Night has fallen. A new day awaits tomorrow… best to finish your business tonight.
Marina and Maeda have returned. If you wish to ride with Marina, you should get your bits back and get the Underseaboat brought around. If not, the porters will pick up the altar shortly.
You're a little hungry and very tired.
Marina and Maeda Little Lamp informed you of the money in the well. Marina went diving and recovered 250+'5d10' bits. You have arrived back at town – you can split or keep the bits however you like. Maeda is the richest character.
Little Lamp followed you back. You're both very hungry.
Selena Aira is feeling a little better tonight.
You're very hungry. Lilly is moving out, and Marina and Maeda got back.
Rhanna You have a destiny to choose. Who will you go with?
>>635291 >>635292 Marina, you still have enough food supplies for 6 meals. Alternatively, The Upper Hoof – the tavern which serves as the hub of the town – sells meals. 5 for a single, or 9 for a double order. Decide how to split up that money!
You meet up with Selena, Rhanna, and Lilly at The Upper Hoof.
>>635293 Aira stays behind in the room to rest for now – you run into Marina and Maeda at the Upper Hoof.
>>635296 "Right. I still need to tell the guys on the ship we found that altar. We could have you there in a jiffy." >>635295 Hmm. I should probably resupply my food stores for my ice chest. We're not gonna get far with a half-dozen clams, three lobsters, and three yellowtail… But that can wait until after we eat. >>635297 "Say, about that well money. Are we going to be splitting it up amongst everyone?"
>>635303 "Well, we could resupply the ship with it, if nothing else. Though I'm sure Lamp Light might like to have something to her name." >>635304 "Are you kidding? Helping you get that altar back to where it came from is why we all came along in the first place."
>>635312 You head out to the port authority. On the way you notice that the comparatively unassuming boulevard beyond the red light district has blossomed in the night light – a number of electrical signs like the one you saw at the barber. It looks like a lot of ponies are out there, but you don't know what the fuss is about. A marketplace, it kinda looks like.
You arrive at the port authority and take a number.
>>635327 "Don't you even dare." >>635328 "Alright, let's go get you something, then! We've got fish and seaweed." And I'll bring her over to the bar so she's got a solid surface to eat from. Give her a boost into the chair, if she needs it.
>>635345 It's certainly interesting. Coriander would probably be more excited about these things. Maybe I should bring him back some, on the way back to the crab… I'll nibble for a few minutes, then look at Lamp Light. Is she still busy eating?
>>635349 "You are going back to Autumnsreach- That city is one of the main bases of the Inquisition, stationed at the Basilica of Saint Radiant. I need you to deliver a message to them. I need you to warn them about Enkilj!"
>>635348 >>635345 ''Hmn…Marina you never had potatos right? I mean, they don't grow down there in the ocean as far as I know…They're a soil thing…Actually…Do you guys grow food there? like, veggies from the ground? I never stopped to think about it…'' she ponders
>>635356 "My brother has a bit of a side project going where he tries to grow things ponies bring down from the surface." I'll grin a little sheepishly. "I'll admit I've probably eaten more sugar canes than I should have. But I don't think he's ever run across a potato."
>>635359 >>635357 "You just need deliery this letter-" Write it before her own eyes. A letter detailing the cult and their meeting in Enkilj after they came into possession of various cursed artifacts from the now abandoned monastery near New Earth. A letter asking for their help, as swift as possible. Then seal it with the Inquisition's seal and hoof it to Lilly.
>>635358 ''cool. Do you know How does he do that?'' >>635359 ''potatoes don't grow from trees though'' She raised a fork to correct Lamp ''It's a pity there's no fish…I mean potato is nice but man I could go for salmon right now…''
>>635359 Chuckle a little. "You've got a bit of stuff on your snout." Dig through my purse for a napkin or kerchief, but fail to find one. Guess I need to pick up one later. "Say, Lamp Light, what were you thinking of doing now? Do you have anywhere to go?" >>635364 "He puts them in the ground, of course. Silt is good for plants."
>>635374 Rhanna was about to blow raspberry at her, but had another thought crossing her mind She bit down another chunk of the potato and chewed on it a little, before turning to Lamp and opening her mouth, giving her a view of all the half chewed potato mess in her mouth and teeth ''Bleehh''
>>635369 "No no, silt is a type of loamy, sandy soil that carries a lot of vital nutrients for some plants." >>635370 "Would you like to come with me, or Maeda? I'm sure either of us could find you a good home, if you don't have anyone else to go to."
>>635380 "Well, it's alright to take your time and think on it, but we're probably going to be leaving some time in the morning." I'll give her a little smile and pat her on the head. "But don't overthink it, since the decision really boils down to whether or not you want to stay here on this island." >>635381 I'll shake my head. "Nah, Coriander says that anywhere there's a river or something, there's bound to be silt." >>635382 I'll nod. "It might be close, but our ship is fast, especially since it goes underwater and we don't have to worry about storms or stuff like that. The real problem's going to be getting that slab where it's supposed to go."
>>635390 "Well, there's only so much I can do. She's been running on coffee and adrenaline for, what, three days now? I'm surprised she hasn't dropped already." >>635392 I'll nod. "That's true. But I'll make things a bit easier: Lilly and I are headed to Autumnsreach, and from there back to my home. We can take you with us, if you want to go, and I can almost guarantee that if you don't find a place in Autumnsreach, you'll have a home with in my town. Maeda is going to that crazy cultist island, and from there I don't know. Or you could stay here and wait for another group of Celestial missionaries in an empty fort, far away from town." >>635395 I'll smile a little. "That's a secret."
>>635403 "Hopefully it won't come to that." >>635404 "A mare needs her secrets, Rhanna. You'll understand when you're older." >>635405 "Right about now, if you've got everything packed." >>635406 "Alright, in that case, once you finish your dinner, you can help keep Lilly awake while I go fetch our ship." Ruffle her mane. And with that, I'm out the door and towards where we parked the U-Boat.
>>635422 "The city has been busy. The engines have been repaired, population is booming, and the last resistance forces driven out. Also, on a more personal note for you, Coriander has taken a mate. Your mother reminds you to not let adventure get in the way of your own search for love, which I found rather humorous."
>>635423 "Not really, but I have to do something…"
>>635430 She looks pensive – surprisingly so for one so young.
>>635432 I'll scrunch and blush at that last bit. "I don't see how that's any of her business!" Snort. "Anyway, we've got to circle around to the docks so we can load up that altar. We leave as soon as we've got it loaded, secured, and we're stocked."
>>635431 ''I'll go with you then, okay? Since Lilly and Marina are going and all, I doubt only Maeda can make sure you're alrighty'' She crosses her arms ''After all I know you won't get far without my amazing knowledge to guide you, eh?'' She snickers
>>635433 "Yes, or… no. Not really, it's complicated. I mean, monasteries do research and protect artifacts. Someone has to recover all of that. I know where everything is, the pitfalls, the codes. So… it would be like abandoning my post if I didn't help them sort it all out."
>>635434 There is coffee – a local favorite. It'll help you stay awake a little better, but it probably isn't crazy healthy to keep drinking so much. It's 4 bits. A bit expensive.
>>635435 "Yeah, okay. We'll set the sail – not that it actually uses the wind or anything. Get below deck, Miss Love Hunter."
>>635441 Pout. "Anyway, the altar is up near the bridge between the town and the Celestial Monastery. We didn't have enough rope to drag it down, and none of the others could touch it without being tossed about twenty feet. So it's going to be up to us to move that slab. Fair warning, it changes your gender when you touch it."
Canterlot, 14:02. Official sources within the capital are remaining silent in response to pressure from expert sources which have deemed the war on piracy 'an unwinnable war'. Although piracy is down more than 80% in the past twenty years, in the past five, it has reached a relative plateau of effectiveness. The renewed interest comes in light of the anniversary of the siege of Triangle Cove, which started six years ago last week, and continues to this day. In the modern day, most pirate hunting is carried out by MSL privateers, but these efforts are subsidized by the Equestrian government. When asked to comment on the effectiveness of this strategy, Royal Guard Captain Silver Shield responded: "Unequivocally."
>>635470 There's always those Unseasonably Warm Pockets. They taste like garbage but they have all the nutrients you need to be a courier, including your daily allotment of goodwill, because your job doesn't provide any.
>>635471 The team of stallion seaponies follows you out. A troubling thought crosses your mind that your mom may have sent you out with all stallions on purpose with regards to 'finding love', so you dismiss the thought before it can develop further.
"Yep, that's a big rock alright."
>>635473 "Okay, but I can't guarantee she'll come down."
>>635472 "The pony body is built for action. For power. Meditation, knowledge and clarity of mind are all one huge mean to a single end. Honoring your life like the divine blessing it is. Never letting it go unspent. What you are feeling is your body earing the call. It needs to live."
>>635474 But I grew up with most of these guys. They're like brothers, kinda. Marrying any of them would be weird. "Be careful with it, or you'll find yourselves more in touch with your feminine sides than you thought possible. We've got enough rope, right?"
