You are not sure how long you have been passed out… but you do have strange dreams.
Dreams of a full night sky, with four strange blue comets…
And the feeling that the Moon is watching you with a malevolent eye….
When you finally wake up and look around, you find the room surprisingly emtpy…
Aside from a single nurse mare, sleeping on her desk.
First let's try standing!
You are a bit light on your hooves, and feel dizzy, but it seems to be working!
Flap my wings to get blood flowing again.
Geez when did I last eat..
You're not sure, but you are both parched AND hungry!
Poke around here for some food.. she must have hay or oats.. '1d10'Roll #1 5 = 5
You find something to drink at least, but you only manage to make some noise rummaging around.
The nurse stirs, but doesn't wake up.
Sip thirstily. I must have been out for a while.
You down the whole bottle!
Yeah, must have been for a long while!
You're probably just dizzy from hunger, not injury, at this point!
Go to the nurse pony, lay the empty bottle beside her hooves.
You see her ears twitch, and she raises her head, blinking at you, speaking groggily.
"Hello Nurse~" I reply back smiling.
"You're finally up."
She comments, tilting the bottle to her mouth, grimacing when she realizes it's neither alcohol, nor does it contain anything she can drink at all.
"finally? Kept you waiting long uh?"
"Almost two days. I was getting worried. I could send all the others back to their cabins already… or one that has emptied out, if they didn't have one before."
You see her frown, tossing the bottle away.
"so.. you stayed up to watch over me." Touch her cheek with a wing, suddenly closer to her. Eye to eye. "Thank you."
She smiles weakly.
"You saved us. Least I could do was to try and save you in return."
She seems so tired, then again I must look pale too..
"That means we are safe. A reason to celebrate. " smile strong at her. "Anything you want to do ?"
She snorts, prodding your chest playfully.
"I wouldn't refuse a drink, but it'd send you right back to bed I bet."
"I'm parched, let's go find a bottle and try."
"No need to go far…"
She drags herself off from the table, walking over to one of the cabinets, removing a hidden panel, taking out a half-full bottle of cider.
"Had some good stuff stashed, for emergencies."
"Clever lady~" I compliment her, sliding to the bed and leaving a wing open, inviting her to sit with me.
She raises a brow, sitting down onto the cot beside you.
"Making sure you won't faint, huh."
"I have my bed and my pretty nurse here, nothing could go wrong." Lay my wing over her shoulder.
She doesn't seem to mind.
"You're not wrong on that… just don't pass out on me!"
I'll do my best, Nurse." Help her with the bottle, hoof in hoof, while staring at her eyes.
She takes a deep drink, and you can see her throat bulge as she swallows the cider, letting out a pleased sigh, offering some for you.
You should probably be careful with booze like she said!
Take a generous swig from it, showing I'm not afraid.
Roll #1 5 = 5
It definitely tastes divine!
She was right though, it does immediately go to your head, making you dizzy even as you lounge.
Nuzzle her neck, I can blame it on my dizzy head even.
"That is, strong!"
"I usually drink it stronger!"
She smirks, chuckling at the nuzzle, stretching her neck.
"I did warn you."
"You did, such a wise Nurse. " …kiss her neck, just to see how she reacts..
She gives you a smug look.
"Of all the things I expected you to be when you woke up, feeling frisky wasn't one of them."
"I think that just happens around you." Feeling bolder, my wing lightly gropes her.
She takes another swing of the drink, but doesn't protest. She is rather shapely, and it's been a while for you.
She glanced down, then back up with a smirk again, putting one hindleg over yours.
"I can see you have a healthy reaction."
"Do you have a cure?" I ask in that fake innocent way, smirking at her as she climbs on me like this.
She puts a forehoof on your neck, then starts trailing it down… but stops at your chest.
"Hmm, what is there to cure? I did say you seem healthy. Maybe you're good to go!"
Oh, but it hurts. I need your healing touch, all night even." I say dramatically, playfully laying back and urging her to fall on top of me.
The nurse, polite as she is, even provides some honeyed oats as part of the care!
Thanks Miss Nurse~" I accept the tray and attempt to eat politely.
Your attempt to eat politely goes relatively well, though it's slightly distracting when she puts a forehoof on your thigh and flutters her eyes at you.
"Just say if you need anything else. As I said before, you deserve the best for helping us like you did."
Touch her hoof back, smiling happily.
"I think I have the best care around~"
She smiles, nuzzling your neck.
"You know, you almost make me want to run away with you."
"Stealing from pirates now am I?" Kiss her on the top of her head as she nuzzles me. "Its a fine booty too, think they'll be unhappy."
"I've run away before, it's how I ended up here."
"They appreciate the help, but most of them are afraid of me… they have bad memories about their previous Doc. She wasn't very good at her job."
She shakes her head. "But after what happened… I did what I could to save them all. It may be time for me to move on again."
"Wanna talk about it?" I ask with sincere curiousity, a wing laid over her back in a comforting gesture.
She leans onto your shoulder, careful to let you eat still.
"I did my part. I saved everyone I could… I came here looking for excitement, and now I found it."
That, my gentlemen, is a no, smile back, and lay in bed with her, suddenly dizzy. "What a life."
You two lay around for a while, as you digest the oats and the drink, getting some of your strenght back, but eventually the Nurse pulls away.
"You should see the captain. She told me to send you to her once you're back up on your hooves."
"Ah, where is she about this hour… whatever hour that is now.." I ask vaguely looking around for a clock.
You see none.
"She must be in her quarters for sure."
"I'll go see her now then." I say and get up somewhat reluctantly but leave all the same.
You pull away slowly, dragging your wing behind.
The corridors and inside of the ship are… a lot more quiet than before.
