No.673466[Last 50 Posts]
In the garden of the royal palace at Istanbull…
"I thought you said you came because you got mail saying our ship sank?" Aria asks, surprised. You said you came because of that weird letter that said Reptil.
Kotone and Marina
The ship's bell rings from above, freeing poor Cumin from answering any further questions – though Marina no doubt has some serious questions for her father. With such a tiny boat, he has nowhere to hide.
Still, that bell signals docking… Kotone will soon have to make a choice about whether to leave the party for good, but the chance to leave and pick up her room means that she doesn't have to answer any hard questions about whether she was eavesdropping on that VERY private conversation.
You've just learned some serious theological lore surrounding the creation of the world – the well known Mother Nature, and the scarcely mentioned Spirit of Law… this corruption wasn't what you were expecting, but it's certainly raising some questions. On the other hoof, you've had the most exhausting day you've had in a long time.
While you've started to get unpacked to make your cave nook a little more comfy, Sitar went ahead to try to find an elder to get that lead you suggested.
It's just you and George left in the room. He flops open his bedroll and strings up some ropes in the cave.
>"Heh, don't we all look tired though… say, how did Esther do her job while blind? Out of curiosity?"
"Well, as a unicorn, she had some magical talent. I'm afraid I don't know the specifics – I know of how unicorns can read braille at a distance by developing a sense of feeling to their telekinesis, perhaps it's related to that. I understand it is quite an art to master. On the other hand, perhaps there are other ways… The stars are one of our few constants, though, maybe the colts at the Engineering Corps could tell you more about cartography and charts."
Right, I'll let Cumin drape himself in robes and head topside.
Questioning Dad can wait while we restock.
Before crashing, I need some answers.
"But if this is a problem for the heavens, how can mortal ponies like us interfere?"
"Uhm, yes, and I did. But I got this weird magical letter at the same time as well. And that one did help me track Aira down just in time before she got sacrificed in that volcano. So it did put me on the right path."
"Are you… setting up a warning system?"
You head topside, but there's nowhere to restock – right, this isn't New Gettysburg, it's the Manako Group Industrial Site.
First I go look around for any shadow hobo ninjas following me '1d10'Roll #1 10 = 10
Well, still, they might have a portside shop or two that I can busy myself with, unless Kotone wants company.
"The engineering corps, huh?
They in the military?"
That might be something I could have thought of earlier
He looks at you, expression concealed by the mask. "Nothing so elaborate. These strings can hold up laundry and also drying jerky. It looks like our 'room' has channeled rock in the ceiling."
He points up with a hoof. "To let smoke out. Looks like they aren't so primitive after all. We can have a fire in here.">>673469
"Really? What happened?">>673468
Wind nods. "That's why I said we're in the right place. There is an island not far from here called Ash Ruins, which has been abandoned since at least before the Discordian Age. Some of the records from the library here say that our sisters in the Order of the Oil have learned much about the Spirit of Law from this place, which seems to be an ancient Temple of Law. I'd like to investigate there before we take any rash action, but if nothing else fails, there are other ways of contacting the other side of the veil."
Near the dock that your ship is right now being secured to (incidentally where you first met), you notice a strange bamboo shoot sticking out of the water… It's weird because bamboo doesn't usually grow in such an isolated fashion, or in saltwater.>>673473
Not much to see besides a great bridge to the north and a fenced off quarry to the south. There are some business offices too - Kotone's goal. Perhaps you could forage or fish, though.
"It was Destiny which brought us here then."
"The Royal Technical University is where they are trained. I can't say if they're officially part of the military or separately contracted, though…"
"Hmmm, where to begin…You see, the magical letter told us to go to Reptil and as we made our way to New Earth, we passed by there. It hasn't much improved since the days of pirating, mind you. In fact I think it got worse.
Now, to make a long story short, we met Red there, one of Light Heart's children and apparently that letter came from a very peculiar room in her…lair for lack of better words. We went into that room and a voice told us to go immediately to the volcano near new earth! Isn't that weird!"
Well, I can at least ask Kotone if she'd like the company. It might be rude to poach fish from company waters.>>673472
"Say, would you like any help getting your things? Or just seeing you off?"
"Doesn't take much to figure out how to make a chimney. Also doesn't jerky smell really bad? Do we want that in here?"
"It should be initiative that drives us, not destiny. After all, Nopony controls Destiny."
"Lord Wind, you've been obsessively amassing all this information, and we're tired from the fighting too. It may be best to rest for now, and set out in the morning."
"What do you think, Maeda?"
"Actually if you wouldn't mind, I would love someone to go with me to pick up my things."
"It's been a long day, Lord Wind. If it would not be, too much to ask for, a night's rest would be welcome."
She seems a little doubtful. "Was it Celestia's voice?"
"I wouldn't mind at all!"
Smile at her.
"Will you be flying, or riding?"
"Very well then. We will set out tomorrow. I will make travel arrangements. The two of you should try not to keep each other awake all night."
"I don't think so, the voice was arguing with somepony else, and Celestia doesn't have any family!" Cock my head. "You don't believe me!"
Cock my head in confusion.
What did she mean by this?
"I've been resting the whole trip. I'll fly this time." I smile at you.>>673476
Float toward 'home'
"I don't know. I mean, it's just a little far-fetched, that's all. It's a weird story, you must know that!"
And I'll keep pace.
Stricture ushers you out. "Of course not, Lord Wind."
"Weird things tend to happen when you're on an adventure! When you go off the beaten adventure quest chain, that is."
"But isn't she gonna come to the celebration dinner?"
Thanks for the help anyway. I'll be back later for some stuff, allright?"
Good, now I just got to get to the RTU!
'1d10'Roll #1 6 = 6
"Hmm, I can see how it could be handy, but in a way, wasn't that a bit like visiting a quest giver? He told you where to go, and you did!">>673495
"Lord Wind may or may not. In my experience, she usually does, but perhaps she will be too busy with her preparations. We should go find out where the seats of honor are, though."
"That's gonna be so embarrassing…
Seating before all those ponies. And what if they call into question why Cumin hasn't been brought back!?"
"Perhaps, but the biggest difference is that there was no specially appointed quest design team to work out exactly how all the adventurers would progress optimally through the content and how to monetize it. I've seen how they did that in Enkilj!"
"Don't forget about Bridge Club!" she calls after you.
You arrive back in the upper level and find a series of blockish rectangular buildings completely unlike the smooth aesthetic of the city. This must be the technical university. Fortunately, it looks like they use NORMAL DOORS like SANE PONIES. No front office though – it looks like you can just walk straight onto campus into the quad and enter buildings from there. You can the titles… Department of Natural Science, Department of Chemistry, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Department of Agriculture, Department of Cartographic Science, … !>>673498
"They don't even know he was there. That wasn't his mission. Well, unless the Highlord says something about it…"
He gives you a little squeeze with his hoof. "Just enjoy yourself. If it's no good, we can leave early and go back to our cabin.">>673499
"I guess that's true. But you didn't get any special reward for saving Aira. Other than Aira, I mean."
"I thought you were a survivalist."
His mask turns toward the door. "I can't smell in here anyway, but I'm guessing it's not particularly great."
There has been a foul stench of coal over the entire town since you arrived.
"That's enough for me. But what fun is an adventure if the reward is guaranteed? You might as well just get a regular job then. It would pay better."
"It'd be too much of an insult to leave our seats in the middle of it!"
Look myself over.
"We should wash the grime away. It'd be… Uncout."
"Well, it's not worth arguing about. Did you want to do something, besides look around the garden?">>673504
"Finally the mud has started to dry so we won't dirty ourselves instantly again. We're really going to have to hurry to both get clean before dinner, though. There's barely any time."
"When will you send a letter to "Mr rogers"?'
"Maybe tomorrow evening? So the Vizier has a chance to introduce us first, at least."
I look unhappy.
"Mmmm, yes, that does seem the most logical thing to do…"
Oh fuck that. I don't play cards like that!
Anyone can just walk in with a gun huh?
No time to stand around, just go for the cartographics!
Nod in complete agreement.
Let's get ready for the dinner.
Rain now cleared, it's easy to get to the office building on the hill. Inside, some of the paper walls were damaged by the storm (all external walls are wooden), from when ponies would open the door. Assistants are busy working on them and pay you little heed. You could head up and pick up Kotone's room, or look around for the executives.
I'll follow where Kotone wants to go. But I'll observe everything on the way. I've never seen walls made of paper before.
She raises her eyebrows expectantly.
You approach and notice there is a sign that says "No campus carry". Hmmm, but you don't really have a room to stow it in…
Head in anyway?
Roll for wash cycle speed
"Let's go upstairs, my room is there." Lead her upstairs to the guest room.
'1d10' speedy speedy boyRoll #1 7 = 7
What are they going to do, shoot me?
I'm not a student either, so just head in.
"…but just a message to tell him that we're here, that wouldn't hurt would it?"
You can see from the reconstruction efforts that there are actually thin wooden struts below two layers of paper - one on each side of the struts. These must help it retain its shape.>>673516>>673512
You head into Kotone's guestroom. The room and bed are completely undisturbed - still made and unused - and the closet empty, but on the windowsill you can see a shoebox.
"I… guess not. I just didn't want to go over the Vizier's crown without a good reason. We're here at his pleasure, basically.">>673517
You wash pretty quickly, but Stricture can't finish in time.
"Why don't you go on ahead and be there for the start of the dinner?" he calls from the other room. "I need a little more time to finish up."
You wander in to find a long corridor flanked with lockers and doors to small chambers that appear to seat some twenty or twentyfive ponies.
The ponies in the halls give you a wide berth.
I suppose they do, but I can't imagine the walls are anything more than aesthetic.
I'll glance curiously around the room.
"There, uh, doesn't seem to be much to carry in the way of things?"
"Calm your teats, people, I'm not here to shoot anypony. Where's the office of the director?"
"We're his family, you're his daughter! I'm his…well…let's not talk about that. What possible good reason could they have to not just introduce us immediately?"
"Its the box over here. I will need a moment to pack." I float over to my shoe box, landing inside and start making things ready to move.
Most of the ponies just quietly move on and not engage you, but some fat mare approaches you and starts yelling: "LOOK AT THIS! A SYMBOL OF THE ENTRENCHED ESTABLISHMENT! SOME OLDTIMER STARTS WAVING A GUN AROUND IN A PLACE OF LEARNING, THIS IS AUTHORITARIAN OPPRESSION. IT'S 802 PONIES, WHEN ARE WE GOING TO WAKE UP AND BAN GUNS?!"
I mean, I guess it makes sense, since she's small, but… a shoe box?
I'll head over, but don't peer into the box. It's rude to look at a mare's room without asking.
"Maybe he's in quarantine? Or needs his rest, or can't take any surprises because his heart is weak?"
Give her a look.
"Just shut the fuck up and tell me where the main office is."
"Alright-" Stop for a second, I'm not sure how to call him any more. It's something I've been thinking about ever since we came back.
Maybe I should just make a joke?
Off I go! That totally made sense!
Getting ready to leave is a bit of a task - securing your wardrobe, folding the bed closed, putting the planter-guards over your garden shrubs so they don't get crushed, and rolling up your canvas paintings into tubes so they're safe. Plus you have to pick up all your clothes and food rines! Fae are notoriously messy.>>673528
It is big for a shoebox, but it's definitely a shoebox.
She's taking an awful long time in there!
"That…hmm" she does have a point. Scratch the floor with my front hoof frustrated. "you're right, we should wait, but I'm just so…I just feel so powerless."
I can wait. Though…
I'll clear my throat a little.
"Did you need any help, Kotone?"
"HELP! HELP! I'M BEING OPPRESSED!">>673531
Surely! You are very careful to stay on the paved walkways to avoid dirtying your hooves.
The feasthall is packed, and it seems they're already filling the steins with fresh Equestrian pale ale.
I pop back up looking a little tired.
"Oh! If you would like.. I mean.. is that even a proper task for a princess? But, If you'd like I could shrink you down so you can come in."
"We've been traveling on the way over here for what… two weeks or something? And before that, two years since that letter? He can wait another day."
I'll look at her.
"You can? Then I would have offered earlier! And trust me, I've had practice cleaning things before. Before I was a princess, I was just a pony. Well, seapony, but you get the idea."
Just walk away.
I'll find it on my own.
'1d10'Roll #1 4 = 4
No way I need to try that! But first, get to the Highlord and give him my regards.
"LOOK! Now she's walking away because she can't even argue!"
You wander around and poke your head in a few rooms, but you get nothing other than shocked and concerned looks.
"As you wish, Princess." Offer Marina the shrinking potion with a smile. "I suggest you take this with a pillow under you, since you don't have wings."
Stop at the last door I look in.
"Allright, will somepony PLEASE fucking tell me where the main office is? Where the boss sits in the fucking chair?"
"Then what do we do now?"
I'll smile a bit, then go to sit on the bed. And then I'll down the shrinking potion.
The Great Hall, which is filled with long, wooden tables, is headed by a dais with one grand table sitting at its head.
There, at the center of the table, enthroned on a shining golden sun throne, is the Highlord. The rest of the table is populated by other various VIPs - Lord Inquisitors, visiting Equestrian dignitaries, and Bureau of Information officials from Bright Harbor.
An instructor pony squints at you over his glasses. "You will find the office of the Dean of Cartography on the top floor, between the Observatory and the Gore Chamber."
Gore Chamber, huh? Sounds like they have some torture devices here after all!
What's the proper procedure here? Walk up to him and bow.
"We're in the City of World's Desire, as you called it. A spa, I guess?"
The world seems to warp. The windowsill, only about chest high, suddenly leaps for the sky, and suddenly the box which could have easily been lifted before is a goliath far out of reach.
"See, that wasn't so hard now, was it?Thank you.
Make that thank you sound as sarcastic as possible.
Go up to the top floor and find that office now!
"You're suggesting that now that we're here, as special guests of one of the mightiest ponies in the world, that we go to a spa? GREAT IDEA!"
"Oh but wait, now how am I going to get over there?"
You were never trained in courtly behavior! If only Stricture was here to help guide you!
The Highlord gestures to his left. The three seats to his left are left empty. One of the chairs – the one closest to him – is slightly taller than the others.
That has to be Wind's. Take the furthest seat to the left. I'm the junior retinee after all!
You reach the top floor – and are confronted with a cul de sac – a circular waiting chamber with a couch in the middle. Three doors, unlabeled. One door is tan and trimmed in decorative paper, another is ebony and trimmed in gold plate, and the last one is made of smokey glass and trimmed in a shiny stainless steel.
Yea, good question, can I help her get over here? Maybe a rope ladder?
"Well, for Aira's sake. Obviously, of course."
Probably the gold plate.
Knock and walk inside.
"Good, if they're not going to just be open to us, then at the very least we can take this Oddomane decadence for everything they've got!"
So you are. You are seated next to a red pony – one eye scarred over. He gives you a friendly smile and offers you a hoof as you are seated.
"Well, here's the pony of the hour - or one of them. I understand you embarrassed my department."
After an awkward moment, he smiles, and continues: "Don't take it the wrong way, I don't hold it against you. I'm disappointed in my own ponies for not moving sooner. We were following
that Wizard for days, but you figured out where he would
be. It was a worthy kill."
Breezie gliding is VERY well adapted for transferring from mostly-level surfaces over short distances. You can just carry her, now that she's so light.
You knock and try the handle, but it's locked. Maybe this is that torture chamber!
"Most of the merit goes to the local witch hunters too, but thanks, Mister…"
Obviously, shake his hoof.
Are the other two open?
"I'm not sure you should call it decadence if you're going to be doing it!"
"We will be doing it, you mean! Now let's get one of those servants and ask where to get pampered."
"Redcoat. I work with the Office of Information. That Wizard gave us a black eye at Bright Harbor, but a restoration is already underway now that the clouds are clear.">>673565
Next you try the one trimmed in paper. It's open!
This room has a big hemisphere set into the floor… huh… it's like a big map, but not flat. The walls are covered in weird shapes – they're all like maps, but as though they have been up into "spokes" around a central point… you haven't seen anything like it.
Well, I'm open to any idea, as I can't fly there.
There are ponies in here, too – one is working on the hemisphere on the floor with a very fine tipped paintbrush, with several maps at his side.
There's a mare here, too, overseeing him.
"Right. Hey, do you think they have their own spa inside the palace?"
With that, she heads back inside and starts speaking to a guard.
"Wouldn't be much of a palace without one!"
I glide over to the small fishpony, and offer her my open arms to carry her.
"I'll carry you over, hold onto me."
Is there anypony in here though?
Even if not, walk up to it.
Anything I can see or identify?
Aria relates: "There's a natural hotspring two floors down – a laundry room and sauna are built from it. How cool! I mean, hot!"
"Okay. If you're sure you can make it back with me…"
I'll cling on as best I can without interfering with Kotone's wings.
"I'm relieved! After seeing what happened to Bright Harbor I can only imagine what life was like there with the storm.
Pleasure to meet you, mister Redcoat. And believe me, had I known your department was looking for him too I would surely have asked for help!
But did you know the wizard was not the one causing the storm?"
"Let's go get Aira, she'll be thrilled!"
"Hmm, you know, we probably need towels and stuff. Will you go ahead and get them from the laundry there while I get Aira?"
And let's skip to…where something happens..
It's a surreal experience to cling to the bug pony that was not long ago resting in your mane. Soon, you're deposited in the shoebox. It's… bigger than you expected. Sleeping quarters, an alchemy garden, canvases to paint with, an armory wall, and a fancy wardrobe. This is honestly better than your room - sans view and magic cooking wall.
"Wow… I didn't think so many things could actually fit
in a shoebox! Just imagine what you'd be able to do with a doll house!"
Hmmm hmmm, go to the laundry
"Hey. Where's the dean here, huh? I'm looking for the boss."
"I've read your report. I already have investigators working on the Deer question, but they seem to have disappeared from Dandelion Island entirely. At the least, that means no more storm. For now."
I giggle in response.
"Oh, its not much really, and it such a mess! Its still not ready to move."
You head down two flights at the garden staircase and the air becomes warm and humid. You push open the door to the laundry pool, and notice the colt from the Vizier's table here, stringing up towels to dry. Even here, with no one else around, he's wearing that swan mask.>>673585
The mare glares at you sharply. "I
am the Dean of Cartography. What do you want, barging into my school? Military, I take it?"
"Well, only one way to fix that, right?"
I'll stretch a bit.
"So, where should I get started? And what goes where?"
He looks adorable.
Put on my friendliest smile. Knock on the door, "hello!"
"Have you been in Caballeria long, sir Redcoat?"
"Oh, you noticed! I see all that education really paid off for you, huh?
