X-Roads

Anonfilly and Trixie travel through Equestria and do stuff

Mar 28th, 2016
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  1. >"That's it, Hornet. You almost got it off the ground... But you need to concentrate on Hysh more. Trixie barely could feel it in you."
  2. >Breathing a sigh of relief and exhaustion, you plant your plot down on the grassy soil and wipe the several thick beads of sweat that have accumulated on your forehead away.
  3. >Casting spells is so much more demanding than you thought it would be... She makes it look so easy.
  4. >Just a quick flash of her horn and... Bam! Instant magical trickery.
  5. "H-Hysh?", you ask Trixie and shoot her a puzzled look, "That's the one that burns, isn't it?"
  6. >"Oh no, my dear.", she giggles, "Hysh is bright and incandescent, like the rays of Celestia's sun. What you meant is Aqshy, the wind of fire."
  7. "Meh...", you groan and paw the ground, "All those different winds are just confusing..."
  8. >"Trixie knows how you feel. Getting a grasp on magic can be really frustrating, but believe her when she says that it will feel like the most natural thing ever once you get the hang of it."
  9. "If you say so."
  10. >"That's the spirit... Well, kinda. So how about you give it another try?"
  11. >A deep rumbling resounds from your stomach and you give it a few pats, tittering at the unicorn in front of you.
  12. "Okay, but I'm hungry. Can't we get something to eat first?"
  13. >Hearing your words, the azure mare flinches and beams you quite an unsure and nervous seeming smile.
  14. >What's up with tha-... Oh...
  15. >Oh, for fucks sake!
  16. "Trixie... Please don't tell me you used all our money to buy booze again."
  17. >"S-Sure. Trixie didn't..."
  18. >Through your gritted teeth escapes a growl and you point a shaking hoof at her.
  19. "We didn't eat properly for at least a week now! Look!", you bark and show her your ribcage, "I can count my fucking ribs!"
  20. >"Hornet! Language!"
  21. "You wot mate?! Language?!"
  22. >"W-Wot?"
  23. "You promised me to hone your boozing down to a minimum!"
  24. >"And Trixie did!"
  25. "Then why are we broke again? We earned like two hundred bits last week!"
  26. >"Well...", she gulps and averts your stern gaze, "Well... That doesn't matter! Trixie does not want to talk about it right now!"
  27. "You never want...", you mumble.
  28. >"And just for your information..."
  29. "Yeah? What now?"
  30. >"We ain't broke."
  31. "It damn sure sounds like that, though! Tell that to the mari- guards!"
  32. >"No! See?", she conjures her bit bag up and opens it, "There are still sixty bits left!"
  33. >And sure enough there are three golden, four silver and around ten to twelve bronze coins in it... So she at least didn't lie about that.
  34. >Still... She fucking spent almost one hundred fifty bits on booze! And probably on some cheap and nasty gnat's piss too.
  35. >To say that her recent drinking habits worry you is an understatement...
  36. >"And Trixie promises you to cook her famous vegetable stew for you! You know? The one with the star roots and wizard pipes? The one you love so much?"
  37. >Man... Solely thinking about that stew makes your mouth water. It's really damn good.
  38. >But it is also quite expensive. Especially the star roots.
  39. >"So how about you do one last try and then we go grocery shopping? Trixie saw cheap star roots when she bought her liq-... Stuff."
  40. >Yeah... Stuff.
  41. "Okay."
  42. >"Wonderful! And Hornet..."
  43. "Yes?", you ask and meet her eyes.
  44. >She's sweating... Quite heavily at that too. Her violet orbs bear a sad expression and you can literally read off her twitching ears and quivering lips how incredibly awkward this whole situation must be for her.
  45. >If she would just be responsive to your attempts to talk that out with her... You are sure you would be able to help her.
  46. >You might be just a small filly now, but you lived a whole another live unbeknown to her before.
  47. >Maybe tonight...
  48. >"Please be a dear and do not focus on Aqshy under any circumstances, okay? As much as Trixie loves you, she simply can't afford to replace any more furniture of hers."
  49. "Of course."
  50. >"Thank you."
  51. "So..."
  52. >"Mhm?"
  53. "Bright and incandescent, you said?"
  54. >"Yes. Like Celestia's glorious sun."
  55.  
  56. >After a few more failed attempts at spell casting, Trixie finally decided to call it a day and now you two are on your way to the nearby village of Hagshoof.
  57. >Some small thorp in the middle of nowhere, nestled in a thick and sombre forest and apparently quite famous for their excellent rangers.
  58. >At least according to what Trixie told you. She tends to make up facts when she's drunk.
  59. >And she certainly is right now... Well... Not drunk, but at the very least tipsy. You can smell the cheap liquor every time she opens her mouth.
  60. >When did she have the time to drink? Did she directly teleport the booze into her stomach? That wouldn't be beneath her...
  61. >"...And those three rangers managed to bring down that Chimera all by themselves! Can you believe that?"
  62. "I guess... A chimera is something big, isn't it?"
  63. >"Oh yes, they are! To use Starswirl words: "A thing of immortal make, not pony, lion-fronted and snake behind, a goat in the middle and snorting out the breathe of terrible flame of bright fire."."
  64. "They can breathe fire too?"
  65. >"They can, but it is more like a blazing stream of acid than a cloud of pure fire. So their breathe is quite different to a dragon's."
  66. >But at least she is quite chatty when half-cut. Usually your walks together are spent in relative silence.
  67. "Burning acid? That sounds cool as fuck!", you chirp and hop over a small gap in the road.
  68. >"Heh... Yeah, it kinda does, doesn't it? But Hornet?
  69. "Yes, Trixie?"
  70. >"Please do watch your language a bit more... You sound more like a sailor than a small filly. Trixie doesn't like that."
  71. "Oh, okay. Of course. Sorry."
  72. >"Never mind. But to be honest, dear, it really isn't such a "cool" thing."
  73. "Huh? Why? What couldn't be cool about burning acid?"
  74. >"You see, on her travels Trixie has met a stallion who was lucky enough to survive such an attack. And from what he told her it must have been the most painful and terrifying experience in his life."
  75. >Trixie sighs and levitates you over another fissure.
  76. "H-Hey! At least warn me before you do that!"
  77. >Not acknowledging your words of complaint, she sets you down again and gently cuffs your backside as a cue to keep walking.
  78. >Are you on some kind of footslog now?
  79. >You quickly catch up to her again and shoot her an annoyed look that promptly gets ignored as well.
  80. >How rude!
  81. >But before you could express your discontent with the current situation, Trixie looks down at you and points at a small pond just a few yards ahead of you.
  82. >"Let's take a small break, okay? Trixie's hooves are hurting and she really needs a drink."
  83. >A what now?
  84. "A drink?", you ask and narrow your eyes.
  85. >"Oh! Not what you meant, of course!", she blurts out and giggles, "Just a sip of water! Trixie did promise you to restrict herself, didn't she?"
  86. "Okay..."
  87. >"Wonderful! Trixie can't wait to get her throat wet!"
  88. >Oh, you have no problems believing that. Better keep a wary eye on her and her saddlebags lest she tries to fish her hip flask out of them when she thinks you aren't looking.
  89. >God knows that has happened before.
  90.  
  91. >Like a dog excited to see its master she skips to the creek and immediately dips her muzzle into its slightly murky water.
  92. >Ponies have no issues drinking things that a human would get at least diarrhoea from, that you know, but it still somewhat disgusts you.
  93. >So you just sit down besides her and unscrew your own flask to take a sip from it instead of the sludge that Trixie chose to quench her thirst.
  94. >With a loud, somewhat content sounding sigh, she wipes her mouth and plants her plot down on the grassy soil next to you, beaming you a warm smile.
  95. >"It's nice here, isn't it?"
  96. "Sure is.", you state and take another pull on the bottle, "How much further is it to Hagshoof?"
  97. >"Mmmh... Maybe another ten or fifteen minutes or so."
  98. "Still so far away? Ah, man. Couldn't you just teleport us there?"
  99. >"I could... But I thought that a little walk wouldn't hurt. It always helps Trixie to think over a few things."
  100. "For me it's just exhausting, though..."
  101. >"Hmm."
  102. "What "hmm"?"
  103. >"Oh nothing. Say, Hornet, may Trixie ask you something that has been on her mind for quite some time now?"
  104. "Of course.", you shrug and screw the top on your flask again, "Fire away."
  105. >"Trixie noticed over the last weeks that you appear to be awfully interested in a lot of violent stuff. That's kinda unusual for a filly, especially for one as young as you. Are there any reasons for that?"
  106. "Violent stuff? Care to elaborate?"
  107. >"Well... For one, the only books you ever seem to read are Trixie's more combat oriented spell books, which she doesn't mind at all, don't get her wrong..."
  108. "And? They make for an interesting read."
  109. >"Like Trixie said: She doesn't mind you reading them, since they consolidate your magical skills on a theoretical level. And for another... Remember the last town we passed through?"
  110. "Grassmere?"
  111. >"Yes, that one."
  112. "What about it?"
  113. >"You spent almost all your free time in that wheelsmith's shop there, which made Trixie think."
  114. "Wheelsmith? You mean that stallion that made those weird, round blades?"
  115. >"Exactly. And they are called "Celestial Wheels", my dear."
  116. "That's a strange name for a weapon. What's so celestial about them?"
  117. >"Today? Nothing much any more. They used to be shaped like radiant suns or crescent moons and not like those silly serpent and dragon designs you saw. But I digress."
  118. "Okay that makes sense. What are you getting at then?"
  119. >Opening her saddlebags, Trixie pulls a blackish red book out of it and levitates it over to you.
  120. "Eh? "A Hypothetical Treachery"?", you say a bit confused and take it into your hooves.
  121. >"Mhm. It's an one act play by Nettlekiss."
  122. "And who is that?"
  123. >"Well!", she happily states, "Nettlekiss was a very famous author and also happened to be the finest spell crafter of his time!"
  124. "Interesting...", you say and flip the book open, "Dramatis personae... Gleaming Ashes, an unicorn apprentice... Blue Lightning, an unicorn battlemage... Uh, what? Starplume, a gryphon stormsmith?"
  125. >"What's so strange about her?"
  126. "What's a stormsmith?"
  127. >"Stormsmiths are a class of gryphon mages who bid the raw elemental powers of thunder and lightning."
  128. "Hold up! There are gryphon mages?"
  129. >"Of course. Why would you think otherwise?", she asks and turns herself around to properly face you.
  130. "I thought only unicorns could cast spells."
  131. >"Oh no, my dear.", she titters, "That's a common misconception. In fact almost all races, be it gryphons, minotaurs, ponies or even diamond dogs, are capable of manipulating the magic winds in some way."
  132. "Wow... I didn't know that."
  133. >"Now you do.", she says with a smile and pats your head. "Why don't you read around in it for a bit while Trixie rests her weary legs."
  134. >With that said she lies down next to you and puts her hooves up, watching with great interest as you flick through the pages and quickly skim over them.
  135. >Apparently the play is about those three characters trying to uncover some evil enchanter's plan to sell the headmaster of the university they attend down the river.
  136. >Oh my... Some of those battle scenes are really graphic. Not that you mind, of course... Equestrian literature is usually so boring that this is a nice change of pace.
  137. >All in all, it sounds and reads pretty interesting. Maybe you will read through it tonight. It doesn't seem all too long anyway.
  138. >Perhaps one hundred pages or so. That's doable in one evening.
  139. >Closing the book again, you catch Trixie expectantly looking at you.
  140. >Oh, you forgot to thank her. That's what she probably wants.
  141. "Thanks for the book, Trixie."
  142. >"Don't mention it, my dear. Trixie just hopes that this book will help you to get a better grasp on your magic."
  143. "How is it supposed to help me with my magic? It's just a story."
  144. >"It's far more than that, Hornet. Didn't you read the spell register?"
  145. "No I didn't. Where is it?"
  146. >"At the very end.", she says and flips the book open to the pages in question, "It contains all the simpler spells used in the play itself, so foals can try and learn them by simply re-enacting it."
  147. >That's rather nifty, you have to admit.
  148. >"Of course those spells are all illusionary, so nopony gets hurt. But it is easy to remove the parts that make them illusionary, so that they are practical again. This one for example..."
  149. >She points at a spell named "Searing Grape-Shot" and highlights a section of its description with her magic.
  150. >"You would just have to remove Ulgu out of the elemental mix and replace it with some more Aqshy to give the spell its full effect back."
  151. >Isn't Ulgu the wind of shadows? Shadows are kinda like illusions, aren't they? So it would make sense if it...
  152. "So I assume that Ulgu makes all those spells illusionary then?"
  153. >"Kinda... It does this for all the simpler ones. You don't have to worry about which winds to keep and which to remove, though."
  154. "I don't?"
  155. >"Mhm, for now Trixie will just tell you the right combination of winds and when you mastered a few of those spells, she will teach you more about how the eight winds interact with each other so you can discern that by yourself."
  156. "Cool!", you chirp, "But I thought you wouldn't teach me any combat spells until I'm older?"
  157. >"Well, Trixie indeed said that.", she snickers and heaves herself up again, "But since you seem to have a rather hard time getting your head around the usual basic spells, Trixie thought that this way of learning would be more up your alley. You know? By setting things on fire."
  158. >Now this sounds a lot more exciting than trying to lift stones all day.
  159. "It really is. Thank you."
  160. >"No biggie. We don't have to re-enact the play if you don't want to, but... Uhm... Trixie would really... Ehrm...", she mutters, her last few words barely being a whisper.
  161. "I didn't understand you, Trixie. Could you repeat that?"
  162. >A slight blush creeps up on her cheeks and she stares at you with a longing expression, before shaking her head and sighing.
  163. >"It's okay. It wasn't important anyway. Let's get going again, shall we?"
  164. "If you say so."
  165. >"Trixie does."
  166. >Beaming you a soft smile, her horn lights up and you feel your hooves leaving the grass as a warm, tingly aura embraces you.
  167. "W-Whoa! Trixie, what are you doing?"
  168. >Slowly you drift towards the blue unicorn mare, your tiny legs uselessly kicking the air, until the incorporeal force of her magic settles you down on her back.
  169. >"Didn't you say that all this walking tires you?"
  170. "Y-Yeah."
  171. >"So Trixie thought that this might be better, isn't it?"
  172. "Yes, it is, but you really don't have to car-..."
  173. >"Shush now, before Trixie decides to change her mind! Feeling comfy up there?"
  174. >She really is quite warm and comfortable... And being so unusual close to her gives you a strangely soothing feeling.
  175. >It's so familiar, but yet you can't seem to point your finger, or hoof to be precise, on it... It somewhat reminds you of your childhood.
  176. >And your mother... How strange...
  177. "Mhm."
  178. >"Wonderful. Let's go then!"
  179.  
  180. >The damp confines of a laboratory hidden between thick, oaken roots. You recognise where you are... But how did you get there?
  181. >And when exactly?
  182. >Sounds of hurried hooves and stern voices trickle into it as two ghostly figures stare at you, their faces unreadable but you somehow know that they bear expressions of worry and concern.
  183. >Words of protest leave your mouth, emphasised by desperate gestures of your hands, but neither of them finds hold in their ears.
  184. >Everything plays out like in a movie... You see through your eyes, but you can't influence anything you do. You are nothing more than a mere spectator in your own body.
  185. >"Please, Anon... You just have to understand! This is the only way!", the purple spectre nervously exclaims.
  186. >The only way? There has to be another one!
  187. >"I can understand how you must feel right now, darling, but I'm afraid that she's right. There really is no other way out of this.", the other shade, this one as white as virgin snow, chimes in.
  188. >You're innocent for god's sake!
  189. >"We know that you didn't do it... But the Royal Guard has already issued an order of commitment."
  190. >"You might be very different from us... And sometimes a horrible brute, but beneath that rough exterior beats a heart of gold."
  191. >"Yeah... So please understand that we just want to help you."
  192. >By turning you into a pony?!
  193. >"Yes, dear, that's the plan. We have gathered all the needed materials for the ritual. Well... Except for one.", the white one states.
  194. >The purple phantasm draws a jagged knife and levitates it towards your neck.
  195. >W-What?!
  196. >"To cite High Inquisitor Solar Storm of the Crystal Inquisition... "To cleanse the soul of the impure, gather the hearts of a dozen elementals touched by both the moon and the sun, ground them until nothing but dust remains and then taint it with the foul being's very life essence." There's more to it... But we are running out of time."
  197. >"The town is swarming with soldiers, darling. We implore you to trust us."
  198. >"We don't need much...", the amethyst ghost sighs, "Maybe a pint, but no more than that."
  199. >And this is really necessary?
  200. >"Sadly yes. But please believe us, Anon, we won't treat you any different after this."
  201. >"Well... Maybe a tiny bit.", the argent one giggles.