You quickly realize that it is night, but before midnight for now.
You go up top the deck, and see some of the pirates are doing quiet repairs and navigating the ship even at this hour, the moon shining brightly in the dark, starry sky.
The fancy door to the cabin of the captain is damaged, but you can knock without it falling apart.
Knock on it, softly.
You hear the low voice of the zebra answer.
"It is open."
Enter without a word, closing it behind me.
The room is very dark, only illuminated by two candles on the edges of the table.
You can vaguely see the shape of the mare on the opposite side, shrouded in the shadows, hiding her features.
Sneaky Sneak over to her side. Just for practice.
'1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
She leans closer to the table, still not enough that you can make out her feautures, but you see the fire reflect in her eyes, almost making them sparkle as she follows you with them.
A striped hoof extends over the table, motioning you to the other side.
"I'm in no mood for your games. Sit."
Sit in front of her quietly.
You see her bright eyes scrunitize you, her muzzle hidden from you in the darkness… it's almost sinister like that.
She reaches under the table, then puts something atop of it, pushing it over to your side.
It's the Starfish statue! The one she owned!
Still owns. Unless she's.. Pick the starfish up examining it.
I stored the phoenix in the old cabin right?
In the cabin of Erdei, yes.
You can see that the statue is indeed activated, but most of is magic is drained.
Still, even picking it up… you feel… yourself mending. Some of the old scars fading and some of your strenght returning.
She finally speaks.
"It is yours."
"You don't want to try the plan with the phoenix statue anymore?" I ask surprised.
"You deserve this much, after saving my ship and my crew."
You see her close her eyes and take a deep breath before speaking.
"After everything… I no longer need that plan. I am no longer afraid."
"You're strong and beautiful, just as you are." I tell her passionately, and store the statue in my pouch.
"We'll stop nearby Horseshoe Bay, we will get there by tomorrow. Trying to sail in and out with a skeleton crew would be suicide. I'm afraid you'll have to fly the last part."
"I haven't tried flying yet, nurse said I was asleep a few days?"
"You slept through a dragon picking up our ship in his claws like it was a toy or model. If it were not for you, and we could not have given him the egg back, he could have crushed us without any effort. You slept through the journey to Equestria too. We were slower on the way back, due to the damage."
"Shit." I whistle at the explanation. "that's, quite the thing to witness."
"It sounds exciting when I say it like that, doesn't it? But when a being that survived a blast that could carve a mountain in two grips your ship and the remainder of your crew like that… I'd have pissed all over my legs if I didn't have to be strong as a captain."
"If I never see a dragon ever again in my life, it is going to be to soon."
Chuckle softly, and reach to pat her hoof.
"I'm sure they would be sorry to meet you now, Captain."
She snorts, but doesn't pull her hoof away.
"It will take some time to get back on my hooves after this ordeal. I lost a lot of good crew. A lot of good friends."
Hey, its a comforting gesture!
I look sympathetic.
"I'm so sorry I couldn't prevent it."
"If it wasn't for you, we would not have even been there."
She says, but then shakes her head.
"But since we were there… if it wasn't for you, we would all be dead. Now, we got the world rid of some scum and his toys."
I nod. "We did a good thing. I think."
Let go of her hoof and look up momentarily.
Then to her.
"If that's all, then, I should go."
"Stay safe out there, Kelani. If you ever need a ship… just ask Nature and the Sea to come find me."
"If I have to use a sailboat to meet you again, I will." I promise her with a smile and then get up and leave her cabin.
It is only the helmsstallion on the deck now, the rest must have gotten to sleep.
You hear the gentle waves dash againt the ship as the moon beams down at you.
I'll try my wings out in this calm night air, a little exercise before bed we can call it.
'1d10+1'Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7
Thanks to the helping hoof of the nurse and the remainder of the magic from the Starfish statue, you can fly pretty well already!
Just don't go around doing any stunts yet.
Turn in for the night?
Shit, look at the statue before bed.
It is activated, the innate magic of it not being blemished… but the regenerative abilites are mostly spent.
You remember how the captain stood up from being impaled and then regrew flesh and skin within seconds. The statue has spent a lot of it's power to keep her alive back then, so don't go around getting your throat slit and expecting to walk away from it, like she could.
Not something I want to risk anyway!
…That stinking pirate
. I laugh to myself as I find a cot, she gave it up because it was no longer useful to her!
It would have been scummier to ask for the phoenix statue before you learn, at least!
You go to bed.
You see Lockbox in front of you. She smiles, taking a sip from a glass of wine.You don't feel this is inconsitent in any way.
What a lovely image to fall asleep too. I should buy her a bottle when I get to shore, I bet she is a cute drunk…
You're in her room! She chuckles.
"What? You have a dreamy look on your face, Kelani."
"I just missed you, that's all." I smile and slide over to her side, putting a wing around her.
"I missed you too!"
She puts the half empty glass down, nuzzling your neck.
"I'm so happy you're here with me…"
"You're so beautiful." I hold her gently, my hooves caressing her sides. "Did you do something with your mane?"
"I tried a new shampoo for you!"
As you look her in the eyes you see… blood, trickling down from her nose.
"Love, you have, um, a nose bleed. Did some crook hit you?!" I touch the blood to stop it.
"No, no, I was just… drinking some wine…"
You see red at the edges of her eyes now too, and she waves, holding you for support.
"Hang on, I'm carrying you to the hospital."
Put her on my back, and fly out the bedroom window!
You put her on your back, but she is too weak to hold on, slipping down to the ground.
She reaches up to caress your muzzle with a hoof, managing to sigh out a frail "K-Kelani…"
You see her head drop and her eyes close, her chest no longer rising with breaths.
