No.668116[Last 50 Posts]
Chapter XIII: A Terrible Storm Gathers
Princessland has, if nothing else, plenty of buildings. Perhaps some description is in order. The larder is hosted out of the great dining hall, which could easily host 1,000 guests at once. The diningware is polished stone, and modest drapes add some color to the grey tones of the stone walls in this chamber. Long wooden tables in the light tones of banana palm seem more ornamental than sturdy, but the long, stalwart yew benches at their feet are terraced with steel rings on which to hook chains.
To find your way around Princessland, it is ironically probably not best to turn to the Office of Holy Information, which in this case is information in a more general sense, and rather consult the local priesthood. You might try the secretaries at the Office of the Abbot, or for a less formal session, consult the groundskeeper at his house apart.
Grey told you that chasing graves seems crazy. Now that breakfast is settled, you have nothing but the road ahead of you… do you want to ask anyone to come with you besides Sitar?
Maybe the other mercenaries, like George or Emrille, or even Lacy might come. On the other hand, they might have their own business.
Another day, another posh suite. If nothing else, the Belle family is well off. Lilly may want help - or perhaps you could follow up on that lead with Bran. Apparently Selena and her daughters got in last night. Or maybe George has interesting stuff going on. Plenty to investigate.
I forgot the details of my mission.
You took a break for lunch because of the storm and uncertainty. The plan seems to be to join the Vengeance Fleet to hunt down the dangerous sorcerer who attacked Bright Harbor. You shared a tender moment and lunch with Stricture, which may have been professional or something more. You forgot how nice it was to travel with other ponies who share your convictions - there's so much more certainty, and no doubt. Now your spirits are lifted and belly full of melon.
The mission won't launch in this weather though - the storm outside is forbidding and looks to be worsening. At the very least, you have some time to poke around. Or, if you feel your curiosity sated, you may wish to pursue more personal time with Stricture and/or Wind.
No, I do want to get a feel for what went down.
Let's go near the scene of the crime, the place where this heretic fleet first touched shore.
I need to find Bran.
Now just how to start…
Get some breakfast going first.
The rain is coming down in sheets when you leave the great hall. Covering your eyes with a leg, you make your way past several great walls to the outer edge of town. Here, travel is restricted to the paved roads, lest you be slowed by the slog through the soaked sand which makes up most of the land here. Princessland must have required significant quarrying to strengthen the foundations against this sandy base. Book of Light, 12:24: for Her house is built on a firm foundation.>>668120
Breakfast it is. Your tardiness has gone unnoticed, and the table has cleared of residents, but there's still leftovers available for you. Steamed broccoli and carrots.
Actually, the table isn't entire bereft of company. Aria is still here - one of Selena's girls. She's young and toned - looks quite strong and athletic. Normally she totes a light-weight personal cannon, but it isn't with her now.
Get some carrots and start chewing down.
"So uh… which one are you again? Of the two?"
"What do you mean? Oh, name? It's Aria. You know, like a song."
Which means that, if Princessland were to suddenly sink into the ground, we'd know it was filled with corruption and heresy.
Is this shoreline inhabited?
"Oh, right. I'm guessing you are the pretty one too, huh?~"
By the disturbances to the sand - now mud - you can tell that the shore was busy earlier, but as the storm mounts, it has become abandoned. Even now a crack of thunder rings out. There is a little bit of wooden debris floating here, but Bright Harbor is across a great bay - some distance away, about half an hour. A lightning bolt strikes the water dividing the now-ruined fortress from the shore.>>668125
"So I've been told. Aren't you a little old for a mercenary?"
"Aren't you a little too young to mouth off? If your mother won't wash that mouth out will soap I will with something else."
I worry not about the distant sound of thunder.
Silent, sit on the muddy shore under the rain, deep in meditation. Take a bottle of prepared dream wine, sniff its vapors, close my eyes, and swallow the rest.
'1d10'Roll #1 6 = 6
I'm trying to divinate what happened here, obviously.
"I'm twenty. That may not seem very old to a crone, but most mercenaries tend to be closer to my age than yours. Just how old are you anyway?">>668128>>668129
Explosions in the water… unexplode. Fog-faced figures charge into Bright Harbor's front doors, battering them down, but only wails emit from within. Leviathan tentacles arise from the depths of the bay and–
Your attention is broken as a violent wave broadsides you. The rain has become blinding. The thunder, deafening. Lightning strikes again nearby, and your ears ring, pounding painfully. You've sunk a full foot into the mud, and it grips greedily at your legs.
Lingering any longer would be a heavy mistake.
Stand, and slink through the mud and all the way to the nearest path, avoiding anything which might lure the falling lightning.
"Actually, I'm around the age of your mother."
Motion at my muzzle.
"All this? It's because freaky time magic from our time on the fleet."
The pounding rain makes it very difficult to see, but you blindly grope for the road, and find it – significantly higher than you remember, and grapple your way back onto it. Now it's just a matter of working your way back to the city walls. Needless to say that by the time you work your way back to the great hall, you're soaked through - you feel about ten pounds heavier with your coat full of water and thick layers of mud on your legs.>>668132
"Bleh. I think I heard about that, actually. Aira got something about that out of mom."
Raise a brow.
"Even something about a boy named Bran? I sort of want to track down the guy."
"Uh, maybe. I got the story second or third hand. I think it was Rhanna that met him, but I wasn't even in the region at the time. During the Siege of Enkilj - apparently not much loved by his own ponies. But traveling with the army, anyway. And the antiquarians."
And it was all for naught. The only info I got was the actual shape of the leviathan, but that's almost useless.
I need a warm bath before I freeze to death. Slowly drag myself back to the inn.
"Any idea where he might have gone now?"
No inn to be had here, but lodging is not out of the question. You reconvene with Stricture in the Great Hall. He gives you a look of surprise and, withdrawing a towel from his bag, he begins to towel you off, starting with your neck and back.
"You're a mess. You went out into the storm? It looks like it got worse…">>668137
"Well, I have two guesses. If he's with the antiquarians, he may have hung around Enkilj to help catalog their findings after routing the enemy. On the other hand, it sounds like that kind of portal magic is really useful for transporting soldiers. Maybe he went back to Canterlot to serve there?"
"Fuck… it might be a tight timetable to get there and back before the action."
"I did. Thought being close to the landing would help me meditate better. Didn't work. The leviathan's sight monopolized my vision.
No further leads, sadly."
Let him work, shuddering a bit as I'm finally out of the raid.
"Do we have lodging?"
"Oh, you're planning on leaving? Well, we are too, so I can't say anything about it. Hm… I see your point, though. Enkilj and Canterlot are pretty opposite directions. But those portals sound pretty useful for travel… What if you sent a letter to Canterlot and if the mail reaches Bran, you could have an appointed day and place to meet up? Hm… but that would be hard to guarantee while you're traveling yourself. I'm not sure.">>668140
He dries your mane, then tightly wraps the towel around your tail and works it up and down, getting the water out of it. This isn't exactly a normal circumstance for you, but Stricture usually provides this kind of service to Lord Wind, in a pseudo-squire sort of way. You're still covered in mud, but it's far too much for a single towel.
"Right, this towel is getting pretty dirty, and you have some personal areas you'll want to clean. Maybe a room with a bath if we can get one… I bet Lord Wind has already arranged something. Stay here, you'll track mud everywhere."
Off he goes, leaving the towel.
Nod and sit a moment, just sighing to myself.
What do I know?
A leviathan. Lots of heretics. The translucent ship.
"If I send him a letter, he could just fucking travel through his portal, couldn't he?"
You take a moment to reflect. Really, you haven't picked up many clues in this case at all, but it seems to be stalled by this oppressive storm. It really is halting any investigation or chase - very fortunate for this sorcerer you've heard so little about.
Soon, Stricture returns to collect you. "We've got a guest room, but it's in a different building. Guess the drying effort was wasted, huh?">>668143
"That's what I meant. But if he doesn't get the letter or doesn't care, you waste a month waiting. Or if you go searching, how could you have a place planned to meet up?"
Turn to him completely absorbed in thought, ignoring that comment.
"Stricture, what magic can create storms?"
"Hmm… shamanic. You think the sorcerer might have called it? He did have that giant sea creature slaved to him - that's shaman magic, too. If it is magic, of course."
"Fuck… I mean, what if we got some intel from some insider? There are always sources. We could find out where the army will go next and just get ahead them."
Nod with dead seriousness.
"Which ones of the escaped heretics were linked to shamanic cults?"
"Yeah, that might work. Do you know anyone?">>668148
"I don't know… There were Nightmare cultists, and Redist rabble rousers, I remember. Plus just dangerous criminals. I don't remember any obvious shamans listed."
"I used to know Light Heart…"
"I meant who has connections in the military. Maybe Friesian, although he's actually Ponish…"
Okay time to dig my own memory.
During my time visiting the nightmare cult led by curry, did he use any shaman magic?
"That old fart used to be on good terms with everypony though… it could work."
Hmm… no. No signs of Shamanism there.
"If you're not ready to turn in, maybe they'd let us question the prisoner, though. On the other hand, they have him locked up too tightly for visitation of any kind.">>668153
"I think he's sleeping in."
"Oh I can wake him."
"Don't hurt the guy."
Who is he talking about?
"Nah, I'd never. Just give him a wake-up call."
Dunno. You didn't hear about a prisoner before from the stallion you spoke to in brief.>>668158
She shrugs and returns to her carrots.
Blink a few times, as if to dispel some fog from my mind.
"I'm sorry? Question who?"
"I'm not sure if it's new news or just now spreading through the grapevine, but you may remember that the Duke of Hatfield's nephew was kidnapped by Nightmare cultists from Autumnsreach. Apparently they rescued him, but he's not being very cooperative. Perhaps some brainwashing."
"Wait, Nightmare Cultists from Autumnsreach? Those I wrote you about? What do they have to do with this?"
"Did you? Remind me what you wrote. I may have not even heard it all by way of Lord Wind. Need to know basis, you know."
You do recall hearing something when you were being redeployed after Enkilj about some Celestial noble being kidnapped…
No I don't. Maeda might, I don't.
"Sect of nightmare cultists led by a guy called Curry. Wonder what came of them after my reports…"
"I thought those cultists were in Bridgewater Port, operating under the guise of a hospital or something."
Yeah okay fuck this it's been way too long. Screw me. I forgot almost all of it. Sorry.
Noticing your look of confusion, he offers you a consoling pat. "It's okay, you've had a lot of stuff to process, and it's been a very tiring day. Why don't we go retire for the night and investigate the prisoner in the morning? You're probably sick of being coated in mud."
It's starting to harden - making it hard to move.
"Yes. Sorry. I'm so… Out of it, now. Must have been the wine.
Lead the way, please."
Braving the storm for one last time in the night, you cross the great yard past the inner wall to the residential area between the walls. Soon, you arrive at a small, two-room hovel.
"Lord Wind is getting a special guest suite at the grand basilica, but her entourage…"
He unlocks the door with a key and ushers you inside. "Get this."
It's a very small structure. Maybe thirty square meters. The inside has candles which Stricture hastens to light. One queen-size bed, a small cooking corner with a stove - likely to be run all night just for the heat. The back room, which has no door, is a small cleansing area with a bath, basin, and mirror, as well as a small Celestial shrine. At least there are a lot of towels.
Stricture sighs apologetically. "I'm nearly as muddy as you after that walk." He begins to unbuckle his armor. "Do you want the bath first -or are you going straight to sleep? I'll get the stove and start the water heating, either way."
Going first does seem preferential given that you're tracking mud everywhere. On the other hand, the water will need to be changed after your turn, since there's SO MUCH mud.
The close quarters and bath-order-discussions remind you of your time in church bunkhouses, although you never had the academy experience this is more akin to that Stricture had. At least you have a considerate roomie.
"I will get the water going, all this mud is starting to stick… You don't mind?"
Quietly kick a wall with my rear hooves, trying to get the mud off it.
"No, I'm used to it. Do you want help washing? It's pretty caked on."
Armor now unbuckled, he holds it loosely out the door where the torrential downpour quickly overtakes it. Then, producing his towel, he starts to shine it.
"Really, at this point we might even share the bath."
Roll my eyes at him.
"You may be sarcastic, but at the academy that was a reality! I'd even take you up on the offer, if the tub wasn't so small."
He indicates the metal structure, which is indeed going to be a squeeze for even one pony.
"Academy was way too liberal with their fraternity regulations. And I heard paladins were even laxer about it."
Get the water going.
Getting the water 'going' in this case means transferring some of the hot coals from the stove to a drawer in the bottom of the tub. The heat from the coals warms the water.
"Maybe. Saved on water, though. You're not uncomfortable sharing a bed, are you?"Pause
"With you Stricture?"
"Truth is, you and Wind are the closest thing I have to a family. It'd be stupid holding anything back."
Setting his armor down on the sole chair, he steps closer. "Wow, that's pretty heavy. You weren't kidding about being drained."
Drawing closer he extends a hoof, but hesitates, thinking betters of it. "Nevermind - you probably need some time to unwind. Take your bath. We can talk later if you want - or turn in early."Emrille>>668158Rhanna
The storm is worsening. It has been a few hours since Old Ram, with the help of the Breezie, finalized that deal for the Ionium Jets. Now, in the pouring rain, you can see a group of ponies loading the much-sought-after devices onto your rocket-ship. Soon you should be leaving, and yet…
"Gee, hope the storm doesn't throw us for a tumble! It sure would slow our trip out of Caballeria if the seas are rough!" Flapjack remarks cheerfully.
Let's find his room.
Up the grand staircase and down the hall to the left - you know he's staying hereabouts. But there's a whole wing of rooms down this hallway. You have a general idea of where it is - past the upstairs bathroom, but that still leaves four rooms – two on each side.
"Did I overstep my boundaries? I didn't think it'd be such a secret…"
Tact was never my strong suit, was it now.
Go in to the first door on the left.
It's in situations like these that I wish I wore something else besides this old cloth…
I huddle close to Flapjack. He's dumb but at least he's warmer
"Mister Mcram… You know, waiting until morning to set sail could be a good idea to avoid a possible storm…"
Well… I could ask George. Not sure if I need a mercenary but if nothing else it's better to be safe than sorry. I don't think I need a maid but… she did know my parents I guess. Same for Emrille. Might be useful, who knows?
Where are they at?
"No, I was worried I might be overstepping mine. I was going to offer comfort but it might seem abusive - I knew you weren't feeling right ever since you returned from your talk with the Breezie outside that Industrial Site."
He offers a little grin. "And on a lighter note, an offered hug would be extremely messy at this point." Indeed - you're both still coated in mud.>>668181
One peculiarity of Dixie that you've picked up on over your two visits is that all the ponies here wear clothing - usually very fancy clothing too. Your kind of place in that regards. But you've walked in on young Mystery Belle in the nude, admidst getting dressed for the day.
After finishing pulling her shirt over her body, she gives you a blank look of surprise.>>668182
Flapjack points a hoof down to Old Ram McMeal, who is directing the loading down on the main deck. From your vantage here outside the wheelhouse, you would normally be able to call to him no problem, but the loud sound of rain pouring onto the sea nearby is making it hard to communicate. He is unresponsive - probably didn't hear you.
Flapjack stares straight up, blinking repeatedly as water pours into his eyes. "Storm looks like it's getting even worse… I hope it's not like those storms back in Equestria. They can last weeks. Months, even! Why have there been so many bad storms lately?">>668183
Emrille just came and went – she headed upstairs. Maybe you should chase after her quickly? Besides, George is probably in one of the guest rooms up there, too – along with the others. All of them, really, Friesian, Selena, her daughters.
"What if I took you up on that hug once we get rid of this?"
Shake a muddy hoof and get in the water.
Look her over and whistle.
"Not bad. But I can't stay to have fun, sorry. Wrong door!"
Snicker to myself.
What's that old coot up to?
Slink upstairs after her.
He nods affirmatively. "No expiration date.">>668186
Rude! She's only sixteen. In any case, she just covers herself as you close the door.
Lilly arrives behind you.>>668187
Emrille is exiting Mystery Belle's room - your young first cousin once removed. What business does she have in there?!
"Oh, hey. Your cousin or whoever is pretty hot. Must run in the family."
Go in the opposite door.
I groan. What a convenient time for Flapjack to pass the info of this storm that can possibly last for a month
Even more convenient is that this storm decided to conveniently appear at the most inconvenient time
But we can't let this stop the progress. Even Nature will bow to the power of science
Now how can a ship overcome a storm for a few hours is what needs to be figured out…
This is some kind of smoking lounge - it has a nice bay window that looks out over the great flower fields which service the many bees.
"She could be your great granddaughter, don't be weird. What are you looking for?"
Let's get cleaned then.
Maybe you should consult with one of the engineers. Admittedly you've been mostly keeping to yourself - except for the little bit of fishing you did with that donkey, you don't know much about MacMeal's weird crew. You've mostly spent time with Flapjack - it's hard to relate to those old folks. And yet… men of science, no matter their race or age, surely have something in common with a girl of science, right?
Nope, not it.
Top right door then.>>668192
"I'm not that
old. Also, young mares are always more fun to break in. Also, she couldn't be since I don't fuck stallions, so there's that. I'm looking for that old military fart."
"'Break in?' You make it sound like a mental collapse.Besides, you really think you
could 'break her in'?"
The bathroom has no door, and you catch Stricture giving you the occasional glance. You're reminded of his actual name and have to suppress an involuntary chuckle. Certainly any battle cleric would take a more intimidating name like Stricture with a name like Soft Sunrise. At least his features are not so meek.>>668195>>668196
You go for the handle just as the door swings inward on its own. George appears at the door, mask and outfit already donned for the day.
"I was wondering who was making that racket. Oh - you brought Lilly."
Sigh, motioning with my wing.
"You know what I meant. Make their hindlegs into jelly when I show them what it feels like to be really eaten out.">>668197
"Oh, it's you. I don't need you and your weirdness right now. You can have fun with her though."
Last door then! Go in, no knocking.
Flapjack doesn't strike me like an alpaca of science that's for sure… I wonder why he's even in the crew with us
But yeah, the engineers are much more experienced than I am with the ship, surely they'll have a countermeasure to this storm… I hope
I'll go look for them
Despite the familiarity running between us, I will bathe with my back to him. It'd be downright insulting to do any less.
He's my friend and my brother in arms. That's all.
But a warm hug now, falling to sleep, is something I could really use.
"Did I ever tell you why I joined the academy?"
"Oh. I actually wanted to speak with you. Got a moment?">>668198
Gag a little.
"Just don't bother my family with that kind of deviant stuff!"
"…you think she'd be into that? She didn't protest much when I just walked in on her."
"What, sleeping with ancient ones? I don't know. I barely know her."
"Well, obviously only after I regain my lost years after kicking Abilio in the dick so I could be a hot middle-aged mare like Selena or Tela."
"Oh what, you're cursed too?"
You mentally recount who you've got on the crew.
Old Ram MacMeal: Your landlord of a sorts. Likes his guns and bad at negotiating, but he has probably been a good influence. He has nice math textbooks anyway.
Flapjack: That cheerful alpaca that acts as a cabinboy. He's not very smart. You have an on-and-off relationship teasing each other and playing together. Sometimes you get mad at him, but since there's no one else to hang out with other than old farts, you pretty much always forgive each other.
Sleepy Goat: You never got this guy's name, but he usually steers the vessel. Even now he's in the wheelhouse behind you. He's pretty old and you're not sure if it's wise to let someone so sleepy have the wheel, but MacMeal trusts him.
Half-Blind Griffon: This aging griffon deals with most of the upkeep on the rocket itself. You haven't gotten to know him well but you know he must know a thing or two about rocketry because he's always tweaking stuff. Right now, he's busy helping load the jets.
Bald Donkey: This guy helped you go fishing earlier. He seemed nice enough - you should learn his name. He seems to handle most of the repairs and upkeep on this metal boat you use. He's somewhere belowdecks, probably free to talk.
Itztli: That weird rabbit… he's still on the ship down in the hold. You know he wants to talk to you again - you should visit him soon when you have a moment.>>668200
Not one to let the remark pass unchecked: "You know you never went to academy for real. Wind brought you on right at thirteen - you never had the chance."
Never lets that one pass! Maybe one day you'll learn about all the stuff they got up to at these academies. Stricture is certainly full of stories.
He adds: "Go ahead though, I know what you mean. Why you took vows, joined the church, and accepted Lord Wind's tutelage.">>668201
Ignoring Emrille, he gives a slight nod.
"Go ahead. I'm listening."
"Sort of. I'm actually younger than Selena… I think. I was definitely a lot younger than your mom when we were at the fleet. I just got turned into a filly with freaky fucking magic, and I stayed a filly for a long while as Abilio tried to figure out how I managed to get a cutie mark as a filly that wasn't like my old one."
Pull my coat up to show the cutie mark on my butt.
"It backfired when I aged like a fucking century later all of a sudden.">>668206
Cough cough, I said I'll go in the last door without knocking!
"Yes, I never got to do the pillow fights and the picnics."
Roll my eyes.
"But anyway. I wanted to impress my mother."
Right, sorry. You burst in and find Friesian reclining in an easychair looking out the window. This side doesn't have a view of the fields - he's gazing out on the town.
He turns. "Yes?"
"Oh, you're awake, good. I was afraid I'd have to open your window and shoot at something to wake you up. I need your help, actually… you remember me, right?"
"You haven't spoken of her much, though."
Wonder what the Bunny is still doing here…
Ah well, as long as he doesn't cause trouble
Let's go see that bald donkey, he's okay, and he's the one most likely to have a solution to this storm
"I never wanted to admit she was the reason behind my life choice."
I should be rather done by now.
"Enough to know you're only polite when you need something."
The tone isn't condescending or cutting - it's more like cheerfully matter of fact. He's a little bit weird, you recall. "But yes, I remember you.">>668212
The donkey you find on the lowest of the low decks - actually lower than you've ever gone before, in a maintenance area below the lowest normal walkway. Below a grille, you can see him checking a gauge on the side of some metal structure.
"Eh? What's the matter, Rhanna? MacMeal send you?"
"Do you have any plans for the next month or so?">>668207
"That's fairly awful."
And an awful cutie mark at that.
"I hope you can get that fixed. Magic screwing you over is no pleasant experience."
"I can be a cunt when I ask a favor if that's what gets you rolling. Do you still have sources at the Equestrian Military?">>668215
"You fucking tell me. I was also mind controlled to be a killing machine. Well, not that I had to be improved, I guess it was just more convenient that way."
You slough off the mud - this water is now pretty useless for cleaning, but there's a surfeit of it outside. As you run a towel across your body, cleaning each nook and cranny of muddy water, Stricture enters and hoists the hot tub – which must be rather heavy being metal and full of muddy water – to empty outside.
"I think a lot of ponies who started service got into it for one reason and then found another later. Ergh… Huff… You know, a lot of monastic ponies have vocational vigils - to, huff - really soul search before formal induction. Pshew, there. Because of that very reason, you know?"
"Hey, you remember my name!" I smile, walking up to him
"And nope. I'm here on my own. Whachu doing?"
"Not really. I thought I might go with the scouting team. Why?">>668216
"Well, not formally. But I do still know a few old soldiers. You know, some forty years ago now the military purged foreign officers. Real geniuses, like Movp, were lost to Equestria due to nationalism. It was a pity. Not everyone agreed with it. I still exchange mail with a few old friends.">>668218
"The barometrics from the storm are fudging up our buoy tanks. It's nothing big but I'll need to ratchet up the pressure another notch for stability."
Help Stricture out.
"It's not like I regret it. I never did. I never will. And I got past that. But thinking about what got me there in the first place makes me realize how… Envious, jealous I was of that breezie."
Freely insert panting in there.
"It would be just fucking great if you could pull some strings and find out where the army is moving next. I need to get there and catch them to find somepony serving there."
"Oh yeah… I was about to ask if you had a plan for the storm we're going to face…"
I shake myself a bit
"Do you need any help with that?"
I smile and slowly back away from the pirate.
"Perhaps I should go back. To make sure they actually have acconmedations for all of you.."
"Well, if it's space that's a worry, there's the cave entrance we came in. It's pretty wide, and even with the captain's crew there should be more than enough space."
I'll pause for a beat.
"Though that would probably worry your friends, wouldn't it…"
Setting the now-empty tub in the rain, it starts to collect water for another bath. You carefully avoid stepping out so as to not ruin your finally-cleansed body. It's nice to be a clean ponoe again.
"Wind said something like you did once, too. That we are brothers and sisters in arms. I watched you grow from a wide-eyed recruit into…"
He glances away, out into the storm. "A mare. A real… powerhouse in battle. Although, you always had a talent for it."
That might be an understatement. Stricture may be a couple of years older than you, but you've always bested him in a fight. Well, all but most recently.>>668221
"Not anything shady I hope. I wouldn't want to put a friend in harm's way."
Just he wait until I get a rematch!
"If I didn't know better I'd say you were coming onto me."
Wave the sentence away like a silly joke.
Water sprays everywhere as you do a dog shake!
"Well, if you would run up and down the length of the ship - there are hatches like these on the walkway. Below each there should be a gauge like this. Leave the hatch up anywhere you see the gauge has dropped from yellow to green.">>668223
"Is she saying she wants you to go away with them?
"I want to find the father of the guy. Abilio. You must remember him."
That sounds simple enough
"Is this going to be enough to endure the storm though?"
I keep staring at the pirate captain.
"Well. I don't think we can go anywhere without minecrarts..but..">>668225>>668227
Glance to the assistant pony. " she suggests that I could go with her to the other end of the cave to pass time.
