• Published 18th May 2019
  • 1,374 Views, 22 Comments

Gallus - TheAncientPolitzanian

A few months before he was enrolled at the School of Friendship, Gallus was just trying to survive another day on the streets of Griffonstone.

  • ...

Do the Birds Sing for You?

Autumn's end had come abruptly. Nearly an entire month earlier than usual and with no warning whatsoever, winter had forced its way into Griffonstone almost overnight. The aftereffects of the previous night's storm were plain to see: long, sharp icicles hung from many buildings' rickety rooftops, ankle-deep snow coated large sections of the city streets, and the entire region found itself blanketed beneath a somewhat dense fog. What little there was of an agricultural industry was scrambling to salvage as many of its crops as it could, all the while cursing the ponies for selfishly withholding their weather-controlling techniques.

Of course, the griffons were capable manipulating the weather as skillfully as any Equestrian pegasi, but they continued to grumble nonetheless.

Most griffons, dissuaded from their daily routines by the chilly temperatures and the lowered visibility, were more than content to hide themselves away in their homes, sit down beside their fireplaces, and spend the rest of the day letting their bodies adjust to the sudden change. At the same time, others, purely through stubbornness rather than determination, chose to soldier on and maintain their usual schedules.

Amongst those braving the outdoors was a young griffon named Gallus.

Even to those who didn't already know him, he was instantly recognizable. After all, his bright blue feathers and fur starkly contrasted with the duller colorations of his peers. There was an explanation for this strange trait of his, albeit one with a rather unhappy backstory. He was one of many griffons throughout history to be born with a genetic "defect" that had plagued the species for generations. How it'd come to be was a total mystery. Maybe it was just a freak mutation, and nothing more than that. Maybe the trait was carried over from the offspring of one of the rare pony-griffon romances; assuming that the legends of hippogriffs were untrue, of course. Heck, maybe it was literally just magic. Nogriffon had found a decent explanation yet, and none had ever really tried to figure it out.

Whatever the reason, the end result was well known: sometimes, griffons would grow almost unnaturally colorful feathers and fur. It was by no means a common occurrence; quite the opposite. in fact. But this was little consolation to the small handful that were born with it, especially considering the scorn it would quickly earn them. Before King Grover had unified griffonkind, tribes of griffons would often have violent skirmishes with each other. Through a convoluted series of coincidences involving those conflicts, ancient griffons had grown to believe that the bright, almost pony-like colorations were an indication that the chick-cub would grow to be weak, cutesy, and overall a disgrace to the species.

Which was why, even all these years later, most would-be parents would want nothing to do with them. Sure, they'd have the decency to give their chick-cub a name and keep them alive for their first few months of life, but the moment they displayed even the slightest amount of self-preservative capability, out the front door they went.

If they died, oh well. If they somehow managed to survive, then good for them.

By some miracle, Gallus had survived. Feral instincts alone had kept the griffon alive through his early years. Not many others like him could attest to even that long of a life. Of course, it hadn't been easy for him, and it still wasn't, even now that his brain had developed to the point that he could think rationally. There were still plenty of days where he found himself with an empty stomach and no idea how he would get his next meal.

And, as his growling stomach had not-so-kindly reminded him, today was shaping up to be one of those days.

Most of the time, finding food was simple. There was always somegriffon who wanted something done, but was too preoccupied and/or nonplussed to do it themselves. This was where Gallus would usually step in; he would offer to help them with said task, in return for a couple of bits. Then, once those errands were finished and the bits were in his metaphorical pockets, he'd make his way to the market and buy some food: a slab of meat, maybe some fruit... whatever he could afford, really.

Unfortunately for him, last night's sudden snowstorm had torn those plans asunder. All of the other griffons he'd usually run errands for hadn't even answered their doors, and his metaphorical pockets still remained empty and bitless. The house around the corner was the final one among his usual customers he'd yet to visit; it was almost certainly his last chance to be paid, and therefore his last chance to buy something to eat.

Gallus walked around the corner, trying his hardest to continue ignoring the stinging sensation he felt every time his talons and paws touched the cold snow. Once he'd finished rounding the corner, he stopped in place and looked up at the front door.

The house in front of him had belonged to the griffon known as Grandpa Gruff for as long as almost any other griffon could remember, let alone Gallus himself. But there were several other griffons that lived in this particular house, not just Grandpa Gruff. Any one of them could be the one to open the door.

Best-case scenario, it'd be Gabby; as irritating as her cheerful demeanor could be, it was definitely useful for Gallus. He'd also be glad if it was Gilda, or even that one chick-cub Gruff had recently taken under his care (What was his name again? Gallus asked himself. Wasn't it Gavin, or something?). Really, he was fine as long as it wasn't Grandpa Gruff himself. Based off of past experiences, he knew that his odds of finding work at this specific house, and therefore getting paid by its inhabitants, went up if Gabby or Gilda served as a "bridge" of sorts between Gallus and Gruff.

But if Gruff himself answered the door... To say things would get a bit complicated would be an understatement. If that were to happen right now, what little hope Gallus had would probably evaporate instantaneously.

