No.675001[Last 50 Posts]
The oasis is alive with activity, from colts playing to busy merchants and traders. It seems most of the structures here are tents.
You were examining the strawberry trees last. 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.
Your eyes bolt open and you jerk awake. Morning. You're in an inn. Not in chains. Yet, anyway.
Kotone & Marina
Your travel makes for odd bedfellows. Now that you've departed for the high seas and your crew is full-to-burst, space is at a premium. A certain ninja having to be downsized and stored in Kotone's room, and Marina having to share Cumin's "room" since it takes up so much space and that's already running short.
Kotone learned the ninja's name is Horosha – "Wanderer" – but that seems more like a codename than a real name to you. Maybe in time you can get her to open up a little more. Speaking of little, you've pilfered some of Marina's seeds and set to work developing your little garden a little more. Of course, rations have to compete with alchemy ingredients for your limited hydroponics trays.
Marina has been spending some time closer with Cumin. If you're getting married soon, you might as well know about each other. It seems Cumin had already known a lot about your mother before meeting - she had read about her in scholarly texts. It's kind of weird to think of Mom in that way, that there are Equestrians speculating on who she is, what she's like. To raise crew morale, you distilled some fruity wine, and even got Cumin to drink some after assuring her that everyone else was drinking it anyway so nopony would make fun. While she was tipsy she admitted to trying on one of your dresses - not the wedding dress she insists - and apologized because she felt bad about violating your privacy. The two of you passed out drunk in bed, but nothing came of it, because sometimes getting drunk in close quarters really doesn't add up to anything. In any case, she assures you that her supposed confession was probably a drink-induced dream and she didn't wear any of it.
Now, though you are making port in Autumnsreach once again. Kotone may part as soon as she wishes, or she may choose to linger and help Marina with whatever it is she's doing here.
The night is talking to you… interrogating you. You swing your eyes wildly but can't fix on any movement or creatures out in the dark. No doubt that you've been surrounded by the infamously stealthy bat ponies.
It would be a gambit to shout for help – maybe you can talk them down without the need to go to blades.
You spent the rest of the day awkwardly working on the raft in silence. By nightfall, it's ready to take you to that island, Elba. That's where Rosemary is thought to have fled. Perhaps you'll find a grave.
Fucking allright then!
Get out of bed, style my main, check the amulet out, get my feathers in control, touch up my guns to perfection..
And then I will try and head back to the house of my 'friends'.
Well, depending on the tide, we could get Cumin's problem sorted immediately. If it's still high tide, then we can futz around a bit, maybe do a bit of shopping. I'm sure Kotone would like to explore the markets.
And it would give time for Dad or Cumin to send a message to Cumin's family, so we're not unexpected guests.
I should stick with Marina for a little longer.
Go see what she and her marefriend are doing.
The amulet, while a relatively simple design, seems to pulse as though it were alive. You get the unsettling feeling that the eye inscribed into the thing is watching you.
You head upstairs from your belowground room and out the front door. Looks like heavy patrols today. And… oh boy. On the front of the inn, there's a rough artist's impression of your face.
WANTED - DEAD OR ALIVE
B20,000 Alive, B10,000 Dead, B1,000 Tips leading to arrest
Arson, Grand Theft, Treason, Reckless Endangerment, Conspiracy, Vandalism, Breaking & Entering
Report to Watch Captain Kernel for bounty rewards, consider armed and dangerous
Now would be a great time to lose those wrinkles. You sure hope Abilio knows what he's doing.
You are currently experiencing Winter Tides. You arrived at '1d24' o clock.Roll #1 9 = 9
Just pull a hat into my face and fly to his place as fast as possible.
Once I get young again, this poster will leave them nowhere.
You've arrived in the morning, at low tide. However, you only have 2.5 hours before high tide, meaning that if it takes too long in the temple, you would either have to essentially carry Cumin out, or wait 12 hours until low tide.
Roll blending horse
Well, it's up to Cumin. Does he want to risk it, or spend the day until the next low tide enjoying the town? Not as Cumin, but as just another pony who's fresh off the boat.
'1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
What were they saying?
'1d3'Roll #1 3 = 3
You ask Cumin as much. She is a little nervous.
"On one hoof, we'd only be so lucky that the temple would be unguarded. Now that I'm gone, somepony else is probably down there, and if not, who knows what got loose unchecked. I know you didn't rout the temple – there were places you turned back, like the menagerie. It could take several hours to reach the bottom."
She shakes her head. "On the other hoof, I'm a little worried about being recognized. I was here for a few months and ponies knew me because of my uncle. Although it is a big city and I was mostly sequestered…">>675013>>675011
You pull your hat down low and move through the crowd. Just when you're about to be spotted, you notice several monks traveling nearby and move inbetween them. Even though you're not even wearing the same clothes as them, for some reason they don't care about you moving in the middle of their group and this for some reason shakes the guards. Lucky!
Pursuit shaken, you arrive at the middle tier, and make for Abilio's place. You knock, and suddenly you find yourself teleported inside. Cloudy grabs you tight, breathing hard. "You're okay!"
Abilio is here too: "Your face is plastered all over the city."
Threatening you not to run or shout for your companions.
Inspect the pitcher like leaves. Is there water in them?
Nod in acknowledgement.
Nod, then hand Abilio the Amulet.
"It went smooth as fucking silk for a while, but then a patrol fucked it all up, so I had to improvise. Just wanted to lay low for the night, but I managed to avoid ponies…"
Shake my head.
"Now would be a really good fucking time to turn me back though, since I literally can't live with being old anymore."
There's a liquid inside, but the acrid odor suggests it is not water. It burns your nostrils, and smells of rot.
Briefly I'll consider asking him to wear a dress, but considering he doesn't look that much different physically, that'd be too awkward for him after he turns back.
"But there was that shortcut, remember? Through the walls?"
I'll tap my chin.
"But you're right about the guards. They've either beefed up security or just sealed it off. We're going to have to do a little reconnaissance. That will take a little while, at least. Maybe a day, if it's guarded, just so we know the patrol patterns. Worse comes to worst, we look for holes big enough to swim through and hope that the doors inside aren't fused shut."
"You have trespassed in our groves, Inquisitor. Why would you do this? The scouting vanguard for a war party? One boat is not difficult to sink."
Cloudy shakes her head profusely and Abilio gingerly accepts the amulet.
"I will need some practice with this talisman before I'm ready, unless you want to be an experiment. But later today, I trust, will suffice."
What the fuck do I do until then? Can't really go outside like this!"
"Believe it or not. We have naught to do with the war."
"It's been a while since we were there, we've had a busy couple weeks. What was it again? Some leak? As for a day, that sounds okay. It's probably best to play it safe. I still don't want to risk being recognized on the town, though. Even after all that practice, my voice isn't any deeper, and I think it may invite more questions if I wear my Order of the Oil robes here, since I'm not a member and I just 'borrowed' those from Princessland. I can't just go wearing nothing, though, because I don't want the crew to see me like this! You don't think they've figured it out, have you? I've been pretty careful…"
You are just glad you've managed to get enough authority over your subordinates to make them agree to pretend they haven't caught on.
"Always the impatient one. Why don't you knit something? If you really can't think of anything else to do, we can try to experiment right now with no prior test subjects, but it may not be finetuned."
"Just wandered onto another island on a whim?"
"You've been very
I'll bite my lip a moment, and then resign myself to saying it.
"But, you know… you could take advantage of your current predicament. We do have dresses you could use as disguises, too…"
Marina seems to be chatting with her girlfriend about their plans for the day, if you'd like to spy on them! >>675025>>675029
Roll persuasive horse
Shake my head.
"Nuh-uh, fuck that, not again.
"Ugh. Do you have something to drink?"
"It's this temple.
Come out of the shadows, let's talk pony to pony. I will explain all, then."
"My wife tells me that you've already helped yourself to the sitting room bar in the past."
'1d10'Roll #1 10 = 10
They're having a conversation about lack of clothes! I can help!
Tap Marina on the shoulder. "I could loan you some of my clothes
"She can help me to it now, huh?"
Walk to the sitting room and plop down to a comfy sitting spot.
"All five of you are outnumbered, more than three to one. Why should we not simply besiege this temple and drain your blood as payment for trespass?"
"Well… okay. But ponies here know my face. You'd have to do makeup, too. Do you… know how?"
Jump nearly about a foot to the left.
"Kotone! How, uh, how long have you been…?!"
Then compose myself.>>675039
"I, uh. I've never actually used it."
Look at Kotone.
"What about you?"
Cloudy had gone ahead into the other room. She left out a little celebratory sangria, but it seems you'll have to help yourself because she's out of the room. Maybe upstairs somewhere.
Cumin reddens when Kotone reveals herself.
"W-wait, and she can't tell anyone!"
I'LL DO IT MYSELF!
LIKE I FUCKING DO EVERYTHING.
Bunch of fucking bozos…"
Groan, stand up and pour myself a glass!
"Because we are not savages here. And our mission concerns your kind too, in a way."
"I didn't mean to intrude, but I do know to apply make up, do you want a simple shade enhancement or something elaborate?"
Impatient Emrille, she probably would've returned sooner or later!
You pour yourself a hearty glass of sangria. The liquid is thick with the scent of oranges. It brings back memories of fighting off scurvy on the Darklantern with the stuff.
"Were Transcastrians to trespass on Equestrian land, your 'savagery' would only be limited by the reach of your swords."
"Keeping the secret of a Princess and her friends? No problem. I won't make a squeak about it. Promise."
"Enough that nopony will recognize me. Can you do that?"
"Now, let's not degenerate this conversation into what ifs.
Please, I do want to explain actually, it's quite the gripping story, the reason we are here!"
"I know, don't worry.">>675045>>675050
"Can I watch? I mean, this is probably something I'm going to need to learn how to do myself, after all…"
"Inquisitors sacking the temple of another faith. It is an old story. I have heard it before."
Lean back and relax.
This nightmare will aaaaaaaaall be over soon.
Take some more sips of the drink.
Cumin's face softens a little bit. "Oh Marina, I'm sure Rose will teach you about makeup. She seems very… worldly about that kind of thing, if your account was accurate. B-but… if you want to watch, okay. You've been so supportive so far… Thank you."
The little mare unexpectedly gives you a hug. "I-it… means a lot to me that you're always there to protect me."
What a foul plant!
You drain a large swallow of the low proof fruit drink. Soon, Cloudy returns with a tray of salad sandwiches. Yours have the corners cut off.
"Bran has left for the academy for the day, otherwise she would be here to greet you too."
The little colt behind you snickers. You notice that Aria has relocated him to her back. "They eat lizards, I'm told."
Aria challenges him, "What, the plants?"
"Yeah, those pitchers. They're not part of the tree, they're another kind of plant. The lizards that climb the tree, and ants and stuff, get caught in the pitchers on their way up."
"Hmm, well I think I can manage something oriental looking. That should fool anyone looking for an Equestrian yes?"
I'll return it.
"How could I possibly do any less for you?"
Squeeze a bit, and then give Cumin a small kiss on the cheek.
"Could have been my test subject to see if my party parts still work after I return to normal, huh?"
"Thanks for the food though, I'm starving!"
"That should work."
"Oh, o-okay… Do your best."
She blushes, charmed by your wooing skill. This isn't so hard!
"If they smell so foul I doubt any lizards would want to go in there!"
"Alright, I'll bring the full kit here, just get comfortable."
Return to my room grinning and bring back all
of my make up.
She scrunches. "I know you only just met, but she's kind of your step sister. I guess this means you never grew out of Tela, though – I guess grandfoals will have to be from Bran. I do hope she hurries up."
"I don't think lizards are very smart."
"What about dragons?"
"I think they're too big to fit in there anyway."
Shake my head.
"And what does that supposed to mean, huh? You expected me to suddenly go for cock when I left or something?"
"Quite the opposite. Inquisitors would hardly care for a temple out in the thick wilderness of an enemy country, would they?
There wouldn't be much heresy to eradicate in a temple with no worshipers.
And this temple is no heresy, but might be the key to a greater mystery."
"I do feel like a fool having this conversation with myself."
Being a messy fae and the fact that you keep SO MUCH MAKEUP it takes a bit of time to go through all your drawers and dig through your warddrobe for everything you've got. Most of this, like powders and brushes (wooden handles) you can size up pretty easily, but your lipsticks are all in tubes, and that's definitely not optional. Maybe you can grow something and mix into the right shade of lipstick? It could be a fun alchemy project!
Or maybe Marina can help out by borrowing lipstick from someone.. or we could simply this by shrinking Cumin.. well bring all
of it, including the tiny lipstick, I can use it on myself as an example if nothing else.
"Well, I don't know. A lot of mares go through an experimental phase. It seemed like to worked out a lot demons from your past. I thought maybe you moved on. Still, I guess I wouldn't have ever grown to see you as a daughter if you were any good at growing up on the inside."
She sits down next to you and kisses your forehead.
Roll my eyes.
"Gee, thanks for supporting me for who I am and always have been, mom
Say that last part sarcastically.
"I will give you an opportunity to leave, then, for the mercy of Luna which I am certain would not be returned by your kind. Be gone from these grounds by daybreak, or we will lay siege to the temple throughout the day and seize it at moonrise."
That is an alternate solution I didn't even think of. You rejoin the others with your arms overflowing with makeup!
Horosha came with you, intrigued by your scrambling, and is now avoiding being stepped on by the big ponies. Maybe it would be better for Cumin's psyche if you dismissed her for now – or told her to keep out of sight, though.
Stop before we get to the door then.
"Horosha-chan, don't you know its rude to watch a mare getting dressed? Please wait outside for the results!
"Don't make a fuss, dear. I can't see that wrinkled prune face, so when I hear you talk, all I can envision is a backtalking filly – and I will tan your backside!"
She prods you conspiratorially. "Tela was a good match for you, though. I bet she keeps you in line. And knowing your tastes, she probably spanks you when you're misbehaving as well!"
"What we are doing here is important for all of equine kind. You need to hear us out!"
"I am gaining the madness of being still from being cooped up in your box. I will go explore the town.
"Then speak without circumlocutions, my patience wears thin."
"Have a good time!
Now enter the room with the two pretty mares.
"Is it time for the sex talk, hm? If you have to know, we switch it up. Where's the fun otherwise?"
Shake my head.
"I'm sure she'll be glad I'll return to her being my young self."
She sighs at you. "I didn't have to know. You certainly jumped at the chance to tell me, though."
She stares absently at a blank wall. "I don't know Emrille. It's been so long. It really made me think of how little we really knew each other. We were getting something from each other – I know you needed - really needed
somepony to be your family. And I was at the end of my child bearing years – I was desperate for that last piece of normalcy. And we fit together. We were good for each other. And I still care for you. But what I'm getting at is that we were always sort of roleplaying. The parent and child. And we didn't give each other a chance to express who we are. So… before you go. Since you mention you are going… I want to get to know the real Emrille. What she likes to do, her hobbies. The real stuff - not the shallow stuff we joke about all the time."
And she's… carrying a lot of stuff.>>675090
"Did you want any help carrying things? That's quite a lot of make up…"
"I've got it, just clear a spot on your dresser to set this up please."
"It's an imbalance in the heavens themselves.
As in, someone messing with the flow of souls. And this temple is our one clue to what's happening.
That direct enough for you?"
Frown a bit at that, then look down.
"I mean… yeah, that's true… I used to joke about that because… I was in denial. I didn't want to think
that I needed anypony, but I did, and Tela showed me that."
"I mean… if you didn't live so far away, I could visit. In the meantime, I've always wanted to… well, to…"
Are there any market stalls around here?
"Well, it's more of a box than a dresser, but…"
I'll clear off the top of it.
"Should be more than enough room."
"Thank you Marina." I happily lay out the make up by color and type.
"Did you decide on an outfit for her?"
"This temple is long dead. What is your proof?"
"Yes?" She insists
"Research. Long amounts of research carried out by my superior. I could wake her. She is sure to explain things better than I."
What do we have to pick from? Which is the one Cumin put on earlier?
There were a bunch back up the way! You want to lead your party back to the tents?
"I know its so hard to choose when you're on the spot. Even when you have the aid of servants suggesting outfits and accessories, choosing between them.. its just too hard sometimes! I've had to close my eyes and just point to one before."
Unless there's something else interesting here? I can't just go plucking plants I don't know the properties off!
There's the wedding dress, but that seems like it might raise more questions, just like those order of oil robes.
There's a sea-blue dress with blue earrings. Healing earring holes is, of course, trivial healing magic (and a very nasty prank if you upset a healer). It's still a formal dress, though, and long enough to cover the tail and all the way to the ground.
Cumin wore the dress that best compliments her color scheme, though, a simple leaf green affair. It's a half dress, meaning that it has front sleeves and a skirt, but no back half. Of course, because of her physical changes, she has nothing to hide back there as long as no one knows it's her.
You also know for a fact that Kotone has some kimonos if you want to complete the Neighponese look.
Roll persuasion horse
"It's going to make me sound really dumb…"
The acacia trees around here seem a bit unusual. You also remember Face mentioning the unusual cacti.
She puts a hoof on your shoulder and looks where she thinks your eyes are, which is about three feet to the right of your head.
"Emrille, it's okay. I promise not to laugh. I want to know the real you."
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
Well, something that hides her mark might be for the best…
"Well, Cumin, which would you like to wear?"
I'll look at the green one he wore earlier.
"I think you'd look nice in this one, but it might not hide your mark very well…"
You know what?
[1d2] pirate dice it.Roll #1 1 = 1
Take a deep breath, then sigh again.
"So… I never really went to school right? So I'm not very smart… streetsmarts are one thing, but they will only get you so far. So when I was a kid without anything on the streets, I saw this booklet at a stall, and it said you could win prizes and shit but… it was a crossword. And it had colorful pictures and everything. When I finally managed to scrape together enough bits to buy one, I realized I'm fucking dumb and can't get any of the answers right, and it just frustrated me so… I always really wanted to get revenge and finally finish one for once in my life."
Hmmm, can I roll to identify properties?
"Wake your leader, but begone by sunrise. That is your cutoff to leave."
You REALLY hope those Order of Oil sisters can be done with the replacement crystals in the next few hours.
"Maybe we should ask… um… Kotone. She would know what to wear with the makeup."
Time to wake Wind up.
"We have visitors."
'1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
"Baka, the make up goes on after the outfit, otherwise you'd rub it off putting on the clothes."
"Well, I think she was going to apply the makeup to complement the dress. But she did say that sometimes you just got to close your eyes and pick at random."
I'll pause a moment.
"But I'm pretty sure we can rule out the wedding dress as a choice."
"Oh really? Stay there."
She heads upstairs, and, after a minute, returns with a crossword book, and sets it in your lap. "Bran loves these too. Who would have thought!"
You open it to the first page. This one is already solved. You flip to another. Solved. You skim the whole book. Bran already solved these!
…Although, you could make yourself look really smart, since she can't tell the difference. The choice between puffing yourself up to look good as usual or genuinely taking the task seriously is up to you.
Flip the pages over, bummed.
"Well… thanks, but these are solved already. It's not much of an achievement if somepony else already did the work, that's not the point. I could have held some egghead at gunpoint to solve them for me when I was a young cunt if I wanted to."
