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Roses and Thornbeaks & Mother Hen and Her Chick

By Guest
Created: 14th October 2021 02:23:35 AM
22nd October 2021 06:09:57 AM

  1. ----- Roses and Thornbeaks Oneshot #1
  2. Roseluck halted, her eyes widening as the gryphon before her did the same.
  3.  
  4. The moment of silence between the two did not last as the gryphon's eyes narrowed.
  5.  
  6. "Oh great, of all the damned places to run into a lameo pony, it had to be here."
  7.  
  8. Roseluck's eyes sharpened, forcing down the fear that threatened to crawl out of her throat as her ears splayed back.
  9.  
  10. "The feelings mutual." Roseluck said, putting her body at an angle to an escape route as she positioned her hind legs towards the gryphon, while her tail crept up to the dagger hidden in her saddle bag.
  11.  
  12. Gilda raised an eye at the display as something in her memory ticked, blinking as memories of a a shy mare of her exact form rose out of the murkiness of her mind. For a moment, she considered her options before shrugging, tapping her staff on the ground before taking a quick glance around to see if there were any others besides her around. Satisfied, she looked back at the mare as Gilda took a relaxed stance, mindful not to brush her bruised wing as she leaned against the outcrop of a rock wall.
  13.  
  14. Roseluck blinked, surprised at the non aggression of the gryphon. The last she saw of this she bitch, the oversized vermin was terrorizing the denizens of Ponyville. When the gryphon did nothing to respond to her after a few moments, Rose slowly relaxed her guard as she pulled the scarf covering her face to reveal her muzzle. She glanced around, wondering if there were any other gryphons in the area before shrugging it off. There didn't appear to be any in the immediate vicinity, otherwise they would have surrounded her already.
  15.  
  16. "What're you doing here dweeb?" Roseluck jerked as the gryphoness cut into her thoughts. Blinking, she saw the gryphon yawn as she leaned into her travel staff. Roseluck paused, considering her next words before speaking.
  17.  
  18. "I'm here to find rare and exotic wild flora to add to my collection. Nothing more, nothing less. What about you, Miss I Am Too Cool for Ponyville?"
  19.  
  20. At that Gilda rolled her eyes, sighing as she bit back the cascade of words that demanded she put this pony into her proper place.
  21.  
  22. "I've heard better insults from newborn chicks dweeb. For the record, I am just here to grab something for a client. Nothing more, nothing less. Capiche?" Roseluck considered her words before shaking her head.
  23.  
  24. "You're going to need to be a little more detailed than that, considering you acted like such a bitch-" Roseluck flinched as the gryphon growled.
  25.  
  26. "For your godsdamned information, all I wanted was to have a good time with Rainbow, maybe play a few harmless pranks while we were at it. At least till you losers came up and ruined it."
  27.  
  28. "Ruined it!?" Rose exploded. "I don’t recall us inviting a filthy gryphon into Ponyville to harass us, steal our produce, and Celestia knows what else. You're the one that waltz into Ponyville and started shit with us! If anyone ruined anything, it’s you!” She said, pointing a hoof at Gilda. It was then the practical side of Roseluck reared its ugly head as the gryphon reared back a couple steps, stunned.
  29.  
  30. *“Oh dear Celestia, I just insulted a gryphon. If I wasn’t dead before-”*
  31.  
  32. To Roseluck’s surprise, the gryphon took a deep breath and sighed.
  33.  
  34. “You know what? You gotta point. I was being an utter bitch, I got what was coming to me.” Gilda said, ignoring the sensation curling in her stomach before shooting an icy glare in return.
  35.  
  36. “But did Pinkie Cake or whoever really had to go and get in the way of Dash and I? I just wanted to have a good time with her. I was a bitch, I realize that now. But-”
  37.  
  38. “But what?” Roseluck shot back, taking a few steps forward. Gilda reared, taking a few steps back. Emboldened, Roseluck stomped her way until she was right in the gryphon’s face.
  39.  
  40. “If you wanted to go hang out with Rainbow Dash, why didn’t you just say so? Heck, I can get playing a few pranks here and there. But what you did was just *wrong*. Like, why in Celestia’s name did you think would happen when you started playing those pranks on us? Did you think we weren’t going to poke back? Sorry if Pinkie had to take you down a notch, but we Ponyvillians look after our own.” She said, poking a hoof into her chestfeathers.
  41.  
  42. Gilda should have been angry at this, outraged beyond belief. But that was the Gilda from a couple years before. The Gilda of now just took a deep breath, and sighed, running her claws through her feathers before giving a glum look to the earth pony beneath her.
  43.  
  44. “You made your point. I was a bitch, end of story. Happy now?” She said, unable to stop the exhaustion in her voice from bleeding out into the open. Roseluck stared, giving the gryphon a once over before stepping back.
  45.  
  46. “I… Yes? I kinda expected you to fight me more on this.” Gilda shrugged.
  47.  
  48. “Let’s just say things weren’t good for me after I left Ponyville and leave it at that. Suffice to say, I’m just here for a job. I’m surprised to see someone like you out and about. Last I checked, you ponies are usually too skittish to be out and about on your own.” Roseluck grimaced, pawing at the ground beneath her.
  49.  
  50. “Well, touche. I had to toughen up a bit to come up here. I need the bits, and I heard there was a special artifact out-” Roseluck’s hoof shot up to her muzzle, but it was too late, the gryphon raising an eye as she dipped down to eye level.
  51.  
  52. “An artifact huh? I wouldn’t suppose it would happen to be one associated with gryphon fertility and agriculure, right?” With the cat out of the back, Roseluck nodded, unable to come up with a lie on the spot. Gilda sighed, running her paws down her face as she stifled a moan.