Taking a deep breath to steady himself, Gallus knocked on the door. After about fifteen seconds of dreadful near-silence, the door abruptly swung open, and Gilda flinched as the cold air from outside rushed inside and smacked her in the face.

"Okaaaay, wow," she groaned to herself, "I should not have stood that close to the door."

Gallus held back a sigh of relief. While it wasn't his best-case scenario, Gilda could be fairly reasonable; especially recently, for some reason. Tartarus, with all of the conversations she'd tried to start up with him over the past few months, one might come to the conclusion that she actually wanted to be friends with him. But that couldn't be the case, right? Griffons didn't really do the whole friendship thing. Acquaintances, maybe, but even that was an unlikelihood.

And either way, Gallus decided, it didn't matter. Keeping himself from starving to death was far more important than meaningless musings about friendship of all things.

"Hey there, Gilda," he greeted (Try to be sociable, he reminded himself). "So... how are things?"

Gilda shrugged. "Eh, you know. Same old, same old. Lovely weather we're having, huh?"

Gallus rolled his eyes. "Yeah, you can say that again."

"I'm surprised you even bothered to go outdoors today."

"Honestly, I am too."

He felt his stomach start to rumble again, and coughed into the elbow of his left foreleg to cover up the sound. The last thing he wanted was to look like he was begging.

Granted, that was exactly what he was doing, but being that upfront about it typically didn't work in his favor.

"So, anyway," he started, "while I'm out here- and seeing as you're still in there- is there anything you'd like me to do for you? Some errand you'd like me to run, or...?"

The older griffon's eyes narrowed. "Huh. That's what this is about, then. Trying to make a quick bit, huh?"

Alarm bells started ringing in Gallus's mind. "What? Wait, nonononono, I just thought that-"

"Dude, I'm just messing with you." Gilda chuckled. "I get it, man. You gotta do what you gotta do."

"Phew, you were scaring me for a moment there. Is that a yes, then?"

Uncertainty creeped into Gilda's expression. "...Maybe. I'll have to ask Gramps if there's anything he's willing to pay someone else to do. I think he might be in one of his 'moods' though, so don't get your hopes up. Just, um... wait here, 'kay?"

Before Gallus could get even a single word out, Gilda reached for the doorknob and quickly pulled the door shut. He tilted his head and pressed his right ear up against the side of it, but the conversation that had begun on the inside remained muffled.

"Alright, what is it you want?" Grandpa Gruff harshly demanded through the shut door.

Gallus jolted backwards, the sudden noise catching him off guard. "O-oh, Um, hey there, Mr. Gruff. I was just wondering if... if there were any errands you needed me to run today!"

Gruff's answer was short and painfully to the point.


Don't panic, don't panic, Gallus frantically reminded himself. "A-are you sure about that? Maybe you have some mail that needs to be delivered? I can go grab you some food from the marketplace. I mean, there's got to be something I can-"

"I said no! Now go away and quit trying to pilfer my hard-earned bits! Kids these days. Trying to scam a griffon like that. The nerve! They just don't understand the meaning of hard, honest work anymore. Back in my day..." Gruff's voice faded out of earshot as the older griffon presumably walked away from the door.

Again using his past experiences as a reference, Gallus knew this was typically the point of no return; it'd be an honest-to-Grover miracle if Gruff somehow changed his mind now.

And so, conceding defeat, he turned around and started aimlessly walking down the street. The cold snow continued to sting his feet, and his ability to ignore the feeling had been stolen away by his downtroddenness. His stomach grumbled again, as if to snidely rub in the fact that he still had no idea how he was going to feed himself.

...Well, not necessarily.

As much as he hated to do so, Gallus was willing to obtain the food he needed through far less legal methods. A childhood spent mostly on the city streets had taught him the basics of thievery, and then some. It certainly helped matters that certain griffons often stole from food carts just for kicks. He'd had plenty of time to "study" their techniques. Now, he could actually use them.

And with these thoughts in his head, he made a beeline for the marketplace, desperately hoping that somegriffon had bothered to set up shop today.

Author's Note:

This fic was originally envisioned as part of an anthology detailing the Young Six's lives prior to being enrolled at the School of Friendship. Unfortunately for me, the well of ideas dried up pretty quickly. I could probably make stories for Smolder and/or Sandbar if I tried hard enough, though, so I'll keep you posted on that front.

Anyway. about the story itself:

Most of the griffons we've seen are in the show (and to a lesser extent the comics) are shades of brown, gray, and other "dull" colors. There are some exceptions, but even then the hues tend to be rather pale compared to those of ponies, dragons, etcetera. Neither is the case with Gallus whatsoever. Which raises the question: why is he colored so differently?

The obvious answer, of course, is that the "bigwigs" at Hasbro wanted Gallus to be more visually appealing so they could sell more toys of him. But I wanted to come up with an in-universe explanation. Once I had that, it was only a matter of creating a story to put it in.

And here we are.

The second half of this story should be going up within the next few days, so be sure to keep your eyes on this one. I hope I'll see you then!