There is a low rumble of thunder in the distance, and you uneasily emerge into the conscious, waking world. Another night slept on the couch in the study. Candles burn low.
The soft pattering of rain falls softly outside. You see it bead on the nearby window. It's cold, here. The boiler hasn't been stoked, no doubt. Right… the maid, fired again. Incompetent.
Your desk is covered in papers… you've been meaning to look them over, but then, getting some heat in the house may be a priority, it does take some time to warm. Or… maybe you should check on your irons in the fire. That is to say, the laboratory and conservatory, respectively.
>>603873 Down three flights of stairs. Your place is cozy and ornate, but cramped. Everything is stacked up. Three floors, none larger than 400 square feet.
There is another floor though - a basement, which you now plod down into. It's dark, but not dusty down here. There's much sign of movement, and there should be - you spend a lot of time down here. There are beakers and alembics left out from the previous night's work. You see your alchemic satchel over near the wall. You survey your work. You have a lot of experiments here, but they're all left dormant. You could transport 13 points worth, if you needed to leave the house for some reason.
The only light currently spilling out down here is from a pot burning low in the corner – ooh, that was probably dangerous to leave on all night – and the two stairways up. One into the house proper, and the rays of light streaming through the cellar doors, a shortcut to the conservatory out back.
>>603874 "Stupid mare" I think as I calmly trot to the pot and get it off the fire. Stupid mistake but at least this fire warms me up. Rub my eyes again, I should get some coffee….after I checked the conservatory. After staying a few more moments to warm my hooves, I go see to the conservatory. Open the cellar door and get ready for sunlight
>>603875 There's not much sun to be seen. It seems the darkness of the cellar exaggerated the light of the room above. Today is overcast, and there is a perpetual fall of rain. There must be a sun behind it, though, because the clouds are still light.
The conservatory is overgrown, to say the least. This tiny greenhouse gives you direct access to the alleys behind the house. The alleys have always made you uncomfortable - reminding you of the Locus Inter back in Anneiv. These, though, lead back to the main streets.
The greenhouse proper is filled with a few different herbs. Anyone can grow Dragon's Tongue with the seeds, and Lampweed is more of a pest than a benefit. Your real treasures are in the back, in the shade of the overhanging rooftops. A little crystal garden where metallic minerals form. Halide salts and their ilk. Nearby, a pack of miniature pseudopod sloth lichen languish in what little sunlight is provided by the rainy day.
>>603876 Is there supposed to be anyone else in the house or am I all alone here?
I stop at the little pack of miniature pseudopod and smile a little. It seems everything is okay here. I go and check if the door to the alleys is still locked. If so, I'll collect a few herbs to spice my tea and go back to the home.
>>603877 Well, there was the Help, until recently. And of course… two ponies who used to fill it.
The door is still locked. Back into the house, then. This is the storefront, here on the first floor. It's characterized by a large front desk and a lockbox below the counter. From here, you can see the front door. You see a sign that says "Open" – because it's reversed. If you turn it around, "Open" will face outward, through the window.
>>603878 The Help couldn't even mop the floor properly, or fold clothes correctly.
I should get ready to open up, again. Make some coffee. As the coffee drips down, I'm accurately aware of how silent it is in the house. I should get one of those music players. I wonder how Aira and Aria are doing…probably having adventures, like I used to have. Take a sip of my coffee. But that was a long time ago. Has the mailpony been yet? Maybe Aira and Aria sent a letter…
>>603881 There's a handbill with the seal of the chief of police. Some sort of warning.
A blue envelope. The texture feels… wrong. It's sealed with wax, but there is no seal pressed into the wax. No signature, either. No address - it must've been hand delivered. But then… it's mixed in with the stack. How could that be? Was the mailpony involved?
You can identify one envelope from the east easily. It practically smells like spice, though you know it's your imagination. Nothing would keep its scent so long. Still, you think you know who it's from.
There are bills, as usual. Shipment orders, too. People want alchemic deliveries.
Among the ads you find a traveling carnival. Reminds you of the old days - traveling making potions. There are also heroic services, stuff for youngsters. There's a new play premiering, and there's a technology demonstration in the city center later today.
At the bottom - oh, this must've been delivered before the rest of the mail. Maybe late last evening or early in the morning. It's from the office of the port authority.
>>603883 You wouldn't think he'd be the type to be sentimental. It's… odd. Maybe he still cares in his own way, even if he's not here now.
He writes to tell of the goings on in the distant Saddle Arabian lands and the Ottomane Empire. It's exotic, and foreign. It sounds exciting… and exhausting. You don't know where he gets the energy for it all.
Even after all these years, there are still so many mixed feelings…
>>603885 He never settles down, does he? Get lost in memories for a minute. Then shake it off, stupid mare. The days I was hoping he'd one day walk into the shop are long over. Still I put the letter aside carefully, I'll put it in my collection later. Now, this blue letter…what's going on here?
>>603889 That's…disturbing. I see wax, but it doesn't smell like wax. What could this be? Some substance unknown to me…or maybe magic? Perhaps this is something magical disguised as a letter. In that case opening the seal just like that might be dangerous. Have I ever encountered something like this? '1d10'
>>603890 Nothing like this per se, but you have a good intuitive feeling that you're right - it must be inherently magical. Of course, you have a little magic training on your own, and the city has magicians of sorts who could examine it too, if you're not feeling safe.
>>603891 Better to be safe than sorry, I must have gained some enemies during my….youthful mistakes. But, I should get the shop open. I can close a bit earlier tonight if there's not too many customers and go see a mage I know (I'm just guessing I must know at least one) Gather all the papers and put them safely in the back. Then get myself ready and open the shop. I guess if nothing special happens we can timeskip to the evening. Gotta go now. Thanks for running.
Even in your fur, you're cold. The weather is sure to make the water choppy and uneven… not that it matters yet. Two days ago you passed Candlelight, a little village making the southern edge of the mountains. You've never been so far from home… Whatever that means anymore.
You're not far now from the city called Lubuck – it's a pony city, of a sorts. You don't know much about it, other than the fact that it exists and that ships come there. Well, good enough for you - anywhere but the old den.
You find yourself in a woods. You wouldn't quite call it a forest… there are many trees, but they are sparse. You can find cover nowhere from the rain due to how they're spread.
…It's cold. And you have a long way to go. Nothing to do but one paw in front of the other… and go south.
>>603894 She was still sniffiling a bit. Embracing herself and rubbing her arms to have at least a small amount of warmth,which was mostly fruitless She rubbed the blur out of her glasses as she moved on,until her nose itched a bit and she sneezed lightly. ''Ow…'' She muttered,rubbing her sore nose. She was pretty sure she was going to get sick from this rain…
>>603896 she closed her eyes and tried to remember which way to south. SHe looked around for some leaves and used them to make a small cup and filled it with water using a stone and a small stick she made a makeshift compass '1d10' gadjet
>>603897 You're not certain how reliable it will be, but it will have to work for now. As you are currently on the continent, you will need to procure some sort of sailing services if you ever wish to reach Novdogod. You're not so naive as to think, however, that you might get a free ride. Making money might be in order.
In any case, you head off south, tromping through the mud. It's a largely uneventful trip until you reach a road. That makes things a bit easier, and you follow it for several miles until, up ahead, you see a covered wagon headed in the opposite direction. In a few minutes, you will no doubt meet here on the road.
>>603900 >Oops sorry ignore that,misread SHe slapped herself in the forehead. with a sharp breath,calling herself stupid in her mind as she headed back to the other way Muttering ''stupid'' a few times
>>603902 She disregarded them,ponies would always stare at her. She was smart enough to know that. She sighed as she thought of how many times she would have denied opportunities because of her race. Oh and being an abandoned homeless dirty mut on the streets of course that would be bad for business too
>>603903 Your trip south is largely uneventful until you come to a little town – far too small to be Lubuck. It must be a farming community on the outskirts. You might wait out the storm here, or press on.
>>603904 This Rain was really bad… And besides she didn't had to come home for a nap time anymore! Hey this was cool She could be her own boss now. At least something is good from all of this Making up her mind,Rhanna headed for the nearest house there,and knocked on the door,putting her best ''I'm a poor child help me'' puppy smile as she waited for the response
>>603910 ''Um…Good day Ma'am…'' Rhanna said with a wave of her hand. ''I…uh…I don't wanna bother ya or anything…BUt it's awfully cold tonight,and…it's raining'' she said pointing up ''Could you let me in for a bit to dry up until the rain passes?I promise I won't bother ya''
>>603914 ''You Got it Ma'am'' She says remembering to wipe her paws before going in. She didn't mind much about what she said,she didn't expect much less than ponies thinking of her higher than a dirty street mutt. Once inside she spoke up. ''My name is Rhanna by the way…''
>>603916 That hurt her a bit. Te cute smile on her face dropped and in her place was a hurt frown, ''Y-yeah,sorry.'' She muttered feeling scolded as she sat down on the couch idly,looking down; ''Thanks for letting me in Miss Tender''
>>603918 She scratched one of her floppy ears as she remembered that She loved lightning. But fucking despised thunder… Wait she swore… Is it ok if she swear in her mind? Mom told to never swear,but she never said about thinking of swearing right? Would she ever care? Wait why was she even caring?She ran away She could swear as much as she wanted now. Shitshitshitshitfuckfuckfuck. She giggled a bit on her seat. laughing at her own childish humor. She looked around,being a curious little dog as she was she could not simply stay quiet for too long. She remained in her seat though,conntent to examine the place from the couch with a idle smile
>>603920 She gave a small yawn. Yeah,she could take a nap. She removed her glasses and placed them on the side as she curled and leaned her head against the arm of the couch and closed her eyes. at least the rain was soothing enough… She sighed as she relaxed a bit,not quite falling asleep but taking a sort of half-nap as she thought and planned what will she do with her life now…
>>603924 She couldn't help but sniff the air ah bit Oooh was she cooking something tasty? Rhanna tried remembering when was the last time she ate? Been an awful while,yeah… Would she be pushing it if she asked for food? … Yeah that would be pushing a bit… She nodded and slowly headed for the exit. ''thanks again. I'll remember you'' she said a bit happily
It was a slow day today. Probably the rain and uneasy seas. Even now, the pattering of rain continues. Relentless…
The front of your shop is a little wet from ponies not wiping their hooves. And you need to make a note that you're running low on Frost Salts. There's also the matter of that special order for fireworks… When you'll find the time, who's to say?
