No Rest For The Traitor

All Roads Lead To Canterlot: Dinner

"I am a griffon and I'm walking through sand-"

I'm sort of dragging myself by my talons but noone is here to fact-check my mumbling.

"-walky walky sand. Walking through sand."

Why am I here? Oh right, the shimmering in the distance. Do I want to look forward and see the truth? Is it really an oasis or am I going to leave just a set of bleached bones in the sand?

Bravado and lies burn away easily in the heat of the desert sun. On the other hand, I know how beef jerky must feel.

Bad news - it's not an oasis. Good news - it's not an illusion.

There is a swirling barrier in front of me. It looks like some sort of a mist dome impossible to see through. It doesn't reflect anything or bend the light around it. Living wind comes to mind and as soon as it does the shimmering makes much more sense. The fluid movement of the whiter patterns in the grey wall resembles clouds slowly moving through the sky.

"That can't be right."

Magic. Here in the desert.

The more interesting thing is that I think I know what this is now, at least I know the stories about it. If I'm right of course. If I'm not then this might just be some remnant of pony-griffon wars that ravaged greater part of this continent ages ago and left most of it uninhabitable.

Did you think the amount of deserts on a continent this far north of the equator was normal?

Bracing myself for being sucked into space or twisted through several more dimensions, I push a claw through the barrier.

I was right.

The mist circling around my hand feels like a fresh breeze. It doesn't take too much to make me jump through because I have to get out of the sun. Every feather, every nerve in my body enjoys the chill passing through me as if I've just dived into deep water. Well, not the gasping for breath part.

There really is an oasis inside the wind barrier - a lucid blue pool, few trees, all the fun jazz...

...and a diner. A good old rustic roadside diner with the neon sign right above the entrance reading Zeph's. The piece of sandy road cut off on both sides by the barrier is passing by the building and is the final clue to where I am.

I've stumbled upon a legend. That or I've gone insane in the sand and am currently chewing on my paw and howling.

There are stories every experienced caravan leader has heard over the years about this place. Not only them but also travellers lost in the desert, soldiers surviving nomad raids often talk about this place... about how the owner saved their lives.

I've heard my share of them. In the port where I am- was stationed in there was enough griffons, ponies and other merchants that would swear that during their journey they stopped to buy supplies in a place just like this. Of course, none of them could agree on the location, leaving the listeners thinking they just suffered a sunstroke and dragged themselves out of the desert on self-preservation instinct alone.


The best chilli shop in the entire world, owned by a pony on top of it. Food-lovers from all parts of the Empire agree on this place being the top of that field. The important thing is that the stories are old. I remember hearing few from my grandfather even.

The slow breeze blowing through the dome feels heavenly. Even if Zeph is real and not as friendly as he's supposed to be I can still rest here, refill my water supply and continue going... where?

Maybe Zeph can point me in the direction of the nearest city.

Standing here, with wind rustling my feathers, I come to a simple realization. I died. Metaphorically, of course. I wasn't ready for the desert. I wasn't able to do anything despite all my intelligence and training. Without an incredible stroke of luck I wouldn't be alive for more than few hours now.

Sometimes things are just out of your hand. Does it mean I could have prevented this if I was better or is it just that even the best sometimes have to rely on fate?

The answer comes soon after.

It doesn't matter. Things just happen and wasting energy on philosophical questions is pointless. I am here. I have a goal, although unclear. I have to use this opportunity because I might not get another one.

With sand now pleasantly warming my paws instead of burning them I reach the dirty road and open the door to the dimly lit building.

"'Ello dere, traveller!"

There is enough sunlight coming in from the outside via half-drawn blinds in the windows to let me see there is an orange pony behind the counter and three others. I dimly remember there being some three pony races or something - one with wings, one with a horn and one without either but blessed with natural strength. When my eyes adjust I notice these seem to have traits of all of those. How would one call them? Pegasi, unicorns, earthponies... these guys are the all-in-one versions... allinonecorns... alicorns?

