• Published 27th Jul 2021
  • 2,897 Views, 98 Comments

BuggyCYOA - Krivvy



It was just another routine trip deep within the Everfree Forest when you stumbled upon a most unlikely companion...

  • ...
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Meeting With Gilda | Parts 150B - 167A

Sometime in the morning, you awake with a bit of a start. You groan as you shut your eyes and bring a hand up to rub your face.
You can vaguely recall that you were dreaming about... something. However, you can't seem to remember anything specific about it.
Rolling onto your side, you try to remember anything that you can about the dream, but you quickly abandon the fruitless task.

The more you try and think about it, the more it seems to slip away.

At this point as you quietly lay on your bed, you notice the sound of rainfall outside. Listening carefully, you can hear that it's actually raining quite hard.
Knowing that the weather is foul today suppresses your desire to crawl out from your warm, comfy bed.
Opening your eyes once more, you glance over at your bedside clock and find that sunrise wasn't that long ago. The thought crosses your mind to simply continue to lay here and rest for awhile. It's still fairly early in the morning, after all.

Deep down inside of you, though, you know that today isn't the best day to be lounging around. You have things to do before you head out to Ponyville.
With that thought in mind, you work up the energy to drag yourself out of bed. As you toss the bed sheets back, you immediately feel that your home has cooled down considerably overnight as cold air makes contact with your warm skin.
Motivated by the temperature, you quickly swing your feet out which make contact with an equally cold wooden floor. Following that, you stand up and quickly get dressed.
Once dressed in warm clothes and a comfortable pair of socks, you make your way out of your bedroom and go about your usual morning routine, starting with a stop at the bathroom.

Concluding your business there, you exit the bathroom back into the hallway, where you make your way towards the living room, doing so quietly in case Notaulix is still sleeping.
Rounding the corner into the living room, you neither see nor hear Notaulix. Assuming the changeling to be sleeping, you approach with soft steps, when you notice something unexpected...
Not only has the old ash been scooped out of the fireplace, but a neat pile of tinder and kindling has been arranged in the center of it, ready for ignition.

As you approach the fireplace to inspect it further, you hear Notaulix speak. "Good morning, Anon." He greets you.

Turning around to look at Notaulix, you find a humorous scene as you stare at the sofa that functions as his bed.
Notaulix has himself firmly snuggled up into a corner of the sofa with his blanket tightly wrapped around his body, as well as covering most of it.
In fact, the only part that Notaulix has left exposed is his muzzle and horn which poke out from underneath the blanket. Looking closer, you see his eyes focused on you, staring back with a neutral expression.

"Good morning... You look cold." You return his greeting with a light chuckle. "Did you do this?" You ask, gesturing to the fireplace with one of your hands.

"Yes, I did!" Notaulix cheerfully replies. "I thought I could be useful if I prepared the fire to warm the house for you, Anon. I... did it just the way that you do it. I-I hope you don't mind..." Notaulix explains as he slightly shrinks back under his blanket.

"I don't mind at all! It..." You reassure Notaulix while taking a moment to look behind you and briefly inspect the prepared fire starting material, before looking back at him.
"...looks fine to me. All I have to do is light it and we can get things warming back up in here." You say to Notaulix. "...How come you didn't just light the fire yourself?" You add a moment later.

"I didn't know if you would want me doing that or not, Anon. You cautioned me about the fire before, I don't want to make you angry by doing something I'm not supposed to do." Notaulix answers you.

"Oh, well... I appreciate that. I don't see any problem with you starting the fire in the morning as long as I'm here." You say to Notaulix.
"Although, you might have some trouble depending on how early you started it, and how much wood was left in the little wood box here." You say while gesturing towards the half-full box in question.

"Why would I have trouble with that, Anon?" Notaulix asks you.

"It's just because you'd have to go outside to the woodshed to get more wood, that's all." You respond.

"You're right, Anon... I didn't think of that." Notaulix says.

"No need to worry about that though; I'll try and remember to keep it filled up for any morning that you might want to start a fire yourself." You say to Notaulix.

"R-Really? You would do that for me, Anon?" Notaulix asks in surprise as he adjusts his position to lay in a more upright position, uncovering his head and neck in the process.

"Sure. It's not a big deal. Enough about that though, let's get this fire going." You say as you turn around and kneel down in front of the fireplace.

Over the course of a few minutes, you ignite the tinder that Notaulix prepared and progressively feed the flame larger wood until you have a nice, vigorous fire established.
Satisfied, you rise back up and walk up to Notaulix, who stares up at you as he watches you approach.
Once in front of the sofa, you reach out and bring a hand to rest on top of Notaulix's head. Immediately, you discover him to be warm to the touch and not feeling cold at all.

Notaulix briefly looks up at you in confusion before you begin to give him scritches and scratches behind the ear, which he responds to by closing his eyes and pressing his head into your touch.
You continue with a smile for several seconds, finding a measure of amusement in how this simple act seems to be universally loved by the inhabitants of this world.
Concluding with a final pat on the head, you watch as Notaulix takes a few seconds before opening his eyes and looking back up at you.

