by Samey90

Chapter 1: There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

“You know what?” Gabby asked. “Ponies are weird, sometimes.”

Gallus looked at her and sighed. Although they were both from Griffonstone, they didn’t hang out much back there. However, when he saw her in Ponyville, he immediately approached her – if only because he was pretty sure they were the only griffons in town.

Now, however, he started to regret it.

“Tell me something I don’t know,” he said, shrugging. “I mean, hippogriffs are probably weirder, but I only know one. And I can assure you, no pony is weirder than Silverstream.”

“Not even your guidance counsellor?” Gabby smirked. “I talked with Spike and he said–”

“Well, Starlight is a whole other story.” Gallus turned to Gabby. “But then, I don’t think all ponies are weird.”

“Oh, please.” Gabby took off, waving her claws. “Look! So much free food and no one eats it!”

“Free… food.” Gallus furrowed his eyebrows, closing his beak. He looked around; they were at the outskirts of Ponyville, near Sweet Apple Acres; he could see the freshly-rebuilt farmhouse, as well as the carrot fields belonging to Applejack’s neighbour. “Do you mean carrots? It’s better not to steal them. Ms. Carrot Top can break your–”

Gabby chuckled. “Carrots? Don’t be silly!” She pointed at the nearby shrubbery. Gallus looked there and saw a couple of bunnies jumping there; one of them was munching on a carrot and Gallus was sure Ms. Carrot Top would have something to say about that.

“Free food.” Gallus nodded. “Of course…”

“Yeah.” Gabby smirked. “Griffonstone is so barren in comparison. Here? You can get dinner, like, everywhere!”

Gallus froze. He always thought that it was impossible to be traumatised by wars that happened before someone was born, but he still got a flashback to a long and bloody conflict that started when Gwendolyn the Great, hungry after a long trip to Maretonia, accidentally ate the favourite hamster of Lady Xanthippe – the future Duchess Xanthippe the Bloodthirsty and the grandmother of the current Duke, Kyrippos II. Needless to say, the diplomatic visit was a disaster that was partially responsible for the current sorry state of Griffonstone.

“You know ponies can get kinda touchy when someone eats their pets, right?” Gallus asked.

“They are wild bunnies, not pets,” Gabby replied. “And there’s a lot of them. Also, those two ponies didn’t have a problem…”

Gallus raised his eyebrows. “Wait, what two ponies?”


Lily Valley knew all the shades of fear. The existential terror of realising her own mortality? She felt it all the time. The chill down her spine when she felt other ponies were watching her? It was her old friend. The uncertainty of every “who are those ponies who weren’t here before I smoked poison joke?” situation? She called that a casual Friday.

However, there was one thing she feared more than anything were, for some reason, bunnies. They ate flowers. They bred like, well, rabbits. They tended to group in large herds and stalk her at the most inconvenient moments. Lily was pretty sure there was a bunny watching her in her sleep.

This time, it was the worst. Lily was just minding her own business, shopping with Daisy, when they suddenly got cornered by a bunny stampede. Well, actually, the stampede consisted of exactly one bunny, but it was still dangerous. Lily stood at the end of the side street, desperately searching for an escape route and contemplating the sum of all her fears.

Daisy didn’t have such problems. She only managed to yell, “Run! I’ll stop them!” dramatically, before passing out in front of the bunny.

A normal bunny would probably get bored and run away, looking for something to eat or mate with, but Speedwell was not a normal bunny. No matter what Angel or other bunnies would say, Speedwell kept wondering what were those big, noisy creatures were up to.

He kept wondering how many of them were really there. Most of them were in various shades of green and blue and Speedwell couldn’t quite tell them apart; they, however seemed to have no problem with that, and Speedwell suspected that there had to be some additional colours only they could see.

It wasn’t just his opinion. His brother Acorn actually conducted quite a lot of research on ponies, but he mysteriously disappeared during one of the experiments, when he stood in front of that big thing spewing smoke and steam that kept appearing in town, always at the same times of the day. Speedwell kept looking for him afterwards, but all he found was a wet patch on the ground.