She turns red again. "I wouldn't want to wear your wedding dress before you do, Marina. Wouldn't it draw attention, too? Unless you have some plan that involves it. If that's the case… I trust you."
"Then let's use the one you tried on before."
"OH! We have a lot of them. Here… maybe you should come with me and help me pick one."
She leads you upstairs, up three flights to a smaller bedroom. This must be Bran's room – there are a stack of similar books on the nightstand. Bran's room is filled with astronomy posters mixed in with band posters. Huh. It's also really messy, she leaves her clothes everywhere, including loose panties. Cloudly leads you over to the books, apparently trusting you won't snatch any articles of clothing.
"Yes, I li– hey, wait, I didn't! You've only just convinced me now!"
"What a fucking mess! Nice panties, though."
"She's a real brainiac too, huh?"
Try to find one that is still left unfilled!
Book, that is
Its actually a horrifying idea to wear the wedding dress outside of that day, so I look very shocked.
"It must have been a wine dream, then. I think it was the green one?"
"She's a little messy. She gets that from me, but she gets her study habits from her father."
You jerk out a book from the middle of the stack, and it's unused. This will do! It's even beginner level.
"Yes!" She answers, relieved. Whether she was answering yes to 'wine dream' or 'green one' is left ambiguous of course.
Green one it is, then.
Now it's time to dress her up.
"Okay, here's one! This should be good!"
Grab a pen too.
"I guess we should do it not in her room, though. Bet you've heard that from Abilio already too."
I assume you're appraising the pitcher plant? You didn't specify.
It seems to be dissolving a lizard with its acid. The acid smells vaguely of the sulfur you've used in explosives, could be useful. The plant itself is thick and glazed with an outer layer – potentially useful in anti-corrosion, the role it serves here. Besides that, it seems the leaves themselves are safe to eat if the acid is cleaned out and steamed.
Wind stirs. "Not a pressing threat, I take it, since we're not yelling."
"Quite the opposite, but there's naught we can do now. They seem open to reason."
She gingerly slips on the panties, shivering a moment when they contact her behind. Then, she daintily slips into the dress as you hold it out for her. It's naturally loose, since she has neither your muscles nor your chub, and is smaller and younger besides. Without even thinking about it, she begins to draw some pins from a box on the table which you suspect are leftover from last time, and tacks the outfit to suit her petite form with the simultaneous needle-threading of a practiced tailor.
She smiles nervously up at you. "S-so… how do I look? Makeup next, right?"
She gives you a playful shove. "Actually I have, although to be honest we haven't been much in the mood for a long time it feels. One of the few conveniences of getting older. I have to say, just about every night we didn't let you sleep with us on the ship, we were going at it like rabbits, or teenagers. Two middle aged ponies! Oh, those days…"
Bleh. I wouldn't eat that. But the acid might be useful. I'll try to fill a bottle with the acid from several plants
Give out a loud hurking noise.
"Oh, fuck, come on, I didn't go into that
much detail when I was poking fun!"
"Ah. I take it we have Transcastrian troubles, then. Well, it was the chance we took. I can't say I'm surprised."
"You look very cute. It really does suit you."
"And this is where Kotone takes over. I'll be watching from over here."
I look impressed at her ability to tailor something while wearing it.
"If you're happy with your mane they sure.. but we will need lipstick, Marina do you have a friend who might lend you some?"
"They gave us until morning to leave, and want to talk with you."
Aira looms over your shoulder as you milk the plants.
"Hey, do you think the plants can regenerate all that on their own, or it'll kill them?"
She playfully sticks her tongue out at you. In spite of being an old hag – a real one unlike you – she still has a little bit of that youthful spirit.
"Come on, let's get to work on the crossword. You can read me the hints you have trouble with."
I'll think for a minute.
"I… I don't know, actually. I'll go ask one of the mares if they have any, but I wouldn't expect it. We did leave on a rescue mission, so that might not have made it onboard."
And I'll be off to see if anyone has lipstick.
Let's go downstairs and give this motherfucker a shot!
I mean… I'm not very smart, but how hard could it be?
"O-oh, right. Um… what do you think? My mane is so short, I don't think you can do much with it. Unless your growing potions can grow out just my hair.">>675161
Rising, she nods. "Wake Stricture. I need to pray on this before I act."
Roll academic ponoe
Nod and move on to Stricture's bed.
Poor thing, he's not gonna sleep much today.
Gently, push his shoulders.
You ask around but the general sentiment is 'what's that?'
Turns out that the only-recently-awakened seapony society hasn't much had time to absorb concepts of fashion – probably why you only seem to see the full seaponies in armor or nude. Sometimes moon themed jewelry, but that's about the extent of it. Another reminder that their courting behaviors are still a bit… feral.
"I'm sure they'll be able to regenerate it. This probably isn't the first time they lose some acid!"
I had expected as much. Weren't there land ponies amongst the crew, too? Or were they all guys?
He groans softly. "That was four already? Maybe we should've taken an extra day of rest…"
'1d10-3'Roll #1 9 - 3 = 6
Beginner crossword. There are twelve blanks to fill.
'12d10' (-3 each for beginner difficulty)Roll #1 7, 2, 5, 6, 2, 9, 10, 7, 1, 3, 5, 9 = 66
You manage to solve all but one on your own! This isn't so hard at all!
You felt really proud of getting one of the tougher ones – 'When black, this animal is associated with curses' was 'cat'.>>675171
"Huh. I guess that's right. Look at how they have a little flap on top, I guess that keeps rain from diluting their contents? That's so cool that it happened naturally."
Even Aria seems a little impressed.
Shake my head.
Sorry you couldn't sleep."
Place a soft kiss on his cheek, and speak equally softly.
"Bathponies got us surrounded."
You've never tried! Experiments sure ARE fun though – you experiment all the time with growth potions, it's how you got so good with them. Maybe make a shampoo?
Yes, mostly by cultural habit. Seaponies don't have the same concepts of division of labor, so being a female warrior is quite natural to them. Meanwhile most of the females back in Aquamarine are priestesses, bakers, tailors, and most importantly mothers.
"Short is fine, we can just pin it back with clips or a ribbon."
"Thou, if Marina can't find any lipstick we may have to shrink you so you can use mine. Its a little inconvenient but your outfit shrinks with you so you don't have to worry about messing up the make up between size changes."
"Thou.. if we mixed it with shampoo or moose it might work that way to grow out your mane.."
Maybe it was all that hanging out with these fucking weirdos from the fleet!
What's the last one I couldn't get again?
"Well, I never thought someone could make news like that pleasant."
He stretches up and gives you a kiss on the lips. After a moment of pausing, adding: "Just in case this goes badly.">>675182
Oh, but the dress has PINS in it, which are metal, not organic. Well, she seemed pretty adept at taking them in and out.
"O-okay. You're the expert. Uh… do you have a ribbon in… green?">>675183
"Whatever you think.">>675184
Three letters, middle letter is A. "A pegasus turning left is changing this axis."Pause
Smile confidently at him.
"We will pull through."
Off we go, back into the night.
A long mane would be cuter.. and disguise her better as a girl.
"Well, how soon did you want to leave? The shampoo method would require washing your hair and drying it, meaning and extra hour."
"It won't be low tide again for at least fourteen hours. We have a lot of time to spend, so if you think we should try it, I can wait.">>675187
Lord Wind isn't here yet, perhaps communing with Celestia in prayer. The darkness is too thick to see any eyes looming back at you, but your hairs stand on end. You get the distinct sensation of being watched.Emrille>>675185Lilly>>675001Rhanna
The water level shifts from out below you. You can see the luminous fungus clusters on the walls 'rising' as you drop. The temperature falls as you do, and already the tropical humidity of the bay gives way to cooler subterranean weather. Your eyes rapidly begin to adjust to the darkness, and you get the unnatural sensation of being home as earthy scents enter your nose.
"She is coming."
Time to wake up the brothers of the Oil and have them hurry to work.
Start nibbling on the pen.
"Fuck… what the shit is this last one…"
In this case, sisters, although they had been working through the night. The arrival of batponies only raises the urgency of their work. While Wind speaks to the interlopers, perhaps you can think of a way to make their work faster, or arrange it more effectively. You trot back into the main chamber. It seems they are working on one gemstone at a time. They are excavating sand from a nearby crack in the floor and using fire magic to blow it into glass with great care. You begin to wonder how they know how to fit it, but then you realize they are taking measurements ahead of time so that they can create glass prisms with the correct proportions the first time instead of guessing and adjusting - not a bad system. The fitting process of the gemstones is not technically difficult but requires some muscle, and is taking a considerable amount of time to get it mounted and hammered into place with the large nails.
You can come up with your own solution or roll intelligence, or ask Stricture for advice.>>675496
"Already to the last one? That was fast!"
Cloudy returns and kisses your forehead. Without looking up, you can smell fresh tea. You think you detect a hint of ethanol in the cup closest to you.
"Yeah, some of them were no brainers even for me, but this one… It's fucking short and I only have one letter to help with it!"
"What was the clue?"
Muscle is their main problem, isn't it?
I have half a mind to make them blow the crystals from sand right into the inset to cut on the nailing time. Are they already crafting the crystals with the nail holes or do they need to hammer through them?
"A pegasus turning left is changing this axis…"
They are using a specialized type of mold which appears to be made of some kind of metal you don't recognize. It is a lustrous silver-grey metal, and they appear to be able to shape it as they please in order to blow the glass into proper shapes. They do blow the glass with holes for nailing, because otherwise the glass would shatter as it is a brittle substance.
Their process seems to be fairly efficient, although they need to take relatively long breaks between each of the actual gem creation steps to mount the glass. It's not slow simply because it's heavy - getting it properly aligned with the beam takes time and coordination.>>675501
Cloudy laughs blindly into her cup. "You're the pegasus! You don't know your directions?"
I will roll INT for this, actually coming up with a system myself without seeing it firsthand would take too many posts.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
"I know left and right! And I know how
While it's unlikely you can make the work execute faster, you can redistribute the order of work. By having the Order of Oil sisters only do the first two steps (measurement/angle calculation and creating the prisms), you could evacuate them before the sun rises and mount the prisms yourself with Stricture's help. This would mean that if it comes to fighting, you wouldn't need to protect the monks later.>>675504
"But left and right are part of an axis. You know, like a globe turns on? We had one in our cabin, don't you remember?"
She looks wistful. "That was a really nice globe, too. The university would have paid a fortune for the gore."
Perfect, let's get the order across.
"Well, there's also up and down…"
Roll for efficiency before the dawn.
"Actually there's one more. Think about your aerial tricks, what are the two most basic stunts a pegasus uses?"
"Uh… somersaults? Spins?"
Am I a clever enough horse to realize what she is leading me to?
IntellectRoll #1 4 = 4
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
"Right, so a somersault is a spin forward
. So you're changing your angle like you were diving or climbing. That's changing your pitch. A barrelroll spins your body but keeps your travel angle directly ahead. This is changing your roll. So what if you DON'T roll your body but change your left-right angle, as in a turn or drift?"
Tilt my head.
"…it's easier to aim?"
As the sun rises above the canopy, the two monks evacuate the temple, with orders to take the ship back to Princessland. You've mounted all but one of the prisms, but Lord Wind interrupts your work for a moment to address you and Stricture.
"Dawn will be upon us soon, and we've sent away our escape route. We have only one route ahead: forward. One way or another, we will soon be in the afterlife."
She points to the light now streaming in from your skylight. "The work will get easier as light reflects in from above, allowing you to see if your reflections are matching the pattern correctly. Until then, I will hold the line. Whatever happens - no matter what you hear - keep working. We must pierce the veil. Our work here must not be in vain."
Stricture nods. "We will not fail you, Lord Wind."
"No, you're turning on a third axis. When you aren't changing your roll or pitch and you make a turn left or right – that's changing your facing angle. Also called your 'yaw'."
"Who the fuck makes up this kind of shit! How was I supposed to know that!"
Write it in.
"Well, thanks… this one is ready then. Do you think we can try another?"
"Okay, if you think you're ready. I'm afraid I won't be much help unless you read the clues to me."
Want another easy one, or upgrade to medium?
I can totally take a medium one!
This one was easy!
"And we will not let you down."
Let's get to work.
Roll your academics
You hear a loud hissing from outside the temple, and a warhorn sounds as you hoist the prismatic glass, sidling over to the wall. Roll strength.
Light slowly begins to fill the chamber. In this twilight hour, the prism hanging above you like a chandelier only glows faintly, not yet focused to any of the reflecting crystals.
No point in lollygagging. Let's get this raft going.
We could have hoisted a hooded lantern up from where the sun would have been coming in to work properly on this by night.Roll #1 5 = 5
You don't see any young girls to gag anyway.
George is wearing his mask again today, expression unreadable. Sitar, having released his undead army, is more attentive, but no less weird.
The three of you drag the raft to the shore and prepare it for launch. Sitar finally points out: "The more weight we have on the raft, the less stable it will be. If anyone is having second thoughts…"
'1d10-3'Roll #1 10 - 3 = 7
You're not sure how they did it, but the monks left angle calculations in the form of chalk writings on the wall which should be properly angled. You hope they're accurate, after all, since all of the other prisms are already nailed in place and would take some effort to adjust at this point.
Gingerly, you transport the prism across the room to the wall. Outside you can hear the sounds of conflict, metal meeting metal in a cacophony of steel. Time to hoist! [roll]
Be very careful, shattering the prism would mean losing everything.
'12d10'Roll #1 4, 1, 8, 8, 7, 3, 10, 8, 5, 2, 3, 4 = 63
I wish there was such a thing as being careful, on an s10 roll.
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
You find yourself doing well on this one, too. In fact, by the end, you solve two thirds of them on your own while Cloudy makes some lunch.
I shrug at him.
"I can fly to get rid of some of the weight."
Yells and screams echo in from outside. The prism above begins to illuminate as baems of light slowly extend. First the beams from the very top of the crystal come into alignment, lighting the highest prisms in the chamber. They reflect down to the 'bowl' formation, and the runes, though vacated of their gold inlay, begin to glow.
With utmost care, you hoist the gemstone into position. Now it must be calibrated, and then nailed. This step is the most difficult, and the next trivial. You have to get this angle right!>>675530
George remarks, voice distorted by the mask: "Anyway, we can see the island from here. It would be insane to come so close and give up now, wouldn't it?"
Look at him.
"You said it. Now let's just get there in one piece."
Roll adventure on high seas
Make sure Stricture helps me, so the thing won't accidentally fall.
Let's calibrate it.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
Pirate dice it. [1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
Calibration actually requires one pony (you) adjusting the prism, and the other at the structure in the ground to check the angle's facing accuracy.>>675535>>675534
You are shifting the angle poorly, shifting side to side as your hooves waver, but suddenly by seeming divine intervention or fluke luck, your muscles spasm and the prism shifts right into place. Stricture calls: "Hold that! We'll just nail it in right there, that's perfect!"
"Great! Come up here!"
What am I missing?
Thunderous crashes echo from outside and terrible bellowing. More warhorns echo int he distance. The temple shudders, and a layer of dust is shaken loose.
"Right, I'm coming!"
Your two bodys entwine as you carefully hold the prism in place and Stricture first worms under you to secure the bottom and then above you to secure the top. You are sure you're sweating from the strain of holding the puzzlepiece aloft and not from the fact that any observer would surely think you're being mounted, hooves against the wall.
Roll hold steady!
Good thing I'm a mare and can't pop a boner.Wouldn't mind if Stricture did though.
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
Five letter word ending in K "records passing of time"
Eight letter word with two a and one e is "useful for keeping dates"
Starts with S and ends with N, six letters, "Short creatures fond of gold"
Five letters starting with T, "the cornerstone of commerce"
As the temple shakes, Stricture gives you a little involuntary squeeze with his thighs to keep steady, but with one final pound of his mighty hooves, he drives the nail deep into the wall. The two of you draw back, allowing light to cascade down from on high and fill the secured prism. It reflects… The runestones glow more brightly…
The air seems to shimmer faintly, like a mirage, above the indention into the ground. Is it open? Is this what it's supposed to look like? Should you fall back and try to enter? Is there an incantation? Something missing? Too many questions!
'1d10'Roll #1 5 = 5
And almost no time.
Wasn't there another crystal to calibrate?
You had mounted all but one before dawn rose >>675514
"LORD WIND! FALL BACK, IT IS DONE!"
You drift silently across the sea, coasting unevenly on the waves. Sitar remarks offhandedly. "You two have been acting strange since I came out of the trance."
Some pony to say strange!
'1d10'Roll #1 6 = 6
Think a bit on these…
Wait, hey, the last one isn't hard, it's trade!
You hear another shearing of steel, and Lord Wind appears at the entrance, at full gallop.
"We won't be able to hold them here! I was funneling them at the door. There are too many!"
You are REALLY hoping this portal works.
Stricture yells: "Lord Wind! How do we stop them from following?"
you to go through!"
"Lord Wind! You can't! Come with us! Whether the portal works or not it won't matter if you are holding the door!
Either we will be on the other side or we will be dead, just later!"
"Who? Him or myself?"
Trade does seem to fit!
Lunch is out. Some kind of pasta with whitesauce. Cloudy asks, "Do you like shrimp? Some ponies won't eat any meat, but Bill and I grew used to it in our old line of work."
"Enough! The portal!"
The shimmering air looms before you. Do you enter?
Stricture seems to be looking to you. He'll probably want to stay with you one way or another.
"Oh, yeah, I love meat, let me also shit on the floor like the animal I am."
"I don't eat meat, no."
So be it.
Jump in. I hope she will have more sense than bravery, this time, and follow us.
I'm not afraid of death. The only thing I fear is failure.
"Both of you."
He strums his instrument indifferently. "Not that it really matters."
George remarks: "It doesn't matter anyway. We're almost done here, and I'll return to Hamburgerburg after we finish on Elba. It's on the way, we can share a ship south.">>675555
"I bet you've never even had shrimp! Well, suit yourself. You can have the pasta plain."
You leap forward, and stop breathing.
It's an unreal feeling. It's like you were kicked in the gut, all the air flowing out of your lungs. You gasp for another breath, and it doesn't come. There's no air here. Your lungs begin to burn. Your eyes reel in panic, but everything is dark. There's no sound here. You don't have any air to let out a scream. You feel a hoof impact your face, but you don't have the air to yell in pain.
Suddenly, you feel hot lips on yours. Your weakening body pulled into an embrace, every part of you held secure by his stalwart form. You wish you could call to him. Perhaps to ask if everything will be alright, or to assure him of the same.
Suddenly, your lungs stop burning. There's air in your mouth. It wasn't a kiss… it was resuscitation. You can feel his torso deflating as the stallion blows the last of his precious air into your mouth. Instant relief. You reflexively hold your breath. This may be the last lungful of air you ever get, after all.
You take a precious couple of seconds to look around. Everything is dark here, it seems, but a strange scale. The sort used in trade, to weigh one against another. It's tilted in one direction. You can see the scale perfectly, as though light were shining on it from all directions simultaneously, even though all else is dark. Perhaps more oddly, one side of the scale is depressed - held down - by light
. You can see sunshine itself causing the scale to hold in balance. Suddenly, the light dissipates, and the scale shifts back into balance.
