• Published 14th Oct 2019
  • 3,195 Views, 142 Comments

Never Seen - semillon



Ten years after Princess Twilight’s coronation, the Student Six are no longer friends.

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TABLE FOR ONE

Gallus walked down the road, responding to the distress call with the kind of haste that was expected of him. He wasn't worried, however. In fact, the scenery around him made him feel just a little less lonely.

It was autumn. Nearly sunset. Griffonstone’s dirt roads were sprinkled with houses made from straw and granite, and each one was glowing from within with orange light. Nearly everygriff had a fire going by this time of day, and sometimes a lost breeze would slither against Gallus’s side, warming him with the remnants of those fires as he passed. Any tree that he happened upon was either dead or losing its last leaves, and seeing one would make him smile. Winter was coming, and he had a home to spend it in.

Gallus had taken an almost perverse pleasure in celebrating the Blue Moon Festival ever since he came back to Griffonstone. During his early childhood, stranded on the streets, the idea of being warm in winter was inconceivable. Now he could eat, be merry and drink to his heart’s content in front of his own fireplace, with the snow falling thick and heavy outside, and when he did it felt like he was both leaving his past self behind while simultaneously spitting in his sad, orphan face. But that wouldn’t be for another couple of months.

At the end of the road lay a large house with two doors on opposite ends, and two salt and pepper patterned griffons sitting looking away from each other, in front of the door that was closest to him.

Gallus felt his heartbeat speed up as he increased his walking speed, and when he was in earshot he began to bob his head, trying his best to grab eye contact with either of the griffons in front of the house. Neither gave him any acknowledgement, so he decided to get within a few metres and sit down on the ground.

He had been here before, and done the same thing, and the end result always turned out the same. To his left was Gilroy, the local librarian that would knit sweaters in his free time and sell them for six times the amount of wool that he used. To his right was his twin sister, Glenda, who was one of the local blacksmiths, and personally made about three quarters of the tools that were currently in Griffonstone.

When the whole housing resurgence a few years back was starting to look expensive, the siblings thought themselves clever by purchasing a single house and erecting a wooden wall in between, furnishing each side until it was two homes in one. On paper, it was a rather nice set-up, but the opposite turned out to be true for Gilroy and Glenda. Their living situation spiraled slowly into monthly, then weekly, then daily fights about who was making more noise, or who was responsible for screwing with the plumbing, or who was devaluing the property more.

Gallus waited patiently. One of them would speak soon, and then he would launch into his questions, but only when one of them spoke.

He waited further. A minute went by.

“Gallus,” said Gilroy. “Nice of you to come.”

Gilroy’s voice had always sounded like a viola to Gallus. In the hands of a hippogriff. An overexcited one that didn’t particularly know how to play, and thus was simply sawing at the strings.

“What’s the problem this time?” Gallus asked.

“There’s no problem,” Glenda muttered, glancing over to him. She sounded much more pleasant than her brother. More of a sad saxophone than a viola.

Gallus rolled his eyes. “Then why did one of you call me here?”

A moment. Then, Gilroy looked to Gallus.

“So,” he began, “six years ago Glenda was dating Greta—you know her, right? Gilda’s friend? Yours too, I guess. Well, Greta ended up liking me more than Glenda and I honestly didn’t mean to but she comes to me one day and she says, ‘You’re so much cooler than your sister,’ and I said ‘Oh, really?’ and she said ‘Really’, and then she kisses me right on the beak.”

At this, Glenda made a soft sound of disgust.

Gilroy continued, not noticing. “You’ve seen Greta, right? How can any griffon in the world resist her? So we end up spending a few months together, and Glenda’s still mad about it. So now whenever we’re asleep she sneaks into my place to eat my food.”

“Is that true?” Gallus asked, looking to the griffon’s sister.

“Of course not,” said Glenda. “Look, Gilroy’s just too stupid to remember when he eats his meals, so when his food runs out too quick, he blames me. It’s not that hard to figure out, dude. Tell him off so we can all get on with our lives.”

“My favorite thing about you,” Gilroy said, “is how good you are at pretending that you’re not a petty cockroach.”

“You wanna say that to me again?” Glenda growled, turning to face him. Her wings were on the cusp of flaring, barely restrained as they quivered with anger.

“Peace!” Gallus called, taking a few choice steps towards them. Thankfully, they stopped and turned to him. “Chill out. Calm it.”

