Late Saturday afternoon, Rainbow Dash, Starlight Glimmer, Fluttershy, and Sweetie Belle sat in the throne room of Twilight’s castle.
“Alright girls, I hope you came up with some ideas,” Rainbow said.
Starlight and Sweetie Belle nodded at each other. The first fledgling spoke for the two of them. “Okay, here’s what we’re thinking. We split up in two pairs, each with one unicorn and one pegasus. Fluttershy and Sweetie Belle will stand watch from the top. You and me will go down to the abyss together.
“We’ll bring the Staff of Sacanas. Twilight can channel some of her own magic to the staff though not too much. It won’t on be the level of what the Storm King took from her. The magic will have a little boost if we do it tomorrow since Sundays are her turn for a flexchange,” Starlight noted.
Rainbow Dash nodded without questioning the explanation and waited for her Primeva to continue.
“You hold the staff while you fly down…slowly. I’ll climb the down the rope. We support each other in case either of those things go wrong.”
“But the rope was too weak last time, wasn’t it?” Fluttershy asked.
Both unicorns nodded. Sweetie Belle brought out a drawing pad and showed a very thick black line. “We’re thinking of using my I.T. ability to make a much sturdier rope than whatever we bring or find in Griffonstone. Rarity knows about materials, so she’s helped me understand what kind to imagine and draw for doing that. We could test it out now. Starlight brought some basic natural fiber rope.”
Rainbow Dash nodded in approval. “Fluttershy, I’m going to fly up to about the tree roots. You’re going to grab hold and sway yourself back and forth. Try to do it enough to snap it. Then we’ll do another round but alter it with Sweetie’s drawing. Try to snap that one too.”
Fluttershy agreed to the assignment with a simple nod.
Rainbow Dash activated Sweetie Belle’s adult unicorn form and flew up. Fluttershy did as originally requested and was able to pull enough for the rope to snap. They repeated the process and when Rainbow’s eyes shimmered red, Sweetie Belle felt the mev boost in her body. She channeled her magic to the drawing that then channeled into the rope being held by the master mev. Fluttershy swayed and swayed. She tugged. She pulled. The new rope remained sturdy.
“That’s enough,” Rainbow said.
“Yay!” Fluttershy declared softly.
“Starlight, you give it a go without using magic, just your own strength,” Rainbow Dash suggested.
Starlight levitated herself up to attempt the same as Fluttershy did and had equal success.
“Alright, let’s stop there,” Rainbow said. “So far, so good. I like what I’m hearing.”
Starlight Glimmer continued, “I’d suggest having Sweetie Belle in her adult form until we come back up, after you first activate it.”
Rainbow Dash rubbed a thoughtful hoof under her chin. “I’m not sure that’s close enough in my presence, but if it is, sure. I won’t de-activate it.”
Sweetie Belle tapped her two front hooves together with a large, hopeful grin.
“Good. Alright, girls. Here’s the extended plan. Once we get to Griffonstone, I want to find Gilda first. She’s a good friend of mine, and given everything else, she has a right to know I’m a master mev. I’ll ask her for permission regarding the idol. She almost got it herself last time I was there, and she gave it up to save my life.
“If she gives us the go-ahead, we do the plan Starlight and Sweetie Belle came up with. From there, hopefully Starlight and I find the idol at the bottom. We climb or fly or levitate back up and then comes the hard part. We need to see if we can sense or understand anything special about it by asking Gilda or Grampa Gruff more questions. We’re actually not sure if it will give us the permanence we’re hoping for, so we need to investigate that as best our mev senses allow,” Rainbow said
“I think by the time we have the idol, we can actually teleport back up since I’ll have an idea of where we were,” Starlight noted.
“Can relics be teleported by unicorn magic?” Rainbow asked. “Powerful, special ones like this?”
“I admit, I’ve never done it,” Starlight said.