"Lockbox!?!" I try giving her CPR, put like, all the statues I have around her too.
'1d10'Roll #1 8 = 8
You quickly arrange the statues around her, knocking into the shelf, her glass of wine falling and shattering on the ground.
You pump her chest with your hoof and blow air into her mouth, but it's no use.
Lockbox is dead.
I just, hold her, crying softly into her dead chest.
You hold her to you, weeping like a child, her form still warm.
You hear hoofsteps, and a soft, sad voice of a majestic mare.
"I'm so sorry. I'm afraid there is nothing Nature can do against Death."
Don't look up, I know who it is.
"Will I see her again?"
The voice changes to one, much more regal and powerful
"You will never see her again. You will never hear her voice."
You feel an armored hoof on your chin, lifting your head.
Before you stands a dark blue Alicorn, as tall as Celestia herself, clad in midnight teal armor, her mane and tail flowing like the night sky.
"Not if Mother Nature has any say in it."
Her slits of eyes narrow at you pityfully.
Do I know this mare? Wipe away my tears so I look.. less pitiful.
She looks like… Princess Luna, but different. You've never seen her before, which is weird, seeing how powerful she looks.
"It has happened before. The loved one of a champion of Nature meeting death… and the Mother not allowing her fate to be altered. She is cruel like that. Uncaring."
I.. stand up and my wings flare in anger.
"Who are you to come and insult my Goddess over the still warm body of my love?!"
She grins, baring her sharp teeth, amused by your guts.
She leans closer.
"I am someone with the power to bring her back. As if she never left."
I look, incredibly suspicious at her.
"Do you have this power, because you are the one that killed her?"
"I assure you, I had nothing to do with the poision that claimed her life."
She flares her wings too, dwarving you in comparison as she looks down.
"I have the power for I am the Princess of the Night!
I'm way to angry to be afraid!
"You're Princess Luna? You look a little different than the artists painted."
Her face contorts in anger.
"Luna was weak and I have outgrown her. I am Nigthmare Moon, the true heir to the stars and the night sky!"
"Okay." I sigh, looking down at the body of Lockbox, somewhere between angry and sad.
"Mother Nature cannot save one who is dead. I can. Keep that in mind when you dream of her and the life you wish to live with her."
You wake up in your cot with a sudden start.
It seems to be morning.
I go to the mess hall, and find whatever passes as breakfast.
It's a lot less crowded than it used to be.
Looks like they are passing out some diced exotic fruits with seaweed as a side…
Some of the pirates probably had time to forage in the forest of Dragon Island while the ship was repaired.
Exotic fruits to keep the scurvy at bay, sounds perfect.
You take a large plate and devour it, you only had the oats, really, but this really makes you feel alive again!
Its a small comfort.
I'll have proper energy to fly this way.
I go look for the nurse for now.
You can see she has two metal first aid boxes with red crosses on it, strapped to her back as saddlebags.
She is currently on her back legs, reaching up to try and take the 'hurt foal' sign down from the door with her teeth.
Fly up there and hand it too her.
"So, you were serious."
She gives you a thankful look and puts it away.
"What made you think I wasn't?"
"Its not often a mare just leaves her home, to go on an unknown path."
"I can hardly call this ship my home. I've done it before. I'm more of the… drifter type."
"You don't want me to go with you, do you?"
I put a hoof on her shoulder.
"I would find it an honor." And straighten up her bags for her, looking concerned.
"However, I don't want you to misunderstand, I have a lady waiting inland."
She chuckles, walking ahead of you, shaking her flanks.
"Don't worry, I won't tell if you don't~"
"I certainly won't~"
Follow my nurse
She goes onto the deck.
You see the captain is waiting there, so is Justine.
You can see you're not far from Equestria, and a boat is being prepared to depart.
"This is goodbye then, but not forever I hope." I say to the captain and her firstmate.
The captain nods.
"I am certain we will see each other again… before your quest is done."
The nurse raises a brow, but says nothing.
The donkey speaks.
"I'll be heading inland with you on the boat. You can take a train to Dodge City from Bayou, the swamp port. I have to go there and…"
"Recruit. We lack horsepower to run a ship this big."
I ponder a moment. Then shrug.
"Its as good as any place to find sailors."
"Least it'll save you some energy, carrying a mare. I know she took good care of you, but you took such a beating up there, it's a small miracle you didn't die."
The scarred zebra mare speaks.
"I told you time and time again, Justine. Survival is a state of mind."
The nurse walks up to her, flattening her ears.
"I have to go too, Captain. I'm sorry. I hope you find somepony who can replace me in time."
You startle as the Captain quickly closes the gap… but hugs the nurse, holding her close.
"You don't need to apologize. You saved… so many of us. I wish I
could thank you
The boat is lowered into the water by two crewmates.
What a touching departure. It only reminds me of the ones I left behind.
Get into the boat without further goodbyes.
You do so, quickly followed by the nurse and the donkey.
The first mate does not hesitate to pick up the oars and start rowing, slowly making your distance from the boat.
After a bit of silence, halways to the shore, the jenny smiles and breaks the quiet.
"Finally found a stallion on board who is not scared of doctors."
"I know, right? Should have broke out the bonesaw right away, like good old Doc' Gutter."
They both laugh at that, probably the previous inhibitant of their infirmary, if you had to guess.
Chuckle at her joke.
"Well, you do let us take the medicine with wine."
"Technically, the wine is my medicine."
The donkey laughs.
"Just because only you drink that weak hogwash!"
She looks at you.
"Pirates and their grog, it's insane. If it doesn't burn the throat it might as well be water for them."
I nod. "The smellier the rum, the better for them."
"I guess that's why we are heading to the Bayou… it's a port in the middle of the marsh, isn't it?"
