• 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?

  • ...
25
 90
 9,773

Chapter 2: Tip of the Feather

Alright Anon, you’ve got this. You’re pumped and ready to go. Throw out a few jabs of wisdom and finish it up with an uppercut of history. The crowd goes wild! He did it! The Sharp-Witted champion of the world, ANON! What do you have to say about your feat tonight Anon? I want to thank my fans, my family, but most of all I’d like to thank Petal for not giving up. They put you on their back and carry you back to the library to sign books. That would be awesome… ”Sir?”

You’re standing in front of the receptionist’s desk, the mare with a clear look of irritation. ”Do you plan on standing there all day or would you like to leave your name?”

“Oh sorry, I was-” her indifference shows brighter than the sun, “Umm, Anon.” She flicks through the pages of her ledger, your hands behind your back. “Sure is hot in here.”

”76 degrees.” You’ll take that as a hint to shut your trap.

Waiting is the worst part of these things. A million things could be rolling around inside her head right now. What is she thinking? What could she be thinking? The combination of the unknown and the infinite possibilities that follow boggle your little mind. ”Here we are,” she checks off your name, “Take a seat please, we’ll be with you shortly.”

“Just over there? Or is there another-” she glares at you, “Ok…” You move across the room and sit down, the soft cushion fitting your rump perfectly. She flicks to the next page of her magazine audibly. Twiddling your thumbs you wait for your audience. Time just loves to slow down for you now doesn’t it? You fiddle with your tie; this old suit hasn’t come in handy since you first arrived. At least you’re never short of formal wear.

You play with your sleeve for what feels like an hour before she finally calls your name. When you saw the conference hall you were stunned, but that doesn’t bring a flame to this beauty. Spiraling marble flooring, a crimson rug that runs the length of this expansive chamber, towering columns that dwarf even you. And there at the back atop her throne is the princess herself, Celestia. A lump forms in your throat as you’re led down to her by a pair of royal guards. ”When you meet the princess you wait to be addressed. Don’t speak unless spoken to. Keep those hands at your side and if you even think about reaching for something I will take you down. Understand?”

“Yes…”

”Yes what, maggot?”

“Y-yes sir…”

He snarls and looks ahead, “Bucking disrespectful kids…” Why is everyone an ass?

Celestia’s smile cuts through you like a knife and you tear your eyes away. Get it together Anon, no time for being a coward here. You take a knee before her, “Ahh Anon, it’s nice to see you. I was afraid you weren’t going to show.” You had your bags packed and everything, but offending the sun princess probably wouldn’t be a good idea.

”She’s talking to you two-legs.”

“Your highness…”

Celestia moves her eyes to your escort, “I do not believe I require your services at the present time.”

They look surprised, “My princess, I believe to be wise if-“

”Are you disobeying your princess, guardsman? In fact, I’d like to speak with Anon in private so I request for you to wait outside.” They don’t argue this time and clip clop their way out, shutting the door with a hefty thud. Celestia sighs and spreads lazily over the throne, “So how are you?”

Your still a bit stunned by her sudden change. “Fine.”

She admires your attire with her eyes, “What did I say about kneeling Anon?” You apologize profusely, her brow rising, “Are you so intent on seeing the dungeon?” The only dungeon you’re intent on seeing has dragons and dice.

“Princess I-” you can see the word ‘formality’ all over her face, “Celestia… I don’t think that’s necessary. Please.”

Her laugh is disheartening and you keep your eyes to the floor, “You are an odd one Mr. Anon.” And that’s how it starts. First it’s odd, then weird, then creepy, then locked up with Pablo. Pablo’s been in there for a while and a tad lonely. Another line of silence is laid across the room’s atmosphere increasing your tense attitude. ”How long did you spend sprucing up your suit?”

Does she not like it? If she doesn’t like that, then she’d- The princess almost reads your mind with a laugh, “It’s a simple question Anon. I have no ulterior motive.” Well, at least you don’t have to worry about Pablo again. For now…

“About an hour.”

”An hour? I wasn’t expecting that.”

Your heart plummets into the abyss of your ribcage. “Sorry.”

She rolls her eyes, “Come now Anon, don’t act like that. I meant no offense.” You drop your head and cross your legs. ”I didn’t mean it like that.”

“It’s ok…”

She rises from her seat, “It is not.” You’re tempted to step back as she approaches but your legs are turned to lead in fear. ”You do not have to take such insults if you feel them inappropriate.”

“I guess that’s what makes me odd.”

