No.677495[Last 50 Posts]
From your airborne vantage, you can see Aira headed up to the roof. It's large and flat - it could perhaps accommodate a rooftop garden. Based on the wooden remains, it looks as though it once housed a pigeon aviary.
There are a lot of young ponies playing out on the playground, it's hard to pick out any one individual from here.
Booking passage south is no difficult matter, but the waters are a different story. The storms that have plagued the Equestrian coast for months continue to rage on, eerily reminding you of Caballeria, though not nearly as intense.
That changed once you got out onto open waters, though. With a terrible squall bearing down on your ship, threatening to prevent access to the coast of the New World and its fast current, the only option was to cut through the great sea… skirting the edge of the Manesian Triangle. It is no surprise that no storm lurks there, for they are infamous doldrums, and many a ship had been lost to ocean madness in the clutches of the Triangle.
By the fourth day of your journey, it has become clear that the wind is quickly fleeing your sails. You know the captain of the trade vessel you're on is planning a meeting with his mates today. Maybe you should try to Persuade him to tell you his plans, or just outright spy on the meeting. You could even send Horosha.
The arc-lamps on the rocket-ship cut out, allowing your eyes to adjust somewhat to the dark. It feels almost like being in space – this whole giant cavern is dark, but filled with star-like pinpricks of light – coming from domiciles and shops. As far as you know, you're in some kind of residential district.
Your Doggish is a little rusty, but you should be able to read the signs. Hopefully.
With your marefriend now in possession of a proper dress of her own, you are free to make your way to the temple. Although, for the first time in a long time, you're not in a rush. No one's in prison under threat of torture, no terrible nightmare demon timer, no horrible storm. And after the excellent night you gave her, Cumin has stopped being so anxious and antsy about turning back into a stallion. Maybe it's just that she's in a different persona and not at risk of being "found out" - after all, with the crew gone the two of you are all alone now. With all that being said, you are finally free to choose to either relax or continue. If you want to get a hotel room and take another day or two on the town before visiting the temple, that's up to you. Once you DO go after the altar, though, you might want to be ready to leave town immediately, just in case you have a run in with the Celestials.
You found some paperwork for special counsel. With this you might be able to talk to someone about Law. Interestingly, there's a default option for a Celestial consultation. Radiant must get a lot of business.
The situation with your moms is getting a little difficult. George has been talking about leaving, and you seemed to be attempting to convince him to stay. There are a lot of crab nests to search for clues… or bones.
George speaks, muffled through the mask, "I came up north because I thought you were interesting, but you have a lot going on. A lot to think about. My plan is to head south to Hamburgerburg now - good luck with your search."
We should probably make sure we've got all the supplies we could need, including a spare change of clothes, before we commit to the trip. I doubt Cumin wants to go dungeon diving in that lovely dress. Plus, we probably shouldn't spend too
much time lollygagging around, since I doubt those spa ponies will keep a visit from a seapony and a fairy, at the same time, under their hats.
All these things I learned and I forgot to hone my homeland language…
Ah well, let's see what I'll find looking around. This is a city of inventors right? So I might feel more at home here than…
A storm's a storm when you're so tiny.
"Horoasha, don't you think its rude to leave us out of the planning?
Fly closer to the roof.
"So, what do you think?"
It's already late – temple's open, but most shops are closed. If you want to do more shopping, it looks like you're after a hotel room or scraping the barrel to see if any merchant enclave shops are still open. Which will it be?>>677497
You appear to be in a sort of residential district - deep recesses into the stone wall are dotted with lights and stairs leading to them. Homes. There are so many of them – this must be quite a large city. You wonder where everyone is - wasn't it supposed to be day time? It can be hard to keep track of day and night this far below ground, though.
From here, you can easily see the great harbor far below. You think you saw a market district near that. On the far side of the harbor you can see many lights clustered around some kind of arena – distant sounds of voices ring out from it. Perhaps a game is afoot.>>677498
"We are but passengers on this vessel. I sometimes forget you are unused to being in charge. These ponies are not servants to you, although you have hired them for passage. But if you wish to find out what they are speaking about, perhaps we can listen in.
Well, let's ask Cumin. This is likely when he did most of his requisitions while living in the temple.
"So, any shops open this late? I know the way to the altar is still going to be mostly clear, at least inside the temple, but we should probably at least get you a change of clothes or two so we don't end up ruining the dresses…"
Yes. Very interesting. Very dangerous too.
What's up with that.
"Why would the impartial realm of Law pass out a biased form?"
Aira blinks in surprise. "I thought you were going to the market with Aria for breakfast! But… it's not bad. It's a little small but it's a townhouse, so what do you expect? I mean it's technically a little bigger livingspace-wise than your alchemy shop that we lived in, since we don't give up the first floor to a storefront, but even that felt small as we got older."
She glances out behind the back fence. "The playground is good, though… that will be good for Jolly. And Witherloo is a nice place. I guess I was expecting… I don't know. DLC got me kind of tired of merchants, so it has been relatively pleasant so far. The air smells so great here!"
"No, I'm quite used to being left out of meetings.
" sigh. "Its just annoying when ponies try to hide things from you, would you mind listening in?
Well, I guess it can't be helped.
"Don't hesitate to get into touch if you ever need the favor repaid."
"Well, there is one store I know of that's always open, but it's kind of a weird one. They almost didn't let them build it in the city, but finally they got permission to put it in the Merchant Enclave… It's one of those big stores, brought on by the trade league."
"I will see what I can do. Are you going to remain here?
"Yes… Goodbye, Lilly."
With that, he begins preparing the raft for departure.
"Well, you know, a twenty four hour store is basically unheard of. S-so it attracts unusual ponies late at night."
Well the market district sounds nice…
But the game might be fun, let's go check that out for a minute
"Yes, I think I'd only get in your way.
"Is it biased? Maybe most ponies already want to talk to Celestial priests, so this just helps speed things up. It's more efficient that way, right?"
He taps his hoof on his chin. "I haven't seen as many clerks as I expected. So efficiency has to be really important to them, so they can manage all the souls in a timely manner."
It's a bit of a walk. Roll city encounter on the way.
"Very well. I will return.
With that, she takes off!
pretty unusual. So we'll fit right in!"
I'll gently nudge his side.
"Besides, we're only going in for some clothes, a lamp or two, and maybe some rope. And some trail food in case we don't get out before the tide comes back up."
'1d10' ooooOOoooOoRoll #1 6 = 6
No time for distractions. I need to excavate this island and find clues.
There's something on her mind again! But she'll tell me when she's ready, I believe.
"It's very different from mainland Equestria…"
"R-right. But… now that Kotone's gone, maybe we should get some makeup, and a mirror too. Remember, there was water in there before, so it might get washed off. Oh! And, I mean, towels too… Obviously that's more important."
"Perhaps. doesn't sit well with me though."
I will experiment around in the lab.
'1d10' science of smallnessRoll #1 4 = 4
On your way down through the city depths, your progress is slowed by a road crew. This team of diamond dogs is working to clean the streets of water washed up by the underground bay and clear any dirt. They're also polishing the stone walkway to a shine. How civilized!
Your trip takes extra time, so roll again.
Roll lucky crab nest.
'1d10'Roll #1 3 = 3
"The coast has always been different, but I get what you mean. Lubuck was always a merchant town because it was once a deer settlement that was eventually taken over by traders. There's a whole history here – a culture of these two kinds of ponies. And Prance isn't far from here, nor Germaney."
'1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
Look down if I happen to see Jolly.
"Shall we go take a look through town later?"
"I have to say, by now I expected to see a dragon! According to legend, anyway, they were supposed to oversee the Law with their timelessness. Remember, we saw those dragon carvings in the temple. Maybe they are relieved of that duty in the afterlife, though."
"True… but do you think we'll need it? I mean, I'll admit it looks nice, but you won't really need it after we're done."
I'll raise an eyebrow.
"Unless you've changed your mind on things?"
You try mixing cactus juice into your latest alchemical mix but it does nothing but render it inert. Although this might make an interesting watercolor pigment…
After a time, Horosha returns, big head looming over your box. "The officership of the vessel seem split in their decision. They are too cowardly to face either the squall or the doldrums, but each minute of delay causes us to drift off course. Do you think we could convince them to take one action or another?
You spend the rest of the day digging up crab nests and shooting the inhabitants. Today you found loose metal struts and bolts, some driftwood, a large amount of edible seaweed, and the waterlogged cover for a journal with all of the pages missing.
"Does the ship not simply go with t ha captain's choice?
" I ask floating up puzzled.
You have to pass deeper into the city, away from the harbor, and enter a secluded area where the hard stone paving has been replaced with exceptionally soft dirt. It feels great between your paws!
Here you can see a bunch of little puppies practicing digging, and the older ones (about your *real* age) playing some kind of ball game that involves tunneling. This would be super fun to join in if you were normal, but you'd look weird as a teenager.
Well… the stadium is close now, you can arrive any time you're ready!
There are too many little pons to pick him out from this distance!
Aira nods. "I think that'd be great! Especially if we're going to go back to Dixie so soon, I want to get a chance to take in the culture. They sure like lion symbolism here, don't they?"
I-I'm an adult on a mission now though. I don't have time for playing games with the other pups…
I wonder what kind of event would need such a big stadium like this one
Let's find a way to get inside
Well, not exactly the progress I was aiming for. How much did I cover today though?
"Not a great haul, I admit…"
"No! I mean… today was nice. A nicer day than I've had in a long time. It's always good to be with you. You've been… really supportive. I'd be lying if I said it's just because there might be guards down there and I need to keep my disguise. I'm a little anxious… What if the altar doesn't work? M-marina… I don't think I could stand to be a bridesmaid at your wedding to Davy
"Absolutely. But he is consulting with his Second and First Mates, who both are strongly opposed. The Second Mate wants to push on through the storm, but the First Mate wants to gamble on the doldrums.
There appears to be some kind of admittance counter at the front. There's a sign which you can roughly translate as: 'Entry: 2 small'
Three nests! These things are deep and excavating just one takes more than an hour. Not to mention the crabs inside some.
"Yes, I wonder why they do that…"
I'll hug him.
"There's no worry of that, Cumin. Worse comes to worst and the altar down there doesn't help you, then I'll use it myself and you'll get to be the blushing bride instead."
Squeeze a bit.
"I made my choice on who I plan to marry a while ago, and I'll be darned if I let something like this be a stumbling block. Besides, don't wedding vows usually have that part about sticking beside your partner for better or worse?"
"That is a troubling situation. Perhaps we should talk to the First and Second Mate to see their views.
My wings flutter slowly and I tap my chin pondering it.
"They probably have a lot of history here! So where was Aria?"
Horrible. This is going to take weeks! I wish I had some explosives.
"Hey Sitar, can you actually ask dead animals questions?"
Maybe its two pieces of gold, let's get to the counter and see
She turns red and looks a little overwhelmed. "Y-you'd do that? For me? I… I really don't know what to say. That's so much…"
She merely weakly returns your hug, a little overwhelmed with the gravity of the idea.
"She was upstairs, I'm going to go to the market in a few minutes. I just wanted to make sure everypony was okay…"
Look over myself
Am I really That young?
"Then where would they even be? Isn't the afterlife of those who follow Law just to serve for it?"
I'll just sit here, hugging my mare friend, until she gets her wits back about her.
Then we can go shopping for supplies.
Sitar shakes his head, strumming his instrument. He sure hasn't been much help!
"Not crabs, if that's what you're asking. I'm not a shaman."
There is a bitch at the counter, examining some gemstones behind the counter.
"You're a little late for the game, but you can still catch the second half."
Please revise statement, you were talking to Aira upstairs, went outside, flew up, and saw Aira again because she took the fire escape like she said. You never ran into Aria who was probably through those open cellar doors.
''Oh uh… What kind of game are we having tonight, Miss?''
"I haven't found her yet, I thought she might be here!"
Maybe… okay she COULD be right… but isn't it more important how you FEEL? Eighteen… this is your prime. A little younger than when you met the the pirates originally, even.
You stretch your wings, flexing your muscles – it feels good! The blood coursing through them. It has been SO LONG since you could do that without an old ache of pain. This young, getting with a mare like Bran doesn't seem so out of the question…
Has George left yet?
"This might be a lost cause."
"I don't know. Also, another thing got me thinking. Why would someone volunteer to work a counter for all eternity, or even hundreds of years? This Radiant pony… is she really just that devoted to Celestia? Isn't the afterlife supposed to be our reward?"
Flutter my wings.
"Yeah… I could get used to this. Staying this young."
Snort, looking at them.
"Spry and ready for anything. Bloody hell, with a body like this, I don't think I could stop myself from getting back into the killing business."
Frown, spitting on the ground.
"Age me the fuck up."
It takes a few minutes, but eventually her breathing slows and the panic leaves her. "Marina… you're so strong… just being in your arms makes me feel safe. Like I can face any future. To be your bride…"
She gulps. "Do you want foals?">>677557
"Pawegg. The Slough Stealers are playing a warmup match against the Southern Lights to get ready for the big match versus Griffonstone in two days."
"She can't have gotten far. I'll be alright – I'm gonna go look after Jolly now, okay?"
Sitar shakes his head. "Don't give up. We have all the time in the world."
Paw-what? I don't think I ever heard of that before
''Oh uh great! How much is it?''
"Wait, Aira, I want to discuss something with you about Jolly. Do you think he's gotten…younger the past few days?"
I'll make certain to make eye contact.
"But you have to be absolutely sure. Do you want to return to being a stallion, or will you remain a mare?"
I could totally play the 'what would your parents think' card, but this has to be his choice.
Yster surprisingly comes over and gives you a hug. Not a fleeting, quick hug, but a deep, warm, and lasting one. You stand like that, embracing, for a long few minutes, and she finally whispers: "I'm glad… you finally grew up, for real."
Abilio gives you another blast of age, and you feel yourself rapidly mature. Soon, you're long past your prime. Probably mid thirties. You'll never be that fast or strong again… but maybe you aren't meant to be. Maybe this is part of life.
"Well, not really. I do have to get back home by the time the scouts return."
"Two small. But you've missed most of the game, I could cut you a deal. You speak good Equestrian. Your parents must be very proud. Practicing to be a merchant?"
"Younger? Well, that's the magic's fault, right? He's aging the wrong way because of that curse. But I didn't notice a dramatic change, at least in his body."
''Haha thanks miss, but not really'' I laugh nervously as I search through my pockets ''I only have these bits though, I don't really have any gems on me…Sorry''
"But his mind…I feel like he's forgetting who he is…"
fast or strong…
But still hell of a shot.
"So, I should be about right like this, huh?"
You gaze down at her in your arms, and she gazes up at you. Her expression is starry eyed and a little anxious, but totally sincere. It's almost a wonder of the world how someone can be this much in love with another pony. She must have known it long ago, when you nursed her back to health in the temple the first time…
Finally, she says: "Marina, if I'm with you… I could be anything you want me to be. I would convert to Luna for you, I would be your bride… I would… give you foals. One of us has to be a stallion, so we have to go down there, but when we come back…"
She finally gives you a weak smile. "I don't care which of us it is anymore."
"That mission is secondary to this one. We're already here, no reason not to finish what we've started."
He gives you a somewhat dark look. "I will get what I came for."
She considers it. "Forgetting who he is? He's adjusting pretty well, I think. I mean he asked us to treat him like a colt, and I think we've gotten really close! We've been doing activities every day, and he's learning to mind really well. She won't admit it but even Aria is getting closer to him."
She looks kind of smug. "I knew she wouldn't be able to resist. She secretly loves playing with foals, but she's totally ashamed of it. Pretends like she hates kids. She's all independent like that, you know."
"Well, I'd appreciate a hoof with the digging then."
"The only thing I'd ever want you to be is yourself, Cumin. The slightly awkward, but still charming, historian."
Smile, and give her another hug.
"Whatever may happen, we'll handle it together."
Abilio speaks, voice booming: "Age is just an arbitrary number. Something some pitiably easy to manipulate that it makes you wonder why ponies even consider Celestia a God."
Yster looks uncomfortable and says: "Well, I'd normally encourage you to try to get back a little closer to your RIGHT age, but maybe we should take a break…"
"The time has not been idly spent, I assure you."
It sure looked like it was…
"Examine the sand before me."
It does seem to be twitching a little…
"Yeah, fuck it, enough time magic for today."
Glare at Abilio.
"Easy for you to fucking say, when you didn't spend shitloads of time as a filly or an old fart."
"Mmmmm? Have your undead friends been digging?"
Dig at the ground a little with my hoof.
"The physical form is the least important attribute of any individual.
"How about you take off the amulet just for a while and take a rest, Bill? You look very tired…"
A crab claw bursts free of the sand by your hoof!
"But he's not a colt, Aira. He's your father and my special somepony." Stomp my hoof. Then look down again as I continue. "It's all my fault. He tried so hard to be your dad and I tried to tell him that it'd be hard for him to be your father, him being you know, like that and having only known you for a few days. I was hoping he could be your friend and if you needed help that you both could ask him for advice. So you'd know who your father was." Wipe my eyes. "But instead I'm now losing him completely…"
"Yeah, but being too young or too old to fuck because your cunny is not yet developed right or your back aches when you spread a leg is kind of a bummer, you know."
She flies over to give you a hug.
"Oh, mom… But you were right. He can't be your special somepony like that… He's just a little pony, and he's not getting any older. Even just taking care of himself, he's going to need help."
She looks a little wracked by what to do. "Well… Okay. I can see that this is important to you. I'll… I'll think of something. I promise. I don't know what… Do you want me to stop playing games with him?"
Yster begins tugging at Bill's amulet. He looks like he's about to say something again in that booming voice, but he shakes his head, and suddenly he looks very tired. He blinks and the glowiness is gone from his eyes.
"Yes… perhaps just a short rest for now. It is a bit late…"
"It seems they have a natural talent for burrowing. And as you kill more, the work will become easier."
She buries her face in your sleek coat and just rests a moment. Finally, she takes a deep breath.
"Okay… let's go to the Wall Market."
Grin as I brandish my gun.
"No problem there. I'll get back to it as soon as I'm done taking a break."
Shake my head. "No, no, that'd make him unhappy. I don't know. You're right, he can't be my special somepony, but I don't want both of you to just remember him as a little colt…perhaps, I was thinking that tonight we could ask him to tell some of the adventures he had while he was a pirate? Maybe if he remembers who he was, he'll be himself a bit."
Point at that thing.
"Okay, just to be safe, next time you use that thing, I'll have my gun handy so I can shoot it off you if you go mad with power."
"No need to wear yourself out. This is an endurance job. There will be more time tomorrow. Eat, and strengthen your body and mind for the day that approaches."
She gives you a little squeeze. "Whatever you want mom."
Shake and get out of the hug.
"I should go to the market, get some breakfast…"
"Sure, sure. I'll get enough rest, don't worry."
Guess I should just rest up for the coming slaughter.
Bill shakes his head. "That will not be necessary. It is but a trinket for multiplying power is already there. I don't need it. In fact, I almost feel as though some of its power remains within me… as though I am stronger now, even without it. The power…"
He groans and trots over to the sitting room to collapse on the couch. "Ah… Well, it's been a stressful day. What do you say we retire, dear?"
"I'll make your favorite in the morning. Roast Waterlily."
"That sounds lovely…"
"Yeah, sweet, I'll just crash on the couch, huh?"
Cumin leads you back through the seedy merchant enclave to one larger store - the Wall Market - which still has its lights on. There's a greeter at the door who looks like a zombie and doesn't even acknowledge you as you walk in. The aisles - which contain everything from produce to literature are pursued by mostly morbidly obese ponies who you really hope for Maeda and Cumin's sake are not important church officials.
And how unkempt everyone is! You are certainly out of place in your fancy dresses and makeup.
Scrunch heavily, and whisper to Cumin.
"I see what you meant by 'unusual.'
This is going to be… an experience.
"Bring Aria, though. I noticed you haven't had an argument since we arrived in Witherloo, so here's your big chance to have one!"
She teases you. She does frown a little in a moment of realization. "Listen, this is just between you and me because I'm not totally sure, but I think even though Aria says she doesn't care about the whole Jolly thing, I think she actually does! Think about this – even though she SAID she didn't care about coming here, she was the one who wanted to leave Dixie so fast, and also once we were here she came up with that letter trick to find him! So I think maybe she actually does have an opinion after all!"
Good old Aira telling you things you figured out a literal two weeks ago.
You have discovered 60 crab nests, which you think constitutes most of them.
You have one crab zombie, which will dig out a nest once a day.
Remaining nests: 57
Crab zombies: 1
Days elapsed: 1
Whenever you're ready!
Yster urges Bill up the stairs. "Of course! Just leave a light on for when Bran gets home, alright?"
She's the sweetest!
Grab her hoof and muster up a smile.
"Now that you put it that way, I think you're right!"
So, do I just roll d10's?
'1d10'Roll #1 5 = 5
"Y-yeah… I didn't know how to put it tactfully."
At least there are no construction ponies to whistle at the two of you. Unsavory though they may be, they're still holding down jobs and need to be awake in the morning.
Roll for Search Store, because these employees are not being helpful with locating merch at all.
"Hmm… if she has emotional baggage about Jolly, that might explain why she's getting along with him better now… I need to think about this. Go ahead and shop for breakfast!"
"Well, it could certainly be worse. Maybe the products are reasonably priced enough to draw the crowd, though."
Searching for deals on what we need. '1d10'Roll #1 10 = 10
Day 2:>You found several lengths of rope, a silver locket with its picture missing, and an empty glass alchemy bottle.>You excavated 5+1 nests.>You acquired 1 new crab zombie.
Remaining nests: 51
Crab zombies: 2
Days elapsed: 2
"You do that, let me know what you find!"
Now time to fly in the air and see if I actually spot Aria! '1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
Would you believe it? Right at the checkout counters (there are FOUR counters – what kind of store needs FOUR COUNTERS for sales transactions?!) you see an "adventure quickstart pack" with rations, rope, lanterns, shovels, grip-boots and helmets, miniature pillows and a tent – very modestly priced and pre-packed into a backpack. And Cumin found you some free samples of makeup and energy drinks!
You don't see her around. Maybe she's still in that cellar whose door is opened.
I'll definitely take the locket and the bottle. Might need it to trade with those tribals again…Roll #1 7 = 7
Gosh, this place has a lot of things. Maybe they have lots of customers during the day? We'll still need some spare clothing, though.
Day 3:>You found a strange piece of machinery you can't identify, bones that aren't your mom's, and a faded Dixie flag>You excavated 7+2 nests>You acquired 2 new crab zombies
Remaining nests: 42
Crab zombies: 4
Days elapsed: 3
In the cellar?!?
The spooky cellar…
Fly back down and peek in.
A Dixie flag huh?
Keeping that. And the machine bit too. '1d10'Roll #1 10 = 10
If only someone would invent a tough, thick cloth. Maybe out of something cheap like cotton. Too bad no one has thought to do that yet.
There is a popular tough fabric option, though – corduroy. Soft and strong, it was only invented in the last thirty years. Made up of narrow woven "cords" – it's like the fabric equivalent of chainmail. There is nothing made from it here, but they do sell bolts of it. Cumin could quickly make you some workable makeshift clothing with her seamstress skills.
You see a flickering candle light.
"Oh hey, mom, come on down! There's some cool stuff down here! Check it out!"