"Thank you, Anon. That feels nice." Notaulix says to you with eyes full of appreciation.

"You're welcome. Also, you're still pretty warm, aren't you? You just looked cold with how you had that blanket over you, I guess." You comment.

"Staying extra warm feels good, Anon. I wanted to stay that way as it was getting colder in here." Notaulix says.

"That's understandable... Is that part of why you love my bed so much?" You ask Notaulix.

"Yes." Notaulix plainly while a faint smile creeps into place, making you laugh in response.

"You'll love it when we can get you your own bed. Until then, how about we work on something that can be done right now, like breakfast?" You suggest to Notaulix.

"Yes, breakfast sounds nice! How can I help you, Anon?" Notaulix asks.

"Well, let's go over here and see what we got..." You say before turning and walking over to the kitchen with Notaulix eagerly following after you.

Over at the kitchen, you and Notaulix spend a moment considering what you would like to eat. Soon enough, you both come to an agreement on some nice and hot oatmeal.
With that plan in mind, you delegate a few tasks to Notaulix as you begin working together on your meal.
All things considered, there aren't many things that needed to be done. Because of that, you end up spending a few minutes speaking with Notaulix while you wait for the oatmeal to cook.

You ask him specifically if there is anything he would like you to get while in Ponyville, to which he replied saying that he would love to try another dessert tonight.
Seeing as how you're going to Sugarcube Corner today anyway, you agree to Notaulix's request, while also mentioning that you plan on picking up a brand new toothbrush just for him, much to his appreciation.

Soon, the two of you are sat back down in your usual spots by the small table, enjoying the warmth coming from the fireplace as your hot oatmeal and some fresh tea warm you from within.
The tea happened to be yet another thing that Notaulix had never tried before. His first impression of it was neither bad nor good, but he enjoyed the heat that it provided on this cold, damp morning nonetheless.
You explained that there are many different kinds of teas and tea blends out there, to which Notaulix expressed his interest, saying that he would always enjoy trying something new if you happen to get it.

After that, you decide to start asking Notaulix some simple questions about the Everfree Forest, in an effort to gauge just how much he's started to learn in the last few days.
Even after finishing breakfast, you continue your brief discussion that develops. There are unsurprisingly large gaps in the changelings knowledge, but you can clearly tell that Notaulix is putting a genuine effort into learning as much as he can.
In the end, your conversation draws to a close with you encouraging Notaulix to keep up the good work.

Afterwards, you both get up and take the brief moment needed to wash your dishes. Looking out through the window above the kitchen sink, you can't help but feel a little discouraged by how hard it's raining outside.
Once finished with that, you take a moment to walk over to the fireplace and put another piece of wood on the fire. After doing so, Notaulix approaches and sits next to you on the wooden floor with his back turned to the warm fire.
As for yourself, you begin to think about your next move as you hold out both of your hands to warm them at a distance, staring into the flames as they dance around the burning wood.

Glancing over at the clock to check the time, you decide that you may as well start preparing for your trip to Ponyville. Before doing that, you turn your attention to Notaulix.

"I'm going to go ahead and start getting some things ready before I leave for Ponyville. You need anything before I start doing that?" You ask Notaulix.

Notaulix turns his head to look up at you and smile before responding. "I am fine. Thank you for asking, Anon." He says.

"Alright then. I'll check in with you again before I leave." You say before walking towards the hallway.

"Okay." Notaulix says as he watches you move away.

In the hallway, you stop by the front door and grab your backpack before making your way into the bathroom. Once inside, you kneel down in front of the simple woven basket that you toss your dirty clothes into.
Removing first the simple lid off the top of the basket, you grab hold of the entire container and turn it upside down, dumping its contents onto the bathroom floor.
You then begin sorting through your previously worn clothes, picking out the particular pieces that you want to bring to the cleaning mare in Ponyville.
But because of the recent events over the past few days, you've managed to accumulate a nearly full basket; which is something that you normally avoid.

With that in mind, you decide to just bring it all with you today, if nothing else for the convenience of having it done and off your mind.
Shirts, pants and socks all get loaded into your backpack, leaving you with a small pile of underwear on the floor. You quickly realize that you have a minor situation at hand.
You frequently used to take even your underwear to the cleaning mare. After a particular embarrassing incident that happened last year though, you've avoided doing that, opting to wash them yourself instead.

However, even that simple task has an issue now that you have Notaulix living with you...
Like a true bachelor, what you've always done after washing things like your socks or underwear yourself is simply hang them up somewhere in the house. Usually above the shower or the fireplace.
While you know that the average pony, and most likely Notaulix, wouldn't consider such a sight to be particularly strange, the thought of having such things up in plain view of someone living with you stings at your human sensibilities.

