Tension can be felt all over Equestria, all over the world for this day. Sentient creatures of all kinds wonder what the future will bring. A future that may be decided in the coming week, as the leaders of the most advanced civilizations are gathered together. Will this future be decided by words or by steel?
Equestria organized this event. The two leaders, Princess Celestia and Princess Luna.
It is not held in their Royal Castle that stands in the middle of Equestria however. Everypony and Everyone is supposed to meet near a small town south to it. Furthermore, the accomodations are not even going to be in any house, but in the tents and camps set around the town, similar to those used when the envoys were travelling.
"To avoid showing an air of intimidation by having it in the Halls of the Sisters." They say. "To negotiate on neutral grounds, as equals." They say.
The two alicorns who control the Sun and the Moon, the beings who banished a draconeequs into stone, talking about Equality.
Tension and suspiscion. Every faction bringing their champions. Every faction bringing more - too small to be called an army, too many to be called guards.
Your studies are proceeding well. Your charts are all ready, you need only connect all the dots to unravel some great mystery…
Yet, just as you were about to make a discovery, something unexpected happened one night while you were examining the sky. You saw a faint greenish-blue light, a comet. Yet this comet was not one that you knew, not one that has been ever seen or documented, no matter how many ancient scrolls you read in your search for it. You have the uncanny, foreboding feeling that it is not alone either… and it has refused to leave the sky ever since.
This journey to Equestria will be the perfect opportunity. Not only can you study their culture, maybe even get a glimpse of their knowledge, but with some luck you may be able to ask Princess Luna herself if this was her doing in an attempt to brighten the night sky and make it more beautiful.
Furthermore, not every scholar gets the privilige see Greatmother Xanthia, the leader of the Southern Zebra tribes, rumored to be over two centuries old yet her beauty untarnished by time, as she barely looks past thirty. She leads the zebras along with Ayesha, a mare possessing great magic, the spiritual leader of your people, governor and queen of Marephis, the city you hail from.
You even know their champion. You have seen him in the royal palace where you conduct your studies. Ardet, head of the Medjai, blessed by Ayesha to see with the Udjat-eye, his gaze piercing the veil of the ghost world and false words.
You think it only sensible that he brought his right-hoof warrior, Bast, the Purrsian gryphon, protector of the weak with him. Tragic, how they would be lovers if not for their vows which they are both too disciplined to break.
You see the flags and tents now.
Equestria. You have worked there once, after you have left your homeland in search for treasure, unlike those who all pledged their lives to the Idol of Boreas. Returning here after all these years…
You just hope it won't be too cold. You know that your old home would be. You got used to the climate of the Saddle Arabians. No wonder, though. You know gryphons are no strangers in those lands. It must be why many of those horses started calling you 'The Purrsian'. Not that you mind. Purrsians still pursue their own goals, not some misguided nationalistic pride.
You don't need something to look up to. Just like Al-Amir, the Warlord. The reason you are coming back here. He hired you all those years ago, and his thirst for blood served your monetary needs well. Whenever there is a lack of war, you can be sure he will find a way to make one. Much to the ire of Makram. The Leader of the Caliphate. Peace Lover. Despises Al-Amir and all of his soldiers, you included, but knows that allowing him to go on his skirmishes is the only reason he did not attemtp a plot to overthrow him yet.
That, and Sa'Adat. His personal guard. A lover, no doubt. Or at least the rumors say so. Strange, that he did not bring any of his wives but he brought her. The mare with the deadly blades, but even worse, the black veil she must always wear. The sign of disgrace. An admittance that she might be a great warrior, but she may never marry.
Makram also brought his 'Champion' with him. More loyalists. Rais Al-Malik, the 'champion' who can break both sword and spell, yet refuses to kill. Brought along to make sure Al-Amir doesn't try anything here, who was brought along to prevent him taking the Caliphate for himself in their absence, you can be sure.
You're more interested what became of the gryphons of your old home.
You see the flags and tents now.
The big day is coming! After all this travel, you are finally arriving at your destination! It has been exciting to see so many ponies already, not to mention the freedom not to wear warm clothes all the time.
You glance to the side, at King Gebhard. He is putting up a stern face, but you know he is a big softie, or at least he wants every griffon to be happy. But he must know that this is no time to be showing any signs of weakness. The late King Grover, who found the Idol of Borea about twenty years ago, left his kingdom in good claws. It fills your heart with warm pride.
Especially to know that many years from now, he will leave the kingdom to Prince Godascalc. He might be the silent, brooding type most of the time, buried in his books and scrolls to learn more or alone in the training fields to learn to spar better, but you know he is a brilliant politician, never failing to rally his people when he does speak up. Not to mention he has a beautiful bethroted, Glaedwin, the daughter of royal winemakers.