>>603985 Sounds like I'll have a long night again. Even if I have a double it will still take time. But the blue letter makes me curious. I quickly wipe the front of the shop and then I'll put on my coat, my horseshoes against the wet ground and my old hat. Time to go see a mage.
>>603986 Out into the miserable drizzle it is. A faint boom of thunder echoes in the distance. You are on Abracadabra Street. Perhaps humorously, this street was intended for magicians and spellcasters. But much to the ire of city planners, ponies tend to never be interested in living where you tell them to live. You do know someone who might be able to examine the letter for you, a couple of streets over on Bridewell Avenue. As the name implies, it's something of an educational district. Home to a boarding school, yes, but many multi-room flats intended for apprenticeships and shops for journeymen. Again, rarely used for its purpose - as far as you know, Gala Gristlefeather has never taken an apprentice in her life, but regardless of her strange proclivities, the griffon is probably the best at handling dangerous magics.
>>603989 She's a permanent fixture of the town – has been here since you moved in years ago, so of course you know her first name. Whether or not you use it, that's a matter of your own friendliness. More of a business acquaintance than a friend, and quite the odd egg, but she doesn't seem the sort to take offense.
>>604008 Without a word, the door SLAMS open – no warning given. You think for a second it has been splintered and blown entirely off its hinges – it swung right past you and into the cobble wall. But no… it's still in one piece.
Inside, it is mostly dark, except for strange, pinkish orbs glowing, assorted on various shelves at various heights. It almost seems to have a different atmosphere, and there is no counter inside. At first, you think the room is empty, until your gaze traces the wall up – to see Gristlefeather hanging from the ceiling, eying you.
>>604029 She flicks a wing, dousing you in a wave of wind. The bag feels lighter…
She runs a talon along the seal and begins to draw it away, 'fingers' pinching… something. It looks like a thread of some sort. Finally, she pulls it free with a snap, and flicks the letter back to you.
>>604044 I'm more confused than ever. I know what Reptil is, but why anypony would send me anything like that is beyond me. Those days of partying in Reptil are long behind me. "Thanks, Gala, I should get going. Have a good night." Droop off back to home slightly disappointed
>>604062 #LETTER OF FORMAL NOTIFICATION As required by MSL Ordinance Title VIII, Section 4.27.
(SIR/MADAM) Springleaf, Selena It is my painful duty to inform you that a report has been received from the Office of Communications notifying the loss of
No 1563 Vess. FIS Audacity
Carrying Springleaf, Aria Springleaf, Aira
which occurred Manesian Sea
on the 16th of Storms, 701 AN
The report is to the effect that the passenger in question is missing
By Her Majesty's command I am to forward this message of sympathy from Her Majesty the Princess of Equestria. I am at the same time to express the regret of the Middle Seas League at the death of this passenger aboard a vessel owned by the League.
I am to add that any information may that may be received as to the passenger's burial, if applicable, will be communicated to you in due course. A separate leaflet dealing with this subject more fully is enclosed.
SIGNED: Elderman Guilder Elderman Guilder, Free Prince of the Old Quarter
The signature looks like a stamp…
There's a leaflet in here about how to recover compensatory damages if applicable, and how to apply for body recovery or relocation, but that has been struck out with ink…
>>604076 My cup of tea smashes on the ground, but I don't care. My eyes water as I read the letter again and again… I lose my balance and catch myself on a chair and sit in it weakly. Aira and Aria…gone?
>>604110 I pound again, and again. Until my hoof hurts and then I pound some more. Until I'm finally exhausted and rest my head against the door. Tears well up in my eyes again. This can't be happening, this must all be some kind of dream…
>>604118 Take a large gulp from the bottle. And drop the letter. I look at it for a second and then in a fit of rage push over the desk, tumbling all the other letters over the floor. The one handbill from the chief of police rolls there as well. I pick it up. Not even sure why. Maybe it's to tell me this is all a huge misunderstanding. Break open the seal.
>>604119 There's no seal on a handbill. It's left open for anyone to read. Indeed, it's not very personal.
The message is about a string of break-ins, and a warning to keep shops well guarded. It advises no long breaks without someone to watch the premises. There's a final recommendation to those who intend to leave for months at a time to simply sell the estate to 'avoid the burdens of vigilance'.
It also includes some police sketches of the suspected villains and requests any possible leads, but that doesn't interest you in your distressed state.
Unread: -Bills -Shipment orders -Advertisements
Uncompleted -Make a note to stock Frost Salts -Prepare fireworks -Put letter from Face upstairs in the study -Organize papers on desk in study -Tend garden -(Optional) Interview applicants for housekeeping
>>604166 You could maybe fly over the booths into the back. Or maybe find a way in from the roof or the alley out back. But you also might want to go get your adventuring gear from your house if you want to break the law.
>>604175 The letter definitely came from this building. The Elderman himself is a very rich and powerful individual, though, so he probably doesn't do a lot of personal work at the office. That's not to say he doesn't do any work here. Think mayor.
>>604192 "If you're here to claim compensatory damages, you'll need to fill out a claim liability waiver and sign the absolution clause. You'll also need to bring proper identification as the claimant as next of kin and your maritime insurance contract. Is that all?"
>>604205 "It ran aground, probably. A reef perhaps. It says here on the manifest that the vessel was taking adventurers out to explore the dark side of the New Continent. That's what I have here. Look, I've got a long line to work through. Is that all?"
1 Storms, 701 AN. The headline reads: "Blockade of Triangle Cove lifted." The article reads that accounting has determined it is cheaper to ignore the last petty few pirates than to conduct a siege.
5 Storms, 701 AN. "Cowish Marauders Disrupt Trade." Revolutionaries fighting in Lost Muscowy, or Lost Musdoggy depending on your politics. Perhaps Lost Lands is a more neutral term?
9 Storms, 701 AN. "The First Encyclical." Her Majesty the Queen, acting as Head of the Faith, has issued a new encyclical, which condemns the practice of usury. The newspaper, which is local, appears to condemn the act as dangerous, but does not go so far as to question the judgment of Her Majesty the Princess of Equestria. This is the first encyclical of the new century.
17 Storms, 701 AN. "New Century, New World" A new colony has been founded on the far side of the Cape of New Seas. It is called New Earth, to honor the ancient Republic of Earth.
>>604428 Unread: -Bills -Shipment orders -Advertisements -Departure Letter from Aria -Finances -Dossier Folder
Uncompleted -Make a note to stock Frost Salts -Prepare fireworks -Put letter from Face upstairs in the study -Organize papers on desk in study -Tend garden -Check your treasure chest -Acquire transportation -Resolve real estate
>>604431 Aria wrote on the day of departure, after you saw them off. This is where you got the map from, and it shows their intended route.
This is it! The big adventure. I'll save the sappy stuff since we already talked yesterday and I don't want you ruining my letter crying all over it. This is the route we're taking. We expect to be out for a few months at the least. It will be good to see you again, but by the time we're back, we'll have a fortune of our own!
Uncompleted -Make a note to stock Frost Salts -Prepare fireworks -Put letter from Face upstairs in the study -Organize papers on desk in study -Tend garden -Check your treasure chest -Acquire transportation -Resolve real estate -Pack
>>604434 Then it is decided, I should get there as fast as possible. Open up my finances book. And my treasure chest. I better finish up my affairs here as quick as I can. I guess I won't need Frost Salts anymore. I hope the fireworks won't take too long to make. I should pay my outstanding bills and then cancel any pending orders.
>>604437 A little hobby of yours. Keeping tabs on old members of the crew, their locations and movements, when you see signs of them. Newspaper clippings. That sort of thing. You mentally reassure yourself that you have no bias that Face's is the biggest.
Face Emrille Chip Who Aloe Flowing Tree Vasilisa Abilio and Cloudy Forever September Light Heart Burnside Lavinia Ambercharge Wheatwall Winston Port Merlot
>>604441 There are miscellaneous adventurers for hire. You should try the tavern listed – the Drunken Pegasus – it seems to be a sort of congregation center for adventurers. Then again, the port authority may know more about hiring adventurers too, the same way that your daughters were working for them. And of course, there are always regular sailors. You're not so sure how good adventurers are at actually sailing a ship – should you choose to go the route of purchasing your own instead of just hiring a vessel.
