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Shortly after Ridge had arrived in Griffonstone, it had been everything that he could have asked for. Dirt poor with no real local government to speak of or law enforcement to contend with. His hunch about the gems and riches buried in the earth that had been mined back when Griffonstone had been an actual power having been abandoned as its major trading partner had disappeared and the kingdom was crumbling rather then just running dry had proved to be correct and thus he was free to set up Prosperity Mining in order to harvest it. Even having an Equestrian military base being set up nearby had proven to be an opportunity rather then a hassle, because not only did it mean that he didn't have to invest as heavily as he might have needed to in order to secure the city and more importantly his mining operations, but some early arrangements he made with them had given him a degree of legitimacy that his company would have needed time and effort to earn. It also offered him an early trading partner to sell the gems his company was mining too, but he knew better then to count on the Equestrians to remain as such. Equestria was naturally rich with gems and crystals, with their current interest in purchasing from his company being little more then an attempt by them to help start up a company within Griffonstone in order to try and kick start the economy of the old griffon capital. That good will and more importantly, the bits backing it would only last so long. He would need to branch out into other markets in time, but it was still a damn good start for a dragon's horde and even better for a new company. However, getting his company into the ground to start digging had not been the only thing on Ridge's mind as of late. The same day that he had inspected the quality of the gems to be mined in the future, the 'Emperor' had arrived in Griffonstone. A delusional, homeless gutter bird who believed he was soaring and had designs to uplift the rest of Griffonstone with him. While it was laughable to consider him as anything close to a real threat, Ridge hadn't gotten this far by allowing himself to become complicate; He himself had taken advantage of others believing that he wasn't a big enough threat to be worth considering a few times and he likely would again. The cold, hard fact of the matter was that the 'Emperor' might have been a joke, but he was a joke that the other griffons were entertaining... and considering his own plans for the city, griffon sovereignty under a griffon ruler was a dangerous idea to have floating around. However, disposing of the problem was somewhat harder because the crazy buzzard was somewhat popular and well liked; Setting such people on fire tended to work against the one setting the fire and that would simply cause further problems down the line if not ruin his plans completely. Alternative solutions were required... and as much as it hurt him deeply whenever he looked at the bottom line of the bill, the holidays provided him with an opening to deepen his roots and further cement himself here while making the 'Emperor' out as the bitless bum he was. 'The First Annual Prosperity Mining Hearts Warming Party' as he had taken to calling it on the posters he had placed around Griffonstone was, by the standards of the dilapidated settlement, a lavish affair in which no expense had been spared, delicacies that a hard working family might have saved up enough for once or twice a year were common place on the tables, the drink was endless and came in bountiful forms and several live bands had been contracted to play throughout the night. Behind the scenes there was very much a budget for the party and by the standards of more developed Equestrian cities like Manehatten or Canterlot if he had tried to host an event with the same budget there, it would have either needed to be a cozy, private affair with a limited number of guests or risk being so bare thread that it would have been over rather quickly. The fact that Griffonstone had such a low population coupled with the low standards that its poverty had enforced on the population had gone a long way to making sure that this was going to be a smash hit. Climbing up onto the wooden stage that had been built for the evening for the bands later on, Ridge the dragon gazed out at the crowd that had likely been drawn out if for no other reason then it promised to be a night of entertainment and food that they didn't have to pay for rather then by any actual holiday cheer or love of him or his company. Dressed in a lovely red jacket that blended well with his scales while helping to protect him from the chill that was generally always in the air, he cleared his throat before speaking with a tone of voice that commanded attention. "Ladies, Gentlebirds, ponies and anyone else who happened to be here that I haven't spotted in the crowd yet. As the founder and president of Prosperity Mining, Griffonstone has been good to me since my arrival here. As such, I couldn't help but feel the urge to give back a little to the community that has allowed me to prosper in such a relatively short amount of time as a sign of goodwill going forward into the new year. However before we can enjoy the music, take advantage of the food and get plastered on drink I do believe it's time for me to make a little speech." "And I believe it's time for us to take a little nap!" An elderly voice called from the crowd, the exact source of which was lost amongst the wave of merriment and laughter. Ridge himself couldn't help but chuckle along as he waved a claw in the air. "I know, but formalities and all that. Let's just get this over with quick." Reaching into a pocket of his jacket to remove a sheet of paper... and then into a different pocket to pull out an almost comically small pair of glasses that he donned, he started by going "My speech, here is my holiday speech." before politely clearing his throat before reading it aloud. "Thank you all and merry Hearts Warming!" before lowering the piece of paper and gazing out over the crowd. The silence was quickly filled by a different elderly voice from the crowd that seemed to be close to where the original had come from. "That was the speech?!" before it was quickly joined by the original speaker. "It was dumb!" "It was obvious!" "It was pointless!" "It was... short?" There was a silence as two old griffons turned to look at each other, before both turning back towards the stage and announcing together "I LOVED IT!" much to the amusement of the crowd and Ridge himself. "Well I'm tried of speeches." Ridge announced, before blowing a brief burst of flame that combusted the paper in his claws before declaring "Let's get this party started!" and abandoning the stage to allow the first band to get started, the dance floor to live up to its namesake and the food and drink to be open to the public.
