• Published 14th Aug 2020
  • 1,224 Views, 147 Comments

A Different Kind of Treasure - Mechawrecker

What's the most valuable treasure in the world: Family? Money? Revenge? Love? Depends on who you ask...

  • ...

A Griffon's Lament

The town of San Hoof bustled with activity as creatures of all sizes milled about the plaza. The new mines not only brought a massive wave of treasure hunters, but also various merchants and foreigners all eager to cash in on the lucrative opportunity.

To accommodate the sudden surge in population, a temporary cramped campsite was being built near the outer walls with everything a pony could need, including a small medical tent where Flitter’s wounds were being treated.

“And…. done. Alright, Ms. Flitter, you’re all set. Just try to take it easy for the next couple days, and absolutely no flying. Got it?” The medical mare warned, pointing a hoof at Flitter’s bandaged wings.

Flitter bowed her head. “Yes, I understand. Thank you so much for treating my injuries. I really appreciate it.”

“No problem! Just doing my job. Now, place the crutch on your back hoof and use it as an excuse to hold on to your coltfriend,” The nurse winked, causing the two hunters to go scarlet.

“Um... we’re not together!” Flitter squeaked, frantically waving her hooves in denial. “He’s just part of a group with my sister and I.”

“Oh? So you’re part of a herd then?” The nurse’s eyebrows raised as she leaned towards Sky. “Well, if her sister is anything like Ms. Flitter over here, you’re one of the luckiest stallions in Equestria~”

Flipping between the sultry nurse and Flitter’s equally mortified expression, Sky sprang up and half-dragged, half-carried Flitter out of the office. “We should probably be heading out! We'll let you get on with your day.”

He caught one last glimpse of her seductive smile before making a beeline for the tent exit. Just as they escaped the nurse’s dungeon, her hoof slipped under his tail as she whispered, “If you ever feel like getting a third mare in on the action, look me up. My name is Redheart, and I’m really good at giving thorough examinations...”

Bursting out of the medical tent, the two hunters took several gasping breaths to calm themselves before sitting down on a nearby bench. Sky rubbed the spot where Redheart had groped his flank and muttered, “That was certainly a unique medical examination.”

Glancing at his traumatized friend, he asked, “What about you? How are you holding up?”

“I-I’m fine,” Flitter stuttered, still a little shaken from Redheart’s assertive personality.

Sky adopted an understanding grin and wrapped a wing around her barrel, enveloping her in its comforting warmth. Flitter stiffened for a moment before relaxing into his embrace, relishing the intimate contact.

After several minutes of comfortable silence, she turned to him and asked, “Where’s Cloud? I passed out before we got inside the gates.”

“Oh, she's handing the Diamond Demolishers to the guards and getting our prize money. It’s probably going to take a while since so many hunters are collecting rewards.”

Checking on the bandages covering her wings, he said, “We should probably get you home now. You need to rest as much as possible if you want to recover.”

Flitter nodded and stood up, only to topple over as all the blood rushed to her head. Furling her wings, she let out a squeak of fright and winced, not wanting to see the rapidly approaching ground.

Instead of rough, unyielding concrete, she was met with the feeling of strong, tender hooves holding her barrel in a tango dip. Confusion laced her face as she wondered why she didn't feel more pain from the impending gravel.

Peering up, her eyes tentatively opened to stare into Sky’s majestic golden irises as a warm, fuzzy feeling coursed through her heated cheeks. His deep breaths and soft wings made her heart race as she clung tight to his muscular frame.

Standing her back up, Sky wrapped one of her front legs around his neck and fretted, “You aren’t supposed to be doing any strenuous movement without support. Here, let me help you.”

Flitter felt too overwhelmed to respond. As Sky carried her back to her apartment, she couldn’t help glancing at him from time to time, admiring his tall, strong build and kind, determined features.

Shaking her head, she recalled Cloud's teasing over a supposed crush and wondered whether it may not have been as crazy as she had thought.

Back at her apartment, Flitter settled into her bed and relaxed her wings. As she shifted in place to find a comfortable position, Sky approached holding a snow cloud in his hoof.

“Somepony looks happy,” he quipped, holding out the freezing moisture.

Flitter giggled and accepted the ice pack. “After getting crushed by a boulder, attacked by bandits, and hiking for miles on hoof, I think I’ve earned a little R&R.”