I want to ask some questions. Hopefully you can help me."
"Could put the planter guards on the alchemy plants? They are right under the stands. The paintings need to go back in their tubes, and.. I'll get my clothes and trash picked up."
"Thanks again for helping!"
I tell you and trot over to my room. >>673588
'1d10' rollin for speedRoll #1 5 = 5
"A lot of the work I do for the Office of Information is classified, but I can say that I have been around long enough to acquire an appreciation for its exotic sights, pleasant climate, and hardworking population.">>673589>>673593
You catch sight of Kotone tossing out a fruit rine, which seems normal, until you realize that it's the skin of a grape. Woah – grapes must be huge! You try to imagine one of your own dinners at this size.
As for your own tasks, it seems that Kotone is an aspiring artist. It's a little bit impressionistic, but you see foreign looking buildings and pink trees. Imagine… pink leaf trees - like a reef on land! Impossible, surely.
The world is a strange place, made only stranger to me over the last couple weeks. I mean, those Torrid Farseers! Such long necks.
He jumps in surprise and turns to face you. The little thing can't be more than six. It reminds you of the old days, back when Aria wasn't so moody and Aira was so needy. They were good kids… that was a fun time.
The colt wordlessly scurries off to the other side of the room behind a laundry bin, though.
"If the matter pertains to recruitment, you can take it up with the liaison."
Two ponies makes the work go quicker. You're almost done when suddenly everything turns dark, and you almost lose your balance as everything begins to shake. Someone picked up the box and put the lid on!
"A stallion of taste."
Raise a glass. "To Caballeria."
I'll let out a distinctly girly shriek.
"Who picked us up?!"
I start screaming.
"HELP! SOMEONE HELP US!"
"It matters to other things. I don't suppsoe you know anything about a cartographer mare called Cloudy?"
Step slowly into the room but don't go after him.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you!" Does he even speak Equestrian…
Do I see him?
He retrieves a flask from his belt and taps it against your stein.
Stricture and Wind arrive, at last. With that, the ceremony can finally get underway…
Exhausted, and head swimming from the strong drink, Stricture gently guides to back toward your cottage. The night couldn't have gone better. You received a standing ovation, and presentation of a special medal of honor – the Distinctive Service Badge. Wind even said she had never been more proud of you! You sampled the sweetest of vegetables and the richest of fruits, and toasted again and again to your victories. Everyone in the hall was made to know your name and accomplishments, and soon you would be warm, snug in your bed with Soft Sunrise.
The box continues shaking for some time, but soon, it stops, and the lid opens. Not much light is coming in, but then, it is night time…
A giant face looms down over you. Ninja!
"I decided that since you got back on your own, I wouldn't ransom you. However… as a matter of honor, I must settle our debt.
Marina obviously has no idea what the face is saying.
"No notable scholars of that name I have ever heard of. Is this some kind of investigation?"
"You could say that. Do you work with the military? Or give them any help? For logistics, y'know when you move troops, from one spot to another. Quickly."
If the wine didn't go to my head, the rest surely did.
Grinning violently, red in face from the inebriating evening, I will playfully poke and shadowbox with Stricture.
Lose my trail of thought time and time again, as I start bouncing around like a happy filly.
"-By the Heavens I still can't believe it!"
It looks like there was a back door behind that big laundry bin. You try it, but it's locked. Hmph!
Aira and Aria are at the door. "Hey mom! Looks like you found the room. Picked out any towels yet?"
Well… the spa beckons.
Bathing in the spa refreshes your body and mind, and you feel a stronger bond with your daughters for it. Skip ahead to tomorrow?
I'll look between Kotone and the giant face. Then desperately try to remember if I brought my knife.
Recall that I probably didn't because I was just going to help Kotone move things.
She's speaking Kotone's language, though…
"The University does not, but many of the Cartographers go on to join the Corps of Engineering. I gather you're not here on official business. Just who are you, some mercenary?"
Oh he's gone…and I was gonna pull some cookies out of my hat since he's doing such a good job on the towels.
You know, maybe I will anyway, I made cookies like these for Aira and Aria back then. Pull a few out of my hat (maybe the twins want one as well) '1d10'Roll #1 3 = 3
That's +2, but still…do I have Pirate dice?
"I see. If that's the case you can put my room down.
" I reply loudly to the ninja.
He chuckles, a little drunk himself. "Yeah… that was something special."
He pushes open your door, and lets you collapse onto the bed so he can start swayingly disrobing from his armor. Pity he had no fancy dress clothes for the event but… it went well enough already.
"Its the ninja I told you about! She says she isn't going to ransom us, so that's good news."
throw a 5 '1d5'Roll #1 4 = 4
"I did. We're in the crawlspace between the top floor and the roof. What is this game you asked for?
Put one of the smiling pony cookies next to the towels he was hanging up, maybe he'll like it.
Then I'll go to the spa.
"Are… are you sure that's good news?"
The evening went great. The warm baked cookies you conjured got a smile out of Aria like you haven't seen since before she left…
Ready to move on?
Wait wait wait! Did I
have fancy clothes?!
"Does it really matter? Who are those cartographers? I need the pony who is in contact with somepony called Bran. There must be one."
No! You'll have to get some in the future!
Stricture stumbles to the bed and begins removing your own armor, now that his is off.>>673624>>673621
When you leave, you notice the cookie is gone.
Aira: "I wish they'd let us see dad already. The lunch party was nice, but I want some answers."
Aria: "Well, I already explained the plan. And the letter is written…"
Make sure to have a generous breakfast with lots of fruits!
"If the Vizier won't let us anything know by tonight, then we'll send the letter." Eat one of these…coconuts? It tastes quite good
"I don't know any Bran. I realize you're probably trying to orient
yourself to polite culture, but that doesn't mean you need to do it at the observatory."
Hey… that made you remember. When Cloudy would try to orient herself for work – you had seen it at night, she would go to the highest point on the ship, in the Crow's Nest. Is that what the riddle meant? The magic school had an observatory tower too…
Turn on my back, so that he can do that easily, front legs coiled up to by chest.
"I wanted to help with yours too…"
This might have been a somewhat useless trip then.
"Just make sure to tell anypony who has connections with the army a heads up. I might come back for them later."
If all else fails, I can just come back.
Bah, why can't anyhting ever be easy, like when ponies told me who to shoot and I shot them?
Fly to the university, to that fucking riddle door.
It is tonight, I skipped ahead quite a bit!
"In any case, it's not like we're explicitly breaking a rule. We'll just see how things turn out…">>673630
He gently lifts away the last piece of your leather chestpiece and nuzzles your chest, drunkenly. "Well I'm used to helping Lord Wind disrobe from her armor… But I don't normally climb into bed with her after."
Transitioning from the nuzzle, he kisses your body before meeting your eyes.
I know, right! At least the door swings open to admit you when you approach. Guess you don't have to answer twice.
"Did the servant mention anything about where he was?"
"No, I didn't ask. But that's why we're going to follow him, right? And I think all mail is delivered at dawn. So I'll deliver it to the front desk now, and then we'll wake in the morning to follow it. Agreed?"
And then we drunkly made out until we fell asleep. And maybe did some dry humping. But we have oaths and it's important to save oneself for marriage!
Go up to that observatory!
[Dawn of the Third Day]
Aria pulls a feather out of your wing with her mouth, jerking you awake.
"Come on! Mail gets delivered soon! We'll have to be very sneaky so no one notices us following the mail courier.">>673637
Of course! Neither of you was nearly drunk enough for making bastards.
I take off my sleeping mask and quickly get into my clothes.
You fly up, and land with grace on the outer terrace. This is a very small observatory, and just the one scope. The circular room has, perhaps, a ten meter diameter, and an inset staircase down.
The sight that really catches your eye, as you enter, though, is an aging, tall unicorn. He looks around your age, but he's wearing a tweed jacket and in spite of his years, his eyes still seem to sparkle. At his side is another tall unicorn, though shorter than he. About twenty years old and in a similar hue of white. This one is a mare.
The elder speaks. "Tartarfire. I thought you had run off in Anneiv… your face! It's worse than I imagined."
Rude! But you're sure he didn't mean it that way, that magic sure did fuck you up. There's no doubting it though – it's better than you could have imagined. Before you stands "Fullmaster" Abilio. And some mare you don't know. WAY too young for him, like a forty year gap! What kind of cruel stallion would replace his beloved wife with a mare that young?
Time to see what the morning brings.
You put on your fancy robes recently acquired and the three of you creep down to the lobby. Even now, an assemblage of peasants gather to see the Majordomo, and as the rays of dawn enter the palace, the courier departs from the front desk to deliver letters. He makes for the stairs – headed back up to the apartments. Of course he must have a room there!
Oh my! It's happening!
Let's trot further.
Morning… your head is still pounding from the drinks, and you're sad to realize you don't feel any strong legs around you. Didn't you fall asleep in each other's legs? Wrapped around each other after a night of loving (if chaste) passion?
A smell invades your nostrils, and your eyes flutter open. Stricture is up, and he has a cup of coffee in front of your face.
"Drink this, it'll help with the head."
It could be the daughter.
"Run off? No. I got mind controlled. Gave up the killer life then and there. Took my check and settled down."
"But there is always that one job you just have to come back for, isn't there?"
Stay where I landed. Do not move towards him just yet.
Play it cool.
"You're not looking any fucking younger or better either, you bag of fucking farts. You owe me a few decades of my life too. Hope you still know how to turn that back."
Keep it cool.
One by one he approaches doors and starts to slip envelopes under doors.
Aira whispers: "Hey, how will we know when it's our envelope?
Aria: "I used a blue one.
Aira: "What if there are other blue envelopes?
"We'll try every door, okay?!
Mumble something unintelligible and drink the coffee.
Through the sips, utter a thanks, finally getting out of bed. Start getting dressed.
"Are we late?"
"Keep your eyes open, fillies!
The younger mare glances at him.
"I don't know anyone named Cloudy. Although you really should meet my wife, Yster. This is my daughter, Bran, and of course you know my name is Bill."
He pronounced Esther in a really weird way. Okay… even a dummy like you can put the pieces together.
ipes (her pirate name)
"No, I spoke with Lord Wind about our ship last night. It won't be ready until noon."
"Pretty sure. she wants to play a game that I promised her.
"I see, and your intent is only to play that game? Would you be willing to shrink down for it?
Surely I have a set of majong tiles around, that game is old.
Hmmm… You sneak along after the courier through every hall of the palatial apartments and not a single blue envelope. He heads down to the meeting rooms on the floor below and walks those halls, delivering memos and royal letters to a number of rooms there.
"Are you sure you put it in the right place?
"Yes! There was only one place to leave letters to be delivered!
"Great thinking. Do you have everything ready for the trip?"
…Where is my old halberd? You know, the one dipped in demon blood.
"If he's really in quarantine they wouldn't put him next to the Pahdishah or the Vizier!"
Sure, you unpack the majong tiles.
She draws an eye close up to the board. "I have seen the game before, but I haven't played before. Still… I can't pick up the pieces at this size.[/b]"
She scratches her head. "You can't make the pieces bigger?"
They're tiles, so they're made of stone. In this case, you have a really fancy kit made of marble.
"Taking up a new life, huh, and in the capital, too? You always were the clever little cunt."
Wasn't that the one you were still using? I seem to remember something about 'character more important than blade sharpness'.
Any case it's with your bag.
I'll just look at this in confusion.
"What game is this? I've never seen it before…"
No blue envelops here… Down again, to the main floor, he goes out back to the servants' quarters. It seems promising…>>673658>>673651
"Well, on the record, I've been an instructor here in the classified research department for forty years. Any accusation of being elsewhere would be quite hard to prove."
"I could.. but then they would be much less detailed and the engraving on these is something you really ought to see! Also you don't have a table up there.
" I ponder it over.
No, I remember quite well discussing how it was ruined and unusable, and that I would put it away only to have it fixed later.
Which is exactly what I want to do. Does the inquisition have in-house blacksmiths?
Still no blue envelopes… you are about to give up hope, when you follow the courier into the laundry room downstairs and the pony delivers a blue envelope to the masked colt, who takes the letter and scurries back to the door at the back of the room.
Look at the twins.
"Its called majong, or majiang, actually you can play too if you like. Its multiplayer."
"I don't know any of the rules. Should I watch to try and get the feel of it, or is it easy to pick up?"
Aira: "Did we miss a letter?"
Aria: "It's possible we didn't watch closely enough."
Also you can't modify the size of inorganic stuff like marble.
Ninja huffs. "You promise to give me the antidote?
Float inside the laundry room and to the back door.
"So, the lovely wife then? Where is she hanging out? Would like to invite her for my old farts card club."
Well, the Inquisition does not, but there are several smithing operations here in Princessland. They mostly produce ceramic goods like bricks and pottery though. You would be trusting your weapon to a prisoner's hooves, but on the other hand, they are atoning for their sins by doing this pious work.
But I doubt they'd have the skill not to fuck up my weapon. What I want is a great
smith, not forced labor.
"Sure. Drink up and join us, I'll get the table set for it.
I float up a vial of shrinking potion to her.>>673660
"Well.. its a bit like.. the matching game that equestrians have? Go Fish? You're supposed to match up the eyes, melds, and seasons, and you take from the wall, which is kind of like a deck, to get matches.."
This will all go over my head.
"Maybe play a round or two while I watch? I'm a bit better at learning by watching."
Door's shut tight.>>673673
"She still keeps up her work. But at the moment she's not on campus. You… rather took a bit longer than we expected to get up to the tower. We've been waiting here for about an hour. Did you get lost?">>673675
Princessland has many great works wrought by prison labor, like the grand cathedral. Still, perhaps passion is what you need. Through the grapevine, you have learned of a legendary metalsmith who lives in the Colony of Sighs and who has become a personal friend of Duke Tycho the Bald.
Supposedly he crafts the finest guns outside of Hamburgerburg, though he takes other metalwork on, if the occasion is right. Surely this holy task would be a worthy one. The only problem is the distance – but maybe since you're getting a small ship to yourselves, you can swing by on your way to Ash Ruins.
Flatten my ears.
"I had some stuff to take care of first, shut up!"
"Alright, we'll do a practice round. It'll be fun." I nudge you a bit as I set the table with glasses of water and trays to hold the tiles in.
That sounds like a worthy plan- if Ash Ruins are that way.
Still, I've not much else to do for the morning. If this weren't 16xx I'd buy holy books on law, nature and creation, but it's bound to be too expensive.
I'll take a seat perpendicular to Kotone.
The ninja uncertainly raises the tiny vial, slightly draws back her mask, then vanishes from view. After a moment, a tiny ninja appears on the side of the box, having scaled it!
"Well, you certainly got in here easily! You must get a lot of climbing practice."
Knock on the door.
Happily gesture toward the seat across the table.
"Glad you could get inside, please have a seat.
"Well, about the age problem - it's something we learned about years ago. I never perfected the magic, although we certainly would be in the proper place to do so now. It would require more experimentation, but I think, in time, your proper visage could be restored. I'm afraid anyone could have potentially been affected adversely like you if they were exposed to several castings. I never used the stuff on myself, though, but I had worried about Bran…"
She smiles. "I think I turned out alright, though.">>673681
If you want to buy books, this would be the second best place in the world to do it. Here and Autumnsreach are two of the only places in the world with enough clerics to really produce books en masse. On the other hand, if you'd rather try to recover more quickly from last night, Stricture will offer to give you one of the muscle massages he perfected working for Lord Wind.
Wordlessly, the ninja leaps down and approaches the table. "So, a battle of wits, then. I wonder if this is what rich ponies do all day, play Mahjong.
"Yeah, you could say that."
Look her over, then back to Abilio.
"So, do you need anything to do it? To… fix me?"
Messing around is fun but we are on a mission now. I'm not gonna sit on a medal and do nothing. Off to the clerics!
I wonder if this pony knows Equestrian, and is just choosing not to use it? Maybe I can take the time to learn it…
"I wish it was something I could say I think you can help with. With my faculty access, I can get books from the Starswirl the Bearded Wing of the Royal Library, and I have test subjects. There is a matter of raw power, though. The variation on the spell I use makes use of shortcuts. I may be an immensely powerful unicorn, but age magic – I now know – is on an entirely separate level. The kind of thing that keeps Princess Celestia alive forever. Perfect Age Magic. There is an amulet I have heard of… The Alicorn Amulet. Supposedly, it could provide the raw power I need for the spell. The only problem is that it happens to be in a museum, and they refuse to lend it out to anyone. It's really a great shame that they won't, just imagine the research that could be done with that kind of power…"
There's a whole draftinghouse here – you enter, and notice that most of the ponies are actually working on copies of the same stuff. Mostly common books of scripture. Guess there's a lot of demand.
"Little colt? I don't know if you can hear me…or if you understand me. But you have a letter there, it's for somepony very special to us. Somepony we haven't seen in a very long time and we really want to see him again. To know what happened to him, to…tell him I'm sorry for not coming here sooner." Sniffle "I don't know why you got that letter, but please…would you open the door…"
Which might make what I'm looking for even harder to find.
Is there a receptionist?
"Actually, I rarely get to play. Both my size and the busy nature of business are prohibitive. Also simply drinking in silence is more popular with those stuck up ponies. Miss Marina Requested a practice round to learn the rules, I shall explain for you too.
From here on out, I will explain in both neighponese and equestrian, all the rules of majong
"So, these are the bamboo tiles, circle tiles, and character tiles, there are 4 of these in a set. These are the winds and dragon tiles.. One pony deals out the tiles, which you put into your tray as your hoof, Games consist of 4 hoof matches, you score points based on hoof, each hoof."
Its basically Chinese poker.
"It would be such a fucking shame if it disappeared too, wouldn't it? All that power would be lost forever."
"Thing is, I doubt I can shoot up a museum in Canterlot and get away with it."
I'll nod, and wait for her to continue.
A small, Equestrian voice replies through the door. "Okay… I can take you to the sick man, but just you and not your daughters, okay?"
They trade glances.>>673696
No – this is a drafting house, few ponies come here to buy direct. Still, this is the source. Can't hurt to ask around, like with one of the roaming supervisors.
That'll do perfectly.
"Excuse me? I'm looking for some books. Specific books on old theology."
Stand up and look at the twins.
"I can't ask you both to stay here. What do you want?"
Roll for four matches. Kotone gets +4 on the first round, +3 on the second, +2 on the third, and +1 on the last.
'4d10'Roll #1 8, 7, 8, 3 = 26
As I'll be joining in on the second round.Roll #1 10, 6, 9 = 25
"Old theology… so not one of the perennials** I take it."
** books which must be completed annually due to demand
"The most specific book you have regarding Law, Nature and Creation Myths."