Since you know that the entourage is getting close, you quickly sneak out a scone from your bag, nibbling on it while you have the time. You almost drop it when you get nudged in your side by the wing of Gehrman, the champion King Gebhard has chosen. He is young, and as skilled with his blades as he is cocky, charging beakfirst into danger whenever he can, doing his absolute best not to take anything seriously, not even such a prominent and important event as this one.
"Where there's one griffin scone, there is more."
You see the flags and tents now.
But why was I brought along. This is the one fixed thought in my mind ever since we left the warmth of our homeland.
And now, as I gaze upon the gathering of equines, the question burns ever brighter.
The strife is good. It suggests a robust world of competing ideals. The best rise to the top. I may not directly profit from the presence of this peacemaker, but if everyone blindly followed Al-Amir, what would set them apart from the Griffons? To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose.
Of course, I naturally have some more self-indulgent ulterior motives for my interest in this particular expedition. Stay with the party, though: no need to get too excited. We will close on the tents in due time.
I sigh and shake my head.
"You should have brought your own stash, Gehrman."
You could be at home, studying the stars…
Then again, the stars are not your only field of expertise, and Ayesha must have wanted you here to make sure she can rely on your wise counsel.
You see a pony talking to Ardet, who proceeds to lead your entourage to your part of this little tent-camp. Time to find your place and get cozy.>>655652
A pony bows to your leader, the servant quickly showing all of you the way. It seems that your campsite will be next to the Equestrians. If you wanted to make assumptions, you might even think they thought that the Saddle-Arabians would get into too much conflict with anyone else.>>655653
"Why burden the percious space in my packs with it when I knew you couldn't resist and bring enough for the both of us?"
As he talks, your entourage gets guided to the gryphon campsite.
A compliment, in my book. Stifle a yawn and stretch my wings.
"What do you make of it, Malik? I expected something bigger."
I roll my eyes and give him one.
"Fiiine, but you owe me!"
Approach Bast, as we walk. In ushered tone, whisper to her.
"You know strength. What you make of the warriors around here?"
He glances at you.
"I think something bigger is what those Princesses wanted to avoid. A lesson in humility.">>655662
"Oh, I'm sure I will not forget until we are all the way back home!"
He takes the scone with a chuckle, then flies up to the King.
You suppose you should find the tent designated to your accomodation now.>>655663
The Purrsian glances around with a keen eye.
"From what I saw so far? The Equestrians are not showing any sign of power just yet. Either hiding it for their own sake or 'ours'. As if that would scare us."
I better bring extra scones for next time..
To my assigned tent!
It'd probably scare me. Just a bit.
Make slowly way to the tents, giving proper respect to the matriarch before leaving to find my own.
"Very droll. Invite every leader worth mentioning in the world - and some not - and pretend that it is nothing special. It seems the opposite of humility to me: an insult. They mock the sovereignty of other states. To them, even your beloved Caliph deserves nothing more than a campaign tent. It hardly makes a difference to one such as I, but when was the last time your celebrated Adjudicator sat on anything but a pillow? Peace be upon him, of course."
Maybe the ponies have scones too…
A unicorn stallion stops you.
"Excuse me, may I get your name?">>655671
You look around for a while, before a pegasus mare flies up next to you.
"You seem lost. What can I help you with?">>655672
"If it is an insult, they are doing it well. I am sure that anyone who lacks patience and tolerance to put up with this will show their inability to be a leader by complaining about the lack of respect they deserve. But I'm sure
there is no such pony here."
He glances at Al-Amir briefly.
"Now if you excuse me, I have to make sure my tent is in the proper place."
He walks off.
Maybe you should find yours too.
"Gretelle. I'm here with the gryphon envoys as protection."
"Yes. Who would you be?"
Like the wind, I will blow through this camp and find my own accommodations. I do have a few irons in the fire, after all.
He looks over some papers.
"…Ah, yes. I am so terribly sorry, but there has been a slight mishap while making the arrangements. I am going to have to ask you to follow me, as your accomodations had to be places in a communal tent we had to set up. We ran out of room unexpectedly.">>655675
"Red Tape, I help with the organization of this event. Sadly, there has been a few misunderstandings. I can see that you are not part of the guard of your envoy, so I am going to ask you to follow me. You will have to be accomodated in a common bunk shared with some others. We hope it is only temporary, and you will not take offense to it.">>655676
Look as you will, you simply cannot find it.
Very peculiar. Almost suspiscious, even. Maybe one of the Equestrians will know about it.
"No. This will not do."