The donkey nods.
"We want to avoid attention and bigger ports. We can only hope both the Emeralds and the Talons consider the middle of a swamp too much of a bother."
The donkey gives you both a serious look.
"But information spreads fast. The Talons probably already know to look for us for killing Osiris and taking down the Anvil. Once your train arrives, you'll have to get out of Dodge fast."
"What a paaain." I complain stretching back.
"Maybe it won't last long… an angry gryphon is prone to making mistakes… maybe the Emeralds will finish them off once and for all, with their biggest airship gone."
The nurse chimes in sarcastically.
"Oh yes, the biggest competitor of the most lawful bunch of criminals will be gone, I'm sure all of Equestria will benefit from it."
You can see the docks now. Only some smaller ships, a few steamers like the one you took across the Everfree and a lot of dinghies.
"So, I better hide this.." I take the pin that marked me as a pirate off and hold it in my hoof.
"Probably…if the Talons have no idea who you are, it might take them a while. Here's hoping."
The boat pulls up to one of the piers, and the two girls hop out immedaitely.
You see that, strangely enough, the piers don't end… this whole swamp-port is built on elevated stilts, boards and piers!
…that must mean the train station is going to be a small trek inland.
No one gives a damn about the arrival of you three at least.
The donkey walks over and hugs you.
"It's all you from here. Stay safe out there, you two."
"Thanks, and you two gather a strong crew." I hug her back.
The donkey smiles, waving you goodbye.
Your hooves clip-clop loudly on the uneven wooden boards.
You see all sorts of rough types on the docks, many of them seemingly foreigners. A lot of them seem to be sickly and weak too, probably having lived their entire lives in the marsh.
"This place gives me the heebie-jeebies, Kelani… let's find that train station and get the hell out of here."
"Agreed, let's go before we catch any unwanted looks."
Perhaps we can take a less used road for sneakiness. '1d10'Roll #1 9 = 9
Instead of the elevated piers, you find a path of laid down, hazily strapped together plans that runs under, avoiding attention almost completely.
You hear ponies walking overhead, as you two take this lower path, the water squishing between the boards, the cold mud sticking to your hooves.
The path soon leads out of the port town, into the thick marsh. It certainly is leading somewhere, and is hidden.
The nurse grimaces.
"I love the places you take me to already."
"Not my first choice, but the train will be better."
If its leading closer to the train station, that will be fine.
It is leading inland at least, for sure.
As you keep walking, you hear claws on board, scraping somewhere in the distance…
Probably a gryphon sentry.
This means two things: You got lucky to stay low and avoided danger, and the train station should be this way.
But it also means the Talons are already on your tail.
I groan whispering to the nurse.
"Okay, we will need to travel in disguise.
What fake name do you like?
"I'll be Fairweather. The sky clearing horse.
." I smile. And once we're out of the mud I'll help us disguise, and clean up too.
'1d10+2'Roll #1 10 + 2 = 12
You smoothen out your feathers and style your mane and tail aerodynamically, using some of the make-up you nicked from the castle with the old stallion and the maid to paint your body a light blue.
You also take off the nurse hat of the mare and fold it into an apron, hiding the crosses with some candy wrappers she carried (she was hiding the chocolates and good stuff from you!) so she could pass as a confectionary vendor!
You two look nothing like the ponies you did ten minutes ago!
"Well, my sweet buttercup. We have a train to catch." I say cheerfully, and trot in the direction of the train whistles and such.
She smirks too.
"I can't wait to get out of this place, what was I thinking, selling candy to sailors without any rum cherry?"
She snickers as you head on off!
It's a bit of a trek, but you eventually find the station. It looks mostly abandoned, with a bored young stallion sitting in the booth, beside a dinky, two-carriage train. Looks like it's scheduled to leave in about 20 minutes, and the ticket to Dodge City is only 2 bits per pony!
"Two tickets please!" Pay for both of them, like a gentlestallion.
Looks like this was probably the most exciting thing that happened to him all day, and he rips off the two tickets, stamping them to validate it!
The inside of the train is small and cramped, a bit dirty and dinged up, and the seats are sorta falling apart at the seams, but at least it's completely empty aside from the two of you.
"At least it will be fast." I say, in overly high spirits.
In a few minutes, you hear a whistle from outside, then smoke billowing from the engine (this is one of those older, slower trains, ones that don't have the stallions pulling the engine).
She circles her hoof around your leg with a coy look.
"We do have about an hour to kill…"
"Time here alone, with a cute little treat." Slide a wing around her and smirk.
"Just don't let me rain on your parade."
She chuckles at her pun as she snuggles into your neck.
That hour passes like it was nothing, and the train pulls in to the station.
You two hop off, and as you are about to check the outbound trains, your cute nurse grabs your hoof to pull you closer, fanning herself with another hoof.
"Oh, dear, this heat
is just too much, can we find someplace to get some water before we move on?"
A few passer-bys give you two a strange look, but you realize what she means when you see the gryphons in with the Talon insignia on their armor!
Not the desert heat, and not that other kind of heat
either! There's too many of them here to safely board any train right now!
You do remember hearing about the southern desert being a big stage of almost war-like state between those two merc corps, so there's probably plenty of gryphons to spare here.
"Oh, alright dear. I'm sure there's a fine place just up the way."
I support my 'tired' mare, and go look for a quiet bar.
'1d10'Roll #1 9 = 9
You manage to avoid the seedier bars… for no.
But there are no quiet bars in Dodge city, only times of quiet when the troublemakers are away.
You walk past the swinging doors and find a solitary table for the two of you, ordering some cold refreshments.