Well, I've just been greeted and waved at by the orange-brown alicorn bartender whose mane looks like the living wind forming the barrier protecting the oasis.

Ponies are supposedly ruled by two alicorn princesses controlling the sun and the moon... Zeph the alicorn of Wind?

If so then who are the other ones?

"Uh, hello, sir!" I croak, throat still parched.

"Grab a seat, kid. Lotta guys 'round here so it mite take a while."

Grateful for the shady interior, I sit down to one of the tables and watch the other customers. They don't seem to mind my presence and don't bother lowering their voices.

"C'mon, V. Cheer up!" Zeph slaps the shoulder of a bigger alicorn sitting on a bar stool and sipping something with an umbrella in it. V's fur is completely black and his mane seems to be on fire, purple fire. Maybe I should comment but he doesn't seem to be bothered by it so why should I?

"I cannot just 'cheer up', Zephyr. I was hoping this visit would help Scream recover faster but she did not even flinch. Not even after your famous Dragon Breath Rumpmelter chilli."

"Ye, pretty funny. The cat-chickens living on dis rock 'ave no clue wat rump is. Speakin' bout dat... how did she down it so fast? Ah've had a magma elemental 'ere once and he messed up the toilet somethin' foul."

"She has always said not even your recipes are as hot as she is."

"So... still bangin' dat rump even when she's loco?" Zeph nods towards the other alicorn sitting on a barstool next to V and trying to turn it around. I'm not the best at recognizing it but she seems female. She's much smaller than V, although still taller than me, and has golden coat coupled with white mane and tail.

"Of course not!" V objects hastily.

"Ay' don't be mad. Ah just thought she mite remember some of da good times ya had."

"She will be fine, I only have to wait. It is just so hard losing her so soon after getting back together."

I suppose they have to be talking about the golden mare who is currently watching me blankly with mouth slightly open. Did she get hit on the head or something? I've seen soldiers after suffering heavy blunt trauma and they looked empty like her.

"Oh boo, fucking, hoo!" interrupts a clearly drunk voice coming from a corner table where the fourth alicorn is sitting. This guy is thin, his white coat is almost shining even in the gloom and his blonde mane is littered with purple streaks. There's a tattoo of a star wrapped by a pair of wings on his backside, "At least you have somepony. I'm going to get old and decrepit all alone."

"Quit whinin', Maggie. Ya'd have all dem mares in da world if ya ever left yer dumb tower. As fer gettin' old... Ah think dat ship is long gone."

"I'm ugly and mares hate me!" Maggie downs the rest of his purple drink, "Another one, Zeph."

"'Ere ya go," another glass flies from the bartender to the table, "But I keep tellin' ya, ya can't get drunk on blueberry juice."

"I can do what I want! I'm the ruler of magic!"

"Can you leave your research for few decades and get out to the world? I think you would be considered a 'pretty colt' by most mares of any standing," V ignores Maggie's stab at him, "Also, there is a new alicorn of Magic."

"The fuck did you just say?" all the drunken rage disappears from Maggie's voice. The slow and controlled tone is somehow way more chilling, "Somepony took my place? MY PLACE? Hahahahahaha. Who is the talentless worm? I WILL REND HIS FLESH ASUNDER JUST WITH A SINGLE THOUGHT AND PROVE HIM WHO THE TRUE ALICORN OF MAGIC IS!"

"'She' is a young mare, personally tutored by Celestia, Magnus. I would advise against any rash behaviour. She was a suitable candidate after you decided to focus on research and lock yourself up."

"It's a m-m-m-mare?" Magnus squeaks, "Is she hot?"

"I am not the one to ask," V nudges the golden alicorn next to him and she rubs her muzzle against his chest, "My tastes might be slightly warped after all this time."

"I have to know! I have to test my successor and find out if she's suitable!" Magnus raises a front leg and ends up in the pose of a revolutionary ready to charge. A flash of light later he disappears.