>>604448 You head into your bedroom and open the chest with your key. You have today's money plus a little spending cash here. You also see your documentation for the bank.
You gained 430 bits. You gained Bank Documents.
You also see some of your artifacts in here. You can only attune to one at a time, so you may as well leave the rest in the bank…
#Fly's Cape After Abilio lifted the age curse from Fly, he created this cape for her that would allow her to manipulate her age to blend in. Later, after being gifted it upon your departure, you enchanted it with other illusory spells. It allows you to disguise yourself and manipulate your age.
#Mother's Mirror When you first started creating doppelgangers, mother gave you this to help work on the details. You're a little rusty on how to cast them – this artifact will allow you to produce them once more.
#One Last Momento Face gave you this Fez when he departed the last time you saw him. It has that old show magic - Hat Magic - built in. You vaguely wonder what kind of shenanigans he got into with this.
#Hand-Me-Down Alchemy Kit This belonged to the Fleet Alchemist before you – Freisian Cross. You never knew him, but his notes are helpful. Confers 2 additional Alchemist skill points (can be spent on Alchemist multiclasses).
#Light Heart's Lantern This is a lantern that has a lot of character. Light Heart gave it to you when you departed. You wonder if it meant anything to her. This will gives you a +2 bonus to commanding hirelings.
>>604467 Even the cheapest place still looks pretty nice. It's a little place called the White Tower Inn. Hm, this is a pretty wealthy town.
You head inside, and they have rugs, and they're well lit. It's even pleasantly warm and dry – you probably shouldn't track mud in here. They don't have a front counter, but as you close the door, a host enters from another room and eyes you suspiciously.
>>604491 She stood there,and then crouched down,resting her head on her crossed arms ''Well…Better than nothing…'' She muttered as she exhaled. She was a bit tired from all this walking She wondered how her family was doing as she waited
>>604512 Scrap tending the garden off my schedule. I did check my chest so that can be checked off too. And tomorrow early I'll check for a ship and a salty crew! Time to bed. Don't worry Aira and Aria, mommy's coming!
>>604521 "Ah, foreigners. You have entered the city of Lubuck. As a member of the Middle Seas League, vagrancy is a criminal offense. Do you understand? If you wish to stay in this city you have to have a job. I will take you to the Bureau of Labor which will assign you to a paid work position until such a time as you can find work of your own. Yes?"
The police pony leads you through the rain, which by now has picked back up. It is quite dark out, and you can only follow him by the light of his lantern. Finally, you come to a large marble building and he leads you inside. It's the local police station.
"You will have to stay here in the lobby until morning. Do not try to run away or we'll put you in a cell instead. In the morning when the Bureau is open, we will go there and find a job. Are you hungry?"
>>604524 She nodded a few times as he explained things to her and then nodded vigorously as he asked if she was hungry. "And uh…I think I could use a shower with soap…if you guys have showers here…I mean the smell of wet dog is terrible man. Not even I can stand it sometimes…"
>>604525 "There is a shower in the very back, but it is mostly used for hosing down drunkards so it is not very well equipped. Go get a shower and I will leave a bowl of cabbage soup and a skin of bread here for you."
>>604527 "I'm not one of those rich philosophers or lawmakers who decide what kind of crimes get what punishment, but I see no reason to treat a crime of ignorance the same as a crime of intent. You will feel better in the morning when all is set right."
The showers are surprisingly warm. The pools of water you bathed in back in your den were always cold, because there was nothing to heat them. Also, they have a real shower mechanism – it's not like your baths at all! Just looking at the piping makes you want to take it apart and figure out how it works.
>>604528 She actually DID wanted to figure out how that thing worked and find the wonders behind every gear and button. But she held back the urge. ..Maybe she could ask some pony tomorrow… She finished showering after she made sure that she was smelling nice and her fur was clean from any trace of mud. She then shook herself off of the water. And then remembered that ponies use towels… She looked around f for one to dry herself
>>604532 She didn't expect meat at this point. So she just sat down and ate quietly. She had much to think about… And she knew things were going to be hard for her. after she finished, she sighed content and sat there…waiting…
>>604552 You are carrying 430 bits, a completed work order worth 100 bits, bank documents which will let you withdraw the rest of your money.
You enter the great harbor. There are many ships here - this is a great town at the center of trade. No doubt that you'll be able to buy passage on one, or for much more money, buy one of your own.
To the north is the port authority, where every vessel is documented. Hiring a MSL vessel would be easier there - and you'll need to come there eventually if you want to finalize a sales transaction to transfer and notarize the bill of sale and title. Nearby there is a famous sailor's bar, the Salty Saloon, where you might find independent captains. There's also a shipwrighty nearby, the Cossack's Knot, a Doggish company which can create vessels to specifications very quickly, though that process is even more expensive.
You count many, many vessels in the harbor. At least twenty… maybe thirty? It's hard to tell as the sails overlap. They range in size from great ships of the line to little fly boats.
Uncompleted -Acquire transportation -Withdraw from bank -Resolve real estate
>>604554 >>604555 No more than you're used to. Well - than you should be used to. Paperwork is a way of life for you now, but you're still really bad about actually filling it out, as your finances and desk attest to.
If the news is anything to judge by, though, the MSL has ships going that way.
It's storming. Not lightly either – it's heavy. The newspaper said there would be uncontrolled rains all along the coast this week. You're no weatherpony, but it seems like they should be doing their job a little better.
You've been in nicer post offices. This one is cramped and smallish. You're the only one here, but you know your way around these kinds of places. You found the keys and opened up the back room no problem. There was a mattress and some salad. Warm soup would be better. A hot cinnamon bun better still.
There's another crackle of thunder outside, and an involuntary shiver runs down your spine. It's moments like these when you're alone, taking shelter from a storm… you're forced to re-examine yourself. Who are you
>>604557 Some might. You'd have to check with their captains or the manifests filed at the Port Authority.
Even the unruly Reptil has been mostly tamed these days. The pirate age is ending, and rather than be burned down for a final time, Reptil has started to straighten up.
The ships in the harbor shift and creak uneasily as the storm disturbs the waters they lay in.
>>604534 >>604533 Even in the morning, the rain is still coming down. It seems ceaseless. What drives such a storm unending?
You awaken to a gentle shake from the police pony. "I stopped by the Bureau of Labor, I'll be taking you by a shop this morning."
>>604558 Who am I? I'm just a lone pony living my life from day to day. Not the best or most exciting life, but… at least I'm healthy I guess?
Munch on my salad and look outside one of the windows to the storm outside. I doubt I'll be seeing anyone come in here tonight. It's raining cats and dogs for Celestia's sake. I'd love to go out for some excitement as much as anypony else, but not through this kind of weather.
>>604564 "Now that, I do not know. Come along, then."
>>604565 "Past the cape, to the settlement of New Earth, that's right. There will be some paperwork to sign, but the fee is relatively cheap, just fifty bits. There are many vessels headed out. The League also offers an insurance package if you're interested. It's just 200 bits and it covers compensation for your next of kin if you die on the voyage. I'll also need to see identification for your signing."
>>604572 #Springleaf, Selena In accordance with your obligations as a shopkeeper in Lubuck, you have been assigned an apprentice until such time as your new charge can find work of their own or you are no longer a registered shop holder in Lubuck. You will receive monetary relief which may be claimed weekly with presentation of this letter at the bureau of labor. Your case number is 1182.
Your charge is named Rhanna
For more details on the Bureau of Labor, Anti-Vagrancy Laws, and your obligations as a job provider, please consult your local Bureau of Labor office. Your charge will be delivered on the morning of the 20th of Storms
Hm. This could have been useful to fill your housekeeping problem if you weren't about to leave anyway. You'll need to get this sorted out before you go. That's today!
>>604574 This place looks weird, but it smells even weirder. It smells like plants and smoke. Weird…
The building is a very pony style. It goes up floors instead of into the ground. You think you feel a basement, though.
>>604575 rhanna knocked on the walls a bit to feel them up was it wood or brick? the smell barely bother her. it was weird and funny but sure. she could get used to it… she sat on the stairway and waited like a good girl…Humming a silly song for herself
>>604579 All it takes is single pump of your well-trained wings to propel you into the back and roll into position.
The beast… looks like a diamond dog, but wrong. It's hunched over, and much larger than any diamond dog you've ever seen before. Its lower jaw is jutting – it sticks out several inches beyond the rest of its snout and is host to huge tusk-like fangs.
The fur stands erect, every hair, in spite of the rain now pouring down it through the window. They look like needles. As if it's some kind of monster bred for war.
It points a single claw at you, and the bottom of your hoof begins to smoke. Its mouth doesn't move, but you seem to hear… something… speak gutturally in your mind.
Liberty Belle, come for thee.
>>604580 "Let's see, the FIS Dowager will be leaving tomorrow in the early morning, and laying over in Apricot, which is a part of the Confederation and an MSL member city. Or… later this week? There's the FIS Prowess, which is leaving three days from now, and it's also a direct route. There are also ships leaving from other MSL member cities. For instance, you could take a flyboat like the FIS Skipper to Stonebriar City and then take the FIS Merriment to New Earth, though I believe it is making a very brief stop in Reptil."
>>604581 The walls seem to be made of some sort of wood substitute. The store is clearly stone though. Marble, even, in some places.