Stricture scrunches and carries the now-partly-filled tub back into the backroom. Finally he responds, after taking a breather having set it back down on the hot coals. "That… wouldn't be appropriate, if you saw me as a brother.">>668228
"Of course. It was a difficult choice to favor him over the dragon. One that I still torment myself over. Gerard… why did fate conspire against two old soldiers? Even with time…"
He has a far-away look.>>668229
"Well, if it holds, sure. But there's only so much we can ratchet it up without pressurized air and we don't have the equipment for that. And if water washes up on deck it doesn't matter if we're unsinkable or untippable - Gunny will lose a sprocket if water gets in the rocket. So… we'll be okay for now, but we may need to beach her if it gets too bad."
"That seems like a really bad idea… I don't want you to be endangered. I am responsible for your safety, honorable tiny one.
Spit on the ground.
"The dragon was a power-hungry rebellious traitor. Most people who sided with him were fucking awful too, like that cannibal gryphon."
Cross seems too lost in memory to respond. He really is getting old… he wasn't young and spry twenty years ago. He's far older in both brain and body than you look
Roll my eyes. Walk over to the window, open it.
Stick my pistol out of it and fire at the sky.
Well shit. Yes, that's not a good position to be in.
Also what a pedo. I'm 16!
Let out a soft sigh and use a gentle, understanding voice.
"Sometimes all you need is family, you know?"
"it does sound bad. But the opposite is bad for her but she easily agreed.
Can i Tell how far she means?
"Hmrrg… And we can't spend money to get a new ship either…"
I head out in thought, to the walkway. If only there was a way… Calm the storm or to avoid it so we don't run the risks…
Maybe I could hire a Shaman, they deal with stuff like that…
He blinks from his reverie. "Did you say something?">>668236
He doesn't say anything in reply. "Yeah, I understand. Anyway, it's my turn to bathe. You should probably get some shuteye. Long day today, and probably a longer one tomorrow."
He steps in gingerly and turns away, as you did. Awkward as it is, it was probably inevitable considering he is also a teenager like you, with all of those terrible teenage hormones.
At least the air is cleared of that.>>668237
It's about thirty feet to the other doorway, but who knows how deep the cave is beyond that.
"If she agreed, maybe you should accept and bring her back with us.
He laughs. "Buy a new ship? There's no ship to these specifications. No, this is the only suitable rocket-carrying-ship."
"Oh, you need a minecart? We managed to dig one up, actually. I was debating whether or not riding it down here, but we didn't know where the track lets off."
"Well, yes and no. Can you do it then? As early as possible?"
"Wait… This ship was custom made/built? "
"You have a cart on that side too? And he said that just you could come to our group if you wanted."
To the assistant "Marina says they located a cart in their side.
"Then I will wait for you in bed."
Wear something light, the bare minimum to cover my privates, and get to bed.
"Well, I don't see anything wrong with it…"
I'll look at Davy and Curry.
"So what'll it be? Go with them to have tea?"
"Well, of course. You didn't think it was a little bit weird that we have a top-loaded cargo platform the exact length of the rocket? Well, maybe the thought never occurred to you.">>668245
It's a little chilly with so little on - normally Caballeria is so hot that you'd have the right idea, but the storm has cooled things off. Maybe you should stoke the fire while you wait to warm the room a little since you want to enjoy a lighter fare.>>668244
"Maybe we should tell the executives…
"Sorry, I lost track again. Oh, right, Abilio. Find him? Ah, I suppose. I could ask around. Let's see… express mail both ways is 20 bits, though. And that would be a reply in two days at best."
Davy shrugs. Probably his most diplomatic reply. You should probably thank him later for keeping his trap mostly shut. He isn't very good at appearing civilly acceptable, but he's conniving enough to know that it's probably unwise to start a fight now with the force strength of the enemy unknown.
"I should be with me crew. Let me know how it goes. And take note of the details so you can tell me all about it
Curry adds: "I'm not letting you out of my sight, though. I'm going if you're going."
Oh no, I thought it'd be needed. Honestly, I thought horses would sleep naked, especially in a tropical place. Wear the normal bed attire for these temperatures.
"Yeah, I just never noticed or thought much about it until now… Was it old Mcram who built it?"
Roll my eyes.
"I'll fucking pay for that, if that is what you are implying. Or just, y'know, ask the Belles as a cost of service."
Then, to Kotone.
"It's two for tea, then. If you'd be so kind as to lead the way?"
"Let's return as a group of four. That's not too many."
" the unicorn insists on coming. He may be her guardian. They don't seem directly dangerous, let's bring them with us.
Start floating toward the exit.
[Float fairy pony already going there]
Normally you'd be right, of course. But it's easy to forget the drastic swing a storm of this scale can have on ambient temperatures. You put on a light nightgown.>>668250
"I had a hoof of his on some of the propeller bit. But the bulk of the shipwrighty here is mine.">>668251
He shakes his head. "I'm not going on on either of their excursions. I'm happy to provide a little advice, but I'm afraid I'm not doing anything worth charging. This is just one last chance for an old horse to see some friends before the long dark.">>668252>>668253
You return through the iron gate to the main party of the executives and their assistants, who are moving about attempting to ready tea.
You're met with some disapproving looks. "Did you pick up some cave squatters or spies while you were in the caves?
"No luck with the carts I take it.
"And worse, the storm is no better…
Try and sleep.
But steal a gaze at Stricture.
Roll to try? We'll let fate decide.
He's busily scrubbing at what is probably his legs to do what is probably removing mud, turned away from you.
'1d10'Roll #1 8 = 8
"Oh don't be so fucking melodramatic, you're probably going to outlive us all. I'll charge them for it, as expenses."
" neither. They are sailing through and got stuck on shore outside of the cave. This one is called
Marina, and this is
I introduce them in turn.
I'll nod to them and give a small wave.
''I see… How did you learn to even build a whole ship then?'' I spin around a bit, taking in the majesty of the inside of this ship. To think that a dude with hooves did this… Amazing!
"Oh!" I excitedly add my wings fluttering. " she said their group has a cart on the other side of cave. Some one could go retrieve that one.
You doze off successfully. At some point, a nice-smelling Stricture gets into bed with you, and gives you a long, warm hug that immediately relaxes you. Or… maybe it was a dream. You're not sure.
In either case, when you wake up in the morning, the room is warmer, and Stricture is already up from bed, cooking one of the crabs he speared yesterday.>>668259
"Well, I'll let you know if a reply comes in.">>668261>>668260
"Did you ask what they were doing out there?
One of the executives appraises Curry. "I see why you are called Marina, you look like you work down at pier."
"Ah, that's my daughter."
"I thought she named Curry because she look like blended up pony race and speckles like spices."
"…No, I'm Curry."
Well, I have to say this is a first. Not often a pony takes my name and applies to it to a stallion.
"Hmm… that would be good, but one cart is not much space. Even with you so tiny, one cart would barely fit two of us. And our assistants are so many as well - so many ponies to transport with only one cart. It would take many trips.
He taps his chin. "Most of it I picked up in my younger years - although, some of it is piecemeal from all over. Actually, I got the idea for keeping the thing up from around here. These air tanks that hold the ship aloft are based off a much simpler design I saw in a Caballerian ship."
Oh I get why you wanted me to roll, for the sleep.
I didn't actually want to sleep, and thought the roll was to look. I was just going to bed!
Walk up and close to him, in perfect silence, giving him a long hug from behind, my forehooves around his neck, rubbing my head onto it.
"Sweet. Thanks cupcake. I knew I could fucking count on you."
He jerks so-slightly in surprise as you grab him, but doesn't resist as you nuzzle.
"You seem like you're in a better mood today. Too bad the weather hasn't–"
To punctuate his point, his sentence is drowned out by thunder.>>668268
He sighs. "Does every sentence need an oath? You're really devaluing those words… And you might get in trouble, you know. Dixie is very particular about their manners. The Belles tolerate you, but others might not."
Man, if that guy did this whole ship, imagine what I could do…
I'll think about all the mirabulous inventions I'll eventually make as I get on my way to the walkway
You're already on the walkway. It's something like a catwalk except it has walls on both sides and not much below it. Under it lay some of the inner workings of the ship maintenance. You can peer through at each of the hatches to see gauges, and occasionally you spot one to flag.
Blink a few times.
"Oh, and what the fuck are they going to do? Cut out my tongue so I can't eat any more marepussy ever again?"
"They might." He looks serious.
"Avoid it around those ponies that wear black and have the buckle-hats."
Oh well. One more day indoors.
"Guess that shaman really doesn't want to be followed…
Somehow, I don't mind."
Oh there we go!
I'll leave that hatch open then
Well I don't feel accomplished or any safer from the storm yet…
Could I actually shrink everyone to fit in one cart?>>668264
" she said they were on their way to.. New Gettysburg or something.
" I kind of shrug.
"They are welcome to fucking try me."
Pat my newfound Hamburgerburgian rifle.
"But I might."
"Yesterday you were straining at the bit. What caused the change of heart?"
He turns over the crab on a spit, remaining turned away from you to watch his food as it cooks.>>668275
Repeating that business is more of the same, and soon there are no hatches left. You suppose it's just a waiting game now… but maybe the part is at least loaded.>>668276
Given enough time and that everyone agreed to be shrunk down, you could manage it. It wouldn't be a speedy process, but your alchemical reserves are plenty since you have your own personal garden in your shoebox. The benefits of being small enough to carry your room around.>>668277
"I was merely offering advice. You're free to take it or leave it as you please."
"That's Confederation land. Hmmm… we should at least be cautious.
"I guess you survived this long for a reason."
Well at least I did something
Let's go see Izithils
Well, while they're debating in their language, I'll go take a peek at the ponies preparing tea. I don't often get a chance to see how other ponies mix and prepare things.
"It's entirely out of my control. I almost ended up buried in mud yesterday to change that and…
That'd have been a stupid way to die.
And I won't learn to do shaman magic in a day to fix this."
"In any case, I'll need a little personal time to write that letter if it's going out today.">>668281
Itztli has burrowed a hole into the side of the hold. You thought the wall he used was for something important but apparently it wasn't. In any case, Itztli has something new with him, that he's resting his head on, as he reclines.>>668282
A few assistants are scurrying about. Rather than soak whole leaves, they crush them and soak the powder. You wonder why they don't crush the leaves in advance - maybe it's all part of the ritual of teamaking, which seems as ceremonial as it is functional.
He looks cute when he's sleeping
He's sleeping right?
''Itzle? Are You awake?''
Carefully extracting the crab and setting it down to cool, he turns to face out the window. "It's still coming down… but there's less lightning than yesterday. I wonder if shamans grow tired from maintaining a storm."
"I NEVER SLEEP FOR WHAT PURPOSE HAVE YOU RETURNED ARE YOU FEARFUL OF THE STORM?
I'll continue observing. I wonder if it influences the flavor?
" just be sure not spill any corporate secrets in equestrian. They can't speak neighponese.
"I'll leave you to it."
Leave him to it.
I wonder if that young Belle is still in her room…
''I'm not afraid of the storm… I'm afraid it might ruin our mission…''
What is the thign he's sleeping on even?
"Figure we're gonna be moving before nightfall?"
Why isn't he looking my way…
I wonder if the storm is even going to last that long. Hmm.
"Are you comfortable Miss Marina?" I ask politely and hoover close to your head. "Do you have any favorite books or stories?"
One pony brings a pot - another the crushed leaves - another a kettle which was warmed at some point before you started watching. As the pot is held aloft, leaves and water are poured simultaneously from each side.>>668289
"Just as well. And they'll leave after tea?
Probably better act fast if so - she was probably getting dressed to go do something else.>>668291
He was using some sort of cloth as a pillow.
"I SEE YOU ARE INTERESTED IN THE CAPE I HAVE ALREADY EMPLOYED IT TO GREAT EFFECT BUT I WONDER IF I COULD ACHIEVE YET MORE.
Meh, not going to be that big of a creep.
Or at least not just yet.
Go back to Aira.
" If the storm hasn't let up by then I'll start fixing shrinking potions so we can all go in one cart.
" I reply with a nod.
Tild my head with an amused smile ''I cape? What great effect you been employing? Covering your pom-pom tail from the rain?''
"Hmm? Oh yes, thank you."
I'll think a minute.
"Um, actually, I'm not sure if you'd call them favorites, but I do like stories that you hear Lunites tell sometimes. Though they're getting harder to run across these days.">>668294
Maybe he's embarrassed about last night. Or maybe he hates you now. Or maybe he's just distracted. Or maybe you were never important to him and he was only interested in you for sex and now that you have said no he's not interested anymore. All sorts of terrible reasons could be possible.
"I'm not sure, it's up to Wind… Actually, if your guess is right, the Vengeance Fleet may need to be cancelled. We may need more of a Vengeance Troop to head out across land and straights, foregoing ships…"
He continues gazing out the window. "Maybe you should go ahead and share your theory with the Highlord and strategize. I'll go and see if I can get more information out of the prisoner. We can reconvene together with Wind for lunch.">>668295
You haven't seen Aira in a long time… since New Earth. She's probably in her room.
"Lunite stories? What are those like?"
Uh, shit, Aria then.
THe one I talked with in the morning.
This is met with partial approval.
"Hmm.. an interesting strategy. It could work.
"But it would leave us vulnerable to the strangers if they have ulterior motives, no?
"I'm just going to say that the idea of shrinking makes me nervous. I don't even care if you two [other executives] judge me for that, it's very unusual magic and it makes me uncomfortable. I'm not opposed to the idea in principle, or to shrink the assistants so they can be transported, though. I have concerns about my own person though.
I'm not one to shy away from confrontation.
Clear my throat and sit down very straight, a serious face on.
"Stricture. Look at me."
"Well, a lot of them involve Princess Luna, Princess Celestia's sister. You know, before her fall and imprisonment. About how she'd give ponies good dreams, and keep them safe during the night. And, since she was a princess of the moon, she had influence over the tides as well. That's why seaponies actually have a fair bit of reverence for her."
I'll raise an eyebrow at the ponies speaking neighponese.
"Are… are we being a bother? Your friends have been talking nonstop since we got here."
"IT IS A CAPE OF DISGUISE I HAVE BEEN STIRRING UP CHAOS AND MORE CHAOS WILL COME IN TIME IT IS A USEFUL TOOL BUT YOUR INTRUSION REMINDS ME I HAVE ONE LAST ERRAND TO RUN ON THE ISLAND WOULD YOU MIND WATCHING THIS CAPE AND ENSURING THAT NO ONE MOVES IT OR PLAYS WITH IT?
"The tea is ready to be served, Leaf-san
Aria has moved into the drawing room, where she is peering out the front window.
He turns his head from the window. "What's the matter?"
Stare at him and try to see if there's anything strange in his expression.
'1d10'Roll #1 6 = 6
''Oh…It's a magical cape of disguise? O-oh uh, yeah sure i'll watch over it for you, yep''
He seems a little apprehensive.
With that, he departs, hopping off. After less than sixty seconds of being alone, Flapjack bounces down in the opposite direction, shaking off the water from above.
"That's where you are! What're you up to now? Part's loaded. I can't wait to take off."
…smile to him. Reassure him.
"Thanks for last night. I felt you, while I was sleeping."
Walk up next to her.
"Watcha' looking at?"
I Hide the cape when Flapjack comes in!
''Oh, nothing nothing… Just uh… Oh! already? Alright let's go let's go!''
" It is easily versible, and I did bring my garden, so materials are not an issue. Of course this measure is for conveince so we can get back quicker.
"Ah. Actually I am not too familiar with Luna's previous role as a protector. I'm told its taboo to speak of her because of the incident and had no one to ask. "
"I would be pleased to listen to a tale."
" three sugar cubes please.
" I reply in regards to the tea.
He reddens slightly. "Listen… I'm glad I could make you feel better, but I'm going to get a different lodging. There are a lot of unused buildings here because of all the labor force. It was improper of them to put the two of us in the same room to begin with."
He takes a bite of his crab - biting through the shell with his powerful jaws, and after a moment to chew and swallow: "So, are you on board with that plan? It was your theory, so the credit should be yours.">>668312
"Just looking out into the city… no reason. What's the matter?">>668313
He tilts his head in curiosity. "What were you going to say before?">>668314
"I'm still not sure I feel safe about it…
"It doesn't matter, we need to be rid of the guests before we even consider it.
An assistant puts sugars into Kotone's tea, which is as big as she is.
"Oh. Don't concern yourself with the talking. you know how businessponies are. Always another word to put in." I giggle.
''I was gonna say that the last one to the ship is a Rotten egg!''
Run past him!
Delicious nectar like taste.
Sip on the tea.
" of course we shall wait until tea is over. It would be rude otherwise.
"I'd be glad to tell one, though I'm not much of a storyteller. How about you, though? Neighpon must be a wonderful place, and I've never met anyone from there who would speak of it at length.">>668316
I'll wait until I'm hoofed my tea.>>668317
"Then I won't worry about it."
"No matter. You can keep doing it, heheh."
Gives me a good look at her butt.
He calls to you in confusion, "But we're on the ship!">>668320
The tea is yours!>>668321
"No, I'm… done now anyway. Anyway we're leaving today."
''That means I win! You're a rotten egg! Rotten egg!''
Pull on his fluff ears
I'll take a sip of it.
My ears will drop down, and a sudden sadness will cross my face.
For some reason it feels like I'm about to lose something great.
"To where exactly again?"
Alpaca.exe has stopped responding. Do you want to end the task?
Flapjack scrunches in confusion.>>668324
Takes more earthy… or leafy or something. It occurs to you that in a teabag most of the leaf actually stays out of the tea and you're just getting the flavor of the leaf. You're actually drinking powderized leaf right now with this style.>>668325
"Are you okay? You have that look again, like yesterday.">>668326
"Well, first to Witherloo I think. But long term, into Oddomane lands. That will… be something else, at least. Have you gone?"
I just chuckle and giggle
It's fun to mess with him
"Well, yeah, but he says response time is going to be two days at least."
What an odd style of teamaking. But at least it's warm and not poison.
Walk up to him and put a hoof on his chest.
"So you've just been sitting here alone in the rain?">>668329
"Boring time for you then, I guess. Unless you like dresses and balls. This city seems probably chock full of those.">>668330
Warm definitely counts for something with the storm raging outside…
"Its got many folk tales. A few that deal with elements being in everyday items." I reply with a cheerful tone
"Elements? Like, the elements of harmony that the Elementalists speak of?"
"I was going to finish my crab first anyway."
''I been helping the bald goat with stuff too''
I fake a yawn
''But oh man, I'm soooo tired, I think I'll go to my bed and take a wee nap real quick if you don't mind''
He shrugs. "Uh, okay. What's with you today? You wanted to race just a second ago!"
Slap him across the face. Then as he tries to recover, kiss him.
"I'd rather just shoot shit already.
I mean, not that I have my bloodthirst that I used to after everything in Anniev, but still. A good fight gets the blood fucking pumping, you know? The thrill of who is going to make it out alive."
''Yeah but the race made me tired! Geez!''
Skitter to my bed quickly before he asks more questions
I need to work on my lying-out-of-things game
At first, he pulls back slightly with surprise, but then leans forward. His head turns to accommodate your muzzles, and you feel a warm hoof around your neck.
The kiss is chaste in form - the fumblings of inexperienced church horses without much experience, and no tongue in involved - but there's a trembling uncertainty in spirit. Neither party quite knowing what to expect, but meaningful to both.
After your mouths part, his hoof is still around your neck, and yours on his chest. He lets out a tiny gasp. "I… thought you just needed family.">>668339
"Bad luck for you, then. All the gun enthusiasts are leaving. I just heard Lilly talked George into going with her, and I'm leaving too.">>668340
"Well… I'm going to be up a while looking for things to do. Night."
He wanders off.
Am I all alone?
Let's pull out that disguise cape then
take off my cloth and cover myself with the cape
Do I feel anything yet?
Softly shake my head, smiling as I shy away from his eyes, scratching at his chest in small bliss.
"Family was never kind to me. I'm ready to try something else."
Hm… maybe you need to concentrate on something? Magic, as you discovered in your talk with Aira outside Enkilj, is not something you understand very well.
'1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
"Yeaaah… but maybe I will have to stay behind for those two day. I'm sure I can catch up to all of you in no time. How hard could it fucking be to find this travelling circus?"
You feel lips on your forehead, a gentle kiss. He hugs your neck close, not unlike what you did before. His voice is breathed into your ear: "I won't let you down.">>668347
You experimentally don the cape as it should be properly worn. You sense your body melding and shaping - as though an amorphous blob - but you can see that nothing is actually happening to you. It must project some sort of illusion without actually changing your body. What kind of image will you try to make it reflect?
Also roll for Disguise.>>668348
"Everyone is going different ways. Like I said, we're on to Witherloo, Lilly is headed out to parts unknown to find a grave, Puzzle is headed for Highlands with Who. The others are coming back here in a month, but we may never see each other again."
She smirks. "No big loss."
I want to look like a pony!
'1d10'Roll #1 5 = 5
Get comfortable within the hug.
"What's gonna change now?"
"Oh, snarky, aren't you? If your mother never spanked you when you were rude to grown-ups, I can do that for her."
You fall over as your body takes unfamiliar shape. W-what? It wasn't supposed to change your form! Something went wrong!
You hear a tutting, and Itztli returns. "IF ONLY YOU HAD WAITED ANOTHER FIFTEEN SECONDS YOU HAD TO KNOW I WOULD BE RETURNING SOON THE SHIP IS LEAVING NOW WHERE ELSE WOULD I BE?
Without moving from the position, he muses, "I… don't know, really. I've never done this before either. But I remember a sermon from one Sunday before I was in academy, with my parents, and the priest said, 'The key to a joyful life, is each morning, try to think of anything you can to make the day of the one you love better'. So that's what I'm going to try."
For your own part, there's nothing particularly restricting you taking a stallionfriend. You have no vow of chastity - there are some inquisitors who even use this to their advantage in their work - but if you're going to work with somepony you have feelings for… should Wind know? She seems so omniscient, maybe she already noticed Stricture likes you… Does this change anything on the battlefield? You already cared for each other as comrades - bled for one another…
It is unknown… but perhaps exciting, too.
She laughs. "Are you sure you aren't an old lady for real? Could've fooled me!"
"Let me spank you with my wings and you will see just how spry and young I really am."
"You are awfully fixated on this. I think you might have a problem granny."
"Are you saying liking mares is a problem, huh?"
"It's just a little creepy, since you sound about as pent up as a fourteen year old colt
"Oh, no, I've just had a ravenous appetite ever since I was old enough to know how my naughty bits worked."
"I-I was just testing to see if it works on dogs, Izhitly!"
Oh I'm sure she will figure it out right away…
"You did that already. You made me happy."
Steal one more kiss on his closed lips, slowly breaking away from him after that.
Get dressed, and finish my crab. Put on some sort of raincoat, snuggling close into it, ready to leave.
"Feels like such a beautiful day today. I don't even mind the rain."
"Well, I have no interest in them. Go find a flag pole - Celestia knows this town is fucking full of them. They're on every facade.">>668360
The small rabbit pulls the cape off your form. Your body feels alien - mishapen - not your own. All your limbs are the wrong length.
"I MAY HAVE FORGOTTEN TO MENTION THE CAPE HAS AN ADDITIONAL ENCHANTMENT UPON IT - A SORT OF AGE MAGIC, VERY RARE.
You turn again to your body – your limbs aren't misshapen, they're just long. They're maybe twice as long. You're huge!>>668361
He gives a confident smile and nods. "Maybe we should go see the Highlord together
I try to stand up, looking at my paws with wide eyes
''A-a-age Magic? D-does that mean…''
I look down at myself, my legs, my arms, touching myself all over to make sure this is real
"I DO NOT CONCERN MYSELF WITH METAPHYSICAL ARGUMENTS IN THE SCOPE OF ALL TIME THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE ANYWAY.
He shrugs. "GOODBYE RHANNA.
As you shakily try to regain your feet and ram your shins into the floor, he heads for the stairs.
"Did you learn how to be an absolute bitch from your mother?"
Smile. I find the fact he'd go out of his way to hang out with me incredibly cute.
"Okay." answer back, soft confidence in my voice.
Wait for him by the door.
But once we start walking I'll keep the usual, professional distance we always kept while travelling.
''Wait! Waitwaitwaitwaitwaitwaitwaitwaitwait waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaait! How do I go back to normal?! I don't want to shorten my life! Tell me Izithilistills!''
"Did you learn how to be a bitch from the crypt keeper? Or were you already a bitter old lady before you started dating?">>668471
The rain is coming down still relentlessly this morning. The lightning and thunder have abated and light peaks through the cloud cover, but the rain itself is still intense. Maybe you can get an umbrella later. Stricture emulates your style, though you catch him glancing at you out of the corner of your eye. Maybe nerves. After passing through the inner walls, you head to the great hall, which is where you can pick up some breakfast on the way, since you had no crab. Administrative offices are at the Old Abbey.>>668472
You flop about on the floor, trying to gain a decade of practice in the span of seconds.
"WHAT DID YOU EXPECT I AM A BEING OF CHAOS NONE ESCAPE THE STORM.
With that, he disappears up the stairs. You're left alone, squirming, in the dorms. No chance you'll get up a staircase before he can disembark. And he took the cloak! Or cape, or whatever.
Okay Rhanna - get it together. You need to stand up and take stock. Maybe find a reflective surface…
"Nah, I'm holding back. You don't want to see me like I behaved back in my prime. Selena always had her tail tucked inbetween her legs for one reason or another."
