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  1. In her early years, Grani had never met another pony since she lived in Talonpolis. Her mother, Glass Slipper, was nine months pregnant with her before having to move due to a business decision with the trading company that she and her husband, Gram, worked at. She was an elegant, white-coated earth pony, who could always be seen wearing beautiful silk dresses, giving her an ethereal look as the fabric lagged behind every controlled step that she took. She had been on extended leave due to her pregnancy, which her husband had been struggling to maintain on his own. Gram was a quiet and focused unicorn, dedicated to his job, rarely displayed affection in public, and had a well-groomed grey coat. Despite how he could be perceived as cold by others, he would always find time to spend time with his wife in private, removing his facade of aloofness and indifference to become soft and affectionate. One day, Gram had been contacted by his boss to be transferred to the Griffin capital Talonpolis to expand trade as an emissary for the company. Knowing the tension between Griffins and Ponies, he respectfully denied the offer, fearing for the health of himself, his wife, and their unborn child. The businessman that was his boss only cared for profits and money, and gave the worker an ultimatum of either taking the position, or to become fired from the company. Gram wasn't even given time to ask his wife about the decision, and submissively agreed to the proposition. When he had gotten home to inform Glass Slippers of what happened, she quickly accepted the circumstances and didn't blame him for the decision, but only cared for the health of their child. Gram shared the sentiments but vowed to do whatever it took to keep them safe. With the increased pay in the dreadful position he was in, the two of them chose to go around the Painted Pinto Desert, as they feared how the heat would affect either Glass Slippers or their unborn child. It had taken them two months to finally arrive to the gates of Talonpolis. Gram remained indifferent to the sneers and jabs that the Gaurds and some of the citizens spat as they walked to their new home at the other end of Talonpolis, near the Badlands. He chose to have a house made there due to it's closeness to the Griffin company that he had to now work with, yet had no surrounding neighbors that could harass them without being out in the open. Glass Slippers tried to match his facade, but it was easily visible how hurt she was by it all. Though disheartened at their initial racism, she never allowed herself to make such thoughts of them herself, unlike Gram, who's coldness seemed to increase more and more. One month later, when Glass Slippers had entered labor, Gram, for a moment, had lost his cold exterior in his excitement, apprehension, and fear at the upcoming birth. That all soon came to an end as Gram and Glass Slippers entered a nearby Griffin hospital. After teleporting the both of them, Gram had cried out for help and explained the situation to the surprised, silent Griffins. After a moment as confusion welled up inside of him, a front attendant simply told him that they didn't help ponies in their hospital. This drew the line for Gram who's head swiveled around to see that nobody cared to deny the statement. It was only the intervention of a Griffin doctor who finally decided to accept helping the couple, after considering that killing the unborn child of an emissary was too much. Glass Slippers was elated at the change of heart, but only emitted heaves and grunts of pain in her pained state. It seemed that only the doctor was willing to help as Gram continued to use his magic to carry his wife to the operating table. Luckily, birthing Griffins and Ponies weren't very different, making the actual procedure go off without a hitch. A relief in such a emotionally strenuous day. The newborn foal cried out and was quickly delivered to her mother to be quickly tended to and soothed, ceasing them moments later. Softly talking to one another, they pondered on what to name the beautiful, baby girl, deciding to name was Grani. Thanking the doctor, he humbly accepted it, no longer holding any apprehension to the ponies. The three of them left hours later, after Grani had gone through numerous check-ups to determine her health, which ended up being perfectly fine. For the moment they left, the Griffins had enough sense and heart to choose not to grief them in their happiness. The years that followed were happier ones. Gram's show of extreme care for his family in their crisis was something that many Griffins could respect. He had began negotiations with the Griffins at one of the trading companies that he needed to find an agreement with before coming back. It was slow, tedious work that required time for messages to pass higher up into the ranks of both Griffin and Pony companies. Glass Slippers had returned to full health a few months after giving birth to Grani, and was more than happy to spend every minute of the day with her. Grani was a curious and happy Earth pony, who's bubbly, infectious giggles affected even Gram when he spent time with her after returning from work. Grani never became much of a hassle to her parents, always following the rules that had been set for her, and only found difficulty with Glass Slippers's teachings in cooking. She was banned from the activity, much to her disappointment. The only thing that her father disapproved of was her curiosity. She always asked questions about the Griffins and why there weren't any other ponies, and anytime she asked if she could meet any Griffin children, it was quickly denied. This led her to have a hidden feeling of loneliness, but with some effort, ignored