”There are plenty of reasons why that is, but this is not one of them. If you’re going to be working for me, you’ll need to outgrow this personality of yours.”

“Yes ma’am.”

”You say that, yet I can see it deep within your eyes.”

“Sorry ma’am.”

”The dungeon’s this way.”


Celestia leads you off, hopefully not into the dungeon. Maybe it’s a fun one, not the type with chains and spikes… God you’d prefer the sewers… You step into the room, eyes widening in splendor. “Wow.”

”It’s funny, you’re only the second p0ny who’s had that reaction, and this room has been used fairly often throughout the ages.” A part of you wants to correct her use of the word ‘p0ny,’ then again, it’s also the part that wants to meet Pablo. ”Twilight’s taken the train back to P0nyville so her chambers are currently in need of a different resident. Would you be interested?”

Would you?! You’d piss yourself happy if you didn’t let the sea monster loose already. “Yes!” Shit you just shouted that, crap. “I mean, yes please.”

Her smile eases your mind, “I’ll have the scribes make note of the change. I am curious though, what sealed the deal for you? I know Twilight was quite fond of the view.”

“I think it was the private library that got our attention.”

”I thought it might.” She ushers you forward, “Go on, check out your new home.”

Your hand curls around the railing to the upper floor as you marvel at the tiniest of details. The tender grooves of the wood, the slick glossy coat that surrounds it, even the nigh invisible scratches that roughen them so slightly. You run up and throw the curtains open letting the sun shine through. A grin forms on your face as your rush back down and throw yourself on the bed. Celestia giggles at your behavior but does nothing to stop you as you rub against the sheets.

Your smile only gets bigger when you look up and down on your library. There’s a telescope too! You’ve always wanted to get into Astronomy and- Your mind blanks when you step out onto the balcony. Celestia places a hoof on your shoulder, “She had the same look as you.” This place is a dream, some fantasy or delusion that you’ve locked yourself into. ”I take it you like your new quarters.”

“It’s a palace, an Equestrian Versailles if I ever saw one.”

”And it’s all yours.”

You sip at your tomato soup, stomach purring happily. “I’ve never had the pleasure of eating in the presence of royalty before,” you silently scold your noisy belly.

”You haven’t missed much. It has a certain dullness around it, each having to keep up their image.”

“Oh…” your mood falls slightly.

”That is why I find it soothing to be among those with… well, those like you.” You blush and look down to your bowl, twirling your spoon within the orange whirlpool. ”There’s no deceit in your appearance, just truth.”

“Thank you…”

”You’re quite welcome Anon.” This is… nice. Maybe it’s a bit premature, but you feel better around her. She wouldn’t cure the bubonic plague with her presence, but it’s as if you’re safe by her side. All it takes is a glance to know that she’ll be there for you.

“I take it you reviewed my file.”

She looks surprised, “Why would you say that?”

You shrug, finishing up your soup. “I don’t know, just figured you would’ve.”

”As a matter of fact I did. A background check is standard routine for my subjects.”

“Wasn’t the first time either I reckon?”

She glares playfully, “You’re too smart for your own good.” She chuckles at your shiver, which is quite real, “I did see it once before. It was upon your arrival if I recall. How long ago was that?”

“Five months.”

”Only so? I had thought it to be longer.” She must have a different view on time, seeing how old she is.

“Excuse me Celestia, but can I ask a personal question?” She leans forward expectantly, must mean yes. “How old are you?”

And that’s how you wound up in prison. Nah, but that’s what’s you thought might’ve happened. ”Anon, I thought you would know better than to ask a mare her age.”

“I’m sorry princess, that was uncalled for and I should’ve… I’ll shut up now.” You hang your head again, a common expression of yours, and try and be invisible. No magical powers for you unfortunately.

She shakes her head and lifts her glass to her lips, “Asking a mare her age…” You push your bowl away glumly, “Are you not hungry?”

“Lost my appetite,” you mumble, folding your napkin on the table.

”I was only kidding. I’m not mad at you.”

“R-really?”

”If there’s one thing I have to teach you, it’s how to take a joke.”

“Then… how old are you?”

”I can send you to the moon.” You forgot she could do that. Space Pablo… But it’s just as she said, a joke. You admit, it is rather funny even though you wish it was directed at someone else. Leaning back you admire the crown molding laid down upon Canterlot’s initial construction, an elegant finish to the beaming room. ”Quite the marvel isn’t it?” she proudly joins your observation, “Built by the three races so many years ago to unite the young nation.”