"Ya still 'ere, Maggie?"

"I do not think-"

"Shush!" Zeph leans to V and raises his voice, "Soooo... Ah heard Scream got pretty good at magic. Is she better than Maggie now?"

"What are you-" V whispers but stops after recieving a wink from Zephyr, "Yes, she is great. I am not sure she is as good as Magnus but she is getting close."

"You wish," says Magnus' voice from the table where he was sitting before disappearing.

"Ah' knew ya wouldn't just leave to spank a mare!" Zeph grins.

"Fuck both of you!" Magnus reappears at his table.

"Do not be like that. Twilight Sparkle is a very smart mare who possesses about the same amount of social skills as you do and her thirst for knowledge really might rival yours. Go and visit her! She will enjoy your company... if you cut down on the swearing."

"You think so?"

"Sure thing, kiddo. Yer a catch an' a half if ya dun' swallow yer tongue the second ya see 'er."

"OFF I GO!" another flash of light announces Magnus' departure.

Seconds of silence pass, interrupted only by V sipping his drink through a straw.

"Yer still 'ere, aren't ya?"

"Yes..." a weak squeal comes from the empty table. Reappearing Magnus buries his head into his hooves.

"Dere's no helpin' dat guy."

"Mhmhhmmh!" the golden alicorn moans, looking at V pleadingly.

"What is going on, Creamy?"

"Mmmmmm!" Creamy tries to turn on the four-legged barstool, failing miserably and almost falling off.

"Maggie!" V yells.




A flash of brilliant light obscures Creamy's barstool and when it's possible to see again its structure is different.

"Wheeeeeee!" Creamy begins spinning uncontrollably on a reworked barstool.

"Do I get a night with her when she recovers?" Magnus grins nervously.

"Yes," V agrees.



"Scream likes you, Maggie. She invented new kinds of sex magic just in case you finally gathered enough courage to talk to her."

"That's interesting. What sort?"

"I do not know. It does not work on me. She tried it once and I destroyed all her magic power on accident. She did not talk to me for a week."

"Wait, what? You don't mind?"

"Not at all. You can have a private session or you can join us when she is okay, both are fine with me."

Scream drops on the ground and walks unsteadily to Magnus who blushes furiously as she gets closer. When she licks his face he covers his head and breaks into unstoppable giggling.


"Wheeeeee!" Scream is back on her barstool.

"Do not break it," V stops her.

"Let 'er have some fun," says Zephyr, "Wat's botherin' ya? There's more den just Scream, rite?"

"I did something awful, Zephyr. I thought I was doing the right thing but it turned out to be the worst thing I could have done."

"Just a sec, V," Zephyr roll his eyes and looks at me, "Wha'll it be, chickenkitten?"

"Erm... just some water, please," I answer and freeze when Zeph's grey eyes lock on me.

I try again.

"Eeeeerm... do you have something not too spicy? I've been baking outside for two days."

"Much better!" Zeph smiles widely.

There's one thing everyone agreed on about Zeph's diner. The food was fairly expensive but worth it... sooo much worth it.

As if time didn't matter, Zephyr leaves the kitchen in about a minute, levitating a plate filled with brown goo and a giant pitcher of something smelling strongly of apples.

"Enjoy yer noms, lad!"

"Thank you."

Chewing the nondescript but delicious bits in the goo, I keep listening.

"Dis isn't ya, V. Why can't ya make things right?"

"The pony in question is dead now. I indirectly caused it."

"Dat's stoppin' ya?"

"I cannot do anything about it. Scream is the only one who could help and she is sitting here and trying not to throw up after spinning for ten minutes straight."

"Ya always beat yerself too hard. Take it from me, ponies come, ponies go."

"I just wish I could have helped."

"But ya couldn't, rite? I know ya and wishin' isn't yer thing. 'Ave ya tried asking mom?"

V just sighs and shakes his head.

"The alicorn of Life herself? Are you insane?"

"Mom likes ya."

"She hates me and I cannot blame her."

