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How to Lose a Griffon in Three Days (Hippogriffs/Seaponies only, ask for invite)


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He followed- well follow was a strong word for it, he was led- Silverstream out of what seemed to be the residential area of the town. City. Seafloor. It was hard to tell, really. His knowledge of how cities operated came from an admittedly Griffonian point of view with a sprinkling of Equestria thrown in there, neither of which prepared him for how sprawling Seaquestria seemed to be. Rather than centralize everything it felt like each little neighborhood or district or whatever they were called operated at some distance away. When he finally saw where the party was he could only be excited by it. A large trench- this was like ravines back home. Griffons also sometimes held their large...well parties were the wrong word, but get-togethers. And Seaquestria had theirs in a trench.

It just made sense. Why didn't ponies think about that? Duh.

A soundstage underwater...how did that work? He couldn't fathom it. There were loads of things he couldn't really process in terms of sights and sounds as this trip continued, but that seemed so out of place to him. The tables full of food and excited faces weren't out of place above or below the waves it seemed, however. Everypony knew Silverstream it looked like. That didn't shock him, not only because she was a member of the royal family. He wasn't sure that she could allow other creaturs to swim or saunter on by without greeting them and getting to know them better. She was bubbly above and below the waves, so it was no surprise that she was as well known as any creature could be down here.

One of the seaponies swam up to him. At first, Gallus was worried it was going to be a repeat of the sea-monster scare from before, but he was saved from having to terrify yet another small creature today. He had a quota and it was filled up, so it would have been rather disappointing to return to pre-school levels of prey-level fears. Luckily this little fish seemed less than scared, just commenting on how big Gallus was. That elicited a smile from Gallus, if mostly from pure relief. “Yeah, I'm the biggest griffon-fish under the sea,” he said, still not sure what to call himself. Still, it was a nice confidence boost. The fewer seaponies he scared on a day to day basis the better, especially if he was going to be a guest of Silverstream's.

He turned to look at her, only to catch her looking away. He sensed this indescribable presence a few moments after everycreature else, snapping his head up. He almost recoiled at the sheer size of this enormous, awe-inspiring, and intensely overpowering whale. How did a thing that big not sink to the bottom of the ocean and crack the crust?! It was way bigger than a Roc, though the Roc certainly moved faster and seemed way more aggressive. This seemed...passive, friendly even. It started to sing a song, deep and instantly resonating, echoing across the trench in its own, strange aquatic way. He was too beholden to his own awe to even mouth words or respond in any meaningful way.

This was not shared by the seaponies, Silverstream included. After a heartbeat of the whale-song going on without a response, Gallus was blindsided by a new sound. A similar one to be sure, but a song sung by the ponies in response. It was beautiful in its own way, and the note hung in the heavy water as if suspended in unison with the whale for a few seconds. Finally, it died down, as did the attention of the whale. Gallus didn't really pay too much attention to the whale though, or even to the mass of singing seacreatures around him. He had eyes only for one, and stole a good look as everycreature else stared up at the whale and sang the song.

Silverstream looked absolutely mesmerizing. The sun shone and died at this depth but somehow it looked like a ray of light shone in her eyes, reflecting the color beautifully. Her voice mimicked the tone but through her alone was the intent of the song clear- one of good tidings, greetings, and friendship. The joy and energy that seemed to radiate off her were infectious. A sweet illness it was, because he felt dumb smile roll over him like a wave he didn't want to fight. He managed to look away, at the whale, just as she turned to him. Still smiling he responded. “Yeah. Yeah its amazing...amazing and beautiful,” he said shaking his head clear from the moment. Keep it together, Gallus.
“You promised...shell stringing?”

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Silverstream's joy traveled from her mouth to her eyes as she looked at Gallus. When he asked her about shell-stringing, she was elated that Gallus appeared to be just as excited as she was. And he probably didn't even know why shell-stringing was so amazing! Anycreature who knew Silverstream for longer than two seconds knew that she took great joy in the little things about reality. Seeing a new creature she's never seen? Awesome. Spotting a small set of stairs outside a palace? Awesome. Being tested by a magical tree in order to prove herself as a creature who could exhibit friendship qualities? Especially awesome, although most others would agree that that is indeed awesome. And since this pink seapony's seagriffon friend became authentically interested in whatever the shell-stringing was about, Silverstream would not let this moment pass with the full breakdown. "Yes! Come on, I'll show you!"

 

Spoiler

 

 

As the two approached the shell-stringing area, music started playing in the trench. Some seaponies were dancing, some were socializing, and some were playing games. Nearby a large clam sat a collection of small shells and underwater trinkets. "These shells are collected by the communities of Seaquestria. Some creatures from land consider this junk but we use them as a symbol of all sea creatures' ability to live together in harmony." Silverstream started digging in the pile of shells looking for interesting colors and shapes. "We find shells and string them together to make a necklace, and then you give the necklace you made to a friend. We've had this tradition ever since the Storm King's defeat." Silverstream swam slightly to the left to another large collection of shells. "And you know what the best part is? Professor Pinkie Pie invented it! My cousin Skystar was the first one to get a shell necklace when Pinkie Pie made one for her. And so now every year seaponies will have shell-stringing supplies available so that everypony can make a necklace for their best friend." Silverstream was noticing several pieces in the pile that looked very appealing and had a luster that was eye-catching. But she looked at Gallus with short regret. "Uh, this process does require that the necklace is made before the friend can see it." She used her body to block Gallus' vision while she searched for more shells.

 

 

From the other side of Gallus, spoke another seapony. This seapony was dark blue and was well-aged. He chuckled. "I suppose you want to make her the best, most beautiful necklace she has ever seen now, huh?" The seapony spoke with intimidating tones, but his body language was playful. "Listen. You don't wanna use these shells. Most of the good shells have already been taken. And you don't want just any shells to represent your 'friendship' do ya? I know a place where you can find the brightest, most sparkling shells you would ever see, the kind that only a special somepony deserves."