>>635508 >>635509 "You can extract bone dust – not from ponies, that is only delicious, not useful for dice. From the world. When you go to strange, exotic locales, you can extract dust with a certain spell. If you bring that dust to me, I will make you dice for a cheaper price. This is not your sort of pony magic that needs a catalyst – it is the magic of my forefather, it requires only an incantation. The magic of spirits, not ghosts."
>>635511 "Can you be brave when you're filled with terror?"
>>635513 Right, time to head out and find Lilly and Lamp Light. It's probably too late at night to restock our provisions, but the fish we'll catch on the way should be fine. And I've got enough until we reach Autumnsreach, I'm fairly sure…
>>635516 "I explained to you before – places not visited have less of their ambient luck used up. Strange places, too, might work. Unusual sights. Anywhere like that – those are the places where the luck of the world can be tapped into."
>>635517 She produces a card, which looks suspiciously mass produced. "Read this over the site, and dig. You look like a good digger, yes?"
>>635525 I'll roll my eyes. "Well, I suppose it's natural. The filly's been raised by those missionaries pretty much, so Maeda's probably the most familiar thing to her." I'll pat you on the back as I pass by. "Anyway, go get settled, we leave shortly." And then I'll head back to the tavern.
>>635534 "Mild ponies. Those who prefer to be left to live their quiet lives in silence, doing the one thing they know, without ever trying to find new things to marvel at. But you, you don't want to be that kind of pony, I bet?"
>>635536 "Yeah, or contests – or paying. Most of the big names around here – Mama Anne, me, DLC, Candy Carlow, Cool Whip, Hot Diggity, and others – are all up on level three. Most veteran adventurers are on level two. The only sorts you get here on one are greenies or drifters."
>>635538 It says "Mother is drinking again." Creepy.
>>635539 She looks uncertain. "I do like that kind of life – you can find new things to marvel at in silence, in introspection. That's what monks do. There are mysteries of the universe you can't see, that you can only learn through text. The abbot said this new electrical essence will change the world, and we have to know it now or the church won't be able to respond to it. There were marvels, even in the quiet."
She stops rambling a moment. "But… I would still want to be brave."
>>635544 "Levels? You mean to tell me these young ones need levels now to feel good? Why, in my day, adventuring was about drama and danger and rooms filled with gold! And romance! ….or at least that's what we hoped it would be!"
>>635544 "Conversely, there are marvels you can't read about. The smile of an old friend you have to see off. The smell of salt on the grey midnight sands as waves wash over you. The eyes of the pony who you know as your equal, as he admits defeat and spares your life. Emotions are born of the wild side of our mind, of a side which books cannot replicate. A side you have to experience. Do not limit yourself to either one, don't be slave to your mind or servant to a phylosophy. Live to bring all that Celestia gave you to its brightest heights. Let the little sun inside you shine with each coming day."
>>635553 "If it gets you what you want… do you care?"
>>635554 If you call the sling-like hammocks "beds".
Itztli has drilled a hole in the wall - like a mousehole - except that logically a hole in that location should cause the ship to flood with hullbreach. Instead, he seems to have a little room back there far beyond where the ship should end.
He's fluffing a pillow on his (rabbit) King-size satin four-poster bed.
>>635555 "The tavern has three floors. Better adventurers get better food and drinks, on higher levels."
>>635558 I'll inwardly roll my eyes at Maeda's rant. Moon, does that girl need a hobby. "See you later, Maeda. Don't let those cultists do whatever it is they're up to." >>635559 "Alright, it's this way." And I'll lead her off to the ship. "Also, we might not have enough beds, so you can share a bunk with me, if that's okay."
>>635568 She rubs her arm ''Well…Thanks…but moving on to the adventure thing…Since when were things this…uh…what's the word for that…Sistemized? I thought adventurers and adventures were experiences of things like self discovery and finding thrill in your life…Heck, what even classifies an adventure as such? does it have to meet certain objectives? do you have to bring back so much gold? do you have to find a mystic Item in an abandoned tomb? A combination of all these?'' Asked the little pup, full of questions
>>635577 "You would have to ask them. Most only are interested in 'is this quest official', not what makes it official. Jobs from the board are official. In any case, it's not really where I make my money."
>>635576 She must have been exhausted. "Oh, one last thing. Don't touch the big altar unless you want to feel what it's like being a colt. I don't have a clue why this thing does that, but that seems to be the only enchantment it has on it." Give Lamp a little smile. "Sure you don't to sleep in a bunk?"
>>635580 "I've heard you are an expert of dice." Pull out my own pirate dice. "Is this one of those you dabble in?" >>635579 "Ah yes, I think I've had this conversation already. Mr… What was his name, again?"
>>635584 Chuckle a little. "Little scamp." At any rate, I'll put a blanket over Lilly, so she doesn't get cold, and then slip into my own bunk. "If you have any problems during the night, just come wake me up, okay?"
>>635580 ''Wow…'' She puts a hand on her hip ''That's the dumbest thing I heard of today…I think I'll actually go take a look there quickly, yeah…But…Where do you make your money then-Wait, wait…Lemme guess…Because of how adventures are now so systemized like that, it means there's now a buncha so called 'adventurers' going around, and you make money out of them, selling magical dices that give luck, so they can complete their quests, getting money for it, money of which YOU gain a part of because they will always come back to buy more dice before a quest to make sure they are succesful, and when they are not or either have no money…You give them the info about the bone dust'' She pulls her card and looks at it ''So that way you make even more dice…'' She looks back up at Fly ''And that means you can make a lot of money without even going through any danger or bothering about leaving… It's…wow…That's a super genius plan!'' >>635583 ''Fly…Her name is Fly''
>>635596 "Keep it on you. You'll find your luck improves at the moment it breaks. When you need more, you come back and buy some from me. The universe has a way of deciding on its own when the best time to bail you out is. Rhanna and I have a mutual friend, Selena, who is already convinced of their value."
>>635739 Here, at The Upper Hoof. You should probably get some sleep, though.
>>635738 She holds one up in her claw. It's a wooden coin, not a die.
>>635740 It looks very worn and is actually quite boring to look at. The inscriptions and symbols are all worn down from what looks like hundreds of years of use and disuse. It's a surprise it still has magical power.
>>635743 Lamp Light and Marina are sleeping on their hammocks. Itztli isn't in his home – nowhere to be seen. The other ponies are up on the main deck, presumably working or on break. This isn't much of a view down here in the tiny, cramped hold.
>>635745 Very well. Hang a notice. Something about the inquisition needing heroes for a most holy duty. Everyone involved will receive 100 bits and the absolution of their sins. Five heroes required. Meeting tomorrow at dawn. THEN I can sleep.
>>635754 The Red Number I explain this to give you the context necessary for understanding that this transition is not only something that can happen, but something that WILL happen. To avoid further buildup and adieu, the number is approximately one hundred eighty per square mile. At this point, transition is inevitable. So it must be concluded that in any urbanized world, transition must occur. There is no other way around it. One can either choose to live in the largely rural world of separation where each individual lives in small tribes, eventually ruled through feudal chains up to a single Monarch or two Diarches, but this cannot happen in any condensed society. Republicanism always emerges. The only difference is whether this is channeled through the lens of classism or the lens of the people. Island communities like Reptil tend to reach this number faster because size is a commodity which cannot be squandered. But this phenomenon is on the brink across the entire world. Even now electrical essence and steam essence are being captured and utilized. Populations grow. The inflation observed in recent years is unlike anything ever observed before. I predict in the next decade alone, prices of all goods will raise 400%, and the price of food will raise 800%. This is a price revolution which will - WILL - usher in the new age. It is a symptom of change that I have already observed.
>>635753 Ok tell you what. Make the 4 heroes required and let's go to the Apple, get a room for me and Rhanna if she needs it and crash. Leave instruction with the tavern owner and the Apple's owner to send Rhanna my way if she wonders where I am.
>>635757 She crosses her arms "Well you gotta pass the knowledge to someone don't you think? Is there anyone else that knows how to make these dice? Do you have kids of your own or plan to have? If no to any of them, then I really think that you should teach someone so that the knowledge is not lost! Come oooon you should totes tell me!"
>>635761 "Aw, it's not gonna be so bad! There's plenty for a couple mares and a filly to do on this tub." I'll scratch my chin. "Though most of it does happen to be looking out the portholes at undersea life." My stomach will grumble a bit. "Well, that sounds like the breakfast bell. Are you hungry?"
>>635764 "Well, then there's only one thing to do! Time to make breakfast." I'll roll out of my bunk and wander over to the ice box. >>635765 Now, let's see… I think I'll cook up that yellowtail for breakfast. >>635764 "Is yellowtail alright with you? We're probably not going to get any decent kelp or seaweed until we hit Autumnsreach."
>>635765 She cringes and backs away a little "Eew… Do gryphons always do that? And well… How about instead we make a little deal, eh? I'll go traveling around a lot, so why just sell your dice in this place? You could have it being sold all over the world! Sounds good right? Well you know how smart I am don't ya? Well I have tons of ideas of things to invent and help ponies and make life better for everyone, but for that I'll need sponsoring or money in some way. So what you say you teach me and only me how to make the Pirate dice, I make a bunch of them and sell them whenever I go, and I come back here once two or three months or so and give you half of the money I make? Sweet deal right?"
