The two of you just finished visiting Buangan, the native pony. Yet, there are still other friends who might need your support!
One thing's been on my mind all this time…
How far are we from the sea?
And have I checked up on the captain already?
We were checking on the captain next.
The Big Blue can be seen from some of the windows!
Knock on her door?
There is an unladylike grunt as a response from inside.
You guess that's a yes?
"I'll take that as a sign that you're awake and able to take visitors."
I'll open the door.
"Pardon for my intrusion, Captain."
As soon as Curry opens the door, I scurry inside and run circles around the cap, happy to see her again!
Curry opens the door but Felfire bolts inside, running around like she was on fire and was trying to put the flames out by gravitating around the bed of Splinterproof.
The captain herself in dressed in so many bandages that her fur is barely visible.
There is a bottle of whiskey next to her bed…. which may or may not be entirely allowed. How did she even get it.
She glances down at Felfire, her grim expression softening.
"Don't worry, I wasn't doing anything anyway."
"I should hope not, other than resting."
I'll eyeball the whiskey, but not mention it.
"I'm glad you're still with us, Captain."
Try to smile broadly as I look back into her face, tail wiggling a bit as if I were a little dog.
"Did my best to die back there, but seems that wasn't enough."
You're actually not sure if that's a joke or not…>>646798
She shifts in the bed, grimacing with pain, then reaches down with a hoof in front of you, something for you to hold.
"I'm glad you're faring better."
Stare at the hoof for a few long, drawn out moments, head shifting from left to right as I look it over from every side, making sure it's not hurt or cut…
And then lay my own tiny green hoof over it.
"I'm sure Angler is glad that your best was indeed not enough."
I'll fall silent for a bit.
"I'm not sure how much they've filled you in since you've regained consciousness, but we are in Pontugal, as guests. One of their ships found our, well, I suppose ship is a rather gracious term for it. I'm assuming that the explosion from the barge is what drew their attention. Miss Tides is also in recovery, though I'm sure they're arranging transport for her back to the mainland. Even in her condition, she's likely to recover before you will, Captain."
I'll take a seat.
"As for Angler and Buangan, they're none the worse for the wear. I'd wager Angler is going to stay as long as it takes until you're back on your hooves, though."
Her hoof might be a bit rough, from all the work on ships and hardships, but it's warm nevertheless.
Makes you feel… strangely glad to hold it like this.>>646805
She looks a bit concerned.
"You're… not leaving already too, with Tides, are you?"
I'll shake my head.
"Not for a bit, no. There are a lot more ponies in Equestria than there are even here, and I want to get the little one used to crowds before we go. It might take a few days, or a few weeks, but she's a strong pony. She'll overcome her fears eventually. But, we can't take too long, as I want to take her to Cloudsdale so that her wings can be fixed. I promised not only her, but her mother as well."
I'll scratch my chin with a hoof.
"Though, I'd have thought you'd be glad to see the back of me, what with everything that's happened."
She snorts, shooting you a look.
"Yeah. I am just going to put you through all of that, have you save my crew while I do nothing but get hurt, kill her mother, and you expect me to just want to leave you two?"
Wince a little, pulling back away from her at those words.
"I'd argue that you might feel as if taking me along somehow brought this on you all."
"Though you did do a fair bit more than just that, Captain. If it weren't for you, none of us would have survived."
"I don't recall when I did anything that didn't make me the victim.">>646817
She winces, and you see her eyes start to sparkle strangely.
"Oh, little one, sorry, I didn't mean it… didn't mean to… I'm just sorry."
I'll just stay quiet for a little while. This is a talk between those two right now.
Look up at her in silence before finally deciding to move back in by her bedside. Sit down, back to the bed, seeking out her hoof with the tip of one of my mangled wings.
"You not leaving us?" I murmur, finally, in a firm voice.
It hurts just a tiny bit to move your wing, but you don't mind.
Her hoof brushes against your wing as you extend it, seeking its support and warmth.
She shakes her head.
"No… I'll pick myself up, if I can. And I'll go with you, no matter where that takes me. There's nothing left of my old life to go back to. Nothing I could return to doing."
All the confidence in my voice crumbles.
"Life before is bad!"
She stays silent for a bit…
Then reaches for the bottle of whiskey with her other hoof, taking a deep swing.
I'll clear my throat a little.
"Then I suppose visiting the families of the crew is in order along our way to Cloudsdale."
She shakes her head after putting the bottle down.
"Only Horseshoe Bay. We could dock there, so it's not even a detour."
"So it will be me, you, the little one, and Buangan as traveling companions."
I'll think a moment.
"Angler, I'm not sure of what his plans are. We hadn't run into him yet today."
She lets out a low, bitter laugh.
"I am afraid he is too loyal for his own good. He'll come where we go."
Stand up, scouting the room. Look from the window.
There are only a few clouds in the clear blue sky. The Sun is high up in the sky, making the seemingly endless Big Blue sparkle.
A large building catches your attention… it looks really fancy!
"I'm sure he's got his own life, captain. A mare waiting for him or a home to return to."
"I'm fairly sure. Mostly certain."
Think for a moment.
"We can't all have nowhere to go home to."
Curry's busy, I will just go on my own!
'1d10'Roll #1 6 = 6
Do I spot her on her way out? '1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
"That's the problem. He shouldn't even be here. He was going to marry a mare he loved but… he said he can't abandon his ship, his duty, his cutie mark, his destiny. He told her to wait.">>646842>>646843
Quiet like a breeze!
You sneak out of the room! You could leave this whole place, and head for that fancy building! You're sure you can see the big tower from the streets!
I'll roll my eyes.
"All the better for him to return home, then. The ship is gone, his duty fulfilled. Now he's got to go home and be a family pony."
Yes! I want to go see that big place!
You gallop out! There are several guards at some doors, but none of them stop you, or even talk to you.>>646846
"Let's hope he will see the logic in that, instead of trying to fix this wooden coffin of a boat."
This place is great! I can just move and look around freely! Nobody to shout at me or punch me!
"You had to have put insurance on the previous boat, right? That will probably be more convincing than anything we can say."
Yes! It's great! You just… oh dear.
That's a lot of ponies walking about out in the streets.>>646854
"Insured to be washed up on an island of cannibals. Comes with every Equestian Captain. Don't be foolish."
"It never hurts to be optimistic. There might be a finder's fee for the island, though. You did say it wasn't on any of your maps."
…THIS WAS A GREVIOUS MISTAKE!
Run for a small, empty street!
'1d10'Roll #1 9 = 9
You quickly bolt to the nearest dark alley you can find!
It's a tiny corridor between two building, no ponies here!
Just a lot of puddles.
Not all of them may be water.>>646857
"Who in their right minds would want that…. defiled monster of a landfill?"
As long as there are no sticky puddles. Those are too hard to get off my coat.
Slowly explore this narrow hallway, curiously following it to its destination.
"The church. If nothing else, it'll take a long time to cleanse it, longer still without divine assistance. Once that's done, and assuming they don't displace the local tribe and instead teach them, it could be a fine island. Though that would probably take decades, if not centuries, of work unless one of- ahem, the Princess got involved. It could probably make a decent trade port between Equestria and Pontugal, if nothing else."
Nope, only a yellow one!
It leads closer to where you want to go, but you will have to cross a large street, paved with cobblestone, with not only a lot of ponies walking around, many of them are standing behind wooden stalls, shouting about what they have to offer!>>646867
"If I had a word about the Princess about it, I'd just tell her to either send it to the bottom of the ocean or the surface of the sun."
Nuh-uh! No way!
Instead, I'm going to climb the walls! There has to be somewhere I can sneak in!Roll #1 10 = 10
"As long as ponies are living there, I doubt she'd just dismiss it entirely."
I'll look around for a bit.
"You've been awfully quiet, little one, even for y-"
I'll bolt to my hooves once I notice she's not in the room.
"Oh bother. I'm afraid you'll have to excuse me, captain, I've a filly to track down. Rest well."
And out the door I go.
"Adult things must have bored her."
She's not in the corridors!>>646874
There is only the big front gates… however, with pegasus agility and the divine power of a curious filly, you climb the walls and houses, quickly getting on a tiled roof, then finding a rope arching above the streets, you navigate to the other side, balancing yourself with your wings… even that height is less scary than crossing the street! Just imagine if you could fly!
In no time, you are standing in front of the large, wooden gates of the fancy building!
Well, there are guards just about everywhere. And I doubt there are too many fillies with her coloring and condition walking around. They must have seen her walk by.
That was soooo Thursday like!
Leave my amazing athletics behind me and stare in awe at the fancy building! Is there a way in?
They say she headed outside.
They didn't want to stop her, thinking she probably just wanted some fresh air.>>646882
Well, there are these huge doors right in front of you!
"Thank you for the directions. And she probably did. Hopefully she hasn't wandered too far, or wound up in the market…"
I'll nod to the guards, and head outside.
Yup, it's a very nice day…
Now, how to find where she could have gone?
All the ponies here on the streets are just passing by…>>646887
Your little hooves push at the large doors, which, despite their size, open up easily.
You are drawn inside for a few steps, and they slowly draw to a close behind you, but you don't even notice. You are too amazed by the inside.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7fx05cQXOQ
The interior a grand hall, larger than anything you've seen, so huge that even the greatest chambers of the temple of the island seem tiny in comparison. Stone pillars as wide as ancient trees hold up the domed roof, intricate carvings of the sun carved on the ceiling everywhere you look. Long arches help hold up the seperate wings of the chamber.
Yet it is not the size of the basilica that makes you completely wide-eyes. It's not the proportions that seem to suggest such a building can come from nothing but the divine itself.
It is what stands in the middle.
On all four sides, there are immense, round windows, filtering and redirecting the light of the Sun to the center, where a glass statue stands. It looks like a tall mare, her regal wings spread, her impressive horn standing tall above her tiara.
It is an alicorn, a Princess, a Goddess.
The glass statue reflects the light shined on her, and while it seems to be impossible with a layout like this, there is not a single shadow in the entire sanctuary. This is a realm of pure light.
Hmm. To find her, I'll have to think like her. She can't have gone into the street itself, there are too many ponies. Which direction has the fewest ponies?
Tiny, small, insignificant, I stop and sit down, neck bent in fear, in terror from the simply staggering scale and beauty of this sanctuary.
As fear leaves me and paralysis slowly fades away, my tiny hooves move on their own towards the statue, tapping a rhythm of amazement on the marble floor of the basilica.
You have a quick glance-around.
There is a thin alley nearby!
That leaves towards the market though.
Hmm. Follow that for a bit. I doubt she'd have gone to the market itself, but there might be a turn-off somewhere down the alley.
As you approach, you notice something you haven't before.
There is a swirling mass of magic inside the statue, shifting color constantly.
The moment you stand in front of the alicorn, the magic spreads through it, and it seemingly comes to life.
The statue is no longer a statue. The body gains a white, pristine coat. The spotless white feathers of the wings flutter elegantly.
The tail and the mane, shifting color like the shapeless magic inside, flows in the air, almost mesmerizingly.
The mare, now as if she came to life, looks down at you. But there is no fear in your heart. No dread. Her warm smile makes your body flood with energy and happyness, your wings spreading without pain, your head lifted confidently.
You don't know how, but get the impression that her name is Princess Celestia, and she means no harm. In fact, your mind tells you as her expression changes to that of a pitiful frown, you have been through so much already. Yet despite the suffering, you never truly lost your wonder of the world or your innocence. She smiles once again.
There will be times when darkness will tempt you and try to taint you, but you will always come out on top. Just stay in the light as you have until now, and your reward will be the eternal happiness that all good ponies deserve.
As fast as it came, the visage fades, the Princess disappearing, leaving only the light-reflecting glass statue in front of you.
I… I think I should cry now. Yes. Crying is the appropriate reaction. And hug the statue.
You break down into sobs and hug the warm glass leg closely yet gently.>>646901
Nope, the alley leads straight to the market.
On the other side there's nothing but a courthouse, a Celestial basilica, a library, and between you and those the market full of ponies.
I need to calm down… And then ask Curry what was that all about…
Let go, slowly, and just sit here looking at the statue, hoping it'd move again.
Hmm. Maybe the library? But she doesn't know how to read…
Scrunch my nose a bit.
Well, perhaps one of the stall owners in the market happened to spy her sneak through. Never hurts to ask.
Let's head out into the market street.
They are all very busy shouting about their sales.
Most of them have no idea what you are talking about.
Only one of them mentions that she thinks a shadow of a pegasus filly passed over her, but she couldn't look up because she was bartering.>>646914
It does nothing now, only spreads light as the little magic blob inside swirls around.
Still, it's peaceful and calm in here… your mind feels much sharper than ever before.
I'll look up over that mare's stall. Felfire can't fly, so if she did cast a shadow over here, she had to be walking on something.
…I want to know more about this mare. If only there was a way to do that… Maybe they have paintings of her here!
There is a rope there allright, leading to the space between the courthouse and the basilica.>>646927
You do see some by the side wings of the halls! Many paintings, actually! All over the walls, these murals!
Well, the basilica is probably shinier than the courthouse, so that would most likely catch a curious filly's eye.
Sigh a little, thank the stallmare, and start heading towards the basilica.
You're not entirely sure about every detail, but many of them seems to suggest that this pony is the one who raises the sun every day!>>646932
You thank her and head inside the temple of the Sun.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7fx05cQXOQ
Large temples are nothing new to you, but this is something else entirely. The very walls seem to radiate pure sunlight from every direction, banishing any trace of shadows. The large doors close behind you and you feel drawn towards the large glass statue of Princess Celestia in the middle, temporarily forgetting even about Felfire.
You notice a mote of swirling magic inside the glass statue, and as you approach, it spreads, enveloping it until you are no longer in front of a statue, you are in front of Princess Celestia herself, her regal mane flowing in the air, her majestic horn piercing the heavens, her wings spread in an intimidating manner.
She looks down at you with a grim expression, her eyes narrowing dangerously, a small sneer on her muzzle.
The commanding presence makes you fall on your knees despite your beliefs, your ears flattening to your head and your tail curving under you, making you feel small and insignificant in front of her.
In your mind, you can almost hear her thoughts.
Your faith does not belong to her, you do not praise the Sun. Your alligances lie to her sister, Princess Luna.
She is not judging you for this. She is warning you. That is not a privilige, it is a responsibility. Many have started to worship Luna, only to end up as a wicked servant of Nightmare Moon.
Her expression softens, turning into a gentle, kind pout, and you can let out a breath you didn't know you were holding in.
Luna, her sister, needs more love than she got. That even she could give her. Do not worship her, love her. Prove to her that despite everything, she is not lost. That she is still awaited and welcomed.
Just as quick as it came, the visage of the Princess disappears, leaving you kneeling in front of the glass statue.
But how can one pony lift the sun?!
Move on, reading more!
Shake my head a bit, clearing the spots from my eyes.
I hardly needed any reminders to keep my faith, since it's my duty.
If Felfire came through here, she might have gotten a whammy like that too. A pity the Princess didn't linger to answer any questions or point out lost fillies…
Well, let's take in the other hallways. See which one might appeal to a young filly.
She also seems to be a ruler!
From the pictures, it seems like all the ponies love her!>>646950
You see her staring at the murals.
Ah. That would be the obvious choice. Let's head on over, but not interrupt her.
Turn around to see Curry behind me, and smile happily, trotting up to him, jumping, almost fluttering in the air before running back to the murals, pointing at them.
There are dried tears on my face, but a bright and large smile reigns over it.
