So, the kids are leading Magistre and Gron to where they got out of the town, Krystal is headed to surgery for potential amputationstitches, Julia and company are headed through the forest with their new companion, and fuck if I can remember what the rest of you faggots were up to.
>>594299 Approach Lavender and look at her. You really do know the local wildlife here Lavender, I didnt know how dangerous some of the creatures here Follow her as I keep watch of the surrounding jungle.
>>594306 They lead you into a very small, cramped space between one of the buildings burned in the raid and the town walls. They point to a small gap in the wall where the heat caused the wood to warp. "See? It's a secret door. Well, it was a secret…" >>594310 >>594311 Not jungle so much anymore, though the tree canopies are getting thicker, the air growing muggy and heavy with the stench of rot as the soggy ground begins to give beneath you with every step. We're getting close to the swamp, Lavender says, her tone very serious for once. Do excactly as I say, when I say, if you want to live. And if I say run… don't look back. Just run as fast as you can, and pray to the gods for mercy.
>>594327 "…Just a few…" "We just wanted to go exploring, honest!" "Like the big ponies!" >>594321 He grins back, wrinkling his nose a bit at the smell. "Yer lucky. That there beak means ye ain't getting the full effect of that smell. s'why I always hate working in swamps." >>594324 The rustling of bushes is your only warning as Greenbite exits the brush right next to you, his massive form sliding over to Lavender as he exchanges hisses and clicks with her. You sense Lavender getting annoyed, swatting him on the shoulder as she flips her hair.
>>594329 "Good, a good sense of adventure and courage is important." Look them over. "But there's a time and a place for that, all of you scared your parents to death. Now you should tell us where those holes in our walls are, not because we want to ruin your fun, but because if you can get out, other things can come in. Large animals, monsters, you don't want that, do you?"
>>594331 He chuckles and gives a telekinetic tweak to the base of your tail, then returns to the important task of watching his step, jumping a little as Greenbite shows up. "Sweet baby rays, where'd he come from?" >>594332 "Awww…" Clearly, dissappointed, they still show you where all the holes they know of are. "Now how are we supposed to explore?" "Yeah, there's nothing interesting in here!" "Why we gotta stay inside these walls all the time?"
INTERLUDE Sometime after returning from meeting the native tribe
Amon's shack is a modest little building, more cramped than even the other small constructions surrounding it. Tucked away in one of the isolated corners of Horton, the wall stands just a short distance away from his abode. A small sign hangs on the rickety door: Amon's Counseling/Private Affairs Consultant Services. The path to his door seems decently well-used; you even saw a young couple leave with their heads on each other's shoulders, looking a bit nervous but still at ease.
Boon is standing next to you, casting an uneasy glance between you and the door. "So… how we gonna do this?"
>>597701 He looks at you a moment, then pulls you into a firm hug. "Yes, Ah do gotta go with ye," he sighs, stroking the back of your neck reassuringly. "I was there with ye… I want to be there for ye when ye need me."
>>597703 Close my eyes and smile, rubbing his back with a wing as my tail coils around itself almost instinctively. "It's not gonna be pretty…" Whisper softly, almost begging him to rethink about this.
>>597707 "Ah know," he whispers back, resting his chin on top of your head. "But we're partners, through thick 'r thin. Even if we weren't, I'd do it." Lifting your beak as he loosens the hug, he smiles tenderly into your eyes. "Yer hurtin, Sweetheart. I hate seeing ye hurt, knowing I can't make it better. So please… let me help make it better."
>>597716 His office is simple, a comfortable couch in one corner and several chairs in another, with a single cushioned chair facing them next to a desk bearing neatly-stacked papers. From this chair, Amor regards you and Boon with interest as you enter. "Ah, Julia and Boon. I am glad to see you both. As for your question, yes, I work alone. Nopony else in the colony is versed in the matters of the mind aside from M-mister Celery Stalk… who is decidedly uninterested in "wasting his time" supporting me."
>>597720 "I certainly hope not, considering I need it for my job." As Boon sits down next to you, Amor shifts forward attentively. "So, may I ask what brings you here today? Do you wish to use my services, or is it something else you wish to speak to me about?"
>>597728 "We all need help, from time to time. We just never seem to want to ask for it. Please, make yourself comfortable." He gives you an evaluating look. "You understand that this may lead into sensitive topics, correct? If a subject makes you uncomfortable, just say so, and we can move on to something else."
>>597735 "Of course. Then you know that I'm telling you all of this because I'm required to." He glances between the two of you. "When last we met, you seemed very opposed to the idea of coming to see me. May I ask what changed your mind? You don't have to answer, but I am curious."
>>597740 "I admit, I expected as much." He sighs and casually crosses his front hooves, steadily returning your gaze. "Experiences like that are often traumatic, and the injuries they cause are unlikely to heal properly if left on their own. We don't have to discuss it right now, but I would like to start by discussing this incident you had. Can you tell me the events leading up to it?"
>>597747 "I understand your reluctance, but in order to help you, I need you to be willing to discuss it with me. I don't know how to help you if you won't allow me to know what's wrong. I am sworn by oath to confidentiality; nothing you say will ever leave this room."
>>597755 "…Alright. I'll be right outside if ye need me." Giving you a quick kiss on the forehead, he makes his way outside, the door shutting with a creak behind him. Amor watches this with interest. "He cares very deeply for you. You are a lucky female."
>>597758 "I apologize. I… must admit I am ignorant as to the correct term for a female Griffon." He glances away sheepishly and clears his throat. "Getting back on subject… I take it the incident involved him?"
>>597763 "I'm afraid not. Like I said, this is probably going to be painful for you to do. Let me say that talking about it will help you come to terms with the underlying issues. Let's start with the beginning. Where were you, and who was there?"
>>597786 "I am aware of that." He adjusts his seat, then settles in once more. "You seem rather reluctant to discuss the incident itself, so why don't we backtrack a little to the blow-up that brought you here. What exactly caused you to blow up?"
>>597793 "Of course I do. Now. I explained her why this area was dangerous, and she said there was just a stupid plant they used for fun and then when my face went pale she started laughing because I didn't know! Because I fell in it and didn't know better!" Raise my voice even higher, anger swelling in my throat.
>>597813 "That's a perfectly understandable reaction; when someone is hurting us, we want them to stop. Often the first way of doing that is by letting them know they're hurting us in the first place. So, you had her on the ground, with your gun pointed at her head. What happened next?"
>>597825 "Wounds often grow numb over time, yet pressing on them still brings back that sting. Still, we have made some good progress today, I think. It was very brave of you to talk about these things with me."
>>597827 "These things take time. I won't lie to you, it's probably going to take months of sessions like these before we can start helping you come to terms with this. Still, this was a good first step." He gets up and offers you his hoof. "Would you mind sending Boon in on your way out?"
SO Its bben way too fucking long. Let's see what we can do. Gron and Magistre, babysitting duty. Krystal? Your leg is fucked up. Blue Skies? Wake up snuggled with your sister, who you fucked last night. Anyone else need a summary?
>>602149 Gron just founded whats probly going to be a scout club…. Thing We can go ahead and assume he informed you that the kids got out through gaps in the wall. Gaps too small for adults, but clearly a decent fit for foals.
>>602154 Well, you exit the swamp with a layer of smelly mud on your talons, though being able to fly means you didn't get it as bad as Boon did. "Wait here," Lavender instructs you. "My tribe is wary of outsiders, so please don't be too aggressive if they seem hostile."
>>602160 You manage to start burning the meal just by boiling wager. Luckily, the smoke wakes Clouded, bringing her grumblinginto the room as she limps past you. "We agreed I would handle the cooking , brother. This is why you're banned from cooking for life."
>>602159 "Miss, you are not doing any heavy lifting for the next three weeks," Sweetherb huffs. "Once I've sewn this up, youre going to stay in this bed until tomorrow, then going home to stay in bed for the next week. Now this may sting…" She jabs a siringe into your thigh and injects something into it, the pain beginning to dull, though still present.
>>602165 She grumbles quietly as she stars cooking pancakes, the stench of burnt things being driven out by more pleasant scents. As she cooks, her legs keep shifting, her passive exprression occasionally giving way to a wince. "…Is it supposed to feel this sore the next morning?"
>>602177 When your vision clears, you lind yourself sitting in place, several dozen heavilyarmed ponies in the clearing, the largest of whom is yelling rather loudly at lavender, making occasional gestures at you.
>>602193 Smile at her. "I'm glad to hear your spirit hasn't wavered a single bit. If we're lucky and no cataclysmic events happen today, we might be able to finish early and rest for the remainder of the day."
>>602189 Your claws stay firmly on the ground, your eyes refusing to blink or narroww in the painful light. Eventually, the big guy stomps over to you. "You saved my daughter, so for that I will allow you and your friends to live. But do not think I am a fool who would sacrifice my people on a whim."
>>602198 "I did. Through a hole in the walls. I will send for ponies to patch it up immediately, and have them look the whole lenght of it over." Stare him down. "I want you and some of your guards to do the same, routes along the walls to check for holes, weaknesses, and anything unusual."
>>602196 "Forget this place, and never return!" The pain returns, and when the world comes back into focus, youre on the side of the swamp towards Horton, laying on the ground with no natives to be seen.
>>602199 She puts a cloth soaked in something over your muzzle, making you lightheade. "Hold her down, please. The anesthetics will help, but I don't want to take chances." You feel Red and Ruby move to comply, pinning you against the bed as Sweetherb prepares. "Easy, Krystal," Ruby soothes, stroking your cheek. "Be strong for us…" she slips a bridle into your mouth, your teeth gripping the metal just as Sweetherb starts working the needle into the cut skin.
>>602203 He sighs and rubs his head, groaning a little to himself. "Of course… The heat from the firesmust have warped the wood… That means I'll have to have the militias patching holes instemad of training… Need to see about getting some mortar, or hay and mud if necessary…. Can't take ponies off the gate crews, so I'll have to change some scheduled shifts…"
>>602207 >sleep Not a chance in hell. The anesthetics do make the whole thing fade into one long, painful blur. When you wake up, you fin d your leg all sewn up, . This also appears to be the tent you shared with Red And Ruby. …Maybe you did sleep after all…
>>602210 "I don't know," he snaps, "maye we were focused on the fact OUR TOWN GATE WAS ON THE GROUND?! Or maybe we were too busy looking for stuff trying to attack us that we missed a group sneaking away? Or hell, maybe the fact we're working ourselves to the bone is making us slip up! My ponies are doing the best they can, but we can't be everywhere at once!"
>>602219 Keep calm. "Watch your tone, Captain, you'd do well if you refrained from yelling with me. These were hard times, yes, but we all have our responsibilities. Your responsibility, your duty and obligation is to keep the town safe. A town where a bunch of foals can outsmart the guards when the natives have rogues that can turn invisible is not something I would call safe." Lean closer over my desk. "Do you think you can handle this responsibility?"
>>602226 It's a little filly's type of doll, with brushable mane and tail and a frilly little dress. They're rather popular back in equestria.. this one is just big enough to fit in your hoof. It seems to have lost a few of it's accessories, though.
>>602228 It wouldn't win any fashion shows…. But it's exactly the same way you'd always style her mane, so you don't really care. Sentimental value beats fashion any day. Though… is that another dress under that bedsheet?