Some farmer ponies are drinking away at the counter while the back tables are taken by shadier, bandit type ponies, smoking, drinking and playing cards, not paying you any mind.
Then we can relax for a moment. Let the gryphons move on.
"Think this is the kind of place you'd stay? Its certainly not boring."
"On one hoof, if we look like this, the gryphons won't give us a second thought. On the other hoof… if we look like this, I bet we won't leave town without a brawl and a few bruises."
"You think so?" I look around slowly, at the other guests.
The farmers at the counter seem to prefer the peace and quiet as it is, and the other ponies at the back are too busy with gambling with each other to care.
"I know so. I've been in this town before."
"Then you're volunteering to be our tour guide?" I chuckle softly.
"… Don't we need a plan first?"
I stop to think about this, my repair-corruption quest items aren't anywhere nearby right?
"Just waiting until they look somewhere else isn't a good enough plan? I suppose we could book tickets as bait."
You have all but one ingredient, the bark of the Wyrmwood from the Everfree.
"I think they might check the trains. If they do that… I'd need some candy to sell. Which means we need to buy some, maybe from a bar that sells them."
"No, I mean, book tickets in our names, so the ones looking for us will think we went somewhere else." I explain quietly.
"Might not work if they are near the booth… unless we hire somepony to do it for us."
"Do you think we can trust any of these hooves not to point at us if questioned?"
"If they are drunk enough."
I start to get a kind of annoyed look.
"This is going to cost me a lot of bits isn't it?"
She rolls her eyes.
"I have money too, you know."
"It might get some of them off our backs.." I sigh and eye the back tables for a potential hire.
It is clouded with cigarette smoke and the tables are full of emtpy bottles and scattered bits as the shady ponies play their cards.
"I'm going to look."
Right, I'll slide back there in the fog. Swagger of confidence in my step. Any tables open?
There is a seat open.
A unicorn with a cut across her cheek looks you over.
"No clouds for you to disperse here, bud."
"Nah, I got one that needs clearing instead." I sit with him, "One in a real rush."
She looks over at the table.
"Your little sugar over there giving you troubles."
The other four laugh.
It's the unicorn mare, another stallion, two earth pony stallions and a pegasus mare.
"If only it was so simple! This is a real river hanging over my head." I make a few hoof gestures of frustration.
"I was supposed to go down to the train station and book the tickets for my friend and his girl, but my girl suddenly shows up you know, and then My cousin and his kid are in town, and they only come around once a month because of her delivery job." At this point in my ranting I take one of the half empty bottles and sip it.
"And what's worse, is I have to fly all the way to wells'dale in time for the weather training."
One of the earthies speak up.
"What a sob story, you need a tissue?"
Sigh, and reluctantly lean forward, asking them. "I need a hoof, if one of you would book the tickets, you could keep the change to buy yourself a drink or something. "
Now that raises a few brows.
The unicorn speaks.
"So you have the bits. Why don't we just take it off of you and your sugar over there then?"
One of the earth ponies gets up from his seat, walking behind you to block the way.
You see your candy nurse get up from her seat too.
I sigh, and as I do pull out my daggers.
"Come on, I've had a rough day already, do we have
to do it this way?"
They laugh again, pulling larger weapons.
"Ooh, he has some fight in him!"
Your cute mare has walked up to the stallion, walking beside him.
"Excuse you? Where do you think you are going, candy?"
"Oh, to make a bet I can take you down."
The bandits all laugh again, but the unicorn mare, clearly their leader, hushes them.
"Hold on, what is she getting at?"
Fly over the bandit pony to back up whatever plan the lady has.
'1d10+1' flyRoll #1 6 + 1 = 7
You fly up overhead, giving her a safety net if she gets into trouble, but the other bandits laugh at you.
"Come on, big guy. Twenty bits I can make you collapse."
"Oohohoh, you're on!"
He laughs, looking at his friends.
"She doesn't even have a weapon."
You see her move with surgical precision, jabbing at the side of the throat of the stallion almost twice her size. His eyes go wide as he starts choking and sputtering, disoriented enough that she can shove him to his hindlegs, giving him a hug and kneeling her right in the groin with a hindleg, the stallion collapsing with a weak, miserable whimper, coughing and holding his hurt jewels and dignity.
"I studied anatomy."
The other bandits are all too stunned to react, but she doesn't stop, grabbing the neck of an empty bottle with her teeth, smashing it against the table to make the ends jagged, narrowing her eyes at the sitting bandits, speaking muffled through the bottle.
"Ahny oher thakers?"
There is a stunned silence then laugher.
"Hamstring got fucking shown!"
"HAhahah! Guess she won!"
The unicorn puts her sword away, smirking.
"Okay, then, you two have our attention."
"How about this, you book the tickets, and watch a minute to see if anyone asks about them before coming back." I suggest. "And if someone did ask then report that information to us."
She motions to the pegasus mare and the unicorn stallion.
"Easy as pie."
The nurse spits the bottle out.
"You can use my winning to pay for it."
"Heh, I like your style girl."
The other earth pony drags the injured, still groaning one away, pouring some water over him to cool him down.
"I knew we could work something out." Give the mare a proud smile.
"Here, so you don't mess it up." Write kelani and the name of the nurse and Baltimare as the destination.
You scribble down Kelani Rush and Alice.
The bandits take the note and nod at you, heading off, eager for doing the job that's not sitting around and playing cards for a change.
The still candy-looking nurse looks at you.
"Wheh… so what now? Do we just wait for a while?
"Yep, let's find a view of the street and sip on a drink while we watch."
find a table that looks at the road and have a drink with a cute nurse!
You find a table near the dusty, smeared window.
You see the bandits leave and some time passes…
In about twenty minutes, you see the mare, who you supposed was their leader, rush back, barreling through the doors of the inn alone!