>>635768 "It's a fish, silly. A type of flounder. It's really tasty!" >>635769 It is a cold box that keeps things cold, like ice. So an ice box! Time to prep breakfast. I'm sure this thing has a galley somewhere, so I'll cook in there. Taking six, of course.
>>635777 Or I could trip and light the boat on fire. I think I'll take my chances with average fish. >>635778 "Well… there is a potato in the ice box…" I'll think a minute. "Hey! That'd make a great side dish! Thanks for reminding me!" Dig out the potato from the box and start preparing it.
>>635777 She scrunches and shakes a fist in the air as the gryphonness flies away "A scientist hardly cares about those things!" She turns around and leaves, grumbling "You'll see… I just… Need to find a way to make big money… Then I'll show you…"
>>635779 I thought you were saving that for your brother.
Anyway, here's what's in the box: >Dixie Potato w/ All Fixin's >Bleu stuffed olives >Chocolate protein shake >Monterrey jack cheese cube >Soybeans >Diced tomatoes >Sugar cane >Assorted fish >Clams >Mussels >Oysters >Lobster claws (8) >Starfish >Squid (1/4 lb) >One pufferfish >One quart beer (for basting) >Any number of spices and garnishes, ranging from paprika to sugar to salt
>>635781 …Oh right. Well, how hard can it be to find potatoes in Autumnsreach? He's going to have his flippers full with kids soon enough anyway. Let's see, what to put with that yellowtail… Let's go with the garnishings (rosemary) and tomato, and some of the oil from those olives ought to make it taste better for Lilly, since she doesn't like meat. It's like mom used to do to me, hide gross food in good food to hide the flavor.
>>635789 "Well, it's the only thing I was really good at down there, you know? I can't fight, and I'm clueless about mechanics, but cooking? Seeing the faces of ponies enjoying what you make? It made me feel like I really made their day better." I'll be quiet for a moment, but then smile at Lilly. "Of course, not everything was a success. I remember one time I tried cooking up some weird flying fish that was floating around down there, and let me tell you that was a mistake I will never repeat."
>>635795 "Well, it more glided than flew, but the wings weren't what I was going for." I'll chuckle sheepishly. "I should have guessed it was a chaos fish, but I was like, twelve. I've never had such a bad stomachache before or since."
>>638029 >>638028 Many blows his breath and scrunches. You've known this guy as long as you've held the Aquamarine City, and a little before. He seems pretty unflappable, so you wonder what has him in a huff.
It becomes IMMEDIATELY obvious when your visitor descends. Decked out in gleaming black leather, flanked by scurvy earth ponies, and resting a hoof on a gleaming, gem-encrusted sword, a tall, dark, and handsome pirate descends the stairs. And unfortunately one that you've had the misfortune of knowing in the past.
"Avast! Truly, you are an adventurous little sweetroll, aren't you?"
It's Treacherous Davy. A pirate three times your age (granted, silver fox) who seems convinced you're engaged. So far he's probably harmless.
"I couldn't help but notice you were making your way across the sea, love, and thought you might need a ride in style. You know, not with these…"
He gestures vaguely at the compact interior of the ship.
"Accommodations." The word is dripping with sarcasm. He's probably harmless. Probably. Many Irons is covering his face with a hoof.
>>638030 My expression will remain calculatedly deadpan. "Well, I suppose that solves the problem of my appetite. There's no room left for food with all the hot air that just blew in." I'll raise an eyebrow. "How exactly did you manage to find us, anyway? I thought we were underwater." Looking at Irons, I'll raise the other brow. "We were underwater, weren't we?"
>>638032 >>638031 Many doesn't make eye contact when he remarks, "We're currently disentangling the Underseaboat from Davy's extensive network of deep sea nets."
Davy laughs for about twice as long as would be reasonable. "What a coincidence that we'd run into each other out here, isn't it! Truly the Lady of the Sea smiles upon our union! We should really set a date, you know, while we're here."
Luna has always had a special significance to sailors back in the old day – something apparently even your father knew. Your mom said that it was easy to find secret worshipers among old seafaring ponies. Davy has made it clear in the past that this is why your union is so important, though you've always suspected he has something deeper going on besides aligning with a largely in-hiding religion.
>>638033 I'll groan inwardly. Again with the nets. "You seem to have made quite the effort to ensure that it wasn't a coincidence, Davy. Surely there are other, more appropriately-aged mares who are wilting for lack of your attention?" I'm pretty sure Davy just wants our U-Boat and crab fortress. Secret Pirate Islands are hard to come by nowadays.
>>638035 "Unfortunately, captain, I have business in Autumnsreach, and as you're well aware, business must come before…" I'll almost choke on the distaste of the word. "Pleasure." Then I'll scuttle around the table and throw a leg around Lilly's shoulders. >>638036 >>638038 "I'm currently escorting this young mare for a rather important bit of business, dreadfully dangerous stuff, and unless you feel comfortable risking hide and health against an ancient nightmare beast, then I would appreciate if your crew could assist mine in freeing our ship from your nets."
>>638040 "I could not ask you to do such a dreadful task, Davy. After all, it also involves a cursed tablet, that we've got in the hold by the way, and it has to get there within the next two days. Otherwise, my poor friend here will become a victim to that beast." I'll give a rather solemn frown. "This is Old Magick, Davy, and something only we priestesses of the moon can handle. Your… enthusiasm is appreciated, but I fear you would simply be a snack to it. Surely the world can't lose such a, uh, notable pony such as yourself. Not after what happened to the last most infamous mistress of the seas."
>>638041 >>638036 "What? September? That was years ago! No, I will not be cowed! Why don't you join us on the Locker and start picking cake flavors in the kitchen? We'll all sail together to see this beast in Autumnsreach while you start working on wedding preparations."
Contrary to common folklore, Treacherous Davy's Locker is not at the bottom of the sea, but is, in fact, still in service and a very fast ship, notorious for its sails made from giant spider silk, which is very difficult to get without terrible prices from diamond dogs merchants.
>>638042 Well, it's a bail of hay, which is pretty much what your bed was like before… could it really have been a dream?
You hear roughhousing diamond dogs in the other room of the burrow… which is still more evidence that you're back home, unfortunately.
>>638043 I'll start to sweat a little. He's more persistent this time. Probably because my mother isn't around. "Captain Davy, surely you can't begin to expect me to entertain the idea of marriage! Not when my own father is missing, and my mother is occupied with her duties. There is simply too much to be done before I can even consider marriage that, while the offer is certainly… appreciated, but I'm afraid that I must decline your generous offer."
>>638046 "Interesting… so you're saying, all I need to do is recover your father, and you'll set a date? Ha ha ha, I'll be sure to have him in the bri… dge of the ship within the week! And then, you'll have no choice to stop putting it off! Well, have fun in Autumnsreach, love, I'm sure you'll be brilliant!"
With a little flourish and sheathing of his blade, Davy heads back up the stairs with his crewponies. Many looks pleased to be rid of him. "That sounded… ominous. I ought to check on the de-netting process."
>>638047 "Good questions… which do you want answered the most, runt?"
>>638049 "I've got a bad feeling… probably nothing, we'll see about it."
Irons heads back up. Well, your meal was interrupted.
>>638050 The bitch grins widely. "Good choice. This is the Battle Burrow, one in a series of burrows along this coast. We saw you passed out in town and dragged you back here. I can tell by your muscles, you're Southron. A Musdoggy Dog. Born to rule and fight, fight and rule."
>>638051 And my appetite, ruined. Sighing, I'll head back to my seat. "Sorry for that, Lilly. I honestly don't know how he keeps tracking us down. He's probably got a wizard or something on his boat with pony-finding spells." Shiver a bit, then mutter. "Creep."
>>638055 Since the hold is the same as the deck you're on (and the sleeping deck) – this being such a small ship – you can glance over and confirm its location. No one's snatching that out from under your snout!
Only a few minutes pass before another terrible shake wracks the ship.
>>638057 She raises a brow, clearly amused. The two dogs fighting between you are finishing up their match, as one is pinned.
"Alright, this is your last free answer. It's not kidnapping if you take a pup back to its home burrow. You belong with us, pup, not in some pony town. We're headed to the front, across the Forbidding Sea."
>>638058 You never thought you'd have a sudden acute preference for being hauled up by Davy.
Your ship is entangled in the terrible tentacles of a giant octopus – most of your crew have abandoned their positions on the ship to engage it, but half of them are missing. As Rough Swimmer, a red seapony bolts forward to jab it in the beak, a bolt of light hits him in the back, and he floats, paralyzed, down toward the darkness. This far out in the ocean, it could be hundreds of leagues deep… someone has to rescue them… someone has to right the ship… someone has to stop this terrible octopus!
>>638060 A snatching tentacle misses your adept swimming. Out of the corner of your eye you can see another paralyzing magical bolt extend from one of the octopus's tentacles. Wizard octopus. That's a new one. You're really missing Lilly's gun about now.
Irons mouths something at you from across the way, but the waves carry it. The ship begins to pitch and yaw as the octopus withdraws two tentacles to dedicate three entirely to your capture.