A mirror, yes… I need to find a mirror or some clean water and look at myself
I just hope I didn't end up looking like Mom…
I really can't stomach meat of any kind… It's gonna become a problem. For now, skip breakfast.
But inch closer to Stricture as we walk. Casually. Nonchalantly.
"Anyway, I'm not interested in pursuing this."
She trots off.>>668475
Mirror… you remember there's a mirror on a stick near the bow-end of the hold used to examine small areas too small to fit into. Slowly working your body up, you unevenly stand– holding yourself up with arms that can now reach both sides of the hallway. You almost start a shaking walk when the ship shudders and launches! Now, swaying in the waves, you revert to crawling to work your way to the other side. Finally, you claim that precious mirror.
It's a small, circular mirror - not enough for any full body posing. Immediately noticeable is that your doggy face takes up the whole thing – you don't have the aged bitch look that your mother has or had… but your face looks bigger. Eyes smaller, narrower. You angle the surface to see your arms. Not mature, but not preadolescent anymore either. Teenage, maybe? You don't have a lot to compare to.
And you feel strangely emotional. All sorts of weird urges! >>668476
It seems like his tail brushed you! Was it on purpose?! Oh gosh.
You may be insisting on skipping breakfast, but Stricture makes a detour to visit the end of the breakfast line and retrieves a couple of rolls for you.
"You'll want your mind to be clear if he clears us to see the recovered stallion. Eat on the way!"
"Yeah, well fuck you too!"
I'll have to figure out who to catch up to after I get that letter back.
I'll say nothing when he offers me the food, just smiling with a nod like in my neighponese mango
Halfway through eating it, a question pops through my mind.
"What do you know of this prisoner?"
Yeah, like the urge to punch that bunny for example. I bet he did this on purpose for the sake of'chaos' and whatever!
Ugh… I need to revert this somehow… Wait
I was so focused I forgot to look around, are we out at the sea already?!?
Maybe Selena will awake soon and you can at least tell her goodbye before she takes off… in the meanwhile, Who and HP already left. Pretty soon this house will be quiet again.>>668479
"Just what I told you before - he was rescued but he hasn't been very cooperative. Noble-born. I know the House Hatfield is a rich and powerful family - Manehatten is in their demense.">>668480
You can't really tell from the hold, but based on the way the ship is swaying, that would be a safe guess.
Ah come on! Now I'll have to wait until we get to land again to seek help. As far as I know, no one on the ship knows how to deal with thi- Huh oh… If Old ram sees me like this he might have the wrong impression…
Is there anyone else nearby? I didn't even bothered to look
"Oh right. The possible brainwashing case. I feel for him, it'd be horrible to lose sense of what you want and what others want you to want."
Finish the roll, even licking my lips once I'm done. Either it was disgustingly tasty or I needed it disgustingly bad.
No, you have the hold to yourself. Likely nobody will have reason to come by here for a while, except maybe Flapjack…
The thought of kissing him runs through your mind and you immediately banish it. Control yourself Rhanna, you aren't going to be a slave to hormones, are you?!>>668483
Tastes like Autumnsreach rolls, which are notoriously tasty.
Crossing briefly through the rain, you make for the Old Abbey, which is where the more important offices are. Yesterday, a flurry of action, today the rain has slowed business considerably. A secretary greets you as you enter. "Yes?"
"We'd like to discuss the storm with the Highlord."
"Do you have an appointment?"
What the heckie, brain? Flapjack is dumb and smelly!
Anyways, focus… I actually could use his help now…
"No, but we are in service to Lord Inquisitor Wind. Investigations have led us to believe this storm might be heretic in nature."
I guess I need to grab myself a cocktail first then.
Well, he was dumb and smelly anyway. He's not SO bad. He's very mature for his age… right? Is this rationalization?
Glancing around the hold, you don't see any sign of Flapjack. You did kind of run him off. You feel strange sensations in your body that cloud your mind - but at least you're gaining your sealegs, and finally pull yourself back to your paws to walk.>>668486
"Related to the breakout?">>668487
You might need to get a slave to liberate some alcohol from the cellar. It sounds like they had mostly mead and wine here.
"I'm going to be doing some gravedigging. Erm… nothing sinister, just trying to get to the remains of my parents."
That's not the rationalization I want to have in my mind right now…
Ugh, why can't I stop thinking about him!
Okay okay, just focus on something else as I look around for him
7 X 2 = 14
7 X 3 = 21
7 X 4 = 32-err no wait no no that's wrong darnit!
Didn't they have some of the honey stuff yesterday?
"Highlord Sun is in a meeting right now. Would you like to leave a message?"
"We were hoping to ask to be cleared to speak with the prisoner."
"The Highlord is the one to ask, although I cannot say I expect him to be willing to expose him to new ponies.">>668490
He studies you from behind his mask, an unchanging visage. Voice still muffled, he inquires, "And you want me to come with you?">>668491
You picture Flapjack as you search for him and wonder if his lips have always been so prominent, or if it's your mind playing tricks on you.
With sensory overload, you stop to take a breather on your bed. Puberty is hard!>>668492
Mead is an alcoholic beverage created by fermenting honey with water, sometimes with various fruits, spices, grains, or hops.
Yeah, I know, right.
Let's get some mead then and lounge outside for a bit. See who comes and goes.
I never asked for this
I wish Miss Selena was here, she could help me with this…
But alas, I am all alone in bed and all I can do is pant like I ran a mile and I don't even know why I'm panting!
W-What's with that look?
"I'm not exactly familiar with the new world, so I uh… figured I may as well ask you."
"As valuable and respectable as he might be, that pony is the only witness we have at this moment.
Keeping him locked away for his own good would mean a lot of innocents suffering, in the long run.
We will be treating him with all the respect owed to his family name, of that you can be sure."
Fortunately, the bottle from before wasn't returned to the cellar, so you take that and head out back. In the morning, the sun isn't so harsh, and you see many unicorns out in the field laboring to care for the bees.
After a time, Chivalry joins you on the porch. "You've been aloof, lately, Miss Emrille. Have you decided where you are headed?">>668495
After what feels like an eternity, Flapjack descends the stairs. Your heart flutters. He cocks his head at you.
"Um… Rhanna? Are you… alright?">>668496
There's a pause, and then he gives a short nod. "Okay. When do we leave?">>668497
"I can't say for sure, but by all reports, the boy is not in his right mind. He was raving when they brought him in. If you leave your name and reason, I could pass it along…"
"I think we'd rather give our case personally."
"Very well - if you'll wait about half an hour for the meeting to end. You can wait here, if you like."
Oh fudge there he is
I shake my head and crawl towards him ''Flapjack! I need you…r help!''
"I blame it on the lack of action, in more sense than one. I'm going to wait up for a letter here, and that will tell me my next destination."
Raise a brow at him, then sip the mead.
"I still need to figure some things out first… maybe some preparations are in order."
Look at Stricture.
He backs away uncertainly, toward the stairs.
"You're all sweaty and you're crawling… do you need a doctor? Something looks… wrong with your arms.">>668500
"It will be nice to return to normalcy, if only for a little while. There's a ball coming up on the ides and I will be presenting my daughter for the first time into respectable society - she is finally sixteen. It is a time for excitement.">>668501
"I have everything we will need for travel. For food, we can hunt and scavenge. For shelter, you can share my tent and bedroll."
Wow, he's really into this survivalist thing. Although you don't think Sitar is the kind of pony that hunts.>>668502
He gives a confident nod. "Sooner than I expected, even."
Wait here in the waiting room?
"Oh, I'd love to see that girl presenting indeed."
Let out a whistle, then smirk.
"But good job on that and everything. Keep the pony race going and all."
Yes. Trot slowly across the waiting room with Stricture.
"It might help to recap what we know, agree?"
''I-I'm fine… I got… Cursed…''
I hope he doesn't mean us to eat meat because I'd have to be pretty desperate to do that!
"Alright, I'll get back to you soon!"
He gives you a look of distaste. "I've been tolerating your frivolity because you are a friend of the family, but I will not have you speak that way of my daughter. Especially given that I heard you walked in on her
earlier. Is this how you behave yourself in polite company?">>668505
"It seems like we have a few pieces from many different puzzles rather than many pieces of any one puzzle.">>668506
"Cursed?! Oh no, we don't have any magical folks on our ship! W-what happened?! What can I do?!">>668507
He gives another masked nod. "I'll make my own preparations."
''I-it's fine… I'm not hurt… J-just… Call Old Ram here, tell him I got cursed with some kind of age spell…Please''
He hurries up the stairway, leaving you to stew in silence…
I sit u and wait, crosslegged… If I can even do that
"Oh, calm down and relax, I was looking for somepony else. I didn't do it on purpose, plus, why don't any of you have locks on the doors? Or use them?"
Wave my hoof.
"You must know me from the tales. I'm a wildcard, I can't help it. Had no parents to teach me ethics and all that."
All that shit, but I'll take the warning of Cross for now.
"So let's count them.
We know about the evanescent ship. And the sudden appearance of a Leviathan and a storm might point to the presence of a shaman in the fleet which assaulted the prison.
We also know that some Nightmare Moon Heretic communities were involved with shamanistic magic.
We have a list of those which escaped, which we should cross reference.
And brainwashing, even though that's not for certain until we meet with the recovered noblepony.
Am I missing something?"
Hrm… now how in the heck are we going to get to the bottom of the sea without filling our lungs with water? Is Gray around? I need to bounce some ideas off of someone.
You can! It requires a little bit of maneuvering though…
After a moment, a sopping-wet Old Ram storms down the staircase, Flapjack poking out nervously from behind him.
"What's the matter, skipper?"
The old epithet would have been increasingly ridiculous in sight of your now emergent assets.
"Some kind of curse? From where? What? I knew better than to trust any magic on my ship.">>668512
He stews for a moment but seems to accept this as an apology and continues. "We've been very gracious hosts. All that I ask is a little decorum. If you feel that is out of your reach, perhaps you should travel the countryside until the month is out. Dust – on the other side of the rail line – has a more… chaotic atmosphere you may find inviting.">>668513
"Right. That wood being talked about – I think that's camouflage wood, but it's extremely rare. A shaman might be able to cultivate some. It could add up. There are the Redists and that gang of murderers who escaped, too - could be a red herring, no pun intended. Speaking of 'red', we know the pony sent out to track the movements of the sorcerer we're to take down is Redcoat, Office of Holy Information. We might ask if he's back yet or has reported.">>668514
You stop by her room and knock. She calls: "Who is it?"
After identifying yourself, she calls you in. She's at her closet, looking over a few dresses. "Heading out today?"
"Hey, I can cut back down on the swearing, aside from one or two that slips by, and I can knock next time, but you can't really expect me to do a curtsey every time I meet a pony on the corridor."
Flutter my wings.
"Plus I no longer have my hat to tip."
"The Reddist would be a nice diversion to shift focus off them, indeed. I will go ask about Officer Redcoat, sounds like he could have information we might want anyway."
Back to the desk and ask about Redcoat.
I was wondering about something. You've seen a fair amount of the known world, haven't you?"
I shake my head, hung low ''From that weird rabbit… Long story short it had this cape and I… fumbled with it and when I looked at myself I was like this… Older… I think I'm like… 6 or 7 years, I dunno''
I sigh and slump even further
"If you think you can do it without getting into trouble, there are a number of hat stores in town with very reasonable prices. I prefer a fine silk top hat - try Artful Milliner on Second.">>668517
"All information collected from that division of the Office of Holy Information is permanently classified under direct edict from Princess Celestia."
A whole division of an office is permanently classified? That's weird.>>668518
"Have I? Most of it that I saw was when I was younger. I spent most of my formative years in the northwest of Equestria…">>668519
He sighs and rubs his head. "Well… I don't know what to do about it. I know some first aid - enough to get by - but this is out of scale for that. But we are between the Sisters… Maybe if we sail north for a bit we could get an exorcism or something. It'd be safer than taking off out of Caballeria anyway."
"I just want to talk with Officer Redcoat, I'm not interested in the information itself."
"I think I'm past the point with top hats… some kind of headwear might not be a bad idea though. I'll keep that in mind, thanks."
"I don't believe he has physically returned, leading the tracking effort."
She shuffles some papers, and checks a log. "No, not in yet. I believe there's a relay set up."
He nods absently, gazing out over the fields.
How much cash do I have on me right now?
Enough for some fine silk headwear?
"Is it two ways?"
Maybe I should ask the Highlord to let us speak with him.
"Well you've seen more than I have probably! Especially weird stuff, right?"
You just brought a little spending money with you - 120 bits. An extremely nice hat wouldn't completely bankrupt you, probably about 80.>>668526
"I wouldn't know, it was speculation. Sorry.">>668527
"I'm not sure I would say that… I mean, I don't remember a lot of stuff from when I was younger. But you've traveled all up and down the coasts for deliveries, right? You've seen all kinds of towns."
Bah, fuck it, I only live once, fly to the adress he mentioned.
Nod a quiet thank you.
"I will go back to waiting."
Sit back near Stricture very close.
I hug my legs, curling up a bit
''You know if Are there ponies that deal with curses and the like up north?''
After a few moments of sitting, it seems your tails have gotten tangled behind the chairs, in the narrow space between the wood and the wall. By accident, of course. They're not entwined with the excited glee of youth.>>668529
You take off from the porch and sail into town. There are many ponies here going about their business - mostly earth ponies, but you stand out like a sore thumb in that you're not wearing any fancy clothes.
There it is - Artful Milliner, and like all other storefronts, several flags hanging off the facade.>>668531
"Well, not for sure. But on Greater Sister there's a big church, probably some of them curse-breaking ponies. Inquisitor-sorts and priests."
''…This is going to delay our quest though'' glance up at the old goat
"Do you think yer… contagious? Er, getting worse? Maybe they know about magic in Novdogod."
…Tug on it. Just a small, playful tug.
I wish I had my old fancy military coat.
Also, all these fucking flags.
''I don't know…'' I raise a paw
''I just feel weird, but not in any sort of pain or anything… I'm fine, just… Feeling out of place''
try to stand up
''We could try straight for Novdogod then. While I try to look for a way to fi myself, you guys can look for the next part''
"Yeah but… I never came into contact with ponies like the ones I've met in the last few days.
I'm just wondering if you remember ever hearing of a way to breathe underwater. Through the means of magic or otherwise."
He gives a tug back.
You're get into it, when the door opens and some ponies you don't recognize leave the building – in active discussion about the storm. "You're up," relays the secretary.
Wow… that really passed quickly. I mean, you did spend a lot of time working up the nerve to tug oh-so-stealthily. And there were all those shy glances you've been shooting each other. You suppose time flies…>>668537
Old Ram nods amenably. "Alright, we'll just keep an eye on it."
He points at your neck. "It's a good thing it was bedtime when your collar was off. You'd about have strangled yourself. Get rid of whatever magic thing caused that. Just throw it in the sea.">>668538
"Let's see… mom collected all kinds of trinkets - magic stuff like potions and enchanted objects. Sometimes stuff like that would show up. Maybe Selena could brew a potion like that?">>668539
Aria and Aira are nowhere to be seen in your room - they must be up and about. Judging by the sun through the window, it must be 10AM already at least.
They might be arrested already!
Run around to find them!
In you go! The place is a little slow today, but the walls are covered from everything from tophats to tricorns.
A sales assistant with a Prench accident and a snooty mustache approaches. "Hon hon, what are you looking for today madam?"
You burst out of your room and smash Aria in the nose with the door.
"Ah Aira! I was looking for you!"
My ears perk up, coming back to reality from strange places in the back of my mind and whoops there goes gravity.
"Ah! Thanks!" I blurt out, slightly confused.
''The rabbit took the cursed cape with him… probally to make more mayhem somewhere else… And I'm keeping the collar''
The ruby in that collar is one of the few things that are truly mine. I'll keep it no matter what
…Although I'll need a bigger collar to put it on now
"Well, you slept in, so we had breakfast and stuff.">>668548
Onward! She waves you on to the back room, and you head in without further delay. Highlord Dawning Sun is at his desk, looking thoughtful.
"Beg pardon, Highlord."
"Hm? Oh, at ease. Wind's contingent, right? Something wrong with her quarters?"
"No, it's about the storm."
"Right… well, the storm is pretty rough, I want to watch Ollie's back at the wheel. Tell me if anything seems to get worse, skipper."
Go to one of the windows and look outside
Take a step forth and explain the situation with clear voice.
"We have strong reason to assume it has been induced through shamanism, same way the Leviathan was called, and same way their ships could be made out of camouflage wood."
Well, now what…
You poke your head through the curtains like a vigilant ponoe. Nobody with torches or pitchforks. No police barrier. Looks like nobody's here.>>668556
Sun taps his pen on a pad. "It's possible. You think this self-proclaimed sorcerer is a shaman, then? But he was using distinctly arcane sorts of magic – magic bolts, of a fire type.">>668557
You're somewhat at a loss. Do you just go to sleep as usual?Pause
I could try to… But I doubt these raging hormones will let me
"We were not here to witness the attack, Highlord. But it is possible the assailants had more than one trick up their sleeve."
"Huh, the guards must have gotten slow these days."
That came out kind of lewd. But you are feeling a bit flustered from all of this.
To where will you go?>>668562
"Perhaps. We've received intelligence on his whereabouts however - we believe he is being sheltered by the Nightmare armies of Transcastria, whom have taken a firm hoofhold over the Ash Ruins. Once the storm clears, we may have more than one spellcaster to worry about - but I will see Bright Harbor avenged.">>668653
Chivalry, whom had approached from behind, questions, "Guards? For what purpose?"
"But if the storm is as we fear pony made, there might be nopony left once it's over. They will have slipped away."
"A storm covering the entire chain of island for multiple days by a single pony? Could it even be done?"
"Celestia controls the sun and moon alike."
"That comparison is blasphemous. We are not dealing with divinity here."
"Maeda is right, though, your lordship. We need to investigate the possibility."
"A frontal assault on enemy territory is impossible without our larger ships. We can do ferrying, but we can't transport the hooves we'd need for the job."
"Milord, if I may."
Step forth, pumping my chest.
"What we need is a strike force. That's what the inquisition exists for. A single team could avoid engagements until the shaman responsible for this storm has been identified, dispatch him and clear the weather for the main force."
"I already have a special team of inquisitors working on tracking the sorcerer, but I'll pass along the information. If they notice a shaman channeling a powerful spell - the commander on the ground has the authority to order an attack of opportunity."
Bow my head in respect.
"Thank you for hearing us out, Highlord."
Stricture: "With that being said - what is the status of the Vengeance Fleet?"
"I need to send a letter and see if our scouts confirm your suspicions. The fleet may be unnecessary. Return to Lord Wind and give her my thanks."
"Highlord, what's the current status of the recovered stallion?
I heard there might be brainwashing involved."
Outside to try to get some air… Unless it's still raining. I don't need to smell like wet dog right now, so I'll just test out my older body. Stand up, do some jumps, stretch, all that stuff
He gives a look of annoyance, but it's not directed at you. "More like a romantic. Classic Stockyard Syndrome."
"You know, the Stockyard Hostage Crisis decades ago. Cattle uprising who took pony hostages - some of them fell in love with their captors when the siege took months?"
"I wasn't alive multiple decades ago, your lordship."
"Right, right. Nevermind. Anyway, the boy is from a noble house that has always had a rather heretical view on religious unification. It's tolerated - the Lady in all her mercy does not condemn those with a heart filled with loving naiveity, but it can be dangerous in a situation like this."
"He fell in love with one of the cultists?"
"So it would seem. In either case, we'll be shipping him home as soon as the storm clears - he's the least of my worries. They'll straighten the boy out at home - he looks about as strong as a wet noodle. This is all in confidence, of course - don't go spreading it around. I'm trusting you as Lord Wind's retainers in her name."
The outside is up those stairs - which you don't feel fully up to yet. And it's definitely still raining anyway, by the way the ship is swaying.
You stretch a bit, but don't feel like risking a jump with the floor unsteady. The ship creaks and groans - you really hope that adult friend of yours put together this ship well!
"Of course Highlord.
Those words are not gonna leave this room.
I feel for the poor stallion, I really do."
Exchange a worried look with Stricture.
"Anything you require of us before we leave, Highlord?"
Oh right, we're sailing. rrrgh I forgot that
Let's try walking in a straight line. If I can even do that in a moving ship, doing it on land will be piece of cake
Out of the corner of your eye, you think he blushed slightly when love was mentioned, but by now his face has cleared of any sign of lack of discipline.
"No, you're dismissed. Send in my next appointment.">>669016
Slowly, paws outstretched to stabilize yourself on the wall, you safely navigate up the corridor and back to your bed. Looks like you're back in business.
Off we go.
"We should find Lord Wind…"
Sigh heavily, worried and sad.
Great, at least I can still function
Let's see, where did I put those books…
Marina & Kotone
With the tea long gone, the storm is far from abating.
"There's no sign that it will let up."
"We should plan to make use of the tunnels."
"I remain skeptical of the shrinking plan."
"It isn't relevant until after we have the minecart anyway."
Curry: "Gotta say, it's a little bit chilly in these caves with the storm on. I've spent a lot of nights camping in caves, but at least I had a fire to warm myself by."
They're stacked under your bed. Although you've finished the math book. Some of it was kind of abstract… if only there was a workbook to practice to see if you understand the concepts.>>669018
Stricture nods. "I haven't seen Lord Wind since we got in, really. I wonder what has our charge so occupied?"
"Well, we should be able to build a pretty decent fire on our side."
I'll look at Kotone and her assistants.
"Are you folks going to be able to keep warm enough in here with that storm out there? Sounds like it'll end up knocking over the building, at this rate…"
Curry points around the room. "This place is about as much room as cave, though. I don't want to catch those cabinets or the wood paneling on the floor and walls on fire - to say nothing of the front door and wall on the exit side of the cave. It's a bit nicer on this side than the side we came in - what with actual shelter from the rain at the mouth."
"Well, yeah, but how long has this thing been abandoned?"
I'll think a little.
"There's always the middle ground in the passage though, isn't there?"
"Investigating, if I ever know her.
Think we should tell her?"
"Between the two iron doors? I guess that's the start of the mine proper. I've seen those sorts of things before back in Equestria - they seal off mine gas and any critters inside, like bats.">>669025
He strategically glances away as you walk out of the office. "About your theory and our meeting with the Highlord?"
"I'm not terribly cold myself. I was trying to think of a good story like this.. Stories are said to keep your warm too. but I'm not much of a bard." I smile a little awkwardly.
"No. That'd be just making a report.
This, it'd be confiding her something personal."
Let my voice trail off, trying to avoid sounding pushy or worried.
"Also well away from both entrances, so no one gets soggy.">>669027
I'll smile back. Try not to make it too toothy, though.
"Well, you don't really have to worry about any of us here showing you up. I probably couldn't tell a proper story to save my life."
He sounds thoughtful. "I don't think we could hide it if we tried. I mean, not that I would want to, but she has a way of seeing through ponies.">>669029>>669027
"It's dry enough here, just a little clammy."
"Well, it was just a suggestion…"
Rubbing my left leg, I'll think for a moment.
"I wonder if any of the crew brought cards or dice with them. A game would surely help pass the time until the storm quiets."
"Well let's go. Maybe we will tell her later."
Off to see Wind.
I tap my tea in thought.
"I wonder if you have the story of the wishing fish? No.. wait.. actually seaponies probably don't like that one.. Maybe the one about the panda that was too hungry.. or the cricket and the mouse.. or.."
Then notice my tea is empty
"..Maybe we should get the cart? Its on your side of the mines right?"
A welcome distraction.
"It is. Did you want to bring some folk with us to help fetch it?"
"Do you think we would need much help? All it should be is setting it on the tracks."
"Yeah… I'll think about it and we'll figure it out together.">>669035>>669034
Curry: "Actually, it was in a storage closet of some kind."
The two of you head back to the grand basilica, under which there are rooms for very important ponies. Lord Wind is supposed to be quartered here, but after knocking on her door, you get no response. How odd.
"Probably not, but I bet they'd worry less than if we went with just you and I.">>669036
"Before we came down, though, I asked some of the crew to put it on the track, actually. Just in case there was something down here and we needed a way to move around quickly."
"I must've missed that. Good thinking, though."
"Oh? I see."
Look at the assistants. "Would one of you come to help get the cart with us?
What time is it? Maybe she's dining.
Still morning, around 10AM you judge, although the storm makes it hard to tell.>>669041
A duo of assistants rise to help you transport the cart.
"She must be out working. Let's ask the staff."
"That's settled. Let's go together. If you're ready that is."
I'll pause for a moment.
"It might be a long flight for a fairy, though… would you like a ride?"
"…Are you offering to carry me? Marina-chan?"
I'll blush a little and nod.
"Well, I mean, if you're alright with it. I do kind of have a lot of hair, so that would probably be more comfortable than being carried by one of your assistants, right?"
"Hm… the housekeeping staff maybe? Or maybe they've been in contact with her at the administrative offices back at the old abbey. Or maybe in the library? We could also check with the kitchen staff."
Nod and flutter my wings in reply. "Yea! Its a good idea, and if I think of a good story I can whisper it too you." I giggle a bit and float over to your head, resting ontop, just above your left ear.
As in a blank book? I think I could get that with McRam, right?
I'll bother with that later though, now let's see the other books left for me to devour
What are my options?
I'm gonna smile like an idiot. I've got a fairy on my head!
"Okay, now, I suppose we should get going! Which of your assistants did you want to bring with us?"
"Two of them volunteered. They will follow us." I explain softly, while sitting on top of a seapony!
I'll start heading towards the door leading to the mine and our side of the cave.