"Well, maybe she forgot?"

"I do believe wiping out most of pony population tends to stick in memory."

The door to the diner opens again and an another pony passes through. This time he is the kind without horn or wings but something about him feels as if he belongs here just like the rest. Possibly it is the bowtie around his neck. His coat is brown and he has a tattoo of an hourglass on his rump.

"Kronie!" Zeph spreads his front legs, "Haven't seen ya in ages!"

"Literally," Kronie snickers.

"Wat brings ya 'ere?"

"I was hungry after re-fighting the hundred-year war and I felt an itch for chilli. You have no idea how terrible the cooking was those days... or will be? Damn, I'm confused. What date is today?"

He looks at Zephyr.

"No clue, mate. Been 'ere in the timeless desert for past two, three thousand years."

He looks at V.

"Cannot help you, Kronos. I have spent an untold amount of time locked up in Tartarus and last three months consorting with Scream at a breakneck pace."

He looks at Magnus.

"Tower. Research. No mares."

V coughs.

"By the way, can you look and tell me when Scream recovers?"


"Come on! For old times sake."

"No, Void. I can't show you the future. I can't risk breaking the timeline."

"What? You jump through time every time you want. I am not asking too much, just tell me when she is going to be okay."

"NO! I can do what I do because I know the limits and this is too dangerous."

"Limits? You jump into the past whenever you read about a mare supposed to be the most beautiful in that age. Damn, I remember the time you returned from the future with the one with tentacles."

Kronos mumbles something and blurs for a second.

"She'll be okay in hundred years. I don't know when exactly but when I looked at you a century from now you were going at it like rabbits again."

"Thank you," Void bows slightly.

Without recieving an order, Zephyr stops by the kitchen and drops a plate in front of Kronos who scratches his chin.

"Oh right, I forgot. You're going to get raided, Zeph."

"Dat sounds fun. When?"

"In about twenty seconds."

They don't really seem bothered but I know the kind of nomads roaming the desert.

"Mister Zeph, do you have a battleaxe around here? I can help you defend your place. Maybe as a thank you for letting me eat here?"

Zephyr grins.

"No biggie. Just keep yer head down and ya'll be fine."

The door slams open and twelve heavily armed griffons rush inside.


Five ponies look at the speaker with slightly amused grins and patronizing gazes.


Make that four ponies.

The door slams open and twelve heavily armed griffons rush inside.


Five ponies look at the speaker with slightly amused grins and patronizing gazes.


Make that four ponies.

The door slams open and twelve heavily armed griffons rush inside.


Five ponies look at the speaker with slightly amused grins and patronizing gazes.


Make that four ponies.

"Stop it, Kronie! Ya'll break da door," Zephyr rolls his eyes.

"So much for the limits of reality," Void snorts.

Three blunderbusses get aimed at Zephyr's head.

"Oy, mates! Dere ain't 'nything besides chilli 'ere."

"There better be because if there isn't then you and your friends are going to become property."

A curved sword touches my neck and a I look straight into the barrel of a pistol. Two bandits are currently taking their place around every pony or griffon in the diner.

"This one will fetch a fine bag of gold," a bandit slaps Scream's butt.

His eyes glaze over and he turns towards the other one securing the golden prisoner.

"I've never noticed you were so hot."

"What are you talking about?" the other bandit asks.

"I need you... in me... NOW!" The first one jumps on his partner and buries his head in his friend's crotch.

"What's gotten into you?!"

"Lay siege to my city gates! Bring out Grond, the destroyer of walls and make me your bitch!"


Scream lowers her head and licks the resisting griffon's face.

"Prepare to have your booty plundered!" he screams as he's suddenly way more receptive to the advances of the other nomad and the two of them begin rolling on the floor, moaning.

"One trick and I'll blow your head off!" threatens the leader of another pair currently aiming at Kronos who is calmly eating the chilli in front of him. The other one of the pair jabs him in the back with his saber.

