The Mare in the Wardrobe

by semillon

First published

Pinkie Pie travels back in time to Griffonstone under King Grover's rule.

Pinkie Pie touches King Grover's crown, and is periodically thrown back in time to the days of his rule.

Hopefully she doesn't cause any paradoxes. Or alter history in any fashion. Or fall in love.

The Mare in the Wardrobe

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Grover stared stoically out at the inky blue of the silent sky. The wind blew heavy on this night, throwing snow at the castle and coating the roofs, the balconies, and him, soon enough, if he spent any more minutes outside. An omen from our ancestors, one of his councilmen had told him, regarding the snow. They flap their wings in approval of the first Griffon King.

He laughed joylessly to himself, alone in the blizzard. “What a load of--“

A noise came from the inside of his room: something heavy crashing against wood.

Grover spun around, stepping into it with his copper wings flared. His keen eyes surveyed the area, finding a broken wine glass coupled with a spot of spilled wine, a dagger out of its sheath laying on the ground, and a torn bed with half the feathers spilling out.

Nothing out of the ordinary, then. Perhaps he had simply heard something that wasn’t there?

A hard bump came from his wardrobe, like a skull against the wood.

Grover made for the dagger as silently as he could and crept towards the dresser. His muscles were tensed. His battle-sense told him to stay calm. Wait for movement. They’re in your home. Your room. They will not win here. You will not be a victim in your own nest.

He was in front of the dresser now.

He braced himself, and opened the dresser door. At his side, his claw and blade tensed, waiting for any sort of movement.

Nothing was inside.

Grover squinted. Was he getting to that age?

Ridiculous. He’d only lived through less than thirty winters.

“Hi!” a bubbly, squeaky voice greeted him from behind.

Grover spun around and stabbed wildly at where he guessed the assassin was, but managed to hit nothing. There was nothing behind him. He looked around the room, eyes wild.

Was he going mad?

The door to his room opened and two guards flew in, their spears at the ready.

“Grover?” one of them said as he searched the room. “You were screaming.”

“Was I?” Grover said, discretely throwing his weapon to the side. He waited a moment. The guards searched under his bedsheets, into his dresser, flew around the balcony to no avail. After the confirmation that there was indeed no one in his room, he groaned in mock annoyance and sat at his desk. “I must have been dreaming, or something of the sort. Begone, the both of you. Have some ale, while you’re at it. I’d like to be truly alone for a few moments. That’s an order.”

One of the guards made a noise in protest, but the other guard shushed him, and they left without another word. The door to his room closed shut, leaving him in the quiet.

His eyes were drawn to the piece of parchment that sat in front of him, stained with odd spots of ink and half scribbled over.

My brothers and sisters of the Griffon Kingdom. I stand before you today with the greatest of honor and humility. The

The bed creaked behind him. Grover stood, kicking his chair backwards and turning around to find--

A pony. Pink as a rosebud and looking at him with wide, curious eyes.

Grover laughed. “They sent a pony after me?”

The pony tilted her head. And then smiled. “Hi! I’m--”

He lunged forward and clawed at her neck, trying to slash a vein.

But she disappeared. His talon passed through nothing more than air.

“That was weird,” her voice came from behind. He turned to find the pony sitting on top of his desk.

His eyes scanned her body: no horn, no wings.

“Witch,” he seethed.

“Which what?” she responded.

Grover shot forward again, but the pony was faster. Her hoof met his beak, gently poking it before he could close his arms around her. She slipped behind him once again.

Grover turned back around -- the pony was sitting on his bed.

“That was fun!” she chirruped. “Griffon beaks are fun to boop.”

Her speed wasn’t possible. He had faced off against ponies before. They were never as fast as this. Not by half.

“What is your name?” Grover asked. It seemed important that he knew who it was that brought him his demise.

“Pinkie Pie!” the pony -- Pinkie, responded. “What’s yours? And where am I? You look familiar!”

Grover raised a brow. “I recognize that assassins sometimes don't care to know names of their targets, but surely you must have planned for this. A castle full of the greatest army known to the world, and you managed to sneak into the room that your peers could only dream of getting into.”

“Assassin?” Pinkie said, feeling the sensation of the word in her mouth and finding that it had a bad taste. She stuck her tongue out. “Am I in an Ogres and Oubliettes convention?”

Grover narrowed his eyes. “Do you really not know where you are?”

“That’s what I said the first time, silly!”