You collapse onto some kind of chalky stone floor. You're in some kind of… room. A supply closet, really. There are file cabinets, stacks of papers and supplies, and organizers here. Monks maybe?
Stricture is crumpled on the ground next to you, looking unconscious. His chest is moving, though… Wait, that means there's air here! You take a gasp of sweet the sweet ether.
Something seems wrong… it almost has a strange taste. But it's air nonetheless, and your lungs are grateful for it.
"Don't you at least have some tomatoes or something for it?"
"Tomatoes, on a whitesuace pasta? The very definition of insanity! It already has some basil, too. We could use some cheese though… We ran out. Our girl really likes her dairy."
Quickly rush to return the favor, and wake Stricture up.
"Stricture! Stricture! Can you hear me?!"
He seems to be unconscious from suffocation, but his now stable breathing seems to imply that he'll be okay. You hope.
"Yeah, well I'm not having any of the fucking meat so I could have tomatoes instead, get it?"
I get it. He used his last breath to revive me.
Sit a moment by his side, holding one of his hooves in mine as I worriedly look over the room.
Does it have an exit?
"Just try it plain. The sauce should already give it flavor.">>675564
It does. The room – walls and floor – seem to be made of some kind of chalky stone. There actually no light in here - no torch or candles or anything - and yet you can see everything as though it were illuminated by mild sunlight. Weird.
There is a door. It looks like white painted wooden door to you, there's a handle suitable for a pony.
"Guh, fine, allright…"
Try it, how's it taste?
Clear my throat.
"Let's worry about that later. Who knows what we'll find on this island? We're far away from civilization still, after all."
Buttery and savory in taste, slick and fluffy in texture. In taste, it kind of reminds you of eating buttery garlic bread. The texture is reminiscent of spaghetti, but thick and flat.
Noone else speaks up. You ride the rest of the way in silence. Soon, you've landed on the shores of Elba.
The sandy beach extends in both directions. The sand is occasionally punctuated by small, foot-wide pitfalls, which are built up with packed sand walls. Beyond the beachfront, the sand gives way to grass, which leads up to a small knoll. The angle obscures further view. You know from questioning around town that the opposite side of the island has a less gentle incline – it features steep cliff faces instead.
Speak with my mouth full.
"Hmyu kfno, this if breddy gud."
"Should we fan out and look for clues? This island doesn't look too big."
Cloudy wipes your mouth with a napkin. "Don't get it all over the couch now.">>675571
Sitar reclines. "In that case, I will remain here, in case we need to reconvene."
George: "You can probably get to the summit faster than either of us to look around."Maeda>>675565Kotone & Marina>>675494
"Okay, let's see where marina's shampoo is.."
I float around the room looking for it.
"Watch my back please. If I don't return, weep for me or something."
Room is a generous term for this series of boxes that have been stacked tightly to buttress what is essentially a wall separating Cumin's bed from the rest of the lower floor.
Maybe Marina's stuff is in one of the boxes? Or you could ask her.
"I'm already weeping." Weeping Sitar points out.
Leaving Stricture's side for the moment, reach for the handle.
"In that case, look for me if I don't come back, okay?"
How long will it take me to fly up there?
I was hunting for lipstick, to no avail. I guess I'll have to head back to the hold in defeat.
You hear muffled sound as you approach the door. Some kind of small band of bards playing soft, gentle music, it sounds like.
You test the handle. Not locked.
The island is quite small, it'll be no more than 15 minutes to the summit.
"We'll find you one way or another, eventually."
Maybe you can borrow Kotone's, or make some.
Kotone is floating about looking for something.
Here we go. Afterlife. Gotta make my best impression.
Straighten myself out, clean up my attire, leave my weapons behind on the ground and…
"See you soon then."
Time to set off!
I thought she sent me out to find some because she didn't have any? Odd.>>675573
I sigh. yep, this feels like home for Diamond dogs…
I stay near the edge of the ship a bit more before returning back to the deck. I feel like I'll need to cover myself
"I was just looking for your shampoo, Miss Cumin tells you have a long time to spend, so we're going to try to extend her mane."
"Sham…poo? We have soap, somewhere around here, but… I don't think I even had any of that to pack."
I'll think a second.
"Though, if you're looking for something to spruce up a mane, there should be seapony or fish oil somewhere around here…"
I'll start digging through the boxes.
I gasp horrified and immediately rush at your head!
'1d10' investigate marina's maneRoll #1 9 = 9
It appears to be some kind of waiting room. There are a number of chairs here, with ponies sitting in them. The ponies seem to be disoriented, or at the very least lost in thought, staring blankly into space. They come in quite a variety – from Equestrians to Oddomanes. Glancing around, the room is actually rather large. There must be a few hundred seats in here. At the front, you can see a sign that says:
Occasionally, it increments and a pony dazedly raises from their seat to walk to the front, where there are several desks set up.
You hear the faint sound of music here. It's very strange music, you can definitely hear the tones of a xylophone and some string instruments, but it's really unlike anything you've ever heard. There doesn't seem to be a band, either. Is this divine-class music? The very sounds fundamental to the nature of the afterlife and the Spirit of Law?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBlFHuCzPgY
Roll adventure to head for the peak!
"Ah, Marina – Shampoo is like soap that nobleponies use to keep their manes from getting stripped by harsher chemicals, but also soft and manageable."
How knowledgable Cumin is on hygiene!
That sheet is probably dry by now, unless you want to try something else.
I'll just… Use my old rags that used to cover me whole when I was smaller. I ripped them in two to cover both my hips and chest before didn't I?
'1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
But poor Princess Marina's mane, how damaged is it?
Well, he does have a nice, shiny mane.
"Ah. Well, that explains why most seaponies have probably never heard of it. All seaponies secrete a thin film of oil that keeps us safe from the damaging effects of being in saltwater."
I'll fluff my mane a bit so Kotone gets a better look.
"It's actually pretty convenient."
I will look around the room in a stupor, unsure if what I'm seeing is real yet.
This is the afterlife.
Or its antechamber at least!
The clerks are serving ponies up by number. Where do they get those numbers?
That will work, although they're starting to unravel at the ripped seams. You'll need to replace them or at least repair them eventually. You remember a time it would've been easy to TInker back together, but that Rabbit changed your whole skill set… now you are helpless to Tinker.
In either case, you don your rags. You can feel the ship starting to stabilize… you must be at the bottom of the water lock!
"Really? Is that how your coat is so glossy?"
Your trip up the mountainside is interrupted when you spot a small spring on one of the cliff faces, which feeds the river that flows most of the island. Pausing to appraise it, it seems to be freshwater, and hosts a small grove of mango trees. It seems that this island would be suitable to support a pony living here.
"I can only assume so. I've never actually taken much special care of it, beyond standard cleaning when I've had the time."
I'll rub a foreleg.
"And I have been neglecting that for a few days while we were traveling… I'm probably a mess."
The mane is completely stripped of protective oils, leaving her with split ends and frizzy untameable growths like the average common poor pony. Proper haircare would make it more lustrous and manageable.
"Marina, y-you know, soap will strip the oil off of your hair. That's why shampoo is diluted with extracts."
That stupid rabbit… I'll still get him for that
Oh, so quick? Well I'll rush right back outside and look. Not to quick though, I don't want these things to tear…
I do have some gold with me right? maybe I can find a place to buy a proper set of clothes
That's an excellent question. You don't see anyone distributing numbers, but you see ponies holding slips of paper that presumably contain said numbers. It takes you several minutes before you realize ponies are 'fading in' from nothingness into the seats, already holding a number. Is this where the newly dead arrive?
Well, they aren't used to taking visitors the way you came, you guess.
"Marina-chan, we need to get you to a salon. NOW"
She must be getting old by now if she's still alive… surely it can't be hard to find out where she is.
"… Hello? Anypony here?"
Are all desks working by number, or is there something like an information center which works on demand?
You have plenty of gold in savings, almost 600 bits. You're not sure what currency they use here, but gold is gold!
You can see huge doors opening up in front of your ship in the low light, allowing the rocket-ship to travel onward down the much lower undersea river. Once you've passed the doors, they slam shut once more and you can hear the rush of water as the chamber refills.
Ahead of you, you see the many glowing lights of a port city. There's a whole city down here, filled with ships and shops and diamond dogs!
"Do you think there's one in Autumnsreach?">>675606
I'll look at Cumin.
"We could all go together! And then maybe have lunch. I never did get a chance to see the local flavor."
No answer, save for the soft chirping of finches in the nearby trees. They must be here for the mango seeds.
When you're ready, you can continue on to the summit, or continue searching here.
Hmmm… well, if there's only birds here I should just continue on to the summit.
They all seem to be working by number, but then again, you don't think that you are usually expected.
You can also see processed ponies are being taken out a big set of double doors behind the desks. If you wanted, you might be able to just waltz on by. Or maybe grab one of those ponies that's taking these mindless ponoes up to the desk and ask them for answers.
"W-well, I do know there's a salon here," She starts, not remarking on how she knows that, "But the shampoo was supposed to be for growing out my mane with your fairy friend's potions."
I will cut in front of one of the numbered ponies to a desk clerk and start talking right away!
"Maeda Tree of the Equestrian Inquisition.
Alive and numberless, I require an audience."
You crest the summit, which is itself little in particular of interest save a pile of rocks, but after passing over it, you can see there's a small hermitage built of wood into the side of the cliff face on the side facing away from the mainland. A shelter?
"Don't be so selfish, the Princess's mane needs dire attention. Just look at these poor frayed ends.."
The bored, ancient looking mare at the counter responds slackly. "You're not alive. That's a common misconception. Wait your turn."
Woah I don't even know what I'll do with all that gold
Well, I can think of one or two things…
''There it is!'' I rush to the edge of the deck again, leaning against it as I wait for us to port. It already looks cooler than home
Makes sense, to protect oneself from the elements at this height!
Let's investigate this shelter further.
"Hello? Anypony here?"
"If you really insist, I can come. Did we decide not to grow my hair or use lipstick, then?"
It seems Marina was able to find no big pony makeup. Although if you shrunk her like you earlier suggested, you could use your own shampoo to grow out her mane.
"We came through a temple of law. I have no number.
I might not be alive, but I'm not dead. My partner is coming back to his senses in your broom closet!"
"Hmm. And I don't think there's a hat that goes with that dress, is there…?">>675616
"Would soap work if we froth it up enough?"
You can hear some muffled cursing from up at the control booth as they try to get the ship angled right. Finally, you see Steve headed belowdecks.
You can hear Gunny squawk: "Shield eyes!"
"Right. For the sake of time, let's shrink you so you can use my lipstick and shampoo."
Offer the unicorn mare a potion.
"It will be more difficult for Marina to help out thou.."
She groans at you. "Equestrian Inquisition you said? Listen, I'm not processing you without a number, but if you're going to need answers before you cooperate, follow the hall all the way down to the right until you see the big sun symbol. That's the Celestial embassy and liaison. Go be their problem, and come back when you're ready to show your number."
For a moment, I'm amused by the thought of shields for eyes, but quickly react and cover my eyes with an arm!
You poke around the shelter. It looks sun-bleached and you near none of the sounds of movement. Might be abandoned. In either case, the loosely-attached wooden door is far from locked.
This guy doesn't know about the temples of his own faith. We're off to a bad start.
Go back to see if Stricture has come to.
"Well, I'll have to admit I wasn't really helping much in the first place. But I should still be able to observe without being shrunk down. I'd even be able to fetch things to use as a bath tub, or basin. That should help, right?"
Push/pull it open. See what's inside.
Cumin shakes her head. "No, you didn't have a hat paired with this dress."
She gets a little antsy about the shrinking, though. "W-well I do a lot of hoofs on research but I'm not sure…"
Maybe telling her about your own experience would calm her nerves.
Stricture is still out, but it's hard to tell if he has transitioned to normal sleep. You were both pretty deprived of it…
"Cumin, it's alright. The shrinking's completely painless, and temporary besides. As a matter of fact, while we were tidying up Kotone's room, I was shrunk down to better help out. It was actually pretty fun."
I will have to carry him on my back then. Off to the Celestial embassy.
The wooden 'door' comes off entirely as you pull it back. The shelter is a very small one – just a little more than a meter in any direction. You can see the decayed remains of a bed made of palm leaves. There are scratched tally marks in the walls, among other markings. Someone was living here for some time.
"W-will you protect me? To make sure nopony steps on me?"
"I won't let anything happen to you."
Scratched tally marks? If I could count how many…
Anything else at all? I wonder if she just passed away…
You pick up Stricture and it immediately occurs to you how WARM he feels. And now in the 'it makes me hot to touch my stallionfriend' kind of way. You hadn't noticed it now, but everything here seems absent of temperature. That room was also lit by lights that 'weren't there'. But Stricture… he feels 'real'. He has texture. Warmth. It gives you a little confidence that you're not dead, at least.
With a shy smile, she positions herself on the bed, and, with a deep breath, she swigs the potion. Rapidly, she begins to diminish in size. Everything seems to be proceeding as normal until…
Cumin is now sitting on her bed, no bigger than a breezie, but although the dress shrank with her, the pins did not. She doesn't appear to have been impaled, but she's completely immobilized by the large pins now jutting out of her outfit.
The pins didn't shrink at all.
Well, they weren't really
part of the outfit.
Gently, I'll pick Cumin up and set her on the box next to all of Kotone's supplies.
There are quite a few. Just glancing about, it looks like more than a year, maybe multiple. Roll search
"T-thanks… I can't move, though!"
She squirms, helplessly, amongst the pins.
"Uh. Oops.. I guess you'll have to use one of mine.. sorry.." I comment about the ruined outfit."
'1d10'Roll #1 1 = 1
It's a good day to be alive.
Now if only Wind would follow through…
Let's kick away the thought of any ill befalling her for now.
Well, I'll just start removing those.>>675647
"It's alright… I'm curious as to what sort of outfits you've got set aside, actually. So while it's a bit of a loss, it's also a chance to see something new!"
"…maybe it can be repaired..">>675646
how bad is the damage?
"T-thanks so much for the offer miss fairy.">>675650
The doll-sized girl relaxes in your hoof as you carefully pull needles out of her outfit, like a pincushion.>>675651>>675650
The pins have left a number of gaping holes, although Cumin did seem to know a lot about sewing…
"Maybe, but that will be well on down the line. It would be a good project that Cumin and I could do together."
Smile a little.
You check under the bed, and out from the sand shakes a burrowing crab! It snaps at you territorially.
Do you want to try to wake Stricture, or to hoist him and take him to the embassy?
Try to wake him.
Hoist him if it fails.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
"Well.. I do have my waredrobe in my room.. sorry I forgot about the pins. That could have been really dangerous…"
I'll nod slightly.
"We are lucky Cumin wasn't hurt."
At your urging, Stricture gives a hacking cough, then starts. "lo… I… Uh? Maeda?"
Cumin turns red as you carefully remove the now-tattered green dress, leaving her in just your panties. "W-well I was okay. But to get to that wardrobe, it's in the box, right? That's on the floor, outside. Marina can't come with us, unless she pulls the box out and puts it in here."
Give him a soft kiss.
"We made it through. To the other side."
He still seems a bit dazed, but he pulls you in close for a hug, orienting himself with you. "The other side… this is that realm of Law?"
"want to go back to my room altogether then? It would be easier than bringing it here."
"I thought Kotone and her ninja friend had found a better location than the floor?">>675663
"I could probably hide you both in my mane, and there'd be plenty to hold onto."
The rabbithole is on floor level.
"It's like a hole in the wall. But you wouldn't be able to see us inside, because you can't open the top of the box while it is inserted into the hole."
"Well.. we have to bring the box here then, so she can help out."
Why is it up here!?
Alright, alright. I'll back off and head back to that little stream I found earlier. Maybe I'll find some clues there.
In that case, Marina is free to retrieve Kotone's room and set it on Cumin's bed. When she opens its top, she can easily loom her head over the entire 'building' and oversee things, or she can leave the top closed for privacy.
"It seem an antechamber to the various holy realms, yes.
But they would not believe we are not dead. The good news is, there is an…
Embassy, they called it, of Celestia."
You head back over the summit and to the stream. Roll search
I'll do that. Just remember to put it back once we're done. The door is new, though.
'1d10'Roll #1 6 = 6
Stricture blinks again and rubs his chest. "That would make sense… from what Lord Wind explained to me while you were taking your rest, there seem to be ponies who make the case on behalf of ponies to go to a certain afterlife."
Open the box and place Cumin inside, or set down the box and place Cumin outside?
"This is starting to sound every bit as bad as real world bureaucracy.
Let's get going. Can you walk? Hold onto me."
Offer him a hoof.
You note there are little claw marks in the ground, a telltale sign that there have been a lot of movements by crabs all over the island. You spot some carvings here too… you recognize one as a couple of playing cards. The positioning seems familiar somehow…
I'll set the box on top of the crate near Kotone's supplies. That should make it easier for the both of them.
He accepts it and rises to his hooves. "Yeah… I think I'm gonna be okay. I can walk on my own, but… I might hold onto you just because I don't want to let go."
It seems Marina left the box top closed to offer some privacy. Tiny Cumin is all yours, Kotone. Drag her inside and show her your wardrobe?
Smile at him and keep holding his hoof then.
Off we go.
Huh? Which cards? This must surely have some meaning!
Then I guess I'm just going to have to wait out here.
Is the ninja just hiding in a corner, or what?
To the bath first.
"I'm so sorry, you must have be frightened all trapped like that.. But this will help, a nice bath to relax you and extend your mane."
You wander through the chalky halls beyond the doors, treading on the ornate carpet below. The halls seem to branch on endlessly, but you stay the course and soon you enter a round chamber. The walls are engraved with sun symbols, and you can see another set of double doors. This must be the 'embassy'.
Queen of Hearts. What could it mean?
Anyone by the doors?
I don't know, but I'll have to keep that in mind.
Let's descend further. I want to comb the entire island!
The Ninja must be elsewhere, she's not here.>>675683
You usher her along, and she doesn't resist, until right before you arrive at the tub and she pauses.
"Okay… Wow, this place is really spacious. I mean… Uh, I'm sorry, I'm just nervous. I know you're trying to help, but it was… nice to have Marina supporting me. Talking to her calms me down, and now it's just us and I barely know you."
She awkwardly removes the borrowed panties.
No. No windows, either. You can hear talking inside, though, so there must be ponies within.
Knock. Using the knocker if there's one.
There is one, carved out of the same cold chalk as the rest. A masculine voice calls through the door.
"Are those the briefs? They were supposed to be here before case -30800. Hurry up!"
Hmm. Well, not much for it, then.
I'll speak loud enough that Kotone and Cumin should be able to hear me through the shoebox lid.
"Kotone, Cumin. I'm going to go get a plate of the leftovers from yesterday. Once you're all set, we can snack a bit on those before we head out into the city. I'll be right back."
"If you'd rather.. I can shrink her down too and leave you two alone… or just have her open the lid and help out.."
"W-wait! We might. She might need your help." I call back up to you.
"S-sorry to be a bother. If she could just talk me through it, that would be enough."
You can hear Marina talking from above.
Push (or pull) the door open, standing tall in the middle of the entrance.
"Sorry to disappoint, but we are not here for that."