It was the middle hours of the morning, when most cities would be thrumming with the varied activities of workers and machinery, making, selling, buying, shipping, receiving, all the labors of life in an urbanized environment. Perhaps, in times past, Griffonstone had hummed with this activity more than any other, being the core of a mighty Empire. Now, however, the remnant populace huddled in huts, gaunt, barely willing to scratch a living that less scrupulous sorts waited to snatch from their hungry claws. A sad state of a fallen land, settling like a blanket of quiet, bitter despair. And yet, there remained one beacon of light and noise, surrounding what was now, thanks to dedicated effort, only half of a total ruin. Within it all, at the center, Emperor Norton Breakbeak I held court. The local populace still wasn't sure what to make of the fellow, who had come in on one of the rare trains up, bringing with him a flock of eager-eyed catbirds from the formerly-dirty corners of Breakbeak city, following their favorite eccentric. To be honest, it was uncertain for some of them if any better alternative than unrecognized factory labor awaited them, so better to do their hard work in the sunshine for a boss that was at least funny. Others might have been here more or less as a working vacation to the old site of their forefathers, feeling it no bad use of their time to fix up an old place with historical memories, make a nice picture at the end of it. And perhaps, just perhaps, there were some here who actually believed this was their true Emperor, returned at last. Whichever they were, Emperor Norton treated them all the same, as beloved subjects for whom their liege would spare no effort. Many a time he had held a hammer alongside his crew, and the very floor in front of his makeshift throne had been swept clean by himself, personally. Now, though, his labors were in the mental space of command, as he reviewed before him some... well, if they were on bluepaper, you could call them blueprints. As it were, any scraps of writing material had to do. Backs of old manila envelopes, for example. "We are now ready, send in the Civil Engineer!" He called out to a youngling out by the "front door", an almost entirely fictional construct consisting of a chalk marker for when they'd eventually rebuild the wall and put a door in. The Emperor was most looking forward to this first meeting; Gerrard's skills as an irrigation engineer would be most welcome in these drylands. When that griffon entered the scene, he would see a sight that never failed to amuse and faintly impress all who beheld it. A male griffon, going up in years but maintaining vigorous health, with the most absolutely magnificent pair of moustaches that a mortal beak could support, clad in a gussied up dress uniform, bedecked with medals both genuine and superfluous, topped off by a hat that was a cross between a field marshal's cap and a tropical aviary. The glory of griffonkind, ladies and gentlecolts !
Griffonstone. Once, it had been the shining jewel of griffon kind. It's wealth and influence reached far and wide, allowing the catbirds who grew up and lived there a great deal of prestige and pride that they could lord over those unfortunate enough to not have the grace or wealth to live their themselves. But as is often the case with history, the wheel turned ever onward; Their greatest trading partner disappeared off the face of the planet, one of their kings great treasures was stolen with their monarchs spending to much time and resources trying to get it back in vain... and while the authority of Griffonstone crumbled to dust other powers rose up to fill the void it left behind. Now, Griffonstone was little more then a dump for old griffons to stubborn to admit that the old days were over and die and those poor, unfortunate souls that were too poor to live anywhere else. The glories of the past long destroyed, outright ransacked or simply abandoned to rot while the slums in their shadows grew more dilapidated and cheap as the years passed by. But as he sat at an outdoors chair that somehow seemed to have all of its legs be the short one making it wobbly, Ridge the dragon did not see Griffonstone's distant past or its depressing present. Instead the white dragon's eye gaze was focused on a piece of parchment that the pony he had hired to confirm his suspicions had taken the time to write their detailed report on, only occasionally letting it flicker over to the sack of 'samples' that had been unearthed in the process before his attention returned to ink on paper. It was a complicated document in the fact that the terminology employed by it would have confused most beings able to read and write who didn't have a background in geology, but for Ridge it teased out a smile. Putting the parchment down, he opened up the sack of samples in order to draw one of them out to see it with his own eyes. While he would confess that emeralds were low on his personal list of favorite flavors when it came to gems (through some of them were good for decoration) the one that he held in his claw had earned something of a special place in his heart as it seemed to glow in the light, twisting the light of the sun into a rather pleasant dark green color. It wasn't big or that impressive looking, through it would easily be able to purchase a couple of the slum homes that made up Griffionstone itself, but the emerald itself was nowhere near as important as what its presence represented. Griffionstone had a future... and Ridge was going to claim it.
Prof. Morianna Razorclaw took a leisurely sip from her teacup as she surveyed the scene before her. In the griffon’s line of sight stood Griffonstone; once the capital city of a mighty Griffon Empire, now little more than a dungheap. Twas’ a shame really; if only those miserable citizens would let go their pride and acquiesce to the rule of the Aquellian Republic, they’ would have the assistance they’d need to restore Griffonstone to a reflection of its former glory. At least then, Aquellians could visit a historical site without having to know shame. But that was neither here or now. Like an elite griffoness forced to visit a diseased area against her will, Morianna sat outdoors at a small table adjacent to a tent, outside Griffonstone. Standing on each side of her, guards held up banners showing the Roc; House Razorclaw’s sigil. They were there not to meet with anyone from the city in particular, but rather with a most important individual from beyond civilization. News had reached Prof. Razorclaw’s ears of a new Lord of the Dragons: Ember, daughter of Torch. An unlikely successor to be sure, as it was widely believed in Morianna’s circles that a more brutish dragon would have passed the Flamecano Trial and earned the Bloodstone Scepter. But Ember now was the Dragon Lord; not only that, but unlike her father, she was already sending feelers to other nations with offers of friendship. Quite remarkable for a species known for isolationism at their best... and mass destruction at their very worst. Morianna Razorclaw, matriarch of her House and special advisor to the Aquellian Prime Minister, couldn’t afford to pass this opportunity up, since an alliance between Aquellia and the Dragon Lands could last as long as Ember lived... and dragons lived for a very long time. The Professor at first thought it strange that in letters from Ember, the Dragon Lord seemed to assume that Griffonstone would be the place to meet the griffon leaders. Rather than correct Ember in a following letter however, Morianna consented to a meeting here in the wretched wreck of Griffonstone. Not the best place to showcase griffon might, but Mori was a professor, and exceptional professors always found unique ways to teach their lessons.....