The Chase

Bucky Bitters struggles to escape the airborne affections of Derpy Hooves after a chance encounter caused them to bump noses together. His real mistake was trying to comfort the mare after the snoot-bump. Little does the poor stallion realise that their meeting was only the prologue to a journey that will change not only his life, but the lives around him forever.

This story is a sequel to The Catch

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The little griffoness was on the sofa in the common area, her scavenged officers sabre held in her deft talons as she carefully sharpened it upon a whetstone. Bucky marveled at her care and attention to detail. The sword had seen better days before Belisama had claimed it as her own, and now it was gleaming, well oiled, the blade was now free of rust spots, and the guard had been finely polished to a near mirror finish.

Sitting down at a small table by himself, Bucky leaned against the table wearily. He had no idea what time it was, but it felt late. Or maybe it felt early. It was difficult to tell anymore. Looking out the window simply revealed that it was dark and the night was full of stars. He had barely sat down and collected himself before several flying blurs flew past his table, leaving behind a pile of crackers, sliced cheese, a bowl full of hummus, a tin of sardines, and a bowl of olives. The last blur left behind a tall glass of coconut milk filled with crushed ice and rum. Bucky blinked several times, wondering what had just taken place.

“Don’t complain, you will only hurt their feelings,” Belisama said as she tucked her whetstone into a small satchel and sheathed her sword. “There is much celebrating. They serve because they choose to, not because they have to. There is a difference and a servant is happiest when serving a kind master.”

Lifting up the glass, Bucky sniffed a few times, the sweet scent of coconut and rum filling his nostrils as he inhaled deeply and then took a drink. He swallowed slowly and chewed on the crushed ice. He looked over at Belisama and nodded, his head bobbing as he chewed. Swallowing one more time, he looked down at his olives, grabbed one in his telekinesis, and then looked back up at Belisama. “I think I understand. I serve because I choose to do so. I became a knight because I chose service. Or perhaps service chose me… I don’t know,” he muttered and then popped the olive into his mouth.

“I have been talking with your other wives. A very long talk. They have told me much,” Belisama said, as she took wing, flew a short distance, and then landed in a chair opposite of Bucky at the table. She watched him smear a bit of hummus upon a cracker and top it off with cheese. “So… about us.”

“Nothing is going to happen between us until we get home. And beyond that point, nothing is going to happen between us until you are ready and in a good state of mind. The only thing I require from you is to look after my foals and protect them fiercely,” Bucky responded, and when the final word had left his mouth, he gobbled his cracker, chewing enthusiastically.

Heaving a sigh of relief, Belisama leaned back in her chair, the scabbard across her back clunking against the wood behind her. “I am still… untouched.”

Using his telekinesis, Bucky tossed an olive at Belisama and was absolutely delighted when the griffoness caught it, snapping it up in her beak in an impressive display of olive predation. Ignoring her statement, Bucky asked a far more pressing question. “So… you little griffons… I can’t help but notice that you have different beaks than the big griffons, like Lugus. Lugus definitely has an eagle’s beak. Sharp and hooked. You on the other hoof, your beak looks rather… crow-like if you don’t mind me saying. Some of the other little griffons have different beaks. I’ve seen woodpecker like beaks, owl like beaks, and little conical bills like songbirds have.”

Her crest rising, Belisama pulled her head down into her shoulders, slumping down, her neck compressing to make her look smaller. She let out a small squawk and stared at Bucky with with wide eyes.

“Did I say something wrong?” Bucky questioned, looking worried.

“Beaks are a sensitive subject among griffons,” Belisama said in a tiny voice.

“Well, seeing as how I am king and all, don’t you think you should tell me more about this whole beak thing, rather than sit there looking all adorably embarrassed about it?” Bucky responded inquisitively.

Her feathers fluffing, Belisama tried to ignore Bucky’s comment as she glanced at him cautiously. “The more predatory the beak, the more respect a griffon tends to get. Even us little ones. A little griffon with a hook beak is likely to be treated better and have more respect than a griffon with a songbird beak,” Belisama explained, her beak not moving as she talked.

“Hmm, do beaks affect what you eat at all?” Bucky inquired just before gobbling down another cracker loaded with hummus and cheese.

“Yes actually,” Belisama asked. “Among us little griffons, quite a number of us are far more capable of surviving on seeds, nuts, bits of fruit, and the occasional bit of meat.”

“Any really weird beaks that I should know about? Is there an undesirable beak that is considered just awful?” Bucky questioned, tossing Belisama another olive just so he could watch her catch it.

“I have seen a griffon with a beak like a pelican. He was a hunter oddly enough… life is cruel... he hated fish. The least desirable beak is a vulture’s beak… vulture griffons tend to be bald along with the beak and have a love of rotten flesh. I have known a couple,” Belisama answered. She drummed her talons upon the table, her claws clicking on the hard shiny surface. “Lugus is right.”

“About what?” Bucky replied with an inquiry.

“You do make weird faces… are you even aware of how much your lips move and your nostrils… and everything else?” Belisama questioned in answer.

“I am missing half of my face,” Bucky stated, talking around an olive he was chewing on. “There was a time in my life when I would freak out if one hair was out of place. Now look at me. I’m horrible.”

“I like your scars,” Belisama said in an honest fashion. “I like to read your face.”