Speedwell didn’t think much of Acorn anymore. Bunnies kept disappearing and the new ones kept being born. Such was the way of life. Thus, Speedwell didn’t pay much attention when he saw a large claw right above his head.

“Eagle,” he managed to think right before the Black Rabbit of Inlé took his soul on yet another great adventure. Speedwell didn’t think much of his body and the fact that it was now in two neat pieces. Such was the way of life.

“Hello.” Gabby smiled at Lily and Daisy. The effect was somewhat ruined by the fact that she sprayed the bits of bunny liver around as she spoke. Daisy came back to her senses, only to faint again when she saw the bits of rabbit fur and gore right in front of her.

This was enough even for Lily, who grabbed Daisy’s tail with her teeth and pulled her away.

“Wake up,” she muttered. “We need to think of something before it eats us too!”

Daisy woke up to the sight of Gabby sitting on the ground and munching on an eyeball, with her own eyes half-closed in delight. “What is this?” she whispered.

“A griffon or something,” Lily replied. “I heard they exist, but I didn’t think it was possible. When it finishes preying on that abomination, it’ll surely eat us too. I’ve heard they’re insatiable in their hunger.”

“Maybe we’ll tell it we’re poisonous?” Daisy asked.

“Nah,” Lily replied. “We’ll try to appease it.” She cleared her throat and turned to Gabby. “Umm… you.”

“Yes?” Gabby swallowed and looked back at Lily. “Wait, I’m dumb, I didn’t share with you! Do you want some bone marrow?”

“No, thanks,” Lily replied in that calm and serene tone that she was only capable of when she transcended beyond fear and plunged right into the soothing abyss of insanity.

“Too bad.” Gabby sucked on a bone and spat it out. It bounced off Daisy’s hoof, causing her to whimper and close her eyes. “Umm… how are you?”

“We’d like to thank you for saving us from this bunny.” Lily chuckled nervously. “It was, like, a very dangerous bunny.”

“A deadly bunny!” Daisy exclaimed. “Also, don’t eat us, we’re poisonous, the grass doesn’t grow where I lie and–”

“Surely.” Lily smacked Daisy. “We’re deeply grateful for saving our ignoble lives and we’d rather not take your time, oh great and almighty, umm…”

“Gabby,” Gabby replied, cocking her eyebrow. “Just Gabby. To think about it, I gotta go. See you around.”

She took off, hugging Lily and Daisy before flying away.. Lily stood there for a while before clutching her hoof to her chest, taking a large, laborious breath. Her sanity was slowly coming back; she could tell by the growing urge to shit herself and die.

“Hey, it worked!” Daisy exclaimed, right before passing out again.

Gallus shrugged. “They said you saved them from a dangerous bunny. That’s weird even for ponies.”

Instead of a reply, Gabby burped and spat out some fur and bones. “To think about it, raw bunnies aren’t that good. How about we make a bonfire? Ponies must have Worcestershire sauce and seeded mustard somewhere here…”

Gallus smiled. “Salsa verde? Or garlic sauce.”

“Peanut sauce.” Gabby looked at the bunnies and smirked. “Or a roasted rabbit with cranberry jam and fried potatoes…”

“Stop making me hungry!” Gallus exclaimed. “In the School of Friendship we’re only allowed to eat fish.”

“I’d eat a fish,” Gabby said. “They’re better than bunnies. Remember that one time there was a bunny stampede in Griffonstone? Some griffon ate them and got sick. Something about fat and vitamins.”

I got sick,” Gallus muttered. Suddenly, he looked at the apple orchard next to them and smiled at Gabby. “You know what? Applejack keeps pigs and nopony eats them.”

“Then why does she keep them?” Gabby asked.

“Something about truffles.” Gallus shrugged. “But I don’t think she’d notice if one went missing…”

Gabby nodded. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

Granny Smith stood on her hind legs and reloaded her shotgun. The recoil nearly threw her backwards, but aiming wasn’t quite important – the shotgun was almost as old as its owner, tied together with wires and strings, and spewed the waves of rock salt, black powder, and fiery death in every direction with every pull of the trigger. Sometimes even without pulling the trigger, actually.

“Get the hell outta here, ya pesky varmints!” she shouted, reloading again.