  202. >"Heh, yeah... Also I swear..."
  203. >"No, we swear, dear."
  204. >"Yes, of course... We swear to do our best to help you settle in your new life. It might be difficult and confusing for you at first, but you shall get all the support you need."
  205. >Will it be painless?
  206. >"That I can't promise, Anon... But you will be finally able to live a normal life again."
  207. >As a pony.
  208. >"Yes... As a pony."
  209. >"It isn't all that bad, darling! Hooves are just as good as your hands~"
  210. >What will you be?
  211. >"The outcome is random, but if you want I could try to influence it by adding roc feathers or imp fangs to the ritual. I still should have some lying around somewhere."
  212. >"So what will it be, Hornet?"
  213. >Hornet?
  214. >"Please wake up."
  215. >You don't understand... What's happening?
  216. >"We're there... Come on now, my dear, ponies are already looking. And Trixie doesn't like it when ponies are staring at her."
  217. >A mysterious force is shaking you... Ripping you out of your surreal state and forcing the landscape around you to distort and melt until nothing but pure caliginosity surrounds you.
  218. >Then, suddenly, your eyes are stabbed by a flash of incandescent light.
  219. >"Hornet... Don't be like that. Trixie might look young and fresh faced, but her back is the one of an old mare."
  220. "H-Huh..."
  221. >"Ah, finally... Good morning, sleepyhead. How was your nap?"
  222.  
  223. "I f-fell asleep?"
  224. >A quiet yawn escapes you and you stretch your tired limbs, burying your face into Trixie's mane in an attempt to escape the bright sunlight.
  225. >It smells like sulphur, black powder and all the other chemical and magical compounds she needs for her illusionary trickery.
  226. >Pretty much anyone else would be nauseated by this quite sharp amalgam of scents, but over time you've grown more or less used to it and now can't imagine her smelling like anything else.
  227. >"Why, yes.", she snickers, "Trixie heard you snoring just five minutes after she started carrying you!"
  228. >You hear the distinct crackling sound of magic being channelled and soon feel it all around you, gently lifting you off Trixie's back and settling you down on the paved road.
  229. >"Also you're quite the talkative sleeper, my dear."
  230. "Uh, really? What did I say?"
  231. >"Trixie didn't really understand you since you mumbled into her mane, but she thinks you had a nightmare. Is this true?"
  232. "Dunno... Can't remember it any more."
  233. >"Okay then, but do tell her if it crosses your mind again."
  234. "Mhm."
  235. >Rubbing the sleep out of your eyes, you smack your lips and sit down before you take a look at your surroundings.
  236. >So that's Hagshoof, huh? Doesn't look all that different from any other town you've visited on your travels with the azure magician and certainly not like one that is known for some famous unit of soldiers.
  237. >The same timber-framed houses, the same medieval architectural style for everything else and from what you can see the same general layout.
  238. >Meaning everything is centred around a a brightly and garishly decorated town-hall... Wait...
  239. "Oh wow..."
  240. >That doesn't look like any town-hall you've seen before...
  241. >A massive stone tower soars at least seventy feet into the air before you, its walls steel-clad and bearing numerous, large claw marks in them.
  242. >Countless long iron spikes protrude from its base and from its top hang the tattered hides of what must be the beasts that assaulted it and failed.
  243. >That's... Quite grim for ponies, you have to admit. If Orcs would exist in Equestria you would have guessed that they built an outpost here.
  244. >"Impressive, isn't it? Trixie had the same reaction when she first laid her eyes upon it too!"
  245. "You could say that... Yes."
  246. >"It is called a "Hawkhorn Spire", named after a famous tactician and monster hunter who exclusively designed it to withstand even the fiercest of monster attacks."
  247. "Monsters live here? But we didn't see any."
  248. >"Well... Not any more. The first settlers drove most of them off or... Uhm..."
  249. "Killed them."
  250. >"Ehm... Yes.."
  251. "And they fought them all at this tower?"
  252. >"You see, most monsters and beasts are very territorial creatures that simply won't tolerate any newcomers in their territory. Let alone a whole "nest" of them."
  253. "So they threw themselves against the tower?"
  254. >"Pretty much. You can surely imagine that it was a simple task to fight them there.", she says and points at a bunch of strange, orange-glowing crystals, "You see those?"
  255. "Mhm. What are they?"
  256. >"So called "Ember Hearts". Extremely rare and volatile crystals that convert any magic winds in their vicinity into Aqshy."
  257. "The wind of fire?"
  258. >"Very good, my dear.", she coos and pats your head, "Thanks to those crystals, the battlemages had a nearly unlimited supply of it, meaning..."
  259. "Fireballs and meteors galore!"
  260. >"Exactly! Except for the meteors... You would need Ulgu for them too."
  261. "But shouldn't forests have more than enough of it? It's the wind of earth, isn't it?`"
  262. >An impressed whistle leaves Trixie's lips and she beams you a wide smile.
  263. >"Colour Trixie impressed. You really did learn something out of her books, but sadly you are only partially right."
  264. "I am? How so? Forest are related to the earth, so shouldn't they produce Ulgu?"
  265. >"They are, but they don't "produce" Ulgu. Earth elementals like timberwolves and rock golems do."
  266. "Well, fuck."
  267. >"Hornet!"
  268. "Sorry, sorry... Won't happen ever again."
  269. >"Trixie sure do hopes so. Ponies could think she's teaching you those words!"
  270. "I did learn a few of them from you, though. Like fillyfidd-"
  271. >"S-Shush!", she hastily interrupts you, "She was out of her senses when that slipped out of her!"
  272. >Yeah... "Out of her senses"... Pissed like a rat would be more accurate.
  273. >"And now please don't talk about this any more."
  274. "Okay."
  275. >"Wonderful... So any more questions regarding the spire before we move on?"
  276. "Naw, not really. Just if there are more like it around."
  277. >"Yep, in the outskirts.", she says and points behind you, "If you want we could visit them later on the way back. Especially the ranger's barracks are very interesting."
  278. >Barracks, huh?
  279. "I'm sure they are... Lots of single stallions there, eh?", you giggle and shoot her a smug grin.
  280. >A furious blush creeps on her cheeks and she averts her eyes from you, her muzzle reaching record levels of scrunching.
  281. >"W-What are you..? Trixie would n-never!", she stammers and then sighs, "Well yes... There are, but that's not the reason Trixie sug-"
  282. >She looks at you again but the incredible speed at what your eyebrows wiggle bowls her over, tinting her face a few shades redder.
  283. >"Please stop that, Hornet! Trixie swears she doesn't have this intention!"
  284. "Aww come on, Trix, I can totally understand you. A mare has her needs."
  285. >"And how would you even know what those needs are? You're a filly!"
  286. "I'm old beyond my years!", you chirp.
  287. >"That would certainly explain this colourful language of yours..."
  288. "It's not that bad."
  289. >"Oh believe Trixie that it is... And now come!", she states and trots off, "The market won't stay open all day long."
  290. "Are we still gonna visit those barracks, though?"
  291. >"Maybe... A bit of ogling can't hurt, can it now?"
  292. "That's the spirit!"
  293. >Snickering to yourself, you catch up with Trixie and have to assess with delight that she still is blushing quite a bit.
  294. >Man... Looks like you really flustered her with that.
  295. >But now that you come to think of it, you never saw her flirting of even talking for a prolonged time with a stallion.
  296. >Could that be because of you? Because she thinks she has to "behave" around you? That would be a real pity...
  297. >Not that you are particularly interested in her sex-life, but you don't want to see her unhappy either.
  298. >You mean... If you still would be in possession of your penis, you would totally tap those flanks of hers.
  299. >And during her shows you catch many stallions blatantly staring at them... Waiting for that one magical moment in which her cape raises high enough to allow a glimpse on them.
  300. >Which makes for a nice source of extra income, if mentioned casually to the stallions in question when you go around collecting tips.
  301. >You see it as some kind of shush money... But that's not the point. Maybe you should just ask her if that is the case or not.
  302. "Hey, Trixie. Can I ask you something?"
  303. >"Of course, dear. What's on your mind?"
  304. "It's about those aforementioned needs..."
  305. >Hearing your words, her eyes go wide and she looks at you with a bewildered face.
  306. >"Please don't tell Trixie that you're in heat."
  307. "W-What? Oh nonononono! Don't worry, I'm not."
  308. >"Thank the celestial sisters...", she sighs in relief, "Trixie just couldn't handle that right now... What do you want to know then?"
  309. "Well... Uhm..."
  310. >Fuck, that's harder than you thought it would be.
  311. >"Is it an intimate question?"
  312. "Kinda."
  313. >"Then you should perhaps ask it later, back at the wagon.", she beams you a warm smile and leans down to nuzzle your face, "Trixie will be more than happy to answer it there."
  314. "Okay then.", you return her smile, "That sounds like a plan."
  315. >Also she will be a lot more responsive when she had a few belches of whatever cheap liquor she bought today... That should make getting a honest answer out of her a bit easier.
  316. >"But if it's too intimate, Trixie will shove some books into your hooves, okay? She isn't used to teach fillies about... Those things."
  317. "It isn't about "those things". So don't worry."
  318. >"It isn't?"
  319. "Nope! It isn't really about me, to be honest, either."
  320. >"Huh? You are confusing Trixie, Hornet."
  321. "Just wait and see."
  322. >"Well then..."
  323.  
  324. >Hagshoof's market is reached rather quickly and before it even came into eyeshot, you already could hear countless cheap-jacks praising their goods.
  325. >From what you have heard they must sell just about everything there... From simple things like fruits and vegetables to the more obscure stuff like salamander cores and chimera bile.
  326. >Well, that's a hunter's town for you, you guess... Or at least one that has to defend itself from monsters on a more or less regular basis.
  327. >Now you stand at the market's very edge and marvel at the countless stands, booths and stalls that stretch before you eyes.
  328. >A vast number of ponies are strolling through them, happily chatting with each other or just looking at what's on offer.
  329. >The air is heavy and saturated by all kinds of smells... Ranging from the earthy, savoury smells of herbs to the almost indescribable aurae of magical powders and compounds to a few that make your stomach churn.
  330. >They are especially notable... Raw, acrid and festering.
  331. >It's amazing how much more sensible a pony's nose compared to a humans is, but sometimes, just like now, it is just excruciating.
  332. "Blergh...", you groan.
  333. >A reassuring hoof is placed on your withers and begins to rub them gently, taking your mind somewhat off the stench..
  334. >"You will get used to it in time, dear, but Trixie promises to give the butcher's district a wide burl."
  335. >Did you hear that right? A what now?
  336. "A butcher's district? Hagshoof has a butcher's district? Why?"
  337. >Instead of answering you, she just points at a small group of ponies a few meters ahead of you, bearing a somewhat disgusted look on her face.
  338. >For a short moment you wonder what has gotten into her, but this thought is quickly forgotten as you shift your gaze towards the group and have to assess with quite some surprise that it isn't completely consisting of ponies.
  339. >"That's why."
  340. >Two gryphons stand amongst them, talking and showing what you think are some kind of blades off to the rest.
  341. >One of them is even chewing on a strip of dried meat...
  342. >Funny... Just a year ago or so you would have ran up to her and asked if you could have some, but now...
  343. >Now alone the thought of going near any causes the bitter taste of bile to appear in your throat.
  344. >But at least now you know why the need for butchers exist here.
  345. >"Darned featherbrains...", Trixie snarls.
  346. "Huh?"
  347. >"Nothing. Come, Hornet. The sun will be setting soon."
  348. "Okay..."
  349. >Seems like your travel companion has some issues with gryphons... You wonder why though.
  350. >Maybe some bad experiences with them? Or perhaps a natural dislike against predators?
  351. >...
  352. >Or it could simply be plain, old fashioned racism... But you don't believe that. Surely there is more to this.
  353. >But whatever it is, judging by the current look on her face and her more than agitated body language, now isn't the right time to delve deeper into this.
  354. >Maybe later.
  355. >So you keep your trap shut for the moment and just look at what's on offer while Trixie leads you to wherever they sell vegetables here.
  356. >Hmm... By the looks of it, this must be the corner of the market where they sell all kind of magic ingredients and accessories.
  357. >Books, ores, cores of various elementals. All that good stuff.
  358. >Good, but boring. Don't they have a few stalls that sell weapons?
  359. >You don't have much money, but it should be enough to buy a dagger or maybe even a small sword when Trixie isn't looking.
  360. >"Please stay close to Trixie, Hornet. She doesn't want to lose you."
  361. "Okay.", you reply and hush to her side.
  362. >"Good filly."
  363. >A surge of mixed emotions washes over you when those words leave her mouth... On the one hand you don't like being called like that, but on the other...
  364. >It makes you feel weirdly happy and content.
  365. >Some things are happening inside of you and you don't know if you should like it or not... But why now and not back in Ponyville?
  366. >Rarity and Twilight treated you similar... Well, maybe more like an adult, but still you were a filly in their eyes.
  367. >If you just could ask Twilight... She would surely kn-
  368. >"Say, Hornet."
  369. >Seems like this will have to wait too. Things like those are better thought over alone anyway. Preferably while cuddled up all comfy in your blanket.
  370. "Yes, Trixie?"
  371. >"Would you maybe like something sweet?"
  372. "Why, yes! Now?"
  373. >"Trixie meant for after dinner, but...", she chuckles, "Why not? Look!", she points at a nearby stall, "They sell crepes there!"
  374. "Crepes?! I fucking love... I meant... I really love crepes."
  375. >"Somewhat nice save there, dear."
  376. "Thanks, but..."
  377. >"Yes?"
  378. "I don't think we can afford them... They practice usury on those stalls."
  379. >"Trixie will tell you a secret now...", she says with a giggle and leans down, "Come closer."
  380. "Uhm... Okay?"
  381. >So you do as she told you to and lean towards her face, wondering what she wants to tell you.
  382. >"Always buy sweets or any other pastries when the market is almost closing... They practically give them away then!"
  383. "Heh, that's genius. But why did you need to whisper me this?"
  384. >"Because..."
  385. >Suddenly you feel a pair of soft lips planting a gentle kiss right on your forehead, sending pleasant, even if unwanted shudder down your spine.
  386. "W-Wha!"
  387. >"Of this!"
  388. "Y-You know I d-don't like that!", you stammer and try to hide your furious blush behind your sadly too short mane.
  389. >Why didn't you let it grow out?
  390. >"Oh yes, Trixie knows that. But your reaction is just too cute."
  391. "I-I'm not cute. Neither I'm adorable."
  392. >"You sure are and now come. It looks like they are already packing their things up.", she smilingly states and walks up to the crepe stall.
  393. "Y-Yeah."
  394. >Two ponies are standing behind it. A cream-coloured pegasus mare with a long, flowing fawn mane at the counter, rather bored looking due to the lack of customers, and a dark-brown earth pony stallion with a short, ragged black mane who is busy packing eggs and milk away.
  395. >"Hello!"
  396. >"Good evening miss!", the mare says with a far too wide to be honest smile on her face, "What can good ol' Float get for ya?"
  397. >"Trix-... She meant... I will get a strawberry crepe please. With extra cream!"
  398. >"Of course, coming right away! Did ya hear that, Beater?"
  399. >"Yeah, yeah.", the stallion monotonously replies.
  400. >"Wonderful. And what will it be for the adorable, little filly?"
  401. "I'm no-"
  402. >"Hornet, please.", Trixie interrupts you, "Just tell the nice lady what you want."
  403. "Fine... I will take... Uhm...", you say and take a look at the menu nailed at the stall.
  404. >Oh wow... You can stuff your crepe will all kinds of fruits and sugary treats here... The choice is really overwhelming.
  405. >From strawberries to apples to chocolate to... Huh?
  406. "Hmm... What's a "Zikerra"?"
  407. >"Ah! You really have an eye for the finest things, don't you?", the pegasus chirps, clapping her hooves together.
  408. >What a weird mare...
  409. "I guess? But what is it?"
  410. >"Just take a look.", she says and shows you a strange looking fruit.
  411. >It's bright yellow with crimson spots on its leathery skin and its shape kinda reminds you of a hand-grenade... To be honest it doesn't look all that appetizing.
  412. >But it smells heavenly. Like a weird amalgam of oranges, limes and wild berries... If it just tastes half as good as it smells, you should be in for a treat.
  413. >"Zikerras are harvested in the deepest parts of Zebrica and have an unique, zesty and fruity taste! If you never had one, you should absolutely try it!"
  414. >"Even Trix... I never had one. Sounds delightful."
  415. >"It really is. And I'm willing to make the small, cute gourmet a good price! Just four bits! I usually sell them for ten!", the sales-mare says and reaches down to pet you, what you luckily manage to dodge in time.
  416. >Trixie petting and kissing you is one thing, but strangers are another. You still have some human pride left in you.