"I heard her, just wait, I'll go out and make sure she knows."
hurry outside of the box
"Alright, I'll stay."
Crack the lid a bit.
"Still here, see? Nothing to worry about."
The stallion at the desk doesn't look particularly impressed. "More confused ghosts, then?"
Wait a minute, that's just just any stallion. That's not a stallion at all. You've seen her statue in Autumnsreach. That's Saint Radiant 'the Confessor' – whose loyalty helped destroy the heretical nations of the Northlands in the Second Crusade.
She's apparently working the front desk of the embassy, now.
Gasp and bow down.
"We are not dead, you see. Touch us, we are warm still!"
Nod at her.
"Yes, you should keep the lid open, that would work best."
You follow the stream downward and find a tranquil pond. If there were signs of pony civilizing efforts here once, they've been eroded by weather. Perhaps those stones near the water's edge were dragged there by efforts for seating, but it's just speculation.
"I-if you don't mind, that is."
And yet, no signs of her. No remains. So she must be alive still.
Gah, I'll just return to Sitar and George.
"Not at all, we're all girls here, so its fine." I assure him confidently.
"Okay then. I'll be right here."
And I'll wait here while Cumin's being bathed.
Feel like a voyeur, though.
Stricture mimicks your gesture.
The stallionfaced paladin rises, brow raised, from her seat at the front desk. "Warm? Not dead?"
"We've been sent here by the modern Church, your saintly grace."
"I think you've lost me."
"There are passages between the world of the living and that of the dead.
We used one such pathway to fix an imbalance in the spirit force.
You float down to the beach. George is torso-deep in giant crab corpses and reloading his shotgun.
"I'm not sure this island would've been safe for Rosemary to live on."
Voyeur or not, Cumin gets into the bath without further protest so Kotone can try to grow out her mane.
"… Huh? Huh!? What happened here!"
I get you involved by having you hold tiny soaps and sponges. >>675704
I assume you will need a roll from me for the hair part?
Yes, roll since it's the first time you've ever tried it
George indicates the number of sinkholes along the beach you noticed when you arrived.
"It seems there are giant crabs in each of these holes. They come up - maybe when they feel vibration - to find something to eat, it seems."
'1d10+2'Roll #1 1 + 2 = 3
"Well… I did find an old shelter and traces of somepony having lived here for a while, but they seem to have left or something."
You try a mixture of 90% growth potion and do a deep soak, then massage it into the scalp. Unfortunately, it seems to work way too well.
After a moment, the hair begins to grow like wild, filling your entire shoebox! It's probably about as much mane as a full sized pony would have!
At least she just needs a haircut now, but your mouth is full of mane!
"Do you think these crabs might have… you know, eaten her? Or taken stuff out of her shack? Animals take shiny things all the time. Maybe if we search the crab dens?"
Well, that's certainly something.
I'll lift the mane so that Kotone can actually move about unhindered with my free hoof.
"Whoa, talk about a mane extension."
"The spirit force? What's that?"
Stricture interjects: "Can I have a moment?"
Stricture whispers to you: "You know, any of these ponies in the embassy could be involved too if this corruption is true. We shouldn't rule anyone out. Still, we can't be sure what the motive would be to put a bunch of ponies into Celestia's afterlife. Maybe they're sleeper agents for Nightmare Moon to help her take over? Or maybe just freeloader atheists? Maybe the Spirit of Law can't figure out how to sort ponies anymore and they're just breaking down. Whatever the case, we should be careful with who we trust with information - even our own Celestial sisters.
"Sounds incredibly dangerous, but it's a sound point. We should definitely check to be sure we're not missing anything.
Now all we need to do is lure them all out of their dens…"
Cumin squeaks: "I think this is a bit much…"
Mumble down and loom about.
It's true, I was too quick to trust.
"Where do we start then?
"We could make bait, maybe. Or Sitar might be able to run them off with skeletons. Or maybe they'd chase skeletons?"
Sitar: "I would have to comb the water for bodies, which is no guarantee, unless you see a graveyard. That ship graveyard was an exception. Plenty of dead there."
"Well, I don't think it was on purpose."
Briefly wonder if the volume of hair would even fit in the hold once she's restored to size.
"Now, here is a question. If we trimmed this back, would it return to normal size once it's been clipped off?"
"We should try to get as much information about how things work here first before we decide on who to trust. We don't even know what function this embassy serves or how many ponies work here. We need to learn… everything! It's our ultimate test as inquisitors. Normally we can make assumptions in our investigations, but now we need to solve a crime in a world with entirely different rules. Even the most basic issues like motives do not have obvious answers in a world where ghosts don't need to eat or need money or have inheritances to collect. What DOES motivate a pony here? We need to know stuff like that, too.
Probably a rhetorical question, since this was Kotone's first ever try at mane extension.
"Well, only one way to find out… If you've a pair of scissors, try cutting off a small section here, near the end. That way, if it does blow up in size, it won't crush your room."
"I could bait them… I can fly after all. Make some noise, get them to chase me down, fly away if things get too hairy."
The cut off hair seems to stay the same size. It probably will shrink back to normal when the potion wears off, which is usually twelve hours for Kotone.
You have the option to either cut back Cumin's mane, or try to shrink it to a more reasonable balance with her other kind of potion
"There are a lot of dens, though. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind searching them, but it could take a couple days to check every den on the island."
"let's try sizing up this piece and see what happens."
'1d10+2' does the clipped piece return to a portionally normal size or shrink to very short?Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9
Well, couldn't we just apply the antidote to neutralize the growth potion? Like how Kotone gave me and the ninja the one for the shrinking potion?>>675737
I'll observe while Kotone does this.
Yes, I was implying that>>675737>>675738
The clipped piece doesn't seem to get any larger. It seems that, like ponies, you can only make mane clippings so big without reaching diminishing returns. In any case, it seems that you are safe from accidentally filling the boat with mane when you size Cumin back up.
Just a quick haircut, lipsticking, and kimono-dressing, and you can be on your way to the salon.
"Or maybe it's to make sure the Sun doesn't evaporate the acid! Rain shouldn't be much of a problem here!"
"It could be both. And to keep out dust and stuff that would fill it up."
Ah, how wonderful, looking at crazy plants with the family! Now I remember why I had a garden back in the old home!
Put a cork on the bottle. "That should be enough for some experimentation!"
"Weren't there some other plants you wanted to see, too? Some cactus, I think."
Let her pick out the kimono and apply a cute set of complicated ribbons to her mane.
"Oh right, let's look at those!"
She picks a very fashionable moss green kimono. You reapply her makeup, since it was washed off in the bath, but this time add lipstick. She's the very picture of feminine beauty! You have no doubt she'll be the very belle of the ball.>>675740
Your doll-sized girlfriend now fully dolled up, she shyly waves at you from below. There's an involuntary pang of sorrow when you realize you'll never be so beautiful. Well, maybe on your wedding day. The tiny noblepony has selected a moss green kimono, and Kotone has finally finished her mane, makeup, and lipstick.
Throughout, you provided reassurances so that little Cumin would remain calm and comfortable. She calls up to you, "How do I look?"
Face directs your group over to the nearby cactus. These things are puny – barely bigger than a hoof!
You'll need to examine it on your own, though, since your husband is now arguing with Aira. She seems to think he's starting to act tired and that unless he lets her carry him, he's going to fall asleep like that time at the docks. He's acting fussy and wants to remain on the ground.
I'll be completely honest about that. It really does fit her well.
She doesn't need to know how envious I am of her figure.
"Are you ready to go to the salon?" She asks, attempting to curb her enthusiasm.
He's a diplomat, he should be able to argue his way out of this on his own!
Put on my research hat and examine '1d10'Roll #1 6 = 6
Hmm… the structure of the cactus makes it look like it is very soft and stretchy. Maybe you should take a sample.
>>675747We hadn't applied make up before she shrunk
"Oh! pose like this, and hold this.." I hand her a tiny fan.
"Oooh! I think I will paint this later, just hold it another second please
Be careful not to prick my hooves! '1d10'Roll #1 5 = 5
Tiny Cumin poses for Kotone's mind's eye
You draw close and prod it with your herb knife, and suddenly it expands, stabbing you with a couple annoying needles!
The cactus has expanded to the size of one of your legs in a matter of seconds!
If I mention it, he'd probably stop, though.
"So, eager to show off." I giggle. "And you do look amazing. Whenever you wish to go. No metals this time right?" I ask to make sure as I usher Marina's hoof down and place the reversal potion in it for him to get, and get close to the princess.
"There shouldn't be."
I'll gently maneuver them both to the bed area.
Keep my cool and not fly up in the air spooked! '1d10-1'Roll #1 3 - 1 = 2
Cumin daintily raises the hems of her kimono so she can carefully climb into Marina's waiting hooves and is deposited back outside the box.
"Okay, right. No metals."
You bolt up into the air, wings spread wide! Face calls from Aira's back: "Are you alright, did it get you?"
Apparently losing his cutie mark was not much good for his diplomacy skills.
Slowly fly back down.
"No, I'm okay, it just surprised me that's all!"
Don't look too spooked '1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
And now I just wait for them to pick a size to go with.
Aira gives you a much needed hug. "Are you alright mom? You still look pretty shaken."
Face pats you over her shoulder from her back.
Aria is preoccupied examining an acacia tree.
The back 'room' is once again slightly crowded as a blushing, kimono-clad mare slowly expands to full size on the bed in front of you. Wah! What are you going to do on the bed?
"H-hey I'm fine, it's just a silly cactus t-that's all!" Wipe my eyes.
Aira redoubles her hug. "It's been a while since you've done fieldwork, huh?"Pause
I can stay tiny right?
Sure, but the salon may not know what to make of you
I suppose I'll size up then. Bring a hat with me.
'1d10+2'Roll #1 8 + 2 = 10
Concealing your breezie parts below a kimono and sunhat, you join Cumin in sizing up.>>675773>>675765
After what feels like a small eternity, you're ready to go to the salon. Who would've thought that getting dressed would be such an affair! But at least Marina's marefriend is pretty.>>675770
"It's like riding a hang glider, they say."Emrille>>675572Rhanna>>675629
Even through your eyelids, you can tell something lit up – bright. Your eyes water slightly even closed. This will take some adjusting to – the light doesn't seem to be going away. Shielding them with a paw, you gingerly open your eyes, only to have them scalded, but fighting the pain and watering, you finally manage to open both as your eyes adjust and you can pull away your paws.
The rocket-ship seems to be emitting a huge amount of light – way more than any candles – from some sort of lanterns mounted on the deck. They're so bright they cut through the darkness like a knife through butter. You hear a low buzz sound, too, like they're powered by bees.
"Yes. To get back to the matter at hoof.
We have no number."
I'll kick a bit at the dress I'm wearing. Not used to long skirts…
After making sure we've got our funds, we'll head on up, I suppose.>>675773
"Say, did you want to ask your ninja friend if she'd like to take advantage of the salon as well?"
"That's okay, if you've lsot your number we can get a new one scribed for you, you'll need to go back through primary processing. They can get backed up sometimes but…"
She lifts a paper on her desk and looks at another. "I don't think there are any big plagues or wars on today, so you should be back pretty quickly."
I should get Marina a servant for this kind of things. Princesses should have help with this!>>675962
"If I can find her, she mentioned going to town ahead of us."
How many days have we been gone and how many days are left until we're supposed to gather back in Dixie?
I whine, rubbing my eyes and the tears
''Ugh… Mister MacMeal, Gunny, Steve! What happened to the ship?!'' I shout out loud. I just hope this doesn't hurt my sight permanently
Hiding the tail comes with the territory when you're visiting land. Although you feel a little safer today, since any unwanted male gaze will probably be on Cumin instead of you, meaning less chance of someone figuring out you've got fins.
"Then I hope we run into her.">>675969
Well, the salon's going to be a given, considering. As long as nothing really surprising happens, I should be able to keep them hidden from most townsfolk, though.
You waited 1 day in Dixie, traveled 5 days, and worked 7 days. You've spent 13 days. It will take you 2 days to get back (currents are with you). You have 15 days to work with.
"What's a hang glider?"
"Those are electrical lights, skipper. We call them 'arc lamps'. Pretty damn bright the first time you get a gander, true, but we could light up the whole underground with these things."
"I don't mind spending a few days here. Who knows what else we could find? Objections?"
"It might be difficult to notice her, but perhaps she will find us instead."
"It's like a big bird wing that earth ponies and unicorns can use to fly, but only down."
''Ugh… Why do they have to be so bright?'' I try to look away from all the lights ''You could have warned me before, I almost went blind!''
George remarks, "We have plenty of time, although I think we're all ready to be done."
Sitar just shrugs and has a seat back on the raft and strums his instrument.
"We did warn you. That's what shield eyes means, skipper! Look alive."
"How does… All of it
work? The numbers, the embassies…"
"I could just stay behind… not like I would need the raft if you two are done chasing. But this is too important to me to not spend a few more days looking for answers."
"Unless she really doesn't want to get her mane done. She didn't strike me as the kind to like the idea of frittering away an afternoon in a salon…"
I'll scrunch a little.
"I'm not really one to judge, though. This will be my first salon trip."
"Well it's a pretty simple process for you. I wouldn't worry about most of it - a few days at most and you'll be in paradise, basking in Celestia's warm glow in the Solar City. I last visited a couple decades ago - peaceful, but a little boring for my taste. Back in my day we were always busy - building new housing, singing hymns… these new generations just take all their blessings for granted!"
She seems to be getting a bit distracted with a tangent.
"Don't be nervous! Remember, you're going there to be pampered." giggle a little. "Besides, It'll be fun."
I'll look alive alright…
Let's see if I can find my way out and away from the ship before my body starts thinking it's early morning
Flap my ears.
"But how do they get up then?"
"That's the thing. Pampering's a new experience…"
George nods. "If you don't have any more use for me, I'll go home." Sitar, however, is less enthused. "I'm still not returning without that song, remember? And if you end up finding a pile of bones, you'll need somepony who knows how to smooth talk them."
If Marina is a little anxious, Cumin has taken it to the next level and is merely tagging along with the two of you quietly.
"Shh, it will all be fine, you'll see."
I assure you with a pat on the back.
Only a minute more and the ship pulls into one of the piers at the marina, where nearby diamond dogs are grumbling and shielding their eyes from the light. With the gangplank down, there's an entire underground city to explore! Although it would be pretty irresponsible to just run off on your own.
What were you planning to do in this city again? There was supposed to be a part you were after for the rocket… and also you might learn more about diamond dogs and your body. Plus what about these Northern dogs and their culture? Are they brutes like your parents? Do they have magicians who could break your age curse?
"Don't worry, Cumin. Kotone did such a good job with you that I don't think they'll have much left to do.">>676001
"I just hope they don't make a fuss about my fins…"
"Definitely! Every generation one after another takes things more for granted. And I know entitled, I knew a king, once!"
Geez, maybe looking at some of the items in the market will help calm them down.
Spot something adorable to comment on. '1d10'Roll #1 5 = 5
"They have to start out somewhere really high, like jumping off a mountain. It's not really something we think about. I never land on a mountain just to be on a mountain, but I guess they like to hike and stuff."
"So what's the foundation of these blessings?"
Frown and George, but make no move to stop him.
Look at Sitar instead.
"… I could just take the bones back with me."
Autumnsreach is a little different from pretty much everywhere else in the world. The marketplace is set far away from the rest of the city. You may need to figure out just where the salon is, if the city has one.
At some point some church pony decided too much commerce was sinful or something, and so all the merchants work at a merchant enclave building on the edge of town. Not all services are considered mercantile, though, which is really weird. For instance, bakeries, office buildings, and you even see a gym in town. So it seems a little arbitrary who gets exiled.
On that note, you may go to town square or the merchant enclave if you wish.
Cumin nods his head a little shakily. "D-do you think I'll give myself away? I didn't think t-this through. What if I say something that makes them realize I'm not a mare? I mean, like etiquette or something… Am I walking right?"
She seems a little antsy, although she's technically not 'pretending' to be a mare.
"Cumin, it's fine. There's no real etiquette that I'm aware of. Just walk naturally, like you are, and don't sweat things. At the moment, no one in Autumnsreach would ever be able to tell that you are anyone other than a cute mare who got off the boat at the harbor."
I'll match his pace.
"But, since I'm pretty sure it'll make you feel a bit more secure, I'll walk beside you, like this."
She puts a hoof to her chin. "Well, Celestia carved out an afterlife for all of her followers long before even I was alive, and I was around before Luna went nuts, so I know a thing or two about old. Her infinite love and grace are the building blocks of the world you'll be spending eternity in."
"Don't worry so much about that, first we have to find a place.. do you think that the church would call a spa wasteful? They seem to have forced a large amount of merchants out of the city."
George doesn't leave but looks at you expectantly.
Sitar shakes his head. "Sorry kid, but from the start, this was a personal job. I wasn't just helping you out of the kindness of my heart or even because I had some super special bond to your mother. I'm not going to chance things."
"Okay so, how did that happen? The carving up I mean. Did you witness it?"
>>676024>Did you witness it?
This is dumb and Maeda would not ask that. Disregard.
"Alright, alright… Wait, are you saying my natural walk is mare-like?"
Which will it be, try midtown (townhall) or 'downtown' (merchant enclave)?
"Well it's made out of Celestia's love! She made it with her incredible magic power, the same power that can move the very sun! You'll see for yourself pretty soon."
"Not at all, Cumin, but you've gotten used to, well, not having to compensate for certain… things, while we've been traveling.">>676021
"They might. Let's check there first."
"Here, walk like me."
Demonstrate a walk, putting the pressure on my hoof tips, and swaying my flanks just slightly and I move, my head held high and stable, with my ears gently twitching.
Cumin tries to mimic Kotone's superior rich girl grace. '1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
"I'm more interested in why she had to carve out a slice of it to begin with."
However, just because she always looked like a mare doesn't mean she always acted like one. She has the head-low awkward gait of a shy scholar.
There's so much to do in this place! but… I doubt There'll be enough time to do everything
''Mister Macmeal? Where are we going first in this place?''
Radiant frowns. "What do you mean? How could it be made out of Celestia's infinite love and grace if it was there forever? If it's made out of those things, that implies it had to be built by Celestia, ergo it wasn't there from the beginning of time!"
Suppress a snerk.
"It's probably a little harder since you can't really see her legs, Cumin. But you don't really have to worry about how you walk, so long as you do it confidently. So, chin up, neck straight, back unbowed."
"And don't forget! With confidence."
"…" I pause and then smile clapping my hooves for her. "Great, perfect, it suits your body shape and the curve of that kimono."
"Just try putting the pressure of your steps on your hoof tips instead of the whole thing."
"But you used the words carved out,
as if there had been a struggle, rather than built, or willed, or constructed!"
"We're going to meet with Blackpaw, another member of NASA, skipper. He has arranged for the purchase of the Repair-Type Bolt we need, once we bring him the funding. He has a burrow in the Upper City. The old dog's spellcaster of some repute - the only member of NASA with any interest in magic. Still, he has proven his loyalty to science."
She nods studiously, a little relieved by the praise. "Okay, I'll keep doing it like that!"