“Or who I am?”

“Yes?” Pinkie squeaked, smiling hopefully. “Do you know Gilda? Or Gallus, maybe? Grandpa Gruff?”

He didn’t. How odd... “You are acquainted with griffons, yet you do not recognize me?”

The pony shook her head before shooting a hoof out, making him flinch.

“I’m Pinkie Pie! Which I’ve said already, but it feels right to say it again. What’s your name, mister?”

Grover studied the pony’s expression, looking into her eyes for the kind of glint that shone in those of assassins and liars, and found nothing but genuine curiosity.

So maybe she truly was introducing herself. Maybe she truly didn’t know who he was. If this was a ruse of some kind, it didn’t make any sense. So, was she telling the truth, then?

He reached forward, hesitating for a moment before gently gripping her hoof. He half-expected her to disappear again, but she didn’t. She simply shook his claw and grinned.

“Will you answer a question?”

Pinkie thought for a moment, then nodded happily.

“If you really do speak the truth, how did you find yourself in my room?”

“That’s easy! I was in the castle -- another castle -- and then I poked a really pretty jewel and next thing I knew I was right here!”

Grover’s brows furrowed. “Artifact magic?”

She shrugged. “Dunno! There was a lot of purple and swirling and glowing and bright light, and it was like I blinked once and I was suddenly in a dresser! It was just like that time I threw an album release party for Vinyl Scratch and I think I accidentally drank one of Berry Punch’s drinks instead of mine.”

“You are a strange pony,” said Grover.

“I get that a lot.”

Quiet settled, and Grover took the opportunity to examine the mare in depth. Something was different about her demeanour. She was healthy and bright in every way possible; a youthful face, straight teeth, a decent amount of fat on her rump. It was like she had never been in battle, or fallen to starvation. The wingless, hornless ponies Grover had seen were always going through at least one or the other, if not both.

“So,” Pinkie said, leaning over, looking dangerously close to falling off of the bed but paying it no mind. “Are you gonna tell me your name now? Or should I give you one?”

“Grover,” he said, posturing regally. “The Uniter. Tonight, I will be crowned the first King of the Griffons, and this will be my home for the rest of my life.”

The mare’s coat and hair stood on end as she leaned further forward, eyes widening to their largest as she gasped like she hadn’t breathed air for years, and fell off the bed with a thud.

Grover quickly stepped backwards. Did she die? Was she poisoned?

But Pinkie Pie bounced up and was but inches away from him in a matter of seconds.

“You’re Grover?” she asked, an excitement to her voice that he couldn’t quite place. He was aware that he had garnered a sort of reputation amongst Equestrians, but he didn’t realize it was something even remotely positive.

“I am,” he answered hesitantly. He attempted to back up some more, but found himself up against his desk chair. “So you do know of me?”

“Know of you?” Pinkie repeated with a giggle. “Of course I do! But that could only mean that the crown sent me to--“

She stopped speaking and looked unsure for a second -- an expression that put a slight tinge fear into Grover, for the mare had been nothing but absurdly energetic for the entire time they had been talking.

His fear, something that seemed unreasonable at first, resurged and became justified when he saw that Pinkie was glowing.

“That’s weird,” she said.

“What is happening?” Grover questioned as he strafed to the side, giving himself enough room to back up against a wall. “Is this your doing?”

“I dunno!” Pinkie said, looking over her body. “But this is really pretty! Hopefully this doesn’t mean I’ve secretly been a firework my whole life. Or that I’m gonna explode. I probably won’t explode, though. That’d be too obvious, am I right?”

She looked at him with a smile, and for a second Grover felt as if he'd known her all his life, and that this was somehow completely normal.

Then he blinked, and the glowing mare was gone.

The door to his room opened. Grover turned towards it.

In stepped a griffon of grey, with black talons, a black lower half, and a pair of eyes and a beak of gold that shined against his dull colors.

Gabriel, one of his most trusted allies, walked to him with a concerned look and a brow raised. "Are you ready for your coronation?"

Grover looked around his room, searching for any signs of pink.

Nothing. He sighed.

"I am."


“So what’re we doing here, Gally?”

Gallus looked backwards at his second-favorite teacher, raising an eyebrow. “I thought I explained to you when I asked you to come and supervise me.”