  53.  
  54. “Fucking typical. So we’re both after the same thing. Where’d you even hear it from anyway?”
  55.  
  56. “W-well, I heard it from a strange gryphon merchant that dropped into town while browsing my wares. I said something along the lines of needing something to bolster my profits or some such thing, and he mentioned this artifact out of the blue, and… He wouldn’t stop talking about it. Then he gave me a map to its rough location, and then disappeared after making a purchase before I could ask him about it further. I thought nothing of it at the time, but… The crops failed, and I was desperate, so I had to come here in hopes of finding something. So here I am.” Roseluck said with a helpless shrug. Gilda stared for a moment, processing what the earth pony said before cocking her head to the side.
  57.  
  58. “Seems a little arbitrary if you ask me, but far from me to interrogate you on it.”
  59.  
  60. “What about you then? Why’re you out here?”
  61.  
  62. “More or less the same deal, if not in the exact same way. A gryphon’s gotta put food on the table, and some gryphon’s tribesman mentioned some rare artifact that they needed to be salvaged out here on these mountains. Said they’d pay a pretty artifact, and they didn’t have anyone else they could spare since the discovery of it. Paid a pretty penny up front too, so who was I to question it?”
  63.  
  64. ----- Mother Hen and Little Bird (Celestia/Gilda Crack Idea #1)
  65. There were few things in life that Gilda could say that have outright floored her. She was a jaded gryphon, always making sure to rip out the mystic and wonder out of any little thing that these ponies always seemed to fret over. She was a gryphon for Lioara's sake! Gryphons don't do impressed. Gryphons don't do being left outright speechless that their beaks risked falling off. Gryphons don't do existential angst about who they are in life.
  66.  
  67. Yet... There she was. Within Gilda's talons, a crumpled photo of herself as a chick nestled between her father and- *her*. There was no mistaking her identity. Her form may have been that of a proud gryphon, but even still nobody but the dumbest dweeb could mistake that multi-colored mane of feathers that streaked across her white body. She stared, the warmth of her smile emanating through the photo as if she were really there with her. Wings the envy of any gryphoness wrapped around a familiar chick, cuddling up to her mother's neck, egg shells littering the area around them. To her right, her father stood proud in an *equine* form, bereft of wings or even a horn to call his own. If not for the scar running down his cheek to his neck, she could almost pretend that very same pony was not her father.
  68.  
  69. She shook her head, backing away from the drawer as her chest tightened. A chuckle left her beak, crumpling the photo even further.
  70.  
  71. "T-this has to be some kind of prank. T-there's no way on Freya's green earth am I related to her. Or my father was ever a fucking pony-
  72.  
  73. She stopped, feeling a sharp presence enter the room. Gilda froze, the blood in her veins turned to ice as her muscle went rigid. She had only been near that presence once, and that was at the Grand Galloping Gala when she had to attended due to some unrelated duties. While she ever only managed to get a glance of the princess from afar, you *knew* you were in her presence when she came into play.
  74.  
  75. Slowly, the gryphon turned, hoping against hope this was all some awful dream-
  76.  
  77. The photo slipped, floating down to earth until a golden hued magic aura took hold of it. It lifted into the air, ascending until it stood in front of the face of-
  78.  
  79. "Hello Gilda." She spoke, the warmth of her voice sending a chill down Gilda's spine. Her beak opened, then closed, opening again before she clamped it shut as she took a reflexive step backwards.
  80.  
  81. She had just been here because some letter said some matter of inheritance of great importance from her long deceased mother had to be discussed. That was all it was supposed to be. Get a package, get out, then done.
  82.  
  83. Yet that was not to be as the alicorn strode forward, Gilda paralyzed to the spot as the sun princess took a bow and sat next to Gilda, cupping her face with a wing.
  84.  
  85. "It's been a long time since we last met my daughter dearest. Oh how have you grown into such a proud gryphoness." She giggled.
  86.  
  87. "It-It can't be. My father said my mother died during child birth. Y-you can't be my mother, this can't be real. This is just some sick dream or shit like that made to fuck with-
  88.  
  89. Gilda squawked as a blinding flash of light lit the room, raising an arm to shield her sight. She blinked, getting the spots out of her vision as the light faded-
  90.  
  91. Her heart stilled.
  92.  
  93. No longer, did the alicorn from before inhabit the room. In her place, a gryphoness greater in size than all but the Queen Regent of Graphos stood tall and proud, towering over Gilda by over several inches. The gryphoness churred, running a wing to cuff the smaller gryphoness below her as-
  94.  
  95. She flinched, a warmth that she did not know forgotten flooding back into her as Gilda leaned into her touch. Something warm peeled down her beak as she pressed into her, a scent long forgotten filling her nostrils as a desire wrought within her heart pushed her towards the hen
  96.  
  97. Gods. There was no mistaking it, that scent of a hot summer's day in a field of flowers pressing into her very being. There was no mistaking it. Only one gryphon had that scent, and-
  98.  
  99. "Mother..." She whispered, her heart stopping as she felt the gryphoness's beak run down the back of her neck. She groaned, collapsing into her as the gryphoness went to work preening her from top to bottom. Gilda's eyes closed, purring as thoughts of disbelief, shock and denial emptied from her mind, replaced with ones of want and desire. She could feel it, that subtle nudge in the back of her head that did nothing to mask its presence. But Gilda for the life of her could not give one damn even if she tried. She was home, nestled between the wingspan of her mother, uncaring that she had been an alicorn moments before.
  100.  