“You sound like Lugus when he talks to Yew Wood,” Bucky said in return to the griffoness across the table as he tossed another olive at her. He gave an enthusiastic snort when she caught it, for some reason, it still amused him greatly.

Swallowing, Belisama’s crest rose and she looked at Bucky. “You don’t even realise what you are doing, do you?”

“I’m doing something?” Bucky asked as he loaded up a cracker with hummus and cheese, his eye lingering at Belisama as he prepared his food.

“When griffons court one another, for those of us who bother with courtship, we throw food at one another. It allows us to test the reflexes of a potential mate and see if they are worth making cubs with,” Belisama explained, turning her gaze away from Bucky.

“Woah, you mean you actually throw food at each other?” Bucky asked. “I was trying to be playful.”

“Sometimes. The bigger griffons engage in contracts. We little griffons actually do think about long term pacts that you might call marriage… and I suppose it is, but we tend to think of it as mutual survival assistance,” Belisama answered, her eyes still averted and her talons trembling. “Lugus and I lived very different lives and we both have very different views of our culture. My kind survives by helping one another. His kind survives just by taking what they want. Contracts were created to politely make demands and receive compensation, not that the warriors needed to be polite. But some of the warriors developed their own code of honour… like Lugus. Contracts allowed them to live honourably and not have everybirdy living in fear of them, or at least the griffons his size like to think nobirdy is afraid of him.”

“Does Lugus frighten you?” Bucky bluntly asked.

“He does… I can’t help it. I’ve seen a warrior his size swallow a griffon my size… alive. In one bite,” Belisama admitted, shrinking down even more in her chair.

“Ugh, that’s awful. Lugus would never do that,” Bucky responded, looking disgusted.

“I want to believe that, but after what I have seen...” Belisama said, her words trailing off unfinished.

“Lugus could swallow the one thing he loves the most in the world whole… and I am talking about Peekaboo… but I know for a fact he wouldn’t. What Lugus would do to something that harmed that foal… it gives me nightmares to think about it,” Bucky said, defending Lugus’ solid reputation. He silently opened the tin of sardines and pulled one out, holding it in his telekinesis. He broke off a piece and placed it over a cracker, sniffed it a few times, and then gobbled it down hungrily.

“We were talking about beaks and somehow ended up on courtship… and then other things,” Belisama muttered, her beak clicking a few times as she spoke.

“You have a beautiful beak Belisama,” Bucky said as he tossed a sardine at the griffoness with a flick of a his magic.

Snapping the treat out of the air, Belisama swallowed it and then stared at Bucky nervously, her crest half risen, both her right and left talons clutching the table edge. She didn’t know how to read Bucky’s feelings or expressions. Bucky had no crest, no feathers that ruffled, no wings, there was simply nothing that gave Belisama a frame of reference. At least pegasi had wings and feathers, which could be used to determine mood. She watched his ears, his funny looking protruding ears that wiggled and waggled as they pointed and moved every which way.

“I must admit, I do find you desirable,” Bucky confessed in a low voice. “Your spirit impresses me,” he added, casting a glance around the room at the other griffons, well aware that he was being watched. There was no sign of Twilight or her friends, or even other ponies. Just griffons, all of whom were watching Bucky with wide curious eyes. “Me tossing food at you… they’ve been watching me do that and have reached some kind of assumption, haven’t they?” Bucky inquired.

Nodding, Belisama could not find the words to reply, so she remained silent.

“Yeah… I’m flirting with your queen… you like that, don’t you, makes you happy, yes?” Bucky said in a loud voice, addressing everybirdy around him. He tossed another olive and watched as every eye in the room tracked the olive in flight. He heard the snap of Belisama’s beak from his blind spot, and he continued to stare at his subjects.

“Usually, in the royal pride, the griffoness brings food to the griffon,” a griffon at another table bravely commented.

“Is this true?” Bucky asked, turning around to look at Belisama. He watched her nod slowly and then he turned back around to look at his subjects. “Am I breaking some kind of rule?”

“You are the king… you make the rules,” another griffoness said.

“Oh that’s a terrible idea,” Bucky replied, turning his eye upon the griffoness who spoke, causing her to immediately avert her gaze. “In the long history of ideas, that has to be one of the worst ones. You have no idea of the sort of trouble I am capable of or the mayhem I could cause with that sort of ideology.”

“We love our king. He can do no wrong,” a griffon said in a nervous squeaky voice.

“Oh I can do wrong… just you wait. My other wives are probably going to kill me for what I’ve done… I make mistakes all the time,” Bucky said, looking out over his subjects, none of whom would look at him at the moment. His eye narrowed as he looked out over the griffons sitting at various tables around the room. “Fleshrender and Tanner were your kings… and they did wrong. The sorts of wrongs that I had no choice but to kill them for.”

“They are our kings no longer. You are our king… and you can do no wrong,” a griffon replied in a nervous screechy voice.

“A king can do wrong,” Bucky stated in a firm voice. “Or am I making a mistake with my assertion?”

The room was overtaken by a tyrannical crushing silence as no griffon or griffoness dared to answer Bucky. He peered out at his subjects, waiting patiently for some kind of reply. He turned back around to look at Belisama, who had also averted her gaze.

“Don’t defy me on this issue… I’ll show you how wrong I can be!” Bucky announced.

 

 

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