“Yeah,” said Pinkie Pie, trotting in place as she looked around the room. “But I was also in the middle of a lesson on cupcakes and my mind was in two places. No, make that three! I was also thinking about how Gummy keeps finding his way into the cookie jar even though I’ve put 14 padlocks on it in the past month. No, wait, make that four! Rarity--“

“I can explain again, if you want,” Gallus interrupted her with a smile. When he first arrived at school, he initially thought that Pinkie would end up getting on his nerves, but quickly found that she never could. There was just something about her...he had patience for Pinkie that he didn’t have for anyone else.

The pony stopped instantly, sitting obediently like a dog, and gave him a salute.

“Okay, thank you,” he said, pausing to gesture towards the six displays that sat in a circle in the middle of the grandiose room of Twilight’s castle. “So, these are the ancient artifacts that Cozy Glow used to drain magic from all of Equestria, and they’re what probably signaled the Tree of Harmony to save us when we were being dragged into that magical vortex. You following?”

“Mmhmm!”

“Cool, so, something came to me while I was up late doing homework the other week.” He turned around and walked to the display in the middle -- a glass cube that encased the Crown of Grover, which was placed delicately on top of a purple cushion that lay on top of a marble pillar. His reflection was pristine against the cool glass as he stared at the crown through it. “All the textbooks and stories say that Grover used his crown’s magic to unite the griffon kingdom, but no one describes what kind of magic it was, or how he could use it but no other griffon king could. So I got to thinking: what if I learned how? Maybe it could have come in handy back when we were facing off against Cozy. We could have saved Equestria a whole six minutes faster!”

Pinkie tilted her head. “So this is one of those -- what’re they called...oh! Like one of Twilight’s scientificky research projects?”

Gallus blushed fiercely. His wings flared out as he tried to look intimidating, failing because of the flustered stutter that had entered his speech. “No. This is just, I...I could have looked cooler if I knew how to use the magic in the crown.”

Pinkie giggled back at the griffon before stopping abruptly. “Wait, but then why did you need me here? I can tell you a whole lot about parties, but I’m not sure I know too much about magic. Unless you’re talking about the magic of friendship!”

“Head Mare Twilight told me that I needed to find a professor to supervise me while I picked the crown up. She’s busy altering the spring curriculum right now but she wants us to tell her if we find something,” Gallus explained again, preening his feathers. “The thing’s been completely dormant for centuries anyway. Any part of Grover’s magic that used to be inside’s probably gone. But it’d be cool to make sure.”

“Okie-dokie!” Pinkie chirped. “So I’m babysitting you?”

“I’m not a kid!” Gallus sneered. “You’re just here to...to watch over me as a responsible adult.”

“So babysitting?”

He groaned.

“Hey! Babysitting’s great! Just ask Pumpkin and Pound! You might find it hard to understand them, though. Not everyone speaks their language. Because they’re babies.”

A snarky quip came to the griffon’s mind, but he said nothing, choosing to step closer to the Crown of Grover instead before putting a claw on the glass.

The display glowed with magical power, shining a pale purple as it hummed with power. Gallus found that the outline of his claw was glowing as well, making his fingers tingle as they read his bio-print.

Seconds passed.

Then his claw went through the glass like it was made of water.

“Whoah!” Pinkie marvelled behind him. He didn’t blame her. It looked really cool.

He reached forward and grabbed the crown with a claw, pulling it out of the glass and stepping back to sit beside the pony.

For a moment, they admired the crown in silence.

Its metal was still polished, and its purple jewel almost glowed like the magical display it was in just seconds ago. An aura of majesty radiated from it. It was almost as if they were in Grover’s presence himself.

“Wait,” Gallus mumbled, turning the crown over in his claws, bringing it closer to his eyes. “I’m pretty sure the jewel used to be red.”

“What,” asked Pinkie, leaning over his shoulder. “This one?”

She reached over and poked the jewel as she spoke, and then she wasn't there anymore.

She was there. She was just there. Then she wasn't.

Gallus stared wide-eyed at the place where Pinkie used to be. Turning from it to the entrance of the display room, and back, hoping to find that she was simply hiding, or playing a prank, and sinking into a dull despair when it was obvious she wasn't doing either.

"It-it technically wasn't my fault, Head Mare Twilight," he said, putting a claw over his face and imagining himself sitting at the princess's desk as she looked down at him with skeptical eyes. "I just took the crown out of its case, and Professor Pinkie disappeared into thin air when she touched it. There was no way I could've planned for that, right? So please don't give me any extra homework or put me in detention?"