>>604583 From this room you see a counter. There's a chair behind it if you want to sit down. There are stairs up and down, and a door to the back. There's also a big shelf that's filled with papers of sorts.
>>604582 "W-What?" I blink a few times, then frown and tense up, keeping my gun pointed at this monster. I need to mare up. "I'm not Liberty Belle. Piss off! Shoo! I'm armed and not afraid to use this thing."
>>604592 Screw it. She was going to look around After all she isn't doing anything wrong… Not like she could steal something and run away right? Besides she was feeling too lazy to run away. So she smelled around and looked around and feeled around too,wanting to get as much as she could of the house >Apraising the place
>>604608 You head home. There's a diamond dog pup loitering in your front room touching things.
>>604609 You had a delivery to this town, but upon arriving, you found no new deliveries at this office. Typically in this case you would just fly to another office and see if there are any deliveries to make. You're a little more mercenary than those big city couriers who stay in one city and have to know where everyone lives. You do inter-city package delivery.
>>604614 I don't want to wait it out any longer. I'm a pegasus dammit, I'll brave this storm and check out the nearby town for a doctor or a healer or a cleric or whoever is available to help me deal with this sinister symbol on my hoof.
>>604618 ''Wait what? Come on why not miss Selena?'' She asked looking up at her. Rhanna was a rather small Diamond dog. She looked like a kid,but had a serious look on her face. A big pair of transparent glasses were in fron to her amber eyes…She also had a rather noticeable scar just above her left eye,where there was no fur growing…like a bald patch
>>604623 "Sir! -I mean father! -I mean… I need help!" Trot over to him and wave my hoof in front of him. "Something happened. Strange dream, big monster dog tried to slay me, then this sinister symbol shows up!"
>>604627 Look a bit awkward. "Uh, listen miss Rhanna, if this is about your apprenticeship, I'm sure there are other mages in town capable of teaching you. I'll be gone for a long time, maybe forever. I'm sure you don't want to leave your friends and family in town."
>>604629 ''Phhss,I got no friends here miss Selena,much less Family…And honestly,many things sound much better than staying in the town working for a mage as an apprentice…i mean I don't even really like magic…''
>>604628 "Yes I-… last night. I heard something outside and went to check it out because I thought the storm had damaged something. This strange… mutant dog thing was wrecking my trashcan and then came after me. I went back inside and grabbed my gun, but it chased me and started talking about slabs and curses… then it attacked me and I woke up! It was a dream… except this weird symbol somehow appeared on my hoof. So it wasn't a dream? I don't know."
>>604637 "Well, don't you think it looks like the moon? There are even craters here. I couldn't say for sure, but I'd expect that if you held it up at night it would look identical. Well - except for this part right here."
>>604642 He frowns. "You could think of it that way, but the moon also counts up, too. Or did you mean this symbol? It doesn't appear to be moving to me, at least not at present. Maybe you should come back tomorrow and we'll see if it changes. I doubt it - it's probably just another coincidental indentation. You know I get a few people saying they see Celestia in their morning oatmeal."
He gives you a reassuring smile. "Besides, the Dark Deceiver hasn't invaded dreams to turn them into nightmares in seven hundred years, since her banishment. I see no reason she'd start now."
>>604645 She stared back at her eyes. ''I want to…come on pleaaaase!I promise I won't get hurt!Hey maybe I will be the one helping you when YOu get hurt! Come on miss Selena!It will be just you and me,two brave girls wandering the world on the dangerous quest!'' She made a few signs with her hands,her eyes were full of wonder and hope
"My child, I did not mean to frighten you. Nightmare Moon has been gone since long, long before you were born. Even if she had the capability to get free - which she doesn't – why would she take issue with you, an innocent who hasn't even heard her name, and indeed was born many centuries after she last set foot in Equestria? If she was haunting anyone's nightmares, it would surely be her sister's. Take a few days off from work and relax, and put this Nightmare out of your mind. It's merely a coincidence, I'm sure."
>>604650 ''Uh…um…Errrr…no no aaaand…nope…Sorry…But hey this is not Aaaaall that important right?'' She said scrating one of her floppy ears. ''but I could learn…I mean I could pick up a stick a stick and poke sompony's eye off with it! eh?eh?'' she bumped Selena's side with her shoulder with a childish grin
"Well, there are all kinds of writing about Nightmare Moon. The most accurate information would be on the other side of the continent, in Autumnsreach. Maybe I can answer some of your questions and save you the travel, though. I do know a little about her, if you insist on this."
>>604657 "Well, her most common sort of curse was the haunting of nightmares. She also had legions of dark servants - monsters of the night. Perhaps those might be called a curse. It is said that the eclipse is a sign of her curse as well. That's all I could say with certainty. As for slabs, I wouldn't know, other than the fact that most of the few remaining Nightmare texts are on slabs because paper doesn't survive a thousand years so easily. Oh… and now that you mention it… I have heard a rumor, but again, I really must insist you remember that this is a rumor and NOT something worth spending your time on – there is supposedly a Nightmare Cult hiding out in a little southern town called Bridgeport. I heard the Inquisition was investigating, but I never heard of what came of it. Maybe they could tell you more, if you found them? At the least you might see some Nightmare ruins."
>>604658 She swallowed dry. ''I…Look I am just desperate okay?'' She said rubbing her arm ''I ran away from home,walked a buncha miles,slept on the streets and in the house of strangers just to get away from home… I just…Want to go away…As far away as I can from home…I don't have a place to stay nor a person to rely on. and then you showed up…I just…I just…'' She chicked on her words,not able to say any further. Ther was tears forming on her eyes
>>604662 Honestly, as much as I need the money, not being cursed by some kind of demonic entity is far more important to me. "Thank you, father. I hope for my sake you're right and this is just a harmless anomaly…"
>>604668 "But I need to do a lot of things still. Here's what you'll do. Go to the Bureau of Labor and tell them you found a job with me and give them this letter and ask them for the weekly money they owe me. Then go to the Port Authority and book a place in the FIS Merriment." Take out 50 bits. "Here that should cover the costs of your booking. Alright, come right back when you're done."
>>604672 Ships have that wonderful characteristic of being restless. Also, little do you know that the ocean current of the Manesian literally flows directly with the course you want to take. I say little because you probably kinda have a vague idea of that.
>>604673 She took the money in her large hands and looked up at her. She couldn't believe she was being trusted with all that money. Better not disapoint then! ''Y-you got it Miss Selena,I'll be back in a minute!'' She said going to do what she was told. Istead of walking normally she hopped as she walked,like the little girl she is as she hummed a song for herself.
She headed for the Bureau of lab-wait a minute…
''Uh…Where's the Bureau of Labor miss Selena?'' She asked turning back to her
>>604675 This down is near the sea, but it only has a little dock. You might be able to buy passage on a flyboat and take it to Prance. Teat would have the most ships, perhaps a fast Clipper would be sailing out to the other coast.
>>604686 >implying I'm taking my pseudopods with me.
The house itself is a bigger problem. I can get most of my important documents and valuable items to the bank, but not the furniture. And the police said that the risk of burglary and coming back with everything stolen is high. I might as well sell it, but how in the hell would I sell it by tonight for a reasonable price.
>>604688 and walk up she did She stood a bit lower than the counter so she climbed a bit on it grunting. ''Ugh…Excuse me miss…I'm here to give this letter…and get the weekly money for Selena Sprwingleaf!'' she said putting the card in front of the pony at the counter
He points to a nearby warehouse. "Vous devez lui parler."
>>604690 You might seek out a contractor or a warehouse. One of your most common sales partners in your business was the MSL. They have enormous warehouses where they buy things at all season so they can sell them when they are at their best price. You might have some contacts in your financial documents.
Real estate might be trickier, since the MSL doesn't deal in that. Of course, you might just sell everything inside and leave the house, hoping no one squats in it and damages the inside.
>>604691 The pony reads the card. "Right, I don't have you having drawn anything for this week, here you go, 21 bits."
Your stack of money increases by 42%! You now have 71 bits.
>>604692 Rhanna is as happy as she ever could be Holding all that dosh felt amazingly good. she only remembers holding like,3 old rusty coins she fouon holes around but this oohohoh this was much different. She licked her lips as she left for the Port Authority with a huge smile on her face ''money money money I sure do love haveing money~'' she sang in her mind and chuckled out loud as she realized how greedy she was getting maybe it's her Diamond dog instincts kicking in or something
>>604706 She scoofed. ''Just the exact amouth of money…'' She said in her mind as she picked up the pen and made a few scribbles on the paper,her handwriting was pretty decent actually,and she allowed herself to be a bit proud,all those nights drawing with charcoal on the cave walls was great practise… She alsoe emptyed the pocket on her little rugged Diamond Dog jacket
>>604712 You pull into Teat as the sun is setting - the storm still pressing on. You've been to Prance before, of course, it's on the east coast. The only question is whether you'll spend the night here or continue.
>>604713 You get a mouthful of water as the rain continues to pour. As if a damper on your spirits, you spend the rest of the walk cold and soaked. The rain just never seems to end.
>>604715 alright The rain was totally not helping Rhanna at all. ''Goddamit!CAn I catch a break!?'' She shouted in her head. well…at least it was warm back at Selena's place. But that smell though…ugh…she was getting sick just by thinking of it…
>>604723 Lucky number 7. You go in and there's no line at the counter. The seas are a little uneasy tonight, though. You notice a nearby captain talking to some bureaucrat and filling out paperwork. Perhaps he's getting repairs.
