ear. The conviction and might of the great gryphons. This I can provide, but one stands in my way.”

“No. Reuben would never stand for this. He’s next in line for the throne. You will get nothing.”

”Oh but I think not. *acheem*” he stomps his paw twice against the wooden flooring, the door opening behind you.

“No.”

The gryphon’s scorn is only matched by his traitorous smile, “Sir Rivot is more than happy to take his father’s place. Vice General Rivot. Doesn’t that sound grand?”

”I believe it does sir.”

“You two will never get away with this. I won’t allow it.”

Rinn nods, “You have me there. Of all the obstacles in my way you were one I had not expected to cross, but where there’s a will there’s a way.” He finally stands up from his chair, “You can join us if you wish, and when you do I promise, that throne in Canterlot is yours. Just give me the vial.”

Join him… A vial for a throne. The recognition you’ve always wanted in your grasp. All you have to do is hand it over… Your hand moves to your pocket, fingers tickling the opening before you stare back at him. “No.”

Sir Rivot licks his chops like an animal, “I was hoping you’d say that. Boys!” Two more gryphons charge through and take hold your arms before pinning you against the wall.

Rinn shakes his head in disappointment, “I was hoping you’d be wiser than this. The odds were never in your favor. They tipped the second you appeared in this infernal land. Empty his pockets.” Rivot’s talons dive into your pants nearly tearing them apart.

“Try not to get excited,” you sneer at him, the gryphon’s eyes burning with rage.

”Well?” Rinn asks impatiently as you’re continued to be searched. Before long his talons ding against the glass and you know it’s been found. So much for protection.

He pulls the vial out from your emptied pockets and holds it to the light, “I think we got it sir.”

Rinn anxiously steals it out of his grasp, “Yes. Yes this will do just fine.” Everything you’d hoped to achieve, now in the grasp of one who’d see you fail. To think you had admired him once.

“You have what you wanted. Let me go!”

But Rinn isn’t listening as he clasps the vial, “It is a strange fate that I should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing. Such a little thing.” *crack* The liquid seeps through his talons, the amber mixing with the red of his blood, juts of glass slicing his hand. ”Gone. Gone at last…” he mutters unfazed by his injury.

”Sir,” Rivot asks his master, “You promised I’d get my shot at him.”

”What? Oh yes, go ahead. You’ve earned it.”

Sir Rivot cracks his talons and fixates his gaze upon you, “We got off to a bad start Anon. Let me introduce my two friends, Pain and Agony.”

“That’s just a synonym,” you retort before he hooks you with his left.

”Now now, Pain, don’t be rude. Agony wanted to go first.” Your head proceeds to get pounded by his right, the dominant one. You clench your teeth as he delivers a series of blows to your gut, unable to fight back with your arms bound. He dances around and cracks his neck, “Oh this is just the beginning. You’re all mine now.” When he comes back in you whip your foot up and nail him straight in the snout, even managing to draw blood, “Son of a whore!”

He holds you by your throat and knees you in the groin, “You’re going to pay for that.” Gripping your cast he keeps his eyes locked on yours, “Let’s see what’s inside shall we?” With a single tear he rips the brace off your arm revealing the bubbled skin underneath. Were it not for his grip on your throat as well you’d be screaming for the pain to stop. It’s like every nerve in your arm was ignited and doused in salt, Rivot enjoying every second of your torture. ”That’s gotta hurt. I wonder what would happen if I cut just enough-“

“AAAAAAAAAAAH!”

You feel nothing but the sting of his talon against your damaged flesh and he laughs in your very face. ”Feel that pain. Now take that and live with it every day since we met. You ruined me!” His fists find your body again, and again, and again. Your lips grow bloody and your vision hazy, but your mind is very much awake. ”I want you to suffer! Do you hear me?!” His fist finds your stomach, the force driving today’s breakfast from your guts and onto the floor.

Rinn, who had been silently watching the event finally chimes in with a question, “What is this box?”

You don’t have the strength to move your head up so Rivot does it for you, “He asked you a question!” The silver container beckons you even now, your body itching uncontrollably at the thought, your already screaming nerves picking up in tune.

“N-noth…” your lips fail you even now, but Rinn doesn’t seem to mind and opens the box regardless.

”Well well well. Lookie here. It seems our friend here picked up quite the habit now didn’t he?”

Despite the lack of feeling in your legs you can very much feel Rivot’s gaze, “Answer him you puny-“

”Let him go.” You’ve never been so relieved to hear Rinn’s voice than right there as you reach the end of your torture.

”But I’m not done with him-“

”Leave us. Now!”

You collapse to your stomach after they release you, Rinn kneeling beside you. ”Anon… It didn’t have to be this way.”

“Y-yes.”

He grins at your spirit, “Defiant until the end. You should be lucky that I’ve grown fond of you. Anyone else and they’d be hoisting their body out of the lake.” Even his mercy causes your skin to crawl. ”This dose should give you the strength to get back home, but let me make something clear to you. You will discuss this with no one. This meeting never happened. You merely found yourself out at dark and some thugs got the better of you.”

“N-nnnever *cough* get, aw-ay.”

He jams the needle in your arm and pushes down filling your body with nostalgic thrill. ”Should you speak to anyone of our encounter, and I will know, it won’t just be you I’ll go after. Gilda, Iron Will, Celestia, even that nice little librarian you’ve grown fond of, each will not be beyond my reach. Understood?” He brings you to your feet, the shot putting some strength back into you, “Understand?” You nod in defeat, Rinn raises your chin with a claw, “Clean yourself up. You’re bleeding.”

~~~

You limp out of the house and into the cold of the night, their heckling echoing behind you. ”Always a pleasure doing business with you!” Rinn mocks as your limp becomes a feeble sprint to safety. You nearly collapse at the gates to the castle, guards trying to help you up but you manage yourself. They fervently ask what happened, you mumbling something about some thugs as you continue back home.

Gilda’s gone by the time you get home, a final goodbye left on the door. Your body finally gives in when you reach your bed, the soft sheets wrapping themselves about your abused body like a shield. Shivering and alone you tighten the blanket around you. ’Anon, I’m glad we talked. Sorry about the mess. I’ll see you tomorrow okay? We can go bowling or something if you aren’t busy. Your friend, Gilda.’


So cold… Why is it so cold…

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