"Found something fun to do, I see."
I'll settle down so we're about eye-level.
"They are rather nice murals, aren't they?"
"I saw her! I saw Cellesshtia!"
I'll raise an eyebrow.
"Oho? Out there with the big statue, right?"
"Yes! She looked at me!"
Beam with joy, jumping around!
"Well! She doesn't look at just any pony. She must have thought you were important."
"She'd be right, of course."
I'm speechless, and fall to my rump trying to understand those words.
Mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water, I look at Curry!
I'll ruffle your mane.
"Now, did you want to keep looking at the murals? A little Equestrian history might help once we make it to Equestria itself."
That brings me back to reality and I quickly back away from the petting, looking back at the walls.
"What's all this stuff means?"
"Well, the murals here only go back so far, but I'll fill you in on the history, starting way over here at the beginning of the wall."
And I'll lead her back to the first mural.
They tell stories of the old Equestria… except, in many cases, one of the Sisters is left out…
As you the unicorn is showing Felfire an especially colorful bit of mural about the Equestrian Seasons, you both hear a gentle feminine voice.
"Lovely, are they not?"
Squeak out, almost fluttering up!
It hurts your wings a bit!
"Such a shame there are not more of them, imagine if all of the city was covered in such paintings!"
Realize a moment later what I'm doing, and shy back.
You hear her talk some more behind you.
"Oh, I am sorry, did I startle you?"
Shake my head in a no.
Then nod in a yes, timidly.
"Oh, I am so sorry!"
She crouches down, which you assume from the fact that her voice comes from near the ground, since you didn't take a look at her yet!
"Is there any way I can make it up for you?"
"You'll have to forgive the little one, she is a little skittish around new ponies."
How's this mare look, by the way?
She is wearing long, white robes, the clothes of a priestess… probably a Sun Priestess, if you had to guess.
She is a unicorn, and funnily enough, her mane and coat has the same color as yours!
"I see. Many find solace in the halls of these temples."
Coincidence, I'm sure.
I'll wait for Felfire to speak up for herself.
Turn around to look at the mare and smile weakly, hiding behind Curry.
She is… beautiful! It's also funny, she has the same colors as Curry, but her outfit is like… really white and pretty!
There is an awkward silence.
I'll clear my throat.
She shakes her head.
"Oh, I am not a sister of this church, no. I am a travelling Priestess, a missionary spreading the word of the Princess. My name is Skylight! Nice to meet you two!"
"A pleasure. I'm Curry, and this is Felfire."
I'll gesture to the hiding child.
"So, traveling? Where from, if you don't mind my asking?"
Nod weakly, as if greeting her back.
Her ears flick and her heart seems to skip a beat.
She stays silent for a few seconds, then shakes her head.
"E-excuse me, come again?"
I'll look at her curiously.
"What do you mean?"
Cock my head to a side, curious.
She forces a grin.
"Uh, nothing, nothing, my apologies! I just got… distracted, for a moment there. What was your question?"
She seems… nervous.
Lean close to Curry, squeezing tight on his front leg, whispering.
"Where you were from. Are you sure nothing's the matter?">>650947
"Perhaps she just knows another pony by that name?
"I uh… I am from Canterlot, Equestria!"
"Yes, yes, I feel much better already."
She still seems a bit out of it…
"We were planning on heading into Equestria ourselves, actually. Towards Cloudsdale, though."
I'll rub my chin for a moment.
"You look as if you've seen a ghost. I've had a bit of experience with that, recently."
"Oh, is that so? In that case… you would not mind if I asked you to allow me to accompany you, right?"
She tilts her head.
Shake my head furiously!
"If you're heading that way, then there's no reason you can't."
I'll look to Felfire for a moment.
"It seems the little one would rather forget that, though I'm sure you've likely heard in town of how we, and the other members of our crew, were picked up a short time ago."
"I am sorry, I did not mean to frighten her. Maybe you can share the details on the trip?"
"I only heard rumors."
I'll hold out a hoof.
"Well, while it has been a pleasure, I think the little one and I should be on our way. We were going to explore the city a bit, were we not?"
I'll direct that last bit towards Felfire.
"May I ask where you stay, before you leave?"
Relent a bit off my grasp, nodding with a smile.
"Currently they have us in the guest area of the palace, while the rest of the crew is in recovery.">>650957
Gently pat your head, since Skylight apparently didn't want to shake hooves.
"I see. Well… We shall meet again soon!"
She turns around and leaves… rather hastily.
That was weird.>>650957
With Curry here, you won't have to walk tightropes above ponies, he'll protect you so you can explore the whole city!
Odd. You'd think I'd done her some sort of wrong.
"Curry… Who was that..?"
"Well, she said her name was Skylight, and that she was a member of the Church of Celestia."
I'll hunker down a bit.
"I guess you could say she's a bit like me, in that she's in the service of her deity. It's just that mine is Luna, and hers is Celestia."
I'll grimace a moment.
"But that has to be a secret, because ponies who honor Princess Luna aren't very popular. I'll tell you why when we've got a bit more privacy."
Shake my head.
Like when Giggly says she wants to play."
I'll frown a bit at that. I remember her.
"Well, I doubt she'd want to do the same things as Giggly did. Ponies in Equestria, and here, discourage hurting other ponies. But, I will admit she seemed very uncomfortable with me by the end there."
I'll sigh a bit.
"Perhaps I'm just out of practice when it comes to talking with mares. At any rate, where do you want to go next? The market? I think I might have enough money squirreled away to pay for a meal."
How could you forget your first kiss?>>650963
She taught you how to giggle real good… but even on the island the other kids found it weird when you tried to recreate it.
Shake my head.
"No ponies. No. Want to see more paintings!"
"Well, in that case, do you want to climb up on my back? You should be able to get a better view. And there might be more paintings elsewhere. I'll have to ask someone. We can finish looking through these first, though."
"Yes. Go other places. Want to see it all before…"
A town this large MUST have a museum!
"Before? We're still going to be here for a few more days, until the captain is fit for travel.">>650969
I'd honestly be surprised if it didn't.
Squeeze his neck from behind in an impetus of worry and tinypon energy.
"Before bad things happen!
They always happen, so we have to be quick!"
"Well, hopefully they'll wait until we're old and grumpy so we're ready for them."
And time to head out of the church, then, I guess.
Cast a look at the Celestia statue on my way out.
Smile and rest my head on his neck, waving at the statue of Celestia.
"Bye bye church!"
The statue changes, but just barely… and if you had to guess, the expression was kind and loving!
There are a lot of ponies outside here!>>650972
The statue changes, but just barely… and if you had to guess, the expression was worried.
There are many ponies outside, one of them is sure to know where a museum is.
I'll try one of the stall-runners, since I'd rather not bother random passers-by. And, if I've got the bits, I can get an apple for myself and for Felfire.
The elderly stallion gives you quick directions, and with a smile, gives the a smaller, but sweeter apple that is usually more expensive for Felfire, free of charge with your regular apple!
I'll thank him both for the directions, and his generosity. And then it's off to the museum.
Gasp, marveling at the apple, and give her a big big look of disbelief before digging into it!
He smiles and waves as Curry takes off!
And that apple tastes amazing! So juicy, too!
It'd be hard to miss the muzeum, it's a giant building, much larger even than the temple you just left! There are huge banners hanging from the front too!
Here's hoping they don't charge entrance fees. We'll make sure we finish eating first, and then head to the front entrance.
"Alright, there's something you need to know before we go in, little one. A lot of the things in this building are very, very old. It is heavily discouraged that anyone touches any of the items on display. They're just to look at. That said, let's enjoy our time here."
"The temple was really old…"
Munch happily on the apple.
"I don't like touching old things."
Once you finish the food, you trot up the stairs leading up to the large wooden gate, which has a small door at the bottom for pony access.
A very old, wrinkly pegasus mare greets you two with a smile.
"Ah, good day, good day! Do come in! You are new here, are you not? Lucky, too, there aren't many ponies in today, despite some of our exhibits being very famous!"
"Well, I can understand that.">>650984
"We are, as a matter of fact. Thank you for the welcome. Anything you suggest seeing first?"
"That depends sir, we have our history and natural history exhibits, but those are always here, but you can also see our art exhibits on the upper floors. The top floor now hosts an exclusive exhibit of the art from the famous Vanhoover pony, the late Guerpone Weiss, but I suggest that for later, saving the best for the last!"
"I'm assuming those are paintings in that gallery?"
I'll look over my shoulder at Felfire.
"So, what do you think? Start at the bottom and work our way up to the top floor where the paintings are?"
Peek over his shoulder.
"Curry, what is art?"
"Well, that's a matter of much debate, but it's any number of things. It can be paintings, statues like that one in the temple, music, or even just how buildings are put together. For example, some would consider the palace, or this museum, a work of art. Most ponies, however, tend to apply the label of art to paintings or music."
"Oh. So the boat is art?"
"Not… exactly, no. This is why some ponies get into arguments over what art is
, exactly, since it's a vague concept. I'm not saying that ships can't be art, but for the most part many ponies don't think of boats as anything more than something that allows them to go from one port to another."
I'll rub my chin a bit.
"For the moment, let's keep 'art' as paintings, music, dances, and statues. After your education comes along a little further, we can expand on that."
"Ok… But who does art?"
"Anyone can. Ponies who make a living of it, who sell their work for money, are called 'artists.' That said, there are different kinds of artists. Ponies that sing, tell stories, or dance are usually bards. Ponies who carve wood, stone, or shape metal into things are called sculptors. Ponies that paint or draw are just called artists. I've heard ponies say that cooking is an art, but I think they might be exaggerating."
I'll raise an eyebrow.
"Why the sudden curiosity, little one? Thinking of trying your hoof at painting?"
Shake my head.
"Aha. Well, you're going to be learning lots of new words before our trip is over, I think."
"I wonder how mom would say it…"
I'll be quiet for a moment.
"I couldn't begin to guess."
Sigh and lean back on Curry's neck, body slumping down as if tired.
Wait, what did she say?
"That didn't sound like anything I heard on the island. Where did you pick that up?"
I'll be a bit confused at that.
"Wasn't your mother on, well, the island, though? I never heard her speak like that."
Give the mare at the desk a gaze and then tug on Curry's neck.
I'll nod slightly, and then head out.
"Whenever you're ready."
Hanging with head low off a side of Curry's body, I'll stare at the ground, shrugging like it's no big.
"Mom always talk like… voilà.
Elle ne l'a pas fait avant que quelqu'un d'autre que moi."
I'll be a little surprised at how quickly the words spill out of her.
"I see… well, I'm afraid I don't know what those words mean. Well, the majority of them, anyway. The one you started out with, 'voila'? That's Prench, the language spoken by the ponies of Prance."
"Oh. Buck hated it."
"Well, that was probably because he couldn't understand it. It was a secret between you and your mother that he couldn't touch. Personally, even though I don't understand it, it still sounds nice."
I'll grin a little.
"And besides, now you know that there is an entire county of ponies out there who speak the same language that you and your mother shared."
Blink a bit.
"Like, an entire village?"
I'll shake my head.
"No no, a country."
I'll think a moment.
"Sort of like this place, but bigger, and with even more ponies."
I'll gesture out to Pontugal.
"They don't all live in the same place, of course, but there would be more ponies than I could count."
Shake so much, I fall off your back!
Catch you with magic, then put you back up there.
"Well, like I said they won't all be there at once. A country is a place made up of dozens of villages and cities, each with their own ponies in them. What we're in right now is a city. Some cities are bigger than others, like Canterlot or Cloudsdale, but there are also places where you can run across a village of no more than four or five families of ponies."
"It's a big world out here, little one. But at least it won't come at you all at once."
"…Can I stay with you for a while still? I don't am ready for the world…"
"You can stay with me for as long as you need, Felfire. I promise you that."
Fall silent and shift a bit on top of him.
After a long silent while, blurt out something.
"H-how do I say…
How do I say this-"
Shake a bit atop your back, sobbing.
"A 'thank you' is more than enough."
"Ah. Thankyou. Thankyouyouyou."
Squeeze him from behind, letting a few tears of joy wet the base of his neck.
"It's a new world."
a new word*
subtle but huge difference.
So I noticed.
"Then I shall teach you its companion, as well. When a pony thanks you, it is customary to say 'you're welcome.' So, in response to your thanks, I say that you are welcome."
Chuckle a little.
"You've been picking up quite a few new words today, little one."
Smile in silence. Maybe one day I will even use them on someone that's not you.
TWO WEEKS LATER
Additional relaxing town experiences may be faffed later
Everypony has been getting back to proper health, with medical assistance and enough food.
Felfire even started her slow progress of learning to read. Very slow progress.
The Regent of Pontugal was kind enough to bestow you a ship too. Smaller than the one you came with, but at least it can be operated with your crew, and it is in mint condition. You even saw the old tub you came with in the harbor, they seem to plan to rebuild it to a proper state.
The captain has to wear a skirt at all times now, due to the lack of her tail. It might be the reason why she picked up drinking again, despite the concerns of Angler.
The mare you met at the church has joined you too, wanting to tag along on the voyage.
After you recieved free supplies, you set sail.
However, both Splinterproof and Tides had to agree that a ship of this size is not safe to take out to the open sea, so you will have to take quite a few stops before Equestria.
Well, a few stops between here and there will give Felfire more time to get adjusted to the idea of Equestria's size.
I LOVE SHIPS when they are not haunted. And this ship is too small to be haunted, so I love it.
The priestess mare approaches you!
"Hey there… may I have a request?">>653789
The floorboards are so shiny!
"I suppose so. What can I do for you?"
I want to set up a space all mine on this boat! Explore it, see if there's anyplace like that!
There is an unclaimed cabin in the very back…
It could be all yours!
With your own actual bed
"I know it is a bit out of the way, and they might not listen to me… but when we get there… Do you think we might be able to take a small detour to go to the Island of Autumnsreach?"
I'll raise an eyebrow at that.
"Autumnsreach? Do you mind me asking what for? I can't imagine that it's because you forgot to visit the Basilica when you were last there."
But before that, I need something. Go scout the beach, I think I saw it the other day!
You will be at see soon, so you will have to hurry with your tiny legs!>>653794
"Oh, so you know the place."
She is silent for a second.
"Yes, there are some… temples I wish to visit."
Scamper off as fast as I can. I have to find it.
It's right where you saw it!
A slightly decomposing seagull corpse on the rocks!
And let me elaborate on this.
I know we put him in the hole with mother, I remember that. But just the other day, as I looked out the window of Curry's place, I saw it.
Laying there, half rotten just like the first time we ever met. And damn all if I let him be there all alone!
He must have come all this way to find you!
I'll shrug a little.
"Well, it's been some time since I've been there, so if the little one is alright with the detor, I wouldn't mind."
It means more than I can say."
"Well, now that that's settled, I should probably go find the captain and make certain we've everything for the first leg of the trip."
I'll scratch my chin for a moment, and then ask a bit sheepishly.
"By the way, you wouldn't happen to know of any toymakers nearby? I had been meaning to pick up a small stuffed toy for the little one, but we've been kept rather busy the last few days."
So I must find him too! Look harder!
'1d10'Roll #1 5 = 5
She shakes her head.
"I didn't explore much, and I doubt we have the time right now.
Hopefully we can find one at the next stop?">>653804
You remember somewhat well!
It seems to be down at some rocks by the beach, but you will have to hop skip and jump there!
Sure I can hop skip and jump, I'm good at being a little weasel! Giggly always said that!