“If we get that far, let’s test it before going back up. So, preferably, teleport using basic unicorn magic. If not, we fall back to the other stuff. Otherwise, same plan,” Rainbow Dash announced to the group.
The other three ponies nodded. They were ready to take on Griffonstone.
On Sunday morning, three Awesomevs and one Rhezenda rode the train to Griffonstone Gorge. Starlight Glimmer then teleported them all to the top after Rainbow Dash explained how long the journey was on hoof. Sweetie Belle wore her saddlebags with the crown and telekinetically carried the Staff of Sacanas.
“Wow, I’ve never been to Griffonstone,” Fluttershy said with a happy smile as she gazed on the several homes with straw roofs. “These houses look so nice.”
“Looks like they’re still keeping up the place since my last visit when I came to get Gallus,” Rainbow said.
“Dash!” Rainbow heard a familiar voice call out to her.
“Gilda!” Rainbow smiled and flew off in a dash to meet her griffon friend.
Gilda held out her right clawed hand, palm up, and Rainbow put her hoof into it before they each pulled back to then happily bump curled clawed fingers and hoof.
“What’s the pony committee here for?” Gilda asked upon seeing Rainbow’s company.
“It’s a long story,” Rainbow answered. “You got somewhere we can talk? A little privacy would be good. I have some things to explain first.”
“What? With me?” Gilda asked. “Don’t you ponies usually go to Grampa Gruff for whatever little official stuff we do with Equestria?”
“Yeah, we do,” Rainbow Dash admitted. “And we might talk to him soon, but I kinda want to talk to you first. My friends can wait outside. Some of this is a little personal, and then yes, there are official things to be done and said after that.”
Gilda raised an intrigued eyebrow but nodded. “Fine, come with me.”
The four ponies followed until reaching her house. As Rainbow indicated they would, Starlight, Fluttershy, and Sweetie Belle waited outside. Rainbow Dash and Gilda went inside. The two friends sat in a room with a large tree stump used as a table and small stools all around it. They faced each other.
“So, what’s going on?” Gilda asked.
Rainbow Dash began as she often did when having to do a revelation. “I’m a vampire now. It’s a specific type of vampire called a master mev. The mev is actually an acronym for Magic Eating Vampire. I eat magic just about every day now.”
“Seriously? Is that why you brought two unicorns? Are they lunch or something?” Gilda prodded with a jovial smile, hoping it was a joke she could play along with.
“You might say the grown one of them is dinner once a week,” Rainbow confessed.
Gilda’s eyes widened at this information. “And she’s okay with that?”
“It’s a special dinner. We can exchange magic instead of me just sapping it all out of her,” Rainbow replied. “She’s one of my fledglings, first in fact.”
Gilda laughed and wiped a tear. “Okay, you don’t sound like you’re joking, but that does sound like a joke.”
Rainbow Dash laughed with her. “Yeah, it does sound kind of funny when I say it like that.”
“How do you get the magic out of her before you exchange it?” Gilda asked, gesturing to the top of Rainbow’s head, indicating her friend lacked a horn to manipulate magic.
“I bite her with my fangs,” Rainbow said.
“You don’t have fangs,” Gilda retorted.
“I can change them at will. Wanna see?” Rainbow offered.
“Uh, yeah,” Gilda said in a tone indicating she felt that was quite obvious.
Rainbow Dash opened her mouth and showed her fangs lengthen and retreat. “That’s what I usually do, but I can go all out with more.” She opened her mouth and showed every tooth turning sharp, then back to normal.
“You sure you didn’t just turn into a changeling or maybe you are a changeling?” Gilda asked.
“I could do the chant to prove it,” Rainbow replied with a mischievous smile and waggle of her eyebrows.
Gilda laughed. “No, we’re good. I know you didn’t come all this way to admit to me you’re a vampire. What else is going on here, Rainbow Dash?”
Rainbow swallowed. “Being a master mev is actually kind of a job.”
“Oh,” Gilda said with slight realization. “So, you’re here to work?”