Well, it's probably more important that she thinks she's doing it well anyway…
She breaks into a grin, as if relieved to be back in familiar territory. "Oh, no, no. I meant it literally. She literally carved out an afterlife. From all this rock."
She points at the chalky stone walls.
"Never heard of that before! Have you ever seen one of them before?"
Luckily, I'm here so she's got someone to hide behind. Sort of.
"Well not exactly seen one but I've heard the saying!"
Exactly right. Her mood is the most important part of it.>>676038>>676045
"So let's check the enclave first. That's more likely to have our spa." And start walking towards the outskirts of town.
Shake my head and smile at him.
"Then by all means, stick around. Unless you have a different lead?"
Look to George.
"If this is goodbye, I'd like to thank you first. I appreciate how long you stuck with us. I'll make sure that our doors in Dixie are always open to you."
''Magic and Science huh?…oh! You think he could fix me? It was done by magic, so no one better than a spellcaster for the job, right?''
"I see. Well, let's turn back to that cactus."
Approach it carefully again
"So this was just… A whole block of stone?"
The three of you set out for the merchant enclave on the edge of town. Fortunately, Autumnsreach is easily the most pious city in the world, so the few stares you get are probably for your Neighponese garb and not checking you out, which might be awkward for Cumin. You can only imagine how this might go over in, say, Dust or Reptil, or even just a metropolitan place like Manehattan.
The merchant enclave is almost a little village of small structures, surrounding one very large trading post in the middle. Roll search to find spa.
George asks, "Do you want me to stay? And not 'because the work would be easier with another pony'."
I'm good at this. Totally.
'1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
Spin, pirate die. '1d9'Roll #1 9 = 9
"This place is really unique. I wish Maeda was with us."
rollin' search '1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
"Maybe, but consarnit if I understand the 'schools' of magic. It's all Saddlese to me. In any case, he is our biology specialist. Most of us are mechanical engineers - he helped plan how to stay alive in the harsh conditions of space."
"You'd only be able to get her into a salon at swordpoint."
The cactus, which had enlarged to the size of a pony, is slowly shrinking, at a rate of perhaps one centimeter every five seconds. It seems to almost be deflating, like a balloon.
But how does it get so big? Does it suck up air or something? INVESTIGATE '1d10'Roll #1 6 = 6
''If he's a dog biologist then he can also help me with these weird feelings too. Come on what are we waiting for?!'' I jump in place with excitement
"That depends entirely on you. I'd personally appreciate the company though. Don't you feel the same way?"
"Well there was the first temple and all of that, but for the most part yes. A whole afterlife of cold stone stretching on forever. Shows what good disinterested reason is for you without life or love."
"Oh, that's true just.."
"She's enjoy seeing a place like this, so orderly because of the church."
"And then she molded it, all by herself?"
You're just about to enter the merchant enclave – which admittedly does look rather seedy compared to midtown, when Marina steps on a flier for a salon/spa center. It looks like it's back in midtown, and hey, there's even a two-for-one coupon! That's a huge savings!
"What have you got, Marina?"
"Well, you might get the chance to escort her around. I doubt she'd refuse you, if you asked.">>676078
"It looks like a coupon. Or a flier."
I'll squint at it a bit.
"This one's in the Midtown area. Want to give it a look?"
It doesn't seem to be filled with air, as you prod it gently with a tong. You stab it with your ingredient knife and it doesn't pop, which is a relief because that would have been really bad in terms of loose spines.
It seems that the cactus 'inflates' itself by flooding a system of water reservoirs, which causes it to 'expand' as it straightens out. It occurs to you that this is not entirely unlike a dick, although you would NOT want this cactus anywhere in your body.
"If we ever meet again I'll have to ask her.." My smile grows at the flier.
"Oh? In Midtown? Let's go look then."
"Right, I'll leave the others behind to deal with the port authority and visit the bank. I'll take you up to meet Blackpaw. Now one last thing before we go Skipper. You can't touch any of the stuff on his shelves, understand? Some of that stuff is poisonous."
"Considering I doubted I would meet either you or Maeda again, and have done so, I'm forced to believe the world's smaller than it seems."
But how does it know I'm here? I didn't touch it, maybe it can feel the air.
Hey, maybe Face knows! He's into that whole Mother nature sect.
She seems in confidence. "Isn't she perfect? Once you see the Solar City you'll never want to leave."
Cross my arms and start walking up besides the goat ''Okay okay I won't touch anything. I'm not a kid anymore Mister MacRam, geez''
"Then what are the numbers for?"
"Oh, that sounds good. Honestly, I've been to this part of Autumnsreach before, and this is where the unsavory types gather. So I'm glad to be going back to midtown where ponies have more dignity."
The three of you mares make for midtown, and sure enough, not far from Saint Radiant's Cathedral, you find Sunbough Row, on whose corner stands the 'Smoldering Stone Spa and Resort'. Perhaps they get to be in the city because it's classified as a health organization or something? In any case, it looks very inviting: the structure is built out of warm sandstone, and it has big friendly windows that let you see the entire lobby without even entering, which is pretty unusual for a building. You can see there's a professional looking mare with her mane back in a bun at the front desk and behind her, there are wood-paneled walls with framed pictures of serene landscapes. The door to the back room has beads hanging in chains.
"Well, that's certainly inviting. Let's head on in."
Face is watching you curiously from Aira's back, who is standing next to you watching you work. You ask him if he knows anything about how it works.
"I never really thought about it. Um, maybe when you leaned over it, the shade from the sun changed its temperature?"
"If you've been here before why didn't you speak up and lead.." I sigh at Cumin.
But my wings twitch with joy at the sight of the spa itself, I confidently approach the desk looking the mare in the eyes.
"Oh that's just Lawyer stuff. You know, primary processing. They want to do everyone in order, you know, that's kind of their whole thing. And I can't disagree, having a plan makes working through all these cases go quicker."
Scientific experiment time!
Try to stand away from the shade and move my hoof carefully closer again…
"But when did the other afterlives enter the picture then?"
He scoffs. "Yeah, but you're plannin' on turnin back into one, aye, Skipper?"
He leads you down the gangplank and up a series of staircases into an overlooking cliff populated by burrow entrances. This must be 'uptown' - punctuated by its higher altitude that looks out over the dark bay. You can see down below the arc lamps being turned off on the ship.
MacMeal knocks on a door… 1112. Roll perception.
Cumin scrunches. "Well I-I didn't want to, you know, interrupt. But I did live in Autumnsreach for several months, so…"
Kotone heads up to the desk and the mare greets her with a smile. "Good morning. Are you returning customers, or first time?"
Cumin physically turns her whole head away to stare out the window and shrilly squeaks: "F-first time!"
No reaction. Hmm… Last time you prodded it with your herb knife. Maybe that's what made it expand. Also, it's still shrinking. Perhaps it needs to 'reset' fully before it can expand again?
"Yes, this is our first time. We've just come off a long boat ride, and we need three full treatments." I declare with an exhausted tone.
I scratch my head ''Yes sir…''
On the way, I also take notice of what the dogs around here are wearing, especially the females
'1d10' perceptionRoll #1 4 = 4
"A really long time ago! Why do you care anyway? The only one that matters is the one you're about to go into!" She says, a little testily.
I'll blink and stare a little at Cumin.
Then turn to face the desk mare.
"I am a first-timer."
I'll still be holding onto the flier.
"Because this is the afterlife! The real thing!
I've read books and thesis of high scholars who only ever dreamed of this place, and now that I'm here I have a million questions!"
Curiouser and curiouser!
I should make some notes about this!
"Aira, do you have some paper? We should make some notes!"
I'm already getting visions of publishing my own book on the weird plants of the Oddomane Empire! Try to not have bit symbols in my eyes! '1d10'Roll #1 9 = 9
"Excellent choice ladies, you're our first customers for the day, so you'll get everything extra fresh. Would you like to spend some time in the hot tub while your beauty technicians prepare, or would you rather wait here in the lounge? We have the latest newspapers."
Cumin whispers to Marina: "I… might have been here before. B-but no one will recognize me with all this makeup, I'm sure…
She sighs. "You remind me of somepony. Anyway, why don't I get somepony to show you the way to primary processing so you can get your ticket scribed again, and then you can figure out if you even need to come here. Maybe your record is really clear cut and you can move on right away."
"I would like a look around first if you don't mind.
After all, we have all the time in the world."
You are a very deceptive ponoe, hiding bit symbols is easy.
"Err, yeah, in my sketch book. You can use a few pages." She fishes it out for you.
"A hot tub?"
And to Cumin "I kind of expected, from that reaction. But at least I know they'll do good work.
Smile and giggle a bit.
"The lounge sounds lovely thank you."
She shakes her head. "I don't. I'm still waiting on some Legal briefs. I may need to go down there and roll some heads for Celestia if we don't get them soon."
Let's try to make a sketch of this cactus, surely Aira got her drawing from my side of the family!
'1d10'Roll #1 1 = 1
"Lots of paperwork on the other side.
Where is 'there', maybe I could hurry them along?"
"A hot tub is sort of like an artificial hot spring. You know those Neighponese are always making such fancy new machines – our business really took off when we bought this outlandish machine called a boiler from the Cottony Group. It uses this new 'steam essence'. Now we can have a steamy hot spring anywhere, even in the city!"
That's not how you pronounce Kotone at all! Baka Gaijin.
Cumin: "I-it's not what you think! I wasn't here for the salon! It wasn't girly at all. I was just getting a hooficure because all of the ground in that temple is stone, and it hurt my hooves. I'm used to walking on carpet everywhere so my hooves are delicate! And I've toughened up a lot since then anyway…
Yes! This sketch looks GREAT to you!
Aira is staring at the paper. She must be at a loss for words because of how impressive it is.
Sit there smiling like a dork waiting for the inevitable compliments!
The company is named after my mother, Manako, anyway, baka narrator!
"Really? That sounds very relaxing."
Pat Cumin on the back.
"That makes sense. And don't worry about seeming less masculine, Cumin. Seaponies don't even know what salons are, in most cases.
I'll look at Kotone for a moment.
"Want to give it a shot?"
"It may wash off Cumin's makeup, though…
"All the briefs are compiled at Observations, but they're not going to let some fresh ghost in. I can barely get in the front door and I've been here, what, half a millennium now? Those creeps are so secretive, and never on time! If you ask me, secrecy leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but we absolutely need those briefs."
She gets a little distracted again. "And he taught me sometimes even sneaks can be… Well, sometimes there's more to them than just being a sneak."
I whisper back.
"You have a point, want to skip it then?
"Mom…" She begins.
"There's no way to put this delicately. You drew a dick. That's a penis."
W-well maybe if you look at it and squint… I mean… most people wouldn't see it that way, surely??
"Let's get Cumin's feedback.
"Would you like to go in the hot tub while we wait, or do you want to sit in the lobby?"
"What?!? No…nono" I giggle "Oh Aira, I didn't know you had such a vivid imagination, well you're all grown up."
Show it to Face. "See, it's a cactus!"
Weird digression aside, refocus the conversation.
"Then you might want to get that done, and by the time you're back we will be here ready to move on!"
The dogs up here wear big fluffy cloaks! They come in all shapes and sizes. Some dogs look like puffballs because of how wrapped up they are. It's actually kind of hard to tell which ones are females except that it seems the bitches mostly wear hot colors like red, orange, and yellow, whereas males tend toward cooler colors.
D-dangit, I didn't want to look so out of place…
Oh well, I can get myself a nice fluffy coat for myself later
''So, how is this Blackpaw guy, Mister MacRam?''
I am trying the best I can, I promise.>>676139>>676140>>676148
"Uh… I don't want to deny you guys the hot tub if you want to try it… How about you go ahead and I'll stay here while you try the hot tub?
The hostess gives you an encouraging smile.
The tiny colt shakes his head. "Sorry, m-Selena. Maybe you should let Aira try to draw it."
"I wouldn't want to leave anypony alone, even if a hot tub is very refreshing."
"Well, don't dawdle. Hurry on to primary processing so you can get your own business handled, too."
Look at it again.
"Ehm, I suppose it's…not very…a bit sketchy…."
There goes the book
"Are you sure? It might be nice to have a good, warm soak after all that time on the ship…">>676158
I'll inwardly sigh, but nod.
"All or none, then. But hey, this will give us a chance to see what else is going on in the world, what with all these newspapers."
"Yes. A good chance to catch up on the news." I agree.
"Well he's a bit of a–"
The door swings open, and on the other side you see a doberman-esque diamond dog – lanky and black of coat, but with imperial features. He has a long staff and a rather simple red robe. He holds up a gnarled claw: at its base is a NASA ring.
"You return, Old Ram. I was beginning to think you weren't going to show."
"We were held up in Caballeria. But we got the jets."
"Good – please, come in. But first, who is this?"
Nod, and leave the building.
"Celestia's Embassy, they said.
This means the other afterlives have to be here too.
Also did you hear that, about the… Sneaks?"
"W-wait! Okay… I could try the hottub. I don't want to stop you…"
"Are you sure? Your makeup might come off…"
Aira retrieves the sketchbook from you and produces a better sketch that doesn't look like a hairy dong. A good momento for the occasion!
Oh he looks… Important. Wow…
''I-I'm Rhanna, mister BlackPaw, It's an honor to meet you!'' I stutter.
''D-don't let these rags fool you, I'm not a homeless dog, I'm a scientist like you!''
"I suppose we'll have to skip facials too."
"I guess you've got your drawing from your father…"
"Right – well, I already knew there were other embassies, but I'm sure Celestia's must be the most active. We should check out the others, though!"
After a moment of idling outside the embassy, Radiant exits and heads down the hall.
"What's a facial?"
"Truth be told if the imbalance is brought by a large amount of souls entering the celestial afterlife…
The problem must be with that legal department."
Okay what's the closest embassy?
"Ah, so you are taking little puppies with you now. Well just as well, come in."
Blackpaw turns and leads you into his burrow. The front room is actually an ornate sitting room with several finely embroidered couches around a strange device - a hookah pipe - in the middle on a table. From here you can see large archways to a dining room and a drawing room with several canvases set up, on which you can see sketchwork of diamond dogs in progress. Beyond that room, there is another door which is closed.
''I-I'm not a little puppy!… Mister…''
''Woah… This place is big…'' I sniff the air ''And fancy… Can I sit?'' I point at the couch, my tail wagging''
Jolly scrunches and takes the opportunity to dismount Aira's back. "I think drawing is something that comes from practice, not talent. I never had much drawing skill anyway."
Aira musses his mane. "I can't wait to show you all my drawings back at the old–"
The color drains from her. "Wow…"
She takes a deep breath, and Aria suddenly seems to have taken notice and approaches rapidly to comfort her.
Aira brightens a little bit and offers, half-heartedly. "Sorry. I've been trying to get over it in private. Just, you selling our childhood home… I know you didn't want to, and it was hard on you too. It's just a lot to take in. And we kept traveling and stuff, so I could keep my mind off of it. There were just a lot of memories there, that's all."
Jolly tries to offer, "Well, when you see my house in Witherloo, I bet you'll love it. You can draw me some pictures there, too, right?"
She offers a half-hearted smile. "Yeah… we can try that."
"W-wait, I don't want to ruin your whole visit! I'll… I'll do it. Even if the makeup comes off. I can do it."
I'm sure I put her old drawings in the bank!
This place is labyrinthine. Probably not even on purpose, it's just these narrow chalky hallways all look gosh-darned alike! Roll pure luck.
I'll ask once more.
"Are you absolutely sure? There's no backing out when we go in."
You did, but you still sold the house. The drawings weren't the problem. It's coming to terms with the loss of her childhood home.
"This is about relaxing! And we can get you new make up."
"Maybe they could even do it for you here!"
I get that, I just needed to know if I did do that!
Give Aira and Aria a hug. "It really was a nice place…" I murmur.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
"Yes, sit, girl." Blackpaw nods.
Macmeal yawns. "I was up all night trying to beat the weather. Bad storms on these coasts too, course it was nothin' compared to Caballeria…"
"You expect to finish on time?"
"If there aren't any more delays, yes."
Cumin takes a series of deep breaths. You're not sure if she's psyching herself up or just having a panic attack, but finally she nods. "Okay… okay, let's do it."
To the counter pony.
"Three for the hot tubs, if you please."
You feel a tiny arm around your leg joining in on the hug.
"Once we get to Witherloo… you'll see. You can pick up where you left off. We could leave tomorrow."
That sounded almost like an order…
But I sit down quietly, holding back the urge to speak up
You turn two corners and end up at, what you speculate based on the fact that it has the only plantlife you've seen so far, is the nature embassy. The door is slightly propped open by some vines growing out the door.
Give both the twins a kiss on the head.
"As long as we're together, that's the most important thing. It was we who made that house, it wasn't the house that made us…"
She nods and leads you through the hanging beads. You pass three more sets of doors and arrive at the back door of the building. From here, you can exit into the back courtyard. There's a small 'pool' set into the ground, surrounded by a garden with all kinds of flowers. The pool must be quite warm, because you can see steam rising from it.
I'll be appropriately impressed.
"So, do we just hop right in, or…?"
MacMeal and Blackpaw are seated, but Blackpaw lights the strange pipe device in the center of the room and takes a puff before unconcernedly handing a tube to you.
"Were you able to finish the resonator?"
"The rest of the design wouldn't matter if we hadn't."
"That's why I'm asking."
"Ya know the answer then. We wouldn't have bothered if we didn't have it."
"There's no need to be difficult."
"Would you want me any other way?"
"Yes, in fact, I would. Toffee was much more agreeable than you."
"Well we all miss Toffee. You don't need to sulk."
"How positively cozy looking."
I undress calmly and step into the water. Keep the hat on hesitating to remove it just yet.
A tube?… What tube is this? I examine it silently, while still keeping my ears perked to hear them
'1d10+2' appraiseRoll #1 2 + 2 = 4
Aira nods a little tearily and Jolly scrunches from below. "How about we go see the market? I bet you can find something you like!"
Aira shakes her head. "I'm gonna go fly up and get a look around from above." She takes off, and Aria follows.
Jolly sighs. "I'm sorry, Selena. I'm no good at being a dad. It's hard enough to comfort someone that looks down to see you, but I don't have your experience either. I'm really trying, though."
Cumin nods, carefully removing Kotone's kimono and Marina's undergarments. "They'll bring us warm towels to dry off when they're ready to take us to one of the stations inside."
She reddens a little. "I've never… bathed with mares. S-sorry, it was really nice of you two to volunteer to stay out if I wouldn't get in. Just be careful that you stay underwater so that the staffers don't see your fins and wings and stuff when they come back out."
It seems to have smoke coming out of it. Blackpaw inhaled from it.
"My hair should hide the head fins, at least. Though the scales might be harder to hide."
I'll shuck out of the dress and slip into the water.
"Oh, it's warm! Really warm!"
It's nice to be back in your element. You could exit the Underseaboat at any time technically, but the fast-moving currents aren't exactly something you can relax in. Drifting used to be a passtime for seaponies like you, so this is a nice reminder of those simpler times.
I might end up falling asleep if I'm not careful.
Look as they fly off.
"I know you're trying, Face."
"Just give it some time. Try to get to know them."
"Oh.. oh! I see why you might feel a bit tense about it now.. but you're a mare too, so don't worry. We're all here to spend a nice calming day together." I pat the water gently to urge her in.