"Why would I do that, Gally?"

Gallus's claw fell, and his eyes opened to find Pinkie Pie, sitting exactly where she was.

“H-How did you--” he balked. “You were...I didn’t know that earth ponies could do magic. Or are you just really good at hiding?”

Pinkie Pie shook her head. “We can’t! And I didn't hide! I think the crown just sent me back in time, though. It was super fun! I totally met King Grover! And he looked just like his statue! We should probably call Twilight. She might get all nervousy and twitchy and breathing-too-fast on us if we wait too long before telling her.”

Advisor

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Tonight was do or die.

Grover stood in front of the looking glass, peering into his own reflection like it might give him an answer to his dilemma.

The house of Blackrock was divided into two. On one side, Lady Glenda fought to maintain her position as the family’s matriarch. She was never too kind to Grover, but she was twice his age, and wise. He could count on her to tell him when he was doing something she thought was wrong.

Supporting Glenda Blackrock at tonight’s feast would be a smart choice.

On the other side of affairs was Gilroy Blackrock -- one of his own allies, from before he had discovered the Idol of Boreas. Gilroy was vying for Glenda’s position, and had a decent amount of followers behind him. But he was outnumbered, and weaker. If it got to the point where a fight was necessary, he wouldn’t win. But he would never admit to that. He’d die first.

Giving Gilroy support would win him more allies, and the house of Blackrock would be an apt reward for Gilroy’s support through the years.

Not to mention, Gilroy was a vengeful griffon. He would be displeased with Grover for years to come.

His reign still wasn’t long enough for a coup to be unthinkable, after all.

Grover saw nothing in his reflection. No epiphany. No answer staring back at him. Just a tired griffon with a crown on his head.

He reached up and took his crown off, holding it to his chest as he stared at the blood-red jewel laid into its centre before he tossed it over to his bed.

Grover closed his eyes, and then suddenly heard words. Muffled ones. From the inside of his room. He turned, wings flaring slightly, but found no one behind him.

Then Pinkie Pie fell out of his wardrobe and onto her back.

“Hi!” she greeted him, making no move to get up from the floor. “How’s things?”

Grover blinked. “I was sure that I imagined you.”

“I used to have plenty of imaginary friends, but then they all had to move away to Manehattan. As far as I know, though, I think I’m real. I mean, if cake is real, and I can bake cake, then I’m real too, right? And if cake isn’t real, I guess I don’t really want to be real either.”

For a moment, he thought about helping the mare to her feet, but she stood on her own before he could do anything about it. He cleared his throat. “Is there a spell on my furniture? Is that how you keep entering my chambers?”

Pinkie put a hoof to her chin in thought. “I don’t think so. When I first came by I just appeared here, and then appeared in a lot of other places close by. If anything, the spell is on you!”

“But there can’t be,” he said. “I get scanned for hexes and the like by our resident unicorn every week.”

“You’re friends with ponies?” Pinkie asked. “I didn’t know that! That’s so great!”

“Allies,” corrected Grover. “With one. Now, what brings you here? If you are real and not some sort of stress-induced imagination.”

Pinkie shrugged. “I dunno! Wait, why’s it so warm? Is the castle on fire? Because I can help with that.”

Grover raised a brow. “Pony, last I saw you, it was in the dead of winter. The night of my coronation.”

She tilted her head. “...And?”

“Look out the balcony. It’s springtime in Griffonstone.”

A look of bewilderment came upon her, and it wasn’t until she hopped to the balcony and saw the world outside that it disappeared, and was replaced with an expression of awe.

From the height they were at, the balcony offered a view of Griffonstone that, when the sky was clear and the sun shone in just the right way (it was shining perfectly today), perfectly illuminated every inch of the city, bathing it in a magnificent light.

The houses looked new, well-furnished and charming. The paint on each one appeared to be fresh, and even from so high up one could see the glass windows sparkling. Outside of them, griffons walked on the ground, flew through the air, sat and talked. There was an atmosphere of pride that radiated from every little thing.

“It reminds me of Ponyville,” Pinkie said, her eyes never leaving the view.

“Is that where you hail from?” Grover asked as he approached. He sat beside her, watching curiously as she fell in love with his city.

“Mmhmm! That’s where my home is. And my friends. And my pet alligator, Gummy. He’s one of my friends, too. And that’s where I was before I came here. And -- oh!” Pinkie gasped, turning to him. “Did you say that you’re king now?”