There was a book on surveying techniques, another on architecture, one on blacksmithing, and another on simple physics.>>669056>>669058
The assistants follow you. "Ah, Leaf-san, is it safe to ride with a stranger?
Curry follows as well, casting one last look back at the room as you depart. After a brief jaunt through the connecting corridor, you re-emerge into the other side of the tunnel, where Davy and his band of pirates are camped out. The cart is on the tracks and waiting.
"Oh no! It's am ambush!
"They led us back to a gang of pirates!
Indeed, it seems there are at least twenty of them, maybe thirty. Pirates were squatting in the cave!
"We're back! Thanks for setting up the cart."
Bleh architecture sounds boring… But maybe I can learn something from it
Let's start with the simple physics, but I'll open the surveying book and look at the index and see what it offers before that
"It should be perfectly safe.. they have no need for the cart and agreed to pass it over to us.
"The assistants are scared of your friends.. Marina Chan."
"Ah, they're just the captain's crew."
I'll scrunch a bit.
"Don't worry about them, they're nice ponies at heart."
"At any rate, here's the cart! I think it's still in pretty good condition."
An overview of oil surveying terminology>>669060
Equestrian oil surveying laws and regulations
Safety and repairs on wellbores
Proper handling and care of extracted oil
Horizontal and vertical wellbores
Cartographic traditions: topographical and cadastral
A Note on Refinement
Davy squints suspiciously at the Breezie but says nothing.>>669063>>669062
Curry: "Let's go ahead and move this rather than wear out any welcome."
He moves behind it and starts pushing it along the tracks.
Look worriedly at the pirate. >>669063
"Are you sure you're okay with these guys, you and curry could stay with me, I could hide you two.. if you were in trouble.
I'll head over to the other side of the cart.
"Don't worry, I'm sure it'll be fine."
I hope. I've never really seen Davy angry, so I'm not actually sure how this'll play out.>>669066
I'll flick my right ear.
"It's fine, really. I wasn't lying when I said we're going to be dropped off at New Gettysburg. They all look a little rough, but they're decent ponies. Otherwise, you wouldn't see my pile of seaponies over there being so relaxed.
So many oils…
Well let's go for the simple physics until I feel sleepy enough. At least these books will keep me distracted
You doze off under a parabolic arc.>>669068
Either way, he shoves the cart with the assistance of the assistants back through the door.>>669066>>669068
"This is where we part, I expect. You're going to ride this cart to the other side of the island, right? But we need to stay behind with our ride."
"I'd imagine so… but I think both of us are kind of stuck here until the storm blows over. It's not like this thing goes… elsewhere?"
I'll look up, though without really raising my head.
"I forget, did you mention if the mines go anywhere else? I can't imagine this stretches to any other island…"
"…Yea. I guess you all have to stay right here. With your ship."
"well, the mines do go other places, but I'd rather your uh, ride, not know about that.
When the morning comes, you wake to find Flapjack passed out on his cot. He looks cute.
Ship's not moving… have you laid anchor somewhere? You were supposed to sail through the night!
I'll raise an eyebrow.
"Really? Well, now I'm curious. But I doubt my father would let me slip away to go with you all…
"It was lovely meeting you, Kotone. I hope we meet again sometime soon."
"Oh, he's your father!
" I smile in surprise "You know, my dad is a pony too.
I'll stretch and yawn, carefully to not hit anything, and get up in the deck
"Really!? How did… wait, no, that's a really rude thing to ask. Never mind. But your father was a pony too? That's really neat. Guess it just goes to show love can conquer just about everything, huh?
Totally don't need to tell the fairy how my mom pretty much ran away with us, nope.
With the swaying done away with, you can shakily make your way up to the deck, but upon reaching the hatch, you can hear the storm is still raging quite heavily outside. Actually, perhaps even worse than yesterday.
"Hey, if we see each other again, lets get drinks and then tell each other lots of things like that.
" I snicker. "no matter if they are rude, just secrets between half-ponies. Deal?
I'll giggle a bit.
"Deal. I'll even cook something for the occasion, too. I'm pretty proud of my cooking skills!
"What the heck?… Mister McRam? Anyone?" I look around in the deck as I walk to the edge, looking around for the reason of the ship's sudden stop
I float down and grab your hoof, squeezing it a bit as if to seal the deal.
"Okay! I'm off to see the neighpones again. Until we again Marina Chan."
"Until we meet again, Kotone. Have a safe trip, wherever you're going."
Off to the cart with the two assistants.
"lets go back!
You pop the hatch open and immediately get drenched by the storm. Making your way out onto the deck, the storm is heavy enough to be blinding and without the support of the walls, the heavy wind knocks you on your (now much bigger) ass. There's a figure holding lone vigil at the wheelhouse, and you can see you are beached on some island, but it's hard to tell where exactly you are. Tropical trees like the rest of the islands in Caballeria, at least.
The heavy rain makes it hard to see much further than the deck.>>669092
With that, you return to the party in the other room. Everyone is waiting in expectation for you - perhaps nervous you might have gotten in trouble.>>669091
As she departs, Curry remarks: "I just hope Davy isn't right that she could be dangerous. All the cards are stacked against us right now to escape these islands - we can't handle other loose ends."
Crawl and drag myself closer to the lonely figure
"Hello, we are back with the cart.
" I greet everyone. "should I get started on the the potions now?
"We should be fine. She wouldn't have promised to meet again if she was planning on turning us over. Besides, even if this mine does let out somewhere else, it's not like they'd be able to set out immediately."
"I'm probably gonna get yelled at, though…"
As you draw closer, you determine that it is the ship's navigator, that sleepy goat. From inside the glass booth, he gives you a wave.>>669098
They share a few glances. "We have decided by a vote of two-to-one to agree to it.
He sighs. "Ah, Marina. You know, just because a pony promises something doesn't always mean it's sincere."
"Ah, but this was a promise between half-ponies. Turns out her father's a pony too."
The thought will cross my mind again before I quash it.
"Anyway, I guess all we can do now is wait out the storm with the others…"
I wave back and get closer to him until we can hear eachother ''Where are we?! Where are the others?!'' I shout, trying to be louder than the storm
"We should get a campfire going if they don't already have one…">>669102
He pops open the door and ushers you in. Ignoring your question, he whistles. "That magic DID do a number on you. Huh."
I look down at myself, do I look any different?
''I guess. But that doesn't aswer my questions…''
"I can't imagine how good the ventilation will be, though. Hopefully the rain and wind won't just blow the smoke back in our faces."
"I'll get started right away then.
Float over to my alchemy station and get brewing. Tell me what/if to roll here.
Not since this morning - although a lot since yesterday.
The goat scratches at his chin.>>669105
"I've learned a few tricks over the years about cave fires. We may need to elevate it a bit though. Find a nice boulder.">>669106
You can just take six since you're not under pressure (showing off / time restricted / limited ingredients / etc).
''Well? Where are they?'' I tap my foot impatiently
"That shouldn't be too hard."
And I guess we'll head back to the others.
Cool. I will make a set of shrinking potions for everyone, and the corresponding reversal potion.
Then carefully pass them out to each pony.
"This one shrinks. This one grows.
"Gunny and MacMeal went to check out the interior. The curmudgeon is around here somewhere. Flapjack's… prob'ly asleep. I might join him.">>669111
In hardly any time, you've got a fire going and jaunty sea tunes filling the air. A good time as any to sleep.>>669112
One of the assistants objects: "[b]These growing potions are so small! I'm afraid I might crush it when you hoof it to me!"
''Okay, thank you. Now ''why'' did the ship stopped and we beached?''
Yep. Sigh a bit, and head off to find a corner to sleep in.
"If I made them any bigger, you wouldn't be able to drink them when you were my size.
" I explain.
"Storm's too rough. Can't you tell?"
He points at the raging darkness outside. "It's nearly midday and it's still almost pitch black with the storm. At least the lightning has abated, mostly. Blasted thing is a real nut to crack though. What could cause a storm like this?">>669115
Roll for dreams.>>669116
An executive steps in with that professional HR voice. "Perhaps you should keep all your small bottles packed up and give the growing potion's whole cauldron to Daishi-san. Then, when we finish riding, he can help you pour them.
Daishi is the third executive, who didn't want to be shrunken.
I hope they're good. '1d10'Roll #1 4 = 4
''Hmnrgh… this darn storm…''
I step out of his glass cabin and head back in the ship to dry myself and look for Old Ram
You head back belowdecks where it's dry, although you suspect you won't find him, since you were just told he was not on the ship. He was on the interior [of the island].>>669118
You dream that your teeth all fell out and you had to eat VEGETABLES for the rest of your life! Oh no!
I ponder for a moment and then nod.
"That would work fine.
" Carefully seal up the growing potion's cauldron so nothing can spill out. Then gesture to it with a smile. "Here it is. Packed up tightly.
One by one, the party begins to contract, until the whole group (except the one executive) are breezie-sized! He very carefully scoops up a hoofful of assistants and deposits them in the cart.
I slap my forehead. The interior of the ISLAND! You stupid mutt, arrgh…
Whatever. I'll try to look for something to cover myself in, carefully avoiding Flapjack. That cloth will barely cover my waist and I don't want to walk around outside in the nude
I breath a sigh of relief, even thou I knew it would be fine, It was still a big deal to shrink everyone.
Lets get into the cart with everyone else.
You were never picky about it before! You wonder why it matters to you now, but it definitely does. Must be grownup stuff.
You could use the sheets from your bed, but Flapjack is probably still there, although he might be asleep. Maybe you should explore the ship for a supply closet?>>669125
Most of the group is gawking at the now-huge surroundings. It must be pretty surreal to be tiny for the first time! You hear that this is how some Breezies feel the first time they go into big pony society, but you can't really relate since you've always been a tiny little bug pony in a big pony's world.
Such a shame, unable to relate to breezies, unable to relate to big ponies.. but hey! That seapony, that seemed like someone I could really get along with. So well adjusted to land life too.
Mom used to do it… sometimes
Screw it, I'll just go to my bed and yank the sheets.
Ech. I suppose there could be worse things, though.
After a moment of working the cart, the third executive carefully seats himself in the cart, and the other ponies all move to avoid sitting next to the giant where the might be crushed, or get lost in a tangle of tail hair.>>669128
Roll for quiet dog!>>669129
You wake up in the morning, and you can tell without being told that the storm is still raging outside. The winds echo ominously through the cavernous mines.
'1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
Makes sense. Sit along with the ponies my size and wait to arrive.
You very sneakily sneak up and sneak away with a sheet, without ever waking the hyperactive alpaca – adorable as he is with his blonde curls.>>669137
The cart begins to pick up speed - you can see from the way his mane moves that you must be going pretty fast, and there's a constant trundle of wheels on rails.
"Well, that can't be normal. Usually a storm that strong would have blown itself out by now…"
Good good, then we will be home in no time!
Maybe later I'll ask him if I can touch his hair…
A-and with later I mean never!
Now let's wrap that around myself and get outside again
, look for somewhere to jump off the ship and look for the Old Ram
Since no one was looming over you in your sleep, your words fall on no ears but your own - and the howl of the wind isn't helping that. Still, maybe you should meet up with some of the others and figure out a plan.>>669140
The cart shakes ominously before steadying, but all your tiny compatriots wail in terror.
Feels like you're rounding a bend now…>>669142
Your sheets immediately get drenched and, as you might have predicted, since they are white, they turn transparent against your matted fur, hiding nothing and just weighing you down with all the water they're carrying. Still want to jump?
I cover my mouth so they can't notice my snickering.
… Did I get dumber with age? Why did I thought this was a good idea?
Gosh i'm a stupid mutt
I sigh with defeat and just jump anyways. It can't get any worse than this at least
Head back over to the embers of the fire from the other day.
Another long straight away, some of the assistants look like they might be sick.
This trip is taking quite some time, but you imagine that is a necessity, crossing a whoel island.>>669145
You leap into the water, and the cloth weighs you down, but it's pretty light so it makes no difference. However, swimming to shore is a little more difficult as you awkwardly command your now-larger body to doggie-paddle.
Finally, you make it to shore. Hey, you're getting better!>>669146
The fire is still going - ponies kept it alive all night long.Pause
I'm sure it will be perfectly safe.
Well at least I know I am not completely useless and can still function… Just a bit more and I'm sure I'll be able to go about my day naturally and with no trouble.
Hopefully I won't get in any fights in this state…
After what seems like a short eternity, the cart slowly begins slowing. Hopefully you're near your destination.
All this wheels-on-rails bit reminds you of all the excitement surrounding that "train" concept being worked on in the Confederation.>>669151
Yeah, especially since you left your weapon behind. On the other hand, you're not supposed to get bows wet, so maybe that was a good choice. Or does that only apply to some kinds of bows…? Hm…Maeda>>669052Selena>>668559Emrille>>668544
Reminder: you stopped in at a fancy hat place, because you love wasting your day on pointless trivialities.
Your post was so recent I didn't think I had to link you to it! >>669148
We can just skip two days ahead you know.
Everything would be easier with mobile phones.
"Going the official way might not always be the best idea. The house staff might have seen her leave."
…I didn't scroll up. Thought it had been longer since the last time we were here.
Anyway. Ponies are probably hungry. What have we got in the manner of food and food ingredients?
If you like. Or you can hat shop!>>669322
"Hm, right. I'm sure they have a station around here somewhere - some good brother of the laundry staff, perhaps. I'll look around for a linen closet or laundry pile.">>669324
Not much, you're afraid. With the storm still pouring, you don't even have access to the ship's meager selection without braving that blinding white - a thought on everyone's mind.
As you approach the fire, you can see that the strange metal cylinders that were pillaged from cabinets earlier are sitting around in stacks. They look like they've been slashed open by pirate blades, and some sort of brown ichor extracted from within. Smells like… vegetation of some kind?
I'll settle for a non-expensive but not cheap garbage beret.
I'll sniff one.
"What… what even are these?"
"I will ask the maids."
Trot off and look for a maid.
'1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
The trouble with your average beret, in your experience, is that it won't stay in your fucking skull. They're designed for posh arteest types that can spend all day doing a balancing act. You have to get a good military-grade one that will hug your head properly so that it will stay on when you're running around or leaned over a gun stock. In any case, you find a decent enough one, and the fancy Prench pone contains his contempt for your choice of function over fashion.>>669330
One pirate speaks up: "Yarr. We cut open these pipe segments and found beans inside, refried by the taste of it. What strange waters these are where beans grow pre-cooked inside metalware. Good for cooking, though.">>669331
Heading down the opposite hall, you come to a dead-end resembling a laundry station of some sort with a couple of nun ponies doing their best to hang up sheets in limited space. As you approach, you overhear their conversation:
"We may have to ask the abbot about using parts of the great hall. There's not enough space to dry sheets."
"We can't use the great hall, he may want to hold a mass for the storm. Maybe the sheets could go without cleaning until after the storm clears."
"There's more muddy laundry than ever, though."
Hmmm, I was having a conversation with Chivalry Belle earlier I recall?
I'll think to myself that it's probably canned for storage.
"Well, it's certainly better than nothing."
Look towards the mouth of the cave.
"Still, you'd have thought the storm would have blown itself out by now."
Knock on the door.
"Sorry? Am I interrupting?"
The prench can all lick my asshole for all I care.
Now, wait those two days out in relative peace if I can!
"On land, aye, but so close to the sea, it's not so surprising. And storms be gettin longer these days.">>669338
"No, sister, do you need fresh linens?">>669339
You idle about the estate. HP and Who go first. Then, Lilly takes off with George and that weirdo, Sitar. Lacy takes a ship home, though Friesian stays. Soon after, Selena moves on, too. With the weekend over, you see little of Mystery - going about her schoolwork. The house grows increasingly empty and quiet. There are the slaves, of course, but they spend little time inside. You feel a bit like an outsider at meals - the Belles are very formal, and Grey seems to fit right in with them. Light Heart's adopted daughter… she grew up to be a dentist.
Two days seem to stretch on forever, but soon, you get a reply. Frisian offhandedly mentions to you in the morning at breakfast:
"And by the way - I got that letter back. There's nopony on the books officially under the name you mentioned, although they wouldn't be, according to my friend. These portal mages - very unofficial stuff, it seems. But he said you're sure to find a lead - and likely your stallion - in Canterlot at the Royal Academy of Magic. There should be a military corps wing - ask for Bill, he said."
"So no troop movements, huh… well, fucking hopefully at least.
Thanks for the info, old fart. As much as I want to stay here and finally die of boredom, I better set out early if I want to make good time to Canterlot."
Click my tongue and wink at him.
"Goodbye, old geezer. Don't die just yet, will you?"
Shake my head.
"No, I'm looking for Lord Wind. You see I'm part of her retinue, and we need to contact her posthaste."
He shrugs. "I've made my way in the world without regrets. I certainly am not dwelling on leaving it."
Don't forget your [name]. Charter a ship for Equestrian soil?>>669344
"Wind… the visiting inquisitor. She asked to have urgent communication forwarded to the archives. I'd check there."
Oh whoops, sorry.
Yes, ship it is.
I'm rather sure a fancy cruise ship is out of my bounds when it comes to money, not to mention they take fucking forever to get anywhere.
"I wonder why?"
Look at the fire for a bit, and then try a bite of those beans, assuming there's enough to go around.
"Thank you immensely. Blessings upon you."
Off I go, let's grab Stricture and go!
I will look for Chivalry then!
Yes, and travel across the Manesian is something of a pain recently with all the storms. To make matters worse, you're cutting across the sea, which means you're not benefiting from trade winds. It'll be a three day voyage. It's technically possible to fly it in two, but barely anyone attempts it. Mailponies, sometimes, but they know special routes.
Anything else to take care of before the ride?>>669349
There are, but you'll have to wrestle with a can first.
Stricture you reconvene with returning from the opposite hall, who had no luck, and with that, you make for the archives. They're back at the old abbey, underground. At least you'll be insulated from the terrible weather - trudging back across the rain and wind AGAIN is not thrilling.
Well, maybe thrilling, but not pleasant.>>669354
You're talking to him! He said:
"Guards? For what purpose?"
It's okay, I have an excuse to ride piggyback on Stricture's coat!
I thought that was Aria!
"Oh heh, it seems we might have run into a little trouble with the law. No big deal but I don't want to bring any trouble to your house…"
Scunch a bit.
Well, I've still got my knife, right? So I can use that to puncture the lid, hypothetically.
Fuck flying across the sea on my own though.
I got my guns and my stuff, most of the people I know are already gone…
Let's just hit the road.
Or sea, rather.
You head over to the old abbey and, wiping your hooves, head downstairs to the archive. The door, normally locked, opens at Stricture's touch. Lord Wind is sitting at a desk inside with a couple books open on law and theology, looking a little tired. In addition, she has several letters and records sprawled out on the table as well. The storm doesn't seem to have touched her, though - mane flowing and pristine as ever.
"Ah, I thought the two of you were making preparations with the fleet. By the sound of it, the storm is still going, though."
"Yes, Lord Wind.">>669358
You j-jam it in. Beans splatter your knife.
You consider licking the knife like a barbarian but decide against it.>>669360
Across the sea it is, then. How quickly a week whiles away. From there, it's up one of the great rivers of Equestria - as they say, all streams lead to Canterlot. First by riverboat, then by carriage - in all, another three days. Thus, it was on the eighth day since the letter was sent that you caught a glimpse of Canterlot on the horizon - its great ivory towers peering majestically from the mountainside. With a six day trip back, you better wrap up your business here in at least sixteen days. Still, two weeks - if this Bran is in or near the capital, it should be enough.
He furrows his brow a bit. "With the Fraternal Order?"
Now two more holes, to make a triangle cut out.
The gash you leave in the top of the can is sharp and uninviting, but it is a portal nonetheless to the salty bounty within.
"The Fraternal Order? I do not think so, the problem in question did not occur in Dixie but in Dust…"
Sigh, and look wistfully at the fire. What I wouldn't give for a decent pot and proper utensils!
Are there empty cans around? If so, cut one in half to use as a bowl.
I fucking hope so or I will find him and shoot him in the fucking leg for leaving early.
I'll have to find my way to the Royal Magic Academy now then.
He scoffs in surprise and relief. "There is no law in Dust but that which the Confederation can impose, but those quarrelsome ruffians reject civilized rule. In any case, they aren't the sort to press charges. A bar fight with the girls, was it? Or some miscommunication, maybe? Those sorts aren't the kind to sue for recompense - I would stay out of any dark alleys in the town for a while, though.">>669366
There are a few, but you run into the same jagged problem when you produce your 'bowl'.>>669367
Famously, Canterlot has two gates. The narrow gate, which leads through the mountain pass near the falls, leads directly into the upper city and high society – which you are likely to find the academy in. According to legend, only the righteous can pass through the narrow gate, though whether or not it's actually magic, you are unsure.
The wide gate, which follows the great road up the foot of the mountain and accesses the lower city and the many markets and tax firms, is said to allow anyone to pass. So that just tells you how Equestrians look upon merchants and tax assessors.
Well, it's not like I'm going to be biting down on it. I'll pour some of my beans into it, and ration it out over time.
"Oh." Wipe the sweat of my brow "And here I was worried. I will take your advice to heart, my girls aren't the type to go into dark alleys anyway."
Fuck it, I might as well try and surprise myself, right?
I'm sure it can't be that big of a deal if I can fly.
…I wonder why I can't just fly in.
Anyway, head to the narrow gate.
But bringing it to your lips risks a sting.>>669370
He raises a brow, but says nothing.
After a moment of dead silence, he changes the subject. "I take it you had planned to just stop by for a day or two, and then be off to… Witherloo, was it? Or the Oddomane lands?">>669371
You could fly in if you like. There are patrols, but surely ponies fly in all the time, right? Or will you go to the Narrow Gate?
I'll try the narrow gate first.
If it doesn't let me in, I'll just fly in.
And that's where seapony ingenuity comes in! Holding the "bowl" about an inch from my mouth, I'll tip it back and let it pour into my mouth a bit at a time.
Aaaaa! What am I doing! Quick, fix this!
"Yes, Witherloo first" I answer quickly. "After that to the Oddomane lands. I wish I could help more with your situation though."
Alighting in the mountain pass, you arrive at the narrow gate. The word "narrow" seems to be relative, as the gate is still about ten feet wide, which is plenty for ponies going both ways, and even the occasional carriage. There are guards, but they aren't really checking ponies over. Most of the ponies headed in look pretty rich, and the rest don't look poor - but nobody's getting thrown out or running into invisible walls. Go for it?>>669374
You fit right in with the pirates, and earn yourself a bean sauce beard with your efforts.>>669375
"I see. Well, let me know if you need help with travel arrangements, or if you're looking for something in the city. The house has already begun to quiet down, I believe fairly soon most of the guests will be parted for the month."
Well, there's little reason to be ladylike at a time like this. I'll duck into the rain for a moment to wash off, and shake off the water before coming back to the fire.
Yeah, just flutter right past in there.
"I could use some help with travel arrangements. I'm not that good with maps…"
Even a moment in the torrent outside is enough to send a chill through your bones and remind you why everyone is huddled around the fire. It's easy to forget when you're chowing on warm food and there's a friendly blaze at your side, but the cave is a forbidding sort of cold, especially at the mouth.>>669378
You cross the threshold without problems, proving indisputably that it was just bullshit. In any case, you can see up the boulevard that leads to the great palace grounds and keep. This street is lined with mansions, though. Big fancy structures with towers that jut up into the sky. Now… where would they put an academy? Roll dice to search.
"At the docks, you can charter a direct ride straight to Witherloo. Although it's a pity - actually, the currents of the sea make it almost as fast to go by way of the Oddomanes. The trade winds and currents of the Manesian run counterclockwise, you know."
"Counterclockwise…wait, are you saying that it would be quicker to go to the Oddomanes first and then to Witherloo because of the currents?"
I hope Kotone and her friends are alright.
…I hope I remembered to take off my clothes before jumping in the rain.
Should have known!
All these rumors are usually bullshit.
Keen sensesRoll #1 4 = 4
"Yes, you'll be headed straight against the currents when you travel from Equestria to the Diametric Shore."
"I wasn't awere of that, I should really discuss this with my daughters.
May I ask if…this will sound a bit silly, but is there a spa in town? I promised Aira I would take her to one once we were safe."
You wander down one long boulevard, chasing after what looks like an academy, only to realize upon approach that it was the Paladin Academy. Some young punk and his yandere waifu scoff at you! Clearly they have a lot more interesting stuff going on in their lives right now than you.
Better try again.>>669387
"Oh, several. Try mainstreet. I can't say I have any recommendations myself, but perhaps you should ask my wife."
Sugoooooi desu ne!
"There might be complications."What did we have to tell her? I forgot, been too long.
"I shall do so!" Go look for the wife.
Fucking academies, I never went to them, can't tell them apart.
'1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
You speculated on updating Wind on your theories about a possible shaman and the Highlord's response. There's also the kiss. And in general, you're her retainers, so it was probably wise to check in anyway.
"The storm might be not natural in… Nature."
"Maeda suspected that the storm may be generated by a shaman for the purposes of covering an escape - there is some corroborating evidence. The unusual wood. The tamed seamonster. We discussed the matter with the high command, Dawning Sun said he would look into the matter."
"Is that all?"
"The storm hasn't let up. And they already have a specialist team tracking the sorcerer, so there's no need for us."
"Else? Oh, we learned that there was a witness to the attack on Bright Harbor, but he's infatuated with his captors. Some psychological thing. They won't let us see him, but maybe you could convince the Highlord otherwise. We could possibly gather valuable information."
"Is that all?"
"And… I kissed Maeda!" He blurts in exasperation, clearly grasping for something else to report.