“I can’t even buy sweet rolls anymore because I know that she—” Gilroy pointed to Glenda. “Is going to eat them all when I’m sleeping. I know what this is about, and it’s not me.”

“That’s weird,” snarked Glenda. “If it’s not you, then who could it be about?”

“You—”

“I know you meant me, idiot. I’m saying that only a complete birdbrain would believe your story, and Gallus over here went to fancy pony school and worked a fancy royal pony soldier job. He’s way too smart to fall for your swindling.”

“My swindling is top notch. You’re just jealous that I’m better at poker.”

“Take that back!”

The siblings crouched down, about to punce. Thinking quick, Gallus swiped at the ground, sending a volley of dirt between them. Again, they turned to stare at him.

“Can I talk?” Gallus asked, waiting for a moment before continuing. “Look, you guys go through this every other week. We figured this out two years ago. Glenda, don’t eat Gilroy’s sweet rolls. Gilroy, stop eating too many sweet rolls. That goes for any other food, too.”

“Cool,” Glenda said, “but you got me all kinds of messed up if you think I’m gonna let all that stuff he said just now slide.”

“Me too,” Gilroy huffed.

“Actually, you are,” Gallus commanded, volume growing louder. “You’re both going to forget that this or anything you said just now happened, and you’re gonna pretend that you like each other until you’re not pretending anymore. You know why? Because Blue Moon Fest is coming up, and we all decided we weren’t gonna be total jerks when that came around anymore, right?”

The siblings were quiet. Then, they gave a collective “Okay.”

“Good,” sighed Gallus. “Now apologize.”

“Fine,” said Gilroy. He side-eyed his sister for a moment, then offered her a closed fist.

She looked at it like it was a math problem, but her frown slowly unraveled into a happily neutral expression, and then bumped talons with her brother.

“That’s—that’s not what I meant, but that works,” Gallus said. “Can I go now?”

“Sure,” said the siblings, already flying away from him.

Gallus watched the two griffons enter their home, and then he turned around. The dirt road he had traveled was only a slight incline from where he was, but it was still annoying to walk up regardless. He wasn’t looking forward to doing it again, and it wasn’t like he could fly. Not anymore.

There was a vague memory from the morning in his mind, and it whispered sweetly to him that Gabby was grilling salmon for dinner, but he wasn’t sure if he was remembering correctly. Hopefully, he was. He loved fish—ate it voraciously at every opportunity. He had spent too long without it. There was no way he’d miss a seafood meal. Not on his watch.

Gallus growled softly to himself as he began the long walk home, leaving Gilroy and Glenda’s house behind.

Gallus was right. Dinner for the night was grilled salmon, courtesy of Gabby. It was cooked to perfection: sweet and tender and with a fresh, but velvety, citrus-y flavor that Gallus could never hope to describe.

Salmon wasn’t Gilda’s favorite food, so the older griffon only stayed at the dinner table long enough to eat half of her meal before she slid her dish over to Gallus. After he had scarfed that down, he was left to eagerly battle Gabby for scraps.

They were back at their office, which was really just another house. It was neat and tidy, and as proper as their official positions in the municipality called for. They were the Griffonstone Police and Negotiation Department. Only one of them was experienced in using weapons, but that rarely seemed to matter; they had only ever been called out to settle mundane domestic disputes, anyway.

In the midst of their noisy feasting, Gallus asked about Gabby’s day. Such was their ritual.

“I didn’t do anything!” Gabby chirped over a mouthful of salmon. “Literally nothing. I sat at home all day and I ate—what were those Equestrian snacks, again? The ones that Spike sent us?”

“Chips?”

“Chips!” she repeated happily.

Gallus smirked down at his meal. He gathered up a nice forkful before placing it into his mouth. “What flavor?”

“I thought we only had the pickle kind.”

He shook his head. “Sounds like you’ve just been going through the first box.”

“There’s more than one?”

“Wanna hear how my day went?” he asked, and went on without waiting for an answer, because Gabby always said yes. “Gruff spent all day whining to me about the new council, which is nothing new, and then Glenda and Gilroy had another argument, which I expertly solved in record time, cause I’m awesome.”

“What was it about?” Gabby asked, taking another bite of her food. “No! No. Let me guess: Glenda’s been sleepwalking into abandoned property again and she blamed it on her brother trying to pull off a really complicated prank.”

“Close,” Gallus said proudly. “But—”

There was a knock at the door.