“Yeah, no arguments here,” he chuckled, sitting down next to her with a sigh. Memories of the battle flooded his mind as his eyes lit up. “You managed to quick-draw on a tiny patch of exposed skin after being hit in the head by a massive rock! I’ve never met another archer as amazing as you.”

Flitter blushed at his admiration and ran a hoof through her fresh mane. “Oh, it was nothing. You were the one that noticed the weakness and formed a battle strategy on the spot while facing down three dangerous criminals. If anyone is incredible here, it’s you.”

Sky rubbed the back of his head in humble embarrassment. As he glanced around, it suddenly dawned on him that this was the first time he had been alone with a girl in her room.

Feeling suddenly out of place, he got to his hooves and made his way towards the bedroom door. “Well, I’m sure you’re pretty tired after the whole ordeal, so I’ll let you get some re--”

“No, wait.”

Sky turned to watch as Flitter pulled the covers over her scarlet face. Peering meekly over the top of the blankets, she whispered, “um… i-if its not too much trouble… could you stay here with me?”

Seeing his confused look, she cleared her throat and clarified, “I've been feeling a little nervous after we got attacked by those robbers, and I know I’d feel better if you were watching over me.”

Smiling, Skyfall trotted to her bed and stroked a hair that had fallen out of place. “Sure, I’ll stay with you until you fall asleep.”

The two sat in silence while Flitter rested her aching body. As her eyelids grew heavy, she reached out and pulled his hoof towards her yawning muzzle.

Sky gave an amused chuckle at her adorable gesture and used his wings to stroke the fuzzy fur along her incredibly plush barrel. "Sleep well, Flitter. I'll see you in the morning."

As Flitter slipped into unconsciousness, Sky pulled his wing and hoof away. Gazing at the resting mare, he couldn’t help but admire her small, cute form and soft, feminine features. The alluring sight sparked his animalistic desires as he imagined what it would feel like to hold her fuzzy coat in his hooves.

Shaking his head, he forced himself to turn away, but stored the image in his memory for future reference.

Closing the door, he let out a content sigh and started towards his own apartment before a voice called out, stopping him in his tracks.

“Sky, catch!”

Whipping around, he had just enough time to make out a brown blur flying towards him before it struck his head with staggering force.

Reeling backwards, his hooves flailed out for something to hold, but only managed to make himself look like a pony windmill before crashing to the ground.

Cloudchaser’s voice broke out over the ringing of his ears. “HA HA HA! Oh my Celestia, that was hilarious!”

Sky’s face contorted into a scowl as he pulled the heavy sack of bits off his head. “Cloud! You don’t just throw sacks of money at ponies without warning!”

“What's wrong?” she smirked. “If you don’t want your share of the reward, I’d be happy to take it off your hooves.”

“Don’t even think about it,” he shot back, feeling the bag with his hooves. “Hey, are you sure you counted the coins correctly? This feels like way more than my share of the money.”

“Oh yeah, I was going to tell you about that!” she exclaimed, pulling out a flier from her bag. “It turns out those Diamond Demolishers we took down were actually wanted criminals with bounties on their heads, so when I turned them in, the guards gave me another bag of bits.”

Skyfall's muzzle curled into a smirk. “Oh? The infamous Cloudchaser actually shared her unexpected windfall? Now where’s the money-sucking vixen that I know and love?”

She raised a hoof and punched him in the barrel, causing him to double up in pain. “Very funny, wise guy. Now, if you’re done cracking lame jokes, we should go down to the marketplace and celebrate!"

Grabbing his portion of the money, he smiled and fell into step with her. “Sure, just take it easy on the meat, okay? You don’t need to look any more like a stallion than you already do~"

This unwise crack earned him a harder kick to the barrel, causing him to groan and shield his body with his wings.

“Just for that, smart-flank, you’re going to treat me to whatever I want at the market stands, and you’re going to like it!”

As they made their way through row after row of stocked vendor carts, Sky’s eyes widened in disbelief. There were so many different types of products from every corner of Equestria, some of which he was sure couldn't be legal.

Shelling out hoofs of bits at a time, he couldn’t help buying a ton of interesting items including a joy-buzzer, a smoke bomb, and a toy plane that made a whirring sound as it flew through the air.

“Jeez, you’re such a kid,” Cloud mocked as he moved the model airplane around him. “You know that we can already fly, right?”

“Oh yeah? Look who’s talking, Ms. I-still-play-with-dolls,” he shot back, indicating the small Powerpony plushie she had forced him to buy for her from a visiting changeling.