S-should I ask? But they're having an important talk and everything…
Ah screw it
''Hey uh… Mister BlackPaw, what is this thing you gave me?''
She reddens, acknowledging her status as a mare, before easing into the water. "Y-yeah. It does feel good, though… it's warm. The hold of that ship was always so wet and dank. This is… nice."
I sigh breathing in the steam with my eyes closed.
"See, its fine. Just relax."
"It sure is. I think this alone was worth the trip."
Float for a bit.
"You know, I'm sure Coriander would just love to set up something like this. His wife probably wouldn't say no, either."
He squirms like a fussy little colt under your scrutiny. "I wanna. Aria doesn't want anything to do with me, though, and Aira seems like she'd rather take care of me than let me try to comfort her."
He mulls it over briefly. "Maybe I'm trying too hard? What if Aria is shutting me out because she feels like she can't respect me. Maybe I can never be a father figure to them, with this body, but I've been clinging to that past identity because that's what I
wanted. I wished I could just swoop in and be a father after all those years. But maybe it's too late to be that for them, and I should just try to be a close family member
without trying to fill that father role?"
He shakes his head. "Sorry, this is a lot to dump on you all at once, isn't it? We just don't get a lot of time alone to talk."
Blackpaw glances over at you. "It's hookah, from the southlands. Just smoke it, you'll feel better."
MacMeal is drinking from his hip flask instead. You might ask for more booze, if you enjoyed last time getting drunk.
Pat him on the head.
"You're right. Like this, you can't be their father. And you can't just swoop in and be their father now, it's been too long for that.
Like you said, try to be their close family. And if they ever come to you for advice, perhaps then you can try to be a father?"
''Better huh?…'' I hold it up and stare at it for a bit
'1d10' my best attempt at 'smoking'
And I'll avoid drinking for nowRoll #1 6 = 6
You can feel your muscles untensing as you lean back into the warm water and let it flow over you. Pretty soon a staffer opens the door.
"We're ready for you. First, we'll be applying facials. The mask will sit while we perform the massage, and then the mask will be removed. At that point, you will receive your hooficure, and you'll be all set for the day. Any questions?"
"Just one. Is your staff used to unusual customers?"
"Yes, as my friend said, are you familiar with other species for instance?"
His little legs stretch around your neck in a hug as he gives a tiny sniffle. "Sorry… for everything. You're right though. It's time to give that up… as much as it hurts my ego, I have to accept that this is what I am now. And once I do that, I can get closer to my daug– I mean, my family. The girls."
Give him a hug.
"Hey, you don't have to give it up just yet! You never know what might happen!"
"All three species of pony!"
Well seaponies and breezies would make five if you counted them…
I'll lift my tail up out of the water.
"What about a fourth?"
Jolly is so small now, you can easily embrace his whole body with your arms. He's warm… poor little thing. As a stallion, his identity was grounded in superior masculinity. He had a huge natural endowment, suave skills, and he could have any mare he wanted. Now he has to come to terms with the fact that he is none of those things anymore, and likely never will be again. You think, though, that you've put him on the right course. Acceptance will ultimately be healthier in the end.
"Yeah… I think I want you all to call me by my real name, instead of that pirate nickname. Can you call me Jolly from now on?"
"Do you want to see some more of the Oasis, Jolly?" Put him on my back?
He gives you a little smile and doesn't protest as you load him onto your back. "Yeah… and I won't try to run off or lead anymore. You're the mother. It's your family to lead."Pause
For your first time trying, it goes down surprisingly smooth. It's like sucking on fruity water vapor, and you were pretty parched. This stuff is kinda nice… you wonder if it comes in any other flavors.
Blacknow nods approvingly. "She can keep down her smoke."
Yeah… It's kinda relaxing too.
I'll take another puff of it and smile ''Hehe…Thanks Mister Blackpaw''
He waves a paw dismissively. "Of nothing."
MacMeal presses him: "I would like to close the deal on the bolt today."
Blackpaw shakes his head. "It's not possible. It is under the jurisdiction of the Protectionism League. A patent filed with their offices is ironclad. I have already begun the process, but these things take time."
Have some more fun times!
But then it's time to go!
"I bet that's not the first time you say that."
"Protectionism League?" I ask, setting the hookah tube back in place
Following your advice, Jolly stopped trying to live up to being the 'father' for the twins, and asked them to start calling him by his first name, Jolly, and treat him as they would another colt in the family. Aira adapted well to the news and continued doting on him, but Aria was initially suspicious of his sincerity, and as you spent days on the ship in your return voyage to Equestria, he was subjected to repeated noogies and other older-family-member pranks to test his resolve and see if his old pride and dignity would get in the way of accepting his new role. Perhaps surprisingly, he held strong and never 'demanded respect' as her father. By the time you reached the great port of Witherloo in the Eastern seaboard of Equestria, Aria's hostility had stopped. No longer threatened by the idea that Face would try to enter her life as a new authoritarian figure, she has grown to accept him as a family member, if in a non-father role. It feels good to know that you solved the conflict between them, even if it cost Jolly his pride. But what's more important? Pride, or family? In your book, it seems family is the answer.
The ship you sailed on was Face's dhow, but the colt seems ready to leave that life behind and offers the ship, like the rest of his belongings, to you. If you want, you can rename it, or keep it named Squall.>>676564
"Yes, actually, Bran is a voracious eater, and she always has been. And notorious for eating on the couch. I'm always cleaning crumbs out.">>676565
"The creativity of Novdogod is only possible through special laws that protect creators from having their ideas stolen - this is the job of the Protectionism League, they are a patent office."
"A bunch of phooey that stops the spread of ideas."
"I can clean her carpet next time, if you want."
"What kind of ideas?" I lean a bit, ignoring MacRam
"And what kind of creators?"
Squall is fine!
I'm a bit overwhelmed to just get all this! It's ours not mine!
I'm anxiously waiting for the moment we see Witherloo!
"I have half a mind to ask Bill to make you little again so I can raise you to have a little decorum, missy! But messing around with this age magic never seemed to do us any good. In the end, do you think you'll ask him for youth, or your proper age? This perfected age magic – the power of alicorns – it's how Celestia stays young and immortal forever. But if we've learned anything from our working at magic, it's that there's always a catch."
She poses an interesting point. A number of crewmen left the crew with altered ages, notably your old victim Curry. You wonder if he suffered any magical drawbacks like you did - you sure hope so. Because if not, he totally got off with like 20 years of extra life and a body in its prime for nothing! Still, if this new age magic really is perfect, maybe it's the chance to pay back Tela with some youth…
"Any kind of idea. Books, art, and most importantly inventions. Even methods, like cooking or refining of ores! These secrets are what make Novdogod famous world wide for our superior knowledge."
"Neighpon is beginning to edge you out."
"And they use the same secrecy and patents, you old fool!"
"I mean… yeah, but chipping of five or ten years can't be THAT bad, can it? I'm not asking for a full refund, I don't want this shit to get any worse than it already has."
God I hope that faggot ended up with a shriveled dick or something.
"That should be good though, right?"
"Any idea… Oh! Wait, why is the NASA a secret then if the Rocket idea can be protected?"
It's another dark, dreary, and rainy day when the Squall's bell rings. Witherloo harbor beckons – you need only go up and see it! Aria is already above, she was likely the one who rang the well. Aira is still belowdecks in her personal room with Jolly. The ship itself is enchanted to mind itself – from riggings to sailing. It needs a captain in rough waters, but fortunately that hasn't been an issue. Otherwise you'd need to hold Jolly up to the steering wheel or something.
Still, a magic ship is quite a gift from a Vizier to his retainer, and it's no gift to scoff at to receive yourself from him.
Cloudy just shakes her head. "I don't know. I don't know enough about the magic. I wouldn't tempt fate, but you're a grown mare, even if you act like a filly sometimes. You can make your own choice. Maybe talk to Bill and Bran - they know more about the magic than I do. I'm just an old cartographer now."
She smiles weakly
to be able to go to a wide variety of nations to be able to function. Talk about travel to the moon is quite literally heresy almost everywhere except in Novdogod and Griffonstone."
MacMeal points out with urgency
"Maybe just a few years, not too much. I bet I'll be a fucking looker anyway."
"Plus anything is better than being an useless old fart before it's my time to be an useless old fart, no offense."
Put my plate down and lean back on the couch.
"You know, I think I never wanted to get old when I was on the fleet. I mean, I didn't want to die, sure, but I was sure that one of my stunts will be the end of me and I did them anyway."
"They were the end of you a few times. Those were dangerous days. It would've been impossible to operate without a slough of necromancers."
Does it make up for 20 years of absence? I'll let you decide!
Fly up to Aria to look better at the harbor!
Cross my arms "Is this because of the dumb pony Princess and her sister that was banished?"
"Yeah, but I mean, the end-end.
Like… that fucking airship? I never expected to come back from that, one way or another. But I expected to do some real damage and kill as many as I could, and that's what I did."
You head up, dodging some ropes that are rearranging themselves as you sail into harbor. Aria gives you a friendly wave from the crow's nest.
The harbor is sprawling and developed. You've been here before, many many years ago. The marina is packed full of huge trade galleons which obscure your view. There is no doubt that these Witherloo ponies are at the very heart of trade! You can see there is one great avenue that cuts through the heart of the city and leads to the Old Palace, where the trade patrician lives and the king once lived before Celestia conquered this place. The great avenue also splits up the city between two distinctive architecture styles - one very Prench, and the other seeming to have Germane influences, but distinct all its own.
Point to it!
"Oh my, I wonder on which side of the city Fa-Jolly's house is!"
Blackpaw nods. "Very much so, although the Southern Dogs have their own reasons. They take scripture much more… literally. Do not let it bother you, they are barely a step above rabid hounds."
"It wasn't smart. But I'm glad that Tela has given you a reason to see that life is worth living in a less… 'exciting' capacity."
"Yeah, she gave me a reason to… not be who I used to be."
Shake my head.
"I still worry that it's in me.
Like, in the museum, when I got busted. I tried bluffing, like Light Heart, right? They totally fell for it, maybe because I had her tailbone with me, I don't know, but I know that the first thing that ran through my head was… well, it was that I could unload some magical bullets into all of their heads so fast they would all collapse before they could say a word."
I lean back in the couch, arms still crossed and staring at the Hookah "Yeah, I know that… Oh, and talking about dogs… You're a biologist of dogs right mister Blackpaw? You know everything about how we work and everything… Don't you?"
Aria smirks. "Jolly? It's your
house now, mom. And as much as I can sympathize with Aira, I am excited to see your new digs. You deserve
something nice, mom, especially since you're taking care of him. And hey–"
She smiles. "This adventure… it was nice. Maybe we could stay at your house for a while until we figure out what our plan is for the future? We can spend time with you and help you take care of the little one. Besides, Witherloo is a big center for trade. I'm sure we can find a job or a ship to adventure, no matter what we pick!"
It's nice to know your efforts to grow closer to Aria weren't in vain. Even if she's still a little solitary on the outside, you can tell she cares on the inside.
"I'm glad you didn't. A murder would only heighten security! And besides… the ponies in this town, even the guards. We've gotten to know them. It would be hard for us to fight them."
He scratches his chin. "More than most. Until only very recently – and I am talking in the last fifty years – almost all healing was done by prayer. Dogs didn't care how they became healthy as long as they were healthy. Seek out a priest, they would say. Let the Gods solve our problems. No more! By our own ingenuity, we are able to heal with our own paws. Knowledge is power."
"I mean, you wouldn't have had to. You would have been invited to quite a few funerals I bet, though."
"Well, you know how we live – integrated, to a degree, with the community. The upper class, at least. What of you? You've said so little of your life with Tela."
I nod "So you're like a doctor. Do you think you could fix what happened to me? Or at least help in some way?"
My gaze lowers" I… Kind of got cursed by chaotic magic"
"There's not much to say about it, really.
We've been living it off large from the money back from the day. Nice little cabana on the beach, some cocktails at the bar, fucking whenever we can, y'know. Just enjoying it as it comes. No hassle or anything. That was, until Selena showed up."
"Magic is certainly a complication."
MacMeal scoffs. "She's not telling you the whole story. She's still a puppy. Supposed to be eight years old or thereabouts."
His eyes widen. "Age magic… that is powerful stuff. Perhaps… I've never seen it last so long, though. I once saw a demonstration, but it only held for a few seconds. Hm…"
"Selena, from the fleet? What did she want?"
"Some little offspring of Light Heart needed help, and so did she from the looks of it, so that's why I'm going to get back in the game. I just had a trace on Bran so I decided to track you all down while I was at it."
Yster tuts. "She should know better than to be recognized. She was supposed to be wearing a hood."
"I-I was going to tell! And I'm much older than eight!… I mean I was, whatever."
Turning back to Blackpaw, I rub my arm "But yeah, age magic… So maybe that means it might wear off?… Well, maybe not. I have been like this for a good few days…"
"I mean, if it wasn't for that, I wouldn't be here!"
Blackpaw rises and walks to a bookshelf where he has something resembling a crystal ball made out of sponge. Without any word of warning, he grabs one of your arms and lifts it, then jams the object into your armpit!
After a moment he withdraws it and examines the material. Once tan white, the object has turned a dark shade of yellow with tinges of black and green.
"It is as I feared. It seems you were right – this is the work of Razdor. There are ways of fighting him, however – of that, you can be sure. None know him better than the Diamond Dogs."
A little huffily she remarks: "It was good this time, but what about the next? We have enemies too many to number!"
"I mean, you know.
She makes a portal to wherever I am, and I can deal with whatever enemies you have."
"H-hey!" I pull my arm back, a bit flushed at the suddenness
"Razdor?…But The name of the bunny that did that was Ithirithyll… "
She sighs. "Oh Emmy. If there's one thing we've learned over all these years is that you can beat some enemies some of the time, but you can't beat all enemies all the time. Especially when you're up against a whole nation. Maybe it's just age slowing us down, but it just became… easier to go along with things."
She nods idly. "But they have been going well. It's a secret program, but the Academy trains necromancers and warlocks now. Anything for an edge over the Oddomanes, I suppose.">>676606
Blackpaw nods gravely. "Many are his names and agents. The name you gave him, Discord, is the pony translation of his name in our native tongue. Razdor is not a pony god, you see. He is part of the pantheon. Razdor, the antlersnake. His significance to ponies dates back only about two thousand years, hardly any time at all."Selena>>676589Marina & Kotone>>676249>>676244
The sauna attendant blinks in surprise. "W-what? Is that real? A giant fish tail?"
Also please indicate if you want to go ahead and skip the rest of the spa.
How strange. An abandoned building perhaps?
Poke my head in.
"Hey, that doesn't mean I can't try. Whoever has a beef with you has a beef with me, and they are going to get shot if they try to hurt you."
"So that war has been big, huh?"
I'm fine with either.
I'll huff a bit.
"It's not that
Step half-out of the hot tub, and show the spa ponies it is in fact, not fake. Show off the headfins as well.
"Well, of course, the Princess doesn't need to fake her scales." I declare and remove the hat sliding out of the water to grab a towel, and shaking out my thin wings by fluttering them.
Stricture opens the door the rest of the way. It's kind of surreal to see a place that looks overgrown and abandoned but is perfectly lit. No lights anywhere, remember?
Pine trees and ivy dominate the foyer, to the point that you can't even see chalky walls. No one answers you, but you hear faint sounds further in.
Your companion speculates: "Nature is a strange faith, as far as I know. I am not surprised they don't get many visitors."
"What's that word they were using for it? 'Cold war'? Equestria is building up its force, but they haven't declared anything yet. Do you read the paper? I could summarize."
"Or maybe this is part of their faith too…"
Her eyes widen in confusion and she scrunches, placing her hooves on her temples. "Princess? Like Celestia? Tails? Scales? Fins? I'm so confused!"
"My house. That'll take some time getting used to…I'd prefer to say our house." Smile "And of course Aria, you and Aira can stay as you like, it's your house too now!"
"I don't really care for news, really. Too much bother and stress."
Tilt my head.
"So why is it cold war, if it's with the zebras? Don't they live in deserts and huts made out of shit and all that? What stops us from just mowing them down?"
Getting through the room is not comfortable. Without a machete to cut back the vines and ivy, you have to push through the brush, which is thick and you are constantly disentangling hooves and tails from the growth. Although you're not through, about half way into the growth your view is clear enough to see movement from brown, lithe creatures going to and fro.
"What are those? Deer? What are those things they're carrying?"
Aria shrugs. "I didn't want to impose. I mean, we did kind of cost you the old family house in a way. And a lot of moms try to run their daughters out of the house if they're getting too old!"
She taps her chin. "I guess the Belles aren't like that, though. Hey, in Dixie, they are a lot more family oriented, aren't they?"
Indeed, what are they carrying?
Blink quickly with confusion "So, he serves a God, called 'Discord', the antlersnake and he is the God of… Chaos?"
Lean back, cupping my chin in thought "So… What exactly does he do? Aside from aging innocent pups"""
"All right, calm down, there's no need to be flustered."
I'll sit down at the edge of the tub, letting my tail hang into it.
"I am, as you may have guessed, a seapony. As for a princess, that's with a lower-case 'p'. I'm nothing so grand as one of the Sisters, which use the capital 'P'."
I'll scrunch a second.
"I think 'Lady' might fit better, but princess is what they call it."
Wave a hoof dismissively.
"At any rate, none of that really changes that I'm a customer, and this is my first-ever spa visit. I hope I'm not making things too difficult."
"This Oddomane Empire out east is under a Padshah who calls himself Caliph. He has united a huge amount of land under his rule, with all different kinds of creatures. Ponies, cattle, zebras, horses… all of them serve a powerful empire, they say it's as big as Equestria. But there is unrest stirring near their empire, a war with the diamond dogs may come soon. Celestia thinks that will weaken the Oddomanes, so she can 'take back' Trotantium. Remember Roads? That place used to be Trotantine, instead of Oddomane."
"As Marina says, we are simply here to relax after a long trip, and your spa seemed quite inviting."
They have some sort of reins strapped to them so they can more easily hoist palettes covered in some sort of… metal objects? Or, they're shiny silvery things. Reflective. It might be easier to call these deer wearing reins "reindeer" for short.
I will be seriously disappointed if none of them has a red nose.
"Hello? Can you hear us?"
"Razdor was unsatisfied with his place in the order of the world, and so grafted himself with the parts of other creatures - arms, legs, wings, hooves, claws, talons. But in this act, he lost his sanity. Cursed with a total lack of empathy, he leaves only chaos in his wake. But he is not unstoppable. He long ago stopped operating in diamond dog lands because he is easily subjugated here."
Blink, as if this was all registering.
"R-right… I-I'll… um… let me let the attendants know… and they can be ready for you. I don't think the normal tail braiding or wing preening will be appropriate in this case…!"
She takes off. Cumin seems a little relieved and smiles. "Well, I guess now there's no chance they're going to recognize me, being so distracted with the two of you… S-so I want to thank you, for being the weird ones." She reddens. "I mean, you know… taking their attention like that, so that next to you, I seem unremarkable."
Clearly they notice you because when you speak you get glances from them, but they don't seem interested in talking to you.