Immediately Gallus and Gabby entered a staring contest, waiting to see who would be the first to answer. Their fireplace was lit and happily churning out smoke for the rest of the world to see, and the magical light that illuminated the interior of their home was still on. Whoever was outside knew that someone was home, and neither Gabby nor Gallus wanted their workplace to gain a bad reputation.

The question was: who wanted the rest of dinner more?

Three more knocks rapped on the door in quick succession. The first one burned through half of Gallus’s nerve like wildfire devouring a field of dry grass. The second one made the feathers going down his back stand on end. The third was what finally broke him, and, almost in a trance, he flew out of his chair towards the door and pulled it open, desperately ignoring the wet, sloppy sounds of Gabby devouring the rest of the fish.

Autumn wind tickled his face, no longer blocked out by the walls of his home. He scratched one of his cheeks as a sleek griffon colored silver and black, nodded her head slightly to acknowledge him.

“You’re here,” she said.

“We’re all here, yep. What do you want?”

“I need you.” She tapped an index talon on the floor several times as she talked.

“Why?” Gallus asked. As he spoke he smoothed his crest feathers down, flat against the top of his head. He wasn’t in the best of spirits after having his meal interrupted, but he took extra care not to let that show in the tone of his voice. “We’re just in the middle of dinner, and if you haven’t been told yet, we don’t really go out and solve domestic problems past seven, so if you want to, like, write a note or something then you can come in and jot it down on some paper, but we’re done with house calls for the day.”

“I am Gertrude Robintabby,” she said, stoic expression unchanging. “My house was broken into. There are certain things missing. I need the police. Not mediation.”

Several months ago, Griffonstone was lit ablaze with politics and gossip surrounding a merchant who was actively running for leadership within the town. Her platform was enticing and simple to understand, and she caused a fair divide between the griffons before Grampa Gruff decided to give her a seat on the Council of Griffonstone.

“I’ve heard about you,” said Gallus, his posture stiffening. Old lessons nagged at him from the back of his mind, so he offered her his talon. Not a traditional griffon greeting by any means. Those would involve more dismissive glances and soft murmurs of acknowledgement.

Gertrude took it with her own and shook it firmly, looking at him with steely eyes. “I’ve heard about you, too.”

“Is anygriff watching over the house?”

“No. You’re going to want to hurry.”

“Do you want to come inside?”

“I’ll wait for you out here.”

“I’ll try,” said Gallus, and then he closed the door gently.

He walked up to the table, where Gabby sat licking her talons clean. On first glance, the food looked like it was all gone, but as Gallus came closer he realized that there was a full dish of scraps set aside for him.

He felt a jolt of love seize him, and felt the urge to hug Gabby and thank her for being his friend and a part of his home. Then there came a flash of familiarity, and he stowed the rare moment of affection in the deepest crevasse of his mind that he could find.

He stood by her and sighed.

“What was that?” she asked.

“We have a crime scene.”

Gabby blinked and reached for a cloth to wipe her talons free of saliva. “Wait, really?”

“Really,” said Gallus. “Let’s go.”

“You’re on Gilda duty.”

Gallus rolled his eyes. “I know.”

“Then I’ll be back in five!” Gabby chirped. Gallus barely saw her as she flew past him and up the stairs—the great grey blur of Griffonstone.

Gallus followed her, walking up the stairs with the slightest bit of pep in his step. The upper story of their home was a simple one: a bathroom that was closest to the stairway, two rooms (Gabby’s on the right, and Gilda’s on the left) after that, and another room at the end of the hall that was the biggest, and contained a hoard of various things that fit nowhere else.

Gallus lived in a small townhouse behind Gilda and Gabby’s two-story home, and he longed to go there now. He’d jump into his bed and take a nap long enough to make a pegasus proud, and wake up the next morning to have breakfast with the girls.

Unfortunately, the seductive promise of actually doing something useful for once was too hard to ignore, so he walked past the flurry of activity that was Gabby’s opened room, and he knocked twice on Gilda’s closed door.

He heard a soft creaking of bed springs and a grumpy, sleepy murmur. Gallus raised a talon to knock again, but Gilda interrupted him with a loud caw.

“What the Tartarus do you want?” she called through the door.

“Crime scene,” Gallus said simply.

There was silence, and then a hasty scrambling from within before Gilda opened her door a couple of inches and poked her head through. “What are you talking about?”

“Gertrude Robintabby’s outside. Her house was broken into.”

“Wait—” Gilda opened the door further, her eyes wide. “Seriously?”

“Let’s go,” Gallus said. “I’ll wait for you two outside.”