  101. Before long however, the gryphoness's beak lifted. To Gilda's shame, she loosed a whine as the bottom of her beak was lifted up by the tip of a talon. The warmth of the sun once more shined bright into her eyes, Gilda's beak trembling as she managed to muster the presence of mind to say a few words.
  102.  
  103. "You're mother. But how, why-" Her mother giggled, a finger laid on her beak silencing her.
  104.  
  105. "Oh my sweetest daughter, you shall know in time. But for the time being, I wish to bask in this moment. Won't you deign to give an old hen this much at least?"
  106.  
  107. There was so much to ask. So much to examine. So much to find out that the inquistive side demanded she do.
  108.  
  109. The rest of Gilda told it to fuck off as she leaned in, crooing on instinct as she gave her answer.
  110.  
  111. Celestia smiled, and went to work, grooming Gilda until the young gryphon dame fell asleep as night fell.
  112.  
  113. Drawing her beak back, Celestia yawned as she looked out the window, her sister's moon high in the sky.
  114. Nobody knew of this moment, nobody but her, her sister, and...
  115.  
  116. Right on cue, she felt the touch of a hoof into her back. She twisted, nuzzling the handsome stud of a stallion on the muzzle as her locked with the beiged colored earth pony.
  117.  
  118. "So, here at last Aurelian. Took you long enough." He shrugged, pecking her on the beak.
  119.  
  120. "Well, it has been a while since I last been in this form. Forgive me for acquainting myself with it once more *Celeste*." Celestia rolled her eyes, giving a playful smack on the back of the stallion's head.
  121.  
  122. "You and your little name for me. I should come up with something suitable for you one of these days." He laughed.
  123.  
  124. "Only when you find something suitable with my namesake." He paused, dipping his muzzle down to Gilda, pressing a kiss into her cheek before taking his place besides her.
  125.  
  126. "How... How is she taking it?" He asked, lips furled as he wrapped his tail around his daughter. Celestia shrugged.
  127.  
  128. "Well enough to be expected given my light dash of warmth. She'll have questions in the morning, but she won't be screaming her beak off at every which way in utter denial, panic, or both." Aurelian frowned.
  129.  
  130. "I see. Then all that we must do is wait until she awakens I suppose. Then it will be to our business as proper parents. Are you sure your sister will be able to handle your abscess?" She nodded, looking up into the moon above them.
  131.  
  132. "My sister will manage. She needs the practice and time anyway to get our subjects used to her. I've been ruling alongside her for the past couple of years, and now it is high time my subjects got used to my sister in a singular fashion. I have prepared them all the best I could, and now all that remains is to wait. She... Is not pleased to know that I had bedded one such as you, but I managed to keep her quiet for the time being." Aurelian sighed, leaning against his beloved.
  133.  
  134. "I suppose that much we should be thankful for. The question now is what are we to do tomorrow?" Celestia shrugged, looking down at her daughter.
  135.  
  136. "Being proper parents for one. Neglecting Gilda to such a degree that she..." The gryphoness shook her head.
  137.  
  138. "No, I will not dally on the follies of the past. I've done enough of that for several lifetimes."
  139.  
  140. "Indeed." He said, uttering a yawn. "All that remains is to wait for tomorrow to do the best for our child, and perhaps forge something new between our two empires." He said, giving her a soft smile. Celestia giggled, nuzzling him in turn.
  141.  
  142. "Mmmh." She said, giving off a yawn herself as she tucked her way next to Gilda's form. "I just look forward to getting to spend some quality time with her. Oh how I wished the day lasted so much longer, but for now we must sleep." Her wing extended, bring in Aurelian as he did the same with his tail. Snuggling up to each other, the two shot one last glance between each other as a slumber spell pulled their eyes shut.
  143.  
  144. Then, all was darkness.
  145.  
  146. ------ Roses and Thornbeaks Oneshot #2
  147. "Perhaps it was *you* who was the wronged your friend."
  148.  
  149. Gilda's head shot up, staring daggers at the Elder who kept that infuriating, punchable gaze of neutrality, his tone modest and calm as Gilda's feathers fluffed.
  150.  
  151. "Like hell it was! It's not my fault those namby pamby flip flops couldn't take a a prank or two. What, am I suppose to go back and grovel to those shitheads? Fuck that noise. If anything, it's Dashie and her lameo 'friends' who have to apologize."
  152.  
  153. At that, the elder shook there head, loosing a sigh of disappointment as he took a long puff of his pipe before giving Gilda yet another one of those disappointed stares, just like all the *other* elders she had come across. She just didn't think her gramps would be the one to give it to her though.
  154.  
  155. "Was it so much a surprise that your friend Rainbow Dash would take umbrage with you? Stealing valuable produce, scaring an old mare, terrifying and bullying the town, was it any wonder that you have gotten the response you did? No young eagle, what happened to you was inevitable from the start." He raised a paw to forestall Gilda's response.
  156.  
  157. "While it is understandable you wanted to keep a lone company with your friend, surely you would understand that she had made other friends in the meantime, friends of which you surely pushed away with your demeanor and attitude. Not that I do not sympathize with some of what they did to you of course." Gilda held her glare for a few more moments before dropping her head to the ground, a groan of frustration escaping her beak as she stared into the fire.
  158.  
  159. "Then what'd do you suggest I do gramps? I don't wanna go back there and get on my haunches begging for forgiveness... Fuck, would they even forgive me? I did piss em off." At that, her grandfather tipped her head up with the tip of his talon, running it below the edge of her beak as he offered her a small smile.
  160.  