  417. >"A bit shy, eh? No problem! So shall Beater there bake you a crepe with Zikkera stuffing?"
  418. >"I told you to use my full name, Float. We're not friends.", he growlingly says.
  419. >"Isn't he endearing? What a kidder!"
  420. >Trixie laughs somewhat awkwardly and then shoots you a questioning look.
  421. >"So do you want one, dear?"
  422. "Yeah. Sounds pretty good."
  423. >"Terrific! That will be seven bits please."
  424. >There you go.", Trixie says and levitates one golden and two bronze coins out of her purse.
  425. >"Thank you! Your crepes will be ready to eat in a few minutes. If you want you can wait right here. It doesn't look like there are any more customer coming anyways."
  426. >"I wonder why."
  427. >"Oh, Beater! Always with the jokes!"
  428. >And with that being said, the mare hurries to a small table and begins to cut the fruit while the stallion grumpily scoops dough on two pans.
  429. >You swear that you see him mouth something...
  430. >It looked like: "One day... One day."
  431.  
  432. >Gentle magical forces lift you off the ground for the third time this day, this time not unwanted, though, and carefully put you down on the wooden planks of a bench drenched in the orangish rays of a gradually setting sun.
  433. >"There you go, dear."
  434. "Thank you, Trixie."
  435. >"Anytime.", she beams you a smile and climbs up the bench herself, planting her plot down next to you.
  436. >Like a squashy, sugary ghost, your crepe floats in front of you and you waste no time in taking it into your hooves while Trixie just keeps hers in her magic grip.
  437. "Thanks."
  438. >It still feels weird to hold things between your ankles, and it took you a long time to even learn to properly do this, but until you get a grip on your own magic, this is your only alternative.
  439. >This crepe is really squishy, though... Hopefully you won't drop it and make an ass of yourself.
  440. >Would be a real shame since you never have seen a crepe sexier than this one.
  441. >The dough is baked to an auburn perfection, not too dark, not too light, and the formerly pink and firm fruit pulp of the Zikerra somehow has melted into some kind of crimson, chunky goo.
  442. >And if you thought that it smelled heavenly before, it now emits the scent of angels, invading your nostrils with the force of at least two barrels full of citrus fruits and berries.
  443. >All in all it just makes your mouth water and you can't wait to feel it inside of you. No matter where, but preferably in your mouth.
  444. >"It's piping hot, so please be careful when you take a bite."
  445. "Will do!", you chirp, "Bon appétit!"
  446. >"Thanks, you too."
  447. "Time to check if it tastes as good as it smells!", you think and sink your teeth into the crispy, baked batter.
  448. >A wave of pure orgasmic bliss surges through you once the taste hits your tongue and you can't help but to let out a quiet moan.
  449. >"That good, huh?"
  450. >The crepe itself tastes pretty much you like expected it to taste... Like a crepe, but the Zikerra... God, that thing is sex in food form.
  451. >It tastes just like it smells, only infinitely more concentrated and intense, filling your whole mouth with fruity, sweet and sour explosions.
  452. >And its gooey consistence just adds to the whole experience... Gumming up your jaws and coating every inch of your maw with its sticky goodness.
  453. >Swirling the warm goo around in your mouth a bit more, savouring every second of it being in it, you finally swallow and shudder a little when you feel it viscously running down your throat.
  454. >That was certainly something... And that was just the first bite.
  455. "God! You have to try this, Trixie!", you blurt out and shove the crepe into Trixie's face.
  456. >She barely avoids getting her whole muzzle smeared and giggles at your enthusiasm before taking a small bite out of it.
  457. >Her face instantly lights up and a loud, delighted hum escapes her.
  458. >"Ohw whow!", she audibly swallows, "That's really good!"
  459. "I know, right?! Like sex in your mouth!"
  460. >"H-Hornet! A filly like you shouldn't say those things... Let alone know what sex feels like!"
  461. >A somewhat bright blush creeps on her cheeks and she promptly checks if anyone did hear you, which lucky doesn't seem to be the case.
  462. "Sorry... Seems like I got carried away."
  463. >"A bit, yes..."
  464. >You really need to take care of what you're saying... Better switch the topic quick before she comes up with the idea of pressing you on.
  465. "Hey! Can I try yours?"
  466. >"Of course.", she says and levitates her crepe to your muzzle. "But Trixie fears that it is not as good as yours."
  467. "Thanks!", you cheep and take a bite.
  468. >Hmm... Yeah... Trixie was right, compared to your crepe hers is really bland.
  469. >Not that it's bad, but... Those are just strawberries with cream, albeit very good strawberries with very good cream.
  470. >You certainly can't complain about the quality of their ingredients.
  471. >"Trixie can tell by your expression, so there's no need to tell her what a bad decision she made.", she titters and retrieves her crepe again.
  472. "I won't, so don't worry.", you return her laugh and fill your mouth once again with the exotic treat.
  473. >It doesn't take long for you and Trixie to chomp through your respective snacks and you even feel the need to have a short digestive break since it's so filling.
  474. >But since this bears the risk of having to eat a cold crepe, you decide to ignore the ever growing pressure in your stomach and just keep eating.
  475. >Just as you bite into the last third, Trixie bops your shoulder and looks at you with questioning eyes.
  476. >Uh-Oh... That usually means that she wants to ask you something personal.
  477. >"Hornet?"
  478. "Mhm? What is it, Trixie?"
  479. >You hope that this isn't about the sex thing... That would be seriously awkward to explain or even just craft a lie for it.
  480. >"Who is this "God" you always mention?"
  481. >Thank god...
  482. "Uhm... No one special. Just a ma-... Stallion in the sky who does miracles and stuff."
  483. >Judging by the look on her face, this answer doesn't seem to satisfy her.
  484. >"A stallion in the sky, huh?"
  485. "Yep."
  486. >"So you weren't raised celestial?"
  487. "Celestial? No... I wasn't. Why are you asking?"
  488. >"Because you told Trixie that you were born in Ponyville... And only frontier towns practice religions other than Celestialism."
  489. >Oh, fuck. Why didn't you pay more attention in Twilight's pony society integration classes? You are sure she mentioned something like that.
  490. "Ehrm... You see... My... Par- Ah! My parent's weren't originally from Ponyville! They moved from somewhere far in the north to Ponyville."
  491. >Hopefully she buys that.
  492. >"From where exactly?"
  493. >Well, fuck. Time to put your internet acquired lying abilities to good use.
  494. "I... I don't know. They never told me and I never asked.", you say and focus on your almost eaten crepe in an attempt to avoid her eyes.
  495. >"Okay... That makes sense, Trixie guesses."
  496. >She sounds... Sad? Disappointed? You can't tell, but it certainly didn't sound like something good.
  497. "Something wrong?"
  498. >"Well...", she sighs, "Trixie just wonders if you are being honest to her. She thinks that you are hiding your true past from her."
  499. "Oh..."
  500. >"Mhm..."
  501. >An awkward silence settles in as both of your voices peter out.
  502. >Telling her the truth is completely out of the question, but you just can't stand seeing her like this... Ears drooping and lips frowning... That just breaks your heart.
  503. >So what should you do?
  504. >...
  505. >Maybe that could work... Not all the truth, but just a tiny bit of it, so she doesn't think that you don't trust her.
  506. >Because you fucking do.
  507. "Well, Trixie..."
  508. >"Yes?"
  509. "To be honest, I've been hiding a good bit of my past from you."
  510. >"Oh... Okay."
  511. "But not because I don't trust you or some other shit like that.", you say and put a hoof on her muzzle when you see it open, risking to drop your crepe, "I know, I know... My language and what not."
  512. >A small smile spreads on her lips and your hurt flutters a tiny bit when you hear her giggle.
  513. >That's better. A lot better.
  514. "I have my reasons for that. I've been through a lot of shit and currently I don't feel ready to talk about it, but when I am..."
  515. >Putting your crepe down, you lean towards her and plant a soft peck on the tip of her nose.
  516. "You will be the first pony I will tell."
  517. >For a second it seems like she's frozen in time, but before you can even react, you feel her forelegs wrapping around your small frame, pulling you into gentle hug.
  518. "W-Whoa!"
  519. >"Trixie understands... She has been through a lot of shit too and she will wait until you're ready."
  520. "Heh, watch your language."
  521. >"Shush. Trixie is an adult, so she's allowed to swear."
  522. "That's kind of unfair, you know?"
  523. >"Trixie doesn't care.", she snickers and breaks the hug again, "She does not fucking care."
  524. "I see. Life just isn't always fair, eh?"
  525. >"Exactly. And now let's finish our crepes. The market is closing soon."
  526. "Let's."
  527.  
  528. >The sun is already being poised to fully vanish behind the horizon when Trixie and you pace through the heavy gates of Hagshoof, your saddlebags full of all kinds of different vegetables.
  529. >From potatoes to celery to carrots to tomatoes... You just have about everything in them. Even a few mushrooms, after Trixie has convinced you to allow them in her stew.
  530. >Meh... Spongy fuckers... You will just eat around them.
  531. >Sadly only one stall still had star roots, so you didn't get as much as you wanted, but at least you were able to snatch the last bundle of wizard pipes from that sleazy stallion away.
  532. >In fact you are currently chewing on one. They are kinda like leeks only with a bit more... Well... "Omph" to them.
  533. >The taste of magical infused crops is difficult to describe... So you don't bother with doing so.
  534. >What's important is that Trixie's famous stew wouldn't be the same without them. They just give it that extra bit of spiciness and zest.
  535. >Speaking of Trixie... Some guard wearing padded, black leather armour and wielding a quite intimidating jagged halberd in his magic grip just approached her.
  536. >You think that he is quite handsome with his dark grey coat and his beige mane... Well, for a stallion at least. Maybe he's interested in her?
  537. >"Good evening, Miss."
  538. >"Uhm... Hello.", she meekly replies and puts her bags down, facing him.
  539. >"Are you heading towards the valley?"
  540. >Well... So much for this.
  541. >"Kinda. We've set up camp near the river crossing. Why are you asking?"
  542. >The stallion levitates a scroll out of one of the many pouches that hang from his belt and shows it to her.
  543. >She takes it into her hooves and gives it a quick read over before sighing deeply.
  544. >Huh? You wonder what's the matter. Hopefully it's nothing bad.
  545. >"We received several reports of marsh hags roaming this area."
  546. >"Marsh hags? Here?"
  547. "What's a marsh hag?"
  548. >"I will tell you later, dear."
  549. >"Unfortunately yes. We don't know where they came from, but be assured that our best hunters and rangers are already on the prowl for them. Still we strongly advise against leaving the town at night."
  550. >An annoyed groan escapes her and she hoofs the scroll back to the guard.
  551. >"But where shall we stay? We can't afford a hotel."
  552. >"Don't worry about that, miss.", the guard states and pulls another scroll out of his pouches, "Head to this address and tell them that you're an outsider. They always have a bed and a warm meal for a mother and her foal."
  553. >"M-Mother? I mean... Yes, of course.", she stammers and looks at you, "Hornet?"
  554. "Yes?"
  555. >"Looks like we will have to spend the night in Hagshoof. So sadly no stew tonight."
  556. "Aww."
  557. >"It's simply too dangerous, little filly, but I'm sure your mother will cook it for you tomorrow.", the guard chuckles and then shifts his gaze to Trixie again, "Do you have any further questions, miss?"
  558. >"No, I don't. Thank you."
  559. >"Do you need to secure your belongings or grab something necessary from your camp?"
  560. >"Something necessary?"
  561. >"Yes. Medicine or something in the likes of this. I would accompany you so you could get it."
  562. >"Oh...", she sighs, "No, thank you. Trix-... I would like to get something, but it isn't really important enough to justify your time."
  563. >She paws the ground and from the corner of your eye you can see her gritting her teeth... You know exactly what she wants to grab...
  564. >That fucking rat piss she bought today... Can't she survive one night without drinking herself senseless?
  565. >"Very well then.", he says and shoulders his weapon, its massive blade reflecting the last few sun rays, "Do you have any other questions?"
  566. >"No, I don't. Thank you very much."
  567. >"Just doing my duty, miss. And if you care for one last piece of advice..."
  568. >"Of course."
  569. >"Stay out of the western parts of Hagshoof. It's not safe for a mare to be alone there at night."
  570. >"I will. Thank you again.", Trixie beams him a smile and stores the scroll away.
  571. >He returns her gesture with a nod and then returns to his guard shack, leaving you two to yourselves.
  572. >Another groan leaves Trixie's frowning lips and she picks her bags up again, her face bearing a pondering and somewhat irritated expression.
  573. >"Let's go to that place then."
  574. "Yeah..."
  575. >With no other words spoken, she turns around and trots through the same gate she passed just a few moments ago, some clock tower far away striking eight times as she does so.
  576. >Mumbling words you cannot understand into her non-existent beard, she unravels the scroll and sighs yet another time once she has read it.
  577. >Tonight looks like it's going to be a difficult one...
  578.  
  579. >Bloodied, unforgiven souls, sold like simple crops and showcased on tattered rags woven out of hair that reminds you far too much of your own.
  580. >Mares, marked and scarred by the relentless claws of gaffer time tend to them and make sure that they stay in their ethereal prisons with spells older than Celestia herself.
  581. >Only the foolish would enter such climes in search for power they clearly don't deserve. And yet her-
  582. >Well... That was an interesting read. At least for a random, torn page of some book you found on the ground.
  583. "Did you already figure out where he have to go?"
  584. >"Not yet!", she hisses, "Give Trixie some more time... She isn't good with maps and this one isn't particularly well drawn."
  585. "Maybe I should take a lo-"
  586. >"No! Trixie will figure this out by herself!", she barks and faces herself away from you.
  587. "Geez, okay. But hurry up please. It's getting progressively darker."
  588. >"She will. Don't worry."
  589. >Man... She's handling this whole "one night without alcohol" thing pretty badly. Better save your breath and stay on her good side for the time being.
  590. >Kicking your reading matter into the gutter, you sit down on your haunches and take a look at your surroundings while Trixie continues to mutter various profanities at the map.
  591. >That mare knows some seriously dirty words... Almost as dirty as those houses here.
  592. >Many of them look pretty run down or outright abandoned... Windows nailed up and all.
  593. >Hopefully this isn't the western part of Hagshoof the guard spoke of, or you might be in serious trouble once night falls.
  594. >Trixie is admittedly somewhat proficient in combat magic, heck... You saw her hurling a blazing boulder at a timberwolf once, but you doubt that she would be able to fend off multiple attackers.
  595. >"Hmm..."
  596. "Made any progress?"
  597. >"Yes... Trixie thinks so."
  598. "Wonderful!", you chirp and get up again, "Where do we have to go?"
  599. >"If this is the eastern keep...", she says and points at a tower in the distance, "And this the celestial church...", her hooves wanders westwards to a gothic looking building, "Then we have to take this street."
  600. "Bloodberry Lane?"
  601. >"Exactly. If Trixie is right, we should be there in ten minutes or so."
  602. "Okay, let's waste no time then! I'm as hungry as a horse!"
  603. >"What did Trixie tell you about your language?!", she snarls.
  604. "W-What? I didn't swear!"
  605. >"You said "horse"."
  606. "That's an insult?"
  607. >"Yes, and a very bad one at that. Sometimes Trixie thinks you are doing this on purpose..."
  608. "I didn't even know that thi-"
  609. >"Come now.", she shushes you and rolls up the scroll again, "Trixie wants to be there before the sun has fully set."
  610. "Yeah... Sorry."
  611. >Your apology goes unrecognised and a very familiar feeling begins spread in your guts, one that didn't feel ever since you have left Ponyville.
  612. >It is one of misery and sadness that you wished to never feel again...
  613. >Nevertheless you follow her as you trot the sombre street down wordlessly, pondering about how to deal with this situation.
  614. >As much as you like the thought of a sober Trixie, albeit for just one night, you hate how she acts while being so, or even worse... How she acts due to the mere thought of being so.
  615. >Scurrying to her side, you sneak a peek at her face before shifting your gaze back at the road before you again.
  616. >What you saw didn't exactly amuse you... She looked troubled and agitated, constantly biting on her lower lip while her eyes couldn't seem to stand still.
  617. >You know that her dependency on alcohol was bad, but never would you have thought that it was that severe.
  618. >It looks like it's the only thing on her mind right now, completely overwriting every other thoughts.
  619. >Even those of you...
  620. >And you hate that. You will have to think of a way to get it off it.
  621. >But how?
  622. >...
  623. >That's the real question... She never really talked with you about her problem, so you don't have a single clue on how to approach this.
  624. >Maybe you will have thought of something once you are at the inn or whatever it is the guard has sent you to.
  625. >Until then you are going to limit your interactions with the azure mare to an absolute minimum, since she seems to take offence at everything you say right now.
  626. >Not that she or you accidentally say something that can't be taken back and will be regretted forever...