Well, we don't need anything fancy, so a bolt or so should do.
How much is this all going to run us?
Carefully trot down and squint my eyes.
At the end of day four, with almost half of your nests to go, you excavate a stone engraving with tally marks on it. You flip it over and read a carefully scribed message.
Goodbye island. You have been my home for 511 days. I won't miss you when I'm in Hamburgerburg, but thank you for providing. Giving me what I needed to survive.
No way… Your mom… might still be alive? You were sure you were looking for bones. This changes everything. And it's on the way back. She might come help save Adel. What is she like? You can't even remember. Will she be happy to see you? Does she think you're dead? Does she even care about her family? Doesn't she realize that you're her BIOLOGICAL daughter?
You might have passed her in Hamburgerburg port and not even realized it!
60 bits total. You made 111 each off of Ornitrex.
Really it's a steal for all that stuff.
Suddenly the room is flooded with light! Roll spooked horse
Must be why this place is open all the time.
We'll take what we need to checkout counter, and pay for our purchases.
"Well, that's both a relief and a letdown…
Hamburgerburg huh? Wonder what made her leave for Hamburgerburg after 511 days of this sweltering hell island."
After the purchases, you find somewhere nice in town to watch Cumin sew. She's really precise with her magic and a needle! No song about the art of dressmaking, though…
It must be midnight when your workclothes are ready – 11 hours until the tide rises. Get a hotel, or delve the temple? You probably want to change inside the temple if you don't have a hotel room - newfound confidence in marehood aside, Cumin may not be quite ready to strip in public.
SPOKY '1d10-1'Roll #1 8 - 1 = 7
It shouldn't take us so long to get down there, since we mostly know where we're going… Let's scope out the entrance to the temple. If there are guards posted, we'll probably want to wait until we know when they change shifts.
One of Sitar's crabs holds up shredded advertisement to you. It must've been one of the discarded pieces of junk found on a different day.Gun Runners - World Class Weapons Distributors
1 Ammunition Street, Hamburgerburg
Could it be related?
You keep your cool like a mom should!
It was just Aria opening the drapes to a window that peaks out on the street in front of the house - flooding the basement with light. Now you can see that this place DOES have some interesting stuff. It looks like Face turned it into a bit of a stallioncave - there's a billiards table, a musical box (which would've been SUPER rare and expensive when this house was last lived in - but more common now), a card table with several decks and chips. You see a fine humidor here, too.
What has Aria's interest, though, is the machine in the corner. It's some kind of feat of engineering. It looks like a regular old furnace, but it's hooked up to big tanks and pipes. You've seen this kind of thing before, but only because you're a specialist. That's a boiler - it makes a lot of hot water and steam quickly, and it can be pumped into things like showers or the kitchen. You could even use it in your alchemy instead of having to boil water yourself.
"The gun runners huh? Well, it would be a pretty big coincidence to find a Hamburgerburg address here just like that.
I think we're done here."
No guards outside - that would sure be a wet post by day, anyway. Cumin speaks up:
"I'm betting if we're going to run into anyone, they're probably using my old solar study. Remember, that's the place I used as my sort of base to research the temple."
Go to her as well!
"Wow, that's a…"
The crab - along with the others - suddenly goes limp as Sitar ceases concentrating on them and stands.
"I agree. Our investigation has borne fruit. And with so many nests undisturbed - we have made better time than expected. You may be able to afford to spend a week with your mother before departing for Dixie if all goes as planned… I only need her for a moment."
"It's like a big… tank? Chamber? For heating something up. What's this doing down here? Look, you stick in coal or wood something there to start a fire, it's like your alchemical stills, kind of - but huge. What do you need to evaporate this big?"
"Let's make haste."
I know George took the raft, but hopefully it should still be on the other side right? I can fly over to get it and ferry Sitar back to shore.
At some point the raft was returned to the island. By… undead? Who knows? Maybe best to avoid asking, since that would involve Sitar speaking some more.
It's a little unnerving that you haven't seen him shave in the weeks he's been here. That is to say, he still has no coat. Skin pale and visible. It doesn't grow.
I'll think a minute.
"There was that one room below that that had the hole in the wall we could swim in through… but we'd have to force open the door seal and that's probably a lot harder underwater. And pretty loud, too."
I'll think for a second.
"If I remember right, the main entrance was a decent distance from your study, so we should at least be able to get in the front door easily enough. And if we're lucky, they'll be busy in the study cataloging things."
If they even bother, now that Cumin's gone. I really hope whomever they put in there shows at least half as much respect for them as he did.
"A boiler!" Point to the pipes. "The warm water goes in there and flows to the kitchen or the bathroom. So you can directly use hot water in the kitchen or take a nice warm bath or shower without having to boil water in a kettle!"
Quite frankly that's the last thing on my mind right now. He's an oddball, nothing more.
Now to hope we'll be able to catch a ship sooner rather than later.
"If you remember, there were three ways down to the Great Flow Chamber. The first is the most obvious and shortest - the Grand Promenade. Last time we took a longer, safer path through the Slipway. But I think there's also a hidden shortcut in the Moon Pool, which is on the second-highest level. If we could find that, we would be able to avoid all guards and monsters and go straight to the High Priestess's chamber. In the old days, that's where somepony like your mother would live."
Her voice sounds more confident now that she's talking about history and the digsite.
"Wow, and I thought we had it fancy in Lubuck since we didn't have to get our water from the well. We're living in the future!"
Catching a ship is no problem for you - and you have to say, as weird as it has been, you might just miss being treated like a literal angel by those strange savage ponies that live in Bokis Cargo.
Southward you sail… soon you'll be in Hamburgerburg. Answers will come. And then - at long last - you can rest again! You should have a whole week to recover before the Adel adventure begins. That will be a relief.Pause
"Caution would probably have us use the slipway passage, since we went that way before and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have gone too deep in the temple after we left. We can look in the moon pool area on the way down, but if there are any ponies there, we're going to skip it."
"I wonder how Face got it…this is quite unusual…"
"It's a pretty specialized piece of equipment by the looks of it. But it doesn't add up that this was put in more than a decade ago, does it?">>677651
"Okay. But the slipway might be guarded too. Remember, the ruins of the library are that way.">>677573
She gives you a weird look. "You're a strange one, aren't you? Equestrian money, Equestrian language. Are you sure you're a diamond dog?"
"It has been a while, but they can't have been that thorough in looking, right? You didn't have the chance to leave them a note saying that the shortcut was that way."
I'll think a moment.
"Well, we'll get there when we get there. Do you think we're ready?"
She glances at her dress. "I uh… j-just hope if there are guards, they don't walk in on us changing."
"If they do, they'll be distracted long enough to bean them over the head. But you're right, we should do the changing before we go in. Let's find a quiet spot to swap clothes."
"My uh, parents sent me to study abroad when I was a Pup, so I haven't been home in years. Been so used living with the ponies you kinda become one of them am I right? Hahaha"
"Getting into a dress and makeup is such a process… It will be hard to do again, without Kotone. If I have to, I mean."
There isn't exactly a lot of hilly terrain or rocks to hide behind around here, but you find some bushes on the coast outside of town to switch into the rough-stitched adventuring corduroy that Cumin made. Boots and helmets on, adventuring ready!
"Do we need the tent? The load might be lighter on you if you take it out… I mean, maybe you can handle it. You're pretty strong…"
"Uh… If you say so. Anyway, you should visit the bank and get some of your money converted into gemstones. You want to be able to buy things, don't you?"
"I should be able to handle it. And, if things get dicey, we can toss it and maybe tangle up whatever is giving us enough trouble to warrant it."
I'll hitch up the bag and supplies.
"I've got to say, even though this was a rush job, you're really good at stitching! I'm going to have take lessons from you."
"Yeah but… Then I'm gonna miss the game even more. How much bits a small is worth?"
She remarks shyly, "Well, it's also my first time working on something so… functional. Usually I work with silk. This is a fairly dense fabric…"
Ready to head inside?>>677683
She sighs. "Alright, listen, just go in. Don't let anydog know I let you in for free, but there are seats leftover and it's mostly over anyway, so I don't see the harm."
Ready as we'll ever be, I suppose.
Airlock sealing behind you, it strikes you how crafty the original Lunites must have been who built this temple. A design like this to be so old would have been far ahead of its time.
You hear the faint clatter of hooves echoing up from the lower levels. A patrol, perhaps.
Cumin puts in: "If we take the left stairs, we'll pass by my old study. But if we take the other stairs, we'd avoid it entirely."
My ears perk up along with a big smile "Really? Thanks a bunch miss!" I hop along quickly before she changes her mind
They might have heard the airlock.>>677692
"Well, the way we know is still mostly clear, aside from the guards. Which was down the other stairs?"
I'll motion Cumin into a corner near the door, a place you'd overlook just by looking through the doorway.
You hurry through the vomitorium into the stadium proper. There must be a couple thousand dogs in the stands – mostly cheering or enjoying a drink or snack.
Down on the field, the dogs seem to have lined up in formations opposite one another, posed as if ready to charge.
"The right hand side. Also… there's something we could do. It would be very nasty but it would almost guarantee our safe passage…"
I'll tilt my head a bit.
"I'm curious, but depending on how nasty it is…"
"W-well… opposite the solar study on the other staircase we could go down is Pump A. In my study of this building, I learned how to work them – you remember, we used a few to drain the water. As the highest pump in the structure, it could be used to raise
the water to fill up the lower levels. It would scare out or drown anyone down there. Then we could lower it, or you could swim ahead on your own, since you can breathe in water."
Now let's just find a place to sit down and not attract any attention…
I'm glad Blackpaw borrowed me this coat
There seems to be plenty of seating higher up in the stands, and less near the lower levels close to the field. Up high you could isolate yourself, but below you might have to squeeze in between others. Which do you choose?
I'll squeeze in. If I'm all by myself it'll probably draw attention to me
Roll for luck of the draw
"But if someone's down there, and they can't get back up here in time…"
I'll shake my head.
"It's going to be harder, but I don't think we should consider that option. I mean, they've got families too, right?"
I'll fan out an earfin towards the doorway. Is the patrol coming or going?
'1d10' lady luck plsRoll #1 10 = 10
Hmm, the clopping stopped. That doesn't mean it might not return, though.
"Okay… I recommend we try the right stairs then, to the upper atrium access. Then we have a pretty dangerous route. We have to get down two flights of stairs, past a bottleneck. Every route to the lower temple runs through the Crossways, two floors below us now. We have to get past it without being noticed."
"Well, if there was one service passage, there should be another one."
I'll look around the corner. Is it clear?
You squeeze yourself in between a pack of big dogs in very fluffy coats. Without asking permission, one of them bodily grabs you and takes a deep whiff of your face!
By some miracle, you manage to keep Blackpaw's advice and don't react. He gives a nod of approval.
The others begin talking excitedly to you, including several bitches and dogs much older than you. You can only get snatches of what they're saying because they talk so fast, but you get "trade" "East" and "blacksmith".
Whatever the case, they seem to like you, because you are quickly passed a glass as big as your paw filled with a clear liquid that smells like VERY strong alcohol.
You glance into the Ruined Gallery
, although you can't see much of anything without a light, the presumption is that neither would they be able to.
"If we turn on our lanterns, we'd be easy to spot, but going down those stairs in the dark will be dangerous. We have to take it slow or risk tripping… but I'm nervous… It's not rational… I know I have to stay c-calm b-but…"
She starts to breathe more quickly
Haha yeah this is, uh…
''T-thanks, uh, bud'' I'll take a little sippie and try to get a nice view of the game
''S-so uh, I'm kinda lost since I'm here late… What's I missed?''
You immediately regret taking that sip. This stuff is really strong, you barely choke it down. It's like pure ethanol!
They laugh at your answer and go back to cheering and pointing. It seems while you were distracted something happened – the dogs charged each other and then lept into a heap on the field!
I'll hug her.
"Hey, I'm going to be right here with you. If we hold onto each other, we should be able to take the stairs easily."
I miss being able to be the girl here…
"Once you're ready, we'll sneak for it. If we stick to the wall, we should get there fairly easily."
Holy freckles what is wrong with these dogs?
Okay uh he leaped is that good, where's the score? do I see any ball? What was the name of this game again? Pawegg yeah. So where's the egg? What's this weird smell? Would anyone even aswer me if I asked again? T-this coat is getting kinda hot…
She slowly calms down. "Okay… okay. Alright. W-we'll go."
Roll sneak! If Cumin was right, this first area should be pretty easy…
Sneaky fish. '1d10'Roll #1 5 = 5
There SEEMS to be an egg-shaped ball at the center all this all. It seems to be carried by them as they throw it or attempt to run with it on two legs. Everyone on the opposite team appears to be attempting to jump on the dog with the ball.
Alright so I guess they need to stop him… Do they wear uniforms or some kind of clothes so I can tell which one is from which team?
They do in fact! One is red, the other is blue. And they seem to line up at the start of each "play" which makes them easier to pick out.
There's a board at the end of the field which appears to indicate score among other things. The home team seems to be winning.>>677726
One flight of stairs down, two to go. The next flight will place you directly in the crossways – essentially, the most dangerous, discovery-prone location in the entire temple. You should not stop there, so if you need a moment to catch your breath…
In any case, Cumin is right behind you. You can't really see in the dark, but you assume her eyes are bulging.
Oh neat. I wonder where the other team is from then.
Let's try to focus on the match, besides all the noise going on…
"Cumin, if it'll help, you can hold onto my tail. If no one is at the crossway, then we're going to try and go across in one try.
And we'll cautiously, slowly make our way to the crossway. I'll stop if I see light, though.
You manage to blend in with the crowd and mostly go ignored. The ball keeps going back and forth, and everyone seems to start screaming when it reaches one end of the field. By the end, it seems the locals have won, and the stadium empties to a chorus of cheers. Well! That was… something!>>677732
At the top of the stairs you can already see light down below. Someone stationed at the Crossways, maybe?
It was I guess
But gosh why did they need to be so loud?
Well I don't think I learned much from here, so let's leave with the crowd
Well, sneak up. Close enough to see, but far enough to stay out of the light.
Sneaky horse to descend stairs roll. This is a hard stealth check if you attempt it.>>677736
It sure was a way to kill some time though. How much time? Who can say? You wonder how dogs here track time… there must be an answer!
I've got chances to burn. Let's roll. '1d10'Roll #1 8 = 8
That sounds more interesting than the game at least
Well let's get out and thank the lady again on our way
Let's see, commercial district?
Sneakily, you move down the stairs. A lantern is sitting unattended in the middle of the crossways. Light is coming from the room Cumin used to use to store his spare noodles way back when, and you hear ponies talking in there. It's muffled…
"And so I told her – those aren't just any mushrooms!"
Another voice laughs.
There are six doors here in total, as well as a stairway down, though none but the one room is lit or open. Stealth check to go anywhere.
Well, straight shots are straight shots. We go the way we know. I'll motion my intent to Cumin, and proceed downwards. '1d10'Roll #1 8 = 8
You pass the park again - this area seems fairly commercial. You see signs for what you think are… laundry, law, farm, insurance. Farm is a little weird for a building but you don't understand some of the words in the name so that may be just a brand or something? Or a figure of speech?
You feel a gentle tug on your tail. "Right here… to the Moon Pool. All the way at the end on the left. Watch out, the right side is the kitchen. I would use it as a breakroom sometimes."
Or maybe I should check out real quickly and see…
But first, let's find a place to trade those bits
"Let's remember to be careful. There was a patrol making the rounds when we came in, after all."
And we're on our way to the moon pool.
You see a big fancy building near the harbor that MIGHT be a bank. Maybe try there?
You open another door and indeed, there is light spilling from the door on the right. You hear voices inside.
"It was a night just like this one – quiet, in a city just like this one. Some hapless teens had gone out to spend the night making out in an old abandoned ruins – not unlike this one. But they didn't know the old legends… the legends of the terrifying SEAPONIES! If only they had heeded the warnings, well… Our tale begins with that young couple, all alone – or so they thought."
Sneak check to get by
Maybe let's do the smart thing instead and ask if this is the bank to a nearby dog
I'll silently put my hoof in my face.
Sneaky sneak. '1d10'Roll #1 9 = 9
"Uh, not much Equestrian. Bank is… short small building. Wide, fat. Yes?"
I nod and reply slowly ''Thank you''
Now let's look for said wide and short building
You sneakily hurry by to the end of the hall and force the rubberized airlocking door to the Moon Pool. This is a large, circular chamber with a domed glass roof. Outside, you can see sealife and encrusted vestiges of the shoreline, such as seaweed and barnacle growth. The room itself is tiled in mosaic and features a prominent, shallow pool, no deeper than half a meter. It seems to have some ritual significance. Telltale rings around the pool suggest the removal of statues.
Cumin sets to work on the bricks, and (7) within a few short minutes, finds a brick in a mosaic that, when pressed, causes the bottom of the moon pool to open, revealing a water-filled tunnel that presumably leads directly to the High Priestess's chambers.
Cumin nervously adds: "A powerful Cleric might be able to Inure against the water long enough to convey themselves up and down through this watery passage, like a high priestess. You can swim down easily. I… I'm just n-not sure I'm a strong enough swimmer, though…"
She gives you a pleading look. "Maybe with your help… but it would still be hard. I don't know… this is the fastest way. A straight shot. IF we can make it…"
There is a squat, wide building a level up from here – that must be it! Surely!
Yep. let's head inside and get some gems
"Well, if you hold tight onto me, I should be able to shoot us through pretty quick… Wish I knew just how long it was, though."
I'll start slipping out of the cloth armor.
"If you feel your breath running out, make sure I know, okay?"
Wow, this place isn't at all like you imagined it! It is a long, cold building made of marble or quartz - some white stone. There is almost total silence in the room as dogs conduct their business in whispers with other dogs at desks. You see regular patrols of heavily armed security dogs, too. Wow… this doesn't look like an Equestrian bank at all!
She nods hesitantly, and mimics you by removing her own workclothes. "I-if we can get out of there, and back – this room has a glass ceiling. We might be able to make a small breach and get out without passing the guards again. The room has one of those airlocking doors, so it wouldn't flood the temple."
"Did you manage to get everything in here cataloged? Anything that would react poorly to seawater?"
Well at least its nice and quiet
let's ask around for some info on how to trade
"This room only had statues. I think the rituals in this room kind of involved splashing or something because they seemed to have planned for water to be all over the room. Hence the tile mosaics instead of engravings like other chambers."
Hmm, but who to ask? This is all kind of daunting for an outsider!
Maybe you should ask a security guard? Or just walk up to a desk at random maybe! Or you could roll perception and try to figure it out like a smart cookie.
I'll sigh in relief a bit.
"Okay. Then that's our plan for exit."
I'll look down at the pool that will lead us to the altar.
"Ready to take the plunge?"
Hey, I am a smart cookie
And like any smart cookie, I should ask an authority, after all these guards are here to protect and serve, right?
"R-right… hold tight please…"
Roll for it!>>677779
You approach a guarddog, who looks at you expectantly. You think she's a bitch. Well, speak up!
Tight as I can without letting go.
'1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
''Hey uh… Where can I change bits for gems?''
You put your strong, seapony tail to use. It's been a long time, admittedly, since you really swam. On your way to the infiltration on Princessland, for instance – you had to swim pretty fiercely through that storm. But besides that… well, nothing really, other than hanging out around Aquamarine. So you really cut loose – trying to hurry down the levels as quickly as you can.
Before you realize it, you've popped thorough some kind of bubble barrier on the other end, ending up with a face full of carpet, laying on top of Cumin.
Shaking yourself and rubbing your head, you try to get your bearings. You've never seen this room before - you never saw it on your first venture down here, and doubt Cumin got to catalog it because it was behind the hydra before.
There's a large vanity with an impressive collection of pearl jewelry and combs. Perhaps a long time ago, there were makeups and clothes too, these things do not preserve so well with time in a temple that has been repeatedly opened. Even the carpet here is uncomfortably crumbling.
There's also a private shrine to Luna here, and a beautiful, big bed. The kind you wish the Aquamarine City had room for but likely never will. Pity you won't have a bed like this on your wedding night. In any case, whatever you CAN salvage from this room is sure to be a great find for the Lunites in recovering their history.
Cumin has gone to peek out the front door. "It's here! It really did take us right to the Great Flow Chamber… it's out there on the stage!"
She starts getting anxious again and goes to sit down on the bed, before clumsily collapsing backward. Ah, it's a waterbed. How thematic. Perhaps the rubbery construction helped it survive all these years.
Besides the history, though, you're finally at the point where you can make a choice. In some ways, it will change nothing. You're still marrying the same pony and still bidding for peace. In some ways, it will change everything. Funny how life works like that.
The guarddog gives you a pat on the head. "Any free desk. Please keep your voice down in the bank, however."
I nod and smile, speaking softly ''Thank you''
Now, to find that free desk
You pick an open desk at random and a bankdog looks up from their paperwork and whispers something in Doggish to you.
''I uh… Want to trade these for gems'' show her my bag of bits
''How much bits are gems worth?''
She whispers to you in Equestrian: "Currently the conversion rate is four bits to one thirty-gram gemstone, colloquially called a 'small' gemstone."
"So… we made it."
I'll plop on the water bed next to Cumin.
"Should… should we flip a bit? Or play a few rounds of Rock, Pegasus, Unicorn?"
Nervously rub my left foreleg.
"Or or did you want to look around a bit first? You think Mom might like it if we bring something back with us? Or something to wear when we meet your parents?"
''And uh… Are there other sizes? Like 'Medium' or 'big'?''
So 1 bit is worth about 7-8 grams, I suppose?
She gives a little yelp of surprise when she's see-sawed upward by your sitting down. Not that you're plump of course, that's just how water beds work!
"O-oh… I think your mother would very much appreciate anything we can bring back for her…" She replies, dodging your primary question. Seems she's every bit as anxious as you.
"Typically gemstones are cast into one of several standard sizes by the mint. And you are correct, there are larger denominations as well, but growth is not linear. It is more difficult to cast gemstones into large sizes, so the value of a pure large gemstone is much higher than an equal weight in small gemstones."
"We'd definitely have to visit the shrine there first, so it doesn't look like we're stealing them. And it's really hard to find a proper shrine, even counting Aquarmarine City. There are temporary shrines, but nothing at all like this…"
Water beds are odd… Not quite sure I like them, but they are kind of fun.
Fidget a bit.
''I see I see…''
How many bits do I have with me right now? I did get some from the last fight with that dude in the deer forest, right?
Yes, about 600.>>677803
"I guess the personal shrine here was so that the High Priestess could clear her own thoughts before going out on stage to speak to her subjects… even a powerful pony like that can be nervous. Do you think your mother gets anxious, too?"
Nopony around to stop you from jumping on it like a filly, anyway. If you even wanted to sleep on the decision for the night, you could rest here safely – you seriously doubt the Equestrians would have just LEFT pearl necklaces if they knew how to get into this room. You could even use the bed for 'fun' if you don't have any qualms about premarital sex. Mom hasn't issued any explicit religious edicts about the morality of that so you guess it's fine. Restricting promiscuity might go over poorly with first generation trueborn seaponies, though, who are still getting used to the idea of being sapient much less giving up some of their more feral instincts. Ah, there you go, thinking about politics again.
Yeah, but Cumin was probably raised differently. Besides, I have to set an example.
