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In the Name of Love

by TheLegendaryBillCipher

When Silverstream invited her friends to Mount Aris for summer break, Gallus knew this was his chance. Smolder had to catch up on her studies, and Ocellus had offered to tutor her. He knew Yona’s inability to swim and thick fur coat meant the sun and sea were both out. This was his chance to have some alone time with Silverstream, to finally clear the air, and his chest.
Somehow, he had forgotten about Sandbar.
He slumped against the ship’s railing, frowning as he glanced over his shoulder at Sandbar and Silverstream, the latter prattling on and on about her home in her usual way. That usual way that sounded like a songbird to Gallus, endearing with its enthusiasm about every little thing.
Huffing a sigh, he looked out on the dazzling sea. This had been such a great idea in planning, but now with the third wheel, he’d have rather gone home to Griffonstone. Gallus shuddered at the thought.
“Hey, you doing alright? I didn’t think griffons could get seasick.”
Gallus jumped and whirled around to see Silverstream and Sandbar standing there.
“Yeah, you seem pretty bummed,” Sandbar pointed out. “I thought you’d like a trip to Mount Aris?”
“Y-yeah, I did.” Gallus straightened himself out, returning to his default, nonchalant expression. "I just didn’t think it’d take this long to get here.”
“Well, we didn’t want to bother Princess Celestia with getting an airship,” Silverstream said. Then she gestured out to the wide expanse of sparkling salt water around them. “Besides! We get to take the scenic route!”
“It is pretty majestic.” Sandbar nodded.
Gallus harrumphed and looked himself. “It’s just a bunch of water. Salty, undrinkable water.”
“Well, yeah. On the surface.” Silverstream walked over and leaned onto the railing next to him. “But we hippogriffs like to think about all the beautiful life and scenery under it. The schools of fish, the coral reefs, stuff like that.” She flashed him a grin that made Gallus’ heart skip a beat before looking down at her rippled reflection.
“Yeah, I guess there’s that,” Gallus muttered, looking down at his own.
“Ahoy!” called the ship’s hippogriff captain, catching all three’s attention. “Mount Aris ahead! Prepare to disembark!”
The three ran to the front of the ship, the native more excited than the tourists. Silverstream was practically bouncing up and down with glee as the towering form of Mount Aris rose before them like a great, breaching whale.
Gallus’s feathers drooped and he gulped softly.
He’d also forgotten what his heart was up against – royalty.
“And this is the new palace!” concluded Silverstream as she led her two friends into the large, ornate structure. “Well, the new Mount Aris palace. Seaquestria still has its palace below. We had to do a lot rebuilding after we came back. The Storm King kinda wrecked the place.”
“Amazing,” Snadbar said, walking over to admire one of the curved walls. It depicted murals of various fish and hippogriffs, some in epic struggles, and others where it looked like the two species were swimming together.
As Gallus walked over, they noticed on down further that a mural was in the process of being painted by a silver hippogriff with pink-tipped feathers. She adjusted her spectacles between examining an open book with wrinkled pages on the floor next to her and her mural.
“Pearl Shore!” Silverstream called, running over and catching the older hippogriff in a hug, fortunately not mid-brush stroke.
“A-Ah! Miss Silverstream,” Pearl Shore replied with a sheepish grin. “Welcome home.” She looked at Sandbar and Gallus. “Oh? Are these your friends?”
Silverstream nodded rapidly as she released her. “This is Sandbar and Gallus. We’re studying together at Princess Twilight’s Friendship School!”
“It’s very nice to meet you. My name is Pearl Shore, as Miss Silverstream has already stated.” She bowed to them. Sandbar and Gallus looked at one another, shrugged, then bowed back.
“How come you’re painting this mural? It looks like it’s a hundred years old,” Sandbar asked, looking it over.
“Ah, well you see, when the Storm King invaded, much of our architecture was unfortunately destroyed,” Pearl Shore explained, adjusting her glasses. “That included our historic murals. Fortunately, Queen Novo was able to save many of our ancient texts, written on dried kelp with waterproof squid ink, so that we could remember them. Now that his reign is over, we are in the process of reconstructing them.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Gallus said. He too looked to the mural, knowing the state of his own home. Unfortunately, Griffonstone had yet to find its heritage again – rebuilding their world would take longer.