Sounds like a tale you’d tell a sleeping child, though you’ve read a different version of it. “Umm actually,” you clear your throat, “Canterlot wasn’t built by the three races, not solely anyways.”

She looks annoyed at your mannerism, “Do you refute my word?”

“I’m merely saying that research and architectural studies have shown that… Never mind, it’s not important anyways.”

She shakes her head and moves to the wall opposite you. ”Do you know why I chose you for this job?”

“Well, no. I don’t even know what job it is you exactly want me to do.”

“When you first arrived in that conference room all eyes turned to you.”

“I remember that well,” you shudder.

”It wasn’t by chance you were summoned, it was fate. When I saw you, I thought there was something strangely peculiar about you.” She’s going to make you blush with this talk. ”You have a gift Anon, one that holds great potential for you here, but this attitude of yours is holding you back.”

You’re taken aback by this comment. “I- I don’t have an attitude problem though.”

”Perhaps attitude was a poor choice of words. Your demeanor, personality, how you hold yourself, this spectrum of your presentability, this is the problem.” She looks back to you, “These are holding you back. While you have great knowledge, you’re fearful of using it.” She’s right. You know she is. This is the kind of stuff you’ve been told from day one. ”Once you let go of your fear, your position by my side will be concrete.”

By her side… That means- She smiles, knowing your thoughts, “Let’s take things one step at a time.” The kid in you wants nothing more than to jump for joy, but you hold him underwater until the bubbles stop. No kid will dictate what you do. ”So tell me, what do you know of the gryphon kingdoms?”

“Not that much. It’s rudimentary at best-“

She raises a hoof, “Allow me to relay something that I do know. Equestria values certain traits such as humbleness, but the Kingdoms to the east? They do not.” Celestia sits back down, eyes on you, “So tell me again, what do you know of the gryphon kingdoms?” You know that they’ve got to respect Celestia’s tenacity.

“Only what I’ve read in books.”

”We’ll need to change that then.”


You step into the bustling tavern, Celestia masked to hide her appearance. The p0nies don’t seem to mind your presence as you’d expect. They care more about the booze in front of them then the man behind them. Celestia ushers you over to a stool, the bar tender drying a mug idly, “What’ll it be?”

“A water please.”

He raises a brow, “Water? Really? You come to a bar just to order that?” Your foot titters against the ground uneasily as he looks you down.

”Order something else,” Celestia whispers in your ear.

“But I don’t drink,” you plead softly, “I’ve seen what alcohol can do to a liver. Cirrhosis is one-“

She turns to be bartender, face still hidden from sight, “He’ll have a Lion’s Tail.”

”A Lion’s Tail eh? You know quality when you see it. I didn’t catch your-“

”I’ll have an Appletini. Stirred, not shaken,” she sets a small bag of bits down, “This should cover it.” He nods, setting the drinks down moments later. She raises her glass, “To good fortune.”

“To liver disease.”

You manage to keep the poison down as you wipe the tears from your eyes. ”To turn down a drink from a gryphon is to insult their honor. I trust you know this.”

“I haven’t gotten to that chapter yet- *cough* God it’s like drinking hydra piss.” You take a sniff, “Smells like it too.”

”The Lion’s Tail is a favorite among gryphon kind. It’s made from a combination of ground talon, hydra scale…” Knew it. ”…purified nightshade and a variety of other ingredients. Can you tell me what type of crop is the main component?”

How should you- Wait, you know this one. Oh god it was in Agriculture’s Adversaries Volume II. “Give me a second.”

”Take your time.”

Gryphons live in the east. The east is mountainous with small regions for cultivating grain. They need a grain that can stand their fierce winters. So in turn they would grow… “Rye,” you sigh, “They use rye.”

”That is correct.” You can drink to that. You seize your throat as you force yourself to consume the mug of death. ”See, you know more than you let on. A little coaching and you’ll be more than just an ex-janitor.”

“It’ll take more than a little. I hate being wrong.”

”Is it hate or is it fear?” You find yourself at a loss. You chuckle a little and raise the mug to your lips.

“A little of both.”

You cough violently after another dose and Celestia pats your back, “Easy now. You still need your lungs.” Your chest feels like a monster’s about to burst out and it’s called your heart. Her ears perk up and she looks over your shoulder, “There she is.”

“There who is?”

She keeps you planted with your hoof, “This is where we part for today Anon so I leave you with your first task. A gryphon has just entered the tavern, talk to her and learn all you can. Seek me out when you’re ready.”