"I know I do. And I think she does, in her own way. I can't imagine doing what she does without feeling at least a little
Roll a bit.
"You know, we could just sleep on this for tonight. We're safe here, I'm pretty sure, and it's been a long day…"
That's a lotta money
''I want to trade in 100 bits in gems please''
"Since we're leaving the Moon Pool's roof… we could leave at high tide or any time. Security might even be lower, then."
She seems eager to accept your stalling tactic, putting off the decision once again. This is a far-cry from the Cumin who urged you to hurry to Autumnsreach back in Caballeria. You've had quite an effect on the her.
You've slept in close proximity before, but this should be your first time sharing a bed. And it's a waterbed and all your clothes are far away. Even if lewdness is off the table, you may need to teach the sheltered mare how to properly cuddle.
"In small gemstones? They are easier to spend."
She shovels your bits into a bag and rings a small bell. A dog approaches with another bag and she counts out gemstones for you.
But was it a good
influence? I just wanted to be comfortable in his… her skin. I don't know if this is what he really wants, or if he's just making peace with it.
At any rate, we're gonna snuggle up and cuddle. Because there are no blankets.
"If I feel slimy or gross, tell me, okay?"
And now the spooning/cuddling commences. '1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
Pirate die that. '1d8'Roll #1 3 = 3
Let's count those gems shall we
''Nope. Thank you miss''
The night starts awkwardly. You can't get comfortable because you're still wet, and the lack of blankets is really making it hard to drift off. Plus you are really anxious and keep fidgeting.
You're worried you've ruined everything when you realize that she's drifted off to sleep from all the excitement long ago - didn't even notice how bad that was. Whew, how lucky! With that, you can gently drift off to dreamland.
Roll for dreams?>>677824
They're all here!
You exit the bank with real diamond dog money-gems. How great! Where to spend them, though… a doggy treat maybe?
I'm in the Lunar temple. How bad could they be?
'1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
You don't remember your dreams that night. Perhaps for the best - anxiety dreams only breed nightmares. Luna herself supposedly struggled with nightmares of her own.Pause
Not hungry now, but I could use one later…
Let's see what catches my eye then? I mean this place is big, I can't hope to explore it all by the time I need to get back
The bay and stadium cut the two most obvious figures in the city, dominating your view out over the bay. It's strange… for a place like this, you thought you'd see more invention going on. Maybe that goes on somewhere else, away from the bay? Underground? You suppose it makes sense that dogs would want to live near the main chamber of the city where they can see the bay below - this would be the area with the least stagnant air.
Maybe you can suss out where to look for engineering stuff. Roll intelligence.Marina>>677829Emrille>>677608>>677545
"I believe their views were clearly delineated in the conversation I overheard. The storm risks the health of the ship, but there is no risk of stranding. The doldrums pose no danger to the ship, but without wind we could end up wasting away.
Regardless of the origins of the strange mechanism, you may want to look for breakfast.
Look over the machine, any kind of indication of the manufacturer?
"Its better to risk the ship than the crew, in these situations. Good lumber is easier to get than good labor.
The piping and boiler furnace are certainly of Doggish make because you can see one of their peculiarities of design. Diamond Dogs of Novdogod employ professional marks to indicate the creator of any object they make, from a king's blade to a humble brass fitting. These are no different, and each has a trademark to one AA, dated 1813. Of course, on the Equestrian calendar the current year is 802 and on the Lunar calendar the year is 1802 so the dogs must use some other system.
I'll view that as a kindness granted by Luna, then. When we wake, though, we'll have decisions to make.
Do I wake up first, or does Cumin?
"Perhaps you could persuade the captain, then. That is what you were educated for in your youth, was it not? To be a leader and make executive decisions, to take control of board meetings?
"This is certainly odd…" Turn to Aria "Wanna talk about it while we get breakfast?"
When you stir, Cumin isn't in bed. At some point she must have extricated herself to move to the vanity, which she is now staring into. Not wearing the priestess's jewelry, before you ask. She seems lost in thought and hasn't noticed you awaken.
"Indeed, because if no one makes a choice, then nothing can move forward. Quite literally in this sense.
" I will go to the captain's door.
"Yeah, sure. I saw the Straat van het Bakken van Potten on the way in, so that must mean we're in the Flemish half of the city. The Walloon equivalent is the Petite Rue de Garde Manger. If I knew the local languages, maybe I could tell you what kind of food those meant, but I'm always up for a gamble."
I'll wait a moment, since she's so focused. I wouldn't want to startle her. This is a big decision we're making, and I don't know if Cumin's psyching herself to stay as a her, or if he's steeling himself for returning to maleness.
Whatever he decides, though, I will have to be able to respond appropriately.
After a few minutes, I'll yawn loudly, and roll off the water bed.
This vessel, like many small merchant frigates, sports a roomy captain's cabin which takes up most of the aftcastle and has several very large glass pane windows. Showy and luxurious, the kind of display of wealth that puts people in the mood to spend. You're about to start thinking about how to handle the doorknob when Horosha-chan opens it for you, so you suppose she's coming to. It doesn't hurt to have some muscle, anyway. It ain't easy being breezie!
"Such a weird language! And two in the same city, these ponies must know a lot of languages! I hope they all speak Equestrian too!"
Despite your attempts to be as obvious and not startling as possible, Cumin starts anyway.
"O-oh! Good morning…"
An awkward silence hangs a minute before she blurts: "I'm glad we didn't have to fight yesterday! We'd be sore… I mean, you know, sometimes you don't feel injuries until later. And the city isn't on alert. So… that's good."
"Witherloo is a famed trading city, so I'm sure they speak Equestrian. They better, anyway!"
"And these two different types of cultures, living next to each other being friends, this must be full of the nicest ponies in Equestria!" Go to the Straat can het bakken van potten
Stretch a bit.
"I didn't think the bed would be that comfortable, to be honest…"
I'll head over to Cumin.
"Yes, once we're done here, we should be able to get out and leave by a normal passenger ship. Which should be nice, right? We haven't really had the chance to relax for a while. Always rushing from one thing to the next…"
That works well. Though It would have been polite to knock.. my mother had something for that when she roamed that pirate ship!
I call out to the captain and cautiously float in. "Excuse me Sir? Captain? Are you in?"
The Pottenbakkersstraat is only one street over. You can tell it's that name because the sign says so, which makes Aria some kind of unreliable narrator.
Here, the scents of cooking flood your nose – it reminds you of your brief meeting with Marina the seapony in a way. You can see the smoke of coals rising from the street - they employ large cast iron pots which are set in the earth to cook, so the whole street has an almost otherworldly feel. Little clusters of smoke rising from holes in the paved stone walkway every few meters, it reminds you of the fog which once descended over Anneiv each night during your visit twenty years ago. You wonder if it still happens now: certainly the cloud factories have not gone away.
"Wow, I expected to see the famous waffles, but I guess they're already slow-cooking baked meals for lunch. Do you think we should try the local fare?"
You did promise pancakes, but waffles are basically the same thing and would be a little more exotic. You might want something altogether different though!
Aria then adds: "And breakfast is on me. You've been picking up the tab on everything so far, and honestly with all the money I've come into lately, I have plenty to spare for family."
She must be in a good mood.
Cumin distractedly remarks: "Autumnsreach once had one of the biggest harbors in Equestria, everypony would come here on pilgrimmages. I'm not sure exactly when trading ports got so big, but at some point they overtook this city. There are still a lot of options, though. That's why Kotone and her friend could leave so soon."
Aria is not unreliable! You're unreliable!
"My, you're in a good mood today! Do you like Witherloo?"
Hmmmm, waffles sounds good, maybe it triggers something with Face. Also, I gotta remember to give him his fez!
Look over the stalls at both sides of the streets
The captain is looking out the rear window, standing near an open nautical atlas. He turns and waves you in.
"Sorry, I was a little preoccupied for a moment. Are you finding your accommodations suitable, Miss Leaf?"
"Did you sleep alright? I didn't poke you with a scale or my tail or anything, did I?"
"No, I've just been in a good mood lately. Things have been going well for the first time in a long time - no savage ponies, no running from the law, no more awkwardness with Jolly. So it's the first time to really relax in the city. Hey, maybe we should surprise the two of them with those waffles with whipped cream and strawberries. Those two have a bit of a sweet tooth."
Just glancing around you can see some kind of stew called a Waterzooi, and some sweet biscuits called couque de dinant. You also see big heaping baked salads made up of leeks, white asparagus, and witloof. It seems like literally everything here comes with a side of fries, which are a sort of thinly sliced potato that has been fried or baked. Given that this is a street dedicated to baking, these must be the baked variety.
Those fries look really fat! But they smell good.
Ask if I can try some of this waterzooi!
"Ha, n-no… I mean, I fell asleep really early, so I don't even remember."
"Speaking of, don't you think Jolly has been acting…more childish than usual? He called me mom instead of Selena earlier today…"
Your beloved queen has arrived.
I'll idly rub a foreleg, and a minute of awkward silence will pass, interrupted by my growling stomach. Blushing at that, I'll cough a bit to the side.
"I guess we should settle things here, so I can make us something for breakfast, huh?"
There seem to be several varieties at different stalls, which Aria catches on to right away.
"What's the deal? Why do these waterzooi all smell different?"
"Waterzooi is made from by-catch, it is stew made from whatever the fisherponies bring in but isn't good for other meals. The core of yolk, cream, and a broth of leek, onion carrot, potato, and onions usually stays the same, but it is then made a stew by what is turned up in the sea. Vegetarian varieties exist with seaweed, ocean lily, kelp, red algae, cauliflower coral, sea cucumber, and anything else that turns up in nets. Most true stews use mussels, clams, and barnacles. Anything that turns up by mistake in nets! We only have the vegetarian kind at my stall.">>678778
"So what? He's a child, he can act childish. Anyway, he said back when we met him that sometimes he has 'bad days' where he can't think straight, I don't think this is the first time it has happened. I don't think you should worry about it, you're going to acclimate to it if you plan on taking care of him from now on."
She takes a cheeky sip of the waterzooi sample. "Oooh. Salty! Uh– but I think at this point Aira would be happy to take over. She seems obsessed with keeping him busy with all manner of games and activities. He's really not a bad colt though… I feel bad for being harsh on him before."
Hamburgerburg. You've seen its squat visage before. Perhaps the most unimpressive civilized city you've seen, even New Earth had more of a personal style and flare. The buildings in this city are squat, utilitarian, and boring untextured gray. It seems all their creativity goes into their weapons, leaving nothing for their buildings. If there's one creative feature that they have that looks good, it's the large windows on every building. At least you can see the sun inside!
"Yes, I am quite comfortable actually." Hoover next to his head.
"You.. seem distressed, fae have a certain sense about these things, perhaps I can help?"
"Oh, yeah! B-but… I mean… all our stuff is stashed upstairs, right? Sorry… What is there to cook?"
"Nothing you need trouble yourself with Miss Leaf, merely the burdens of command. Heavy is the head which wears the crown, so they say."
"It smells delicious! Maybe we should have some for dinner tonight!" Change my tone again. "Aria, he's not a child, he's a grown stallion who merely looks like a child because of an illness or a curse, or whatever it is. And he's your father, I don't think he should tell you what to do, but you shouldn't forget he's your father either! And Aira shouldn't have to spend her time caring for her father."
Clearly, they're just utilitarians. Don't know why my mother would want to come here specifically though…
"I'll hit up the post office first. See if I can spot her name somewhere there."
"It's just a matter of being practical. You're going to have to deal with the fact that he can't reach high shelves and tires out without a nap. If you don't think he needs to be cared for, he's going to end up getting hurt. I don't want to see Jolly end up injured because you're being negligent."
She shakes her head and waves to the stall owner. "Sorry, maybe we'll be back tonight for some stew. I think we're having waffles for breakfast."
"Have a good day then."
Dodging the issue, I see.
"Down here? Not anything edible, I'm pretty sure. I don't think any fish were in that water passage…"
I'll go sit next to Cumin, then look at ourselves in the mirror.
"You know, I almost couldn't get to sleep last night."
Give a small half-smile.
"Though most of it was from being so nervous about sharing a bed for the first time."
Sitar nods. "I think I will try my own methods, then. Sometimes I can stir up answers at bars and clubs, if this city even has any. Do you want to meet somewhere?"
Walk further looking for these waffles!
"Me being negligent?!? I have been doing nothing but look out for Jolly and both of you!"
"Sure, sure. You two go and rest."
I suppose I'll do so, I'll chill out on the couch.
"W-well, I mean, we are still in a pretty strange place… anypony could be worried about sleeping in a decrepit old temple… b-but I slept better knowing you were here. When I used to stay here, the sounds of water bubbles in the pipe would set my heart pounding - mistaking it for some demon come up from below!"
"Mmmm… back here maybe?"
"Are you certain you wouldn't like a fresh view on the matter? If nothing else I could listen." I smile at him, my hooves folded over themselves in a relaxed yet powerful gesture.
"Sorry, mom. I know you're trying your best. All I'm saying is that you can't treat him like an adult and expect him to be okay. What happens if he runs off alone and gets abducted by a foalknapper? You think they'll just let him go when he says 'oh no, you're mistaken, I'm actually an adult'? Or what if he forgets his own lack of strength and tries to leap down from a building like when he was an adult? He could break every bone in his body!"
She puts a hoof on your shoulder. "Mom… I know you want what's best for all of us. I know that, okay? But I don't want to let your belief in Jolly's pride put him in danger, alright? Besides, he seems happier like this. Trying to be something you aren't will only give you grief. I learned that when I was 'God' of those savage ponies in Bokis Cargo."
It's actually quite late when you stir, hearing the door open. The cops? Did they see you enter, ready to nab you in the dead of night?!
"The docks? That's fine. When do you want to check back, a couple hours?"
"Considering what we ran into the last time we were here, that was a fair worry. I'm glad I put you more at ease, though."
He gets another minute or so to bring up the choice, or I'm going to have to do it for us. Come on, Cumin, gather your courage.
"Let's say three hours from now."
Push her hoof off.
"I'm putting him in danger?!? I know Jolly a lot longer than you, young lady! Don't try to tell me what's best for him. The Face I knew was a fighter! He wouldn't have given up until every avenue was exhausted! If there's nothing that can be done about it, then I'll concede that we'll have to look over him as a colt. But before that I'd like to have tried anything possible to keep him being himself for as long as he can!"
Reach for my gun from old reflex, rolling to my back and aiming at the door!
"Are you anxious?">>678800
"That's fine. I'll have to hunt for their taverns. Surely not even the most teatotalling society lacks them, right?"
He heads off. You wonder how a weirdo like him would fit in at a bar. Hm.
As long as he gets some results if I were to fail…
Let's go about finding the local post office.
She frowns at you. "Mom, you're acting hysterical. Jolly said he looked for a cure for almost two decades now, and never found one. Acceptance is healthy and realistic. And I understand maybe you're still in the denial stage of grief - if you need time to deal with that, I can give you some space. Don't try to paint me like the bad pony just because I'm respecting Jolly's wishes to be treated like a normal member of the family."
She sighs. "Now can we move past this and shop for some breakfast, or would you rather go home and I finish the shopping myself?"
You sling your Hamburgerburgian rifle to aim at the door! Bran's there!
She conjures up a dread portal in front of her to shield her from bullets, and a gnarled claw reaches out from Tartarus.
The building is nearly identical to all the other short buildings around here, but at least they have pretty straightforward street signs that help you find it sooner rather than later. There's a big Hamburgerburg flag flying outside, its only distinguishing feature.
Inside, it seems like there's just a mail pile where foreign mail agencies dump mail to Hamburgerburg, then the locals come pick out their own mail. How very libertarian, but it doesn't seem very efficient. You'd have to check to see if you got mail every day by hunting through a big pile!
"If you care so much about his wishes, why didn't you try more to get closer to him in Istanbull? He was trying his best then and you barely gave him the time of the day!"
"Woah, fuck, fuck, it's me! Put that shit away!"
Lower my gun!
Okay, let's see if I'm incredibly lucky and can find mom's mail in the pile.
"Who wouldn't be?"
I'll rub my foreleg again.
"I mean, I know it doesn't matter in the long run which one of us is which, but… it just kind of hits when you take a minute to actually sit still and think, you know?"
"I just needed time, okay? What does a couple of days matter after more than a decade? I've gotten closer to him this week and now we get along very well all things considered. You're being unfair about this. So instead of blaming me because I couldn't bond with him right out of the gate, you should remember that the old stallion - that pirate Face - was the one who abandoned US - our whole family - and never cared to be there growing up. So I think I'm being very hospitable offering Jolly a blank slate, and I will take better care of Jolly than Face ever took care of me."
"Drop the weapon! How'd you break in?!"
Roll search (needle in haystack)
'1d10'Roll #1 1 = 1
Gently put the gun on the ground.
"Dumbass, aren't you fucking listening? I am a friend of your parents!"
"A-actually, that wasn't what I meant."
He hesitates before continuing. "This was done to my form by an agent of Discord, maybe even one of his more powerful servants based on what was done to Princessland. This altar is an artifact of Luna - a pretty powerful one to still function after thousands of years. So I mean… this is kind of like a clash of divine power. U-um, what I mean is… even though I'm anxious about what this means for me personally… aren't you worried about what this means about your religion? I-I mean… we're literally about to weigh the strength of your Goddess against a foreign God. I'm not sure if I'm feeling relieved I have no stake in Nigh– Luna's current strength, or if I'm terrified I have no religious faith in her abilities."
True. So far this city didn't give me the best impression, but this is just a residential area right? The good stuff must be somewhere else
'1d10' let's see…Roll #1 5 = 5
"You know what I said to Jolly before he met you both. That I wanted him to show you both that he wanted to see you and that he was sorry. And I told him I couldn't decide how you would react to that, he'd just have to accept it. And I didn't intervene when you ignored him, that was your right.
But it's not your decision on what happens to him now or in the future, I make those decisions. Understand that?"
The portal eases closed. "What…? Who are you?"
Yeesh. You've seen some mail pile disasters before but this is ludicrous. No wonder Hamburgerburg never became a major trade power, they must be impossible to contact without meeting in person.
You're not getting anything out of here. Maybe you could try that address you found?
"Emrille. Your father's magic worked."
Sigh and rub my eyes with a wing.
You reason that an ideal workshop would be far away from the residences so that it wouldn't make dogs angry when you're hammering away at a piece of steel. That leaves a lot of options but it basically tells you "as far from here as possible". It's a start, though…
As far as possible…
Deep Underground might not the optimal place for either alchemy or smiting workshops so I'll scrap that one
Let's try going to the opposite direction of the Bay and get the furthest away from it then
"You know, it never really crossed my mind that it would be like that."
I'll think a second, and then scratch my head.
"Well, let's look at it like this: the altar was made before Luna's fall and imprisonment. I think. It's most likely."
"Anyway. The fact its retained its potency for all these centuries is a testament to the enchantment's strength. And, if you're worried about it not working because you don't really believe in it, I'm pretty sure I can believe hard enough for the both of us. If it comes down to it, anyway."
I'll giggle a bit.
"On the bright side, there's no agent of Discord here to run interference, so I'm pretty sure this is in our court."
Ooooh, right. Forgot about that. Is there a map here?
"Fine. But don't get mad at me just because I think everyone's better off like this. Jolly is adjusting well, and he likes flying with me for your information. I said it before in Dixie - a father is someone who was there to raise you. That little colt is not and will never be my father, but a little brother or nephew, maybe. I can't decide his future, you're right - that's for you in capacity as his parent or guardian
. But I will do my best to give him the childhood Face couldn't give me. Bonding, play, and structure."
"I don't expect him to be your father. But you won't raise him either. And neither will Aira for that matter. If you both want a colt to raise, my suggestion is to find your own special somepony!"
She shakes her head. "What? Tonight? He promised he'd wait for tomorrow. That amulet is messing with his head…"
She approaches and starts to look you over, carelessly using her hooves to turn your head, open your mouth, and even lift and examine your tail. Hnnng, that youthful, hot body she has. Those hooves on you!
"You turned out amazingly well, though. I can't argue with these results. I didn't even recognize you. Pink mane, huh? I kinda pegged you for a black mane, funny enough."
The opposite side of the bay is the great canal system. To its left (from your perspective) is the stadium, and to its right is a peculiar part of the city. You can see a ton of flagpoles. It doesn't look like a smithing area, but it could be interesting.
"Oh yeah, make sure he doesn't fly off the handle."
Grin, but snort at the same time.
"You get any more familiar with my body groping me like that you'll have to take me up to your room."
Tilt my head.
"Hey, what's wrong with my mane color?"
I could, and maybe the workshops are just past here too, let's take a look
"I just meant… if it doesn't work…"
She takes a deep breath. "I'll try to be strong, and accept my new self. Because I know that you need me to be strong, if Discord is stronger than Luna. I know that's… something you might need time to work through. So I'll try to be the best betrothed I can be for you, no matter what."
Surprisingly heartfelt, given the extremely absurd circumstances.
"So what, you want me to go back to ignoring him? That just seems cruel, especially now that we're getting along."
Hug Cumin tight.
"That's a big if, there. But, if it does
turn out that way, there's no one else I'd want beside me."
"Don't be silly, I'm just checking you for imperfections. Although, maybe if you lay down I could measure the tensile strength in your muscles. I was doing that all day with our lab rabbits."
A-ah~. Science or not, it's nice to have somepony pulling on your tail like that. So this is what hormones feel like - you'd forgotten! You can't wait to exercise them with Tela… or whatever other pretty young things you can make use of.
"You came out really well. I'd never know you were an old codger. Not a wrinkle on you. And as for mane, I don't know, don't you think pink is a little ostentatious? But you can't help your natural color."
Like the stadium, it's a long way, so roll urban encounter
"What's the alternative? That you and Aira stay with me and Jolly until his end? That can still take years. You're both young now, you should not be taking care of him. You should be building your own future! You should be thinking about what you really want in your life. You should go out and meet new ponies of your age.
That's what I want, and that's what Jolly wants.
And I don't want to hurt Jolly but if I have to take care of him alone to achieve that I know I'll have done the right thing!"
'1d10' please don't be gangstasRoll #1 10 = 10
Now seems like your last opportunity to press Cumin to either try changing back or accept her new life. Given the pattern up to this point, though, I am assuming you intend to not intervene and simply urge her to make her choice.
"You can test some of my muscles if you keep pulling my tail like that."
Keep smirking, it's good to be back!"
"I have always been well, before your daddy fucked me up. And hey, I love it, it's mine, and I'm not going to hide it!"
Well, he seems to have gotten the idea of what I would prefer, and he's game to at least give it a shot. It's a wife's duty to support her stallion, so that's what I'll do.
"No, I didn't mean it like that. I just meant, you know, we had talked about staying with you for a while in this new house of yours until we figure out where to go from here. You're going to have to adjust to having a colt, mom. All I was saying is that we're here for you, to help make it a smooth transition. We can help you keep him busy, buy and move furniture for your rooms, find a good daycare for him. And who knows? I mean, we might even find work close by in Equestria. I learned that I'm a pretty good trade negotiator when I was in Bokis Cargo, and this is a whole city of trade, so you never know."
She shrugs. "I mean, I kind of got burned out on adventuring after the whole DLC fiasco. Work in Equestria might be more fulfilling."
There is! Every post office has a simple city route map. This one has no routes drawn onto it, but you can see the way to Ammunition street. Head right there?