>>638061 "I told you, you are home, runt. Or you will be, after we take you to the front."
>>638063 "What do you want to go back to some pony town so much for, anyway?"
>>638064 As the octopus grabs you, it drags you up close to its eye and examines you. Suddenly, it turns loose the ship and loses all interest in the crew, and begins rapidly swimming away. You wish you could say you could comment on the state of the ship, but it's blocked behind a large cloud of black ink.
You struggle, and and the octopus reaches inward, drawing you toward its gaping maw… a dreadfully sharp-looking beak.
Right when you think you're about to be snapped in half, it blows a bubble, which envelops you and you begin to float up toward the surface. It doesn't stop. You keep floating. You begin to soar high up into the sky. You can see quite a long way a way, but you don't have much time to look. Roll for scrutiny.
>>638066 Pick ONE thing to examine more closely >The distant ship Locker >The black spot where you estimate the Underseaboat is >The big cloud above you >The tropical island not far away >Something else
>>638070 You think you see some figures perched above. Ponies, by the looks of it – maybe pegasi? What are they doing so far out here?
Your bubble makes a sudden turn for the tropical island after you get even with the top of the mountain at its center. Oh boy.
It begins to pick up speed and soon, the world around you starts to blur as it reaches an incredible velocity. With a sudden pop, you roll to a stop in front of a dark blue pegasus with a prodigious Merlot-red beard. If that's not enough of a shocking visage, he's dressed up as a king – full flowing ermine robe, scepter, and crown.
"How did you like the terrible WIZARD OCTOPUS of the great ADVENTURER-KING and MAD SCIENTIST / SORCERER / CHOCOLATE EXPERT known as Ornitrex? I take it your accommodations were pleasing, my sweet, sweet DAMSEL / BRIDE?"
You are alone, on a great mossy cliff on the side of a mountain. The ship spot seems pretty far away.
>>638071 She snatches you up by the skin of your neck!
"Ha! You think you're pretty tough, eh? I like your spirit. We'll have you in armor in no time."
>>638075 "Where's your pride, runt? Don't you want to reclaim our homeland? If there's one thing every dog has drilled into their head, it's the importance of home. And we're going to retake ours. The lost lands. Lost Musdoggy."
>>638076 "OF COURSE! And now, my young damsel, I will store you in a tower, possibly on a volcanic island, not like this one, this one is useless. There, we will be married, and SEAL THE PACT."
>>638077 I'll bury my face in my hooves. "No, no I'm not doing this. I've already got one old creepy pony trying to marry me, I don't need two." I'll sigh heavily. "No offense, of course. I mean, you seem… thematically prepared but, really? Really? Have a care for the kidnapped, please. My friend is going to die if I don't help her get that altar back where it's supposed to go."
>>638078 "HA! Do you think I, Ornitrex, care about ONE MERE LIFE? Do you have any idea how spec–"
Ornitrex, adventurer-king / mad scientist / sorcerer / chocolate expert, is cut off as he is tackled off the cliff, bodily, by two flying ponies. A third, a jet-pack bat pony wearing a simple bronze circlet and light leather armor gives you a mischievous grin, having replaced the position of Ornitrex. "YOU look like you could use a rescue party. May I have the pleasure?"
He reaches out to take your hoof, if you'll offer it.
>>638079 She doesn't fight you and lets you tumble gracelessly to the ground. Ouch.
"What kind of diamond dog are you, anyway? Living with ponies, not caring about the homeland? That's a disgrace."
>>638081 He kisses it, and then hoists you as he flies out off the cliff. You can see Ornitrex struggling with two other ponies, firing off lighting bolts at random, below.
It looks like Underseaboat has righted itself, at least. You wonder where the Wizard-Octopus is…
"The pleasure is all mine, but I of course know your name, Princess. I am Prince Vlad, and it is my great honor to meet you."
>>638082 "Nobody ever barred the door, runt. Sorry for giving you a place to sleep instead of leaving you out to rot on the side of the street. But maybe you should ask yourself why this pony you think cares about you left you out to sleep in the cold and dark. Maybe some day you'll wonder what it means to be a diamond dog. On that day, make for Musdoggy. We're moving out tomorrow, maybe you'll be able to catch the fighting."
>>638083 "Princess? That's news to me." I'll point down to the U-Boat. "There's my ship, if you can set me down around there. It's a bit small, but I think we can fit the you and your friends on there if need be."
>>638086 "You think we smashed into a pony inn just to grab you? What for? Anyway, you don't gotta argue with me, get out there and see the un-broken inn for yourself. Maybe you just need some time to think it over before you decide on your priorities. Like I said, we ship out tomorrow, runt. Cmon, Dino, let's go for a round."
The victor from the previous match gives the bitch a nod.
>>638085 "To be completely honest, I'm not too thrilled with it either. First that creepy old pirate who been following me for years, now some insane choclateer with a pet squid, and now a prince. Not that you're an unwelcome change of pace from the others, since you're at least somewhere near my age, but I'm still just horribly confused at why this is happening all at once."
>>638091 He gives you a suave smile. "Yes, well, perhaps Heiress Designate is more proper. You have only just been selected. I'm only glad I could be there to rescue you in your time of need. It would be a pity for such a beautiful princess to be menaced by that terrible Ornitrex."
Irons grumbles something under his breath, which you probably imagine is something along the lines of 'I had to fight a squid, unswamp a boat, rescue several sea ponies, and you don't hear me bragging about it'
>>638092 The exit of the burrow isn't hard to find, but it's camouflaged. You wouldn't probably find it if you didn't know where to look. Popping out of the brush, you're only a fifty meters from the town of New Earth.
>>638093 "Which I appreciate, really, but I'm kinda strapped for time at the moment. Like I told that salty old fart Davy, I've got too much on my agenda to even think about this whole romancing thing. Which is what I assume brought you into the area." I'll scrunch a bit. "How did you three all just appear out of nowhere on the same day like that anyway? Did mom put a tracking spell on me or something?"
>>638098 "Well, he's got two friends that are either entangled with that crazy old wizard, so unless they show up in a minute or two, they're missing the boat." I'll start heading towards the hold. "They've got five minutes starting now. They're not here, we go on. Time's a-wasting and I've got business in Autumnsreach."
>>638102 "Flattery gets you nothing, Prince. I'm not some pond lily courtesan that you might be used to. If anything, I'm more like a sea urchin. So I'd prefer if you'd speak to me without the fancy language. And you'll probably be expected to pull your weight if you're riding with us, since it's gonna be pretty cramped down there."
>>638107 Irons stops you for a moment at the other side of the threshold. As the waves roll over the sides of the ship, he's silhouetted by the rolling of the sea behind him, rising up to cover the deck, just beyond the magical border that seals in the air and out water. "Listen… Marina… I know this is probably the worst time to bring this up, but I've been meaning to make out with it for years, and now with all of these new ponies out of nowhere… I hate to do this to you, but I want to tell you, I've been trying to work up the courage to ask you out for along time. It's not about this heiress thing. That's not important to me. I know it's the last thing you want on your mind right now, but I just wanted it off my chest, now that everyone else is going to try to take you. Just… remember that you have options. You don't have to choose someone for politics."
He gives you a meaningful look, and returns to his dutiful command of the ship, drawing in a line as he heads for the helm, out the barrier. That was… surprisingly candid for him. He's muscular and a hard worker, but you never took him for the crush type.
Vlad bursts through the water barrier, spitting out a mouthful of water. "Eugh. I would not have minded a warning about how quickly this ship dives."
>>638108 There seems to be a trail of broken metal pieces leading out to the bad side of town… Looks intriguing to a dog like you.
>>638109 Well, that's something I don't know how to deal with right now. "It depends on who's driving, actually. And the weather. On a clear day like today, well, you saw how fast it went under." I'll let a small chuckle escape. "Now, I suppose I should get the rest of the crew who isn't busy used to the sight of you. This way." And it's off to the hold to rejoin Lilly and Lamplight.
>>638113 >>638115 "Lilly, this is Prince Vlad of… he never actually mentioned. He and his two friends saved me from being kidnapped a bit ago. Apparently when my mom took over the Aquamarine City, that made me a princess and now in the span of a morning I've run into four different suitors."
>>638116 Aira Springleaf, 20 years old Class: Bard Cutie Mark: Lute
Aira is a dreamer and her heart's of gold. She never really seemed to pay much attention when you tried to get her into the family business, but she liked stories about your mom and performing. Doesn't she know that a stable life is better than one on the road hoping you'll get to eat that day?
Aria Springleaf, 20 years old Class: Shaman Cutie Mark: Lightning Bolt
Aria took an interest in your garden and Sunny at an early age, but it wasn't long after that she began to chafe under your ground-bound lifestyle. She has dreamed of moving to a pegasus city for a long time, and it was no secret she hoped to fund something to that effect with this trip. More brash and headstrong than Aira, she is interested in the chief industries of the pegasi, cloud manipulation and weather applications.
>>638117 "I am the son of Grand Duke Vlad IV, making me Vlad V. I am the heir apparent to the seat at the Lonely Tower, which holds in its demesne all of Transcastria."