“It’s quite alright. What’s broken can often be mended – that’s the task of historic artists, like myself: to repaint the murals to the best of their recorded appearance,” Pearl Shore said, chest swelling with pride.
“And they’ve been doing a fantastic job!” Silverstream squealed. “They really look hundreds of years old!”
Pearl Shore blushed as she glanced away. “Thank you, Miss Silverstream.” She cleared her throat. “I must really get back to work though. I was hoping to get this section of murals done by this evening.”
“I was just going to show my friends to the main throne room anyway, so we’ll get out of your feathers,” Silverstream replied. Gallus cringed ever so slightly.
“Sounds awesome,” Sandbar remarked.
Gallus, on the other hand, looked to the mural to distract himself. As he glanced over the murals, his eyes fell upon a depiction of hippogriffs surrounding a golden, hexagonal shape, seemingly dancing with joy. Anything even remotely golden caught a griffon’s eye.
“Hey, what’s this one depicting?” he asked, pointing to it.
“Hmm?” Pearl Shore looked, adjusting her glasses as she leaned in. “Ah! This is the section on our island explorations. We hippogriffs traveled far and wide, not just below the ocean but above it.
“This in particular is in relation to what the ancients called ‘hive fruit.’ It’s a special fruit that’s said to be as sweet as the honey from an entire bee’s hive. It’s been recorded to be very hard to find, as it only grows on very fertile islands.”
“Ooh, that sounds yummy,” Silverstream remarked. “Doesn’t it, Gallus?”
“Yeah, it sure does,” he said slowly, eyes fixated on it. He shook his head to keep his train of thought on track. “Did the hippogriffs ever find it?”
“Well, I believe our ancestors found it on the Sunshine Isles, to the south of Mount Aris. Back then, we were very conservational – we recorded what we found, but never took anything from its rightful home. So while we don’t have the fruit, we do know where it was,” Pearl Shore replied.
“Huh…” Gallus rubbed his chin.
“Well, we’ll let you get back to your painting. Thanks for the lesson, Pearl Shore,” Silverstream said.
“Yeah, thanks,” Gallus said as Silverstream led him and Sandbar away.
His chest swelled with instinctual pride as thoughts churned in his head until they became an idea.
Gallus flew straight to the docks after the tour concluded in the throne room. Silverstream let her friends loose to explore the wonders of Mount Aris, and if they felt adventurous, Seaquestria.
The griffon was feeling adventurous alright, but not for below the sea.
He knew the name, he knew the general direction, now all he had to find was a boat. As he surveyed the area, he saw many larger vessels, but worried that their captains would ask too many questions.
“Hey, Gallus? What are you doing here?”
The griffon whirled around and grumped at the sight of Sandbar, whom he had once again managed to overlook.
“What are you doing down here?” Gallus replied.
“Well, I heard they had amazing seashells around here. I was hoping to get one to take home with me,” Sandbar replied. He pointed a hoof at him with a relaxed smile. “Now, what are you doing down here?”
Gallus’s eyes darted left and right, trying to think of a way out. “You wouldn’t understand,” he said, half hoping it didn’t give too much away, half hoping it would be enough to dissuade Sandbar.
Sandbar shook his head. “I don’t understand a lot of things, doesn’t mean I won’t listen,” his friend replied.
Gallus huffed a sigh – of course he wouldn’t give up. It was one of the things he liked in the pony. “Alright, listen,” he said, lowering his voice. “I was thinking of… setting out and looking for that hive fruit.”
Sandbar raised an eyebrow. “Aren’t we supposed to be on summer break? Why would you want to go on an adventure?”
“It’s…” Gallus nibbled his lower beak. “It’s for Silverstream. I want to get it for her.”
Sandbar tilted his head, before a knowing smile crossed his muzzle and he nodded. Gallus shot a harsh glare at him.
