Royally Ruffled Feathers

by Eyeswirl the Weirded

Chapter 1: Chapter 1: Taking Flight

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That was the best word Gilda could find. Hate. Hate for the world, hate for the her life, hate for her job-

"Can't you fly straight?!"

Hate for her boss.

"I hired a griffon chauffeur to impress ponies!"

Hate for the pudgy bastard, stinking rich, yet as cheap as they come, a dull-yellow, brown-maned unicorn -even if he hardly ever seemed to use his head-spike, she noted- slob named Cash Grab.

"I don't pay you to swing and sway all over the sky," She could practically see the smug smirk he was making, the one he always clucking made whenever he told this same, stupid joke, "so straighten up and fly right!"

She must have heard that one a million clucking times in her life. It wasn't funny when her friends said it, it wasn't funny when her folks said it, it wasn't funny when her instructors said it, it wasn't funny when her parole officer said it. It. Wasn't. Funny.

Luckily, she learned that swearing under her breath was neither visible while she was pulling the chariot, facing away from the fat dirtbag, nor audible, the wind alone drowning out her own profanity. Profanity that sometimes gave her pause for thought, making her wonder if maybe she should see a shrink after all. Or a pal, just someone to talk to? She'd been short on those these last several months.

Bringing Cash Grab's Chariot wherever he told her to, which unfortunately never seemed to include a dragon's roost, or that fire swamp she'd heard about, anything to see this prick burn, was how she got by now, and for the last few weeks. Today he was going to Canterlot, just to show off. And why not? He was wearing some stupid, shiny coat and puffy hat-thing, glittering with fake gold that wasn't gonna fool anyone with two brain cells to rub together. Which, where they were going, might actually work out pretty well. she had dragged this over-decorated pile of junk through the sky here more than once, to the home of all things stupid, stuck-up, overpriced, and hoity-toity. She hated hoity-toity.

Gilda hated Hoity Toity, too, but that was another story.

Still, carting bloated, pretentious ponies around was the longest-held source of bits she'd had in a long time, so she'd keep on course and land in the usual spot near some fancy gazebo things in the park, mentally preparing to be stared at like some kind of sideshow freak, again, by snooty ponies that probably never worked a day in their lives so Cash Grab could feel smugly superior to the ones that just walked everywhere, or hired pony cabs.


Being left to stand by the chariot, not allowed to so much as find a warm place to bask in the mid-afternoon sun and pass out for a few hours, left Gilda with a lot of time to think. A recurring topic in her head was the concept of humility, right next to what it meant to be cool.

"So I walk into my golden parlor, and what should I see but another of those door-to-door types?"

They were both things that seemed as far from her boss as possible.

"Ohhohohohoh, indeed?"

Especially when he was talking to his fellow rich slimeballs.

"Mmyes," one droned as he and two others listened to Cash Grab telling them about yet another pony looking for a loan he sent packing, "pesky sorts, they, always asking for... I say, what was it againe?"

How many times had she heard the most supposedly well-spoken ponies in the world butcher their own language? Dressed like idiots in clothes that cost too much and didn't do anything? Besides attract dragons, maybe. Many times, she'd fantasized about a full-grown fire-breather swooping out of the sky, snapping one of them up and chomping away, just for the gems embedded in their stupid outfits.

"Money, dear boy," Cash Grab said with as much of that I'm-better-than-you air as he could suck in and puff out through fat lungs, "The paupers come crawling to my beautiful home in search of coin they don't care for enough to earn themselves."

You're one to talk, you corpulent pile of- ...How long had she known what 'corpulent' meant? Maybe hanging around fancy-talkers was at least improving her vocabulary.

"But Cash," one of the overdressed stooges asked, "isn't the whole of your business distribution of wealth? Borrowed money with interest, and the like?"

He delivered what Gilda found to be an intolerably pompous laugh in response. "Yes, but only when I'm guaranteed a profit from the venture, that's why they call me Cash."

She could almost smell the ego stinking up the air, but his rich buddies drank it in like the pricey wine they probably chugged every damn night, at least pretending to laugh right along with him.

When the fat bastard caught his breath, Gilda couldn't decide whether she hated his laugh or his voice more. "Ohhh, yes, you have to be smart to make money, boys, know the ins and outs, the ups and downs, else you end up doing..." She could have sworn he was talking in her direction now, or at least louder, "Menial labor!"