Stricture is finally done pushing his way through the growth and he turns around to help you extract you.
"They're not being very helpful about this."
I'll chuckle a little.
"Well, they're just going to have to get used to us. Seaponies aren't going to remain as myths much longer, so I suppose it's for the best we get the awkwardness out of the way first."
"It looks so fun! Dixie was one of my favorite places during this journey!"
"No. Definitely not. Where are they even going?"
"Okay, okay. Long story short, Celestia wants to kick them while they're down."
"I learned to ignore it after a while. Sometimes it can be fun though." I giggle. "I convinced a pony to accept a normal flower as if it were a magical good luck flower before."
"So what is new? That's what she does best, right?"
"Did it actually work?"
I'll slip back into the tub.
"As a luck charm? No idea."
"The pony was pretty happy at least."
"Well, that's what matters, right?"
Giggle a bit to myself.
"Sometimes just thinking that something is lucky is enough to make it so."
For once, things don't go terribly. The rest of the ponies, warned about your appearance, are able to remain mostly professional and only gush about Kotone's pretty wings a little. So distracted by the two of you, Cumin is never recognized, and you get a full-service spa treatment. Marina's mane is finally poofy once again and Kotone has that famous Neighponese elegance once again. For the fairy pony in particular, it's a relief to finally have the grime off! She was raised cleaner than these last years of adventuring have treated her. Cumin seemed to have a really good time, too, although she seemed to have a little too
much fun with the full body massage. Red of face, shaking, and holding her breath the whole time. Pent up, much? At least the staff seemed to have fun trying to massage Marina through her thick scales, progressively attempting heavier treatments and finally settling for a rather exotic massage that involves a large wooden ball being gently ground into the flesh. It really reaches the deep muscles!
The three of you, feeling confident and looking sharp, spend the rest of the day on the town, shopping, going out for coffee, and visiting a little open-stage singing club (which fairy pony insists is not as good as the karaoke clubs back home). By the end of the night, Cumin is 'one of the girls' and fits in with the two of you just fine.
Roll for how well you sang at the club. Cumin gets +2 for having actually sung in a choir as a soprano before. '1d10+2'
The sun having long gone down, the tides are beginning to recede. Soon it will be time to descend into the temple, although you may want to check in with Curry and the ship first. And where's that ninja girl?Roll #1 4 + 2 = 6
Seaponies are great singers, by nature. It's how we attract mates, you know. '1d10'Roll #1 9 = 9
'1d10' rollinRoll #1 1 = 1
"You know, if this house hasn't been attended in a decade or more, it might need some fixing up. Mom… you own the property. You could sell the house and move to Dixie, if you wanted to, or use the money to buy back your home in Lubuck. I'm kind of expecting the place you just inherited to be a bachelor pad, and that's not the kind of place to take care of a colt. It might not even have enough rooms for the family."
"Well, I can't really complain. The needs of this war she's planning have made it possible for us to live a normal life in the capital. Otherwise, we'd still be on the run or worse."
Kotone has a little musical experience with her instrument, but it becomes clear why she was never a singer. For one thing, she keeps singing way to LOW. She's not compensating for the fact that her voice isn't high pitched when she's bigger at all! The result is kind of garbled and unattractive.
Cumin sings a pretty ballad that earns her whistles of admiration from the stallions of the club, but she'll never compare to the siren song that Marina gives. By the end of the night, the poor fishpony is fighting off new suitors and there are tales all over the port of how a REAL LIFE FISHPONY TOTALLY CAME TO A CLUB AND STOLE THE SHOW! Most scoff at these sailor's tales, of course.
Look for Horosha, or meet up with Curry at the ship?
Well, we can look for Horo for a bit. Kotone's friend… employee? Shouldn't be alone in a new town.
"She was never really there when I needed her. Isn't she a Goddess who cares for all of us?"
'1d10'Roll #1 1 = 1
Yster doesn't feel the need to elaborate on that any further and points out the window. "Say, it's getting dark. They'll be getting back, soon. Any last wishes before the magic happens? You know this could go horribly wrong."
"Well, that was pretty fun! I never knew you had such a voice Marina."
Cumin blushingly puts in, "Y-yeah, it was… really something!"
You're walking along the docks and spot a colt playing with some dolls – I MEAN ACTION FIGURES. One of them looks strikingly like a ninja…
Then you realize that it's Horosha, acting very still so that no one will realize she's alive and not a toy. It appears she's currently killing a pose-able dragon figurine or something, based on the way she and it are being swung around in the air and the explosion "sound effects".
"Well, a seapony's voice is how we attract potential mates. Or at least, that's how wild ones do it."
I'll cough a little.
"The uplifted ones can use more traditional courting methods, but a good singing voice is still highly thought of and sought after.">>676651
Smile at Cumin, and blush slightly as well.
"You were good as well. That chorus training really showed!"
Oh. Oh dear.
I'll look to Cumin and Kotone.
"Uh. How do we get her out of that?"
Stricture grips you by the front half and jerks you free of the growth. It feels nice to be so close again~
It would seem they're transporting whole palettes of mirrors which are host to odd reflections onto a square wooden platform on the ground. The mirrors seem to be sourced from another room further in the back, where the palettes originate.
You're just about to ask further questions when a deer with a reddish coat (and even a seemingly dark red nose) interrupts you and begins chattering at you in some foreign tongue!
Stricture contorts his face. "That's deertongue. Really ancient stuff… Probably the first language."
"That's true I suppose. But I don't think Jolly would be so eager to show it to all of us if it wasn't something special!"
I tilt my head "Subjugated How?"
"Oh.. Let's go tell them its our ninja toy."
I approach the two kids slowly.
"Well, just send my body parts to Tela.
And also, the tailbone of Light Heart I have, do something cool with it."
"Would that work?"
I'll trot along beside her.
"Sure, just be confident."
Aria shakes her head. "Colts are always excitable. You know that. Besides, he hasn't seen it in a long time. It could be covered in mold by now."
She snorts. "Although, knowing you, that might be a plus. Where is Sunny again, anyway?"
I'll let Kotone take the lead, though.
"You feel it too, don't you?"
Without asking, he reaches down and presses your chest, between your breasts. Paw over your heart. "The connection we share. All of we Northern diamond dogs feel an innate connection to one another. We strive as one for success as a society. One greater organism. Unity. This is his bane. You see, Razdor is autistic, unable to feel connected to others. The very presence of this unity burns him."
You don't feel particularly united to this guy sticking his paw on your chest… could it be because you're not a northern diamond dog…? Mom and dad never had much to say about your bloodline, but they were the rough, savage kind of diamond dogs like that pack you met near New Earth.
…Would Blackpaw not like you if he knew you were a Southern diamond dog? Should you keep it a secret? Is there a way to be like him, like these intelligent and civilized dogs?
"I left him at Emrille's place. I'm sure he's basking in the Sun as we speak."
There's only one colt, playing with both toys. In any case, he gives you a weird look. "My mommy said not to talk to strangers!"
"If only Lord Wind was here…"
Turn to the deer, bowing in respect.
"My name is Maeda Tree, and I am Equestrian."
"Wow, that's kind of a long trip… can you like… get him mailed?"
"And that's a very good thing. But where did you find that toy?"
I'll nod towards Horo.
"I don't think I've seen anything like it."
"Oh! There was so much going on in your story, I forgot to ask. What did you mean by that? I don't really get the metaphor."
"…maybe we can ask Lilly? She's a courier…"
Shake my head
"I literally got her tailbone. Her skeleton was there. I don't remember what I was going to do with it, but I have it now. The rest of her probably burned down."
I smile excitedly and lay on the neighponense accent.
"That ninja. Please. I lost one just like it, I.. is it the same one? It just has to be. Unless.. you had the same one.. but.. Please can I see her?"
"Right… we'll be in Dixie soon. You want to look at houses? You don't have to commit to anything, but it might be good to keep your options open."
Aria frowns. "Aira is taking too long with Jolly. I rang that bell ten minutes ago!"
She rings the bell again, vigorously. It's loud!
"Yis uns Equestrian an?"
Stricture nods. "That's Old Equestrian, like in the ancient scripture. You never had a formal education in theology like I did. The deer wants to know what Equestrians are doing here."
"Um… but… how do I know you're telling the truth?"
"Her skeleton, right here…"
Yster shivers. "That's kind of creepy."
"Hey, calm down, they'll be here soon!"
"Looking for answers. About Nature's domain."
"That's a smart question."
I'll tap my chin, then look at Kotone.
"What do you think will be proof we're telling the truth?"
"What?! I wouldn't lie about my little Horosha, she's the strongest ninja of her clan, but she was exiled because she couldn't obey an order to kill her lover."
"I know right? Bet she'd have loved it. Being so naked in front of so many people."
She pats you on the shoulder. "Come on, we're talking about the same Aira, right? She needs some urging on, or she'll daydream the hours away!"
Finally, Aira comes up with Jolly in tow. She adds: "Sorry, we're late. I was trying to teach Jolly to paint, but it got all over him. I had to give him a quick bath."
Jolly, with a wet mane, doesn't dispute the story. He's come a long way since last week, the adjusting process took time but you think it was a success. "Painting with a brush is hard… I liked hoofpainting more."
"Well, maybe we can do some more hoofpainting later if you promise to not get it all over yourself, alright?"
Aria nods approvingly. "Just as well. I've got the address, it's in the Dutch region of the city. We can get going as soon as you're ready."
Aira adds: "I'd like to see it too, but after that, can we go shopping, mom? I'd like to get some Equestrian clothes for Jolly. He has his Oddomane courtiers' robes, but I was thinking we could get him something a little more appropriate. It would especially look weird if we showed up in Dixie with him dressed like that."
Oh, only Kotone needs to roll that btw
Your statement is relayed. "Hm… this one's harder to modernize. It's kind of like, 'there are no answers here', but not telling us to go away? Get to the point, basically."
"Well, I mean, I've seen skeletons in museums before, like of cave ponies and the like, but it's weird to actually know one of the exhibits."
She gives you a little smile, "I do think she actually would like getting to be famous in death, though."
'1d10' [rainbow]Imagination[/rainbow]Roll #1 10 = 10
"Let's first see the house and then we'll talk about any shopping."
Land back down on deck.
"Do you remember the way, Jolly?"
"W-wow! Really! Show me!"
He holds up the action figure, which seemingly comes to life, leaps from his hoof onto your shoulder, and bows. "Thank you for returning me to my master, Green-san. You have brought great honor to your family.
"W-wow! It talks too! And it recognized its owner! That's so cool!"
"Something is wrong. Do you know what it is?"
Well, that went better than expected.
Stricture's face contorts in confusion. "It seems that the deer is saying that ponies are breeding animals in pens…? I don't think that this is the same as our problem."
"It is good to have you back, Horosha-chan.
" I give a pleased and proud smile.
"Thank you for taking care of her, I don't know what I would do if she was really lost forever!"
Shake my head.
"It seems very damn close. Think about it.
The ponies, us, celestials, breeding souls for afterlife like livestock. Why?"
"Wah!" I freeze, pulling back a bit as he does that. "I uh, Well…"
Blushing, I gently push his hand away "But I'm not… Mister Blackpaw, I'm not actually a Northern dog. I'm from Musdoggy" look up at him waiting for the disappointment
Aria picks up Jolly. "Good. Then the squirt can ride with me. I've already checked the city map, but he can help look for landmarks. Can you handle that, Jolly?"
"Okay, Aria. I'll do my best."
All set to go?
Flop my ears down.
It still doesn't feel completely right with me. It's like the pendulum is swinging a bit too much the other way now.
"Yeah! She beat my dragon really easily!"
Horosha whispers into your ear: "Thank you. I do not know how much longer I could have kept that up.
The colt adds: "But don't worry. She found love again! She was kissing my General Stalwart Shield figure after she beat the dragon!"
At which point Horosha departs into Kotone's mane.
Stricture shrugs. "I guess I don't have your instincts. I don't see the connection!"
She sighs. "Well, it's not like she KNEW she was an exhibit. Still, you said you were helping one of her daughters, right? She might appreciate the return of the remains, at least partially."
"Stricture, ask him why."
"Ooh, love with a strong equestrian general? How exotic." I playfully laugh.
"Oh yeah. So here is the part of you mum that most ponies were looking at."
"I do hope he was a gentlepony and courted her well."
He seems confused and eyes you critically before seizing your arm and taking a deep whiff. "Your scent is nothing like a Musdoggy dog. You smell of sulfur, iron, plaster, not of blood, fungus, and honey. These are northern scents - the smell of industry."
MacMeal adds: "Well, she wouldn't be part of my crew if she couldn't handle a wrench."
Blackpaw shakes his head. "She walks upright instead of on fours. Her speech, while rudimentary, is rational."
"But she doesn't have your connection. She is an individual."
The colt proudly proclaims: "Whenever a mare wins a big fight, she gets the stallion. Don't you read any books?"
Well, it proved true for Marina, for the most part anyway.
"He says… they are unpacking souls from storage because they need more spirits to put in bodies. The animal populations are much higher than they used to be, because of SOMETHING ranching… There's not a word for it in Old Equestrian, it must be a modern idea."
"…Is this something a revolution?"
"I hadn't on that subject, actually."
I'll think for a second.
"But that's certainly interesting! But what about when a stallion wins the fight? Does he get the mare?"
Aria flies on ahead with Jolly on her back, guiding you. Aira tags along next to you and says, "Jolly has been really well behaved. He's a sweet colt. Mom… I know this has to have been hard on you, this whole trip to the Empire… but I want you to know it made me happy. Jolly isn't what I expected, but he's reminded me that I do
want foals of my own. I guess that's why I wanted to see the matchmaker in Istanbull. Anyway… that's a long way of saying thank you, but thanks."
You pass under a great lion-crested archway and up a ramp into a townhouse area near the market. The brilliant aromas of the many Dutch ovens fill your nostrils - they cook all sorts of things in the ground here, and the very stones of the pavement seem filled with life!
One of the townhouses seems a little overgrown and untended. Abandoned, even. Aria is at the front door and, having set Jolly off to the side, waves you over. "The key, mom?"
All I do is look down, avoiding his gaze with shame for a moment
Then my ears perk back up as I remember something, and I look back at Blackpaw in the eyes "Well so what if we aren't connected by blood? We still have a connection: The NASA, right mister McMeal?"
"There's no way for me to translate it, I don't have a word for it. Do you want me to ask for a description?"
"Yes. Please. I have a horrible feeling about this."
"You're right, that's very good story telling. What's your name? I'm Kotone."
Throw her the key and walk over to Jolly.
"Hey, Face, hanging in there?" I say with a smile.
She snorts into her coffee. "No need to be rude about it!" You can tell she thought it was funny, though.
"Duh! That's how Celestia intended ponies to be, one stallion and one mare!">>676715
"Green Leaf. I live over there!"
Apparently you have made him already completely forget about not talking to strangers. Being a kidnapper is probably easy.
"Its gotten a little late, you should go home for dinner." I comment with a frown, seeing him alone so long.
I'll nod as well.
"You shouldn't play when it's getting dark. Your parents might worry."
"Oh, right, sorry, sorry."
Put up a snooty voice.
"Excuse moi, but this bone was the very piece that hold the tail that would hide the nethers of your mother, alas, it was never in place juts right.
MacMeal nods, "We are bound by a common goal, though all of us come from different places. Blackpaw, you should know this. I knew Toffee long before you, but we reached out to you and Gunny. And we met Steve and Clav. And all the ponies who aren't here right now - in Crystalport and Teat and even Dixie City."
Blackpaw groans. "I'm not disputing the concept of unity with other races. I'm talking about identity as a dog."
MacMeal puts a hoof on his chest. "Well SHE doesn't understand that, Blackpaw. You need to explain to her. Because she thinks you're telling her that she's a monster or a science experiment."
"That's not what I'm…"
Blackpaw shakes his head, growing frustrated. "Listen, Rhanna. I'm sorry. You're obviously not a beast like the rest of those Southern dogs. And as we all know, there can be uncooperative individuals in any race. That's why NASA must remain secret, after all. You merely… interest me as a specimen."
"Uhh.. he explains the idea like a 'template'. 'Work station' ranching might translate? Does that make sense to you?"
"I'm hungry… there's good smells, in the market."
Aria pops open the door and heads in. Aira follows, but calls after, "Mom, can you get Jolly?"
"Oh, okay… Will you be here to play tomorrow?"
He clops his hooves together. "That might fit. Factory ranching? Huh…"
"I'll make some breakfast for all of us once we're inside! How does some pancakes sound?"
I'll shake my head.
"I don't think so…"
She chuckles, covering her mouth with a hoof. It's kinda weird how she laughs with her blind eyes open, though.
You hear someone at the door… could it finally be time to return you to youth?
Motion at her.
"You gonna get that?"
He gets up and hops around you cheerfully. Cute! "Yay! With syrup?"
"No, no, it's much worse.
They are using us
The whole thing, the many souls being routed into Celestia's domain are being used like some kind of astral currency to bring new ponies to life to serve as work, or cattle, in modern farms to feed Equestrian economy!"
"Of course!" Start to walk inside.
Let's see if Aria was right about the bachelor pad
"Nah.. we have to take a boat far far away."
"What? Are you sure? That seems so… outlandish!"
The deer prods you gently with his horns.
"Oh. And he says it's time for us to go."
"Thank you, master deer."
We should go.
"It's not only outlandish, it's…
Distressing. Especially because there are almost no ponies in the world capable of pulling something like that off. Influencing both worlds at the same time."
I will leave the next sentence unsaid.
She mocks your earlier statement. "Fine! Make me do everything!"
With that, she gets up, ushering in Bill, who remarks, "Good to see you my dear. Bran's going to a study group, but just as well, I don't want anypony else getting caught int he crossfire tonight."
He has dark circles under his eyes that weren't there this morning. He quickly fetches the amulet from his bag and replaces it on his neck. "Tests have been very successful so far."
"Oh… okay. Bye!"
He takes off. You're free to go meet up with Curry!
Wave goodbye to the colt.
"Well, he was nice wasn't he, Horo?"
Titter a bit.
think that, mister MacRam!" I snarl at him, knowing that that was a lie
I then turn back to Blackpaw, a bit of annoyance in my voice "Because I'm not stupid like my family and the other dogs? Yeah that was super interesting for me too"
It's a townhouse, so it's a little small. This first floor has a small sitting room, separated from a half kitchen by a bar. There's a narrow set of stairs up to the bedroom floor. It's small, but cozy. If it were just you and Jolly, it wouldn't take up much space, but you're not sure if there are enough rooms upstairs for the twins.
Aira gallops upstairs to take a look around there, but Aria slides open the back door to look around the small backyard. Jolly tags along behind you like a duckling.
"Successful test? Good! And finally I'm not the subject!"
"I'm the star of the city today, huh?"
"I don't think we should jump to conclusions. We should go talk to each of the embassies - and anywhere else we can find, too."
No reply from Kotone's mane. She's just being difficult, no doubt. Curry has exited the ship and is waving to you from the pier.
Wait did we already turn cumin back?
"You think the tide is down yet?"
Yes, far too tiny for the twins, that's somewhat of a disappointment. But that's something to consider later.
How dirty is it here?
Look to Jolly. "Is it just like you remember it?"