 

 

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He allowed himself to be swept up by the excitement and the emotion of the moment, the one seized so fervently by Silverstream mind you, aided by the song and dance that pervaded him. Yep, they were ponies. Ponies under the sea were still ponies at heart it looked and sounded like. Seaquestria, Mount Aris, Ponyville, Canterlot- really they were all the same. Happy creatures sharing their joy so much it felt saccharine if viewed from afar, but they were so honest and earnest about it that it just seemed to work. They had a muscle somewhere in their heart that pumped their blood differently than it did for him and it was wonderful to see. Frustrating and occasionally eye-rolling, but wonderful. He followed Silverstream until she got what appeared to him to be a collection of colorful rocks.

Or seashells. Yeah, he'd learn the difference.
Or he'd be explained them. That seemed more likely. Silverstream caught him up on the 'tradition' being honored and he...wasn't shocked that it had something to do with Professor Pinkie Pie. He was shocked that she wasn't responsible for every last party tradition in every corner of the world. At the rate she was going she may as well. She did have an energy about her that made you want to jump in and get your claws involved in whatever she was talking about. Silverstream had that same energy too. Never at a loss for words, never at a loss for hope and excitement, the sort that drew you in and drew your breath away. He found himself only half-listening to the details- more than enough to get them anyway- as he allowed her to get into it.

Until she told him to beat rocks, for his own good. He chuckled.
“Alright, I'll get out of your tail. Just you watch, I'll have the best necklace of all the necklaces,” he boasted for no good reason. Well, his boasts had a habit of coming true. He was pretty awesome like that. He floated away a little, enough to catch the glimpses he wanted of her and the rest of the seaponies going at it. He'd understand it. He'd understand it real good...given time.

If he were that lucky.
Lucky as he was, somepony swam up next to him. Immediately Gallus had to suppress a smile. Was this guy a shyster? He hadn't seen a lot of conponies but he had seen and dealt with a lot of congriffons. Heck, he was a hustler by trade. All the telltale signs. Pointedly personal- just wanting to be a friend, help a fella out. Tell you that you can't get what you want from the mainstream vendors. So much better to limit the view and magnify your offers. And what an offer- the best kind of seashells you could find. Oh, and the strings he was pulling in Gallus' heart! Insinuating they were an item...dude was so blind, right? Right?

Gallus wanted to just call him out, but he thought better of it. He'd never seen a seapony hustle before. Maybe they had something he could learn? Of course, he'd have to play his part, at least for a little while.
Gallus blushed.
“She isn't...it isn't like that,” he protested meekly, then looked around. “Well, I mean- okay, where are we going?” And as if a dawning realization had hit him, “and if these seashells are so good, why didn't they gather them already?”

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The stranger seapony could see this young seagriffon give him a suspicious talkdown, so in response, he decided to let up a little, while still reaching into his ego. He threw his hooffins up. "Hehe, okay, I get it, she's not your special somepony." He motioned quotations with his hoofines. "And 'we're' not going anywhere. The shells are located at a certain location only I know that is only a short swim from here. The area is private property. My property! So the shells you see here came from just about everywhere but there." The seapony scratched his neck with his hoofin. "And uh, I'd be willing to part with the information of this location." He held out his hooffin. "Five sand dollars."

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Oh wow, this was sad. This guy was really bad at being a hustler. It mostly came in the second half. Pulling back and redefining the relationship was fine, especially when you made it clear you weren't changing your position, simply agreeing to smooth it along. That was a nice touch. Everything after that was a disaster. Any good hustler knew that you needed to show off some goods to really try to hook the mark in. Why would anycreature follow you or pay you based off of nothing but your words? Ponies were gullible but in a buyer's market you needed to have something approaching solid ground to stand on. Or swim on. And this dude had nothing.

He compounded it by asking for some money for further information. This did make Gallus think about the fact he was broke, but even then. A private location, no way to verify, money up front, no goods, even an 'uh'. Did he even have a game plan? What was his agenda when he woke up today, suck at hustling? Because he was sucking at hustling. Because if sucking at hustling to a legendary degree was on his little day planner than he could put a big checkmark on it, because wow, dude was lame. Well, maybe that was harsh. Maybe. Possibly. Griffonstone was full of shysters, hucksters, liars, cheats, and hustlers. Ponies didn't do that naturally so they sucked at it, and they probably fell for those who sucked at it. Vicious cycle of incompetence. Maybe he should quit school and hustle for bits. He got two mares to visit a hastily constructed tree memorial after maybe an hour of effort, so how hard could it be?
 

Back in the moment though, Gallus did everything he could to not laugh at the stallion. After he outstretched his hoofin flipper thing for some sand dollars, Gallus gave him an even, dead expression. He leaned in, dangerously close at that, and whispered. "Does this work for you, really? You're not a very good hustler. You need to at least show some goods to entice the mark, start at a better price point, maybe even give a single shell as a freebie. And don't say 'uh' when you're trying to impress a mark with your offer, it makes you sound like you're making it up. Then they won't give you money, like I'm not going to. But you're going to give me five sand dollars because she," he said, pointing at Silverstream, "is a member of the royal family and if you don't pay up for wasting my time I'm gonna tell her mom that you tried to hustle her and I had to intervene," he stuck out his flipper thing, "or you can go over to that seapony," he said, pointing to a Sequestrian collecting sand dollars for charity, "and donate ten sand dollars. Now, please and thank you."

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The seapony backed off, and threw his hooffins up again. "Whoa, whoa! Come on, I'm tryin' ta help you here. Oh you don't believe me, huh? Well okay." The seapony pulled out a shell that was rainbow colored, and had the luster similar to a diamond. "My daughter picked this out and gave it to me today. There are about five hundred more just like it. You know what, I don't even care, you don't need to pay me, I was just wondering if I could make some profit off of the stuff I need to get rid of anyway. Apparently seagriffons are just as wisecracking as they are greedy. My property is right by the sunken log underneath the broken archway down-current from here. You'll see a stash inside the log, but you can find more underneath it."

