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 No.682928[Last 50 Posts]

Those statues aren't going to collect themselves.


You were supposed to be gone for a while, yes, but then again, you only stayed for a day!
Still, maybe the wost of it is gone? Hopefully?

You use the crystal to teleport, but can't focus on revenge or anything like that, only the positive emotions that are filling you right now.

…to your surprise, it works, and you didn't even have to be near the hideout!
Is it… is it possible that positive emotions could work better with this crystal?

Your train of thought is only disturbed slightly as you feel the rug of the world pulled out from under you, finding yourself in the circular teleport room.


That would.. make certain mares with magic powers into liars yes?

Maybe I should look in at the lab.. I do have to tell the doctor that chell isn't returning.


Would she really do that? Trick you into things and spread lies?
Would it be the first time?
Rais did mention she might not be very trustworthy.

You do, however, have the crystal that is now 'empty' that once had Chell in it.
Maybe you can give that to him?

You find him on the floor next to a workbench, snoring with some papers over his eyes.


He has snoring eyes? What a sleepy zebra.
Set the broken heart-crystal down in front of him.
Sigh and wait for him to wake with a poker face.


You put the non-functional heart to the table and he wakes with a start, papers flung everywhere.
"Bwhuh! Gah! Ruh, I was working! Planning to be precise, I was planning!"

He blinks a few times.
"Oh, it's just you. Good morning."


"Busy night Doc?" I ask him politely.


He rubs his eyes.
"Oh yeah, tell me about it. You know Stingray? Red pegasus mare, loves a good brawl, fights with her hooves?"

He walks over to the large "Doomsday machine" and presses the button on it producing that incredibly loud and intimidating grinding sound that threatens with explosion as it makes… coffee.


My wings stand up in alarm at his 'coffee' 'machine', I nod. "Yea, I think so. Fought her once right?"


He takes the mug that it has filled, sipping on the hot liquid as he turns around to face you.
"Yeaaaaaaaaaah she sorta died. Dumbass shouldn't have taken a hoof-fight against the Angel. Not sure what she was expecting."


"Wait.. in the arena? You mean.. those are fights to the death.."


He shakes her head.
"No, those are for practice.
She was doing some reckon and the little sidekick of the Saddle Arabian ambushed her. At least we managed to get her body back."


I just look horrified.
"Wait really, that bitch has super-sun powers and ninja speed, why not try to run?"


"She had a lot of friends died to her, and she was never the calm and reasonable type."


"She seemed like a strong girl.. I'm sorry."


He keeps sipping on his coffee.
"Yeah, some people took it pretty hard. Especially Spectre… uh, you only met her once, cute zebra mare, she can turn into smoke, remember? I think they might have had a thing going on with each other, so you know."


"I don't think I can ever get used to this.." sit down and tap the empty crystal heart.
"She's gone too. Chell. We found out what happened to her home, her old enemies still lived in the ice, demons of a sort, she died killing them…"


"That's what I thought at first too."
He grimaces walking over.
"…fuck. Okay, now this is a tragedy. A pegasus mare we can find anywhere, another construct like this? She was unique!"
He grabs the crystal heart, holding it up against the light.
"Maybe I can reverse engineer it… make something like her on my own…"


"Sorry.. She just went into some kind of rage when she saw them, and I couldn't make her stay back where it was safe." I wince at the memory.
"Her old home, they used a powerful magic to stop a demon portal." I try to explain. "Enough had gotten through that they were overrun, but, if they hadn't closed it, then we might not be here."


"A construct with emotions… that must have been why she was so fast at thinking. It must be the key, yes! I don't suppose you know how she felt that rage?"
He puts the crystal down for a moment, looking at you.
"Strange. How come the historians don't mention any of that?"


"How? I.. I saw her eyes change once, and her heart, that thing, warming that was how I woke her. The rest of her looked like metal parts to me."
I frown trying to think of something useful about chell's construct.
"Ah, the history is, Probably because those ponies all died off.. so no one could know about it. There were a few archaeologists nearby, provided the plague control ponies don't kill them they should be able to tell that story. I'm afraid, without chell here, no one would take my word for it."


"Can't really ask her anymore, can we?"
He shakes his head.
"Thank you for bringing this to me, at least."
He pats your shoulder.
"And hey, cheer up. Maybe I can make something like her one day."


"That sounds like a worthy project. Something to live on and make sure your true story is told." I smile at him straightening up.

"Have the others been doing well? So many magi, that's all influenced by emotions.. they aren't going out on jobs while distressed right?"


"The death yesterday wasn't pleasant, but things are going well I could say… and hey, some of those witches just use those emotions as fuel. Have you ever seen a witch flip out in real time? It's scary."


"No.. I'm not usually on the bad side of witches, unless Mirage counts, but I don't think she has a good side."


He lets out a shrill laugher.
"Ooooh… good one. Don't worry, I won't tell her you said that."


I chuckle back.
"Really thou, I know there is at least one demon mistress, and another necromancer?"


"Oh, they aren't witches, they are magic users. There are other witches aside from Mirage, but they are mostly out in the field, so to say, doing her work… you know, witches are a special breed. They don't need horns or catalysts, they can just tap into the raw, undaultered magic flowing around them, that's what makes them so dangeous and unpredictable."


"Ooh, I see. I always knew that as 'natural', its called witches eh'." I rub my chin with a wing.
"By the way, do you know about the emerald mercenaries?"


You see him shiver.
"Ugh, yeah, why? You got any news? Are they giving us trouble somewhere again?"


"Nothing certain, no. I was told some girl with their symbol might be looking for me. Then I realized I don't know much about them."


"You know, we hate the Angel of Death because she killed quite a few of us, and she is the lackey of the Saddle-Arabian and all that? Well, the emerald bitches are an entire company of mercenaries hunting us down."


"If they're mercenaries, why can't we just pay them to stop?"


"Because the Saddle-Arabian has better finances. Plus I'm pretty sure they wouldn't try to fuck with him after working for him for years now, doing his dirty work."


I sigh and nod.
"Right. I get it."
Then let the sadness hit me. "Stingray.. actually, she was the first one I met here, yea, she was boxing with a punching bag.." laugh bitterly. "Then suggested I should replace it."


He chuckles.
"Oh yeah, that sounds like her allright. She was a bit coarse and abrasive, but she kept spirits up."


"There gonna a funeral or.. " I rub my head awkwardly.


"We don't know yet… a public burian might draw attention when a lot of us are at the same place and… you can imagine how that could go wrong."


"Maybe something more private? ..let me know, I'd at least like to leave flowers or something.."


He nods.
"I will, don't worry. And hey… thanks, for caring."


"Of course, I mean, we haven't shared a night drinking, but we're friends. Stallions among a herd of mares if nothing else."


"You'd think we have nothing to complain about, surrounded by this many ladies!"


"They think that, but they haven't been in mix of perfumes we have. Get enough smells mixed in and it can make you downright sick, and that's before you have to compliment one of them on it, or risk getting punched."


He leans closer to whisper.
"I just tell them I lost my sense of smell in a lab-related accident."


I snicker.
"That's clever. I should start saying I kicked in my nose when they ask. Might even get a kiss out of it."


"I'm not sure I'd like a kiss from many of them to be honest! And not just because of complicated workplace relations!"


"What are you scared of? They dirty or something?" I nudge him.


"As a scientist, I must refrain from sticking it into crazy, which means half the mares here are unavailable… not to mention the rest can be weird too. I know I wouldn't want to be with a mare who has more demon blood in her than pony!"
He grimaces, nudging you back.
"She probably had more demon than pony in her otherwise too, if you catch my meaning."


"I suppose I should visit her a few more times to fix that horrible imbalance." I smirk. "Besides, crazy mares are fun. Unpredictable. "


"I mean, if she could summon some sort of succubus and make it a three-way…"
He waves his hoof.
"I have enough unpredictable squirting when I'm working with liquids in the lab. I don't need it from mares too!"


I smile a bit more honestly at that idea.. and chuckle a bit.
"Science is a demanding mistress huh?"


Try not to think too hard about it buddy.
"You tell me. She keeps me up all night and still leaves me frustrated and unsatisfied a lot of the time."


"Heh', well if I can find something to sweeten her mood, let me know. I'm good at picking up presents."
I linger just a moment and move toward the door.


"I will, but for now, she demands my attention."
He turns back to the heart of Chell, taking out his tools.


Nod at him and leave him to work in peace.
Head to the ponyville gate and get out of this sad mansion.


You leave the unusually silent mansion and soon find yourself in Ponyville!

At least it's a sunny day here!


I need to see lockbox, let's stop by her place.


You go to her place, only to find it locked.
You really need a key…

She must be doing her Guardmare duties!


Of course.
I should learn her shifts. If she's working now.. that means she's going to be gone until tonight usually..
I'll head put on a disguise of a delivery pony right now.

Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7


You quickly whip up a disguise to blend is as a mail delivery pegasus!
Where to?


Gonna walk to the shopping area of town.
'1d10' listen and look around

Roll #1 3 = 3


You go down the marketplace but don't see her anywhere, just the regular bustle of a small-town marketday!


Its fine. I wasn't really expecting her.
Just look around at the ponies, do they seem normal, what are they talking about?


Most of them seem normal, yes.
In fact, almost all of them seem like townspeaople about their business…
Aside from one stallion who your sneaky senses tell you is up to no good. At least you've got that hunch. The fact that he is wearing some sort of light, black padded armor doesn't help either.


Armor? that's pretty worrying.
'1d10' sneakily follow them by using the crowd to blend in.

Roll #1 2 = 2


You blend in to the crowd to follow him…

And lose track of him.



This isn't good.. what if he spotted me.
'1d10' perception to keep alert but move with this crowd.

Roll #1 9 = 9


It's incredibly easy to notice him, since he just slides up next to you.
You see his horn glow faintly.
"Want to go for a walk?"
You spot that same glow coming from his saddlebag, and the barrel of the pistol peeking out of it… THat might influence your response a bit.


"S-sure.." I will go with this pony, hooves slightly shaking intimidated.


He starts walking, staying silent until you see the shady in where you met the donkey before.
"In you go. Don't even try to fly away."


Oh, the bar.
Okay, go wait inside.


He steps inside after you, motioning for you to head down the stairs.
This seems to be a very secluded spot, a smoky semi-basement with a large oak table and benches on both sides.
He sits down on one side, drawing the pistol from the saddlebag and keeping it trained on you.
"What do you know, guessing you might show up in Ponyville was right."


"Uh, you were looking for me?" I ask confused. "Have we met?"


He reaches into his armor with a hoof and throws a small emerald badge onto the table.
"No, we haven't. I assume you know what that is, considering we are looking for you for whatever reason."


"I don't suppose you'd believe it if I said I had no idea?"


"I wouldn't, but let's say I play along.
You are wanted by the Emerald Mercenary Company, alive, for some reason, which either means you did something 'naughty' or you know something we want to know."


"Okay, well, you see, This whole abducting me and taking me to your base thing. Uh, that doesn't work for me, today. I have some things I need to do. Can I meet you here tonight or something?"


He lets out a loud laugh.
"Oohhhohohoh, you really are something. What, got to visit that marefriend of yours? Lockbox, is it? Thanks for leading me to her house, I didn't know where she lived until you showed me."
He waves the gun in his magic.
"Nice outfit, too. Could have fooled me if I didn't see you change into it."


"Well, its not a lot of good to have a cop friend if I don't get information from her to use, yea?" I roll my eyes.
"What you have something better to do? You were just gonna follow me around all day right? Sit here, relax with a few drinks or soemthing and I'll come back at night. Promise."


"Why would I believe anything from a criminal? I'm not stupid, I'm not going to just let you go because you say it nicely."


"Wow, and here I heard you Emerald ponies were criminal scum. Almost like someone wants us to fight."
I put the little mail pony hat down on table, using the action to lean in. "So, what's the real reason we are talking this over with some lowly thief? You need something stolen?"


He chuckles.
"The boss is just really an asshole about killing ponies in broad daylight. Too much paperwork. Just wanted to talk somewhere private to make sure we are on the same page about having a nice little trip to Horseshoe Bay. Don't worry, we don't need to take the train, but I need to wait for a friend of mine before we can set off."


"Oh, that all?" I sigh ruffling my mane with a hoof and then tapping a coin on the table for him, whatever a beer here is. "Okay, well your boss doesn't want to kill me in the first place, yes? I got my girl a present, sweets, exotic ones, they'll melt on that boat, just let me drop by and give them to her.. and I'll come here, you can have a beer on me while you wait.. You're waiting anyway right?"


He narrows his eyes, his mouth falling open.
"Wait… you're serious about this, aren't you? You're not just pulling my tail here? You actually want to go out…"
He takes a deep breath.
"Lure me to the guard mare. Clever."


"Why would I want an assassin near my marefriends?" Look at him like he's insane. "I just said I'd come back, you know where lockbox lives, you really think I'd put her at that kind of risk?"


He chuckles.
"I guess there's a real measure of what type of pony you are…
You know what, I will bite. It's not like you were hard to find the first time."
He leans back on the bench, lowering the gun.
"You've got two hours. If you're not back by that time, we are going to kill her. And maybe we'll pay a visit to your hometown too. Oh yes, that's where we looked for you first."


"See ya in 2 hours then." Take my mail hat and leave this joint.


You take the hat and leave.

You can confirm a few minutes later he isn't following you.

…that was surprisingly easy.


Maybe he's actually a good guy..
Go to the police station with the hat back on.


You arrive at the station. You see some guards standing outside.

Just waltz in?


Assuming they let me, I'll go to the desk and say. "I have a delivery for Lockbox, is she in?"


They do let you in to the reception area!
"Oh, yes, she is, should be on the second floor, filing paperwork. Do you want me to take the delivery to her?"


"Ah, the pony requested she sign for it, can you ask her to come down here?"


She nods.
"Just wait here please, sir."
She rolls back with her chair and trots up a set of stairs.
A few minutes later you see her come back down with Lockbox!
Seems does seem suspiscious of your disguise, not realizing it's you yet but you can see it in her eyes she knows something is up.


"Hello Miss Lockbox, I suppose you aren't expecting this, judging by your stare." I move my wing in a sweeping gesture and present the chocolates and new goddess statue with my usual smile at her, winking, the hat sliding just enough off my ears that lockbox could see what I look like without it, but not her receptionist co-worker. "Kelani Rush insisted I hoof deliver these delicate items."


She blushes and lets out a small gasp, covering her mouth with her hoof quickly.
You see her open and close her mouth a few times before she can actually speak!
"I… don't know what to say! Can you take a return message?"


"Of course. Should we go into a private room to relay the message?" I suggest.


You see her flatten her ears and blush even harder.
"Y-Yes, I suppose, we do need to go to the storage room so I can safely check there aren't any… explosives or forbiden magic items in that delivery!"
She motions for you to follow her. Shame she is only wearing a cloth uniform and not her full guard armor, but that makes sense, considering she is not on duty outside, only doing paperwork!


This is easier for her to move around in.
Follow her in a cheerful trot.


She leads you to a small room full of cleaning supplies, some broken equipment and the like…
Doesn't look like a place ponies at the station here use too often.


Let the door close behind us.
"I missed you." I tell her bringing her close with a wing hug.


The door closes, leaving you two with some space.
She cuddles into the hug, nuzzling your neck.
"I missed you too! You surprise me! What's with this mailpony outfit? Did you get a job here in Ponyville and didn't tell me?"


"No.. I'm still being followed, I just couldn't stay away from you any longer." I kiss her neck in return. "Its a zebra kiss." I point at the treat. "From a shop in Los Pegasus."


She coos at your tenderness, glancing at the treat.
"Los Pegasus? You really have been around! And you got it just for me?"


"I did. I couldn't stop thinking of you." stare into her eyes happily. "Do you have to go back to work right away?"


Her eyes beam equally brilliantly with happiness!
"Thank you so much!"
She plants a quick kiss on your lips, then shakes her head.
"I haven't use any of my breaktime yet today."


"Guess they won't miss you for a few minutes then~" I kiss her back, my excitement taking over, as I kiss and nudge us until we wind up on the floor, her in my soft wings, my hooves pressing her furs, sliding the now unbuttoned fabric away from them gently so it doesn't get stained.
assuming she agrees, gentle, lights off, loving happens ;)


How could she resist?
You don't really keep track of time but you certainly make very good use of at least one hour of the leeway that you were given. It's a bit of a surprise the chocolate didn't melt with how hot things got in such a small room!

Lockbox almost looks embarassed as she fixes her mane an fur, but you can catch the tiny smile in the corner of her mouth!


I think my heart absorbed all the heat instead. Help with her getting dressed and straightened up.
"Hey beautiful, I showed you the statue when I got here.. did I tell you about those? Its important that I don't lose it, can you watch it for me? "


She nods.
"You did, yes. Don't worry, I can keep it safe! They don't call me Lockbox for nothing!"
She giggles as you help her look as if nothing happened.


I giggle back at her. "I knew I could count on you." Checking her over once more and giving a hooves up to her offering to hold the door open.


She's good to go! Hopefully you didn't miss anything!
She does take both the candy and the Statue as well, hiding the latter behind the sweet treats.
"I don't want to ruin the mood but… how long do you think you'll be gone this time?"
She walks out, slowly so you can respond to her without getting back to the reception area too fast.


"I have to go to Horseshoe Bay, so that's a few days minimum for the boat.. longer depending on what they want of me.." I tell her sadly.


She nods, giving you a stealthy nuzzle as the two of you walk.
"Just take care of yourself out there… you can write a letter too, if it's going to be long!"


"A real letter huh, sure, why not.. I'll write one on the boat." I reply without really thinking it through, then realize she might have to change address after this..


They might have been bluffing for all you know… not only that, you also remember what happened to the last ponies who were trying to set her up.
She clears her throat.
"Thank you for the swift delivery. Make sure to thank the sender for me."


Ah, and so the fun has to end. Straighten up the hat and shirt to be 'crisp' and 'professional'
"I will deliver your message, exactly as you detailed." I nod and leave like I'm in a hurry.


You shouldn't just pretend to be in a hurry, in all honesty, since if your sense of time cheated you, you might be in trouble!


Go back to the bar now. Time to get abducted.


You go to the bar and down below.
You see the stallion drinking a beer.
He seems genuinely surprised when you show up!
"Oh, you did come back. Damn, and here I thought this was going to be fun."


Shrug and go back to him.
"Your boss doesn't give up easily, why delay seeing her?" Sit by him.
"So, where's your partner?"


"He got us a ride. We're skipping out on train, to public."
He finishes his beer and stands up.
"Don't get too comfortable, we are moving out. Oh, and one more thing."
He takes out the green gem and you see his horn glow, after which the emerald glows from the inside.
"Powder Keg, good news. You don't need to take the cannon to the town in Whitetail Woods after all."


He's just trying to scare me, give him a cheeky grin.
"Great. Let's get out of here."


He probably does… but you wonder if that thing actually works as some form of communications relay.
Is that how these mercs stay so up to date?
He motions with his head for you to follow and leaves the bar, heading out of the bounds of the small town… towards the Everfree Forest!


Spooky, but I'm sure there is a reason..


He turns north ever so slighty, and you see why. You spot that on the river that originates from the mountain under Canterlot and flows over most of Equestria, there is a beat up looking steamboat, the pedals at the back rusted and one of the chimneys crooked…


I squint at the ship.
"Looks safe."


"If you find us a sky chariot and a whip we can tie you to it and not stop until we arrive there."
He spits back at you at your snarky comment.
An earth pony mare with a similar barding that he is wearing with the same green badge and a glaive on her back waves as you approach.
"Took you long enough."


Roll my eyes, but check out this earth pony mare.. for uh.. where she might be hiding weapons.. yea. '1d10'

Roll #1 8 = 8


As she turns around and boards the ship with the pallet set down as a plank, you can see where she isn't hiding any weapons. You get a glimpse of everything.

The stallion nudges you.
"Go on, on you go."


unf I meant more of her colors thou

Trot up the plank and take her hoof.
"Hello lovely, I'm Kelani Rush, may I know your name?"


Sure you did

She has a dark blue, twirly mane and a pink coat.
As you do so and take her hoof, she looks shocked at first before pulling her hoof away.
"…Are you mental? Is something wrong with your head?"
The stallion answers.
"Leave it, Bonnie. He's just a weirdo. He doesn't mind being captured, apparently."
The mare grimaces.
"Oh, one of those."


Frown at him, but whatever, smile at the pink eathie.
"Bonnie. Well, I wish the circumstances were better.. but its nice to meet you." Get on the boat.


"Oh you will wish for a lot of things."
You see her dig into her saddlebags.
The stallion boards the boat too, pulling the plank in with magic.
"Oh, you did manage to get one. How?"
"Bribed a guard. These things are hard to get otherwise in shitty little towns like this."


What is she looking at..?


From her bag she fishes out some sort of… metal cuffs. They are way too small for pony hooves though-

Oh no.
That's a pair of wingcuffs!
They are put at the base of the wings to prevent you from opening them! You've seen them before, but never had your flight, and generally your wing-movement restricted by one!
She motions with her head.
"Go on in, I'm not going to put this on you outside."


Okay now I frown backing away from her. "Wha- wait, I wasn't going to fly off.. Those things can ruin your wing muscles you know, and I have them perfectly toned. See?" Flex a wing for her.


The stallion prods your flank with his horn.
"Yeah, we just want to make sure. You heard her, step inside."
"Wearing it for a day or two won't hurt you too much, I promise. If it does, you can always file a complaint at our company."
They both break out in laughter.


My ears droop and I walk inside the cabin.


You walk inside. It seems like the ship interior has this room at the front with the glass in front and the steering wheel and such, as well as a small planning table and several lockers, but curiously enough, nothing seperates it from the kitchen area just slightly to the back. You also see a door leading to the back, probably to the cabins while there is a narrow set of stairs down into the belly of the ship, probably with more cabins and the engine room.
In the kitchen area you see a fat, somewhat ugly pegasus mare in an apron that is so dirty that you could not tell it was white once if you didn't suspect it. Her coat and mane are disheveled and her feathers are all rustled. You've got an eye for wings, and from how her muscles look and how small her wings are compared to her body, you suspect she hasn't flown in at least a decade and probably doesn't use them much at all.
She stops chopping vegetables with her cleaver, wiping her brow with a hoof.
"There you are, my husband is getting ready to go. He'sa fiddlin' with the engine ta' make sure we all set 'n dandy."

Meanwhile, the cute pink mare steps to your side, caressing the sensitive bases of your wings for a second…


"I see.. what are you cooking?" I ask to distract myself from what's about to happen..


"Just some gumbo, nothing like a nice soup for a long trip."
She keeps chopping the vegetables as you feel the cold metal click around your wings…
They aren't too tight when your wings are folded at least.