With the possibility of the same incident looming deep in your mind, you end up deciding on washing them yourself later today. You'll deal with setting them out to dry when the time comes.
Having decided that, you put all of your underwear back into the basket, place the lid on it, and leave the bathroom with your backpack in hand.
Returning to the front door, you drop your backpack on the floor before putting on your coat, along with your trusty boots before lacing them up.
Once done with that, you walk back into the living room where you catch sight of Notaulix once more. You can see that he's flown up onto the kitchen counter, where he currently sits while drinking a glass of water.

"I'm going to take a moment and fill up the wood box for you before I leave." You tell Notaulix as you approach the side door.

"Do... Do you want me to keep the fire going while you're gone, Anon? Is that really okay?" Notaulix asks you, sounding slightly unsure of himself.

"Sure it is. On a day like today with it dumping rain outside, I really doubt anyone would notice anything while I'm gone. Besides, it's not like I'm going to be gone that long." You reassure Notaulix.

"Okay Anon, I will keep the fire going while you are in Ponyville today. That does sound good." Notaulix says.

"Thanks. I'll certainly appreciate it when I come back to a nice, warm home." You say as you unlock the side door.

Once unlocked, the sound of the falling rain immediately intensifies as you open the door and step outside onto the porch, where you immediately feel the cold and moist air of the day against your hands and face.
After taking a moment to observe your surroundings, you pull up the hood of your coat over your head before stepping out from the cover of the porch, where you run the short distance over to your woodshed.
At the woodshed, you assemble a bundle of firewood in your arms, which you haul back and deposit into the wood box near the fireplace, a process which you repeat twice until its full.
By the time you finish all of this and make sure that the side door is locked once more, Notaulix has returned to his usual spot on the sofa, where his blanket gently drapes over his rear half.

Taking one more look at the clock, you see that you may as well begin your rainy trip towards Ponyville, in order to allow yourself plenty of time to get to Sugarcube Corner.
Before leaving, you make a stop at the sofa, immediately drawing Notaulix's attention towards you.

"Besides something for dessert, is there anything in particular you'd like for dinner?" You ask Notaulix.

"Anon, you know that I am happy with anything that you decide to make for dinner. Everything you have made for me has been amazing." Notaulix says with a gentle smile.
Mere moments after saying that, however, Notaulix's posture jolts slightly, his face conveying an expression of surprise along with ears pointing straight up.
"But..." Notaulix begins, bringing up a forehoof to his chin in thought. "If.... If it isn't too much to ask..." He timidly continues, his ears drooping to the side in the process.

You patiently wait for Notaulix to finish what he started to say, though as the seconds pass by, you can see that he's very reluctant to do so.

"Go on, it's really not a big deal to suggest something that you want to eat." You encourage Notaulix.

"But I already asked you to get us a dessert for today, Anon! I don't want you to think I'm greedy..." Notaulix admits as he looks up at you with a frown.

You chuckle lightly and smile before responding. "Trust me. If you were being greedy, I'd let you know. There's no harm in suggesting more than one thing. Tell me what you were thinking." You reassure Notaulix.

"If it's really okay... Do you remember what we made together a few days ago, Anon? The food with the... the chicken eggs, and the vegetables." Notaulix asks you as his expression returns to a more neutral state.

"Oh, you want another scramble for dinner? We can do that." You answer Notaulix.

"Not just any s-scramble, Anon. After we finished eating was when you first told me about the wonders of cheese, and how one of those would have been even better with it, so..." Notaulix explains with a brief pause.
"May we please have a scramble with cheese for dinner, Anon?" Notaulix finally asks, his eyes full of hope as he stares up at you.

"Of course we can!" You respond with laughter. It both puzzles and fascinates you how Notaulix can make such a big deal out of what are minor things to you.

"Really?! Thank you Anon!" Notaulix says with great joy and some light buzzing of his wings. "I will be looking forward to this special dinner tonight!" He adds.

"Me too." You agree with a nod. "It sounds really good on a day like today... Anyway, now that we're decided on that, it's time for me to get moving." You say to Notaulix.

"Okay Anon. Have a good journey!" Notaulix enthusiastically says in response.

"Heh, thanks. As good of a journey as one can have in the rain, huh?" You tease Notaulix, making him smile.

You begin to continue on your way towards the front door, when something comes to mind, making you abruptly stop after a few steps.

"Is something wrong, Anon?" Notaulix asks as he peers over the arm of the sofa at you.

"No, I just thought of something." You begin to explain as you reverse your steps back towards the sofa. "The next time you decide to read those books on the Everfree, I would recommend that you read about..." You trail off.

"About what?" Notaulix asks.

"...It'll make more sense if I just point out what to read. One moment, I'll be right back." You say before making a brief detour to your room before returning with a few scraps of paper.

Notaulix watches with great interest as you take a few minutes to quickly navigate to key locations in the Everfree books, where you place a scrap of paper as a marker at each one.

"What is this for, Anon?" Notaulix asks once you finish placing the paper scraps.