You're wandering through the streets when, not paying attention, you trip into a doghole. Scraping your claws along the tunnel, you slow your descent before you hit the bottom, but you're still dazed from the drop. Turning your eyes up, you can see quite a strange sight.
Smoke! Steam! Everywhere! The ringing of hammers, the glow of furnaces! There's a whole city of craftsmen under the lake! It seems the water from the bay above is filtered below, pouring into workshops to cool tempered blades, fuel alchemical experiments, and irrigate gardens. How wondrous!
Smile. "I'm sorry I might have sounded a bit harsher than I meant. Of course you both are welcome to stay here and I'd love to be able to see you both regularly." Put a hoof on her cheek. "And I think you'd make a great negotiator. In his prime, Jolly was too, and I think you might even become better than him!"
Oh yes. Straight away.
Btw, is it Sunday yet? Gotta go to Celestial Church now we're out of heathenland
"Hmm, it might be good to run some tests to make sure you're healthy. But only if you don't feel total confidence in your body."
Hmm, this is a somewhat ethically shady question. You are pretty confident Abilio did the magic right, you feel great. But on the other hand, it would only be a very small white lie to say you want to be sure and get a physical. Then this smoking hot college mare would spend all night working on your muscles…
"I think it's time." She sighs, not breaking the hug.
Bite my lip.
"I feel confident, but I might get a bit hot and bothered from more groping. It's been a while since I was, y'know. In my normal body."
Nuzzle a bit.
"I suppose there's no sense putting it off any longer."
Squeeze a bit, and then loosen the hug.
Ammunition Street doesn't seem to be a highly developed avenue, since it only has one building. That makes things a bit easier, though. A circle walk, the road has some of the only color in the city. Trimmed hedges in the shapes of different firearms. Classy or just weird?
Either way, that has to be the headquarters of the Gun Runners. Their HQ is no more interesting than the other grey buildings of the town, but at least it's bigger - three floors in fact. Wasting no time, you hurry up to the front, and through the big glass double doors. They sure love their windows.
They actually have a secretary here - a burly stallion with a Gun Runners cap. "Hey there. Equestrian post, I see. I didn't know you guys did door to door deliveries in Hamburgerburg now."
Sitting there, I put a claw to my forehead, eyes wide open as I stare at the many workshops ahead, both upset that my guess was completely wrong and amazed at how clever the choice of location was
Well what am I even waiting for, let's go!
She releases her grip. "Alright then. No need to get flustered. I'm gonna wash up and hit the hay, it's been a long day. So uh… carry on sleeping, I guess."
Hesitantly, she edges over to the door and cracks it to look out. You know from previous experience that it exits onto the "stage" of the Great Flow Chamber, above the altar below. Getting down would be easy enough if you retrieve your rope from the bags in the moon pool, but that would mean getting wet. What a pain. Where's a pegasus when you need one?
…it's probably for the better.
"I'm sure the old fuckers wouldn't have been glad if I fucked you anyway. You ever been with a mare, huh? Anyway, night."
Hopefully doing well. And what's getting wet at this point?
"I'll be right back, Cumin. Need to grab some rope so we can get down."
Tap my chin with a hoof.
"Um… yeah. I'm looking for somepony called Rosemary? Does that name ring a bell?"
Sunday was three days ago, you observed it on the ship over. Since you have two days here in Witherloo, you'll be leaving again for Dixie before a mass.
Getting used to the weird version of religion in Dixie might be an adjustment if you decided to move there. They believe in Solarism, which holds that the Sun is deific and Celestia is merely its Avatar in the world, but as a being of flesh, is fallible like any other pony.
The two religions are mostly similar in ritual, but the differences of doctrine make each view each other as heretical.
She heads upstairs. What does that even mean, anyway? Is it rude you are suggesting she hasn't been with a mare, rude you are speculating on her parents' wishes, or rude in general to talk about it?
Implying I'd risk my soul by not living in Celestial country.
"We'll continue this dicussion once I've helped Lilly."
Let's get these waffles and go get breakfast
You wander between workshops at random. They seem not organized into a street like other cities, but placed in positions optimal for the flood controls above. Purely by chance you stumble through a series of blacksmithies, weapons and armor being forged in the crucible of flames. Many of the dogs here are wearing ear protection - the echoing is quite loud, in fact! Another strange sight is that most of them let the fur on their chins grow out, and it is braided several times over, both dog and bitch.
I'll just go to sleep and touch myself tomorrow if I really need to.
That's both kinda cool and kinda weird. Different customs I guess
I'm not too comfortable with loud noises, but at least the sharp noise of metal isn't as unbearable as a loud crowd
I excitedly look around taking in the sights, appraising their methods and materials with a big smile in my muzzle
Up to the Moon Pool. Without Cumin in tow, the trip is not very nerve wracking. In fact, you could take your time if you wanted, being able to breathe in water no problem. Your stuff is undisturbed above. It's actually good nopony came to see the moon pool last night, since they might wonder about the new open passage even if they couldn't get through.
Lucky us. I'll probably stash all of the rest of our things out of sight, though. No sense tempting fate.
Once I've got the rope and secured our belongings, I'll head back down to the altar room. Once this is all over, we'll be able to organize proper expeditions into this place. With seapony assistance, it should be a snap.
"Alright. But regardless, I'm sure everything will turn out okay. You're a natural mother, you did well with the two of us all on your own. So taking care of ponies comes naturally to you. After breakfast, we can hit the city and get Jolly some new threads, and maybe go sightseeing."
With that, Aria buys a heap of waffles (and a pot of whipped cream and a fresh batch of berries including blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries) for the family. This is enough to last today and tomorrow for the whole family!
"Of course I know her, she's the boss's wife. Got a package for her?"
Roll for drams?
Plans for the morning?
"More like a message. Could I speak to her in person?"
You notice the heavy coats aren't worn down here, but they do wear thick smithing aprons, gloves, and goggles. Seems protection is very important to these craftsdogs.
Their materials seem pretty classic - alloys of iron and gold. They also use a special metal in their alloying called Dog's Iron, which you know chemically is Tungsten, a very hard material. You wonder who all these weapons are for? Some of the shops are producing cheap iron spears as quickly as possible, while you can see another making a beautiful golden scimitar with empty inlays left for glittering gemstones.
Yay, time to go back!
'1d10' dreamy dreams
Wake up, shlick in the shower, get cleaned up, see what's for food, ask Cloudy what's next.Roll #1 4 = 4
Out of sight is a tenuous proposition with the statues removed from this chamber. Near the door seems the best bet, so that someone looking in wouldn't notice the bag unless they looked to the side.
Rappelling rope down. Cumin adds: "It's going to be a tough climb back up… maybe you should stay up top and help reel me in?"
"Oh wow, are you one of those singing telegrams? That's fantastic! Let me hear, come on. Or, if it's personal, you know, do one of your normal ones, like birthday."
When you enter the house, you hear the water running upstairs in the bathroom. Sounds like someone's making use of that plumbing!
You don't see Aria or Jolly though.
I'll nod, but pause.
"Okay, but if there's trouble I'll probably try and shimmy down and help. Unless it's trouble I can pull you up and away from."
"I'm not, I'm not. Could you tell her Lilly wants to talk to her? Please?"
You don't remember your dreams that night.
At the breakfast table, only Bran is there. She nods in acknowledgment to you as you get back from the shower. "Toast for me today. I'm headed in early to class. Want some?"
"Sure. What kind of class? Whatcha' learning?"
"Right… I almost forgot, that altar has a repelling force when touched by a non-Lunite. So I'd better be careful not to get knocked into the water."
Maybe one of them taking a shower.
"Aira, Jolly, we have breakfast!" I shout upstairs
"It shouldn't throw you too far. But if you end up in the water, I'm jumping in, okay?"
"Uhh, alright. Yeah, sure."
He pulls a tube up from the desk and speaks into it. It seems to be a sort of echo pipe, allowing a voice to travel in a controlled direction. "Hey, there's a courier for the boss's wife. A 'Lilly' if that helps? Should I send her up?"
The tube is apparently great at carrying noise but not very subtly, because you can hear a reply echo out of his tube: "Let me ask. One minute."
Then: "Yeah, send her up to the board room. It's empty right now."
"Mornings I have literature, then geometry and history. But that's all just regular non-magic curriculum. Afternoon I've got runes and wards today. I do the classified research stuff as a lab after school, so it counts as extracurricular. My favorite class is artifact curation, though."
I need to get some of that Smith gear for myself!
This is pretty great and all, but I don't have much interest in swords and spears, right now I'm more curious about ranged and fireweapons, so let's look for that
Aira's voice calls down, "We'll be down in a minute! I'm just getting Jolly cleaned up!"
Aria directs your attention to the outside porch: Jolly's robes are now laying in a heap and coated in mud. Tsk, tsk. "Well, the waffles will get cold. Want to go ahead and get started while she finishes up with Jolly? I'm sure Aira won't mind."
Lower my head a little.
"Thank you. Do I just take the stairs?"
"Isn't that… boring as shit? I mean, fat-"
Quickly correct myself.
"-Your father taught me how to teleport my fancy bullet over and over and use wind to guide it."
"It's kind of a long way down, make sure you don't miss and hit the stage."
With that, she uneasily works her way down the rope, sliding occasionally and yelping with ropeburn. Reaching the bottom, she tentatively approaches the altar, glancing side-to-side with hesitation, just in case there are any of those monstrous spitting creatures or an undead hydra.
Finally, she touches the altar, and slams backward into the wall in a heap. Did it work? Who can say?
"Cumin? Cumin are you okay? That sounded like it hurt…"
You can see barrels and triggers being cast in some shops, but none of them are assembled here. Perhaps they are sold as parts to other workshops which then assemble firearms from acquired wood stocks, et cetera. Similarly, you can see scope tubes but none of them have been fitted with lenses. You suspect you could wander around and find a glass blower elsewhere making appropriate lenses.
"I'll wait, but go ahead, the waffles taste the best now." Set the table for breakfast
"That's right. The boardroom isn't actually made out of wood, don't worry! It's on the second floor, if you just take the right hall it's all the way at the end, double doors. Nice view up there, you can see our beautiful city. That's where they close big deals, you know, to supply armies and stuff."
Yeah. Beautiful city.
She looks confused. "Which part sounded boring? Literature?"
"Literatre, history, what the shit are you going to use that for anyway? Crosswords?"
"Yeah… yeah I'm okay. My neck kind of hurts but I can move."
Cumin eases over to the rope and secures it about the waist. "Now to see if I can climb…"
Some people like rock slabs I guess?
"Right, thanks again."
Follow his directions.
Aria only puts some blueberries on hers, so the other garnishes must have been for Aira's benefit. Pretty soon, Aira descends with Jolly wrapped up in a towel.
"Sorry about the wait. I think Jolly had a little too much fun in the park."
Jolly elects to point out: "Look! Waffles!"
"Don't worry about the rope, I've got it."
Keep a firm grip of the rope and assist Cumin's ascent as best I can.
Darn. Firearms require so many different parts and assembling. And I haven't even gotten to bullets yet
Shame. I've taken a liking to that rifle and I wanted to learn more about them and how they work. Unlike with a crossbow, I doubt I could manage to make a gun with quickstone…
I gotta keep looking! There must be some kind of firearm expert in this place!
"Well to be honest, I'm more likely to use those things than any sort of bullet magic. The world we live in is becoming less suitable for mercenaries by the day. A cultured individual with excellent writing and consciousness of the world is best suited for today's social apparatus."
This time the double doors are made of wood. You try a door and head in. No one here, yet… just a really long fancy table with a bunch of chairs at it. As promised, there's a view of the city.
Anything you need to do to psyche yourself up before the meeting, you better do it now.
"I noticed." nod to the clothes outside " Yes, Jolly, have you had waffles before? What's your favorite?"
I'm a mighty counterweight. '1d10'Roll #1 5 = 5
pirate die '1d10'Roll #1 8 = 8
Aira deposits the squirming colt in a seat in front of some waffles, which he tears into, answering with mouth full: "Uh luhf thuh chuhlit uns!"
"Fuck that, the world will always need people to be killed, and there will always be ponies to be up for it. Shit, I could waltz up to Celestia right now and say 'Sup, Sunny Ass, need some of those Oddomanes assasinated?"
'1d10' maxed statRoll #1 2 = 2
"Jolly, don't eat with your mouth full. That's bad manners!"
With a series of mighty hoists, you rescue your damsel (or bachelor) from below. Though Cumin did essentially none of the work, the unicorn immediately lays down to rest.
Raggedly Cumin adds: "I don't think I could hoist you up."
I'll tousle his mane.
"Well, you do have magic, Cumin. That probably makes it easier."
On a more serious tone.
"Are you okay? Anything hurt? Sore? You didn't twist anything? You slammed into that wall pretty hard, it looked like."
'1d9'Roll #1 2 = 2
There's no point in psyching myself up. This might end up being a total disaster.
Well… she cares enough to ask me in at least. So that's a good sign, I guess. And if she no longer cares about me anymore… at least I might get some answers out of her.
Maybe the dreariness of the landscape is getting me all cynical. Look out over the city again.
"I'm not so sure you could get an audience with Celestia. Anyway, I don't have time to argue. Class!"
Wave my hoof.
"Sure I could. Off you go then, have fun."
Aria wipes his mouth. "Jolly, take your time. The waffles will still be there. Look, you're getting crumbs everywhere. You want a third bath in one day?"
"Swallow, then answer."
"That's better. If you can stay polite through the meal, we'll go out shopping to buy you something new after breakfast okay?"
Aira has settled in to enjoy a big stack of waffles decked out with whipped cream and all types of berries. What a lovely family breakfast. Even Jolly is eating with better manners now.
"The ropeburn is worse, actually. So… should… I mean, I didn't… check. I thought… it might be easier to accept if you could… just tell me?"
So strange, MacMeal has tons of guns but all these weapons seem mostly like spears and swords and older weapon and armor types. Oh well, probably nothing to it.
This is gonna be hard, he's really regressing. Do I really owe it to him to go through all this again…
A bunch of stone blocks organized around a harbor. There's one big street where there are a bunch of stalls, perhaps artisans displaying their wares.
You hear the door open behind you. Moment of truth…
You turn. There's a pink mare with a blonde mane. She looks to be in her forties, and she's wearing a nice dress with a big fancy hat, the kind that would be popular in Dixie.
I'll blush a bit.
"Are you…" cough slightly. "Are you sure? I, uh, I mean I'm not against it, but…"
My face will continue to redden.
"Okay. Here goes."
Sneak a peek and see if Cumin's package has been returned to sender.
With Bran gone, the house is quiet again, leaving you alone with your thoughts.
I sigh. Maybe Firearms just aren't so popular around these parts yet
Ah well. Maybe if I ask, McMeal will let me disassemble one of his rifles
I'll ask around at the places that sold parts if they at least got blueprints or anything of the sort, if not, ask where I can find them
I probably should 'accidentally' make some noise to get those two upstairs awake.
Like knocking over chairs and shit.
It could be fun. You have fond memories of raising the girls. And it won't be too bad, it seems like Aria and Aira have already stepped in to help you care for the little colt - for as long as they're here at least. You find yourself spacing out a little as the girls and Jolly laugh at some joke. He fits in much better now, but he had held onto his identity for so long.
Well, it doesn't really matter in the end. He only has a few years left, and he won't be ambulatory for the last one. Abandoning him at an orphanage is out of the question now that the girls have gotten attached to him, but he won't be a burden on you much longer.
The first time you ask is enough to convince you not to ask again. The dog shakes her head at you sharply. "No copies!"
Right, they have strict anti-copying laws here in Novdogod.
You knock over chairs at random and no one comes down.
"Do you… know who I am?"
That's right, I forgot
Bah, who needs them. I'll go make my own blueprints
Let's walk out of here and find some place to buy some nice metals and proper smiting tools
Use this time to polish and clean my gun then.
Metals are in good supply. What kind of ingots are you looking to purchase?
Smithing tools are a more straightforward buy.
It's there alright. Was it always that small? Well, no need to tell him that particular thought.
"So… which one of us is going to wear your wedding dress?"
That's a sad thought!
Well, this is my first time seeing it, so I can't say.
"Unless you object, it's going to be me."
Blow my breath.
"I asked for Rosemary, didn't I?"
By the time the sun is definitely up, you're wondering what kind of professorship lets you sleep in all day.
He scrunches. "D-did it work, I mean? Did Luna triumph over Discord? Will you mother our foals? Or…"
She approaches, slowly at first, but gaining speed. She stops when she reaches you, extending a hoof but hesitating, not touching.
"You're so big… My first daughter… I thought… I don't know. It's so surreal. You're like a ghost. Something out of a past life…"
Finally she touches your cheek. "But you're real…"
Snicker, then move so I'm looking him in the eye.
"It worked, you silly goose."
Give him a small, quick kiss.
Ah, fuck, it.
Walk up there and knock on their door, loud.
For once I'm not barging in, I don't want to see Cloudy slobbering on some meat or something.
I am actually not sure. I thought maybe just going with iron but now there are different choices!
I'll ask for what metals are available and what's the difference between them. Just hope it doesn't bother the clerk.
Gosh I feel like a beginner having to ask for this
He turns red and mumbles. "S-sorry. I mean, I'm glad. I really am. But I had been mentally preparing for the chance that my life was going to be… totally different." He glances at the distant mirror. Somewhat halfheartedly he adds: "In some ways, nothing changed, though. We should head up before we tempt fate anymore."
Last chance to make use of the waterbed if you want to celebrate. By which of course I mean trampoline jumping or any other fun activities you can think of now that Cumin has been made whole.
You can hear moaning and… growling? Heavy breathing.
…fuck it, I'll barge in, whatever horrible shit I'll see.
Open the door.
"Hey, assholes, stop being in each other and get up."
"There's just one or two things I want to do before we leave. One of which is giving a small prayer."
Lower my gaze to the floor.
"Of course I'm real… what did you think happened to me? I just poofed out of existence?"
Iron: A strong, flexible material popular for alloying into steel, which is used in most weapons. Attracts magnets.
Copper: Used primarily in alloying brass and bronze.
Zinc & Tin: Soft, brittle metals used in alloying.
Nickel: Mostly used in alloying, particularly stainless steel. Attracts magnets.
Tungsten: Primarily used for heavy metal alloys useful in plating. Your rocket-ship likely uses tungsten.
Silver & Gold: Highly conductive, resists corrosion. Mostly used in gilding.
There's a young, tall stallion on the bed, eyes glowing in the dark with a terrible red glare. He's vivaciously thrusting into a young mare about his age, mid-twenties. She seems to be taking it well, based on the moaning. He does seem almost… feral. Consumed. But at least nobody's getting hurt.>>678955
Cumin nods. "Right. Yes. Prayer. I'll give you space.">>678956
"I thought… I thought that maybe that life was one of the hallucinations. Until now… but I knew deep down you were the real one. I'm so glad. I knew I hadn't lost my grip on reality."
She draws you into a deep hug. "I'm just glad I was able to save you from those pirates! To think they would attack our home in Stonebriar… If your father had lived to see this day, he would be so proud of the mare you have grown into."
She emphasizes this with a kiss to your forehead.Pause
Slam the door shut.
I'm going to need to get a look at Bran's panties to get this image out of my head.
These are very good.
I'm mostly interested in Iron, tungsten and Silver & Gold. I count my gems, how much can I afford?
"… What are you talking about? Stonebriar? Father? Save me from pirates?"
"You really don't remember me then, do you…?"
Once I've got a bit of space, I'll begin a small, silent prayer to Luna.Thank you, oh Moon, for lighting the path and returning to me what was mine. Thank you for sheltering us from the eyes of those who would do us harm, and please continue to watch over us.
After a second, I'll continue.Also I hope it's alright if I borrow some of those pearls in the priestess's chamber and a comb or two, to use and wear for my wedding?
Tsch. Don't they have day jobs?
Not like you can judge, since your day job for the last several years has been "sunbathe on the beach".>>678960
You have 25 small gemstones. Ingot pricing:
>Copper, Zinc, Tin
1 small>Iron, Nickel
"No, no! I do. I just get a little confused about the past, sometimes. It's all a little… foggy. The doctor said I had some bad exposure and dehydration and malnutrition. But I remember you! I couldn't forget my daughter!"
She squeezes you. "And now we're back together again. You'll stay, won't you?">>678962
You don't get a reply, but you do feel a little better knowing it's been said. And anyway, faith is something that comes naturally to you.
This is no good… Sitar probably won't get what he needs from her
Regard her for a moment, scrutinizing her carefully.
"What happened to you
Don't forget the drinking cocktails part.
Check out just a few panties, at least.
If it weren't, we likely wouldn't have made it this far. At any rate, once we're all ready to go, and I've got one string of pearls and one comb, I'll… hmm.
"Hey, Cumin, do you want me to check if the other side is clear? Last thing we need is to pop up surrounded by the guards, right?"
She's probably in her late thirties or early forties, but wearing it well. Tight skin and a fancy hat. She's wearing a rather gaudy necklace that, upon closer examination, you notice sports several charms, including several that look like bullets. The hat, sporting several voluminous peacock feathers, is also transporting large, tortoise-shell sunglasses. Her hooves have several golden bracelets. She's doing well for herself, at least.
She frowns. "You dodged the question."
Disregarding the room for a moment, you head up into the room where you previously found the crosswords and open Bran's dresser. These undergarments are not particularly fancy: form fitting and in just a few colors. Nothing adventurous - blacks, grays, whites. Spartan, even.
"That seems like a good idea. Will you be able to carry those artifacts properly while swimming and holding me, though?"
You know what, I should go out and buy HER some new undies.
Show her how to live a little.
"To answer your question, no, I can't. I have to get back to Dixie eventually. Adel is in need of help. You remember her too, don't you?"
"Well, the comb I can store in my hair, and I can hold you and these pearls at the same time… I should be able to, yeah. I mean, worse comes to worst I can just hold them in my mouth while I swim. I think."
I'll look at the pearls for a second.
"I'll… probably try and clean them first, though."
You reflexively frown. This whole place is just a little too clean. This drawer is really just par for the course. The whole place… it's like, perfect. Like a suburb or something. Who the fuck do they think they are, living like this? You know who those two are. You know their past. They're pirates. He's a fucking demon-warlock and she's more cut-throat than he is. Who are they to pretend to be normal? And you're definitely NOT projecting any of your own frustrations about dealing with becoming normal with Tela onto this assessment!>>679425
"A dell? Like a valley?">>679426
"I'll hold them. I can't believe they're still strung, they must be on thread of gold or something. Cotton would have decayed out by now."
"Perhaps, though silver is probably more likely. I mean, that's a more moon-y color, right? Or maybe it's magic thread."
"At any rate, I was hoping to wear them for the wedding. How did that rhyme go? The four things you'd need? Something old, something new… something something."
Yeah, I mean…
They are little bitches for doing this, sure, but then again, they'd get murdered and put in the museum like Light Heart if they didn't play along.
Doesn't mean I can't get Bran to wear some actual nice panties.
I frown at her.
"No, Adel! My halfsister!"
"Blue? Ah, don't let me keep you, then.">>679429
They have a uniform at that Royal Mage Academy. You wonder if they require uniform panties or if they're even required.
"Okay. I'll be back in two shakes."
Dive in and, once on the other side, poke my snout out until I can get a clear view of the room.
"Half sister? On whose side?"
Roll stealthy fish
Raise a brow, looking unimpressed.
"Your wife's side."
"…We should ask her."
I am the stealthiest. '1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
There are different colors!
There must be SOME freedom!
Off to the panty shop!
She frowns at you again. "Are you… sure about that? I seem to remember a mare but I thought that was just one of the fever dreams… And anyway is it really that important? I mean, you wouldn't have come to see me if you didn't want to stay and visit, right? Why even come if you were going to run off again right away?"
Ack. It's expensive
Okay, here's the plan. I'll buy 3 iron(6 S), 3 tungsten (12 S), make a quick trip back to the bank, trade in 240 bits for 60 smalls, come back, get two gold, one silver and 5 copper
That should be all right, right?
"Hmm, we should probably think of a way to ask it that it doesn't seem so obvious that we're fishing for more information, right? But she seems like one of those types that might just keep blabbing and blabbing about herself if you get her talking, so it shouldn't be too hard."
You poke your head out of the water. It looks like a young Celestial scholar has found your bag and is poking through it. More specifically, she's pulled out one of the dresses and is holding it up to examine.>>679440
Lot of guard ponies on patrol. You even see some sketches of your older mug on wanted posters. You know you're safe, but you can't help but feel a little unsettled. I mean… in like 30 years those posters will be accurate again!
Anyway, all the stores up here seem too posh. For something more adventurous, you need to go downtown. How about an adventure roll?
Gotcha! They even provide you a bag, but it's pretty heavy! As you're hoisting the damn thing back to the ship, you realize that as a pup you'd probably be too weak to move this thing!
A she, huh?
Is she by herself?
"Is it really that important? Really
Looking away, sighing.
"I'm not going to just run off immediately, but I can't help but feel a little insulted."
It seems so, but who knows if she's already called for backup after she saw the moon pool suddenly deeper than a couple feet… This does make things tricky.
Yeah, but until then I can be smug as fuck about it!
An adventure for panties it is.
'1d10'Roll #1 1 = 1
"Well I'm sorry but I feel a little insulted too! I thought you were dead or worse, a figment of my mind, and practically the first thing you have to say is that you want to move on! Was this just a field trip for you? Come to see me for a laugh? I am an important mare married to an important stallion, I won't be mocked!"
"That isn't yours, you know."
Another plus of being older I guess!
Wait, would I need other tools for messing with these ingots or do I already got everything I need back in the ship?
As you go through the seedier parts of Canterlot, a pack of zebras start whistling at you. "Hey sweet cheeks! Nice gun, how about you polish MY barrel?"
"Look at the way her tail is up. She's asking for it!"
The most annoying part is you can't really even do anything about it. The city is on high alert today and guards are everywhere. If you make a scene or draw your weapon, you'd probably be filled with holes before you could say "I'm sorry Tela".
If that wasn't bad enough, now you're totally lost. I mean, you can always fly up and reorient yourself based on the gates to the city, but it's fucking annoying and shit.
"Marina? What are you doing here?! I thought you left weeks ago!" She doesn't seem to be super thrilled to see you, anyway.
The young mare in the scholars' robe was Lamp Light. The change in attire signifies formal ordainment and admission to a monastic order of study. Perhaps the Order of Oil or Order of the Plume.
Smirk back at them.
"It's your lucky day, boys. If the guards weren't patrolling all around, I would shoot of your tiny, shriveled up colt balls one.
You get to keep them today, so you can suck each other's cocks off later. Ta-ta."
If I was my old self, I would have just shot them on the spot. This'll have to do for now.
Fly up and away.
"Then I suggest you don't make light of the fact that my sister is being held a slave."
I rub my temples.
"I don't blame you for losing your memory, but it's a bit disheartening, you know? Do you not remember my other mother at all? What she looked like? Not even her name? What about Red and Grey?"
You haven't seen the workshop but you know the ship has to have one, you KNOW the NASA elders have been tinkering on stuff. It occurs to you now that you could have been playing in a workshop for weeks and you've been spending all your downtime reading or playing with Flapjack instead. Damn!
You ram your head into an invisible dome. This day keeps getting better and better, doesn't it?
Fuck. They're controlling air traffic with magic. Normally in a pirate's life, you sail away before you have to deal with all this shit!
The zebras fall over laughing. "Hey pegasus! You like a school in the summertime. No class!"
My tail wags in excitement but my face twists in a frown ''Bah!'' keep carrying my things to the ship, thinking of some of the curses I heard the other members saying. I'm old enough to swear, right?
"Oh, hey, you're Lamp Light! You look great!"
I'll float to the edge of the pool.
"And I had to come back to help another pony. He'd been whammied by a discordian curse that turned him into a mare. The altar we recovered from New Earth could undo it, so that's why I'm here. What about you, though? You seem to be doing well."
She frowns. "You didn't say anything about slavery darling. There's no slavery here in Hamburgerburg, anyway. But… I remember a lot of things. Sometimes I'm not totally sure what was real. I've been talking to a shrink about it. He says it's probably better to move on, but now you show up…"
She prances in place a little. "It's all very complicated!"
What a deep question. Is anyone old enough to swear in a socially acceptable way? You suppose anyone old enough to speak can physically carry out the action of swearing.
You arrive back at the ship and VERY CAREFULLY ease over the gangplank with your money-gotten-gains.
Deepest. But the only one that can judge my actions is myself
And I judge that I am old enough to swear
I sneak my way into my room. I like Flapjack and all but if he sees this, he might want to play with me. Or worse, make me feel guilty for buying ingots instead of a cool toy or sweets
"Marina, you've got to go. You can't keep hanging around here, this is the capital of the Celestial religion. This place is packed with crusaders, training for the battles in the East to come. If they find you in here, they'll make fish soup out of you!"
How long have I been away? I'll have to meet up with Sitar eventually.
"Light Heart was real. Those pirates were real."
Smile at her mischievously.
"That Lunar altar was real."
"I know, that's why I'm relieved you were the one who found my bag."
I'll glare at the bag.
"Though I thought I had hid it better…"
Then back to Lamp.
"At any rate, my friend and I will be leaving through any opening we can find or make in this room, and swim from there."
I'll process the middle part of the sentence.
"Wait, out east? You mean like, near Transcastria?"
You share a bunk room with Flapjack, but fortunately he's not here. He must've gone out into the city with the others, although you think you saw Dr. Steve up in the wheelhouse.>>679465
She shakes her head. "No… no… those memories make the least sense of any of them! Those memories… I remember dying maybe a hundred times! Whole cities burning to the ground, blowing up! Three cities! Three cities burning to the ground! Are you really here? Are you a specter sent to torment me for my sins?"
You probably ought to regroup with him pretty soon. Waiting in the room for her to show up ate a chunk of time.
Rub my head, then glance down at them.
"Yeah? Well at least I'm not some cocksucking slum-living worthless zebra wasting away in the alleys of Canterlot. Have your laugh while you can before you choke on whatever diseases you pass around each other."
Fly lower then, but where the dome probably can't extend, between the houses!
Oh perfect. I'll hide away all my things and Take a moment to look at them with pride
I'm getting so much science done tonight~
With a smile on my face I head up and after Steve. Let's bother him about the possible workshop somewhere in the ship
"There's a Great War out that way – the Musgodites are returning from their exile in Dogsmarch and the many burrows of the world. Celestia and the Caliph been posturing to intervene for some time now. The Cold War may turn Hot. They're saying it will mark the Third Crusade."
This is more of a commercial district, but between the buildings it is! A few alleys more and you're no closer to finding your target store than before. Roll adventure!
"I don't know about the dying or the city blowing, but I've heard enough to know you got involved in a lot of fighting. You led a pretty exciting life, mom."
I'll mull that over.
"That explains why Vlad was in such a hurry to return… And why I've got to step it up as well."
I'll look back at Lamp.
"Say, if you can keep ponies out of here for the next hour or so, I'll let you keep the dress you were looking at."
Steve is relaxing in the wheelhouse. "What's up, little dog? Looking for advice?"
''Hey Steve. Where's the workship of the shop? I mean, the workshop of the ship''
How fucking hard can it be? It is probably some singe-door, no windows whop with shittons of lingerie outside for everyone to oogle!
'1d10'Roll #1 5 = 5
"I have a pretty exciting life now, too! You should be a part of it!"
Look around the room we're in.
"Maybe. How did you end up here? Who are these ponies?"
"An hour? I'm not sure I can keep them out another ten minutes! I sent for the chief curator because the moon pool opened! What do you need an hour for?"
"To find a hole to squeeze out of! Unless you all found a secret door or something that leads to one of the water-exits, then we're in trouble here…"
"At any rate, I need to grab my friend real quick, and we can just wing it from there."
Dive back and swim fast to the other end.
"Cumin, we've got trouble!"
"That's a pretty deep question little dog. I mean, work can be conducted anywhere and often is. But I presume since you dragged on a bag full of what I assume is metal, you're looking for the foundry. We have one, at the back, with the steam engines. Don't get burned in there little dog. If you're unsure about anything, just don't touch it. Come ask someone."
I nod and salute him ''aye aye. I wasn't going to mess with it yet anyways. Just came by to drop off those things. Don't let anyone touch them, please!''
And with that, I head off back to Blackpaw's house
"Oh dear, you grew up to be a kind of cavepony or something, didn't you? Where to start…? This is… okay, sometimes ponies work together to sell a product. That's called a company. So this is a company for weapon sales. You understand? A lot of ponies working together to sell weapons. My husband is the big boss, sort of like a chieftain, and the rest of the ponies here are employees, which are kind of like his braves or gatherers. This comparison is starting to break down…"
"I gather that there are guards at the top?"
"Do I look like an idiot? Haven't you noticed my hat? I'm a mail courier, mom… I know what a company is. How did you end up here is what I want to know. I know you were stuck on an island for some time."
"I'm just watching the ship for strange boarders little dog! I can't watch every room from up here!"
You head back to Blackpaw's place. From the sound inside, he's talking to someone. Head in? Eavesdrop?
"There will be in a few minutes. Luckily, there was a Celestial I knew, Lamp Light, who I helped save from New Earth. She gave me a heads up on when they'll get here, and why they're here at all. Apparently it's drills for the possible third crusade against the Musdogs. But that can wait later, we need to get moving, right now."
I'll hold out my hooves.
"Grab what you can, and let's go."
''Aaalright. Just keep up the good work then!''
You know what I think I'll eavesdrop. Can't contain my curiosity, and I bet it's about me
"I was. There's an island far north of here called Elba. I was stranded there for almost two years, all alone. Then one day, my husband found me while captaining a ship to bring arms sales to Caballeria. He swept me off my hooves and later that year we were married. It's been quite a life! That must have been… ten years ago now, maybe? But if you're alive… your father might be too. Oh, that does complicate things…">>679487
"I've heard about that. You're a little off, but I can explain later."
He scratches his head. "I… think I have a plan, though."
"I'm not really sure if father is the correct term here…
I didn't really expect either of you to still be alive, but here you are."
I'll cock my head.
Blackpaw is talking…
"…by tomorrow. Ideally. It's what I told him."
There's another voice. Gunny's, you think.
"What can I say? I'm more anxious than anyone."
"Then take your mind off of it. The Slough is a wonder of the world."
"It's not to my taste. I don't like… caves."
"No, you never did. Strange that you would work on a rocket."
"That's not the same. And anyway, I'm not planning to pilot it."
You find a tailor's shop with some mannequins in the window. This is probably a good place to start.
The… Slough? huh
Land in front of it and enter.
"You must be too young to remember him because of the pirates… Careful Cutter, he was a renowned surgeon in our home, Stonebriar City.">>679491
"Those Celestials are going to find the altar eventually. You should go up and tell Lamp Light how to close the Moon Pool. Then tell her to tell the others that the Pool wasn't open - just shifting, but she thinks something changed in the Great Flow Chamber. They'll be too busy examining the altar to look at the Moon Pool carefully - giving us time to escape. This… only works if you trust her, though, you know."
"Well, I trusted her enough to talk with her instead of diving straight back down here. That's enough, right?"
Grimace a bit.
"I don't really like the idea of leaving the rest of the Head Priestess's effects, though. I don't think anyone other than you would have taken the time to catalog them as well as you did with the earlier things. But we don't have time to fetch them and make it back, I'm guessing."
"You should enjoy some of the vodka. It's world famous."
"You codger. I've brought my own lager."
"Tsch. In any case, did you finish your own job?"
"I would've been happy to tell MacMeal all about it if he hadn't stormed off."
"So tell me."
"Yes. If we just bring enough hydrogen, we can synthesize it from oxygen later. The cargo issue was always the most prominent one. I want to send plants, too, though."
"No doubt, but I'm not sure we can make it. A successful orbit is all I hope for."
"We can talk about it more after the rocket is finished, depending on the fuel we can synthesize."
"Most of it is decayed and rotten through other than the jewelry anyway. A thousand years will do that. A-and they're going to find this room eventually, you know. R-right?"
"I'm sure he was, but he wasn't my father. I know for a fact my 'father' was Liberty Belle. Or Light Heart, as she was more commonly known. She was a pirate, as were you.
I can't say I'm all that thrilled to know my parents were pirates, but that's the way it is and I'm sure you had your reasons."
The shop is a little dark with no natural lighting, just some candles. There seem to be a lot of maid uniforms, but there are some lacy undies.
"How can you even be sure of all this? You were so young!"
"I know, but… I'm just worried it'll get split amongst them instead of properly logged."
"But at least I've got the comb and one string of pearls. Let's go with your plan, and hurry."
I'll gesture with my forelegs again.
"Unless you're thinking of some other method of exit from here."
"I met plenty of your companions. Do you not remember Red and Grey?"
Or just lacy undies? We'll need both for the girl!
Oh so they're just talking about the ship… Strange, why not talk with everyone about it then?
I'll knock on the door
"No… go up and tell her the plan. I'll stay quiet in here, since I can't breathe underwater. She can open the door when the coast is clear.">>679504
"It's all so hazy! This is so much to take in!"
You ought to leave soon to make your appointment.>>679505
Just lacy stuff at this location.>>679506
"I'll get it."
Blackpaw answers the door. "Ah, good. I trust you didn't get into any trouble out there?"Pause
"Oh. Oh yeah that makes way more sense than hiding up there. I'll be right back."
Sploosh, and then off to the other end to tell Lamp Light the plan.
"It's still there in your head somewhere."
Look at the window.
"Look, I've got an appointment to make. Won't take long. I'll be back before you know it."
Nod "No sir mister Blackpaw. I was a good girl!" chuckle
"but really, I just bought some ingots to experiment on later"
She touches your cheek with a hoof. "Alright… if you say so.">>678943
Witherloo is a busy city. You're sure you can find something to keep your mind off of it. You've got a couple days before you need to go, anyway.
Linger for a moment, looking her in the eyes, then turn to leave. I shouldn't leave Sitar waiting.
"See you soon."
But I'm so busy!
Start cleaning the table.
And I still have to wash the clothes and clean the house…
Even now she seems lost in thought. "Bye…"
Onward and outward! You head out to the docks, but Sitar isn't immediately in sight. Search check?>>679513
As you start with the dishes, Aria says, "Hey mom, do you mind if I go out? I want to see the city."
"Yeah, actually, me too. I'll go scout around for places we can check out later in the day."
And leave your old mother here all alone?!?
"Of course not! Have fun, fillies!"
Yup.Roll #1 5 = 5
Aira takes off out the back, but Jolly tugs on Aria's tail. "You said you'd buy me something!"
"Can Jolly come out?"
That'll leave you all alone in this foreign house!>>679516
You notice a cowpony lounging by the docks, draped in a desert cloak and wearing his wide-brimmed hat low. On approach, you confirm it is Sitar.
"I think I may have a lead."
"What… what's with the outfit?"
"Something I picked up. Half of performing is looking the part."
Mmmm, well maybe it'll give me an opportunity to do some good cleaning (AND check out everything, maybe I can find something interesting)
"Okay, but be careful out there!"
"Looks good on you. And well, don't worry, I found her. I found Rosemary. Only… there's an issue. She's suffered from some pretty bad memory loss."
They head out the front. The house is all yours! You can snoop around all you please.
Although the plates were sticky with syrup, the hot water from the pipes makes quick work of it. Science! That stallion cave downstairs could make a good workshop laboratory too. And the backyard is big enough to turn into a pretty respectable greenhouse… you have the money for it.>>679521
He gives an unimpressed look. "You're joking?"
That was easy, I hope it makes cleaning clothes a bit easier too.
Anyway, let's open the windows and look around for a broom and get this show on the road.
"I'm afraid not. She remembers me alright, but thought I was her child with some doctor in Stonebriar. I think her time on that island didn't do her much good…"
The closet in the front hall has some cleaning supplies in it. Roll perception.
(Easy, Medium, Medium, and Hard check)
(You only need to roll once)
'1d10'Roll #1 1 = 1
He grimaces. "She better remember. We don't even have a lead on Light Heart.""
"Should I arrange a meeting?"
Look at that, a glass spray bottle! This is kind of like a perfume bottle, but used for cleaner. Very fancy. This will make cleaning go faster. There's a feather duster too.>>679529
Hmmm. I'll start in the living room I think.
Start by putting all the clutter away and cleaning the cupboards. What's in them anyway? I might need to order all of this!
"Come on then. You'll have to wait outside for a moment while I ask to let you in and talk to her."
You open the cupboards with a cough. The inside is really dusty! A lot more than the outside.
They're full of miscellany, including pens, sheets of unused paper, combs, a hand mirror, and more.>>679532
"Let's just finish this."
The two of you head back up to Ammunition Street, and into the building. Apparently Rosemary asked them to let you enter as you please, because the front desk pony waves you on past and doesn't bat an eye at Sitar since he's with you. Maybe bad security?
Anyway, she's not in the board room when you get up there, you wonder if the pony at the front called her on that pipe phone thing.
"I'll see about summoning her. Wait here for a moment."
Let's go ask that front desk pony then.
Start taking them all out!
If I'm gonna live here, this stuff needs to get sorted.
Start doing the same with ALL the cupboards in the living room.
Just stash all this stuff on the floor so I can get a good look at it
You go to exit the board room, but when you open the door you're met by a large stallion in a white suit and a huge white ten gallon hat.
"Well land's sakes. You're this… Lilly, I presume?">>679535
Buttons, spools of thread, cuff links, corks, tooth picks, a few old watches that have stopped, some keys which are probably to this house…
That reminds you, you never went to visit the bank with that key.
Blink at the stallion.
"Yes? Are you… the owner?"
"That's right, I'm Mr. Machine Gun, but most folks around here just call me Machine. Mr. Gun is a little too common around these parts."
He bursts out into laughter and slaps your back.
"Well it seems you've sure had the run of the place, eh? Well, what do you think?"
Hmmm, it would be bad to leave all this stuff here in the open. But if I leave later Aira and Aria might come back and not get in, I'll just go now quickly!
Roll for bank luck
Bank luck? '1d10'Roll #1 3 = 3
"It's… very different from Equestria. Or Dixie for that matter. I sure don't mind the change of scenery though."
Blehhh… there's a long line when you get there! You remember this from Witherloo, the worst part of living in a merchant city is that everyone always wants to use the bank at all hours. What a pain! You wonder if there's another bank on the Walloon side of town.
! I sure hope so, let's go there!
But wait a minute… This key is for the Bank of Witherloo. If there are two banks, which one is the Bank of Witherloo?
You quickly hurry across town and find another bank, but it's called "Banque de Witherloo". The first one was "Bank van Witherloo". Aaaah! Stupid locals!
W-well, maybe it will work anyway, at least there's no line here, I think
The line is indeed a lot shorter, but all the ponies in here look very snooty like Prench ponies!
After waiting for just a few you hear your number called, and you can go up to the window.
Oh my, Prench ponies are so civilized and classy!
"Hello, I want to see the vault for this key!" Show it
"Hon hon, zank you for choozink to bonk wit ze Walloon ponies, let us have a look at year vault, yeah? STEEL!"
"We hoff a costumer wit iz in need of zee vault openink. You will make theez happen I trust?"
"Oui, Mousier. If you will be zo kind, Mademoiselle?"
He leads you around the counter to the back room!
Oh! "Yes, merzi
That little Prench I picked up does wonders!
"I meant the business more specifically, but no matter. Now listen, I don't mean to sort of horn-in on whatever you've got going here - I'm sure there's a lot to it - but you know my wife's a little distressed with the stuff she's been hearing out of you. I was thinking it'd be better for everypony if you just went ahead and went on your way. You had plans to move on already I take it?">>679550
You are guided to the back to a small lockbox - 111 - where you can insert your key. The tension is palpable!
"I don't think she'd like it if I were to just leave her like that again. Don't worry though, I won't be sticking around forever. There's other family business I'll be needing to take care of, but for now I'd like to at least stick to my mother for a few days. I'm sure you understand that I haven't seen her since I was no more than a foal."
Take a deep breath and put it in!
"I'm just a little concerned you're making her upset, and nursing some bad memories she has worked hard to get over. Why? Is it to get back at her because she was stranded on an island? She don't deserve none of that."
He opens his billfold and removes some of Hamburgerburg's odd paper money. "Listen. I'll pay you off just to leave now and be done with it. No more of this hasslin' my wife, you hear? How's this sound, this is three hundred bits worth."
Money is a little thin after the adventure up north.>>679554
It doesn't turn. It was the other bank. Damn!
"Eez thar a probleam meez?"
"Excuse me, my key doesn't work!"
He starts picking up the pace and yelling at you in angry Prench!
"Theez eez une grande clé de la dent! Que faites-vous ici, vous baffoon? Sortez! Vous avez apporté le déshonneur sur vous-même! Comment un associé dégoûtante des Flamands pourrait finir parmi nous?"
Flop my ears down.
Trot angrily to the clerk.
, this man is shouting at me and being very rude!"
"I'm not trying to get back at her at all. Okay, maybe
I was a little too bold with my questioning, but if I leave her now she's just going to be miserable. She's still my mother, complicated as things may be."
The pony calls after you, "Elle est originaire de la banque flamande!"
"WHAT?! Comment osez-vous entrer dans mon établissement avec une clé de ces salauds flemish sales!"
Uh oh, they all seem angry with you now! What are they so mad about?!>>679559
"What, holdin' out for more? Come on, let's keep this good natured."
"Uh…uh…" shit say something in Prench "Ommelette du fromage?"
They run you out of the bank and slam the doors shut! I guess they really hate Flemish ponies over here in French Witherloo!
Selena isn't sure what happened!
I've never been so rudely treated!
Let's go back to that other bank, maybe they can explain what just happened.
"I don't want your money. I won't be bribed out of seeing my own mother!"
At least the line has mostly cleared up at the other bank. You can go right up to the desk!
"I don't even know that you ARE her daughter to be quest honest, peach. You say you are but maybe you've just heard old Mr. Gun's got a wife with a lot of memory trouble and you're gonna scam them. Maybe cause some mental anguish. And then you split town to go help some other 'daughter' she supposedly has but doesn't remember."
I hope these ponies will be more friendly!
"Hello, I want to see my vault." Show the key
"Just follow the hall back to the left and pull the lever. When you get to the bottom there will be an attendant."
"Okay, thank you." Go and pull this lever!
"She remembers me all too well, memory trouble or no. And why do you assume I even need money? My family's wealthy enough. I'm not interested in anything but talking to my mother."
The chamber you're in rumbles, and a fence closes, sealing off your escape route. Then, the floor outside the fence rises – effectively building a stone wall in front of you! You're trapped!>>679569
"Well you just seem to be giving her a lot of distress for somepony supposedly here with good intentions."
! Look around, w-what's happening
Behind you, the wall is receding into the roof!
I'm a little shaky on my hooves.
This must be some kind of security mechanism right!
"Well, I'm so sorry our lives weren't all sunshine and roses before I lost both my parents before I even got my cutie mark."
Clench my teeth and look away.
"You clearly care deeply about her, but I'm her daughter by blood. You can't just wave away something like that."
The wall retracts all the way, relieving a new hall behind a fence, which retracts. The shaking and humming stops. A pony in a bank uniform shows up. "You have a vault key?">>679574
"I just don't want to see her get hurt. She has enough trouble sleeping as it is, and you want to tell her all these things about death and destruction that she had finally put out of her mind? Just…"
He rubs his temple with a hoof. "Can you tone it down? Avoid all the dramatics?"
Look around, hmm it is safe. Take out my key. "yes." Oh boy, I hope he doesn't get mad too!
It seems you're in some sort of stone hallway.
"This way, mevrouw, to the vault."
He leads you down a long hallway past a small room with several guards and other attendants, then around another corner into a big hallway full of huge vault doors - as big as house doors. Yours is one of them!
Time to open it.
"Lucky for me that a lot of those dramatics happened before I was even born. I heard enough about them from others already.."
After you insert the key, the attendant begins spinning a wheel on the door, and you can hear it decompressing and the mechanisms shifting.
Finally, with an iron squeal, the door swings open to a completely dark chamber. "Will you need a lamp?">>679579
"No more of this pirate business?"
He hoists a large, brass lantern and points to a knob on the base. "Just turn that knob. It's a hooded lantern, so you can turn the sheathe with the grip on the top if you want to focus the beam."
"Thank you! You are much nicer than the ponies at the Walloon bank!"
He eyes you suspiciously. "Wat heb je daar aan het doen dan? Dat is een plek vol idioten!"
Oh no, he's speaking Breezie! Or Flemish! You're not sure!
"I'll avoid the topic. Even if I don't think repressing memories is a healthy course of action here.
However, there's one more matter that needs clearing up. An old companion of hers would like to have a word. If she doesn't remember him, we wont press the subject."
"What were you doing with those idiot Walloons? They are terrible bankers! I am surprised you could get in the door, I bet they were all striking! That's what they love to do you see, go on strikes all the time! Look at me, I am a Walloon, I do not care to go into work today so I will not!">>679586
"When are you leaving?"
"I'm sorry, I'm new here I didn't know but they were very rude and I won't be going back to their bank!"
"I'll stick around town for a few days, then head back home."
"I bet it wouldn't even be open if you did!">>679589
He sighs. "Fine… just… sooner rather than later if you can. Anyway, I told her to go home, she was feeling bad after that talk you had, you really scared her. We live on Flag Circle, the big one."
"I'm sure of it! Now I'll need some privacy to see my vault…"
I'll just collect Sitar and get out of here.
"I will stay outside the door and check in with you in ten minutes. There is to be no mining or explosives while I am gone, we have a zero tolerance policy on this matter."
Nod. And shhine the light in this vault
Sitar nods at you from his seat. "Through the fire and the flames?"
"No, to the Flag Circle. Come on, let's see if we can get this sorted out."
The most obvious feature of the chamber is the enormous skeleton in the center of it. Some sort of large beast - elephantine, perhaps. Tusks. What's this doing here? Casting your light around, you're nearly blinded by the flashing of light in reply. Glittering gold… trinkets and baubles. A small fortune of gold and silver pieces, pouring out of worn bank satchels, falling apart after decades in storage. It looks like there's a rack of paintings in the back, too, covered in sheets. At the back, a simple black flag with a skull and two bones, crossed. It seems this is the fortune of Jolly Rogers.>>679596
He pulls himself to his hooves. "If I don't get a payoff after being dragged place to place again and again… I may lose my patience."
To Flag Circle?
What is all this!
Well I know what the money is but this skeleton! Approach it and study it '1d10'
Maybe it was a beast here to protect this…no that would be cruel…Roll #1 7 = 7
It seems to be held together with steel supports, kind of like a museum exhibit. Is this stolen from a museum? Pirates can't steal whole exhibits can they? On the other hand, it seems ridiculous that Face would BUY this. And how did it get in here? It's bigger than the door!
"When you're tracking someone down, you tend to get dragged from place to place. Just remember it's been a long time. We can only hope for the best."
Maybe it was a gift?
Let's see these paintings.
"I should hope so… I can be outright nasty when I run out of my admittedly ample patience."
You pull the cover off of one. Oil on linen canvas, but it has kept well. It depicts a stormy sea, but the water is green. What does it mean?
Spooky, but perhaps it's a very valuable painting, why else would it be in this vault!
You don't recognize the signature in the corner, but you're not exactly an art specialist.
If it is stolen though, it might not be smart to bring it to an antiquary…or maybe it is, depending on his morals.
Look further, is there only more money?
"I hope I can count on you not losing your patience with an amnesiac? I don't think sending corpses after her will help your case all that much."
By comparison with the relatively multitudinous variety of the hoard he had going in Istanbull, this chamber is essentially uniform. An old, forgotten, dusty chamber of wealth.
You suppose it's yours now. He gave you the key. He's too little to spend it. You have a vault of money. It should feel good, although you manage a slight pang of sadness that there were no hints at the enigmatic nature of Jolly Rogers. Maybe it was never meant to be that. Just a last will of wealth before leaving this world.>>679607
"If it would jog her memory…"
"She's my mother. I don't want her to get spooked by a skeleton."
"What's more important? Being happy or uncovering the past? Because I am confident about where I stand on the subject."
Wipe my eyes. It's nice I guess, but it doesn't answer any questions. It's also going to be hard to stay here in Witherloo if Jolly dies…
How much money do I have currently?
380 on you, with 2800 in the bank. Your daughters are also pretty loaded from their birthday money, around two K each.
As for Jolly, it'll be at least a few more years before he runs out of time. Plenty of time to make sure he's comfortable before he goes. A lot of ponies don't get that kind of opportunity - lives stolen in the blink of an eye.
I should check if an office of my bank is in town.
Anywya, I'll take some coins so I have 500 with me.
"I'm very eager to uncover the past as well, but I didn't come here to ruin my mother's life. For some ponies, ignorance is bliss. I don't agree with that sentiment, but I'll respect their wishes."
Gotcha! Retrieved money from Face's vault. You head back up into the bad shaking room of fences, and out the front. Where to?>>679614
"Hmph. You'd come all this way and let the truth slip between your hooves to spare some feelings? Your other mother wouldn't have had any respect for that kind of weakness."
I'll go buy some flowers!
Both for decoration and for the food tonight, I'll make some dandelion stew!
Flowers it is! As you go through the market street you see that there are a lot of ponies up at the palace. You wonder if it's a big tourism place, since palaces are usually just private property of old disinherited princes.
"Would she now? What would she have done then?"
At the foot of the palace, adjacent to the stairs leading up, there are two sets of stairs leading down, one on each side – Walloon and Flemish. You hear music from down below!
"She would've had her answers by any means necessary."
"She'll have to forgive me for not following her example then."
Huh, weird, is this the place where the mayor lives or something? I'll check it out! Go up the stairs
"Whatever. You ready to go?">>679623
Huh, this still seems like a royal court. Guards and everything! Big long carpet leading up to a huge figure on the throne at the end of the hall, listening to petitions. You thought Witherloo was a part of Equestria!
That's not right, Celestia is the Princess!
Maybe this pony is just acting in her stead since she can't be everywhere at once, not physically at least! Sorry for that blasphemy, Highest Princess!
Maybe I'll ask one of the guards what this is!
"That's the Master of Witherloo, the Lord of the Walloons and the Flems. He may have an imposing figure, but he is immensely wise. No pony could unify this city like the Master has for centuries!">>679505
The panty raid continues.>>679508
After some shuffling and voices above, Lamp Light gives you the all clear to come back out with Cumin, so you retrieve the groom-to-be from below.
Lamp Light bonks Cumin on the nose. "Now stay out of here. I'm not going to be able to do anything if you two get caught."
I suppose I can pick up something nice and lacy here and continue to try and get thongs somewhere else.
I'll shake off some of the water, and give Lamp Light a ginger hug, so as not to dampen her robs terribly.
"Thank you, Lamp Light. And it really is good to see you doing well."
"Master of Witherloo? Has he really lived for centuries?!?"
"Getting ready for a night with a special stallion?" The shopkeeper asks as she bags your panties.>>679630
"Stay safe. I hope Cumin can redeem you from your misguidance about Nightmare Moon."
Cumin pre-empts any further discussion by interjecting: "Do you think you can throw your weapon hard enough to pierce the glass ceiling?">>679631
"At least as long as the city has been around. During the First Crusade, when Celestia unified most of the continent, he wisely advised the city-state to lay down arms and accept her rule rather than be decimated like Germaney or Prance. And so Celestia has left him in charge ever since."
"A special mare, rather."
I'll scrunch a bit, but let it go.
"I'm not sure. It's pretty up there, and it would lose a lot of force…"
Think a bit.
"You know, if I recall rightly, there were a few pressure chambers that led into rooms that had been compromised and were missing walls. If we can sneak past the guards that are still on this floor, which there shouldn't be many left I hope, we could swim out that way without causing further damage to the temple."
I'll tap my chin a moment.
"Unless all the guards are awake and they're on a more strict patrol than last night."
"Well be sure to be careful, you don't want to get the lovers' pox, do you? I hear that's a lot more common in the gays.">>679634
"Hopefully they should be downstairs clearing a path to the Great Flow Chamber so that they can find the altar."
Lamp Light interjects: "The one you lugged here from my old monastery, right?"
"And just in time, too."
I'll gather up our things.
"Never had any illness and I've been around with the mares. Talking dumb shit about mares who prefer pussy? Now that is contagious, especially with straight ponies. You might want to get yourself checked, too."
Wink at her.
Cumin: "We had better hurry across then."
"Goodbye, you two. Don't come back again, you're pressing your luck as it is!">>679637
"How rude! Now I hope you do get sick, to teach you a lesson. What is it about the gays and having no matters?"
"The next time we do, hopefully we'll be able to do it openly."
Give her one last hug, slip the dress she was looking at earlier onto her back, and then Cumin and I are off.
"We must have caught it from judgemental straights!"
We are super sneaky. '1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
"I was just trying to help, you were the one who made it a judgment thing!"
Are you really going to stay here all day and argue instead of shopping?>>679642
You hurry down the hall and then, as someone exits the kitchen you tackle Cumin into the dorms, landing on a bed with him pinned down under you.
"I don't think they saw us." He whispers.
One room closer! You can look around here or roll stealth when you're ready to move on toward the Crossroads. If memory serves, the menagerie and workshops were on the opposite side of the crossroads, and one of the workshops was a flooded chamber.
Nah, grab the bag and leave.
ADVENTURE FOR MORE PANTIES!
'1d10'Roll #1 1 = 1
That sounds about right.
Peek out first, and then if the coast is clear we'll sneak our way forward. '1d10'Roll #1 9 = 9
Look at the Master again.
"But is he…immortal?"
He's kind of distant and dressed up in fancy ermine-trim regalia, but he's definitely much larger than a normal pony. Is he even a pony? He's not a dragon, that's for sure, no long neck.
"He hasn't died yet." The guard points out, challengingly. "As to why, there are a few legends that speculate. He's not saying, in any case.">>679645
You quickly dart across the crossroads into the large foyer which serves the various other rooms on this side of the temple - four doors leading to four different rooms. This particular chamber is larger than you remember, maybe because it's now much better lit. Lanterns hanging from the engraved wall spilling light all over the chamber, and Celestial banners covering most of the reliefs. They must have done quite a lot of purging in here, if the blood and guts of wildlife are anything to judge by. Perhaps escapees from the menagerie.
You head out the store and reflexively take to the sky and once again ram straight into the invisible dome. To make matters worse, the zebras just happened to be wandering by and break out into laughter again. JUST.
You're never gonna get used to this stupid dome!
I flap my ears when I suddenly get a great idea.
"Say, um, are there any family records in the palace I could consult?"
Rub my head again.
"What's the purpose of this fucking thing here anyway? Fucking assholes, let me fly where I want!"
Just glance at them.
"Laugh all you want, jizzbags, I'll still get more pussy tonight than you will in your entire, short and miserable lives!"
Fly on, but keeping low, not to hit my head in the dome.
"There's tax information done with the census. That's once every five years. As for more general records, there's always the Equestrian Historical Society. They're not in the palace but you could write to them in Canterlot. Maybe they've done a survey of the city."
Well, I don't mind the culling of those mollusks, but hopefully they at least had a reason
for the rest of them beyond "they lived in a lunar temple and are therefore monsters."
Try to remember which door was the right one. Starting with the nearest on the right, I'll put my earfin to the door and see if I can't hear anything from the other side.
"You like the worst pegasus flier showing off to his prom date. No head for flying!"
That was a surprisingly complex riff! Anyway you get laughed at some more.
Continue searching, or head back?
"O-oh…" flap my ears down. "Uhm, have you ever heard of the Rogers family?"
You hear the echo of hooves - somewhat distant.>>679654
"Not personally. It sounds a little generic to me."
"Mmmm. Can anypony talk to the Master?"
Ignore ziggersRoll #1 6 = 6
Not where we need to go, then. Next door, in a counter-clockwise fashion. Listen at the door, and trust Cumin to keep a lookout.
"Well, as long as you didn't get into any trouble. I'm afraid I haven't had a chance to look into your particular situation. Maybe in a couple of days, though – by the time we have this deal for the bolts finalized."
"He holds court every day - you just have to get in line. Sometimes the lines are long, though - the Flems and the Walloons can't seem to agree about anything."
Success! You found a dirty little sleazehole called Celestia's Secret. This is sure to have thongs.>>679659
You hear nothing at all but the occasional drip of water into a pool.
"They hate each other, that's what the whole city is split in two. If not for the Master, they would've wiped each other out centuries ago."
Hmm. Mentally mark the door. Could be what I'm looking for. Check the next one.
Nothing at all in here as far as you can tell.
And the last door.
This one definitely has guard voices inside. Better be quiet wherever you go.
In I go!
How's the place on the inside?
"But why do they hate each other? Is there some ancient feud?"
Right. First we'll try the dripping room. It's not gonna be quiet, though…
I'll whisper to Cumin.
"There are likely guards in that room and that room," pointing to the first and last ones I checked. "but I have an idea on how to slow them down when we try to open the door. You're… probably not gonna like it, though."
Dark and kinda cramped. Big shelves overflowing with everything from sex toys to the common douche. And of course, lingerie.
This place doesn't have a mare at the counter, it's a rather rotund stallion with a curly mane wearing a cap that reads: "Sort of Loaded".
"I dunno. They seem to disagree about everything. I've lived here a few years and I never made sense of it. Maybe they just resent having to share the Master, and of course, the Spring."
"What did you have in mind?" He whispers back.
My ears flop back down "that's okay mister Blackpaw. This isn't really so bad, just… You know, weird, but being older has some perks" lift my arm
"Can I come in?.."
"Hey. I need some risque panties. Something real daring. It's for a mare who needs to know how sexy she is when she wants to be, so y'know, that level of risque."
"Under the palace, the world famous Beer Spring. Scientists have certified it as a miracle. Aren't you a tourist?">>679676
"Come in, then. Until the meeting tomorrow we're only killing time anyway."
Gunny is inside and comments: "I hate to lose time like this, but I suppose there's nothing to be done about it."
I'll grimace a bit.
"We block the doors of the guard rooms with the bodies of the wildlife they've been culling. At least high enough that they can't just walk over it or ram through it in one go."
I'll rub my foreleg.
"Another option is to just pray really, really hard that the doors don't open as loudly as they used to."
"…sort of, I"ve come into an…inheritance here and I might move here!"
"I get it, you want something like out of a porn, right?"
Pornography is when an artist paints a picture not for artistic value, but purely for sexual reasons. The concept is generally shunned from polite society.>>679679
"Don't all the doors in the temple open like the airlocks? So they part in the middle? How would we block the door? There aren't enough bodies to stack high enough for a total barricade.">>679680
"Well you should definitely visit the Beer Spring. All natural beer."
"I don't like beer…"
"There sure aren't…"
"Well, it was an idea. It's not like we can just jam something in the corner of the door to stick it. I guess we're just going to have to try our luck, Cumin."
I'll look between the two doors.
"So, which one? The one with the dripping noise, or the one with no noise? Noiseless room might already be underwater…"
"It should still hide the party parts."
"Well, don't let me hold you up, if you want to wait in line, go ahead!"
What would I even ask this pony? Is there a long line?
He fishes around behind his desk and retrieves some panties in his mouth, depositing them on the table.
They're kind of thin and essentially transparent, in black lace.>>679683
Cumin directs you to try the one on the right. You force the door with what strength you have.
This room looks like it was once flooded - walls covered in mold and eroded - but it has been mostly patched up by sheet metal, melted together likely by fire magic. There are still a bunch of drips where water has worked its way through the gaps, though.
"Hmm… It looks like they were trying to patch this place back together.">>679686
The line is pretty long, maybe an hour wait. As you draw closer you can see it's no pony at all! The Master of Witherloo is a giant, regal-looking lion!
That explains all the lion symbolism.
Instinctively set a few steps back!
Maybe they all keep in line because otherwise he'll eat them!
The lion has a white mane – that wasn't ermine trim at all! His fur is faded and worn, but he stands tall with a sort of rigid dignity. Only rarely do you hear him speak in low, growling tones – even dismissing some cases entirely with merely a gesture or a shake of the head. Apparently this creature is as old as Equestria - which makes him comparable in age to Celestia herself. You wonder what his story is.
"Hopefully it shouldn't be too hard to pull off a corner or two, right?"
I'll shut the airlock door and then move to test the sturdiness of the un-covered walls. A few taps here and there, to see if anything starts crumbling underhoof.
Maybe, but he's not telling anypony, so he won't tell me either! And I need to go clean the house!
"Perfect. Got a few thongs too?"
Cumin tries: "M… Marina?"
"Yes? What's the matter?"
You hurry back to the house, but it seems Aria and Jolly have beaten you home. Aria is sticking stuff back in the cabinets that you took out, and Jolly is playing with a toy wagon in the middle of the floor. He's looking much more like an Equestrian colt now that he's wearing local, age-appropriate clothing. Aria has dressed him in a white shirt with green overalls.
Aria waves when you enter. "Where'd you run off to, mom? We got back from shopping and you were already gone.">>679692
"You have a color preference? Or leather?">>679694
"You should… um… try the corner. It's the weakest part of a cube structure."
"Thank you. I never really was one for architecture, so… Maybe that's something we can do together as time goes on."
I'll start poking and tapping in corners, seeing what gives and what doesn't.
Oh "Aria, wait, you can't put that in there! I'm cleaning up!"
Jabbing the corner with your weapon, the structure begins to creak and groan loudly. That'll surely attract the guards, but it may collapse any second! Leaks begin springing all over the place.
Cumin curls up in a ball, scared.>>679697
"Oh? I just thought you were taking inventory or something. You're leaving stuff out in the middle of the floor. Besides, there were some kitchen knives in there and I didn't want to leave them out where Jolly could play with them."
Take whatever she has out of her hooves and put it back on the ground.
"You know that when I clean, I do it good! I need to get an idea of twhat we have first. Get a good feel of where everything is and should be, you know?!?"
Start taking more things out of the cupboards.
"Maybe Jolly shouldn't be here while I do this."
I'll Protect Cumin. But we'll move out of the direct line of fire from any projectile stones.
"Deep breaths, Cumin. We'll be swimming shortly."
"Just throw in a few different colors!"
I make myself comfortable
"Oh, well I think until then we could keep talking."
Put my paws on my knees
"I have some questions"
"I'll take him upstairs and watch him for now. Before we leave, I'll help you find a playpen or daycare for Jolly so that you don't have to worry so much. I've got to go out later this afternoon, though. I'm meeting someone for an early dinner. Aira should be back by then, though. Do you think you'll be okay with the cleaning down here?">>679700
Shielding your charge, you stand over him to protect him from the falling metal. As the waves of water hit, you hoist the frail creature and maneuver your powerful tail to propel you to the surface. He gasps for breath as you break free from the water - your bag and its contents are soaked, but your husband-to-be is still safely in tow.
"Uh okay, how many do you want, then?"
"Well, better speak up now. We're all going out to a reunion dinner tonight, so it's best to have this stuff out of the way."
"Anypony special you're meeting?"
"Uh, five should be more than enough."
Grin at him, and then start paddling to shore.
"But I think it's high time we got ready to leave, yeah? Hopefully they'll just pass off that as structural weakness, but it won't take too long for the smarter ones to put two and two together. Just hope Lamp doesn't get in trouble."
"Wait. Reunion dinner? No one told me about that…"
"It's probably nothing. I was actually just asking around for leads on that weird boiler thing when I was out shopping. Funny thing was, I ended up talking to some engineers who said they do a lot of work on chemical setups these days - septic stuff, mostly - and they could use someone who understands that kind of thing. It wasn't like they made me a job offer, but I didn't want to be rude when they invited me out to talk this evening."
Aria tends to downplay stuff and never get excited before things are for sure, so you know it's more promising than she's making it out to be…>>679706
"Alright. Here's your total."
It's a little high, but you're not sure how many other sleazy stores there are like this in Canterlot.>>679707
"Y-yeah… Let's get a ship tonight. Make for Manehattan."
Start spreading the news? You're leaving today?>>679708
"It's one of those things that goes without saying, in a literal sense. We all knew. No one thought to point it out. Don't you go out to eat when you meet up with old friends?"
Old friends… the only ones you have are Miss Selena and her gang, it seems like… should you eat with them if you see them again?
Well, we can stick around long enough to get some decent clothing, and a long skirt for myself, but that's the gist of it. I'm sure Cumin would like a bath and to hit where he was living when he wasn't in the temple. He's got a home here, right? Or at least a dorm?
No permanent residence, but you can get an inn room. You still have some spending cash.
I'm sure I can just bum Cloudy off with some pocket-change for my trip anyway.
"Hey, thanks. Sweet store, by the way."
First we'll secure boat tickets, as those will likely be the most expensive. Then I need to see about getting a skirt, and maybe a hat, to cover up my fishy bits. I'd rather not be a spectacle. And I'm sure Cumin would like something nice to wear when meeting his parents again, right?
"I'm sure once they get to know you, they'll be begging yout o work for them!"
He modestly dismisses your compliment with a wave. "I'm not in it for the glory.">>679713
Shopping in a soaking wet blue dress would normally be a strange proposition, but you don't look at all out of place among the extremely pathetic shoppers of the Wall Market. To fit in among them isn't exactly a mark in your favor, though.
She dismissively shakes her head. "No, no, I'm sure they just want to talk trade, you know. Probably nothing will come of it."
"You're doing the work of the Princesses or whatever god you believe it.
Now time to get these babies 'home'!
True, but desperate times.
Hunt for deals on nice clothes! '1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
"Be sure to tell me afterwards!"
Yeah… I miss Marina's cooking. I should bother her for that again if I make it To the wedding.
Heh… I wonder how Miss Selena and her daughters would react if they saw me like this
Or Miss Emmy… If she's still alive
"Oh! I-err, I plan to! After the mission of course. I… They'll greet me like a hero! Hah… Hahaha" I snap out of it and give Blackpaw a big smile
Cumin, no longer dolled up in a disguise, hangs back at the docks to not be noticed. Wall Market doesn't exactly have high class stuff but you find some cheap, simple robes that are inexpensive.>>679720
She hoists Jolly. "Up you go. C'mon, we'll play upstairs."
Aria turns back to you, "Sure, I'll let you know. Holler up when Aira gets home, yeah? I don't know what's taking her so long.">>679625
The Gun residence is pretty big. Three stories, though the architecture leaves something to be desired. It gives the impression of flat, blockiness in greyscale. What a weird style they prefer here in Hamburgerburg. At least the garden is nice. When you get to the door, there is the immediate concern that in a house this big, she won't be able to hear the door knocker if there is no servant, but at the front you discover there is a strange, embellished button on the wall of the porch, and no knocker in sight.
Knock on the button with my hoof!
They give you an odd look for a moment, but Blackpaw dismisses it and returns to speaking to Gunny. "There's a nice Griffon place that just opened up a couple of months ago. I've been meaning to try it, one does get tired of fish."
"I recommend the chicken, then. It's palatable to almost any palette."
"Yeah, we'll see what they've got. In any case, we can't eat there tonight. It wouldn't be right by the others."
"Steve still does those wraps."
"That's pretty light eating, though.">>679844
You hear a strange sound, kind of like a distant ship horn!
I'll get a pair for both of us.
Also, are there any food stalls about? I'm sure Cumin's probably hungry, since we haven't really eaten since yesterday.
Autumnsreach, you may recall from your previous visit, is world-famous for its fine bread products. Those would be in the city proper at the bakeries, not here in the merchants' enclave. Again, the distinction being rather unclear.
Hum a song as I start categorizing and everything and put it back ordered in the cupboards
Look around. Where'd that come from?
"Did you hear that?"
Well, I just kinda figured a place that had everything would have everything. Then again, quality's a factor, for sure.
So I'll just pay for the robes, and maybe a couple towels to dry off with, and that should do it.
You take a little personal time to clean - maybe an hour - when there's a knock at the front door. Maybe Aira is back?>>679849
It seemed to emanate… from within.
"Yes, a horn of some sort. Deep. D flat.">>679850
They have cheap food at the Wall Market if that is what you would prefer to get.
Look at the button again. Boop it carefully.
Dry foods, like crackers and imported plantains.>>679852
The horn sound returns, like a distant mournful sigh.
You can hear the lock shift in the door and it swings inward. "Lilly? Oh, I forgot you were coming back. And… this is?"
Jerk back as the door opens.
"Is there a ship horn in this place?"
She vacantly looks up, fancy hat sliding back a little. "Machine calls it a steam horn. He says they're going to be in all the houses in ten years.">>679717
You steal back to the higher tier, panties in tow. Entering through the back door you left unlocked, you can see Cloudy back to her usual age in the kitchen, cooking breakfast.
"You went out early. Earlier than you used to get up, anyway! What have you got there?"
Bleh. Warm food is best after getting out of the water. I'll just get these robes and towels then. How much is that going to cost me?
It won't set you back significantly. 30 bits.
"Oh. I guess it's a nice feature if you like ship horns?
Anyway, do you have a moment to talk?"
"Yeah, I saw horrible fucking things and was thinking of tying my wings behind my back and jumping off a cliff."
"Anywho, it's just some presents for Bran. I'll go and put it in her room right away."
Good. Once that's all paid for, I'll head back to Cumin so we can get toweled off and changed.
I'm gonna have wring out this dress so it doesn't mold…
! Who could that be?
Trot to the door and open the upper part.
"Come in, we have a sitting room."
The style in here is… modern to say the least. It's pretty minimalist. Greyscale cement walls, black linen couches.
Sitar speaks up, "I'm looking for a sound."
"There's a song I played for you once… Do you remember it? In the hold, before the battle at Roads.">>679861
She rounds the corner and approaches amiably. "Oh? What'd you get?">>679862
Skip onward to sea voyage?>>679863
Big burly workponies! They're earth ponies in overalls and helmets.
"We're from the city. Your house is scheduled for its line in today, if you'll show us where the toilets are."
For bookkeeping purposes, how much are the travel tickets going to cost?
Cumin arranged for a ship while you were gone, so you don't know how much he paid.
Roll adventure when you're ready to continue.
Depressing decor to be honest.
Look at Rosemary expectantly. Not that I expect her to remember something as random as a song from so long ago…
Wink at her.
"Shh. It's a secret for my… new sis
Stick out my tongue.
Well, I suppose I can't pay for everything. Which is probably a good thing.
Here's hoping for a quiet trip. '1d10'Roll #1 9 = 9
''Gryphon place? here? I thought this was a Diamond Dog only kind of city''
"Uhm…line in? What's uh…line in?"
"Yeah, slow pace. Starts out C A A C D? Tempo around 75ish?"
"I'm not really a musical expert."
"If you could just hum it?">>679868
She scrunches. "What does that mean? What've you got there?">>679869
There are two options to get to Manehattan. Fight the current - it's about a sixteen day trip to follow the Equestrian coast. Or you can go with the current, cross the sea and slingshot back around, in just nine days. Cumin arranged for the former.
The first three days are relatively uneventful. The two of you spend them mostly alone in your cabin, and on the third day you can see the coast of the Confederation on the New World. Cumin has been stitching together the torn green dress from when he was a tiny maiden.
Roll adventure when you're ready to continue.>>679870
"Where are you from, pup? Equestria? You can't get foreign food where you're from?">>679871
"The big sewage project, lady. You didn't notice the street being torn up all last year? You're getting indoor plumbing. Order of the Master."
Indoor plumbing is a very modern concept, and you didn't have it back in Lubuck. Basically, the idea is that your toilet will empty into a water system below the streets instead of a bucket in the underground. It's supposed to smell much nicer, but you won't be able to convert your toilet waste to compost fertilizer for your alchemy garden anymore.
"Oh, I…uh…does this have to be today? I'll be gone the day after tomorrow…"
"Look, lady, you wanna hold up the whole city because it's convenient for you? You can take it up with the Master. Meanwhile we're coming in to put in the sewage line."
A pleasant sea journey. Hope the sea stays clear. '1d10'Roll #1 10 = 10
Is it Gunny asking that?
I shrug ''I've always been kind of poor''
I have no clue what any of that lingo means, but let's not show that.
Another three days go by with good speed and no events. Nobody seems to have been tipped off that you're a seapony.
Sharing a bed with your groom is getting more natural now, although he prefers to be the little spoon since your tail can get in the way. Getting in the habit of kissing goodnight has been a little strange, but not unpleasant. Still, staying cooped up together for a week in a little room and sharing the bed has certainly invited a degree of sexual tension. The marriage isn't far, though…>>679876
Yes. He taps your shoulder with a claw.
"Well, in a big trade city, you can get food from almost anywhere. Although it's not always very authentic. We will have to see."
"I'm sure Toffee's boy - what's his name?"
"Right, him. He'll want to try the alpaca food.">>679877
"I'm sorry… I don't think I remember it."
"No, really… it's all a blur. A jumble."
"I guess you'll find out eventually!"
''I thought alpacas ate everything? Like how goats do''
I glance at Blackpaw ''Hey Mister Blackpaw. Can I ask something really serious?''
She jerks free your bag with unicorn telekinesis!
"Let's find out!">>679880
Gunny: "They have a lot of unusual recipes. Mostly candy."
Blackpaw nods, gravely.
Clear my throat to draw attention.
"Was there no one else around to hear it, Sitar?"
''That makes sense…''
''How exactly did Toffee died?''
"Hmmm…fine. I heard some good things about these sewers…"
I hope they don't make everything too dirty again…
Open the door.
We are both chaste ponies. But I'll probably be spending time on-deck to cool down, since staying cooped up is only asking for one of us to go too far before it's time.
What's on the boat to do, by the way? Is it just travel, or are there things to do?
"Open at your own risk!"
"Wait, shit, you can't even see! You'd have to feel them up!"
"None but your other mother. Now hush. Focus, Rosemary. Remember!"
"I'm… I'm sorry! I just don't know!"
He raises a hoof accusingly and takes off the cowboy hat. "You better think very carefully before saying you don't remember again!">>679883
Gunny and Blackpaw share a glance. Finally, Blackpaw remarks, "We don't know exactly. We lost contact with her, but the rocket crashed, and space is not the sort of place one can live for very long. We think something went wrong during the exit procedure. Maybe cabin pressure failure."
"She's too young to be hearing all this…">>679884
The work ponies trollop inside and start setting up to pry up the floorboards in the bathroom. Well… it looks like this place is going to be pretty occupied for several hours. Maybe you should clear out and leave them to work.>>679885
Were it a cruise ship, you might have a whole gamut of activities, but this is not a vessel truly befitting a princess. A trade vessel, it's carrying a very large shipment of tea leaves from an orchard near Autumnsreach up to Manehattan and Teat on the other side of the continent. By rumor, you also hear that there are plans to stop in Great Bridle as well.
Not exactly much entertainment, unless you make some for yourself. And then there's only the chance to draw attention to your tail. Sailors are notoriously suspicious sorts, and revealing you're a seapony might be unwise.>>679886
She frowns at this statement and stick a hoof in. "Some kind of cloth? Clothing? What is this?"
"It's something nice. It's clothes allright."
She furrows her brow and fishes one out. "This seems really inappropriate for you to buy your sister, Emrille. I hope you haven't done anything to shame yourself."
Well, no duh. But a book, or something! Maybe they'll let me use the galley? I'm sure I could spend a fair bit of time in there if they'll allow it.
I raise a hand to Gunny, showing that its fine ''And then what happened? Did you study the crashed rocket and found out what went wrong?''
Well I'm going to tell Aria and Jolly about the works and then I'm off.
Hmmm, maybe I can talk to the Lion now!
If you had a book, it was long since ruined that time your bag was soaked a week ago. Still, you can take some time to yourself in the hold below, only occasionally molested by workers on break.
Roll adventure when you're ready to go. So far, the trip has been boring - they say to wish an exciting life on your enemies though, so maybe that's good.>>679891
"We don't have the cabin portion of the original rocket. This may be hard to explain to you, but we use what is called a multi-stage rocket. You see, it takes a lot of fuel to get off our planet. But once the tanks are empty, they're just dead weight slowing the rocket down. So we jettison the large, empty tanks and the lower boosters. That's what we recovered in the jungles of the New World. In theory, the cabin may still be orbiting up there, even now.">>679892
You shout up to the kids that you're taking off, and back to the palace with you! The line seems to have gotten no shorter, replenishing its stock with new petitioners as the day went on. Wait a while in line?
I frown, moving my hoof to his to force it back down.
"Hey, if she says she doesn't remember, that's that. She's been through quite enough already, you can't expect her to remember the details like a song she heard once. It's a dead end. We'll just have to find Liberty instead."
"Oh, what, buying panties is a sin now?
I better go to church and pray to Celestia!"
At least that squid and his wizard are gone, so they're not a problem.
And that molestation better be verbal only, otherwise there's going to be Tartarus to pay.
'1d10'Roll #1 10 = 10
That's what I said!
''You Jettison it?''
''So… Maybe she could still be alive? What did the cabin had in it? Y-you guys put plenty of food and water in there right?''
Sitar begins tapping his hoof, and strums on his instrument. His voice echoes, booming and deep, otherworldly even. You've never heard him like this before.
His instrument glows as he hisses, "I put a sssss-pell on you. Because you're miiiine. You'd better remember too – I tell you, I ain't lyin'! I ain't lyin'! Mwahahahah!"
He almost seems to spit the word "spell", and the word "mine" comes out almost as a scream. Rosemary cowers back into the couch in fear, entranced by the words of his song.>>679895
is, though." She frowns. "Aren't you already attached? You wouldn't dare put a hoof on Bran!">>679896
You wait for what seems like hours, but finally, the line before you parts and you have your audience. The Master of Witherloo looms above you on his throne – several times the size of a pony. A steward to his left addresses you: "Speak your question! Make it quick.">>679897
Of course, just figurative molestation.
By the end of the eighth day, you pull into Manehattan an entire day early, and free of any naval adventures. For once in your life, you've have a week of quiet with no interruptions. And what's more, you've managed to return Cumin's stallionhood without letting it get any workout in bed - retaining your chastity. Well maneuvered!
Now you can see off the deck of the ship something the likes of which you've never seen. A great city that makes your home in Aquamarine look like nothing more than a petty fort. A sprawling maze of huge, towering, THREE STORY buildings – reaching out as far as the eye can see in every direction. There must be fifty thousand ponies or MORE living in this city. It really puts into perspective how humble your own origins are by comparison.>>679898
"Not enough for a decade. The mission, which was intended to prove it was possible to orbit the world and return. At 250 miles high, she was intended to remain in space for exactly 92 minutes before returning."
Gunny grimaces. "We haven't been fully honest with you, Rhanna. A trip to the moon isn't possible. The distance to the moon is ten times as far as where we sent Toffee, and even that wasn't a success. There's no way it could be done in our lifetimes. But maybe yours."
"I could have yesterday night, but didn't, I'll have you know! Out of considerations like that! Doesn't mean I can't help her live a little!"
I'll stare a bit slackjawed at the scale of it, but snap my mouth shut after a few seconds.
"Cumin, this place is enormous
! I knew cities were supposed to be big, but… where do we even start here?"
"I hope you're not turning out to be a bad influence on Bran…"
My ears that have been perked up and attentive this whoel time, flop down as I frown, turning to Gunny ''W-what? It's not…?''
"Greetings, mister…Master. I'm a new resident of your beautiful city and I wanted to introduce myself!"
Unstrap my gun and raise it to aim at him, looking at him gravely.
"I told you to stop. One more singing note and you're a threat to my family. We'll find my other mother. This is not the way to do so."
"Well, the family palace is overlooking the central park. Manehattan is actually situated on an island, although it has sort of spilled over the bridges onto the mainland over the years. I… uh, think we should get a carriage, though."
Blackpaw steps closer and adds, "It would be irrational to try for the moon when we haven't had a successful orbit yet. It's not a matter of propulsion, it's a matter of getting home.">>679904
The ancient white lion eyes you but says nothing. The attendant speaks up, "Go ahead."
"And we'll need to prepare proper clothing. I mean, at least clean the ones we've already got, right? I can't meet your family in an off-the-rack robe, can I? Or would it be better? I don't know."
Fidget a bit.
"Now that we're here, I'm more nervous than before. It's like I've got a dozen little butterflies flittering around my stomach."
"Just because I want to show her how to feel comfortable in her own sexy little body?"
I hold my paws together between my legs, looking down at them ''When were you going to tell me? If you were going to tell at all that is
Rosemary shrieks and sobs, clutching a couch pillow.
Sitar adds rounding on you with a deathly-glowing hoof, "Well… there's that fighting spirit!"
Finally Rosemary blurts, "W-wait! Don't f-f-f-fight! I… I remember s-ssomething!"
Rosemary pants for a moment, gathering herself. Roll luck.
"Uhm…my name is Selena Springleaf and I'm from Dawnwood in Equestria. I'm an alchemist, I'm sure I can help your citizens a lot with my medical cures!"
"I…. I-I don't know… Something priestessly, maybe, to fit tradition? But… I'm afraid it might be i-in… bad taste to come in wearing m-moon regalia… I… I don't know!">>679909
"Emrille, what would Tela think of you saying that?"
Cloudy sighs. "Well, you mentioned you were on a timetable to return to Dixie anyway, so I suppose it doesn't matter. Still, though! Are you leaving today? You have been playing close to your chest with your plans."
Gunny points out: "I think MacMeal had hoped that once you read enough of those physics books you would have figured it out on your own.
You can feel the Master's eyes on you, measuring you. After a long pause, you think you hear a deep, guttural sound. Almost… a purr. One that shakes the very floor. As quickly as it arrived, it's gone.
The steward nods. "Is that all? Are you applying for residency? Do you need directions to the city hall for permitting?"
''He did, huh…''
Then get up ''I gotta go, thanks for the talk mister Blackpaw, Gunny''
"You idiot, why risk it all for being for nothing? Finding Liberty again was something I wanted to do anyway."Roll #1 5 = 5
"I should get going soon, yeah, but… you know, this one more day, spending it with you, won't be the end of the world, I fucking hope."
"Oh, and you know, nothing serious, just helping some old friends out."
Blackpaw remarks, cuttingly, "Don't rush off in a huff, Rhanna. It's Southern to act on emotional impulse."
Gunny elbows him. "What he means is, MacMeal has already done enough pouting for the both of you, anyway."
I'll clop my front hooves together.
"Ah right, the pearls and comb! They'll serve as the signifiers, and I can just wear a dress."
My expression will fade slightly.
"Now I'm more worried they'll be less happy about other things."
Sigh, but settle myself.
"At any rate, that's something we'll need to face anyway, if we want them to approve. First things first, though, we need to find some proper clothing. You probably have a wardrobe at your home, but I'm either going to need to find a cleaner's for one of the dresses I have, or just get a new one."
Groan, then leave in the most calm manner I can
"Uhm, yes, no…wait, no I wanted to ask, I'm…uh…engaged with Jolly Rogers, I think he lived here, and I was wondering if you knew something about him? He's always very lucky!"
"There are times when we are all tempted to return to our past - the way things were. It's easy
to live like that. But more rewarding to live like this. Now that you have Tela… you know what it's like to have something worth preserving the peace for.">>679920
"If there's one thing fortunate about living in a city this big, it's that ponies don't really notice you. Even in Autumnsreach, ponies would recognize me, but here, the crowds are so big, no one cares unless you're dressed the part. Outward appearance is so important in a place like this."
Back out onto the streets with a lot on your mind. Want to just wander the city for a while to clear your head, or head back to the ship in search of others?
"I mean, I'm not going back for the fun of it, you can fucking believe that."
The die is cast.
'1d2'Roll #1 2 = 2
"So, for now, I'm good until I have to meet your parents…?"
I'll just go back to the ship, calmly
A calm jog
…Actually a very fast jog. Can't enjoy the city with all this rain in my eyes
The lion leans forward, lowering his huge face down to eye level with you.
The steward announces, "The Master wishes to tell you something! Don't just stand there, go! Up! Up to him! Approach! This is a great honor!">>679925
"Are you sure that's true? Not even a little bit because you miss how it feels? Emrille… you can be honest with me."
"Oh, believe me. I was tempted during that trip to the museum. Even more-so today. I really, really just wanted to murder people and laugh and revel at the bloodshed!"
"But killing is no fun since Anniev. Ending up like that again scares me too much to enjoy it."
"You said you would rather let her be comfortable than get the truth. You have too much of her weakness in you – not enough of your mother's ferocity. Well, let's–">>679926
Rosemary begins humming. Softly, at first, but you can hear it. The melody, so simple and sweet.
Don't make it bad.
Take a sad song
And make it better
To let it into your heart
Then you can start
To make it better."
Suddenly, Sitar starts strumming along, matching the notes. "Yes… yes…"
Don't be afraid
You were made
To go out and get her.
You let her under your skin,
Then you begin to make it better."
It's… beautiful. Totally serene. It's some of the best music you've ever heard.
And anytime you feel the pain, hey Belle, refrain,
Don't carry the world
Upon your shoulders.
For well you know
That it's a fool who plays it cool
By making his world
A little colder."
So this is a song worth hunting for…
"Right. Well, maybe even a t-tail like yours would turn heads in this city. But the robes–"
Approach closer like the pony said
Oh my gosh those big teeth Ihopehedoesn'teatme
"Should be fine, at least while we're walking around town. But I am probably at least going to window shop a bit, on the way."
I'll rub my foreleg a bit.
"And we see anything you think would look good on me, I could try it on, maybe?"
Funny, that rain. You can't imagine how it's raining underground. But it doesn't matter. None of it matters. Down an alleyway at random. Down streets until you've totally lost your way. Lost in the dark labyrinth of an indifferent uncaring city in some corner of the world you don't even recognize. You keep running, and running, until you're out of breath, and all alone in the dark. You fall to your knees, fighting the urge to let loose a reflexive howl of sorrow.
Or… mostly alone. You suddenly feel a paw grip the fur on your neck. Some kind of foreign, gruff voice, in the local language you can only gather snatches of. He doesn't sound very consoling.
Another paw gropes at your tail. The dog is large. A stranger. You don't speak the language well, but his eyes say that he's not interested in what you have to say.
Keep my gun pointed at Sitar all the while, frowning at him.
"You got it. Now get the hell out of my sight or I'll show you some ferocity."
What a rude guy
Push him away ''G-get off me, leave me A-alone!'' I shout through sobs
The Master is so large that he could easily fit your whole body in his mouth. When he parts his jaws, you can see his enormous fangs, each bigger than your head. A deep, harrowing voice emanates from the creature – even his whispers seeming quite loud.
"Twenty six years ago, Jolly Roger stood where you stand, and asked where the future lay. And I told him the sea, and he left, never to return."
With that, the Master rights himself, apparently finished. The steward seems ready to usher you on. "Well! There you have it! I hope whatever he said was deeply meaningful to you!"
You're pretty sure he could hear the Master's voice at his range, so it must be a politeness thing to pretend he didn't.
"Ah… w-well, I mean… anything looks good on you, Marina…"
"Don't presume that I was ever here to make your family dreams come true, filly. I came for what I came for. Put that thing away before you hurt yourself."
With that, he storms away, instrument in tow. You doubt you'll ever see the strange, coatless pony again.
Rosemary still seems a little bit in a daze, whether from the song or incantation you cannot say.
Blush a bit.
"Flattery won't… well, whatever, let's just get moving. Can't stay on the docks forever, right?"
"But he did return, great Master, he's in town right now…sort of!"
"W-well, if you want a truthful answer, you look best without clothes on."
He turns rigid, blushing. "W-wait! T-that's not how it was supposed to come out! I mean! What I mean is, you have a beautiful body. N… no, that's wrong too. I mean…"
He shakes his head, lost. "When you swim… it's magical! S-sorry… I'll… just… we can just get a carriage now."
Oh no, this is just gross.I struggle to get him off of me with all I can
'1d10'Roll #1 6 = 6
"Don't worry, I won't think any better of you! I better not catch you around any of my family again, you hear me!?"
Frown and keep my gun pointed at where he left from for some moments longer, before finally dropping it. Turn to Rosemary and watch her with bated breath for just a moment, before running over to hug her.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry…"
He waggles his giant liony eyebrows at you. As if almost to say, 'guess he found his future, then, hmm?'
The steward is now trying to shoo you off so the next pony can take a turn.
Blush more deeply.
"Y-yeah, that's probably for the best."
"So how does it work? Just wave one down?"
"Master, I just want to ask and then I'll leave.
How did you unify the Walloons and the Flems?"
"Well, good. Try to remember that. Remember what you have that's worth not
fighting for, and I'm sure you'll be okay."
She gives you that warm, reassuring smile that always makes you feel like you can make it through the day.
Smile back at her.
"I'll still kill anypony who tries to kill me though. I'm not going to die now
that I'm not an old fart."
You bash him in the leg, but he brings both fists down on your head, dazing you. It's hard to breathe clearly with your throat so occupied. Choking, gasping for breath. Anything to draw another.
She shivers before returning your hug. "What a strange song… what a haunting individual…"
He nods, and trots out to the street, waving. Soon, a carriage pulls over, and the pony pulling it opens the door for you. Cumin hops in. With the carriage, it'll be harder to see your tail, too.
Oh so this guy want to fight? Fine. I needed something to channel my frustration into
bite his freaking wiener off!
'1d10'Roll #1 10 = 10
The steward interjects: "There's plenty of information on that downstairs in the great hall! Visit, see the tourist sights. Next!"
Convenient! I'll hop in.
She draws closer and gives you a hug.
"Look after yourself out there. Get home safe."
Look one last time at the lion.
"Master, do you know any way to reverse an anti-aging curse?"
"I'll try. Should I write? Is that okay?"
"I shouldn't have brought him to you. I messed up."
He yelps in pain as you bite down – that's universal to any language!
In reply he can only manage a glancing kick as he tries to maneuver around behind you, no doubt planning access to your regions.
You're close to getting free now – this would be the ideal moment to jerk away before he can get the knot inside!
The carriage begins to ferry you through the streets. Cumin seems a little preoccupied with staying quiet to not say anything stupid. You might look out the window as you travel, or try to strike up a new conversation.
My eys shot open and I feel panic take over as I realize what this guy wants to do
I raise a paw, claws outstretched and turn to try and rake at his face
'1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
"So, uh, it's been a while since you were last here, right? Living in Autumnsreach for a while?"
The lion gives a solemn shake of the head as you are physically dragged off the dais by two of the palace guards. Rats.>>679960
She kisses your forehead. "You can always write us, Emrille. Maybe we'll come to visit, and see your house. Once things settle down, maybe during the winter break."
She shivers a little bit. "I still feel a little uneasy. About that first song. The one he started screeching… What an uneasy song…"
You topple him with a rake to the eyes. Now's your chance to run away!
"He's such a weirdo. I… I would have shot him, you know? I knew I had to, if he hadn't stopped."
"Y-yeah. I mean, well, I actually was only in Autumnsreach for about six months. I mean, well, I guess that's a while, right?"
"And you think I used to associate with ponies like that? That I was an evil pirate like them? And married a wicked pirate queen filled with… what did he say? …Ferocity?"
Truth… Comfort. Why must these things so rarely align?
"It's half a year, after all! I don't think I've ever been away from my family for that long…"
For a moment I get ready to turn tail and flee…
But this guy… no he deserves
more than just that
I'm not even sure what this feeling is, but I just let it take over as I hold him down, plunging my nails to his chest and head and dive in to bite his neck
'1d10'Roll #1 1 = 1
"You'll like the palace kitchens, the chef is very nice… I missed professionally cooked food. I was eating noodles for so long…"
"That's if they let me in there. I mean, do nobles really cook their own food that often? It wouldn't be weird, would it?"
Fidget a bit.
"Still, I'm looking forward to it, no matter how nervous I am."
"I don't know what she was like, mom. But for what it's worth, I've mostly heard good things about her from the people who she met. We all have flaws though, right?"
"If we don't limit the number of questions, the line would never move at all! You need to be considerate of the others in line. You want to move here, right? So you will have plenty of time to ask questions in the future!">>679976
"Hmm. Well, usually courts have bards, but my uncle is a great musician. Everypony needs a hobby, right?">>678795
"I don't know, it's something of a technical question."
The captain wistfully turns to the window and traces the condensation on the pane with a hoof. "I wouldn't want to cause you any grief. We were just discussing the best route to head to your destination down south. It's not a matter of taking a straight line, one needs to take into account the currents and the wind patterns. You see there are these doldrums and there's a squall – it's all very technical."
Scrunch heavily to convince the guard to let me go '1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
"So, aside from your studies, what are your hobbies? I don't think we've actually had much time to talk about that, except on the boat trip here…"
The guard turns you loose, eying you suspiciously in case you make a dash for the Master again.
I straighten up my hat and coat and quickly gallop away! How embarrassing!
"Well the historical society takes up most of my time, but besides that, I do the tailoring. And… I've uh… dabbled in cartography."
Out you go! Would you like to poke around downstairs where all the ponies are headed, under the palace?
"You make maps? That's neat! And I'm still going to have to get you to teach me at least the basics of tailoring, if I aim to be a proper wife."
I'll go down there, it's probably going to be something very boring
Cumin turns red. "Y-you think tailoring is… the kind of thing a wife is supposed to be doing? It's not that
"Not a problem at all, I've been listening to technical
ponies all my life. I can be very helpful."
"Just give it a try, tell me what's bothering you about the routes."
"Well, I mean, it's a valuable skill that I don't know! And don't you think stitching love into mending your partner's clothing, or making them their own outfit, is something a wife should be proud to be able to do?"
I'll tilt my head for a second.
"Though, I'll admit there are a lot of male tailors out there who make a living off of their craft. So, in my case, it would be like taking needlework into an actually productive role."
I'll clonk my front hooves together.
"So, perfectly fine for either husband or wife to do. But if we both know how to do it, then we can make things together!"
You descend into what appears to be kind of like a Germane beer hall. It's really big, and there are a number of fountains throughout. The fountains seem to have really ugly brown water… then you realize that ponies are filling their beer steins in the fountains. They're full of beer!
Indeed, the smell of beer is extremely dense – nearly as dense as all the pennants and crests of Witherloo ponies on the walls. There's even a tourist gift shop in the back!
The strange thing is, you can't figure out which ponies are the Walloons and the Flems, since they all seem to be getting along down here. Maybe these are all just tourists.
…a pub right under the palace?
What's going on here?
Maybe there's a party of some kind going on, but then where's the host?
Look for some guard if there's one here
"The traditional route makes use of the currents along the coast to move faster, but lately there have been storms up and down the coasts. It would mean sailing straight into dense weather - a dangerous and hard sail. The other way is the direct route, a straight line through the doldrums in an area called the Manesian Triangle. The dead winds and currents there have stranded many a ship, but worse, most of the crew are superstitious about the place. It would hurt morale and be difficult in its own way. Waiting out the storm isn't an option, since this kind of weather has been going on for months."
"R-right. So… what do you do besides cook?"
There are a couple of palace guards protecting the giftshop, but otherwise the place seems open to the public. Is the beer just free? No one seems to be paying anyone.
But I don't have a beer mug…
Wave to the pony that's just filling a beer mug. "Excuse me, is this a party?"
Think hard for a minute.
"Well, I sing, but every seapony does that…"
The uncomfortable silence will stretch on a bit as I scramble for any sort of idea of what hobbies I have.
"I… I think all I do is cook. I can't recall ever doing anything else."
Put my head in my hooves.
"Oh Moon, I'm a one-trick pony!"
"Hon hon hon! Theez eez ze famous Witherloo Beer Spring. Ze beer springs up from ze group au natural. It is tres magnifique! Are you, how you say, ze tourist?"
"Ouie! But I never heard of this! Everypony drinks here?"
Cumin points out: "Uh… I mean… I d-don't mean to correct you but, um… d-didn't you say you were like a… nurse, back in Aquamarine? Since there weren't a lot of formal doctors, I mean… y'know…"
"Why else would one come to une Beer Spring but to drink ze beer? For ze gift shop? Hon hon hon."
"My, everypony seems very friendly here!"
"Well, that wasn't really a hobby, you know? I just had to fill in. It doesn't take a trained professional to wrap or change bandages…"
"But, I'm glad what little I did know helped you when we first met."
Think a bit harder, but still come up with nothing. Shake my head.
"Well, at least now there's time to pick something up, right? Maybe I could even try my hoof at writing, or painting."
"I think I see your problem.." I pause carefully and then in a dangerous whisper to his ear. "Lack of trust in your crew
"Well, what eez there to fight about?">>680118
"I, uh, noticed that fairy had a bunch of painting stuff too… but she never unfurled any of her art pieces, so… we never saw what kind of art she does."
"You know, the flems?"
"True… Kotone was, and still is, a pretty big mystery. Like, how did a breezie become the head of the Manako group?"
He scratches his beard. "What do you mean by that? That I should trust their instinct to avoid the doldrums? That I should trust that they can handle the doldrums without being demoralized? Those are two opposites but both founded on trust! Besides – a crew needs to trust in its captain."
"Oh, well, zey are not zo bad, you know, when zey are not talking wit zere silly ackzents – too busy drinking, oui?"
The carriage comes to a halt. Wherever Cumin told it to go, it must be there!
"W-well… S-sorry, but I don't know a lot about big businesses, or, uh, the Neighponese in general. I guess I can't be of help in that way…."
"Yes, I think so too! I'm so happy to meet somepony who gets along!"
I nod. "You worry they can't handle either path, a crew needs to trust the captain, but if you don't understand and trust them back, how could you decide what's right?"
"I think you already know what your crew will do best at."
"It's okay. I'm just as clueless. Maybe once everything has settled down, we could take a trip to Neighpon? Maybe after studying the culture a bit."
Gather myself up, and make sure my tail is well-hidden.
"Ennyway, I have uh, ze partee of ozzer ponies waiting on me, zo…?"
He departs to go sit with a couple other stallions.
Now I should taste this wonderful beer…
Are there any beer mugs around here?
"Maybe so then. I'll think about what you've said."
"I trust you will come to a conclusion soon, Sir." I salute him and float away.
"Y-yeah, maybe. They're not Equestrian… I've technically never left Equestria. Oh, I guess except that short period we spent on the southern tip of Dandelion Island."
You poke your head out of the carriage. There's some kind of really big building here. There are shop windows with mannequins that you can see dresses on, but there aren't doors like a normal shop. Instead, there's just one big huge door in the middle of a single big building.
"It's called a department store. The idea was brought in from Anneiv. Basically, a bunch of shops in one building."
A sneaky ponoe could probably swipe one off a table from some drunk who isn't paying attention. Or you could just buy some at the gift shop since you're super rich now!
I'm not a thief! I'll buy a nice pink one at the gift shop
Horosha opens the door for you as you go. "Hmm… in the end, you left the decision to him. What a strange Breezie you are.
With a heart motif!
Hearts are generally associated with the Oddomanes. There is a nice white mug that is completely covered in pink rose designs, though!
Looks like a LOT of mugs are designed around lions as a theme though. Including one that is carved out to look like a lion head!
But lions are scary! One with the roses!
"In the end, I don't actually know what the skills of the crew are, or how strong their superstitions. That's something the captain would know best, from years of working together and training for these events.
"Besides, no one would respect a leader that can't choose such things.
Rose mug it is! You buy the fancy stein for a modest amount of bits. "Thank you. Your purchases go to help maintain our historic Witherloo Palace."
"That's really convenient!"
I'll hesitate for a second before exiting the carriage. It's not like there are weird rules for nobles leaving carriages, right?
Take it out and let's try this beer!
"I understand that traditionally, ships are commanded by noble officers born from wealthy families. They may not necessarily have the most experience on the ship, because the crew may live their whole lives growing up on trade or whaling vessels. This leads to friction between the two halves of society. It is something I have been able to exploit when stowing away on ships, in the past.
I look around nervously as I fill my mug as if I feel like I'm doing something wrong. I eye the beer in the mug suspiciously and sniff it before taking a little sip
Not exactly passing for a noble in roughspun robes anyway. Probably don't want to attract that kind of attention in the first place!
In any case, Cumin uneasily works his way to the ground, rather than hastily hopping out onto the cobble. Maybe he's tripped before.
I nod "That's very clever.
"In such cases, the most important thing is to be confident, so between us.. I would have gone for the storm, no hesitation.
Well, robes can get caught on hooves. And it'd hurt to land on this stone street. I'll be nearby in case he trips, but he needs his pride as a stallion to come down himself.
Horosha produces a Neighponese mon coin, one side has a slash across it. "Feeling lucky? Call it slash or free.
Nobody spares you a second glance!
The beer - it's a little rough. You wonder if it really is natural - does it spring up from the ground without the aid of magic? You won't say it's the best beer you've ever had, but it's also very free. Not bilgewater, anyway.
This is really weird. But it's free I guess! Try to talk to somepony else, maybe a mare this time
Cumin loses his grip and unevenly lands on the ground, but manages to remain standing despite the impact.
"R-right… so, what do you want to get? Just dresses?"
It's kind of loud in here with all the talking and music!
You corner a mare near the beer fountain!
"Hello! I'm sorry I'm new here, can I ask a question?"
I was there for him to lean on and catch himself!
"Well, a dress would be nice… Maybe some shoes. We'll see what I can afford at the moment."
"Where does all this beer come from?"
Argh! it hurts it hurts!
I push him off of me with my legs. Kick this guy off of me!
'1d10'Roll #1 1 = 1
"Well, maybe s-something a little simple. I mean… I uh, I don't want to tell you what to buy… but we have clothes at the palace. And you probably have more dresses too. And I can make dresses… I mean, probably. That is… I got a lot of practice with fixing my– your green skirt. S-so… you don't have to break your bank, I mean."
"Thank you. Maybe I'll get lucky and they'll be on sale?"
"Unter der fountain, ja? Naturally occurring beer springs from der ground!"
"But beer isn't formed naturally! It's the result of fermentation of grain or wheat!"
This must be some kind of elaborate deception!
>>680167His claws grope at your upper body, and through the pain you feel his whole body shudder. You can feel him expanding inside of you, and it seems now impossible to escape. From the strain of your injuries and the shock of the moment, you pass out.
You awaken in a heap. Unable to tell the time because there is no sky… you're laying in a pile of garbage. You seem to have a caked layer of some dried liquid on your legs and lower torso. You can see the coat that Blackpaw lent you laying in a heap across the alley.
You take stock of your own scent - trash and bodily fluids. Not exactly a smithy smell. You hope nodog smells you like this. Your body aches from the cuts and scratches… your clothing is torn. You just want to get back to your room on the ship.>>680169
"W-well, there are always sales, b-but not always on what you want. That is… there are these fashion trends and the stuff that's in is never on sale. But some stuff like Shoer or Stella or Winebox never go out of style. N-not that I followed them! The trends!"
"Well I don't know about that. Maybe if you ask in the gift shop!"
"Okay, thank you!"
Go back to the gift shop!
"Did you come back for a postcard? Everypony always forgets to buy a postcard."
"No, I want to know where this beer comes from!"
"There's a spring under the fountains!"
"But that's impossible! I'm an alchemist and I know that brewing beer is an alchemical process, it doesn't happen in nature!"
I shakingly struggle to get up, hugging myself due to the cold
Whining, I grab my coat and cover myself with it and leave this place
to find Blackpaw.
"Actually, all beer brewing is just an imitation of what happens here! Do you think ponies just happened to pour fungus colonies into malted water by coincidence? Of course not!"
"What do you mean? Are you suggesting this is where ponies learned to brew beer?" Look sceptical
Titter a bit.
"It's okay, Cumin. Just think of it as being my guide in a strange and unknown land, proudly blazing a path to not looking like some backwater guppy."
Give him a hug.
"Honestly, it's a relief that you know these things. I'd be absolutely lost without you."
You feel… unclean, in several ways. You need a shower. And it hurts. These cuts… they need to be disinfected and bandaged. And yet, in spite of all of this, you feel like there's something else you need more. Something emotional. It sucks. You haven't felt this way since… since you left, really. Since mom used to beat you.
You wander out of the alley. Completely lost. Roll adventure.
"Yes! Here, look, we even have these helpful souvenir brochures that show you how, with pictures, made by the University of Witherloo! You should buy one."
He turns red again. "T-thanks. Wait..? I mean, y-you're welcome!"
I-I can take care of this, with Blackpaw. He's a biologe so he'll know what to do
I just cover myself completely and try to rush my way, avoiding them, These dogs. I don't even want to look at them in the face so I keep my head low
'1d10' I can find the wayRoll #1 10 = 10
Does it even matter? You know from experience that they don't even look that closely at you. They don't look. They smell. And your scent… it tells a bad story. You take back alleys at random to avoid the other dogs, and by total coincidence, you find yourself back outside Blackpaw's house. Maybe you traced it from subconscious memory of last night… or maybe you got lucky. Who can say?>>680187
As soon as you've bought it, you greedily open it to look at the illustrations. Hmm… it says here that there is a natural hotspring, and barley used to grow all along the pond formed by the hotspring. The hot water would rise and, expanding due to its temperature, boil over into smaller ponds where it would cool. These ponds were naturally filled with yeast colonies. Later on, under the guidance of the Master, the ponds were formally built up with steel tanks and hops were artificially introduced to improve flavor, but the water and barley malt is still natural and local.
So it's not natural at all!
And then it's into the shop.
It was natural once. Now it's only partially natural. In any case, the idea that beer brewing came from observations of this hotspring could still be legitimate.
I bet I can make better beer though!
I don't care about them either way, I don't care about the luck and I don't care about the memory
And I don't want to think of last night
I just want Blackpaw to fix me
Knock on the door, and pray that he is home
Probably wouldn't be too hard!>>680190
"Into the shop" seems to involve more than you thought. You enter and instead of being in a shop, you find you're in basically a very large hallway. You can see there are also higher galleries that look down on this one, too! Shops line every wall! There are clothing places, and toy stores, and weapons bazaars and more! At the far end, there's a 'food court' - a bunch of food stands where instead of entering, you just form a line in front of a window.
Ha! If these ponies are impressed by that beer…still, maybe they just drink it because it's cheap! Maybe there's other beers in town already!
Do some market research '1d10'Roll #1 1 = 1
Spend a moment taking it all in, but out of the flow of traffic.
"It's… it's bigger than the Wall in Autumnsreach!"
I can hardly focus on one thing for more than a few seconds.
"Where should we start?"
Look at Cumin, expectantly.
Blackpaw opens the door. "Rhanna, you're back! Where did you run off to? We looked all day. It's the middle of the night."
He pauses, and takes a whiff of the air. "Oh… Rhanna."
Does it really matter if there are other beers in town? Obviously this is the most popular!
You bet if you stayed in town you could make a lot of money as a beerpony! You could even keep the twins around to help in your brewery!
Cumin taps his chin. "W-well, they're not all the same store. They're different stores but in the same building. Different owners. Uh, b-but, you said you wanted to look at the clothing stores? S-so, for that, you can skip the departments on the first floor. T-those are, uh, kind of traps for tourists and ponies who will buy regular clothes. The best designers run studios and make clothes to order on the third floor. I mean… if that's what you want."
''M-mister B-buh-blackpaw…'' I look up at him, shivering
''I'm s-sorry I'm so-s-so…rry.''
This is great! I should tell Aria!
Hmmmmmm….still, I should do something else now first since they're still working back home.
Wait, I wanna see how that beer fountain works underneath. I'll ask the giftpony if there's tours!
"Well, let's start with them. If they're in my range, we'll be able to avoid the traps."
"And if there's anyone in particular you trust, then made-to-order clothing sounds right up my alley, considering."
He covers his face with a paw and takes a deep breath. "I… it's my fault. I knew this kind of thing might happen. You weren't ready to be alone in the city. It's just in your nature."
He ushers you in, stripping off your clothing as you go. In the back room, he has a bathtub. He helps you into the tub, and starts the water. If you were in a better mood, you might have been able to appreciate the fine details of the magnificent pipe system which delivers water directly into the tub. You're not in the mood.
"Wash off thoroughly. I need to go out and buy you soaps that smell like chemicals and viscera, so that other dogs know I am a biologist. I'm going to get you something steel scented, okay?"
"Well, I don't know if there are formal tours, but we have an engineer who works on the pipes and tanks and makes sure to refill the hops hopper. You could ask him, but I think he's out to dinner right now! He works for that big piping company, Long Pipe's Brass Pipes and Fixtures. They do almost all the piping in the city. Who know that business would grow so fast?"
Huh… you wonder if they're the same ponies doing the line for your sewage. Could they even be the same company that Aria was being interviewed for?
I just nod and sniffle, holding my aching head ''H-okay…''
At least the water should clean this out right? The girls did say it takes a long time for the baby to be made
''W-hat is g-going to happ-happen to me now mister B-b-blackpaw?''
"Are they a very new company?"
Avoid the traps? But you were getting along so well with Cumin!
"Uh, well, right. Um, well, what kind of styles do you like?"
Ho ho ho, indeed.
"That's a pretty good question, actually. As I never really paid much attention to fashion in general, I'm at a bit of a loss."
I'll think for a second.
"But, you know those fish that have those really long fins, that almost look like they're wearing gowns? I always thought those were really pretty, with the way they moved with them."
I'll rub the back of my head.
"Is there anything you'd like to see me wear?"
He removes his glasses and rubs his eyes.
"Don't worry about that now. Just get clean, and once I'm back we'll soap you off, and you can lay down.">>680206
"About two years. So that means they've expanded very fast!"
"Yes! Do they deliver good work?"
I nod, and let myself soak in. Hopefully the water will wash this away. Wash all of this away
"Well, they must. The Master commissioned them to lay pipes across the whole city. I wouldn't question the Master."
"I see. Where is their office in town?"
"Um… maybe something long and flowing then. It would conceal the tail, too… Gowns can be a little tricky unless you have somepony to carry the tail, but there's a new suspended gown design… Connie Stella, then. It's Prench couture. She really doesn't have an accent though."
"Well, I've never heard a Prench accent, so I won't be able to tell!"
Laugh a bit.
"And as for carrying the tail, I might be able to do that with my own, depending on how big it is."
The water makes you lose track of time. Before you know it, you feel yourself being vigorously scrubbed by Blackpaw. He runs the bar up and down your arms, body, and tail – pretty hard. Really driving that smell deep into your fur. It invades your nostrils. It smells like steel flakes – normally not a very strong scent, but now you're covered in it. With each stroke, he's erasing your past identity, and weaving a new one into your fur.
"I'm going to focus on getting you back to normal. If you start to feel hungrier than usual, you should tell me, okay?"
"I honestly don't know. I think it's in uptown near university, but that's just a guess."
Time to find this university!
Soon, you're in a Prench design parlor, and getting outfitted with a custom dress. It would pretty much empty out the rest of your cash reserves, so Cumin offers to pay for it. Whether you let him is up to you.Pause
I feel like I almost, almost
didn't manage to resist the sudden urge to jump and bite when he suddenly touched me. I just hope Blackpaw didn't notice
I had enough of this. They can't be right. I'm not like them… Like that Bitch.
I'll suggest splitting the bill, but if he insists, I'll let him pay.
I just hope this Stella is discrete about her clients.
As you are in uptown near the palace, you can see the university clock tower from here. The piping office isn't immediately obvious though. Search?>>680221
In any case, it doesn't take her long to recognize Cumin in the robe. "The prodigal prince returns! Do you need some more dresses 'for the palace maids'?"
Cumin turns red. "N-no! P-lease, don't! Don't tease me. I, uh… brought you a new customer. I didn't think you would s-spread rumors…"
"Of course not darling. Is he ready for his measurements?"
"S-stop! S-she's my, uh… s-special somepony."
"Oh? This should be fun, then. Come on back."
[Last 50 Posts]
"Maybe… it's a little disconcerting though… I'm not in the business of hurting anypony, I used to be a nurse."
She gathers herself on the couch and straightens a picture frame housing a bullet on the wall, which had been knocked askew during the shouting.