“But Celest-“

”No buts. I won’t be far,” her voice peters away into the drunken ramblings of the tavern. You spin around hoping to catch her before she’s gone, but she’s already gone, damn. Your eyes gaze through the smoky air before finally settling on the gryphon she spoke of. She knocks down a row of shots like they’re apple juice, shouting out for the barkeep to bring her more.

Her feathers are rough but well kempt and the birth mark around her eyes are a clear sign of her class heritage. Gender equality has never been an issue from what you’ve read; in fact some of their nation’s great heroes have been female. Rosaline the Merciful gained her stature during a tribal raid, slaying near half the garrison to protect her clutch. She spared only one to send back the message of their defeat, granting her title and renown. If that’s merciful you’d be interested to see their ruthless. But those eyes mark her of the lower caste of warriors. Okay, maybe you do know a fair bit about them.

But how best to approach her? Do you go in kind and respectful? What if she thinks you’re hitting on her? That path splits down many-a-road you don’t want to travel. She seems to be drinking a lot, so perhaps buying her a drink would be the best bet. But you don’t have any money and you’d rather not go out giving handies for spare bits.

If she keeps going at it the way she does she’ll wind up a drunken mess. You could take her back to your place and… Yeah, you’d be marked as a pervert and a lecher and thrown into the bowels of the earth to be picked by birds. Why is approaching people such a chore for you? Besides you being a coward and- ”What you looking at ya poof?!” You turn down to the bar, eyes glued on the frothy drink in front of you. ”You gonna answer me lardass?!”

“S-sorry.”

”That’s all you got to say for yourself limpdick? Look at this guy! He ain’t got nothing to say.” The bar erupts in laughter, dozens of eyes glued on you. Just stay quiet, this’ll all be over shortly. ”What’s the matter? Crybaby gonna cry? Go on, do it faggot.” Just don’t come over here, don’t come over here, don’t- ”I’m gonna get a good look at you, dork.” Dammit. She reeks of beer as she stands up next to you, talons thrumming methodically on the counter.

”Geez, you look even worse up close. What manticore ass did you crawl out of?” Avoid eye contact, her vision is based on movement. ”I’m talking to you here numbskull, you deaf or what?”

“No…”

”So you’re just an ass?”

“N-no.”

”Sure looks that way.” You gulp down the last of your poison in hopes to drown out her voice.

”What you got there big boy? A big glass of apple juice for your weak little stomach,” she teases elbowing another patron jokingly.

“It’s nothing.”

”Barkeep, what’s this dweeb soaking up anyways?”

He scratches his head before he finally remembers, “A Lion’s Tail.”

”No shit? I thought you were just some softy, but turns out you’re a straight up ball less chump trying out his father’s grownup pants.”

“At least I knew my father…” you mutter. The bar falls silent save for the breathing of what sounds to be one pissed off gryphon.

”What… did you just say to me?” a fierceness hiding behind her words. You find no help in the patrons’ eyes, not even the bartender is willing to offer his aid. A test, from the princess. How to deal with these types of situations perhaps?

“I think we got off on the wrong foot,” you turn to her, “My name’s Anon.” And… thrown out of the bar.

You scramble about on the dampened brick as you try and escape from the huffing gryphon that’s pursuing you. Her wings flare out as she works up to her hind legs almost matching you in height if you were standing. ”You’ve got some nerve on you small fry!” A few heads jut out from around the corner to watch you shrink further down the alleyway.

“I’m sorry if I offended you-“

”It’s too late for that!” she smashes a trash bin out of the way, “Do you not think before you speak or is that too hard for a dimwitted sod like yourself?” She scrapes her talons against the brick wall, carving through it ease. If those things got a hold of you… “Come here!” You try and crawl away but she grips tight on your ankle and pulls you back with an impressive amount of strength. ”The more you fight the more fun it is for me.” There’s worse fates than getting mauled to death in an darkened alley after all… Like anal rape.

You chance a peek if ‘she’ might be a ‘he’ after all, or possibly a ‘hir.’ If you’re going to die anyways it won’t matter. Her talons tighten and she grabs hold of your chin, “Look at me, not my goods you sick pervert.”

“I wasn’t- I’m not-“

”Save it,” she grabs you and throws you up against the wall. She wobbles slightly before forcing her body weight onto you with her arms, each talon holding tight. ”I’m going to take great pleasure in knocking your flank down to size.” She plants a hook into your ribcage causing you to double over and grab your side. ”That was about 20% of what I got, ready for 40?” She prepares another hook while recover yourself.