 

The seapony was a little irritated at Gallus for assuming his deal was a con. But in a way he could understand the mix-up. But what made him chuckle a little was the clawed fish's threat from a seapony of royalty, as if he didn't know who she was. Of course he knew Silverstream. Everypony knows who Silverstream is. In fact, this is Seaquestria. Everypony knows everypony. "Hey, next time someone tries to do something nice for ya, be a little careful before you just assume they're out to get ya."

 

The blue seapony started swimming away, but ran into Silverstream who was swimming towards Gallus with a present. "Oh, hiya Silverstream. Welcome home!"

 

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Silverstream having bumped into the seapony responded with immediate kindness. "Oh hi, Briny Depths! Thanks!" She approached Gallus and then immediately shied down. "I made this necklace for you." Silverstream held up the necklace she made for Gallus. It was made with all different sizes of shells alternating blue and yellow colors. Most of the shells had a glisten to them that could probably be seen from afar under the right light. "I hope you like it." Silverstream spoke very calmly, which was uncharacteristic of her, almost as if the shell-stringing mode brought her tempo down to that of one that was more reflective and thoughtful. She still made the necklace fast though, this was her 9th straight year of doing it, after all.

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Gallus really, really wished this character had been a huckster. Every word in response seemed to be a little dagger to him, even the comment about seagriffons, considering he was the first of his kind. Did he misread the situation? No. No, he didn't. Everything that guy was doing was shady as sin. He was pretty sure that if there were ten signs of being a hustler he had at least eight of them and you normally only needed like four of them to be off the charts as a hustler. But it looked like he was just being a jerk. And it further confirmed the fact that it felt like no matter where he went and what was happening that ponies (terrestrial, airborne, magical, or seaborne) were so naturally goodhearted and kind that it took an exceptional circumstance to prove to the world that there were indeed some awfully terrible examples out there. And this fella wasn't one of them.
Gallus thought about apologizing until the seapony made a comment about trusting others when they wanted to help him...which was so true that it felt like a lesson one of his teachers would teach him. He came here for a vacation, not to learn. No, no learning!

 

So he sat there, blushing out of embarrassment as every attempt of his to muster words failed him until the one with clear morality superiority departed. Yeah. Well, Mr. Briny Depths, you might have won this one...but Gallus knew the better part of valor and therefore was unlikely to push the issue again. He allowed himself to focus on something much more appealing, which was whatever it was that Slverstream gave to him. It was, indeed, a necklace. Made of shells. Some of the shells looked pretty, kinda good color combination. It was cool, kinda. Gallus wasn't an arts and crafts sort of griffon which you could tell by the mostly everything about him. It was the effort and how...different she seemed that attracted him to it the most.

This meant a lot to her so it didn't take him a lot of effort to have it matter to him too. He put it on with a smile, gently connecting it. "This is great, Silverstream. You did a really good job. And fast, too. I..." he said with a blush. What was said next was true, but the fact was he just to ensure he didn't have another 'Gallus alone embarrassing himself' incident. "I...don't really know how to do this. I've never actually made a necklace from scratch before. Think you could give me a few pointers from a necklace expert? Once I know some basics I'll handle it alone, so you don't get to see," He asked with a sheepish blush. It was true. She would also be able to hook him up with some nice shells, probably.

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Silverstream's saucer eyes sparkled as Gallus put on the necklace and verbally appreciated it. She was so happy to see him accept it, and without the signature sarcasm he was well known for. "You like it!?" Silverstream interrupted him. "Oh good, because I wasn't sure if the colors would go well with your underside color by your..." She rambled while Gallus felt humbled by his inability to make one from scratch himself, admitting he had no affinity for this kind of craft. "Oh! Well it's easy." She hooked his claw and swam him over to one of the collections of shells, this one being a large treasure chest full of rejected scallop shells, some of them pretty, but many of them bland and white. "You take a shell you like, and then take some string, and you can either use holes in the shell itself to string it through, or you can make a hole yourself using the crab over there." Next to the chest sitting on the ocean floor was a snow crab with an indifferent disposition, his entire occupation seemingly being to punch holes in shells for shell-stringing. The crab acknowledged to the two with a wave as Silverstream pointed towards it. "And then you're done!" When Silverstream's example necklace was back in focus, it was already completed with about fourteen shells, all of which had pale colors. "Now you try."

 

Silverstream turned around to not see what Gallus was doing. Being as hyperactive as she can be and this being the first day of the Three Days of Freedom Celebration, she took notice of all the other festivities going on throughout the trench. The dance floor next to the sound stage was beginning to fill up with several seaponies moving to the beats and melodies that the water vibrated with. Some seaponies were swimming their moves near the sandy floor, while others found it easier to express themselves by swimming up above the sound stage to dance with six ranges of movement. All ages of seaponies were dancing, from the elderly seaponies who lived most of their live as hippogriffs, to young seasquirts who don't even know how good salmon juice tastes yet. It was all inspirational, seeing the majority of Seaquestria celebrate to music and dancing, and quite frankly it was making Silverstream a little anxious. She wanted to turn around to see if Gallus was done yet, but she didn't want to impose on him. "How's the necklace looking? Are you having any trouble?" She was put into a difficult position. She didn't want to squash Gallus' effort at trying to make a necklace, but she also didn't want him to spend so much time making it that they lost time to do other things.

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The plan worked well enough, and for that at least Gallus was pleased. He was even going to leave the underside comment to rest because he wasn't sure he wanted the answer. Or he did want a very specific answer, and just thinking about either possibility made him feel a bit strange. Her enthusiasm to help show him how to string shells was super relieving. Yeah, he wanted to learn but he was sure it was easy. Most importantly, he was able to see the shells. Not a great selection but he'd make do. It was more about the effort and the time they spent than what he did. Right? That sounded right. Something that a pony would say and he was constantly reminded that they were right and griffons were always terrible wrong. 