'1d10+4' '1d10+3' '1d10+2'
'1d10+1'Roll #1 5 + 4 = 9
/ Roll #2 2 + 3 = 5
/ Roll #3 7 + 2 = 9
/ Roll #4 3 + 1 = 4
They huddle with you to whisper.
Aria: "We could trick him. Wait til you're on the other side of the door and then you can open it for us."
Aira: "What if there's a whole maze back there, like it's the labyrinth that leads to the vault, like in the story of 1001 Nights?"
"Well what do you suggest?"
"Let mom go… if she finds dad alive… that's enough for me for now. And she can tell us why he won't meet us. You said you didn't even care if you met him."
Kotone narrowly takes the first round. Marina gets beginner's luck after that. Then Kotone takes another round, and finally Marina again.
The ninja crosses her legs. "Well I didn't know how to play either. But there, the debt is settled. I played your game."
"Hmm… it's not a common request, but we do have some copies. Are you looking for a primary source text, or something more analytical?"
"I'm pretty sure I was just lucky, you know. Want to go another couple rounds?"
"That is true. At least in broad daylight. It's funny though – did you know that the building blueprints are in the royal archive, complete with security features?"
"If I go, do you want me to tell him something for you?"
Oh, and that was in Neighponese, my bad.
But let's say you guessed the intent based on the body language
I cheer excitedly at my victory.
"Yes! That was so much fun! You really picked up the game quickly Marina."
Then to the ninja. "Yep, you did. You got the southern wind tile too, my favorite.
"I could! but we've been gone most of the day now?"
"Primary source. I might need an unadulterated view rather than what's already taught within the church."
"Tell him that I don't want him to die without meeting me."
Aria shrugs. "You don't have to tell him anything from me."
I'll clonk my forehead.
"Right, and we're supposed to be shipping out, soon! We still haven't finished packing your room for travel."
"Is that so? It would be a shame it those were lost, huh?"
"I'll tell him you said you might want to meet him sometime."
"Yea! but we can play anytime on your boat."
"There could even be a few rematches to settle sore honor, right?"
I'll cast a quick glance at the ninja.
"Well it wouldn't be too unusual to draft a copy, for backup purposes. Imagines can get worn down in time.">>673720
Return to the door?
"Okay, I'll come in…alone."
She glances at the tile, and holds it up. "I have had enough with winds and storms for a lifetime.
" she says before sliding it to you.
"Very well, but I will say that some of the authors of the period can be somewhat… hard to read? It's dense writing. Do you read Canter?"
"No, but Lord Inquisitor Wind does."
"If it is your time to leave, then give me the antidote, and I will put your box back in your room.
"So, do we want to meet elsewhere too? I doubt anypony is after me, so we can actually sit down and have a cocktail."
Snicker at her.
"Do you really mean that? You seemed to sail very well.
"Well, first we have to clean up a bit more.
" I explain as I get up leaving the tiles on the table and starting to tidy up the remaining items. >>673722
"As many as you'd like Marina." I grin at you.
I'll stand as well, and smile at Marina.
"I guess I'll get back to where I was and tidy that up."
"Very well. We have a transcription of an original text written by an unnamed Deer, which we believe was recorded as early as three weeks after the moment creation. There are also Windigo oral traditions, which we have written down, and believe to be sourced from as early as the first year of creation, and a work by the first dragon scholar, in Elder Dragontongue – Gar the Terrible. Historians believe him to be the first being with oracular abilities in history."
"Mhmh… Then again, these might be too many different tongues.
Do the analytical texts come as annotated versions of the originals, or as complete translations?"
At Kotone. Smile at Kotone.
I can't smile at myself.
The door's lock clicks, and the colt lets you through, before sealing it once more. It's a long, narrow hallway of hewn stone, like it was added as an afterthought. The room is very warm, likely due to its proximity to the spring. The stone itself is heated by the hot water all around.
The pony leads you back into a small room – cluttered with baubles, trinkets, and oddities ranging from a suit of armor to an enormous, ornate wardrobe. There is a bed here – messy and unkempt, but no one is in it.
The colt turns to you, and removes the mask, before leaping forward to give you a full body hug around your much larger neck.
"Selena… I'm sorry it came to this."
Its a nice smile.
I let the moment linger.>>673728
"Say, what are you going to do when you leave? Did you find a pony to work for yet?
"We have a house in town. Part of the agreement was to cut ties with everyone, so be discreet."
He gives you an address
"Thanks. The old mare home at this hour?"
I look down at the colt hanging around my neck. "How do yo…Face?"
"Well, it depends. The Terrebonne text – which is extremely modern, written just forty years ago, is a commentary on the Gar the Terrible piece. It's incredibly detailed with information about the time period – as though she had spoken to him. She was a remarkable scholar, but some of her information has no sources other than 'Gar' without textual evidence, so it's hard to take all of it for fact. Perhaps the most famous piece on creation is Lavinia's Historiography on Origins, which is a metatext comparing several accounts of creation. Augustus Finch, a rather odd Oddomane scholar, has some interesting points about creation in his work Other Accounts on the First Century, but it's in pure Oddomane, which I doubt you read."
"So you say this Terrebonne text, it's filled with unsourced quotes?
Sounds intriguing. Show it to me please. Or a copy of it, at least."
"Not as yet… but as to the future, who can say?
"I'm not her keeper, but I assume so.">>673739
There is some resemblance… more than anything, the colt reminds you of Aria and Aira when they were young. They got a lot from Face, though… His voice is so high pitched. He begins to cry softly, which is something you've never known Face to do, though.
"I wanted to say something sooner… my mind, isn't all there anymore. I have good days, but others…"
Seeing him cry breaks my heart. I hug him tightly as I starts crying as well. "What happened?"
"Would you like to stay for dinner?
" She does look very thin, perhaps she's only in a bad mood because she's hungry.
"Allright. I'll let you two get back to your work
then. I'm sure it'll be more comfortable to chat at your home."
Fly off without saying anything else.
Go to that adress!
I'll just keep cleaning and securing things while they chat in their strange language.
It might be a good idea to learn it when I've got the time.
I bet a friendly fairy might be able to teach you.
Oh, if only there were time.
"After the fleet broke up and we went different ways from Abilio – it took a few years for me to notice I was younger. And we had that age cape that I was using so I wasn't sure… but after a few years I couldn't say in denial anymore. I wasn't good at sharing myself – what I wrote back then, about being bad about telling my secrets, was true. I wanted to find a cure and never have to let anyone know this had happened. So I started wearing the cape all the time so you wouldn't notice the change, but using the magic just made it speed up when I wasn't wearing it. I came here to the Empire and took jobs in spying and stealing for royalty – helped put the Vizier in his position. I was sure one of the most powerful ponies in the world would have the resources to cure me, or at least to find Abilio. He's gone! Vanished without a trace!"
He hugs you tightly. "Those first letters I sent you were out of guilt, but it was after I realized that I wasn't going to get better that I truly regretted throwing away my family. Now… I don't think I can face them. That's why I gave you my fortune."
"You will treat dinner with a pony who kidnapped you?
"We have a copy, although to sell one we'd need a little time to write. But if you'll be in town for a few days, we can have a rush job done. It's a very interesting text, even if we can't verify much of it."
He guides you to the back where they have an enormous number of bookcases. Leading you past, he takes you to some glass cases in the back.
Shrug. "You aren't going to keep kidnapping us, and you must be hungry after swimming after the boat.
"What do you want to do for dinner Marina? We could have something brought up to us, or go to a restaurant on the docks before we set sail. It might be the last chance for an on land meal for a few months."
"Sadly, no. My mission can hardly wait. This might indeed not be the right choice for me then. Might I just have the time to study this book myself, here?
By noon I will be called away by duty, so it's only for a few hours."
I'll think for a little bit.
"You know, I don't think you've had my cooking, Kotone. Would you like to see what I can whip up, given our pooled supplies?"
Miss Marina?! I had no idea!"
I'll puff out my chest a bit.
"I'll have you know I was in charge of cooking for most of the time our forces were engaged at the liberation of Aquamarine City. I've had a lot of practice."
I'll leave out that it was because I couldn't magically heal anyone like mom could.
You head out into town, out of the highest tier of the city into a more residential area. Every house here is a weird spire, and more annoyingly they were made for unicorns instead of pegasi so they don't have landing entrances near the top! Anyway, you find the address – at another spire that looks like all the others.
I guess I'll land at the bottom and knock on the door.
"If you are exceptionally careful. This is a rather rare book - Terrebonne was a member of a herd of sheep living in the swamp in the Confederation. It's very difficult to get Confederate books in Equestria."
"It will be safe in my hooves."
"Very well… I will stay for now, if your ship will not leave without you.
You imagine Cumin is getting antsy. Hey, actually, it's funny – your ship is SUPER cramped on the inside, but for once, you're not going to lack for space.
"Really? Well. Now. I have to try some."
Where can we cook, get big and go bother the kitchen staff?
You hear a familiar voice from behind the door. "Whossit?"
Why, if we could shrink more ponies, the hold would be positively cavernous.>>673762
"I will need to fetch some ingredients from my ice chest, though. We can drop off your things and then get cooking."
The stallion walks over to the case and produces a key, and with care, transfers a book from the shelf inside to a nearby table under the light of a window.
"It can't be… Emrille?"
Wear the same strip of cloth I use for my dream wine to cover my muzzle, and sit by the book.
I'll spend the rest of the morning studying its most interesting passages, especially the ones without a source, pertaining the information I need.
Smells like alcohol.
Reading only unsourced information is literally the worst way to be a scholar!
"Yes. Are we going to talk through the door, huh?"
Yes, but consider this.
Wind would have studied the sourced info already!
"Great. I think everything is fine to move now. Let's get you to big and get started. Take care to climb out before drinking.
I will go ahead and give her the cure now.>>673764
"Okay, you'll need this then." give Marina an antidote. "but don't take it inside of the box please."
I'll look up the "wall" of the box, lamenting the lack of a door. Then watch to see how the ninja climbs out.
"Perhaps I should install a door.."
I spread my arms to carry you out again.
I'll grin a bit sheepishly.
"Thank you. Sorry for the trouble."
Once safely outside the box and clear of it as well, I'll quaff the embiggening potion.
The door opens, and you feel your whole body jerked inside by magic – into a hug.
"You're more of a prune than I am! You might be getting too old to sleep in our bed."
Right. Unlike Abilio (who is so literal he gets no jokes), Cloudy was the one you could be sarcastic with.>>673771
Soon, it's nearly noon, and you set off for the ships…>>673772>>673775
The ninja runs up the seemingly flat wall!
Very soon you'll have another picnic. You just can't let a princess seapony and a fairy heiress together without some kind of tea party, can you?Pause
Hug her back, tight.
"Hey, one way or another to get in the bed is fine by me…"
Take a deep breath, be composed!
Did I learn anything useful from that?
You have a crying little colt around your neck.>>673749Rhanna
You argue for a while with Flapjack but eventually go to sleep. The next day, early in the morning you are awoken by MacMeal, who shakes you awake and holds up a hoof to indicate silence.
She shuts the door rather quickly and locks it after you break the hug.
"You know, we're not supposed to take visitors from the fleet."
"Hey, I was doing my killing for who the fuck knows how long in Anniev. You can have visitors from Anniev, can't you?"
This brings back memories.
"Oh Face…you just had to tell us…to tell me. We could've worked it out…"
"It's not that kind of rule. It's a matter of keeping our identities a secret. We entered into an agreement with the Equestrians. It was years ago… back then, I wasn't sure if it would all work out. Now, though, it seems to have ended up fine.">>673783
He seems indistinguishable from a real child when he looks up at you, tearily, and just says, "I-I'm sorry."
"You know, if they want to start shit, I'll just tell them to shoot only me, and take them all on so you can live your pretty little life, huh?"
"Don't throw a tantrum… we just have to be careful, that's all."
I can't help but groan a bit, but I sit up and look down at him, looking like a grump dog
He points to the stairs, and heads up silently. Follow?
"With how much killing I've done and how I didn't cover any of my trails, I'm pretty sure if somepony still wanted us dead, they'd have done it already."
"You never know… We thought the same thing for years, until we learned that the fleet was being spied on all along. They always knew where we were. They caused it to fall apart. But they wanted us alive. Bill… they know how valuable he is."
I pick him from my neck and put him on the ground. Then I lay down on the ground so I'm at the same level as him.
"Face, I- when you left me, I was faced with raising our foals all by myself. I had to find a home, build a shop all while looking after them, making sure they went to school. I've not just given every penny I've had for them, but the best years of my life…and you should have been there with me. I had to find new excuses every time they asked why daddy wasn't here on their birthday. There was always an empty seat at our table…."
Grab his hoof. "Face…I want us to be a family again, even if it will never be like it was before. I want to forgive you for what happened but I need to know you truly regret what happened between us…"
Yes. And try to be as silent as I can
"Good for him, huh? Always wondered how that felt like."
"I do. Really. That's why I left you my house. But… I can't be a father to them like this. I thought if you replied to my invitation, I would have time to rig up something… like a full body cast and make it look like I was dying. Meet my children and give them closure. Because I am dying, Selena."
He point a stubby hoof at some crayon drawings in the corner. "I'm losing my mind. I lose hours, days… And I don't have a lot of years left."
He shakes his tiny head. "I've tried everything. The Empire's magicians. A Natural holy site, Umm al-Maa, in the East."
He leads you upstairs to a little storage room right below the main deck. The other older members of the crew are here – Gunny, Steve, plus that goat. They're circled around a strange lightsource – it's not a candle, but it glows as bright as the sun and burns your eyes to look straight at it.
They all look grim faced, but MacMeal finally speaks up when the door is closed. "Rhanna, that was a close call back there on Dandelion. I've mostly been letting you come along because it's good to have someone else to carry things, but I think it's time we talked about the crew. What it means to be part of our society. And if you're ready, induct you."
"It wasn't always that way. The place he learned magic was called Black Cloister – Equestria razed it many years ago, but Abilio and Thatch got out alive. Thatch took Abilio as his personal apprentice and taught him the Tartarian style of warlock magic. Those gateways you've seen. It's very rare magic."
"Oh yeah and now it is passing down the family line."
"Some legacy you have!"
I shake my head.
"You can't. But you can tell them what you want to tell them. That you missed them, that you love them and that you're sorry you couldn't be there for them. I don't know what they'll say but if you truly regret leaving me behind than you won't leave them behind that door either. You don't need any fancy magic to face them, just be you…"
I frown at the little comment of carrying things, but I silently keep staring at the old ram, glancing at the others of the crew
"I was born blind. It's enough for me that my daughter doesn't share in this terrible affliction, though it did change the course of my life.">>673802
Something about that statement was a little weird too. Like the house bit. You can probably worry about it later.
"I know… I've been trying to work up the courage for days. My friend Ali has been doing all he can to stall for me, I should've known you'd outsmart the both of us. You always were… persistent. Why didn't you come sooner?"
Gunny: "You're a smart pup. You have to have realized by now that you don't start a mission like this by going to the moon for your first try. That kind of thing is a puppy's dream. You have to do other things first, like break the atmosphere, complete a successful orbit."
"I…the letter you had left me back then in the hotel was unreadable when I found it. And when I…" take a deep breath "when you sent your first letters I was so angry I burned them…it was only now after years that I received the letters you sent from the Oddomane Empire. It's a long story how. Only now I was ready to read them…"
Was gonna ask about that later, but it's not important now.
Keep listening, looking at the others with a curious expression, as If asking if they also have anything to say too
He gets a little quiet. "I see… Well… I understand. Here, you don't have to lay down like that."
He hops over to the bed and, leveraging his front legs on the mattress, pulls himself slowly up to the top. "There. Now we can see each other eye to eye. I… I could send for some breakfast while we talk, I usually eat a grilled cheese sandwich."
"I bet you let her
suckle your teats, but not me! Don't you feel that's a bit unfair, huh?"
"Sometimes I thought you were dead and she was channeling you. She could be a little piggy about her milk.">>673810
Steve: "Come on little dog. You think a bunch of old folks just come together out of the blue and decide to build a rocket together with no previous relationship? Like we converted a cribbage club into a science team?"
"Yeah, glad to know everypony was so worried about me nopony could find me for fucking years."
"Nopony knew where you were. You took off one night in that dense fog… Nothing would turn up your destination. And the fleet was nearly at the point of mutiny after we stayed in one port for a full month looking for you. That was the beginning of the end… those tensions never went away. In a way, not directly, you
broke up the fleet. So I hope you're proud!"
Open my mouth, about to reply, but I decide not to
Keep listening, staring
"I wish I could undo that but…well, far too late now." walk to his bed "I'd rather have breakfast with all of us…"
I sigh and get a bit sterner.
"Face…I will not stay here long. A couple of days longer at the most. One of Light Heart's children, she needs my help. I hope that maybe you could come with us. See the world a bit while you still can…" Look around the room. "Or you can keep staying here and spend the last years of your life doing the laundry for your friend." Pause. "I cannot wait Face, I cannot wait for you to gather up the courage. You'll have to make a choice and make it soon."
MacMeal: "Well, SURELY you suspected there was a reason we kept Flapjack around, right Skipper? I mean the boy is good-natured but he's more or less a good for nothing."
"Hah. As if, fuckers. More like you just didn't have me around to keep you shitheads in your place. Don't forget who put an end to the little rebellion of that dragon fucker. It wasn't Light Heart with all her fancy politics, it was a lot of my bullets."
"No." He says firmly. "I won't go with you."
It's a little bit shocking until he adds: "You'll come with me. We'll take my dhow. I was never close to Light Heart truly, but if it's important to you, it's important to me."
This little kid owns his own boat.
"I think it was Face's harpoon gun, actually!"
"Will you let Aira and Aria in so we can have breakfast together?"
Frown at the old ram, indignant
He gives you the big foal eyes. "Can we… just wait for the food to get here? Just a little longer, the two of us? And then they can come in."
"Who do you think fired it, huh?"
Roll my eyes.
"And it's not like I left on purpose."
The goat coughs: "Well, are you going to say something?"
Smile. "Yes, that is fine." Ruffle his mane. "Besides, you look absolutely adorable like this."
"We never found out what happened. Where did you go?"
After he sends for breakfast, you spend a little time smalltalking about things that don't matter. The weather. Bird sightings. Fashion. To lower the anticipation… to help calm a racing mind.
Soon this little colt will meet his daughters for the first time in more than a decade.Pause
"What you want from me, Mister McMeal?" I keep my voice as cold and emotionless as possible
MacMeal brushes back his thick fur to reveal a concealed signet earring.
"You have proven yourself worthy of our founder. We have discussed the matter, and we're willing to induct you into our secret society. The Northern Astrographer's Secret Association, or NASA."
The others in the room reveal similar signet rings in various places – Gunny on his claw, Steve on his tongue. The goat has an earring like MacMeal.>>673831
Riding in the streets is somewhat different than walking, but Face insisted on a carriage. The one you're riding in certainly stands out – a fine piece made from ebony and acacia wood boasts a sharp, eyecatching contrast between black and orange.
Aira is holding Face up so that he can point out the window. "That's the Temple of Prophecy, where the Lovers' Messiah is said to have been foretold. It is one of the most sacred places in their religion, and the reason Istanbull was conquered – well, glory and wealth aside. We're almost to the royal shipyard."Emrille>>673832>>673778
Marina is back to her normal size. This is a totally dark room with very little space to maneuver. The fishpony hits her head, twice, before the ninja lifts free three floorboards, allowing some light to flood in from the room below.
That's… quite a fall for someone who doesn't spend a lot of time jumping into stuff other than water.
I'll look at the floor, then back to the ninja.
Then back to the floor.
"How did you even get up here from down there?"
My mind is already at the journey ahead.
Where did we have to meet up again with Lilly and her group?
Back in Dixie City, although the currents would make it most efficient to travel along the Equestrian coast this time.
You haven't mentioned that you never went by the Bank of Witherloo, either.>>674129
She holds up one of the boards. It has a chip missing from it. She acts as though this is a suitable answer, and leaps down the hole.
No time like the present I suppose.
"Face, what's this?" show him the key.
I'll watch her land. There's got to be some secret to it.
Face flails a little and, if Aira wasn't holding him, he would've crashed to the floor.
"Is that my bank key? It says what it's for on the tag! You didn't ever go there?">>674133
She lands with perfect quietness. How'd she do that??
"Yes, I know it's from a Bank in Witherloo. What I mean is, why did you send it to us? What does it open?"
"We might… want to sit down for it."
So like, just roll.
'1d10'Roll #1 6 = 6
''The Northern…Astrograph-pher…'' I repeat, eyeing the goat and the others, easing up a little ''S-so all this… The boat and the rocket and everything?…'' My focus again on MacMeal, looking surprised
Must be a result of not eating regularly and being little more than a whisper on the breeze.
"I, uh, I don't suppose you could have let me a rope? I don't think I can do that as gracefully as you did."
"My everything! I gave it to you two years because…"
He stops short, having not mentioned to the girls that, barring some new cure he hasn't found in about 14 years, he only has a few years left to live.
"…The girls turned eighteen."
Aria scoffs, but Aira pulls him into a hug, making him squirm. "Is it a surprise?"
"Well it was two years ago, but I guess it doesn't matter now…"
"I see." I put the key safely back in my saddlebags. "Does that include a house? You said something about giving me your house, but I never even knew you had one."
"Right. Well, the house isn't very big, but the sitting room is just through there."
The first floor has a staircase up, and it's round. This room is dominated by a large circular sitting room, about a ten meter diameter, with a small minibar on the side for serving snacks and drinks. There are lounging seats and couches here, and at the center there's some kind of weird box on a table.>>674138
You try to roll when you land, and avoid most of the brunt of the impact. It wasn't THAT bad. You rub your royal tush.
Ninja places Kotone back in her box and leaps out the window. Hopefully toward your boat.
"Our society was founded without
borders, by likeminded individuals interested in the stars and the secrets they hold. Until very recently – only six years ago – we were headed by a different individual. Toffee… Flapjack is too young to remember her. She was the first to realize our dreams of leaving this world, but it cost her life. You have to know that those are the stakes we're playing with."
Most of the unsourced material is trivial information, like Gar's personal thoughts and opinions. However, it does seem like, based on his impressions, that there were many more dragons in those days. No mention of ponies, but deer are a frequent subject, including several recipes on venison. Ew.
You fall out of the ceiling and convert it into a roll with grace that even impresses you! You avoid most of the brunt of the impact. It wasn't THAT bad. You rub your royal tush.
Ninja places Kotone back in her box and leaps out the window. Hopefully toward your boat.
''Toffee?'' I lean foward ''What happened to her?''
I will abstain from thinking about it.
Now, back to the ship.
Aira jokes: "Mom, you can't fit a house in a bank box."
"The title is there."
Plop down on a chair.
"Going to get me a drink for this, or what?"
I don't even know how, so I suppose I'll just accept the fact that some intangible force has moved me from there to here.
At any rate, there was bound to be a kitchen on the way back to the outside. I can ask politely on the way.
"Where is your house? Let me guess…" think "Equestria?"
"We lost communication with the rocket after breaching into the thermosphere, in a region we call the HALO – High Altitude Low Orbit. We realized through her sacrifice that magical communication would never give us the reliability over distance that we need. Most of the last years have been spent developing a new means of communication, and trying to rebuild Toffee's Rocket. The reason I moved to New Earth was to search for the remains of the vehicle, which we knew crashed in the New World. I found it about half a decade ago."
I lower my head, staring at the floor in silence for a few seconds
''…I have a lot of questions''
Or rather, to the ship for the first time. The ship you've been offered is a sizeable cutter, along with eight staff to fill stations. The bowspirit boasts: RES Tenacity
A familiar face offers you a smile and wave from the deck at the end of the gangplank, the nice Office of Information pony you met last night, Redcoat.
"It's not even noon, Emrille!" she scolds
"It's never too early to start drinking. Just get me a cocktail or something!"
There is, but all the ingredients are super exotic. Rice, soy, miso, sake, konbu seaweed, bonito flakes, and raw fish and crab.
Huh, looks like some ponies don't mind a little meat. You wonder if Kotone is one.
"In Witherloo, so unless lowland nationalists overthrew Celestia's rule…"
Oh hey! He's coming too!?
Trot up to the deck to meet him.
"I'm pleased to meet you again, Sir Redcoat."
"Good. That means you're past treating this like a girl's dream and realizing that it is a real, tangible reality."
"Smile, I'd love to see it once we've helped Lilly."
She tuts at you. "You shouldn't be drinking at your age."
She mixes two martinis.
"I'd love to see it once we've helped Lilly."
''…So, was Toffee…Flapjack's mom?''
"Tell your fucking husband to revert me to my normal age, huh? How's about that then?"
Take the drink and sip on it.
"So, you know I was homeless as a kid, right?"
He offers you a warm smile and a hoofshake. "I'm afraid I can't join you for the entire excursion, but I learned you're passing The Colony on your way out, and I'd like to stop by to see if they need any aid recovering from the storm. It's easy to forget about our dependents when tragedy befalls us - so I'd like to appraise their damages for myself. I hope you don't mind the company."
"Where is Lilly, anyway? Where do you plan to meet her?"
Gunny comments: "Perceptive."
MacMeal just nods.
"In Dixie." Look at Aria
Well, only one way to find out. And I'm going to make a great meal regardless. I'll ask one of their chefs if they wouldn't mind helping me out and teaching me how to make food that Kotone might like. Besides, I've got a bunch more seafood in the ice chest, too, if any's needed.
"So you've said. Or, that you didn't have parents, anyway."
"Yeah well… as it turns out, it was because I was abducted by some crazy fucking asshole. Turned me into a weapon when I was a kid. Something went wrong and I broke away from his mind control… y'know, it explains why I was so good at killing even when I was young. When I went back to Anniev, he fucked with my brains again. If it wasn't for Tela, I'd still be killing for him."
"I still enjoy not having to gag every time I breathe through my nose!"
''So that's why you kept him around…'' muttering, I get up and stretch a bit, looking down at Macmeal and nodding with confidence
''I'll do it''
Aria is looking out the other window at the gates up ahead.
Face: "Hm… two ways to get to Dixie. You can either fight the current, or go with it. I think it'd be faster to go by way of Equestria. How long do you have to get there?"
It was eight days of travel to get here, and t his is your third day here, leaving you with 19 days to return to Dixie City.
The route that Face suggests (which includes wasting about two days for a divergence to Witherloo), would cost 16 days, but you can cut out Witherloo and make it in 14. You could also avoid going to Equestria and fight the current, arriving in 16 days by retracing your original route.
"We have 19 days to make it back."
They don't speak Equestrian in the kitchens, but they seemed open to letting you take ingredients so you just took some. Still, you don't think Cumin would appreciate you taking time for cooking lessons when she's dealing with "girl problems".
"That sounds awful. Some pony like that is running free under Equestria's noses?"
Cumin will change her tune after eating some of this. Besides, it's just the one evening before we depart with the tide. Surely Cumin can understand waiting for the tide to be right?
But, since I can't understand them and they can't understand me, there's only so far gestures can go. So I'll just have to make due. Back to the ship.
Shake my head.
"Not anymore. Tela killed… it. That's how I realized I've been fucking played."
"Most honourable of you.
Say, do you know anything about the colony's famed smith?"
Yeah, you probably just need to find the right food to give her. You bet if you gave her the zucchini, that would cheer her right up. So you grab one on your way out of the kitchen.>>674184
Seeing that you are distraught, she doesn't offer words. Instead, she puts down her drink and crosses to you, pulling you into a hug. Quieting your protests, she draws your head up to rest on her chest. Although you're as wrinkled an old prune as she, she remains blind to that fact. Even after all this time, and a real daughter for twenty years, you're still family to someone.
"So that would give you a little time to spend here, or Witherloo, or wherever you care to."
Aria comments: "Yeah, we could look around the city and leave Jolly in daycare."
He pouts a little, but Aira says: "We wouldn't do that to dad!"
At first just sniffle, but then break down into tears.
Cry into her chest as long as the floodgates are open.
I could probably make a nice side dish, if nothing else. Hopefully that ninja will be by the docks with Kotone, or I'm going to have to hunt her down before we leave.
"I've heard of the leper smith, although I haven't met him personally. His mask is supposedly the finest of all the lepers – and he's a crystal pony. Apparently this is… rather horrifying when combined with leprosy. I would not ask him to remove his mask."
Nod in understanding.
"Hopefully some day a cure will be found."
"It would be a shame to leave so quickly from a royal palace. Perhaps we can stay a day or two here and another few at Witherloo, we should have enough time for that."
The unsolved riddle of tears. Why can sorrow feel so sweet? Why is there so much relief in showing weakness?
Her chest feels warm against your face. Even around Tela, you still have some guards up. You always want to be cool. You want to make her know that you were "worth it" – worth all that hunting and giving up her youth to live with a prune on the beach, and worth those daily scrubbings and massages to keep your arthritis at bay.
But here, there's nothing to hide or keep secret. In this place, the capital of Equestria of all things, you can cry without remorse.
Take as long as it takes.
Once I finally calm down, pull away, wiping my face with a hoof.
"Fuck… I really missed you…"
No ninja, but Curry is here. He beckons you. "I was starting to get worried."
"I played this really neat board… card… tile? Tile game with Kotone for a while. She needed a little help securing her room for leaving, too."
I'll think a moment.
"You didn't happen to see somepony walk by carrying a shoebox, did you? She might have been trying to be all sneaky-like, though she didn't need to be."
"I didn't see her 'walk by', but I knew when she showed up, because your husband-to-be started panicking below when she popped in unannounced with your fairy friend."
She gives you another squeeze. "I missed you too. You know, four years seems like such little time compared to the time we were apart, but it seems only yesterday we left Anneiv."
Sniffle a bit more, then down the rest of the glass.
"Did he miss me too, that fucker?"
"Perhaps. Leprosy is a terrible disease, but the ponies in these colonies can live relatively normal lives, albeit without their family. There are much worse diseases… those that kill in days. At least those who fall victim to such diseases go to see Celestia.">>674192
"The choice is yours. But you never said why you were meeting Lilly, other than to help her."
"Oh, good, so she is here! That means I don't have to look for her. Apparently she's rather stealthy."
I'll heft my pile of foodstuffs.
"Now, it's time I made a great dinner while we wait for the tide to be right for leaving. We're going to Autumnsreach, since that's where Cumin's family live. And maybe I'll get to meet my aunt, too."
"He did. Maybe you wouldn't be able to tell. Abilio… he is unlike other ponies, you know. Others say that he acts like a stone wall – that's why they made him Quartermaster years ago, but I can see right through him."
"You don't like the smell of meat cooking? Oh, you don't eat meat?"
"That's not quite the case. You told me that his family is that Hatfield Dynasty – that means Manehattan. I wonder why he wants to go to Autumnsreach, though. Heh… I have quite a few stories from there, back in the day. It brings back a lot of memories, of my teacher."
"Eating meat really upsets my stomach. You don't want to share a room with me with an upset stomach."
Give him a serious look.
"Well, he's under the impression that that's where his parents are currently, and there's a few things he needs to pick up from where he was living while cataloging the temple."
"We could talk about it over dinner? I'm sure everyone would like to hear the stories of my dad's wild youth."
"Here I am now then."
"See, there's a thing I always wondered.
Wouldn't a rapid death be preferable to a long, drawn out one?
Wouldn't little suffering be preferred over a long, drawn out existence?"
"Her family discovered where one of her half-sisters is located. And apparently she's in trouble, I, Emrille and some other ponies have promised to help her to free her sister." Show him the letter that was sent to me.
Sitar returns with information about the Reef. Skip ahead to the Reef of Ruin?
"If you like, although there's more boring than exciting."
He puts a hoof on your shoulder. "Actually, Marina, there's a reason I wanted to stop you and talk alone. There's a lot we haven't talked about – Remember, like your aunt. Remember, you mentioned wanting to know her, too, when we were in Bright Harbor."
Yes, that would be useful.
"Well if he rushed home from his job to see you, they would probably find out we're seeing ponies from before. How did you find this house, anyway?"
"He gave me the address."
I wonder where this is going.
"This life is what we are given to prove our worth to the Princess. A few more years to make great works in her name are always a blessing."
He points to his scarred eye. "And one can always offer up their suffering to Celestia, and suffer on her behalf."
"Is that a story I sense, behind the scar?"
Smile amiably, prying just a bit.
"Emrille… she was always trouble, but deep down, I could tell that she had more of a hear than she would admit."
He points out from Aira's lap: "I may not be able to help much, though. Other than transportation.">>674213
Roll for dredging!
"You met him at the academy? I hope you weren't seen…"
"He was careful, don't worry."
"Plus, who the fuck would recognize me like this anyway?"
"I just wanted to let you know, so you wouldn't be surprised, but Cumin might know your aunt. The Hatfield Dynasty is large and has a lot of members, but they generally marry with the clergy. My sister married one of them years ago – beautiful ceremony. Spring Water was alive for it, and she couldn't stop crying… Summer was a flower girl, she really made us proud."
He stares wistfully into the distance. "Sorry, I'm getting distracted. I just didn't want you to be surprised if he knew her. She's probably an in-law."
"Oh yes. In my youth I was quite the active paladin. I lost this eye fighting on the deck of a pirate ship. A little bit too
heroic, really. There's such a thing as overextending." He chuckles.
"It's not that you would be recognized – it's that talking to strangers sometimes gets us followed for a while. They don't really know who most of the members of the fleet were, anyway."
"I think we were discreet enough."
"We'll see what you can do once we're there I suppose. Who knows, maybe we need some little colt to sneak into that one little breach in the wall and open the gates. Like in the stories."
"Well… it would've been worth it either way."
Oh if only he knew. Actually, it's probably better he doesn't.
"I think he… might have mentioned her, actually. He was fairly surprised when he connected the dots and found out you were her brother. I'm pretty sure he just didn't want to make a fuss over it, is all."
Oh Luna, why is lying so hard? It just piles up and I have to make sure I don't trip over my own lies!
"Still, when's the last time you two met? The wedding can't have been the most recent meeting."
"But. You are here to tell the tale!"
"Maybe so. I feel a lot less sneaky after I lost my cutie mark, though."
Aria adds: "We'd just have a liability on our hooves, bringing a helpless colt onto a battlefield. Especially in a dangerous place like the Highlands."
'1d10'Roll #1 3 = 3
"…thanks. I will have to break in to a museum though."
"We correspond frequently, but we never wanted to draw attention to the clinic. She's practically nobility now, after all.">>674229
"So I am."
The ship's bell rings. Time to go?
"Well, so are we, technically. And a little attention to the clinic would probably have kept you from being arrested so easily."
Searching the Reef of Ruin is tougher than you thought. You scratch yourself up on coral pretty frequently. George spent the day building a raft, and Sitar is working on putting together a search party of bones.
"A museum? Emrille, we left the life of crime behind!">>674234
"Right, royalty… I keep forgetting sometimes, you know."
He offers you a sheepish smile.
I'll laugh a little as well.
"You and me both. At any rate, I should probably start cooking this meal if I want it to be ready before we ship out. We could eat it up on the deck, if you can scrounge up things we can use as tables and plates."
"There is no other way to get the Alicorn amulet to unfuck everthing!"
You spend a day on Sighs and then move on after dropping off your blade. A full day's travel brings you to the Ash Ruins – there is much to explore. Besides your eight shipworkers, you've been afforded two Order of Oil sisters to help interpret the ruins. Also, your crow's nest is ponied by an Office of Information and Communications pegasus, to help relay information if needed.
Anything else before disembarking?
This is why coral bleaching is actually a good thing!Roll #1 7 = 7
"Emrille… I'd still love you no matter what condition your skin is in. Breaking into that museum might mean risking everything.">>674238
"Right. I won't keep you. Actually, it's so crowded down there… I could carry your stuff up here topside and we could have a beach cookout. On the other hoof, Cumin seems eager to set sail."
"Good. We'll forge a ring when we reach Novdogod. But remember – the society is secret. So don't go spilling it to everyone, Skipper."
"You do realize I'm just going to fucking die twenty years in advance, right?"
George finished his raft today, and he's working on some kind of dredging arm. Sitar's army grows ever-larger as more bones are lifted from the deep. Soon he'll form search parties below.
"If you get caught, you could die this year."
'1d10'Roll #1 5 = 5
"He's not helpless! But…Aria does have a point. Worst case, you might have to spend a few days in Dixie. That's not a bad place…"
"Well, he is in a bit of a hurry, but I'm sure a good meal will convince him to wait just a while longer. And the crew could use a celebration for a job well done so far, too."
I'll tap my chin a moment.
"That's it, we'll have a party. To celebrate the success of your rescue, and to remember those who aren't with us. And to new friends, like Kotone and her companion."
And to getting rid of that gross old wizard, but that doesn't really need to be said.
"I'll tell Cumin, so you just worry about the rest of the crew and finding supplies. See you in a little while, Dad!"
And it's off down below I go.
"I'd say it's worth a shot, wouldn't you?"
The dredging arm works, but it's not strong enough to lift metal you've now learned. George begins working on using metal pieces the undead bring up to reinforce it.
At least we're making progress. '1d10'Roll #1 5 = 5
"I guess not. As long as there's no daycare involved."
Aria interjects: "We're in the harbor. Are you going to show us this boat already?"
Aira picks up the squirming Face and deposits him on her back.
''You know I won't, Mister MacMeal, don't worry'' I yawn
''I want to know though… What did I do that made you think I was so worthy of joining the secret group? Was everything up to today a big test? is that why you even bothered to let me in?''
The arm is stronger now, but too much weight can tip the raft. George spends the day expanding the base.
Cumin has fortified her room with more boxes so that it's not open on any side, and added a sheet to serve as a "door". It now takes up about a third of the hold. Sheesh.>>674250
"Well… I guess we'll call it, 'the last heist'."
She gives your hoof a little squeeze.
"One way or another, right? Doubt I'll have a public funeral if it goes wrong."
"I'd make sure of that. But that's a choice I feel we can leave until we're in Dixie." Smirk at the colt on top of Aira. "Aira, I'm sure Face can walk on his own…"
"You've been helpful with the first part we need to repair Toffee's Rocket, but you risked your life for our cause on Dandelion Island. We thought that anyone who risks death for the rocket should be part of the society."
I want Wind's opinion on the crew. Did she pick them herself?
I'll giggle a bit to myself, and then knock.
"Cumin, it's Marina."
"Probably not an open casket one anyway. Not that they ever made a difference to me."
"I'll be fine, don't worry. I actually don't want to kill anypony for this…"
"Mom, if dad gets tired out from walking, he can't show us around the city."
"It's okay Aira, I won't get tired!"
After he shows you around the Royal Shipyard (filled with an incredible array of ships) and walks you up and down through his personal vessel, a dhow named Squall
, Face promised to show you around the city. He got too tired, though, so Aira put him down for a nap in the carriage. You're free to look around the rest of the city at your leisure, though, or make plans to leave.
The crew is a mixed bag of different departments. They weren't hoof picked, but besides the Order of the Oil clerics, they'll be remaining on the ship anyway, so they should be mostly harmless.
Besides, they are all still brothers and sisters in legs.
''Ah don't say that… I didn't really risk my life all that much… I just wanted you and Gunny to get out before you got hurt… S-since you know, we couldn't get the plan going without you and all, which is what I was worried about''
rub my arm ''But thanks…''
I can't think of anything else I need then. Ready to go.
"Aira, anything you'd like to see in town?"
"J-just a minute."
There's some shuffling and after that she calls, "O-okay, come in."
The room is a little more populated, too. At least, more of Cumin's books are unpacked and she hung up a hoof mirror on one of the "walls", plus she has a couple of dedicated candles of her own and a makeshift desk.
"Good. When are you planning to do it?"
"Tonight? Might as well get it over with."
Maybe we should also stabilize the raft further?Roll #1 10 = 10
"That monster could move at lightning speed, transform anything, and burn a whole forest down. Make no mistake, your life was in peril."
''Well yours more than mine. I'm Big and tough, I could handle it, really.'' I raise my arms
''But that doesn't matter anymore. It happened and everyone's safe, plus we even got some extra gold out of it too!''
"Well, you're certainly making yourself at home. Where did you find all of these? I don't remember us packing a hoof mirror when we set out…"
"I hear you got a bit of a surprise earlier. That was one of Kotone's acquaintances. I don't think she's really used to talking with ponies, so she probably snuck up on you."
Ash Ruins… the eponymous structures aren't visible through the dense lianas and proud banana trees. Nature has reclaimed this island, in time. Roll adventure to head inland.
"This is one of those places civilization will never grace…"
'1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
She blushes. "There is something… It's kind of embarrassing though. At the Temple of Prophecy, there's supposed to be a matchmaker who can find the perfect pony for you… anywhere!"
You can skip ahead any time you like.
"That's so soon… are you sure you're ready? Maybe you should take a nap now to be rested.">>674272
You get the ship quite outfitted. Today, the skeletons found the remains of the Sirocco. Searching it for a specific body may take time though.
"Allright… on the couch?"
"Just don't forget that death is a real possibility. We're not playing games, this is true exploration. Toffee knew the risks, and I want you to know them too. Because whoever we send… there's a good chance they won't make it back."
"The mirror was from my bag. H-hey, don't make fun. I had a good reason. There was a legend that the Lunar Temple had a Gorgon protector. Hydra isn't so different, really, I mean, other than size and magic ability. Same basic shape."
She adds: "Right, well, I just had to shore up the room walls a bit to keep her nose out."
"It was civilized… once."
The thick ligneous branches of the vines make the going slow and difficult. Machetes are retrieved from the ship, but it's a snail's pace. (+1 distance)
''Then we'll make sure her death wasn't for nothing. We'll learn from her failure and make sure it won't happen again!''
"If you're more comfortable there. We have bedrooms upstairs, too."
"So, so long ago…"
'1d10'Roll #1 6 = 6
Smile. "Then we shall go there at once!"
"We always try our best. But that's the truth of dealing with grown up realities. Sometimes, your best isn't enough."
Gunny croaks: "I think that's enough grim reality for one morning. Let's get back to stations."
You arrive at a ruined pavilion. Any signage or engravings have long-since worn off. Still, you are closer to the interior. Roll adventurer.
"…fine, show me your bed. You'll just have to climb in with me, huh?"
I lose a bit of my previous excitement ''Right, sir…''
Wait, I don't have a station
The Temple of Prophecy… one of the most sacred places in Messianic Love. You adjust your robes to completely cover your body, just to be careful.
The building isn't like what you expected at all. Domes seem popular in mosque design, but this temple has a number of mighty spires that reach heavenward. Enormous lamps filled with entire chandeliers burn at all hours of the day, and there is a huge staircase leading up to the entrance, although each step is so slightly elevated from the previous one that at a distance, it looks like a ramp.
"It's the middle of the day - I'd like to get some work done, if you think you can sleep without your mommy."
She's a little jokingly playful at the end.
I start walking up the stairs. "What a magnificent building!"
"I guess I will have to!"
Go upstairs and find the most comfy looking bed to sleep on!
Onward to Novdogod. You're so close now you can taste it.
'1d10'Roll #1 4 = 4
Aira adds thoughtfully. "This would be way too tiring for dad. I'm glad we have the carriage to let him nap."
Aria fumes. "You should stop caring so much about a pony that didn't even care to see you until he was dying."
Are they going to fight about Face the whole time? Just enjoy the temple, it's a wonder of architecture!
'1d10'Roll #1 1 = 1
You head up a floor and open the only door at the landing. This room, almost as big as the previous room below, houses the master bedroom. A princess-size bed – not bad! This thing could comfortably sleep an alicorn and lover.
Time to slp?
Wait, how does she know he's dying, didn't he not mention that part? Or is she simply smart enough to figure that part out?
I wish I had one!
>>674297The River Below
At some point in the day, the sun went out.
That's not quite right. At some point in the day, you went into a cave. The whole river went into a cave. This mighty waterway now heads below, into a cavern. You can only make out the walls by the faintly growing fungus on each side – carefully protecting you from running aground.
Flapjack joins you on deck. "Wow… I sure hope there ain't a cave in."
The oppressive humidity and boredom of slow going begin to take their toll, and mistakes are inevitably made. You step in a patch of quicksand and get sucked in face first. Oh no – you can't breathe sand!
Roll pack tactics
Great!Roll #1 7 = 7
''Yeah… These glowing fungus look pretty cool too''
'1d10' appraise that
Also am I close enough to get a sample?Roll #1 6 = 6
You wake up with your head on a different pillow. It's night time. At some point, Yster joined you in bed and your head rests on her rising and falling chest.
Time for business, you suppose. Heading downstairs, Bill and Bran are looking over some blueprints on the center table, the box was removed.
"Ah, you're up, good."
Nod as I see them.
"So, what's the plan?"
No way you're running close enough to sample – those walls are dangerous.
Looks like fox fire fungus. Swampy plants… are you below a swamp? Don't swamps have notoriously weak, porous ground?
Almost a week now. You're getting used to tribal life and the smells are almost noseblind. You're even getting used to George's (vegetable) cooking.
Sitar dredged a lot of bodies today, but none are your parents.
Do they? I don't recall ever being in one before
I'll lean at the edge of the deck and look down
''Where are we?…''
I'll stifle a smile.
"Well, they do say a stallion's home is his castle. Though you seem to be making a castle your home. And that's very forward-thinking of you, Cumin, to be so well-prepared."
My face will set for a moment.
"Though, a bit of news. Apparently my dad doesn't know his sister is your mother. Last he saw of her, or at least as I understand it, was at her wedding. He said she writes, but if that were true he'd have known about you at the least."
What if they're gone? That would be spooky. And messed up.Roll #1 8 = 8
Dark waves roll below.
Steve points out: "Easy answer to that, little dog. The Great Canal."
"There are a number of security features – most of which you can avoid entirely, some you can disarm, and some you can pass through undetected. We're working on a route now. The fastest route seems to be through a skylight, but I'm not sure it's the stealthiest."
''Great Canal?'' I repeat back to him
"W-what? So you have an aunt after all? But you said…!"
"I don't have to be the fast. Give me the most secure route."
It's not that much of a secret.
And let's face it, it would be ridiculous to ask of either of them to just accept him right of the bat.
"Aria, I understand you feel upset about all this. You have every right to, but your sister also has the right to react the way she wants."
"The MOST secure route is through an airduct, although unlike the movies, this one is only big enough for a breezie. So that route is right out entirely. There was also the idea to impersonate a guard, but we don't think you can pull that off. So the best solution we have is to strike here."
Ht points to a corner of the map. "This is part of the old building before the renovations. The windows were painted over so they can't be opened, so they never alarmed them. We have something for that, though."
You now notice Bran is actually mixing something. "This is fast-acting paint thinner. Pour it on, pop the lock open, and you're in. The rest… rather than explain it all and let you forget on the way, as I know you're prone to, I'll make a list you can consult as you go."
"I wasn't sure they were the same pony. Now… now I'm afraid they might be. But that doesn't matter, because so long as we're the only ones who know, no one will be able to cast glances."
"I'm just more worried about what will happen when our parents meet. Even if they both overlook the strong possibility of us being cousins, they all might stonewall us getting together because I'm pretty much only a priestess in name only. I've never been as good as my mom at her duties, so much so that, well, you see how I turned out."
I'll scrunch a bit.
"Except my mom. She'll probably just say to go where our hearts lead us, or something equally non-committal."
I think there was a party
The second mate of the ship was recovered. He confirms most of the story – that Rosemary got away, and that Light Heart was killed. However, he speculates that Light Heart's body may have been taken as bounty by Colonel Rhett due to the number of pirate necromancers. Meanwhile, Rosemary most likely traveled to a nearby island called Elba.
"I'm sure that shrinking magic would just make things worse, wouldn't it? Plus not like you can do that, huh?"
"Paint thinner and list, got it. I'll be fine."
"I could totally pass as a fucking guard though!"
Ninja transported you – box and all – to Marina's ship, but Marina wants to do a cookout on the beach now, so her dad is moving her stuff out.
You can see Marina went into that back room with the boxes to talk to her marefriend, if you'd like to spy, or you can head up to get ready for party time.
Aria shrugs. "Whatever. This is a dumb excursion too, I don't need to find a stallion. I'm going to go see the street musicians."
Aira shrugs helplessly.>>674318
"Yes, do you even know what a canal is, little dog?"
Aira follows that up by adding, after Aria leaves: "You don't think he's actually dying, do you?"
''Well… No'' I grumble
"Yes, shrinking magic is shamanic. It's not in my skillset at all I am afraid."
Bran looks up from her mixing. "Yeah, with a foul mouth like that! Totally professional."
"Your mother… the rabbit said she knew, but didn't care because nobles intermarry a lot. She did seem kind of… alien. Was she always that way?"
"I'm a fucking freelancer, kid. That fucker said he would tell his guards that I'm coming to make sure no spellchucking fucker breaks in. Did you not even get briefed?"
"They use mercs sometimes, right?"
"It's like this, little dog. Once we get into the lock, they can actually lower the water level using pumps and pressure. They'll lower the whole river so that we can travel deep underground to the city of Starry Slough. There's a giant underground lake, little dog."
I need to get ready for the party!
'1d10' rolling for dress style from plain to fancyRoll #1 1 = 1
"For a museum? That would probably just raise suspicions that there's a heist planned. I mean, why hire a new mercenary guard unless you suspect an attack? Unless there was a new exhibit or something."
"Elba huh? How hard would it be to get there?"
''Wooah'' I keep looking down at the water ''That's genius. Have they used this for a war or big battle before? That kind of thing would give such a great advantage''
I have friends around though!Roll #1 6 = 6
I'll shake my head.
"When she first met my dad, or so he says, she was a lot more… naive? Kind of like any other young filly who's out exploring the world. As she got older, she slowly changed into who she is now. Dad said he let her leave with us because it was her duty, and she left with us because she wanted him to start over with a normal pony. So I think they still do love each other, but since my mom's the high priestess of Luna, she's not going to have the same viewpoint as a regular pony."
I'll rub my leg.
"I just hope I don't turn out like that. Being so disconnected from something so basic like that is just… just weird."
Clothes would be too fancy among pirates like this, right? Maybe it's better to go nude, like a lot of Equestrian ponies.
Plainest Kimono it is then.
"Because of the renovations… or because they think something is coming, but didn't want to alarm the public with some stunt with fucktons of guards…
Fuck, if Light Heart was here, she could forge me a letter from fucking Celestia herself."
"Elba… it's very close, actually. You could get there in a rowboat. We might be able to make it on the raft – maybe. I'd like to shore it up more first. Although we might just buy a rowboat in town… Of course, you could just fly ahead of us."
"Well, you have to get the ship into the lock, and then it has to remain there while the water level rises or falls. The bigger the area of the water, the more time it takes to pump in or out water, understand, little dog?">>674339
That's why it's pack tactics!
Stricture pulls you out by the rear legs and your butt lands in his face. You straighten yourself quickly and help him up. Almost there now! Roll adventure.
It's better she had some time to herself I suppose.
Take a deep breath. "Aria, I'm not going to lie to you. Face is sick and one day that disease might claim him…"
She thinks on this for a while. "You know your mom isn't all disconnected. Maybe less than you think. She sent some dresses for you – your wedding dress, too, so you could see them, and you know, try them on."
She reddens for a moment. "Sorry for going through the boxes. I was looking for my stuff."
''Yeah sure, it doesn't sound so complicated''
Lets see if I can spot any fishies in this water
Kimono it is! Once you're done changing you can see your room has been placed on top of a barrel. By the smell, maybe gunpowder?
That'd be herd tactics!Roll #1 3 = 3
"Anyway, the thinner is done. Just try not to alarm anypony. And read ahead so you don't end up having to read about an alarm system while you're inside of it."
"Allright. Thanks. Wish me luck, I plan on not dying. You'll hear about it if I do anyway.
Where is this museum anyway?"
"Let's just shore up the raft further, it shouldn't take more than a day right?"
"She… she did?"
I'll scratch the back of my head.
"I… when did she even have the time for that? And I don't mind, Cumin. It's not like you tried anything on."
I'll stop for a second, and then look at him.
"Though you'd probably look a lot cuter than I would, at least as you are right now."
After being lost in thought for a second, I'll clonk my front hooves together.
"Oh, right! I came down here to mention I was thinking of throwing a little party to raise crew morale, since they haven't really had much downtime since we set out. Since we're waiting for the tide to be right, it would give us all a chance to relax, and celebrate that the rescue operations all went well."
"He said it was a curse, not a disease… Although the letter made it sound like a disease…">>674348
You see some white fish below, stirred by the wake of the ship. Huh!
You get tired out after your struggling in the quicksand and need to take a breather before continuing. Roll adventure.
I yawn, this is pretty boring though, so I'll go the the front of the ship. Are we there yet?
Abilio points to a city map. "Here, on the highest level, near the walls to the palace, away from the edge of the tier."
"I don't think so. Sitar has been a lot quieter lately. I wonder if managing all those undead is taking its toll. We don't really need them anymore, right?"
"It's hard to say what it is exactly. Either way, yes, sometime in the future, it might be the end of him. He didn't want to worry you or Aria."
"Allright… I'll try to be back. If not, I just want you to know…"
Take a deep breath.
"It's your fucking fault, you cunt."
Head out and fly towards the museum.
I start panicking and float out to investigate.
"What? Where is this?"
"No, I guess not… they've given us the info we wanted after all."
'1d10'Roll #1 3 = 3
She has a look of dread when you mention 'not like you tried anything on', but perhaps you didn't notice from being wistful.
"R-right, crew morale. Party, let's do that."
She seems too preoccupied to protest and say you need to hurry to Autumnsreach. Victory!
"That's… awful. We just found him…">>674361
You almost think you saw him soften. "Be safe, Emrille."
MUSEUM! Sure you're ready?
"Well, I'm off to the galley to grab a few things. I hope you'll join us on the beach?"
You're inside a ship of some kind! In the hold. It's not super big, you'd say it has an area of 1000 cubic feet, which is pretty tiny! Although for you, it may as well be a cavern.
As ready as I'll ever be.
"Well, I kind of like it a little bit. With him so preoccupied, I have you to myself. Your company, I mean."
At long last, you've arrived with sunset!
A series of ruined temples and great structures reach out of the canopy, you can see ancient symbols of Law – the scales featured prominently.
"We work really well together, don't we? We're two true survivors."
Grin at him obliviously.
"Maybe… The sun is down, so it won't be too… conspicuous."
What kind of temples though?
"Ah! I never thought we'd find it at this rate!"
"That's the spirit."
I'll smile and give him a light tap on the shoulder.
"I'll leave you to get ready, then."
And then it's off to the kitchen, after taking note of where Kotone's shoebox is.
How strange, float toward the exit.
Night at the museum… even though it's late, the city is alive with activity. Street lamps let businesses stay open late. Now or never. You find the window around back of the museum – it's aged, and painted over.
Look around at first, but then glide up in the darkness and pour the thinner over the paint where I need to. Really want to make it quiet, so I don't want to break it.
"Yeah. It's nice, to be able to share this lifestyle with somepony who can appreciate it. City ponies would just complain about how much nicer it would be to be indoors, instead."
He reaches for his mask. "And there's nothing sweeter than the fresh air of the wild."
Finally, he pulls it loose. His mane is kind of ratty and dirty, a result of your wild living - sweat, salt, and dirt. He has a sort of rugged handsomeness to him, in a way that surprises you he conceals his face, until he turns to face you. You can see much of the left side - from his nose to his ear - is badly blistered and scarred from burns. Probably several years old.
He waits in silence a few moments to let you take it in. "Sorry… do I disgust you?"
Big, blocky things. Actually, they have arches at the top, like a rectangle with half a cylinder on top. Ancient symbols are everywhere – you recognize some as Canter, and others you don't recognize. The scales are prevalent throughout.
Lord Wind: "We're here at last. Stricture, set up a base camp. Maeda, I'd like you to search the perimeter, and I'll check the main building."
Marina saunters on by. Kotone's shoebox was left carelessly on a barrel of gunpowder. Still, it's safer than being on the ground and risking being stepped on.
Searching the perimeter might take extra attention, with all the foliage around.
Do an initial sweep.
'1d10'Roll #1 1 = 1
Think about my words.
"Aira, when we went here I didn't really know what to expect. I feared he might be dead or dying. I knew that it might cause you and Aira pain, but…" Pause for a second to recollect myself "I never met my own father and by now he is either a very old stallion or dead. I've often wondered what I'd say to him or what he'd say to me if we ever met. I didn't want to have both of you deal with that…."
Oh my Luna, that's not safe at all! It's not even properly secured in case of storms!
I'll look around for Kotone. Is she floating nearby, or in her box?
The paint on the window rapidly melts away, revealing an old lock that you can easily turn open with the edge of your hoof. Not even secure. Easy!
Through the part of the window that was exposed to thinner, you can see no one inside. Looks like a dark room, actually. Maybe they don't use this room?
You complete your sweep in record time – surely she'll be proud. Nothing suspicious, either. Fine job.
Stricture has set up camp – made a fire, but hasn't hit it, and a couple of lean tos. That was fast!
"Safe to light up?"
"Yes! Hello! I was wondering why I was moved into the storage area, this isn't your room is it?"
"I see… Already he's running out of energy after walking around. In a couple of years he might not be able to take care of himself at all…"
She seems a little teary. "I don't want to lose him after finding him again."
"Give me one last moment, I want to see if there's anything I've missed. If I'm not awake in five minutes, bring me out of it."
Sit down and have a shot of dream wine.
'1d10'Roll #1 3 = 3
I'll look sideways for a second.
"Well, space is kind of limited with how many ponies are onboard at the moment…"
Clearing my throat, I'll change the subject.
"But let's get you set up somewhere better. Perhaps Cumin wouldn't mind sharing the cargo hold with you? I need to make sure you can come and go as you please, while still keeping your room secure in case of waves or storms."
I don't trust it as much…
Quickly look at the next two items on the list.
You really, really hope that on the outside you're not blushing. Your mind must be really distracted, because you got a very vivid dream about exactly what went on in the bedroom after you got really drunk last night. I-it's okay! You're still pure!
Look up at Stricture.
"…Okay, this is no good. My mind is clouded. But I think
it should be safe."
Ninja interjects from behind. "I have found a new spot.
She retrieves the box and scoots it into a small opening in the floor of the cargo hold. This opening by all rights should lead to the ocean, but it's not flooding because reasons. This is the weird hole that Itztli made in the side of your cargo hold that he could live in, but it's just the right size for a box.
"You will need to add a side door, though. Climbing through the top would be a tight squeeze.
Okay, looks like you should enter into a storage room from here. The door itself is locked and alarmed, but you can avoid it entirely by displacing a ceiling tile and dropping down on the other side. Be careful to avoid "steam pipes" in there, whatever that means.>>674395
He smiles and lights the fire. "If it's good enough for you, it's good enough for me."
Smile. "Any word from Lord Wind?"
"Excellent job. I have been needing a door anyway.
Give her a hug.
"If that's what Celestia has planned, then there's nothing we can do about that. By him meeting the both of you, you've already given him the greatest gift he could have. Try to use the time you have with him wisely…"
I'll clonk my front hooves together.
"I had completely forgotten about the rabbit hole.">>674399
I'll clear my throat a bit.
"Now, I suppose I should ask you both while you're still here and make it official, but would you two like to join us all for a small party on the beach? I will be providing the food, of course, so there's no need to hold back. And, if there are any dishes you'd like me to try and make, all you have to do is ask."
My eyes widen for a moment, but start blinking rapidly as I shake my head.
"You- You don't have to apologize! B-But… that's a painful looking scar. What happened to you? Erm, if you don't mind me asking."
"Not as yet, but that might be a good thing. Perhaps something important was found. Either way, Lord Wind is very capable.">>674400
She hugs back, a little too hard, but takes a deep breath and blinks away the tears.
"Right. Okay. Let's try and enjoy the mosque before we have to leave."
Probably pipes that are hot? Like that construct in that bank that kept overheating…
Hmm, do read up, what happens when I come up at the other side? Will I catch a break to read up some more from the list?
Read the third listing!
"I'm still unsure what help we might give here, there is nothing to fight. Nothing corporeal, at least."
Ninja nods, which is a pretty big tip off that she at least understands some Equestrian, even if she's not speaking it.
"I'm honored to accept your invitation Princess Marina." >>674406
"Marina is formally inviting you to dinner.
" I explain for the ninja's benefit, even thou I know she has some rough understanding of equestrian.
I'll beam at them.
"Alright then. I'll just be stopping by the galley to grab a few things, and then I'll head outside to cook."
And then it's off to the ice box, grabbing all ten of the tuna and the dozen clams, then what few tools haven't already been taken outside.
And then it's time to make a great banquet out of all the stuff that I've got. Including the things I "liberated" from the Manako Company larders.
"No, it's fine. I don't care if you stare. Most ponies do. When I left to stay in the woods for a year, about eight months in I was attacked by a bear. I was mauled, and pinned to the ground. In desperation, I shot my blackpowder barrel. A lot of the burning debris was embedded in my face, I had to dislodge it alone in the wild, bleeding out. The bear was spooked and left. I shot it later. Its fur was singed – completely ruined, but I kept the pelt anyway."
It says there's a blindspot from the guard patrols under the cloth display tables. Just slide under and wait for them to leave to maximize your time before the next patrol.
"Hey, when we know where that handsome stallion of you is, perhaps we can sail there after we've been to the Highlands!"
Huh, allright. I can read up there.
Fly in carefully, locate the door and the floor tile that looks moveable… probably a maintenance hatch or something. SOmething like the enterance to the lab of that fucker in Anniev. I will never forget that horrible hole… so I guess I'll have no trouble finding this one.
"Uh. Bat ponies you say? Do they live in caves, like real bats?"
"Oh… I see. Okay then.
That's the last of your clams. You should go clamming soon - you love to throw some clams into your pot for stewing. A regular clam slammer.
It's great no matter what, but roll for just HOW great. 1d10+10
"Heh… you think it's for real, and not just a tourist trap?"
It's gonna be fabulous. It's gonna be great.I just don't want it to be something they'd hate.Roll #1 8 + 10 = 18
"I don't think so, but I'm not sure. I do know they have a fortress nearby, called Nightkeep.">>674413
They use weird prefabbed building parts here, it seems. The ceiling must have been part of the renovations. It lifts free easily. Roll to avoid pipe.
You've avoided many pipes in your time.
"Only one way to find out right?"
I will take a moment to look over my room for the best place for a door, take some paint out and prepare to draw lines on the box.
You make dinner great again! It's been a long time since your crew could really cut loose and eat some good food – the cave beans are still a fresh memory, so this banquet goes over great.
Let's see if that was enough experience for avoiding more.
'1d10'Roll #1 10 = 10
Good thing you have that art kit to draw with! Mom would be delighted if she knew your art was being used for practical mechanical engineering.
You carefully avoid the wall where your weapons are hanging and pick out a kind of blank stretch of wall.
At least this is something I know they have unquestionable faith in me for.
"Right. Come on, I bet there's a line!"
And there was. You have more time to talk and chat as it slowly dwindles…
Eventually, though, you get to the front, and Aira goes into a booth. You don't think you should ask for your own love, just to avoid any questions about where your husband is and how you have a daughter.
"They only come out at night?"
You deftly leap from one side of the door to the other, and without missing a beat, rush to the tables and skid under one. Smooth as silk! And now you have plenty of time to read ahead.
My mouth falls open.
"That's… so… awesome! N-Not that you got burned, but that still hunted the bear down in the end! I've never even gone close
to a bear! I'd just desperately try to fly away if that happened to me."
"Well… so they say. I mean, that's what I've heard but I'm not a subject matter expert. They also say they can't cross salt and I think that one is a myth. I mean, how could they put up a fight if a little salt keeps them out?"
'1d10' aspiring artist draw fancy doorRoll #1 2 = 2
That seems like a very wise decision!
It has been a weird, weird week.
You saved your dad.
You committed to marry your cousin who is currently having a gender crisis.
You met a FAIRY and helped her befriend a NINJA of all things
You actually got ALONG with Maeda
You defeated Ornitrex
You committed to giving away your firstborn daughter to the last pirate
It's nice to be back to normalcy.
Hah! This old mare still has it!
Read up, what's the next three steps? Where will I be able to catch another break?
At least I should have time to tell my firstborn child of whatever gender to get used to the idea of a political marriage. And if Davy actually does end up in the Aquamarine navy, then maybe it won't take much prodding from me at all to get the children together.
"Right. So we should be doubly worried.
They all can fly right? Maybe in the trees…"
Should I take another inspection round? I've not been called by Wind yet…
He chokes out a wry laugh. "Well, I didn't shoot the bear until months later. And anyway… you're awesome too. A lot of ponies would've given up on this adventure several times already. You've crossed the world, bartered with savages, tamed the wild, and raised the dead just to meet your parents. That's awesome to me."
It looks VERY pretty. Maybe it's not very straight though… impressionism is kind of your thing.
After about ten or twenty minutes, Aira walks out, and seems lost in thought.
Walk next to her.
"And what happened?"
The stairs up to level two. This is the riskiest part of the whole thing. If you clear this, you're basically home free. It's a dead sprint to fly up the stairs as quickly as possible before the next patrol, which has to be timed because there's another patrol at the top. Once there you can dive behind some drapes, placing you mere feet from the case room. You'd be about 60% done with the heist. IF you can pull this one off.
Call over to the ninja.
"Ninja Chan, Do you think you can cut out this door for me?
Your ship slowly glides into some kind of big mechanism. Suddenly, you notice the glowing fungus on the walls starting to rise…
As the festivities wear on, eventually Cumin comes out but keeps bundled up and to herself, but she does have some sushi rolls.>>674435
"Do you think splitting up is wise if you're worried about spies?"
"Hmm… I guess I thought she would just tell me a name or show me a picture. She asked me a lot of questions, and then told me I've already met my true love. In New Earth maybe?"
Oh that's not suspicious at all, Cumin.
Anyway, wasn't dad going to regale us with stories of his youth, and adventure, and all that other old pony stuff?
I rub the back of my head with a hoof, embarrassed by hearing the praise.
"It wasn't that big of a deal. Not like I could have done any of that without all the ponies that I got help from along the way!"
With three reckless slices, the door is made! Wait, it's still attached at the left side. It's a swinging door now!
You hope the insides weren't cut up by that.
"Maybe, or perhaps your true love is painting or something abstract like that."
Shake my head.
"You are right.
Then what are we to do as we wait?"
He was and does. He tells the story of the Battle of the Roadesian Bay, which he says is always popular. It's quite action packed.
He puts a hoof on yours. "It's not weakness to get help from other ponies."
'1d10' investigate the room with the door for damageRoll #1 2 = 2
"Oh, I hadn't even thought of that! That would kind of be a Jewing wouldn't it?"
I'll give it a listen, since I only ever had mom's take on it. And she was busy most of the time so I got the abridged version.
It seems alright enough! I mean, some stuff fell out but that was probably do to the carrying over.Pause
Allright. Wait for the patrol.
Time it right.
I can do this, I'm fucking awesome.
When the time is right, go for it.
Fucking clear it.
I'll add that pirate die.
'1d1'Roll #1 5 = 5
/ Roll #2 1 = 1
"If it rains this makeshift door will not keep out stormweather. The deer seem to have not restarted their ritual, however.
After creeping out from under the tablecloth, you bolt up the stairs at top speed, stirring the air as you slide behind the curtain. From here, you have the vantage to see the room you're looking for… the entrance is just a few meters to your left, and in large letters over the entrance it reads: "Triumphs over Villainy".>>674454
Dad seems good at storytelling… you wonder where he got all that practice. There's a pang of envy for all the bedtime stories that Summer Seas probably got over the years.>>674449
"The camp doesn't have any valuables in it. If you're really worried, we could go follow up with Wind ourselves. We've finished our assignments anyway."
Yeah, fuck villains.
Wait for the air to clear so there is nopony around so I can get in!
Nod. "Let's go there."
Well, we probably wouldn't have had time for stories anyway, what with taking over the crab.
Come to think of it, wasn't the battle at Roads where dad and mom really hit it off?
It's not a closing door, it's one of those big openings to another museum room. You can even see some of the cases inside from here, but you don't have the angle to see the amulet.
One of the cases you see has a giant horn in it – huge, actually. Like, as long as two ponies and about as thick as one. Kinda looks like a buffalo horn if it was enormous.
He shoulders his bag and offers you a hoof up.
You can only wonder. Or ask I suppose.
What kind of fucking beast was that from?
In the shadows, take a quick look at the list.
Any other security measures in here?
You venture up the steps to the central structures and pass a great, cracked statue of scales. One tray is entirely missing, though of course the statue has no real moving pivot. Pushing back thick bushes and branches, you make your way into the dark central structure, though up ahead you see the flicker of torchlight – a single ball of flame playing up and down graven walls.
Well, where is he in the story? It might just be coming up.
I can't help but wonder if that broken statue is in some way representative of our day to day reality.
Several. This next step seems to be the most critical. After hours, most of thee tiles are alarmed, so you need to stay airborne. There are no patrols through the room, but you might be visible from the hall you're currently in so you need to work quickly. There are magical security systems ahead but they are controlled from a nexus rune in this chamber. You can disable them by finding the Bell of Tambelon and three tiles in front of it, two to the left, remove that tile without touching ANY around it. Under you should find a drawn rune. Wipe it until it is disrupted. From there, move on into the diorama room to the left.
The part where everyone gathered on the Darklantern – tensions mounting, and sides forming. Smitts and Umlock.
Stay above ground then, and quickly follow the instruction with a keen eye. A Bell shouldn't be too hard to find, and then from there I should be able to find that tile too.
Your voice echos loudly throughout the room, causing an involuntary cringe.
"Come over. come over come over come over
Roll speedy horse
So, soon then. I can wait. He'd better not leave that part out!
At least I'm not the only one making that paux faux!
SpeediestRoll #1 9 = 9
"Rain? Aren't we below deck?
It was an era when pirates were still common and mighty. Umlock had brokered a deal with several other pirate groups – The Eastwater Raiders, the Sub Pack, the Black Flag Flotilla, the Flotsam Cove Buccaneers, the Free Magic Freebooters.>>674476
Lord Wind seems to have taken an interest in what can only be described as a large bowl set into the ground – large enough to fit several ponies, probably about a meter deep with a meter radius. There lip, which is slightly arced upward and inward, is inset with ancient engravings.
"This used to be inlaid with gold – I can tell. It's harder to read without that contrast.">>674478
"The box will not remain on the ship forever, I was thinking.
You zip through and quickly spot the bell. Flipping the tile, you try to scratch out the rune – but it's not fading. Finally, you spit on it and rub, which seems to do the trick. Quickly, you hurry into the next hall – the diorama room. This room is full of wax sculptures, dummies, and skeletons dressed up in various costumes to depict famous battles. There's even one that's pirate themed!
It sounds like someone's coming, but you don't know what to do!
"We'll see a carpenter about building a proper one when we land
" I reply still toying with the colorful sliding door.
Do I recognize the script?
"Temple raiders. Disgusting."
Fly to the pirate themed one and strike a cocky pose!
"Can you grow wood into the shape of a door?
"With a magic spell – crack! A collar burst off of Umlock's neck. He was no bull at all, but in truth, a dragon in disguise! His torrent of fire sent our whole crew scattering from the deck.">>674482
It looks like Canter… or perhaps not. There are similarities, but it doesn't look quite identical.
"Now that we have a clear path, I'd like our Order sisters to look this over. It's… very promising."
"What do you make of it, Lord Inquisitor?"
"The inscription seems to describe something that I read about in the old archives. In some of the earliest writing, there seems to be no distinction between the mortal life and afterlife. That's not to say that no one died or went anywhere – but that souls could pass freely to and from the land of the dead, without necromancy."
"A gate to the other side?"
"Before the other Divines carved out pieces of the afterlife, it was written that there was a place called the Repository, where souls would be stored until the next iteration of the world. The servants of the Spirit, the Clerks, needed to pass freely between this life and the next."
"You believe this inscription can lead us to such a gate?"
"No… I think this whole structure is
You drape one hoof over a skeleton and put on a winning smile as the a guard patrols past, oblivious. It gives you a chance to read the inscription:
Remains of Pirate Queen Light Heart, killed in battle by Equestrian Royal Navy 790 AN
"But then would stepping though it be sort of…
A way to die?"
"The writing is unclear. Perhaps because the answer was very obvious during that time. After all, with no concept of our death works for us… In either case, that is why I want to have the Order of Oil sisters examine it and give their appraisal."
I'm sure he's got the crowd hanging off his every word.
"Sure.. I could do that, but why not get a proper door done for me?
Let's skim over the fact I am not very technical and it might only look like a door and not be lockable
"Very well. Until then, there is one thing I would like to investigate. If the gold from this gate has been scratched away, then it's possible the temple raiders took something else from here. With your permission."
Bow and start looking for 'clues' as to what might be missing here.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
eh fuck bad rolls. use my d1 pirate die.
He describes seeing fighting all around. Light Heart had a heart attack, Emrille fought Ruxiang 'the Eye' in the crowsnest, who sounds uncomfortably similar to that quiet one-winged pony you freed from Bright Harbor. But that's probably a coincidence. In a single blow, Al-Jinn the Unscarred slew Miss Terrebonne. Tony saved Itztli from the fire with a barrel roll at the last second, and it was only by the grace of Skylight – the virtuous Celestial priestess – that he survived to tell the tale! A magic bubble just in the nick of time.
He seems to remember another diamond dog on the scene but he can't recall his name – probably unimportant.
"Do you want to go listen to the stories on the beach?
Abandoning the obvious, you ask Stricture to boost you so that you can climb up a set of ruined stairs. It feels kinda nice to have his strong limbs hoist you up, and soon you scramble onto the higher level. Venturing further and further up to the top, you locate a skylight that has been completely grown over in canopy. Hey, if the leaves were cut back, natural light could flow into the room. That would make this a lot safer defensively against attacks from darkness, AND make the search easier.
I notice he hasn't mentioned mom yet. I hope Cumin's enjoying the story, though.
To the fires of camping and stories then!
She retreats into her hood a little when she mentions the name Skylight.
"Light Heart was saved when the orphan she adopted – Red Board – stuffed a pill in her mouth. But the child was mercilessly shot in the back of the head while she was preoccupied. Without time to hesitate, her bodyguard, Wark of Clan Tart, grabbed her and lept into the sea. But those pirates who had made it down below were struggling to stay asurface in the turbulent waves.">>674495
It seems they're deep underway recounting a great battle.>>674496
The sun is now free to gleam in through the skylight. The glow of the sun fills several huge crystals in a hanging chandelier, previously concealed by darkness from raiders. Light splits off in several directions – seemingly in calculated beams. They hit points on the wall with ornate decoration, each with something missing. It looks like there were crystals on the walls to redirect light further, but those crystals were looted.
It's much easier to see now, though.
Pay attention to the reactions of my ninja pal here.
The mask is obscuring much of her reaction. Maybe you can talk her into removing it…
She does seem interested in the story, though.
"Dare I say this place might have looked majestic, once…"
Didn't those political prisoners we release mention something about Red? This is the same pony, right?
I'll comfort Cumin a bit, though.
Stricture calls up from below: "Pity the other crystals were removed."
There is probably more than one pony named Red in the world. I mean, it's an adjective. You know land ponies love adjective names.
Foreleg around shoulder, maybe a bit of a hug. If he's willing.
Maybe she's just being polite..
"You know, you don't need to wear your mask during dinner.
She doesn't resist as you wrap a hoof around her.
"Everything was in chaos – Mera was trying to help us to shore, but fire and gunshots rang out freely. And I hope I don't need to remind you that this was in a city port – a battle raging even on shore."
"Ah, so was it your plan to lure me to dinner so you could see under my mask, fairy pony?
"Maybe we can replace them with mirrors of some sort!"
Wind waves Stricture over, and he departs, probably to get the Order of Oil scholars.
I'll just sit like this for a while.
Okay, so give this room a one over now that we can actually see stuff.
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
"I can't recall all the stories, and some I had to piece together later. I saw Wark trying to climb a ship with Light Heart hanging limp from one leg, and the body of a bard hit the water near me. But at this very moment, Chip was headed to the core of the flagship to get the dragonlance from the commodore's office to kill Umlock. He was stopped by the slavemaster of the fleet – Lockermaster Jones. When she was dragged to the top, Light Heart had to engage in a battle of hearts and minds with a venerable old griffon – General Movp.">>674511
The room is covered in ornate engravings, though much is grown over with creeping vines. The 'bowl' formation seems to be the center of the room, and there are grand depictions of courts and scales. Another common theme are dragons with no eyes. Hm.
Garm talked a lot about dragons, didn't he?
Mom wasn't around for most of this, so I'll pay attention.
He did, although he was a dragon himself, so he may have been biased. Ponies tend to write about ponies, after all.>>674514
"We had regrouped on the beach – just me, Spring, Summer, and Mera. From there I could see Tela and Emrille being divebombed by a deadly necromancer Griffon – Seekkill."
Laugh, wave my hooves dramatically in the air.
'Of course, the evil fae wants to see your face so she can steal your soul.
"You can do that?
" She asks suspiciously.
I'll whisper to Cumin.
"So, did your mom ever mention this? The battle of Roads?"
"Its not very wise to reveal all one's abilities is it?
" I smile at her.
"Don't worry so much, I'm no necromancer.
"She didn't really like to talk about fights – focusing more on the good parts of life. I knew she was involved in some stuff when she was younger, though…"
"To our shock, Summer Seas got loose from Mera and scaled the ship to join in the fight against Seekkill. I wish I could've been there to stop it, but I had to help Chip get that lance. Imagine my surprise when a Celestial assassin – a Sunblade called Redcoat – tried to stop me. It seems that the whole insurrection was the idea of the Equestrian government. Just a little nudge, and the whole pirate fleet would fall apart, destroying itself. They were more successful than I care to say.">>674519
Roll confidence breezie
"Well, the food looks good…
Okay, but anything I remember about blind dragons?
Also the food is out? I need to try it right away.Roll #1 7 = 7
Only a passing reference – to the petalite dragons of the west, who were universally blind.>>674522
Tastes like home! How can Marina cook authentic tasting food from another culture so effortlessly? She's so sugoi kawaii desu!
"Well… fine. But just because I'm starving.
She pulls down the lower half of her mask to eat. You can feel your bond is a little stronger.
"Lord Wind, these might be Petalite Dragons." point them out in the carvings.
"We're both learning a lot, aren't we…?"
"In the early years of the world, there were so many dragons, they were often divided by type and categorized. The world has so few dragons left, by comparison, that we collectively call them, 'dragons' now, and they even migrate in one flock and submit to a single Dragonlord regardless of species. It is a pity we do not have a dragon expert on hand.">>674525
"That's true. Although it's weird to think that uh… both of them were there. And I mean, both of your parents too."
"There was a book, I briefly consulted in Princessland, written on account of a certain Garr the Terrible by a scholar known as Terrebonne.
It detailed the first times of creation and the other dragons quite well, but I only could study it for brief part of our morning."
"Well, it was an… exciting time? At least according to Mom."
I'll chuckle a bit.
"Still, not a lot of ponies can say they made it through something like that."
"I don't recognize the author. What was the book called?">>674528
"I would say 'I guess not', but we've had some close calls too… In that temple, with those shadow monsters, for instance."
What a nice princess.
"Try some of this, it's amazing!
" I gesture to the 'best' tasting dish.
"True. If it weren't for you, we'd have never made it out."
Snuggle up to him a bit.
"Which, I should say again, was very brave and stallion-y of you."
That's probably the fusion dish. She made all kinds of sushi rolls incorporating all kinds of ingredients - Equestrian, Neighponese, and even more exotic stuff you don't recognize.
She tries to remain dignified while stuffing her mouth full of them.
Tell her the name.
"I took an interest in it because the curator brother said it had quite a few unusual, unsourced details."
I will have to get the recipe sometime.
She leans forward a bit so you "can't" see her blushing under the hood.
"R-right. Well, I had too. Y-you saved me, and nursed me back to health so… I couldn't let you d-down.">>674533
"Hm. Well, I don't want to get too sidetracked. It's hard to guess what the symbolism on these walls indicates."
Stricture returns with the Order of the Oil clerics, who begin making sketches.>>674534
It's easy to be jealous of fish horse's cooking. How do you experiment with so few ingredients to choose from and still get good results? She must have a mental library of every taste and be able to mix the flavors in her mind's palette.
While they do, I'll drink off to see if I get visions about this place.Roll #1 9 = 9
"I think Dad's coming up to the good part of the story."
You dream of a stage, and a single spotlight shines down from above. It's joined by another, and another, and another, and the curtains peel back to reveal a new scene. Before you can focus on it, you awaken.>>674537
"It sounds brutal…"
"A team of Hamburgerburgians were hunkered down to fight, led by Old Ben and Strom, but the former was slain by Medium John Bronze. Half the ships were sinking, two tiers of the city destroyed, and pilse of corpses. It was then that Light Heart learned the truth – Landgrave was in her cabin, to convince her to join him. It was HE who worked with Equestria, disrupted the Roadesian guards, killed the Roadesian nobility, hired the pirate bands, and made Umlock his pawn! Meanwhile, the most legendary magic duel of a century was going on at the Pillager's Fancy. The legendary warlock named Fullmaster Abilio was in combat with the terrifyingly powerful dread necromancer – I honestly can't recall his name though. All I can remember is that he had no tongue, and he was dire scary. Although Abilio was the most powerful spellcaster I even knew, and he summoned a whole legion of Tartarian demons, he was bested, and slain by that… creature."
"Well, battle and war usually is. I'd like to avoid such things, personally."
Not that I've had much choice, as it turns out. I keep falling into perilous situations.
Groan. Bit too cryptic…
I suppose so, but then cooking is much of my thing, maybe I could grow her a nice garden so she has a larger selection of herbs..
The two of you can move on when you see fit.
"Now, I wasn't around for this bit, so I got it later and I don't know how reliable it is considering the source, but according to Emrille, the duel between the other guy – Marrowbone, that was his name – and Abilio came to a head. A wave of death was gushing forth, and Tela was about to be caught in the blast. So I was told, Abilio called for 'every single demon in Tartarus' to protect her, kill Marrowbone, and then get torn to pieces himself. But with Marrowbone dispensed with, there were only two major threats left – Umlock, and Al-Jinn the Unscarred. Unfortunately, I was on my way to meet one of them myself."
That's a lot of names I probably don't know!
Seems most of the audience does not, although he introduced most of the characters earlier. Maybe you got too late to get that part.
Grimace a bit.
Is the guard gone?
I wonder if Kotone is enjoying herself.
She trotted on past you.
"Ponies get very creative when they need money, especially priests."
I'm sure I can pick up on the context..
"By the time I got to the captain's cabin, Al-Jinn and Smitts were already there, and Chip besides. Neither of us could ever compete with the griffon's speed, but the Commodore resurrected the planks of wood in the room and crushed the griffon. A testimony to his power, the swordsgriff broke free and cleaved straight through Smitts – but it was a ruse to begin with. He had baited the attack in order to get Al-Jinn in range of toxic spores. And so died two legendary pirates, leaving us to collect the spear and escape the sinking vessel."
"Hey mom, why are there no more Jew ponies?"
I wonder why Davy was so enamored with the lifestyle of a pirate, if it ends like that?
"Uh…" does selena even know?
Turn to the skeleton, caressing the muzzle with a hoof.
"Don't worry love, I won't let you stay here forever, but I got some more important shit to take care of right now. Every mare for herself, like the good old times, huh?"
Okay, this is getting creepy.
Return to my quest!
What was the next step again? Use the cheat-sheet!
Gasp appropriately at the horrible end of the story!
Probably not, she never had a formal history education. But maybe she has some speculation!>>674713
"Light Heart had been saved from her own duel with Umlock – which would have ended in her certain death – but it came at a cost. Rusty Wrench, Mellow Marsh… Nearly all of the Smitts loyalists were dead. The fleet was sinking. The city was in flames.
We at first thought we'd retreat up to the higher levels of the city where there was some semblance of order, but the chaos seemed even worse up there. The pirates concordant was losing, pushed back from the third tier to the second. And a new army was massing to throw them back into the sea. The palace was in flames, however.
Realizing that all other ships in the fleet were surely loss, we all made for the Hourglass, the smallest in the fleet. It's only by Mera's speed that we were able to get there in time."
"I know, but still, credit where credit is due. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for some of them."
Oh hey that's mom! That means the story's getting close to the end.
The next room has your final goal – the Alicorn amulet! It has some security features you need to disable first, though.
There are "lasers"… Abilio didn't explain what these are, but apparently they're invisible and bad. You need to make some smoke to make them appear and NOT touch them.
Then you have to open the glass case – you can do this by pouring the paint thinner on the corners of the case where the sealant is.
Finally, you need to replace the amulet with something of similar weight within one second of removing it.
Oh, and get out before the next guard patrol. Your exit point is the skylight at the back of the room. You can try to disarm it, or if you run out of time, just bust through and flee into the night hoping nopony follows.
"I don't know actually. I always heard they moved to other countries once they realized Equestrians are hard to trick!"
Oh, keep listening then
George indicates a green bird on a branch nearby, at the jungle's edge. "Do you recognize that bird? It's native to this continent, so maybe not."
How do I make smoke without firing my gun though? That's going to be interesting…
Do I have any apparent way for that? I mean… would shooting a fire bullet without my gun being loaded work? I never tried that
Simply shake my head, unsure where he's going with this.
"As we made our way there, I remembered Skylight – I had to go back for her! It was only by Luna's providence that I found her in time. I remember holding her in my arms and sobbing… I thought I had lost her only weeks after meeting her.">>674722
"Huh. Well, this day is kinda spent. We can still go back and enjoy dinner and the sauna, though."
Skip ahead to tomorrow?>>674725
You could try it. Who knows?
The question of what to burn is still there, though. And what to put in place of the amulet…
"Well, looks like Dad didn't know much about the family, either…"
"Just a curiosity." Another green bird lands next to it and they snuggle up. "They're affectionate little birds. Ponies call them lovebirds, they're a sort of parrot."
What a heart warming scene
"If these are lovebirds, would that make ducks rapebirds?"
Morning time. You let Face sleep in your bed last night, but this time you were the big spoon for once. He's still curled up in your hooves, sound asleep, when you stir.
He suggested visiting a Naturalist holy site today, out in the desert, if you want to remain in the city.
Well, for the amulet.
Quickly fly over to Light Heart.
"Sorry cupcake, going to have to borrow this for a bit!"
Take her tailbone!
Also, attempt to make smoke with my gun!
Do not fire any rounds though, that'd be way too loud!
'1d10'Roll #1 4 = 4
He wryly smiles. It's kind of weird to see his face, you're so used to that expressionless mask.
"That's not very romantic.">>674731>>674729
Our moment was shortlived. The Darklantern exploded – the fleet's fortune lost to the bottom of the sea. I can't be sure, but I think Tony and Blue Topaz went up with it.
On the Hourglass, out of a crew of hundreds, a group of huddled survivors had escaped the carnage. Jolly "Face" Rogers, Grey Worm – one of Light Heart's adopted kids, Ciddir, Burnside of Hamburgerburg – the last of his contingent, Nurturing Heart – a nurse Chip took as booty from Stonebriar, and Driftwood – a menial most of us hadn't known the name of before that day."
The bone is stuck, like with some adhesive. The whole structure rattleYs as you shake it.
The barrel of your gun lights up but does not emit smoke.
Pirates who didn't even know who the worked for?
Drip just a teeny-tiny drop of paint-thinner on the tailbone, making sure I have enough for the case!
Also… maybe I can light something smokey on fire. Is there anything rubber-y around these sets? Those make good smoke while not burning too bright!
That sounds good!
"What I mean is, lovebirds know that life is short, so they try to make the most of it. Unlike other kinds of birds, they find one other bird and form a strong bond, and never part."
Apparently working one of the smaller jobs - engineering, rigging, sailing, swabbing, bilging, etc. – is not very prestigious, even on a pirate ship.
You pull free a link of caudal vertebra.
Want to skip ahead to that or do horse stuff on the way?
'1d10'Roll #1 6 = 6
Keen eyes still, right?
You spot some rubber wheels on the bottom of the fake pirate chest.
You hear hoofsteps approaching.
Let's skip to there. Are Aria and Aira coming?
Ugh, fuck, hide near the pirate exhibit again.
Yes, even if Aria is still a grumpy grouch ponoe.
You ride out in the carriage into the desert, for several hours. The landscape is dry, hot, and uninteresting, but after quite a long period, you see green on the horizon.>>674749
You position yourself in the exhibit until the guard wanders past.
"Well it's a choice you have to make I suppose. You've got both kinds of ponies as well."
Fucking assholes, doing their jobs.
Try and set the rubber on fire!
'1d10+2'Elemental shot still, right baby?Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7
Mom would disagree.
"So which kind are you, Lilly Belle?"
Use my hat to wave myself some freshness. "How can there be any green in such a hot place?"
They just weren't appreciated in the past!
Curry continues his story to a very hard to believe ending involving an incredible amount of luck, a necromancer, and a teleportation charm, ending with firing the lance from a harpoon gun.
At the end he claps his hooves together. "Right! I remember the dog's name. Sateo. Now I can't verify the story, but apparently he started a dog clan of his own on that island. All that treasury lost to a lone dog and an island of pygmies. Heh… kinda makes you wonder if anypony ever went after it. Probably not. You'd have to be pretty sneaky to get past all those pygmies, and THEN all the defenses in the old palace's dungeon vault.
Ninja's eyes are as big as dinner plates!
You're not actually shooting anything though. You're trying to start a fire with your gun without shooting.
Again the barrel lights but it's not hot enough to light paper much less rubber.
She wants to hunt treasure huh?
"Really? A pygmy island? I've never seen one, where was it?"
Give him a blank look.
"I've never really gotten the chance in life to do either if I'm honest."
Aira: "Maybe dad can tell us."
She prods the colt, causing him to wake. He drearily looks up at the three of you.
"Oh, did you miss the start of the story, Miss Fairy? It was the Island of Roads – the famous last bastion of the Oddomane Empire."
"It's never too late to start."
"Oh… that's good." He yawns, and Aira picks him up so he can see out the window.
"Yeah, I can see it up ahead. Those trees you can see are mostly olive and date tress. But look for the pretty red trees – those are strawberry trees. The name just means the color, they don't actually bear strawberries. The dates and olives are good, though. You should have some hummus."
"That's confusing. Why do so many alchemists and scholars meet there?"
Fucking hell… allright, look around this room, anything in here that is good enough to start a fire with?
"Sounds like a place full of adventure!"
Tap my chin with a hoof, pondering about his words.
"I'm still young and in my prime, but I suppose a lot of mares around my age start getting married…"
"As for scholars, mostly Naturalists. This is the only Holy Site for thousands of kilometers. The plants here can be a little exotic, though. The heat breeds strange animals. Like the lizard pitchers that grow around the palm trees, or the rousing cactus.">>674766
There are a lot of cloth costumes in this display…>>674767
"Hm… maybe so. Still, probably not the safest ruins in the world to explore. Those pygmies came out in numbers more than I could count!"
He gives you an encouraging nod.
Grab an ugly one and hold the barrel of the gun against it.
Just set it on fire already!
'1d10+2'Roll #1 8 + 2 = 10
You don't benefit from shooting cutie mark when not shooting.
The cloth catches fire. You hear hoofsteps approaching.
"Thanks for sharing your tale, Curry."
"Well, I'm not much of a storyteller, but my daughter insisted."
Hide the cloth behind the pirate booty chest, stand back there agian, wait for the guard to pass and hope he doesn't notices the smoke…
"Oooh, I can't wait to try some new potions!"
"Maybe I'll have something to tell one day.." I ponder out loud
'1d10'Roll #1 3 = 3
Outside the windows, the great dunes are replaced by dense foliage and shade, you can hear the laughter of ponies and the splashing of water up ahead.
Aira lifts Face up to her face. "Stay close so you don't get lost, okay?"
"I won't get lost, Aira. I know this place better than you do, I'm showing you around!"
"Well don't let us get lost from you then!"
As it begins to get late, ponies start heading back to the ship. You're left to wonder how long you'll hang around with these seaponies before you forge your own adventure. Still, they make good company.
I'll blush a little at that.
Only known my dad a few days, and he's already able to embarrass me.>>674781
Since the party's dying down, I suppose I should help with the cleanup.
Anything that anyone doesn't eat gets put in the ice box. Unless Kotone's ninja friend would like to keep a portion for herself. She's kinda skinny.
foolish narrator, being around seaponies is
perfect adventure material.
Turn to the ninja
"Well, I suppose you'll be going to the sands again?"
Look out to the oasis, I could use some refreshment!
The fire catches the pony's attention, and she sprints for the main hall yelling: "Fire! Fire! The building is on fire!"
You hear the echo of panicked voices.
You can always ask. However the lack of plates made this a pretty fast cleanup, as you pick up your serving tray.
"I had thought about looking for wealth elsewhere.
Well, I can wander on by Kotone and her friend.>>674783>>674787
"Hey you two, did you enjoy the party?"
Okay, looks like it's time for a change of plans.
Fly over the fire, to stir it up with my wings, towards the cloths displays to give them something to think about, but then just fly straight for the amulet! Fuck the alarms, they will hopefully think it is the fire alarm!
Break the case and grab the Amulet!
'1d10'Roll #1 9 = 9
/ Roll #2 3 = 3
"Then again, it's not like I've got much going for me right now. I'm probably
without a job and constantly traveling!"
"You mean to leave the island then?
"Yes, it was very pleasant, your father's tale was entertaining."
Outside you can see colts and fillies splashing and playing, throwing strange sacs at each other that burst with water. It seems they have it in abundance. You can see a bunch of tents set up around here – some commercial, others residential. The water itself is probably further in.
Aira sets Face down outside so that he can lead you on. "What do you want to see first? The lake?"
"Yes, I could use some cool water."
You smash through the case, and the doors to the room slam shut as alarms start to blare. You hear screams of panic outside. You think you even hear the muffled yelling of "This is not a drill!"
Roll Glance Frantically Around Room For Any Avenue Of Escape.
"I only came out at about the halfway point, actually. I'd heard my mom tell her side of it, so I was hoping my dad could fill in the other side."
I'll scuff the sand a bit.
"Say, how did you two like the cooking? I haven't had much practice with rice dishes, and even though your kitchen staff let me borrow a few things I couldn't ask them what you usually liked."
"The whole continent. Although it seems you will too, if you stay with these ponies. Perhaps staying with them would be wise, at least until I am near Equestria where the Middle Sea Current would part us.
"All of the most interesting ponies are free to travel whenever they like."
Just to be absolutely clear, I totally grabbed the amulet too, right?
Fuck, I thought there were skylights in here.
I suppose I will have to make my own exit!
Unload some fire bullets in the ceiling! Focus on one spot, hoping I can make a hole!
And my other pirate dice
'1d2'Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9
/ Roll #2 2 = 2
"Oh! I was delicious! I can't believe the fusion dish tasted so authentic." >>674796
"I'm traveling with them by extension of the princess's invitation, however.. Since you aren't with Princess Marina or myself, you'd have to arrange things with their captain.
" I raise a tiny eyebrow at her, an expectant look even.
… Wait a second.
Eye him critically.
"Are you… are you coming onto me?"
I'll break into a smile.
"Well, there's plenty left over if you or your friend want to snack on them while we travel. I'll be storing the ones that aren't going to be eaten immediately in my ice chest, so they stay fresh."
The twins' tiny father leads you on past the tents down a slope. As you clear the tent city, you can see a great lake, surrounded by greenery, stretching on for at least a couple of kilometers. The slope you're headed down is alive with travelers, moving up and down – many with pots of water on their heads. You can actually see a few more permanent brick structures near the water's edge, and one is a ceramics forge. Another seems to be some sort of alchemical building – a lot of ponies are lined up there with bottles and pots, too!
"If your boat was a little bigger you would benefit greatly from an herb garden, the amazing things you do without one could only be improved."
Splash my head with some water!
"Face, what's that building over there?" point to the alchemical building
"Well, if I knew how to make shrinking potions like you, then I'd be able to fit one, probably. Do you know if it works on plants?"
Your shots tear straight through the prefabbed ceiling tiles and set them alight, embedding themselves in the "real" stone roof above and lighting the crawlspace slightly.>>674800
He raises a brow. "Naaaaah. I was coming onto you when I agreed to travel across a continent to help you get closure on your parents' deaths free of charge. This is just smalltalk."
He hurls a stone out across the water, skipping it. "The company has been nice, though."
"Maybe. But I am pretty good at stowing away.
"A water purifier. In the east, their concept of hygiene includes many things that ours doesn't. They believe that only water which has been specially treated is considered cleansed and safe to drink. It does taste a bit sweeter to me."
Fly past the fire as fast as I can and into the ceiling crawlspace, heading towards the hall of paintings so I can take the skylight out!
"Hmm, I'd like to see how they cleanse it!"
"Hmm… well, we don't want to wait in that line."
He indicates the ponies lined up to get access to several faucets pouring water.
Instead, he leads you around to the back of the building to a door. "Can you lift me up so I can pick the lock?"
Facehoof. Shit. Fuck.
"I'm so sorry. And so embarrassed."
"Almost exclusively so yes." I reply with a nod.
"But, its not something I can just go around telling ponies, its taken a very long time to get it right.">>674807
What a stubborn mare.
"That would pretty rude, I'm not sure any respectable ponies would want a ninja who stows away as a habit.
Look around. "Aira, Aria, just cover us for a few seconds and act natural!"
Pick up Face and put him at lock height
"Fair enough. Though, a lot of my experiments did come from my brother's garden in Aquamarine City. He turned an entire steam room into a tiny farm!"
Stomp on the fake ceiling then to make it collapse!
"A steam room? Aren't those awfully hot? How were the plants okay in that?"
He shrugs. "Don't worry about it. Truth is, I figured out you were a lesbian about a week ago. Those shooting lessons were definitely
"Hmm, you think I should just ask?">>674814
Face pops open the door after a few seconds.
"I don't really get how it works…"
It looks like a huge alembic!
You collapse out the ceiling into a pack of ponies with buckets of water. SHIT!
"I think so. Rather than sneaking around for the whole trip.
"Perhaps then. She seems very naive and generous. She reminds me of you.
"That's the thing! My brother rigged up something that keeps the room at just the right temperature and humidity for a wide range of crops. There's stuff from sugar cane to carrots. And he managed to get his hooves on potatoes before I could bring him any, too."
I'd never get this excited about his garden in front of my brother, though.
"I mean, seaponies are pickier eaters than you'd think, since the idea of eating greenery was novel to most of them, but my brother's little farm plot paired with my cooking skills managed to convince them to expand the agricultural program by developing one."
I'll start doodling in the sand.
"See, the spot in the crab where he's got his farm is right touching the water, in this little hollow area. So he does… something with a bunch of pipes and nozzles and dials and that keeps the plants from being over-watered."
"In that she's not somepony you can respect, or in that she's considered exotic?
I huff a little hurt still. >>674824
"Wait, inside the crab
? Is my equestrian bad or are you saying you live inside a crab?"
"I didn't say I couldn't respect you. I mean, I did, but that was before.
She shakes her head suddenly. "That doesn't matter! What I meant was, she is too kind. Only naive ponies are so open soled.
"What are you waiting for, dumbasses? The insurance company is going to fucking murder us!
Use the ceiling to fly in and put that fire out or you are ALL OUT OF A FUCKING JOB!"
"Did I not mention it? Aquamarine city is inside of a giant crab. It moves, and we move with it. It's got a lot of hollow spaces, and I think the steam is used to help it move."
"It looks like they're simply cooking the water! But why?"
That's gonna be a hell of a persuade DC.
Roll for it
"….That's amazing!" I reply in awe. >>674826
"She does have a lot to learn if she's going to be a ruler..
" I nod in agreement.
You know it's not literally a crab right? It's made of stone and coral.
"However… I have come to learn that appearances CAN be deceiving.
"I don't know the details, but they believe that sickness can be bourne by water, and by cooking it, you kill a disease before you drink it. They also cook all their food, that's why all those vegetables we had at the palace were steamed or baked or glazed."
"It's also a former Discordian stronghold that we kinda took over. Which explains it.">>674832
It's… it's not? My entire life is a lie.
Look at it a little longer.
"That's interesting…and a bit disappointing, I was hoping for something less mundane…"
My mouth falls open in shock.
"Eh? What!? You watch your mouth! I'm no lesbo!"
"That's a very good lesson..
" I soften my stare a bit.>>674835
"Discordian? Oh, right one the Equestrians spirits of disharmony."
"Well, there are other alchemists around here, but none of them get as much business as this. Think about it. All of the water that these ponies drink has to be purified. There's only one way to meet that much demand – a whole engine for it."
He puts his hooves up reassuringly. "Hey, hey, it's okay! I don't judge!"
"Maybe you could ask for me, though. My accent is very thick.
I'm an old and grumpy lady!
Totally fits!Roll #1 10 = 10
"Just because my parents were like that doesn't mean I've got any
interest in following their example!"
"It took a while to finally secure the place, and we're still trying to get what we know how to work to, well, work. There's this one place in there that stores all sorts of things in clouds. I almost got squashed by a pallet of iron bars that fell out, once!"
I still count myself lucky I only got a minor wounding from that.
Half of them go through the breach before one of them says: "Hey… she's got the amulet!"
You rocket through the skylight at top speed, embedding several shards in your face, but it's better than the alternative. Gotta find somewhere to lay low! Sirens are blaring all over and already the rubberneckers are gathering.>>674843
"Oh, I didn't know you were adopted. Sorry, it must be a touchy subject."
"That seems reasonable, you want to ride along until you get closer to Equestria right?
"Your crab castle is that dangerous?"
"Yes… the place they said they were going, Autumnsreach, I have heard of this place. It would be a good place to get a new ship.
Let out a groan of frustration.
"It's complicated. They're my biological parents."
"Was! Was that dangerous. We've got workarounds for the areas that we're not sure what triggers them to disgorge their contents. I was lucky enough to find my ice box and figure out what it does, as well as a pillar of frozen fire to cook with."
I'll scrunch for a moment.
"It's probably best not to think too hard about it…"
I know just the place!
Gotta fly super fucking fast!
And find some nearby dumpsters I can hide behind!
"Oh, a donor. You know, it's not anything to be ashamed of. I've heard of mare couples seeking an outside stallion before. You know, so they can have a biological foal."
Dumpsters won't be invented until garbage trucks. That's what they're made for, easy loading into trucks. These days only cans exist.
"…Well, to change the topic. Miss Ninja would like to accompany your group to Autumnsreach. She asks for your permission, Princess."
A timely bow here.
Fuck, those aren't big enough!
Guess I'll just fucking wing it and fly straight off and under Canterlot!
She gives a bow as well
Snap at him.
"Can you not listen? They're both my biological parents! There was just some weird magic involved."
Roll sneaky ponoe
'1d10'Roll #1 3 = 3
"Oh! Well, I thought she was going to be in your employ, so it was kind of assumed… but if she's asking for herself, then I think we should have enough room to squeeze her in somewhere. If she doesn't mind sharing?"
He gets up and walks down the beach, headed for where Sitar is meditating on a rock out at waters' edge. "I guess you need some time alone."
"How much do they ask for this?"
"This is a public work, Selena. The Caliph had it built, in his wisdom, for the health of his subjects. It's free, for everypony, forever.">>674858
You dart away into the night, and under the upper tier which hangs out over the waterfall, heaving your chest. Did you lose them?
Turn around with my back to a wall, gun cocked, waiting.
So. Fixing these mirrors.
"I've spent enough time alone. Let's just get on with business. We'll talk about this later."
Take a deep breath and start walking towards Sitar.
Roll heartbeats that pass undisturbed.>>674853
"I was wondering… and I don't mean anything by it, but if there was a room full of money, could you shrink all that down so that one pony could carry it all away without having to bag it all separately and make many trips?
"We currently are unable to reach such an agreement…" cough a little. "I shall translate for her then."
"She says this is alright, but you may have to share room because of the number of ponies aboard.
The sisters of the Order of the Oil have set about the task, but they'll need the evening. As night sets in, you get a feeling of dread that your watch duty tonight might be eventful.
Let's hope nopony was dumb enough to follow…Roll #1 8 = 8
Boy oh boy do I love feelings of dread.
How's night shift been split?
"..Can I shrink many valuable things? Yes, yes I can.
" I reply mysteriously.
Your heart hammers in your chest, blood surging in your ears, eyes wild with panic, adrenaline like lightning in your veins, making you feel alive.
After tense moments of anticipation, your breath slows… your heartbeat calms. You wait like that until your wings strain with exhaustion. Ten minutes. Twenty minutes. Half an hour.
…Tentatively, you suspect you've lost them.>>674865
Sitar seems fully absorbed in his meditation. "Well in that case, I'll work on the raft. You could fly ahead to the island, if you wanted."
"I was thinking… if that story about the money is true, I might be able to get it. But I probably wouldn't be able to transport it all myself. But we could split the money.
Slip the amulet safely inside my clothes, then start walking away as if I was a passer by.
I probably should go to an inn for tonight. Maybe find some new clothes tomorrow…
Stricture will take the first watch for four hours, and then you'll take the four before the dawn.
Time to get some sleep in then.
"If that story is true than a very old pirate dog lives there hording the treasure..
Smile at her.
"Still, I was planning to look around there, I wouldn't mind going with you.
Well, this is certainly a fair bit of debate over sharing a room.
Where do you want to enter the city?
One of the gates? Fly into one of the tiers past the skyguard? They're not infallible, you just slipped by them once.
clearly we're deciding who's getting top bunk
They might be more on guard now though.
Enter through the Wide Gate.
But you live in a shoebox! It's your entire room, tucked safely away. And the bed's not a bunk, I'm pretty sure.
"Curry-san isn't that old. But I take your meaning. So a pact is struck. Since you are young, perhaps you do not appreciate the binding nature of a pact.
She draws her knife and cuts her hoof to draw a little blood. "We will seal it in blood. A pact unbreakable.
"No, I'll help you out."
Poke Sitar with a hoof.
"We'll be working on the raft so we can head to that island. Are you going to be okay?"
[empty spaces, what are we living for]
Stricture shakes you awake. "Be on guard tonight Maeda. The forest is alive with strange jungle sounds – birds and beasts alike."
Most of the ponies are staring at the smoke from the upper tier, allowing you to waltz in unnoticed. Still though, you have to go up to the second tier to get to Abilio's house. Or maybe find an inn here on the merchants' tier.
He opens one eye, loosely fixed on you.
"Yes… I can help with the raft."
A legion of undead begin to rise from the seas to cut down trees for lumber.
"I won't let you down-"
Look around, and make sure everyone else is sleeping.
Give him a quick kiss lips to lips and be off.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
Whoa, back up a little bit mid air. "A blood pact to steal treasure we don't for sure even exists?
Use a d10 pirate die.
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
Yeah, not going to risk going to their place tonight, I don't want them to get busted.
Just find an inn here at the merchant tier and sleep with my wing on the trigger.
"If it doesn't exist, then consider yourself freed from its bounds. But we must be able to trust that neither of us will cross the other.
Look at the undead army, flabbergasted.
"… Doesn't this constant raising of the dead wear you out?"
"Alright, I agree then.
float up and carefully cut my hoof on her blade.
Well, I wasn't aware signing a lease required a blood oath…
It's hard to tell in the dark, but it seemed like he reddened a bit when you called him that!
An hour into your watch, you begin to hear… sounds. Like whispers. You'd swear it was…
"Only talk into the night.">>674892
You empty out the last of your traveling money on a night at the inn. You should really get some more allowance from 'mommy'.
Still… even though you escaped "clean", sleeping is difficult: tense and anxious are the moods of the evening. Soon, the sky begins to lighten for another blue sunny day.>>674894
She gently presses her hoof to your tiny hoof, so that you can shake.
"The pact is sealed.
and now we sealed a blood pact, in front of a princess. How improper of us. But a fae is not overly concerned with that.
"Can I know the name of the mare whose blood is bound to mine?
Look at it.
"That's awfully nice of the Caliph."
"In times of peace, there is so much more wealth to reinvest into the land. Uh – but if we're done back here, maybe we should idle somewhere else."
Walk outside again.
"Why is this place holy for the Naturalists?"
"I'll show you! Let's go down to the shore."
Face gallops ahead into the crowd on his tiny legs. The girls, seeing you've come out, rejoin you, although Aira chases after Face. "I said not to run off!"
I feel bad for whatever stallion Aira manages to grip in her hooves.
Canter as I follow them.
Face leads the group down to the water's edge, but is unsatisfied with the crowd and begins directing your party around the edge of the lake until you have a clearer view. He points a stubby hoof toward the middle.
"Can you see the ripples out in the middle? They're a little faint."
Look over the water. Do I see them?
'1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
You can! It seems to come from the middle of the lake, somewhere below the surface.
"What's that? It's like there's some kind of animal under the water."
"Or a spring, if you've ever seen one."
"Oh, yeah that makes sense, but what's so special about it?"
"This is the first. This is where water comes from."
Look back at the lake and back at him.
"Water, you mean all the water? The sea, the lakes, all from here?"
"Yes. All water in the world comes from here, Umm Al-Maa, the Mother of Water."
"Does it have any special properties?"
"Every living thing has to drink it once every few days or it will die."
Roll my eyes.
"With the amount of ponies bathing in there I'd be surprised you'd survive one drink."
"You didn't seem so hesitant to take a drink before. Anyway, look – see, there are no rivers leading away from this lake? The heat of the sun evaporates the water, and it pours as clean rain down upon the rest of the world, like that purifier I showed you."
"But what about the springs and the wells in Equestria then?"
"Rainwater seeps into the ground to feed aquifers below."
Look at the water again.
"So where does the water come from here? Did anypony go down the bottom to see?"
"There is a crevice at the bottom. But of course it has a current going up. Maybe a seapony… but no, even then, it must go on forever. To another realm entirely, perhaps."
"The water realm of water ponies?" I say with a smirk
"They say Mother Nature is truly unknowable. Her actions cannot be comprehended by mortals, like the other Divines. For all we know, there is a place like that."
Shrug "Let's hope one of the water ponies doesn't accidentally get stranded here then."
"Well, it hasn't happened before."
"As far as you know!" Look around "I'll take a look at one of those strawberry trees!"
You examine the tree more closely. It's not fruiting right now, which isn't surprising since you're headed into winter – not that you can tell by the heat out. The tree is large, with thick branches and a wide canopy of flat, wide leaves. Strange pitcher-shaped leaves are growing around the case of the tree. The wood itself is red-orange.
The smell reminds you of sap. Thick and oily.
I wonder if this has any alchemical value? Do I see anypony around picking these leaves?
The palm leaves seem much more popular. You've seen them being woven into baskets, tents, and even clothing.