“Aargh!” Gallus flinched and hit a tree in a cloud of loose feathers. He recovered, however, and soon he was outside of the old mare’s reach. He flapped his wings a few more times and landed in the ditch next to Gabby.

“I guess pork is out of question, then,” Gabby muttered. “Are you okay?”

Gallus looked at his wing. Some feathers were missing and salt stung like griffon hell. Well, not quite. According to Grampa Gruff, griffon hell was cold, there were only potatoes to eat, but there was no money to buy potatoes with. Nothing about stinging, although at the lowest level, griffons were half-frozen, with a huge golden crown just outside their reach.

Gallus snapped out of the thought that winter in Griffonstone was almost like hell, and looked at Gabby. “I’m fine. Let’s go before the old mare lays her hooves on a cannon.”

“I don’t think she has a–” Gabby was interrupted by a cannonball flying above their heads and hitting the embankment on the other side of the road, sending sand and bits of turf around. “We’d better get out of here.”

“Wait…” Gallus looked at the smoldering crater and, instead of a cast iron ball, he saw a smoking apple core. “What the–”

“No time for that!” Gabby took off, avoiding a stream of apple seeds flying at her. Gallus followed her, noticing Granny Smith in the distance, aiming at them with some strange device with a crank and multiple spinning barrels. Apples were loaded on the top of it. With every turn of the crank, the barrels kept spewing apple seeds; juice was flowing from it, straight into the bucket placed under the machine.

“Do you think she’s insane?” Gallus asked when they were outside of the seeds’ reach. “I guess she’d like to meet Grampa Gruff.”

“Hey, not every old creature is insane!” Gabby exclaimed. “Grampa is fun.”

“He tried to shoot me with a ballista!” Gallus shuddered. “Also, she’s both old and a pony. That’s like, double the madness.”

Gabby nodded. She flapped her wings, hiding behind the clouds. Gallus followed her; he definitely didn’t want to see whether Granny Smith’s arsenal consisted of some anti-air weapons. Soon, they left the Sweet Apple Acres, flying above Everfree Forest.

“Do you think we could hunt there?” Gabby asked, pointing at the trees below.

“I’d rather not,” Gallus replied. “Unless you want to be prey too. Puckwudgies, tentacled plants, sea serpents, vampiric jackalopes, chupacabras…” He shrugged. “Well, those two are natural enemies anyway. Not to mention the Rabbit of Marebannog. Twilight told us–”

“Rabbit?” Gabby smiled, eyeing the forest curiously.

“Not the one you’d manage to eat.” Gallus shrugged. “Bears are probably the least dangerous thing we’d encounter.”

“You mean, like that one near that cottage?” Gabby pointed downwards. “Hey, they have a lot of animals there!”

“It’s Fluttershy’s house,” Gallus replied. “If you try to steal any of them, she will–” He hesitated. What exactly would Fluttershy do? She seemed harmless, but on the other claw, he remembered Smolder telling him that years ago, Fluttershy brought Basil, an adult dragon the size of a freight train to tears, somehow. Since then, baby dragons were told that if they didn’t eat their gems, a yellow pony would come and take their gold away. Gallus could hardly believe that.

“Oh, I won’t steal them.’

Fluttershy looked at Angel unsurely. Of course, she could understand bunnies, but some of the nuances of phraseology and idioms still escaped her.

“What do you mean by ‘Speedwell stopped running’?” she asked, tilting her head.

Angel dropped on his back, putting his paws together and closing his eyes.

“That’s terrible!” Fluttershy exclaimed. “How?”

Angel got up and hopped around a few times. Then he stood on his hind paws, opening his mouth in a mock scream, raised his paws and fainted. Then he got up again, lying his ears against his head and making another mock scream before grabbing a tube of glue and sniffing it.

“Daisy and Lily Valley.” Fluttershy nodded.

Angel stood on his hind paws again, running for a few steps. Then he hooped around again.

“A bunny stampede,” Fluttershy said. “Consisting of one bunny? Just how exactly–”

Angel tapped the tube of glue.

“Ah, of course,” Fluttershy replied. “What happened next?”