Lord Wind finally glances up. Her eyes look very tired. She looks between the two of you. "And?"
Clearly caught offguard by this response, Stricture doesn't know what to say.>>669392
Chivalry's wife is on the upper balcony outside. The weather is mild today, so she is reclining, reading a book. A slave attends her with a pitcher of lemonade.>>669393
You wander around a while and find another big building. This one is highly vertical like the spires, but it isn't round. It's all boxy and blocky. Don't they know anything about following a theme?
Looks like it's for some company. Anyway, it's not an academy.
I-is it a unicorn?
"Hello! What a pleasant home you have!"
You don't wear much when you're not enjoying a formal occasion. After all, it impedes swimming, and you are technically still extracting from a stealth mission.
It's not too weird in this era to be a nude pone, unless you're upper class. You suppose you technically are a royal now, though.
"And I liked it."
What a dumb building.
I can totally find the other dumb building too!
'1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
Still, wearing soggy things isn't a pleasant experience, especially if you could end up getting a cold. Be sure to wring out anything I was wearing before going back to the others.
…Might want to scrounge around that building Kotone and the others were, since they're not there anymore. There might be supplies we could use.
His wife is an earth pony, but the slave, like all others in the Confederation, is a unicorn.
She looks up from her book. "Yes, the interior at least. Sorry, I don't mean to be impolite, but my husband handles these… mercenary contracts, you'll have to take up payment with him.">>669401
She exhaustedly looks between the two of you again. "Well, that's fine. Is that all there is to report?"
The rigid tension in Stricture deflates like a balloon.>>669403
FINALLY, you come across the schoolgrounds for the
ROYAL ACADEMY OF MAGIC
Witchcraft, Hedge Wizardry, Charms, Enchanting, Shamanry, Inscription, Spellwrighty, & Arcane Research
Est. 8 AN
The schoolgrounds are so large that they get their own terrace, looming out over the great valley below. Consisting of four main towers which surround a quad, and are themselves surrounded by a series of gardens, the academy grounds appear to be shielded by a faint aura of light. The front gate is not flanked by guards, but is clearly magical in nature. Carved of rosewood with zebrawood inlays, it shifts autonomously, like multi-piece tactile puzzle making an effort to solve itself.>>669404
You poke around inside. It's basically a small cabin - there are a few cots here, more of the cabinets like on the other side, and a wardrobe. Looks like the kind of break room miners would come to between shifts.
Nod, incredibly red in face!
"Yes Lord Wind!"
"Oh heh, I'm sorry. I was actually looking for a spa in town to take my daughter to and your husband said you might have a recommendation for us?"
Fancy as fuck.
But I got all the magic I will never need with my gun.
Try to enter through this barrier.
Well, let's dig out everything we can. Pile up anything that might be useful, or is just interesting.
She tiredly rubs at her eyes. "I don't need further attending today, you may retire for the evening."
"Lord Wind, it's morning. Have you been to sleep yet?"
"Morning already? Just the same, take the day. I need to do some more research."
"I think I should escort you back to your chambers to rest."
"No… have some coffee sent down. I'll rest in a few hours. I need to finish."
Stricture glances to you.>>669410
She appraises you for a moment.
"Green Sea, on Third. They can deal with those crow's eyes of yours and get you some beautifying cream to help direct attention away from your abnormally large snout.">>669411
The faint aura around the school is like a tensile cloth, and bends inward slightly, but doesn't allow passage.>>669414
The cabinets seem pretty scavenged over, but there are some heavy mining jackets in the wardrobe, and weird masks. Must be for the cold.
I'm just as worried!
Take a step forth.
"Lord Wind, if you will not take our council at least take our help."
Lord Wind waves you off. "This is time-sensitive and too confidential to allow anypony else to work on. I'll get some rest in a few hours. Now, leave me to finish this work."
My ears flap on their own!
I immediately turn around and trot away.
Without saying thanks!
The nerve! I'm happy I won't stay here long! Now I know why Light Heart went away from here!
Go look for Aira, still peeved.
I'm just imagining that smug look on her face, while sipping lemonade from that unicorn. She must be feeling really smug about herself. Oh I wish I could show her!
Weird masks? Like, what kind of weird?
Is there like a reception?
Take a step back and motion Stricture to follow me, we need to talk.
Head for the… Wherever it is we order coffee.
"We can't leave her alone like that."
Aira went back to her room for a nap after breakfast. What a lazy ponoe!>>669425
Just the mysterious gate. What a fucking weirdhouse. How do new apprentices or whatever get in? This is garbage.>>669426
Stricture nods uncertainly. "Still, it sounded important. Lord Wind doesn't get worked up over nothing… Maybe we give her until lunch, and check back. If she's still here, we can help her move her materials to her room."
They're big and thick, and have leather straps to stay on. The front is all heavy and has some kind of mechanism on it. The eye holes are like windows - glass lenses.
"What do you suggest, just leaving her be? It seems… Dangerous."
Bite my hooves.
Well, I don't want to wake her up…
I'll just sit here and reread the letters I got again while actually brooding on that wife and things I should have told her.
And the gate I cannot pass through?
"Uh… hey, HELLO?"
That is weird. Maybe Davy and dad know what it is? Bring a couple, along with the jackets, back to our side.
Say wf, I'm happy to just skip the spa bs and go ahead to booking the boat
Ew, they're still muddy from the walk over! Even the rug didn't do a good job of absorbing it all.
"Even Lord Wind can't deny sleep forever. If the need becomes urgent, she'll probably retire on her own.">>669432
You don't get much real reading done because you're trying to think of words that rhyme with whore.
After a while, Aria comes in and leaps onto the bed, causing Aira to stir.
"Hey lazy. Going to spend the whole day asleep?"
"The warm weather always makes me feel this way… Yawn.">>669434
The gate… speaks? Or, sound comes out of it.
"What mother dresses her daughter in white, only to have her pried away by the fisherman's son?"
The jackets are pretty heavy, but you manage. You're going to lose your plump noble physique if you keep getting so much workout on these adventures!
Curry shrugs. "Never seen a mask like that before. Maybe it's just a foreign style."
"This brings another question though.
What is she saw that we missed?"
Is this a fucking riddle now?
"Uh… a fucking awful mother, that's who."
Let's just say we got some fun time at the spa. Discussed going to the Oddomane Empire.
Now let's get some booking done!
"Something in the archives. Does this case have a history we don't know about? Or… why would it be confidential, though? Everyone in the city has been rallied to work against this sorcerer, that's the opposite of confidential.">>669440
No reaction. Hm, guess it was wrong. Can you get a hint or something? Shitty door, not everyone is some brainiac great with wordplay and puzzles and shit.>>669441
It's a seven day voyage to the capital of Oddomane lands. In the old days, it was called Clopantinople, but now it is known as Istanbull - named in honor of the Bull Guard, a legion that Sully the Conqueror created from cattle, who took the city for him.
'Knock' on the invisible door by tapping my hoof against it.
"Hey, asshole, give me another. One that isn't fucking retarded. Or just let me in."
"It might have something to do with how this came to be. And if it warrants this amount of secrecy…"
Share a worried look with Stricture.
I'm only wondering how the hell I will get into the Palace!
I should keep the letter from the Oddomane Vizier safe with me, that might be my ticket in.
Book a ship that leaves tomorrow if possible.
I could probably stand to lose a little weight. Have to look good in dresses, don't I?
"Well, it's about the only thing not already picked clean out of the building at the other end of the shaft."
"I hope the rain lets up soon."
It's not invisible, it's made of rosewood and zebrawood!
"To have less than two but more than none. To find the middle of the middle. To use a word when looking for another word. In order, these describe a journeyman's professional style. What is it?">>669445
He shrugs uncertainly. "Well, she doesn't want our help. She would have asked for it. I don't think we should trouble her more by interfering. It may be one of those situations where it's better NOT to know.">>669446
Tomorrow it is meant to be
You'll board the ship and sail the sea!
Anything else before you go?>>669447
"I think we should start planning about what to do if it doesn't let up soon. What if it keeps going for days? A land search could easily check the rest of the Sisters. There's a bridge."
The fact he completely ignored my implications might be just his way to tell me to relax.
Let's get her coffee and make sure she's got a refill per hour at the very least.
"Then. We are stuck."
I would tell Emmy and Lilly that I'm leaving but that doesn't have to be done now.
But I would go around town to see if there's a library or book store! I want to learn a bit about the Oddomane Empire. Like some travel journal or guide if that already exists.
I was thinking of the barrier.
"Uuuh, I don't know… fucking scribes?"
I'll kick a loose rock.
"I should have tried to convince Kotone to let us go with her. She might have known another exit."
"At least the company is nice.">>669455
There isn't much, but there is a travel guide for the city of Istanbull, which is something. It's 20 bits, if you want it.>>669456
Nothing. This is getting infuriating. You didn't travel more than a week to get outsmarted by a hunk of wood.>>669457
"Can you swim underwater during a storm? Seaponies, I mean. I thought it might be calmer by comparison? Just hazarding a guess."
Neat! More than enough. I'll buy it and read it once I'm back in the manor.
I'll probably bug Aira and Aria about some details as I read.
But what I as a player am most interested in is if it gives some tips for proper etiquette and for new travelers there.
"Yes. Nice. You are nice."
Look away, incredibly embarrassed by that admission.
"I-is there like, something we are supposed to do now?"
"That depends entirely on how the currents are running, but… maybe?"
Grimace a little.
"Visibility's probably not going to be great, though it can't be worse than being on the surface."
Bang on the door.
"Are you pretentious little cocksucking mages going to just fucking sit inside there sitting into blunt objects or are you going to fucking let me in already?"
It would seem that the Outer Wards, which include the marketplace and docks, are under looser jurisdiction and no special etiquette is required, but unmarried ponies are not allowed into temples or sacred sites. There also seem to be some fairly restrictive fashion laws about what is considered grossly offensive. Istanbull, like the rest of the empire, follows Lilt Law, which is based off the teachings of Messanic Love. They take their relationships very seriously, so it fills you with a certain degree of caution knowing you're taking your bastards to go see their deadbeat dad (if he's alive) you never officially married. And neither of them are married either.>>669462
He glances at the door, obviously not eager to get back into the storm. "Well, there's no reason we can't wait here. Unless you want to get back to the room, or you wanted a chance to look through the library or something.">>669464
"You wanted to send out your scouts, right? We're still not far from Bright Harbor - just one island over. Maybe they could see what the situation is with your ship, and any search parties.">>669466
You narrowly snatch your hoof back from the puzzle door, which in its constantly moving state (not unlike gears you saw in the cloud factories of Anneiv), nearly swallows your appendage. Eugh.
No response though. Damn door!Kotone
After what seems like a short eternity, the cart slowly begins slowing. Hopefully you're near your destination.
All this wheels-on-rails bit reminds you of all the excitement surrounding that "train" concept being worked on in the Confederation.
Shake my head.
"No silly. I meant, now that we are…"
Point quickly between the two of us with a hoof, as if to explain the idea better!
Heheh. What a nice place…
Restrictive fashion laws what's this?
"The storm would give them cover, but…"
"Isn't it kind of dangerous? Even for a seapony? I'd have to ask them, at least."
Trains.. I should go see those sometime, that would be something!
"Oh… oh! Uh… I don't know. I mean, I didn't even mean to say it to Lord Wind like that… It just came out."
He rubs his neck. "Looking back, it should've been obvious she was just tired and not really expecting something in particular.">>669550
No clothing that would lead ponies into sexual temptation is allowed. Abstinence until marriage is very important to them! This applies to both sexes, and the most fervent of the faithful wear sheets over their whole bodies until they get married.
There's a certain degree of romanticism in the fact that they get married without seeing the body of the person they're marrying.>>669551
He shrugs. "That's what I was asking you. I mean, I'm not an expert on seaponies. The only one I really knew was your mother, and she's… special.">>669553
The cart bumps to a halt, sending most of the tiny ponies tumbling, but nobody gets crushed. Though it's hard to make out anything other than the big pony looming over you, disembarking, from your position.
"It's worth a shot, and I'm sure they'd like it better than just sitting around stewing for a few days. I'll go ask and see if there are any volunteers. Anyone else who wants to go can be on food duty, so we don't have to choke down those beans."
Still…I should be careful. Maybe not a sheet, but I should buy travel cloacks for all of us!. Might be even good for the coat since it must be so hot there…
Put the book down. Now I have to leave Dixie to go hunt that stupid stallion down. If he's still alive I'll give him a piece of my mind!
"That's done now, and I'm glad we came clear with her."
Smile, warmly and wholeheartedly.
"Can't investigate. Can't leave town. Can't assist Lord Wind. Can't practice in the rain.
We might just have the day off."
"Fine. Give me another fucking one. There's unlimited tries, right?"
Nothing to be worried about, just wait my turn and help the executives stand up
"The beans aren't so bad. I've made do with worse. I've been thinking the cave might have fungus or bats or something, too.">>669557
Ready to go?
Seven day voyage, roll if ready>>669558
"Yeah. I would really like to follow up on your theory about the shaman, but the more I think about it, the more I think we'd probably get in the way of specialists who have spent their whole lives learning to skulk.">>669560
"When I was young I was a smoker, but soon I burned brighter than my peers. I grew taller and taller as I devoured each challenge that came my way. I only realized in the end that I was being fed my successes. With my benefactor gone, I shrank away, and died in ignominy. What am I?">>669562
Big pone shovels you out along with a bunch of other ponies – they're ready to size up again. Roll fortune.
'1d10'Roll #1 6 = 6
"Well then. Should we be off to pray?"
"That are fit to eat, though? It used to be a mine, after all. Who knows what's in here."
I'll shudder a bit.
"And really, I'd rather not resort to bats and fungus just yet."
It's off to ask the seaponies for volunteers. Or if they think going out in this weather is even a good idea.
Buy the cloaks and I go!
'1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
The door churns a bit and finally completes: "A camp
fire." before opening in a way that is so difficult to understand you don't bother looking too closely.
At least it wasn't too picky.>>669574>>669572
What kind of quality were you looking for?>>669569
"No reason we can't do it here, unless you wanted to find a confessor, too.">>669568
You manage to distribute the potions before a nearby rat takes interest in your party. The sizing-up ponies scare it off, which narrowly avoids disaster (not that you would tell them that). Whew. That could've been really bad.
"Nothing to confess.
Not anything I couldn't say to you!"
I worry far too much for a breezy of my talents.
"So, shall we head back to the offices?"
"Hey! I got by on bats and fungus for years. Don't knock it 'til you've had to live on dead grass."
Your party seems rather small at twelve, but that's everyone you've got. They've formed their own circle around a separate campfire, and only four of them are actually seaponies.
"Same fucking thing, really."
Well, let's chat them up.
"So, my father's reminded me that this storm would provide excellent cover to take a look at Bright Harbor and check on the ship. And maybe Cumin,too, if he's not too securely locked down. I know that storms above-water don't really bother us too much, provided we're deep enough, but I wanted to ask if there were any volunteers to do this."
Regular I suppose. It should be good material that's light. But it shouldn't draw attention. Just regular brown cloaks.
Like the Jedi!
"I'll remember that.">>669578
"It will be a jaunt through the rain, but we will be able to get back with relative swiftness from this position.
On the inside, you see that the once-empty gardens are now filled with students and fauna. It seems the barrier outside occluded the view of certain things within, like ponies. In any case, the towers certainly seem larger from at their foot.>>669581
There are no immediate volunteers from among the four. They all look fairly tired in the first place.
Being a leader is hard.>>669583
Supposedly there was an order of mercenary spellswords who served under a Master Jed One-Eye, and had his missing eye tattooed on their shoulders as part of their ritual. Known as the Jed-Eye Knights, they wore long flowing robes and cloaks! Even though these would only be sensible wear in a desert…
Cheap, practical brown robes are inexpensive, and you can get three for 45 bits.
How good for them, fancy whores.
Find that reception.
Well Maeda isn't exactly gonna take any first steps. If you have nothing in mind, we can skip to tomorrow.
"Well, I guess that's to be expected. It's been a rough couple of days."
"In that case, who'd like to help me catch something for lunch and dinner? Because, I don't know about you but I'm pretty sure we shouldn't only eat those beans."
Float along after them
You only live once! Time to travel.
You wander up to the foot of the front tower – the front gates thankfully seem to be normal, and you enter. To your left and right are staircases. Beyond each, there are also hallways to the left and right. Finally, directly ahead, there is a great hall - a dining/announcement area.>>669590
You spend the rest of the day inside. After the first hour, Lord Wind returns from the archives and retires to her quarters to rest with a bundle of papers. Little else of interest happens, and you spend the day chatting with Sunrise. This certainly would've been boring if you had run him off.
Talk turns to the old days, fighting techniques, the storm, nearby architecture, thoughts about wars to come, and speculation on Wind's research. By the time you turn in yourself, the day has caught up with you. The dizzying, unrelenting storm muffles thought and dampens any adrenaline, making it easy to drift away into daydreams, and by night, sleep.
In the morning, you wake up to feel a warm body pressed up against yours. The furnace ran out of fuel by night, and your room has become much colder. It seems that at some point, Stricture shifted over in the bed to lay directly adjacent to you. He's very warm.>>669591
There's a pause. You begin to think you're not going to get any help here at all from your own ponies, but finally one speaks up. "Alright. I'll go."
You're more used to having Davy or Irons to put their voice behind your orders. Asking ponies directly is polite, but you're not sure your leadership style inspires confidence. Maybe it's something to work on… Cumin isn't exactly a dashing warlord himself.>>669592
'1d10'Roll #1 4 = 4
Whoops.Day 1 - Confederate Coast
You sail along the coast and encounter little of interest other than long, yawning farms. The Confederacy has been called the "breadbasket of the world" for its enormous farms, and it definitely shows. Your day is otherwise boring except for the appearance of an albatross on the main sail. The superstitious sailors appease it with fish, but it doesn't leave. Probably because they gave it fish.
Is there like an official looking horse here?
Gasp, shoving a hoof into my mouth to silence myself right after!
It's fine like this, we are committed after all.
So move my hooves along his shoulders, hugging him.
You make your way up through the caves to the mouth at the quarry. By the roar of thunder, you know you're nearing the exit, but soon you hear a very DIFFERENT kind of roar. Up ahead, you hear the immistakable roar of a lion! How terrifying! Lions are notoriously dangerous animals - Caballeria has a reputation for all kinds of dangerous critters.>>669602
Not here, but perhaps down one of those halls, or in the Great Hall.
I'll smile brightly anyway.
Now, we'll need something to carry the food in. As for hunting equipment, we can stop by the ship to grab my spear.
Also I should probably inform Davy of my plan. He'd throw a fit if I just up and disappeared.
Lalalala. Read my travel guide on deck and fantasize about different scenarios that might happen in Istanbull
'1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
Hallway or stairs?
He doesn't stir. He must still be asleep. It does raise questions as to whether he just rolled over in his sleep oblivious to your position or if he intentionally positioned himself adjacent to you. You can still enjoy the warmth either way.>>669608
You've got your satchel - you can afford to empty it and let your entourage watch the contents while to use it for the mission. But getting the spear may be an adventure all its own.>>669610Day 2 - Confederate Coast
You passed a great lighthouse today, although the weather was fair, so it was not necessary. The sailors engaged in some ritual involving throwing salt off the side of the vessel.
You got in a fight with Aria after she found out that her fight in Dust didn't even have consequences and she got guilt-tripped for no reason. Like a responsible and obviously-right parent, you argued that whether or not they actually would punish you was irrelevant, and the behavior was reckless, but she stubbornly argued that it only matters what actually happens, and that you were irresponsible to condemn her before finding out if there even would be consequences. To make matters worse, the fighting drove off Aira to go spend the day on her own. What a headache. This was a bad day, and you didn't even find any time to look at your travel guide.
You head down the hallway and it looks like finally you've had some luck. You come out into something like an office area with a bunch of unnecessary potted plants. There are all kinds of nerdy shit baubles here like books and garbage. Some mook at the counter in shades spits out: "Can I help you?"
Kids these days!
More adventures '1d10'Roll #1 9 = 9
Well, it's either that or a pointy stick.
Bah. Pointy stick it is, then, I guess.
Once preparations have been made, I guess we'll start heading for the coast. There's likely not going to be any fish up near the surface, so we'll probably have to dive for them a fair distance.
"Yeah. I'm looking for Bill."
It's fine, isn't it?
Sink my head into his chest. It's not time to wake up yet, is it?
Just hang back until it goes away.
The fucking prude slag at the desk - her hair pulled back in a knot like some bitch is constantly pulling on it - gives you a dumb look and says: "You're going to have to be more specific."
The kind of tone she uses makes it sound like she thinks she has better things to do. Yeah, you've got better things to do too, like shoving a dildo up her stupid-ass tight-wound cunt.>>669621
Maybe? The ways of love are elusive to you. Is there a book on it in the library? Was there a class on it at the academy you never had a chance to attend? Is it something you have to learn as you go? Are you supposed to learn it from your parents?
The storm is definitely still going, and it's dark through the windows - the heavy rain makes it hard to judge the time of day.>>669619
Crossing the shore is a perilous task - there is scarcely a beach on this side of the island, and the rocks threaten you with every wave. A slip could mean impalement. When you finally pierce the waves and break free of the undertoe, it's relatively serene compared to the chaos and noise you traveled through to arrive.>>669617Day 3 - Swamps of Darrow
The water, which was a pleasant blue near Dixie, has by now turned to a disgusting brownish grey. The land is no longer the gentle emerald of grass and farmland, but the mucky brown tones of waterlogged mud for miles. You briefly stop in the swamp town of Darrow, and Aria disembarks shortly for supplies. Upon confronting her later, you learn that she was acquiring materials to practice casting molds, an alchemical art you taught her years ago. The subject brings up fond memories and you practice together - it brings you closer together.
You can't see where it is - probably because of the echoing of the cave and the lack of proper lighting. There are flashes with the lightning, but little else other than your party's lanterns. It could be sneaking up on you to pounce, even!
Well, let's get to hunting, then.
'1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
"Oh, yeah, ah shit… uh, where the fuck is the Military corp wing? I need to find that. Could use some fucking signs here, y'know."
Rub him with a cheek. "Stricture?"
Wow such bonding
'1d10'Roll #1 9 = 9
"Let's go back and wait for the lion to move
"You are in the library foyer. The Army Corps is on the opposite side of the entrance hall. Just turn around and walk straight until you get to another desk."
Yeah, you BET she wants to watch you go.>>669633
He inhales sharply at first, but then settles and doesn't brush you off. "Ah… morning.">>669631
You don't get dashed against the stones, but here in the pelagic zone you find little worth having - not even a clam.>>669635Day 4 - Open Seas
Today, you lost sight of land. The sailors had some ritual for the occasion but you didn't watch. Aria and Aira came up with a rudimentary board game with the practice pieces you minted yesterday, and you spend the whole night playing, laughing, and drinking cheap sailing grog. You feel a little closer to your daughters.
"Can you see it? I can't see it from here.
You pull back to the loading area. In the distance, ,every now and then you hear it growl softly, but you can't get a fix on its position.
Time to go deeper, then.
'1d10'Roll #1 4 = 4
"Thanks. Also, just putting this out there, your door is fucking dumb."
Walk in the directions she gave me.
Don't let go.
"You don't mind, right?"
You head deeper and though you spot some darting groupers, you keep being pushed by the current too much to nimbly stab any of them. You feel like your luck is wearing thin, so your time is a little limited now.>>669641
"No… no. This is… good."
He puts his strong legs around you in reciprocation. Although your own muscles are probably more impressive. You usually spar in armor, so this is your first time to really compare. You idly trace your eyes up the contours of his naked leg. It's a little exciting.
"No, but it sounds like its just ahead, so let's stay back here.
'1d10' try to notice if it gets closerRoll #1 9 = 9
Oh boy! '1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
Grumble to myself. I'm not going back empty-hooved!
'1d10'Roll #1 10 = 10
Sounds like somethingI ought to learn about later, as well as testing how quickstone reacts to stuff like rainwater
Later though. For now, let's find the Ram. Even with his strong goat stink it'd be hard for me to track him with smell…
Play with my own back legs, kicking and rubbing against his, eyes caught up in our little game -
Until I realize what I'm looking towards and blush, eyes snapping up as if to apologize to Stricture!
You think that bitch scoffed at you as you left! What a fucking whore. Well, whatever, you have bigger fish to fry.
You head off the other way and find a very different pony at the other end. Some stick-up-the-ass stallion in pseudo-camo parked at a diagonally-placed desk. There are a bunch of propaganda posters around here, and behind him there seems to be a door to the rest of the wing. You're not sure if he's a recruiter or a gate guard or what.>>669643
It doesn't sound like it's approaching, but now that you listen more closely, you think you hear bear sounds too. Oh man… lions and bears. Could this get worse? Only if tigers were introduced.>>669645Day 5 - Open Seas
Today was the most boring day of the voyage. You saw one other trade vessel and that was the full extent of events. You could've slept the whole day, really.
You're about to turn back with a great stone topples over, shifted by the storm, and smashes open a hunk of coral. Inside, several small fish, an eel, and an anemone float out, paralyzed by the impact.
No news, good news. I learned that during privateering. '1d10'Roll #1 4 = 4
/ Roll #2 2 = 2
"Hey. I'm looking for Bill. Know anything?"
Kebab them while I can, and take that as my haul.
Though, I'll leave the anemone.
What, that's not right. A lion and a bear wouldn't share a cave.
'1d10' look around for an illusionRoll #1 9 = 9
You don't need any fancy sniffing today, the mud has left distinct tracks inland. Following them, you push through dense foliage to an old ruined stone building. Its features have been worn away with time, and half of the building is missing, so you can wander in a vanished wall. MacMeal is inside, sheltering from the storm, with his compatriot. Together, they are watching the storm, and greet you as you arrive.
"Though you'd stay on the ship, Skipper. Things are lookin' a bit bleak.">>669649
Your sudden movement necessarily forces him away, as he had buried his face in your mane. He seems a little embarrassed himself. "Sorry. Your hair smells nice. I don't know how… we don't have anything but basic soap here."
Shake my head, still blushing.
"I'm sorry for looking down like that! I didn't mean it!"
>>669653>>669652Day 6 - Roads
You pass by the island of Roads. Such a wartorn place - you heard the pirate fleet once encountered a great deal of strife here, before your time. You can see on the side of the mountain, a pack of diamond dogs are at war with tiny ponies - both groups look fairly savage and feral. The dogs are powerful, but the ponies have vast numbers. Eventually the dogs are driven back, forced to retreat and surrender their losses. The pygmies take the corpses of friend and foe for who-knows-why.>>669654
"There are a few Bills in the corps - students. You looking for a student?">>669655
You return to the shore and find your counterpart only recovered a few clams and seaweed. At least it's something.>>669656
You don't spot either one. You don't sense any magic at play, although now that you listen more closely, you hear the sounds of mining picks hitting stone too. Huh?
"Uh… sort of.
I'm looking for somepony special though. Not sure if he is a student or not."
"Oh. Oh! Don't… don't worry about it. It's fine."
You feel a little nudge from below, which you are SO SURE was JUST A KNEE bump and not anything expanding that you immediately resolve to not look.
I never heard any good about this place anyway!
Last roll '1d10'Roll #1 10 = 10
I walk closer to them, hugging myself as I sit down, crosslegged, near them
''I just wanted to wander a bit too. Not very fond of staying on the beached ship. So, what are you doing here, Old Ram Mister?''
"Someone with a light follow me.
Float toward the sound of picks.
"Thank you for your work!"
I'll yell over the storm. Then we'll head back to the cave.
The trips of the devil will it. I shall not look.
"Let's… Let's say our morning prayers, okay?"
"Look, I'd like to help you, but there's more than one Bill here. You're going to need to be more precise. Know any family memberS? Contact information? Second name if they've got one? Dorm? If they're a professor or a student? Military liason even? I can't even really verify they attend here.">>669667
You make excellent time on your last day, and rather than arriving late at night, you arrive at Istanbull around noon.
It has been called The City of World's Desire - great cathedrals and mosques rise on the horizon, and endless little boroughs sprawl out in every direction. Istanbull seems as limitless as the sea from here – and soon, you will be docking.>>669668
"Well, we can't make any progress in the storm skipper, so I figured we may as well make do and see if we can get anything out of this island. Maybe find a village, or some supplies. Or just somethin' worth seein'. Not much other than vegetation 'n' ruination so far, though.">>669669
You press on with an assistant who has a lantern, and soon you encounter a very large bird with vivid turquoise plumage, like a peacock.
It opens its mouth at you menacingly and loudly makes the sounds of a lion's roar and a mining pick hitting stone aggressively.
"Oh! It was just a racket-bird.
The words are lost to the storm like tears in the rain. Still, you regroup inside with a small bounty.
You prepare the food, but it leaves you with little certainty about what else to do today.>>669672
He extricates himself and, after a moment to get settled, heads over to the window. There's no sunlight coming in, but it's the thought that counts.
"I need the one that makes fucking portals into hell, okay?"
Oh dear, it looks beautiful! I thought these Oddomanes were primitive, but this city looks more beautiful then any I've seen so far! Except maybe Canterlot of course.
" I reply with a smile.
"Let's move on now that we know.
Sit by his side and grab his hoof.
This has to be the first time we ever do something like this…
Then start chanting, as Celestia expects of us.
And before going, sneak a kiss on his cheek.
''Well… If there's ruins here, there was civilization at some point.'' Get up and hop in place a bit to warm up ''We just have to keep looking. Some warm food and shelter from this rain would be great''
Well, I can't just sit here. But if the seaponies are tired, then I can't force them to come with me elsewhere, because that might end up with one or more of them in peril. Or I get snagged by that stupid squid. It would be just like a sorcerer to have a little bubble of calm in all of this…
Since underwater isn't such a problem, the undersea boat should be able to get away as soon as we get deep enough. It wouldn't be smooth sailing by any term, but it'd be away from them while they can't follow us. I'm going to need to speak with Davy about this, though I know he'll object.
I'll use today as a rest day for the sea ponies, and then tomorrow we'll make the trip to Bright Harbor to secure our boat. Assuming the storm's still going.
He gives you a sharp look but then leans in. "Fine, you were right to have discretion. Bill isn't here right now, but some of his students are. I can't promise they'll talk to you, but you go down this corridor past my desk and take the third door on the right. Follow the stairs down and when you get down there, you'll know what to do.
Canterlot's great spires speak to an aching to reach for the sky - to mirror the ambitions of their Princess. This city is tall, yes, but not by any intent. It has built up over time as more and more ponies move inside. Wicker seems very popular for windows - and you see vines growing freely throughout the city. Some are blooming with grapes.>>669681
Fearful monsters disproven, you push on out of the cave and make a mad-dash through the rain, finally retiring to the office. It has been a busy day, but you can sleep in your shoebox at last.>>669682
He gives your hoof a little squeeze and you set in for the rituals of the day.>>669684
He taps the walls. "I don't think ponies have lived here in a long time. Maybe on another part of the island, though.">>669685
The storm is relentless. By the time the meager daylight fades, the rain shows no sign of stopping. Another crack of thunder fills the room and your thoughts.
Where's Aira and Aria, they have to see this!
"Shall we go check up on Lord Wind now?"
"Good. Thanks. Also, the door outside is fucking dumb."
Follow his directions. Finally!
Of course I can, and maybe they aren't so mad at me for the whole not-slavery thing.
Sigh. But I can use this time to prepare for the trip. I'll leave the prepared fish for the crew, outline the plan, and make plans to return to this cave if the storm is still going after we either recover the ship or not.
Shrug ''We can't be 100% sure until we see for ourselves, right?… I could go aroud exploring some. I can't focus on reading and some exercise would be good for me''
Already eagerly flapping their wings, as if to take flight straight from the deck without waiting to dock. Your things are still in the cabin, so it would kind of be a pain to be saddled with carrying it all.>>669691
"Yes, I think so.">>669692
He mutters something about you being dumb and you head down the stairs as told. It seems like the directions may have been wrong, though. This looks like an old storage room. No sunlight - but a wall sconce was left burning. One of the tables has a desk bell on it, collecting dust.>>669693
What DO you write for them as your plan outline?>>669695
"Maybe so. We don't have the energy for it. Go on ahead."Pause
It's a mage academy.
Must be some magic shit.
Ring the bell.
''Alright. I'll be back as soon as it starts getting dark, if not, I'm probally in trouble…''
Get up and walk away. , circling around the ruined building and walking ahead
They have to carry something too! Trot over to them!
"Girls, ready to see the City of the World's Desire
Take the seaponies with me to secure ship. We should be able to pilot it with the five of us. Curry and the other Lunites will remain with Davy, and travel with him to New Gettysburg/Aquamarine City. This is assuming that the storm lets up before we return with the ship.
If the ship is drydocked or too well guarded, we'll have to wait until they change shifts. In this weather, visibility is near zero so they won't be able to see us sneak onto the ship and get it going. Once we're in deep enough water, we dive so that the weather doesn't effect its travel speed.
If all goes well, we should be back by tomorrow evening. If it gets too dangerous, or the storm clears up, we'll likely abort the mission and meet them in New Gettysburg.Also I'm going to need those fish ponies' names. Can't just go "hey you" all the time.
You are awakened from your tiny slumber by another crackle of thunder. Rain patters on the huge window that is adjacent to your little box home. Even without getting out of bed, you can see the sky is dark and cloudy. You were supposed to leave at the end of the day yesterday, but you're not sure the weather will even permit leaving today. This will no doubt strain the hospitality of your hosts, so it might be best to keep mostly to yourself. That being said, the choices are yours and yours alone.>>669702
The obvious hitch in this plan is that, of course, since only one of them volunteered to even go on the short excursion of retrieving some fish, it's going to be even harder rallying them to go on a long mission deep into enemy territory that could easily get them killed - morale is at an all time low.
The seaponies in question are Grey Star, Orion, Capricorn, and Cosmic Ray. It's no coincidence that they're all night-sky themed, as all sapient seaponies were awakened by Luna.
That's fine. I'll ease their stress by going out.
Size up for the day and get an umbrella.
'1d10+2' for growthRoll #1 7 + 2 = 9
With Rhanna the Dog and Flapjack the Alpaca
Wait a minute no no no, Flapjack isn't here stop thinking about him!
'1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
Well, it's not like I know what to say here. I mean, I'm not going to force them to follow me, especially since I know I don't really inspire as much confidence as mom does. But I can't operate the boat by myself, and there's probably no way I'm going to be able to spring Cumin from the guard he's undoubtedly under. It's a stupid plan, yes, but not a suicidal one. If things go south, we disappear into the water as seaponies do.
I'll give them tonight to rest and think it over. Anyone who's coming is coming, and everyone who isn't, well, isn't. They can help keep the food stocks up with fish if the storm doesn't let up.
You don't need to roll for that unless you're under pressure (stressed, injured, fighting, showing off, time-limited, etc.)
One look out the window, though, and you know that even with an umbrella you'll be getting wet. This isn't a kimono-wearing stroll through a light morning drizzle, this is a full-on storm, with high-speed winds.>>669743
You cross more dense foliage until you come to a terrible crack in the ground - a great crevice. It's at least four meters across and quite long – and too deep to see the bottom. Rainwater is rushing in from all sides.
Navigating around it will add an 2 adventure rolls (takes more time), or you can try to find a way across.>>669744
By morning, no one has volunteered for the task. For the second time in as many days, you are missing the confident authority of Irons and Davy backing your words. You weren't cut out to be a princess, you wanted to be a baker and maybe a little bit of an adventurer, but you're no good at making ponies do things.
Hmrgh… It's too big for me to try to make a bridge out of a log or something(And not to mention dangerous…)
Let's try getting around it
'1d10'Roll #1 4 = 4
/ Roll #2 9 = 9
Well, I'd been leaning on ponies for too long as it is. Not like I ever really had much presence, either.
But I suppose I have to put my foot down eventually.
If I'm not getting volunteers, then I'm getting conscripts.
"Orion, Capricorn. You two are coming with me. We're going to stop by the ship to gather a few supplies for the trip, and then head out back to Bright Harbor. I would have preferred if you had come willingly, but as it's come to this I'm going to have to start demanding. I know I'm not my mother, and I'll likely never be as respected as her, but that's not going to stop me from trying to do what I'm able. And what I'm able, hopefully, is to recover the ship that we'll be using to ferry supplies and migrants into Aquamarine City. If we don't act now, we'll likely not get the chance since the Celestials will either scuttle it or use it for their own ends."
I'll stand at my full, if diminutive, height. Coriander would probably pull this off better.
"Grey Star, you and Ray will stay with the rest and help supplement food supplies with anything you can catch."
High speed winds?
I'll wait an hour for it to settle down.
Heading around the other side, you are slowed when you cross through deep mud. Roll dexterity to escape from this slough of despond.>>669747
There's a degree of grumbling but no one openly defies you. Still, patience is wearing thin with this mission. The losses you've had so far… you really need to put one in the win column here, to restore their faith.>>669748
It's a lazy way to spend your morning, but you have more than enough to occupy your time. You spend some time admiring previous art pieces you made. This one is still life: an orange. The subtle tones of orange on an orange can only be appreciated by a true citrus enthusiast.
After an hour the storm hasn't let up. Your shamanic instincts tell you that something is definitely up. This storm has been raging for almost a full day at top speed - at these windspeeds, the clouds should've blown far away by now. What gives??>>669749
Lord Wind hasn't returned to the abbey archives, so you check in at her room.
She inquires at the door after you knock, "Yes? Who is it?"
Grumbling's fine. Once this is over, we'll have to at least lay the others to rest in effigy. I had originally hoped this would be a more clandestine affair, with no losses. Funny how plans never work.
But that's enough of that for now. I'll leave the nonessential things here in the care of the others. We've got a fairly long swim ahead of us.
With a worried note in my voice, answer.
"It is us, Lord Wind."
I will go down and bother an assistant.
"Excuse me, could you help me with the weather? Where is it storming? Do you know of a map of it?"
Three ponies… Enough to take on the might of Equestria?
"Oh. Yes… Maeda, I've thought about what you said."
"She sounds better, more awake.
"I think you should go follow up on that lead…"
She opens the door, indeed looking a bit more rested. "I had a thought: what if the sorcerer is not a shaman but you were also correct? There could be a third party making a storm equally inconvenient for all of us. Dawning Sun's information team would have noticed by now if he was channeling a spell this large.">>669753
The assistant cocks her head in confusion. "Map… weather?
You say that like we're going to fight them head on. We're not.
'1d10' adventure.Roll #1 9 = 9
"Do you have weather reports from other areas of Caballeria here?
"A third party? Someone who'd benefit from the defeat of both our forces, and the escaped Nightmare cultists?"
"I couldn't say, Leaf-san. The storm is quite large, though. Our company is only active on this island, but it stretches as far as the eye can see from each coast, so they say. Much of Caballeria is fairly close together, too, although we are near the middle. We get mail though, maybe the mailpony could tell you when they come in - it should be soon.
"I don't know, but it's possible. There are many more factions at work here in Caballeria - the Confederacy are heretics and old enemies, but we're openly hostile to Transcastria. And it's no secret that relations are nonexistent between Canterlot and the UAE. And what of the displaced natives? They have tribal shamans. Or an unrelated group trying to break more prisoners out of Princessland penal colony. Enemies abound here - it was too closed-thinking to assume all our problems are from one source.">>669755
You make excellent time as you enter the sea - and though it is cold, the current is with you. Doubled speed.
" Very well. Do you have a map of the islands that I could borrow?
Hopefully we don't use up all our luck on the way there. '1d10'Roll #1 10 = 10
"It's gonna be a hard work, rounding them all up."
Smile in determination.
"I won't lose a moment, milord.
I'll start compiling a list of all known factions in Caballeria and rank them by threat level, am I dismissed?"
Shiver with anticipation, my whole body ready to spring out and leap for the archives.
"There is one in the meeting room you could look over.
She leads you into the room where those paladins spoke with the executives the other day. It's empty now, but from a wall near the table she produces this map:>>>669760
Luna must be guiding the tides. Already you've covered almost all of the distance in a very short period - saving most of your day. Roll adventure.>>669761
"Be careful, Maeda. Not every threat can be responsible - and the most undeniably dangerous may not be responsible for our current predicament. Perhaps there is another way to conduct this investigation. I understand that with some magic - especially very large spells - there is a sort of magical residue or resonance. I think Bright Harbor may have Mage-Hunter Inquisitors capable of measuring this, even from this distance, if the storm is magical - since it encompasses the entire small continent. My theory is that, by sending these magic specialists to different locations, we could get a measurement of which felt "closer" to the source of the spell. That would point us directly toward our target, and with a limited number of islands, it would make the rest foal's play."
Stricture looks impressed. "Measure in more than one place… right, some will be bound to be closer. That's very clever, Lord. That sort of Magic-Hunting must be very useful to the inquisition, although a spell like this only happens once in a lifetime - if a spell it is indeed."
Would that such miracles continue. '1d10'Roll #1 9 = 9
"Then it's a matter of acquiring the resources and help of our brothers still stationed here.
I will gladly discuss this with the local Lord. He seemed keen to the magical storm theory, just one day ago."
The waves are with you, and you finish your six-hour trip in an astonishing three hours. You get the feeling the rest won't be so easy. Emerging briefly from the surface to get a look at Bright Harbor, you get battered by waves and rain immediately. Bright Harbor… it's an ashen wreck now. Doesn't look like anyone's over there. Although Princessland is more active than usual.>>669765
"I don't think it's worth going to Dawning Sun over. Seek out the Mage-Hunters directly and save the Highlord the trouble of parting with more of his precious time."
"Then, I shall be off."
And indeed off I go.
" Thank you, now could you help me stop the mail pony, I would like them to assist me in mapping out the storm.
Is the ship still nearby? Or did they haul it to Princessland?
'1d10'Roll #1 1 = 1
It may be at the bottom of the bay if you care to check below - or perhaps at Princessland. Either way, it's not just floating here among the wreckage. Roll adventure regardless of where you go.>>669768
"I will send him if he comes.
You sink in the mud up to your weird chest bumps! Oh no, this is bad - it's quickmud! Or quicksand covered in mud!>>669767
"Good luck with your studies Lord Wind. It seems important."
"Yes, it's… something I'd like to look into more soon. I am very confident now. Don't worry - it's nothing to do with this storm or the breakout."
"That actually worries me more, I think – more than one problem, or a problem so pressing that yours takes precedence?"
"I'll share what I can in time - but first, the mission. Go on."
You head out from the residential block below the grand basilica in search of a small farming stead on the northeast side of Princessland that the Inquisitorial Mage-Hunters have taken up as their temporary abode. The thatch roof looks to be holding its own surprisingly well against the constant downpour of rain - good for the hunters within, you suppose. Crossing the field, though, is an exercise in coating yourself in mud, and you're sure that you and Stricture will be bathing again tonight.
"Let's see… mom collected all kinds of trinkets - magic stuff like potions and enchanted objects. Sometimes stuff like that would show up. Maybe Selena could brew a potion like that? She's leaving later today, though, so if you want to ask her, I'd do it soon."
"Don't exactly have the ability to grab hold of her belongings, unfortunately."
"No, I wouldn't expect so. I mean, unless you found the ship's wreckage."
Slide in through the main door, stopping just beyond the frame to take in the insides of the living block.
"So Selena… I'll just have to ask her."
The door isn't locked, and you open it, but an eye-patched pony in light mail hollers at you to close the door as cards go flying from the new gust of wind. Looks like the magehunters are playing poker, or some other card game. There's a roaring fire in the hearth, and no less than six ponies are here – four at the table, one in the kitchen, and another lounging on a bed by the window, watching the storm.>>670265
"Yeah. Although, she seemed in quite a rush to leave… she could already be gone, to be honest. It was actually a big coincidence that we ran into her. She seemed to be worriedly looking out the windows a lot. Eager to move on, I suppose. So - it's just you and that weird stallion?"
I'd have expected them to play chess.
Come in and as soon as Stricture makes it, shut the door.
"Good evening. Maeda and Stricture of the Inquisition."
"George is coming along too."
The storm makes it a struggle, but after a moment of wrestling, a firm shove seals the portal.
"We're looking for some assistance with this storm. We think it's magical in nature."
One of the ponies at the table shrugs. Another starts picking up the cards. The pony at the window nods. "I feel it too. It's thin - but there. Like jam."
From the kitchen: "No jam today. Bulgogi!"
Huh. You haven't had that since you left Neighpon. The Inquisitor in there does look Neighponese, but a clearly Equestrian accent.>>670268
"George? Uh? Which one is he?"
"Hamburgerburgerian. With the mask."
"Oh! Right. Yeah, that is a weird mask, isn't it? I feel like I've seen something like it before though. What's his deal? He's kind of a weirdo too, isn't he?"
Is jam a neighponese only food?
"We need your help to identify the spellcaster. This weather makes any kind of high scale probing too hard."
No, I meant bulgogi.
Jam is more universal.
From the window, a shake of the head. "It's too vague. The spell is being channeled, but from far away. Maybe more than one caster - it's very powerful, whatever it is."
I didn't even know bulgogi was a food.>beef
What would the pony version be?
"Do you think they'd have to be all in the same place while casting the spell?"
Head towards that pony, standing by his bedside.
"He's alright aside from the mask he doesn't seem to want to take off. I don't know what to think of it."
It can be made with tofu, which by the scent of it, this one is.
"It's hard to say. Dixie has some magic-channeling rods they use that let them spread out over a wide range, but I'm not sure that it would work on an island chain like this. I'd say probably so.">>670275
"Huh. So no one else would go with you? Or… he's the one you went to ask first?"
"He's the first, but who else do I have to ask? The maid?"
"Then they could still be triangulated, by a team of magic-sensitive ponies taking readings at various locations throughout the archipelago.
Don't you agree?"
"Maybe Friesian? I guess HP and Who are out of the question, though…">>670278
"Maybe." She glances over at the others. Two seem ready to restart their game at the table, and the other two have made their way toward the kitchen for a sampling of the meal. "Say, have you got the time? With the sun blocked out by the clouds, it's easy to lose track."
"I don't think he's got it in him to go adventuring at this age to be honest."
"It's still morning. Probably eight or nine."
Does this place have a clocktower?
"Maybe you're right. What odd bedfellows for an odd trip…"
She trails off. "Sorry, I guess you came here asking something and I got you distracted with my own questions.">>670281
The grand basilica and old abbey both have belfries, but you haven't heard the chiming of bells except at noon. Maybe the storm is drowning them out, or they don't want the bells to get wet, or the wind would clang them around too much.
"Still a while then. Well, if you can convince a couple more of my compatriots to join us - the elements aren't very friendly today, though."
"Just wanted to know about the waterbreathing thing, is all."
"I shall try."
Those lazy fucks could do with not sitting on their ass as heresy abounds.
Go for the ponies playing cards.
"What's the game?"
"Three card stud. But if those two are taking a break, we might go for something a little more casual. How about war?"
"Okay, I'm up for it."
Stricture observes you, trying to figure out your angle.
"I wouldn't mind joining you. May I?"
Gesture over to a nearby chair.
"Anyway, that's all then I suppose. I'll have to see about finding Selena."
"Sure. You know the rules? It's very simple, no thought involved, really.">>670287
"Right. Good luck on your trip… be safe."
She gives you an awkward hug with her hooves.
"Yes, I think I know how to flip cards.
Say, since it's such a thoughtless game. Why not tell me how things are around here?"
"Business is slow."
Nine beats a seven and a four - going to the eye-patched pony on your left.
"Bright Harbor is, for most ponies, more of a dispatch station than a long-term fortress. Our work involves a lot of counterintelligence against magical spies from the other sovereign states here in the isles."
Hmm… a jack takes a two and a three, not much lost there - this time to the pony on your right. He's a brunette and has a lot of replaced teeth. Silver and iron, mostly.
"What will you be doing next?"
"I talked to Chivalry about setting up a small practice temporarily around here. I could rent out some office space and do some of the more simple procedures. Ponies here seem really interested in dentistry - not like Great Bridle ponies at all."
"Well, good luck to you as well then!"
"Right. Well, it's not forever, so you know, no real loss if I only make back what I put into the rental."
"Crossed paths with that sort. Not the magical kind, just regular spies.
They could use more training, I see how you could say business is slow. Was this all you wanted, when you signed up for this post?"
"I'll uh… hop in for a dental check sometime. Never really had the chance to before."
Give her a toothy grin.
"Well, I can't say you're not in good company. I'm afraid that's the state of most Equestrian ponies. It's kind of an upper-class thing, tooth care.">>670295
The one with the caps gives a bellowing laugh. "You sound like a recruiter. I bet you're shipping off to plan for the crusade right after this, aren't you?"
Hm. You take a double fours with a five. Not much gained there.
"You'll lower the rates for family right?"
"Perhaps. At least I wouldn't have to deal with more rain.
And you? What's the angle of a veteran then?"
"Doesn't cost me anything but time. Well, unless you need crowns or something.">>670299
"I landed on Caballeria with the Fifth Fleet, sixteen years ago. I've been on regular consultation here and Bright Harbor for the whole while - saw the grand basilica built up from the foundations. I'm older than I look - good genes."
King takes queen and jack for the eyepatch pony. "Always with the genes. That science will get you into trouble one day."
"Science is for everyone. Brother Rooster of the Order of the Armillary Sphere tells us that there is much more we can learn about the nature of the light, and therefore Celestia's power."
"Genes, births, inheritance - this is talk of Nature's domain, though."
"Maybe so. Know thy enemy - we are mage hunters, after all."
They're veering off subject.
"Ahem, anyway. I shouldn't lollygag. Going to go find out where Selena went."
You have a look through the house, but when you come to Selena's room, it's already vacated. Oh no - they're not gone already, are they?
"Then help me hunt down some mages, if that's what you are.
Even now, every single hour longer this storm lasts is hurting ponies all over Caballeria. It's not only about Princessland anymore."
You run into Chivalry downstairs. "I believe Selena has already left with her daughters. Things are finally quieting down.">>670304
"I'd say…" He pauses, closing his eyes. "That there's no way it's coming from this island. How do you propose to get to another one?"
"The great bridge is still serviceable, despite the weather."
"Darn. Now I'm really in a pickle. Uncle, how the heck can I dive to the bottom of the sea without drowning if I don't have her potions!"
"Maybe. You think it's on the Little Sister?">>670307
"The bottom of the sea… I don't know. Perhaps contract a dredging vessel?"
Maybe one of your two companions has ideas.
They better, or I'll be falling flat on my flanks from the get-go.
"Guess I'll have to fine a way somehow. Have you seen Sitar? The one without the coat?"
"Yes… he's been staying in the wine cellar. I would be more troubled by this but he doesn't seem to actually be drinking
any of it, so I suppose I can't complain. It's just odd."
"I'm not the one with magic-reading powers.
Might even be on a ship near shore between the islands. Would let them easily cover all of caballeria. It's probably somewhere as central as possible."
"Maybe he likes it dank."
Let's find this dank pony.
"Heartland, maybe. It's neutral ground, near the middle. Be difficult to reach in this weather, though."
He stands up after another sequence. "Fine, I'll help you look. Storm's getting old anyway."
The other pony - the one with the eyepatch - grumbles. "Game's over, I suppose."
"Dank? How… uncivilized."
You head down to the cellar and, sure enough, you hear him before you see him. Sitar is tuning his instrument by a lantern.
Trot over to him.
"There's been a complication."
Smile a thank you at the veteran, standing up with him.
"Surely there will be days to play cards again."
"Oh?" He asks, without looking up from his instrument..>>670316
"Maybe few of them, with Bright Harbor in ruins. There will be a lot of transfers after this storm clears."
"Selena has departed. I didn't get to ask her for help with the whole waterbreathing issue."
"There will be a rebuilding effort, I'm sure. Don't give up on your chair just yet."
Now are we done recruiting, or was that just one?
"And how about you? Are you gonna help as well?"
"It's a non-issue anyway. I didn't plan on personally exhuming any bodies.">>670319
"I suppose I may as well. But if I recall correctly, your plan is to triangulate a position - so you need difference spaces. In that case, I'm calling dibs on this place. I'd rather not get soaked."
He finally looks up at you. His eyes seem sunken in the faint light of this shadowy cellar.
"Did you forget the fly already?"
"I'm sure your help will be invaluable."
Smile without the slightest hint of sarcasm in my voice.
"Would that be all, then? Can I bid you farewell and wait for your report, or will you need my assistance in this?"
The one who lost many teeth speaks up again:
"Triangulation is not an oft-practiced art. For the first thing, most spells aren't channeled long enough for a reasonable effort to be made - so most of us are out of practice. And it's not an exact art, either. It works on sort of a warm-cold system, we get a feel for the strength at a diversity of points and compare notes in a way that may not fully make sense to the uninitiated, via magical impulse. This is a nonverbal measuring system. We can get a rough idea of which direction it is, and maybe guess at distance, but it will take some time. The wider we spread, the more accurate it will be - but that's more time spent slogging through the mud."
"Well… no. But give me a break here, I've got no idea how close you'd need to get to them."
"I'm not asking to know where they have breakfast, but rounding them down within a few cliks would help."
He shakes his head. "You misunderstand. The thing about shipwrecks is that they have plenty of unskilled labor just laying around, waiting to be employed. And if not, we can visit a cemetery instead. I don't like to do my own digging.">>670326
"Like I said - it's an art more than a science."
"Again with the science!"
Let those comments fly.
"I leave the art to the painters then."
Stricture nods at you as you head out into the raging storm once more.
"You were good with those ponies. You seem to have a knack for feeling with others. You must have gotten along swimmingly with those ponies you were adventuring with solo for a while."
"If… you say so. Do you think you could help fish up some of the belongings left behind in the wreckage?"
"It shouldn't be a problem, unless the fish are aggressive."
He stares at you uncannily, and you realize after a moment that this was supposed to be a joke.
"You think so?
Should have seen me talk with Mr DLC then. He spoke a single language. Money."
"In the end it's about what we care for.
DLC cared for money, those hunters care for everypony here even if they don't show it.
And Mrs Selena cared for her daughters.
I wonder if she ever found the other twin…"
"Don't joke about that. You never know what to find in the sea."
"Hm, that's true - I guess knowing the motivation of who you're talking to matters. Do you miss being away from the Church? I suppose you see a lot of different perspectives when you're traveling unofficially.">>670333
His sitar twangs. "Ponies are the worst thing on the sea. I've seen what comes from the depths - it has nothing on us."
Finally, he returns his gaze to the instrument. "Will you be ready to depart soon?"
"Sometimes it hurts. When I was walking with Selena and the others… Some feared me. Some hated me, even.
Most common folks only see the ways we hurt them."
"Uh… sure. I think so yes."
"The curse of emotions is to naturally perceive the negative over the positive. But emotions can have positive sides as well."
It's getting increasingly difficult to carry on the conversation in light of the volume of the rain. With nowhere else to go, Stricture leads on to your cabin, and you're left once again sopping wet with the place to yourselves.
"I guess I'll get a fire started. Unless you don't plan on staying in?">>670336
"Let me know when you are ready."
Hmmm… I guess I just have to say my goodbyes for now although we can just do that offscreen to save time.
Aside from that I think I'm ready to move on here.
"No, I do.
I enjoy watching you start the fire."
Helmet deposited nearby, you can see his faint blush. "Oh? Is it a show, then?"
He hoists a stack of large logs that would be impractical to start a fire with as opposed to the usual kindling.>>670338
Then it's only a matter of picking a direction. Triangle Cove to the south is the most likely to have real substantial information on pirate lore and therefore any leads if Rosemary or Light Heart are alive. On the other hand, if you're betting they're both dead, the wreckage to the north seems like the safer bet.
Opposite directions, and in such distance that it will be a substantial time cost to pick either. North, you'd likely head out by the new "train" that Selena's kids gushed about. Chivalry didn't think highly of that invention, though - regarding it as a fad.
Chuckle the neighponese chuckle, that kind of soft girly chuckle with a hoof in front of your muzzle you do as you sit upright, cross legged, looking coy at someone.
Only thing I'm missing is white face paint.
"If you don't mind."
I doubt my parents are alive. I'll take my bets on the wreckage.
"Not at all."
He playfully pumps the fuel logs a bit before retrieving some more sensible wood for the fire.>>670342
North… will you take the high speed "train" to Dust?
Sure, that sounds sensible. Fad or no, it'll save time.
"I thought you were saying something about the positive sides of emotions, earlier, under the rain."
Help him finish the setup, I had my fun.
The trip by train will cost 25 bits. You've got 340, and your companions will cover their own way.>>670345
The ambiance certainly changes as fire fills the hearth.
"I thought it could go unspoken. I could tell you felt it too. This morning - I felt your heart racing, beating against me."
"I just wanted to ear it again. It's not very logical. I know what I heard and I know what you meant. But hearing it again is… Nice."
Smile a bit.
"Mind if I go first?"
Sure. That all I could mooch off of my uncle?
''Rrrgh…Just what I needed'' Can I try to dig my way out of this?
He glances at the tub. New water hasn't been drawn since last night - its still only morning, after all. "For the tub? We may be back out in it in a few hours depending on how fast they work.">>670348
You did mooch some supplies if I recall correctly.
Kids today have no appreciation of the hardships that entrepreneurs go through to establish their wealth.>>670349
You haven't tried digging since getting this new body and you're a little concerned about your ability to perform, especially in less-than-ideal conditions. You're basically swimming in the stuff right now.
Still, you can TRY.
Better do that as last resource or if I sink any more. I don't want to risk drowning in this
Let's see if these super long arms can reach something I can grab on to
You reach around blindly and grab… something! Roll to see what it is.
'1d10' UuhRoll #1 8 = 8
Ignore that. All this while I thought he was making fire for the tub itself. Instead, just wash my muddiest parts off in the old water. At least clean my hooves.
"Sit there." Tell him, motioning back at the only bed in the room.
Turn around and undo the straps on my heaviest armor plates right away, letting them fall to the floor.
"It's my turn to give you a show."
Take off the rest of my armor. Slowly. Carefully. Moving my body in as sensual a way as I can while I do.
Basically, try to give him a striptease.
'1d10'Roll #1 4 = 4
A vine from a tree! You're saved! As long as you can pull yourself out, anyway. Thank you, long arms! See, it's not all bad.
Having a vine gives you +2 on your attempt to escape.
Yes! Now to pull myself out…
'1d10+2'Roll #1 1 + 2 = 3
Now now, it's not like I've asked him anything before!
You don't really know what you're doing - you know the body is generally a taboo thing outside of lovers, and you know you like looking at his, but this is not exactly your area of expertise.
You loosen your leather straps and ease off your equipment, but you're still coated in mud and sweat and rain. And you're still not fully acquainted with just what sensual means. You have an idea of what it is, but not how to execute - and in fairness, you haven't been to a lot of stripclubs to find out! You end up just removing your armor slowly.
Still, regardless of your ineptitude, your counterpart is equally inexperienced, and the idea
is really more exciting than the show itself. He involuntarily glances away a few times before forcing himself to look again. Fighting against years of muscle memory and reflexive training to avoid
putting mares in an awkward position while undressing - particularly the mare he essentially squired for, and no doubt had to help undress from armor very frequently.>>670356
AAAAAA! The vine snapped!
What a pity you never learned anything about your Diamond Dog religious pantheon - you have noone to pray to as certain death closes in! Digging is your only hope!>>670357
The "train" is a loud, smoky, and terrifying beast made of iron that runs on tracks of the same. It moves with terrifying speed and screeches like demons you know exist. Still, once you're on the inside, things are much more comfortable. Cushioned seats, an otherworldly view out the window, and enough room to spread out in your compartment. Once in a while a food trolley comes by, too. It's almost surreal to move THIS FAST and not expend energy. It's supposedly three times as fast as a ship at full sail.
But on land!
"This is quite something. Seems almost too good to be true."
Gods are lame!
'1d10' dig dig dig plsRoll #1 7 = 7
I have no worry of Wind being in Stricture's mind- He's clearly interested enough in me as is. So all those other thoughts of him and her can go the way they came.
Once I'm done, rear still pointed towards Stricture, I'll turn my head around to gauge his reaction, smiling tentatively.
"Is there any room on that bed?"
Does pony mail even arrive in the storm?
Weeping Sitar almost seems to be hibernating or something - he's been totally unbreakably asleep the whole way - though the trip will take a full twenty four hours, so you're not sure if he can keep it up.
George: "It moves very smoothly, but I have to wonder if it would be smooth if a tortoise walked over the tracks. How do the wheels handle that? I view this machine as what it is - a mechanism, no different than the firing pin on a rifle."
Always the guns with them.>>670361
He nods wordlessly. His front legs are strategically placed in front of him.
You get the involuntary urge to bite your lip. You feel very warm, even though the fire hasn't even started in earnest.
Though all seemed turned against you, you finally claw free - exhausted, and collapse in the rain and mud. Whew… that was close. One more adventure roll to get around the chasm.
Back up into the bed, sitting down and resting against his side, eyes closed and serene smile on my face.
"Well… even if a wheel breaks it looked like it had plenty to spare."
"I will be waiting here.
" I nod at the pony and sit down with the map, I shouldn't write on this one, look for pins or paper to trace over it. '1d10'Roll #1 8 = 8
adventuring on my own ain't easyRoll #1 7 = 7
You feel a strong, warm arm extend around you and draw you close.
Another strokes your mane.>>670366
"I just don't know how this thing would fare if it jumped the track. Seems to have run fine for the first few hours, though.">>670367
It's a meeting room, so that's the one thing you can find in surplus. Automatic success.
A double-plus is that, since you're big-pony sized, you can actually use the damn thing instead of having to wrestle with it like a stripper pole.>>670368
Fortunately the rest of your trip around the chasm is relatively unmolested - you get rained on, but since you were literally already fully coated in mud, that's not saying much.
You arrive at a larger set of ruins. These are quite large, and have a variety of strange imagery. Scales of odd construction seem prevalent. The place seems abandoned, though.
I knew I had a smart plan sizing up for this storm investigation.
Now to trace the map. '1d10'Roll #1 10 = 10
"So this is how it's done…"
Open my eyes and reach around him, snuggling into the pony.
Might as well spend the day like this!
You should consider a career in calligraphy! You get the job done before the assistant even comes back.
"The mail is here, the mailpony seems to be in a hurry, but he has agreed to speak to you.
With that, an Equestrian-looking pony walks in. He gives your transparent wings a confused look.>>670371
You feel the mud squish up between the two of you. Your sheets will definitely leave the launderers asking some questions later on.
Still… the good feeling doesn't stop. It's almost intoxicating. You don't care about the mud.
"Exactly, what could possibly go wrong?"
Not like I wasn't used to being covered in mud…
Let's take a close look at this 'imagery'
'1d10+2' appraiseRoll #1 6 + 2 = 8
"I don't know."
The answer seems sincere. Skip to end of train ride?
These scales have a strange construction, but they are no doubt scales. They almost seem to have a religious sort of reverence about them, but as previously noted, theology isn't your strongsuit.
Equestrian pony huh? Speak to him in a pleasant tone in equestrian.
"Hello! I'm Kotone Leaf. I was wondering if you could help me out, have you been all over the island today?"
I'm not going anywhere then, if it feels this good!
Morning - Dust
After a night's rest, the landscape has been replaced with a desolate desert outside the window. Sitar is still sleeping, George is staring out the window for long stretches.
Soon, another infernal screech, and you can see buildings passing the windows. Dust. Chivalry described this place as almost lawless, but finally under Confederation control.>>670378
"Here and the other Equestrian island - Big Sister. One more stop though, so I'd like to get it out of the way before things worsen.">>670379
You lay there like that, for a while. After a time, Stricture gives you a shy kiss on the cheek. It's chaste, but meaningful.
Nope. But I know some ponies who can help with this…
Let's see if I can find a scale small enough to take with me
"Stricture… Let's practice kissing!"
The statues are too big, but you find a brick small enough to hold and pry it free with your DIGGING CLAWS.>>670382
"Practice? Was that not any good?"
"I see. It will just take a moment of your time. Would you tell me where the storm is? Where it was worst?" I offer him with a grand gesture the laid out pins and pens and the traced map.
Shake my head.
"Not this kind of kiss! You know…"
Blush violently and lower my voice to a whisper.
Now let's see what else I can find in this place. ''HellooOOOooOOO? Anybody here?!''
Also let's see what this brick is made of '1d10+2'Roll #1 4 + 2 = 6
"I'd say it's not like any storm I've ever seen but that's not really true. I've seen storms like these along the coast in Equestria. It seems to come from all directions."
He waves his hand over the two islands he visited on the map. "All over - and you can't spot an eye of the storm or anything. Not… USUALLY anyway."
He seems thoughtful>>670386
Hmm… White, soft, and porous. It hungrily eats at the rain. Maybe chalk?
No one answers your call. If someone is here, they're not making any overtures.
"Heard this place is a bit on the rough side. Thoughts?"
Grrreat. And I don't have a weapon with me either. Well, I have these claws at least…
I make sure to memorize the letters on the walls as I pass by them and go deeper in the ruins. Who knows what secret is waiting to be found in this place
"All over?" I frown. "Could the eye be out at sea?"
"Oh… But um, I don't really know how. I mean, I haven't met a lot of Prench ponies."
I lift myself up, shaking my head with a giggle.
"It's not kissing a Prench pony!
Watch. Stick your muzzle out!"
"We're only passing through - maybe a meal, and we move on to the coast. Just stick with me. Ponies tend to avoid the mask.">>670390
"No… I went up high, at one point, before lightning forced me down. There was a lighter spot, to the northwest."
He points at the largest island. "I think. But maybe I was seeing things. It was a dangerous flight. Too risky - I shouldn't have been so close.">>670389
You try to memorize the images as best you can.
The ruins themselves are disappointing - not even furniture, and mostly overgrown. These structures may have been abandoned a thousand years ago.>>670392
"I know that! I mean, I haven't seen their style!"
He does as you instruct
"Close your eyes now!"
Tremble with anticipation, lining myself up just right, advancing inch by inch, slowing down as I come right up to his muzzle, breath now short and uneven, right into his face.
Before he has time to question what this means, do it. Place my lips on his!
'1d10'Roll #1 1 = 1
Well that's just super lame
Bleh, I'll stop wasting my time here then, probally just some dumb temple for some stupid imaginary god
I'm leaving with my rock
Write it down as he explains.
"Oh, was it worse up higher? But the same all over the islands?"
"Sure. What's the deal with the mask anyway?"
"I'm glad you were safe." I pat his back.
"Bring him some warm tea
." I order the surely lurking servant.
"Was there any other place where the storm seemed better or worse?"
"That was all. I nearly got hit by a bolt of lightning, so I stopped flying so high after that."
Your tea arrives. In your normal size, you could use this cup like a hot tub. You wonder if the mailpony is weirded out by your insect wings, but he doesn't say anything.
"Well.. if that's all you noticed, that's all you noticed. Stay safe out there when you go."
Sit with my tea unconcerned as ever about what a random pony thinks of me looking at what's near the lighter area of the map.
The mailpony seems eager to get on with his journey. It must take great fortitude to travel whatever the weather.
Northwest… Let's see… that big island, right?
How far away is that?
A two hour voyage in good conditions, but with the storm, it could be more difficult.
Go check the window again, can I still not even get outside?
You can go outside without being pinned to the ground as long as you remain in your big form.
The storm is blindingly thick, but the courier pony can do it, so why can't you? Crossing water in this storm on your wings alone, though, might be tricky… Perhaps a seafaring vessel is in order?
If only that fish pony was around, she'd know just the route to take..
And I don't fly as well as big ponies anyway.
"Where would I even get a boat willing to travel in this? I can't even see in front of my hooves." I comment in frustration trying to sooth my nerves on tea. '1d10' rolling for effectivenessRoll #1 7 = 7
The tea relaxes your mind. Surely this is a problem that you can solve with your magic. You have the ability to grow all kinds of things and the ability to resize anything organic, including yourself. That has to count for something.
Maybe you just need to apply a little ingenuity to this situation…
Maybe I can improve my eyesight enough to see in the storm?
Let's go to my room and try.
'1d10' miracle grow a plant that could improve eyesight?Roll #1 1 = 1
You try to grow some extra-strong carrots, but the resulting tubers seem misshapen… You take an experimental bite and collapse forward onto your bed in shock when you suddenly revert back into tiny form. Oops - looks like you grew some kind of plant that dispels magic instead.
Now you have an additional challenge in crossing to the new island: you either have to wait it out until the plant is out of your system, or figure out a way to cross without needing to be big.
Isn't the storm too bad for a tiny me to even step outside?
Just sleep this off. Wait 2 hours.
It would seem so, but maybe you could find a way around that?
Instead, you opt to just sleep it off. When you wake up, it's lunch time. You get the feeling you should be able to size back up now if you want to.
Okay, I will try it, drink a growing potion, and then another
Roll to limit break
'1d10+2' theme music intensifiesRoll #1 8 + 2 = 10
You brew up a powerful drought and quaff it. Exceeding expeditions, you grow to 4x larger than your normal pony-sized form. It took you years to perfect the recipe to easily size up from your bug-sized body to a size as big as dad, so growing even further by this degree is quite an accomplishment.
You'll have to duck quite a bit to get out of this room, which suddenly feels very small. You carefully avoid crushing your shoebox room as you slide to the other side of the bed.
I will take it slow, make my way outside.
You squeeze out through the front door, only slightly jarring it from the frame. The rain is still oppressive and in-navigable, but you'll surely figure something out.
This is incredible.
Try to fly in it the rain. Maybe its possible now. Just straight up for now.
'1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
You may be much bigger, but your wings are still more built for gliding than flying. (Also that whole square-cube law of physics actually makes flying at a larger size more difficult). Maybe if you were at the top of a really tall structure, you could maintain a glide for two hours? It's much longer than you've ever glided before, but it could work in theory.
You know what. I will just walk to the docks and look for anyone crazy enough to have their ship out. The storm surely can't blow me away when I'm this size.
The Industrial Site doesn't have a formal marina, just a couple of piers. Unfortunately, they're mostly empty right now. One ship chained up, and no crew around. You imagine this is where that catamaran is stored as well.
You could probably make off with the ship, but it's a sailboat and the winds would whip that sail around like crazy – too much for a crew of one to handle. There's so much jungle around here that it would be great if you could just carve out a big canoe, but that would take days to carve a vessel big enough for even a normal pony - well, maybe just one day if you could find a knife suitable to your current large size. On the other hand, carving out a canoe big enough for your breezie form would be really fast and easy, but you don't want to be tossing on those waves as a little bug.
Swimming is a bad idea too, even if I'm this big.
Well, take another look to be sure, it can be hard to miss smaller things. '1d10'Roll #1 8 = 8
You mean it can be hard to see or easy to miss.
You notice a strange glyph
carved in the side of the dock. Its meaning is entirely foreign to you, but perhaps it is in another language?
Actually, it seems to have some of the pictorial symbolism of your native Neighponese, and yet… it's not a character you recognize.
I mean the former, but both are accurate. Feels good to be big for once!
'1d10' lean closer and investigate itRoll #1 8 = 8
Maybe its pointing at something! Follow the top point forward.
It's carved in the side of the pier. The top point is vertical, pointing toward the raining sky.
Do you want to go on top of the pier, under the pier, to the other side of the pier, or abandon this line of thought?
The top of the pier then.
From here, the chained up sailboat is much closer. You can see a Manako Group symbol on the sail, even though it is bound up to protect it from the weather.
Nothing suspicious on the pier, though - definitely no other ships or ponies here.
Uh. take a look under the pier.
'1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
Nothing but sand.
…Actually, one patch of sand doesn't look quite right. Like the grain is… somehow distorted.
Push it away to look under it.
It's a… piece of paper that is carefully painted to look like sand?
Underneath, you see a scraggly, scrappy looking Neighponese pony all in black wearing a mask. Suddenly, he/she leaps to his/her hooves and starts yelling: "Back off foreigner! Or face the wrath of my shuriken!
Oh wow, you're BIG!
PREPARE TO DIASHUU!"
It sounds like a mare. That last bit was in Equestrian.
The way back isn't as difficult now that you know the way, and you regroup at the first outcropping where you originally ran into MacMeal, but he's gone now. Go back to the ship, or look around?>>669704
Aira: "Is it far from here?"
Aria: "Come on Aira, she means this city! Instanbull!"
She points to a great statue that looks out upon the bay - it's a huge, bronze bull with some kind of wreathe on its head.>>670397
He glances out the window.
"It has… sentimental value."
Even for an emotional statement like that, his words are muffled and distorted.
Smile "That's right, Aria! Now, will you girls come help me with my luggage?" Don't wait for an answer and start trotting to my cabin.
"Oh, were you sleeping? I'm sorry.
" I reply and giggle at the idea of being big for her
, while dropping her paper back in place.
'1d10'Roll #1 5 = 5
And Marina was there too.
Returning to the ship, you see the griffon flying circles around the ship with something metal clutched in his claws. You wonder what he's up to.>>671127
Aira joins you in the room to get luggage. "Aira said she'd meet us up ahead!"
I'll wave at 'em
She draws closer, throwing stars drawn. "You've blown my cover… there's now no choice but to attack!
You're hit by a barrage of throwing stars! They clip your side, glancingly
Rogue Ninja [???]
Kotone Leaf [▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓░░]
I guess Aira joins me but Aria doesn't?
It may be at the bottom of the bay if you care to check below - or perhaps at Princessland. Either way, it's not just floating here among the wreckage. Roll adventure regardless of where you go.
Give her a frown and look around to be sure, dodging her throwing stars as best I can.
"There's no one out here but us.
"Roll #1 6 = 6
Yeah, that's right
You wave over the Griffon who lands. You really ought to learn their names…
"Well? I take it MacMeal is back? Where is he?"
Well, they either brought it up to secure Cumin, or sank it. Since we're here, we'll at least give the undersea areas a quick once-over. It was away from the minefield, at least.
adventure '1d10'Roll #1 8 = 8
"Ah, I guess she was just too excited to go to Istanbull…"
Pack as much luggage as I can.
I'll bother with that later
''He isn't here? I thought he was back already''
I turn to the island ''He must still be around the island then…''
You execute a full dodge (reduce damage by 2), but she lands a full blow with another round of stars.
"It has to be this way - defend yourself, or you will die. I am a remorseless ninja, and I will not hesitate to kill you!
Rogue Ninja [???]
Kotone Leaf [▓▓▓▓▓▓▓░░░]
'1d10' earthen grasp to make the sand hold her still.
"As you wish.
"Roll #1 3 = 3
>>671137Bright Depths (Bay)
The ruins of the blown sea mines and sunken vessels liter the depths of this bay. You see the ruins of two ships at least - and something else. Buried in the sand at the bottom of the bay, something is wriggling, shifting the seafloor. A survivor…? That's a long time to go without air though… a sea animal maybe?>>671139
"Hm. I consulted the map, this island is called Ash Ruins. Did you see its namesake?">>671143
She deftly dodges your sand trap!
A glancing barrage of shuriken slash up your legs from long range. What? A ninja with no falloff damage at long range and a fast shuriken attack at close range? That HAS to be overpowered.
Rogue Ninja [???]
Kotone Leaf [▓▓▓▓▓░░░░░]
You're playing with fire… you can't hold out much longer!
Or one of my ponies! Down there, quick!
"So do you sleep with it on as well?"
The two of you pack up your gear - granted, you were traveling light. Soon, the ship docks in the bay. You expected it to be totally alien, but in truth, this part of the city feels
rather familiar. Besides the different sights and sounds - the great domes, the many ponies wearing full body robes with only eye slits - there are still the familiar port activities. Fishermen bringing in the catch. Bartering at the markets. Arguing at the port authority. So many ships from so many different places! You could probably go anywhere in the world from here.
Not everyone is robed, though - in fact, they're the minority here. You even see some horses and zebras - an exceedingly rare sight where you're from.
''Ash… Ruins? Uhh well I might have seen them yeah… What's so special about it? When I got there all I found was a bunch of runes in the walls and this dumb rock for me to research later…''
"Hey, would you mind telling me why you're below a Manako company boat?
" I ask the ninja as I try to grow a thorn bush to stop her. '1d10' miracle growRoll #1 8 = 8
You approach cautiously - but soon you realize it's far too big to be one of your ponies. It's about as long as mast and several times as thick. Sure you want to approach it?>>671146
He doesn't say anything. Without an expression to read, it's hard to say if he's hesitating, or giving you an evil eye, or what.