“Yes.” Grover said.

“Oh, no...we totally missed the opportunity to have a party!”

“There was a celebration,” Grover informed her. “The night of my coronation. It was...lively.”

“But not fun?”

“A fight broke out, and I had to break it up by banishing one of my most influential allies out of Griffonstone.”

Pinkie furrowed her brows. “You’re right. That doesn’t sound very fun.”

“It wasn’t,” Grover said. He stood quiet for a moment, glancing back to Griffonstone as it sparkled in the sunlight. “In all honesty, the reason I haven’t thrown you out of my chambers yet is because I’m not completely sure you’re real.”

“But we’ve been over--“

“My mind hasn’t been right for a while now, Pinkie,” Grover sighed.

He lapsed back into quiet, frowning as he looked down at his subjects. From far away, they appeared to be happy. But that was simply the distance, wasn’t it?

The air beside him shifted as Pinkie moved in closer.

“You wanna talk about it?” she asked delicately. Grover was surprised that she sound so controlled. Or quiet.

“I don’t talk,” he said. “I simply think, and act.”

He turned to see her recoil in confusion.

“But there’s no stage around.”

A laugh slipped out of him. A smile came to his face. “I’ll give you this, pony--“

“Pinkie!” she corrected him quickly.

“Pinkie,” he said again. “I apologize. If I am imagining you, then I’m much more capable of humor and mirth than I originally thought.”

She smiled back, and looked towards Griffonstone again. “Everything’s so shiny and pretty here! It’s nothing like my Griffonstone.”

Grover tilted his head. “Your--“

“I mean!” Pinkie interrupted, sitting straight for a second as she seemed to remember something. “You know. I know a city that looks a whole lot like Griffonstone, and has griffons in it, but, it’s nothing like this.”

“Another griffon city?” Grover asked.

“Yeah!” Pinkie nodded. “But it’s -- it’s not near here. It’s from far, far away. Like, imagine the distance from here to Klugetown, but times it by a million.”

“I see.”

Suddenly, Pinkie’s tail twitched twice, and she turned around, focusing in on something on top of Grover’s bed. He followed her off of the balcony and back into the room as she walked to his mattress and plucked his crown off of it.

She examined it for a moment. Grover felt this was an apt time to talk.

“The forgemaster made it with bars of gold donated to me by each of the great houses. The jewel--“

“Is magic?” Pinkie asked hurriedly. “It’s magic, right? How does it work?”

“N-No,” Grover said with a shake of his head. “At least, if there is any magic imbued within, I’m not aware of it.”

“Wait, what?” Pinkie nearly screeched. She turned to him, shocked. “Really? Then -- wait, what? Really?”

Grover shook his head once more. “You’ve heard that my crown has magic?”

Pinkie stepped closer to him. “Uh-huh! I heard that you used its magic to unite the Griffon kingdom and bring happiness to the land!”

For the second time that day, Pinkie made Grover laugh.

“What united my people,” he said, his smile dropping into a hard, bitter line. “Was the promise of gold. When the heads of our great houses laid eyes on the Idol of Borreas, and they saw what griffonkind was capable of seeking and capturing together, they promised to stop murdering one another.”

Pinkie blinked, confused by his tone. “That...that sounds good! Is it not?”

“They never explicitly promised to stop fighting,” said Grover. “It seemed to be implied, but I suppose that aggression is in our nature. I sit on my throne, and I choose who wins their duels, and I give hints of my favor towards certain lords and ladies whom I want to join me as my allies, and I hear problems upon problems upon problems. That crown doesn’t have magic, Pinkie Pie. It’s merely a burden. One that I have to bear.”

Pinkie’s legs wrapped around him. She pulled him close and squeezed. She felt warm against his chest. And squishy.

After several moments, she pulled away and smiled. “There! Better?”

Grover tilted his head. “Why would that have made me feel better?”

It seemed as if that question had broken the pony. She stared up at him, focused and in another world at the same time. “Hugs don’t make you feel better?”

“N-No,” Grover reluctantly said. There was something happening behind those big, bright blue eyes.

Pinkie approached him, putting both hooves on his shoulder, looking at him straight in the eyes. “We need to have a party. Stat. Berightback!”