'1d10'Roll #1 6 = 6
"Perhaps. Or I can try and make something myself."
With that, I'll bid her farewell for the moment, and head off looking for the captain.
You get there eaily!
Mr. Seagull looks like he lost the little twigs you gave for his wings though…>>653807
She is at the helm, drinking from a large bottle of whiskey that is already half empty.
"Captain, I'm afraid I'm going to have to echo Angler's sentiments about your new habit."
I'll have to find him a new one.
Fix my mane as it fights against the sea breeze, crouching down to poke at Mr Seagull.
"You can wake up now! I've found you!"
Shout happily, over the crashing of waves.
She gives you an annoyed look.
"It's not new. It's just an old one I decided to revisit. What is it?">>653810
Hmm… he seems to be sleeping really deep.
Maybe you have to focus to wake him up!
Yeah. Focusing. '1d10'
"H-hey now, don't play dead with me…"Roll #1 7 = 7
"I was just checking on the status of the ship's supplies, and getting a rough guess of when we'll be heading out."
I'll head over to the railing near the helm, and take a seat. Out of hoof's reach of the captain, of course.
"Though I think it more important at the moment to talk. I know it might not be my place to say, but I believe you're drinking a bit much lately. More than is healthy, at any rate."
He weakly flaps his wings and raises his head!>>653813
"The supplies are fine. If you are going to pester me with that, I'm sure I can find you some work to do deep down in the ship where I don't hear you run your mouth."
"I knew you were coming back for me!"
It gives a squishy hug back, as best as he can.
He is looking a lot healthier!>>653816
She doesn't even look back.
Smile at him happily. Me and him should head back to the ship!
I'll scratch the back of my head with a hoof.
"I'm sorry if this is the wrong thing to say, but drowning the memories in alcohol won't make them go away."
You put him on your back and head back!
Now he can live in your cabin!>>653819
She turns around with an angry snarl.
"What do you know? I don't drink to forget. I will never forget the crew that died because of me. I remember, and I drink because remembering hurts."
She takes a step towards you.
"But if you want a sample I can rip out your tail and see how you go a day without booze."
I'll have to build him a tiny bed!
My expression will harden a little.
"I don't know a damn thing, Captain, because you don't tell me and Angler anything."
"I have no real idea what happened to you on the ship, or what went on in your head while we were on the island because you don't tell
any of us anything!"
Your resources are limited…
Will you put some stuff for him in an open drawer?>>653822
"Back on that Goddess forsaken ironclad, I didn't close that door to save you. I wanted to kill. Thinking that somehow fighting that asshole will make me feel better about everything I failed to do myself back on that island."
"And I stood no chance. It was a narrow corridor, I had no weapon and I was weak while he was strong. When he started tearing me apart and beating me to death, I wasn't scared. I felt liberated. I was finally at peace. I could have just let him end it right there…"
She takes a big swing from the bottle.
"But if I die, who is going to remember all the ponies that died in vain? So I had to wake up to this nightmare, to the hurt. No peace. No rest, no respite. It's just their faces in front of my eyes every waking second."
She seems really
pissed off. You might want to choose your words carefully.
"And you think Angler isn't feeling the same way, about the crewmembers he couldn't save, the ones he watched die? You think I don't just pretend to be cheerful, to have blocked out what happened?"
I'll get to my hooves.
"You think for one second that any of them would want you to drink yourself to death?"
Grit my teeth slightly.
"And do you really, really
think Angler or I would turn you away if you wanted to talk? To help shoulder this horrible, awful burden of surviving?"
She snarls at you.
"Talking won't bring them back. I don't need your help. At least Angler is clever enough that he doesn't keep bringing it up."
he's just afraid that the mare he's practically swore his life to would tell him to go jump off a bridge if he did!"
I've stared down worse than this.
"And of course it won't bring them back, but it can help soothe the pain of losing them. The good memories can dull the bad ones, and you can live for their sakes as well."
I'll snort a bit while casting a glance at the whiskey bottle.
"But I'll agree, you certainly don't need my help drinking yourself stupid enough to forget that you still have friends who are alive."
Getting her this angry probably isn't a good thing, but hopefully she'll get it out of her system before the voyage. Last thing I need is for her to do this to Felfire while she's sauced to the gills.
"What a great idea! Maybe I should throw a party, even though my guest list has been getting a bit thin these days!"
"Well at least you still have
Ah shit, shouldn't have let that one slip.
You see one of her forehooves twitch, as if she just managed to hold back a back-hooved smack.
"The bilge deck needs some tending to. Get to it."
She is no longer angry.
Just very stern and peremptory.
"Captain, I would appreciate it if you would be a bit more honest with yourself and just hit me."
Sigh a little.
"Try talking with Angler, alright? He really does care for you."
And with that, it's off to the bilges.
It has been two days since you waved goodbye to Pontugal.
Angler is currently at the Helm, with Buangan being the lookout.
The jenny, strangely enough, is just tanning and enjoying the sunshine.
The Captain is off in her cabin.
Felfire also noticed Mr. Seagull has fallen out of his 'bed'!
Set him straight right away!
His neck bends in an unnatural way, and he lets out a small squawk.
You set him back in his bed… maybe he just needs a small blanket so he won't be cold!
N-nothing unnatural, birds do it all the time!
I will set my blanket on him, not gonna sleep anyway now!
You cover him with your little blankie!
Not a moment later, you hear a loud, banging knock!
Quickly cover his head too and act nonchalant!
"Y-yes?"Roll #1 4 = 4
You cover him entirely, but he lets out a confused squawk!
A moment later, Captain Splinterproof enters. She smells like that drink that Blunstone kept drinking all the time.
Stand up, clearly paying attention and not scared anymore. Silently look in the cap's eyes.
She closes the door, and drops a saddlebag in front of you with a thud.
She sits down.
"I know I have done… awful things… and this is nothing but… I'm not a clever mare. It was the best I could think of."
Cock my head to the side, I have no idea what she's talking about! She's my hero!
She must be confused because of that drink!
She points at the saddlebag.
"Go on, open it. It's all yours."
I'm not sure what "all yours" me a Ms either. Like, this bed only I can use? I'm not used to this kind of things. Open. It.
You see… uh… you don't really know the name.
Those sheets of paper next to each other? A few of those! But more importantly, besides those, there is a plethora of colors!
ALL the colors! In different shades! Even colors you've never seen before!
They all look like tiny colorful pikes!
The captain takes out one of the paper thingies.
"These are… coloring books."
She opens one up, and you see a picture inside… something like those large ones you saw in that temple with the Princess! But with lots and lots of happy ponies!
"And those are crayons. You can color the pictures and the ponies however you want."
My mouth morphs into a few, unspecified faces, going through every possible emotion. Only to end up squeezing the captain's leg real tight.
She pats your head with her other hoof.
"Some of the pages have some writing on it so…"
She takes a deep breath.
"Do you think I could stay with you and watch you color?"
Wait… she is… SHE, the Captain, asking YOU for permission!
Jump away and tiptoe around nervously, looking really unsure on what to even do or say! Quickly pull the book and crayons out, starting to color right before her. '1d10' not to mess the colors up.Roll #1 2 = 2
You fumble to get some of the crayons out, but freeze up when you look at the picture… the pressure, it's too much!
She notices, and lays out all the colors of the crayons for you, sitting down beside you.
"Little one… this is not a task. I… I just want you to have fun."
She points a hoof at the open page.
"It says here that 'These ponies are tending to their flowers in the garden. Can you help them color each one?'"
She turns to look at you… and actually smiles.
"You have seen flowers… remember, we all had some in our rooms in Pontugal too. Just use the color you liked the most."
I… I think I need to lay down a moment. Lay on all four right before the book and take out a bright color. A pretty color.
Sun. Take a sun colored stick and sowly use it on the flowers, but be very precise about it!
You lie down, then decide the best way to be comfy AND be able to color is to lie by tucking your legs under yourself!
You pick up the Sun colored crayon, the little paper parts preventing you from the crayon tasting weird in your mouth.
You slowly and carefully color all the nice little flowers, taking a great deal of care not to go over the line!
The captain just smiles at you, speaking only when you are done.
"Do you want to color the ponies too?"
Look at the cap and just… Yeah, nod, and start working on the ponies. Give them colors real ponies would have. One by one, and all different.
Blue, green, maybe even brown. And this one is lacking something, maybe some horns…
Without realizing it, fill the drawing using the same colors as the the raiders' coat's.
Bluntstone, mom, Giggly, and crudely draw horns on a pony, like Buck would have them.
Somehow, I'm not yet aware of it.
The captain frowns, clearing her throat.
"Do you… want to try another picture too?"
Look up, slightly confused, but nod with a big smile on my face anyway.
The turns a few pages.
"How about this one? It says 'The ponies are having a fun day at the market. Help them color all the fruits!' You saw how the fruits looked back at the city, didn't you?"
"Curry got me… One." smile warmly at the memory, snuggling down. Then, all of a sudden, as if taken by youthful fervor all over, jump up and scoot around.
"Show you thing? Secret?"
She is very surprised at the sudden outbursts, but stands up and nods.
"…Sure. You can trust me with it."
Take the cover off Mr seagull, proudly showing it off!
"Mr. Seagull back!"
The undead bird lurches upright slowly, flapping its wings weakly.
The captain takes a step backwards, grimacing.
"What in the… Is that… Is that bird dead?"
Look at the bird.
Then at the captain.
Then at the bird again.
"No? Mr. Seagull moves!"
She keeps grimacing, clearing her throat.
"I… see. Is this bird your… pet? Or a friend?"
"You hate him…" look extremely sad, but not angry. Instead, look even a bit worried!
Cover him up quickly.
Mr. Seagull squakws pitifully.
She shakes her head.
"I don't I just…"
"Little one, I saw that it moves… but that thing, it is definitely not alive."
"No way! Dead don't move!"
"Did that… thing, look alive to you?"
"…I only ever saw mr Seagull…"
She kneels down in front of you so she is closer to face level.
"I'm… I'm an earth pony, I'm no expert… I wish the Doc was here, he knew all about this thing but… do you have strange things happen around you sometimes?"
Beam with joy at the question.
"Yes! Curry came! And you!"
"…we came? How? What do you mean?"
"You were strange! Nopony is like you!"
She shakes her head.
"No… those… I don't even want to call them ponies… those fiends, on the island.
They aren't normal. That is not
how a pony should be!"
Just sit down, looking with a cocked head at the cap.
I still think she's the weird one. but weird good!
"I… If I make Curry promise not to hurt your pet bird… can I tell him about it?"
Nod slowly. "He knows about Mr Seagull! It's his friend too!"
"He is a unicorn so he might know more about this… well…"
She looks unsure.
"I think it's your magic."
"You mean Mr Seagull is magic?!"
"I think yes. Your
Shake my head vehemently, shutting my eyes tight!
You hear her move.
"W…What? Did I say something wrong?"
"No magic! No horn!"
Reply quickly, like it made a difference.
"There are some ponies who… still have magic of some kind. I don't know…"
"I really wish the Doc was here to explain this to me too…"
Shake my head, putting a hoof on her leg.
"All okay. Wanna go up? I want see big blue."
She smiles, standing up.
"Of course, Little one."
She motions with her head.
She opens the door and offers her hoof for you to take.
"Wait! Mr. Seagull!"
Take the sheets off its head and motion it towards me, as if gently telling it to follow.
Then up, on deck.
He flops out of the drawer and drags himself along the floor after you.
He is pretty slow though.
When you two get up on the deck (Mr. Seagull is slowly but surely following too!) Splinterproof nods to Angler who was at the helm. He walks by the two of you with a smile and a hello, heading below decks.
You also see the donkey lying on her back at the front of the ship with a smile!
Cock my head like a curious bird, wondering what the donkey is doing.
"Is she okay?"
The captain chuckles.
"Yes. I think she is just tanning."
Shudder at the thought. She tans her hide for pleasure? Buck did that to his trophies!
Look around, see if I can find Curry.
Nope. Only the three of you here.
And Mr. Seagull slowly stumbling out from below deck.
Scamper off towards the edge of the ship then, and try to reach the top of the railing by climbing up, helped by the weak flapping of my 'wings'.
You flap your wings… it hurts a bit, when you do. The doctors at the big city said they don't have the tools or magic to fix damage like that, they are not specialized in such wing injuries.
You manage to climb up, clinging off the railing to look at the infinite blueness!
So pretty… I want to live here in the blue forever.
Hang onto the rail with my forelimbs, letting the rear legs kick happily in the air.
The world smells different here.
The smell of salt in the air, it's so nice and fresh!
And the sun caressing your face warmly!
You see something! In the water!
You don't know… it looks a lot bigger, swimming close to the surface, but you can't make it out!
Hinge just a little bit forward, careful not to fall…
It's… it has the tail of a fish… but it has hooves at the front! It has a pony head too!
It is swimming just under the water!
No way! It can't be real! Wave at it, hoping it will see me!
That… fishpony jumps across the wave!
You can see it is a beautiful mare… She smiles and waves at you during the jump before diving back in!
Gasp and jumo back, away from the edge of the ship!
The captain looks at you from the helm, the thing with the big wheel.
Point at the water.
The donkey perks her ears up and turns her head.
The Captain rushes to the railing.
"What? A pony overboard?"
She looks around.
"…I don't see anything."
"And fish!" add quickly.
She looks at you.
"You probably just saw a dolphin, Felfire.
They are big, clever fish that like to follow ships like this."
She smiles and messes up your mane a bit, before walking back to the wheel.
I know what I saw!
Poke my head between the supports of the railing and look down, trying to spot her again!
She is there again!
She raises her front half out of the water, winking and putting a hoof over her mouth, making a 'shh' motion.
You spot a bright red jewel in the middle of her chest.
Nod quickly, just staring at her!
You feel Mr. Seagully slap against your leg as he stumbles into you.
The ponyfish in the water puts a hoof over to her chest, where her heart is, then blows you a kiss!
Wince away. I know what that means, that's what they do before the things I don't want to do, and Curry said I don't have to do things I don't want to do!
Move away from the rail.
You hear it splash back underwater…
Creepy! I'll need to get her out of my mind.
Mr. Seagull tugs at your leg and squawks.
"What is it, Mr seagull?"
He points at the Donkey and the mare.
They both seem… out of it.
Slowly walk up to the captain, tugging her leg.
She looks down at you.
Her eyes seem a bit cloudy.
"There is a mare who is a fish too!"
She looks back up.
She turns the wheel of the ship… why is she changing course?
"No good! She bad!"
She looks really… unresponsive.
Like she doesn't hear you.
Like when mommy was taking those things that she sold you for.
This is bad! Bad bad bad! Rush around and look for Curry, downstairs!
You quickly go down into the ship, and find Curry in his room!
He is staring at a wall absentmindedly.
Not him too!
"Wake up! Bad ponies!"
You rear up to shake his forelegs, but he doesn't budge!
His ears don't even flick or move!
Run through everypony on the ship, are they all like this!?
Yes. Everyone is just staring with foggy eyes…
Run back on deck and look at where we are going!
It's hard to see… the Sun is gone now, as a thick fog surrounds the ship now!
Run to the front of the ship and look real hard!
'1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
You cannot see anything at all… only the thick fog…
You do start hearing an eerie, echoing song…
This sends dark, evil shivers down my spine!
Step away from the edge of the ship, running back to the captain!
Her eyes are completely white by now.
She doesn't even notice you approach as she sails the ship further into this mess.
You feel the dagger grow cold by your side.Remain calm. You must protect yourself.