"If you're up for it, I want us to get right back into the forest on the next good day that we get. But next time, I'd like to go a bit deeper." You explain.
"Going deeper into the Everfree means more plants to look out for, along with more specific dangers to keep in mind. At the very least, I want you to be familiar with the things that I just bookmarked before we go again." You continue.

"I'll do my best!" Notaulix proudly proclaims before quickly picking up one of the books to read, clearly eager to learn.

"Very good. Anyway, I don't know how long my meeting with Gilda is going to last, but I'll be back as soon as I can. See you later." You say before continuing on your way to the front door, where you put on your backpack and grab your bit bag.

Once outside with the door securely locked behind you, the first thing you do is stand at the edge of the porch and stare at the inclement weather before you.
Such things don't hold you back for long, however. After mentally preparing yourself and adjusting the hood of your coat, you step out into the heavy rain.
While your coat and backpack are both thoroughly waxed and water resistant, you don't want to spend any more time than necessary out in the rain.

With that in mind, you take off down the dirt road towards Ponyville at a steady jogging pace. Thankfully, doing so significantly cuts down on the time it takes you to reach your destination.
Arriving at the outskirts of Ponyville, you can already tell that there is little activity happening today. The biggest giveaway to this that you observe is the marketplace, where you see only a few brave ponies selling their goods.
None of this surprises you, of course. It's only natural when the weather is this bad. Pushing those thoughts aside, you begin to focus on your first destination as you make your way into the inner portions of the town.

The first thing you do is arrive at the front door of the home and business of Bubble Shine, a kind and gentle unicorn mare who runs a small cleaning service.
In this land of colorful ponies that you found yourself in, there is very little demand for the cleaning of clothing, as such things are generally rarely worn, usually reserved for special occasions.
In contrast, there is plenty of demand for the cleaning of everyday things. Curtains, rugs, bed sheets and table cloths, Bubble Shine cleans them all, to name a few.

Originally, you were washing everything by hand, which took an increasingly long time to accomplish as you had more pieces of clothing made for you.
That lasted until one day, Rarity recommended that you give this mare a visit, which turned out to be a piece of advice that you've been thankful for ever since.
There's just something nice and incredibly convenient about dropping off your laundry, paying a few bits, and coming back in a few hours to fresh, clean clothes. Especially when you have as much as you do today.

Besides that, everything that you bring to this mare comes back cleaner and fresher than you could ever do by hand. You're not sure how she does it, but you suppose that's why her service has so much praise from the locals.
...Including yourself. Even if you don't bring your underwear here anymore.
Giving the door a few firm knocks, you don't end up waiting long until the door opens, revealing Bubble Shine looking up at you with her light blue eyes.

"Hello Mr. Anonymous! Please, come inside out of this awful rain!" The cleaning mare greets you while stepping aside and gesturing you in with a forehoof.

"Thanks." You say, making sure to take a moment and wipe your boots on the doormat before entering.

Entering Bubble Shine's home, the soothing aroma of lavender and other fresh floral scents fill your nose, undoubtedly related to her cleaning work.

After closing the door, Bubble Shine trots over to the other side of a small wooden counter. "What can I do for you? Did you bring me some of your clothes today?" She asks in a cheery voice.

"I brought a lot of them, actually." You say while removing your backpack, prompting the mare to giggle.

"The more the merrier! Let's see what you've brought today." Bubble Shine says as her horn glows, bringing a large woven basket over by your feet.

Opening up the backpack, you turn it upside down and shake it over the basket, causing all of your clothing to fall down into it.
Bubble Shine then takes a brief moment to examine what you've brought, gauging how much work there is to be done.

"Hmm... How about six bits today?" Bubble Shine suggests, turning her attention back to you.

"Sounds good." You say before digging the six bits out of your bit bag and placing them on the counter, which the mare accepts.

After placing the bits somewhere behind the counter, Bubble Shine turns her attention back to you.

"What are you going to do now when it's so wet outside? Did you have any plans?" Bubble Shine asks you.

"I do, actually. I made some arrangements to meet with someone at Sugercube Corner around noon." You answer her.

"How nice! Spending time with a good friend and a sweet treat, hmm?" Bubble Shine comments.

"Well... Not quite. You see..." You proceed to retell your encounter yesterday with Gilda, the griffon visiting Ponyville, and how she wanted to hear about you and some of your experiences in the Everfree Forest.
You speak with Bubble Shine for several more minutes before she wishes you luck on your meeting and you depart, leaving behind your dirty clothes to be washed. After that expense, your bit bag has 38 bits left.

Back on the streets of Ponyville, you decide to make a quick dash over to the marketplace to see what's available before you go to Sugarcube Corner, since you realize that it may close early today because of the rain.
When you arrive at the marketplace, your heart sinks upon seeing just how sparse things are today, with less than half the normal amount of vendors set up and selling their goods.
The only ponies selling here are the ones who make use of tents, stands, carts or wagons that happen to have cover built into them.
Doubt fills your mind as to whether or not you will be able to fulfill Notaulix's dinner request, but you press onward anyway, checking out the available vendors to see if you might be in luck today.