"Mhm," Kronos mumbles with full mouth.



"One trick and I'll blow your head off!" threatens the leader of another pair currently aiming at Kronos who is calmly eating the chilli in front of him. The other one of the pair jabs him in the back with his saber.

"Mhm," Kronos mumbles with full mouth.

"Dere he goes again," Zephyr facehoofs.

"One trick and I'll blow your head off!" threatens the leader of another pair currently aiming at Kronos who is calmly eating the chilli in front of him. The other one of the pair jabs him in the back with his saber.

"Mhm," Kronos mumbles with full mouth.

"Should have let me eat in peace," Kronos wipes his mouth.

"Oy, Maggie! Ya okay back dere?"

"No! No! NO!" Magnus is currently busy beating a bandit over the head with a book, "You can't be using third era swords and a recently developed pistol at the same time! It completely ruins the immersion! You are a BANDIT! Not a bad cosplayer. Get your fucking facts right!"

The bandit's weapon changes from the pistol aimed at Magnus into a rusty blunderbuss at the same time as the griffon pulls the trigger.


"Yeah, yeah. Keep whining. You shouldn't have fired that damn thing. They had about fifty-fifty chance at blowing up in your face."

The second bandit tries to hold the contents of his stomach inside as he watches the shredded mess remaining from his partner's face with pure dread in his features.


"One trick and I'll blow your head off!" threatens the leader of another pair currently aiming at Kronos who is calmly eating the chilli in front of him. The other one of the pair jabs him in the back with his saber.

"Mhm," Kronos mumbles with full mouth.

White glow envelops the only griffon around Magnus currently not bubbling in agony and I can see his features soften and his form turn much more feminine. Gotta admit the guy looks way better as a girl.

"Hey, do you think I look at least a bit desirable?" Magnus blushes.

"HEEEEEEEEEEEEEELP!" the now female bandit rushes out of the diner.

"I knew it! I'm hideous," Magnus resumes sobbing into his blueberry juice.


Void stretches his legs and spreads his wings, accompanied by cracking of joints. He really is much bigger than any other alicorn in the room. His glowing, yellow eyes measure the two bandits supposed to take care of him calmly.

"You dare threaten the avatar of death? The one who has seen the winds of eternity? The one who was there when the first living creature crawled out of the ocean and who will be there when last star turns into a supernova?"

Two hourglasses appear in front of him and I can't help noticing that the top bulb of both of them is empty and even from here I can see the last glowing grain of sand frozen in each lower bulb, preventing it from falling.

Void's wings seem to drown out all light in the room.

"You insignificant wisps of ash, I will devour your souls and send the memories into oblivion. Nopony will ever know you existed and nopony will care. The judgement of the grave is upon you-"


"-aaaand I lost my line of thought."

Void grins at the two terror-frozen bandits watching the last grain in each hourglass.

"Boo!" he whispers.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" both of them clear the scene and Void turns both hourglasses around. The sand begins flowing again.

"One trick and I'll blow your head off!" threatens the leader of another pair currently aiming at Kronos who is calmly eating the chilli in front of him. The other one of the pair jabs him in the back with his saber.

"Mhm," Kronos mumbles with full mouth.

"Stop dat!" Zephyr bonks him on the head.

"Fiiiine," Kronos' eyes glow green and the two guys stuck in the time loop simply disappear.

"Sooo..." Zephyr turns back to the bandit leader, "Want some of dat chilli?"

That's it, the breaking point. All remaining hardened veterans of many a caravan raid trample each other trying to get out.

The two griffons cuddling on the floor after successfully doing the deed in the middle of the chaos and stampede rub their beaks together.

"Wanna find a house somewhere and continue this in private?" asks one.

The other one sticks out his tongue.

"Got the leash ready?"

Grinning like morons, they get up, gather their things and leave the building.

Once again there's only me and five ponies.

My head hurts so I stop trying to understand what has just happened and return to eating my food.

Zephyr as a freaking amazing chef.

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