Pull on the big wheel thing which moves the boat! Tug it away!How!?
Splinterproof is holding it too steady for your tiny hooves to move!Pretend you are affected. Get close to the source. Trust us.
With terror in my heart, stay quiet, and wait for the boat to stop.
It takes a few minutes, but you feel the ship lurch as it is run aground.
You see everypony and the donkey on the ship slowly laying down the plank and walking off…
Quickly imitate them, finding the courage to not tremble.
You take a deep breath and follow them towards the music.
The little entourage walks a few minutes on this rocky island before you come across a throne made out of wet boulders.
Atop it lounges that half-pony half-fish creature, stopping her song once she sees all of you arrive.
"Let me see what kind of lovely feast you have brought to me, pretties~"
That's the half pony I saw before!
She surveys the little line up…
Then something terrifying happens.
She starts shaking, shivering and contracting, her body transforming with a horrible squelching, warping sound!
Her smooth skin becomes full of thick, long scales, a tiny wing sprouting out of her back, while her pony face elongates and starts to look more like a dragon than a pony!
She glides down in the air, stopping in the air before Curry.
"So much life in this one~"
N-not Curry! Curry is mine!
Why is the voice silent…
The horrible beast licks her lips…
Maybe… it is a strange concept for you… but… for Curry…
You'll have to act on your own.
But that is even more terrifying than the beast in front of you.
She is alone and near me, isn't she?
Yes, she is.
You made sure to stay next to Curry, even though he was completely out of it.
From the depths of hell, I stab at TEEEEEEEEEEH!
'1d10'Roll #1 8 = 8
You quickly grab your dagger and with a panicked screech, lunge at the dragonfish, the cold metal sliding through the thick scales like a knife cuts through a supple fruit, blood oozing from it immediately.
The thing lets out a high pitched, loud, horrifying screech that echoes past the water, making you stagger back and hold your ears with a hoof while the other drags the dagger back!
She flies into the air, holding her heavy wound with a hoof.
"WHAT ARE YOU TO DEFY THE CALL OF A SIREN?!"
Just wince away, shielding myself from her shriek, running for cover!
Thick fog surrounds everything around you, but you find a rock to hide behind.
The Siren seems really upset.
"LITTLE WRETCHED CREATURE! DESPICABLE FILTH! HOW DARE YOU WOUND ME!
Her gem shines a bright red, so do her eyes, and she chants something quickly.
You see the eyes of Crimson Tides, the donkey jenny turn from white to the same red color, and she steps out of the line, drawing her rapier.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrUbD1mAzDkYou need them. You have to save them all. Do not hurt them. Give me time. Trust me. I will let you save them. Unleash my power when I tell you to.
Sneak away, quiet and silent through the fog!
Roll #1 10 = 10
You are quite experienced in not being seen when you do not want to be seen…
You slip back into the fog, hopping from behind one large rock until the next.
You see the jenny slowly circling around, trying to find you.
The Siren snarls, chanting something again.
"Come on out Felfire. I will protect you."
Perk my ears and widen my eyes, as if asking myself if I actually heard that right!
Run towards him!
You drop your idea to hide and break into a gallop to rush towards him.
You notice a moment too late that his expression is dead, his eyes burning red.
From the side, the donkey leaps at you with a forward stab! Think fast!
'1d10'Roll #1 5 = 5
You flatten your legs, the sword still slighty grazing your flanks, drawing blood in a thin line.Buck controlled everypony. Made them do horrible things. This witch is forcing your friends to hurt you. You can't let her do that. You can't let her hurt your friends. HURT HER BACK! Release us!
You feel a dark power surge within you.
Your next action is Automatic.
Speed away, charging for the monster-mare!
You start charging at the mare!
For a brief moment, Curry stands in your way to block you!…
But you see the light taking his eyes over flicker… he steps away in the last second!
Gasp, he didn't hurt you! Not even under the horrible magic!
You are in front of the Siren, ready to stab, but she just laughs and shrieks at you, the power of her voice throwing you back and into a rock with a painful thud.
"YOU LITTLE WRETCH! YOU ARE…. WHAT IS THAT?!
The monster-mare sounds… terrified.
The power that has been surging within you manifests in full, and you feel compulsed to raise the dagger, chanting in a strange tongue you do not know.
There is a flash of green, eldritch magic in front of you, something like a dark fog slowly taking shape…
To your horror, you recognize it.
It is… it is the Banshee! From the big iron tub! She looks exactly the same, but she has some weird, tight chains all around her neck, glowing with terrifying runes of power.
The Banshee lets out a scream of her own… but your ears don't hurt at all.
You do see everypony and the donkey collapse to the ground in pain, cluthing their ears… their spell is broken! The siren is too stunned to even react.This one thought she could hurt you. Know she is merely a puppet of your will. Soon, the Siren will join her. Your thoughts are her command. Destroy this pitiful songster.
Charge fully, blind to the horrors of this rock, blind in rage and anger and fear, digging the dagger deep into the skull of the siren.
You barely realize that in all the flurry of emotions, you think about the Siren being punished and hurt. The Banshee hovering complies, letting out a blood curling scream filled with nercomantic death at the monster, making her fall to the ground and writhe in pain.
You charge forward as fast as your little legs carry you, not even stopping, letting the momentum carry you for the last few steps as you open your wings and glide forward, dagger extended in front of you, the cold metal sliding through the eye of the siren into her brain, splattering your hoof and chest with gore.
It twitches one last time before it stops moving.
You feel the magic fade, the ghastly mare slowly fading away into fog again, sucked into the dagger.
You hear everypony else groan in pain.
Hide the dagger again, without a sound, wincing at the pain on my back as the adrenaline fades… Then rush by Curry's side, and collapse there.
You hide it well, as you have learned by now -or was it taught to you by the dagger?
You rush to his side, hugging his warm body.
I'll groan a bit, and blink my eyes open.
"What? Why am I on deck…?"
Lift my head.
"Why's everyone sprawled ou-"
Wince a bit as my head swims with a headache that wasn't there before. Still, no excuse to lay about on deck. I'll start to work my way to my hooves before I notice Felfire clinging to me.>>656499
"Little one, what's the matter?"
This doesn't feel like wood…
It feels like wet stone…
And there's fog everywhere.
You hear the groans of others around you.
You still need to blink something away from your eyes…
Well, that's what my leg's for. Rub my eyes with my right foreleg, then shake my head a bit.
Then immediately regret shaking my head a bit.
Hold real tight around his huge legs, not answering. My body shakes, and the thin red line on my back glisters under the foggy air.
Well, I guess something
happened. Something bad, probably. I'll need to get my bearings before I can think of what, exactly, that was.
Now that the rush is over, you actually start to feel… cold.>>656505>>656503
You almost fall over when you shake my head, but you clear your vision.
You are on some sort of rock island. The others are all standing up around you slowly, too hurt to speak.
Felfire has a long, thin cut across her flank.
There is also a half-dragon half-fish looking creature nearby, dead, gored through her eye with the mouth hanging open in a silent scream.
Rattle my teeth, too tired to move.
Shit, what happened? Did we run aground? First things first, let's get that wound on Felfire looked at.
Pull her into a hug.>>656507
"It'll be alright, little one. We just need to put a bandage on that wound, and then we can figure out where we are."
I'll pointedly ignore the fact Felfire's covered with viscera at the moment.
Gotta get back to the boat. Wish I could burn off some of this fog…
"Little one, do you remember which way the boat is? I can't quite see in the fog."
Nod, finally warm in his hug, pointing out with a hoof in the way of the boat.
"What happened to my head? Feels like I'm dead…"
It's not the first time you notice she speaks a lot better in rhyme… Maybe the books she learned from were actually teaching Equestrian in rhymes, and she assumed that was the proper way to speak?
The Captain looks around, takes out a half-empty bottle of whiskey from her bags… then grimaces and smashes it on a nearby rock.
Angler silently helps Crimson up, who seems to be passed out still.
"Alright, then that's where we'll go."
Holding Felfire with the one leg, I'll walk on the other three back towards the boat.>>656506
Now to direct the others.
"Everyone, boat's this way. We've got to get off this rock, because I don't know what got us here. Stay within sight of each other, and follow my voice."
Let Curry carry me, starting to doze off.
Your little group slowly but surely makes their way to the edge of the rocks, where your beautiful ship is.
Well, the front got a bit dinged up on the rock, but it's just some cosmetic damage.
As ponies get on board, Angler stops and hooves Crimson to the Captain.
"One of you, throw me a board for here. Looks like I can wedge us back in the water."
"My hooves are a bit full, but let me see if I can't float you one…"
Concentrate a bit, and try to float the landing plank over to Angler.
'1d10'Roll #1 1 = 1
The moment you try to focus on your magic you feel a sharp pain in your horn, strong enough to make you collapse.
…maybe you shouldn't try that for a while.
Buangan lifts it instead and floats it down to Angler.
The captain takes the helm.
"Use your wings on the fog… then on the sails. We will back out and find the nearest current. We will navigate from there.
Skylight comes up from below the deck, rubbing her eyes with a yawn.
"Where are we? What's going on?"
I need to invest in some kind of headache medicine.
"I'm not sure. I think something managed to run us aground against these rocks while we were asleep."
Get back up, careful of Felfire, and start making my way to the infirmary supplies. Gotta get a clean bandage for her wound.
"Whatever it is, though, is pretty dead. I think. Doubt it could survive with a giant stab wound in its face."
Something won't add up for a moment, but I'll dismiss the unease.
"I think the little one saved us on this one somehow."
"Oh Celestia, is she hurt?"
She runs over to you, closing her eyes, a divine yellow light surrounding her, casting some sort of spell.
The small wound on the flank of Felfire closes up.
The rest of the crew starts taking you back to the sea.
"Curry! Leave the kid to her, take Crimson belowdeck!"
"Urgh, don't yell."
Hand off the now sleeping Felfire.
"Careful you don't wake her. I don't doubt she might wake up screaming after the shock registers."
And then it's back to help the others.
Gasp for air at the sudden relief, finally standing on my own legs again.
" blurt out.
Awake and alive. No voice to scream.
Skylight sits down on her haunches, holding you in her hooves.
"Oh, you poor little thing… it's allright now.">>656520
By the time you come back from belowdecks from escorting, Angler is back on deck, and the Cap is working with Buangan to set you out to the sea.
"Well, let's shove off and get back on course. Any idea what ran us aground here in the first place?"
"…" Don't say a word. Instead wiggle myself free after giving Skylight a very creepy stare, and go for Splinterproof!
Splinterproof shakes her head.
"Last I remember it was all bright and sunny and we were right where we were supposed to be.">>656523
"Oooh…ookay, you don't want a hug then…"
She lets you go.
The cap glances down.
Are you okay now?"
"Last I remember I was still pumping bilgewater…"
I'll focus on helping Angler and the others push off against the rocks while the captain talks with Felfire.
"My head hurts worse than… well, not any worse than some things recently, but really bad. But I'm fine aside that.">>656526
You are already off. It is just a matter of the pegasus mare creating wind for the sails to try and get out of the fog.
"You were… Lost."
Now I can watch the ocean and try not to throw up due to the unsteadiness that's decided to sit in my stomach. Is this what seasickness feels like?
She chuckles bitterly.
"We are still quite lost, little one.">>656529
Real bad ones.
Skylight touches your shoulder.
"You don't seem very well…"
Shake my head.
"Like when mom ate those weeds. Lost in eyes."
She tilts her head.
"Wait… what are you talking about?"
"Well, that would be the case. I've a headache I can't remember doing anything to get, as does everyone else on the crew, and I feel as if I've gone and butted heads with a yak."
Close my eyes. It's too bright out here today. Why can't Celestia dim the sun just a bit?
"Without any protective gear."
Go completely blank in face, staring into the horizon for a good handful of seconds, only to shake my head quickly and snap out of it.
"I just feel… really sleepy.
I might have something for you… where does it hurt exactly?">>656534
She looks serious now…
"When… did this happen before we ran aground?"
I'll vaguely gesture to my head.
"Roughly the whole thing. It'll pass eventually."
"Migraines I can't help…"
"After the fishpony."
"I figured as much, since my own ideas probably wouldn't help much either. So I'll just have to live with it."
Rub my eyes and then rest my head on the ship's railing.
"Come to think on it, why were you left on the boat and the rest of us on that outcropping? I can't imagine it just got tired of carrying ponies."
"You saw… something… then I woke up on that… place.
And it had a dead dragonfish on it."
She holds her head with a hoof.
"Just… just what went down…">>656539
"You got carried? I don't remember… I was in my cabin, reading and praying… then I woke up on the floor."
She blushes sheepishly.
"I thought I just fell asleep."
"And I was cleaning the bilges again for the third time in as many days. Then we all woke up outside, next to some dead… thing
. If it didn't carry us, I certainly don't remember the walk."
Facehoof, since I just told her!
Sings. You lost in eyes. All lost in eyes! And take ship here, ponyfish want eat you all!"
"Whoa, whoa, wait, that thing… it led us there and wanted to eat us?">>656541
She stares silently, as the ship slowly rolls out of the fog and into sunlight again.
"I don't get it."
"I'm comfortable on blaming it on some variety of witchcraft until I get more information. And this headache goes away."
"What about you?">>656545
"You could try to pray and meditate with me…"
"While I appreciate the offer, there are still things to do. Going belowdecks and checking for hull damage should probably happen soon, if nothing else."
Cast a glance over at Felfire and the Captain.
"At least the little one and the captain are getting along. Hopefully they'll be able to help each other recover."
"Well, look at you now.
A little filly stronger than a pair of seasoned sailors and even a donkey from the army."
Look suddenly scared, as if I'd offended her.
"It… it's okay! That was a compliment…"
"You know… I really respect you."
Angler overhears you.
"Already on it. I'll get my tools."
He walks out of sight at a slow pace.
Looks like he is hurt too, but doesn't really want to show.
As the ship is out of the fog, she steers the ship.
"As in… hold on… I have no idea where we are right now… let's hope we come across something soon… and I meant that, you are such a strong little filly for your age and… everything."
"Angler, it can wait until we're back on our… and he's gone."
Look at Skylight.
"He's less likely to tell anyone anything than even the captain. Don't suppose you could go after him and make certain he doesn't end up hurting himself by taking on too much work?"
She lowers her voice.
"I don't think he actually means to work. He left his tools up here.
Smile a bit.
Then leave. I feel really sleepy.
You are pretty exhausted… just like after the iron ship.
You bump into Mr. Seagull before the stairs down.
He flaps his wings at you affectionately.
Close my eyes and groan inwardly.
"Then that means he's probably hurt fairly badly. Or he's really out of it."
Cast a glance at the tool box, the captain, and then the stairs down into the hold.
Pfah. Curse my meddling.
"Captain! It seems Angler's forgotten his tools on his way to inspect the hull. I don't suppose you could convince him to rest a moment until we're all back in our right minds?"
Hug him and take him to bed like a big, rotten plushie.
"I know him. He went for a nap."
"He deserves it…"
"Could you come here a second?"
Skyheart nods at you.>>656560
It is a very squishy, bad smelling hug, but you take him to bed.
I'll return Skylight's nod, and then head over to the captain.
"Something the matter?"
She looks at the sea, as if she was just trying to see where to go next.
"You will excuse me for my language, but I'm sorry for being such a huge bitch to you. You don't need to be down in the bilges all the time anymore."
Oh, she's just avoiding eye contact.
It's a magic hug.