>>638120 >>638121 I look cross. "It's not really fair though is it? Sons of dukes and priestesses all being called princes and princesses? Where do we draw the line here? Am I a princess because my mother was a sea captain?"
>>638122 "Perhaps, but now is certainly not the-" >>638124 I'll sigh a bit. "As I've told my other suitors, I'm not really 'on the market' yet. I've got things to do. So far your saving grace is that you aren't three times my age and are actually polite." Though Irons is too, but that's a different matter.
>>638124 "But if princess Celestia is the same rank as you… does that make your father more powerful? I mean no offense but you don't look like a demigod to me! I'm sort of jealous of your wings though."
>>638126 Vlad has a dark and distant expression for a moment. "Princess Celestia took the name Princess instead of Empress hundreds of years ago as a political move. She believes this makes her less intimidating to her subjects. She should not be underestimated."
The visage clears up so quickly, it's almost like it was never there.
"In any case, I would not say that Celestia and I are the same by any measure."
>>638132 "A friend of the princess-to-be is a friend of mine. Charmed."
He outstretches a hoof to accept yours.
>>638133 "Delano Landry Charles is the primary franchise holder. He owns just about every building and business in New Earth, besides most of the ships! He made his fortune back in the day in the microtransactions industry, but now he's looking into other business models. He lives on a palace ship out in the bay, one of those merchant galleons."
>>638135 "Tonight, I believe there's a ring-throwing competition. It'll be in the basement, also known as the sub-floor. Great contests are running every night. It could happen, only on the sub-floor."
>>638136 You get so caught up in following the wreckage that you don't even notice when you walk face-first into a big heap of metal and plaster. It looks like you ended up at some kind of junkyard out on the beach. Half of the stuff is floating away into the water. Based on the beached, dead fish, you're guessing it's pretty toxic. There's a ram here, pouring small metal fragments into a nearby chute. In spite of the loud noise of shrapnel falling off the pile you bumped, he doesn't pay you any mind.
>>638137 He draws your hoof up and kisses it. He flashes you a fanged smile. "You could say that. Certainly, Luna is close to our… hearts."
>>638149 "They're not old pony tales, which I learned the hard way! But I'll be free again soon. And able to sleep again! Do you know how long it's been since I had a decent night of rest? I can only take nightmare fueled naps these days!"
>>638173 ''Huh…Well that's…Kind of a really weird coicidence because that's kinda the same reason why I wanted to go to the moon…'' ''By the way…Are you sure you wanna use this iron? it's awfully oxidated…''
>>638183 "And you and Aria did that? You're adventurers, you should be saving your money, not spend it on frivolities!" Go into preaching mode. "When I was an adventurer, I saved everything I had! Why on board of the ships we sometimes got to eat the seaweed from the side of the ship. And I never complained, because that's the sacrifices you make if you want to build up savings! If I hadn't done that, why I might never have been able to buy my shop!"
>>638189 "Eh, out in the forest, but I've got some errands to finish up before I head back…"
>>638190 "It already did make me happy. And by the way, more than the actually adventuring part. You sure talk that up, but it got me kidnapped, drugged, and stabbed! But I put up with that for the part that I do like!"
>>638191 Vlad makes short work of his fish. Lilly is probably getting sick of it.
>>638192 >>638191 Things are slow. Vlad doesn't seem to mind the slow rate and never seems to get tired. He just patiently lounges on his bed. Irons looks in from the upper deck probably a little more than was necessary but never says anything.
The day passes quite slowly… Around noon you can feel the ship shaking as it breaks free of the water. You can hear the crow yell: "Land, ho! Equestria is now in sight!"
>>638202 My left ear flaps all on its own! "As you can see." Sit down and order a drink as well. "I'll be leaving soon for Enkilj. Maybe I'll come back here afterwards, this seems like a nice place to settle down!"
>>638205 "I'm not, I'm just reminding you how many fucking times we died back in the day. Ain't no fucking freaky necromancer here to scrape us up from the floor now." Smirk and pat my pistol holster. "At least here showing this off is enough. Nopony wants to start trouble in a small place like this. Not even me!"
>>638208 "Aira was talking about it today. She told me you needed a subscription to get in. So you could buy the more expensive food in there, and show off to other ponies. And apparently all kinds of adventurers are spending all their money there, just to show off." Shake my head. "I thought she and Aria might be a little more prudent…"
Selena It looks like Maeda is finished looking over her papers and is free to talk.
Maeda First thing you did upon entering The Upper Hoof is ask for some answers about why no one responded to your job posting. Apparently people want 'official' quests approved by the town council. You've just finished reading their paperwork with your superior investigative skills. It's actually not that hard to apply, if someone can brave the daunting paperwork as well as you. However, the processing will take about three days. You've already picked up a form here at the tavern and have filled out most of the general information. It looks like questing is actually subsidized – that is, the town will match your reward on certain applicable quests, which is actually really great for you. Once you've selected a reward and projected timetable, you can submit it and get it approved and rated for difficulty.
Marina & Lilly Roll Perception
Rhanna "Hmmm… welp, not much. I gotta get some steel oats at the general store, and dredge some crab boxes along the shore, but after that, we can go."
Iga Night. Things are quiet now, but they won't be soon. You have business to take care of. If you can just get to the docks across town… It would be too much to ask for that it goes smoothly. You are currently at 世俗的な歓喜のハウス [Megumi's House of Worldly Delights], a walled apartment complex that the Yakuza "offers" as housing to those they don't want going anywhere. You are on the third floor, in your personal room. The walls are paper in more ways than one. You're all packed, the floor is cold. You are all alone. You must reach the docks.
>>638946 It has to be rated at least a level 5 quest, whatever that means. You glean it has something to do with difficulty. Maybe someone around here in this adventurer tavern could help you estimate your own if you're worried.
>>638947 Yes, she's here at the bar, but distracted by ordering from the "low quality first floor menu".
>>638943 "What? No, it wasn't. We shouldn't be taking on water unless we're going under." I'll frown a bit. "You didn't happen to see a hole or anything, did you?" >>638950 "We're above water. The only thing that'd be sinking us is if we were going back down, or if there's a hole."
>>638951 "Sure, we can, but the two of us alone will accomplish ver-" Cough, looking at Aria. "The three of us, alone, will accomplish little! So I'm looking to recruit help, but that will take time. They have a whole procedure in this town. Three days." >>638952 It's paperwork, they must have an office!
>>638954 Grumble a bit. "Alright, you two stay put and stay dry, I'm going to get the crew to check the hull and belowdecks. Hopefully it's nothing serious and we can pump this water out of here." And with that, I'll head up to the rest of the crew.
>>638957 >>638959 You head up. Looks like the ship isn't submerged right now, you can see the Equestrian coast. Irons has the helm, but in general the crew are relaxed right now and not at stations. Vlad is circling high above.
>>638958 "Duh, mom, no one's gonna go on a quest if they won't get credit. Plus, DLC will give you extra experience if you buy his chips."
>>638960 You turn a corner and walk right into the door. That was easy! This place is stuffed with all kinds of stuff. You imagine you could buy just about anything legal here, and you pick your way over a stack of music boxes and through a maze of lingerie to the counter.
>>638961 You head over to the Port Authority and take a number. Again.
Looks like a light wait in the morning, though.
>>638963 Not as such. There's a sliding paper door, but you're on the third floor with no balcony. You slide it open just to check. There's a tree across the way… it would be a difficult jump, but if you make it, you could get out of here easily. On the other hand, failure would hurt and certainly alert the guards.
>>638965 "Hey, Irons. We seem to be taking on water, or it didn't drain right when we came up. You want me and a few other guys to check the hull for holes?" I'll look over the crew. "It'll give them something to do, at least."
>>638965 If I fail my jump I still have my wings! But I don't want to make too much noise with my flapping wings so I guess I've gotta try sneaking out. Pop a smoke bomb for dramatic effect and activate my Chameleon smoke!
>>638971 "Hm… Could be that magical octopus I had to fight off the other day. Magic fish to damage a magic boat. Pity there's no bilge on this thing. Boys, get the buckets. In the mean time, you're the best swimmer on the ship. Have a look?"
>>638973 You can't find any sorts of oats on the food aisle that are "steel", just regular oats. Hmm…
>>638977 "You mean level five, right? It's a measure of difficulty. Like, a level one quest could be done by just about anypony, but it takes a lot of small quests to save up to level 5 in experience, so the theory is you'd be ready for a level 5 if you can finish a bunch of level 4s. 5 is pretty dangerous, though. I've heard they go as high as ten, overall, but it's rare to see them much over 5 or 6. Speaking of, I know they were re-evaluating the difficulty of quests in Enkilj recently."
>>638981 "Alright. Hope it's nothing serious, because I'm not sure how we'll repair this thing." I'll give Lilly a little wave and then dive off the ship. Let's look for cracks, holes, and other things that might lead to leaks. '1d10' Swear to Luna, if there's a leek down here that's causing this, I'm going to be so incredibly angry at Discord.
>>638983 "Well, most people don't plan their own adventures, they just go get one from the quest givers, or a quest board."
>>638985 "The whole city? That's like… a war! Level ten, I guess? The place is huge, even the artifact quest I went on was a level four and we just needed to recover some pottery from the outskirts. Plus, there are… you know, rumors."