Your forearm catches the blunt force of your blow, and locking your hands together you cross your elbow just above her beak earning a surprised squawk. You grimace as a dollop of blood runs down your arm where her beak managed to get you. “I may be a coward, but I will defend myself.” You raise your fists, pain shooting through as you flex your arm. “I know your biology like the back of my hand. So let’s go Big Bird.”

You overhear the gasps of the drunkards from their hiding place and so does the gryphon who snarls at them. ”After I’m done with this one y’all are next!” They don’t waste time to skedaddle leaving a poof of smoke in their wake. She stands back on her paws, wiping the smear of blood off on her fur. You keep your fists up like your dad taught you, head in, arms tight.

“Stay back…” your voice shakes as you press against the wall, “I’m warning you.” She cracks her neck, making sure to get every kink out with a snap or crackle before fixing back on you, the crimson coating on her arm only doubling her intimidation factor. Your chest shivers as she steps forward innocently in an effort to open up your guard. But when she moves to strike you’ll perform a parry with your left and then uppercut with your- SHIT SHE’S ATTACKING! Your muscles seize up and you close your eyes, but she isn’t-

The gryphon clears her throat, talon extended with open palm, “You gonna leave me hanging?”

“Is- Is this a trick?”

”If it was did I fool you?”

She takes you back inside though you’re a bit wary about her sudden shift in attitude. She orders a drink and sits you down at a booth in the back, coming back with two pints of frothy death. ”You’ve got a sharp elbow, I’ll give you that.”

“Thanks, I guess.” You remember what Celestia said about drinking and you lift your mug to toast.

*gulp* “Ahh, that hits the spot. Takes me back to when I was just a newbie back home. We’d all get shitfaced after hours and hit the clouds. Literally, we used to hit clouds. Those were the days…” You keep quiet as she reminisces about the past, “Man we’d bloody each other up and rut like there’s no tomorrow. What I wouldn’t give to relive those early days.” She looks around the bar, “Maybe if I could find a bloodied up mongrel to take back home we could have some fun,” her eyes set on you.

“Hey now…”

The gryphon laughs heartily almost spilling her drink, “Don’t get your hopes up ‘Anon.’ You’re not that pretty.” Thank you god for making me mediocre. ”What’re you doing in a dump like this anyway Mr. Shakes?” She just has to hit you with another insult.

“I don’t appreciate those names…”

”Let me rephrase it then. What’re you doing in a dump like this Dweeb McGee?” There’s no point arguing with her.

“I was just- you know, looking around.”

”Ahuh,” she nods, “Then who was that with you earlier?” So she saw? Okay, think fast, she could be your…

“She’s a friend of mine.” Well you aren’t technically lying, right?

”You’ve got friends in high places then don’t you?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” you try and play coy.

She rolls her eyes, “Do you honestly expect me to believe anyp0ny besides a princess could be that tall? I’ve got eagle eyes, remember?” The Gryphon’s Insider Guide: Chapter 4.

“Alright you got me. I was with Princess Celestia, can we drop it?”

She smiles with her beak and sits back, “Why?” She’s having fun with this isn’t she? All it’s doing is pissing you off.

“It doesn’t matter,” you state harshly.

”No need for the tone jeez, I was just making friendly conversation with a fellow drunk.”

“I’m not a drunk.”

”And yet you’re in a bar?”

Remember why you’re here Anon. It’s a test. “I was looking for someone like you.”

”Me? Sorry Anon but I don’t do the whole interspecies thing, regardless of what they say.” Of course it’s another insult, what’d you expect. But you’re going to have to deal with these things as part of your new job, and you want that new job more than anything else. Except for air… food… water, that kind of stuff. You’d do anything for it, even working with people like her.

“I’m trying to work under the princess as an international relations diplomat okay? I guess she thought the best way for me to learn was to be around them. So we came here.”

She picks some gunk out of her tail, “Oh, you were still talking? What’d you say?”

You’re not falling for this. “But I can see she was wrong.”

”Excuse me,” she replies sharply.

“You can’t help me, you’re- You know what? I don’t care. You’re a self-centered, conniving, violent drunk. What use could you be?” You snag your mug and get up. “Thanks for the drink.”

You finish the last of it and set it on the table before walking out the door. ”YO!” she shouts as you turn back to her, “I never told you my name.” You’re half tempted to tell her off but you give her a chance. ”It’s Gilda.”

“Best of luck to you then.” You could slip into a nice relaxing coma about now, maybe read a book while you’re at it. Helluva day, and this is just the beginning.

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!