Other than the pony at the counter, yourself, and those two, this place is abandoned. It's a bit elephantine and the marble walls make the room feel cold, especially since you're drenched.
>>604721 Well She didn't ate all day so hey,why not? Rhanna went for the fridge to get food but she stoped as she saw it loked like a lab She looked over everything with a lot of curiosity,examining all the items and projects on the tables and shelves
>>604737 That was good enough She picked up things and started playing with it like a kid plays with toys she experimented formulas and mizing a few things that she could find hopefully something would explode!
>>604738 Gotta go a bit high first. "10000 bits. That includes brand new furniture, an variety of extremely exotic plants, ones you can't find just anywhere, and an assortment of state-of-the-art alchemical equipment. You'll find you made a bargain."
>>604739 It takes considerable time, but finally she waves you over.
"I found two different ships. One leaves tonight and is on a smaller vessel that would arrive in three days. There's another that leaves tomorrow afternoon, but it's larger and would only take two days. If it matters, the first is continuing up the coast to Autumnsreach, and the second is shifting route to Reptil after that."
>>604741 He laughs. "10,000 bits? You're out of your gourd. I'll send someone to look, but I imagine that's about four times what I'm going to find there."
>>604743 Now she didn't want to burn things,just have a bit of fun she dreamed about this kind of stuff before,she always wanted to try it. …But her mind cleared up and she remembered those things were not hers…As sad as she was for that,she placed everything back in it's place…Except for a brimstone,which she kept in her hand as she sat down and caressed it's surface,feeling it with her hands
>>604747 She didn't mind the smell hey,her whole damn house smelled like urine anyways this isn't much worse. She smiled as she put it against the light,in her mind she wondered about the many combinations of elements that there could be contained in that small rock. ''Oh right!'' She got up and looked afor a book,certainly there would be a book of chemistry around here right?
>>604769 ''well Magic and Alchemy are different things,really'' She said closing the book and placing it back on place. ''Anyways what we do now?'' She asked and Selena could see her small tail wagging behind her
>>604784 ''Well…I heard that when some adventurers travel,they come across monsters,spirits,bandits and all sorts of dangerous things…I just thought if we were going to fight them or avoid them…Thought I think it is the first one,since you asked me if I knew how to fight and all…''
>>604788 She was holding a piece of the papers of Selena in her hands,looking at it with a concentrated look. ''… Just curious…'' She said with a monotone voice. For a moment her amber eyes glanced up at Selena's,they…Her pupils were a bit smaller. ''I'm hungry…'' She said putting down the paper
>>605000 The larger ship does indeed sit lower in the water, and it rocks less. There are a couple of ponies patrolling the deck, but they're so bundled in rain gear that you can't even see their faces.
>>605016 There's another chorus of yells when you pry open the door to the hold – and it gets slammed shut again. You shutter involuntarily, which sort of turns into a pseudo dog-shake, spraying water all around. Even though the room isn't heated, the large number of ponies provides some warmth, and it's a huge difference from that icy downpour outside.
>>605025 There are two pseudopods which budded off Sunny years ago here. They don't put up a fight when you stuff them into a box.
Sunny usually lurks somewhere on the roof of the building instead. You recall that these lichen live for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, in the right conditions. The storm is still going on outside, but at least the wind isn't so bad here.
>>605029 The things I do for love… Put the box with the tiny pseudopods inside the house and walk upstairs to my study. With some pushing and pulling, I bet I can move it far enough to gain access to the ladder. Climb it and stick my head out. Where is that little lazy butt?
>>605037 Let's go inside again, close the hatch and put Sunny in the box with his kids. Put the rest of my documents in another box and the relics I'm not taking with me. Those go to the bank later. Now I guess I'll have to wait for the guy Mildwinter was gonna send.
>>605046 As you approach the land, you notice that the local temple has an unusual flag flying at its entrance. Usually temples don't have flags at all. It's the mark of the Inquisition. Why such an organization would even bother with such a tiny town is beyond you. Maybe the Nightmare Cultists were infesting it pretty severely.
You also see a few shacks. There's a "market", but none of the stalls are open this early.
There's a little series of shacks near the water, too, where fisherponies are at work.
Back, near the edge of the forest, there is a sort of small clinic.
>>605051 "Well, it's not much. I could do maybe 300 for the alchemy equipment. 200 for the rugs. The bed, shelves, bookcases, that's a solid 1750. 15 for the books. Herbs, can't really do anything with those, they'll just wither in the warehouse. I could maybe find a buyer but it would have to go so cheap I'd know it would sell before it goes bad, maybe 50 for all of it. You've got a lot of rice in there, that'll keep, I'll give you 275 for it. Your house thrall doesn't look very impressive, plus feeding it… eh, maybe 15? Are the clothes going?"
>>605054 "The alembic, ambix, cucurbit, retort, and dry still are all worth money. The beakers are practically worthless. And who doesn't have tons of pots? I can get those from hags on Mud Row. The oven is obviously part of the house, so you're not selling that - pity because it's very nice. What do you want from me? 300 is what it's worth. It's not the most complete set I've ever seen either. You have no vacuum flask, whirling apparatus, hot-water extractor, and your sole piston syringe looks literally medieval."
>>605053 The temple is not very large. You don't see any parsons today. Indeed, even poking your head through the door, there's no one here but a heavily armored pony with two body-guards speaking to another pony in cloth.
>>605059 "Hey, I'm giving you a generous price on the furniture considering the wear and water damage on some of it. Besides, I'm guessing based on what Mark said that you plan on splitting without paying for someone to deliver this to the warehouse, so that's on us too. Now if you overpaid on the furniture, that's your business."
>>605061 "Nightmare Moon? My child, Nightmare Moon has been gone for many years. I know with the… disturbances locally, there have been some panics, but I assure you, just because there are cultists does not mean they actually wield the power of Nightmare Moon."
>>605059 >>605060 Rhanna,who has been silent all this time,lightly pulled on Selena's leg ''Uh…Miss Selena…Why are you selling all that cool stuff?'' she asked with a clear hint of sadness in her voice
>>605062 Show her my hoof. "Look, I did not come all the way over here just to be told that I'm wrong. I've got this sinister symbol on my hoof and it's counting down after each night. It appeared right after I had a nightmare where I was told to return a slab, which I don't even know where it is or what it is exactly! I'm desperate to get some answers here. I want to know what I'm looking for."
>>605062 "Excuse me for a second." Go to the closet and put on some Love Poison perfume and come back. Love Poison on the guy '1d10' "Now, it seems you are right, it's not worth 10000 bits, but surely it's worth a little more that what you're offering. For me?"
>>605067 Rhanna looked to the guy for a moment Wait what? He just said he'll give her 3000? What the heck is going on right now? why does he has that dumb smile on his face? and why suddenly Selena smells so nice?
>>605067 I give her a pleading look. "That's not enough… I can't… I need to fix something my mother did, I think. She did something… stole something and now that she's gone, Nightmare Moon is coming after me instead."
>>605071 "Alright! Will you be warm enough? Do you want to borrow my coat?"
>>605073 "My child, many have looted the temples of Nightmare Moon – Celestia wrote an encyclical many years ago declaring it unsinful to sack the temples of these dangerous cultists. Why isn't she coming after any of them? I want to believe you, but I think you need to just calm down and think rationally. Go get some tea and we'll have a sit down if you're still feeling panicked. Just… lay off the 'nightmare' talk around the clinic. Those poor souls are already under investigation for being Nightmare sympathizers. While the Inquisition may disagree with me, I am a firm believer that anyone can be forgiven, but we must not tempt the already wayward, you understand."
>>605084 Rhanna waited until they both left throught the door and went to sneakily follow after them,keeping a good distance but still close enough to not lose sight of them she didn't care about the rain,lifes might be at risk there!
>>605085 You hear a female voice. Maybe a little older than you?
"Yeah? Oh, okay, one sec!"
You hear some boxes fall over. "I'm coming!"
A friendly blue face appears at the counter. "Oh, the mail! Thanks."
>>605087 When you get over there, the two confer and they argue back and forth a bit.
Mark finally relents. "Well, sounds like a little more than I expected, but I'll sign off on it. We'll pick it up tomorrow morning, leave the key here before you go, or drop it off at our safe deposit box which is 116."
>>605088 "Pleasure doing business." Seems like no hallucination bombs. Oh well, can't have em all. I'll drop the key in the deposit box before I board the ship later. Blow a kiss to the good man before I leave.
>>605097 She opened her mind to retort but she didnt say anything instead looked down and crossed her arms behind her ''Sorry… I was just worried…he was giving you some funny looks…same looks my dad used to give my mom…''
>>605100 "Bah. I'll just get a little tin of it, and then… there we are." I'll come back floating the tin of tea leaves. >>605101 >>605103 I'll blink, then clonk my forehead with a hoof. "Of course. Hold just a moment, I'll get the kettle going." As I head off towards that, I'll turn to Summer. "Could you get a towel for our guest? She's probably chilled to the bone."
It's been busy. But busy means work. People think of you as a Hero, no matter what you think of yourself. It's fulfilling. And besides, it pays incredibly. The Inquisition has deep pockets.
To be honest, this village doesn't really seem worth the time. It's tiny. Even if there was a monstrous cult here, they're clearly not butchering ponies in the streets. Something has Lord Inquisitor Wind – the pony you guard, a mare with a notoriously deep voice – troubled by this place. Having just visited the local temple, you're headed back to the parson's house, which has been lended to your trio. Leading the way is your counterpart, another Inquisitorial bodyguard who goes by Stricture. It sounds more imposing, you imagine, than Soft Sunrise. He has some confidence complex, sure, but he's fundamentally a good guy, and a decent fighter. He hasn't beaten you once, though.
>>605114 I'll shake my head a bit. She'd be sailing the world still. Liberty Belle wasn't the type to settle down in one place for too long. Besides, with piracy on the wane, she'd make an excellent merchant.
>>605118 "I'm afraid that those are still a bit beyond me. Besides, a little rain's good for everyone. Gives them a reason to stay inside and be with family." Once the water's heated, I'll set about making three cups of tea.
>>605120 "Something isn't adding up. In my experience, there are two kinds of villages. Those that are being overrun - they want help – and those that aren't – they're defensive. They don't want help. So why are these locals being so helpful? Everyone is being open, and yet by all accounts we should have run into a chanting ring of madmen at this point. You've always had a strong intuition. Do you think the parson was hiding something?"
>>605121 Summer sticks her tongue out. "Mom says you have to stop taking free drinks, remember? Unless you want to go dig up more roots in this storm."
>>605127 This folder looks like a conspiracy net. It's full of clippings and pinned yarn strings making 'connections'. You suspect that Emrille is – or is at least some way tied to the mysterious Specter of Anneiv that has plagued the city for the last twenty years. That's when she disappeared from the fleet. Even today, official sources deny such a phantom exists, and yet the reports are uncanny…
Sightings have gone down in the last few years though. If it was her, she may have moved on.
>>605133 "We traveled together some time ago, and in fact it's thanks to her that I found my estranged sister, and joined up with Summer and her mother." I'll chuckle and shake my head. "I never thought, with her heart condition, that she would risk having a child. But goodness me, just look at you. She must have had you shortly after I parted from her company."
>>605135 "Mmm… it seems a metaphorical storm is brewing."
She indicates the sky, which has been raining relentlessly for the last week. "Like the literal one. Let's get inside."
She heads inside and pulls off the overcoat over her plate armor, which is enormous on its own and covers her entirely. More of a show of might than anything else, but it's too big to be removed without help, and Stricture tends to her in this regards.
>>605136 >>605137 The bank! Now he's an interesting building. You can really tell there's wealth here – golden filigrees on everything. It's insane how much detail has gone into this building. The structure itself is probably worth a million bits.
Fortunately, lines inside are short due to the storm.
Rhanna eyes were glistening with wonder ''woooooow…wow wowzies wow WOW!'' She said super excited as she examined all of the gold and and shiny things,it all allured her quite a lot… ''This place is SO COOL Miss Selena!''
>>605141 That's right, the material goods remain but the liquid assets can be withdrawn at any branch assuming you don't travel huge distances in one day. For instance, teleporting immediately after making a deposit to another bank. One business day is usually enough.
>>605144 "I agree with you. It's almost like they've had dealing with us before, but I consulted the archives, or rather."
Scripture nods. "I did. And I wouldn't have made a mistake. The town has had complaints before, but we haven't investigated here personally."
>>605143 I'll nod. "That I do. I was avoiding the topic because I wasn't sure you knew yet. But since you do, then I can speak fully." I'll take a sip of my tea. "Your mother, miss Belle, was one of the few friends I had on that fleet. And it was she who could protect miss Summer and her mother while I was in no position to do so. I had always expected her to come to town one of these days for tea, and I almost thought you were her. You sound almost exactly alike."
>>605147 "Nightmare Cultists. There are varying accounts, but by the volume of them this town should be full of them. The only non-orthodox we've found so far are those Nature worshipers over at the clinic. I've half a mind to investigate again, but there's no real justification for it other than intuition."
>>605146 "… Really? I mean… I was always told that I look like my other mother, but I didn't figure I'd sound the same as…" Shake my head. "Forget I said that. I haven't spoken to her in years. She died when I was just a filly. Both of them did."
>>605148 >>605150 "…If you remove the impossible, what remains, however improbable, must be the truth. If this town should, by all reasons, be filled with cultists…" Sit down, and set my heavy halberd in front of me, as I begin undoing the straps holding the many vial and plants tied to my body. Slowly, begin coating a patch on my forehoof's guard with the Dream Wine, letting it soak the cloth fully.
>>605153 I'll sigh a little sadly. "I had hoped she would have become a merchant as opposed to continuing piracy…" Take another sip of my tea. "So, you likely didn't travel all this way for some tea. What brings you out in this weather?"
>>605156 "I'll let you in on something: every time that priestess sends someone this way for tea, it means that there's a problem they want me to look at. She picked up that habit from my sister, you see."
>>605157 Begin brewing my Mirror Elixir, taking out a tiny kettle and boiling water quickly with some compressed fire bars, shifting through my herb supplies and cutting away leaves with care. "The latter."
>>605158 I scrunch. "Look… maybe I'm just insane, but I had a really vivid nightmare a few days ago. When I woke up, I found this." Wave my hoof with the symbol on it in front of me. "I think it's counting down! It's like a moon phase counter or something. In that nightmare I was told that I'm supposed to return a stolen slab, but I don't know where and what this slab is. It must have something to do with Nightmare Moon, I think. She wants me to return something that was stolen and I think my mother was the one responsible for it."
>>605168 "Prevention is the best defense. Intimidating them by showing we mean business. If they grow wary and uneasy, we might have unmasked them. If they don't, we have definitely unmasked them. Don't you think we should pay at least a visit to the nature worshippers by the clinic?"
>>605169 The bank clerk hands her some forms. "You'll need to fill these out and keep them with you. They identify you as the account holder."
>>605172 Wind shakes her head and points to the window. Her raven is there. She opens the window and confers with it.
"A tip came in. I'm taking Stricture with me to the forest in the north, but I'd still like you to follow up on that lead with the clinic. Investigate and use your judgment, I have faith in you as I have faith in Her Eminence. Stricture, my armor."
>>605171 "You see, before you were born, your mother and her crew happened upon me in the city of Autumnsreach, where I oversaw one of the last unspoiled temples of Luna. By myself, since Lunar worship went out of style several centuries ago due to the Nightmare." I'll finish my tea, casting half a glance at the now exposed tea leaves. "The commodore of the fleet of the time stripped the temple of everything that I had not requested set aside for miss Summer and her mother, as they were the ones who actually managed to open the doors to the temple proper. Thinking back, Commodore Smitts was incredibly gracious in this. He could have just killed me and left me to die in the surf." I'll shake my head. "Regardless, I don't know why your mother would be indicted in any way by Luna or her darker side, as to my knowledge she didn't take anything."
>>605173 Put away my tools, carefully folding them back into my armor, into the many pockets and bags, and stand up. "Very well, my Lady." Bow my head slightly, and head for the door. "Don't let her be harmed, Stricture. She's in your hooves now." Smile slightly and leave. For the clinic.
>>605176 "I can't speculate, but where the MSL goes, so do the banks, so I wouldn't be surprised. New Earth is a new MSL city, right?"
>>605177 He sighs. "It doesn't work that way. I assure you that your money is safe."
>>605175 When you arrive in the clinic, you can see through the windows that there are ponies inside… Right, the staffer, the daughter of the owner – and some mailpony. Oh right, the mailpony you saw at the temple.
>>605179 >>605178 >>605180 The door opens and I walk in, head held up high as if to give my crome-shining coat an expression of stillness, the dark mane pulled back and behind my head, allowing the slight asian features of my face to be easily pinpointed. The mixture of plate and leather of my armour bears the marks of the inquisition, glittering as I stroll down the clinic.
>>605181 "Hmm." I'll make a quiet shushing gesture to Lilly as I hear the door open. >>605182 "Oh? I wasn't aware the weather was such a dreadful topic. Though, with how it's been lately, I could certainly see why you would say it is so, lady Inquisitor." I'll raise an eyebrow when I notice she's by herself. "Paying a social call, perhaps? You seem to have given your superior the slip."
>>605185 "Curry. And the town isn't so bad, lady Inquisitor. Though it did take them some time to warm up to us." I'll chuckle a little. "My sister, Skylight, probably helped with that more than anything, though. A sun priestess puts many at ease, and she was especially kind."
>>605186 "Mister Curry. So you are an outsiderto these parts? And yes, I too saw how familiar the townsfolks act. How very familiar indeed." >>605187 >>605188 "Nightmare cultists. That sounds like news."
>>605195 "To be honest? I didn't like very many ponies there. The false piety many of them espoused rubbed me the wrong way. Out here, where you can really sink your hooves into the dirt, then you can see ponies as they are. It's a refreshing return to nature."
>>605199 "Have they always been so… Helpful?" >>605200 Raise a brow, breaking my stoic expression to shift into mild surprise. "Nightmare Moon is sealed away inside the Moon, and so has been for centuries."