it as Grani spent her time with her mother and on the etiquette lessons and such, befitting a noble. Grani loved her father, but couldn't remember him ever being very personal, having forgotten his constant attention when she was but a foal. Gram's job took most of the day and extremely stressed at their hardheaded behavior, but he himself never said anything bad about them. And so she grew up without having much in the area of friendship and social skills, but never complained. Soon, she became more reserved and only lived and acted as a noble would, sophisticated and proper. She was a teenage filly when her parents had taken notice of the change in her personality, and blamed themselves for her loneliness. With ambivalence, Gram finally agreed to find some way to give her a friend, remembering how his own childhood lacked in friends. At least until they were able to return to Bareback Gulch, and maybe even move to a nicer place like Canterlot. If only it could have been that easy. If only they weren't such an easy target. It was very rare for a hostile dragon to bother anything that had to do with Talonpolis. One night, while Gram, Glass Slippers, and Grani were asleep, flames rained from the sky and the shrieking of the wood and those of the beast filled their ears and struck unimaginable fear into their hearts. Grani had no idea how to react to the situation. Tears filled her eyes from fear and the lack of oxygen in the smog and dust that blotted out anything more than two feet in front of her. Finally the roof had fully collapsed as the scaled, black form of an adult dragon filled her vision. It's eyes held no kindness, but overwhelming greed and hunger. She felt resigned to her fate before a large piece of debris flew straight into one of it's eyes, surrounded by a telekinetic glow. Her father and mother quickly grabbed her and ran as far away from the beast as they could, ignoring the pain from minor burn wounds. Looking straight into the panicked eyes of her parents, they only said one thing. Run. And so, as was within a Pony's natural urges, she ran in the sight of danger. She ran in the dark night. She ran, even when under normal circumstances she'd easily fall and tire by now. She ran for help she believed she would surely get from the Griffins. Bursting into the office of a local Griffin guard, she quickly made a retelling of what had happened. The story had slowly eased the Griffin out of his initial defensive stance, but the guard was no less suspicious, though Grani had taken no notice of it, having never heard of any reason to dislike Griffins. Running back to her home, a sense of loss filled her at the sight of the demolished home. The only home she knew for nearly all of her life. Grani called out into the burning ruins, but the crackles of the wood were her only answers. The Griffin gasped beside her, making Grani swivel her head to him and just as quickly look up to the sky to see the dragon in the distance, with what seemed to be two objects in it's claws. It was headed into the Badlands. What little hope she had was renewed at the chance of the two blurs being her parents. Begging the Griffin for help in retrieving them, with a straight face, he answered no. She couldn't believe that. She wouldn't believe that. Questioning why, the Griffin looked conflicted for a moment, but finally decided to tell it as it was. The Badlands were bad for a reason, and were too dangerous for a rescue mission for two ponies that were unlikely to be alive First and foremost though, he had no reason to dislike them, but they were just ponies, and he was a Griffin. He flew away without another word, leaving the distraught filly behind. She had no idea what to do now. Beads of light were piercing the gloomy clouds overhead, casting large shadows in front of her. Amidst all of the spikes of grey that crept onto the ground, a distinctive shape of a cross could be seen towering above the rest. Turning her head, Grani shielded her eyes at the sight of the Sun, but what she saw was almost like a sign. Over the mountains of debris, a sheathed sword stood impaled above it all. It was only used for decorative purposes, but was a completely viable option for combat. A jumble of ideas floated around her head, but they all centered around the need to possess the sword. Gingerly maneuvering the hill, she clenched her teeth around the handle, and pulled it free without any difficulty, the lightweight blade easily sliding out. She didn't really know where to go from there. This home was all she knew, having been sheltered her entire life. Grani was nearly a mare now, and more than anything, only wanted her parents back. The blade gleamed even more in the light, now that it was fully exposed. Sliding it back into it's sheathe, she fastened it to her upper body, and began walking into the Badlands, following the trail that the dragon made. She was now in front of the dragon's lair, the entrance surrounded with claw marks and blackened stone. Vile and putrid odors wafted out of it, smells that she had never experienced or made a tolerance of, which made it all the worse. A think column of smoke rose out of the top of the mountainous cave, making it seem like an ominous volcano at any distance, easily pointing out the lair and darkening the surrounding area. It had now been hours after the attack. Despite how unlikely the more positive outcomes were looking, she just had to know. Steeling herself, she walked forward into the lair with courage and bravery, unlike herself. It was dark for a long time before the angry, red glow of the inner sanctum flared to life. Before her was an incredible amount of jewels, gold, and other treasures that littered the entirety of the ground, massing mostly in the middle of the cave, where