Cloud gave an affronted gasp. “It’s not a ‘doll’, it’s an action figure. There’s a huge difference.”

Sky scoffed with a disbelieving roll of his eyes. “Yeah, okay. Whatever helps you sleep at night, Princess Flurry Heart.”

As Cloud winded back another punch, the sweet and savory smell of roasted ribs wafted through the breeze. Both of them perked up and started sniffing the air, desperate to find its source before Sky shouted, “Over there!”

A large crowd of griffons and dragons were gathered around a stall where one small griffon was panicking while trying to take orders, cook food, and call out finished dishes all at the same time.

Sky’s ears flattened in disappointment. “Damn, looks like that meat stand is all booked up. Well, better luck next time.”

He started towards another carnival game before Cloud grabbed his neck and started draging him towards the overworked griffon. “Hey! What are you doing? Let me go!”

“Just keep quiet and stay cool, okay?” she whispered before approaching the hysterical vendor. “Hey, Griffy, how’s it hanging my main bird?”

The overworked griffon shot up in alarm before dissolving into tears at the sight of her. “Oh, Cloud, thank Celestia you’re here! I need your help! I’m running behind on so many orders, and the crowd is starting to get antsy.” He pointed to the vast array of mean-looking carnivores, all of which had drool dripping out of their gaping maws.

“Today’s your lucky day, my hybrid friend. I brought along another pair of hooves to help out,” she smirked, pushing Sky forward towards the miniature griffon.

Before he could say more than “Umm, what--”, the griffon had prostrated himself and begged, “Oh please, sir, please help me! I don’t know who you are, but if Cloud says you can help, then I beg of you, please!”

Reeling back from the griffon’s worship, he bent down and hissed, “Okay, okay, I’ll help you! Just stop begging like that!”

Hugging Sky with open wings, the griffon set them to work. Cloud would take orders and relay them to Griffy while Sky was in charge of delivering the finished orders to the hungry spectators who devoured it as if they hadn’t eaten in weeks.

As time dragged by, Sky started to notice some major quirks about the strange griffon. Whenever Cloud would bring him an order, his eyes would widen in fear, even though he must have cooked that same meal hundreds of times before. Whenever one of the customers came up to the counter to pay, he would shy away from them, almost as if he was scared they were going to try and hit him.

A voice calling out for a refill pushed those unnerving thoughts away as he concentrated on serving the massive influx of new customers.

After an hour of grueling effort, the massive line thinned until every customer was happily munching on a juicy rack of ribs. Feeling more exhausted than after their last dungeon run, Sky collapsed into a nearby bench and let out a groan.

Cloud pranced up to him and chuckled at his exhausted state. “Sheesh, you can take on a massive armed diamond dog but can’t work for an hour at a food stall?”

Sky shot her a scornful glare. “What the hay was that, Cloud? Why did you volunteer me to work for an hour in the deepest pits of Tartarus?”

Before she could answer, the diminutive griffon approached them with two plates of ribs. “Oh, thank you two so much. I was afraid those other predators were going to eat me if you guys hadn’t come along!”

Cloud patted the griffon on the back. “Sky, let me introduce you to Griffy the griffon. His family is the main meat vendor around here, so you know he can get us the hook up.”

Sky peered at the diminutive bird before raising an eyebrow. Now that he had enough time to breath, he realized that the ‘tiny’ griffon was actually a child. His young feathers and childish face gave away the fact that he was no older than fourteen.

Seeing this, he changed tactics and smiled, “No problem, little man. Though I got to say, you looked kinda overwhelmed back there. Was everything alright?”

Griffy stiffened and averted his gaze. After a few seconds of nervous stuttering, he croaked, “Actually, everything was all wrong. You see, today was the first day my dad let me run the stand all by myself. He said that it was a test to see if I had what it took to take over the family business.”

His eyes watered as he sniffled, “I was never as good as the rest of my family when it came to cooking, so my parents were always reluctant to give me any important jobs. Today was my one chance to prove my worth and show that I was capable of running the store.”

He peered up, tears staining his feathers, and wailed, “But I failed! I messed up everything, and now dad won’t ever trust me again! I never do anything right!”

The weeping fledgling dissolved into a full-blown panic attack as he shoved the rib plates into Sky and Cloud’s hooves and sprinted into the confines of his stall.