Angel flapped his paws. However, before Fluttershy could tell what he meant, she heard knocking on the door. She walked there to open. To her surprise, the visitor turned out to be a short, grey griffon.

“Hello!” Gabby exclaimed. Fluttershy noticed Gallus standing behind her. He was making some desperate gestures with his claws, but Gabby was far too overwhelming for Fluttershy to make anything out of it.

“I’ve noticed you have a pig over there,” Gabby said. “Is it for sale?”

“It’s actually a pigasus,” Fluttershy replied.

Gabby raised her eyebrows. “What’s the difference?”

“It has wings,” Fluttershy said.

“Great!” Gabby clapped her claws. “I mean… So, is it for sale?”

“Not really.” Fluttershy looked at Gallus, who pointed at Gabby and ran one of his claws across his throat and made a gesture as if he was lifting something to his beak. “It belongs to Discord. I don’t think he’d be happy if I sold it.”

“Okay, where can I find this Discord guy?” Gabby asked. “I guess we can make a deal.”

Upon hearing of Discord, Gallus froze. He noticed that Angel was also pointing at Gabby, making frantic gestures towards Fluttershy.

Gallus sighed. There were a lot of weird things that happened to him in his life, but he’d never been ratted out by a bunny before. And he didn’t really want to.

He pulled Gabby away from confused Fluttershy and cleared his throat. “You don’t want to buy anything from Discord.”

“Why not?” Gabby asked. “Is he a cheapskate? Come on, this pig has wings! And don’t worry, he won’t out-bargain me! I know all the shpiel and stuff.”

“Well, you can bargain with ponies,” Gallus said. “Griffons, maybe. Dragons? Fat chance, they’re all stingy, even Smolder. But Discord is a draconequus.”

“A what?” Gabby tilted her head.

Gallus shrugged. “Mother nature’s son of a bitch. He’ll sell you a pig with wings and then it’ll turn out that there was never a pig, but you’re stuck in a non-Euclidean dimension under an alien sky, while your corporeal form is in a padded cell of the asylum, hitting its head against the wall.”

“Excuse me?” Gabby raised her eyebrows.

“Counsellor Glimmer said something like this once.” Gallus shrugged and turned to Fluttershy. “What does ‘non-Euclidean’ mean?”

Fluttershy furrowed her eyebrows, looking at Gabby. “Angel just told me something interesting…”

Gallus raised his claw. “Wasn’t me, this time.”

“Okay, that wasn’t bad,” Gabby muttered, rubbing her flank. She was lying on the grass near the lake, looking at Silverstream circling above the surface of the water far away in the distance. “At least she didn’t let the bear out on us.”

Gallus sighed. “The problem is, I’ll still have to go to this school, right? And at some point she’ll, like, regain consciousness. And I’ll have to look into her eyes.”

“Oh, it won’t be that bad.” Gabby watched as Silverstream dived into the water, changing into a seapony right before hitting the lake. “I mean, you didn’t eat a bunny, right?”

“Yes, but I’m still a griffon,” Gallus replied. “I don’t eat bunnies, but I could be eating bunnies, and Fluttershy will always see me as a degenerate carnivore.”

Silverstream emerged from the lake, holding a large rainbow trout in her mouth. She smiled at Gallus and Gabby, biting off a large chunk of the fish before transforming back into her land-based form. Her eyes widened when she saw Gabby.

“Oh!” she exclaimed, turning to Gallus. “You found another one!”

“What?” Gallus cocked his head to the side. Sometimes it was really hard to keep up with Silverstream. Maybe it was because of all the fish she consumed; Twilight once mentioned something about essential fatty acids, though Gallus had a theory that Silverstream’s behaviour was an effect of large doses of mercury.

“Another griffon! Finally!” Silverstream clapped her claws together.

“Griffons are not rare,” Gallus muttered. “At least not as rare as steaks in Equestria.”

“I prefer well-done, myself.” Silverstream grabbed her trout.

Gabby furrowed her eyebrows. “Why can she eat fish while I can’t eat bunnies?”

“Fish don’t talk,” Gallus said.

“Bunnies don’t talk either!” Gabby rolled her eyes. “Neither do pigs. And back in Griffonstone I ate a sheep, even though they talk. Sometimes.”

“They talk to Fluttershy.” Gallus shrugged. “You know ponies are insane.”

“Fish talk,” Silverstream said.

“What?” Gallus froze. “Don’t tell Twilight or we’re gonna have to stop eating altogether!”

“Not much, but I can hear it underwater,” Silverstream replied. “They all say stuff like, ‘must swim’, ‘must eat’, ‘must pour my milt all over this roe’, ‘shoo be doo’, and so on. Those at Mt. Aris are usually more salty.”

Gallus looked at the lake. “Speaking of, how can you swim in freshwater?”

“I’m an euryhaline organism,” Silverstream said, smiling and throwing the fishbones away.

“Ah, okay.” Gallus shrugged.

“Hmm, who is this pony walking to us?” Gabby asked. “The pink one.”

Gallus didn’t bother to turn his head. “Is she bouncing or walking towards us, her gait heavy and her gaze stern?”

Gabby looked again. “The latter.”

“Oh, that’s counsellor Glimmer,” Silverstream replied. “And she’s not pink, she’s heliotrope.”

“Is that even a colour?” Gallus asked.

“Seaponies see much more colours.”

Before Gallus could comment on that new bit of knowledge about seapony biology, Starlight walked to them, her gaze indeed stern. “What did you two do, this time?”

“You two?” Gallus rolled his eyes. “How many more times do I have to explain it wasn’t me?”

“And I’m not even in this school!” Gabby exclaimed.

“Whatever,” Starlight replied. “Did you really have to eat a bunny in the middle of the town, in broad daylight?”

“Maybe they’re proud to be griffons?” Silverstream asked.

“You’re not helping,” Starlight muttered. “Also, the bunny isn’t that important. Why did you want to buy, umm… a pigasus from Fluttershy to eat it?”

“Well, you just answered your question, Ms. Can-Seller,” Gabby replied with a honest smile on her face. “To eat it.”

Starlight gave her a bewildered look. “Can’t you buy meat from Bon Bon, like normal griffons?”

“What?” Gallus asked. “Who’s Bon Bon?”

Starlight sighed, blushing. “Umm, she and I… We have a small, umm… business. Didn’t Smolder tell you?”

“No,” Gallus replied. “Though she seems to be enjoying her meals. More than me, anyway.”

“And you thought she and Spike live on gems and pony food alone, without an occasional lamb stuffed with sulfur?” Starlight smiled sheepishly. “The lamb didn’t suffer. Much. We also import meat from the Griffon Empire, but don’t tell anyone.”

“Why didn’t that Smolder tell us?” Gabby groaned. “She deserves asskicking!”

“She’s a dragon,” Gallus replied. “She probably wanted all the meat for herself.”

“Phrasing,” Starlight whispered, wincing.

“And stop being stereotypical.” Silverstream said. “Not all dragons are greedy. It’s like saying that all griffons want to kick ass. Or that yaks only smash things.”

“I want to kick ass,” Gabby replied.

Gallus turned to Silverstream. “Yona says that’s basically what yaks do.”

“Kick ass?”

“Smash.” Gallus rolled his eyes. “They kick ass only on special occasions, such as the Biennial Kick Ass Day.”

Starlight gave him a blank stare. “You’re making this up.”

“No, I copied it word-for-word from Ocellus’ last test.” Suddenly, Gallus froze and covered his beak with his claw.

“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.” Starlight rolled her eyes. “Also, if you and your friend want to eat something, you need to go to Bon Bon’s shop and–”

Gallus looked around the store. It was quite an ordinary candy store; he got used to these, having spent some time in Equestria. Gabby, on the other claw, was soon running around the place, pointing out all the most exciting things.

“Hey, look!” she exclaimed. “Chocolate coins!”

“We play poker with those,” Gallus muttered.

“Salty licorice! I love it!” Gabby spun around the showcase and grabbed some free samples.

Gallus winced. “You’re weird. The good kind of weird, but still weird.”

“Bat pony with socks!”