"Tasty and warm, just what I like about soups." I try to smile at her, but just can't, fidgeting my wings around in the binds.


They clink and clank as you do, and you soon find it very uncomfortable to try and open your wings…
The merc mare walks up beside you, smirking.
"Not too tight for you, is it?"
She snickers in your face, the nerve!


"Its pinching just on the left side there." I complain.


She walks there, rolling her eyes.
"It looks fine to me."


Fold my wings up, lower my voice to a grumpier tone.
"…What now? You want me to sit in a little room or?"


"Uh… I don't actually know, we don't take prisoners often."
The stallion chuckles.
"You can roam around as much as you want know. You can't fly away and if you want to take a dive into the river in the Everfree… your funeral."

You hear the thudding of hoofsteps as the 'captain' emerges from the belly of the boat.
He is a unicorn stallion of at least 50 years, scrawly and thin with a disheveled fur not unlike the pegasus mare, but his mane is missing and his tail is cut short. He also has a scar running over his face, as if someone tried to carve a sickle on his face with a knife, making one of his eyes foggy, white and blind.
"I see y'all are here. We ready to go?"


Like I have the option to say no! Tell the stallion a grumpy "Thanks.." and go sit on the deck watching the shore line.


You also notice why the captain sounded so strange as he was coming up - he is missing some of his left hindleg, making his walk a strange wobble. Despite that, he seems to have pretty good balance with just three properly functioning legs.
You sit down on the wet, grimy deck and listen to the sound of water splashing against the hull of the ship as the pedals start moving the boat forward, billowing black smoke. It is already afternoon though… you'll be heading through the Everfree during the night!

Even as you reach the treeline, despite it still being day, an uncanny darkness falls, as if he canopy of the forest created an ever-present dusk.


Stare up at the trees, sighing. "thanks for not letting rain through.."


As you muse to youslf you hear a small splash an see… Lockbox in the water?
What is she doing here? Did she follow you?
Roll to see if you notice something is wrong with this


'1d10' rollin

Roll #1 1 = 1


What is she doing in the water?
She raises a hoof, motioning for you to join her! Is she in trouble or here to rescue you? You don't know, but you feel very compelled to do so…


Well, why not? Because I'm being watched that's why! Look around for my captors first.. '1d10' notice them

Roll #1 10 = 10


You don't see your captors… you do see the captain of the boat right behind you!
He grabs you by the tail and pulls you away from the railing, making you fall on your haunches, levitating out an old, beaten up blunderbuss, taking aim at… NO!
There is a loud bang and your… mind starts clearing up. You blink away something, glancing at the water. Where you saw the mare before is now just a quickly spreading mess of some green goop, the membrance punctured, the whole thing now sinking below the surface.
The ugly stallion looks at you, his good and his glassy, blind eye both staring at you.
"First time in the Everfree boy?"


I rub my head confused. "Yea.. what was that?"


"That was none other than a kelpie, nasty little critters. Lure you inta' the wa'er by messin' with yer mind, then drag ya' to the bottom an' choke the life outta you. This is why me wife don't go near it, nor do I. We know that if we see 'choter in there an' we aren't immediately tryn' ta get out, it ain't us."


"Kelpies.. there are a lot of them?"


He nonchalantly leviates a dry box from the wall of the deck, opening it to reveal it has a satch of gunpowder and little round metal balls - he starts to reload his gun. You're starting to think he could be more effective with a bow or a crossbow, or at least he could upgrade to one of those fancier, new guns that use the bullets that have casings and everything.

"They lie in wait at the bottom until they feel prey… don' worry, you kill one an' the rest will see the goop that's left sinkin' back down an' decide it ain't worth the trouble. That or they eat whatever was left o' the one you killed."


Trot over investigating his ammo supply, how much does it seem like he has?
"Like when you kill a few ants and they take a different route for food?"


About a dozen shot, but that's just this box.
A quick look around confirms there are a few more scattered around the ship. Clever.

He nods.
"That it."
He looks you over.
"Wanna' be useful and help me out?"


"Sure, I'm not doing anything else." I shrug and look at him for directions.


He motions at something you simply shrugged off before… it is a bunch of mishsapen, broken and generally low quality gems connected with something that you thought was string, but now notice is metallic!
"The silver string. If ya' find where it ain't touching the rest of the silver string, connect it. Will make the gems light up."


"Find the end of the string you mean?" '1d10' pick it up and follow the line

Roll #1 5 = 5


"It's disconnected multiple places."
You start going around and manage to connect the silver string at several places but they only occasionally flicker, giving off soft light, instead of all of them being lit…
Maybe you can ask if you did it wrong?


'1d10' nah, he said its disconnected in more than one place, just gotta keep following the line and I'll see it

Roll #1 9 = 9


You connect it at other places too, in fact, you find all of the disconnects, but it doesn't get any better!
They still blink in and out slowly with a faint glow.
You almost get upset as you turn around, looking into the darkness of the Everfree…
You see the fireflies and glowing mushrooms, and then it hits you.

There is a reason all the gems are faulty… that's the point!
This weird light just mimicks the light of the rest of the forest, so the ponies on it can see but whatever creatures lurk in the forest don't immedaitely just spot a moving light that is different from all others!
Maybe you were a bit too quick to judge how reliable this boat was!


I don't know anything about boats, I'm a land pony!

"That's all the spots, what next captain?"


He gives you a crooked smile.
"That'll do fer now, boy. It ain't safe out here, come on in. Me wife shoul have the grub ready."


"Aye aye." I follow him inside, sniffing the air for the spicy food.


You do so, and the smell of spices and vegetables hits your nose… most notably yellow bean.
When she sees the two of you enter, the fat pegasus mare dunks a large wooden spoon into the pot in front of her, getting a nice portion of soup for both of you in wooden bowls.
"Eat up."
She turns to you.
"Yer friends are down under, if you want to join them."
From the way she said that, she might mean you should eat it down there, leaving her an the captain in peace up top.


Well, Kelani can take a hint. hold the bowl in a hoof.
"Thank you for the meal. It looks delicious."
Then go downstairs.


It would be easier to go down the stairs by holding the bowl in your wings, wouldn't it?
You go beloweck and find that it has four cots, two of them taken by the mercs.
The mare is out of her barding, sitting on her cot and eating, while the stallion has the bowl emptied, looking at a guitar in the corner.
Without paying much attention to you, he asks the mare.
"You think he'd mind if I tried this thing?"
"I'm sure we'll find out if you try."


I see, no table here huh, just go sit against a wall and eat then.


You sit down on one of the cots… might be where you'll have to sleep anyway.
The unicorn stallion levitates the guitar to his lap, strumming at the strings a few times to see if it is tune or not, before grinning at you.
"Hey, want to hear a song about a friend of mine? I wrote it myself."


"Sure, I've written a few songs myself actually, maybe I can show you one next." I reply calmly eating.


The mare snickers.
"Oh, this is going to be good."
The stallion nods.
"Maybe you can."
He clears his throat, and starts strumming the guitar.

"This is the story of a hero straight and true;
A young donkey merc that had not much to do.
Dylo was his name and he stood on the front lines;
Hoping to hold out - until the end of time.

The young boss Emrille stayed by Dylo's side;
And wagered with her friends if and when they thought he'd die.
Emrille was a true believer in Dylo's might;
And bet that he would last - all the way through the fight.

Until a terrible terror force of witches and wizards;
Struck poor Dylo down before he could realize his dreams.
As saddened unicorns cried and pegasi stayed up late;
They mourned that fateful time when he died: Fourteen-o-eight!

He finishes the song up, the mare breaking out in laughter.


Stare at the mare like she's insane!


She keeps chuckling, giving you a look.
"What? It's funny? I guess you had to be there…"


Force a laugh.
"Yea.. Must be."


The stallion nods to you.
"So what have you got, huh? Can you do any better?"


"Okay pass it here. I have something in your tastes"
Finished with my food I'll use the bowl to tap on with my back hoof while playing with my front hooves.


Bury me softly in this womb
I give this part of me for you
Sand rains down and here I sit
Holding rare flowers
In a tomb… in bloom

Down in a hole and I don't know if I can be saved
See my heart I decorate it like a grave
Oh, you don't understand who they thought I was supposed to be
Look at me now I'm a pony who won't let himself be

Down in a hole, feeling so small
Down in a hole, losing my soul
I'd like to fly,
But my wings have been so denied,


The stallion nods approvingly, and the mare lets out a whistle too.
"Boy you got some pipes, huh?"


I nod. "I recently led a concert, in fact."
Pass the guitar to the mare with a smile.
"Your turn Miss Bonnie."


She chuckles shaking her head an hooves.
"Oh no no no, I can't! My voice is awful!"

You see the stallion perk his ears.


"Lies and slander! You have a lovely voice, why that 'o' you said just now was almost musical itself."


The mare is about to reply when the unicorn throws the wood bowl at her head.
"Shh…. the engine stopped… and so did the ship."


I look worried, listening closely '1d10'

Roll #1 9 = 9


You hear the uneven hoofsteps of the captain slowly inching towards the stairs while the heavier hoofsteps go towards the private cabin upstairs, followed by the door closing up there and the lock clicking in place.

You see the captain back up slowly and quietly.


Go up there and see what's bothering the boat..


You go up there quietly, used to sneaking.
The captain notices you with his one, raising one hoof to his mouth with a 'shh' motion.
The boat has come to a stop by this point.

You see why…

There is a Sea Serpent in the way, sleeping, the long dragon-like body waving even in his sleep, making waves!


I nod, staying near him in case the thing wakes up.


He motions for you to go below deck, quickly following you.
He does the same hush motion down there, speaking quietly.
"I don't suppose any of ya' have something to kill a sea serpent."


Wait for the assassins to answer, looking at them expectantly.


The mare looks shocked.
"A Sea serpent? I mean…"
The stallion frowns.
"We could, but it's tricky. I doubt the sea serpent woul just sit there and take it as we prepare."


"Its sleeping pretty soundly.."


The unicorn merc levitates three strage glass orbs out of his bag.
…they are just like the ones that were in the basement of the old lady that you were tricked into blowing up.

"These make a lot of sound though."


I will blink obliviously. "What's that do?" '1d10' bluff

Roll #1 8 = 8


You look as oblivious as possible.
"You're new to this, aren't you? This is volatile magical energy condensed into this little glass… it can be used as a grenade by non-unicorn, but spellcasters can use it to cast more powerful spells. Which is why I need you to distract that beast while I cast the spell."


"What are you gonna cast on it?"


His horn lights up, and you see a sharp ethereal spear form in the air.
"Normally, this magic could not pierce the hide of such a beast. With these baubles, it can, but it will take time to channel the power."


"Alright.." I nod at the demonstration. "I'm fine at distracting, but, it would be easier if it could see me.. like say.. if I were flying.. see?"


He rolls his eyes then nods to the mare who walks over.
With a click you hear the chains clink and fall away.
"Remember, no funny business."


"I won't boss. Promise." give him a sarcastic wave-salute and go upstairs.


It wasn't for long, but it feels good to be able to freely move your wings again!

He follows you to the deck too silently.

The purple sea serpent keeps snoring, his long snakelike body waving up and down, creating waves that splash against the boat.


"…Shame these things are so aggressive and dangerous, or we might convince it to nap somewhere else.." I sigh and get the brightest colored cloth / plant around to hold. '1d10'

Roll #1 7 = 7


"Convince it? You want to talk to to it?!"
He seems to look at you as if you are crazy.
"What makes you think that's a good idea in the Everfree?"

The ship has nothing like that on purpose, aside from the camouflage-lights.
You do find a large red leaf from some plant that switches hue depending on how light falls on it, just next to the shore that you can pluck!


Pluck that leaf, and shrug at the mercenary.
"Dunno, you don't kill a tiger just because its in the road right?"


He blinks.
"…we have very different ideas on solving problems… but sure, if you want to wake it up to talk to it, try it. I'll prepare a spell, just in case."


"With your weapon there, what could go wrong?" Smile at him and I will fly up to the head of the serpent. Tap it with the leaf.


You fly over and gently tickle the sea serpent.
You see it's nose wrinkle, before it opens it's eyes, the strange third eyelid that creautres like snakes or dragons have sliding back, revealing… a surprisngly normal, pony-ish set of eyes instead the dragon-like one you were expecting.
It makes a splash with it's tail, raising his head from the shore, eyeing you up.
"Huh… Wha?"
…Not the response you were expecting.
You see the waving of his body stop for a moment as he stretches, scratching his chin with one of his long hands.


"A fine morning to you, mighty dragon. Would you kindly hear our request that you relocate so our boat might pass?" I ask him loudly, since dragons probably can't hear tiny ponies too well.


It blinks a few times, slowly, squinting at you, before raising his clawed hand in front of you with a single finger extended.
"First of all, you woke me up for this?"
He extends another finger.
"Second of all, I'm not a dragon, do I look like I have wings?"
He extends his third finger.
"Third of all, could you talk like a normal person please? You just woke me and expect me to understand your regal knight mumbo jumbo?"


I blink in surprise.
"Uh, sorry, you're not like I expected. Anyway, yea, that's why I woke you up." I wave the leaf around a bit as I talk to try to keep his attention on me.
"Sorry again for waking you, but is there someway you could let us by?"


He squints at you again, quickly grabbing you with his other hand.
"It has been a while since I ate…"

He sneers, letting you look at his sharp teeth as he drags you closer…
"…and I think I got some spongy mushroom or something stuck in my teeth at the back and it's been killing me! Can you see it?"
He opens wider, and indeed, you can see some gross, half-chewn plant-fiber stuck between two sharp fangs in the back!


"I see it!" I tell him enthusiastically. "So.. you'll move if I can get that out for you?" These teeth are.. awfully big..


You see him wave, which you quickly realize was a shrug.
"I use it for awfully big meals."
He sticks his tongue out.
"And bleh, I don't want you to climb inside my mouth, don't be gross, who knows where you've been and when you last washed your hooves? Get me a pony spear or something sharp I can use to dig it out!"


"Uhuh, okay, just wait here and I'll bring something." I squirm out of his hold and fly back to the boat.


He lets you go at your squirming and you land back at the boat.
The unicorn looks incredolous.
"…what was that all about?!"


"It went well actually, he said he'll move if we give him something long and sharp to pick his teeth with. Got some nasty mushroom stuck in them."


He blinks.
"That's all? Huh.."
He thinks for a second.
"I could just use my magic if that is simpler, and if you truly think that will make him move without having to fight it."


"I think that will do it. He doesn't seem all that mean too me."


"Maybe it's a trick.. if we die, it's going to be your fault!"
His horn lights up and with a flash you see him disappear and reappear on the shore nearby!


What a show off! Fly to the shore beside him.


You fly to him and join him with the serpent.
"Where is it then?"
"I can use my magic."
The serpent looks at you.
"You think that's safe? My gums are really sensitive."


"One hundred percent fine. I'd trust this guy to my wing surgery, steadiest magic in all of ponyville."


He nods and opens his mouth wide.
The unicorn lights his horn up, and the icky muck is given a few tugs before it is removed and he just flings it into the forest.
"There, done. Will you move now?"
"Of course, fine, fine. Just don't wake me again, allright? I might bite if you do."
With that, the sea serpent quickly disappears into the deceptively deep river!

The unicorn looks at you.
"…I didn't think that was going to work."


"You had me worried too." I sigh and go back to the boat.


He blinks back as well.
By the time you both arrive back, the engine sputters to a start again, the captain coming topside.
"Nice work, you two."


"Glad to be moving again, wouldn't want to idle too long in dangerous waters."


"Ain't that the truth. Catch some shuteye, if ya' want. Should be smooth sailin' now."


"Might as well try.. who knows how much rest we can actually get."
Sure, go down below and sleep. '1d10'

Roll #1 6 = 6


You get some decent rest, a few hours at least.

…but you wake up to a jolt!
It feels like the boat has run into the shore!
You see that the mare wakes up as well, only the unicorn sleeping through it!
"The hell…"


Don't bother waking the unicorn, his partner can do that if she wants, go directly upstairs to see what happened.


She starts doing so as you go up to the deck.
What you immediately see is the unicorn captain collapsed near the steering wheel, several poisioned darts sticking out of his flank.
You can't tell if he's dead or not from here.
You quickly see that the door to the private room has been broken into too, blood trailing out of it towards the shore but more importantly…
You see three… strange beings on the kitchen table! They are rummaging around, knocking over the bowls, sniffing at the cauldron of soup.
They are shaped like ponies, but the size of foals with their skin wrinkly an shriveled, their heads hidden by large wooden masks with primitive paintings on them… unless that is their head.
One clutches a blowdart while the other you can see has rudimentary stone knives.


try to steal the darts from the blowdart… thing.

Roll #1 10 = 10


You drop down deep, crawling onto the floor without making a sound.
With an incredibly daring move, instead of retreating you sneak up next to the counter, quickly raising your head to grab onto the pouch that holds all the blowdarts for the weapon, ducking back down withouth being noticed!
Thankfully, they are all too distracted by searching for food!
They chitter and make awful, gurgling noises as they communicate.


Okay, try getting close to the captain. Is he.. alive? '1d10' sneaky

Roll #1 2 = 2


You get close to the captain, and put a hoof to his neck to confirm…
Yep, he seems to be alive, but he is knocked out cold from whatever is in the darts.
However, you're out in the open as you do, an one of the foal-sized raisin ponien screeches as it notices you!
The two with the daggers just flee off the boat, while the third…
Pats around itself, trying to find it's dart-pouch


grab the captain and run down stairs. '1d10'

Roll #1 3 = 3


The stallion might be thin, but his dead weight is sort of hard to carry!
More disturbingly, you hear a loud BANG from beside your hear, making your ears ring! That was REALLY loud!
The small creature flies off and hits the back wall from the impact, and you see the mercenary mare clutching the pistol of the captain in her hoof, throwing it on the ground once she killed that thing with it.
"Is he dead?"
You can hardly hear her through the ringing…


Calm down, just keep dragging him to safety and shake my head.
"Poisoned, I got the darts."


The unicorn stallion helps you carry him downstairs, resting him on a cot.
The unicorn rubs his eyes, grimacing.
"Just what we needed."
The mare comes down again, putting on her armored barding and taking up her glaive.
"I've got worse news too. His wife is gone. Even if we manage to wake him up, I doubt he'll leave without her."


"…What should we do? Have you seen this before?" I give the assassins one of the darts.


The stallion levitates it carefully, taking out some strange, small curved glass from his backpack.
He crushes the dart with his magic, letting the pieces fall on the glass which lights up, hissing as it evaporates the dart with a deep blue smoke.
"Comatose poision. In high doses too… he's going to be dazed for a while even if I manage to create an antidote."
He looks at the two of you.
"For that I will have to stay here."


Did they let me keep my daggers?
"..then we need to kill them, okay."


Nope, but the mare is offering them to you now.
"Preferably before they kill the poor mare."


Take them with a nod.
"Let's get those little bastards."
'1d10' upstairs as sneakily as possible.

Roll #1 7 = 7


You sneak up, the mare following you.
The coast seems to be clear for now, and the natural darkness of the Everfree and it being night help out a lot.

Then again, it also makes it harder for you to see.

The trail of blood leads off to the muddy shore.
As luck woul have it, the mare was dragged through said mud, leaving you a trail to follow.


Follow the trail of blood.



You start following the trail, only the fireflies buzzing around and some of the strange, glowing flora illuminating your path, but your eyes adjust to the darkness fast enough.

You are so focused on the trail you almost jump when the mare besides you stops you by extending a hoof in front of you.
Without making noise by speaking, she just points up at the trees with her glaive…

High up, hanging from some of the tree branches, you see cadavers of ponies long since dead, their bodies shriveled up like the tiny creatures you saw earlier.
On the barks of the trees at eye level and lower are some of the masks you saw them wear, as well as other primitive fetishes.
She whispers.
"I think this marks the edge of their territory."
You do see something hiding between the trees and bushes that look like the fires of a small settlement…


I narrow my eyes.
"Then they've taken her here. I'm going to circle around and look."
'1d10' sneaky dash to the opposite way of the eyes.

Roll #1 1 = 1


You start to circle around, avoiding the path that leads to the settlement…
You stop to the annoying buzz of a mosquito…
It sounds super close to your ear!
You wave around with a hoof, but the buzzing doesn't go away, in fact, you hear more!

Only when you look up do you see that it wasn't that it was close to your ear… it was the size.
And you see the half a dozen dog-sized bugs flying right towards you!
Their little sucker looks like a rapier at this size!


I can't help but shiver at this sight.
Go ahead and attack with my own daggers.

Roll #1 7, 1 = 8


You quickly slash one of them apart with your daggers, but leave yourself wide open in the process!
The bugs quickly capitalize on this, three of them piercing your skin with their sharp needles, one on your shoulder, one in your side and one in your flank, making you yelp out in pain!
You manage to shake off the one in the front by rearing up and flapping your wings, but the other two suck out waaaaay too much blood than what you are comfortable with before they are sliced apart by Bonnie!
She grabs the sucker that is left sticking out of your flank in her teeth an yanks it out.
"Gross… are you okay?"

You are, just in pain and a bit dizzy from the sudden loss of blood.


I stand up shakily, "Yeeeaa, totally fine. Let's go save that cooking mare.."


She offers you a hoof.
"I don't think I'm the only one who heard you. They might be coming, and unlike you, I can't really fly away…
But I kill for a job, so I can handle myself."
She nods with her head.
"I'll go back to the path, draw as many of them to me as I can, kill them too. If the skies are clear and there aren't any more of these bugs, think you can fly in and find her on your own?"


"Draw the little guys to you, fly in while they're distracted, got it." I nod.


She nods, getting her glaive ready.
"Good. Don't you die on me, you hear me? We still need you alive."


"I don't plan to die just yet." I smile at her. "Okay, now… I'll try to draw them out.." wait for her to move to hiding and then, ham it up.

Drag blood from the monsters all over into a splatter, moan in pain, get the stinger and hold it in place by my chest, twitch.
"Owch, Oooh somepony please help, It huuurts."


Roll #1 10 + 2 = 12


Your deathrattle woes of pain and agony echo through the darkness of the forest, your voice dying off only in the distance…

It really doesn't take long until you hear the little creatures storming to find you!
You get the shivers a bit when you see at least two dozen of them, all armed with their primitive weapons, but they do not attack, almost enthralled by your performance!
They quickly form a circle around you, all of them, chanting in their strange, gurgling sounds, as if performing some sort of ritual celebrating your slow an painful 'death'.
They all have their eyes on you, which would make it hard for you to make a fly for it…
However, you see the mare point up from behind a tree, then pointing at her weapon…
You quickly put two and two together, you gathered the creatures in a circle! Which is perfect for her, if you just fly up all she has to do is jump in the middle and spin her glaive around to get all of these critters at once!

Flying up is obviously an automatic action and requires no roll.


I first close my eyes, as if I were finally dying, letting my limbs 'twitch' and conveniently spread my wings into a ready position, and my legs into a springy one then open an eye, winking at them, turn and fly up to the skies.


Their little ritual stops in confusion for just a second…
That is all the time they have to realize the mistake they made as the mercenary earth pony jumps in, swinging her glaive around with a single, well practiced motion.

Two dozen wooden tiki mask heads fall to the ground in unison.
She wipes it in the grass, glancing up at you.
"This… wasn't quite what I had in mind, but I guess it works. You think that's most of their fighters?"


"I really hope its at least half.. I would hate to think about their numbers if its not.." I reply worriedly. "I'll try flying there to look."
'1d10' scouting roll.

Roll #1 1 = 1


You fly ahead to scout, having to keep somewhat low as you see the giant blood sucking bugs buzzing around higher up in the trees…

However, this proves to be a bad idea as you arrive into the village of the creatures, consisting of mud huts on the ground and reed huts on trees, connected by tiny walkways.
Said walkways have at least a dozen of these rascals all with their blowdarts, and they see you coming before you can stop!
Your body quickly becomes riddled with the tiny darts, painful enough to incapacitate you and make you tumble to the ground but not enough to kill you or even knock you out.

…of course they would have blowdarters on watch, there was the one who saw you back at the ship that ran away!
You crash into the dirt directly next to a sturdy cage made out of the bones of some large animal, the fat pegasus mare being inside, her body full of tiny cuts and bruises.
"This s'possetabe rescue?" She snarks at you as the darters scurry down to surround you, shrieking and gurgling, jumping around!

At least the mare was right, you don't see any more fighters aside from these lookouts.


Incapacitate how much?
Try pull the darts out.


You can curl up enough to start pulling them out, but some of these horrible monsters start kicking you down on the ground as you do!
Not that it hurts, their hooves are tiny and weak, but it's really embarassing!
The mare stomps against the bone cage.
"Yer knife! Pass it t'me!"
You can probably do that with some luck!


'1d10' give the mare a knife

Roll #1 10 = 10


You see that the cage is held together by some sort of thick rope at the joints… So you see why she'd need it.

You grit your teeth and wince, overcoming the pain.
You flare your wings, and buck with your hindlegs, freeing up enough space for yourself from these tiki-ponies that you can toss a dagger to her through the bars!
One of the small creatures, the one you stole the darts from on the ship you recognize from the paint on its mask, prepares it's weapon to dart at you, but you quickly turn and kick with your hindlegs again, with enough force that the small creature flies into the bone-cage, cracking it slightly!
The fat mare quickly uses the knife to cut the supporting ropes nearby where you weakened it, then gives it a shove with her big body, enough to make the whole thing crumble, freeing her!

The rest of the tiny creatures, cowardly as they are, flee into the darkness of the Everfree.


"Okay.. these darts really do sting. If you're free could you help out?" I ask her now that the little guys are gone.


"Yer lucky they didn't give you the dirks n' clubs like they did me."
She does have a lot of cuts and bruises…You assume she struggled a lot, not making it easy for them to capture her.
"Darn things wanted ta' eat me, you'd believe that? 'S why they kept me alive, wanta' to cook me up alive."
She leans over, using her mouth, gently removing the darts that are still in your sides, back and rear where you couldn't really reach. Ow, it stings when they are pulled out too!


"Barbaric.. Like those stories of tribal ponies.." I shutter. "When they thought I was dying they started praying or something, all chanting in a circle."


She spits out the last of the darts, shaking her head disapprovingly and hoofing you the dagger back.
"You really ruffled their feathers… One o'em came scurryin' back alone, jumping up n' down, gurgling all madlike!"

You see the earth pony mercenary mare approach, weapon at the ready, glancing at the huts suspisciously.
"Is the coast clear? Ready to go now?"


First I stand up and then look at the two mares with their battle ready eyes, shake out my wings as if to fly..

"They all fled." I inform her. "We can go back."


The merc nods.
"Good. You take the lead, she goes in the middle, I'll guard the rear. Let's move swiftly and quietly… I really fucking hate this place, I don't want to spend a minute more."
"Agreed, sista!"


'1d10' rolling for quiet trip back to the boat

Roll #1 1 = 1


You keep quiet as you walk back, until you hear the loud buzzing again!
You react in time but in vain, one of the giant bugs knocks you over, the sharp, rapier-like needle imaping you!
Your body has had quite enough by this point, so the sharp pain is the last thing you feel before the world falls dark around you…

You wake up with a gasp inside the ship.
From the sounds of it, you are on your way again, but more importantly, you see sunlight seep down from the deck… you're out of the Everfree!


I'm just gonna stay in bed.. listening to whatever the others are doing. '1d10'

Roll #1 6 = 6


Your everything still hurts… but you hear birds chirping outside… also the captain and the unicorn talking.

The fat pegasus also comes down, carrying a bowl of food and a jar with some strange green gunk in it.
"Lookie who's awake!"


"Please tell me that's some kind of pain killer so I can stop being awake.." I groan in reply.


"This here is just soup."
She hooves you the bowl.
"This here ain't no painkiller… This 'ere is a recipe me gran taught me, an ailment for the wounds."
You see that her wounds… well, they either healed completely or they healed enough to be hidden under her dirty coat.
She pops the lid of the jar and dips her hoof in, slathering your body… preeeeeeeeetty much where she can reach you with it without asking!
On one hoof this is pretty awkward on the other by Nature it is so cool and relaxing where it touches the hurting areas, making the pain vanish!


"Oooh, that is.. Wow! Can I have the recipe?" I remark with as much composure as I can.


You are just putty in her hooves!
Even when she spreads it over your flanks!

"I can write it down fer' ya… but it does need flowers from the marshes of the Everfree!"


"Sounds dangerous.." I sigh relaxing without a worry about her hooves.
Try some of the soup, and don't spill.


It's the same one from yesterday!
…unless you slept for more than a day, but that is doubtful.
She lathers you up, leaving the jar with you.
"You can keep this batch. Ya' saved my hide back there, 's the least I can give ya."

The earth pony mare trots down too, grabbing her bags.
"Oh, good, you're awake, we won't have to drag you. Get up, we are here."


"Thanks Miss." I smile at her kindness, getting up as the captain ordered, walking backwards up the stairs.


You get your stuff and go upstairs.
The old captain nods at you.
"Thanks fer' the help back there. Hope you'll have better luck out there in the world."
As he guides the boat to a pier you look around… it's such a beautiful day, the sun shining, the blue sea gently waving in this… well, horseshoe shaped bay that the river runs into.
A bag of money exchanges hooves as the stallion puts the wooden pallet down, and the two mercenaries motion their heads to you to move.


"Okay, just let me put this up." I say and put the jar into my bag.. and check on the statues, maybe one activated..


You put the jar away… and see that one of them did indeed!
The killdeer statue now has the wings spread!

…despite needing to do it, you did put yourself at serious risk to save that pegasus mare!
You awoke that statue! You're not sure how it will effect you now that it's active though.

After the horribleness of the Everfree, it is definitely positive to be among ponies again, even if you are surrounded by the two mercenaries.

You see tons of ship in the bay too, some docked while some are sailing out to the open sea!


I smile, bright and big, walking with the two mercenaries like they were my friends.
"What a pretty town. Should we stop for a drink or maybe dessert now?"


"Sorry pal, we already met a friend at the edge of town. The Boss knows we are coming, I wouldn't want to keep her waiting."
You soon see a large, three-story building on the shore, looking over the bay with a fancy balcony on the third floor.

Above the large double doors, you also see a giant emerald and the plaque 'Emerald Mercenary Company'.
This must be it.


"Oh, alright.." I cough a little the door, and get on a real sad expression, like I don't want to be around, droop my ears, let my wings flop a bit too.


You are lead through the door and inside.
Your sad-act is only broken by the fact that some mechanism on the ceiling sprinkles water on your muzzle as you enter!
The mare and the stallion just close their eyes, as it happens to them too.

They shake it off after a few seconds, the mare turning to the stallion.
"You take him up, I'll get started on filing it."
This place looks weird… there's a reception area and everything!


What.. touch the water a bit in confusion as I follow the mare up.


It seems to be regular old water to you…
And the mare is the one splitting off, the stallion gives you a telekinetic shove to follow him up the stairs instead.
"I see you are wondering… You don't think a place like this has no defenses against magical trickery, did you?"


"That mean your spell on me is broken now?" I reply in a taunting voice, keeping pace with him.


He rolls his eyes.
"It means your witch can't send her changelings in here."
As the two of you arrive on the third floor you see an armored pony pass by you, but it's nothing you've ever seen before…
The armor is like black carapace, the helmet having large green visors, and for a saddle you see a magical energy staff mounted like a lance…
You shudder when you remember the memory of the assassin that you were shown, how this armor was resistant to weapon blows and even gunfire.
The stallion stops in front of a fancy double door, knocking.


Emerald green gear.. I look disturbed and not just because of the implication that I work for changelings.


After a brief few seconds, the stallion opens the door, pushing you inside, following closely and shutting the door.
This is the room that overlooks the bay with the fancy balcony!
You also notice that on said balcony there are several mannequins, serving as target dummies, as apparent from the fact they are riddled with holes.
The inside of the room, however, is posh and fancy, full of expensive looking stuff, as well as a collection of guns on the wall.
In front of the open balcony door there is a large wooden desk, cluttered with all kinds of items and behind it, you see… a green pegasus mare with short purple mane… she can't be the boss, can she? She can't be a few years older than you!
She has her hindlegs on the desk, looking at the two of you approaching.
"Finally, you're here! It was about time you… wait, why isn't he in cuffs?"
"It was not needed, he was-"
"Not fucking needed? You realize he is a pegasus and you are not, right? He can just fly away."
"He wouldn't have wanted to because-"
"Because what? You sucked his dick to make sure he is comfortable? Bloody hell, some of you fucking ponies. Get the shit out of my sight."

The unicorn grumbles, quickly leaving.
The pegasus mare eyes you up without a word.


just look straight ahead at her, making a neutral expression. '1d10'
"Good morning Miss Emm-er-rill."

Roll #1 10 = 10


She seems impressed by your courage!
"It's Emrille, you imbecile."
She motions at the chair that is on the other side of her desk.
"Are you going to sit down or will you just stand there like a limp dick?"


Sit down at her desk, lifting an item up from the desk in curiosity.
"Sure, what did you want to talk about?"


You pick up the closest thing, a large bullet that is apparently made for one rifle on the wall with the beautiful golden inset.
"I've heard about you. They said you got quite the set of balls on you, and I can see that's true."
She nods at you.
"Those bullets used to be made by my ponies in Los Pegasus. Not anymore. Those things can tear a pony apart by themselves. Explode on the inside and everything. I'd love to show that to you on some of your friends, but y'know, gotta preserve them since you fucked over the manufacturing. Not you, personally, but you had a hoof in it with that terrorist witch friend of yours."


I shrug and gently set it down.
"Destruction's not my department."


You put it back on the table.
The mare gently picks up a pistol, a revolver to be precise, flipping out the cylinder and loading a single bullet inside.
"What is your department then, luck?"
She spins the cylinder of the gun then before you can react, aims it at your head an pulls the trigger!
It only gives a soft click, and she lowers it back.
"Guess so. Still, my friend saw into your mind, Spruce, Kelani Rush… whatever your real fucking name was, slipped my mind. It would be just grand if you could tell me where the witch is hiding so we can be over with this."


"I would but, your friend isn't the only one that's been fucking around in my mind." I tap my head just below the ear. "Can't remember the entrance, gets completely foggy if I try."


"Is that so? You seem to get around Equestria awfully fucking fast despite not knowing. I know that whore has some sort of teleporter. It's plain as fucking day. Where is the hub, huh? How do you get around, you must know that."


"Its more.. like they know how to get me there. Something about a link to me.. without it I'd explode or she'd make me explode… Its all very complicated magic, supposed to be expensive too."


She narrows her eyes, but then shrugs.
"Let's say I believe you. Fuck it. Who cares. You certainly don't, do you? But I could use a stallion with a skillset like yours who is not from my company. Do this little something for me and I'll consider letting you off easy."


Raise a brow at her. "I suppose I could do favor for the hated enemy of my boss, why the fuck not."


She smirks.
"Oh hey, want an alternative?"
She leans back in her chair, turning a bit and motioning at the target dummies outside.
"Imagine one of those being you."
She mocks a stalliony voice.
"Oh no, you'll shoot me, I'll just die quick, that's not so bad."
She takes the pistol and aims it at the dummy without even looking, staring at you.
"But I can do this."
She pulls the trigger, the gun going off with a loud bang and the dummy she hits… it becomes engulfed in flames!
Being set on fire by being shot definitely sounds awful…
And by the way she smirks you know she knows from the mind reader…
"How's that? Sounds good? We can get started on it right away if you refuse."



'1d10' don't get scared.

Roll #1 4 = 4


With the dummy still burning on the balcony and her cruel smile that she actually enjoys this and would do it in a heartbeat… it's hard not to get a little scared. It doesn't show much at least.


"Are you gonna tell me what it might be.. or just burn more of your stuff?" I ask her, trying to not stare at the balcony.


"In Manehatten, there is a retired witch hunter by the name of Steadfast Banner. He refuses to speak with us, but I strongly suspect he knows something about Mirage we don't. Find out what it is."
She nods with her head.
"Or join the dummy in the balcony, whatever you want."


"And.. how should I get back here, you know, without Mirage hearing about me walking up too your green plated building?"


"You were caught in a mailpony disguise, I'm sure your peanut fucking brain can figure something out. I'm not going to solve it for you."


"Just thought I'd ask, in case you had another door." I roll my eyes back at her.
"Tell me more about this guy, Steadfast Banner."


She gently places the pistol on the wooden table.
"We tried to run a trace on him. Couldn't find a single pony who might now something about him we could use. He is a witch hunter so we can't really use magic to read his mind, and he will not talk to us. Go there, shove that silver tongue so far up his ass that you can french kiss him in the muzzle and find out what he had to do with Mirage and why he stopped trying to fight her."
She shrugs, putting one of her petite hindlegs up on the table then crossing the other as she leans back in the chair.
"Do your thing."


"Witch hunter.. Huh, approaching someone like that.. Does he have a favorite bar?"


"He never leaves his home, an old mansion."


"A shut in? What a pain!" I groan and rub my head.
"Okay, who does he meet with?"


"Absolutely fucking nopony. Has some servants but he never talks to them."
The green mare facehooves, letting out an annoyed sigh.
"Listen, are you going to ask your dumb shit questions all fucking day or are you going to get to work so I can do my own work and kill your dumbass witch friends better."


"I'm going lady, a-social fucking shut ins aren't gonna be a lunch date deal, I'll be back whenever I actually learn something."
Stand to leave.


She narrows her eyes.
"You know I can shoot you without my gun being loaded if you smartmouth back, right? I just loaded that bullet to prove a point."
She waves at you with a wing.
"Anywho, fuck off now, shoo. Be back in two days or I'll let Lollipop play some darts with knives and pictures to decide which of your loved one we should kill first."


"Yea, two days got it. Just don't come sniffing around and spooking the guy on me." Leaving now.


The last thing you see is her breaking out in a grin, her chair creaking as she leans back.
"Oh don't worry, he won't be the one getting spooked~"

You leave her room.
Huh. That… went well?
You shoul probably get started to Manehatten though, it IS an hour's flight.


first I need a disguise, go for a dark color coat, black even, it needs to pass inspection. '1d10+2' disguise

Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9



Roll #1 7 = 7


Once you find the right thing in your little make-up box that you always carry in your saddlebag and shut up it's an actor's kit, while also finding the perfectly secluded and shady spot behind a large cargo container that has been left to rot in a more run-down, abandoned section of the harbor it is easy to turn your pristine coat into one that is completly black. You're like a new pony completely!


I flap my wings a bit to stretch them, "Yep, this is perfect, time to get to work."
'1d10' fly to Manehatten?

Roll #1 6 = 6


If there is one thing to say about the flight there is that it is absolutely beautiful, with the horseshoe shaped land and the beautiful blue sea below, the rays of the sun turning the waves of the water into a thousand tiny mirrors that all shine at you.

Riding the currents, it only takes about an hour until you see the Pony of Liberty on the other side of the city, the small suburban and industrial areas that are below you and the impressive towering metal skyscrapers and apartment buildings that have been built over the course of the last few decades, slowly but surely outgrowing the surrouning buildings, one office or living block at a time.

The mansion should be in the suburban area, unless you want to go somewhere else first.


Nah, I'm gonna head right there.
It should be pretty safe here.. but just to be sure, '1d10' spot checking

Roll #1 6 = 6


The mansion is completely bereft of guards.
You only see a gardener donkey jack, but he seems to be actually… well, gardening. This mansion has a really pretty garden!


I'll just approach the front door.


You approach the large door. Ring the bell?


Use the knocker, of course.


You use the knocker because you like the sound of brass on brass an you apparently also like to make the life of butlers harder by using the ornate knocker that is mostly there for aesthetic purposes instead of the literal little bell.

Soon enough, a young stallion, even younger than you are in a butler outfit and a silver platter cutie mark opens the door.
"Good day, sir, welcome to the Banner Mansion. What may I help you with?"


"I'd like to see Mister Steadfast Banner. Is he home?"


The young butler seems… surprised.
"He… never got any visitors before."
He clears his throat.
"Ahem. He is, of course. I'll show you the way."
He stands aside, letting you enter.


"I know." I sigh worriedly and follow the kid inside. "Everyone knows that, you were probably expecting some salespony if half the rumors are true."


"Or somepony else looking for a job."
He closes the door behind you and leads you up ornate wooden stairs.
"I know there are many rumours surrounding him, but he is a good pony who gives jobs to dozens of people even though he has no need to, he just does it out of the good in his heart… even though all employees have to sign a contract not to talk to him."


"What a strange policy." I comment as we go on.
"One way not to get too attached to anypony."


He nods.
"Despite that, he hasn't fired anypony yet. It is strange, but as I said, I do believe he is a good person, despite the rumours."

He finally leads you to an open door that leads to a large sitting room with a fireplace that only has embers in it.
You see urns lining the mantelpiece.

The butler knocks on the door before nodding to you and leaving.

You see the old unicorn stallion sitting in a velvet armchair, staring into the remains of the fire, his hindlegs covered in a blanket.


Nod to the butler colt and trot inside to approach the old man, bowing with a wing out when I get close.
"Master Banner, I am Belani Dust, Is this a good time to speak with you?"


He glances at you, looking you over.
"What is it, do you want a job? I am afraid I am running out of positions that can be filled at a mansion like this."
He motions at a nearby sitting chair.


"No, I have a job. Not quite what you used to do, but.." Show him the mouse statue. "Maybe you know about these?"


He stares at the statue for a bit, almost spacing out, then looks you in the eyes.
"I'm not coming back. It's not my fight, not anymore. Never should have been."


Shake my head but leave the thing here.
"I'm not here to ask someone else to fight for me. Nature would never speak to me again if I tried such a thing. I hoped.. You might know about where some of them ended up."


"I know what they are, but not where. I know what they can do, and I know nopony but a select few ancient druids believe they are as powerful as they are famed to be… The tools that let Nature right her wrongs."


"No one statue alone is that strong, this is why I seek all of them." I nod at his statement.
"I do have a few leads of my own.. just.. this one.." I sigh and shake my. "Some of these statues are tied up with dangerous ponies."


He turns to look at you.
"Then you need only ask yourself… is the risk of dealing with them worth the pain?"
He glances back at the mantelpiece with the urns on them…


Look at the urns a long moment.
Then stare back at him. "I made up my mind, that day in the forest. No going back now, not on deals with goddesses."


He lets out a bitter, grim sigh.
"I, too, know what that is like. I told myself I am doing the right thing. I was doing the bidding of the Princess, for Equestria. I told myself I was a good pony fighting for a good cause… how could I have ever imagined I would lose? That evil could triumph over light?"


"I.. have already hurt ponies over this cause, not what I imagined.." I frown. "Its in Nature's wish that things die, but.." I sigh "This is starting to be a conversation that needs drinks."


He levitates a little silver bell to the tiny table beside your chair.
"Ring it and ask the butler whatever you wish for."
He pauses, taking a deep breath, contemplating something without saying it.


Well, he did offer, hide the statue first, back in my bag, then ring.

"Could you bring us something to drink? Wiskey maybe?"


You put the statue away safely then ring the little bell for the servant.
The butler pony shows up immediately, nodding politely.
"Whiskey on the rocks, coming right up, sir."
He quickly scurries away.
The old stallion does not speak a single word while he is in the room, you notice.


Well, that's the contract.

This is kind of an awkward moment, cough a little. "I think he looks up to you, that kid."


"For what? Being a shell of a pony? For distributing my wealth on employing ponies to upkeep a mansion I do not even care about, before I die?"


"Can't say, I don't live here with you two, that's just the impression I get." Shrug a bit trying to relax. "Thought it was noteworthy, since it can't be anything you said."


He falls silent when the butler pony returns, putting the elegant crystal glasses next to the tables for both of you before leaving.

"Ponies look up for me, praise me for helping them get an easy life by working here, or using it to get to a better career, or even find their cutie marks, like the boy did. What good does that do me?"


Pour the drinks for us.

"You know… I was recently in a pleasant place, a paradise even, I was making all kinds of ponies happy, even helping a pretty mare live her dreams.. I was happy, but couldn't settle down with that, I had to leave as soon as I got the statue."
Sip on the drink.
"Not because it was an order, or a vision, but because.. It was always on my mind, the trouble that I was hiding from. That I didn't have a way of knowing what was happening."
"What doing for others does for you huh, I never used to think that.. not until that island."


He finishes his glass in one take and several long gulps.
"Ironic, that you'd say that. When I was young I never thought about how what I am doing affects me. All I ever had in mind, all my life, as long as I knew, was to do what needs to be done to protect those I care about."
He leans back in his chair, pulling the blanket on him higher with his magic.
"Now… now I can think what my actions do to me, because I no longer have anypony to care about, not one."


Pause at this, in concern.
"What happened to you?"


"All the ponies that I cared about disappeared.
My wife, children, siblings, relatives, friends, my old comrades, brothers and sisters of battle, everypony I cared about… dead."
You see some tears streak down his cheeks.
"I have only my own actions to blame."


Pour him another drink.
This isn't a time to interrupt.


He looks at the drink, but chooses to ignore it.
"It was because I was weak. It was because I had faith, I had hope. It was my failure that everypony I have ever cared about is now gone."


My eyes goes wide at this actually.
"This all sounds.. Were you doing everything alone? By chance? Believing you could do it all?"


He shakes his head, wiping his tears with a hoof.
"I made the mistake of sparing a life that I should have taken but could not bring myself to."


"Oh, I understand.. Its not even easy to think about, a life you'd rather not take but should.."


"I thought… I thought I was saving her. She was only a filly, I thought she was innocent. That she could do great things one day. I… I wasn't saving her, the ponies I lead slaughtered her family for being what they are, but I thought she could still be saved."
You see him gulp.
"The next day I went to the infirmary, to check on her. She was smiling at me the whole time. I asked her how she was feeling, an she only said 'You will know one day'. For decades I did not understand what she meant. Now I do. Now I know what she meant when she said I will know what she feels the day after I killed everypony that mattered to her."

He stares at the urns for several long seconds of silence.


Listen to the story and finish the drink.
"That girl.. what happened to her?"


"She grew up and killed everypony I have ever cared about, one by one. She grew up to be a mare who only has a single goal in her life, to follow the legacy of the parents I have taken form her."


I close my eyes a moment.
"Sorry, I thought the story sounded familiar, but that girl, she's dead now right?"


"No, she is still alive. She is still alive and gets closer to the final twist of the dagger, bringing chaos to destroy Equestria as we know it, turning it into one big Everfree Forest, to take away the last thing I care about."


"Chaos? Perhaps in the form of black vines?"


"Chaos in the form of unleashing a witch who has been sealed away and banished hundreds of years ago."


"Terrible. But this girl.. was she a unicorn? Very good at pain spells? "


"Sometimes she is a unicorn… sometimes an earth pony, and sometimes a pegasus. Whatever she needs to look like to hurt ponies the most."


Shake my head in disgust.
"Sorry, I just thought I might have met her."


"Maybe you have, without even realising it. Or maybe you have, and that is why you are here."
He gives you a tired look.


Take a breath.
"Well, the one I was thinking of goes by Mirage. Doubt she's the same one from your story, now that I think about it.."


"That is one of her more recent names, yes."
He sighs.
"Every day I hear something awful happening in Equestria and know it is my fault."


I blink in actual surprise.
"You're serious, its the same girl?" Pull myself together, straightening up my wings too.
"Listen sir, she.. tried to kill me, and I got into a very complicated situation because of it. Can you tell me a little more about her?"


"I'm afraid I can do nothing to help you."
He sighs.
"She is a witch, the most powerful of her kind to exist. That is, she will be, until she finds a way to break the four seals. I know there are ponies who intend to stop her, that is why we have ponies murdering each other in all corners of Equestria."


"What will happen when the seals break?"


He takes up the drink he's been ignoring, sipping on the alcohol.
"Let us hope it is an if the seals break, and not a when. If they do… a witch with the power to transform Equestria to the worse will awaken."


"The power to change the world for the worse.. a lot of that going around these days."
rub my head "I'd really rather not save the world from one trouble only to leave it vulnerable to another.."


He points at your saddlebags.
"Why not just use the power of those statues of yours? Should she succeed, the magic of those artifacts must be strong enough to oppose even that of the witch."


"That's not what She want me to use them for. If the legend is correct, they're all going to scatter again once they are used for the ritual. If that part isn't true, then they will still be emptied of their powers afterwards."
"Basically, using it for both events would be.. near impossible."


He leans back into his chair, spacing out a bit, staring at the embers in the fireplace.
"I suppose it is up to you what you choose to save."


I get a frustrated expression.
"No. I can not accept that. I will just find a different way to deal with Mirage."
"In fact, I may be uniquely in a position to do so.." I take a deep breath as I run through ideas. "Do you know if she has any old weakness? Something that might surprise her, or help stop her?"


"I used to be a warrior for justice, righteousness and light, I should not even have such vile ideas but… I know her dead daughter still pains her."
The stallion narrows his eyes, growling dangerously.
"I cannot feel a shred of pity for her. You want to hurt her? Find where she is buried, find a necromancer and bring her back. Sic her dead daughter on her mother. That ought to make her lose her mind."


Take the suggestion seriously.
"Thank you. It may be a dirty idea that only works once, but I am grateful for it."


"Do whatever you must to stop her and should a chance arise for you to end her life… do not hesitate."


"Should I create such a moment, I will not waste it." I assure him.


"Unless she kills you first. Never turn her back to her. Many ponies I once knew are now gone for making that mistake."


"I won't."
Sigh and finish another glass.
"Can I stay here tonight? Its been a long flight already."


It is barely noon, but your sleep on the boat was not very relaxing, due to you being rather hurt and you did fly quite some ways since.
"You may have a room, but only for today. I will want you gone by tomorrow."


It feels like forever. Or maybe I am just mentally exhausted.
"I'll leave before breakfast."


"You may stay for that. At least it gives some of the ponies working here something to do. I am sure they will be happy to do more than just cater to a single old stallion and themselves."


Chuckle at that.
"If I stay too long they might think you actually have a friend."


He shakes his head.
"Then she would probably kill you too."


"Got away from her attempt once didn't I?" I smirk at the old man and stretch.
"Its only noon thou, you should enjoy the sunshine, its lovely out there."


"I prefer the garden at sunset. I no longer feel I deserve to enjoy the sun of Princess Celestia."


I frown at him sentiment.
"Do you read the papers?"


He nods.
"I feel compelled to."


"Keep looking, I'll be changing those headlines. To something good."


"It's… it is good to know that there are ponies like you out there, still trying to change the world for the better."


Now give him the perfect smile, and excuse myself from this room.


He just goes back to staring ahead of himself.
You're out on the corridor now.
Where to?


Go find a servant pony.


You find a middle aged maid mare, dusting off a table!


"Hello, I'm going to be staying the night, could you show me to a room?"


She gives you a little curtsey.
"Of course, follow me, sir!"
She leads you to another corridor with quite a few rooms, opening one.
It looks like a spacious, cozy bedroom, all set, even has a towel and everything on the bed!


How nice!
"Thanks, I think I'll rest a moment, I flew quite a long time.."
Trot over to the bed and climb inside.


Thankfully, your black-coat make-up doesn't stain the pristine white sheets.
Hmm, so comfy!
The maid nods and leaves, instisting that you ring the little bell if you need anything!


I'm taking a nap. Its been a long day, and I'm still hurt!
'1d10' restfulness

Roll #1 2 = 2


You take a nap and wake up about two hours later, judging by the clock on the table…

You still feel like crap though.


Okay, ring the bell.


Soon enough, you hear a knock, and the unicorn mare steps in.
"May I help you with anything, sir?"


"Yes.. If its not too much to ask, I need help applying a medicine to my back." I explain to her.


She nods with a smile.
"Of course, sir. It would be hard to reach, even for a unicorn!"
She trots over to the bedside, waiting for you to give her the meds!


Give her the jar from the swamp lady, and lay down flat for the maid, my expression clearly in pain.
"Thanks, I hope this helps."


You may have given your coat a paintjob, but she can still see the small bruises and cuts under it when she runs a hoof through your fur.
"I hope so too! I am no nurse, but I have expertise applying salves and changing bandages!"
She takes pride in saying that! She also takes the jar with her magic and reaches in with a hoof, expertly and professionally spreading it while still being gentle as to not hurt you.
You soon feel her hoof spread the cooling and revitalizing gel over the tiny cuts and bruises on your shoulder, on your back, near your wings and even your flanks…


I make a relaxed sigh, letting myself sink into the sheets.
"Yes, I already feel it working."


She smiles at you nicely.
"I am glad I could assist you with it! I think I got every wound I saw on your back!"
She levitates the jar on the table beside the bed.
"Was there anything else you needed?"


"Just a bit of company, while I let this settle. Its better not to move too much when you're hurt, but its sooo boring."


She pulls a nearby chair sitting pillow closer and sits down on it, crossing her hindlegs.
"That I can do!"
She gives you a genuine smile!
"If I may ask, how come you are staying for the night here? Master Banner does not have visitors often."


"We have a common investment, and I came quite a ways to see him about it." I explain. "Its simply easier for me to stay here a night."


"I see. I am glad you did, it almost feels like a waste that these beautiful guest rooms are never used! I never get to clean them that way either and I just love to see something go from dirty and used to tidy and pretty!"
She seems like she likes her job!


I chuckle at her.
"You do? Why not work at a busy motel then?"


"I used to when I was younger."
She shakes her head.
"Those ponies were too mean for my tastes. Always yelling and shouting, despite us maids doing our jobs, they just didn't respect us! Just because you have a cutie mark with business papers on it doesn't mean you can't say please, missy, don't you know?"
She giggles waving a hoof, uncrossing her hindlegs then crossing them again the other way around.
"Master Banner may not talk much, but everypony here is nice, plus I do have my work cut out for me, making sure the dust doesn't settle in a lot of those unused rooms."


I hum along with her story.
"I see the appeal, nothing but quiet and your work. No one making outrageous demands."


"When I woke up today, I wouldn't have guessed a stallion was going to ask me to massage his back with a healing salve though, I'll tell you that much!"
She giggles.


"You're quite the expert at it, really massaged it in, just firm enough to make an impression.."


"Got good at it back in the busy days, believe it or not!"


"Really? You saw a lot of wounded ponies in your old days?"


She waves a hoof.
"Jeesh, no! It was just very stressful, right? So us maids decided to stick together, and often gave each other massages after our shifts were done! One of my friends even went ahead and opened up a spa after she left that place!"


"A spa? Is it nearby?"


"It's not too far, near the edge of the suburbs!"


"You want to go? I could use an escort around town."


"Oh, I would love to, but I won't get a day off until the weekend! There might be no rush hours here, but I still have a contract that I work here!"


"Oh, how silly of me."
"Well, tell me about the city, what's popular?


"Oh, visitors love the Pony of Liberty! I don't get the fuss, but that must be because I was born here, it's nothing special to me."
She re-crosses her hindlegs again, finding a more comfortable pose.
"Some ponies just like downtown, with all the skyscrapers and fancy stores too, it is a heaven for ponies who love fashion!"


I can't help watching her legs move.
"Really? Then what places are special to you?"


She fills those elegant stockings well with them! And she either doesn't notice or doesn't care that you look, even though you may have a good angle from your head on the bed to peek…

"Oh, for me? Hmm… I alwyays loved the old wood piers, the ones that aren't used by boats or anything, just for ponies to walk and sit on so they can enjoy the sight of the sea, no matter if it's sunny or stormy."


"You should take up fishnets- I mean fishing. It would be very relaxing after a long week of work."


You see her raised an amused eyebrow, but doesn't press it.
"Oh, I couldn't, I don't want to hurt the fishies with the hooks! It's one thing when ponies do it so they can sell them to gryphons or diamond dogs, but just for fun, no sir!"
The next time she crosses her legs she does it slightly slower… or maybe you're just imagining it, you can't tell!


This girl.. I inch a little closer to her side of the room, leaning on my side, extending a wing up, flexing it.
"Not even catch and release? What do you do for fun then?"


Your extended wing obviously catches her eye, but she doesn't move from her comfortable sitting pillow next to your bed!
"I like to go to the park when they have those concerts in the gazebos or make embroided flowers!"


"Concerts? You know.. I'm a bit of a musician myself.. what kind of music do you like?"


She clops her forehooves together excitedly.
"Oh, I just love strings! There's something so… regal to them!"
Her ears flick excitedly.
"What music do you play?"


"I sing actually. I know the drums and piano too, but you can't carry those around."


"Unless you have a magic piano!"
She giggles, then waves a hoof.
"I do think a Manehatten pianist had one, she could shrink it with her magic and put it in her pocket!"


"That is quite a trick!" I chuckle back. "You know I can mimic a sound I've heard too."
'1d10' make a chirp that sounds just like the tiny bell.
"Thou, there must be a few tricks you know too."

Roll #1 3 = 3


Your bell-chirp sounds a bit like a whistle, which makes her cover her mouth as she giggles.
"That is quite the pitch, I must admit."
She shifts her weight on the pillow.
"What tricks could a maid like me have to impress somepony like you?"


"Just having such a pretty, professional, caring way about you is already impressive."


She waves a hoof.
"Oh, you flatter me, but I was just doing what I'm good at, it's my job after all!"
She does blush at your compliments though!


"Non sense, You're marvelous. I bet you've even gotten far ahead in your tasks for the day."
"and.. may I see your hoof?" I extend mine to hold hers.


She giggles, her ears perking curiously.
"My hoof? Of course…"
She leans closer to you, putting a forehoof on yours! She does have a nice pony-pedi!


I gently rub the end of it, light enough to tickle her.
"And such pretty soft hooves, despite working so long, another amazing trick."


She lets out a snortle from the unexpected tickle, quickl covering her muzzle with the other hoof, but doesn't pull away.
"I see another of your tricks is sweettalking!"


"Was it so obvious?" I gently smile at her, playfully tickling just a moment longer.
"I admit, It seemed like a good way to spend the afternoon, you're not mad are you?"


She shakes her head with a warm smile, letting out another slight giggle at the last of your tickles.
"How could I be mad? It's been very long since I had such a nice day, getting to talk to a pleasant stallion like you!"


"That's a shame.. a treasure like you should be cherished." Give her a kiss on her hoof before letting her take it back.


She definitely crosses her hindlegs much slower this time, pulling her forehoof back gently.
"You certaily make me feel like a cherished treasure right now, don't you know?"


This mare
"I don't have anywhere to be for a little while.. I could show you how I cherish a mare." I lean over and open the bed up in an inviting gesture.


She blushes, turning her head slightly but not taking her eyes off of you.
"I'm charmed… but I'm not sure we should… I'm supposed to be working right now, remember?"
She sounds a bit playful though… is she playing hard to get?


"Oh, yes, but you are working hard right now!" I dance my wing tips on the bed in a show of agility
"This room needed some extra attention is all."


You see her smirk.
"And what, pray tell, do you exactly need my help with right now?"


Lean toward her whispering with a seductive look. "A little rod polishing, and curtain straightening should do."


You see her blush.
"If you insist it needs some work to get it shining, I could not refuse."
She stands up to climb on the bed beside you, taking care not to wrinkle her uniform.


I will take great care with her in return ~ '5d10+5'

Roll #1 5, 4, 6, 1, 5 + 5 = 26


You've had better performances, but you can blame it on being all achy, and she was happy in the end so does it really matter?

After quite some while, the unicorn mare smiles beside you, running a comb through her mane with magic.
"Oh, good thing I'm the one doing the laundry.. I won't have to explain anything."
She giggles.


Stare happily at her, resting a wing against her back.
"What a happy circumstance."


She leans down from her sitting posture to nuzzle you.
"I will have to change my uniform to a clean one now at any rate!"


"Don't let me stop you, I should clean up and look around town myself.. maybe stop at the docks while its still light."


"You will love the sight, I promise!"
She hops off the bed, letting out a ladylike chuckle.
"Plus it will give me time to get you some fresh sheets."


I smile slyly back at her. "Yes, it really could use them."


She responds with a smirk of similar confidence.
"Tut-tut, now don't you go and dirty the fresh ones I'll bring or I'll have to come around again!"


"Yes Maim'" I reply almost teasingly, but get up and go freshen up in the bathroom anyway.


Sadly, she is gone by the time you clean yourself.
You also have to reapply some of the black coat, as the strenous activities and the water in the bathroom has smuged some of it.


'1d10+2' well, standing in the tub should mean the dye won't make a mess. Disguise it black.

Roll #1 3 + 2 = 5


It's annoying work to find all the spots that have been smuged.
Even though most of the center around certain areas…

You re-dye your coat nicely, but the sun is already turning orange as it starts setting by the time you are done.


Well. That's fine.
Let's just go for a walk, outside to start with.


For the sake of convenince you walk out to the balcony and flutter down with your wings to the guarden…
Banner was right, it is very pretty!
Nicely trimmed hedges and beautiful flowers everywhere you look!


Nature really is lovely..
But am I feeling rested enough? Perhaps I should fly overhead to get a look at what's nearby.


Assuredly, despite everything, you don't feel more rested after all the activity from before.
You do feel better!

You take flight and check the surrounding area.
Some roads and air-channels leading into the city, both heavy with traffic now that many ponies are done with their work for the day, the suburbs that surround Manehatten bustling with activity.


Let's try going into the city, get a feel for the area, what kind of stores there are and where the hotel is, in case I wanted to stay here for a few days to visit somepony..


As you start flying to the city, you feel a breeze picking up into wind…

Looking up much, much higher, you see that weather pegasi are gathering clouds for rain, or maybe even a storm, you can't tell just yet.

Manehatten is rather big though, so the stores an hotel prices both depend on where you go!
The more run-down places?
The harbor?


A rain might be nice, cool things down.

Try the downtown…


You feel drips and drops on your snout and wings by the time you get to the downtown area.
Despite the sun quickly setting, you see that lights are everywhere! Street lamps, some oil, unicorns igniting them with magic and earth ponies igniting them with long rods while some are using the same magical technology you saw on the boat, only with pristine, clear and nicely cut crystals giving off pure light.

Despite the threat of rain, the streets are bustling with ponies, pegasi and even some gryphons flying everywhere while ponies pulling cab-carts fill the roads.

There are fashion stores of all kinds, some even dedicated to just one article of clothing - scarves, saddles, socks, hats and the like! There are places that promise to make personally fitted suits and dresses, but of course there are snooty foodplaces galore as well!

Most of the hotels here are skyscrapers, lavish even with the outside decoration, and you can quickly see that they might cost a small fortune, but then again, you can understand why!


Whistle a bit.
"No wonder everyone wants to work here, its gorgeous."


As you are taking in the sights and slow down for it, a middle aged pegasus stallion bumps into you from behind.
He angrily rubs his snout.

He flies around you and is off before you can even formulate a response.


Get to the side of the street and check the address on my photo..


You fly out of the way of the air-channels and look up the photo address.
…well, that place used to be very nice, and it is still a pretty interesting neighbourhood of builings, but since the, the city has grown, and so has other buildings, so the prices there dropped.

You're not sure what to expect.


I might as well scope it out..
head toward that address.


You fly off and get there in just 10 minutes.
It's pretty close to the downtown area, which is a good sign!
The builing itself is a tall one made out of pretty red bricks!
The surrouning buildings have aged worse, it seems.


I wonder if she still lives there even.. does this place have a mailbox with a name?


There are no individual mailboxes it seems.
The address has the floor and door number, that's must be how the mailponies know how to get there too you bet.


I frown at it, and then at my furs.
But at least I know where it is.. let's look around the area for restaurants, maybe a diner that I could take her too..


It's not a bad neighbourhood though!
So that's good!

You start flying around when you hear thunder and the downpour begins, wetting your fur!

At least you quickly find a fancy restaurant nearby that seems like it's suitable for such an occasion without being snooty! Perfect!


Now I should go back to the mansion.
I am kind of injured still.


By the time you get there, you are soaking wet!
At least the color in your coat holds, but it might come off if you dry yourself with a towel.

You can even land on the balcony to your room to avoid being seen at least!


That's a good idea.
Land there. Sneakily. '1d10'

Roll #1 3 = 3


You land sneakily enough, but splash up a puddle…
You know look like some of those more oriental ponies, black body with white hooves!


Gah, no good.
I better shake off a little before sliding into the room.


That does you no favours and you just end up shaking off most of your paintjobs, now only having black spots all over!


Yes, but this way I shouldn't drip black ink on the floor.
Go inside to the bathroom.


You go in there.
At least there are plenty of fresh towels here!


Let's clean up and get a fresh dye job on.
'1d10+2' styling black coat

Roll #1 10 + 2 = 12


You clean up the sploches, dry up, and then get your little pouch of tricks…

This time, not only do you get a paintjob coveing all of you in that impressive back coat, you manage to dig around in the bathroom until you find… coat conditoner! Water resistant! You quickly apply that to yourself right after the dye… this thing won't come off until you want it to!


Oh, sweet.

Now I can head to dinner in confidence.


You head down to the dining hall and… find it surprisingly empty.
The Butler pony is around though, arranging some cutlery, but not setting the table!


Well.. I doubt that they eat in it.
I'll ask him.
"Excuse me, do you have something for dinner?"


He turns to you.
"Of course… Ah, in case you were expecting a dinner here, Master Banner prefers his meals delivered to his chambers, while the staff eats in the kitchen. However, the chef did make a portion for you, shall I have it delivered to your room?"


"In the rooms? I suppose that's efficient. Very well then." I turn and go up to my room.


It doesn't take long until you hear knocking, and the butler pony enters, balancing the silver platter on his back, turning his head to bite it by the grip with an expert motion and put it on the table in the room!
"I hope you will find the meal satisfactory."
It looks fancy, some vegetable stew in the little metal container for easy carrying, but you probably have to pour it in the porcelain bowl and not just eat straight out of it!


"Wonderful, do you have any pepper for that?"


At first he raises a brow, but then quickly realizes you are not from around here and are not used to the customs.
He steps closer to remove the lid on one of the smaller metal trays (you had no idea wha the use of was) to reveal small cups of a variety of spices inside, as well as a tiny spoon to scoop them into your food so that non-unicorns won't accidentally spill the whole thing in.


"Oh. Thank you." I reply and scoop a little pepper onto the stew.
I suppose it has silverware too?


It has… a lot of cutlery.
Like, 3 types of forks and spoons and two different knifes!

…you did spend some time with a mare waaaaaaaaay back, when you were just a teenager, almost a colt, but when she had her cutie mark she decided she wants to become a head waitress somewhere in Los Pegasus, she explained this to you!
The only question is, were you paying attention to her or what she was saying?


I doesn't matter, if I'm alone in my room. that is.
Cough a little and give the bulter a stare that's just a little uncomfortable.


"Ah, my apologies. Should you need anything else, you may ring the bell."
He leaves and closes the door behind himself.


Now that he's gone, just use whatever silverware I feel like.
'1d10' accidentally get it right even

Roll #1 3 = 3


You recall something about… going with them some direction or whatever, nopony could pay proper attention when her tail was styled like that!

No matter which spoon or fork you use though, the food tastes great!
You even discover some fresh lettuce in another tray to cleanse your palette an a tiny portion of some kind of cake on the last little tray!


A cake too, how nice.
Much nicer than some trashy inn food.


You are in a mansion after all!
It was certainly refreshing and rejuvenating!


Well, Is it still raining?


It is, the clouds now covering the night sky.
You did have that long sleep in the afternoon… so since the conditioner prevents your dye from washing off, this weather is perfect for moving around unseen, if you have any shady business here in the City.
If not, you can just turn in.


I actually can't think of something shady to do, I don't know this place.
I should say goodnight to the old man actually.


You are rather certain you can find him in the chamber that you visited him in before, but you're not sure if it's rude to just walk in unannounced. Then again, he probably wouldn't care.


I will go knock on his door.


You hear him stir in in his seat.
He doesn't say a thing though.

Oh right, he might suspect you could be a servant, he doesn't talk to them. You assume it's still a sign that you may enter though.


Open it and go into the room then.


He raises his head, looking at you.
"Oh, it is you. Was there something else you wanted to talk about?"

It's subtle but he almost sounds… apprehensive.


"Actually, I just thought it was bad manners to not say goodnight, considering it might also be goodbye."
I go to him. "Perhaps there is something you'd like to talk about?"


"You really should not have bothered."
You see him take a very deep breath.
"Not so much as talk but heed you a warning."


"I do many things I shouldn't, which do you mean to warn me about?" I smile slightly at him.


"I have been thinking about your journey, that quest of yours."
He shakes his head.
"Back when I was a witch hunter, I've seen your type time and time again."


"You mean druids?"


He shakes his head.
"Not your kind. Your type."
He looks in your eyes.
"Every fleeing pony must be caught. Every secret unearthed. Every treasure discovered. Self proclaimed seekers of truth."


"Reminds me of my marefriend." I smirk. "Hard to keep anything from her."


Did he… actually smile for a second there?
You're not actually sure!
He turns back to the fire.
"Just make sure you have the stomach for the agony your curiosity may cause you…"
He pauses, thinking about your last remark.
"-or those you hold dear."


"Pain is just another part of life. I don't mean to run away from life." I reply confidently.
Then tone it down a step. "Although, pushing for things I don't really need to know, that would be a bit foolish."


"I suspected you would not shy away from harm. You must be very reverent about your quest, after all, with good reason."
He looks you over.
"If you are to gather them all, I am sure you will have to find out a lot of things you were never meant to. Gods and Goddesses are fickle like that. Face you off against hardships that test your vices, to see if you virtues may overcome them."


I nod seriously. "Knowing ponies secrets, and other ponies wanting those secrets."
"Unfortunately, that's already a problem for me."


"I figured. You did not think I was naive enough to just think you chanced uppon finding this Mansion and me within it? The only reason I told you anything is because I have learned to trust the judgement of deities more than mine, and you wouldn't know enough about those statues of yours if you were uninitiated."


Chuckle a bit.
"No, I am sure you know most of what's happening around me. Just the way you know about the ponies who have been trying to find out that little bit of information for a while now."


He waves a hoof.
"Let them have it, for all I care. They cannot possibly bring me any lower. There is nothing more left to take from me. Do what you must."


"I doubt this will come back to hurt you." I frown thinking about this.
"I don't suppose your warning comes with a way to deal with the burden of so many secrets?"


He shakes his head.
"That was never my field."


I shrug. "I pray, but that doesn't make pestering ponies go away."


"You should take matters into your own hooves and make the ponies go away then."
He pauses.
"Using whichever method leaves your consience clear."


"Good advice." I comment.


"You are in charge of your own destiny… do not let other ponies take it from you."


title music plays

"I won't. Now.. I have something person to ask you." I lean closer. "Are you happy with this life?"


He raises his eyebrows, looking… offended.
"How could you even think that?"


Shake my head. "I didn't think so. Listen, nopony deserves to be unhappy and miserable, suffering alone, forever. I see you punishing yourself; staying away from the sunlight, not speaking to anyone, not leaving or seeing anyone."
"Purposefully avoiding joy, is no way to spend your existence."


He frowns, his lips tigthening for a second.
"I don't torment myself on purpose. I just can't risk it…"
He shakes his head, tears welling in the corners of his eyes.
"I can't have the blood of another pony of my hoof because I knew them. If that means I must live the rest of my days alone, so be it."


I close my eyes a moment in pain and frustration. Then open them, giving him silent sympathetic eyes, and try patting his shoulder.


He blinks away the tears as well, letting you pat him.
"Have a good night, and a good life. Let us hope we will never meet again."


Nod at him. "I'm still here tonight, if you want to speak again." Then get up to go to my room.


He nods as you leave.

Looks like the maid has been to your room.
She has cleaned up the table and took the tray away.
She also left her panties on your bed, for some reason, even though she is gone.


Is this a hint?
Okay. I know what to do with these. fold them up and put them my bag


It may be.
You put them away in your bag.
Surely nothing bad could come from this!

Is it time to sleep?


I suppose so.
let's try to sleep and not have any nightmares.

Roll #1 5 = 5


You have no nightmares… but sadly no dream message from your friend near Vanhoover either.

You wake up in the morning, fresh and ready to go!


Then its time for breakfast, and a flight home.
Check all my possessions, to make sure nothing left during the night.


Yep, you've got everything!
You even see the maid again, along with the other staff, heading to the kitchen as they prepare to have breakfast too!
The butler greats you.
"Good morning, sir. Had a nice and restful night, I hope? May I offer a hot beverage?"


"Yes, I'd like to have breakfast actually." I reply with a sleepy smile.


He nods.
"You may take a seat in the dining room then, if you have already left your room. I shall bring you a meal."


"I'll be waiting." I reply and go wait at the dining table, setting my bag under it.


Soon enough, the butler pony shows up, setting down the platter in front of you.
"I have brought you a selection so you may choose what you wish to eat and drink."
You see a cup of coffee, a cup of warm water with a little metal egg so you can pick from four varieties of tea, there is also a glass of orange juice, a small pitcher of milk, either to put into the drinks or be drunk on it's own…
And then the food!
Toasts, baked beans, two different butters, cheese, a variety of vegetables!


"This looks amazing." I compliment it, and take some of each of the foods, and the most exotic looking tea.


You drink some of the tea that is labeled 'Islander Delight'.
Even as you drink it you feel…
Some tingling in your muscles. As if the tea had some herbs in it that made you more springy and agile, at least temporarily!


Oh. Interesting.
Once I eat my fill of tasty breakfast.
I'll head out to the door.


The clouds from yesterday are still hanging around, but are broken up in some places, either because the weather pegasi just don't patch it or it is designed to let some light through.
It is not raining by now either, only dripping ever so slightly.


'1d10' fly into the clouds, and hop from cloud to cloud at random before appearing to dash to the west and diving into a cloud. Watch what happens.

Roll #1 2 = 2


You fly up and over the cloud curtain, hopping from cloud to cloud, making sure that you are plenty visible from below the ground when you hop over the little breaks in the grey curtain of the sky.
Once you've done that for a while, you manage to fly into a particularly thick part of the clouds, hiding in wait… although your white coat would serve better here than the black.
Still, as you lie motionless, you see an inconspicuous weather pegasus stallion fly off to the west too…


Slow float this cloud to the east, near some taller buildings. '1d10+1' pegasus cloud handling

Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5


You coast it over the skyline of the city with the tall buildings, but all that clou handling and squeezing makes you rather wet with the precipitation that was inside it.


That's okay. Try to sneakily fly out and land on a roof.

Roll #1 3 = 3


You manage to sneakily land one the flat roof of one of the buildings!
However, just as you are about to leave, a door swings open and a trio of earth ponies who are talking to each other, carrying toolboxes as saddlebags and wearing hard hats come up… oh, they must be doing some maintenance on the roof.
The one at the front looks at you crossly, pointing at a nearby triangular sign that has crossed out wings.
"Hey, asshole! Don't you see the sign? This is private property, not a perch for pegasi and griffins! Dumbass featherbrains, thinking they can just go anywhere because they can fly!"


"Sorry.. I had a fight with my lady, and just flew without thinking.." I explain with a sigh and move aside to the edge of the roof flapping my wings slowly.


"Well boo-hoo!" intones one of the earth pony mares.
He doesn't seem to be very touched.
"Yeah, off you go! Before I call the guards on you for tresspassing!"


Go on then, fly to the street level.


You can definitely see that ponies are a lot more self-centered and rude here, as opposed to your home.
Still, you don't feel like anypony could have kept track of you after all of this!
You're down in the hustle and bustle of the steets!


Still… just to be sure, go into an alley and remove my disguise. Should be easier now that I'm slightly damp too.


Good thing you also nicked that hoof-polish remover bottle from the mansion.
Nopony will notice, right?
In a matter of a few minutes, you are yourself again with your pretty white coat!


Great. Now, I can go peacefully toward her place.
'1d10' keep watching for anyone following.

Roll #1 10 = 10


You move fast and unnoticed, and you check around you at every twist and turn…

The only thing following you is your shadow, you're sure of it!

You arrive at the large brick house too.


Time to take a few cautious steps up.
And knock on the door.


You take a deep breath after finding the right door to steel yourself, then knock.

At first, there's a few seconds of nothing…
Then you hear heavy hoofsteps.

A slightly fat, balding earth pony stallion opens the door, looking you over with contempt.
"I'm not interested in buying anything!"


"I'm actually looking for a mare who used to live here.. She has crystal eyes."


His expression softens immediately.
"Oh, you're looking for Miss Evgenia?"
Miss?… does that mean nopony knew she was married to your father?
He shakes his head.
"Sorry pal, she has moved from here seven or eight years ago."
He motions with his head.
"I can try and find the address she left, I know I have it somewhere."


"That would be great. Anything would help."


He invites you inside as he talks.
Despite his initial appearance, it seems that all the rooms are very well kept! You also see an old lady sleeping in a rocking chair with a smile on her face.
"Haven't heard anything about her for years. Used to exchange letters with her, y'know, she even sent me pastries sometimes. She got me this place and a chance at my dream job, so I was sad when we stopped exchanging letters."
He walks to a drawer and starts leafing through papers.


"Really? Where do you work?"


"There is a little woodwork shop nearby, I work there to make toys. They are lovely, and we have a very talented mare who paints them once I craft them."
He keeps leafing through the papers.


"That sounds very nice." I reply politely, staying back as he shuffles through the papers.


He finalle takes out a large paper.
"Ah, here we go!"
He hands it to you.
It's a… map as well as being an address?
"Here you go! Don't be scared, it's not hard to find, but it's not a city she lives in!
It's some castle she found work at, north of the Tall Mountains and Hollow Shades."


Examine the paper intently.
"You mind if I keep this for a while? I'll bring it back later, promise."


He nods.
"Oh, I think I have another copy somewhere, feel free to keep it!"


"Thanks a lot. I really hope she remembers me." I say half in a daze, tucking the map away safely and walk outside again.


"Uh…I'm sure she does. Send her my regards!"
The pony waves you off and closes the door behind you…

Well, you're glad to know she lives in a much nicer place now, at least.


"I will."
Now.. the tall mountains, hollow shades.. do I know where they are? how are they?


The Tall Mountain is the center, highest peak of the Foal mountains, lying between Canterlot and Fillydelphia. Hollow shades is just north of the Mountains in a dark forest, and you hear rumours quite a few of batponies live there.

It's proximity to Canterlot makes you think it's probably a nice and safe place.


Whew. Okay. I can relax then.
I'm gonna fly toward.. Shit all this is so distracting, I need to get to that Mercenary today too. I better go there first.


It's only a two-hour flight if you get your shit together quick and use one of the wind-channels.


Take the fast route. '1d10' flying roll

Roll #1 8 = 8


With some luck and your agile flying skills, you manage to skim it down to only an hour and a half!
It's not even noon by the time you arrive!


OkayOkay. I need to disguise as a police pony '1d10+2'

Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7


It's not a perfect disguise, but looks close enough like the cloth uniform you saw Lockbox wear in the office!


It will do for now.
Go to the Emerald ponies office.


You see some of the mercenaries standing outside eye you with contempt.

Enter through the main door, the only enterance you know of?


Yep, just walk right inside.


You walk right in.
The moment your muzzle and head is touched by droplets of the water that sprinkle from the ceiling near the door, a red crystal starts flashing and a horn blares loudly near the enterance!

You see two mercenaries pull their swords while another aims a rifle at you, a pegasus approaching.
"Stop there or you'll drop dead!"
This… this thing can detect disguises?! You thought it was for changelings! What kind of magic did they even need to have something so specific against Mirage?

The unicorn waves her horn at you, your disguise vanishing into thin air leaving you as… yourself.


"Uh.. what.." I look utterly confused as my cloth costume vanishes.


The spark of the unicorn flares up again, and you see a sharp spear of ethereal light form in the air, the stallion still training his rifle on you and the other two ponies holding the swords towards you as well.
"Who are you and why did you try to sneak in here? Talk!"


"I'm Kelani, here to see your boss. She asked me to come back here."


She eyes you suspisciously, then turns to one of the mares.
"Switchblade, escort him up to her."
The mare in question salutes and nudges you.
"Get moving then."
The unicorn speaks to you as well.
"Don't even try hiding who you are when you come here next time. We'll know."


"Hey, I wasn't hiding it from you." I protest.


The mare with the sword walking beside you sneers.
"Doesn't matter. Even if we try to come in here without our uniform it goes off."
You are lead up the stairs again


"Okay, Okay, I get it."


He leads you to the large door, knocking on it before opening it and shoving you inside, closing it behind you.

The green mare is facing away from you -sadly, you can't get a good look at her flanks because she is wearing a fancy military style officer's coat - looking out over the bay, sipping tea.
She looks back over at her shoulder at your approach, turning around.
"The wind has blown some trash in, I see. I'm guessing you caused the ruckus downstairs, huh? Being smart again?"


"Smart? Yea, I guess so. Was that mail pony following me around one of yours?" I ask in an annoyed tone.


She lets out a laugh, putting her mug down and pointing a finger at you.
"Look at you, Mr. Astute! Of course I was going to get some spies after you, I'm not an idiot."
She throws her mane around.
"The fact that you managed to shake those retards does make me think their next assignment should be in the Badlands…"
She waves a hoof.
"Anyway, speak up, little bird, what did you find out for me?"


"The old man said the thing that would bother mirage most, would be seeing her dead daughter, as an undead minion, attacking her." I state plainly.


Her eyes go wide with shock.
Immediately afterwards, she leans on her table with a hoof, breaking out in laughter.
"Ahahaha, fuck me, that's fucking wicked. Bloody hell, how the fuck did the old shit come up with something like that."
She chuckles a bit more, wiping tears from her eyes.
"Oooooh, fuck. Now I want to do this, oh yeah. Just gotta find where the little shit is first."


laugh along with her, convincingly. '1d10'

Roll #1 4 = 4


You are clearly uncomfortable with how much she enjoys the idea and she notices.
"Not your type of fun, is it? Tell me your idea of a good time then."


"Glad you asked." I smirk and produce the panties.


She snickers.
"Is that a gift or something? Where did you find that, huh? You steal mare's underwear for fun then? Just don't tell me you wear them too."


"Gift from a very pretty mare~" I say and lay it on the table. "You can keep it."


"Wow, how nice of you."
She smirks.
"So nice, in fact, that I'll only need you to do one more tiny favour for me before you go."


"Of course, what is it Miss E?"


She opens a drawer and takes out a small gem, similar to the one Mirage gave you, but this one charred and cracked.
She tosses it to you.
"One of my ponies downstairs can give you an address. It's for an inn that has been closed for a while. Just go there, activate it, and we'll work our magic from there."


"What will happen when I do…" I ask worriedly rubbing at the char marks.


It seems like all magic has been drained from it when it broke.
"Don't you worry your little head about that. Maybe you'll find your friends there and they'll tell you."


"Are you trying to get me killed?" I ask seriously.


She snorts.
She whips out her pistol and aims it at you, the barrel pointing right between your eyes, then she clicks with her tongue.
"Tsk, Bang! That's how easy it would be for me to kill you any time I want."
She spins it around and puts it back into the holster on her chest.
"Why would I let somepony else have the fun if I wanted you dead? Use that head of yours for something other than fishing for panties."


"Oookay. I'll go fire up this broken crystal for you then. Enjoy your gift." I snicker and leave her office to go downstairs.


She chimes as you leaves.
That was… surprisingly easy.
Almost too easy.
A unicorn buck whistles at you when you go downstairs, getting your attention to float a piece of paper to you.
"Here's your address."


"Thanks." Take a look at where in equestria she's sending me.


The address seems to be very close, at the far end of the port here in Horseshoe Bay!


I suppose I better go outside then. Brace myself against getting sprayed on the way out.


This time, that you are yourself, you barely feel the droplets on yourself.

You can't imagine how annoying that gets if you work there and walk through that gate dozens of times a day though.

It is about noon, the sun high up in the clear blue sky.


Well. I need a new disguise.
'1d10+2' disguise as a rockstar

Roll #1 2 + 2 = 4


You lack the proper setup for something like that right now, but you still quickly style your mane and tail into a totally radical shape!
It's not perfect, but even ponies who might know you will need a bit to connect the dots so it will do.


great, trot stylishly toward that address


Since you walk there it takes slightly more time, but you see it soon.
This area seems rather well-off, with all the buildings being made out of fancy, well crafted wood.
The building in particular is an inn, you can see, standing two stories tall with a small brewery to it's side, but the sign says it is closed.


Closed huh.
Look for a way in through a window or something then.

Roll #1 2 = 2


You look around and notice you can probably get in through the pipes that connect the brewery with the river…
But your hooves might get a bit icky.


At least there is a river to clean them off later.
Try sneaking in that route. '1d10'

Roll #1 7 = 7


You don't even make a splash as you follow the large pipe that can easily fit you.
You surface up in the brewery, giant metal tanks and wooden barrels surrounding you!


Time to activate the broken thing.
'1d10' focus.

Roll #1 8 = 8


Nothing seems to happen…

Soon though the door open, an a mare pokes in her head… it's Porcelaine, the pretty prench mare you met in the Los Pegasus hideout of Mirage's gang!
"Kelani? Is that you?"


"Yea… Its me. How are you Porcelaine?"


She enters, two ponies following behind her.
One of them, a stallion, you have seen before, at the same Los Pegasus base.
The other mare you've never met.
"I'm fine, but we have to leave. We are packing up, we were going to estabilish a forward base here, but we think it might be compromised…"


"…How can I help?" I ask with a smile.


She smiles.
"You can help us grab some of the equipment we don't want them to find, it's upstairs."


"Understood." Trot upstairs keeping an eye out for the heavy stuff.


The others trot with you, but as you get from the brewery back into the main room of the inn you all freeze in place.
You see two ponies clad in that terrifying black carapace armor with the green visors, one of them having a saddle with a pair of rods on each side, both crackling with vile magical energy, the other one holding a long lance, the sharp tip seemingly made out of the same material as the armor.

Next to the bar, leans that green mare with a strange tophat and her military uniform, sipping champagne from a fancy glass, the bottle she opened still resting on the bar. This time she is wearing a saddle too, the lavish rifle you saw on the wall resting on her side.
"Oh, good! You're all here! Now that we've gather-"
The stallion draws his sword and lunges at her but she reacts fast enough!
The stallion collapses mid-jump, his stiff and dead body knocking into the mercenary, making her spill her champagne on her dress. Her face contorts in anger.
"Bloody fucking hell, that will never come out."
She looks the three of you over.
"That was just the rudest fucking shit, interrupting me while I was talking, wouldn't you lot agree? Anypony else have some smart ideas like that?"


I gulp and back away a step.


She clears her throat, throwing the empty glass away, shattering it behind the bar.
"Nice drink by the way. So, I know you-"
She points a hoof at you.
"-and you-"
She points at Porcelaine.
"-but I've no fucking idea who you are. So, who might you be?"
She asks the mare.
"My… My name is Checkers. I'm-"
Porcelaine interrupts her.
"Don't indulge her. Don't speak to her."

The green pegasus fakes a pout, then fires her rifle without even looking.
You see the mare collapse, gasping for air, blood gushing from her throat. Porcelaine seems in shock.
"W-Why would you do that?"
"You told her not to speak to me, that made her pointless."
She sighs, pacing up and down a bit, then looking at you.
"Well, this is awkward now, isn't it? I expected to have more of an audience than the two of you."


"What do you want?" I stare at the pegasus with a scowl.


"It's easy, My Little Traitors…"
She clicks her tongue.
"Ooooh, you two haven't told each other yet, have you."
She sucks her teeth.
"Seesh, this is now even more awkward."

You see Porcelaine lower her head in shame, her ears pressed against her head.


"Well." I blink in surprise. "If that's the case you can put the gun down." Go sit next to the emerald mare.


Porcelain joins you as well, but you see the visors of the two bodyguards trail both of you, lance and magical energy weapons aimed at the two of you.

She smirks, sitting down at the bar, sliding the bottle of champagne over to you with her wing.
"So, here I have a double agent and a stallion who works for whoever is most beneficial for him at the time… It's delightful! Now, first of all, I'll want you two to let your boss know that this is a fucking message."
She narrows her eyes
"She might think she is a big girl, but she tries to come to my town and fuck with me again, I will shove my gun so far up her ass the barrel will knock her teeth out. Make sure she understands."
She nonchalantly motions at the two corpses on the ground, as if to emphasise.


"I think the dead mare will make that very clear."


"Good. Now I'll want you-"
She points at the unicorn mare.
"To clean this shit up and report back to her."
She turns to you.
"For now, you can fuck off, now that you know, you'll have to help her help me when she asks. Otherwise, you'll never know who will rat out on the other first…."
She grins.


"You have this all figured out huh."
I comment and take a drink off her bottle of champagne, not moving.
"Mirage ain't dumb, she already thinks someone is betraying her."


"I know she isn't."
Porcelaine speaks up, her voice cracking.
"T-That's why I… I am setting up somepony to take the fall for that."


The mare was right, too, the champagne does taste really nice! A shame about the circumstances.


"Who you have in mind?" I ask curiously offering Porcelaine a sip.


She takes a long sip of the drink before wiping her muzzle with a hoof.
"I originally meant to have the red pegasus, but she died. Now? …I'm not sure yet."


"You haven't picked someone knew huh.."


She shakes her head.

"Aww, you two break my heart. Just don't go on drinking poision together or someshit, not as long as you can still be useful to me!"


"I don't plan on dying yet."
I take the bottle back and drink more off it.
"I got things to do today if you don't need me anymore."


She nods with her head.
"Off you go. I'll have a chat with little miss prench trot here."
She winks at you.
"Been a pleasure making you work for me!"


"I'm collecting too many bosses." I groan and leave.


At least the dooris open this time.
The two ponies in the armor don't take their eyes off of you until you are outside.

The sun is shining, the sky is blue, the birds are chirping.
…it's such a beautiful day outside. The day doesn't even know how afwul it is indoors, too.


I'm going to look into the old castle. Following my map.

Roll #1 4 = 4


You approach it from the south, taking a few hours of flight to get there, approaching around two hours after noon.
You can see the castle now in the distance, standing tall and proud with it's stone towers on top of a hill.
However, you slow your flight down when you see the hamlet that has been surrounding it once… it seems to be destroyed.
Not recently, though. The ruins of the small village that once stood here has been weathered by time, and you estimate it has been around a decade, give or take a few years since it has been abandoned.

Do you look around the ruined hamlet or head straight for the castle?


Go to the castle.


You fly over the decrepit ruins, abandoned by ponies.
You fly past the half-collapsed belltower of the church, the giant brass bell having fallen down through the ceiling, crushing the wooden benches under it. The still intact parts of the tower have some deep, charre marks, almost as if a dragon grabbed it with molten claws… but then, no dragons have been active in Equestria since you were born, most of them dwelling in distand lands or simply sleeping atop their hoards deep within their mountain homes.

As you fly closer, you start seeing banners in the ground with a coat of arms of a heart surrounded by flames with three weapons crossed in front of it. You also see religious wards bearing the symbols of the Sun and the Moon surrounding the hill around the castle, and as you approach, you also notice one of the towers is in fact the belltower of a large chapel that is set within the castle itself.


I mostly ignore the burnt rocks, I've got other things on my mind.
Whistle a bit at the impressive castle.
I'll walk from the hill so they don't think I'm a threat then.


You walk the beaten dirt path up the hill.
As you are halfway up, you see the large wooden gates, studded and reinforced with steel slowly open to the inside.
You see two ponies, wearing brown monk robes walk out slowly in front, awaiting your arrival. They are wearing hoods so you can't see them well, but judging by the pointy tent in them, you assume they are both unicorns.


"Good day, and can I just say I really like your uniforms, the color is rich and dark, like the earth. Very comfy looking." I say as I approach them.


They both use a hoof, almost in perfect unison, to throw their hoods back, both of them smiling at your comment to ease the tension.

What immediately strikes you is… strangely enough, how handsome both stallions are. You take a moment to realize the feeling is amplified by the fact that not only do they look like Canterlot-tier high-breed unicorns, they are also twins!

"A good day to you too, pilgrim."
"What brings you to the estate of the Aflame Steel?"


"I'm looking for someone named Evgenia.. I heard she might be working here."


They both nod at the same time.

"She does indeed work and live within the castle."
"Yet, may we ask, what is the purpose of your visit?"
"We do not want to seem rude or inhospitable…"
"Yet we cannot be too careful."


"She does? That's great. Its a personal matter." I hesitate. "If you don't want to let me inside, maybe you can tell her that.. Someone who knows Honest Hoof wants to see her."


The two unicorns share a look, then nod.
"Perhaps it is best if we lead you to our sister."
"She has taken upon herself the burden of handling most matters."
"She tends to know the hearts of ponies well even at a glance."
"Oh, and I apologize for not introducing ourselves. My name is Faithful Heart, and this is my twin brother, Determined Heart."


"I'm Kelani Rush." I introduce myself in turn.


They both turn around and beckon you to follow them, their hooves clopping against the stone.

They lead you through some of the castle and what strikes you is just how… barren it seems. For a castle of this size, you'd expect it to be bustling with ponies, but you see nopony else aside from these two as you walk!

That is, until you hear a faint, but beautiful music, and you realize the two of them are headed for the chapel!

You hear it more clearly as you enter, and the two of them stop by the two sides of the door, motioning you with a hoof inside.
The chapel does seem to be kept clean and beautiful, yet there is only one pony here.
As you step a hoof inside, you realize that the beautiful music is not coming from ponies here, but rather from enchantments magically woven into the small busts and statues placed all around the chapel.

Then your eyes fall on the pony before the altar, kneeling down in prayer. She is… a stunningly beautiful unicorn mare with a pink coat and purple mane tied up in a ponytail. Not only is she one of the most beautiful creatures that you've ever laid eyes upon, her body seems perfect, as if she was sculpted to be a perfect image of feminine grace yet toned, much, much more so than even Lockbox. You see a blade by her side with a strange handle, and you are lead to believe that it must be handled by her magic, not by her teeth or hooves.
You can also see a cutie mark of a heart surrounded by flames, just like on the banner you saw outside but without the weapons, resting on her nice flanks.

At your approach her ears flick and she slowly stands up, facing away from the altar and turning to you, revealing her orange eyes. She looks you over coldly, but then smiles.

"It is good to see another pony here. My name is Blazing Heart. What brings you here?"


"Good day Lady Blazing Heart. I was hoping to meet with a pony employed here." I give her a formal bow.


She gives a curtsy back.
"You mean Evgenia, I assume?"
She quickly comments.
"Aside from my family, she and her colt are the only other two living here with us in this castle."


"Yes. That's exactly correct. You are very intuitive."


She smiles.
"Got it from my father. It is necessary in a family of demon hunters."
She motions towards you with a hoof.
"Worry not, I can see your heart bears no cruelty or evil. I have seen it the moment you stepped in. I also saw it beat faster at the mention of your mother's name."
Wait, she knows? How?


I frown at her and focus intently on the image of the blazing sun.
"Then, may I meet with her?"


"Yes, of course. I do not wish to keep you waiting any longer."
She walks past you.
"Follow me. I'll show you to her chambers."


Keep focused on sunlight, blazing hot, bright, sunlight.
And follow the pretty mare.


You follow her up winding stairs, focusing on sun and sunlight super hard as you do. She stops near a door, motioning at it.
"This is where she lives. I will give you some privacy. If you need anything, feel free to find me or any of my siblings… just try not to disturb my father."


"I will be on my best behavior. Thank you."
Wait a moment for her to leave and then knock.


You take a deep breath as you knock on the door.
You hear the pitter patter of hoofsteps and the door opens, revealing a small boy, half your age, around ten… the pegasus colt, amusingly enough, has you colors, but reversed. You got to admit, the white mane looks very stylish!
"Um… hello mister. Can I help?"


Breath taking, he really is my..
"Hello.. Is your mother here?"


He lowers his gaze to the floor, scraping his hoof against it.
"Yes, she is."
He looks back up at you.
"Do you want to come in and talk to her?"


I nod. "Yes.. I would.. What's your name?"


He steps away from a door with a small flutter.
"Oh, yes, sorry! I always forget to introduce myself to new ponies, since everypony here knows me already. My name is Paradise!" He says proudly!


"Nice to meet you Paradise, I'm Kelani." I step inside the room.


He closes it behind you, then canters off to another room.
This place seems… well, not luxorious, but well off for sure.
"Mom! Mooooom! Somepony is looking for you!"

"What is it, sweetie?"
You see her approach from the next room, wearing an apron, her eyes sparkling like the stars in the night sky as she looks at you.
Those sparkly, gem-like eyes widen and her mouth forms into a small 'o', and she turns to the colt.
"Paradise, be a sweetie and go to your room and draw something nice for me, okay?"
As the colt gallops off, she takes off the apron, hanging it on a chair with her wing, slowly approaching you…


Let her approach, staring back in awe, only whispering when she gets close, raising a hoof and wing to embrace her, but not daring to squeeze at all, like she might break.


She wraps her forehooves around your neck, wings embracing yours, as she nuzzles into your neck. You feel wet streaks on your coat where her face is, your body feeling her slight shudders.
"Oh, Kelani… you can't imagine how good it is to see you again… to hold you again…"


Stay stable for her, letting her hold as long as she likes, speechless at this, my wings wrapping around her shivering back.


She composes herself rather quickly, wiping her tears with a wingtip, running a hoof across your muzzle, those beautiful eyes of hers staring into yours.
"Just look at you… All grown up to be a handsome stallion."


Now I've got this prideful blush and can't help rubbing the back of my head.
"Thanks Mom.. I.. came a ways to see you. Is this is a good time to talk?"


"Of course, yes, yes! Even if it wasn't, I'd make it a good time! We… we have a lot to talk about, don't we?"
You see her ears flatten for a moment as she glances away, but then quickly puts a smile back on her face.
"Do you want anything to eat or drink?"


"Sure.. I'd offer to take you to dinner but.. there doesn't seem to be an actual town nearby.."


"Oh, no, banish the thought! I should be treating you to dinner! I will, but I was just in the proccess of making some simple sandwhiches to your brother and I."


"Sandwiches is more than perfect, maybe I can help make them, since you need extra now." I smile at her.


She nods, walking to the kitchen.
"I hope it wasn't too hard for you to find me. I should have written a letter to your father when I moved here but… things have been a bit chaotic at the time."


"Luckily the toy maker stallion still lived at your old place and pointed me here." I laugh a bit as I follow her into the kitchen.


"Oh, it is so fitting he makes toys, he is such a teddy bear! Very caring and kind too! That's the reason I gave my old home for him for free."
She motions at the vegetables, since you expressed your desire to help, as she starts to slice some bread.


I'm sure I know how to cut veggies properly. Get to work.

"You must have been very close to do that."


Of course you do, you're a bachelor.

She shakes her head.
"Not particularly, but it's not like I was going to do anything with the money here. This family provides for anypony who works here, and their families, but most ponies are too superstitious to do it."


"Superstitious? What do you mean?"


She starts to spread some butter over the bread she sliced.

"First it was the nearby town, then it was… well, the birth of Malady. A lots of ponies, good natured but a bit simple minded around the area, began to think that this family was cursed for having fought Tartarus so long. In a sense, they were right, but it's not like curses are infectious."


"Just who are these ponies you're living with?"


"A family of paladins, priests and the such. They came from the Canterlot Paladin Academy, and have been saving Equestria from evil ponies and even more evil things from Tartarus for more than four decades now."
She sighs.
"But… things haven't been going well for them for a long time, and that is why I am here. Why I must be here. It's what my cutie mark is telling me, and I can't say no to that, no matter the price."
Her ears flatten again, and she puts down the knife.


Lower my voice and lean closer to her.
"Can't say no to what? Mom.. are you in some kind of trouble?"


She smiles at you, shaking her head, letting out a relieved sigh.
"What? No, not like that… It's my… calling. My purpose in life. I know I am here with these ponies for a reason, I just don't know what that reason is yet. Every time I think of leaving, to be with your father again… to be there for you… I just can't. If I did, all my sacrifices so far would have been for nothing."


I look really really confused.
"…What do you mean, what did you sacrifice?"


She turns to you, the edges of her crystalline eyes welling up slightly, her voice hitching.
"I sacrificed a lifetime of seeing you grow up."


"Mother.. Evgenia.. I didn't come to see you cry in apology.. I wanted to get to know you, to find out who you were."
Use a wing to wipe away her tears.


She seems relieved as you do, nodding softly.
"I know, I know, I'm sorry… I'm just… On some nights when I was tossing and turning in bed, unable to sleep, I thought of your father and you, and I thought how much I loved you both and I wondered…"
She sniffles, but then shakes her head.
"It's not important. You are right, what is important is the here and now, but why don't you tell me about yourself? I haven't even seen your cutie mark!"


I sigh at her mention of missing us, forcing the emotions back and smiling softly.

"Its theater masks. I'm good at acting."


She clops her hooves together excitedly.
"How nice! Do you act in a theater? Or with a troupe?"
She quickly finishes the sandwhiches with the vegetables you cut.


Shake my head. "Freelance right now. If I'm honest there isn't too much work for an actor pony, but I do alright. I actually wind up helping ponies out, and trading favors more than working on anything." I offer to carry the sandwiches
"I put on a pretty great show recently, a full concert, sang for several songs so my friend could dance on stage."


She takes a plate and offers it to you, moving hers and another to the dinner table, nodding.
"That sounds simply amazing! I'm so glad you found something to make you happy! With how charming you look, I bet you got a lot of fans too!"
As she puts the plate on the table, she raises her voice a bit.
"Paradise! Sandwhich is ready!"


"Fans, well.. I suppose I have one or two."
sit with her at the table, curiously looking in the direction of my little brother's room.


It opens up soon enough, and he canters to the table, hopping up to the table with a flap of his wings.
"Nuh-uh, Paradise. Wash them." Your mother chides.
Paradise groans, then slides off the chair and heads to another room, and you hear the splashing of water.

She turns to you again.
"So… just so I know, will you be introducing me to any grandchildren anytime soon? With the one?"
She smiles sweetly, but her eyes give off a cheeky squint!


Chuckle a bit.
"I have a few more things to do before settling down.. thou.. my latest marefriend, she is pretty special."


"Oooh… You should tell me about her later!"
You realize why later as Paradise arrives again, hooves and feathers slightly damp still.


I nod.
"Well, tell me about what its like living here."


"It's slow and peaceful. I do a lot of things around here, sometimes even fly to the closest towns, which aren't too close, for supplies!"
She ruffles the mane of the colt, much to his chagrin.
"And Paradise here can study from me and the scholar twins, and he can play with Malady too, even though he is older than him."


"No town with a school close by? I'm sure that the twins are great, just.." I poke the air a bit and take a bite of sandwich as a pause. "When I was a colt, I liked seeing all the different things the other foals could do. Socializing and competing. That kind of stuff."


She nods.
"Even when you were little, you resembled your father like that a lot. Paradise… not so much."

She nuzzles him as he keeps oblivously chewing his food.


I laugh. "Yea, turns out I'm better at reading ponies than I am reading books."
"What's Paradise like?"


The colt stops chewing, looking up.
"I can hear you talking about me, you know!"

She chuckles, nuzzling him again.
"We aren't saying bad things about you! You're just a bit shy because you don't meet many new ponies, isn't that right."

You see him flatten his ears.
"Yeah… a bit…"


"Well, What do you like to do Paradise?" I ask curiously


"Oh, I really like drawing! I hope that I will get my cutie mark by drawing something very nice for somepony I like!"


"Really? What do you like to draw?"


"I like to draw the castle, and pretty houses, and towers! Oh, and I like to draw what looks like the pretty glass in the chapel! But sometimes, I have strange dreams with this beautiful butterfly in it, and it makes me want to draw flowers and animals!"


I look a little bit alarmed at that.
"Really. That's not so strange Paradise, I have dreams about a butterfly and pretty flowers too. Don't let those twins tell you its not stalliony or something. Nature is pretty so you can enjoy it."


"I know! I can't really go out much, aside from the courtyard. There's nopony to watch me play outside."


"Oh, I see.." I look at mom for a moment, giving a concerned look then focus back.
"Maybe when you're older your mom will let you go alone."


"I really hope so…"

She smiles.
"Maybe you two can play sometime? If you're not in a rush to anywhere, Kelani."


I look a little surprised.
"You think so? I mean we only just met.."
Then gently to the colt "What do you think Paradise, do you want to play outside together? Maybe we can toss a hoof ball around?"


She nods.
"I know, I meant a bit later. I will have to make my rounds around the castle, this thing doesn't keep itself running! When I'll be busy with that, you can take Paradise to play!"


The colt nods excitedly.
"That'd be awesome! Malady never wants to play ballgames!"


"Well yea, she's a lady, ladies don't play with hoops and flags and balls. You need a.. bro. Yea, a bro, to play those with." I explain with smugness.

Then to mother. "You do all the work around the castle then? Alone?"


The colt starts laughing.
"Malady isn't a lady, he's a boy!"

She shakes her head.
"Not all the work, no. The Family does do a lot of work too. I just help out with whatever needs to be done."


Oh, then I laugh too.
"Ooh, I see. Well maybe you just need a few new tricks to make the game interesting again. I could show you how to bounce the ball with your wings."

"Interesting.. I actually met a stallion with a house completely filled with maids, so many they didn't have enough work to do."


He opens his wings, flapping them experimentally.
"That'd be so cool!"

She chuckles, both at the fun the two of you are having, and what you say.
"Just because I occasionally clean or make food doesn't make me a maid! I do weapon maintenance and logistics too! Not to mention caring for Malady and talking sense into Sidus when he gets all mopey and upset."


"It just seemed funny to me, how it could be so opposite, where you aren't specifically a maid or weapons keeper, they had ponies whose job was just to keep one single room clean and decorated."
Finish up the sandwich in thought on that.


She nods.
"Why would you have so many servants if you don't even need them?"


"I thought it might be for status at first, but no, this guy wasn't like that.. he just wanted to give ponies jobs and had the money to do it."


She smiles, finishing her own meal.
"How nice of him! Ponies are good natured at heart, deep down, all of them! They-"
She groans.
"Paradise how can you make such a mess with a sandwhich?"
The colt freezes up, knowing he was a bit of a slob but having no excuse as the mare picks up a napkin and starts wiping his muzzle, despite his protests.


How nice.. I smile at the sight, perhaps a bit wishfully.
"I'll just take my plate into the sink." and then I do so.


You take your plate to the sink to start washing your dish.
Your mother soon joins up, putting another there, and stroking your back… then gasping, lowering her voice so your brother cannot hear.
"What's this? Is this a wound?"
She quickly runs her hoof over you, finding more of them.
"And a scar on your chest too! What happened?"


"Oh.. those." I pause, hesitating at her real concern.
"I have a few enemies actually, I didn't want to worry you about them."


She sucks on her teeth, narrowing her eyes for a second with a look you can't quite decipher.
"…enemies? Of course you should tell me, if you are in trouble you just need to tell me and I'll help, however I can!"


Look back at her a little uncertain.
"Its actually quite a complicated situation."


Her expression softens, turning into a smile.
"It's okay… I'll let you spend some time with your brother, without having to worry… but I'd be happy if you would tell me tonight."


"Thanks." Sigh at that, relieved at her permission.
Then my ears perk up with curiosity. "Do you want to tell him..?" The question lingering there as I realize its probably dumb.


She chuckles.
"He's a smart boy. He'll probably figure it out. If not, we can tell him tomorrow, so it's not too big of a shock, so he can just enjoy himself today too."


"I was pretty surprised, he looks like he could be my twin.."


She chuckles.
"A few years apart."
Then nods with a smile, stroking your muzzle quickly with a hoof.
"And you have the same parents, after all."


My wings make the smallest flutter before I pretend it was just chance by moving them again. Smiling at the thought, then getting a more straight expression on for this.
"He never tried to find someone else."


"Neither did I. We may be apart, but we never stopped loving each other."
She says comfortingly.


Anyone would smile at this.
Give her a hug.


She hugs you back.

The serene moment is interrupted by Paradise stomping around, being loud with his hooves clopping on the wood of the floor on purpose to get your attentions, impatient to leave to play.


Hehe, let go of her and turn to Paradise.
"So, where's the best place to play?"


"Normally without anypony watching over me I can only play in the courtyard, buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut."
The mare sighs, rolling her eyes.
"You want to use this as an excuse to go and play outside and go near the town again, don't you."
He scrunches.


"The town? You don't mean those crumbly looking ruins right?"


"It's so boring here at the castle! And that place isn't boring at all!"

Evgenia sighs, turning to you.
"Those ruins are not… it's not like anything dangerous lives there anymore, but I still don't like that place, you can imagine why."

"Please please please pleaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaase!"


"Well.. if its not dangerous, and we promise to stay out of the buildings, would that be alright?"


She rolls her eyes.
"Fiiiine, but please, please keep an eye on him. You know how colts can get."



"I will." I give her a firm nod.
And away we go, remember to bring the ball!


You grab it, wouldn't want to leave with without something to toss, and Paradise canters and flutters excitedly behind you!


Go down the path toward the village then.
"I used to explore as a colt, little fields and the forest at home too. "


He frowns a bit.
"I don't get to do that much… I mean, exploring the castle is cool the first few times, but it gets old fast! Not to mention I accidentally disturbed him once and mom got super upset at me…"


"He did? That sounds really scary." I whisper dramatically.


He nods.
"He can be very serious, but he is mostly serious with his children… he trains them very seriously."


"I heard they are paladins, that's not an easy life."


"Being a paladin must suck. Why do they want do it?"


"They think its the right thing to do, its just that simple to a paladin."


He looks contemplative about that.

You are starting to approach the settlement.
You think you hear… music?


Strange, where is it coming from?


From the town, it seems!
Sounds like… a harmonica?

The ears of Paradise perk.


"Stay quiet, I need to see who this is."
'1d10' sneaky sneaky toward the sound

Roll #1 6 = 6


You sneak closer, and find the source, sitting on a ruined crossbeam, having fallen from the house to in front of the house.

It seems to be a donkey jack, malnourished and unkempt but happy, playing away on his harmonica.


Just one donkey, alright.
come out of hiding and approach him.


He stops playing as you approach him, smiling at you, waving.
"Howdy, strangers! What wind blew ya' into this here town?"


"Hello there fella, I didn't know anyone lived down here."


"Oh, only me! Y'see, I was the mayor of this here town in it's hayday. Rest all moved away, and the folks in the castle keep asking me to move in with them."
He chuckles, slapping his knee as he sits.
"I'm a donkey, what do they expect, that I'll change my mind? I'll live in this here town as long as I breathe."


"I see!"
"Paradise, its alright, you can come over here." I call back to my brother.


Paradise peeks his head out from behind a house, then smiles and runs up to you two.
"Oh! Mister Backwater! I didn't see you anywhere last time, I thought something happened to you!"
He chuckles, ruffing the mane of the pegasus.
"I just had to go up to the forest to collect some berries and pears."

Backwater? What kind of name is that?
He chuckles, looking at you.
"Before you ask, because everypony does, I know. The mayor of a small town called Backwater, ironic."


"It is an odd name for a donkey." I sit down near him.
"Hey, what happened to this place?"


He puts his harmonica away, Paradise sitting down next to you.
"Some bad eggs of ponyfolk from faraway lands didn't quite appreciate the fact that the family in the castle was murderin' the beasts of Tartarus by the hundreds, so they tried to hit where it hurts most, near home, and opened a gate to Tartarus itself in the middle of the city, letting out all sorts of nasty things!"
Paradise gasps, but the donkey shakes his head with a smile.
"Nopony died, believe it or not. Well, 'cept for the bad folks who caused this mess. The family are paladins and demon hunters fer a reason. Still, the ground was tainted so nothing would ever grow again, so the town was abandoned, all except fer me."


"That's a sad story, you really can't grow anything here? Can you show me where the portal opened?"


He motions with his thin, brown hoof, and you do notice there's no green grass anywhere, just dark dirt or sickly, dead and dried grass.
He hops off the fallen wooden girder with a crack.
"Ow, ow, owwwwww, I'm not in any shape to be hopping around, I keep forgetting. This way, folks!"
Paradise hops on to your back with a flap of his wings, hitching a ride!


A little piggyback is fine.
Trot along after the donkey, making a whoosh sound as I go.


You pass some houses that seem rather fine, and seem to be only in such a sad state because of the lack of care and maintanence over the years, but some are missing parts of their walls, some are partially burned while there are some buildings where you can only see the charred, skeletal remains of the foundation an some walls, the rest of the house having burned away.

Paradise giggles at you as you make the ride more exciting.

The donkey stops in front of the ruined church with the strange claw mark on the half-collapsed tower.
On the ground you see faded glyphs burned into the ground, scarring it.
"This here patch o' dirt is where they did it."


"I see.." Try removing a sigil. '1d10'

Roll #1 9 = 9


As you do so, your hoof just passes through the dirt. You scrape some dirt away as a followup, but the strange symbol just dimly glows, reforming immediately.

The donkey shakes his head sadly.
"Not even the folks from the castle could undo the evil done here. Said no divine magic of Celestia could restore this land."

No magic of Celestia… that doesn't mean there's no magic to do it!


"I'm sure there is a way.. why not leave to look for one? If you restored your town's soil then ponies could come back and you could be mayor again."


"I would but I can't go far, and even small journeys, like going to the forest foraging, can take me days and hurt a lot."
He chuckles.
"Remember when I said nopony died? That don't mean no one got hurt. My hip and back broke when I was helping folk taking up refuge in the church. T'was just divine luck the bell didn't hit me, but part of the roof did. Iffin' wasn't for the magic of that pegasus healer in the castle, I wouldn't be able to even walk."


I give him a troubled stare, suddenly understanding the situation.
"Ah, alright… Well, what about keeping score for us while we play ball? There's a good field for it nearby right?"


He laughs.
"Golly, now that's what I like to hear! I'd love ta'! The yard just behind the school should be fine!"
"OOoh, yes, I know where that is!"
Paradise pats yours neck with a hoof, guiding you where to canter from your back!


Whinny a bit trotting us over to the school yard to his directions, a little TOO exacting, going far to the right of the path when he signals for right and hopping to the other streets instead of just turning into them. Looking back at him occasionally with a playful grin.


You see him scrunching every time you do.
"You're doing this on purpose!"

Oh boy, he may be onto you!


"Whaaat, I'm just following your directions Paradise." I reply suppressing a laugh.


"Hm, okay, okay, when I say right, just bank right a bit, when I say right and tap your shoulder, turn completely!"

Ooh, he's clever, those are very exact instructions!


"Aye aye captain." I can still make this more interesting, when I turn, do it in a sneaking crawling way, and when I go right spread my wings a bit more so the kid gets lifted up just slightly.


He giggles at your antics every time, but you get to the field soon enough!

The donkey walks up to a dirty bench covered in ashes. He sweeps it off with his thin tail, but it doesn't do it much good, sitting down.
"Now boys, I want a fair game here, no unicorn friends from the sideline messin' about with their magic, no flyin' off with the ball and no earth pony bucking it out of bounds!"

Paradise hops off your back, holding the toy in his wing.
"So, what are the rules?"


"Understood Ref." I give the old mayor a salute.
Then roll the ball around on my hooves "Well, we have a nice field space, we can do soccer, first to 3 goals is standard, but the paint is gone so how to mark the goal zones.."
'1d10' spot checking

Roll #1 5 = 5


The paint or chalk is long gone, yes… but there is a lot of ash around.

You could draw a field just by dunking your tail in it and flying around the field to mark a hoofball field.
Getting the ash out of your tail later… well, that's a different problem entirely.


"I'll make the lines, warm up with a few stretches." I pass the ball to Paradise and get to work.
'1d10' try not to make a mess of my fur in the process.

Roll #1 9 = 9


Your coat is fine, but the end of your tail looks like a mess.
"Somepony is gonna' need a bath!"
The donkey chuckles.
Paradise, meanwhile, stretches and starts bouncing the ball with his head, wings and rump, not letting it fall to the ground!


"Ooh impressive moves. But can you do this?"
'1d10' do the endless loop around your body with the ball trick

Roll #1 3 = 3


You only get four loops before you drop it.
Paradise snickers.
"Impressive. I was worried I might lose because you're older, but that doesn't look like a problem anymore!"


Snicker. "You sound ready, do you know how to start the game right? Ball in the middle, we stand on the two lines and wait for the whistle from the ref to start."


He nods, taking his place as you do too.

The donkey clears his throat, licks his lips, slowly raising a forehoof to his mouth…

Then lets out a sharp, loud whistle!
It's on!


Roll #1 3 + 2 = 5


'1d10' take the ball!

Roll #1 7 = 7


Due to your size, your speed is higher too, so you get a headstart and get the ball, but the small pegasus does not give up, he's in hot pursuit, ready to try and take it from you!


Roll #1 4 + 2 = 6


uhoh, better get this moving, dribbling the ball down the field.

Roll #1 7 = 7


You can see he has got good technique, but he can't quite catch up with you to execute them! Now you just need to shoot for the goal to score!


Roll #1 3 + 2 = 5


"And he shoots for the first goal aaaand.."
'1d10' dramatically announce it as I aim and kick!

Roll #1 8 = 8


You even take some time to boast, kicking the ball, Paradise trying to intercept it with a dive accelerated by a flap of his wings, but falls just short, the ball shooting into the goal!

The donkey whistles again.
"ONE POINT TO… Uh, I never got your name, feller!"

Paradise collects the ball that has rolled away due to the lack of a net.
"I was just warming up, you'll see!"


"Oh. I'm Kelani." I tell the old donkey, and smile to the colt.
"I'm not tired yet." stand in place and wait for the signal, "It will be my turn to collect the ball next, since you got this one."
'1d10' preemptive roll for the start

Roll #1 6 = 6


The whistle sounds again, and the colt is determined to get it…

Roll #1 1 + 2 = 3


So determined at looking at the ball that he doesn't, in fact, look in front of himself… he trips and lets out a yelp, clutching a forehoof with a pained expression.
The donkey raises his long ears in alarm.
"You okay, Paradise?"


Stop and help him up.
"Hey, what happened?"


He seems to have bruised his knee from the fall, but it didn't even draw blood.
The donkey hobbles over as Paradise looks at you then behind him.
"There was something pointy there that I stepped into!"


"Something pointy?" I better go investigate.
'1d10' look for the pointy thing

Roll #1 2 = 2


You don't see any point-ow, you get pricked, there it is.
On a closer look, it seems to be something white and pointy half-buried in the ground…


'1d10' let's dig it up

Roll #1 4 = 4


You only need to dig a little to find out that it belongs to a spine, full of these sharp spines.

…this certainly does not look like the backbone of any of Mother Nature's animals… but demons cannot stay in this realm after they have died unless the find a host.

With a frown you realize this thing, now long dead an buried in the dirt of the schoolyard was once the beloved dog of somepony in this town, twisted into an abomination just like the ones you saw up north, the ones that 'killed' Chell, before the purifying magic of the paladins burned away the corrupted flesh, leaving only the skeleton behind.

The donkey, sensing the change in tone, quickly tries to cheer everypony up.
"Ya' know boys, this ain't no fun without nets and only two ponies. We should head back to the dirt road an' have a contest of which onaya' can keep the ball bouncing longer instead!"

Paradise seems to enjoy the idea, you saw him do it as a warmup after all!


I smile and move toward the road.
"Yea, that's a good idea."


Paradise, as colts do, forgets about his bruiese almost immediately (he'll probably remebmer it when the soap stings at bathtime next, judging by your youthful experiences), already bouncing the ball on his wing.
"Oooh! That's my favourite! How far can you get, Kelani? I can totally get to like, super far!"


"I'm sure I can get more than 20."


The donkey leans closer to whisper.
"Ooh, yer in fer it now!"

"Watch this!"
He manages to bounce the ball with it never touching the ground '1d75+35' times.

Roll #1 48 + 35 = 83


I gasp in amazement and am counting out loud with the donkey at the end.


You see he gets a bit tired by the end, the ball bouncing off his rump at a bad angle, his wing not enough to catch it.
As the ground falls to the dirt, so does he, his legs giving out with a thud, but he starts giggling.
"That was pretty good!"


"You're great at this." I applaud him and laugh a bit. then roll the ball over to myself.
"Well, here goes."
Start bouncing it until I miss, but daringly show off a bit more with flicking it off my wings and using my back hooves to toss to my front ones.


The donkey nods with appreciation, brushing his beard and chewing his lips.
"Impressive… you see that technique, Paradise."
The colt nods, scrunitizing you.
"Hmm, impressive and flashy, I like it! But the trick is not to just try and catch it wherever it lands but guide it to where you want it to land!"


"You're right, its just more fun to do complicated tricks." I reply and really focus, kick it up into the air so it lands on my right wing, roll it to the left wing, then bounce it off my front hoof and spin it on my head.
'1d10' how well can I spin it before I get dizzy

Roll #1 2 = 2


You bounce it to your head from your forehoof with just a teeny tiny bit more power than you meant to, basically kicking yourself in the face with the ball, scrunching up your snout.
Paradise breaks out in laughter.


I rub my snout with a groan and squeaky voice from having a pinched nose.
"Its lighter than I remember."


He keeps rolling in the dirt, laughing, but then takes a few breaths to stop.
"Try again, I'm sure you can't do any worse!"


Smirk at him.
"You better watch you, I'm gonna break your record for sure."
I had a nice warm up, try for 100 bounces

Roll #1 2, 3, 3, 7, 10, 4, 9, 10, 9, 9 = 66


You can't even beat his score… it is incredibly tiring, you just don't have this kind of stamina and focus for this!
You still manage to come close at least, and both of them clop their hooves when you finally drop the ball!
"That's the spirit!"
"That was great! I know you were just messing with me and were really good!"


"No way, you're really good at it. You must practice everyday, or just be talented."
I pant a bit showing how tired I got. "Let's get some water."


The donkey nods.
"The well here ain't safe to drink, but I know a place with pure water."
He chuckles, heading towards… the ruins of the church?

Paradise trots beside you.
"Oh, I do practice a lot… not much else I can do with a ball alone in the courtyard!"


"I can really tell. Great job Paradise." I praise him and follow the mayor.


He beams with happiness as you do.
"Thanks! I'm uh…"
He actually blushes, flattening his ears.
"I'm really glad somepony got to see."

Hmm… he can open up easily, but he does seem to be shy at the core still!


He just needs a little practice talking to ponies.

"Who knows, maybe you'll get to show other ponies too."


"This place doesn't get a lot of visitors, and the traders, if they come, are too tired or just have to leave early!"

You see the donkey go inside from the side of the church, past the ruined walls… is that safe?


"Makes sense.. there isn't really an inn here."
'1d10 look first, is it safe?



Roll #1 8 = 8


The donkey stops, looking back at you.
"Don't just stand around there, it's safe! There's no more of the roof or wall to fall down, an' that tower is fused to that twisted way so hard not even a dragon could topple it. I wouldn' bring a kid like Paradise near danger."


"Alright. Coming." I follow him inside the old church.


You see that the altar is standing, and behind it, a large statue of Princess Celestia, wings spread, with a look of sorrow, pure, clean water gently trickling out of her eyes as the statue weeps into a large bowl it is holding.
The donkey bows before it.
"Princess bless."


How odd that a fountain would still work..


You see ever so tiny fractures in the raised, open wings…
It's not a fountain…
This holy, sacred statue is actually filtering rainwater! But why was it inside a church?

The donkey starts slupring on the water from the large marble bowl, and so does Paradise.


Statues of Celestia belong in churches, its common sense!
Drink some as well.


It is very refreshing! Feels even more refreshing than pure rainwater, rejuvenating almost!

And yes, they do, but this thing had a roof once.


maybe they didn't know it filtered water
Still I'm curious now.
"How long has this been here?"


"Oh, as long as the town has been settled, it's a real beaut, blessed by the Princess herself!"


"Its quite lovely." I compliment it.


He looks solemn and respectful, putting a hoof over his heart.
"Used to look happy before, wasn't weeping."


Blink at that statement.
"Really? That statue changed on its own?"


He nods.
"Ayup. Once the town was gone and there were ain' no more ponies aroun' anymore, it began to weep. Ah think it misses her subjects."


I look sad at the statue, but shutter with worry.
"And no one from Canterlot ever came to see ?"


"Oh, there have been ponies here, on a pilgrimage just ta' see it, but that's about it."


"That's so…" I ponder it. "Then, she can't be too lonely."


"Yeah, plus I mean, ah pray to her 'ryday, telling her s'allright. Still not quite the same as havin' a townful o' ponyfolk."


"It would be quite nice if the town could be rebuilt.." I agree.
Look up at the skies, how late did it get?


Very late afternoon, it may be getting dark soon.
You will probably want to be back at the castle by then, as to not worry anypony.


"We should head back. You want to join us for dinner Back Water?" I offer the donkey.


He shakes his head with a smile.
"Sorry, folks' but this here town is my wife at this point an' she'd get awfully ornery if I left her alone just to eat somewhere else."


"Heh, alright. See you around."
I will say in farewells to the donkey and take Paradise to the castle again.


He says goodbye too, and walks beside you a bit sluggish.
He almost trips over a rock as he yawns…

Must have been a big, exhausting day for him!


"Want a ride?" I offer him.


He blinks at first, but then nods with a smile, fluttering up on your back!


"Hold on tight." I tell him and with a single warning flap, take off in flight and soar up to the castle.


He holds on, spreading his own wings to catch the wind, guiding you to a balcony.
"That's where Mom sometimes leaves from and arrives to! She's probably waiting for us there now!"


"Okay, coming in for a landing." I playfully make a whooshing sound again as I go for the balcony.


He giggles as you do and land, but he says "Uh-oh." when he sees the pegasus mare with the sparkly eyes waiting just behind the door of the balcony, tapping her hoof impatiently against the stone.


Step forward to her. Rubbing my head embarrassed.
"Sorry, we lost track of time."


"I see you couldn't manage another week without a new bruise, Paradise!"
She says to your brother, seeing the ruffled fur on his leg where he fell.
"And what in Equestria did you do with your tail to look like that, Kelani?"


"I painted lines on the old ball field." I pick up the tail, patting it to see how loose the ashes are.


It will need a good rinsing.
"Paradise, dinner is on the table. As for you."
She turns to you.
"Into the bathroom with you. You are not sitting down for dinner with a filthy tail like that. March march!"
She clops her hooves urgently!


I urgently move to the bathroom, carefully trying not to wiggle my tail at all to mitigate the damage


She ushers you in to the tub (a rather fancy one at that, spacious too!) and pulls a lever with her teeth…
Cold water washes over you from a pipe above as she does!


"Oh!" I gasp in surprise at the cold.
Then get my tail nice and rinsed in the water.


"Sorry, but warm water has to be rationed, and I'd rather have Malady and Paradise have it than you or me."
The mare picks up a brush near the tub and leans close to brush out the ashes, the water becoming a dirty grey as it drains down at the bottom of the tub.


"I understand." This is.. nice, being cared for like that.. by my mother.. I relax a bit as she helps.
"Thanks, its a little hard to reach there."


You did notice that she didn't miss a beat. Ever since you arrived and she got over her initial surprise, she has been treating you just like she does Paradise.
"Wou tho fakhe ahhte wou faha! Whump aheas!"
She says with the brush still in her mouth.
(Translation, since as a pony you can understand: You do take after your father! Dumb ideas!)

She pulls back, your tail clean, and she spits the brush to the side of the tub.
"You're a big colt, you can finish the rest. I'll make sure Paradise eats and take him to bed, but I'll be looking at your wounds when I'm back!"


My ears flop down when she mentions my wounds.
"Yes Mom.."


She leaves you to finish up, knocking on the bathroom door about ten minutes later.


That's plenty of time, I'm even drying off just now.

"Come in."


She enters, this time wearing a strange necklace made out of shimmering gemstones of different sizes and colors. None of them shine as bright as her eyes though.
She takes a towel in her mouth and lays it down on the ground.
"Could you lie down for me please?"
She sighs.
"If you don't want to tell me, you don't need to. I just want to know. I might worry more if you don't tell me."


"I wasn't going to.. but I saw some things in the town, so now I think I must tell you." lay down.
"I'm looking for the statues of Mother Nature, which together, will save the world from wilting under black tentacles."
"However, these ended up in the hooves of dangerous ponies, and I wound up caught in the middle of their shadow war."


She is silent for a bit… but then you feel her kiss your forehead, before you feel soothing magic slowly heal your wounds, even the scar on your chest.
Even as her healing magic is working, she speaks in a soft tone.
"Kelani… I am very proud of you.
This is nothing to hide from me because… I always suspected that you were meant to do great things."
She pauses, focusing on her magic a bit.
"Look at you, braving horrible, horrible things like that, just to help ponies and Mother Nature. I never had faith for Her like your father did, but that is because I knew it would never be me who would be in her favor. It would be you or Paradise."


I look at her with a smile of awe.
"Really? You knew?"


She shakes her head a bit, but then says "No." as you may not see that motion well.
"I just… felt it. My own mother told me to be proud of my legacy, that the Pegasi of Timbucktu have been destined for greatness. I know that wasn't true, if it was, they would have never let Queen Chrysalis destroy the most beautiful city pegasi ever made… but I knew that our blood and Equestrian blood mixing together would be something that… something that can hold a soul so bright it can triumph over any darkness. The moment I saw you open your eyes at me as a foal, I knew you had a soul like that."
She wipes a tear with her wing.
"Sorry… I'm getting a bit sentimental again."


"I never knew about the Timbucktu ponies." I scoot closer to her in curiosity.


"I only know it from the stories of my parents who were forced to leave after it was destroyed."
Despite this, she smiles, clearly being nostalgic to even recite the story.
"They called it the Jewel of the Skies. A thriving metropolis, center of trade between pegasi and all other flying creatures, gryphons, dragons, wyverns and more!"
She looks at you with her beauiful sparkly eyes.
"Everypony had eyes like me there and it was lead by a benevolent ruler, King Orion. He was said to have been loved by all for his wisdom, kindness and generosity."


I gasp in amazement at her story.
"It sounds wonderful."


"It truly was."
Her smile falters.
"It was this happiness and love that was their downfall. They were too happy to ever concieve evil taking root. Do you know what a changeling is, Kelani?"


Nod. "I've heard the nightmare night stories at least."


"They are these horrible creatures that feed on love and happiness and can take the form of anypony… alone and seperated they are weak, trying to blend in by pretending to be a pony others love. As a swarm, lead by Queen Chrysalis… they were an unstoppable force. She even disguised herself as a commander to call a retreat and draw everypony to the palace."


I frown deeply. "Being too trusting is bad too."


"Nothing was left afterwards, and the remaining pegasi fled, to Trotantium, Equestria, all over the world."


"I see…" hug her in silence for a moment, then start a new.
"…What I saw below, was a land which needs Mother Nature's power to restore it. The runes in the dirt which the paladins could not remove. I somehow.. know that she can do it."


She hugs you back.
"How? It is a very foul magic… it would take a tremendous amount of power, even for a deity!"


"I must ask her. Is there a temple to Nature nearby?"


"Not that I know of… maybe in Hollow Shades, but it's an hour's flight away."


"I should go there, in the morning. Is its temple tended by anypony?"


"I think it's only a shrine… there are a lot of batponies there, and a lot of them are the last remaining Lunites inside the borders of Equestria, but they have shrines for other gods too that they tend to, yes."


"Okay, so I won't need to bring a broom and bucket of water then." I smile.


"You will bring some offering, right?"
She tilts her head.
"Riiiight? Your father taught you some manners when dealing with gods, I hope!"


"right.. what do you think I should bring?"


She scrunches at you.
"You are Her follower and you are asking me?"
She sighs.
"Flowers and fruits always work, every mare likes those!"


"Well.. I mean, I would bring her part of the harvest, but that's not everyday."
I nod. "I'll find the best ones early in the morning."


"Since it's in Hollow Shades… you could set out a few hours before sunrise. I know that during the night there are a lot of beautiful flowers that bloom and glow in the dark."
She frowns at her own suggestions.
"But you will have to promise me to be careful if you do. And I will pack you breakfast and lunch."


My eyes are already sparkling at the idea.
"Uhuh, I'll be careful. Those bat ponies will be sleeping by then anyway."


"I told you, a lot of them are Lunites, even if they are ashamed to admit it to outsiders because of Nightmare Moon…"
She gives you a look.
"Assuming you know the tale of the Princesses. At this rate, it will be nothing more than a legend in a few generations…"


"Its been a long time since anyone told me, Mother." I reply slowly.
"How about a refresher before bed?"


She chuckles.
"A second bedtime story? Fine. I just about finished healing you anyway… but that scar on your chest will take time. You are lucky your coat is hiding it."


I put on a fake whining voice. "Buuut I'm not tired yet."
Then smile looking down at my chest to see what she means.


You can't see anything out of the ordinary there.
But brushing over your chest with a hoof, you can feel a scar running along it.
It's… old. It's from the Saddle Arabian, who cut you to convince Mirage he was trying to 'kill' you. Chell treated the wound immediately… but you are starting to think the sword might not have been just simple steel.
You are indeed lucky that the scar is shallow enough that your fur covers it completely.
"No arguments, you will be dead tired to fly if you don't go to bed!"
She clops you on the back between the wings gently.
"Chop chop! March to bed!"


"Oookay." off to the bed we go.


"I will tell you the story of the Princesses tomorrow for night… don't get too greedy with your bedtime stories!"
She leads you to a small guest room with a bed she already had made for you!
"I need to pack that lunch for you anyway!"


"Don't stay up too late yourself, you need your energy." I will slide into bed.


"It will take no time, don't worry about me."
Once you do, she tucks you in and kisses your forehead.
"Goodnight, Kelani."


"Goodnight, Mom." I smile at her and close my eyes only after she leaves.


You drift off to sleep soon enough…

However, your dream, you feel, is not quite a dream, but a vision.
The world around you is consumed by fire, bells of the nearby temple and the chapel of the castle up the hill ringing alarmingly.
You feel yourself in the body of an earth pony mare… burdened… you realize this is a pregnant mare!
You see panicked ponies screaming as dark creatures, demons chase them!
Despite the taxing effort with a condition like this, the host of this vision is moving suprisingly fast and elegantly, the demons she strikes with her spiked gauntlets crumbling to dust at the power of her kicks and punches and the magic coursing through the blessed weapons.
You see that many of the ponies here would have been caught by these horrid creatures as they are fleeing their burning homes if it wasn't for this mare saving them…
You hear a loud roar and a crash, your head jerking to the side to see the demon the size of a small house that was climbing the tower with claws that are molten lava dying, swiping at the tower with it's last gasp, making the large bell crash through the roof of the temple with a resonating thud and ring. You see the unicorn stallion jump off to the ground from the cracked open head of the demon and feel a proud smile run across your face before throwing yourself back into combat.

After a dozen more demons are vanquished though, you see one of them formerly the dog of some colt, now transformed, chasing who was once it's owner, inhaling and about to let out a breath of demonic energies, knowing you cannot make it there in time to strike it down…
But in a last desperate effort you try anyway, your body shielding the colt as the dark energies burn not your body but your soul, coursing through your veins.

You let out a shocked gasp and collapse, barely just hearing the worried cry of a stallion.
"Burning! No! Blazing, I need you here,
NOW! Teleport your mother back to the castle! Tell your brothers to raise a shield, get the maid to tend to her! I will finish the demons here!"

You wake up, startled.
You see your mother standing beside the bed, her eyes looking tired.
You see it is completely dark outside… and with most life dead around the castle, completely silent too, not a bird to sing or a cricket to chirp.
"It's two hours before sunrise, Kelani. I thought I'd get up too, to make sure you managed to wake up."


I stare at mother.
"Mom. This castle has no maids right?"


She shakes her head.
"No. After the town below was destroyed, one by one they all left, the servants that is."
She chuckles, despite how tired she looks.
"What does that have to do with anything?"


Keep being insistent as I get up. "But only after the town was destroyed? So there were maids here that night?"


She looks concerned.
"…yes, only after that. There were a few here, some of them nurses. One of them was a nanny too."
She shakes her head.


"…then you were here, that time." I continue with her, easing back.
"Sorry for bringing it up. I hoped that someone who was there might know more."


She purses her lips, shaking her head.
"I was not. I felt my destiny calling me here after it already happened. I felt I was needed here, and I was, more than anywhere."


"I see.. Sorry for bringing up such a bad topic, it just bothers me."
Shake my head a bit and smile. "So, what did you make for breakfast up so early?"


"It is a very interesting thing to say to your mother after waking up for sure!"
She chuckles.
"Just some simple sandwhiches. No coffee or tea, I didn't want to wake up Paradise with the kettle."


"Its perfect I'm sure." I hug her. "The Hollow is just a short flight from here, I'll be back before you know it. Get some rest."


"Just in case, I packed a salad for you too, in case you end up being late."
She yawns, then kisses your cheek and hugs you back.
"Stay safe out there!"
She goes back to her room!


With a boxed lunch from mom, I'll fly off toward that batty hollow.
'1d10' speed

Roll #1 8 = 8


Despite the area being bereft of travel, you still manage to find the nearest wind-highway, managing to rest your wings and glide most of the way!
You have to peel off when you actually get to the forest though…

It is a really thick forest… not as thick and dark as the Everfree, and certainly not even close to being as dangerous, but still, the foilage makes it impossible to see under the trees from above and you know the town is somewhere in this forest, deep within.


A walk through the woods will let me look for the flower anyway.
Land and look carefully around. '1d10'

Roll #1 1 = 1


You land… and the moment you do, you hear a crack under your hoof and the whizzing of a rope… then you feel the world shift around and all four of your hooves are caught and tangled by said rope and soon you find yourself upside down, hanging from a tree with your legs all tied together!

You managed to land right in a trap!


clap my hooves. "Well done. Well done. Come out now?"


How are you going to clap your hooves, silly, they are all tied together.
You manage a half-assed clap with your wings though.

You hear a bristling nearby from a bush, then a cute voice.
"You… are not undead, are you?"


"Nope. Fully alive."


The bush shakes and something you have never seen before jumps out of it… A batpony!
A mare, around your age by the looks of it, with a dark blue coat and a striking green mane eyes… the eyes, unlike yours, thin like a slit, only widening a bit as she looks you over in the faint ligth of the moon and the stars above.
She flaps her leathery wings to approach you as you hang from the tree, poking your side with a hoof.
"Hmm… you are. Why did you step into such an obvious trap then?"


"Its dark." I complain. "My eyes weren't adjusted."


She flies in front of you, looking into your eyes, then draws a sword with her teeth…


"And now there is a sword blinding me! This is awful."


"Mh mhuit appin!"
(Translation for non-ponies not accustomed to speech with full mouths - "Oh, quit japping!"
Without warning she swings it around an cuts the rope!
Think fast or land with a thud!


land 'clumsily' but don't get hurt '1d10'

Roll #1 5 = 5


You pretend to land clumsily, but flip to not hurt your wings.
You do get the wind knocked out of you.
The batpony girl lands, putting her sword away, standing over you and looking directly down at you.
Try not to peek.
"What are you doing here in the middle of the night anyway?"


"I'm on a pilgrimage to all of Nature's temples. I heard there is one in Hollow Shades. Do you know about it?"


She nods, still looking down to you lying on your back on the grass.
"She has a shrine, yes. It is very pretty. I think it's the reason why the animals of the forest never give us any trouble."


"Oh, thank you. Could you point me in the right direction?"
'1d10' get up carefully.
"What's your name miss bat?"

Roll #1 10 = 10


She sees your attempt to get up and helps with a hoof.
You end up brushing up against her chest as you do and by Nature how is her coat SO SOFT?

She smiles, flashing her large fangs a bit with glee.
"Oh, you just ruined my last trap, so I was about to head there myself. You can come with me!"


"Perfect." I say and walk very close to her with a smile.


She doesn't seem to mind!
"I'd say we fly, but seeing how you handled yourself, you'd just headbutt a branch!"
She looks over her shoulder to you.
"I'm Leaf Roost, by the way, since you asked, but friends just call me Leafy."


"I see, I see. I'm called Clay Spirit. Its nice to meet you Leaf."


She chuckles and pokes your nose with a wing.
"Got clay in your head too, don't you?"
She starts walking deeper into the forest!


"Better than a bed of leaves, they would be so scratchy." I poke her in return.


She scrunches, but smile.
"Oh, you are so wrong. A bed full of the finest leaves is the most comfortable bed! As a follower of Nature, you should know!"


"Perhaps only because you've never slept on a moss pile. The only thing softer might be your mane.. I mean.." blush at my totally accidental slip up


She giggles cutely at your accidental compliment.
"Awww, you are cute, I like you!"
She ruffles your mane with a hoof as you two walk.
"But of course I know how it feels!"
She leans closer to your ear.
"How do you think I know so much about the shrine of Mother Nature, silly?"


I gasp in surprise.
"Oh, that must mean, you're a priestess?"


She giggles.
"What gave it away? Me banishing undead at night?"
She runs a hoof through her green hair.
"My mane?"
She bumps her hips into you.
"Or my cutie mark?"
On her quite shapely flanks you can see a trio of leaves!


Chuckle at that.
"I'm glad I could meet you, and know that the shrine is still well cared for."
'1d10' are any of those glowing flower around?

Roll #1 1 = 1


She shakes her head, a bit sad.
"It's been lonely as a follower of Nature… I had two friends, but they moved to Cloudsdale after getting married, leaving me alone here to tend to it!"
Nope, none at all.
Looks like you arrived too late. You think the flowers may be all around you, but you can't tell it apart from the rest of the forest floor since they no longer bloom… it must be too close to sunrise, since you can see a sliver of red on the horizon.


I'll have to think of something else..
"Really? No other bat ponies want to follow her?"


"They all respect her, they even visit the shrine sometimes, even the Lunites and Celestials! But they aren't devouts like me… or you, if you really are trying to see all her shrines."


I nod. "I see, so you feel lonely, because no one knows what you know. I felt the same when I stayed in baltimare on my way far north to see the old shrines. The ponies were too absorbed in their own business to even notice Nature."
I sigh looking up at the non blooming flowers.
"I thought I'd give an offering of a flower at this shrine, but Its already too late, they're all asleep."


She shakes her head.
"All they would need to do is walk in a pretty field and look around, just roll around in the grass to see!"
She pouts at you.
"Awwww, poor thing! Don't worry, I have a garden, you can pick some of my flowers as an offering to her!"


"Really? That's so kind of you Leaf." I let my wings fluff up in excitement.


"Hey, you're a friend! It's only natural!"
She giggles.
Soon, you see a solitary little hut surrounded by multiple plots, some of the growing vegetables, a small space that has fruit trees that are different from the rest of the tall trees and pines around here and a little grove with a variety of colorful flowers.
"This is my home! I live a bit away from the town itself, I like the sound of nature more… but it's only a few more minutes of a walk if I feel lonely."


"This is a beautiful home Leaf." I saw in awe of her peaceful living quarters.


"Oh, thank you! I only helped shape the earth around it, Mother Nature did the rest with her flowers and trees!"
She giggles.


"She wouldn't do this if you didn't put effort in first."


"It wasn't just me! My friends who moved on now helped me do it too!"


"It must have been exciting. What were your friends like?"


"Bubbles was always chirpy, happy, would not sit still for a second for a day, even when she sleeps she would twitch and roll and kick! I think that's why Cereus fell in love with her!"
She giggles.
"Cereus really was like the cactus he got his name after… he was stingy and would bloom to be nice once a year for a night… but he was a real kind soul at heart and Bubbles had a very good effect on him too!"


I chuckle a bit.
"I can imagine they were a hoof full of trouble."


"Oh, that they were… you see, Cereus had a talent for magic despite being a bat pony, but Bubbles didn't…"
She giggles.
"That meant sometimes when she really annoyed him, he just made vines erupt from the earth and grab her hooves so he could walk away."
She shakes her head with a smile.
"I just told her to keep her hooves off the ground and flutter. I spent some 'timeout' with some vines stuck in the garden once he found out I told her the obvious solution!"


"Not much you can do after the truth is out." I smile at their playfulness.


She nods.
"They thought that this forest is nice, but it would be nicer to raise a foal somewhere that is more… open. That's why they moved to Cloudsdale after marrying."
She smiles.
"Mother Nature approved too! Those cloud cities barely have any people who know how to keep plants alive up there!"


"They spend too much time staring at their piles of gold if you ask me." I snort in disgust.
"Oh!" Then I gasp at realizing. "We came here to pick a flower for Her. Is that still okay?"


She nods.
"Of course. I'm surprised you remebered, Clayhead!"
She giggles.
"Pick what flowers you think are best! It is an offering from you, after all."


"Of course, its a bit impersonal to let someone else choose. "
Trot over to the garden and look for a few nice flowers to offer.


You spot about half a dozen ones that would go perfectly together in a boquet that you can tie together with some vines and surround by large leaves from the trees!


Perfect. I'll do that.
And carefully hold it in my wing after its done.


She tilts her head, showing a nice smile.
"It is very pretty! Come on, I'll show you to the shrine!"
She nudges your flanks with her head to urge you to move!


This mare…
"Okay Okay, I'm moving." I follow her directions


She leads you closer to the village, and you can actually see their glowing lights even as more and more red and orange are filtered through the canopy of the trees above as the Sun is rising in the distance, raised by Princess Celestia herself.

However, she stops halfway to the village, turning right.
You soon see a large tree, larger than all of the ones nearby.
In front of it, a hollow 'statue', the shape of a mare made out of wicker, no features on her face.
Beautiful, small flowers and cute little mushrooms are sprouting everywhere the hooves are touching the ground.


I carefully put the flowers at the statue's hooves. Then sit in front of it in prayer.


You put it down to offer it.
To your surprise, you see the flowers bloom and grow roots again, becoming healthy and living in the new spot.

As you sit and pray and mediate, you hear birds chirping all around you, waking up with the sun.

The air here feels fresh and nice, carrying the scent of the flowers and the scent of pine tree leaves.

It is very serene and calm, filling you with happiness.


Very needed after such a worrying vision.
I will try focusing on the runes in the dirt, silently asking how to remove them.



While you are not answered directly this time, you feel yourself slipping into a trance, not unlike the first time you met Mother Nature.
Unlike the crispy and clear memory of a vision you recieved tonight, this trance is more familiar to you.

You see the runes in the dead dirt, distorted and symbolic, a mockery as the real symbols would be a sacrilige, even in a trance, to be displayed.
Over them you see two ponies without features, a stallion and a mare. They shift from being earth ponies, pegasi, unicorn, even goats and donkeys… so it doesn't matter what race they are, only that they are druids and it is a male and a female.

The two ponies have their foreheads against each other, chanting.
You see that around them is an elaborate setup of branches from different trees, all from this area as you recognize the leaves, connected by vines, grass and flowers to form a circle.
You see the chanting end and the ponies in the middle kiss.
At the very moment, a butterfly flutters down from the sky above, landing on their muzzles and the symbols crumble, grass sprouting all around them, first only along the circle, but slowly spreading inward and out!

You come back to your senses to realize a bird has landed in your mane and a family of squirrels is watching you with interest.


Slowly reach up and pet the bird.
Doing my best to commit the chant to memory.


It chirps as you do, hopping about in your mane.
The smallest of the squirrels also runs up to you and climbs your leg up across your chest and to your shoulder!

You think you manage to memorize it pretty well… you realize it is easy to do so because the bird is chirping similarly how the chant goes!
You realize that even if you forget it, you just need to pray and another bird sent by Mother Nature can help remind you, or even teach other ponies!


I smile whispering, almost song like.
"Little bird, would you stay with me for today?"


The squirrel, once having had his fun running around, climbs off your other leg and scooches back to it's family.
The bird chirps some more, getting cozy in your mane.
You think that's a yes!


"Thank you."
Wave goodbye to the squirrels, I need to go back to Leaf's house.


You make your way back there.
You see the door is wide open, most likely an invitation!
…the sun is already shiny and yellow, so you may have been an in a trance for at least half an hour, if not more!


Well, step inside with a cheerful whistle.
"Hello, Miss Leaf?"


Her home looks as pretty on the inside as the outside!
Flowers and vines cover almost every inch of the walls!
She shows up with a fanged smile from what you assume is the kitchen.
"There you are! Got a little entranced by the shrine? That has to be rare, right? Or do you visit each because it happens every time?"
She giggles.


I nod.
"That's why yes. She seems stronger there. More able to talk to us."
Approach her with concern first.
"Are you tired? You must have been up all night with those undead.."


She blushes and flattens her fluffy bat ears.
"Oh…yes, I was thinking of a nap, but I didn't want you to just get out of your trance and find me sleeping in my bed or something and leave!"


I nod.
"How about a story before you sleep? I have a task to do here before I can leave anyway."


She giggles.
"Oh, sure! I'd love to hear it!"
She motions with her head.
"Just let me get comfy in my bed first!"
She walks off to her bedroom!


Offer a hoof to help her into bed, and tuck her in.
"Okay, are you ready?"
"This story starts.. a long time ago, in a village beside a mountain. On the mountain lived a strong family of paladins, they worshiped the sun and kept the village safe. For generations it was so, and it was well. The little village grew to a town, and became known for its protectors. They brought statues of their goddess to the town, and all cheerfully gathering to give thanks for her protection. Ponies came from far away to seek shelter at this town." take a breath here.
"But ponies aren't the only ones who heard about this town." I pause for effect, my tone darkening.


To your surprise, true to her words, there ARE a bunch of soft leaves in her bed!
She even pats the spot next to her so you an try, listening with ears perked to your story.
Her smile falters as you get to that point.
"Awww, I was hoping it would be a happy one!"


"Its worth it for the end. Trust me." I assure her and continue dramatically.

"Foul dark ones who served demons heard of this town, and wanted to spite its protector, they created portals and summoned their kin to the town, seeking to destroy and terrorize the citizens. The paladin family hurried to protect it, killing every demon. Incurring an injury to their matron mare too. Who you see, was carrying a child. She had to be hurried off the battlefield and the paladins, thinking all would be well with the demons destroyed didn't worry anymore that night.
Little did they know, that the foul ones had made a circle of runes in the town, that killed the land, making it impossible to grow anything. By the time anyone noticed, they couldn't find the one who made them, and their holy magic could do nothing. Dismayed the town ponies started to leave for better places. The town falling to ruin.
The paladins waited in faith up on their mountain. Years until the child born that day would grow old enough to travel. A great paladin who saved many, but still powerless to change the town's fate. She met, by chance, a travelling couple. They explained they had a terrible issue with undead and couldn't stay at their original homes. But didn't seem worried, because they followed nature, so they were always at home." I smile a bit.
"The paladin mare, she was bitter and told of her natureless town. The couple insisted they take a look, and upon seeing the foul circle, they knew exactly what to do." que the bird to help here. "They made a circle of branches, stood in the center of it, and chanted just like this -here I do the chant- as the chant ends, they kiss, and the runes melt away into nothing, nature's power descending on the area, reviving it."


She sits up in her bed, gaspig and covering her mouth with a hoof.
"This… this isn't just a story at all, is it? Did you see this in your trance! That would explain why it took you so long."
Her ears perk up and her eyes shine for a moment but then they flatten and she looks saddened.
"But… the couple, they already moved away from here! And I'm pretty sure that kiss must be a must have to… well, to bring fertility back to the lands!"


I nod at her, somewhat proud.
"Yes! She showed me, that this must be done."
I scoot close to her taking her hoof in the excitement. "Do you think we can find them? Did they move far away?"


She looks a bit surprsied as you take her hoof.
"I know they are in Cloudsdale, but I don't know where! It's a big pegasus city!"
She scrunches.
"Are you sure it has to be them?"


"Not really, the vision.. it looked like it could be any druids. Any stallion and mare."


"Oh, I see!"
Her ears perk up again and she uses her other hoof to cover a giggle.
"I'm not sure if it was all druids or just me, but some time ago I had a dream where Mother Nature showed me she has a stallion as her missionary now, doing her bidding in something important. I know I wouldn't mind kissing him if Mother Nature respects him so much too!"


"I see. Then you knew.."
I lower my head in shame. "Before we go forward more with this.. I lied about my name, See.. doing this work for Nature, I've managed to make enemies, I couldn't be sure who you were.." Look up at her with pleading eyes, still holding her hoof. "I'm Kelani Rush, and I'm sorry for lying."


She blinks rapidly a few times, looking as confused as a new-born lamb.
She tilts her head.
"I don't get it."


"Then never mind it, I just.. didn't want to ask to kiss you, as a fellow follower of Nature, still lying to you."
"So, how about I gather the branches, and you rest and think it over." Pet her mane back and lean closer to her. "We can practice, if you're worried of messing up."


You can almost hear the pieces of this great puzzle click in place as she is still processing what you said earlier.
"Wait, you mean… you're that stallion?! And you were just…"
She blushes as you smoothen her green mane back.
"And I just said… I didn't know it was you!"
It seems that she is hard to get through to now, with how flustered she became!


I simultaneously move my head away from hers, giving her space, my wing sliding to her back, supporting her, and my hooves bringing her leafy blanket up to her chest.
Smiling confidently at her. "I'm not as tall as you expected, huh? Hope that's not a problem."


"No, it's… I thought you were cute but… slow, but you were so smart you just made me believe that and now I'm feeling dumb! That's amazing!"
As you wrap your wings around her you feel her wings wrap around your back in turn, the leathery ones feeling almost cool and smooth, pulling you with her onto the bed.
"I know you know I didn't know it was you at the time, but I meant it about the kiss…"


"I think you're just perfect for the role of the kissed mare~" I reply letting her pull me closer, going most of the way to her lips, looking seductively at her, and readying my lips for her to kiss.


She doesn't hesitate to do so and doesn't wait for you to take the initiative either, smooching you with all she's got!

You even feel her tail wrap around yours!


No reason to resist this, slide into the bed with her, testing how comfy a bat on leaves really is~.


She wasn't lying, a Leaf on the bed does feel reaaaaally good.

After the vigorous testing and kissing practice, she gives you a smooch on the cheek and falls to sleep though, she has been awake all night.
You haven't gotten much sleep yourself and you did a lot of flying and other things… do you fall asleep with her? Her fur is super soft after all!


We will need energy for later… just a small nap.


The two of you fall asleep with a cute cuddle!

…you may have napped a few hours more than you'd have liked, it is just after midday when Leaf wakes you up in a very playful yet gentle and pleasant way, not something you'd think Lockbox would do.

After that, she chimes happily.
"I made fruit salad! You want some? I made enough for both of us!"


"It sounds wonderful, thank you Leafy."
Follow her with a wing over her back smiling.


You can't get over how soft and fuzzy her coat is as you wrap your wing around her!
It's almost unfair batponies get to be this soft!

She leads you to the kitchen and dining area and nudges a bowl full of an assortments of chopped fruits on the table.
"That is yours, but I've got more if it's not enough!"


"I'm sure it will be enough."
Then I recall the box lunch, with slight dismay, then again maybe it will be enough to share later.
Munch on the fruits.


Maybe it will be good for dinner?
She starst eating too, but sometimes stops to smile at you, accidentally bearing her fangs at you.


Smile back unafraid.
"This is delicious. Did you pick them here?"


She nods.
"I ha-"
She starts speaking with her mouth full, quickly chewing and swallowing.
"Sorry, I mean, yes, it's from the little orchard!"


"I'd love to see it sometime." I comment to her with interest.
"Do you tend to it yourself?"


She shakes her head
"I sometimes get help from the town and in return I bring them gifts from the gardens every now and then!"


"That's very fair."


She nods.
"But Nature provides for everypony! And everyone! They have a field just outside the forest so they can make bread, so they trade me bread back too! I can also get eggs from them sometimes and make cakes!"


I hum a little bit at the idea.
"Sounds like those town ponies really need you."


She giggles.
"Oh, it's nothing like that! This isn't the only garden we have, but it is the one with the most variety!"


"Variety is the spice of life. Without you and your garden, their life would be dull…"
"However if you really don't think they need you here… then taking a few nights away with the paladins won't be bad? I think they would like to hear about your undead infestation."


She nods.
"I can leave them a note, they can make sure my plants are all healthy while I'm gone!"


"Great. I'll get the branches, while you leave the note, and meet you back here."


She nods.
"You know what to get and where to get them?"


"The ones in the vision were all local.. I think I can find it."


She throws the bowl into the sink then gives your muzzle a smooch.
"Meet you here then!"
Without saying any more, she flies off towards the village!


And I'll fly off into the woods, looking for loose branches. '1d10'

Roll #1 4 = 4


You find a few lose branches by them snapping around and hitting you in the muzzle, ow!

Some others you find, but will need to break or cut them off.


"I think it was the number of variety of types that really mattered.." get them from as many different trees as possible.
'1d10' clean snaps.

Roll #1 9 = 9


You fly around for a while, but eventually manage to collect branches from every type of tree that grows around here, tying them together with some vines and grass for now!
You'll also have to ask Leaf to collect and carry the vines and flowers that will connect them!


She's got a garden that probably has that!
Let's go back and see if she's at the forest home.


She is, outside, with some cute green saddlebags.
She was just relaying a quick message after all.
"I packed some stuff if I'm going to be away for a few days!"


"Okay! Its not that far but I think it might take a little bit."
show her the wood, the branch silly.
" I got all the branches, but I need flowers and vines to connect them. Do you know where any are?"


"Oh, you can just get as many vines as you need from my house, they'll grow back! I'll gather some flowers for you, one of each!"


"My, what a prepared pony." I smile and head around back, to pick a few long vines off.


She strikes a pose.
"Leaf Roost, servant of nature, also at your service!"
She giggles then canters off to her grove of flowers!

In about ten minutes, you have everything!
The bird that previously left to give you some privacy (you didn't even notice!) now rejoins you in your mane!


"Hello little bird." I greet it with a pat on its little feathered head.
Its gotten a bit late on us already.
"Before we fly off, let's have a little dinner." I bring out the. box lunches.


She smirks.
"Oh, you've been holding out on me with some food?"
She giggles and joins you.
"Hmmm! This is really good! Did you make it?"


dig in myself.
"No, can't take credit for that. But, they are pretty much the best in the world."


"Hmm! That they are!"
You both eat to get some energy for the road and she even has some fresh spring water to wash it down!


Sip on the water with a clear 'aaah' sound.
"Ready to head out?"


She nods.
"Just lead the way!"


Into the skies we go!

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