  627. >That happened once and it doesn't need to happen ever again... Especially not with her.
  628. >Old memories of accusations and unjust blame that you believed to be long forgotten flood your mind and allow this ever gnawing feeling in your stomach to grow stronger.
  629. >Your steps slow down as it gradually begins to overwhelm you, and inducing you to wonder if this is the beginning of yet another end.
  630. >What if this is the case? You just can't start over once again. Not for a third time. No...
  631. >As you come to a dead stop, your eyes vacantly staring at the paved road, Trixie notices your absence from her side and shoots you a somewhat annoyed look over her withers, which immediately grows softer once she sees the stricken expression on your face.
  632. >Before you can even realize that she is rapidly moving towards you, two slender hooves have already wrapped themselves around your shaking form and press you against something warm and soft.
  633. >In an instant the dark fog that hazed your mind and the wrenching sensation in your guts fade away as this sudden closeness pulls you back into reality.
  634. >"Trixie is sorry for lashing out."
  635. "H-Huh?"
  636. >"It's just...", she sniffs, "Something is nagging her something fierce and makes her say all those things she doesn't really mean."
  637. "Trixie..."
  638. >"She is incredibly sorry and she hopes that you can forgive her."
  639. >You mumble an "Of course" into the fluffy tuft of fur on her chest and return her embrace, your forelegs barely able to encompass her girth.
  640. >"Thank you."
  641. >For a short while longer you stay like this, her hooves keeping you firmly pressed against her and rubbing your back as the thanks you countless times for forgiving her.
  642. >And during this you suddenly realize something.
  643. >Something you should have realized a long time ago.
  644. >This whole situation... No... Everything is completely different. Her included.
  645. >She embraces you for what you are and not for what you have been... Well... She can't help it, she only knows you this way, but still...
  646. >You know now that you can't allow your past to repeat itself.
  647. >For that, you have grown far too fond of her.
  648. >And you plan to keep it that way.
  649.  
  650. >Luckily, Trixie was right in her assumption and you reached the address in roughly the time she predicted, now standing before a rather odd looking building.
  651. >Well... It's not exactly odd looking, but... It just doesn't seem to fit in with the houses that surround it.
  652. >While it very well reminds you of something a pony could have built, some details of it, like its bronze framing and the weird wooden protrusions on its walls, just let it stand out somewhat awful.
  653. >Also... Why are its upper windows so damn big? Almost looks like they were made to be used like doors...
  654. >Why don't they have balconies then, though?`Seems a bit dangerous.
  655. >"There we are."
  656. "Eeyup."
  657. >"If you would ask Trixie, she would think that this doesn't look particularly trustworthy...", she groans, "But what other choice do we have? Let's head inside."
  658. >Sighing, she approaches the iron-bound door and puts a hoof on its handle, filling your mind with thoughts of warmth and comfort as she pulls it down.
  659. >Trixie's wagon might be quite comfy and it has all the necessities a pony could ask for, but to claim that it has any kind of heating would be an outright lie.
  660. >And it has gotten fairly chilly over the last few days... So a "warm from the get-go" bed would be a welcome change.
  661. >The familiar sound of a lock snapping into place rings and you dart to Trixie's side in anticipation of that promised resting place.
  662. >But once you hear it resound over and over again, this notion quickly dissolves into thin air and you shoot the azure mare a confused look.
  663. "What's wrong?"
  664. >"It seems to be locked..."
  665. "What?! Aww naw! Try knocking!"
  666. >One of her hooves finds its way to your head and gently delivers a soft bop on it, making you flinch in surprise.
  667. "Eh! Not on my head, silly!"
  668. >"You don't say?", she replies with a snicker.
  669. "Heh, sorry... Just knock, I'm freezing my flanks off."
  670. >"Already on it.", she says and knocks three times at the oaken plankings, taking a step back as she does so.
  671. >At first it doesn't seem like anyone's at home, but after a short moment you can hear the distinct sounds of hooves trotting on wooden floor in your ears.
  672. >It sounds a lot more matted, though... Not the typical "clip clop" of pony hooves... Uh... You have a bad feeling about this.
  673. >"Yeah?". a muffled, raspy and female sounding voice states.
  674. >"Uhm... A guard said that we should come here if we need shelter. We can't go back to our camp because of those marsh hags.", Trixie answers.
  675. >"Oh, I see. How many?"
  676. >"Two. A filly and a mare."
  677. >"Ponies, huh? Okay then... Let m' get the key real quick."
  678. >"Thank you..."
  679. >And with that said the voice behind the door vanishes again, hopefully only to return soon and allow you two inside.
  680. "Uhm... She sounded nice?", you chuckle.
  681. >"If you think so... Trixie thought her voice had something unsettling to it."
  682. "Ah, don't be like that. I'm sure she just smokes a lot!"
  683. >"Trixie sure do hopes so... She could do with a fag right now."
  684. >You open your mouth to remark that she technically just swore, but before any words could have left it, a quick hoof is already placed over it.
  685. >"You know what Trixie meant."
  686. "But yo-"
  687. >"No buts.", she interrupts you, "Trixie wonders why you would even know the second meaning of this word."
  688. "There was a stallion back in Ponyville who got called that a lot."
  689. >"Really? Who?"
  690. "Davenport."
  691. >"The guy who owns that sofa and quill store?"
  692. "I think so, yes."
  693. >"So that's why he didn't notice Trixie...", she mumbles into her hoof.
  694. >Did you hear that right just now? Not that this would be any of your concern, but you find the notion that Trixie was interested in Davenport quite adorable.
  695. "Huh? What didn't he do?"
  696. >"Oh? Nothing, dear. Don't worry about it."
  697. "Did Trixie have a crush on ol' Davy?"
  698. >"What?! Of c-course not! Don't be s-silly, dear.", she stammers and averts her eyes from you, her cheeks slowly turning rosy. "He was so obviously gay and Trixie fully knew that."
  699. "Heh, okay then."
  700. >Strike two~
  701. >She murmurs something that you can't quite understand, but you think you heard her saying something about "wasted money" and "flowers".
  702. >Well... Love's not always easy. You know that from experience.
  703. >As you both wait in silence for the lady to get the key, your mind wanders to times long past and a deep sigh escapes you once it reminisces about the mare that once caught your heart.
  704. >It even looked kind of promising back then... Nothing serious yet, but she was on the point of warming up to you and even said yes when you asked her if she would like to visit the Summer Sun Celebration with you.
  705. >But then... You look at your hooves and mindlessly kick a small pebble away... This happened.
  706. >And nothing was ever the same.
  707. >You were declared missing and of course your romantic endeavours were forcefully halted.
  708. >Another sigh escapes you and you banish those memories back to whichever corner of your mind they came from.
  709. >"It's no use crying over spilled milk, huh?", a familiar, once and still beloved voice resounds in your head.
  710. "Alas..."
  711. >You wonder how she is doing nowadays.
  712. >"Alack what, Hornet?"
  713. "Nothing, just wallowing in old memories."
  714. >Hopefully she's well.
  715. >"Nice ones?"
  716. "Bittersweet, like most things in life."
  717. >"Do you want to talk about it?"
  718. "Later perhaps. For now I just want to warm myself up."
  719. >"Okay... But don't forget that Trixie always has an open ear for you."
  720. "I would never.", you say and beam her a smile.
  721. >She returns it and lets a hoof run through your mane, which quickly returns to the stone ground once she hears the lock turning.
  722. >"Finally."
  723. >As the door slowly opens you can see how the smile on her face gradually falters as it reveals more and more who unlocked it.
  724. >"Hello there. M' name's Grimfeather, prithee come inside m' humble abode. It's awfully cold tonight."
  725. >A gryphon. A mother fucking gryphon.
  726. >"O-O-Of c-course.", Trixie stammers, sweating quite profusely despite the current temperature, "T-Thank y-y-you"
  727. >"Don't mention it, deary. I will heat something up for y' right away. Y' look like y' didn't eat for days!", the gryphon titters and heads inside.
  728. >Here's hoping that Trixie isn't actually racist or...
  729. >Or this formerly difficult night might have just become a hellish one.
  730.  
  731. >"Annelies, the axe of my beloved husband Karranak Ironhorn. His sacrifice shall be remembered forever more.", a golden plaque reads.
  732. >Above it hangs an almost absurdly long poleaxe, its handle easily four feet long and its chipped, but razor-sharp looking blade gleaming in a faint orange light.
  733. >For whatever reason, you just can't seem to peel your eyes off it... Everything about it just fascinates you.
  734. >The way its handle is wrapped in black leather and the small blade that protrudes from its lower end... The countless details of the engravings on its axehead... And of course the mystical glow that it emits.
  735. >Surely it must be enchanted or at least made out of some magical metal.
  736. >While you stare at the weapon, Trixie, who was standing beside you the whole time, suddenly takes a few steps back as you hear something approaching you.
  737. >A leathery appendage settles upon your head and ruffles through your mane, ripping you out of your trance.
  738. "Huh?"
  739. >"Eh, I see y've taken an interest in m' gallant's axe.", the gryphoness says, "A fine piece it is."
  740. >She sighs and places a three taloned claw on the axe's blade, tracing a runic engraving with one of them before reluctantly retrieving her arm again.
  741. >Wait... Aren't gryphons supposed to have four talons?
  742. >"Much blood it has seen... But never has it ever slew an innocent soul. Welladay... May he rest peacefully in his ancestor's halls."
  743. >Shooting the weapon a last sentimental look, she faces you and you can't help but to squeak in surprise when you see her face in all its glory.
  744. >Not that she's ugly or something... No... You would say that she is quite attractive for a gryphon of her age, but...
  745. >"Did m' scars scare y', little filly?", she cackles, "Sorry, but I don't bother with coverin' them up any more."
  746. >Her whole face is strewn with scars of different sizes and depth, an especially large one running through her left eye seems to have robbed her of her vision there.
  747. >You wonder what kind of life she has lived...
  748. "S-Sorry...", you stammer.
  749. >"Ah, don't be, young'un. I know what I look like and it doesn't bother m'. Didn't bother him either, back in the days.", she laughs, "But enough of that. I'm sure y' and yer mother want to eat something."
  750. "Yes please... I only had a crepe today."
  751. >"Well! That's certainly not enough for a filly to grow strong! Just make y'selves comfortable over there...", she points at a table in the adjacent room, "While I light the oven."
  752. "Thank you."
  753. >"Don't mention it.", she says and looks at Trixie who now nearly stands at the door again, "And tell yer mother that I'm not going to eat her."
  754. >What's gotten into her? You never saw her act like that... She's like a scared kitten.
  755. "Will do..."
  756. >And with that said and another quick ruffle through your mane, Grimfeather vanishes into what you assume is the kitchen and leaves Trixie and you to yourselves.
  757. >Trixie visibly relaxes once she's gone and she slowly walks up to you, her eyes firmly locked on the doorway the gryphoness has left through.
  758. "Is everything all right?"
  759. >"Of course it is, dear... Trixie just doesn't like gryphons very much.", she mutters and beams you a nervous smile, "Don't let it trouble you."
  760. "Why, though? Grimfeather is really nice... And she isn't going to eat you!"
  761. >"Trixie heard and knows that, but... Ehrm... She will tell you later, okay?"
  762. "Okay..."
  763. >"Let's rest for a bit. Trixie's legs are killing her.", she says and leads you into the room you were told to wait in.
  764. >With a strange feeling in your guts, you follow her, pondering how you could get to the ground of her aversion to gryphons somewhat subtly.
  765. >Because Trixie tends to avoid questions that make her feel uncomfortable... So subtlety is key here.
  766. >That she's scared of them is beyond debate, but you want to know why.
  767. "Hmm..."
  768. >Maybe if... No... Still too direct... Then maybe... No, that would require her being drunk, so that's out of the question...
  769. >That's harder than you thought it would be.
  770. >Perhaps something will come to you when your belly is full.
  771. "Wew!"
  772. >"Oh wow...", Trixie and you marvel at the same time.
  773. >What a room to make yourself comfortable it is!
  774. >Pillows of both the small and large variety are arranged before a crackling fire and just scream at you to plant your plot on them and sleep the night away.
  775. >Right next to them stands the aforementioned table, surrounded by a few rustic looking chairs and laid with wooden bowls and a large crock.
  776. >On its walls hang several bows, spears, traps and other tools a hunter might need and of course the trophies that were obtained with them.
  777. >Especially the massive, boar-like skull over the fireplace is impressive. You wonder to what beast it once must have belonged to.
  778. >But you can ask that Grimfeather later, for now you make a bee-line for the pillows and jump on the largest and softest looking one.
  779. "Pomf!"
  780. >Trixie giggles at the silly sound you made and joins you, now seeming much more at ease as she lets the softness of the pillow she chose engulf her.
  781. >"Ah... Just like a cloud."
  782. "A cloud?"
  783. >"Mhm. Never sat on one?"
  784. "Couldn't say that I ever did.", you say and lie down on your side, "But can't only pegasi stand on clouds?"
  785. >"Normally that's the case, but there are a few spells that allow other ponies to stand and even walk on them."
  786. "Really? That's fu... Neat."
  787. >"Trixie will pretend that she didn't hear that.", she lets out a content sigh and holds a hoof out to you.
  788. >Unsure of what she wants, you just let your own bump against hers, eliciting another soft giggle from her.
  789. >"That was cute. Trixie likes it when you act like a filly for a change."
  790. "Pah! I act plenty like a filly."
  791. >"Maybe in her sleep... But..."
  792. "Hmm?"
  793. >"You wanna sit on a cloud some time? Trixie could pull one down and cast a cloud walking spell on you."
  794. "Now that would be really neat! Thanks!"
  795. >An almost childlike sense of joy washes over you and in it you reach for Trixie's still outstretched hoof and pull it to you, embracing and nuzzling it with all your might.
  796. >It takes a few seconds before you realize what you just did and you immediately release it once this realization hits you, feeling your cheeks heating up.
  797. >"Well...", she giggles, "That was certainly a first."
  798. >It was... You usually never get that physical with the azure mare, at least not on your own initiative... But that's beside the point.
  799. >What in all seventy hells made you do that?
  800. >Something certainly is happening inside of you... Somewhere in your brain.
  801. >Slowly but ever so surely changing you against your will.
  802. >And you can't do a single thing about it.
  803. >Fuck...
  804. "Uhh...", you mutter and bury yourself deeper into your pillow in a somewhat silly attempt to avoid Trixie's eyes.
  805. >"Hornet..."
  806. >Trixie raises from her fluffy seat and slowly walks up to you, bopping you gently on the withers to get your attention.
  807. >"Hornet."
  808. >Another bop, this time a bit stronger and in your sides, making you jump a little.
  809. "Eep!"
  810. >"Come on now... There is no need to feel ashamed. In fact..."
  811. >Yet another poke beneath your ribcage... She's not playing fair.
  812. "Eep!"
  813. >"Trixie rather liked that. She wouldn't mind if you would do that more often.". she says and plops down next to you.
  814. >Two hooves wrap themselves around you and you feel how they slowly turn you around until you are lying face to face with Trixie.
  815. "Uhm...."
  816. >She beams you a soft smile and rubs her forehead against yours, stoking the fire in your cheeks even more.
  817. >"Trixie wanted that for a long time, you know? She waited for the day you would finally open yourself up to her and feel comfortable around her, because..."
  818. "B-Because?"
  819. >"Well!", she chirps, "Trixie just isn't that good of a mother! She never even had planned to have foals of her own."
  820. "But you are..."
  821. >"Let's be honest there for a second, okay?", she presses you closer to her, her muzzle tickling your ear, "Alone how she treated you beforehand speaks volumes."
  822. >As she speaks, you feel her forelegs slowly running up and down on your barrel, giving you the same cocktail of mixed emotions as a few hours ago.
  823. >It feels nice, but also so very, very wrong at the same time. You are an adult... You aren't supposed to be treated this way, but...
  824. "But th-"
  825. >"No buts, my dearest Hornet. Let her just tell you that she is trying her hardest to get her things in order again and despite that she wonders why you are the way you are..."
  826. "Mmh?"
  827. >"She greatly appreciates this... She knows that you understand her like no other foal or even pony would. Just be patient with her, okay?"
  828. >But on the other hand... If it makes you feel this good, it can't be that bad for you, can it now?
  829. "I will."
  830. >"Well!", a raspy voice bellows, "Wasn't that adorable?"
  831. "Whoa!"
  832. >"Wha!"
  833.  
  834. "Uhh...", you groan and plunge your spoon into the yellowish gunk that sloshes in your wooden bowl.
  835. >What's that supposed to be? Looks like oatmeal gruel... But it has chunks floating in it and gruel isn't supposed to have chunks.
  836. >Also gruel isn't supposed to waft that much... Almost looks like that green slime you wanted to tame two months ago...
  837. >You had so many plans with "Blobby", but it turned out that slimes don't exactly make for good pets.
  838. >Besides the obvious dissolving properties of their bodies, they are not really that intelligent and are pretty much unable to learn even the simplest of tricks.
  839. >The latter you learned after several afternoons spent trying to make him expand on command and the former after you foolishly decided to carry him around on your back for a bit.
  840. >It took weeks until you were able to show yourself in public without a cloak again...
  841. >In the end you had to set him free when Trixie wanted to move on and you chose a nice, clear pond to do so.
  842. >It wasn't really a heart moving farewell, but still you felt kinda sad when you had to abandon him.
  843. >At least he made for a convenient way to dispose of all the alfalfa Trixie forces you to eat since she believes it's healthy for you, even if it tastes disgusting as hell.
  844. >Sometimes you still wonder how he is doing.
  845. >"I hope y' like it! It's m' famous bean mulligan! Usually I would serve it with a nice sausage or two, but since y'all are ponyfolk, I fished 'em out for ye."
  846. >"Thanks...", Trixie mutters and dips her own spoon into the goo.
  847. "Yeah..."
  848. >"Pfft!", she snorts, "I know that it doesn't look like much, but y' better try it first, before y' judge it!"
  849. "I'm not judging it, but it seems..."
  850. >"But what?", Grimfeather retorts.
  851. "Uhm... How should I put this...", you chuckle and spoon an outstandingly gooey lump up, "So alive."
  852. >"Eh.", she waves you off, "Those are just the ember lentils. They tend to wobble around a bit when hot. Just ignore them and stuff them in y' mouth."
  853. "Ember lentils, huh? Never heard of them."
  854. >"Yeah. One of the few vegetables gryphons are willing to eat.", she says and ladles up a bowl of her own, "They are a bit spicy, but they really bring everything together."
  855. >"Ehrm... Ms. Grimfeather?", Trixie says under her breath.
  856. >"Aye?"
  857. >"You s-said that you...", she gulps, "Fis-Fished them out?"
  858. >"What?"
  859. >"Trix-... I me-meant the s-sausages."
  860. >"Ah, yes, I did."
  861. >"So you cooked them in t-the stew?"
  862. >"Well...", she blows a feather out of her face and sits down next to Trixie, who immediately tries to back off, "Only until they were done. I swear y' won't taste or even notice them ever being in the mulligan. Look!", she says and points at you, "Yer daughter doesn't seem to be bothered by it."
  863. >And in fact you stare rather vacantly at your dinner, unsure if the fact that there once was meat in your stew should bother you or not.
  864. >On one hand you are a pony now and ponies aren't supposed to eat and probably can't stomach meat, but on the other...
  865. >It doesn't smell like meat at all.
  866. >All that you can perceive is a lot of garlic, onions, coriander and something else that you cannot put your hoof on.
  867. >Kinda reminds you of thyme or rosemary, though. Maybe that's the ember lentils.
  868. >So you are fairly sure that it won't taste like meat either.
  869. "It will be fine, Trixie."
  870. >"See?", Grimfeather says and shoots Trixie a reassuring smile, "And please drop the Misses. I'm far too old to be called that."
  871. >"Okay then...", she meekly replies and scoops a few beans up, "Enjoy your meal."
  872. >"Aye!"
  873. "Bon appétit!"
  874. >Adjusting your spoon, which luckily has a strap for your ankle, you waste no time in filling it with the amber stew and bringing it to your awaiting maw.
  875. >It might look a bit disgusting, but hunger makes hard beans sweet and maybe it even manages to do this with these slimy ones.
  876. >So up your muzzle the spoon goes and you brace yourself for the worst.
  877. >But surprisingly it doesn't taste all that bad, you might even call it good.
  878. >Unlike all the beans you had before, those are buttery and smooth and taste not a single bit mealy.
  879. >The ember lentils add some extra texture to the stew and are spicy in a well-rounded manner, giving it the zest it needs.
  880. >Otherwise you think it would taste rather bland.
  881. >All in all it's quite tasty, even if you would have used other herbs than coriander, since it tastes like fucking soap to you.
  882. >It's bearable, though, and so you swallow and spoon some more of the stew up, aiming for a particularly large and wobbly looking chunk.
  883. >"And how is it?", Grimfeather asks.
  884. "Good! Thank you, Grim!"
  885. >"It really is... Thanks."
  886. >"Ah, don't mention it! 'Tis just the simple cookery of a simple adventurer."
  887. "You were an adventurer?", you ask and blow on your spoon.
  888. >"Aye. Back when m' visage didn't resemble a sinkhole of scarred flesh."
  889. "They look cool, tho!"
  890. >"Eh, thank y', young'un. Y're the first one to say that.", she lets out a raspy laugh, "Most ponies just lie in 'm face and tell m' that I'm still beautiful."
  891. "I think you still kinda are.", you say and slurp some of the sauce, "Scars are just tattoos with better stories."
  892. >Hearing your words, Grimfeather guffaws and slams her crippled claw on the table, making Trixie flinch something fierce, before she points at you.
  893. >"Y're wise beyond yer years, small one. But y' could have left the "kinda" out."
  894. "I thought you don't like ponies that lie to you?", you giggle.
  895. >"I certainly don't, but still...", she reaches at you and swats your mane, "I might not look like one, but I'm still a girl and girls like compliments. But let me tell y' something, kid, I like ye."
  896. "Heh, thanks."
  897. >"Now that I come to think of it... We never properly introduced ourselves to each other. What's yer name?"
  898. "Green Hornet.", you chirp.
  899. >"Lovely. So y' are probably Trixie then?", she says and looks at the mare in question.
  900. >"Yes..."
  901. >"Y' happen to be from Heartdenn ?"
  902. >The azure mare cringes and weakly shakes her head, the handle of her spoon suddenly becoming very interesting for her.
  903. >"Uhm... No. Why are you asking?"
  904. >"M' gallant and me used to travel through it a lot, and if m' memories don't betray m' right now, I recall a stallion living there who talked just like ye."
  905. >"T-That must be a co-coincidence... Trix... I was born in Canterlot."
  906. >"Are y' sure? Does the name "Crescent Moon" ring a bell for y'?
  907. >"No!", Trixie blurts out and immediately averts her eyes from the gryphon, beginning to franticly stir her stew.
  908. >Grimfeather shoots her a rather perplexed seeming look and then sighs.
  909. >"I see. Y're probably right. Equestria is a large place after all."
  910. >"Y-Yeah."
  911. >"But Trixie?"
  912. >Slowly she reaches a claw out to Trixie and settles it upon her shoulder once she sees that she doesn't duck away from it, giving it a gentle squeeze.
  913. >"Y-Yes?"
  914. >"Don't mince yer words fer m'. I really don't care how y' talk."
  915. >"Thanks..."
  916. >"It's alright. Let's eat now, though, before it gets cold. Believe m'...", she cackles, "Y' really don't want to eat it when it's cold."
  917.  
  918.  
  919. >The rest of the dinner went by more or less event and conversationless. Maybe a few bits of small talk now and then, since Grimfeather really wasn't all that keen on chatting while eating.
  920. >No wonder... There was almost never a moment in which her beak wasn't stuffed with food... Her weird... Fanged... Beak.
  921. >You really had a hard time not to constantly stare at her sharp looking teeth, but this was the first time you ever were so close to a gryphon and so you couldn't help but to sneak a peek whenever you thought she wasn't looking.
  922. >Whilst you neither found them intimidating nor frightening, they still seemed to hold a strange fascination over you.
  923. >Like... Really strange. To such an extent that you wanted to touch and probe them.
  924. >Of course you didn't do that, since this would have been more than inappropriate at table and probably wouldn't have shone an all too good light on you.
  925. >Not that your entertainer thinks your are some kind of weirdo...
  926. >Well... You are, but there is no reason why she would need to know this.
  927. >Trixie never really fully unbent herself and always had one eye firmly locked on the gryphoness in case she tried to do something funny.
  928. >Which, of course, never happened.
  929. >And she even stopped to act like a total idiot and ceased to inspect every spoonful for potential poisons and pieces of meat after you've convinced her to do so with a gentle kick against her legs and a stern look.
  930. >God... If Grimfeather would have seen her doing that...
  931. >But at least she doesn't seem to fear for her life any more, or whatever other notions made her act so strangely, and even engaged in the rare bits of conversation without stuttering like Fluttershy who just found out sexual intercourse can involve more than penis in vagina.
  932. >Heh... That were fun times.
  933. >Anyway... All in all you saw the dinner as an improvement to the overall situation.
  934. >What certainly wasn't an improvement, though, was the look on Trixie's face when she discovered that the ceramic crock only contained water and not wine as she surely had hoped.
  935. >Man... The only time you've seen a pony more disappointed than her was your image in the mirror when you found out that your penis was gone.
  936. >Hopefully she's able to keep her mind off alcohol for the remainder of the night...
  937. >Shoving your now empty bowl away from you, you stretch yourself a bit and then pat your full belly, forcing a quiet belch out of you.
  938. >The look Trixie shoots you in this very moment could kill, but you don't particularly care and just enjoy the content feeling.
  939. >Certainly was some time since you last have felt like that.
  940. "Thank you, Grim. That really hit the spot."
  941. >"It's quite alright, Horn'.", she chuckles and starts to collect the dishes, "Yer all full or do y' want seconds? 'Cause I still have some left in the kitchen."
  942. >"I'm good. Thank you very much, Grimfeather.", Trixie says and levitates her bowl over to the gryphon.
  943. "Yep, me too."
  944. >"Very well. How about something sweet then?"
  945. "Ye-"
  946. >"You've done more than enough for us. Thank you.", Trixie cuts you off.
  947. >"It's really no trouble at all. The cake's already been baked."
  948. "Come on, Trixie! Why would you even decline such an offer in the first place? It's free cake! You love cake!"
  949. >"Well...", she coughs, "I... She doesn't want to overstay our welcome."
  950. >"Ye really do not, Trixie. In fact I quite appreciate the company... It can get fairly lonely here."
  951. "We would love to keep you some more company! Especially over a slice of cake!", you look at Trixie with puppy eyes, "Isn't that right?"
  952. >Trixie sighs and shoots you a defeated nod.
  953. >"Trixie guesses that she could stay for a while longer."
  954. >"Terrific!", Grim exclaims happily, "I will just get this cleaned up real quick."
  955. "Do you maybe need a hoof or four?"
  956. >"Please don't...", Trixie nearly inaudibly mutters.
  957. >"Naw, but thank ye, kid. Y' don't want to see the mess that is m' kitchen."
  958. "Are you sure?"
  959. >"Aye."
  960. "Okay."
  961. >Outstretching her right wing, she balances the bowls and mugs on it and takes the cauldron into her claw, before awkwardly walking towards the kitchen.
  962. >You can't help but to notice how awfully ragged her wing looks... It misses so many feathers and the few that are still on it are bent or outright broken.
  963. >If that's the case for her other one too, you doubt that she's still able to fly.
  964. >Man... That must suck.
  965. >The state of her wings seems to catch Trixie's eyes too and she almost looks compassionately at your entertainer as she slowly passes by her.
  966. >"Y' all just focus on relaxing a bit more. 'Tis shall only be a matter of mere minutes."
  967.  
  968. >And indeed, she stays true to her word and returns only few minutes later, once again balancing various things on her wings.
  969. >Thanks to your small stature, even with it sitting on a chair, you can't really make out what she's carrying, but it seems like she brought a lot more with her than just cake.
  970. >"I'm back. Hope that y' didn't have to wait all too long."
  971. "Nah, not really. You really are quick with the dishes."
  972. >"Eh, I couldn't be bothered to do the washing up tonight.", she says and places a plate with a large slice of brown cake on it right under your muzzle, "So I just let them soak and do them in the morning."
  973. >Grim's last words go unheeded as you just have eyes now for the frosted pastry in front of you.
  974. >Goodness! It's almost more glazing and frosting than cake itself... Not that you have an issue with that, of course.
  975. >Reminds you of how Pinkie always used to decorate her cakes... Ten tons of frosting and more often than not a cherry on top of all of it.
  976. >Oh dear... The memories.
  977. >Quietly chuckling to yourself, you bring your muzzle to the cake and take a quick smell at it.
  978. >Smells like carrot cake... Certainly looks like one too.
  979. >Not exactly your favourite, but here's hoping that all this frosting and glazing will improve it.
  980. >Also it would be plain rude to reject free sweets... Especially from your entertainer who was willing to give complete strangers a roof over their heads.
  981. >Wresting yourself free from the vanilla-scented treat, you shoot Grimfeather a wide smile.
  982. "Thanks!", you chirp.
  983. >"Don't mention it, young'un. Here y' go, Trixie."
  984. >"Thank you.", Trixie responds and takes her plate into her telekinetic grip, "It looks delicious."
  985. >"Just plain, ol' carrot cake. I didn't even make it m'self.", she giggles and and reaches for something on her left wing, "Bought it at the market."
  986. "Nothing wrong with that."
  987. >"We don't bake much either.", Trixie chimes in.
  988. "Yeah, because you can't bake, Trixie."
  989. >"That's not true!"
  990. "Is! Remember the stuffed croissants you made back in Smallfair?"
  991. >"They weren't that bad..."
  992. "They were the reason why we had to stay near a toilet for almost a full week!", you say and point a hoof at her.
  993. >"You promised Trixie to never mention this again!", she states indignantly.
  994. >Grimfeather watches your bickering back and forth in great amusement as she puts a large tankard and three small, ceramic bowls on the table ere she returns to her seat next to Trixie.
  995. "I saw you looking at the recipe again, so I thought you needed a reminder!"
  996. >"Trixie repeats: They weren't that bad!", she barks and leans forward, "She will stuff them with something else this time!"
  997. "And I repeat: Diarrhoea!"
  998. >A cackling laughter interrupts your argument and you turn to the source of the noise, which turns out to be a quite amused looking gryphon.
  999. >"Y' two are cute together, y' know that?", Grimfeather says with a giggle, "Almost makes m' wish I had cubs of m' own."
  1000. "I'm not cute..."
  1001. >The realization that she just stultified herself quite a bit in front of her host, hits Trixie suddenly and something fierce and she sits down again with burning cheeks.
  1002. >Instinctively she reaches for her trademark hat in an attempt hide her embarrassment, but her hoof just bumps against her forehead.
  1003. >And you shoot her your cockiest grin as it does so.
  1004. >"Damn... Trixie forgot...", she looks at Grimfeather, "Uhm... Trixie's sorry that you had to witness our foalish bickering, Grimfeather."
  1005. >"Don't be, Trixie. It has been quite some time since it was this lively here!", she titters and reaches for the tankard.
  1006. "Grim?"
  1007. >"Aye?"
  1008. "What's in this?"
  1009. >"Something special. I'm not sure if y're old enough for this, but I don't particularly care either."
  1010. >That doesn't sound good... Hopefully it is not what you think it is.
  1011. >Trixie on the other hand seems to think that this sounds wonderful and watches with sparkling eyes and a wide grin on her muzzle as Grimfeather fills each of the bowls with a clear liquid.
  1012. >"Is this claw?"
  1013. >"Aye! The best you can buy outside of the Gryphon kingdoms!"
  1014. "What's claw?", you ask and take a careful sniff at your bowl.
  1015. >Oh my... Yep, this is booze alright. And it smells a lot worse than the cheap liquor that Trixie always buys.
  1016. >Sharp and stinging... Almost like the stuff you use to thin paints.
  1017. >You have a hard time believing that this is could to be "the best" of anything.
  1018. >"A traditional gryphon spirit made out of a special sort of grain. Don't ask m' what's it called, though."
  1019. >Sounds like vodka... Kinda.
  1020. >"Ever had some?"
  1021. "No..."
  1022. >"Trixie can't say she ever did."
  1023. >"Then it's about time!", she bellows and raises her bowl, "To us!"
  1024. >"To us!", Trixie chirps, clinking bowls with your host.
  1025. "To us..."
  1026. >With a bit of concern you watch as Trixie empties her bowl in one long chug, seemingly unfazed by the burn this concoction surely must have, before slamming it down again and wiping her muzzle with a content sounding sigh.
  1027. >One drink can't hurt, but Trixie tends to forget her limits and bounds rather quickly once she has started.
  1028. >"Not too bad!"
  1029. >Hopefully Grim possesses enough common sense to stop before this gets out of hand... Or hoof and respectively claw.
  1030. >"Ye sure y' never had any claw?", Grimfeather asks and sips at her own drink.
  1031. >"No. Why?"
  1032. >"Just asking. Most ponies have a coughing fit when they just nip at some."
  1033. >"Oh, really? Uhm... Trixie just has... Ehrm...", she stammers and fiddles with the bowl in her hooves.
  1034. >Shooting your surrogate mother an understanding nod, Grim refills her bowl.
  1035. >"I understand. A life lacking real roots is not an easy one to live."
  1036. >"Y-Yes, that's true...", Trixie mutters and brings the bowl to her mouth again.
  1037. >But before she can quench her thirst with the alcoholic liquid in it, a quick claw prevents her from doing so, its owner looking with stern, but friendly eyes at her.
  1038. >"But."
  1039. >"Y-Yeah?"
  1040. >"Don't forget about the important things in yer life, Trixie. It's all too easy to lose sight on them."
  1041. >"W-What?"
  1042. >"Ye heard m', Trixie, and I'm sure y' also understood m'."
  1043. >Taken completely aback, Trixie tries to wiggle her bowl out of Grim's clutch, but the gryphon stands firm and keeps staring into her eyes
  1044. >"Nobody has ever found salvation at the bottom of a bottle."
  1045. >Seems like Grim has some experiences with alcoholics...
  1046. >The look on her face speaks volumes. She wants Trixie to understand and is probably willing to make her do so by force.
  1047. >Maybe one of her close friends was one? Or perhaps even her husband?
  1048. >But whoever it was, she looks like she isn't willing to allow Trixie to make the same mistake.
  1049. >You decide to just let this play out naturally, since you feel that your opinions and notions about this aren't really needed right now.
  1050. >At least for the moment. If things go too awry you will intervene of course.
  1051. >So you keep your trap shut by stuffing it with the cake Grim gave you and continue to watch.
  1052. "..."
  1053. >"Trixie knows that... She knows. You don't have to worry about her, Grim.", Trixie replies with a bit of a glare.
  1054. >Not too bad. Maybe a bit too much glazing, but the carrots in it kinda compensate for this.
  1055. >Releasing Trixie's drink from her grasp again, Grimfeather chuckles and shoots her a toothy grin.
  1056. >"That's all fine and dandy that y' know, Trixie. But do y' intend to do something against it?"
  1057. >You can literally hear Trixie's boast and pride cracking... There is nothing more that she hates than strangers trying to interfere with her life.
  1058. >Be it in a good way or not... Doesn't matter. That just gets her blood boiling good.
  1059. >"Of course she intends!", she barks, "What makes you think that this is any of your concern, though?"
  1060. >"Nothing makes m' think that.", Grim empties her bowl and points at Trixie, "I just felt like sharing the wisdom of a wintery gryphon with ye."
  1061. >Grimfeather helps herself to a refill, staying calm as ever, her eyes still fixated on Trixie.
  1062. >"If y' heed it or not...", the tankard finds it's way on the table again with a quiet clink, "Isn't her problem, it really isn't. But that doesn't mean she can't care. Just keep in mind that y' aren't alone."
  1063. >Trixie's mouth opens, but much to your, and perhaps even her surprise, not a single word comes out of it.
  1064. >Instead she seems to let Grim's words sink in for a moment and then returns Grim's gesture with a soft titter.
  1065. >"You... You can. Thank you, Grim. Sorry for lashing out."
  1066. >"It's all right."
  1067. >Exhaling deeply, Trixie swirls the contents of her bowl around, seemingly mesmerized by its content's movements, before smilingly looking at you.
  1068. >"This is just a sore spot for Trixie, but she knows that there is something to fix and she... No... We are already working on it."
  1069. "Yep!", you chime in.
  1070. >A bit surprised that you know of Trixie's problem, Grim shoots you a confused look before chuckling and shaking her head.
  1071. >"Well then... I'm glad to hear this. Really am. I was just a bit worried, I guess."
  1072. >"Why, though? If Trixie may ask."
  1073. >"Y' may and... I don't know. Y' seem to have enough problems already and so I tried to prevent more from coming along."
  1074. >What now?
  1075. "Huh? Why do we seem to have enough problems, Grim?"
  1076. >"Well...", her cheeks turn a bit rosy, "It's quite obvious, isn't it?"
  1077. >"No...?", Trixie raises an eyebrow and sips at her drink, "Care to elaborate?"
  1078. >"Do I really have to speak it out?"
  1079. >Oh, the elephant in the room... You already know where this is going. Nevertheless you shoot her a nod.
  1080. >"By the gods... Yer father, kid, yer father! He isn't with y'!"
  1081. >Called it.
  1082. >"Oh that...", Trixie giggles, "That's rather simple to explain."
  1083. >"It is?"
  1084. "Uhu. You see... Trixie isn't my mother."
  1085. >Hearing this, the azure magician flinches something fierce and you are quick to correct yourself
  1086. "At least not my biological one."
  1087. >"She isn't?"
  1088. >"No... Trixie isn't. Dear, sweet Hornet here just showed up at my wagon one day and..."
  1089. "I kinda stuck around ever since.", you complete her sentence.
  1090. >"Yeah, one could put it like that. There's a bit more to that story, but it's really not that exciting."
  1091. >"Oh, I don't mind.", Grim says and drinks off her second bowl, "The night's still young and the tankard's still full. If y' don't mind telling me, I won't mind listening."
  1092. >"Okay then... Shall I or shall you, Hornet?"
  1093.  
  1094. "I kinda wanna eat my cake, so go ahead. I couldn't retell it properly anyways.", you sigh, "So many words I am not allowed to say any more... Tzk, tzk, what a pity."
  1095. >"Ah, yes. Trixie totally forgot that you used to swear a lot more than you do today."
  1096. "You probably suppressed that memory.", you giggle.
  1097. >"Probably.", she joins in your laughter, "Luckily Trixie managed to knock the nonsense out of you. Well... At least most of it."
  1098. "Old habits die hard. I swore for most of my life."
  1099. >Mostly in written form, yelling at idiots on the internet... Tcha... Good old times.
  1100. >"Nothing wrong with a bit o' cussing.", Grim chimes in.
  1101. >"A bit? "Fuck" and any derivatives of it were her to go words.", Trixie groans and rubs the bridge of her muzzle, "And they sti-"
  1102. "They still are and you fucking know it!", you cut her off.
  1103. >"Hornet!"
  1104. "Sorry."
  1105. >Grimfeather gives a silvery laugh and jugs down the contents of her bowl.
  1106. >"Y're my kind of filly, squirt!"
  1107. "Heh, thanks. Trixie seems to think otherwise, though."
  1108. >"She really does."
  1109. >"If y' keep that up, ye will catch yerself a special kind of stallion someday."
  1110. "W-What?"
  1111. >"Aye. Not many lads like a gal that has a trap like yers! But the few that do are the ones who really take y' for what y' are and not just for what ye look like, kid."
  1112. >She cackles and quickly refills her bowl before pointing at you.
  1113. >"Just believe m'. When I first met m' gallant, I told him to fuck off and if he's looking fer a pair of legs to spread he needs to look somewhere else.", she sighs and peers at the empty space next to you, "Luckily, he turned out to be quite the persistent fella..."
  1114. >The refill she helped herself to finds its way just as quickly down her throat as she refreshed it, tinting her thinly feathered cheeks rosy.
  1115. >"Didn't even stop wooing me after I clawed him...", she says feebly, "By the gods... I miss the old bugger, I really do."
  1116. >The smile on her beak falters and she shakes her head, vacantly staring into her now empty bowl.
  1117. "Grim..."
  1118. >"Sorry.", another sigh escapes her, "Didn't intend to get sentimental tonight. Must be the claw."
  1119. >"How was he?", Trixie asks.
  1120. >"Huh?"
  1121. >"How was he? Tell us about him."
  1122. >"Oh... Y' really want to listen to some crone swooning over her old love?"
  1123. "Of course!", you chirp.
  1124. >"Why not? See it as a trade."
  1125. >"A trade?"
  1126. >"Yes. You tell us about your husband and Trixie will tell you about how she and Hornet met.", she says, beaming Grim a warm smile.
  1127. >"Well then... M' gallant... No, Karranak... Feathers! How long was it since I last took his name in m' beak? He was... He was..."
  1128. >"Yes?"
  1129. >"I need more alcohol for this."
  1130. >"No problem.", Trixie says and refills Grim's bowl using her magic, "There you go."
  1131. >"Thanks.", Grim empties it in one belch, "Ah... Better. Much better. It really burns nicely, doesn't it?"
  1132. >"It does." Trixie replies with a titter, "So how was he?"
  1133. >"Stubborn, always looking for a fight, a bit dull-witted and very fond of his beer... But beneath all that was the most caring and loveable minotaur y' would have ever met."
  1134. >"A m-minotaur?"
  1135. >"Aye? Karranak isn't a gryphon name. Neither is Ironhorn. I though ye would have worked that out by now?"
  1136. >"Trixie isn't that familiar with gryphon names..."
  1137. "Yeah, me neither. But I had my conjectures."
  1138. >Grimfeather laughs lustily and holds out her bowl to Trixie, who immediately replenishes it.
  1139. >"I'm a weird one, aren't I? Countless rich suitors begged m' to marry them and I fell for the horned freak who hit on me in some sleazy bar. I don't even know what made m' give him a chance!"
  1140. >"What? Of course not, Grim. It might be not very ordinary to marry outside of your race, but it isn't weird."
  1141. >"M' parents surely thought differently... Disowned m' on the spot when I told them about him. Kicked m' out too."
  1142. "That's harsh."
  1143. >"Might be, but I've never regretted it."
  1144. >She takes a slow sip, seemingly savouring the the taste, before running a claw through the large feathers on her forehead.
  1145. >"He showed m' so much... Places I never would have seen if he didn't drag m' sorry ass to them. Never mind the things he taught m'."
  1146. >A silent laugh leaves her and she brings her three taloned claw to her face, staring at the stump that adorns it.
  1147. >"We brought justice onto them who deserved it. Taught m' to fight and he did it good."
  1148. >Her sharp nails bare themselves and she lets one of them trace down her beak.
  1149. >"Can't say that what I did was right... But the guards didn't seem to care when we brought the heads in exchange fer the bits that were issued on them. One problem less in the world... That is what counts in the end."
  1150. >"Y-You killed?", Trixie asks with a shaky voice.
  1151. >"Aye. But be assured I never took down someone innocent. Just the ones that deserved it... Yes. They brought it down on themselves."
  1152. >"How? And why?"
  1153. >"That was his job... You see, Karranak was a bounty hunter. And I helped him. His strength and my speed... A devastating match."
  1154. "Just with your claws?"
  1155. >"Of course not.", she cackles, "One of the first things Karranak bought m' was a set of daggers... Still have them, but I don't like to look at them any more. They bring forth too many memories."
  1156. >With another sigh, the clear alcoholic liquid vanishes into her maw and she moans deeply.
  1157. >"They are a fine piece of craftsmanship, made out of pure lifebane and costed a small fortune... Their blades cut even through the thickest of steels and y' don't even want to know what they did to bare flesh."
  1158. >The claw holding her bowl finds it way into the rough vicinity of Trixie and beckons for another refill, which the unicorn almost instantly grants.
  1159. >"Burns searing holes in it... I nearly threw up when I first saw its degenerating effects. But he told me that it was a painless death and I believed him."
  1160. >"This doesn't sound like it would be painless."
  1161. >"It really is. Believe m'. I tested it out on m'self...", she giggles, "Just a tiny cut of course, but it didn't hurt.", she shows off a blackish scar on her foreleg, "Took forever to heal, though... Anyway."
  1162. >She takes a long nip at her drink, throwing her head back as it runs down her throat before holding it in a claw.
  1163. >"He taught m' other things than fighting too. Like love... He was m' first and only one."
  1164. >"Uh.. Grim... Trixie doesn't think that this is appropri-"
  1165. >"Geez! Come on, Trixie! Hornet's almost a mare!"
  1166. >"Still...", Trixie mutters.
  1167. >"Y' can't shelter her from these things for ever! One day she will bring some colt to yer wagon and fool around with him."
  1168. >Trixie chortles and waves her off.
  1169. >"That is still a long way off. She didn't even have her first heat yet. Right, Hornet?"
  1170. "Uhm... Not that I can tell, no.", you reply a bit embarrassed.
  1171. >"See?"
  1172. >"Aye, aye... I won't delve deeper into m' escapades with Karranak then. Gods... What his fingers were able to do, though."
  1173. "Tell me more..."
  1174. >"Hornet!", Trixie blurts out.
  1175. "What?"
  1176. >"That's none of your interest!"
  1177. >"I won't mind telling ye, squirt, but first..."
  1178. "Huh? What first?"
  1179. >"Ye didn't even touch yer claw yet, kid, and I'm well into m' fourth of fifth."
  1180. "I'm still a minor."
  1181. >Well... Technically you are.
  1182. >"And? When I was yer age, I got besotted every weekend!", Grim states and shoves your bowl closer to you, "How old are ye anyway?"
  1183. "Thirteen."
  1184. >"Then y' will be fine."
  1185. "Okay..."
  1186. >You didn't drink any alcohol since you were turned into a filly and you don't know how it affects a pony body, but it can't be that different, can it?
  1187. >"Take it slow, Hornet.", Trixie chimes in.
  1188. >No words of protest? That kinda surprises you... Well... Or it doesn't. You didn't expect any different from her.
  1189. >Tentatively you take the ceramic bowl into your hooves, taking another sniff at the clear liquid in it.
  1190. >Doesn't smell any better than before...
  1191. >"I know it smells like shit, but it tastes far better!", Grim says with a snicker, "Just don't let it linger for too long in yer mouth."
  1192. >"Grim, please don't swear so much."
  1193. >So you should chug it down, you guess?
  1194. >"From what y've told m', she probably can't learn anything new from m'."
  1195. >"Yeah, but still..."
  1196. >Well... Here goes nothing.
  1197.  
  1198. >In one fluid motion, you bring the bowl to your lips and pour the claw into you, almost choking on its sharp taste once it hits your tongue.
  1199. >Your cheeks immediately puff up and your eyes begin to water as you desperately try to keep this horrible concoction inside of you.
  1200. >"Hah! See, Trixie? That's how ponies usually react!", Grim guffaws and holds her stomach in laughter.
  1201. >By god... You've drank your fair share of booze in your life and even tried almost pure alcohol out of pure curiosity once. But this? This takes the cake.
  1202. >Not only tastes it vile and bitter, like a strange mixture of vodka and herb bitters, but it also manages to burn like liquid fire while doing so. How can they drink this without throwing up?
  1203. >Dropping your bowl, you pound your hoof repeatedly on the table in an attempt to distract you from the pain, which sadly doesn't work all too well.
  1204. >"Just swallow, squirt. It's not proper fer a lady to spit!"
  1205. >"G-Grim!"
  1206. >"What? I don't need a mess on m' table. Also it's the truth. Drakes really like it when y'..."
  1207. >"She doesn't need to know this!", Trixie cuts her off, blushing quite profusely and wildly waving her front hooves around.
  1208. >If wouldn't be on the verge of having a coughing fit right now, you would tease Trixie a bit and tell her that you already knew this.
  1209. >Sadly, you will have to leave out this opportunity to embarrass her.
  1210. >Gathering all your willpower and fighting against the urge to just spit the booze out, you follow Grim's advice and swallow, shuddering as you feel it running down your throat like acid.
  1211. "Blergh!"
  1212. >The deed is done... Finally.
  1213. >"Maybe I should have mentioned that it's an acquired taste.", Grim says and cackles.
  1214. "Yeah... Maybe you should have.", you pout and stuff some cake into you.
  1215. >That's better.
  1216. >"Don't be like that. How are ye feeling, kid?"
  1217. "Good. I think. I'm not feeling anything yet, though."
  1218. >"Give it some time.", she says and tops your drink up, "If y' feel like it, drink up. If not, don't worry about it too much. It won't go to waste."
  1219. >Grim and Trixie share a laugh and a quick nod and then clink their bowls together, killing their contents off before helping themselves to a refill.
  1220. >With the latter of those two already being well on the way again to get fully shitfaced. A fact that does bother you quite a bit, since you had hoped that Grim would have kept an eye on her.
  1221. >But on the other hand... Or hoof or claw or whatever... Trixie seems a lot different tonight.
  1222. >Usually she is the quiet type of drunk, silently nursing her bottle while she watches the flames of the campfire dance and keeping her thoughts and notions to herself.
  1223. >More often than not forgetting that you even exist...
  1224. >Tonight, though, she is outspoken, talkative and doesn't mumble something into her non-existent beard every few minutes.
  1225. >The alcohol might helped her with that, but that doesn't matter.
  1226. >You quite like this Trixie.
  1227. >Also Grim seems to enjoy herself a great deal too, so you decide to stop worrying so much and let them have their fun.
  1228. >Trixie doesn't get many chances to just socialize with ponies, or gryphons in Grim's case, of her age. Well... Roughly her age. Give or take a few decades.
  1229. >"Looks like we digressed a bit... Where were we?", Grim asks and nips at her drink.
  1230. "You wanted to tell me about your husba-"
  1231. >"No, she didn't.", Trixie cuts you off.
  1232. >"What's so bad about some tales out of school? We are all reeves after all."
  1233. >"Hornet's too young for this."
  1234. >"She's thirteen.", Grim retorts.
  1235. "Eyyup!"
  1236. >"Still too young.", Trixie waves her off, "A filly of her age doesn't need to know such things. Trixie didn't learn about them until she was sixteen.", she states and takes a sip.
  1237. >"Sixteen, y' say? Which pretty colt introduced ye to them?"
  1238. >Immediately the sip Trixie took leaves her the same way it entered her and she looks a bit flabbergasted at your host.
  1239. >"Excuse me?!"
  1240. >"Ye heard me right. So with whom y' got yer ashes hauled first? Yer first crush?"
  1241. >Uh, now it is getting interesting.
  1242. >"That's a-absolutely none of y-your concern, Grim!", Trixie stammers, "What makes you even think that Trixie meant that?"
  1243. >"Why else would y' have mentioned it then?"
  1244. >"To make a point that Hornet doesn't need to kn-"
  1245. >"Fiddlesticks, Trixie.", Grim interrupts her, "Just spill the beans already! Who was the lucky colt?"
  1246. >"Eh... Fine.", she groans and drinks off her bowl, her cheeks now permanently tinted red, "His name was Rocky Road."
  1247. >"There we go! How was it?"
  1248. >"Trixie is not going to answer this.", she says and holds her now empty bowl out to Grim.
  1249. >A wide smile spreads on Grimfeather's beak and she takes the tankard into a firm grip, hiding it behind a wing.
  1250. >"Yer not getting any until y' tell us!"
  1251. >"That's chantage!", Trixie exclaims and points at Grimfeather.
  1252. >"Exactly~", she coos.
  1253. >Trixie's horn lights up and she tries to wrench the pitcher out of Grim's grasp. But it is obvious that she's not using her full power and is just playing with her.
  1254. >If she wanted to, she could easily overpower the gryphon, fling her across the whole room and then take her alcoholic price, but she doesn't.
  1255. >You can't help but to giggle a bit at the silly scene that plays out in front of your eyes.
  1256. >Man... You never have seen Trixie like that... So careless and genuinely happy.
  1257. >Maybe this is all that she ever needed... Just someone at her eye-level. A like-minded soul. so to speak.
  1258. >Both her and Grim lived most of their lives on a shank's pony. With neither a real nor firm homebase to speak of.
  1259. >"Don't be like that!"
  1260. >Well... That is at least what she told you. She never got into too much detail about her life before she started travelling.
  1261. >Just some loose stories about her parents and friends while she was drunk... And most of them weren't particularly nice ones.
  1262. >"Then tell us! All the claw could be yers if y' just do!"
  1263. >Like how she left her parents after an especially nasty fight with them.
  1264. >By god... She was so drunk that she didn't even realize that she poured her heart out to you back then. Even if you didn't understand most of what she said, due to her inebriated state..
  1265. >"Never!"
  1266. >But you did get that she had some problems with her father. Some serious problems. Mostly about her choice of career.
  1267. >"Blow the gaff then!"
  1268. >She fell asleep rather fast after that tidbit about her life, leaving you alone with quite some mixed emotions and impressions.
  1269. >And of course she refused to talk about this the day after and even completely denied that she ever told you anything about her family and her past some time later.
  1270. >That's just Trixie for you, though, you thought and quickly forgot about all this. Until now that is.
  1271. >There are so many things you want to ask her that she simply doesn't intend to answer. Ever. Kinda sad to be honest.
  1272. >Maybe that's just the alcohol that you are starting to feel right now, but you really want to understand her.
  1273. >Alcohol always made you kind of sentimental, even as a human, and your tiny pony frame doesn't make this better.
  1274. >Perhaps you should just drink more... The world is beginning to spin quite nicely and you want to feel more of that lovely buzz in your head.
  1275. >It has been some time after all... And maybe you will understand your surrogate mother better then.
  1276.  
  1277. >Taking your bowl into a more or less steady grip between your foreleg's ankles, you stare into the colourless liquid it contains as a stray thought hits you.
  1278. >Surrogate mother? Do you really see Trixie as this?
  1279. >What a weird notion...
  1280. >On the one hand, you're technically a fully grown adult who is more than capable to look after himself and make his own decisions, but on the other...
  1281. >You're a fucking filly right now. A fact that makes it rather hard to live on your own and thus you kinda need someone to look after you.
  1282. >As much as you want to deny it, but that's the sad truth.
  1283. >And Trixie did a pretty fine job doing exactly that, didn't she? Well... At least for the most part.
  1284. >She took you off the streets and under her proverbial wings without asking a single question or even any ulterior motives.
  1285. >The latter being something that you can't say about too many ponies who took interest in you...
  1286. >More than once you had to run away from stallions or even mares who took a few too many strides a bit too close to you.
  1287. >Thanks to those encounters you developed a healthy sense of paranoia that you learned to embrace and love more and more as you travelled further and further away from Ponyville.
  1288. >And exactly this sense nearly didn't make you trust Trixie when she first approached you... For you she was just like the others who just wanted to use you for whatever personal gain or satisfaction they sought from you.
  1289. >Luckily she was rather insisting on helping you and conveyed you her offer in a non-creepy and friendly way.
  1290. >Otherwise you would have most likely done what you always did: Opt for flight and maybe a kick in the shins before that.
  1291. >But fortunately you didn't.
  1292. >Without her, who knows what would have happened to you by now? Equestria isn't exactly a safe place for a lonesome foal.
  1293. >So wouldn't it be right to think her as such then? To call her your surrogate mother?
  1294. >...
  1295. >But would that be fair to your real one?
  1296. >She didn't ceased to exist just because only god knows how many light years separate her from you right now.
  1297. >At least you hope so...
  1298. >A quiet sigh escapes your lips and your bring the bowl closer to your muzzle, letting the sharp smack of the claw fill your nostrils.
  1299. >Doesn't smell one bit better than before, but at least you don't have to gag any more.
  1300. >God... You didn't entertain thoughts of her for a good while now.
  1301. >How is she doing? Does she still mourn you and keep your old room neat and tidy for the improbable case you might return some day?
  1302. >Like she always used to?
  1303. >You sure do hope that she doesn't...
  1304. >Because that isn't going to happen... Ever. Twilight made this more than clear when you asked her about the possibilities of finding a way back home for you.
  1305. >Something about the way magic works in the endless void of space and how she doesn't even know from where you exactly came from and some other shit like that.
  1306. >Not that you blame her for not trying hard enough, but... That's just another sad truth you had to accept.
  1307. >If you're lucky there is already an empty grave with your name on it, somewhere in your home town.
  1308. >Perhaps she even adorned it with a few flowers? Sword lilies and tulips... You always liked those.
  1309. "Alas...", you whisper.
  1310. >This would be for the better for everyone. You and your sanity included... The thought of her still suffering is one you couldn't stand.
  1311. >Sighing again, you tear your eyes away from your beverage and shift your gaze to Trixie and Grim, who are still arguing and laughing with each other.
  1312. >What a funny sight... Seeing Trixie like this makes a small smile spread on your lips.
  1313. >So... It's alright, you guess?
  1314. >Blood is thicker than water, isn't it? You wouldn't replace your real mother just because...
  1315. >Just because...
  1316. >You need a new one?
  1317. >With the bowl still in your hooves, you throw your head back and begin to stare vacantly at the ceiling, trying process the scrambled mess of thoughts in your brain.
  1318. >Need... Need... Need... Do you really? What makes you think that?
  1319. >Can't your relationship with Trixie work on any other level? Just as friends? Or maybe travel companions? Does it really have to be a mother-son or mother-daughter or whatever one?
  1320. >The other possibilities didn't even come to your mind until now.
  1321. >Perhaps because in all the time you've spent with her, you never did think of her as anything else as some kind of motherly figure?
  1322. >Even with the initial distance between her and you in the beginning, she did her best to take care of you and teach you things.
  1323. >Just as a mother would do with her child.
  1324. >This raises the question...
  1325. >As what does she see you?
  1326. >Her friend? Her apprentice? Or maybe even her daughter?
  1327. >She did mention that she loves you a few times. So... The latter then?
  1328. >But on the other hand she always gets fairly flustered when someone calls you her daughter or her your mother.
  1329. >Out of embarrassment or sheer surprise you don't know.
  1330. >It's quite adorable, though.
  1331. >So perhaps she isn't as comfortable with this notion as you might have thought.
  1332. >Although...
  1333. >Beforehand, when you told Grim that Trixie wasn't your real mother, she looked rather disappointed and sad.
  1334. >As if she would have liked to hear something else from you...
  1335. >So... She does think of her as your mother? But only when nobody can see you two, or what?
  1336. >Oh man... Why must everything be so fucking complicated and unclear.
  1337. >Sighing deeply, you shake your head and retrieve it from the backrest again, rolling your neck a few times to get the strain out of it.
  1338. >This chair is not as comfortable as it looks.
  1339. >And why do you even care so much? It's not like this would change anything.
  1340. >Life would go on nevertheless.
  1341. >You would still help her out with her shows and she would still look after you and help you to get a grip on your magic.
  1342. >In the end, it doesn't really matter as what you see each other. Mother, daughter, teacher, pupil or even just friends.
  1343. >Or... Does it?
  1344. >...
  1345. >You don't know. You just don't fucking know.
  1346. >"Something the matter, Hornet?"
  1347. "H-Huh?"
  1348. >"Y' got awfully quiet, squirt. Did the alcohol get to yer head?"
  1349. "Umm... No. I was just in thought."
  1350. >Looks like Grim and Trixie came to a truce while you were pondering, since Trixie is holding a full bowl in her magic grip.
  1351. >"Maybe we should relocate this to the pillows? Hornet looks a bit tired and Trixie's flanks are starting to hurt."
  1352. >"Aye. M' ass isn't the youngest and most plush either any more. Let's."
  1353. >"G-Grim!"
  1354. >"Oh, shut up, Trixie. Y' can't seriously tell m' that she doesn't know what an ass is!"
  1355. >"Still..."
  1356.  
  1357. >Waving Trixie off, Grim takes the tankard and her bowl into a claw and walks as elegantly as a gryphon is able to on three legs over to the pillows.
  1358. >With a sigh and a shake of her head, Trixie follows your entertainer and plants her plot onto the pillow next to her, almost immediately emptying her own bowl afterwards.
  1359. >"Refill please!"
  1360. >Well...
  1361. >This whole relocation endeavour happened quite fast now, didn't it?
  1362. >A bit perplexed, you take a look at your drink and try to figure out how in all seventy hells you are supposed to carry it over to the pillows.
  1363. >In theory you just could ask Trixie to magic it over to you, but you know from experience that she gets rather clumsy with her magic when she's drunk.
  1364. >Just last week she almost completely destroyed her bed when she tried to tuck herself in and set the alarm clock at the same time.
  1365. >So... What then? Try to levitate it yourself perhaps?
  1366. >You know that you need... What was the bright one called again? Hush? Hesh? No, those don't sound right...
  1367. >Doesn't matter, it just has to look bright but don't feel hot in your mind... God... That still doesn't make sense to you, but that's how magic apparently works.
  1368. >Okay then. Here goes nothing and there is hoping that the bit of alcohol in your blood gives you some kind of an edge this time.
  1369. >If not, you will just kill it off here.
  1370. >Sometimes it's just as simple as that.
  1371. >Closing your eyes, you start to concentrate with all your might on your horn, trying to get a "mental map" on all the ambient magic winds.
  1372. >At first everything is black before your inner eye, but slowly you are able to make out various colourful and ghostly squalls wafting in front of you.
  1373. >Most of them are brown and green. The former must be Ghur, the wind of beasts and the latter... Uhm... Something, the wind of life.
  1374. >Makes sense for a forest to have those in abundance.
  1375. >So far so good. Now you just have to find the wind you want and channel it into your horn. It should look like... How did Trixie put it again?
  1376. >"Hysh is bright and incandescent, like the rays of Celestia's sun.", her voice resounds in your head.
  1377. >Ah yes, it was called Hysh. Of course.
  1378. >Rays of sunlight should be relatively hard to miss, but...
  1379. >All you can perceive is a billowing mess of brown and green, swallowing and devouring all other winds that may be situated in your vicinity.
  1380. >Why though? Back at your wagon you were able to see every wind clearly. What is different now?
  1381. >Ugh... This is so frustrating.
  1382. >You want so desperately to succeed. Surely Trixie would be proud of you!
  1383. >But without Hysh... You fear that this is a more or less hopeless endeavour.
  1384. >...
  1385. >Or... Is it?
  1386. >What if you used another wind than Hysh? Ghur for instance? Or whatever the wind of life is called?
  1387. >In the end you tell the spell what to do. So what difference could it possible make?
  1388. >You are sure that it totally wouldn't matter for such a simple task as levitating a bowl of booze for a couple of feet.
  1389. >For more complicated spells? Sure. But for this? Nah, most certainly not.
  1390. >And since you aren't even using the wind that sets things on fire, there is absolutely no way that is could go awry in any way.
  1391. >In the worst case, your spell will simply fail and fizzle out. That's it.
  1392. >Then it's settled!
  1393. >After a bit of pondering about which wind to use, you come to a conclusion that Ghur would probably make more sense than the wind of life to manipulate physical objects and begin to gather it..
  1394. >Oh my... Magic flowing into you still feels very weird. As if hundreds of bugs are crawling around on your horn.
  1395. >It's a bit annoying, but you learned to ignore this strange sensation for the most part.
  1396. >What's far more distracting is the impression that Ghur leaves on your mind... Like all magic winds, it possesses its own distinct "flavour".
  1397. >And apparently the wind of beast's is the smell of forest soil in your nose and the howls of wolves in your ears.
  1398. >Hysh's was totally different. It made you feel warm and blinded you.
  1399. >Well... It didn't really blind you, it just was very bright and incandescent before your inner eye, but that doesn't really matter.
  1400. >Funny how magic works.
  1401. >After a few seconds you think that you have collected enough of the brown wind and start to weave it into a spell, focusing it on your bowl.
  1402. >You're imagining it levitating, just as Trixie taught you, and begin to make yourself ready to release the arcana, bending the wind in such a way that it should do your bidding.
  1403. >This... This actually looks and feels promising.
  1404. >Usually you feel yourself losing control of the magical winds at this point, but this time you surprisingly don't.
  1405. >Unlike Hysh and all the others, Ghur is totally in your control, not struggling or fighting against you. It's almost like you have a better understanding of it.
  1406. >It just feels... More natural. As if this would be "your" wind.
  1407. >God... You can't wait any longer.
  1408. >You want to see it happening. Now.
  1409. >And so you give the spell the finishing touch by clipping your tether to bestial wind and unleash it.
  1410. "Pah!"
  1411. >The moment you feel the magical energy leaving your horn, you hear the frantic flapping of dozens of wings suffusing the room and the smell of carrion invading your nose.
  1412. "H-Huh?"
  1413. >"CAW! CAW! CAW!"
  1414.  
  1415. >Startled by the cawing noises of agitated birds, your eyes shoot open and you nearly can't believe what they are able to see...
  1416. >A murder of crows... A fucking murder of crows.
  1417. >Where did they come fro-... Wait... Did you do that? Did you summon them with your spell?
  1418. >"What in the name of Famir?!", a shocked Grimfeather exclaims just as the members of the flock begin to fight each other, "What are those birds doing in m' abode?!"
  1419. >Trixie follows your entertainer suit, but is only able to look at the strange spectacle with maw agape.
  1420. >Blood and feathers begin to shower down on you and you cross your forelegs before your face in an attempt defend yourself from the gory rain.
  1421. "I... I don't know! I just wanted to levitate my bowl to the... Argh!"
  1422. >"Y' did this?!"
  1423. >"You did this, Hornet?", Trixie asks and looks at you with an astonished look on her face.
  1424. "Y-Yes! Waaahh! Do something, Trixie!", you yell and dodge the falling, lifeless body of a crow.
  1425. >"Of... Of course!", she says and jumps onto her hooves, her horn already glowing, "Just give Trixie a second."
  1426. >"Make it quick, Trixie! They are making a mess of this room! Why are they even fighting?!"
  1427. "I don't know!"
  1428. >"So much Ghur... What wind did you use, Hornet?"
  1429. "Ghur."
  1430. >"Makes sense... Here we go."
  1431. >And with those words leaving her mouth, a bright crimson beam leaves her horn and engulfs the flock in a magical shimmer, freezing it seemingly in time.
  1432. >One by one the crows start to disappear into the aether they came from, letting you breathe a sigh of relief, but then...
  1433. >"U-Ugh..."
  1434. >Her beam suddenly begins to get weaker and weaker, until it fully fizzles away, leaving still about two dozens of crows and a very tired looking Trixie behind.