"Ah, that. Well, it's my fault too you know. But I'll take that reprieve from bilge duty with utmost grace."
Chuckle a little.
"But, it seems it was worth it, though. You and Felfire seem to be getting along fairly well with one another lately. I'm certain she's happy to have someone she can talk with aside from me."
It's so cuddly you fall asleep almost immediately.>>656565
"I got her some coloring books and crayons… she really liked them but…"
"When she colored ponies… It was them. Down to that damned antler and everything."
Frown a bit and look out to sea.
"Well, I suppose it's to be expected. She's known them for the majority of her life, so it makes sense they'd be rooted in there fairly deeply."
Rub the bridge of my snout.
"I don't even want to think what would happen if she were to encounter another deer, though I imagine it wouldn't be good. At first, anyway. If she realizes that Buck was the exception instead of how rule, she might be able to interact with them without being absolutely terrified. She's made leaps and bounds of progress with ponies, after all."
Letting out a sigh, I'll continue.
"We just have to remember that all of this…" I'll gesture to the sea and the world at large. "All of it's so new to her, so she might not be able to take it in as quickly as we think she ought to be able to. It's like how a starving pony can't eat too much without making themselves ill. We bring her into the world too quickly, and she might retreat back to that… idea
Snort a bit.
"Despite it being far from normal."
"What worries is me is that… I think after a time, despite the horrors… she couldn't bring herself to hate all of them."
She shakes hear head dismissively.
"I'm no good with foals. Never was. I don't know how to help her ease back into everything…"
It is one day after the big 'excitement' since yesterday.
Felfire has slept unnaturally long, but seems to be fine now that she woke up.
Everyone else is having slight migraines, but the captain is now sailing… yet even with the stars in the night, she is lost, hoping to find the nearest port.
Well, that's swell. Not sure what I can do for that…
Pray, to Luna.
Who is sort of in charge of the night sky and stars which are quite important for navigation.
Ah yes. And the tides and such.
Time for prayer, then. I'll set myself up a bit out of the way (since Skylight can't be made aware of my affiliations), and begin to pray. Mostly for our captain to find her bearings, and for the wind and current to be with us.'1d10'Roll #1 3 = 3
You do get a feeling you will have better luck during the night it will be an automatic action
>>657991Oh, that's good to know.
Then I'll have to wait until night, then!
You might want to check on somepony
in the meantime.
After yesterday, I'm quite scared of the knife. Rather than holding and hiding it on myself, I will tuck it away somewhere in my 'room'.
Like Felfire! And Buangan afterwards.
So we're off to look for Felfire.
Felfire manages to slip the dagger under her bed just in time, as Curry walks in.
She is finally up and awake!
Still covered in blood though.
"Well, it looks like someone needs a bath."
"Noooo! Blood scares away my enemies!"
"But you have no enemies on this ship, little one."
Run under the sheets, throwing them and ver my head and poking just the blood soakedm muzzle and my shiny yellow eyes out from under them, lookin around in suspicious worry.
"They in the big blue! Out there!"
You do have a cabin set up as a 'washing block' with buckets for some things (Thankfully Angler volunteered to empty it regularly) but mostly a basin for bathing.
"And if they're out there, they can't see you anyway."
I'll look at her seriously for a moment.
"And some fish are actually attracted to blood, you know. I wouldn't know what to do if you got gobbled up by a giant fish!"
Mister Seagull is here to keep you safe!
Squeak out in sudden fear and cover myself up entirely, a rattling bundle of pony under the sheets.
"Fish is scary…"
"They're only scary if they catch you by surprise. Which is why ponies clean themselves, so they can sneak up on the big fish, and make them into dinner instead of the other way around."
Finally finding the courage, my head will poke out of the sheets, looking up at Curry with big eyes full of wonder.
"Bath time now?"
"Indeed, it is time for a bath. So now, we'll go to the part of the boat we can do that."
I'll nod solemnly.
Sneak out, following Curry.
Huh, weird, the door is open and the basin has clean, lukewarm water in it already!
Curious. Is someone already there?
"Hello? Is someone here? If not, then I'm going to have to use this basin."
ONE BATH AND SEVERAL HOURS LATER
Felfire has been put to bed and most of the crew retired to their quarters.
It's night, so it's the perfect time to pray to Luna!
Indeed it is, so long as I avoid anyone else who might still be awake. The night watch of the ship should be busy, though, so… yeah.
Don't suppose I can see the moon from my cabin? Or do I not have a porthole?
You could just pray at the bow of the deck. Angler probably wouldn't hear you there, and you'll get a nice view of the moon.
True… But caution isn't unwarranted, with a Celestial priestess onboard.
So, I'll walk around for a bit, make sure the coast is clear. Then I'll head for the bow.
It seems to be all clear.
You're in luck too, the sky is completely clear!
Wonderful. I'll sit up near the railing on the bow, and begin my prayers.
It's only silence at first…
Well, that's not so different than usual, really. Responses are seldom, but always appreciated.
I'll continue praying for a while yet.
Midway through your prayer, you hear a divine voice…
The voice of Princess Luna.Curry. I am sorry.
I'll try to suppress my surprise.
"Sorry? What in the world for?"
"What do you mean, my Lady?"
I'll stifle the questions about the urgency of this task.
"To where would you have us go, my Lady? What must I do?"
I'll be silent a moment.
"Am I… am I preparing her well enough for this? Will she be ready for the test before her?"
"I am listening."
"There is no need to worry, my Lady. It is the duty of your servants to handle such things. We will do everything in our power so that your return is a peaceful one."
She is silent after that… and you start to feel dizzy… and really tired and weak…
Oof. Haven't felt like that since the temple in Autumnsreach, before I left.
I'll take a moment to get my bearings again, and lean against the rails for support.
You try to stand up, but can't muster the strenght. You fall down, losing our conciousness.
You wake up in a dark room only illuminated by the stars and the large, indigo moon above, visible because of the lack of a ceiling.
This… this is new.
You hear a sinister, echoing laughter.
"Poor, unfortunate, miserable little Curry. How are you going to defend yourself now?"
"The same way I've defended myself as always. Through faith and determination."
Look around. Can I hear the speaker?
The voice sounds like the voice of Luna only dripping with malice.
"Weak weapons against that which could destroy you."
There is a loud clattering behind you. As you turn to check, you see it is a trident with sharp, wicked blades, the hilt bearing the symbol of Nightmare Moon on it.
"Ah. I see you for what you are, now. You are the Nightmare."
I'll look at the trident, a bit wistful for the one I'd lost on the ship.
"But though I've lost the trident I once had, I cannot accept this one. My Lady has seen fit to rearm me with comrades and purpose."
My expression will harden.
"A purpose I won't betray."
There is a bitter laugh again.
"It is adorable how naive you are. How can you possibly defend yourself without a weapon against the evil that lurks near you?"
"I have my own hooves. My horn. I am a tool of my Lady's will. I will find a way."
"Will that be enough against a force of such dark powers?"
The moon from above shines brighter, revealing a crying Felfire in front of you, a few steps ahead.
I'll take half a step forward, then stop.
"It will have to be. You can't defeat poison by drinking more of it."
The crying stops and Felfire looks up at you, tears of blood dripping from her cheeks. Her face contorts into a grimace, her wings falling off, only for a pair of bat-like, leathery wings to sprout instead. She flaps them a few times, her hindlegs merging into a blob of corrupted flesh, and wicked, bloody antlers start growing out of her skull.
She looks up at you with a playful, yet creepy laugh, and you realize the dagger of Buck is embed into her chest.
She pulls it out and twists it around, turning the busy end toward you.
The voice of Nightmare sounds up again.
"I feel almost insulted, that I cannot create a nightmare for you. Not any better than the one you live with."
"You can't deceive me with this. That dagger is still on the island, lost and out of the hooves of any pony."
Stare down the monstrous… thing.
An errant thought of how Felfire managed to kill a siren will briefly crop up.
"I refuse to believe this."
The dark thing starts flying around you in circles, almost playfully, but the pestilent magic she emits makes you feel uneasy, almost sick.
"Poor, miserable, naive little Curry. Did you believe a filly could defeat a Trotantine Necromancer? Or did you never stopped to think about it, lulling yourself into your false, blind belief again?"
"She wasn't alone, Nightmare. She could see it, but she wasn't alone to fight it."
How did we beat that monster, anyway? Didn't it run out of hosts to possess? Felfire's nascent abilities as a necromancer could dispel it, couldn't they, after we broke apart the corpses she puppeteered?
"She was not alone, now. But it was neither you nor the wretched Princess you praise so highly."
The dark creature flies above you, cutting a painful, shallow wound along your spine before stopping in front of you and laughing.
"Even were this true, why bother telling me? Wouldn't it fit your ends more to leave me ignorant of such a thing?"
Keep following the little monster with my eyes. Next time it tries that, I'll blind it with light.
"Or is trying to plant the seeds of doubt such an enjoyable pass-time?"
The Nightmare whispers into your mind in an almost sultry fashion.
"You want to do good, do you not? Join me, so you can purge this evil from the face of Equestria and beyond."
The Felfire-thing flies right in front of you, her eyes glowing with a dark green magic, same as her antlers.
You feel pain like you've never felt before, and hear your horn crack! You… you lost your magic!
I'll stumble a bit.
"N-not in a thousand years. A hundred thousand."
This is a dream realm. A nightmare, yes, but a dream all the same. No matter how much it hurts, no matter what may happen, this is all a dream. And Luna, my Lady, is the overseer of dreams. So long as I am faithful, nothing can stop me.
I'm going to grab that little beast by the horns and stick them in the ground.
"Wrong choice, you foolish weakling."
The very touch burns your hoof and you are forced to let go.
Immediately afterwards, you feel the cold of the metal pierce your skin and flesh, the tip reaching your heart, as the Felfire-thing sinks the dagger into your chest. You feel the dreadful magic seep into your body as your heart stops, and the last thing you see are the eyes…
Eyes full of hatred and evil. You hear Nightmare whisper one last time.
"You can always join me if you change your mind."
You wake up on the deck to your own screaming. You see Angler holding you down, while the horn of Skylight shines, as if trying to heal you of non-existent wounds.
Breathing heavily, I'll try to make sense of things and calm the fuck down.
That dream, nightmare. The horned monster. Why would it be attached to Felfire? Did that damned deer do something to her before we showed up at the island? She can't be holding such a dark power in her, it's impossible.
Coughing, I'll shakily try and push off Angler's hooves.
"It's ended. I'm alright…"
As you push him away and he takes a step back, you realize… there's blood on your cheeks, under your eyes and horn.
Skylight looks very concerned, but she can't say anything before the captain steps closer.
"What happened to you?"
I'll stare at the blood for a moment, and then the captain. There's no sense hiding it from her, and Angler. Even the Celestial priestess could be of some use.
"Would you believe that I had a rather terrible Nightmare?"
Skylight gasps, seemingly understanding it.
The captian doesn't.
"How does a Nightmare make you bleed and trash around?"
I'll shakily get to my hooves.
"It's quite simple, captain. Have you ever had bad dreams where you have been hurt or otherwise injured, and it feels incredibly real? For those who provoke the ire of Nightmare Moon, such wounds become real."
I'll test my horn a moment, see if it lights up or not.
"I did not believe her to have such power, but it seems I was mistaken. My apologies for worrying you."
Thankfully, your horn and magic work just fine. That's a relief!
Angler seems confused.
"Nightmare Moon? I did not even know she was… real."
The captain keeps staring you down.
"And what did you manage to do to… do something like that?"
Skylight opens her mouth to say something but the captain holds up a hoof to sush her.
"I find it hard to believe that she just picked you at random. Why not anypony else from the crew?"
She might just be a sailor, but she is the captain for a reason. She is clever when she doesn't let her emotions rule her.
"Because I am one of the few followers of the Princess Luna left in the world who haven't fallen. And that, I assume, irritates her."
I'll sit facing the captain and the others. With a sigh, I'll continue.
"For those she especially dislikes, it seems she fashions nightmares that can effect ponies physically. Mine involved a demon that spawned from that island."
My emphasis on the last two words should indicate to the captain which exact island I mean.
Skylight stands up and trots away without a word.
Angler seems shocked.
You can't quite tell what the expression of the captain should be telling you.
"So… a Lunite… or whatever you call them."
"Why not tell us sooner?"
"Because, captain, I didn't think it would come up. And, to be perfectly honest, I had made a habit of not telling ponies. The Inquisition is not usually willing to listen when you say you aren't a heretic, nor are the ponies who summon them."
I'll lower my head a bit.
"I do apologize."
"I do not care what you believe in, but frankly, I am hurt that you didn't share after everything we have been through."
I'll have the decency to look sheepish at that.
"Well, way back in the beginning, I kept it a secret, and then after everything that happened I was just… embarrassed that I ever doubted you. So I couldn't bring myself to say it."
"Just… please. No more secrets."
She looks at Angler.
"I'll take the helm for tonight. Go with him to his cabin, to make sure he doesn't pass out again. You have the night off after that."
"In the morning, then."
I'll look at my hoof for a moment.
"Though perhaps I should wash off first, so I don't frighten the little one to bits."
"And don't take this the wrong way, I'm not sending Angler with you because you are sentenced to your cabin. I am simply worried."
Angler nods too.
"Come on, I can help with that."
"I know, I won't. And honestly I could probably use the help, since I'm not sure exactly much damage I actually took."
I'll stand up and take a few steps.
"Thank you, both of you. And if either of you can convince sister Skylight to not mention this to anyone for now, that would be great. Because I don't think she'd open the door for me if I came knocking."
I'll give a half-hearted chuckle, and then sigh.
"I'll talk to her in the morning don't worry."
Angler steps by your side, in case you fell and needed support.
"Come on now, off you go. Wash up then rest, if you can."
"That's the plan."
And then off we go.
The next few days of the journey lack any and all excitement.
The only remarkable things are the nightares of Curry that keep returning night after night, and Skylight locking herself into her cabin.
This morning was different though.
You all had a chill down your spine, but not from fright this time, from the cold.
A harsh, brutal wind has started blowing, making sailing all the more difficult.
A few hours later, you see land, but it is something rather strange, the closer you get.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brvOvgofwaU
You see exotic buildings, nothing that you have seen in Pontugal or the ruins of the island, but not even anywhere else. There are large towers and domed buildings, as well as blocky houses that look like they are made out of clay, with arches connecting them…
But strangest of all, a brooding, dark cloud rests above the huge city, small white flakes of snow raining down.
The harbor is even more worrysome, as it is almost completely frozen over, with what little ships remain in it capsized, sunk, or simply frozen into the water.
The captain speaks up.
"This… does not look good. But we have to stop."
Rattle my teeth, cold freezing me in place. I'm not used to this on the island! It's always hot there!
The jenny notices, grimacing.
"We need some clothes. Hold on, let me check what the Pontugals left us."
She canters down, and a few minutes later comes back with some cloaks and such, giving you one to wrap yourself in.
"It's not much, but it will have to do for now."
Smile brightly, warmth coming back to me.
" Purr out, snuggling into the cloak.
"Why is it so cold here?"
Angler shakes his head.
"I don't know, little'un. It shouldn't be. From the looks of it, and where we are according to the stars, this should be a desert."
"Yes. The architechture suggests this is a zebra city."
The ship is closing in to the dock now, the ice scraping the hull of the ship, but it is thin enough this far to break. The captain speaks up.
"I suppose we are going to find out soon enough."
"Maybe they got tired of hot air all the time and made it snow!"