And as luck would have it, you quickly figure out that everything that you need is here today, including the usual cheese vendor.
You immediately go from pony to pony, acquiring whatever is available that you know would work well in a scramble. You end up with an onion, a few small potatoes, a green pepper and a big red tomato.
At the cheese vendor, you find yourself facing a more difficult decision. The selection is both reduced and slightly different today, which is due to todays weather, or so the mare running the booth explains to you.
After asking for some recommendations, you end up purchasing a small chunk of Hoovarti, which sounds suspiciously close to the Havarti of your old world, along with a small chunk of Gouda.
Having everything that you will need for dinner, you leave the marketplace with a sense of satisfaction, knowing that Notaulix will get to enjoy his special request. You ended up spending 9 bits, leaving you with 29 remaining in your bit bag.

From the marketplace, you walk down and around the wet streets of Ponyville until you arrive at the unmistakable Sugarcube Corner, the aroma of which you could smell before you even stepped up to the door.

Upon entering the building, you pause for a moment to pull back your hood and take in the sights and sounds around you, along with the heavenly scent of freshly baked treats.
Sugarcube Corner happens to be a lively spot today, with many ponies packed around the available tables, who happily chat among each other while enjoying a sugary delight.
Looking over at the main counter, you spot Mr. Cake talking with a couple other stallions. Upon noticing you, he offers a friendly wave of a forehoof before turning his attention back to his conversation.
In the end, you see no sign of Gilda yet. Thankfully, despite how busy things are at the moment, you spot a couple tables that are still open for when she does arrive.

Weaving your way around the groups of ponies, you make your way towards one of the walls where an available table happens to be.
Once at the table, you remove your backpack and lean it up against the wall, which you rest your coat on after removing it too.
Finally, due to the absence of chairs, you opt to simply sit down on the floor and lean against the wall to rest while you wait for Gilda to arrive.
While you wait, you begin to listen in on some of the conversations taking place, curious to hear if there's anything interesting going on.

One group of young mares are discussing what they plan on doing after this harsh weather clears up.
Another group is talking about their family and a recent visit to Appleloosa.
Then there's a colt and a filly, who look like they could be siblings to you. They playfully argue over who is going to be faster in the Running of the Leaves this year.
You pause as you consider what the young ponies just said. Your mind has been so preoccupied ever since taking Notaulix in under your care, you had forgotten that event was coming up.
The more you think about it, the more a particular idea begins to manifest itself in your mind.

You know that the ponies love their holidays and local events. The whole town practically gets involved in them, and they become their focus.
What if you could use that focus to your advantage? What if you introduced Notaulix in his griffon form to the ponies during the days leading up to the Running of the Leaves? You think to yourself.
On paper, the idea sounds good. You wonder if the ponies would really be distracted enough to not overwhelm Notaulix, or rather Gerson, by wanting to all meet him at once, especially considering the planned backstory.
You continue to mull over the idea in your mind, losing track of time as you do so.

When you return your attention to reality, you look up at a clock on a wall and discover that it's a few minutes past noon.
Knowing that Gilda should be here any minute now, you decide to take a moment and get up to walk over to the main counter to get something warm for yourself.
As you approach, Mr. Cake and the two stallions pause their conversation and look up at you.

"Sorry to interrupt things here." You say with a smile.

"It's no problem." One of the stallions says while waving a forehoof dismissively, while the other one nods in agreement.

"Good to see you Anon! Did you come in like everypony else to escape the rain?" Mr. Cake greets you.

"Sure did. I actually planned on meeting someone here today... She should be here any time now." You say in response.

"Is that so? Well, it's a great day to spend some time together indoors." Mr. Cake says. "Can I get you anything?" He adds.

"Yeah, could I start out with a hot chocolate, please?" You request.

"Of course! I'll have it right out for you in a moment." Mr. Cake says as he briefly disappears into the kitchen, before reemerging several seconds later with a pony sized mug of hot chocolate.

"Thanks." You say while taking a bit out of your bit bag and setting it down on the counter, which Mr. Cake accepts. With the warm mug in hand, you return to your table, allowing the three stallions to resume their conversation.

Using your hot chocolate mostly as a hand warmer, you take the occasional sip from it while you patiently await Gilda's arrival.
However, with the minutes ticking on by, you begin to doubt that she is going to show up, as it's now almost a half hour past noon.

Despite that, you give Gilda the benefit of the doubt and continue to wait, or at least until your hot chocolate runs out.
Besides, you find it pleasant enough just to relax here where it's warm and listen to the conversations around you.
Time continues to pass, and your doubt continues to increase. You begin thinking about what you're going to bring back home for dessert when the door opens, where a very wet and slightly wide-eyed Gilda steps through.