Grover blinked, and she had disappeared from his view until he turned to see a pink blur dash for the front door. Panic set into him instantly. What would his advisors say? His guards? That he was keeping a pony courtesan in his room? That he was plotting with Equestria to bring Griffonstone to ruin? He flared his wings, readying himself to shoot towards Pinkie and grab her before she left the room, but as soon as she touched the door, she glowed purple and was teleported to the opposite end of the room.

Her momentum kept, and her legs kept moving until she ran into his bed, flopping into the mattress with a dull thump.

Pinkie lifted her head up. “That was weird.”

She eyed the door, and leap towards it without any wind-up, managing to get close enough so her hooves could just barely graze the wood--

Before glowing purple yet again and blinking back to the bed.

“That was weirder,” she said, scratching her head.

“You are confined to this room?” Grover asked.

“I don’t know,” she squinted at nothing in particular before standing up. She turned to him with a grin. “Let’s find out!”

Grover scarcely had time to answer before she launched herself out of the room and to the railing of the balcony. Pinkie shot him a playful look over her shoulder as her hair blew in a springtime breeze, and like she was stepping into a warm bath, she stood up on the railing and stepped into the air, floating impossibly for a second before dropping down and out of his view.

“Pinkie Pie!” Grover yelled. He was over the railing faster than he could think, looking down and scanning frantically for the mare so he knew exactly where to fly and catch her, but he couldn’t see anything.

“Yes?”

Grover yelped in surprise, spinning backwards but falling off of the balcony in his haste.

He tumbled through the air for a few seconds before he spread his wings and forced them to stay completely straight, eventually settling into a lazy glide as he righted himself and flew back up to his room.

Pinkie Pie was waiting patiently for him on his bed when he arrived.

“Looks like I’m supposed to stay here!” she said cheerfully.

“Yes,” he panted. “I can see that.”

The door to his room opened. In came a guard.

“Sire?” he called, looking around frantically before noticing Pinkie. A look of surprise came upon his face. “A pony?”

“So you aren’t imaginary,” Grover said. A warmth rose in his chest. He recognized it as excitement.

“Sire--“

“Out. Now,” he spat, looking at the guard and flaring his wings. “And tell no one of this lest I personally dash your head against the peak of Mount Griff.”

The guard left without another word, leaving him alone with Pinkie.

Grover stared at the mare, who stared back in turn.

“So, what are you?” he asked.

“I--“

He swiped at her neck, aiming to slit her throat. But she merely blinked purple and appeared a few feet beside him.

“What was that for?”

Grover turned to face her. “I apologize. I just...had to make sure.”

He mulled over his words, gathering his memories and observations. “I can’t hurt you. You cannot leave this room. You talk as if the last time you saw me was mere hours ago. You...” he paused. “You talk as if you’ve leaped through time. Somehow, with you, I cannot find that unbelievable.”

Pinkie merely smiled again, but differently that the other, many times she had smiled that day. She smiled gently, but discretely. There was a secret behind her smile. “I’m sorry. I promised something to somepony, and I can’t say if that’s true.”

Grover blinked. He had expected as much. “At the very least, you are not from here?”

Pinkie chewed her lip before shaking her head.

He nodded, and walked away, towards the mirror. He stood in front of his reflection, looking over his feathers and his form, finding signs of his youth but also of stress and of age that he didn’t possess.

He watched as a pony bounced over to him and stood at his side. There was something pleasing about how her pastel coat contrasted against his.

Pinkie wrapped a leg around his neck and stared into their reflections. “Are you having a staring contest with your reflection? Can I join? I used to do them all the time but then my reflection actually blinked back at me once and Gummy asked me not to do them anymore, so now I try not to stare at myself for more than an hour.”

Grover turned his head. “Look at me.”

She did. Her eyes were full of laughter and nothing else. Nothing that could hurt him.

“You aren’t a spy.”

She shook her head.

“Or an assassin.”

She snorted like he had said a funny joke.

“You’re simply a pony,” Grover observed. “And you have, somehow, magically wandered into my room, and you cannot leave it even if you tried save for when you’re magically taken out.”

“Yep!”

“Hit me,” Grover said.

“What?”

“Please attempt to hit me.”

“Why would I do that?” Pinkie asked, backing away.

“Please,” Grover begged. “Just try.”

Pinkie looked away, biting her lip. “I’m not sure I want to play this game.”

“Pinkie Pie,” he said. She looked back at him. “I promise you won’t hurt me. I just need to make sure. Again.”