"I doubt they have pegasi. Or that they like cold like this. And just look at this port. They can't be doing this on purpose."
Once the ice gets thicker, Angler hops down with a spear, carefully breaking it ahead of the ship while balancing not to fall in. Seems like he has experience with this. By the time the ship comes to a halt next to a pier, you see dozens of strange figures.
They look like ponies, but they only have two colors, black and white in a striped pattern.
They all seem very malnourished, staring at your ship.
Stare back, poking only my eyes out of the ship, scared and worried.
I know what ponies do when they are hungry…
Angler hops up onto the pier, and the captain lays down the plank to dock. The crowd of ponies start advancing on the ship!
The donkey immediately draws her sword, pointing it at them.
"STOP RIGHT THERE! NOT A STEP CLOSER!"
You see it in their eyes that they don't understand, but the sight of the weapon makes them back away.
"No! You will scare them!"
Jump down too!
You jump down on the pier, Angler quickly closing in beside you to shield you from the crowd.
A scrawny stallion steps forward, the stallion pointing his weapon at him.
"N-No.. please… I speak your tongue… we just want food, please!"
A feminine voice rings out.
"Do you ponies have NO HEARTS? Look at these poor creatures!"
You see Skylight trotting forward, walking to the crowd.
"Angler, go an get a crate from the hull instead of pointing that thing around!"
She rips the weapon out of his hooves with her magic, throwing it back onto the ship.
Skylight terrifies me. I'll best hide behind the donkey.
These ponies are creepy…
Out of Angler's hoof, silly.
He looks to the Captain, who just nods silently, but the donkey still has her sword trained on the zebras.
As Angler disappears into the hull, Skylight walks down to the starving masses.
"You poor, unfortunate equines. Worry not, we will do what we can."
The stallio kneels before her, bowing her head.
"Thank you… thank you so much…"
This somehow doesn't feel sincere in the least.
Scurry off to the captain, and look up with questioning eyes, as if to wonder what she's doing.
She glances down at you, similar confusion in her eyes.
"I'm not sure what is she planning… but I don't like it."
Angler comes back with a crate, and Skylight opens it with her magic, immediately floating rations down to the zebras gathered around, who start fighting over them and scurrying off with them as soon as they get their hooves on one.
This reminds me of what raiders would do to newly killed tribals…
Just, this time instead of a pony it's a box.
A thousand miles gaze covers my face and I wait for Skylight to explain herself.
She is in the middle of handing out food when you hear the flap of wings and the clanking of armor.
The zebras quickly scatter, running off the pier.
You see ponies approach! They look Equestrian!
One of them with the big armor and a huge hammer stops in front of you, while two more armored ponies are behind him, as well as a pegasi floating there.
"What is going on here?"
Skylight looks at them with a frown.
"Who are you?"
"We should be asking the same."
The donkey steps forward.
"Crimson Tides of the Equestrian Navy. Who do we have the pleasure for?"
"I am Rigid Steel, captain of the Equestrian Outpost that is set here."
These equestrians sure sound like they love war!
Squeal out, loudly and suddenly!
Well, decorum states Tides should probably do the talking for the most part.
One of the armored mares giggles, but the lead pony just nods.
"I think you will do best if you come to our Embassy."
The Captain shakes her head.
"I will stay with this ship."
"So will I."
Skylight chimes in as well.
"I won't leave these ponies here alone. I will handle the zebras if they come back."
The armored stallion snorts.
"The rest of you then."
Look at Curry, and then go hide behind his legs. I go with him.
"I would not hope to intrude, but I suppose someone does need to find out why it's so unnaturally cold here, and why these zebras are stricken with famine."
I'll turn to the captain and the others.
"I'll be back in a short while. Keep the place in one piece?"
A faint smile will cross my face.
"We will try."
The stallion nods.
"You will get debriefed, once we are in the safety of our Embassy."
They start marching back, urging you to follow them.
As you walk, you see snow everywhere, the cold, weird thing crunching under your hooves.
You see an occasional weird glance from windows or between houses, curiously peeking at you.
The donkey leans closer to you two."I do not like this guy. At all."
Gulp and quickly ask back, in a high pitched, childish voice. "Why don't you like him?"
"You and I both, but he likely knows what's going on. So for now, we're stuck with him.
Close my eyes slightly.
Well, there goes subtlety.
A mare glances back, but they don't seem to mind all too much for now.
In the distance you see a small wall, and behind it, an Equestrian style church, which juts out of the architecture sorely, standing out with its snow covered tower.
She replies to both of you."He seems like trouble. I just feel it. I've worked as a security officer on a boat for a decade, and he is the type who is always asking for trouble."
"I'll trust your gut, then.
I'll clear my throat.
"So, has this outpost been here long?"
I will ask a question too.
"Do you eat those black and white ponies?"
"It has been here for several years, yes. And of course we do not eat the zebras, we are not savages, we do not sink down to their level."
As you approach, the gates of the wall are opened up, and you see there is a military style outpost next to the church.
An ancient looking mare in ceremonial robes trots out.
"Yes, I will take them to debriefing and questionin-"
"You shall do no such thing, Steel. Go and play with your soldiers, I will talk with them now."
The armored pony sneers at the old mare.
"I still have authority over you by the word of Princess Celestia herself, no matter how shiny your armor is. Dismissed."
He gives you a glance and storms off.
One of the armored mares frowns.
"Uh… I do hope we can be friends when we get to know each other properly. Just try to get comfortable."
The old mare steps closer to all of you.
"Forgive that buffoon for however he must have acted. Ever since he declared martial law, he thinks he is the Princess of this city. My name is Pristine Silver, and I would like you to welcome to Ponokwane, such as it is now."
Squeak out shyly, hiding away.
"A pleasure to meet you, Sister Silver."
I'll put my hoof to my chin for a moment.
"Or is it matron? I forget how the hierarchy goes."
Shake my head.
"Regardless, I thank you for your welcome. My name is Curry, and this one is called Felfire. She's a tad shy around new folk. Miss Tides will likely introduce herself."
After introductions are out of the way, I'll continue.
"I realize the cold and hunger aren't good for anyone, but martial law? Has there really been so much trouble keeping the locals supplied?"
"Crimson Tides, officer of the Navy."
She nods to all of you.
"Curry, Tides, Felfire, please, do come inside. You may drop formalities with me if you wish."
She leads you all inside.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfrjM2uGoIo
The inside of the church seems very plain and barren compared to the one in Pontugal. Most everything aside the altar has been cleared out, and there is even a fire set in a makeshift hearth to the side, filling the room with warmth. You also see tables that look like they belong more to a kitchen, and cots with injured and weak zebras on it.
"We can barely keep ourselves supplied. The pegasi and earth pony can do wonders, but even what their magic is capable of can only supply us. Of course, I and some of the other kind souls of this place give most of our rations to those in need, but we cannot feed every hungry mouth. There have been revolts and rebels with lots of bloodshed. Steel has the local population scared after he publicly executed some poor souls who stormed the embassy, hoping to feed their families."
"But surely there must be some reason this all happened. From what I heard, this area was supposed to be a desert. How on earth did it turn into a frozen tundra?"
Tug at Curry's leg. Get his attention and whisper in his ear.
"Ask her why they make it snow.
"Ah, yes. A very peculiar matter. Do you wish to get comfortable? I would offer you some food, but I am afraid I cannot, only some water and warm clothes."
She motions at a nearby table.
"I'm asking, don't worry. Or did you mean how they made it snow?
And it's off to sit at the table.
Shake my head.
"Well, I think the problem is that they didn't want it to snow, and something is causing it. Usually it takes a lot of pegasus ponies working together to bring a winter to any one place. And they'd have to be working all day long to make it stay cold, too. Since we didn't see any pegasus ponies, that means there's likely bad magic at work. Or neutral magic used for bad purposes."
As you all take a seat at the table, a stallion who looks like a nurse brings all of you fuzzy and warm clothes without another word.
"You are right, there is bad magic involved. A curse, to be precise, and a young colt is causing it, or bears the curse, rather, but we all suffer the consequences."
"Oh. Bad, bad magic."
"Curse? How do you mean?"
"Very bad magic indeed, by a horrible creature.">>667201
"There is a witch that lives to the north here. I have only heard the rumors, but she cursed the mother of the foal to bear a great misery upon the world. She gave birth nine years ago. First, it was just cold winds, then the neighbourhood they lived in. Now… as you can see, the whole city has been like this for almost a year, and it is taking its toll. Many zebras tried to kill the unfortunate colt, hoping to put an end to this, but there is still good in this world, and those who want to protect him. Alas, that left us with this unfortunate situation."
"And did no one seek out the witch, to have her undo her work? Are there no counter-curses?"
Gasp and look at Curry!
He's helped me, he's gonna help this kid too!
"Many have tried, but all have failed. None have returned. No magic we know of could undo it either, as the cruel creature has made the cutie mark, as strange as it seems to us on zebras, the source of the curse. He was born with it, and he may bear it until the end of his life."
"I can guess what the stance of that Steel guy is on this matter. I am glad you are in charge, and not him."
"The captain may not enjoy my choice here, but I'd like to offer what assistance I can. If none have reached or returned from this witch, then that just means I'll have to be the first."
"If that is what you wish to do, I cannot stop you, only warn you."
"And I appreciate that."
I'll scratch my chin a moment.
"Now, beyond what you've already said, is there anything further you can tell me about this? I'd also like to speak with the child before I leave, if that's alright."
"I would be glad to, but I do not know everything first hoof. I encourage you to try and find his uncle, who is doing a good job of taking care of him and hiding him from those who would wish to kill the poor soul. Just make sure none of the goons from this embassy follow you."
"Well, that should be fairly simple, as I've a second set of eyes."
I'll tilt my head towards Felfire.
Smile, but on the inside. I know what he just said must be something amazing. Even if I don't understand it!
The old mare looks down at the filly, then nods.
"I do urge both of you to stay safe out there. I have seen what the hunger can do to these beings."
"Actually, there may be some small service that I might be able to do before I go. Do you happen to have any seeds lying about?"
"I am sure that one of the earth ponies who reside here do. They and the pegasi work together to manage and make the meager amount of food we can produce."
"I'm briefly acquainted with nature magic, so I was hoping to see if I couldn't help bolster your food supply just a bit before I go. It should forestall some of the more… unpleasant intentions that might happen, hopefully."
Filly has no idea what nature magic is, but looks curious.
"I am sure that the earth ponies and pegasi working day and night will be grateful."
She knocks on the table and another nun trots up to you.
"Follow me, if you would.">>667923
The old mare looks down at you again.
"What about you, little one? I sense you have magic of your own, too, despite not being a unicorn."
I'll linger a moment. As much as these ponies are trying to do good, if they find out Felfire's abilities then she might not be able to leave.
Shake my head, scared!
The nun politely but impatiently coughs.>>667928
"Come now, I have been a servant of the Light for almost a century now, I can tell it when I see it."
She looks around.
"Perhaps you would find more comfort to talk about it if we were not in front of prying ears?"
Look incresingly scared, gaze dashing from her to Curry amidst squeaks of fear.
The mare frowns.
"I did not mean to scare you, child. Please accept my apologies."
"The little one is still coming to grips with her gifts, and I've been doing my best to keep her on the right path, Sister. She is still skittish around unfamiliar ponies, though. Perhaps, when we return, we all three can speak of it."
I'll gesture to Felfire.
"Come along little one, let's go help some ponies."
Nod and rush out, ahead of Curry!
The old mare says nothing in response.
The nun leads the two of you outside into the cold again, to the very back of the wall.
You see greenhouses set up there, with tired looking pegasi above constantly trying to keep the sky clear to make sure they get all the sun they can get.
"You will find the earth ponies in charge inside."
The nun then excuses herself and leaves.
Felfire has never seen such a pretty glass building before though!
"Thank you for your guidance."
And then I suppose it's inside the greenhouse we should go. If this works properly, then these ponies should be able to rest at least for a short while.
"It's a huge bottle!" squeak, looking at the greenhouse.
"Well, something like that. Ponies call it a 'green house.' Once we go inside, you'll see why."
Inside you see pegasi carrying small clouds to water the plants while earth ponies tend to the soil and the ground. You can see why too, it seems like whatever this curse is doing, it is really trying to reclaim even this tiny area to return it to the cold.
Truly, a dreadful curse. What on earth could have been done to deserve it? Or is the witch just that petty? We'll find out eventually, I suppose.
"Good day. I don't suppose I may ask who's in charge of this greenhouse?"
Oh so it's a green house on the rocks!
One of the mares wipes the sweat from her brows and leans on her hoe.
"We're through with having anyone in charge. It makes work impossible. We just all work here until we pass out, then return to it when we wake up. What is it?">>667949
Or maybe it is a green house because it is a house that has all this green in it!
"I'm a passing traveler who dabbles in nature magic. I was hoping to offer a hoof in aid before continuing on, if you'd be comfortable with me trying. I can't quite guarantee it would work with the curse in effect, though…"
I'll look a little sheepish at that.
She looks you over.
"Well, as long as you don't mess up completely and kill our crops. Not that it would matter much in that case."
"Then I'll just focus on a small section, so that I don't throw everything off if this doesn't work. Is that fair?"
I will wander a bit, looking back outside the greenhouse.
As you wander around and look at all the plants, you notice a tiny caterpillar on one of them! Gasp! How is it alive with the cold outside? But they might kill it inside if they see it gnaw on the leaves!
"Works for me. Knock yourself out."
She motions at one of the back areas.
Right. Let's settle in back there. A few quiet prayers to Luna, then the supplication to nature itself.
And let's see if I can't make a Miracle grow. '1d10'Roll #1 4 = 4
Poke my hoof forwards, in front of the caterpillar, and let it climb on it.
It slowly wiggles itself onto your hoof!>>667961
You make the plants grow slightly stronger and resistant, but before you could really make the spell blossom, you have a flashback to the images Nightmare Moon planted in your head and you lose focus.
…this is almost as concerning as the recurring nightmares.
It also explains why Luna apologized, she might not be able to support you as well as she could before.
Now slowly creep inside the greenhouse and let it down onto the dirt!
I can't fault her for that. Bearing that darkness was more than any pony or even any princess should have to do.
Let's try again. I need to make them grow strong, healthy, and fruitful, but not to the point they'd overgrow and damage the greenhouse. Miracle Grow '1d10'
Hopefully I don't exhaust myself before we even leave.Roll #1 3 = 3
It slowly wiggles down onto the ground, hidden in the safety of some carrot stalks.
It is the small victories!>>667968
Your magic fizzles out again.
Your heart and soul are in the right place, but you just cannot focus with the threats of Nightmare Moon over your head.
Maybe you should go to church more.
A church is only a building.
I'll pause a moment, and look at Felfire. What's she up to?
Smile warmly to myself. Maybe tomorrow it will be a beautiful butterfly!
You should totally return tomorrow and see if it is!
It would be like your baby!>>667971
She is smiling at a carrot like a dumbass.
Well, there probably weren't too many gardens or fields on the island. Everything is new to her. And if a filly her age, who's seen what she has, can still find wonder and joy in a simple carrot, then what the hell am I doing giving up after two tries?
Let's put a little more effort into it, and grow some produce.
Miracle Grow '1d10'Roll #1 3 = 3
Creepy! It'd be like my friend instead!>>667975
Go back to Curry and look at what he's doing.
You are not doing anything at this point but hurting your horn.
You should probably relax and try tomorrow.
At least the first try did not fizzle out completely.>>667976
Gritting his teeth and trying to make his horn light up like a dumbass.