“Yo, chill!” Gilda shouted as he turned to leave. “Get in here.”

“But—”

“Get. In. Here.”

Gallus rolled his eyes as he stepped into Gilda’s room, which was a total sty as far as he was concerned.

The general set up of Gilda and Gabby’s rooms were: a bed, a desk and a closet. The rest was left up to the individual owner.

Gilda chose to leave bits of shredded up newspaper and whole stacks of important diplomatic documents (she undertook ambassadorship for Grampa Gruff whenever he didn’t feel like it, which was becoming more and more often these days) sprawled across the floor in a manner that reminded Gallus of the workroom of Carousel Boutique, despite having no yards of fabric or any clothes left in vague piles on the floor. There was no rhyme or reason to it, and Gallus hated being in Gilda’s room, despite not being the most organized griffon himself.

He cleared a spot free of loose documents and sat down, staring at his friend as she paced around, her wings beginning to unfurl only to stop, and then start again. Gilda was anxious, and that was starting to freak him out.

“What’s up?” he asked, trying to keep his voice light. “Gonna chew me out for interrupting your beauty sleep?”

Gilda stopped to stare at him, baffled. He could see several thoughts rush through her mind before her eyes suddenly narrowed into a sharp glare, and she leaned in, her feathers beginning to ruffle.

“Look,” she hissed, “that girl is dangerous. I know you’re excited to play Princess’s Bodyguard again but you need to watch yourself around her.”

“She seemed fine to me,” said Gallus, pointedly ignoring the dig at his past. “She rip you off once or something?”

“It’s not her that you need to watch out for. It’s the griffons around her.” Gilda walked closer to him, but the way that she looked at him made it seem like she was looking at something far, far away. “You don’t know the stuff that goes on in the upper politics of this place.”

“Enlighten me, then, Lady Ambassador.”

Her eyes became much more present, and her fist swung forward to sock him on the shoulder.

“Ow!” Gallus grunted. “Look, I’ll be careful around her, or whatever.”

“She’s gonna invite you to a party, or to hang out, or something. Don’t go.”

“But I like parties.”

“Don’t go,” Gilda said, her voice dropping low. “Promise me, Gally.”

“Am I an adult or not?” Gallus snapped. He wanted to say more, but he stood up and walked to the door. “Come on,” he said. “We have a job to do.”

She followed him out. On cue, Gabby waltzed out of her room to fly above them, and they joined Gertrude outside in the purple suede light of dusk.

Gallus choked down the humiliation that wriggled around in his neck as the other three griffons shared a look and glanced back at him. They avoided looking at his back, like most of the other townsgriffons, but it was like they were only calling more attention to it by not paying attention to it.

If he had a choice, he’d tell them to go on ahead, but he wasn’t sure where Gertrude’s house was, so he was forced to stay silent as they came to a silent consensus. They turned to the road and began to walk.

They passed by threadbare trees losing their leaves, and behind those trees were houses.

For every home that was wood and straw, ragged and worn down in the style of what Griffonstone used to be, there were three homes that were newly built, with economically cut stone and ceramic, smoke billowing happily out of the fireplace.

As Gallus kept his eyes on the new architecture, he began to see more and more construction sites for buildings he couldn’t quite figure out. Buildings that were too big to be single homes, and too strange, too grand to be divided into multiple apartments. As far as he knew, Griffonstone had all the infrastructure it needed, and if there had been plans to build a new town hall, or church or library, then Gilda would have told him about it, and she hadn’t told him anything.

It wasn’t too long before they arrived at Gertrude’s house.

It stood tall, with three stories, painted white where there was wood and made of glittering granite where there was stone. The windows were simple, but elegant, and many of them spanned from the floor to the ceiling. It was no doubt the residence of someone wealthy, or at the very least, powerful.

Gertrude led them in through a grand hallway lined with paintings that led into a living room and a kitchen bordered by the same large, floor to ceiling windows that were present at the front of the house. The fireplace was magically lit. Gallus knew this because the flames were a little too perfectly curved, almost like they had been sculpted. This was quite unlike most other griffons in Griffonstone, including himself, who used Equestrian magic to ambiently light their homes, but started their fires the old fashioned way.

The furniture gave him a small shock, too. It was so impeccably arranged that it reminded him of the Carousel Boutique in Vanhoover, where the focus was on cleanliness and the possible grandeur of a simple design done in an interesting way.

Looking around Gertrude’s home nearly gave Gallus an uncomfortable sense of familiarity. The only thing that stopped it from treading into intolerable was the knowledge that he was definitely in a griffon’s home, and not a pony’s.