“Gabby, it’s rude to–”

“Don’t worry,” the bat mare said in a deep voice. “I’m used to, umm… irrational attention.” She looked around, but Gabby was already somewhere else.

“I don’t know that griffon!” Gallus shouted to one of the store employees. “Also, forgive her, she’s from Griffonstone, they only have potatoes and hallucinations due to malnutrition!”

“A lyre-playing unicorn!” Gabby exclaimed, pointing at the pony sitting on a stool and playing lyre. There was a sign in front of her, saying “Artist at work. Please, don’t scare the artist or she’ll never pay rent.”

“Hi, Lyra,” Gallus said. “We’re looking for Bon Bon.”

“Ring that bell over there,” Lyra replied, still playing the lyre. She pointed at the reception bell on the counter, without missing even a single note.

Gallus rang the bell. After a few minutes, a cream-coloured mare with a bored face walk to him and Gabby, frowning at the overly-excited griffon.

“What do you want?” she asked.

Gallus threw some nervous glances around. “Giraffes write epitaphs.”

Bon Bon smiled in a way resembling Grampa Gruff when he was holding a bag full of gold. “Baboons hide in the prunes. Follow me.”

She led them to the small door behind the counter. Behind it, there was a staircase, leading to the basement. It took a while of walking through narrow corridors, filled with jars and cases full of supplies, such as molds, lollipop sticks, crystallized fruit, flour, a foal with enormous teeth floating in a pickle jar, gelatine, glucose, fructose, toffee, coffee, and shellac.

Gallus didn’t have time to take a closer look at those as Bon Bon stopped in front of the large door, made of oaken planks connected together with cast iron bars.

“Hmm, reminds me of Gilda’s room,” Gabby chirped. “She never lets me inside.”

Bon Bon knocked at the door twice. She waited for a moment, then knocked three more times.

“Is it, like, a secret society doing illegal stuff, or what?” Gallus asked.

“No, it’s all legal, but it’s for atmosphere, you know.” Bon Bon opened the door, revealing the room that looked like a regular restaurant, complete with wooden bar, some young, bored waitresses, and photos of Wonderbolts and famous buckball players plastered on the walls. To his surprise, Gallus saw Smolder sitting at one of the tables, next to Ocellus.

Even bigger surprise came when Gallus noticed there were some ponies among the bunch of normally carnivorous or omnivorous species, such as griffons, bat ponies, and dragons. More exactly, a posh couple sitting at the table with Smolder and Ocellus.

“Hello, Smolder.” Gallus looked at his dragon friend and frowned. “We were just wondering where have you been.”

Smolder froze. “Sorry, dude, I was totally gonna tell you about this place.” She smiled sheepishly. “Also, this is Jet Set and Upper Crust, from Canterlot. They got bored of pony cuisine or something.”

“More exactly, we would like to explore new tastes,” Jet Set replied. “Last week, Fancy Pants told me that he ate a hamster with olives.” He turned to his wife. “Can you imagine that?”

“He spent three days in the lavatory, as far as I recall.” Upper Crust shrugged. “Guess he will be envious when he hears we ate–” She looked at her plate. “What is this thing we are eating?”

“Bugbear steak,” Bon Bon replied. “I hunted this one myself. It nearly ripped my legs off.”

Gallus looked at Bon Bon, cocking his eyebrow. Since Griffonstone was close to the Bugbear Territory, griffons and bugbears were in a somewhat mutual relationship – that is, sometimes a few griffons would eat a bugbear and sometimes a bugbear would eat a few griffons. Such was the way of life. Also, as far as he knew, bugbears didn't nearly rip someone's legs off. They usually did it completely, often with other important bits of anatomy.

Bon Bon noticed his gaze. She leaned to Gallus and whispered, “It’s pork from Applejack’s farm, but I’m charging those two extra.”

Gabby perked up. “So Applejack–”

“Shh, Fluttershy mustn’t know,” Bon Bon said, walking to the counter and grabbing a cleaver. “So, who’s up for dinner?”

Gabby’s eyes lit up.

Author's Notes:

Daisy and Lily later started a griffon cult in Ponyville. That is, until Roseluck threw their shrine away.

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