I suppose so. But I was planning on leaving soon. Be it in the morning or later in the day.
Sigh and rub my forehead.
"Well, this is certainly proving more difficult than I expected. But at least it wasn't a total loss. The plants are a little stronger, now."
The mare nods.
"…every bit helps. It is more than we managed. Thank you."
Once we are out of sight, look up at him.
"I'll be sure to try again before I leave the town.">>667983
"Are you hurt?"
Look really concerned.
"No, no. Just tired, and a little frustrated that I couldn't help as much as I hoped to. Channeling magic can sometimes take a lot of a pony's energy, so you should be careful when you learn how to do it so you don't hurt yourself."
"But why isn't magic working, Curry? You have a horn!"
Look more and more concerned.
I'll try and soothe those concerns with a small smile.
"Magic is not the answer to everything, little one. And a horn is no different than any other tool a magic-using pony uses. Well, There's one difference, I suppose."
I'll tap my horn.
"It's attached to my head."
I'll chuckle a little.
"But, I believe what's causing the most trouble is the curse of cold that the land is suffering. It weakens plants, freezes the earth, and makes growing things much harder. So, even when magic is applied, all it can do is strengthen what's already there."
I'll look serious for a moment.
"Which is a valuable lesson, by the way. No magic that a pony can perform makes something from nothing. Anyone who says it can is either lying, or trying to cheat you."
"Wait! If the problem is cold-"
Fidget around on my hooves, and do a little spin on myself as if trying to find the courage to say something…
Before reaching up and hugging him on the chest!
"Lemme hug your horn! No more cold that way!"
I'll smile, and pat her head.
"Well, let's give it a try, I suppose."
I'll hunker down.
"Then, whenever you're ready, I'll try again. And with a little luck, we'll be able to help these ponies by helping their food grow."
Climb behind him, up his neck, and cradle his horn in my tiny hooves, rubbing a cheek against it as if to snuggle with it.
Right, let's grow some food!
After a long and comforting hug, the confidence of Curry returns with a passion, banishing the seeds of evil thoughts that Nightmare Moon have planted in his mind.
His horn flares with a bright light, and all around you you see the soil turn nice and healthy while all the plants and crops grow big and resilient!
The pegasi and earth ponies all stare in awe!
"Ah. There, see, that's what I was trying to do. Seems you had the right idea of it, little one."
Looks like Curry needs warmth. I will remember this.
The power of hugs and love seems to be stronger than you think.
And Curry might just need more love coming his way than he shows.
Where to next, now that this business is taken care of?
Well, we accomplished what I came in here to do, so next up is visiting the so-called "Cursed Child."
From what you were told here, you are going to have to head deep inside this frozen-over city to the territory of those who live here, and a bit of luck too.
It could be easier if Felfire pitches in.
She knows what it feels like when people who aren't thinking straight want to get you.
If she just know how this city looked like, she could surely figure out where she would hide, and thus, where the cursed child might be
I thought the church was hiding him?
They cannot, because of the soldier who locked down the place with martial law.
He would kill the boy himself if he knew where he was.
Well, I don't suppose there's a map of the town that the church might have?
What have I seen of the city so far?
What's on the maps and what the city looks like frozen over now are two different stories though.>>669314
Only the docks and the way to this embassy/fort.
You did see a large tower that would give you a perfect view you bet.
Well, it's not like the major landmarks would change despite being covered in ice.>>669314
"Well, little one, if we were a scared little colt, where would we hide in a city like this?"
"I dunno! This shithole is so big…"
And mind, that slur is not uttered in anger, but as if it was a perfectly normal word.
"That's not exactly a polite term for a place, but I'll admit it's probably seen better days."
I'll look over the map with her.
"Do you think he might hide in a place where ponies don't usually go?"
I'll look confused. Isn't that how you just call a place with ponies?
But nod that confusion away.
"We can see where ponies don't go from the big pointy thing!"
A monk, similar to the nuns around here but in stallion form, about his mid-40s, walks up to you, bringing you both some warm tea.
He does look a bit interested in what you are doing with the map, and lingers nearby without saying anything.
"Well, not always. A place with less than a hundred ponies is usually called a village. Between 100 and 300 is a town, and anything more than that is a city."
I'll look at the map a bit.
"Big pointy thing?">>669326
I'll thank the monk.
Wow Curry! Are you a mind reader?
Point at the tower outside the window.
…I thought I saw quotation marks. Ignore that, then.
"Yes, we should be able to get a good view from up there."
I'll sip the tea the monk brought.
"But let's drink up this warm tea before we go out, though. It's cold, after all."
They were kind enough to give you some basic clothes too earlier if you recall so you won't just freeze over.
Journey to the tower after the tea?
Sure. If Felfire gets too cold, she can ride in my saddlebag.
You follow the idea of Felfire to approach the large, thin tower in the middle of the city that can be seen from everywhere.
While most of the streets are barren and empty, with an occasional half-rotten but frozen over coprse or even a skeleton in an alley, the closer you get to the center the more zebras you see. Some huddling in their homes, some hiding from you as you pass, while some glare daggers at you but are too cowardly to even speak or make a move.
In about twenty minutes of walking in the cold, you finally see the base of the tower.
I just hope none of them try anything. Especially against Felfire.
At any rate, now we need to get into the tower. I hope it isn't locked.
"So much hurt here…" Hug tight onto Curry's neck.
It looks like it was in better times, but now the entire door is gone.
The lavish decorations from inside are stripped clean, and now nothing remains inside but the spiral staircase and the darkness due to the lack of windows, and the torches or magic gems that used to light the way, whichever if not both they used.>>669348
You're not sure what bites into your being more, all the misery and suffering around you, or the bitter cold wind blowing snow onto your snout.
"Yes, little one. But, with our help, they'll be able to recover.">>669350
Well, luckily for me I have my own light source. Make my horn glow and move inside. I doubt there's anywhere for a child to hide on the first floor, so I'll just start heading up the stairs. Cautiously, of course. Just in case there's any weakness in them.
Bury my muzzle into his mane. I like it when he uses that light. Magic looks so pretty…
"Why Curry help everyone?
Curry help me, and Curry help long-ear pony, and now Curry help black and white ponies too!"
The perks of being a unicorn!
It's solid stone, so not even water seeping into the cracks could weaken it in a few years, but on occasion it is very slippery because of the ice.
Roll for a safe journey up.>>669353
If only you could magic so easily too!
But you rarely get to use it, on accident…
"Because, little one, I don't like seeing ponies hurt. And, since I've got the ability to help, why shouldn't I?"
I'll chuckle a little.
"And besides, you never know when someone you've helped will run into you again, and end up helping you."Roll #1 2 = 2
Nod silently along, thinking those words over.
"I want to help Curry!"
Curry gets a bit too excited and walks too fast instead of taking it slow and steady in a dangerous climb like this.
This results in a slip, a headplant on the stairs and an achy nose, but no bleeding.
Even more luckily, he didn't start tumbling down the staircase.
In about ten or so minutes, you reach a room at the top.
Finally daylight is here instead of just the hornlight of Curry, although it's not much, filtered by the grey clouds.
"You already are, actually.">>669391
Rub my snout. Luckily, Felfire didn't fall off.
"Well, let's take a look around and see what we can."
Once we reach the top, I'll drop down, chasing after the exit of the staircase.
Felfire runs ahead to the circular balcony of the tower, rearing up to peek over the railing.
The wind out here is loud and absolutely chilling in more sense than one.
The falling snowflakes gently sway down from the sky all the time, as if they were doing a slow waltz.
What remains after is the white sheet that covers everything as far as the eye can see.
You can even see the boat you came with from here!
And quite the commotion around it too, an almost unified shape of black and white on the pier near it.
Felfire immediately notices something that Curry does not.
The fancy parts of this town are full of life and zebras, moving as if the entire districts were alive… however, what used to be the slums of this city where the poor used to live is barren, empty and dead, even sporting quite a few spots of high 'virgin snow', untouched by hooves.
Tug on Curry's hooves, and quickly point the slums out!
"There! That's where you hide!"
I'll look where she's pointing.
"Well, that does look like a place nopony's been for some time… It's worth a look."
I'll frown a little.
It seems too easy. Wouldn't the Celestials have put out at least one search party? Especially if the one who declared martial law was so intent on killing that child?
"Alright, let's head back down the stairs, then. Carefully now, as falling down is a lot more painful than falling up."
"Yes! No falling now! I walk!"
Walking on my own is gonna help him from falling!
"When we get to the ground floor, you're going to have to get back up on my back. I don't want you getting lost in the snow drifts."
I'll chuckle a little.
With the guidance of Curry's light, you both get down safe and sound this time around.
You can get an estimate of where to go next from here.
Head there right away?
"I'm one ear taller than the snow!"
Not quite. We'll head back to the boat first. See how everyone's doing. Maybe see if we can get a scarf for Felfire.>>669415
Smile a bit.
"Well, we'll see how you do."
You start walking back to the boat, Felfire playfully skipping in the snow at first, but it gets real cold rather quickly.
As you return, you see the crowd has cleared up and both Angler and Buangan are at the edge of the pier, both of them armed.
Okay that was lots of fun but… I really feel cold now!
Once I see the armed ponies, I'll hide behind Curry, almost entirely covered in snow, only my perked ears and big surprised eyes poking out.
"It's alright, little one. It's just Angler and Buangan."
I'll float her up back onto my back, and dust off the snow a bit.>>669417
"Hoy there. Any trouble since earlier?"
It gets a lot better once he swipes the snow off of you and puts you on his back!>>669421
They both nod, but Angler speaks.
"They were getting a bit unruly, so the captain ordered us to chase them off. Quite a few of them actually speak Equestrian, so we told them they can come back tomorrow.
Skylight wasn't happy, but she couldn't disagree with the captain. I think she felt things were getting out of hoof too."
"I'll say. Town's under martial law due to a food shortage, and the whole thing is the result of some cursed child, apparently. I hope you don't mind that I'm sticking my nose in where it doesn't belong again."
Poke my head from behind Curry's back.
"We are HELPING!"
Beam with joy!
Buangan smiles a bit.
"If you didn't… me would not here."
She's still not very good at Equestrian when she isn't rhyming in it.>>669433
"You sure are. You never fail to bring a smile to my face, little 'un."
"I suppose I'll be telling the captain, then. And finding a scarf for the little one. I'm quite certain all of you would give me an earful if I let her get sick out in the cold."
I'll hide back behind Curry's neck, blushing hard.
"Off you go then. We got this handled."
You walk off and it's not hard to find the Captain. She is pacing back and forth on the deck!>>669448
You hide from the compliments!
You are not entirely sure how to react to them just yet…
At least now the Captain is here!
"Captain. I hear you've had a bit of trouble with the locals while we were gone."
Poke Curry's back.
"That pony all alone in the snow! We help fast!"
"I know, little one. And we will. Just as soon as we get some clothing for him to wear, too."
"Yes, they are starving and we hand out food like candy, of course there is going to be trouble…"
"I know it's the right thing to do, I just feel there must be a better way, because this is not going to end well.">>669451
She perks her ears.
"Well, I seem to have volunteered my services to help remove the problem."
I'll nod as Felfire speaks.
"The cold is apparently the cause of a curse, and it's being harbored by a small foal. The military leader of the local Celestials wants to kill him in an attempt to end the curse, but the clergy themselves are balking at the idea. I was hoping that I'd be able to find the child, and the witch that cursed him, and convince her to undo her work."
I'll cough a bit.
"So I was wondering if we had any spare clothing that could be used to keep a foal warm. Also a scarf for Felfire."
You just made her look confused!>>669463
She listens to this with a straight face, then nods.
"It would not be you Curry, if you didn't undertake take this task…"
"As much as I would love to help, I have to stay with the ship, it is too dangerous for me to move away. As for clothes… the best I can say is that you two can carve up some bedsheets and blankets."
"It's pony like me! Cursed!"
"Thank you. Though, I was thinking of taking Sister Skylight along with me, because, well, I might end up scaring the child.">>669468
"You're not cursed, though. At least, I'm fairly certain you aren't."
Possessions don't count as curses, right?
"I think the word you are looking for is 'unfortunate', little one.">>669469
"If she is willing to, go ahead and ask."
"Thanks. It'll likely get her out of your mane for a while as well. Be safe, captain."
And we should probably head belowdecks. That's where Skylight is, right?
Probably in her cabin where she spent the last days of the trip, yes.>>669472
Did you internalize that?
YOU GET TO MAKE YOUR OWN CLOTHES!!!
Wait you mean like snuggling in mom's used scarf?
Let's go knock on her door.
Like making all new clothes!
Any way you want them!>>669476
"Yes, what is it now?"
Wow, rude! For her at least!
She sounds mildly upset.
"I was hoping you'd like to help me save the town."
"Do you want to save a lilpony?
Come on let's go uncurse!"
She opens the door, curious, but confused.
"We're off to find a small foal who is the focus of the curse of cold, and then we're going to hunt down the witch who placed the curse and see if we can't convince her to break it."
I'll pause for a second.
"I thought it would be polite to ask if you wanted to come along. Also I might scare the child into further hiding."
She crunches for a moment, glancing away.
But then she nods.
"Fine. I will be ready to leave whenever you are."
"Alright. You'll likely want to bundle up, as it is only going to get colder until we resolve this."
I'll look up at Felfire.
"And now, let's go make you some extra layers of clothes."
"Thankfully I do have some left from my travels."
Curry and Felfire, roll for making clothes
Felfire gets a +2 because of childlike creativity.
Simple is fine too. '1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
I swear it's not grim!Roll #1 10 + 2 = 12
Curry seems to be awfully clumsy at this, even with his magic, but Felfire is a natural.
It doesn't take long until she takes the lead and even helps Curry out, fabricating warm and comfy clothes for both of you AND a colt-sized one!
I'll be suitably impressed.
"You've got a knack for this, little one."
Just jump around in joy, trying the new clothes out.
They are so nice and fuzzy!
Best clothes you ever wore!
You probably should head out before you get too warm inside!
Skylight is ready to leave too!
Alright, then it's off to the slums. I'll fill Skylight in on the specifics of the situation along the way.
I'm ready to brave the snow!
Curry debriefs the mare as you all head towards the slums in your warm clothes.
It is getting a bit dark, but you probably still have quite a few hours before it is complete darkness.
Your suspicions were correct, the moment you enter the run-down part of this city, there is not a soul to be found.
Not alive, at least.
The fresh snow crunches under your hooves as you walk.
…now to just find him somehow.
If the drifts get too deep, I'll have to float Felfire up on my back. Until then, the three of us could walk side-by-side.
Keep my ears open, though.
Fresh snow! Look for hoofprints in it!
Nothing but the wind here, but Felfire seems to have the right idea.>>669495
After a good while of wandering around, you do see prints!
Not fresh, already covered in a new layer, but you could follow these!
Well, she is our expert in foal hiding places. I'm just making sure we're not followed or attacked by any desperate zebras or ponies.
Grab one of Curry's ears and steer Curry towards the prints!
Absolutely no one else is around as far as you can tell.
You do see… it's not exactly a smokestack.
It is smoke, but barely visible even up close… the fog and the wind is obscuring it from far away! Clever!>>669498
You do so, and eventually, you find fresher prints too!
They lead into one of the bigger houses!
One would have to be, to survive like this.
Jump off and run ahead!
Felfire runs ahead!
You can't catch up before she enters the house!
It is sealed off pretty well, and it is even warm inside!