“You can’t tell anycreature, ok?” Gallus hissed. “I thought I could get some time alone to say how I felt, but…”
“But I came along.” Sandbar set a hoof on the griffon’s shoulder. “Listen, I didn’t mean to be a third wheel. Why didn’t you just say something?”
Gallus opened his beak to say something, then closed it with a sigh. “I guess I’m just embarrassed about it, about how I feel about Silverstream.” He looked down. “And I didn’t want to be like some griffons and just intimidate you away so I could be with her. You’re too nice a pony.”
Sandbar flashed him a warm smile. “And you’re too nice a griffon. You should tell her how you feel, regardless of me or the others. I for one support it, and I know they would too.”
Gallus gave him a half smile and sighed. “We griffons have this thing, where we try to win over somegriff we like. We get them the best thing we can think of or the thing they really want to impress them. And for Silverstream, it’s this hive fruit.”
Sandbar nodded. “Well, if it’s important for you to do this, I’ll help anyway I can. But, if you want my honest opinion, I’d just tell her how you feel. No harm in that, right?”
Gallus snorted. “The hive fruit sounds much easier.”
“Alright then.” Sandbar shrugged. “So, what do you need?”
“I need a ship.” Gallus said. “Preferably somegriff that won’t ask too many questions.”
“Well then, let’s find us a ship,” Sandbar said with a firm nod and a smirk. He raced down the docks, Gallus following after him.
They managed to find one of the saltier hippogriff ship owners, salty enough to be called Briny Beak, but at least he and his barnacle-crusted ship fit the bill of not asking questions. Once he heard the location, he was more than happy to chart a course for them.
“Sunshine Isles, eh?” the captain said from the helm, steering them south. “Ye looking for a tan?”
“Actually, we’re looking for a fruit,” Sandbar said. “Have you ever heard of the hive fruit?” Gallus shot a frown at him.
“Aye, sweetest fruit in all the seas. I honestly don’t remember why we hippogriffs never returned to look for it. The isles be not far from Mount Aris,” Briny Beak replied, scratching at his chin.
“That is weird,” Gallus remarked. “But hey, that makes our job a lot easier, right? We just get to the island, grab the fruit, and return in no time flat.”
“Yeah, way easier.” Sandbar nodded.
“I’ll be a seagull’s tail feather,” Briny Beak remarked. He leaned over the helm and produced a spyglass, looking out over the bow with it. “There be the Sunshine Isles now. Land ho!”
“Land what?” Gallus asked, but was suddenly jolted forward along with Sandbar when Briny Beak pulled a lever by the helm that dropped the small schooner’s anchor. The ship abruptly halted in the water, just shy of the beach.
“We be here!” Briny Beak proclaimed, the only one not picking himself off the deck. “Go me hearties and find yer fruit.”
“Thanks,” Gallus grunted, taking to the air and flying to the shore while Sandbar hopped out and waded onto the beach.
“So, do we know what we’re looking for?” Sandbar asked, shaking his legs dry.
“Well, the mural showed it was gold in color, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find for a griffon like me,” Gallus said with an air of pride. “It’s probably in the heart of these trees here. Let’s go.”
He flew into the tropical grove before them, with Sandbar in hot pursuit. Though the island was thick with trees, it was also abundant in all manners of flowers – birds-of-paradise, hibiscus, and orchids grew rampant in all shades of the rainbow. It filled the air with a sickening sweet aroma.
“I can see why the hive fruit is the sweetest if it grows around here,” Sandbar said, nearly gagging on the sweet air. “But… do you hear something?”
Gallus landed and cocked his head. “Yeah… is that… buzzing?”
“Can’t be bees right? Bees aren’t that loud,” Sandbar said.
The griffon shrugged as they headed through the underbrush until they made it to a clearing. And then their hearts stopped.
At the very center was a small tree, reminiscent of a banana palm, which had a single golden fruit the size of a buckball hanging from its fronds, shaped like a honeycomb. However, in the air all around the clearing was bees – honey bees and bumblebees that flew about lazily in the hot air, a living golden cloud of insects and pollen.