Head on over.>>676746
Not yet. But soon. It's not going to be easy, though.
"Should near-about be. Hopefully they haven't stationed too many guards near the temple…"
"Of course. This is only a very worst case scenario.
You know, Law embassy might be our best bed."
MacMeal grimaces but says nothing.
Blackpaw puts a paw on your shoulder. "Calm down, pup. That rage is natural for a Southern diamond dog but–"
MacMeal interrupts. "Stop telling her what is natural! She's not like the other southern dogs!"
"I'm not discriminating, she's seen it too. She described her family as stupid! Can we stop pretending that she isn't an anomaly?"
"She's fine, lay off ya damn fool."
Blackpaw grimaces too. "You're letting emotions get in the way of science, MacMeal. For all your big talk, you are just a sheep."
MacMeal snarls and fumes, but says nothing. "I can't work like this. Toffee would be ashamed of you."
With that, Old Ram MacMeal leaves, slamming the door.
Blackpaw returns his attention to you.
His voice almost sounds a little distant. "Not in a good way. But it won't matter in a few minutes. Are you ready?"
Surprisingly clean. Cloths were thrown over all the furniture in preparation for departure, so everything seems in order. It's a miracle the place wasn't burgularized, but there's nothing too valuable just laying out anyway.
The colt has a far away look. "I remember… watching the other colts play on the playground." Snapping back to reality a bit, he adds, "There's a common area behind the house, there's a gate that connects the yard! Can I go play, please, m'am?"
"Guards?" I ask worriedly.
"Are you not allowed in?"
Jump up from the couch.
"Ready as fuck. Wait, hold on."
Look at my clothes.
"Do I have to be naked for this?"
Curry meets you half way. "Hey you three. Meet a friend on the town? I actually have a private question for you, Marina."
With all the dress, fancy makeup and hair styling from town, he must not recognize your betrothed.
"Considering it was occupied when we first came here by Cumin's research expedition, I can't imagine they'd just leave it unguarded now that they know Lunites still have business with it."
"Of course you can play! And hey champ," lower my head a bit to be more eye-to-eye "call me Selena."
"I'd be a little worried about going to the Nightmare embassy anyway, but even it might be a better bet than the Discordian or Tirekian embassy. Would a pony really want to end up there? But… I guess Tirek needs lawyers to secure his souls, right?"
"Don't be, Rhanna. You're special. An exception from your race. Perhaps something can be made of you."
"We'll wait over there." I declare and move a bit back from Curry and Marina.
"Let's not think about that for the moment. We can keep them as…
Off to the Law embassy.
He blinks, and his eyes seem to glow with red light. "I would advise it, unless you think it might be interesting to see them turn into flax. I cannot truly say it would not be a fascinating process."
He gives you a quick hug and scurries out the door. "Thanks mom! I mean Selena!"
You could head outside and meet up with Aria, where you could keep an eye on Jolly in the playground, or if you're feeling less supervisory you might look upstairs with Aira. Or look around the first floor on your own.
"Yeah, thought so."
Kick off my clothes and gear.
"Also, just so you know, that looks creepy as fuck."
Curry nods, and Cumin goes with Kotone.
Finally he starts, "I'd like to use the ship. I was thinking, you have money, and Cumin has sway in Equestrian lands. You can get a ship to Manehattan. But I need to go make things right with your mother and Coriander, and start getting things ready for your wedding. All of that is going to take time, so I should really head there now. But I wanted to make sure it was okay with you, first."
A few minutes being unsupervised won't hurt. I'm sure he'll scream his tiny lungs out if he's in trouble. Maybe he'll make some freens even!
Let's take a look around the first floor!
There is a central bureau here, not far from the front desk you went to before. It might equate to an embassy of a sort, so you head there. When you arrive, the sign says 'employees only', but it doesn't seem locked, as clerks enter and exit freely. Roll perception
[1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
I'll think for a moment, then nod.
"That would be best, I think. The crew would definitely like to see home again, certainly. Ah, and maybe you can hint to mom that, once everything's settled, we could look into getting a spa or salon set up? They're amazing!"
"A scientist. A magician. Anything you put your mind to."
He extends a paw toward you again, but thinks better of it and draws back, fingers clinching. "Maybe you could learn to become connected to the rest of us, somehow. Your existence may settle some philosophical disputes already…"
"Do you think they are talking about the wedding?"
"You may recall that, having summoned many Tartarian demons in my time, I have had very little concern in my life for how creepy something looks."
He ponders a moment. "Maybe we should do this over tile, in the kitchen. I do not want to make a mess of the floor."
The kitchen has the basics - wood stove, spice rack, pantry. It even has a line to the city water grid, which is pretty nice. Your old place had it, but it's not really a guarantee in a city. Your alchemy work basically requires it.
Aira calls down from above, "Hey! This place is bigger than I thought!"
"Gee, fucking thanks, that's reassuring."
Roll my eyes but go to the kitchen.
"How many rooms are there upstairs?"
You idle outside for a bit watching ponies come and go. Stricture remarks, "You want to go in? Honestly, with all the souls out there in the lobby, I expected to see more clerks coming and going, but maybe they have a really efficient system. Still, if this is just for their employees, how does a pony ask about the Law afterlife? Like our front desk at the Celestial embassy."
"Maybe I could… But first I want to get myself fixed. Or at least stop these weird feelings"
I stare at his pawn for a bit before grasping it with my own, forcing a smile "I don't want you to be scared of me you know"
He suddenly embraces you, bodily. "Thank you, Marina. I've… wanted to give you a big hug like this for a while, but the moment never felt right. I don't want to miss the chance again. Thank you. I'll see you soon, I promise. And I'll see what I can do about a spa. You said your brother… my son, that is, he's good with steam, right? Maybe…">>676774
Cumin reddens a little. "Oh… maybe. I didn't even think of that. He doesn't know who I am, I'm being left out of my own wedding conversation, maybe? What if he's asking where I've gone, and he noticed I'm not on the ship?"
She starts to breathe a little faster. "This would be a really embarrassing way to get caught!"
"Let's see… you've aged about twenty years too quickly, which means we're shooting for young forties. Is that right?"
Your natural age should be 42. You better make a call about how you want to end up, but of course Cloudy's words of warning are still fresh in your mind. On the other hoof, perfect age magic…
"I am still fine tuning the process, but I feel confident we can reach the target within a tolerance of two years with a little tuning."
Want a small, medium, or strong blast of magic?
"Look around. I've got the feeling not many questions get asked, around here.
Ponies just shuffle around into whichever position they are forced into, unless they have some kind of stupor or delusion.
Still. It's a building of the god of law.
Employees only is a rule.
What would breaking a rule in such a building mean?
Could we even do it?"
"If nothing else, it'll be a project to keep him busy, now that more ponies are working the farms. And his wife will be behind him completely, I'm sure."
Sniffle a bit.
"Safe travels, dad. There are leftovers in the ice box, so make sure everyone eats something other than just fish on the way back. Oh, but before the ship sets off, we're going to need to grab Kotone's room out of the hold. It wouldn't do to run off with a lady's entire home, right?"
"The second floor has two, and there's a third floor, with a study just like yours! But it could be reconfigured into a master bedroom. And there's some kind of metal scaffolding on the windows, I'm gonna check it out, okay?"
That would be enough for all of you, if you let Jolly keep sleeping with you. Or maybe the twins could sleep in one room - they're used to it - and you could give Jolly his own room… Or just because you let Jolly sleep in your room doesn't mean he has to sleep in your bed. Maybe you could get him a little colt-sized bed to put next to yours, that would be easier to climb onto.
Or, of course, you could sell the house.
"I mean, I was cheated out of a few more in Anniev… can you make it about five or six? Put me in my mid-thirties?"
"No, no… I am just not certain what to make of you. I don't know if you are feeling lustful
, that is to say, the strange feelings that drive you to procreate, because that is natural for a Southern diamond dog of your age, or because of the magic. Do you understand? Your body is somewhat different than the kind I specialize in. I do know that Southern dogs mate very young… but maybe you aren't like
southern dogs. Perhaps you are more like we northerners. It is hard for me to determine if your feelings are natural."
Eh, the house will do fine for now!
For now the twins can sleep in one room and I shall sleep with Jolly in one room. Once the whole Highlands affair is over and the twins have decided what to do we can think about renovations.
And I should think about this study, might be interesting to look around.
For that matter…did we bring the stuff that Jolly had in his """room"""
"Okay, Aira, after you've done that, check on Jolly, he should be outside in the garden. Me and Aria shall go to the market and get us some breakfast!"
"You have a good point. Maybe we can work inside the system. I don't know if you noticed, but after you woke me up, I saw a bunch of forms in that closet. I wonder if they're applications or petitions… could we get some kind of appointment set up, using their own laws and regulations?"
"Right, right. And you need Cumin's things, too. I guess he's out talking to the Celestial government offices, trying to get you permission to get into the temple, right?"
I groan, leaning against the couch "Oh come oooon. Not even you can help me with this?"
I cover my head with a forearm "Then who can?…"
"I won't pass judgment. The choice is yours."
Make your choice about the beam strength!
Not at all. We spent all day mucking around being girls.
"Once we've got everything sorted out, we'll bid farewell for a while."
I just hope there's no permit A38.
Give him an impromptu kiss.
OFF TO THE FORMS!
Strong, beam me the fuck up!
I can take it!
Most of that stuff was junk! You're sure that it had some kind of sentimental value at one time, but seriously you do not need a chessboard missing five pieces made of corkwood or a suit of armor designed for a diamond dog and definitely not a dildo made out of gold. You BROUGHT it but honestly, Jolly had turned into quite the little hoarder. He couldn't even explain why he had most of it.
It's probably better to sell MOST of it off. Otherwise you know it's going to be clogging up your house for the rest of his life. Some of it might be worth keeping, though. He also had some age appropriate toys down there, like unusually detailed interlocking building blocks, some puzzles, and a set of beautiful glass marbles. You can put those in his room to keep him occupied, and once he's gone, you can give them to Aira's foals.
"Okay mom! Get strawberries!"
"No, no. I promise, I will help you, Rhanna. I just need a little time, alright? I can research southern diamond dogs. In the mean time, I have a guest room if you need some privacy."
Oooooh! Well some of that shit is going straight to the thrash once I got time to do it! I'll be relishing the moment! The dildo of gold will be kept since I'm too embarrassed to go anywhere to sell that!
Look for Aria
"I should say goodbye to your fairy friend too."
Skip to unloaded, ready to go to temple?
"Alright. But I rather go out a bit… You won't mind if I walk around the city a bit do you?"
"Oh, Marina can handle her dad surely!"
The two of you squeeze back into the closet. Roll search, and what kind of form you're looking for!
I'm fine with it.
The years seem to melt away… that ache that was always in your bones suddenly evaporates - you had it so long you forgot you had it! But… you're still a wrinkled prune with gray hair, based on the mirror. It wasn't nearly enough.
"So… what is up with this? I'm feeling spry, but I don't look the part."
Yes, that's definitely the reason you're keeping it. Certainly. Not at all because you're a lonely mare and your lover is much too young for that.
You remember Aira's words from earlier, too – it might be a good idea to get Jolly some age appropriate clothing. Oddomanes are weirdos, and you don't want the neighbors thinking you're Oddomanes!
Still want to check out the study, or straight to market?
Oddomanes, so glad we're gone from those creeps. The Apple pony was nice though.
Market first, study can wait, where's Aria?
With the help of the crew, your personal things are quickly unloaded. The pain of lugging around a crate makes you instantly envious of Kotone's shoebox room.
With tearful goodbyes and promises to see again soon, the seaponies and Curry take off for Aquamarine, leaving you four girls behind. "Kotone-chan, before I wait any longer, you should fix me! I am not eager to be mistaken for a doll again.
Cumin adds, oblivious to her remarks, "Horosha is right. You too should move on, I don't want to burden you with going into that temple. Don't feel obligated to help us – you've already done so much, and you have a long way to sail away."
Will Kotone stay and help explore the temple? It will mean delaying the trip to Roads another day.
That's kind of a wide question. How can I know what I want if I don't know what's available?
Are tours of the facility a thing? Can I talk to a judge or a lawyer or somepony in charge?
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
"Not at all. Just… Hm, there are so many things to explain about culture. So instead, just… don't react if somedog touches you. And walk with good posture – straight back. That will be enough for now. Don't tell anyone else you're Southern."
"Hmm… not enough. If I had to guess, I'd put you somewhere around late fifties, early sixties. We should continue."
"I will. Wait, if somehow touches me?"
Aria went out back but you haven't heard from her. Want to track her down or just go to the market? Those wonderful Dutch smells beckon you.
I'll wait for Kotone's response.
GIVE IT TO ME
"Don't be shy, you can do this. Unfuck your fuckups."
I wanted to go with her, so I'll go out the back as well!
"You pulled away before, when I touched you. The touching of flesh is not considered unusual in the North, but it is not
sexual, either. Don't react. You will only attract attention if you jerk away."
"Alright, I will make you a cure.
'1d10+2' roll for that.
'1d8' plus a dieRoll #1 4 + 2 = 6
/ Roll #2 2 = 2
Horosha carelessly downs the potion and sizes up in public, but no one seemed to notice.>>676815
You're feeling a lot better – much closer to the right age. Your mane only has streaks of grey, now, and pink shows through. The wrinkles are almost all gone. Late forties, maybe?
"This is about the right age. Time to slow down, I think."
"Oh, that… You just scared me for a moment I think"
"A-anyway, I'll go now. Thanks for the advice Mister Blackpaw. Oh and before I go, do you know where I can get some clothes? I feel like I won't even have to say that I'm southern like this" motion at myself
What a sneaky ninja.
The back door is open – Jolly must've gone through. Cellar doors are open too, and a lock set aside. Neat! This place as a cellar just like your old place!
Before heading down, you glance around the rest of the back yard. It's not much space, and overgrown with weeds, but there's a grill and a spot for a dutch oven in the ground. Looks like this backyard was once tilled as a spice garden, but it was long ago overtaken by weeds which now rule nolo contesto.
"Yeah, but juice me up some more.
Not a lot, just a bit more.
I want this fucking grey gone."
"Ah. Well, in Novdogod, fashion isn't as important as your scent. You might wear nothing at all, but as long as you smell like a tinker, that is how you will be treated. There is one thing that is always in fashion, though…"
He returns from the back room after a moment and drops a huge coat in your lap. If you were your normal age, you wouldn't be able to walk in this thing!
"Heavy coats. Starry Slough is the warmest port in Novdogod. North of here, it only gets colder."
Sigh. Everypony's just letting these doors open! Close them, not lock, and fly up to see where Face went
Good question! No tours, but there is an application for counsel. You can even fill in a blank for which religion you want to counsel with. Wait, actually, it says you only have to fill in the line if you want to apply for counsel with a religion other than Celestia's. Huh.
Still, this is perfect!
I hold them up, They are indeed a bit heavy. I better not get in battles with this
"Can you help me put it on? Just this once. I'm not used to using a coat"
Should you stay or should you go now?
Cumin asked you to not feel obligated - you've done enough
Does it say who made this form?
I will withhold my opinions on the tactical advantage of size shifting for infiltration.
There are a bunch of colts and fillies playing on the playground behind the house – looks like a lot of houses let out into this common area. You can't pick him out easily from here, but if you flew over you could probably find him.
Up at this higher altitude, you notice that Aira has exited a window and is headed up a strange metal staircase on the outside of your building to the roof. There's some nice space up there - you could maybe put in a greenhouse or a pigeon aviary. Aira will no doubt check on Jolly when she's done.
"I think I should find a way to Roads." I reply making sure my box is gathered up.
He takes your arm and threads it through one sleeve, then repeats the process, dressing you like a mannequin. This doesn't seem particularly odd to him, so maybe it's not that weird here.>>676830
Based on the fact that it needs a Law stamp approval at the bottom, it's probably official Spirit of Law paperwork.
"Right. Which means we need to find you a ship. There likely won't be one leaving until the morning, with the tide."
I meant like, the sub department or the year it was printed on.
Cumin takes your hooves in hers. "I just want to thank you again Kotone… you've done a lot for us. Not just back in Caballeria, but you helped make it a great day. Please come to our wedding."
I'll chime in.
"Well, yeah, I thought the invitation was a given, at least until we write them up properly."
Your hair shifts back to a bright pink and the wrinkles go away. You still *feel* a bit older than you are on the inside, though.
"I think that's enough, are you ready to stop?"
And it doesn't seem so hard to wear
I'll leave the wraps under it though
"Thanks mister Blackpaw. And if mister MacRam comes back, tell him I'm just looking around"
I stop by the door "And please, try to make up with him…"
Central Processing. No years, though. Actually, the form doesn't even ask for any dates other than date of birth. None of the forms do.
Stricture, noticing your line of thought, adds, "I wonder how much relevance time even has here… Radiant didn't make any mention of hours or minutes but instead based the passage of time on cases resolved."
"I'll ask around the do-">>676839
I look surprised and then smile at the gesture "Oh! I'd be honored. I think I know just what to bring as a gift even."
"Wait… do you think feelings are anything to go by? Because I shit you not I feel I should be younger. I don't want
it, I feel it."
Hit me light?
Cumin adds, hopefully: "I guess this is where I return your kimono… but before we split up, m-maybe you could go on one last shopping trip with me to help me pick out a new dress? I would look a little silly dolled up like this but wearing nothing!"
"That would be a fun way to cap off the evening."
"I think you've had enough, but if you're sure, I'll continue."
This time you de-age a lot less aggressively, and you feel just about right. This is how you feel on the inside. Your muscles are taut and firm, your face has a youthful cheer, and you look like your whole life is ahead of you. You're in your prime.
Abilio sighs. "This isn't right. You're far too young. Is this what you want?"
"…You'd probably be hopeless at picking out a good color or horse shoes to go with it.." I nod in agreement.
"Let's find a nice place."
'1d10' '1d5' use the other dice too for luck at finding a good shop.Roll #1 4 = 4
/ Roll #2 4 = 4
"He's just standing in the way of research for your feelings. What a fool - he doesn't even realize you don't care!"
Yeah, totally. You totally don't care! On to explore?
I'm sure Cumin can help find a nice place, since he… she used to live here.
Shake my head.
"Oh, no, no, hold it right there, it's fucking perfect."
Look at him, my eyes welling up without me noticing.
"Don't you fucking see? I feel… for fuck's sake, for the first time since that night in Anniev, I feel like I'm myself! Like I'm no longer just a ghost who fucking wandered into the wrong set of clothes!"
Unfortunately, fashion is definitely in the material realm of the world, and you have to visit the merchant enclave. With Kotone's business and fashion sense, you quickly pick out a new, cute green dress for Cumin and some matching panties (so she no longer needs to borrow Marina's). Besides getting some whistles from some construction workers on the way out, the whole affair is as pleasant as could be.
With the kimono issue settled, Kotone and Horosha are free to head south, while Marina guides her marefriend through the temple in search of a lunar artifact.Pause
"So be it. I will pass no judgment."
Yster finally speaks up: "Emrille! Feeling dissociated with your body – that's a normal part of getting older. Look at yourself, for real. You've ended up younger than Bran, you look eighteen! All of us feel young on the inside - but don't you want to grow up?"