Another round of empty laughs before he spoke again. It was getting easier to decide.

"I know not all of us can be wealthy and successful, someone has to do the dirty work," Someone, she noted, not somepony, someone, "the grunt labor, things respectable ponies wouldn't dream of-"

That was it. Gilda threw off the reigns, looking square at Cash Grab's fat, stupid face. "You got somethin' to say?!"

He and all his prissy pals looked at her like she was a ball of molted feathers. "I say whatever I please," the heaviest of them said, snout upturned, "Especially to the help that doesn't know it's place."

She wiped the look off his bloated countenance by darting over to where he stood, grabbing him by the stupid, not-golden coat, and holding him far enough off the ground that his pudgy limbs couldn't reach it. "I've been carrying your fat ass around for weeks, and as much as I try to count the days, it's all the same, sickening blur to me now."

Cash Grab sputtered, a flicker of fear in eyes that spent most evenings counting stacks of bits. "P-put me down right this inst-"

Gilda gave him a single, violent shake, her voice a harsh whisper as she glared unblinkingly at source of around 80% of her ire of late. She made a mental note that none of his 'buddies' were coming to his rescue, a split-second glance showing them to be cowering a few meters away. "I've been trying to decide," she told her trembling target, "what I hate most about you, and I think I've made my pick."

He only whimpered in reply, looking about as though hoping the guards would show up to save his worthless hide. She could only see it as an improvement.

"I hate your voice," she seethed, "because every time you open your mouth, I can just taste how much better you think you are compared to everyone else, how little you care about anything but your money, your 'place' among ponies who don't do anything important."

His eyes locked onto something behind Gilda as he waved a hoof in an 'over here' kind of way. She didn't care to look.

"Your place, fat boy," she growled, golden eyes boring into his, "is not in some golden palace, not acting like you're better than any one of your stupid-looking cronies," not even wanting to see his face anymore, she turned to look at the chariot she had just been hooked up to, "and not in the sky!"

Dropping the obese pony like a sack of rotten eggs, Gilda sped over to her former burden, picked it up in both talons, let out a long, loud roar, and smashed it repeatedly against the fancy stone tiles of the landing area, chips of it flying in every direction, until everyone could see it exactly the way she did; a pile of junk. All was silent for several seconds, ponies all around stopping to stare at her before she glanced to Cash Grab, her voice calm and casual. "By the way, I quit."

It was right about then that she heard a slightly annoyed stallion clearing his throat. "Hope I've not come at a bad time, gents?"

She was expecting a pony guard captain or something, and while he was bulky enough to be a guard, even had the white fur thing going, he was dressed in a simple little tuxedo-neck thing and blue bow-tie, complete with a rose stuck in the black part.

Cash Grab scrambled to his stubby hooves. "Prince Blueblood!" He pointed at Gilda. "This ruffian just destroyed my property, you saw the whole-"

Blueblood moved passed the griffon without so much as a sideways glance, approaching Cash instead. "Yes, yes, not my concern, we have business to discuss."

"B-business?!" He spat, "I think it can wait until I've been compensated for my chariot, and the emotional damages suffered from that-"

The pasty pony prince's face showed only bored disdain. "I have reviewed your proposal to install 20-meter advertising boards for your loaning agency in farming villages across Equestria, and it has been refused." He continued right through Cash's shocked displeasure, not giving him a moment to verbalize a reply. "And since you were gracious enough to send in the money before a descision was made on the matter, I will be repurposing those funds to cover some of your..." He did that thing where you choose a nicer word in place of the first one that came to mind. Rich ponies did that a lot, Gilda noticed. "outstanding debts."

The pony in the ugly not-gold suit paled a little at this, mouth twitching as he tried to say something, but Blueblood either didn't notice or didn't care. "That concludes our business, good day." And he turned to walk away.

"N-n-now wait just a minute," Cash demanded, pointing at Gilda again, "as the highest-ranking authority figure present, you have to do something about that filthy felon!"

The prince stopped, looking around breifly in a much more tired version of the way Cash had when he was in Gilda's talons before sighing quietly. "The charges?" He spoke without so much as turning to look at the fatter pony.

Cash's face lit up like he ate a baby phoenix, his calling in life in plain view. "Three hundred bits for the chariot, another hundred for the damage to my wardrobe, and for my emotional recovery, it, it could be thousands of bits to work out all the-"

Blueblood sounded more irritated than obliging. "And what, dare I ask, did this...?" He glanced in her direction.

"Gilda," she provided, matching his tired glare. If I've learned anything about these high society pricks, she thought to herself, it's that the higher up they are, the more they look down on everyone else. This guy's probably even worse than Cash.

"Yes, thank you," he muttered, "what did this Gilda do that was so traumatizing as to warrant diversion of funds from important Equestrian affairs to repair your 'damaged psyche'?" He pronounced the last two words a lot like how you might pronounce 'pretty hydra' or 'cuddly cragadile'.

Cash replied so quickly it was as if he'd been cataloging offenses in preparation. "She insulted my healthy girth, used foul language in my presence, nearly subjected my delicate person to violence, belittled my-"

He still wasn't facing Cash, but Gilda saw the prince roll his light-blue eyes. "Would you say it's been a dark, scarring experience?"

"I-I certainly would!"

"That you're so shaken you can hardly stand?"

"I am indeed," he said, quickly dropping to one knee, wobbling about lightly.


Gilda could almost taste his hatred for the 'victim', like he'd been through this more than once.

"Really, I'm simply-"

"In possession of the worst acting skills I've ever seen, and Canterlot Theater does have a foals' night, Mr. Grab."

That shut him up for a minute.

"I'll make you a deal," he said with a mix of condescension and venom, looking over his shoulder, "show me that you're still suffering from this incident a few weeks from now and I'll forget how your display makes a mockery of all who ever recieved psychological scarring by one means or another."

"B-but you can't just let this beast go!"

Gilda was getting sick of being pointed at, showing it by adopting an aggressive stance, paws and talons on the ground, , back arched, wings stretched just slightly. "You're no paragon of civility either, you fat, cheap bastard!"

The pointing did not stop. "And that's another thing, she's simply abusive! If your royal ears could hear some of the bile that beak has spewed, they might never work right again!"

Blueblood raised an eyebrow, finally turning to actually face those he was conversing with.

Gilda called back. "I only give what's due, you inbred, bloated tight-wad!"

Cash Grab's face contorted with righteous indignation. "Somepony ought to have your wings clipped, you-"


The collective gasp of most ponies within earshot was followed by a short, stunned silence.

Gilda, still fuming, slowly looked through those present, practically daring any of them to move. The first motion she caught sight of was the prince moving a hoof to his mouth, shaking lightly.

Hoo, boy.

A pony from the gathering crowd, a mare in a fancy dress, stepped forward with a worried expression. "Are... are you alright, my prince?"

This, some part of her knew, would have been the part where a smart, sensible person would calmly apologize, or at least reword things a bit. Not today. If she was going to tell off the last pony in Equestria she could get work from, this guy was no fur off her tail, pony royalty or not.

She fixed him with a deadpan stare. "Ohh, like you've never heard worse. I bet you shout more depraved things in bed most nights."

Another group gasp was cut off by Blueblood throwing his head back and laughing.

This was a good day for shock, it seemed, for the ponies of Canterlot knew one thing; Prince Blueblood was the coldest pony in the city. He hardly smiled, rarely gave anypony short of the princesses the time of day, cared nothing for the attention of other ponies, even the loveliest, wealthiest noble daughters offering their hoof. He was the last noble anypony in their right mind would go to if they needed help, the first noble anypony was likely to hear from when there was bad news for them on a bureaucratic level, and the less said of rumors surrounding the prince, the better. The griffon surely had no idea how close her assertion likely was to the truth, but there was no doubt that Prince Blueblood didn't laugh.

Mares fainted, stallions covered their ears, all who weren't doing one of those looked to the skies for some sign of a threat worse than Tirek come to claim them all.

While those ponies were being dramatic and perhaps a little silly, Blueblood caught his breath, trotting calmly over to Gilda with a relaxed smirk on his face. "How would you like to work for me? I could use a bodyguard."

A single talon was directed at him in reply. "Yea, well you're a big-!" She blinked, the challenge quickly fading from her posture. "Wait, what?"

He was still smiling like he was about to win a game with a lot of money on the table. "I said, come work for me, I know you're reasonably strong if you can destroy a well-built chariot with your bare talons. I can pay you handsomely, of course."

She caught sight of ponies in the crowd far behind him, some looking at her -or him, it was hard to tell at this angle- with disgust. Some, however, showed what looked like concern, waving their forehooves in an 'X' shape, shaking their heads, or making throat-cutting gestures. She gritted her teeth, looking at them through narrowed eyes. They think I'm scared of this pompous windbag? I'll show 'em.

Gilda looked Blueblood dead in the sky-blue eye. "When can I start?"

His grin was almost sinister. "I'll show you to your accommodations in the palace, top of the line, naturally."

She had a few seconds after they started walking to raise an eyebrow at the contrast between his facial expression and the spoken sentiment before a nearby guard cleared his throat meaningfully.

"Erm, Your Highness? I'm afraid your new employee is, uh, under arrest?"

The bodyguard whose career lasted all of fifteen seconds froze. Busted!

"Hm?" Blueblood stopped, tilting his head curiously at the guard before his eyes widened. "Oh, right!" He glanced to Gilda. "One moment please." He trotted back to Cash Grab, who looked like he was still trying to shake off the impact of very recent events.

The longest head-spike Gilda had ever seen on a pony glowed as the prince levitated a slip of paper from his fancy neck-thing, joined by the rose that had been embedded in it. He held the rose in front of his face for a second as it made a clicking sound, a little black point sticking out of the bottom of the stem, which he started writing on the paper with. "Take this to the nearest bank," he told Cash, "and you should be refurbished. Three hundred bits for the chariot, a hundred and fifty for the suit."

Cash Grab beamed, but still looked slightly confused. Probably about whether or not to correct Blueblood on the second part, but he was answered before the question could be passed or vetoed in his head.

"I know you said one hundred, but I'm feeling generous-" another gasp from the crowd went ignored as he clicked the rose-pen again and reset it in his neck-thing, "-and, really, doing you a favor here." The last part was muttered under his breath, but she could still hear him as he handed her former boss the check, looking at that shiny, not-golden suit like it was a thick layer of rotten fruit. "Can't believe you're fine being seen in that tasteless thing..."

Cash was too happy about the money to respond to the burn, but Gilda would quietly treasure the moment forever. Blueblood turned to face the guard, who was still waiting near her with an eyebrow raised. "I hereby issue a royal pardon for Gilda here. Any questions?"

The guard sputtered, blinking rapidly. "B-but, with due respect sir, she committed vandalism and disturbed the peace," the pegasus in probably-real-gold armor gestured to the ponies that had fainted, "in broad daylight, you can't just-"

Blueblood smirked, eyes alight with a certain challenge. "As the highest-ranking authority figure present, what I say goes." He made a follow-me gesture with a hoof toward Gilda as he started walking again. "Carry on, Sergeant."

Moving to follow the pony that apparently just saved her hide, Gilda quickly turned her head to give the guard a smug "I'm-getting-away-with-this-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah" kind of look, but before she could so much as form the expression, she saw the peacekeeper looking right back at her with a mix of what she could swear were fear and pity as the prince led her away. Like he was leading her straight to a chopping block.

Sergeant Whatshisname wasn't the only one, either, as a quick glance over the crowd revealed.

With just the tiniest hint of caution fear panic a feeling the proud griffon would never admit aloud, she looked quickly back and forth between those sad stares and her new boss, who kept his gaze on the towers of the palace, hanging in sight above the rest of Canterlot. She could see that he was smiling, not quite a devious smirk, but a grin that said "I'm totally up to something."

She gave the crowd one last glance over her shoulder. What did I just get myself into...?

Author's Notes:

The cover art was initially going to be Gilda making a cute face while holding up a middle claw, but the "how do I know this is acceptable to post" thing in the FAQ said if I have to ask that question, it's probably not acceptable. Hopefully what I found instead is fine too.

A flabby OC, because I don't think there were any characters on the show that worked for what I wanted to do with that role.


I kindof wish I were writing this from a first-person perspective, could convey so much more personality that way, but there'll be too many characters from whose viewpoint various parts of the story will be told that that would make things messy.

Speaking of messy, Gilda's LittlePip-level swearing will not actually be depicted because I'd rather not have to put a Mature tag on this story for that alone. ^^;

Next Chapter: Chapter 2: New Pecking Order Estimated time remaining: 35 Minutes
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