One of windows, nearer to the array of couches that took up most of the living room, had been completely broken, and there was a shelf knocked over, beautiful polished wood smashed to pieces.

Gallus’s eyes strayed from the scene as Gilda and Gabby went forward to examine it, and he noticed the shelves on the far end of the living room.

Lined side by side, with all sorts of colors, were many shelves of beautifully, tightly bound books. He walked forward, passionately hoping that no one was watching him. Each book was decorated and handcrafted, with bold lettering across their spines about every conceivable topic. Books on changeling architecture to hippogriff cuisine to pony government structure, and whole shelves dedicated to the history of both Griffonia and Griffonstone. The place may as well have been a library.

His mind was ablaze with possibility. Gallus had never considered himself a bookworm by any means, but he could definitely see himself appreciating a conversation with someone who was well learned by Equestrian standards, and not just by griffon ones.

Gertrude began to explain what happened, and when, and what she was doing at the time. Gallus turned to listen as Gabby and Gilda ventured into the backyard to look for any clues or tracks.

There really wasn’t much to tell. Gertrude was relaxing in her bath at the highest floor of the house when there was a sudden crash, and came down to find the shelf and her window broken, and the living room chilled by the sudden influx of air.

“You’re sure there was nothing valuable on the shelf?” Gallus asked Gertrude, who had taken a seat on a chair in the kitchen. “Not even something that a homeless orphan could sell?”

“It was a single sculpture made of wicker,” she said, “and it wasn’t made by anyone important. Barely worth six bits.”

“Hmm,” Gallus murmured. He looked over the scene again: broken glass, stolen goods, toppled shelf. They were all signs of something rushed and hurried, and since nothing else was taken, they must not have known that no one else was home at the time. It was possible that the culprit simply thought that there may have been guards stationed nearby, which would mean that it wasn’t personal.

Gallus had a decision in mind, but he gestured for Gertrude to stand by as he ventured into the backyard.

“Nothing?” Gilda asked as he stepped onto the damp grass. She and Gabby were standing side-by-side in the middle of the yard, which was only a couple of yards large.

“That’s what I said,” Gabby chirped back, a slightly annoyed understone to her voice. Apparently it was hard to work with family, but Gallus couldn’t exactly say.

“Damn,” Gilda cursed.

Gallus then crept close enough so that Gilda and Gabby heard, and they turned around with slightly disappointed expressions tinting both of their faces.

Gabby sighed. “We found—”

“Nothing. I heard,” Gallus said. “We might have to call it here. What do you guys think?”

“The first bit of police work we get in two months and we can’t even do anything about it,” Gabby pouted, staring down at her feet. “Are we really just going to leave it here? You guys don’t wanna invite one of the many talented unicorns we know to get over here and, like, track the thief or something?

“Not really.” Gallus spoke too fast, too loud, and too harsh. He reached up to scratch the back of his head as soon as the words left his beak, and he looked to Gabby with sympathetic eyes. “Look, I’m bummed out too, but we just can’t do anything right now.”

“It’s too much work anyway,” Gilda said. “Let’s get out of here.”

Gabby sighed. “I really wanted to catch someone. Or get caught before one of you saved me, at least.”

To that, Gilda scoffed. “We’re not in Equestria.”

“You’re right,” said Gabby, “if we were, everything would be funner.”

“So we’ve decided?” Gallus asked. “We give her the ‘nothing we can do, patch up your window, let us know if it happens again’ speech?”

“Is there a problem with that?” Gilda asked, tail swishing.

Gallus shook his head. “Just wanted to make sure.”

The three of them came back inside and informed Gertrude of the situation, sounding appropriately apologetic. There really was nothing that they could do, save for possibly keeping watch overnight, but when that was presented as an option, Gertrude shook her head ‘no’. She accepted the verdict gracefully, as if she had been expecting it, and sent them on their way.

Gabby and Gilda left the house first, talking about something that Gallus couldn’t hear very well. He went to catch up, but a small utterance of his name made him stop.

Gallus turned to find Gertrude looking at him. He had never noticed the solitude in her eyes until then.

“I noticed you looking at my books,” she said.

“Reading’s not too bad,” he replied, almost in a trance.

“You went to school in Equestria, yes?”

“Worked there for a bit, too.”

Gertrude smiled, and Gallus found himself smiling back.

“When was the last time you were there?” Gertrude asked.

He shrugged.