>>638986 No cracks that you can make out, but there is something… odd. Some kind of shadow clings to the bottom starboard side of the ship. It's large, and sways in the water like a reef.
>>638988 The stallion chuckles. "Here for Old MacMeal, eh? I've got you covered, right here. You have the shipment?"
He places a box of steel bullets on the counter. They're .50 caliber!
>>638989 "Never seen you fly, ma'am, but she's half fish."
>>638992 You slide open your door as stealthily as possible. Once in the complex proper, you can roll Perception on any room to get a better idea of what is inside of it. Otherwise, it's so dark that you will only be informed of things you clearly remember and moving creatures.
This hall is silent and empty. You hear the soft patter of hooves approaching.
>>638993 Irons just laughs bemusedly. "Why don't you come up here with me and watch the waves while we wait?"
>>638994 "They may just be trying to drum up hype for the end of this quest season, but they say that the cultists of Enkilj are summoning a Dark God to destroy the world. Probably just hype."
>>638991 I blink ''Wait a minute these are bullets for guns…I wanted Steel oats mist-Ooooooooh…Oh…'' Realization suddenly hits me as I feel stupid for a moment ''Yeah I got it right here…'' put the weird rusted metal thingy on the counter
>>639006 There is a suspiciously still mouse scanning the halls on the other end. Yakuza Animal-Watcher, maybe.
The noise coming toward you is just your next-door roommate, Mei Nuo Ping. She's a troubled mare. Deep in debt related to drug abuse. You doubt she's leaving any time soon. She slides open her door and closes it behind her.
>>639008 He points out to the shore. "This is northern Equestria, as we're following the Middle Seas current. We're somewhere in Mildwinter, which is not far south from Snowborder."
>>639014 That's… yeah that's weird, alright. Swim back up. "Hey, Irons, think you can spare a guy or two from the bucket line? The thing on the bottom of the ship moved. Like, skittered. I'd feel more comfortable removing it with some help."
>>639016 "DLC owns just about everything in town, including the quest approval board and port authority."
>>639017 The pony at the desk turns a shade of white. The manager comes over from the office in back. "Inquisition? The government of New Earth accepts no responsibility for works produced by its citizens. Creative works are the sole property of their producers except when being sold, in which case a royalty may be assessed."
>>639019 "That's… weird. Do you think we should pull over on the shoreline?"
>>639020 "We're making surprisingly good time. The current is very strong. This is the fastest you can travel by sea."
>>639027 >>639025 He takes a close look at your badge. "Well. He'll be in from his ship to speak to the Quest Board later today. If it's really so urgent, you could talk to him then. Right now, he's out on the Pleasure Cruise, which is his personal galleon, out in the bay."
>>639028 >>639024 "Right, let's pull over first, just so we don't go down with the ship."
Irons guides it close to shore, and the other workers help tie it up.
>>639028 You'll get that once we're in place. "It's gonna be rough unless you can breathe underwater. It might run up on land, though." >>639029 And I guess I'll get my spear from storage after we lay anchor.
>>639031 This room is dark. It's the second floor common room. Unlike your floor, which is structured with doors off halls, this one has a large central room with rooms off of it. They're smaller than your apartment. There's a housekeeper cleaning a nearby room, and a Yakuza thug sitting in a commonroom chair.
>>639032 "Well, I have my rights. Anyway, let's get goin'."
He gives the cage another jerk and begins to tow it along.
>>639035 "Kinda intimidating, but I guess she knows what she's doing."
>>639034 When you make port, Irons leads several other ponies down below the ship with you. They most of them are sea ponies, but Irons is an Earth Pony with a waterbreath necklace your mother gifted to him a while back.
>>639038 "Well then. I will be visiting him soon enough, announce me. Maeda Tree with the Equestrian Inquisition." >>639035 >>639038 "Now girls! Who's up for a trip to the good old monastery full of dead ponies?"
>>639039 "You're not thinking of going out to the Pleasure Cruise are you? No one visits DLC. He'll be on the shore later this afternoon, speaking to the board on the fourth floor of The Upper Hoof. Here… take this note, the bouncers will let you in."
>>639040 The hat remains fine because it is magic. The rest of your clothes could use some cleaning, though.
>>639042 >>639045 You approach. Irons closes and stabs at it, but it immediately detaches from the boat, swims to land with a single thrust, and takes off across the landscape.
"Not our problem anymore… no way that will come back to bite us, do you think?"
>>639043 "More like weird creatures trespassing on my property!"
You start to head out of town into the jungle.
>>639044 There's a service tunnel near you – used for maid services. It's cramped, but it would allow you to bypass the room.
>>639049 Sigh a bit. "I'm sure it will, now that I'm apparently a desirable kidnapping target." Shake my head. "Well, let's bail out the rest of the boat, then get back underway. We don't have the time to hunt it down, since Lilly's on a tight schedule." I'll look towards the land mass. Any trees with fruit we could pick real quick? Lilly might enjoy something other than fish for once.
>>639051 By air? Maybe half an hour one way. By land, probably an hour each way.
>>639050 "It moved really fast underwater. Weird."
>>639052 Not so much underground, as you are still on the second floor. The tunnel exits into two rooms, or there's a vent to the outside. You might be able to leap to the wall from here, if you want to chance it.
>>639053 She doesn't have clothes, she was naked when you found her!
>>639089 "Well sure, sorry. But do tell me where it is at least? Maybe I can drop by some other time. And do you know a place where I can wash my clothes? If you're quick you can bring your clothes to me and I'll wash them too."
>>639101 You head down the stairs. This is the main room, you can see the front desk, the hall to the back rooms, the dining area, and the front door. Two thugs are guarding the door, maybe there's an alternate way out.
>>639103 >>639096 "I have a good feeling about this wind. We're better off now that we're rid of that ill omen."
>>639107 You break off and follow her back to the apartment district. For a moment she pauses in the middle of the street. Dive for cover with a roll! Then blend with a roll! >In the alley to the right (long dive, high cover) >The trashcan (small dive, medium cover) >Another pedestrian (no dive, no cover)
>>639106 Instead of a washboard setup and a clothing line, there are two mysterious boxes in the so-called laundry place.
>>639108 >>639109 As you set off, Irons comes down. "The crew is starting to get a little hungry. What do we have in the stocks?"
>>639111 You hear movement behind you. You turn around, just in time to see something huge move around the corner.
>>639113 "No, no. I mean, yes. Some of them. There are a lot, but I'm still pretty spry."
Your careful eyes allow you to narrowly avoid a pit trap!
>>639173 In your dream, you see Aira laughing. She looks inebriated. There are bright lights. She's with Aria. They're walking home. It's raining. More lights. They fiddle with a door inside. Nearby the door you can see the right half of a sign
RES AY EE TH RACT
The sound of the door closing wakes you up.
>>639174 You steathily roll over behind the service desk. You can see their front-end safe here, and a filing cabinet. It probably has a lot of details on the girls staying here. There is a sliding door to the back administrative office. You peak over the counter. The thugs are still at the front door.
>>639179 You very quietly open the door to the office. You hear movement behind you.
The office is small and cramped. There's a big carpet covering most of the floor, so you can move quietly in here. You feel an unnatural draft. There is no ventilation here. In the corner, you see a toad perched on table. It is extremely dark in this room.
>>639180 I meant you, but okay, you can ask him, too.
The barbarian barber looks up from cleaning his scalpel as you enter. "RETURNING FOR SOME SERVICE?"
"IT'S NOT FAMILIAR TO ME. HAVE YOU CONSIDERED TRYING TO FIGURE OUT THE OTHER LETTERS? IF IT IS TRULY THE HALF YOU CLAIM IT IS, THEN YOU COULD REASON THAT FOR EXAMPLE, YOU CAN LOGICALLY DETERMINE THE NUMBER OF LETTERS ON EACH WORD BASED ON THEIR RELATIVE JUSTIFICATION ON THE SIGN. GAAAAH!"
__RES __AY __EE __TH ____RACT
>>639185 You slip on the carpet, crashing to the floor. (Stealth lost, but alert not raised… yet)
The slip revealed a hidden passage under the carpet, as you bunched it up!
>>639190 The tunnel is dark and narrow, and your heart pounds along to the beat of your hooves. You can hear them behind you… they're gaining on you!
You see a crack of light just up ahead, and without breaking sprint, kick it open! You tumble into the underground aquifer, a powerful river pushing you along under the city. You turn around. The thugs have stopped at the door you kicked open, you can see by the lights of their lantern.
There's a growing sound of water… it's quite loud. What could be causing that? The current sure is strong here, and you can't seem to fly out because of all the water saturation weighing down your wings.
>>639183 "Pretty smart… Saaaay what even made you come up with the idea? Who are those anti intellectuals? What will you do when you're out there on the moon? Oh gosh gosh gosh I have so many questions!"
>>639202 Someone in town directs you to the Sweet Serenade. It's an apartment / housing community built down third avenue. On the outer door, you see a sign to the left of it: MARES STAY FREE WITH CONTRACT
It doesn't seem like a good part of town. There are a lot of lascivious mares (and even stallions) here. Looks like even the outer door requires a key though.
There is a business office to the left, if you want to go in there.
>>639204 Thinking more logically, contract might only have meant the adventuring contract, and I could have just asked to those DLC lackeys for apartments which offered such promotions, but not having someone to bounce ideas with is a curse. Now. On to the reception!
>>639205 "Very close now. I just need a few more parts, but I've been putting them off because they require a lot of travel. What I really need is a #1 Ionium Jet, Omega Stabilizer, and Repair-Type Bolt."
He rubs his chin. "The Repair-Type bolt solves a degradation problem I've run into. I've heard they have them up in Novdogod. The #1 Ionium Jet is a Manako Group design, somewhere up in Equestria. I need it to boost propulsion to break the atmosphere. Finally, there's the Omega Stabilizer. I can make it myself, but I need Ghost Sponge, and it only grows on the shores of Abeardeen."
>>639208 It's not an issue. You stroll aboard. Unfortunately, as soon as you step out into the middle of the deck, Ponies with blades pop out from behind every door, porthole, and mast!
Flowing Tree is there, at the helm, looking imposing.
>>639214 Looks like it's just you right now. Good thing you came early in the day! Actually, back in the day, washboarding and hanging stuff up to dry took all day, you kinda think you might miss the community of it all. There's nothing much here but some chemical jars and a box of linens.
>>639216 He chuckles. "That's a mighty fine offer, but you can't expect me to think you'll follow through. It's a long, long way away to each of those places."
>>639215 Leave the helm, strolling with the confidence of an old, bored sea wolf towards the mare. And as I'm a few steps behind the last of the armed ponies on deck, my hoof snags my own hat, and I bow in overtly dramatic fashion. "Well done, little cat. But don't think the night over just yet."
>>639236 And to that, I will not even raise a brow. "Now, if anything happens… We'll cross that bridge when we come to it." And let's seal the box. >>639232 Once the box is sealed and fastened, I will go through the list of what needs to be done before leaving.
Several days later, all is well. Things have been going quite smoothly, in fact, and you're headed up the Equestrian coastline, nearly to your drop point. You're taking a break in your office when a huge crumpling sound rings out, and your ship gives a terrible shake.
>>639247 I probably have a fit and fall out of bed. "THE NIGHTMARES ARE COMING ALIVE IT'S ALL COLLAPSING AND… wait, I think we crashed into something again. It better not be another damn tentacle monster!"
You head below. The bilge deck is nearly entirely flooded already, but the stock deck above it looks fine. The engineers can't get down to do the work until the water level drops, but the water level can't drop as long as there are holes in the ship. They're doing their best to make temporary patches.
>>639253 "It sounded further off. I think we're… um, what's the opposite of submerge? Emerging? Ascending?"
>>639257 "Ascending sounds right… Emerge sounds like coming out of the water itself. So something horrible is lurking around out there, that's just our luck!" Let's wait and see what the crew does up there.
"We're not sure if we can salvage the ship. Should we send up a distress flare? We're close to shore, but they might see the hold, which is still loaded with cargo."
>>639262 "Okay. I think we were supposed to meet on the 4th floor of the Upper Hoof. It's about time right now, but we need the ledger she has."
>>639263 "The mare you were with? Let's see… they came in earlier this morning but left, and I didn't catch where they were going. I think maybe the Port Authority, because they wanted to turn in quest documents?"
>>639264 The sounds above seem to calm down, but you retain your trajectory up.
>>639267 "No, we need this ship." Take a loong, hard look at this whole situation… "Here's what we do. Engineers! Insulate this deck from the bilge right now. Make it so she won't sink for the next twelve hours. Everyone else, form a chain and pump water out until they are done!"
>>639267 Stomp my hoof. "Now that's just rude. First she follows you around, then she doesn't even have the decency to show up to her own meeting! Well it's up to us then to entertain mister DLC until she arrives." Put on my clothes. "How do I look?"
>>639284 You sit at the bar. It's very crowded here, because ponies are in for the lunch rush.
>>639285 The stock deck, the next to lowest level. Above that is the gun deck, and above that, the main deck.
>>639286 Irons comes down from above. "We think a ship has hit a reef. They haven't sent up a distress flare yet, but they look like they're in critical condition. Marina wants to know if you'd be willing to let us stop for a time to help rescue the crew."
>>639287 It's a very small bar with a piano and a bartender mare dressed up like a magician. She's scowling at you.
>>639288 Bucket, bucket! It just seems like you're falling behind, it's making you nervous!
>>639289 This time, you spot Selena and Aira at the counter.
>>639297 Alright, the pumps are here… "Great! We might all be fucked upside down." Let out a long, fat laugh. "Come and help get the pumps going lads! Let's not make our friends' efforts go to waste!" And I will go on deck, to have a chat with them.
>>639300 It looks like it's losing altitude fast, but the damaged portion is submerged.
>>639304 The Ghost of Light Heart has come to taunt you. It flies above, surveying your wreck. Does your miserable old soul really still feel guilt for splitting apart all those years ago? You remind yourself that her death wasn't your fault. She stayed in the game too long. You can't be independent anymore, that's why you're with the Yakuza. She shouldn't haunt you.
You blink your eyes. The spectre doesn't disappear.
>>639315 "If you care to know-" Walk up to the piano, leaning onto it, slightly tired. "I'm looking for the daughter of a friend. She might be in troubles, and is not opening up to us. That's why I'm here." Look slightly defeated.
>>639322 "Maybe you don't flash your badge and scare the customers off if you're trying to help some pony. Ponies come to New Earth because they want a fresh start, not to have the Inquisition banging on their door."
Afternoon waxes onward. Wasn't there somewhere you planned on being?
>>639327 Shrug ''Nothing. He told me he was building something to go to the moon just like me! Can you believe that? He looked like a pretty cool old guy and I even helped him a little, went to the market and got him a bag of bullets, weird thing is that they call it Stell oats''
>>639329 "Don't you remember me? I'm Flowing Tree! Was on f-" Look around, settling her down and calming myself. "-We should talk about this later. Our ship's got a hole as big as the gap teeth of a hag on her bilge, can your lot spare any engineers?"
>>639332 ''Ow ow, you're being kinda rough…And yeah, we just worked a bit on a machine to go to space, and he told me he needs to find some stuff but he's too old to go get them himself ya know? He said I could go to the moon with him if he finished! isn't that like, all sorts of awesome!?''
>>639339 ''Found a goat dude, gonna do a favor for him and such…Oh yeah and another thing…I woke up and got kidnapped by a weird big dog lady and her mutt and she was trying to get me to be a fighter, they said they were going to take Musdoggy back!'' >>639343 ''Every single one?…Well he was a bit weird, he had traps all around his house and such''
>>639346 "What is it now, you saw me after that ill-fathed dive?" Snicker. "What were you expecting, honestly. Acting like a murder suspect who'd just been caught red handed!" >>639348 "Musdoggy now? And make a fighter out of you?" [worry intensifies]
>>639349 Nod frantically ''yeah She was trying to get me to fight and such but I was like, nah I don't wanna do that, and then they let me leave…I was kinda scared because of how they took me from my bed at night and into that weird place…I think I'll have to sleep with an eye open from now on, really'' >>639351 ''You're the boss miss Selena!''
>>639363 "Than you stop harrassing her. I have the fullest confidence in my daughter and if something is wrong, she'll tell me. You might be an inquisitor, but this is my group and in my group we trust each other. So either you trust my daughter as well or you can find yourself somepony else to adventure with!"
>>639364 Keep on looking at clouds. "It's hard, you know. Having literally everyone, everywhere you go say that to you. Use those words. The big bad inquisitor. She will come and snuff away your children as you sleep! She will put your dog in prison for all eternity! Do you ever think that maybe we have other reasons? That maybe, all we ever wanted to do was help ponies?"
>>639365 Roll my eyes. "Oh boohoo, you're such a victim. Here's an idea, you want people to like you? Stop following them for no reason! Now show that the Inquisition really is here to help ponies by getting up, stop acting silly and let's go upstairs to talk to this DLC fellow."
>>639369 Put my hoof on your shoulder and lower my voice. "Listen, you think I'm bad? I've fought some real mean ponies in my life, Maeda. And if you're going to be an Inquisitor you'll meet a lot of ponies far worse than me. And you're going to be working with a lot of ponies far worse than me. If it was really just about doing me a favor, then thank you but if you had just asked me I could have told you it was unnecessary. Now, will you take that as a lady and continue together with this job or are you going to let your feelings get the better of you and run off on your own?"
>>639370 "It's not you, Selena. It's not any one time, it's not any one pony…" Sigh and roll over, grabbing my weapon in the process, shaking away the hoof, and standing back up. "Let's get this done with."
>>639607 I'll frown up at you. "Well, if your first thought is to eat me, maybe I shouldn't help." Guess I should tread water for a bit. "Anyway, it looks like your boat's in trouble. Did you run into my friend Lilly on deck? She flew out before I could catch up with her."
>>639609 "A thousand apologies, I did not mean to offend." I perform an airbow to show I'm serious. "Lilly? Lilly Belle? Flowing Tree knows her from before. He commands this ship…" Look behind me at the sinking ship. "… usually he is better captain."