 

Uggh, that seapony had really got to him, hadn't he? He watched her go about it, getting caught up in the crab briefly. And then she was done. he had to run it back in his head once or twice to really understand just what she did. Her claws were fast! Flippers. Flippers were fast! She knew what she was doing with them. Gallus was pretty excited to give it a try. Not because he cared about the activity, the activity was whatever, the activity was merely a way to hang out with Silverstream and hopefully make her happy. He never wanted to make a friend disappointed. After analyzing it all for a second he swam up to the shells and nodded. "Okay. I think I got this. And if I don't, well, I'll do it anyway. I'll be fine," he said with a reassuring smile. When she was away, he looked back at it.

 

Okay, how to do this...
He was big and kind of intimidating, at least compared to others, and they certainly gave him a little space to work with likewise. While he didn't play it up he wasn't about to misuse his biggest and only advantage as he slid around to get some of the better-looking shells. Then it was stringing time. She made it look a lot easier and he was still absolutely unable to fully control the process. Why couldn't he just have his claws? He was praying just to survive the day underwater so he could feel normal again above the waves. He continued the effort. One by one they went in and his slightly frustrated groaning subsided as he really put the effort in. And that was it was all about, right? Whatever the end product was, friends cared about the effort. Right? Right. But he was going to try really, really, really freaking hard to make this work.

 

He'd make sure it was worth that much, if nothing else giving her something nice to wear. Where were you when Gallus the Great gave Silverstream the Se- Special something that he hoped she really liked, which was this half-necklace and half INDESCRIBABLE PIECE OF FRUSTRATION WHY WASN'T IT WORKING- ahh, there it went. Satisfied, he took a look at it. The nicely colored ones, of which he had a few, were strung out evenly in a pattern that ended with pink and aqua hues dancing together in harmony. It looked really nice if Gallus said so himself. "I think this looks really nice!" He said so himself with a smile, offering it with his left flipper.

 

Then his face grew a little more panicked. 
"Now how do I get him off?" He asked, a little pain entering his calm attitude as he raised his right flipper. On it was a snow crab, a mixed look of impish glee and boredom evident as it clamped tightly onto Gallus' bruised flipper.

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Just before Silverstream lost the composure to keep from turning around and spying on Gallus' shelling status, he announced his completion of the necklace he was making. Immediately, Silverstream swam a loop to turn around and zoomed in on his product. It was pretty. He did a good job picking out shells whose colors clash well together, and it seemed as though he went with the same convention of finding colors that matched her complexion and accents, much like what she did for his. The quality of his claw-made jewelry was lacking though, but what could be expected from the first ever shell necklace a creature ever attempted to make. Still though, there was something about the way he presented it, the charm of Gallus' imperfection and his willingness to be imperfect that made it strangely amusing. The necklace had a je ne sais quoi that felt blameless and unforced. Silverstream smiled. And then she dropped her smile to astonishment. Perhaps his humility was more about being pinched uncomfortably by the crab and less about having to make a reciprocating necklace in an environment he is unfamiliar with, with tools he's never used, with materials he never thought existed in such quantities. But the je ne sais quoi was still there.

 

"Oh, the necklace looks great, Gallus. Um, let me help you with that." Silverstream used her hoofins to apply pressure to the neck of the crab's claw and the claw was released immediately. Seaponies who knew they fauna of the sea had an understanding of how to tame the animals that were demosticated after the hippogriffs claimed Seaquestria as a home. The indifference of the crab never left, but it did look at Gallus funny, possibly in an intimidating or mocking way. With the way crab eyes are isolated from their body and without emotion, it was kind of hard to tell.

 

Silverstream snatched the necklace from Gallus and put it on herself. She smiled again and swam in a circle to show it off, how the sun rays that sank to these depths glistened off the shining shells, and how the necklace matched her skin. "Good job, Gallus. It's perfect. Uh, are you going to be alright? Do we need to go to the doctor to get your claw looked at?" Silverstream wasn't even sure if a seapony doctor would even have the charts for someone like Gallus, although they would probably just insist on treating his claw as if it were a hippogriff's claw. Griffon talons were bigger and stronger, though. Silverstream was hoping Gallus would just shrug it off. The dance seafloor was still calling her name and she was starting to get desperate to boogie. The music in the background started to get louder as the dancing festivities started to take the main focus of everything going on around them. She looked at the sound stage and back to Gallus. "If you're good to go, we should join the sea dancing!"

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He kinda liked her being concerned about him. Being the center of attention wasn't normally his bag but it helped get over his little tiff with that seapony by having the attention of a friend. It also hurt a lot. That crab was pretty awesomely powerful and he was certain that it never skipped whatever passed for a workout for undersea crabs. More importantly, she liked the necklace. He was still getting used to how everything felt down here so was pleasantly excited to see that his necklace didn't collapse under the weight of expectations. It felt good to have something you made get somecreature you cared about- as a FRIEND- happy. He could do ith that feeling again. "Oh, I'm sure it'll be fine. Griffon claws are strong," he said, though he did start rubbing it. "I'll be okay." 
He was a very tough bird, but...
 
Gallus wasn't a great dancer. There wasn't a lot of dancing going on in Griffonstone and he wasn't entirely sure that they'd care to start anytime soon, even with griffons becoming a little friendlier. Indeed, he was happy to report that he had gone most of his life without having to flap around like a loser and had continued this winning streak into the school. Nocreature had tried to force him to dance. He had the excuse of being too cool for it during the Fetloch whatever it was and his desire to never dance with Smolder or see that dragon do her interpretation of dance. And then with everything that happened that night he was able to showcase exactly none of his non-existent talent- the same as everycreature else. It was awesome and something he hoped to repeat exactly zero more times. He wasn't a fan of not being good at something. He was also terrible at admitting he was not good at things. These two things existed in a constant state of conflict. Most of the time, pride won.