her target was. Clearly seeing the size of the dragon, Grani felt she was in over her head, but had to find out what had happened to her parents. Looking around, she fortunately didn't see hide nor tail alone, but wasn't able to see the living bodies of her parents. Calling out quietly to avoid waking the dragon gave no results as well. It was truly disheartening. Grani felt more and more like a little foal now, scared and confused. It was only the reassuring weight of the blade fastened to her side that stopped her from crying and mourning as a noble would. The blade made her a warrior, as largely untrained and inexperience as she was. Voice firm, she called out to the dragon. Waking seconds later, the dragon roared out in anger, suspicion creeping into his voice as he questioned who would dare steal treasure from Fafnir. She ignored it and questioned quietly, and in a deadly tone, what had happened to her parents. It took a moment for the dragon to understand what she had asked, a gluttonous smile emerging on his face, his single eye glinting with smugness. He stated that they were delicious. In a haze of anger and pure wrath, she cried out, sword pulled from sheath and ready to attack. The slash managed to damage his arm, but on the second swing, Grani lost the blade within the treasure when Fafnir had blocked it. She dived into the hoard to retrieve it while Fafnir cradled his arm. The dragon did not dare to use his fire, for fear of damaging his gold. It turned into a game of cat-and-mouse as Grani continued to dodge claws and teeth, as she kept her surroundings in mind, realizing that Fafnir avoided damaging the treasure. Finally finding the blade in sight, Grani grabbed a pile of jewels and gold, only to throw it all out of an opening on the side of the cave. Fafnir gasped in horror and dived for the treasure, greed overcoming any semblance of thought or reason. With blade in her mouth once again, Grani charged towards the unsuspecting dragon to land the killing blow. Running the sword through his back, rising to it's chest, Fafnir ceased in his grabbing of the gold. As a last act, his claw shot out and latched crushingly onto her left fore and hind legs. His falling body pulled her down with him into a large river below. It was only by steeling herself, despite the pain of which she had never experienced anything coming close to a fraction of, and moving herself on top of the body as it collided with the body of water with resounding force. With the last of her strength, she dragged herself onto land and feinted. Grani awoke within a Griffin hospital, as an old doctor and the night guard she had spoken to, sat beside her. It turned out that the lack of smoke rising from the mountain warranted an investigation from Griffin soldiers. They ended up seizing the gold and finding her body. Asked by the doctor in an almost reverent tone what had happened, she summarized it quietly, fitting into what he had imagined. The night guard was actually the one who had brought her to the hospital, as the others had thought it to be a lost cause. She had been hospitalized for around three weeks now. The doctor then asked her what she would do with the dragon's treasure. She simply stated for it all to be put into rebuilding the home to it's former condition, and for a funeral for her parents. They would become the most expensive graves and monuments in all of Equestria. Asking to be alone, she then quietly mourned her parents, now that she was given the opportunity and closure. Grani became very respected in Talonpolis, the feat of bravery and her story of sadness. She didn't hold any malice towards her father's company. Her father's goal soon became fully completed as trading flourished between the Griffin companies and that of her father's. A package also arrived for Grani, which was a pet monkey named Sigurd that her parents had bought her for her birthday. She had never felt more sad and happy on the day she became an adult, nearly three months after the battle and the end of her hospitalization. A letter came to her from Princess Celestia, who empathized in her loss and offered her to do whatever she could want to do, within her power. Surprised, she soon chose that if anything, she'd want to become one the famed Royal Guard her mother had told her about, and where her father had served a term with. It was this decision, made late at night as she gazed into the constellation Orion, that she finally obtained her cutie mark. Sigurd seemed to think this was a good idea as well. Weeks later, she began her training. It was strange to meet other ponies, as she would either be shy, too polite, or rough and tough like a Griffin when it seemed like a good decision, which it almost always wasn't. Slowly, she began to fit in. While pets normally weren't allowed in barracks, Sigurd was an exception, and this was the extent of special treatment that she allowed herself to take as a Royal Guard. Grani chose to take patrols and reassignments to other posts in various parts of Equestria, since she loved traveling and just being surrounded by so many new faces. New pony faces. Grani still carried the same blade her father had once owned. Soon enough, she retired early from the Royal Guard, making traveling her full-time occupation. The bits she received from her father's company and from being a Royal Guard funded all of this easily. Every anniversary and birthday of her parents was a time when she would visit the monuments and house, which she now owned. It served as a place of rest for when she just wanted to settle down for a little bit, it's residence in Talonpolis something she never found to be problem. It was also something of a final gift from her parents.
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