Cloud called out, “Wait!”, but it was too late. Griffy had already disappeared behind the curtain as the tent’s fabric muffled the sound of his racking sobs.

Sky stared open-mouthed after the bipolar griffon. Coming to his senses, he fixed Cloudchaser with a look of alarm and asked, “What the hay just happened?”

Cloud sighed and began eating her rib plate. “Look, I’m going to be straight with you. The reason I invited you down here was to try and give Griffy a little confidence. I’ve known the kid for years, and he’s always been really self-conscious. I just figured that if he saw someone even less experienced in food service than him, he might be a little more confident in himself.”

Skyfall deadpanned at her. “So, you brought me out here just so that a kid could watch me struggle and fail to do something he’s been doing professionally for years?”

She nodded unashamedly and took another bite. “Obviously, it backfired. Now he thinks he can’t do anything by himself. He's been an emotional wreck ever since his father started giving him more responsibility while he's away."

She stared at the partially closed tent with a concerned gaze. "I'm really worried about what he'll do when the pressure finally breaks him."

Sky’s eyes narrowed. Something about that young griffon lit a fire within him, almost as if a switch had been flicked inside his brain. Despite never wanting to play the villain again, he put on his most determined face and steeled his nerves against what he was about to do.

Shoving his uneaten ribs at Cloud, he stood up and made his way over to the weeping fledgling's stall. The startled mare blinked before following him with a confused gaze. “Hey, what are you doing?”

Without turning around, his face contorted into a dangerous scowl as he growled, “Giving the kid some confidence.”

Griffy quietly sobbed as the memory of his failures relentlessly beat the insides of his skull. His claws gripped the tips of his wings and wrapped them around himself to shield against the outside world.

Gazing at the floor with teary eyes, he mumbled, “I failed. I messed up. I couldn’t do anything right” on repeat until finally breaking the cycle. “Maybe I should just give up and run away so I don’t turn into an even bigger disappointment.”

“Yeah, you probably should.”

Griffy let out a little shriek and whipped around to see Sky’s imposing presence standing over him. “W-What?” he stuttered after recovering from his initial shock.

Sky leered at the tiny bird. “I said that you should give up and leave. After all, you probably aren’t going to get any better than you are now.”

The miniature griffon let out a little squeak at Sky’s commanding tone. Despite being terrified for his life, he managed to mumble, “b-but, I think I’ve g-gotten better…”

Sky's hoof slammed into the ground inches from Griffy's head. Rolling his eyes, he shot, "What was that? You gave me your opinion as well as your nasty food? I guess that makes two things I didn't want. Those ribs you made were some of the worst I’ve ever had in my life. If that’s how all your family cooks them, I wouldn’t be surprised if you went bankrupt within the next week.”

Griffy stopped trembling. His eyebrows furrowed as his claws gripped the floor. “t-that’s not true…”

Sky smirked, “Yes it is. It’s no wonder all those predators were trying to eat you. They didn’t actually want you, they just didn’t want to see your sorry face making an embarrassment of cooking again.”

Griffy’s beak clenched as his eyes changed into slits. His breathing increased as his voice grew louder. “That’s not true!”

Grinning, Sky gave one final push. “Well, I guess it’s not that unexpected. If you were the best son your father could raise, he must be as pathetic a dad as he is a chef.”

At this, Griffy exploded. Leaping up, he slashed Sky hard in the snout and screamed, “YOU SHUT UP ABOUT MY DAD!”

Shoving Sky against a wall, the enraged griffon yelled, “My family are the best meat chefs in the world! We are a great, respected, admired business full of the best chefs in all of Equestria! I'm going to be just like them one day, and I'm never going to let a mean scumbag like you tell me to give up! No matter how many times I fail, I'll always try again until I'm the best, and there's nothing you can do to stop me!"

Griffy’s voice tapered off as he breathed hard through his beak. When Sky started laughing, however, a fresh surge of anger bubbled up inside of him.

“What’s so funny?” he demanded.

Sky calmed himself down and chuckled, "I just think it’s funny that what you needed most to gain confidence wasn’t hoof-holding and kind encouragement.”

He pointed to his bloody nose and bruised lip. “You just needed something to fight for and something to fight against.”

Griffy widened his eyes as he dropped Sky’s bloody mane. “Wait, so everything that you just said was-”

“-all an act,” Sky finished for him. “I didn’t really mean anything I said. I just wanted to help you gain the courage and strength needed to find your purpose.”