The pony began to say something -- but instead shut her eyes tight and attempted to strike at his face.

Grover forced himself to stay still, and before the hoof reached him, she was teleported away, back on top of the bed.

The warmth returned to his chest. He allowed himself to embrace it, and approached Pinkie with a gentle grin.

“As I thought. You couldn’t hurt me even if you tried. Which you barely did, by the way. I saw how slow you were going.”

“I’d never want to hurt you!” Pinkie protested.

“And, strangely enough, I believe you. This will be sufficient.”

He stopped just shy of the bed, gesturing for Pinkie to take a seat before offering her his claw. “I will not lie, Pinkie Pie. Laying my sorrows unto you was a...relaxing experience. This may result in my death or the end of my reign, but I would like to do it again. Would you become my advisor?”

Pinkie stared wide-eyed at his claw before shaking it vigorously with both hooves, beaming at him with the light of two suns. “Of course I’ll be your friend!”

“Advisor,” he corrected with a chuckle.

“Same thing!”

“If you would like to believe that.”

“I would!”

“Then I’ll accept that label.”

“Yay!” she cheered, dashing off of the bed and hugging him from the side.

Grover wrapped a wing around her, cordially embracing her like he would his mother. Or a consort.

“What now?” Pinkie asked, pulling away.

“Well, I would value your listening skills,” he said.

“I can listen!”

“Good. You may want to take a seat again.”

As he explained the situation with Glenda and Gilroy Blackrock, the light in the room slowly changed, growing dimmer and more orange as the sun ambled down from its zenith. Pinkie Pie, surprisingly, was telling the truth. She sat, and she listened like she were a student in class, making no interjections or quips as Grover revealed to her one of the most delicate political situations of his reign so far.

“--and that is why I’m considering cancelling the dinner tonight on account of illness,” Grover said at the tail end of his explanation.

Pinkie took the opportunity to say her first words in a long while. “But that wouldn’t solve anything!”

“It would give me more time.”

“But there’s a super duper easy way to fix all of this, silly griffy!”

“I doubt that, but say your piece.”

“You could just have them share!” suggested Pinkie, throwing her legs up.

Grover shook his head. “Griffons do not share. It pains us to.”

“Well, if they don’t want to, all you have to do is--“

“Then whoever is unhappy with my decision can resign their claim on the house’s leadership, and then I’d receive partially less blame,” Grover said, ideas running wild through his mind. “Pinkie Pie, you’re a genius.”

“I was gonna say that we could just teach them...”

“And am I to assume you have a legendary power of persuasion?”

“Yeah!” Pinkie winked at him. “I can sing a great song when I need to. Or want to. Any time, really, even when I’m super sad.”

“I have no doubt you can,” Grover smiled, bittersweet. “But still, it appears that you cannot leave this room.”

“Then both sides could have an apple pie war! That’s how me and my friends got the Appaloosans to stop fighting back in the day,” she suggested. “Wow, ‘back in the day,’ that was almost nine years ago, now!”

“So, a duel?” Grover said, considering the idea. “I thought about that initially, but Lady Blackrock is temporarily in poor physical condition after an attempted poisoning some months ago. It wouldn’t be a fair fight.”

Pinkie exhaled, and for a second Grover had thought her defeated, but as soon as her posture slouched it shot back up again. “Grovie--“

“Don’t call me that, please.”

“You keep talking like everything’s been told to you, but you never say anything like ‘Glenda says,’ or ‘Gilroy said to me after we had a cake to talk everything out.’ “

Grover flapped his feathers idly, straightening them out. “Talk? To them? You are correct. I only know what my informants tell me. To ask Gilroy to stop directly...” he snorted. “What good would that do? I must look at this objectively.”

Pinkie’s jaw dropped.

“You--“ she stopped herself, and instead began to chortle. “You have to talk to your friends, silly! It’s like, rule number--“

Purple light engulfed her entirely, muffling her next words in an ethereal tone that grew louder and louder, filling the room with its sound until it, and the light, and Pinkie Pie disappeared.

Grover snorted, looking around him sullenly, hoping for the slightest chance that she had stayed, but found no signs of her.

“Damn it,” he muttered.

Talk to Gilroy. Really. What a ridiculous notion.

He walked to his mirror, and stared into his troubled frown.

Ridiculous.

What kind of a King needed to talk to his subjects?

Insane.

His mind turned blank for a moment.

Then he sighed.

He had to find his crown.