Perhaps they have set aside no tent for me. It makes no difference to me when the weather is clear on a day like this, I have made a bivouac nest on more than one occasion. Or perhaps Al-Amir is wary and wants me to guard him from the interior of his own tent. That would not be the first time either, such as during the 1001 night war.
But enough. Break free from the shadows and find someone who looks like a camp organizer. I will extract some answers.
"Where are the accommodations for the great and glorious Al-Amir and his train?"
Suspicious, are they trying to separate us? I stare at him hard, is he lying? '1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
"I am sorry, but we cannot do any better at the moment. I am sure this problem will be resolved by tomorrow. Until then, you can't sleep anywhere but there!">>655679
You find a unicorn scribe.
He looks you over.
"Yes, may I get your name first, please?">>655680
Nope, he seems like he is telling the truth. Gehrman got his place right next to King Gebhard where he can keep him safe.
It looks like a genuine error.
"Fine… Lead the way pony."
I follow him, hopefully one gryphon will be enough.
"I shall not sleep then. Why is it guards are given accommodations but those within a ruler's court would not?
This would alone be worthy of beheading!"
He flips through some notes.
"Ah yes. I'm afraid a mistake has been made. Your accomodations had to be put in a communal tent for now. I can lead you there, and assure you, this is only a temporary solution.">>655683
He leads you to a little side camp, with its own food court and cleaning quarters.
He leads you inside a tent, with multiple beds inside.
You see two people here already.
Two earth pony stallions, one of them a knight wearing the sigils of the Trotantine empire, the other an Equestrian with a hound by his side.
The Trotantine speaks up.
"Ah, so misfortune has struck more than ponies.">>655684
"Accomodations will be given! Until then you can be given a temporary place, but you must be sleeping somewhere, it would be a security concern not to have you placed anywhere!"
"It seems there is a space problem, here in a this tent village." I comment.
"Who are you two?"
"I am not interested in entertaining guests. I will nest elsewhere."
Raise a brow, finally realizing she might be serious.
"You equestrians, so uncaring for guests."
Sigh heavily, taking a few steps around the mare.
"So be it. Where are these 'bunks' supposed to be?"
The Equestrian smiles.
He pats his hound.
"And my little girl, Rienne."
The knight approaches you with a bow, taking your claw and laying a kiss on it.
"Vecellin, Royal Strategist of Empress Lydia the Third, knight of her Court.">>655687
"You need not entertain them, but I am afraid you must comply and sleep there. It is a security concern that we know where everypony and everyone is.">>655688
"I am sorry. I am sure you will compensated somehow."
She motions with a hoof.
"Right this way, sir."
He leads you to a little campsite with its own food court and sanitation tents. She shows you a communal bunk.
Inside you see two earth pony stallions and a griffon female.
"I suspect you are not planning to start an international incident over where I sleep. Since you are not planning to detain me, what incentive
do I have to sleep where you suggest? I remain open to persuasion."
"I'm Gretelle, Archer in the royal guard."
Clear my throat, clearly waiting to be announced.
"I would rather you comply then."
He rolls his eyes, his magic levitating a small bag with a meager few coins inside.
"Will this do?">>655691
"Pleased to make your acquiantance!"
Says the knight.
"Nice to meet you, miss!"
Says the pony with the dog.>>655694
Red Tape, the mare clears her throat when he sees you waiting.
"Uh, ladies and gentlecolts…"
She glances at her papers.
"Baruth Al-Kahi, zebra scholar!"
Grin and seize the bag. "Certainly. The important part is the gesture, anyway."
How polite. I nod in agreement.
"Pleased to meet you as well. Now that I know where this is, I should see my fellow gryphons and tell them of the situation."
I turn to the zebra.
"Greetings, Baruth Al-Kahi."
Do a graceful bow and step forth.
"Incredibly rude of the Equestrians. Are beds pre-allocated?"
He leads you to a secluded tent camp, with it's own food court and sanitation tents.
He leads you to a tent.
You see two Earth ponies here, as well as a zebra stallion and a female gryphon.
"Well, well. Maybe these accommodations will be interesting after all."
I stand still like a statue.
"I don't think so, at least no one informed me of it. However. These Equestrians are quite disorganized.">>655701
"Interesting? At least it doesn't seem like a trick."
"I'm unsurprised that you
don't think so."
Turn to face the stranger.
"Well met. You would be?"
"Gallagher Grieve, in service to the Arabian party."
"And just what is that supposed to mean?
" I stare you down.
The zebra extends a hoof, quickly reaching for your foreleg and shaking it.
"Salam, my friend. I'm Baruth Al-Kahi, from the court of the Greatmother Xanthia of Marephis."
Come between the two.
"Now, no need to make ill of the short time we will have together."
"I'm not the one starting problems here.."