The conversations among the ponies quickly dies down as most turn to look at the female griffon who entered. Gilda appears to pay no attention to this, instead scanning the room, no doubt looking for you.
You raise an arm up and give her a slow wave, which she quickly notices. Upon catching sight of you, Gilda visibly relaxes before making her way over to your table.
As she does so, the ponies begin to pick up where their conversations left off.
Once at the table, Gilda sits down on the opposite side from you, followed by looking at you for a moment before looking away.

"Hey, yeah... Soooo... Dash's place drifted further away than we thought it would when the rainstorm hit last night, so I needed to fly further to get here, and..." Gilda trails off before taking a deep breath.
"Ugh. Look; I know I got here real late like a dweeb. I'm sorry." Gilda says to you, both looking and sounding disappointed in herself.

You let out some lighthearted laughter before waving a hand dismissively towards Gilda. "It's all good, really. Considering the rain by itself, it's perfectly understandable to be a little late, let alone having a longer distance to travel." You say to her.

"You're not mad at me?" Gilda questions you with a hint of surprise, turning her head towards you once more as she does so.

"Nah. It's not like I had some sort of pressing schedule on a day like today. " You joke with her.

"If anything I feel a little bad for this... If I knew the weather was going to be this bad, I would have just invited you in for awhile yesterday so you wouldn't have to go through all that rain." You admit.

"Psh! A little rain is nothing; I can handle myself out there, but... Thanks. I appreciate the thought." Gilda says, her expression softening.

You smile and slowly nod your head a few times before taking your mug and finishing off the remainder of your hot chocolate. "Mind if I get us a little something?" You ask Gilda afterwards.

"Oh, uh... You don't have to do that for me. I don't care if you get something though." Gilda says in an unconvincing manner.

Noting that, you press the matter further. "I insist. Wouldn't you at least enjoy something hot to help warm you up? It would make me feel better." You say to Gilda.

"If you're insisting... Well, sure!" Gilda happily says with little hesitation, instantly betraying how she really felt.

You chuckle as you climb to your feet. "Alright then, I'll be right back." You say as you walk off to the main counter once more with your empty mug in hand.

A few minutes later, you return to your table and set down a fresh mug of hot chocolate for each of you, followed by a small plate of assorted cookies.

"Thanks." Gilda says, taking hold of her mug while watching you return to your position on the floor.

Once comfortable, you take a cookie and give it a bite while waiting to see if Gilda wants to start off your conversation with something specific.
When several seconds go by and Gilda does nothing but stare, you decide to take the initiative and ask her a question.

"So Gilda." You begin, taking a moment to pause and finish your cookie. "You and Rainbow have known each other for a long time? Are you from around here?" You ask.

"Yeah, Dash and I met when we were a couple of pipsqueaks at something called the Junior Speedsters Flight Camp." Gilda answers with a bit of amusement in her voice at the mention of the flight camp.
"I'm... not really from around here though." She continues. "I was born in Griffonia, at some little village in the middle of nowheresville along the Western Mountains." Gilda begins to explain.

"Western Mountains?" You interject with a measure of interest, as you immediately recall Notaulix's mention of the Eastern Mountains.

"Never heard of it, huh? Figures... Guess you don't have much of a reason to learn about Griffonia though, do you?" Gilda says to you.

"No, I haven't heard of it. But I'm always interested in learning more about this world. There's so much that I don't know." You respond.

"Hm..." Gilda pauses as she considers what you just said. "I'm not gonna give you a geography lesson, but this is basically all you need to know about Griffonia..." Gilda begins.
"You got the Western Mountains, the Eastern Mountains, the Central Range in the middle, the ocean on both sides and the Frozen North above." Gilda explains while gesturing with her talons in the air.

"And Equestria below?" You add in conclusion.

"Uh huh." Gilda plainly says as she reaches in and takes a cookie for herself.

"Are there any major differences between those different regions?" You ask in hope of learning more information that may be helpful for Notaulix.

"Nah, not really. It's all looks the same with the same kinds of towns and villages scattered around. The only thing that's different are the griffons." Gilda answers as she munches on her cookie.

"Different? What exactly do you mean by that?" You press further.

Gilda stares at you for a moment with a half-annoyed expression before answering. "Yeah. Different. Our way of life is different." Gilda says.
"Us Western Griffons are traditionally farmers. You know, growing potatoes and carrots and other lame things like that." Gilda starts to explain.
"Things like hunting and mining are more the Eastern Griffons game. They also tend to keep to themselves more... The only real activities we usually have in common are fishing and trading." Gilda continues.

"Really? That's quite interesting. Do Eastern Griffons never farm, and vice versa?" You ask.

"Of course they do! It's just... uncommon, that's all. Lots of value placed on tradition and stuff, you catch my drift? It's expected for a family to pass down a trade from one generation to the next." Gilda answers you.