>>605201 "Well, as I said earlier, they took a while to warm up to us, so they didn't start out that way. Not all of them, at any rate." I'll chuckle a bit. "When we set up the clinic, most ponies still preferred going to the church for treatments instead, since they didn't trust us. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, but over time they came to us for small things. A cold here, the sniffles there, one rather nasty case of measles… Nowadays they come to us for things that they don't feel they should bother the gods for. Simple remedies." >>605202 "Not so, but possibly just stressed. A courier's job is one fraught with peril, or so I've heard." I'll gather the cups, and then refill Lilly's. "Another cup of tea should help calm your nerves, if nothing else."
>>605202 "Visions might at times be the effect of corrupting influences. Even though Nightmare Moon is not among us anymore, her cultists, those depraved ponies who have forsaken the Light, are still ahoof. If something is troubling your mind, I am trained to navigate the troubles of a pony's soul." >>605203 "And all of them do, and all of them have simple afflictions which are passing on the body and absent in the mind?" >>605204 >>605203 "Say, which mixture is that one?"
>>605205 "So far, at any rate." I'll whack my forehead. "Ah, where are my manners. I never offered you a cup of tea. This is a blend of leaves that soothes nerves and helps calm you down." >>605206 Well shit. There goes that.
>>605209 >>605206 Grasp her hoof at the helbow with one of my armored legs, running the other smoothly over the mark, as if wondering if it was real. Then, stare into her eyes with a grave look. "How long have you had this mark for now?"
>>605215 "I'll explain. I was sitting in the post office while this storm was going on. I hear noise coming from outside all of the sudden, like something hitting the building. I figured it was just the storm causing it, but went outside to check for damage anyway. When I get out there, I see this massive hulking beast messing around with a trash can. It spots me and chases me back inside as I go grab my gun, then starts preaching about how I need to 'Return the slab or suffer the curse'. It attacks me, I shoot it, it kills me anyway, I wake up and realize it was a nightmare, then spot this symbol on my hoof. Burning.
Ponies all seem to think I'm crazy. Maybe I am crazy, I don't know! But I'd rather not risk dying horribly if this is actually going to happen!"
>>605225 "This had nothing to do with a cult! It was a nightmare. Put into my head by Nightmare Moon herself! … If I'm not crazy, that is."
>>605226 "I don't know! I didn't take any slabs or anything. I thought maybe I lost a package at some point or something, but that's not the case! That beast thing called me by my mother's name, so I guess she's the one who did something that made Nightmare Moon upset."
>>605227 I'll glare at the inquisitor. "Unless the inquisition has magically changed its practices in the last twenty years, you are all still the same child-killing fiends as that black-winged monster from Autumnsreach. And so long as this mare is my guest, then no one shall remove her by force. No one, not even Celestia herself." >>605228 "I still don't understand what your mother might have done to warrant this." I'll think briefly. "Perhaps it was your father? Who was he?"
>>605230 Squint and glare into his eyes, my head inching closer. "An history with the inquisition, I see. Might be worth digging into it?" >>605231 "Then miss Belle, believe me. I will do anything in my power, and by extension, in the Inquisition's own power, to save you from this course, because I will stand no evil."
>>605230 I scrunch. "It's… kind of complicated. When I say my mother, I really mean my father. I had two mothers, but both were involved in making… me. I don't know how exactly, but there was magic involved to make me related to both."
>>605232 "I sure hope so, because I'm in a heap of trouble right now and I didn't even do anything!"
>>605232 I'll just dismiss your questioning. >>605233 I'll blink. Then blink again. "Wait. I'm pretty sure the only thing that could do that… but Abilio never researched that, did he? And she couldn't have… it was part of the floor, for Her sake…"
>>605236 I'll shake my head. "Well, I don't think it could possibly be, but there was a magical device which, when touched, altered the genders of whomever touched it. It was a, well, let's say a curiosity. But it was built into the stone floor, so I don't know how she would have even begun to get it out, especially since the place flooded shortly before…" I'll pace back and forth a moment, then glance at the inquisitor. >>605237 "While in Autumnsreach, some twenty-odd years ago, I encountered her mother and her companions while taking care of some of my own business. They agreed to help me, and we ended up doing a little dungeon delving off the coast. Inside we found a strange carved rock that, due to magic, could alter genders. I don't know why it was made, nor how it got there. If Lilly's mother did indeed find a way to take that along, for whatever reason, then it may have been a relic that was never supposed to leave, and the dungeon we delved into might have been an old lunar temple, from before the fall." I'll scratch my chin. "If that were the case, then the item she's looking for needs to be returned to that spot, to lift whatever curse has befallen her. Of course, the moon's phasing on her leg might just be a countdown until she gets a reminder to do so, be it monster or nightmare. I'm not sure, but on the nights of a new moon, she should be protected from either while she's traveling."
>>605239 "Why would I lie about something like this? There's more things in this world than anyone can ever really get a grasp on, miss Belle. I was as surprised as you when we found it, and half the group ended up as the opposite sex." I'll shudder a bit. "It was… disconcerting, to say the least."
>>605241 "Such knowledge can be lost after several hundred years. And found again in the most unusual ways." I'll wave a hoof dismissively. "But you've no need to worry about it. It's well and truly below the waves now." >>605242 "It was shaped as an altar, with moon carvings and the like. As for where it is… I never even knew your mother took it from there. My advice would be to look from the last place your mother was, and then go backwards until you find it."
>>605247 I'll roll my eyes at her. "I was no pirate. I was born in Autumnsreach, and thought I would spend the entirety of my life there until my outlook on the world changed. I was, for lack of a better term, an ascetic. It was by chance I encountered miss Belle's mother, and left." I'll pat your shoulder. "But, take heart! This is not the first time an inquisitor has jumped to conclusions and done or said something that was wrong."
>>605249 >>605248 "You see, miss Belle, he made a name. A name somepony in my profession hardly misses. Abilio the warlock. Commodore of a fleet which rode the manesyan sea little over twenty years ago."
>>605255 I'll look at her with an almost pitying expression. "You honestly expect me to believe you would withhold information from your superiors? You must think I'm an idiot." I'll sigh. "But, I get the feeling you'll be nipping at miss Belle's heels throughout her adventure, so I might as well spoil the finish line." >>605254 "The location of the Lunar temple of Autumnsreach is a small off-shore location that is exposed only at the lowest of low tides, and only for a few minutes, every day. That is how it remained hidden and unspoiled by both the Nightmare, and the Inquisition."
>>605259 "You might have more luck if you track down ponies who remained in the crew longer than I did. Your mother was a very sociable mare, and made it her business to be well connected." >>605260 "Unfortunately, it's experience in this case. My sister, however, has been helping me to forgive."
>>605266 I'll nod slightly. "Now, I'm afraid the water's gone cold for the tea, so if you're willing to wait for me to heat it again, I can get you a cup of tea. I can't be so ungracious a host as to send you out in this weather without at least a little something to warm you first."
>>605526 That's right, you most recently spoke with the underpriestess in service to the local parson of this unincorporated parsonage. This is to say that this is a temple of immediacy, having no direct ecclesiastical oversight and therefore clerically sovereign.
>>605533 1 bit is enough for a single, meager peasant meal. An unskilled laborer, such as a maid, might expect to earn 7 bits in a day.
A master craftspony such as yourself lives in relative luxury, having potentially thousands of bits to your name (though you don't currently). In the bank you have 300 bits saved up. You weren't much of a saver. You also have those 3000 coming in for your worldly possessions being sold off, so you expect that to show up some time after your key is left. If you want to drop off your key at the warehouse's bank box, you can do that now if you recall the number.
>>605540 The underpriestess to the parson is anointing candlewear in oils here, to prevent rusting. This suggests that the candles are actually gilded, and not actually solid gold. Unsurprising for such a small establishment.
She greets you as you enter down the stairs. "Oh, inquisitor, you return."
>>605542 "Just fill out a withdraw slip and sign it."
>>605561 "It is known that some issues are solved through medicine and others through prayer. There is a clear divide between the secular and the ecclesiastical in this matter. I refer to him only those cases which are not best treated by the light of our common Lady Ecclesiastical, Her Holiness the Ecclesiarch of Equestria.
>>605572 "By definition, all illness is unnatural. It is through healing that we return to a state of nature in alignment with Celestia's light. Health is a mirror of divinity. But you mean something diverting from the constant flow of running noses and regretful chronic masturbaters, I presume?"
>>605579 She gulped what remained in her mouth' ''Oops,sorry hehe…'' She said as she picked the other one,licking her lips in a doggy way as she slowly munched on it ''Sho,you still didn't aswer my question miss Selena''
>>605584 "We have, of course, heard the rumors of cultists, but as you might imagine, none have come before me and admitted to any cult-like behavior. But then, why would they? In my thinking, cultists wouldn't ascribe any ecclesiastical power to clerics of Her Holiness. There are many stories connected to the woods, but why shouldn't there be? There are wolves, and sometimes tales of wayward manticores. Woods are dangerous."
>>605616 "Oh, certainly, nightmares are a very common source of stress. Usually I recommend calming tea, it has a mild sedative effect. Oftentimes, discussing a nightmare can help dispel the fears at its root."