  161. "Perhaps, perhaps not. But surely these lot are a forgiving sort if what I heard about them from the grapevine is any indication. If they truly embody their personification of spiritual harmony with the world, then surely they would extend the olive branch to you and take you into their fold. If you but explain your own reasoning and ire of what they accrued, perhaps you and they may make some amends and reforge what once was to be even stronger." He shrugged.
  162.  
  163. "That being said, some time is needed to mend those wounds. You still need time to mature a little bit more. With that in mind, I do have a task that would be the perfect fit for you my young Gilda." At this, Gilda raised an eye.
  164.  
  165. "Oh? Like what?" Her gramps chuckled, fetching a scroll from under his wing and unveiling it to Gilda. Taking a moment to examine it, she saw some strange looking crystal jewelry along with a small map.
  166.  
  167. "This... This is in the Eastern Mountains." She mumbled, taking a moment to study both the map and sketch. She blinked for a moment, the artifact in question not arousing any recognition. What was it her gramps wanted her to do-
  168.  
  169. Her eyes widened, veins pulsing red hot as she shot up from her position.
  170.  
  171. "Wait, you want *me* to go out on a fetch quest? Pardon me gramps, but isn't that a little early for me to do? Why send me out there?" At that, her gramps only chuckled, shooting a coy smile down at her.
  172.  
  173. "I have seen in a vision that you will do much in the times to come Gilda, should you choose to take this quest. Suffice to say, I believe it may prove pivotal in your development, or so the strands of fate may say." Just when Gilda was about to roll her eyes and snap a witty remark, her gramps pulled open her talons and placed something down into them. She blinked, a chill running down her spine as a well decorated dagger was clutched into her grasp. She eyed it up and down, feeling the weight of history behind it as she palmed the blade, looking between it and her gramps multiple times.
  174.  
  175. "Wait, why are you giving me this gramps? Couldn't you give it to someone like my older siblings? They'd do better with it than I have. And what's this stuff about a vision quest? I mean, it's in the godsdamned Eastern Mountains. It's in the middle of monster territory for crying out loud!" She squawked, trying to ignore the hum of magic emanating from the blade. At this her gramps let out a warm laugh, patting her on the back.
  176.  
  177. "That is for you to find out my young eagle. But suffice to say, I have a good feeling you'll make good use of it. My vision said so as much."
  178.  
  179. "Augh, gramps..." Gilda moaned, shaking her head as she thumbed the family crest on the center of the dagger. She sighed, sheaving the blade within the scabbard it came with.
  180.  
  181. "I... Can I think about this? You've dropped a huge load on my wings." Her gramps nodded, pulling himself up as he cupped her with his wing.
  182.  
  183. "Of course my little wing. You'll have plenty of time to do this quest. We can discuss further details over the next few weeks if you wish, but I do believe it shall not do to think on it on an empty stomach, no?"
  184.  
  185. "I'm not hungry-" Right at that moment, Gilda's stomach growled. Her gramps loosed yet another good hearted laugh as he patted her yet once more.
  186.  
  187. "Your gizzard says otherwise." He said, pushed her out of the tent with one of his wings, blowing a sizzle of smoke from his beak before stuffing his thumb down his pipe to extinguish the flames.
  188.  
  189. "Come now, our tribe made a decent kill of a hydra not too long ago. We shall feast merrily, and discuss this further in the morning. Now come along now." Gilda looked at him, a part of her feeling the urge to discuss this moment a bit more before looking between the dagger and his expecting face. Shrugging, she pulled the dagger over her neck and joined him as they took their stride out of the tent, her mouth watering as the scent of good meat entered her nostrils.
  190.  
  191. "Okay gramps, we'll talk shop later then. But I am holding you up to that, alright?" He nodded.
  192.  
  193. "Anything for you, my beloved granddaughter. Anything."
  194.  
  195. ----- Roses and Thornbeaks Oneshot #3
  196.  
  197. It was a quiet, peaceful night. With nothing but the stars and moon above to light their little campsite, the whistling of the wind, and the crackle of the fire to keep them company, the two individuals within sat in quiet as they ate their meals in peace. Gilda was content to keep it that way, not all that much interested in conversation with the peculiar earthen mare that stood a few paces away from her eating her own meal in silence. She sighed, poking at her own meal of foraged wild potatoes, berries, various edible flowers, and the skinned hare sitting nicely upon her tray. She cut at it, getting a nice slab of meat before plucking it into her muzzle, savoring the taste of spice and muscle on her tongue, the teeth within her beak chewing for a few seconds before swallowing. An audible groan loosed from her throat, taking a deep breath before looking towards the pony opposite her, the mare shooting her a soft smile before going back to her own meal, tossing a piece of *meat* wrapped in the flora gathered into her own muzzle and chewing. Gilda blinked, her sights set upon the strange mare as she reminisced upon the events of a few hours earlier.
  198.  
  199. -----
  200. Gilda's stomach growled, causing the gryphon to wince as she and Roseluck set about their hunt for a proper campsite for the night. The two had been at it for the past forty minutes or so, neither of them talking to each other much save for the occasional line or two, but nothing more. Yet as the sun started upon its final descent into the horizon below, Gilda's hunger made itself known. She had not eaten much since her flight to the mountains a few days ago, save for poking at the pre-prepped meals set to stave off the pangs in her search for some proper food and a decent campsite. Even with the ability to fly, Gilda kept to the ground to conserve her energy. It wasn't as if Gilda couldn't maintain it for so much longer, but she needed to preserve her energy and emergency foodstocks out here in the mountains. Food was scare, and she needed to make her energy last out here every bit she can. Yet to her frustration, there was not much to go around, save for the more unpalatable stuff that just *barely* kept her fed. Roseluck was nice enough to share her own supplies without prompting, the earthen mare mentioning she was able to better forage out here by the merit of her biology. Yet the topic of meat had yet to arise, and Gilda just about had it with the greens they managed to nab thus far. As far as gryphons went, Gilda was one who was not too picky about what her food was, unlike many who scoffed consuming fodder better meant for mere prey. Food was food, and her parents taught her well to appreciate it all regardless of what food was set on the table. While Gilda's family was not poor per say, troubles with the harvests and the like made her appreciate to take what she could get when it was available.
  201.  
  202. All that said, she *is* a gryphon. She needed meat damnit. Never mind the fact her body was better able to process it than other food sources, it just tasted so *good*. She liked greens, even loved them, but a bird had to get some meat on them bones. She clicked her beak, steeling herself as she took a moment to stop.
  203.  
  204. "Listen, can I ask you something real quick Roseluck?" The mare paused, glancing back at her as they stopped at a path.
  205.  
  206. "What's up?" Gilda looked around for a moment, taking a deep breath before staring Roseluck in the eyes.
  207.  
  208. "I'll cut it short and to the point. While I can subsist on these greens we've managed to gather-"
  209.  
  210. "You need meat, right?" Roseluck said, cutting her off. Not expecting her to cut to the heart of the issue, Gilda gave a dumb nod.
  211.  
  212. "Uh, need is a strong word. But yeah, I'd like to hunt for some meat. I just need to know if-" Roseluck shook her head, raising a hoof.
  213.  
  214. "If you're worried about me moaning in horror at the fact that a pred such as yourself needs meat, then I'm afraid you'll need to find another pony for that. I'm not one of them." Gilda blinked, her beak slightly agape as she took a moment to process the pony's casual nonchalance.
  215.  
  216. "Not even-" Yet once more, Gilda was interrupted as something brushed against her leg. Her eyes widened, seeing two furry hares blizting out of an outcrop she did not notice in Roseluck's direction. She cursed, wings flaring to her sides as she got out her throwing knives to-
  217.  
  218. A squelched filled the air as two hooves slammed on top of the hare closest to Roseluck. The throwing knives in Gilda's palm clanged to the ground as blood splattered on Roseluck's coat. Before Gilda could even process the moment, the mare's tail whipped out in a blur, slamming into the other one with a loud thump. The hare sailed into the air for a brief moment before slamming into the ground right at Gilda's talons. The hare twitched for a couple moments, yet Gilda could see the animal was already dead before it had even it the ground. She gawked, looking between the corpse and Roseluck as she saw her tail swish in an unnatural fashion. Upon closer inspection, Gilda saw a glint of metal flash in the light as Roseluck pulled her tail forward and unfastened a rope woven to match the patterns of her tail, depositing a small weighted ball into her saddlebags.
  219.  
  220. "How... How long have you had that there?" Roseluck was in the middle of putting a fastenr on her tail when she paused, looking back up at Gilda.
  221.  
  222. "Oh this?" She said, gesturing to her saddlebag and the tail. "I got the weighted ball from that gryphon I mentioned to you earlier. Said it would be helped to use my tail more in a pinch. Took a lot of practice to nail down, but you'd be surprise at how much a tail can do if you put your mind to it. I kinda forgot about it to be honest, since I had the thing on my tail for so long that it just feels natural. I actually feel naked without having something attached to it these days." She chuckled, her hooves moving in a quick fashion to fasten a respectable knife to it before she began the process of skinning the crushed hare. She paused, her muzzle turning into a frown before uttering a curse.
  223.  
  224. "Oh Celestia damnit, I hope I didn't get the intestines. That'll be nasty to clean." Gilda continued to stare, her beak still agape before Roseluck looked up at her with a wry grin.
  225.  
  226. "Ah, right. Guess you weren't expecting me to do any of that, did you?" Unable to muster any words, Gilda just nodded. The mare laughed, cutting a small incision from the back of the hare's neck before placing her hooves on the partial intact head. Gilda could only watch as the mare proceeded to mash out the guts, keeping a steady hoof on the head while using the other to force the guts to strew out of the animal's rectum.
  227.  
  228. "I learned a lot from Methos during my time with him. Taught me all sorts of things that I never thought'd I have to learn, and had me doing things I'd never even dream of. Taught me to how to fight, forage, survive out in the wild, even got me accustomed to hunting. Before I knew it, I was hunting rabbits, hares, shrews, and even bigger feral deer and other fauna. Got used to it pretty quickly, much to my surprise. Even started developing a taste for meat." Gilda still stared, trying to work her beak but failing as she tried to process the image of the mare before her.
  229.  
  230. "I-I thought you ponies couldn't eat meat, much less like it." Roseluck shrugged, pulling the head off with her tail before tossing the pelt to the side. It then occurred for Gilda to do the same with the hare at her talons. Wordlessly, she pulled a knife hidden under the armpit of her left foreleg and began the process of skinning it as Roseluck continued.
  231.  
  232. "As it turns out, ponies can eat meat. Even like it, as I come to learn. It isn't like all wild fauna is like what Fluttershy manages to get. It's easier to kill something that's dumber than that bunny angel. They're just... Different you know?" She said, twirling a hoof." Gilda shrugged, tossing the head of the hare to the side as she pulled the inner guts of the rabbit down to the rectum. Without further preamble, she lifted the rabbit into the air before flinging it downward. The guts flew out in between the gaps in her legs, splattering into the rockfaced wall.
  233.  
  234. "Yeah, I guess. But you didn't strike me as the type to even think of it. No offense, but you ponies are rather-" She stopped, unsure of how to proceed without offending the mare.
  235.  