Then: "Sometimes. It's useful, anyway."
The train screeches, signalling your arrival in Dust.
"I don't know, that's just the name on the map. Anyway, tell Old Ram I have the readings if you see him."
Well, what's on top of it? Maybe it's… maybe it's a whale? Or something that won't eat us?
''The Readings? Of what?''
"I'll never surrender my secrets to one as weak as you!
Your thorns burst up from the ground, slashing at the ninja from all sides. Her shots go wide after being hit.
Rogue Ninja [Major wounding]
Kotone Leaf [▓▓▓▓▓░░░░░]>>671153
"Barometrics. Trying to get a claw on this storm.">>671152
It just seems to be struggling and writhing below the surface of the sand. Probably kicked up by its own struggling.
Put on my travel cloak!
"Wow, Aira, just look at this place!" I say with stars in my eyes.
I open my mouth to reply to that, cutting myself short as the screeching catches my attention.
"This damn thing makes the weirdest noises."
I wish I could talk to animals… At any rate, I don't think it's safe to approach it. I'll check the nearby wrecks to see if either of them are our ship.
"If you were planning on hurting my company, then we really are enemies.
" I frown deeper.
'1d10' try another sand trap.Roll #1 2 = 2
''Barometrics huh… Alright. I'll go look for him, but wouldn't you rather come along? We might find him faster. Plus I almost fell to my death, tripping in that wild jungle when walked alone''
Aira is looking down. "Their cobble shape is weird. It's like bricking but… not really."
Looks like they use hexagonal stones for the groundwork here. Maybe it's just to impress guests, but it's doing its job. It creates a honeycomb effect across the whole port plaza.>>671156
The mask nods. Sitar seems to have stirred from his sleep, too. "One day of travel down… Two more to get to the edge of the Cape. From there, our search begins in earnest."
Probably fortunate that you spotted it ahead of time instead of wandering into it.
Examining the other ships below, you determine that neither of them is your Underseaboat. Both are too large – Celestial ships, yet to be dredged. At least this means your ship may not be broken.>>671158
Another glancing blow - you can't hold on much longer. If only you had someone to back you up at a time like this! Too bad reliable partners are hard to come by in a cruel world such as the one you live in.
Rogue Ninja [Major wounding]
Kotone Leaf [▓▓▓░░░░░░░]>>671159
"I need to stay in case something happens to the ship, remember?"
Damn, if you knew what his job is you might be able to answer that.
"You guys need to do anything here in Dust?"
I look outside, trying to see the sights.
''I'll remember that''
I yawn aaand back to the jungle I go
At least. Let's make way to Princessland, then.
Built on an arid plain out of mostly imported wood and quarried stone, Dust is unimpressive - it's not very large, and seems like a rough neighborhood - a lot of bars on windows. There are Confederate patrols in the town, but where they aren't, it looks like there are gangs of shifty individuals.
"We could stop for lunch, or move on right away.">>671163
I will try to grow poisonous vines to slow her down, she seems surprised by the plants anyway.
'1d10' miracle growRoll #1 2 = 2
'1d10'Roll #1 9 = 9
Adventure. '1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
"It has a nice sound! Clop clop clop." Clop my hooves on the plaza stones happily.
"I'll be honest, this place looks kind of crappy. Are you familiar with it? Know any nice places?"
You glancingly nail the ninja with the poison bush, but one last full blow finishes you off. Deprived of blood, the world becomes hazy and dark. Your head swims… you lose consciousness and your eyes begin to glaze.>>671167On the Trail - Quarry Near
Following Old Ram's familiar prune scent, you move into a clearing of trees. Up ahead, you see an old, decrepit wall that is breaking apart.
The donkey (damn, what's his name? You SUCK at this!) and Old Ram are here, pressed against the wall, looking furtive.
Was dying part of my plan..
I stay down and silent, watching them
>>671168Princessland Exterior - Heavy Guard
On a day with rain this heavy and storms so terrible, you would at least hope that there wouldn't be a heavy guard. It seems that the watchtowers are full, and you see patrols of lanterns at the top and base of the walls. To make matters worse, in addition to the poor visibility, the mud is incredibly weak here, and you sink deep with each step.>>671169
Although the plaza is vibrant and full of life, there's a big line near a huge gate to the rest of the city. Aria waves you over - looks like she has a spot in line, so that helped a bit at least.>>671170
"Not really, we just passed through before. Emrille and I. She seemed to like the town though."
Clop clop clop to her! "Thanks for getting this spot for us!"
Eugh. Well, we can get to the docks, at least, underwater. They shouldn't be able to see us in this weather without some sort of magical support.
"Yeah but she's a weirdo. I'm okay to just head out straight away and eat on the road."
Aria: "What makes you think I'm sharing my spot with you?!"
Aira chuckles in response and you join her in line.>>671173
The donkey carefully peaks over the wall - you can't see what he's looking at, but it's clearly troubling because he ducks back behind it.>>671172
Your head throbs. Your heart pounds. Your breaths are shallow. Where… where are you?
Dead? Is this… the afterlife? You've heard it's a very strange place. All around you seems dark, except for a light in the distance. You hear a lot of white noise - rustling, pouring, crackling. You're still disoriented, so it's hard to get a fix…
I walk to the right, hiding behind the trees to try to see what is around the wall without being seen
I've heard about this! Stay away from that light as much as I can.
Let's wait for our turn.
You get near
the harbor, at least, and find the gates closed. Princessland is, you have to admit, one of the finest cities in the world in terms of architecture. Probably because 98% of its population is doing hard labor as punishment for crimes. And basically the only labor to do in a place like this is to build structures and roads.
So Princessland has a walled harbor. But that doesn't mean it's impenetrable… maybe the stonework doesn't go deep under the sand layer, maybe there's a hole or a pipe somewhere. Or maybe you can slip over the wall, or bust a hole through. Creativity is your ally here.
Lighting crackles over head. Right. You want to get out of the water soon, too.>>671177
"That's fine by me. We might find a meal elsewhere, too."
Sitar points out: "Some of the cacti here are edible. Also, Dust-by-the-Sea."
You can't tell if he's giving a surprised expression, but George remarks in disbelief: "You know about survival tactics?"
Sitar shrugs. "I've been run out of a lot of towns."
"Dust-by-the-Sea? Is that a port?"
Yeah, but if the gate's shut and under heavy guard, then opening it is going to be an almost impossible task, even if I didn't have two unwilling seapony assistants.
Slipping over the wall seems our best bet, though getting up there without the proper tools is going to be difficult to say the least.
The one idea I do have has about a 5% chance of working, at best, if my face isn't well-known to the Celestials at the base. Don't see why it wouldn't be, though, considering my position. There's got to be places that they've put openings to relieve stress on the wall, though. Maybe they didn't grate all of them off? Let's look for those. '1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
Roll stealthy dog>>671180
You're having a tough time moving. Your whole body hurts, really. You thought the afterlife was supposed to be less painful than this, but maybe that's only for natural causes.
Some metal bars come into focus in front of your face. They're not like prison bars or gym bars… they're like… rails of some kind? But vertical, jammed into the ground.
Hey… in front of you, just barely illuminated – if you didn't recognize it, you would never be able to read it, but you can tell from the shape and vague blobs in the flickering light - that's your passport! It has your picture. Do you… need a passport in the afterlife?>>671181
The line moves surprisingly quickly, and soon you are up at the gate.
A series of mustachioed guards in heavy robes look you over. "Names, and purpose for visit."
"A very small one - there's a road out of Dust about an hour to get to the coast, we can get a ship there. Not much besides the marina, though."
You swim around, searching the wall underwater. Near the base, you find a place where the sand has shifted away from the bottom of the wall, leaving a narrow gap where one could swim under.
"I'm Selena Springleaf and these are my 2 daughters. We have been invited here by the Vizier." Show him the last letter I got from the Vizier of Istanbull.
Praise the moon. Time to squeeze in. We'll need to locate the gate house for the harbor gates, and our boat.
Maybe those greek ponies were right about the afterlife having a ferry, and you need ID for it.
Check my body for the two coins I need!
'1d10'Roll #1 10 = 10
Heh, the marina.
"Sounds good to me. Let's head thataway."
The ponies who said "you can't take it with you" must be right. You're totally naked and have been stripped of all gear.
Your eyes are adjusting more to the light - it seems to be more of a fire than a glow. Still… you know that breezies that fly too close to a fire get burned.>>671190
With extreme stealth, you creep along the jungle floor, and - covered in some vines you found, approach from the right. In a clearing, you see something extremely strange.
There appears to be a deranged pony cackling madly. He flings a hoof at a tree, and every branch turns into a snake. What manner of sorcery is this?!>>671193
Yay. '1d10'Roll #1 6 = 6
'1d10'Roll #1 1 = 1
Try calling out. This is usually the part of the story where a guide shows up to escort your soul right?
What the heck… I have never seen magic like that
I keep watching for a bit longer, paying attention to the snake branches and the weird, laughing pony
>>671195Harbor of Hopes - No Alarm
Locating the gatehouses is not a difficult task - they flank the gates to the harbor. Unfortunately, each one seems to have a separate mechanism for the gate. It should be possible to get out by opening just one, but that will make the navigation roll trickier.
As for the ship - there are quite a few here. Like they're amassing some sort of huge vengeance fleet / strike force… or an all out war fleet. In any case, you can rule out about 80% of these right away as being too big. The Underseaboat is very small - no bigger than a sloop, really, but a bit deeper. You'll probably find it over with the sloops and cutters, if you want to check there - assuming it hasn't been moved to a drydock or is out in the field.>>671196
You set out for Dust-by-the-Sea with no delay, but soon you begin to feel exhausted and overheated… You don't want to embarrass yourself in front of the other two, though, so it's a tough choice.
Option A: Press on and roll adventure once. There's a good chance you'll make it and save a LOT of time. Once at Dust-by-the-Sea, you can relax, eat and drink all you like, and you'll be able to rest on the boat for two days straight.
Option B: Delay. Stop and make camp here to recover. Try to scavenge the desert for scant water supplies from the cacti. This will add 3 adventure rolls.>>671197
Now you can see more clearly - you're… probably not dead. You seem to be barred up, still in your enlarged body, in a cave. These bars are too thick for you to squeeze between, and you don't think you can bend them easily. Surely some of your breezie ingenuity can help at a time like this…
You can see your supplies, too - just out of reach. So close, but so far - they might as well be at the center of the world.
Your word draws the attention of the ninja, who looks up to face you, but doesn't stand. She appears to be keeled over near the fire.
"Ko… otone. Heh- you'll be worth so much ransom money…"
She sounds sick, nearly as bad off as you are. Excruciatingly weakened by your bloodloss, but it seems she bandaged you. It would appear that your passport has revealed that you're probably worth a lot of money. Ugh - mom is going to be SO MAD at you for becoming a ransom hostage. Probably better than dying, though.
The pony levitates a chunk of ground free from the soil and promptly changes it into cheddar cheese.
"I'm baaaaaack. Aahhahahahaha!"
I doubt they'd put a somewhat heretical ship straight into use. We'll check the sloops and cutters. Pray that it's there, so we don't have to dredge through the muck to reach drydock.
"I see. Be on your best behavior when you speak to this member of the Resplendent Council. Do you know the way to the palace? Do you have the proper clothes?"
You scan the vessels and don't spot the Underseaboat. Not even below the water. It must have been taken for magical analysis by their antiquarians, or put into use right away. Each opposite sides of the spectrum, and each very bad for you.
"I'm afraid I do not know the way. And I would like to know what would be proper clothes. We come from far away and this city is new to us."
I'm not built for this heat… but damn it, I'm going to press on. Just got to tough this out and keep up with the other two. If they can do it, so can I!Roll #1 10 = 10
"I'm your hostage now? Earlier you were set on killing me..
" I point out with a cough and just lay back on the ground or floor of this cave.
Uggggh. How close to the ground are the docks? Can we muck about under the docks and travel mostly unseen, or are they too close together?
Holy cheese. I need a weapon right no-
Well, let's try to take a good look at 'em. Spot a weakness, since I can't do much without a crossbow right now
'1d10+2' appraiseRoll #1 2 + 2 = 4
"Since you are married it is not necessary to hide your face, but you should cover the rest of your body in this sacred building so as to not tempt the faithful. As your daughters are virgins, they should wear full body robes with only eye holes. However, they may be in whatever style you wish, so long as it is not lewd and offensive to the Messiah. As for directions, since you are a guest of the Grand Vizier himself, I will have two of my most well disciplined subordinates escort you personally. Their honor is not in question.">>671205
You press on through the desert heat, avoiding any potentially embarrassing situations like getting resuscitated by one of these weirdos. Although it might've been a chance to see George without his crazy mask.
Strong and stalwart, you push through and arrive at Dust-by-the-Sea. Sweaty but triumphant, you're all more than ready to enjoy something to eat.
Unfortunately, there are only two eating establishments.Banana BarPear Stand>>671206
"I serve only my personal interests. If you weren't worth more than that hiding spot, I would have jut killed you. Don't think this means I am showing mercy - this is a selfish act.
The ninja keeps laying too, by the fire, clearly too beat to get up.
"Bananas or pears? Seriously?"
"Thank you very much!" Oh boy, Aria is not gonna like this.
"I see, planning to make your boss a lot of money with my ransom then?
" I shiver in cold and pain.
I blame Cumin for all of this. Even if it isn't his fault.
Still, the drydocks need a launch point to get ships back into the water. Let's look for that.
George turns his head toward the desert. "I am assuming the pears are not literally pears, but prickly pears.">>671211
"Do you have suitable clothing, or will you need to visit shops? There are additional shops inside the city once you leave the port. You may wear foreign clothing there so long as you do not enter holy buildings such as the temples, or approach the west wall which has holy significance, or the site of the blessed martyr Hoodoo.">>671208
Class: Adventurer-King / Mad Scientist / Sorceror / Chocolate Expert
Danger level: Maximum
He blows a ring of fire from his mouth, leaps through it, and… doesn't come out the other side. He's… vanished?
Did… Did he really?
Look around. are the snakes and the cheese gone too? Maybe he just went invisible
"I have cloaks to cover our bodies, but we will have to buy something to cover our faces."
Give him a deadpan look.
"I'll go for the bananas then."
These better be good.
"I just said I was working for myself you stupid fool.
There are three possibilities, and you like none of them. One does appear to be a huge ramp that could be used to launch a ship, but it leads to the largest paved boulevard in the entire city as far as you can see. That's not exactly a stealthy way up.
There are also two warehouses that have doors to the water - could be drydocks with some kind of canal mechanism. Coriander had an idea for something like that with your wetdocks, but it never worked out.
The hunk of cheese and snakes were left behind, although most of the snakes have slithered away by now, escaping the oppressive rain.
That cheese doesn't look very tasty covered in mud.
We'll check the warehouses first. Make sure to check through any cracks if there's light inside or voices.
Once things look safer, I leave the hiding place and run to McRam and the donkey ''Mister McRam?''
"Sorry, I must have misheard you through the throbbing inside my head.
" I complain as loud as a breezy can.
"What kind of ninja with your skill doesn't have a clan or employer anyway?
"It is not necessary for a married mare to cover her face, but you may if you wish, as it is popular in some styles. Please return to the gate when you are ready to visit t he palace. You may go into the city now, though."
He hoofs you a set of complicated-looking papers written in Oddomane language. "Keep track of these papers, do not lose them.">>671218
The banana bar is a building - and with the sea breeze blowing in, it's a good way to escape the oppressive heat outside. They seem to have everything from banana bread to banana juice.
The building can probably seat twenty, but only four ponies are here right now - mostly rough looking types from Dust. Plus the one at the bar.
"Thank you very much!" Carefully put those papers away in my saddlebags and walk into the city.
Banana bread and banana juice both sound nice about now. I'll order a portion of both. George and Sitar here too?
The seadoors are closed, and these structures don't appear to have any obvious cracks. Maybe there's a pipe somewhere? Or you could try to force the doors. Or maybe go up and use the land entrance?>>671222
"Oh, Skipper. Didn't see you there. Well, that was a sight, weren't it?">>671223
You just get a mean glare and the ninja rolls over to not look at you.
Bleh. If you were breezie sized, you could just float out between the bars. But right now your whole body just aches. Will the Industrial Site executives even send a search party? Maybe they'll think you went ahead and left, since today was your departure day… but you did leave your things.
''What was that? WHO was that? Did you see what he did to the trees? To the ground?!''
Well, I can glance at the front doors, I guess. It's not like they'd have some poor sap standing guard in this
weather, right? That'd just be cruel.
The demographics have flipped entirely now that you are inside. Fully-robed ponies make up at least half of the population, and most of the remainder appear to be Oddomane, Zebra, or Arabian.
Here, you can see everything from carpets to lamps being sold. No livestock or slaves, though. From here, you can head into the temple district, stockades, city garden, or residential district.>>671226
Both of them joined you. Sitar doesn't take anything but a juice - what a weirdo.
George takes a bunch of bananas straight, and also gets a banana whiskey.
"What do you girls want to do first?"
"Some kind of powerful magi - I've never seen a thing like it."
"We ought to get back to the ship, Old Ram.">>671229
The streets above have the occasional clergypony running to and fro, but no guard sitting right at the door.
Good. It should, hopefully, be dark enough and rainy enough that we won't be seen unless someone is actively looking for us. Motioning to the other two, I'll make my way to the door. Hopefully it isn't locked.
Aira: "This actually may surprise you but… I want to go on and meet this vizier. We're finally here. We've been on the sea for days. I don't want to put it off!"
Aria shrugs. "That's fine with me. I don't really care either way. I thought you'd want that spa, though.">>671233
''He's right. The gryphon guy said he finished his readings. Let's go b-Ah crap… Let's hurry, I had a terrible thought of that guy and what he could do to our ship''
Well, dig in.
"How often do ships leave from here? Is this port even all that active?"
What I'm still huge? That potion must be really strong. But I need to keep her talking.
"Is it still storming out?
"The spa can wait." Take a deep breath. "We're here, we should get to the Palace…." add more cheerily "after we buy a beautiful shawl for our faces!"
please be unlocked please be unlocked please be empty except for my boat and unlocked '1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
"Right - let's get back then."
You head back to the ship and belowdecks to regroup. Fortunately, that mage didn't show up here.>>671237
If it hasn't worn off, that means it's probably still the same day as when you took the potion originally, or at least less than 24 hours…
Hey wait, that's an idea. All you have to do is wait until around noon of the next day and you'll shrink back down to breezie size. You can float right out. If the storm's still really intense, though, it might be impossible to escape without sizing back up. AND the ninja might have recovered by then.
If you had preparation… could you beat her? Maybe if you snuck her poison in her sleep…
You ask if it's still storming, but get no answer. She's still fuming - sore subject? In any case, you think you hear the pounding of rain outside.>>671238
Aira seems excited to pick out some clothing and prances in place a bit.
Aria nods. "Right. Whatever has to be done.">>671239
You try the door. Not locked! Inside…
It's a drydock, but not your ship. Lot of spare wood and carpentry tools. To make matters worse, it appears it's in use. No less than twelve ponies are hard at work repairing a cutter that was likely damaged in the recent fight.
You haven't been noticed, though.
Barkeep: "Twice a day in each direction, about. Pretty active for its size. Not a lot of places you can get a ship to other than Virgin City and Hamburgerburg though."
I'll just leave them to their work. Shut the door, quietly, and head to the other warehouse. By water, since I want to avoid detection for as long as possible.
'1d10'Roll #1 4 = 4
Let's go find the bazaar!
You reach the door. Locked.
Well, that probably means work isn't in progress inside, at least…
I suppose she can't turn me over to anyone while its storming.
"Okay, that rude of me. I'm sorry.
" I apologize to the mare.
I'll look at the others.
"Don't suppose either of you can pick locks?"
''Alright he isn't here…'' I'll head inside and look for the gryphon
You're in it!>>671247
"I just don't understand how naive you are! It must be because you're rich and don't understand the ways of the world. You see a deadly ninja and try to just dodge instead of fighting? You want to apologize and be polite, and have a tea party? At first I thought you weren't taking me seriously because you doubted my might, now I realize it's just because you're totally oblivious!
"I can smash locks."
"We don't have a lot of locks around Aquamarine or the sea floor.">>671249
"Confederate City. Good olives, I understand.">>671250
The Griffon is recording some numbers on a paper at the table in the hold, where all of you regroup.
"The readings are done?"
"Yes. Abnormalities… it ain't right."
"So you think it's.."
"Unnatural. Probably coming from the northeast somewhere."
Look towards my companions.
"Which one should we be going for?"
Think for a moment.
"I know we're not hurting for cover on the sound, but how quietly do you think you can smash the lock? And how quickly?"
Take a look for some fancy mare clothing!
I look for a place to sit
''Magic messing up with the weather?''
"Hamburgerburg. It's north of here."
"We're headed for the Cape of New Seas.">>671253
The seapony hefts his trident.
"Well, I haven't smashed a lot of locks before, but how long could it take? Metal on metal does seem kinda loud though.">>671254
Clothing is in no short supply. Although white seems the most popular color, there are many embroidered with flowers and thread-of-gold.>>671255
"We theorize, anyway. It doesn't match natural readings."
"It wouldn't be the first time."
Try a few, let the twins pick whatever they want. Barter for the price like a good oddomane!
"In that case, when's the next ship leaving for Hamburgerburg? And should we just ask the captain to buy passage?"
''You seen that happen before?''
I'll bite my lip for a moment.
"Let's look for windows or other openings first. Too high a chance of being spotted if we go straight for lock smashing."
I blink in confusion.
"How did you know about the tea party? Were you following me?
They pick out some shawls, but bartering proves difficult, as the stand owner does not speak Equestrian and instead just keeps pointing at a price sign and barking at you in Oddomane! These are a little expensive, too. 20 bits a piece. (You have 442)>>671259
"Weather magic on a much smaller scale - very common in griffon culture.">>671258
"Right. Should be another leaving about four, so in a couple of hours it'll come into port.">>671260
Through the mask the ninja looks annoyed. "I was making fun of you! Of course you actually do it. Was the one you had tea with a bear??
'1d10'Roll #1 10 = 10
Then I'll just pay the price for 3. Including one for myself. Maybe it will come in handy!
"Guess we'll just bunker down for a couple of hours until then."
As luck would have it, there is a side window. Inside, you can see the familiar deck of the Underseaboat!
If that's done we can go back to the gate to get to the Palace.
That's a pretty impressive level of annoyance.
Reply back with a devilish grin. "A seapony actually. A seapony princess.
Oh thank the moon. Since it's locked, there wouldn't be any guards, right?
I'll quickly mention the boat's presence to the other two.
''So… Someone had the bright idea to cause a raging storm for days in Princessland. Great''
This structure looks like it has the foundations of three different buildings, but the centerpiece is the most modern, a huge dome with great columns at its entrance. This place is swarming with Oddomane guards, but the occasional finely-dressed pony strides into the hall through the front door.>>671265
You take a nap to recover from the heat.
Soon, it's time to board the ship. Any last things to do here?>>671268
"I will not be mocked!
The ninja turns back over to face away from you.>>671269
You don't see any inside. Although you are curbside on the street with low visibility - who knows when one could walk up behind you.
The others regroup with you. Glass window… it's not locked, but it'll require some acrobatics to navigate. Your hooves are well adapted for it, but since your two compatriots are fullblood seaponies, they can't climb windows.>>671270
"Probably somegriffon at New Griffonstone on Dandelion Island, if I had to guess."
"Doesn't look like anyone's inside. I'll bust in through the window and unlock the sea door so you two can get in. We'll talk about the next step once we've regrouped. Okay?"
Oh my, I'm actually in a real actual Palace!
Try to walk as elegantly as possible despite the robes '1d10'Roll #1 3 = 3
I've had food and rest, I think I'm good to leave.
" Oh, I see, only the ninja gets to mock ponies.
" I roll my huge eyes and move my face as close as I can to hers.
"You do have a point about me, being naive and all. I guess its partly fae nature, I never felt comfortable with big pony rules.
" I sigh a bit. "You know, I was just thinking I needed a body guard after the week I had. Its not really easy to find somepony reliable who isn't trying to manipulate you..
''Are we going to change course to Griffonstone and kick the gryphon in the butts then? That would be great'' I take off the drenched sheets and shake myself dry
"What if the only way up from the sea level is a ladder?">>671273
Poor gypsy ponoe can't style.
Guards check your papers at the gates and let you in. The audience chamber and entrance hall are one in the same – all under the one giant dome. At the center of it all is a raised dais where, surrounded by bowing supplicants and armed guards, sits the Majordomo of the Oddomane Empire. Wielding incredible political power, he is a member of the Resplendent Council, and handles all lower-class audiences for the Padishah, who styles himself Caliph of the Faithful, himself.>>671274
You board a ship and sail for the north!
Skip 2 days?>>671275
She's over by the fire, so it's still quite far away even smooshing your face against the bars.
"No great warrior would work for someone weak like you. I was already weakened when you found me from fighting, and I still beat you. You have enormous size and no muscle or wisdom. I will be glad to be rid of you for the ransom money.
Looks like you really didn't impress her with that display. Some ponies can only respect a show of force, it seems.
You've never known a clanless ninja before. What drives a mare to leave her clan and become a renegade? Lust for power? Money? Freedom?>>671276
"Going to Dandelion Island may be our only chance. The trip won't be an easy one, but we have to stop this storm or we'll never leave."
MacMeal: "Fine. Everyone, get ready to go. We'll leave in one hour."
Anything else you want to do?