 

Like now. He wasn't going to tell Silverstream of all creatures that he sucked at dancing. Besides, he had a great excuse for his failings, and a great excuse always trumped history- especially if that history was hidden.
"Yeah, I'm good to go. Cutting a rug or whatever that phrase is, I'm your seagriffon," he said confidently, trailing behind Silverstream towards the electronically impossible soundstage and dance area.

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Spoiler

 

 

 

Gallus' claw didn't look that bad, he approved of hitting the dance floor, and Silverstream started to bubble her excitement. Swimming always did a good job of burning several calories but nothing was more energetic than seadancing, especially when the entire city was participating in attendance. The music had filled the trench with waves of all different kinds of sounds. Artificial and natural lighting sparkled a spectrum of colors across the crowds of seaponies. Silverstream swam a hyperactive zigzag towards the center of the dancing area and turned around to see Gallus follow.  Immediately, she start moving her fins and her body in flowing motions not clearly tied to the rhythm of the music, which for the time being was very methodical and electronic. It seemed that magic was involved in the process of playing the music, but it wasn't obvious as to how. Silverstream made aware of Gallus' proximity and started her movements closer to him. She didn't really care about his style or quality of dancing, she just wanted to see what kind of energy he was able to display. Seapony's generally didn't have many insecurities and so, besides a few elderly seaponies, everyfin was squirming to the music. Some of them were talented, most of them were not.

 

*record skip*

 

And then suddenly the music changed. "Alright, this one is for all you lovers out there." The song that started playing was a slow dance song.

 

Spoiler

 

 

Seaponies everywhere started coupling together, their fins locked to each other's as the song started its swaying encourages. Silverstream hesitated. She knew Gallus was far out of his element, and she wasn't sure how natural he would approach this situation. In fact, if she would take Professor Applejack's lessons to heart, she was also feeling a little challenged by the action, so much so that she blushed slightly. "Oh. Um." Silverstream didn't know how to respond or provoke a response from Gallus so she just offered her hoofins up. As the song continued, the lights fell more moody, with only dark blue and purple hues covering the floor.

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Gallus was half dragged and half followed Silverstream to the center of the dancing stage. Truth be told he was just happy that many seaponies were around them. His dancing wouldn't look so awful when he was pressed against so many others. Of course, it was hard to hide when you looked like this. Even harder to hide when you needed to give Silverstream the sort of space she needed when she started dancing the way she danced, the sort of space she evidently thought was optional based on how close she was dancing next to him. Totally uncool, yeah, totally. Not right. He'd say something but he didn't want to ruin hr groove. Yeah, that was it. He was a true gentlegriff. He would let her dance close to him and not make a stink about it. He tried to dance, mimic her movements at least, but it was no use. He was no good at dancing even as a griffon. Now he looked and felt like a blob being crushed by water pressure- well, that was the image his mind completed. He did so with as much energy as he could muster in his embarassment, a growing amount freed of any precondition.

 

Then the record skipped and the slow music began. One for the lovers. He gave a quick, disbelieving laugh as he looked around. What was this, some trashy romance novel? It wasn't like he leafed through one or two that Professor Rarity had left out or anything, but even he could tell that this was a bit much. Especially with how shy Silverstream got, her confidence shattered and momentarily tossed aside in these brilliant waves. He didn't feel entirely confident himself but when did that ever stop him? After a moment of hesitation, of seeing her blush and her eyes lose their sharpness only to be replaced by a faint glimmer of something more, he acted on his instinct. He grasped her hoofins in his and assumed the position he saw others take, a seagriffon lost but not abandoned, acting desperately to forestall the collapse of whatever barrier existed to keep him in control of himself and his own burgeoning feelings. The feelings that grew in looks and in silence, in moments stolen yet never kept, those that were strangely weakened when he could control the motion of the ocean between them.
 

Yeah, he needed to control himself because if he didn't he could make a fool of himself with how close and eager she was, and how he was starting to believe that something was happ- no, no. Can't be. Keep it down, Gallus. You're here with a friend. A friend. Don't be weird.
Gallus scoffed at the music.
"Pssh. This song is so slow. How do seaponies even dance to this? And with so many around? It's really embarrassing," he said with faux sincerity. He looked at her and smiled and winked. "I'm really embarrassed."

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The dance arena was filled with seaponies dancing like zombies. Whatever music played, they matched the mood without hesitation. If the DJ flipped on a record that gave audible instructions on how to make a kelp omelette, everyfin would pull out a frying pan and start cracking. Silverstream was not foreign to that kind of environment, but being with Gallus made the moment peculiar as she could sense his bewilderment of the Seaquestria way of life. When the music changed, Silverstream had no expectations as to what Gallus would do. Sure, the seaponies around them fenced them in as they started slow-dancing so there wasn't much of an escape route, but if Gallus had chosen to sit this song out, she would not have faulted him for it.

 

Instead, Gallus surprised her by embracing the intimacy despite his claustrophobic tendencies. He grabbed her and floated her close as the swaying became more and more routine. Shocked by his forwardness Silverstream just blushed more, bouncing her eyes from the awkwardness that continued. She wanted to say something Silverstream-ish but she wasn't herself at this moment. It wasn't very often she held herself back from displaying an outward reaction of interest, but for some reason it was heavier than she had anticipated and she couldn't find the words. She could only look around at the other seaponies who were enjoying their own intimate moments and wondering if anyfin was focusing on her and the seagriffon she was with. But before she could see her own reflection in someone else's eyes, her dancing partner attempted to shrug off the heat by commenting on how embarrassing the song and dance was, what most griffons would probably say at a moment like this.

 

She finally looked up at him, her smile returning to normalcy and blush fading, and responded with her typical exclamations. "I know, right!? But you're actually really good at this. Have you been practicing?" She started swaying more to the music as if inviting more of those emotions that could only be conquered if expressed as feckless. Her hoofins repositioned so that she had as much of a hold of his claws as he had on her fins, and she was no longer concerned with who was watching.

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Him? 
Practice? 
He made a pointed effort of ensuring that the entire world was certain of his lack of enthusiasm in all facets of life, from study to dance to the studying of dance. Why would he want anypony to know that he sometimes went to the library alone to study in private? Or that he once rewrote an entire essay three times because it didn't sound right? That he paid attention the most when he feigned interest the least- or that he used Yona's preparation for Sandbar as cover for him learning some new tricks? Nah, better they don't. He wouldn't want other creatures to think he was having to work at being as cool and collected as he was, though if he was  being honest with himself he was always on the verge of losing it when around Silverstream. A thin veneer of Griffonian confidence was all that separated a lion from a cub, with a briskly beating heart betraying with its warmth- warmth settled in with uneasy jolts of energy across his body and with growing intensity as she held his fins- the detached coldness of his chosen facade. He'd do what was necessary to protect that frail image of strength until, in time, he could no longer deny the churning emotions that sought to unseat it. 
 

"Nah. Griffons aren't about dancing. I think I've seen some ponies dance, just picked it up from them," Gallus spoke with a certain air of nonchalance, looking with a laugh. "Ha! It isn't very hard. Just gotta sway a little here and ther, ya know, with everycreature so close I figure its gotta be easy, right?" He said re-assuringly. He had seen her blush like mad and it was hard for him to let the pink on his cheeks die, seeing as it contrasted so readily with the blue. He could control his mind all he wanted but his body was a traitor to his admittedly deceitful cause. Who could blame him? Seapony or Hippogriff, a creature of water and air combined, she had an impact on him. Her presense was as overwhelming as the depths, pressing in on him like he was a pearl being shaped. She also could make him feel lighter than air, dopey and oxygen deprived. Flittering thoughts of happiness danced as readily with a deeply felt sense of pressure inside of him as he danced with her. It was an impossible feeling to fully describe, such were the limitations of his young mind.
 

His body felt differently and he found himself leaning in. He caught himself before his lips puckered pathetically or anything else too forward happened. He continued to lean in though, he had to play it off of course and whispered to her. "You're not bad yourself, you know. Who did you learn from?" He asked as his mind raced to fill in the blanks of what to say as he leaned in. He was still smooth. Smooth as a sly bandit, stealing moments that made him weak and steeling his resolve in equal measure.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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The water around Silverstream went from being an embarrassing warmth to a positive sign of social encouragement. The energy of the arena the two were dancing in was only hindered by themselves and how far they were willing to take it. And as the two young creatures shrugged off the nervousness by ignoring it, they both grew more and more comfortable of the situation, with each, and most importantly, with themselves. The pink seapony couldn't typically keep up with her own emotions, but if she could, she would need a filing cabinet to sort through the appendixes she was establishing with Gallus. She never realize how interesting he was at times. She always like his fake disposition because she could usually tell when he was being genuine, and it made his honest moments so much more satisfying, even when he would pretend it didn't occur seconds later. But this time, when Gallus told Silverstream he doesn't really do dancing, she could not question the integrity of his words because of a lack of faith in her own. "Oh, well, I was taught by my family, I guess. We have lots of dancing competitions in Seaquestria, so it's harder to grow up without some kind of familiarity." Silverstream pointed a short glance at the seaponies dancing around them, all of them dancing in unison as if they had rehearsed this specific waltz the night before.

 

At this point, Silver was well enveloped in Gallus' talons. She had taken to his style of swim dancing, regardless of how out of sync it was with every other fin in the trench. After she fell silent from the brief conversation for a few seconds, she softly lay her head on the base of Gallus' neck, sporting a small smile. She was content, and she felt very happy to be in the presence of a friend who may have been becoming more than just a friend. Instinctively, she felt the urge to mention it to him. And since, Silverstream was never known to hesitate to speak her mind, she tilted her head up at Gallus, continued to smile, and opened her mouth to speak to him sincerely. "Gallus, I-"

 

Spoiler

 

 

"Alright, now its time to get back to the grooves and the moves. Put your fins together for some straight up beats!"

 

The jockey changed songs and the mood had completely changed. Seaponies everywhere diced around to re-position for the next episode of the dancing for the night. Silverstream just floated with Gallus, talon and hoofins still locked and frozen. Silverstream giggled slightly, expressing her humor of what just happened, but was also only a little disappointed she wasn't able to finish her moment the way she had thought it would. But that was old news now, she guessed. "I have to go use the little girls room. I'll be right back." She swam out of Gallus' clutches and off to the side behind a nondescript rock.

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Gallus allowed himself to enjoy the dance as much as he could, fighting tumultuous emotions and treacherous thoughts as he was. It was nice. It was nice to spend time with Silverstream. It was, indeed, very nice. When he allowed himself to enjoy her presence it felt like he was allowing himself to feel a new type of joy that he had selfishly hid from himself, as if Gallus alone was good enough for Gallus. He was a fool about many things but especially that one, it didn't even make sense. There were times he didn't even like himself, let alone think he was really that good. And he was gonna try to pretend that when he was around Silverstream he didn't feel something new, something different? Liar. What a liar. And she was so honest and open. He wished he could be like that. Just honest, open, none of that faux sarcasm. It must feel great to be able to just say the words that knock around your head without feeling like they made you weak. Fool, it just made you the weak one. She was stronger. She opened her mouth and he feared it was to detail just how strong he was, and utter some words that he wasn't sure he was strong enough to answer.

 

Saved by the DJ. The mood indeed did change across the water. He felt an instant chill, though whether he was just imagining it or not was up for sincere debate. She giggled- yeah, it had changed. It has felt so...real, so immediate a moment ago. Now they were back to a friendly form of companionship, drifting in the waters two by two and two for two. He shook his head and gave a deep, resigned laugh as she mentioned she needed to use the bathroom. Did they even use bathrooms down here? How did plumbing work? She seemed fascinated by plumbing topside. Did they just do their business in the water? Was he swimming in Seaquestrian feces? Ewww. What a dirty thing to do. He most certainly could not ever fall in lo- like with a filly like that! "Yeah, bathroom. Good idea. I'll just be...by the punch," he said with an impish laugh as he drifted away to allow her to do her thing. 

 

Oddly enough it felt like the pressure in his chest only seemed to grow the further away they drifted, followed by a release- and his head felt light, his muscles letting go after being tensed up in hidden anxiousness. .
Sweet talons, he needed a drink. A stiff one, at that.

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Terramar had decided to jump back into the sea for a few days. He needed some time to think and to process and he found the currents of the seas helped with that tremendously. He'd pretty much settled on his next steps but he was never one to jump in too quickly. Sure, going to Twilight's Friendship School made sense. It would be fun, he'd learn a ton, he'd make new friends. However, he didn't want to tread on his sister's fins. The school was her thing and he didn't want to ruin that for her. 

 

He flitted through the city of Seaquestria, making his way to the trench. For some reason the music from the DJ's there seemed to calm him. You could always count on the other sea ponies going with whatever beats were cooked up. He liked to watch them sway in the same motions. It was somewhere mesmerizing and certainly relaxing. As he made his way around the corner he stopped and did a double take

 

"Silversteam?" He asked in surprised shock. "How great is this!" He swam up to his sister to give her a hug. "I didn't know you were down here! Shouldn't you be in school?"

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Silverstream came out from behind a rock softly dusting the sea floor, humming while doing so. She was in her own mind, very happy about how the day had gone so far, and it was nice to express to herself how she was really feeling without Gallus being next to her to contaminate her honesty. The truth was that she was having a criminal amount of fun, and she didn't want to stop, but she knew a short moment apart from Gallus would probably be best before continuing to party.

 

Suddenly, her brother swam over to talk to her. He was surprised and glad to see her. Silverstream traded the hug well, after all, she hadn't see him in a few months. "What do you mean? It's the holiday break, school wont be in session until after Hearth's Warming is over. So I'm here to participate in the Three Days of Freedom Celebration™. Isn't this party amazing, probably the best it's ever been! Oh! And Gallus is here, too. Since he didn't seem too jazzed about being away from his new friends for the holiday, I invited him to come here. Do you want to see him?" Without Terramar's expected response, Silverstream started leading the way back to the main dance area. She stopped and looked around for Gallus. It didn't take very long to spot him for apparent reasons. "Now, we weren't sure what he would look like when transformed with the shard, but he seems fine. His appearance is a bit shocking though, so just be careful." Silverstream lowered her voice to a whisper. "I think he might be self-conscious about it."

 

Silverstream waggled and flowed to the refreshments. Gallus was there trying to make sense of the hors d'oeuvres. "Gallus! Look, this is my baby brother, Terramar."

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Gallus was alone with himself a little longer than he thought he'd be which suited him just fine, if for no other reason than it finally allowed him to settle in his body without feeling the need to rush around everywhere. He swam around a little in place to get comfortable, took some deep breaths, and fought back the rising panic that clawed its way back in when he was alone. So maybe it didn't suit him just fine. Maybe he really wanted somecreature else to engage with him so the creeping hints of claustrophobia didn't cackle and cajole their way back into his brain deceptively. And as luck would have it is solitude would be shattered in short order by somecreature new. Well, kind of new.

 

It was Silverstream's brother, escorted by Silverstream herself. The one-two punch definitely provided some relief from the mounting concerns that harbored inside of him, even as he tried to stiffen a spine that couldn't stiffen to present a better image to Terramar. He didn't know why he did that, but he did. He didn't know Terramar all that well, just what Silverstream told him. He seemed like a cool enough sort and as long as he wasn't a jerk he was alright in Gallus' book. Which was good, because he had a wide definition of a jerk. "Hey there, Terramar. I'm Gallus. Griffon by day, sea-griffon monster thing by night. Wait, its still day, isn't it?" He pondered. "Yeah, scratch that. Ignore that last sentence. I'm Gallus, nice to meet you," he extended for a hoofin shake, deciding to put some strength into it. He still didn't know why.

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"Oh yeah!" Terramar chuckled as she reminded him that school was on break. He should have known that but it'd slipped his mind. Stuff seemed to do that as of late. He had a lot on his mind with oh you know... trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. No biggie though. He'd figure it out...eventually. "I totally forgot about your break! Sorry about that sis." He knew he sounded absentminded but hey, this was his sister, he could sound however around her and she'd be cool.

 

"Yeah! This is one rockin' party," He glanced at the group of dancers all moving to the same rhythm at the same time. That was how sea ponies like himself got down to the beat right? "I'm super glad you're home though Stream. There's some stuff I wanted to ask you about...when there's time."

 

He was happy he'd gotten the words in edge wise as his sister seemed more than excited (not that that was unusual for SS) to introduce him to her friend. He'd heard of Gallus before but on;y what he'd been told by Stream. Cool that he was down here though. He allowed himself to be tugged along towards the refreshment table. He spotted Gallus long before he was directly introduced to him.

 

He'd found himself wondering before what different creatures would look like if they were transformed and apparently he had his answer for griffons! At first the seagriff shocked him but he quickly got over that. By the time he was being introduced Terramar had decided that a transformed griffon actually looked pretty cool!

 

"Hey there Gallus!" He smiled and took the clawfin and the firm shake that came with it, making sure to return it with the fervor that it was offered with. "Yeah, still day...no telling what we'll be getting by night!" He chuckled a bit, hoping to make this a comfortable greeting and get to know you session. "So uh, what have you guys been up to?" He turned to include SS in the question. "And more importantly, where to next?"

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"Yeah yeah, later though, come meet Gallus." Silverstream acknowledged her brother's desire to speak with her on what seemed to be a private matter, which she would dwell on in the back of her mind for the time being. But she didn't want to delay including Gallus in on the conversation due to him being a complete stranger to all things Seaquestria.