“If you’ll let me,” Rainbow said.
“Huh?” Gilda asked, confused.
“I have to ask for things or permission to do things. There are at least three things I want from Griffonstone today. If you say ‘no’ to all three, we’ll be on our way, no work actually done,” Rainbow explained.
“So, you’re ready to ask Grampa Gruff?” Gilda wondered.
“Let’s start with you first, actually,” Rainbow said.
Gilda sighed in evident annoyance. “Fine. What do you want?”
“One meal of griffon magic. It comes back to whoever I bite from within one week, and it has to be an adult griffon.” Rainbow stopped to watch Gilda’s reaction and give her friend a chance to speak.
“You can do that?” Gilda asked, scratching nervously at her neck. “I thought this was a unicorn thing since you eat magic.”
“Unicorn magic would be my main food if I were on my own without a pack,” Rainbow admitted, “but it turns out that lots of creatures in and beyond Equestria have at least some magic. A lot of times it’s called ‘passive’ magic. It’s not activated and cast the way unicorns do it. For instance, you can sit and stand on clouds like all us pegasi can, but we both know not all creatures can do that.”
“Oh.” Gilda blinked at the realization. “Still, why would you want griffon magic? You can do everything a griffon can. You can fly, do the cloud stuff, and you even know how to roar powerfully after I taught you.”
“Heh heh, and I do thank you for that. It is a nice perk,” Rainbow agreed. “Part of this job is to actually reserve magic so even though I eat magic, I try to keep my usage low with a few exceptions. Once upon a time, a centaur attacked Equestria and took all our magic, all ponies, not just unicorns. With a reserve like what my master mev job does, we can handle it better if that ever happened again. I could reserve griffon magic too, to help Griffonstone. The magic grows and develops while it’s in the reserve so even if I take it from only one griffon today, it can reach several more when it’s released later. It’s like a backup plan in case something similar happens here one day.”
“Ugh, this is sounding way too complicated,” Gilda muttered.
“You wanted answers,” Rainbow reminded her.
Gilda nodded. “Are you asking to bite me?”
“Well, it can be kind of intimate with a friend,” Rainbow noted. She further explained, “So of all the griffons in Griffonstone, if I had to bite just one, yes, I would very much like it to be you. It’s always better with a friend. My vampire eyes give off this enchantment so the bite won’t hurt either. The hardest part is the week of recovery. You wouldn’t be able to fly, aside from not being on clouds.”
“Are you serious, Dash? How can you ask that of me?” Gilda asked as she became flustered.
“I didn’t make the rules of being this thing, but that’s what they are. It’s just a request,” Rainbow said, staring down at the table. “I’m a magic-eating vampire. You have magic I want to eat. I get enough to eat during the week, so it’s not a desperate request or anything.”
Gilda nodded. “Right. Well, what else? I bet this keeps getting better.”
“Heh heh, yeah,” Rainbow Dash admitted. “I want to try getting the idol of Boreas again.”
Gilda looked sternly at her. “One, that’s impossible. And two, what would you want to do that for? Griffonstone got better without it, remember? The real treasure is our friendship and more beyond that. We made up.”
“And I’m really glad we did,” Rainbow Dash agreed with an emphatic nod. “I want it because it might be able to help with one of my projects for this master mev job. I don’t want to get it to give it to Griffonstone. I want to outright take it for myself.”
“Then what are you asking me for? I’m not in charge of where the idol goes. No one is. Not even Grampa Gruff. I don’t care. If you can actually get that thing, and I seriously doubt you can, you can have it,” Gilda replied sharply.
“I’m asking because it’s part of your culture, and you gave it up for me. It was just within your grasp. You reached for it, and you let it go…for me,” Rainbow explained with misty eyes. “I haven’t forgotten, and if it’s important to you, I want to respect that. Respect is like a big deal for me as a master. mev That’s why I’m supposed to ask and stuff. I need to respect my friends, especially if I ask them to do something in service of me.”