>>605631 She looked at her curious for a moment,wondering what gotten into her how could you not be hungry with those delicious things?! ''Well…I always wanted to be an invetor…and help others and amaze them with the stuff I'd create…So I always dreamed of learning all I can about all sort of science But my parents never really liked that idea…''
>>605640 ''What did WE did for a living you mean… My parents and my brother always worked on the mines,getting gems,but his work has been getting hard because he couldn't find gems anymore. Gee I wonder why?Maybe because he kept digging in the same place?!'' She asked sounding annoyed out of the sudden. ''Well…I offered to use a device I invented to make gem hunting easier…It detected high concentrations of zircon based on…well it doesn't matter… What matters is that when I showed that to my parents and I told them I wanted to be an inventor…You could think they would want to talk about it… … But instead they gave me this…'' She said pointing to the huge scar on her head,it went from above her right eye and until the back of her head. Rhanna didn't had any hair on the scar's extension,making a long bald spot
>>605668 ''I studied it,you won't believe how many books get thrown away in the dumps on my neighboorhood…'' ''I also memorize and know the names of over 27 different gems!'' She said proudly ''pretty cool right?''
>>605742 She pulled her hand back ''oops,sorry'' Rhanna was a little bit heavy,but thankfully still a kid,she pressed her thighs against Selena's sides to not fall of as she walked there was a huge smile on her face as she giggled
>>605758 Rhanna leaned a bit into Selena as they went ''This is really nice miss Selena'' She muttered as somehow she was getting a bit sleepy. go figure She even yawned a bit before sniffing on Selena's hair
>>605914 I have some leads now… I think I know what I'm looking for, but where it is right now is a question. Seems likely that it was on board the ship my mother sailed, but I have no idea where that ship sank.
Do I have any idea where some of the people my mother used to be close to are nowadays?
>>605915 It's been twelve years, and most of the folks she was with went down with the ship. The only close friend you can think of is Unkillable Wark, and you have no idea where he might be other than maybe in Abeardeen, the ancient city of Donkeys. It's generally closed to outsiders, but rumor has it they hold their great moots inside the skull of an Ursa Major – hence the name.
>>605937 In a city this large, it's busy. Full of regulars who do the town work. Most of them are loading up off a stack of today's papers. The local Postmaster seems to be directing traffic. He looks very busy.
>>605943 The headquarters is here, near the docks, though you're not sure if someone like you could get past the front desk. The Port Authority is more commonly consulted for day-to-day shipping questions and of course the MSL is highly tied into it.
>>605948 "Uh… good day. I have a question for you that may sound a bit weird. I'm looking for the location of a ship wreckage from about 13 years ago. The ship that belonged to the 'Pirate Queen' Light Heart and was sunk by the MSL?"
>>605951 "Well, should I look through all the files of ships that were in service 'about 13 years ago', and comb through all of their records for a battle with a vessel whose name we also don't know? It would take weeks, maybe months. I'm sorry - sincerely - but without more information, how much can you expect of me? Listen, if you have absolutely no leads, try a seer to get basic information. A name of a vessel - a certain date - either of those would make major strides. You might ask around the merchant districts for a mage knowledgeable in Omnisight, or search for a skilled alchemist who can brew Dream Wine."
>>605953 "It is said to invoke visions, though it is unpredictable. I've heard of it being used by alchemists to aid investigations, occasionally. But you know the sort of alchemists – oddballs, often cooped up in their experiments all day."
Selena and Rhanna You're still in the bakery. The storm is starting to pick up outside… you hope it doesn't cancel the voyage.
Lilly Belle The only alchemist shop in the city looks closed… Why would you go out on a day like this? Maybe locals know more about their hours.
Maeda You tracked the one with the strange hoof onto a vessel. But she jumped ship as soon as Lubuck came into sight. It's a good thing you followed her! But getting to land may be tricky. The storm is picking up, too…
>>605959 A pony sticks her head out of a nearby second-story window.
"I think Selena's selling her shop. Everyone saw her touring around a warehouse mook!"
Selena the alchemist… It makes you think of a pone… from years ago… She disappeared…
>>605960 >>605961 The vessel is starting to board, ponies loading onto a vessel bound for Autumnsreach. It's a little flyboat – so it looks mostly like workers. One of them directs you to stand aside as they load heavy crates first.
>>605963 "It was around lunchtime. She probably hasn't left the city. Where she's gone, I can't say. But if she's gone for good, that means she's taking one of the ships out today. Did you ask around the docks?"
>>605965 Looks like textiles and oil mostly. You bored reading labels and probably miss out on something interesting.
You sprint and leap onto the boat and yell at the captain to pull out. He stares at you blankly.
Two police skiffs start pulling around to surround the boat on either side and six police ponies are galloping over, to get up the gangplank. You can see more police charging down the street, and gawkers are starting to form ranks on the shore.
>>606024 >>606025 "Fresh magic traces on the newspaper. Possible insurance fraud. I want representatives from the bank and customs house on this. Is this document municipally or privately ensured – or neither?"
>>606026 Yes, he looks pretty shocked. A police pony is getting a statement.
>>606027 Roll my eyes. "Insurance fraud? No, it's not insured. I forgot that article in the vault. There's a huge line at the bank, and my boat here was about to leave. So I sped it up, I didn't know it was illegal to get something from your own vault these days."
>>606029 They finish off and the officer trots off to trade notes with others.
The captain frowns. "You weren't on the manifest, were you? We still need to leave. Only those who have booked passage with the MSL at the port authority are permitted on this vessel."
>>606030 A bank associate gets ushered up to the front and he examines the paper. "It does look like the one that belongs in her vault."
The police pony frowns. "We've had ponies try to put something valuable into a vault then magic it out – only to collect the insurance later. Watch yourself. I'll let you off with a warning – this time. Alright stallions, move it out."
They let you up and you can now retrieve your possessions.
>>606056 >>606057 Rhanna didn't even acknowledged Lilly at the moment. her mind was focused trying to remember about a nice moment in her childhood… She settled down in a space between the boxes,it was cold,and she realized that now…She was trembling a little bit as she curled up in a ball,trying to keep herself warm '1d10' but can she get warm?
>>606061 >>606062 >>606063 The bell awakes you when you arrive. It's maybe 3 or 4 in the morning, and your ship out, the FIS Merriment, leaves at 7AM. Layovers are the worst.
The docks here look heavily locked down. Stonebriar has a reputation these days as a warehouse city. The innovations of the new concept of 'factory' have not yet bled down to the locals here, but security is tight. Your flyship goes through TWO sea walls and a waterlock, before parking directly inside a building. There are separate exits here for cargo technicians and passengers.
"Don't forget to take the door on the left. You don't want to get lost in the warehouse quarter. Follow the road back to the main street and find the Purple Harbor. That's where the Merriment will be laying anchor.
>>606065 >>606066 It is a wee hour of the morning. The drizzle here is light, as though the walls of the city themselves fortify against a storm. You don't see any other pedestrians at this hour, but there are ponies smoking and working on the docks. You see one carriage traveling down the street.
>>606065 Rub the sleep out of my eyes, then look at her. "By the way… with all the chaos I haven't had a chance to explain myself yet. Maybe you know more about this, but I'm looking for an artifact that my mother owned. It's connected to… well… Nightmare Moon."
>>606072 ''Spooky'' She muttered uninterested. these ponies and their silly stories about things living in space. heh. how could a pony go to space? I mean,there's no air up there! And it is could as heck they would like,need some sort of special pod made of specific materials that would be able to handle the extreme cold and and oxygen storage or something of the sort and… woah… hey… that could actually work now that Rhanna thought about it… She remembers reading that the moon is a rock technically! Oh…Maybe it would be possible to mine it! and find all sorts of gems! Gems that no pony or dog in Equestria has ever seen before! Rhanna had a huge smile on her face for no apparent reason and barely heart what Lilly and Selena were going on about in her mind she was only thinking about rare new space gems,of all colors,sizes and shapes… oh and the so many names she could give to them if she were the one who discovered those gems!
>>606077 Hmmm… I wonder what her deal is. "Well… I need to find it back and return it to where it belongs. If I don't Nightmare Moon will tear me to shreds! I only have…" Look at the symbols on my hoof. "11 days left, I think."
>>606080 "Some kind of a sinister demon dog from Tartarus came to murder me in my dreams and told me I had to return it to where it belongs! When I woke up, I had these symbols on my hoof. It's counting down the phases of the moon! This is without a doubt Nightmare Moon's doing." Wave my hoof with the symbols on it around.
>>606084 "I met this stallion called Curry… he knew my mother as well and told me she got it from an old temple dedicated to Luna in Autumnsreach. I'm not sure if I actually have to return it there though. Maybe finding it will be enough…" Smile nervously. "This is all pretty crazy, huh?"
>>606085 "It's not some tattoo, it's a demonic mark!"
>>606090 "I mean… I have to actually get that thing first. If it's at the bottom of the sea it's going to be a tricky job to get it back." I sigh. "And then I have to find a way to get to Autumnsreach with almost no money."
>>606099 ''Well…I was supposed to be miss Selena's Apprentice on Alchemy or something…But she said she had to leave…So I asked if she could let me come along with her and now here I am!'' She said before picking a slice of the pineapple,drooling just a bit as she bit it
>>606119 ''What you mean?Like,sure they might have not remember sending letters,but that's unlikely,I mean,who would not write to a mother as nice as miss Selena? Why wouldn't they write to their own mother? The only logical reason is that they either both died or are in a dungeon being forced to eat breadcrumbs and drink their own pee!'' She said with wide eyes ''…At least that's how my parents say it is…I dunno…How does your pee tastes like?'' She asked without a hint of joke in her voice that dog was literally sitting there asking how does Lilly's pee tasted like