Once Terramar had issued his official greeting of the fierce seagriffin, Silverstream took this time to grab a couple kelp chips. She would continue to put food in her mouth while her brother and Gallus conversed pleasantries until there was a moment where she felt she had to say something, which was likely only a few seconds at most.

 

"Wait. Is it day? I could have sworn the sun was setting when we arrived." Silverstream looked up at the distance airy surface to detect the amount of light coming in from above. From what she could tell, most of the lighting was coming from the aquatic luminescence of Seaquestria, and from the underwater disco party that was happening right in front of them. "Terr, you must have been partying so long, you lost track of time," she snickered as she jabbed her brother lovingly in the fin.

 

Silverstream had to rearrange herself mentally to remember all the things she wanted to show Gallus while he was down here. "It feels like we just got here, but we did the transformation, that was fun. We talked to mom who was at home at the time. And then we saw the whales, and we did some shell-stringing, and then we d-danced, heh." Silverstream got momentarily nervous when she uttered her last word, but then interrupted her own hesitation to divulge on the feelings with more ideas. "Oh! We should take the flow! I hear they redirected it this year so that it goes faster for seaponies to ride!"

 

The flow she was referring to was an underwater current strong enough to send a swimming creature more than twice as fast as their swim speed and serves as an underwater theme park ride during events like these. When the party is not in session, it's used to get other places near Seaquestria proper in a short time.

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Terramar seemed like a good guy. Well, Gallus wasn't a good judge of what was good and what was bad in all honesty. He once thought that older kitten with the eye-patch was a good sort and found himself nearly sold to the Razorclaws so maybe his opinion counted for little. But he did know Silverstream and he didn't think any fish-bird that shared a bone with her could be all that bad. He did seem a bit goofy. Or nervous. Or was that Gallus? It was probably Gallus. Something about being underwater...yeah that was it. That was definitely it. He asked Gallus what they had done and the Seagriffon was about to respond in his best downplaying method when somecreature with more energy than a split atom zipped on back into his line of sight and shut him up in more ways than one.

 

When it was listed all together like that he had to admit it sounded like a lot fir a single day but it was all true. Even with the change in species you couldn't keep an energetic seapony or her more sardonic seagriffon friend down for long. All he could really add though were qualifiers. "Not sure I'd say the transformation was fun, but...once I got used to it-" which implied he had but no reason to bring the mood down, "-it turned out to not be so bad. The tail's kind of cool, I guess. Shell stringing was harder than I'd like to admit but it was totally worth it. And then-" she stuttered and that threw him. "Dancing, we did some...we danced a little. And now we're here. Very exciting stuff," he ended sarcastically, though it was more surface level than anything. Something made it a little too hard to be too sarcastic about it and not even Gallus had the energy to win every battle he fought with himself.

 

Silverstream said something about the flow. What was the flow, and why was he being asked to go along with it? "What's the flow? Wait! Let me guess. Its...an ocean current that makes you go fast? Did I get it?" Gallus asked, halfway confident in his answer. It'd make sense after all considering that it would be hard to just swim everywhere. Griffons, Pegasi, and Hippogriffs flew using air currents a lot of the time so why wouldn't the flippers under the waves act like the flappers above?

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TMar took the playful jab from his sister with a light chuckle. He felt totally turned around meeting Gallus some of his wits must have deserted him. It was ok though. He'd get it together! This would all turn out fine. He still felt a little awkward meeting Gallus, like he could feel something different abut this guy. It was probably just nerves or something. Yeah! That had to be it! He needed to try to relax. 

 

It was about this point in his mental wanderings when Silver mentioned going to the Flow. He blanched for a moment but only because he realized he hadn't really heard what Gallus had been saying. Something about shells, and tails, and dancing. There was something odd in the way they had both mentioned that particular part of the day. He'd picked up on it, but it was gone before anything further was mentioned. Something was ummmm, fishy about this guy. He was going to find out what it was!

 

"That's actually totally what it is Gallus!" He would play nice until he figured out what the griffon wanted from his sister. "That and more! It's a super fun place!"

 

He smiled to Silver. She didn't need to know he wasn't so sure about Gallus. He was going to stick around the both of them until this was figured out though. That was for sure! "Great idea sis!"

 

As they swam he tried to piece together what was going on. He had some inklings but best to see what played out before addressing it.

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Silver finished her plate of food by suspending the food in the water and swimming into the snacks, mouth first. She chewed fast and swallowed. "It's this way, let's go!" Silverstream as glad that her brother meeting Gallus seemed to go off without a hitch, even though Gallus was acting super strange. But Gallus' strangeness was always a feature he carried with him from time to time, and she never considered it a flaw she had to take notice of during social functions. If anything, the awkwardness would only add to Silverstream's amusement which was typically coupled with her inability to keep to herself saying how someone was acting strange. Silverstream wasn't the most observant little fin, but whatever she did see she was sure to tell you.

 

Silverstream led the other two in an updraft above the trench's entertainment towards a crowd of seaponies who seemed to be in some sort of queue. In front of the line was a seapony with a security cap on. He held his fins up to stop anyone from entering the accessible lane into the current. It wasn't immediately obvious why it was being held up, but after a few moments, a giant whale different from the one that was seen earlier by the music stage, swam through the current which broke it momentarily before the current increased in speed again to its normal accelerated state. As the whale swam away, it sang a loud underwater tone. Everyfin within a short distance responded in kind to the giant friend, as did Silverstream. "Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaa." She sang before a short chuckle.

 

Once the whale passed, the seapony who seemed in charge of entry to the flow started letting seaponies continue through it, and one by one, seaponies were taken by the flow at incredible speed. Silverstream was in front of Gallus and Terramar, and when she got to the front, she swam towards the flow looking back at Gallus. "It's easy, Gallus, just slowly swim forward and let the flow take...    youuuuuu!" As Silverstream drifted backwards into the flow, it started to grab her tail fin and began pulling her away from the others. As she accelerated through the current, she laughed infectiously.

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