>>639613 "Well, coral has a way of sneaking up on ponies who don't have the right charts. Or who misjudge the tides." I'll shrug a little in the water. "Luckily for you we were passing by, so if nothing else I'm pretty sure we can get you guys beached on the shore. I'm Marina, by the way. What's your name?"
>>639623 …what a weird language. "Think maybe you could pronounce that a little slower? As for the ship, well, it carries a lot more food and ponies than a pod of seaponies normally would be able to. Plus it's usually faster."
>>639636 "Well, she's got something that needs to be returned there, and if it doesn't her life is forfeit. So we're trying to get there as quick as our boat can go. And I think it's sorta kinda part of Equestria, since we're along the coast of the Equestrian continent now, but I've always been kinda fuzzy about boundaries and stuff." I'll paddle a bit more. "Anyway, Iga, do you think you could give me a lift to the deck? That way I can meet up with both Lilly and your captain and we can sort out how we're going to move your boat."
>>639647 "Seems sturdy enough, barring present circumstances." I'll kick my legs a bit to get the water off of them. "So, what brought you all over onto the coral, anyway? Trying to cut some time from your trip?"
>>639651 "Right, well, I guess we'd best bother your captain, then. See what supplies he's got on-hoof to patch this tub enough to make landfall." And if Lilly's above-decks, I can go find her. If not, I'll be relying on Iga to lead the way.
>>639653 "You know, I'm not sure. I'm pretty sure I was born in Equestrian waters, but since apparently seaponies are classified as myths nowadays, I'm not sure I count. How about you? You from around here?"
>>639655 I'll shrug. "Well, I'm sure there's at least one church or census office in Autumnsreach that could help with that, and that's about a day's sailing. Seaponies are probably a bit outside of the system."
>>639672 >>639671 Tree and Irons have arranged to have the damaged ship beached for now. Tree apparently has contacts in Equestria who can help with the ship repairs, and the city of Autumnsreach is only twelve hours by sea. Meanwhile, the engineers can work on patching up the Yamato.
This means that Iga can make landfall in an Equestrian city sooner, Lilly can get back to dropping off her payload, and Marina can keep putting distance between herself and Ornitrex.
Twelve hours more… another day another destiny. This neverending road to Autumnsreach. This demon who charges Lilly with a crime will surely come another time. One day more.
For now, your ship submerges below the waves. For Iga, it's an alien experience. Down here belowdecks, there's a scholarly filly, a suspiciously large rodent hole, a few bunks, a VERY packed cargo hold with suspicious objects, and Lilly. Lilly is wearing an Equestrian Courier's Uniform.
>>639678 Inside the hole you see a miniature desk and reading lamp. There's a small bookcase and fine carpeting. In the back of the space, there's a baby grand piano, downsized. It looks like it takes up way too much space for something that could logically fit in the side of the ship.
>>639690 Alright. After Lamp Light is done talking to Iga, I'll ask her if she wants to help me cook something for the crew. >>639688 "Well, as long as he doesn't stir up trouble, I don't think it'll be a problem."
>>639694 "Yes, I was a bookkeeper for the Order at St. Szwall in the New World. But there was… an attack. Now, it's my responsibility to make sure all of the knowledge and dangerous artifacts protected by the order are recovered."
>>639699 "Autumnsreach is the holiest city in Equestria - by extension, the world, even moreso than Canterlot. Even shrines to the Elementals and moderate Naturalists are tolerated there. According to legend, it was founded almost two thousand years ago, where Celestia first touched Equestria when she descended from the Heavens to fight Discord and unite all ponies. Autumnsreach is a great city, but there are significant restrictions on trade there due to decency laws. Still, if you are a skilled bookkeeper, such as a scribe or book binder, you can find much work. I spent years there before moving out to St. Szwall. There is also work for the Church – especially the Inquisition, these days. Since it's a port city, there is also some fishing industry."
>>639700 Probably not, but she seems well disciplined in answering questions. Probably treated more as a walking encyclopedia by old scholars and attended knights.
>>639701 "I learned to write, but not Equestrian. I cannot read Equestrian, only speak it. I should learn it swiftly to integrate into the Equestrian peoples. Autumnsreach does not sound like a city for work to me."
>>639709 I'll smile a bit and puff out my chest. "Well, don't you worry about that! Between the two of us, I'm sure we'll make something delicious!" >>639710 I'll give you a sly look. "Are you sure? Because otherwise those blue berries I picked earlier will just have to be eaten by somepony else."
>>639712 "I'm not a sucky bus! I'm a cook! There's a difference." >>639713 It's in the galley, which is where we're going eventually. >>639714 "Okay!" I'll toss Lamp on my back, and get moving towards the galley. "So, what do you want to eat today? We've got fish, some lobster I think, there should still be some clams… Those blueberries will make a good dessert item, I'm sure. Oh, we could even maybe whip up some seaweed dish for Lilly, since she hates fish for some reason!"
>>639718 I'll pout a little. "It really makes me sad that she doesn't like the fish I cook. Makes me kinda doubt my abilities as a cook. Anyway, I think we'll go with the tuna today. If you could start scaling them on the board there, I'll get the herbs and such ready. And see if we can dig up any seaweed or kelp to go with it." Once I'm sure Lamp's fine with the scaler, I'll head up to the main deck and see if I can't scrounge any seaweed.
>>639722 Oh boy. "No no, scaling is when you take the scales off a fish. It's easy once you get the hang of it, here." I'll demonstrate. "You take this thing here, and then run it against the grain of the fish scales. It's why fish that are cooked aren't all crunchy and tough, since the scales are off."
>>639727 "Just take it easy, and you should be alright. I'll check up on you when I get back with that seaweed." And I'll head up to fetch that. She… should be fine until then. >>639728 "No! No swords in the kitchen!"
>>639733 Ugh. "I think there's a bit of a language barrier here. What you have there is clearly a weapon and intended to be used as one. That is not something we use in an admittedly cramped kitchen where somepony could get hurt." I'll rub the bridge of my snout with my hoof. "For my sake, could you perhaps use the tools available in the future instead of… that? I know you're probably very good with it, but this is not where something like that is used."
>>639737 This mare's crazy. >>639738 Seaweed. I was going for seaweed. Before I head up, I'll whisper to Lamplight. "Don't let her scare you, she's just… foreign. They do things differently in Neighpon, I think."
>>639745 The Yamato was beached so that engineers could repair it. You're accompanying this small Underseaboat on a twelve hour voyage to Autumnsreach, along with Iga. Once there, you can exchange some of your goods, which were moved to the hold of this ship stealthily. Iga can also look into citizenship and work.
You plan to rendezvous back with your crew at evening tomorrow, which affords you six hours at most before you need to depart Autumnsreach.
>>639758 "I suppose your mother's companion was always jaelous… But yes, I knew Emrille and Selena too. Why, that little scamp." Chuckle, lost in thought. The item hidden into my sleeves turns out to be a small, pocket sized teapot, and some bags of the substance. "Why, I wonder how she is now. How are her kids? How did you two even meet?"
>>639760 "Right. That thing." Put the tea to boil on the small, half-magical pot. "I must admit, it's been a while since I last saw it. Wouldn't you know, the first time me and that altar met, I was about to destroy it. Must have been twenty years ago now."
>>639762 Let the soft bubbling of the tea be the only noise in the room as I look at her silently. Almost a minute of this goes on, before I begin pouring the result to both of us. "Nightmare Moon. What an old, old name."
>>639763 "Not to me. Not anymore. This demon, it's hunting for me because it thinks I'm really my mother and that I was the one who stole that damn altar! It took me all my money and a good chunk of Selena's money to find it and bring it back to where they want it. I'm lucky Selena confused me for my mother like you did. Seems like a lot of ponies do that… so I guess I must look a lot alike."
>>639766 "Tea will help you then. It sharpens the senses, keeps ponies awake." Start sipping. "But back to our topic. Your mother. She… She was an unique mare. Both in her affinity to our line of work and her femininity." Smile at her. "You retain at least one of those traits."
>>639771 "I figured… Nopony seemed to really know her that well. They do talk a lot of good about my… father though. I'm not sure if that's all just sugarcoating or not, because I know she did do bad stuff too. Uh… no offense."
>>639801 "Well I am. I mean Grey… she was still with my parents when their last stand happened. What if Red is all I have left? She's in trouble right now but I can't help her until I get this sinister demon dog off of my back." I sigh.
>>639807 "Well, like I said Selena has been helping me out a bunch. There's others traveling with us too like Rhanna and Maeda-" I pause and narrow my eyes. "Wait a second, if you know Selena… and you're Neighponese… what was your full name again?"
>>639815 "She's a very intense type of character. I don't envy you if she aims to hunt you down. I don't know what the entire story behind it is, but I think I'd rather stay ignorant… I've got so many things to worry about already."
>>639816 "I can understand that. Then, I'd like to buy your silence for a story, miss Belle." Smile, and begin recounting one of our many sea-faring exploits, romanticizing it just enough to make the murdering and pillaging seem kid-friendly. I think we got most of it down, no?