“Fair enough,” she said, laughing musically. “I was wondering if you’d like to come over for a cup of coffee sometime. I have a whole crate of Marebucks Harmony Roast in my pantry. When I came back home after spending a year in Manehattan, I missed the stuff so badly it hurt. I grabbed a hold of as much as I could when I had the opportunity to go back.”

“I do miss Marebucks,” Gallus murmured. “And books, weirdly enough. Could I borrow one?”

“I’ll give you a few for free. As gifts. That’s what friends do, right?”

“Right,” said Gallus as his body finally began to move. He turned to leave, but not before glancing back at the other griffon, whose feathers looked especially metallic under the moonlight.

“Good night, Constable,” said Gertrude Robintabby.

“See you,” he replied, and left the house.

He was silent most of the way home, only idly listening to Gilda talk to Gabby about the assorted problems in the town which, as of late, were becoming tamer and tamer. Gabby wasn’t exaggerating when she referred to Gertrude’s break-in as the first ounce of police work they had in months—it was, and it had gone nowhere.

Tomorrow they would be the mediators for all of Griffonstone’s friendship problems again, and it would be as bland and boring as ever.

When the three of them arrived at the house, Gilda and Gabby turned to utter a pair of Good Nights’, but Gallus was already well on his way to his little townhouse in the backyard.

His home was merely a single story, and no bigger than a classroom at the School of Friendship, but it was his, and he had been pining for it for the entire day.

It looked beautiful to him now, in the growing moonlight. It was simple, unpainted as it was constructed with gray stone, with a triangular black roof and chimney that sparkled when the sun was it its highest, and softened when the sun was down. The only spot of color was on the door; a bright blue in the same vein as his feathers, with a golden handle.

He walked up to the door, bristling with satisfaction and anticipation, and opened it wide. Magical light responded to his presence, peeling away the darkness so that the simple layout of his home could greet him warmly. There was the couch on his left, the kitchen directly across the room, and around the corner were the bathroom and his bedroom.

Gallus closed the door behind him, and murmured to himself as he strode to the kitchen. He opened the fridge—Equestrian, new make, sent over by Spike for Hearth’s Warming—and pulled out a bottle of mead.

He poured himself a glass and put it on the counter for later, then went to work. For how delicious Gabby’s cooking was earlier, the whole trip to Gertrude’s house and back had him feeling peckish. There was still some fish stew from the other week in his fridge, so he poured it all into a pot and set it on the stove, and waited.

When the stew was hot enough, he fixed himself a bowl, grabbed the glass of mead and sat down at the polished mahogany kitchen table, which was big enough to fit six but had only served one for its entire being.

The oily, salty flavor of the soup paired with the mead quite well, which cut into the grease with its honeyed tartness.

He only wished that he had something to play music, like a radio. The sound of his eating being the only sound in the house made him feel uncomfortable. He remembered, a few minutes in, why he always took his meals with the girls.

Then he felt afraid.

It was absurd, in a way. He was having a pre-bedtime snack alone in his house. What did he have to be scared of? But there it was: fear. It gripped him from the inside out, dragging its sharp talons against the inside of his ribcage, making it incredibly hard to breathe. And the fear was accompanied by something else: a strangeness, or an unease, and it felt like he was wrong. It felt like he was somewhere he shouldn’t be.

Gallus looked around at him. His eyes sprinted through his surroundings, searching hard for some sense of comfort, but he could find none. The chairs around him felt oppressive. The walls felt uncomfortable and stiff. The very floor felt so strange, and it felt like he was seeing for the first time, like he had just been born and all of this was brand new and so unbelievably terrifying that it made him cower in his seat.

He shut his eyes and gripped the edge of the table, squeezing and scratching at the wood until he could swear it had turned soft, and then he opened his eyes, and the feeling was completely gone.

He finished his food. It had lost all of its flavor.

He drank the mead, feeling nothing at the soft, intimate kiss of alcoholic heat that it left in his throat and chest.

He had nothing left to do after that, so he went to bed.



Gallus had trouble going to sleep that night, and when he finally did, his dreams were strange and savage. He dreamt of griffons dancing in a forest, the sound of bones breaking, and oranges being sliced with strange knives before they were eaten messily, with the juice dripping down the chins of the wolves that were eating them. He dreamt of rain, then of drowning, and the northern lights, and when he finally woke in the morning, he felt as if he had gotten no sleep at all.

Author's Note:

A big thanks to Miller Minus for his editing on this chapter :heart: