I do not own My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Hasbro does.

I do not own Doctor Who or Torchwood. BBC does.

I do not own this character's background. The Idealist 11.7 does. I just borrow from him, with permission.


Tiger's Nest

Underground

Few minutes later

The griffon felt both scared and at home.

Gilda was now wearing a multi-colored scarf and a floppy brown hat, courtesy of quick thinking, unsuspecting people and light claws. She wrapped the scarf around her head, put the large hat on top, slightly hiding her face, and, as Trixie putted it, started 'mingling with the scum'.

And what a scum this was.

The cave system, a group of joined caves with absurdly high ceilings was filled with smugglers, slavers, bandits of all sorts, including the worst.

There were dozen faces she could recognize in the public, people who were far more dangerous than her, wanted throughout Equestria.

Ripped Jaw, the griffon with his broken beak, was buying weapons from some guy who Gilda could swear was Ridgeback, but that couldn't be, the warthog was currently arrested in an Istanbull Prison. 'Or is he?', she wondered, seeing other infamous faces, like Abin-Farid, quietly smoking from a hookah, the also supposedly arrested smuggler camel from Marerocco.

All of them were dangerous people, the kind of folks not even Trixie or herself would normally associate with.

And that made Gilda twitch with both fear and excitement.


Much above her, three silent figures trotted around the temple as night fell.

Trixie, the smallest, was on front, checking to see if the way was clear. Not surprisingly, the temple was quiet and peaceful.

"It's so… weird", Cadance whispered to her husband, who was following from behind. "I have the strangest feeling of…"

"Being watched", Shining Armor concluded, also in a low tone. "Yes, I noticed that as well. It's like we are no long safe in Tiger's Nest."

Trixie rose a hoof. The other ponies stood still.

A monk was walking in their direction, carrying a lamp, his pace calm and relaxed. He passed the corridor where they were, which was adorned with some old statues of yaks in meditative poses, then left, without being aware of the ponies who were hiding at the corner.

And even if he did notice, he would only find a trio of statues standing still.

Some seconds after the monk had left, Trixie started moving, her skin still at the color of the rock she was leaning back.

"That was definitely not a Camouflage Spell", she told the unicorn guard, who nodded. "That's a more advanced magic. I could feel myself become a statue, so weird!"

"I've been practicing ever since Princess Luna came to me with the Torch Wood project", Shining shook his mane, his white coat returning to normal. Princess Cadance was focusing her horn at left and right, trying to get a signal from the magical tracker she had put on Gilda. "It's an Altered Perception Spell, I can teach you later", he added.

Trixie thanked him, keeping her ears up to any other incoming monk.

"Something is wrong", Cadance warned them. "The signal is leading here, but there's too much interference. Something, or somepony, is getting in the way of the signal."

"Can you do something about it?", her husband asked.

Cadance nodded. "With you, my love, we can", she said, touching her horn against his, feeling her magic rise exponentially. "If there is something certain in this world, it's that Love can overcome anything."

Trixie felt her fur going static. A few small pebbles on the floor started to float, merely a fraction of an inch. The paintings on the walls seemed to naturally revert to their former state. A crack in a statue close in a second, the rock looking polished as new.

It was always so impressive how powerful the Royal Couple could be, when they combined their magic.

"Let Love break through the obstacles", Shining Armor murmured, followed by his wife: "Let Loverepair the connection…"

Princess Cadance could feel so much more now, with her husband by her side. She could sense Gilda's Heart now, still filled with darkness and regret, in the middle of many other people, hearts much darker than her friend's.

She could also sense lots of fear, the griffon. Young hearts, so scared. Hearts of...

"Oh, Celestia", she whispered, tears on her eyes, their contact still intact. "What is going on under this temple?!"


"The best fillies and foals you'll ever see!"

The unicorn announcing the sale was old and menacing, his body full of deep marks for his previous crimes.

Inside the cart he was pushing, a group of young ponies were trembling. Barely of school age, they were chained together, most crying silently, afraid of being punished yet again.

"How about it, lady?", he asked the young griffon whose face was covered by a colorful scarf. He rose a small winged pony, a pink filly, who shook in fear. "You'll never taste meat as tender as pegasus, and the younger the better."

The griffon stood straight, her claw rubbing the filly's chin. "How much?"

"Hundred bits, each", the old unicorn replied, with a grin. Selling stolen orphans had always been a risky, yet highly profitable business.

The griffon turned the scared pony around, as if to check the goods. "It's a bit bruised", she complained.

"Already tenderized for the customer", he corrected her.

She rose the filly to eye level, and the poor creature looked straight into her eyes. The pegasus could see something, hidden beneath the cold eyes.

Sadness.

"Tell you what", she said, putting back the pony. "Keep the whole batch, for now, I'll make contact in a couple of hours. You make a discount for the group", she said, pointing the whole cart, "I'll introduce you to my employers."

The unicorn looked at the griffon, then back at the group of foals and fillies. He was not really expecting much business lately, only the wildest griffons had a taste for pony meat these days, and they paid better than the slaver warthogs.

"Ok", he agreed, the prospect of selling a dozen ponies at once rather tempting. "You have one hour, then, straight to Swineziland, get it?"

"Don't worry, we'll make you an offer you would not dare to refuse", she smiled back, promising herself to be the first in line when it came to his punishment.


"Let me go!", Cadance protested, being hold against the wall by her husband.

"No!", Shining Armor objected, trying not to hurt his wife, who suddenly wanted to wreak chaos through the Temple after sensing so much evil on the lower levels.

"The fillies and foals! You sensed their pain, we have GOT to do something!", she said, her voice getting dangerously higher.

"We can't!", he cut her out, trying to control both her and himself. "Listen to- LISTEN TO ME!"

The unicorn's words were grave, scaring even. Trixie took a step back, Cadance just went quiet, shocked.

"Cadance, dear…", her husband voice grew softly. "You know what's at stake here, Cadance. We cannot get involved. Not yet. Not until Gilda makes the call. We move before that, before we get proof of certainty… look, this whole thing could end badly if an allicorn just suddenly started wrecking havoc in the most sacred temple of Neighpal. Hooves and claws will be pointing everywhere, other countries would demand explanation, Equestrian Government suddenly attacking other nations?", he said, his eyes terrified. "They could even demand you… to be banished!"

Cadance's head went down, resting her face sideways next to Shining Armor's neck. They hugged, absorbed in their own feelings.

"I'm sorry, my love. I… I admit I was acting foalish. Forgive me."

"There's nothing to forgive, Cadance. You did nothing wrong, you hear me?", he assured her, brushing her mane.

"Thank you, my love… wait, where's Trixie?"

The unicorn captain quickly remembered their companion and looked around them.

Trixie was gone.