  236. "Skittish, prone to jumping at the smallest of things, running around like a chicken with its head cut off?" Gilda looked up, managing to stifle some of the shock from showing on her face as the mare plucked a pouch from her saddlebag and tossed both the skinned corpse and pelt into it before zipping it shut.
  237.  
  238. "Before you asked, I picked up a few sayings from that old bird. And yeah, I was *very* much like that. Honestly, I don't past me would even recognize myself if she saw me right now. Probably run screaming like my sisters when they stumbled upon one of my practice sessions with Methos." She stopped, her face pinching in a frown for a moment before shaking her head.
  239.  
  240. "That..." She sighed, clopping her hooves together as she looked up into the sky.
  241.  
  242. "Said I had turned into a monster. That I had become like some stupid, meat eating gryphon. Told me to get the Tartarus out or they'd call the Royal Guard on me. Methos tried to defend me, but..." She stopped, looking into the rockface for a few moments as Gilda stopped her skinning of the hare. Something rose up within the gryphon's heart, and before she knew it the gryphon was at Roseluck's side. Acting on pure instinct, a wing pulled out and laid it on Roseluck's back. The mare flinched for but a moment before leaning into it, closing her eyes. Gilda jumped as Roseluck's hooves wrapped around her, an unnatural flutter filling her stomach that she was not sure she wanted to be rid of as the two stayed there for several moments more. Gilda's face screwed up, her beak clicking as the urge to run it down the mare's mane popped into her head. Ignoring the sensation of heat filling her face, Gilda contented herself to running her claws down the mare's mane instead. To her even further shock, Roseluck did not reject the motion of affection, taking a moment to breathe in the gryphon's scent.
  243.  
  244. 'Oh gods. What the hell are you doing Gilda? Why isn't this mare running away or something?' Somewhere in the back of Gilda's head, she knew the answer, an image of Rainbow Dash flaring in her vision in Roseluck's place, the scenery changing for a moment to back in Cloudsdale, back when those pieces of shit thought it was a good idea to smash Rainbow's wings and left her to fall. Her eyes narrowed, curling in on themselves as calls of fillyfooler, coltfucker, and cries of pain filled her ears as claws slashed, blood filling the air, and-
  245.  
  246. Gilda stopped, forcing herself to take a deep breath for a few moments before releasing it, allowing the trembling in her body to halt as she tugged Roseluck closer to her, lifting the mare's head and taking a moment to wipe away one of the mare's tears.
  247.  
  248. "You've been through a lot, didn't you?" Roseluck sniffed, nodding.
  249.  
  250. "Y-yeah. Is it that obvious things didn't go too well back there?" Gilda shrugged, pulling her other wing around the mare as the two basked, the sun's rays shining bright upon them
  251.  
  252. "You have not told me much, but I can tell were somewhat kindred spirits." Roseluck laughed, giving a playful poke at Gilda's chest.
  253.  
  254. "Kindred spirits? Never thought a gryphon would say that about me. But seeing as how I am more like a gryphon these days than not..." She trailed off, looking out into the horizon. Gilda's grip tightened around Roseluck's form, the feeling of anger returning with a vengeance.
  255.  
  256. "Did those dw- your sisters run you out of town?" Roseluck bit her lip, looking down at the ground.
  257.  
  258. "I... No. But they might as well have considering the rest of the town managed to find out. Apparently some reporter managed to catch word of what was happening, and before I knew it, I had the entire town rallied up into an angry mob. I- I didn't even get a chance to talk with my sisters. I had to run as fast as my hooves could take me. I-I'm not sure what would have happened if I stayed, but I figured it wouldn't have been good. Didn't even take time to drop back home to get my stuff, save for what was on my person and with Methos's campsite. I just packed my stuff, and left. Methos tried to convince me, but-" She shook her head. "The found us. Said they were going to drive us "gryphons" out of Ponyville proper." She tried to laugh, yet it came out more as a growl instead. "And to think I was once one of them, like with Zecora, like a stupid fucking pony jumping at shadows." She hissed, stomping her hoof into the ground. Gilda listened, unsure of what to say as the mare continued.
  259.  
  260. "I... All those years with that community, and yet they drove me out after finding out what I was doing with Methos. I know not everyone there was in on it. Twilight, Fluttershy, Applejack, and a few others, but-"
  261.  
  262. "Was Rainbow in on it?" Gilda muttered. Roseluck blinked for a few moments before her eyes flashed in recognition. She shook her head, putting a hoof on Gilda's shoulder.
  263.  
  264. "No, she wasn't. You've been friends with her, right?" Gilda sucked in a breath, something wet dripping down her beak as she shuddered. She felt the pony between her wings and arms stiffen for a moment before the two forelegs tightened around her.
  265.  
  266. "S-sorry, I didn't mean to-" Gilda raised a claw, shaking her head.
  267.  
  268. "It's fine. I fucked up with Rainbow. Made myself a fucking fool, and burned whatever bridges we had left. Nothing but water under the bridge at this point. It's what a monster like myself deserves I guess." She said, trying to laugh it off, yet the attempt felt as hollow as the hole in her heart as Roseluck brought her hooves to her head, pulling her down to eye level.
  269.  
  270. "Listen, Gilda? I haven't been with you long, not even a day. But this moment is telling me anything, you aren't a monster. Neither of us are. You said we're kindred spirits, right? Then that means we can't be monsters. I know I am not, I know Methos wasn't either, and you are definitely no monster. Celestia help me, I know I did some things that Ponyville didn't like as a whole. But we aren't monsters, right?" Gilda chuckled, a small part of her taking humor in the moment.
  271.  