Uh, motion her over to our table.
She rushes over.
"You have to help me. Those gryphons… they took my friends somewhere! I don't know where!"
I look pale suddenly.
Then pull her close to my wing to cover the conversation, "Okay, just tell me what you did see."
Which is quite the feat, for a white-ish horse!
She seems pretty shook, for a bandit.
"When we got the tickets… we got surrounded by gryphons. I managed to get away, but the others, they got dragged away somewhere, one of them might already be dead, she put up a fight…"
I look very serious.
"Okay, let's find a trail while we can. Show us the last spot you saw them."
The nurse puts a hoof on yours.
"Kelani… this might be our chance to make a break for it. Get on a train and disappear."
I look at the nurse, knowing she's right, but shake my head.
"You know I can't just leave them helpless in the claws of the gryphons."
And get up to follow the bandit.
The nurse sighs, but does not protest, following you.
The bandit is cautious, heading towards the train station at first, but ducking through alleyways.
"They were headed this way but…"
She seemed to have lost track.
You do notice something, however.
Two lines in the dirt of the road.
As if somepony unconcious was dragged through recently, it left a trail behind!
"Let's try this way. Quiet and follow me."
Follow the drag marks and..
'1d10' attempt stealth as a groupRoll #1 8 = 8
You instruct the other two how to stick to the shadows and not make a single noise as you lead the pack in following the trails.
As you reach the edge of town, you see the trails continue to the outskirts.
More worringly, you also see a gryphon fly overhead, from the west, heading in that same direction, pulling an armored sky-chariot behind.
If you follow this trail out of town, there will be no turning back and changing your mind, you get the feeling.
Take a breath for courage, turn to the ladies. "If you want to turn back, now is the time."
The bandit shakes her head.
"I should have stayed with them to begin with. This time I won't run."
The nurse grimaces before snarking.
"I was really hoping we'd get farther together before being killed, but sure, let's do it."
Nod at the mares, and creep towards the gryphon's hideout.
It takes a good twenty minutes, before you see the hideout is based in a long abandoned cemetery. It must be to house the dead from a nearby mine… judging by the conditions a mine that also got closed down years if not decades ago. You cannot see deeper inside due to shriveled up, dead trees, but you do see a makeshift watchtower with a single gryphon in it.
Without a sound, the nurse pokes your shoulder and begins to dig through her bags, finding a small vial and a syringe.
"Can you get close enough to him without a noise? Manticore venom, you just need to inject him and he'll be paralyzed in seconds. No time to even make a sound."
"I can do it." I reply and accept the needle, looking up the tower to study the shadows.
You get the needle.
You study the surroundings… going from rock to cactus, cover to cover, you can make it there and do it safely without a roll
, taking your time when he's surveying the other directions.
Of course, you can try to risk it and be faster.
I'll be safe, and slow, messing up this early would be bad.
You take your time and move with caution, only dodging out from behind cover when you know there's no chance the gryphon can turn around in time.
You fly up without a sound and jab the syringe into her exposed neck the gryphon, as expected, unable to even make a sound, her muscles locking up as she falls over.
…now the question is.
Do you just leave her here, paralyzed and harmless for the time being, or do you take her life while she cannot resist.
No need for that, just move her where she won't be seen immediately, she can't follow us like this.
Let's hope you are done before the poision wears off.
You move her aside in the tower, and the two mares walk up cautiously, the bandit brandishing her sword.
You see the armored chariot and another sky-pulled cart, a prison cart from the looks of it.
The rest of the gryphons must be behind that.
Look up worriedly.
Can I see anyone in the prison cart?
It's empty. You can see swamp muck on the bottom though…
Well, let's try looking inside the house part of the cemetery..
You sneak around, to one of the only buildings left standing.
From there, you have a better view…
Only one gryphon is standing there, near those two carts. Standing above the bandits.
Only one of them is alive now…
You also see another armored chariot, further in the cemetery, and movement.
The three of you can probably take the solitary gryphon out.
Make a pointing motion with my wing, strait at the gryphon, and leap into attack him.
'2d10' both daggersRoll #1 5, 10 = 15
You dive down for the attack, but unfortunately, your first hit bounces off of his armor harmlessly.
"You're Kelani?! I thought he was fucking Kelani!"
The bandit on the ground does not deny or confirm, but bucks his leg, kicking dust up into his face, offering you a chance to stab for the exposed throat this time.
The spear of the gryphon clatters to the ground as blood gushes out of his wound, making him stagger, gurgling, before collapsing to the dirt.
The bandit and the nurse rushes over, the bandit tearing up as she goes to her fallen friends.
The nurse immediately starts to take out bandages and such to treat the other surviving bandit.
She glances up.
"He is in no condition to fight. Or run. You'll need to scout out what's up with that other cart. Buy us some time, alert us if we need to make a break for it."
"I'll carry him if it comes to it." I say as I go to the creepy forest to get a better look at the cart.
You make some distance between the three of them to approach the more secluded part.
You hear a gryphon woman say "Shut the fuck up, half caste!"
You hear a groan… "Fine, fine."
That's… the voice of Justine, the donkey from the ship!
That is why the prison cart must have had swamp muck on it!
You cautiously take a peek, and see her, flanked by a gryphon. In front of her, are two of those elite guards, and an old, grizzled looking veteran.
He speaks, walking closer to the donkey, a shovel in his claws.
"You killed my son. My boy! My only son!"
Justine doesn't even grimace.
"I'm sorry for your loss. But your son was killed in battle. A battle he started."
She is struck by the shovel several times.
"Shut your fucking mouth, you donkey piece of shit! You killed my son!"
He throws the shovel down in front of her.