  1435. >And of course they waste no time and immediately start to maul each other with their claws and beaks the moment they are able to again.
  1436. >"What happened, Trixie? They are still here!", Grim states with a hint of anger in her tone.
  1437. >"Not enough Aqshy... And Trixie needs it to banish them."
  1438. >"Then convert some!"
  1439. >"W-What?! Are you insane? Trixie is not going to convert Ghur into Aqshy! That's suicide!"
  1440. >Another crow drops down dead and completely obliterates what's left of your cake, covering you in frosting and dough.
  1441. "Wha!"
  1442. >"Can't y' just blast them with magic bolts or something like that?"
  1443. >"They seem to bleed... Trixie thinks that this won't be a good idea."
  1444. >"Yeah, y're right. Then what?"
  1445. >"Hornet must get them under her control.", Trixie says and turns to you, "Hornet!"
  1446. "Y-Yes?"
  1447. >"Command them to stop!"
  1448. "And how am I supposed to do that?"
  1449. >"They are your creation, thus they will have to do your bidding. Surely you must feel the tether between them and you."
  1450. >Indeed... The weird, tingling feeling in your horn hasn't gone away yet. You just didn't seem to notice it until now.
  1451. >But can you even handle this? This is your first spell... You have not the least inkling on how to control the flock.
  1452. >"They will heed your will if it is strong enough.", Trixie states and beams you a smile, "Trixie believes in you."
  1453. >"Y' can do this, squirt! Just make 'em go away! I don't want to clean up litres of blood!"
  1454. >Yeah... You can handle this.
  1455. >Closing your eyes again, you immediately see the invisible, pulsing and faintly brown tether between you and the birds before your inner one.
  1456. >They are truly bound to you... You can almost feel them flapping their wings and burrowing their claws in each other. Not a nice feeling, but...
  1457. >Time to show them who is boss around these parts.
  1458. >With a mental command, you begin to channel the wind of beasts into your horn, filling your mind with visions of verdant forests and giant monsters.
  1459. >And just like before you feel this strange sensation of affinity between you and the wind again... Yet again it doesn't struggle and just bends to your will.
  1460. >Does this mean something? Maybe... But first things first.
  1461. "Calm down!", you think and weave your bidding into a spell, sending it through the leash with another mental command.
  1462. >How? You don't know... It just felt natural to you. Like this was the only way it was meant to be done.
  1463. >And much to your surprise, and maybe an even bigger one to Trixie and Grim, the murder promptly stops to mangle each other, landing on the table and looking at you expectantly with blood red eyes.
  1464. >"Thank Famir...", Grim says and sighs in relief.
  1465. >"Good job, Hornet.", Trixie chimes in.
  1466. >It worked?!
  1467.  
  1468. >"Caw!", one of the birds squalls and jumps a bit closer to you, ruffling its black wings and cocking its mangled head.
  1469. >Not much of the plumage that formerly covered its body is still there and that what is left is in a disastrous state to say the least and glistening with blood.
  1470. >Several gaping wounds now adorn its small, but still rather impressive for a bird, form, but nevertheless it doesn't show any signs of exhaustion or even discomfort.
  1471. >It just stares at you with unblinking eyes, apparently waiting and biding for your next orders.
  1472. >Comes with being made out of pure magic, you guess... Even if it is able to bleed as you can see and unfortunately are able to smell.
  1473. >God... It isn't as bad as the foul scent that was wafting around at the market, but it is still vile enough to make your stomach churn.
  1474. >You've seen and smelled quite a few dead animals on your travels, but never were they so close to you as they are now... This is easily one of your most eerie experiences with them yet.
  1475. >And if this wouldn't be enough, a whole other magic wind makes itself suddenly apparent before your inner eye... A purple and extremely cold one, drifting around your horn like the touch of death itself and giving you an ever growing sense of dread.
  1476. >Your breathing starts to get faster and beads of sweat are beginning to form themselves on your forehead, leaving sticky trails as they run down on your head.
  1477. >The amethyst wind creeps around your head and injects hellish dreams of rotting corpses and rivers of festering blood into it.
  1478. >With each passing seconds the dark prophecies in your mind grow stronger and ghastlier, soon letting you see the ones you hold dearly in your heart as living corpses, feasting on each others purulent flesh and cackling in otherworldly voices.
  1479. >"Hornet?"
  1480. >By Celestia and whatever other alicorns and gods might be out there... What is happening? And why?`
  1481. >Tears form in your eyes and start to flow freely down your cheeks as all strength and warmth begins to leave your body.
  1482. >"Hornet!"
  1483. >Whatever it is... It's slowly but surely overtaking you.
  1484. >No...
  1485. >You don't want this.
  1486. >"CAW! CAW! CAW!"
  1487. >Yet again the room is filled with the frantic flapping of wings and you feel dozens of tiny gusts hitting your body as the flock engulfs you.
  1488. >"W-What?! Why are they agitated again?"
  1489. >It feels... Refreshing.
  1490. >"Trixie doesn't know! But we have to do something! They are attacking her!"
  1491. >Each squall causes the mysterious, purple wind to falter and make room for the for you so strangely familiar brown wind of beasts.
  1492. >Finally you can feel it fully fading away and a strong shudder rocks your numb frame as the life-giving warmth returns to your horn and body.
  1493. "Waahhaahh..."
  1494. >The moment you regain the control over your body and senses, the murder of crows disbands itself and alights on the table again, cawing occasionally as they watch you recover.
  1495. >"Hornet!", Trixie exclaims, stopping dead in her tracks a few feet before the table, "Everything alright, dear?"
  1496. "Y-Yeah... I'm alright. Thank you."
  1497. >"Thank Celestia..."
  1498. >"What happened, squirt?", Grim asks and retracts her talons, "We were just about to rescue ye from those crazy birds."
  1499. >Rescue you? What?
  1500. "I... I don't know. I suddenly felt something strange and cold creeping around me... And then I totally lost control over my body."
  1501. >"Something cold, you say?", Trixie asks and sits down on her haunches, wiping a strand of her mane out of her face, "Was it a magic wind?"
  1502. "Mhm. It sapped all of my strength and body heat out of me. It was terrifying to be honest."
  1503. >"Was it purple?"
  1504. "Yes."
  1505. >"Shyish."
  1506. "What?"
  1507. >"What's a Shyish?"
  1508. >"Shyish is the wind of death.", Trixie answers, "Nowadays it's called the wind of change to make it sound less terrifying, but this doesn't change the fact from where it draws its power from."
  1509. >Trixie carefully pokes the corpse of a crow with a hoof, her face bearing a disgusted expression.
  1510. >"You must have put a lot of Ghur into your spell to allow their dead bodies to extrude enough Shyish to physically affect you."
  1511. "I don't know... I just took so much until I thought it was enough."
  1512. >"Colour Trixie impressed, Hornet. She wouldn't have thought that you are this potent with your magic yet.", she states with a small smile on her lips.
  1513. "T-Thanks.", you respond, trying to suppress the oncoming blush.
  1514. >"Why did they attack her, though?"
  1515. "They attacked me?"
  1516. >"Aye. They swarmed all around y'. I was scared fer ye fer a second there."
  1517. >What? Why would they attack you? Doesn't that only happen with miscasts? But you are sure that didn't make any mistakes...
  1518. >"In retrospect, Trixie doesn't think that this was an attack."
  1519. >"It wasn't? Certainly looked like one, though.", Grim says and returns to her pillow.
  1520. >"No, it wasn't." she points at the birds, "They probably tried to protect Hornet from Shyish's influence."
  1521. "Protect me? But why? Because they like me?"
  1522. >"Oh no!", Trixie giggles and beckons one of the crows to land on her hoof, "Trixie fears that they did this out of sheer self-preservation.", she nuzzles the one that did so, "You see... You are what binds them to our realm. If you would have been injured or, heavens forbid, even have died, they would have been sent back to theirs."
  1523. >With a shake of her hoof, she sends the bird away again, wiping her appendage on the carpet.
  1524. >"Filthy thing..."
  1525. "So they have a consciousness?"
  1526. >"Not really. The mind of a magical being is nigh on incomprehensible, but what's for sure is that they certainly like existing."
  1527. "I see."
  1528. >"Caw!"
  1529. >Uhm... What?! Ah, yes... Of course. You should probably thank them for rescuing you.
  1530. >You are not sure if they are able to appreciate your gesture, but it is the thought what counts.
  1531. "Thanks, buddy."
  1532. >Tentatively, you reach a hoof out to the crow and it immediately hops onto it, burying its bloodied claws deep into your unprotected flesh.
  1533. "Ow!", you cry out and try to shake it off, but much to your dismay it remains steadfast and continues to stay attached to you in a fairly painful manner, its gaze never leaving yours.
  1534. >"Everything alright, Hornet?", Trixie asks, her voice bearing a concerned tone.
  1535. "Y-Yeah. It just caught me by surprise.", you respond, holding a tear back.
  1536. >Also it hurts like hell... But better not tell her that for the sake of her poor heart.
  1537. >"Okay then. It seems like they are now under your control again. Good."
  1538. "Mhm. It seems like that. Now what?"
  1539. >"Just te-"
  1540. >"Just make 'em disappear, squirt.", Grim interrupts Trixie, her eyes wandering between the dead birds scattered around and on the table, "I don't want any further messes in m' house. It's bad enough as it is already."
  1541. >"It would be a real pity if she would just dispel them, though..."
  1542. >"Care to tell m' why?"
  1543. >"It's Hornet's first spell."
  1544. >"And?", Grim asks and shrugs, "Didn't she have enough action yet?"
  1545. >"No... Trixie means yes, but that's something very special for an unicorn!", Trixie retorts, "It's like your fist successful flight as a gryphon."
  1546. >"Oh, I see... Carry on then, kid."
  1547. >"Thanks."
  1548. "Uhm... Yeah, thanks. What am I supposed to do now, though?", you ask, your eyes still locked with the crow's, which grip on your appendage didn't get one bit weaker in the mean time.
  1549. >If anything, it appears to slowly but surely get out of patience, drawing more and more of your blood with each rhythmic clench of its claws.
  1550. >That's going to leave some scars... You are just sure of that.
  1551. >"What did you want your spell to do in the first place, Hornet?"
  1552. "I wanted to carry my bowl over to the pillows."
  1553. >"That was all? Why did you summon crows for that?"
  1554. "I... Ow! Stop that!"
  1555. >"Caw! Caw!"
  1556. "There wasn't enough Hysh in the air to cast that levitation spell you showed me, so I thought I just could substitute it with Gh-God fucking dammit!", you yelp and swat at the crow, which sadly manages to dodge your assault.
  1557. >"Hornet! Watch you langu- Uuuuaaah!", Trixie howls, one of Grim's talons boring itself into her sides and thus cutting her short, "What was that for?!"
  1558. >"I thought y' wanted to know how much a bird can hurt ye.", the gryphoness chuckles.
  1559. >Geez! Trixie got it, okay? Now never do that again please."
  1560. >"I would never."
  1561. >Rubbing the spot which Grim poked, Trixie shoots her a stern look before shifting her gaze back to you again.
  1562. >"So you wanted to levitate your bowl over to us, but didn't find enough Hysh to actually cast the spell? Did Trixie get that right?"
  1563. "Yep."
  1564. >"Why didn't you just ask Trixie then?"
  1565. "I didn't want to disturb you two... And... I kinda wanted to... Uhm..."
  1566. >"Wanted what, Hornet?"
  1567.  
  1568. "I wanted... Man, you see...", you stammer and and poke the crow on your leg, hoping to get it to move, "I just wanted to show you that your lessons weren't completely wasted on me."
  1569. >Instead of the reaction you wished for, tough, the bird does the exact opposite and just intensifies its glare and grip on you, eliciting a sharp hiss and another small spurt of blood out of you.
  1570. "Ow!"
  1571. >"Hornet..."
  1572. >In thick droplets your life's essence runs down on your foreleg and trickles onto the table in front of you, gradually forming a small puddle.
  1573. >Quite the gruesome sight, especially since it's your own blood, but at least it's not yet quite enough for your stomach or nose to take offence to...
  1574. >How much blood does a filly have anyways? One litre? Maybe two? But hopefully a lot more than that what glistens so mesmerizing before you in the chandelier's light.
  1575. >You just can't seem to take your eyes off it...
  1576. >Trixie sees it too and swallows hard before grabbing a napkin and climbing onto the chair opposite of you, an act which rips you out of your trance.
  1577. >Quickly wiping the crimson pool up, she sighs with relief and tucks the now sullied piece of cloth under a plate, locking eyes with you and ignoring the angry look that Grim shoots her.
  1578. >Must have been one expensive napkin.
  1579. >"Okay that's dealt with... Hornet?"
  1580. "Yeah?"
  1581. >"What made you think that Trixie's lessons were was-"
  1582. >But before the azure mare can finish her sentence, a sudden yelp from you, caused by yet another attempt of the crow to get its claws to connect through your flesh, cuts her off and makes her flinch.
  1583. >Luckily, it didn't dug deep another to draw more blood, but still it starts to get rather unbearable pain-wise.
  1584. >Can't it be a little bit gentler with you? You know that you take your sweet time, but you are its master after all.
  1585. >Perhaps Trixie can help you with that problem in some way.
  1586. "Uhm... Trixie?"
  1587. >"Yes, dear?"
  1588. "Can't you do something about it mauling me? Maybe teleport it away from me?", you ask and grit your teeth in an attempt to soothe the pain.
  1589. >"Trixie wishes she could...", she sighs, "But she can't. It would just be too dangerous."
  1590. "Dangerous? But why?"
  1591. >"It's a bit complicated, but basically Trixie would mess with your tether to it by suddenly displacing it and thus she could cause a magical backlash."
  1592. "And that's a bad thing I assume?"
  1593. >"Very bad. An inexperienced unicorn like you could easily die from the energies exerted by one."
  1594. >That's indeed a very bad thing to happen.
  1595. "I see..."
  1596. >"Does it hurt badly?"
  1597. "It's starting to get into this territory, yeah."
  1598. >"Then order it to do your bidding. As much as magical creatures like to exist, they don't like being idle while doing so.", Trixie says and shoves your bowl closer to you, "It needlessly drains their and your energy."
  1599. "Okay. So I just weave another command?"
  1600. >"Mhm.", she nods, "Just like you did before."
  1601. >Sounds easy enough.
  1602. >Closing your eyes again for your now third command to the flock, you see yourself almost fully surrounded by the brown wind of beasts.
  1603. >Aside from a few blotches of green and the occasional purple blur, Ghur is the most prominent wind at the moment.
  1604. >You wonder if the crows produce some of it by their own or convert other winds to it. Would make sense, wouldn't it?
  1605. >But you can ask Trixie that later. There are more pressing things at hand at the moment.
  1606. >Or at hoof... Quite literally and rather painfully.
  1607. >So you start gathering Ghur once more and begin to weave your order for the murder once you think you have enough of it.
  1608. >What do you need to include, though? And how many crows do you need to carry your bowl?
  1609. >Would one be enough?
  1610. >Hmm...
  1611. >The one currently massaging your bones looks certainly big enough to accomplish on this task... And comes with the added bonus of it moving off your leg.
  1612. >Yeah, let's take him.
  1613. >So that's settled then. The other birds can watch in awe as it actually does that for what you have summoned them for.
  1614. >Hopefully they don't get grievously offended by this and start fighting with each other again... Grim doesn't look like she has the nerves for a second massacre.
  1615. >They looked calm enough before, though, so there is hoping.
  1616. >Anyway... For what you need to include... Let's see... It needs to pick the bowl up, carry it over to the pillows and then drop it from a relatively low height so it doesn't spill your booze.
  1617. >Preferably you would like it to properly put it down, but you doubt that this lies within the avian demon's range of eye-claw-coordination.
  1618. >A small drop it is then. The bowl looks stable enough to survive this without losing too much of its alcoholic contents or even breaking.
  1619. >With a deep breath, you lock the mental command into your horn and weave some more of the bestial wind around it, just to be save that it gets through.
  1620. >Also you added a small remark for the rest of the murder to stay calm and still while Bonecarver, the name you chose for the crow on your leg, fulfils the task.
  1621. >A pretty cool and fitting name for this crow. At least you think so.
  1622. "Hnnghh..."
  1623. >Oh wow... Your brain feels so squishy and spongy right now... Must be all the mental exhaustion you exposed it to.
  1624. >"Hornet?"
  1625. "All's well. Don't worry, Trixie."
  1626. >"Okay then."
  1627. >Seems like sustaining a whole flock of magical carrion birds must be more exerting to it than you might have thought.
  1628. >Good thing that this will be the last thing that they will do... After that, it will be the chaotic realms, or wherever they came from, for them again.
  1629. >Time to finish this up.
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