  272. "No. I guess not." She shook her head, loosing a great, big laugh. "Holy shit, this is corny as all hell. I should be cringing at how lame as fuck this all is, but I can't be arsed to give a damn right now. What's next, are we going to start fucking in the middle of nowhere?" Roseluck's cheeks puffed out for a split seconds before loosing her own guffle, the two of them laughing for several seconds and pounding each other on the back before the moment subsided.
  273.  
  274. "Yeah, I guess it is pretty silly. But it's nice, right?" Gilda shrugged.
  275.  
  276. "I suppose. Guess it helps to avoid any and all suspicion between us, right? So much for any plot development or suspense." Roseluck rolled her eyes.
  277.  
  278. "Eh, who cares? We're the only ones here, right? Not like anyone is gonna tattle about us." She said, drawing her hoof around Gilda's chest as she fluttered her eyes.
  279.  
  280. "Though if you want a romp in the hay, I'm all game." A strangled croak left Gilda's beak as her face flushed with heat as Roseluck pressed in on her face to face.
  281.  
  282. "W-what?" Roseluck held that seductive gaze for several moments, and some part of Gilda felt a growing need to reciprocate, while the rest warred in utter horror at the lack of utter proprietary of it all.
  283.  
  284. At least, before a hoof booped her in the beak. Gilda blinked as the mare giggled, pulling back from the embrace as she wiped a tear from her eye.
  285.  
  286. "Oh Celestia, you should have seen the look on your face." Gilda frowned, giving an unimpressed look towards the mare.
  287.  
  288. "Har har. You got me there, dweeb." Roseluck shrugged, shooting her a strawberry.
  289.  
  290. "Oh relax, it wasn't like I was going to screw you on the spot. I've got standards to uphold after all, and this mare is reserved for their special somepony. Or somegryphon if you prefer." Gilda raised a hand.
  291.  
  292. "I'll pass, thanks." She said. For a moment, Gilda thought she saw a look of disappointment flash across Roseluck's face before she nodded.
  293.  
  294. "Eh, understandable. We only just met like what, eight hours ago?" Gilda nodded. In quick order, she resumed the process of skinning the hare beneath her.
  295.  
  296. "Something like that. But I wouldn't mind calling you a friend if you're game for it. And uh... I'm assuming you want us to share in the meat?" Roseluck shot her a sly look. It took a few seconds before Gilda's eyes widened as she shook her head in a rabid fashion.
  297.  
  298. "N-not like that!" Roseluck laughed, fixing up her own saddlebags as she gave a playful flick of her tail, grazing Gilda's beak right at the moment she inhaled. Her claws rushed to her face, holding in the scent of the mare's musk, regret flooding her as even more of the mare's scent filled in from her claws. The mare in question stepped forward with a playful jump about her, gesturing her over with a hoof.
  299.  
  300. "Well, c'mon! We still gotta find ourselves a campsite before nightfall. I think I can sense a good one right around the corner." Before Gilda could respond, the mare giggled as she continued on forth with a snap of her tail. Unable to find any words to respond, Gilda finished the remainder of her task and quickly caught up with the mare, unable to stop herself from replaying the moment of intimacy in her head as she kept her beak shut.
  301.  
  302. ------
  303.  
  304. It was a strange moment with a strange pony. Looking at Roseluck as she dug into her meal, it was hard to imagine she being *anything* like the ponies from Ponyville. She was too bold, too daring, too much like Rainbow Dash-
  305.  
  306. With a start, she swallowed, shaking her head.
  307.  
  308. 'No, not like Dashie. Even she didn't go about eating meat like Rose is doing right now with a hearty abandon.' When asked about it while setting up camp, Rose just said in some ways that ponies could also be predators. Said something about having forward facing eyes, the ability to digest meat, and even saying there still existed some groups of ponies not affiliated with Equestria proper that ate meat just as readily as any gryphon, in some ways even being physiology different to the common pony, eliciting a simple 'huh' as Gilda digested that little tidbit.
  309.  
  310. And *then* there was the moment of utter intimacy between them that came from the worst romance novels of all time. Or at least, Gilda thought that's what they were from. It's not like this was a part of destiny or anything. Her gramps said nothing about this in his vision about the place-
  311.  
  312. She stopped, pausing for a moment as she reflected on her reason being here. Her gramps said she'd find her true self upon this quest or whatever it was, to find whatever stinking artifact from an age long past. How she'd find herself trying to find some agricultural doohicky was beyond Gilda, but perhaps it might of had to do with the mare sitting across from her. The feelings of affection returned, the desire to get up and close the distance to cuddle the mare filling her mind. She shook her head, forcing herself to bite down on the piece of meat, licking it as she took in those sweet juices as she closed her eyes.
  313.  
  314. Such sweet, succulent meat. Her tongue dancing all over it, with the sweet spices of a spicy mare-
  315.  
  316. Gilda coughed, slapping herself as she grabbed at her water canteen and forced it down. Roseluck looked up in alarm, and before Gilda could even muster a word, the mare was on her, slamming a hoof on her back. Gilda coughed once, then twice, then thrice, before the piece of food lodged in her throat went down. She panted, forcing the water canteen up and down her beak as she drank, drank, and drank some more as Roseluck patted her on the back.
  317.  
  318. "Easy Gilda, try to actually chew your food before swallowing. Can't have you dying on me now, right?" Gilda panted, shooting her an unamused look before sighing.
  319.  
  320. "Yeah, yeah, I get it. Just got a bit too eager to down it all." Roseluck shrugged, taking a moment to sit next to her. She yawned, cuddling up next to the gryphon, causing Gilda's heart to stir.
  321.  