"Now dig. Dig!"
You have to duck back into cover when you hear him break down into tears, the two elite gryphon guards helping carry him away… into the direction of the other armored cart, where Alice is!
Just to be clear, they left Justine alone just now?
There is still the female guard with her.
You can probably fight her alone. If you don't, she'll be dead as soon as she digs out that grave of hers.
Running back to the other might mean you can warn Alice, but you might run into three of those veterans…
I just have to be quick, maybe justine will react to back me up, she always did before.
'2d10' take out the gryphon chick.Roll #1 3, 10 = 13
You quickly strike from the shadows, but she is a more experienced fighter than you are, noticing your approach, hitting you in the muzzle with the grip of her spear, making your nose bleed. Justine, as you expect her to, is quick to react, striking with the shovel, but unfortunately, the gryphon blocks her attack… leaving her vulnerable to yours.
You cut into her throat and she drops the spear, taking a few steps back and quickly putting a talon over her neck to try and stop the bleeding. She chokes and spudders, but then laughs, collapsing against a shoddy grave.
"Acrk… so… you're the famous pegasus, huh?"
You see her face go pale and her paws go weak as she is loosing a lot of blood.
"You can kill me, but it won't change a thing. We'll know you're out there. Just give yourself up. Ra might have a change of heart."
She chuckles again, coughing blood, having to lean on the grave more.
"Might… grant you one last reprievement. Ain't no reprievement is going to be found otherwise."
Killing her now is a free action.
No time to back down, execute her.
Then without waiting for her body to hit the ground even, hurry to the house Alice is in.
You give her a coup de grâce, sparing her from the pain of slowly bleeding out.
You start to hurry back, Justine quickly behind you.
"My saviour… what's going on?"
Even before you get there, you see the armored chariot and the prison cart take off.
Only, this time, the prison cart is not empty.
Not empty? Who is inside it?
"A rescue mission, and its going very badly."
Three ponies. Can't make it out, as it flies off, but easy enough to guess.
"How did you know I was here?"
"I only knew the gryphons were taking prisoners here, you know of any weapons nearby?"
She shakes her head.
"They took everything from me. If you want to take those guys on… the two of us going after them is suicide."
"I can't leave Alice with them.. I have to know where they will go at least.." Then my eyes light up with an idea, and I go toward the tower.
You quickly rush to the tower, the donkey following you close by.
The gryphon is still incapacitated, but you can hear her groan now and see some of her talons curl.
Stand over her with a dagger to her neck. "Take her gear." I tell Justine, assuming she followed me.
She strips her weapons away, a crowssbow and a shortsword.
You see the eyes of the gryphon look at you.
"The prisoner cart, where does it land?"
"I can… show you."
She rasps, still having difficulty speaking, but you even see her wings stir…
However, her talons curl up some more…
She's pointing to… wait, no.
She is flipping you off.
I sigh. "If you act like that, I'll have to leave you with my partner, and she's never taken no for an answer. If you know what I mean." I smirk suggestively.
"I'm not… scared of you two jokers. You didn't even kill me when you had the chance."
"I knew I'd have a chance now, when I could do it slow, the way you scum like it." I say with narrow eyes.
'1d10' intimidate herRoll #1 8 = 8
Now she could actually feel it… you see fear in her eyes.
"Fine… the… forward base, in the abandoned Fort Stompton. The boss is heading there."
I nod approvingly, and, look at Justine, silently asking for her advice here.
She points the shortsword towards the gryphon.
"Want me to do it?"
That's all the reply I needed. Kill the gryphon.
You make it quick and clean. She didn't feel a thing.
Justine looks at you with worry.
"The two of us can't just storm a fort that is used as a base by mercenaries."
"Not the two of us, no." I say in a hopeful tone. "But it doesn't have to be just us two."
She raises her long ears.
"Isn't the one thing you know about me how many friends I have?" I smile at her, and then realize she might not recognize me, and wipe away some of the make up.
She's a donkey, remember? She is hard to fool. Not to mention it was hard for her not to recognize your voice and your attitude.
"There, you look better now. Still… can we reach them in time? The ship is out of the question."
Well, just to be sure!
"Yea.. I'm not sure I can fly that fast.."
'1d2' risky flip
Roll #1 1 = 1
"There is one way to get there faster, but its risky, given our goal.."
She snorts with laughter.
"I've been beaten almost to death twice in one week already. Bring it on."
"Alright, let's go to the worst part of town.."
She exhales, making sure the weapon she plundered off the gryphon is sharpened.
"Alright, sounds great already."
"It get riskier." I say and guide us to kind close to where the portal might be.
'1d10' for luck
Roll #1 6 = 6
You remember a seedy tavern being the waypoint around here…
It's not hard to find one of the worst ones.
…the blood on your hooves and on the donkey keeps anypony from doing anything dumb though, at least.
Well, time to duck into an alley and grab the hoof of the jenny, and use the crystal.
'1d10' sneakishRoll #1 7 = 7
You think of Revenge, with good reason now, it almost comes natural…
The moment you arrive, the donkey throws up in the circular chamber, wiping her mouth.
"Uuugh… what in Tartarus was that?"
I guess… your time spent there made you get use to *traveling through it for shortcuts*.
"Shh." I tell her and go directly to the portal for the bay, with her hoof in mine.
You lead her over once she recovered enough… Might be better to prepare her for another journey.
The coast is clear, for now, and you are one touch away from Horseshoe bay.
No time for sitting around, push the crystal in.
You come to your senses in the shady port area of the Bay… grime and muck all around, so you must be not far from the sea, and that means the Emeralds can't be far off either.
Did the jenny make it okay? Check on her.
She is dizzy and woozy, dry heaving.