Gilda sighed in exasperation. “Don’t all these rules bother you?”
“Not really.” Rainbow shook her head. “To be honest, being a master mev is actually pretty awesome. I’m well fed thanks to my pack, and I get to travel. We help out old and new friends in new ways. And I get to play a superficial villain sometimes.”
“Weirdo,” Gilda muttered with a tiny, amused smile.
Rainbow only smiled back.
Gilda gave the idol request some serious thought. “What’s the project?”
“Promise not to tell anyone else?” Rainbow Dash asked seriously. If she was going to take an entire culture’s idol, providing the logic discretely for why struck her as a reasonable demand to be met.
Gilda nodded sincerely.
“It’s to help a disabled pegasus who can’t fly, like really fly in the way that all other pegasi she and I know can. She’s like a sister to me and accepted my offer to help with it. The disability is super rare, and my pack has a solution in mind that requires a lot of careful magical components. We only have a theory that the idol can help us out with one of those components,” Rainbow explained.
“You softie,” Gilda whispered, shaking her head. “Fine. Yeah, take it. I grant you permission. It’ll help her more than it could ever help us. We’re over it. What’s the third thing?”
“Is there anything more you can tell me about the idol’s magic? Does it have any? What does it do? That kind of thing,” Rainbow said. “The more information and gritty details, the better.”
“Just that it inspired griffons way back when. It was a source of pride for us,” Gilda admitted. “We all know the story, even if it’s been a long time, so long that I even doubted it was real.”
“That kind of helps. It has a permanent imprint on your culture despite it being inactive in your history for so long,” Rainbow Dash assessed aloud.
Gilda nodded. “It does. That somehow helps your sister friend?”
“That’s the running theory,” Rainbow answered. “Alright then. My friends and I are going for it.”
“Right now?” Gilda asked.
“Should I wait for some reason?” Rainbow Dash asked back. “We’ve got a plan and are ready to try it.”
“How about some lunch first?” Gilda offered. “My cooking has gotten a lot better since Pinkie Pie gave me some tips. I do run a business myself, so I’d have to charge, but I have enough for all of you.”
“That sounds good,” Rainbow said with a sincere smile. “We’d like that very much.”
The other three ponies were invited inside for lunch, and they all sat around the tree stump table. Rainbow Dash sat closer and to the right of her griffon friend.
“Introduce me,” Gilda said in a low voice while barely moving her beak, to Rainbow Dash.
Rainbow nodded. “Everypony, this is my friend Gilda. Gilda, you remember Fluttershy, right?” The other pegasus among the group sat to Gilda’s left.
Gilda nodded. “Sorry about that time I was super rude to you in Ponyville.”
“Apology accepted,” Fluttershy said with a sweet smile. “I’m so glad you’re friends with Rainbow again.”
“Yeah, she’s alright,” Gilda replied with a sly smile and nudged at Rainbow with her elbow.
The sky blue pegasus smiled warmly before moving on. “This is Starlight Glimmer,” Rainbow gestured to her powerful unicorn friend to her right, “and this is Sweetie Belle.” She gestured to her filly Rhezenda sitting between Fluttershy and Starlight.
“Is Gabby in town today?” Sweetie Belle asked.
Gilda shook her head. “She’s out during her rounds.”
“Oh. Well, if you see her, can you tell her I said ‘hi’, please?” Sweetie Belle asked.
“Yeah, okay,” Gilda agreed casually.
“Speaking of saying ‘hi’,” Rainbow said, “Gallus says ‘hi’ from Equestria.”
Gilda raised an eyebrow at that. “Looks like the friendship school is helping him out then.”
“I’d like to think so,” Rainbow agreed.
Once lunch was finished, the ponies readied themselves to leave. Gilda told Rainbow Dash, “If you do somehow pull this off, I would like to see it before you go.”
“I would be more than happy to gloat,” Rainbow said with a playful smile and waggle of her eyebrows. She gave a little bow of her head and left the house.