"Oh... It's like that, is it?" You comment as you think carefully about the things you're learning. You're realizing that the story of Gerson may be shaping up to be an improbable one.
"What happens if someone wants to pursue a different trade than the one their family practices? Does that even happen?" You question Gilda.

Upon hearing your question, Gilda's expression begins to turn a bit sad. "Yeah, that happens. Depends on how traditional the family is. Usually starts a bunch of fighting." She answers you while breaking eye contact.

As much as your genuinely curious and want to know more, you feel a twinge of guilt for asking these questions, as Gilda's changing disposition is plainly telling you that she doesn't want to talk about these things.
In the back of your mind, you can't help but wonder if perhaps Gilda is one of those griffons who strayed from tradition. If that happens to be the case, you understand that you must be treading on a very sore subject.

"This is very interesting to learn about, but I feel like I'm getting us off track here. Sorry about that." You apologize to Gilda.
"Go ahead and continue what you originally started to tell me about. How did you end you end up here in Equestria?" You ask.

"Alright then..." Gilda says, visibly relaxing before looking back at you. "I'll save you the big boring story and explain it to you this way..." Gilda begins.
"My parents were both traders. As soon as I was old enough, we all made the trip south to Equestria and back at least a few times a year for my parents to do their business, and for me to learn something, hopefully." Gilda explains.
"Or at least that's what they hoped I would do." Gilda says with a playful, devious look in her eyes.

"Cloudsdale was a place we'd usually stay at once here in Equestria. To a young mountain bird like me, I thought it was the coolest place around." Gilda continues.
"And of course, the pinnacle of cool in the whole land were the Wonderbolts. Who else?" Gilda says while pausing for a moment to chuckle.
"I wanted to be that cool, and like most young ones in Cloudsdale, I practically begged my parents to enroll me in the Junior Speedsters Flight Camp." Gilda explains.
"But... You know the scene. They didn't want their little chick to do that. They wanted me to stay by their side and learn the art of trading." Gilda says.
"Right before we were going to head back up north, I finally convinced them by saying I could be a better trader if I could learn to fly faster than any other griffon." She continues.
"Soooo yeah... They made sure I would be cared for, enrolled me into the flight camp, and left. Dash and I soon met and became best buds. The rest is history." Gilda concludes.

"Wow, that's quite an upbringing you had. What about now? Is there a reason why you're visiting Ponyville?" You ask her.

Gilda remains silent at your question. You watch as she takes a moment to sip her hot chocolate before staring down into the mug for several seconds.
Finally, she sets the mug down before taking in a deep breath and letting it back out. "You remember what Dash said, right?" Gilda asks you.

"About what?" You ask in return, unsure of what she's getting at.

"That little fall out we had years ago, and that she hadn't seen me in a long time." Gilda clarifies for you.

"Right, I remember that. Why?" You ask once more.

"The truth is, I was a real punk growing up. I think Dash was the only one who really tolerated the way I was." Gilda admits. "But Dash had her limits too, and eventually I got a real wake-up call from her and her friends a few years ago." She adds.
"I ran away from them, and decided that I wanted to go find my parents. It took me a couple years to finally find them." Gilda says.

"Years? You didn't know where they were anymore?" You question her.

"Nope. Back when I convinced them to let me stay at Cloudsdale? Yeah. They never came back for me... I think they knew how I was going to turn out." Gilda bluntly answers. Immediately, you feel your heart sink.

Your mind runs wild as you struggle to find the right words to speak, but those words easily slip away from you. After a moment of silence between the two of you, Gilda catches on and gives you a smirk.

"Cat got your tongue?" She teases you. "That's fine; I'm not looking for any sympathy from anyone. It it what it is, and I've moved on from it." She says.
"Anyway! Lemme finish what I started... So I traveled back to Griffonia to search out my parents, and, well... I found them, but..." Gilda pauses.
"I didn't feel anything, you know? It just wasn't home anymore. I didn't feel like I belonged there or even in Griffonia anymore." Gilda admits.
"So I left, probably for the last time, and made my way back down here. I've been traveling around Equestria and checking out all the different towns and cities." Gilda says.
"See, what I'm really looking for now is someplace to settle down. A place to call home and feel like I belong, where I can have some kind of purpose to my life." Gilda admits, albeit bashfully as she runs a set of talons through her plumage.
"S-Sorry for laying all this sappy dweeb stuff on you, Anon. I'm only telling you this stuff because I have the feeling that you might understand me. You're not like the ponies." Gilda apologizes to you.

"No, it's fine." You nod your head a few times for emphasis. "Gilda, I'm not going to pretend that I understand what you went through; I can't imagine what it must have been like to be left behind by your parents." You say to her.
"But I can empathize with you over searching out belonging and a purpose for you life. That's exactly what I went through when I first arrived in this world." You continue.

"Yeah, that's it!" Gilda happily exclaims. "Wow, it really feels good to talk about these things with someone like you." Gilda states before tension seemingly disappears from her body after letting out a deep breath.