“There’s so many of them,” Sandbar said with a gulp. “How are we going to get to the fruit?”
“I’ll see if I can get it from the air,” Gallus whispered, taking flight. He flew just above the canopy of the tree line, where a few errant bees watched him curiously. Ever so gracefully, he swooped through a perceived hole in the swarm and grabbed ahold of the fruit.
“Aha!” He held it up like a prize, grinning at Sandbar.
Sandbar shook his front hooves over his head. “Now, let’s head back!” he called.
Gallus nodded, but before he could take off, he noticed the gap in the swarm above him had closed. Bees now flew about him, some eyeing him suspiciously as he clutched the fruit to his chest.
“I can’t! I don’t see an exit!” Gallus called.
Sandbar bit his lower lip, looking around. Then he noticed a small stone on the ground and picked it up. “I’ll distract them! You fly for the ship!” he called.
“What?” Gallus squawked.
But he could watch as Sandbar chucked the rock at the nearest hive. It wasn’t strong enough to knock it down, but it rattled its occupants and got the attention of the bee swarm.
“Hey! Over here!” he called, waving his forelegs before running back through the trees.
Gallus watched the swarm condense and pursue its collective target. “Crazy pony,” he said with a smirk, before launching into the air.
By the time he got to the shore, the bee swarm was on the beach, angrily watching as Briny Beak and Sandbar sailed over salt water they wouldn’t dare cross. Gallus flew over them and landed on the deck, panting.
“That was some bit of fancy teamwork,” Briny Beak remarked. “But I can see why we hippogriffs never came back now.” He gave a hearty chuckle.
“Yeah.” Gallus turned to Sandbar. “Thanks. You didn’t have to do that, you know.”
“Yeah, well. I said anything to help, right?” He gave a breathless chuckle. “At least now I know I can outrun bees.”
“Yeah, but let’s hope we don’t have to do that again.”
Both friends fell into breathless chuckles and flopped onto the deck to recover.
“...and so we came right back after we got it,” Gallus concluded. He and Sandbar had brought the hive fruit to Silverstream, who had been seagazing on one of the palace’s balconies. Fortunately, they were alone, and they had glanced over the part about Gallus’s real intentions.
“Aw, you guys. You didn’t have to do that for me,” Silverstream said as she admired the hive fruit in her claws.
“It was Gallus’s idea, actually. I just distracted the bees,” Sandbar said, flashing a knowing wink at the griffon. “Now, if you’ll excuse me – I still have to find a seashell for a souvenir. Hope you like the fruit.”
Gallus mouthed a “thanks” to Sandbar as he left, who mouthed a “no problem” in reply. The griffon turned to Silverstream, who was waving goodbye to Sandbar, oblivious to the exchange.
She turned the fruit this way and that, before finally taking a bite out of one of the edges. Immediately, however, her muzzle scrunched up and she swallowed the bite hard, screwing her eyes shut. “Yuck!” she spat out, sticking her tongue out.
Gallus tensed up. “What’s wrong?” he asked quickly.
“I just realized I’ve never tried honey before,” Silverstream groaned. “It’s not… the best flavor." She set the fruit aside, smacking her beak.
Gallus slouched as he leaned over the balcony, feeling defeated. He blinked in surprise when he felt Silverstream peck him on the cheek, and quickly turned to him.
Despite the bad flavor experience, the hippogriff bore her usual friendly grin. “Although it didn’t taste great, I really appreciate you getting me it, Gallus,” she said, a soft blush playing on her cheeks.
“N-No problem,” he said. “I just thought that… seeing that you didn’t like it…”
She silenced him with a shake of her head. “Gifts are like the ocean, Gallus. Sometimes it’s the thought beneath it that’s better than the gift itself… or something like that.” She giggled and offered him a claw. “Would you like to tour the Harmonizing Heights together? You sound like you could use some relaxation after that ordeal.”
Fighting back his own blush—and losing miserably—he took her claw and smiled softly. “Yeah, that sounds great.”
Silverstream took off first, followed by Gallus, who couldn’t help but think to himself maybe he did have a chance after all.