He cracked a bloody smile and coughed, “And it looks like it worked! You do feel more sure of yourself now, don’t you?”

The tiny griffon fell beside Sky’s battered body. “I-I’m so sorry! I had no idea… I thought-” he started before Sky cut him off.

“It’s fine, kid, just do me a favor and call a doctor, okay? I don’t think… I’m going to stay awake much longer…”

Sky opened his eyes to see the white roof of the hospital tent. Sensing movement to his right, he was met with the familiar form of Nurse Redheart approaching him with a clipboard in her mouth. Oh no… not her again…

“Well, well, well, Mr. Skyfall. I must admit, I wasn’t expecting to see you again so quickly.” She gave him a sultry stare and bit the end of her pen. “Are you getting injured on purpose just to see me?”

Before he could answer, she giggled and turned around. “Well, there will be plenty of time for that later. For now, you have some visitors that want to see you.”

As she exited the tent, two more creatures took her place. Cloudchaser entered first followed closely by Griffy who was hiding behind her back legs. As Sky opened his mouth to greet them, Cloud put up a hoof to stop him. “Nuh uh, Griffy here wants to go first.”

The miniature griffon crept forward and peered at Sky for a few seconds before falling to his knees.

“I’M SO SORRY, MR. SKYFALL!” he shouted, collapsing in a crying heap on the floor. Expecting this kind of reaction, Sky had already leaned over and patted the young bird on the head.

“It’s okay, Griffy… it’s okay,” he soothed, stroking the teary feathers while calming him down. The tiny griffon continued to sob for ten more minutes before regaining enough control to listen. “Now, Griffy, I hope you remember the lesson we learned today.”

“Don’t attack other creatures?” Griffy guessed, sniveling into his wing.

“N-, well, yes…” Sky stuttered, “But, the most important lesson is to always believe in yourself.”

He reached out a hoof and tapped Griffy on the head. “Remember, your father left you in charge of that food stand because he believed in what was in here.”

He lowered his hoof down to Griffy’s heart. “Now, you must start believing in what is in there, do you understand?”

Griffy wiped his eyes with his wing and nodded, fresh tears pouring down his childish face. “I do, Mr. Skyfall. I promise, I’ll never stop believing in myself!”

Sky smiled, “That’s the spirit. Now run along and go cook some meat. You’ve got quite a long way to go if you want to take over your family business.”

With one last sniff and a short hug, Griffy left, ready to tackle his dream of becoming a world-class chef. As the curtain of the tent stopped fluttering, Sky’s attention was drawn to the other pony in the room.

Cloudchaser stood next to his bed, silently judging him with an unreadable expression on her face. Taking the initiative, he joked, “Damn, Griffy may be young, but that little guy can really hit hard!”

She didn’t laugh. Instead, her eyebrows furrowed as she growled, “I don’t get you…”

Sky cocked his head to the side. "What do you mean?"

“When we first met," Cloud continued, "I thought you were nothing more than a lying, manipulative thief. Then, after getting to know you a bit, I thought you could actually be a really cool teammate.”

She pawed the ground in frustration. “Now, I don’t know what to think of you. You said such horrible things to Griffy, yet you knew it would help him in the end. You always act so smug and cocky, but you're still kind enough to help some random kid with years of emotional baggage... You’re just impossible to figure out!”

Sky didn’t know what to say, so he remained silent. Eventually, Cloud calmed down and approached the side of his bed before smacking him in the face as hard as she could.

“Ow! What the hay, Cloud I-”

“That was for the cruel, disgusting things you said to Griffy about his family.”

Then, while he was still rubbing his sore cheek, she leaned in and kissed him full on the lips.

Sky’s eyes widened at the feeling of a mare’s lips on his own. He let out a moan of confusion before settling in and enjoying her sweet, delicious lips until Cloud pulled back with a scarlet blush on her face.

“And that… was for everything else.”

Without another word, she turned around and left, leaving a dumbfounded Sky staring after her, still rubbing his stinging cheek.

Author's Note:

A/N: Wow… I don’t even know what happened while I was writing this chapter. Cloudchaser’s section was just supposed to be a couple hundred words, but it turned into this behemoth.

I do have a reasoning for Sky’s sudden behavior, but that’s coming up later. For now, try and put the pieces of your brain back together while waiting for the next chapter. Thanks for reading!