  322. "Well, I don't know about you, but I am feeling rather sleepy. We got a big day tomorrow, trying to find this artifact, wherever the heck it is." For her part, Gilda just nodded.
  323.  
  324. "Y-yeah. I guess." For a moment, neither of them spoke until Gilda coughed.
  325.  
  326. "Uh, aren't you going to start brushing up-" Roseluck loosed a frustrated growl, staring down Gilda with annoyance.
  327.  
  328. "Yeah, yeah, I'm on it. Don't put your panties in a bunch." She said, pulling up to her saddlebag and fetching her equipment. Gilda looked on for a moment before feeling a yawn escape her own beak. Without preamble, she closed the plated disc to save for tomorrow and pulled out her own supplies. Pulling out a toothbrush and a small tube of tooth/beakpaste, the gryphon went to work as she stared up into the campfire went the earthen mare dropped by her side. Taking a gulp of water, she dabbed her brush and proceed to brush, hoof adapter in... Well, hoof as the mare brushed. Gilda looked on for a moment, deciding not to comment as she went about her business, letting the moment happen as she lifted a wing to envelop the mare.
  329.  
  330. 'Fuck it. If she wants to cuddle, who am I to refuse?' The two sat there in silence, the sounds of brushing filling the air as the fire died down. On sync, the two finished and spat the paste into the dirt, flushing it with water before the two looked at each other.
  331.  
  332. "So... Do you want to take first watch or I?" Roseluck paused for a moment, looking out into the darkness.
  333.  
  334. "Hmm. I guess I can do so. But I don't think we have to, seeing as there hasn't been anything out here thus far. For a dangerous mountain, we've yet to see anything more dangerous than those sudden drop offs." Gilda fixed her with a look.
  335.  
  336. "True, but my gramps said things lurk in the dark around here. It pays to be-" Gilda trailed off, her eyes squinting as something danced out of the corner of her vision. Her head darted, claws on staff, Roseluck following her lead without word as she swiped the dagger from her barrel, tail swaying in utter menace as her ears swiveled.
  337.  
  338. "What is it?" Gilda's eyes narrowed, her wings flaring as she pulled her rear to the campfire. She swore, her vision still taking time to adjust to the darkness.
  339.  
  340. "I don't know, but we're not alone. Fucking Helen." Her staff twirled, eyes twitching this way and that as Roseluck's head turned likewise. They waited, seconds turning to minutes, yet nothing happened. Slowly, Gilda relaxed as she sat back down on the ground.
  341.  
  342. "Huh. I guess it was nothing. I thought for sure there was something there." Roseluck shrugged, pulling down to the dirt as she looked at Gilda.
  343.  
  344. "Yeah. I guess-" She stopped, her eyes widened. At that very moment, Gilda's blood froze in her veins as something rushed to her ear. Roseluck screamed out a warning as Gilda twirled, roaring as she swung her staff on instinct. Her heart skipped a beak, yellow eyes and flashing fangs descending upon her as the staff connected with a large sabertooth and-
  345.  
  346. Gilda screamed, utter agony filling her as the cat's fangs sank into her raised arm. She howled, slammed into the dirt as she began to fight the cat in a life or death struggle. She heard Roseluck cry out, launching upon the beast with a war cry as she slammed her tail upon the fell beast, only to be batted away for her efforts. Yet this gave Gilda enough time to fetch one of her knives, pulling it up and slamming it repeatedly into the feline's neck. Blood soaked tears bled through her vision, her beak snapping at the feline's neck along with the dagger as she tore chunks from it. She stabbed, stabbed, and stabbed, the beast weakening with every strike as it splattered blood of both her own and itself, her vision fogging all the while.
  347.  
  348. Then without ceremony, the beast slumped on top of her dead. Gilda panted, her breath ragged as she looked at the dead beast's eyes, before looking to see her mangled arm still stuck inside its grasp. With a start, she realized that part of her shoulder and flank had been ripped open, bleeding red on to the ground. She groaned, collapsing on to the ground as Roseluck rushed up to her with panic in her eyes. The mare's mouth moved, yet for some reason Gilda could not hear them clearly.
  349.  
  350. Her vision was darkening, Roseluck ripping open something from her saddlebag, popping open a glass bottle. Before she even knew it, Roseluck was cramming it into her beak, letting a sweet, cool liquid pour down her throat. Gilda coughed, suckling it for all she could as sweet, *sweet* relief from the pain came forward, and with it a clarity of purpose as her hearing returned.
  351.  
  352. "-Gilda, for Celestia's sake just answer me!" Gilda blinked for a moment before chuckling.
  353.  
  354. "Relax dweeb, I-I'm still here. Go-gonna take more than this overgrown c-cat to kill an awesome gryphon like-" A spike of pain ran up Gilda's arm as she swore.
  355.  
  356. "Fuck! Fuck-" She bit down on her beak, feeling the bleeding slow as Roseluck forced open the cat's jaw, much to Gilda's protest as her arm resumed its bleeding. Yet the mare was quick on the draw, splashing the potion on the wound, causing it to clot before, fetching a needle and driving it into her flesh. Gilda hissed, feeling her arm bubble as the potion injector went to work, the broken bones in her arm beginning the process of mending as Gilda drew in shallow breaths. Bandages wrapped around Gilda's arm, her vision fading as Roseluck placed a firm hoof on her form.
  357.  
  358. "Just don't die on me Gilda, just stay with me, okay?"
  359.  
  360. "I... I'll try, I-" Gilda slumped to the ground, the blackness overtaking her vision. The last thing she heard before losing consciousness was the mare shouting her name.
  361.  
  362. Then, darkness.

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