However, as soon as you enter, a zebra stallion stands up, drawing a curved sword, shouting in a languge you do not know!
I don't know the words but I know swords!
SCREAM ON THE TOP OF MY LUNGS!
"Stand down! No one's trying to hurt anyone!"
I'll scoop Felfire up and back away slightly.
"Do you speak Equestrian?"
The scream by Felfire masks it at first, but stops the stallion long enough.
"Wait! Stop! Don't fight!"
Chimes in Skylight too.
The stallion seems uncertain still, holding his weapon up despite none of you being armed.
"I do… who are you? What do you want? How did you find this place?"
Peeking silently from behind Curry's back, I'll just stare.
"If you are safeguarding the child, then we're friends."
And I'll nod to Felfire.
"We followed your tracks in the snow."
I'll clear my throat a bit.
"As for who we are, I'm Curry. This is Skylight, and the little one is Felfire."
"My name is Umvikeli… I am his uncle."
He still remains tense.
"How can I know I can trust you? How can I know you won't try to kill him like the other Equestrians?"
I'll think for a moment.
"Because I don't ask you to trust me. My plan is to find the witch responsible for this and make her undo her work. Whether you trust me or not has no bearing on that."
I'll scratch my chin.
"Though, I had expected you nephew to be alone."
I'll pull out the cold-weather outfit for a colt.
"I'm glad to see that he isn't."
"You sure seem like one!">>669510
He lowers his sword.
"You want to kill the witch?
That's… I am not sure that is even possible."
He looks at the clothes.
Skylight chimes in again.
"We truly want to help. You and this city."
The zebra then talks loudly in his own tongue again… and a few moments later, the small colt emerges.
He seems to be one, maybe two years younger than Felfire.
Where his cutie mark is supposed to be, or whatever the equal is in zebras, however, is a large and elaborate black and white snowflake.
"If this can be resolved without killing anyone, it'd be preferable. But I'm game to try if it comes down to it. I've already lived through two impossible situations already. What's a third?"
That's one special snowflake.
Move in close, very slow, and hold the clothes in front of him.
"This.. is different. You don't know what we have been through… but I'd prefer not to talk in front of the child about that."
Skylight nods, looking at him then the kids.
"We could go in another room.">>669513
He seems a bit shy, taking a step back as you approach, glancing up at the grownups before turning back to you.
He says something you cannot understand, but then tentatively speaks.
"Is this… for me?"
"Felfire, could you keep him company while we speak with his uncle? We shouldn't be too long."
Nod to both the colt and Curry, laying the clothes down to his feet and moving a few hoofsteps back, sitting down.
He motions the two of you, speaking zebra again to the colt, then proceeds to another room.>>669516
He takes them and quickly puts it on, admiring it.
"This is very nice… thank you."
He sits down as well, staring at you from a distance.
With a creeping smile.
"So. I heard the Celestials' version of events. I'd like to hear yours."
He brushes his thick beard, then his bald head.
"My brother and his wife were so excited to finally have a child… they tried for years and years and nothing came of it. She was not fertile. She just couldn't get pregnant. We were all very surprised when she did. We thought it was a miracle."
Skylight tilts her head.
He stares back at you, sitting in silence, but slowly starts smiling as you do too.
I'll motion for him to continue.
He sniffles a bit, then says "Hello!" back.
He smiles wider too!>>669522
He looks at the mare.
"Of course it wasn't. My brother apparently made a deal with a witch. He was promised something and the witch was promised something else. Only one of these promises were kept, so the witch cursed the child."
point at the clothes.
"-made those! For you!"
"Did you brother ever tell you what was promised? It can't have been the child."
He tilts his head.
"For me? But you didn't even know me until now!">>669525
"Yes, but only to me. Not long before it got worse he broke down to me, sobbing.
The witch wanted him to be her consort, to live with her and aid her with whatever she needed."
"Take that as you will, but he said he wasn't ready to leave his wife now that she was finally happy."
"And it was around then the cold began to spread? What happened to them?"
"But I know you! You are a pony in trouble! I am a pony in trouble too, so I make you this!"
"He was supposed to leave right after the child was conceived."
He sits down, brushing his head with a hoof again, staring at nothing in particular.
"The worse the cold began to spread the angrier everyone got. They wanted the kid gone. They were both murdered, trying to protect their son.">>669528
His smile falters a bit.
"Oh… are you in trouble too? It's horrible, isn't it?"
Shake my head.
"Curry is here and now I am not in trouble!"
"There's no guarantee that the child's death would end the curse, either. His parents were very brave, as are you for keeping him safe."
I'll ponder a moment.
"But we're going to need to know where this witch is, exactly. If you two could guide us, we should be able to handle things from there."
"Oh… my uncle does that for me!">>669531
"It would be only right if I was there to help, too."
"Why aren't you with him then?"
I'll think over this for a good solid minute.
"If that is what you've chosen, I've no right to deny you it, then. But remember that the boy will
need a father figure, so you must survive to fulfill that role."
"He is talking to your friends right now."
"But it's nice to someone other than him. It's been just the two of us for months. Others want to hurt me..">>675967
"I do not plan on dying… but if that is what it takes and the curse is broken, I'm sure he will be taken in."
I'd totally forgotten the scene, sorry.
Nod along. "They're all evil. Curry knows how to fix the evil ones."
"You would trust him with the church? The neighbors who sought his life?"
I'll shake my head.
"Better to live and care for him yourself, and view that as the only option. That way, even when things look their darkest, you will find some way to endure and prevail."
"I don't think they are… I think they are just hungry.">>675985
"It will be a nice change of pace to not live in this paranoia… but we will have to succeed first."
"Indeed. We can set out whenever you like."
"S'not like you did it!"
"I didn't want to, no… but I can't help it!"
"So… what do you usually play?">>675991
"Tomorrow might be for the best. To get everything in order."
"We will make our preparations, then. If we leave with the dawn, we should be able to sneak out of the town without being spotted until it's too late to give chase."
"You know… for fun. I like to play with snow! Make things out of it!">>676012
"Seems wise. I shall get rations ready in that case, even though we do not have much."
"And I will secure what I can from our ship. If there are fruit-bearing plants or the like along the way, out of range of the cold, we should be able to forage what we can. Or grass, if things get desperate."
"You can make things with SNOW!?"
"I assume you have your weapons in order?">>676027
He gets excited.
"Like zebras and ponies and tiny castles!"
Start jumping in place!
"In as good a condition as possible."
He jumps up.
"This way, follow he!"
He starts cantering outside, to a back exit!>>676041
He sighs, brushing his head with a hoof.
"Thank you, for everything."
"It is only natural."
"You can thank us after we return alive."
I'll give a small smile, though.
"It's just the matter of doing it that's left."
To the back exit!
"Talking to others after so long has been good too. The only zebras left here are us…and some who were homeless even before this thing started. Sometimes I worry they might tell the others where we are, in hopes for some rewards, but…"
"The most unfortunate ones are the most honourable here, it seems.">>676048
He leads you out to a little yard with a collapsed wall!
You do see tiny foal-sized piles of snow resembling equines and little walls made out of it too!
"Ponies who have something to lose often are willing to do most anything to keep from losing it. For those with nothing, it likely just another day, but colder."
"Or perhaps misery just loves company, and they would hate to lose those stolen, sad glances in the snow."
Curiously shuffle towards the snow-colored foal and poke it with the tip of my hoof.
"Whatever the case, they've done you a great service. Some measure of tanks would not be remiss once this is all over."
It tips over and crumbles into nothing.
The zebra walks up to you.
"Don't worry, we can make another one!">>676091
"That should come from the zebras of the city, not me. They have been the ones to ignore them for decades."
"Ooooh! This is so cool, I never saw snow before coming here!"
"That's certainly optimistic. But I suppose where we're headed, optimism will be necessary."
"I know right! Try it!"
He starts rolling the snow into little balls.
"You can make small balls and turn them bigger until you can make shapes out of it or just throw them!">>676107
"It's a rare quality in this city, and has been for years."
Make something, the first thing which comes to my mind.Roll #1 4 = 4
Nod a little sadly.
"At any rate, I believe we're done here for the time being. We will likely need what time we have to prepare."
You make a head with antlers on it.
He tilts his head.
He nods as well.
"I will anticipate your arrival."
Kick it off in a hurried movement of my front legs.
"Now, let's see what mischief the children have gotten into while we were talking."
"Oh. You should build something you like then!">>676130
He walks back to the other room and as you and Skylight follow, you notice they are missing!
Try not to panic.
"Little one? Where have you gone?"
Check for open doors, any path the children might have used to exit the house.
"It was all I could think of…"
"Sometimes I just make… shapes. Not becaue they mean anything, but because they are pretty to look at!">>676134
"This could be bad."
You and the zebra both go off in search, but soon discover the kids are merely in the back yard, playing with the snow.
Oh thank the moon.
Sigh in relief.
"I was worried, there. But snow is a new thing to her, so it makes sense she'd want to experience it."
"Shapes." Repeat after him.
Try drawing something on the snow. Without thinking about it.Roll #1 4 = 4
Then suddenly turn around, looking at curry, and stop what I'm doing.
Smile up bright as the sun.
Curry can see that Felfire was busy drawing antlers in the snow with her hooves before being interrupted.
The zebra stallion says something in their own tongue, to which the colt flattens his ears.
"We were only playing!"
"Hello there, little one."
It's going to kill me to have to scold her for this.
"The two of you had us worried, since you went out without telling us. With how many ponies want to do harm to that colt, we had assumed something awful had happened."
"While I'm relieved that wasn't the case, I'm a little disappointed that you didn't tell us where you were going."
My ears flop down.
I only got a part of that, but it's clear what disappointed means.
Seems like the zebra is getting a scolding of his own in his own language!
The stallion turns to you.
"Perhaps you should leave now. Tomorrow will be a troublesome day."
Skylight chips in.
"Unless… Felfire and I could stay here. It would do the kids some good to have company of their own age."
Looking between the four of them, I'll consider.
Then, I'll hunker down next to Felfire.
"Now that we've sorted that out, I'd like you to do me a favor, little one. Sister Skylight seems intent on keeping an eye on those two, and it would be lonely for her to be here by herself. So I need you to be brave and keep her company while I prepare for our trip tomorrow morning. Can you do this?"
What was the colt's name?
The zeebs seem to be waiting for the resolution of this.>>676170
You didn't ask yet!
Poke my own chest when looking at the colt.
"Oh, that's your name? Mine is Zjeg!"
The stallion speaks up.
"His parents knew he was not ordinary, so he did not get a traditional zebra name."
"Wass a traditional zee-bra name?"
"Umvikeli, which is mine. Comes from our ancestors and our language, unlike ponies who get their names for their destiny, or so I have heard. Always wondered how the parents know that."
"Your guess is as good as mine, to be honest."
Curry, head back to the ship or the Church?
Felfire, ready to play some more in the snow?
Ships first, check in with the crew and make sure I'm supplied.
The long walk back is cold and silent all by yourself.
At least the surroundings of the ship seem safe and quiet for now, but Angler and Buangan stand guard nevertheless.
They greet you and you get what food and whatnot you need, and meet with Tides too.
Now, how do you build a snowpony? This question baffles you. Do you try and figure it out on your own, or ask Zjeg?
"I've a guide to the witch."
Once inside the ship, I'll fill Tides in on how things are shaking down, though I won't mention locations of anyone. Never know who might be listening, even if I'm speaking in the guts of the ship.
"So the plan is to head out there with myself, Sister Skylight, the child's uncle, and both children. It's likely to get colder, so I'll be taking an extra blanket or three, if that's alright."
I build it just how you draw a pony in the sand! Just, in the snow!
"Taking the kids? Are you sure? What about us?">>679348
You draw a smily pony in the snow!
The colt walks up to you, and giggles.
"That's nice! You can also make angels in the snow! I'll show you!"
He flops onto his back and starts waving his forehooves around!
"That's a pegasus with her forelimbs cut off!"
"The ship needs to be kept safe. And someone needs to keep an eye on the Celestials, since they're a stone's throw from a suppression action as it is. The only thing keeping the militants leashed is their priests."
Sigh a bit.
"And I'd like to keep the party small, as going up to a witch's shack with a war band is probably not wise. Especially since I'm going to try and reason with her first.
He blinks confusedly as he stands up.
"No no, see… the limbs could be right there! In the shadow of the wings!">>679352
"Reason with a witch, that's a good one. Please don't get yourself killed."
She shakes her head.
"That warmonger does scare me. I think he sent out scouts when we told them we don't know where you are. The hound may have gotten a scent of blood, and started frothing already."
"It's worth a shot, at least? She seems to keep her bargains, at any rate, so that gives me some hope for that."
"Perhaps I should wander about town to throw them off the scent during the night. We're leaving with the dawn."
"So it's just a freaky pegasus!"
"Perhaps you should. Maybe you could try-"
Buangan runs in.
"Guards! Ponies, bad!"
Tides looks at you.>>679358
"I'm sure you could hide your hooves under your wings if you wanted to!"
I spread my wings out, showing off the mangled feathers.
After a few moments I jump with my back into the snow, wings spread, trying to see if my hoofprint is wider than my wingprint!
Grimace 2, grim harder.
"Seems they've jumped the gun a bit."
I'll set the accumulated supplies down, and shove them between crates.
"I'll try to look like I'm not going anywhere."
With that, I'll put on a neutral expression and head up on deck.
There is a short tinge of pain when you falre them out, but it is not as bad as it used to be!
You jump onto the snow with your back and find out that indeed, even your small wings reach further than your hooves can!
The jenny follows you close by.
You see a half-a-dozen small patrol of guards standing on the pier.
A pegasus mare talks when she sees you.
"The Commander would like to speak with you. Personally. I will have to take you to the base."
"May I ask why I am being summoned?"
"Yes, you may, but that does not change the fact that you are. Please comply and come with us peacefully.">>679367
He waves a hoof.
"Noo, I'm not that smart! I just try to figure things out that I see!"
"Then I'll use the time we're walking to ask."
I'll turn to the others.
"Hopefully I'll be back before it gets too late in the evening."
Nod along, clearly still impressed.
"How about making snowponies, but not the drawing type?">>679371
Tides shakes her head.
"I think I'll come with you, actually."
The pegasus opens her mouth but the donkey talks first.
"One look at your armor tells me I outrank you, you have no say in the matter."
"You didn't show me how!"
He nods with a scrunch.
"I will now then! Start rolling balls of snow! Just take a bit and roll it around until it gets big!"
Roll balls of snow.
You spend about an hour making snowponies, Skylight watching over you two all the while, before she goes back inside, talking to the adult zebra.
The colt looks at you with a mischievous glint in his eye.
"Hey, want to see something really cool, Felfire?"
Skylight's getting BLACKED.
"Cooooool? Is cool good?"
"It's… something fun! A secret I have!"
"Secrets are good! They keep you safe when other ponies want you!"
"Come, I'll show you! But we will have to be fast! We don't want to be gone long enough to worry the grown-ups!"
Nod and follow him.
He quickly scurries along in the snow, smoothening out his hoofsteps behind him by swishing his tail around in the snow!
Maybe you should do the same!
Sure! Do that.
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
You have to go slower until you get used to it, but he waits up for you.
You see him leading you to an old, but big building! It seems like the roof is still intact, so there is no snow inside there!
Catch up to him with a ragged panting.
"Wait! Nopony inside?"
"Don't worry, it was always empty before!"
Stand, tiptoeing in uncertainty, behind him. "This secret? The place to hide?"
"Then that settles matters, I believe."