"Well, I'm glad I can be a listening ear for you. So... Are you planning on living here in Ponyville?" You ask Gilda.

Upon hearing your question, Gilda sits in silence for awhile as she considers her response. "No, I don't think so." She eventually replies.

"Really? Why not?" You question her.

"Dunno... I just don't feel it, you know?" She shrugs. "I do like being close to Dash, but I just can't think of anything to do around here that would be worthwhile. And there's no way I'm mooching off anyone just to get by." Gilda responds.

"Ah, that's understandable... Hey, if you're looking for work, how do you feel about getting chased around by some Timberwolves in the Everfree?" You joke with the griffon.

"Hah! No way!" Gilda exclaims with laughter. "That's not something for me, e-even if I do think what you're doing is pretty cool." Gilda says, her plumage puffing out slightly in embarrassment after doing so.
"Speaking of... I've told you a lot about me, how about you take your turn now? Tell me something about that forest." Gilda requests.

You comply and begin to regale Gilda with tales of your experiences and discoveries from within the Everfree Forest.
Gilda listens with rapt attention as you do so, occasionally making a comment or asking a question, which you do your best to answer.
Whenever you retell a situation that had a measure of danger or suspense to it, Gilda visibly tenses up and leans closer, much to your amusement.

At some point the heavy rain outside begins to calm down, turning into a mere drizzle. Not long after that, many of the ponies who were inside Sugarcube Corner with you begin to leave.
Even Pinkie Pie emerges from somewhere once the crowd clears out. The energetic mare spots the two of you, but she simply waves with a forehoof before departing, no doubt out of respect for your one-on-one conversation.
Eventually, things begin to settle down as your conversation comes to a natural lull. You take a moment to look over at the clock on the wall, where you find that you've been at this for about two hours now.
Gilda follows your eyes, and upon noticing the clock, quickly looks back at you with a surprised expression.

"I didn't think we've been here for that long!" Gilda cries out. "Sorry to take up so much of your time..." She apologizes.

"This was the perfect kind of day to be inside telling stories. It's fine, really. I enjoyed it." You reassure her.

"Really? W-Well... I enjoyed this too. I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day for me, Anon." Gilda says, earnestly thanking you.

"You're more than welcome. I think this is a good place to stop at though." You say as you casually rise up to your feet and stretch.

"Yeah. Of course." Gilda agrees as she gets up herself. "Thanks for the sweets, also..." Gilda pauses as she steps closer, before gesturing you closer with one of her talons.

Confused, you lean in closer where Gilda begins to whisper to you. "Uhh, so... You don't need to be telling Dash that stuff about my parents, okay? She doesn't need to know. Got it?" She says before taking a few steps back.

"Got it." You say to Gilda after straightening yourself back out.

"Cool... Alright, I'm gonna head out now. Thanks again." Gilda says to you with a smile.

"Take care. It was nice talking with you." You say to Gilda, who then turns around and walks over to the door.

"See you around!" Gilda calls out to you before opening the door to Sugarcube Corner and stepping outside. Finally, the door closes, leaving you there with the few remaining ponies.

After taking a moment to collect your thoughts, you put on your coat and grab your backpack, which you bring over to the main counter.

"Hey there Anon. Your story buddy finally left now, did she? You two looked like you were having a good time." Mr. Cake comments from behind the counter.

"Yes we did. The time kind of got away from us." You say to the stallion.

"Time flies when you're having fun! I'm glad to hear that; it's not everyday somepony gets to sit down for some chit chat with a griffon around here." Mr. Cake says. "Anyway, do you need anything else?" He asks you.

"Yeah, let me just take a look here real quick..." You say as you browse all the wonderful goodies on display, thinking carefully about what you might want Notaulix to try next.

While browsing, a selection of doughnuts catches your attention. Simple, easy to eat, and surely nothing that Notaulix has ever had before.
In the end, you come walking out of Sugarcube Corner with a paper box containing a dozen doughnuts of assorted varieties. You have 18 bits left in your bit bag.

Now that it's simply drizzling outside, you begin to walk around Ponyville in a more casual manner with your hood down.
As you do so, your thoughts turn to your laundry that you left with Bubble Shine. You know from experience that they have likely been washed by now, but have yet to dry; especially so considering they couldn't hang outside today.
Meandering along from street to street, you weigh your options. You could go pick up your laundry early, but then you would have to mess around with hanging it up to dry yourself when you got home.
On the other hand, you could leave it at Bubble Shine's and simply make another trip to Ponyville tomorrow to pick everything up.

After thinking about it for a moment, you decide that it's best to simply wait and return tomorrow for your things.
With that plan in mind, you begin your short journey to return home, though not before making a quick stop at the Ponyville Dentist, where you purchase a grey handled toothbrush for Notaulix to use.

Having accomplished everything you set out to do in Ponyville today, you leave behind the quiet town and travel the familiar dirt road to your home, now with 16 bits left in your bit bag.