"Uuurgh, just get me some water, I'll be fine."
Pass her water, trying to urge her to walk a little bit away from the teleport spot.
She drinks greedily, looking around as you lead her to the port.
You can see the mansion already, sitting in the middle, proudly. A few minutes of a walk.
"Wait… why are we back here?"
"Well, someone here owes me a favor, and would be happy to kill the talons.."
She looks at the mansion, then back at you.
"You're pulling my leg, right? Right? Please tell me you're not serious."
Stop and blink. "If you don't want to go, I understand, I just have no better ideas."
"Don't you think they'll kill me on sight?"
I sigh rubbing my forehead with my bloody hoof.
"No, I was mostly thinking you would attack them. Okay, I'll go ask her for this favor, you just.. stay hidden somewhere you can see the building."
And finally clean up my hooves a bit with a cloth.
You clean your hooves, and your mane where you got some.
The donkey nods.
"Right… Well… good luck helping your friends."
"Thanks. If I don't come back she probably shot me." I say and go toward the house of the rising emerald.
The two guards at the front stop you for a second… before one of them lowers her spear.
"I don't know what you are doing here, but go see the boss right away. No detours."
They trust you.
Or rather… The Saddle Arabian hiring them trusts you enough to issue this order.
"No time for detours anyway." I reply going inside.
You know the way, the upmost floor, the biggest, fanciest door…
You can't even knock before you hear a whistle from inside. Probably to becknon you in.
Hurry inside, and pull up a chair next to her.
She doesn't speak, just watches you as you sit down, spinning her pistol around lazily with a wing on the table, tracking you with her eyes.
She keeps the silence up for just a few more moments after you sit.
"Been busy being buddies with pirates I'd like to see dead, have we?"
She stops spinning the gun, the barrel facing you… but starts spinning it again.
"Then again, I'd like to hear your side on how exactly the two biggest Talon ships went down. My reports are sketchy."
Wait… how much does she know exactly? Does she know everyhting and is making a buffoon out of you, or is she genuinely working with half-informations?
"Nevermind that, the old man talon, the big boss bird, I know where he's gonna be, today."
"Sitting on his perch in his fucking fortress up in the mountains deep in Gryphon territories?"
"No, a place much more deserted. I'm on a timetable here, so I'll be direct. They have a few of my friends there, probably torturing them, let me go with you to save them and I'll tell you where they, and the big bird, are."
She stops fucking around, sitting up, holding up a hoof.
"Whoah, pump he brakes, are you for fucking real?"
She shakes her head with a smirk, and you can see a glisten of something in her eyes… greed? Opportunity? A lust for blood?
"You tell me where it is and I'll take you there, save your friends and make sure nothing remains of those feathered fucks."
She offers a hoof.
"A spoken contract."
"They called it the forward base, The abandoned Fort Stompton."
"So that is their base of operations…"
She gets out of her chair.
"If you need anything, go to the armory."
She opens a drawer and throws you an emerald badge, real crystal, just like hers.
"This'll get you in. Be in the backyard in fifteen minutes."
"Alright." I will, go look at the armory actually, who know what might be in there.
You can see her leave too.
Not a minute later, you hear someone wind an alarm up outside.
Looks like she ordered a full on mobilization.
In the armory… well, you see some sleek, black leather armor, with a patch on the chest for the emerald. Probably better than going in naked…
You also see high quality weapons, spears, swords, crossbows, guns…
Some of the weapons are in special cases made just for them.
You see a pair of daggers, made out of black metal with an almost unreal sheen to them. They look incredibly sharp.
You've seen that material before, the blade of her second in command, that young pink mare, it was made out of it.
Those black metal dagger and the armor will suit me perfectly.
You gear up for war, leaving the armory behind.
As you go down the stairs, you do pass a full body vanity mirror (of course this place would have one. To oogle one's self or others from new angles).
You… you can barely recognize yourself. You look like a different pony in this outfit.
Maybe I can have the badge removed or something..
Right now, I need to go outside, and say goodbye to Justine. Just use a window to be faster.
You quickly fly out a window and go to the meeting point.
She startles and draws her sword before realizing it is you.
You… can see horror in her eyes.
"…you're one of them now?"
Shake my head. Trying to pull the badge off but give up after a second.
"Its just the only armor they have, thought it was better than being nude. The deal went well, She's going to kill the talons, and I'm going with, to save Alice. Honestly I'm going because I can't trust that they would care to free her." See how she takes this bit of news.
"Wait, they've got Alice?!"
She slaps her forehead.
"How did I not connect the dots?"
She looks like she's on the verge of tears.
"She's too good… too good to go down for scum like mercenaries."
"Do whatever it takes, Kelani. Whatever it takes."
"I'd invite you, but I think they don't allow pirates as a plus one." I pat her shoulder.
"Let's hope, the next time we meet… will be a happier occasion."
I give her a half smile, "A victory party I hope."
And exit, toward the backyard.
You see that multiple pegasi pulled sky chariots, including wagons for troops, wagons for supplies and even bombing chariots are already taking off.
However, you don't see the boss mare anywhere near there.
You do, however, see her to the side.
Right next to the unicorn stallion who read your mind all that time ago… it does feel like it was an eternity ago, doesn't it?
Beside him, you see Emrille now.
She is wearing a sleek, black armor that looks like carapace, tough but flexible, seeming like a changeling mixed with a nightmare, a saddle-harness holding her beautiful, gilded repeater rifle under her wing. She even holds a helmet in a hoof, the eyes being made of a green crystal, maybe even emeralds themselves.
I shutter just once and approach her group.
The horn of the stallion lights up.
"He's telling the truth. We've got him cornered."
The green mare walks over to you with a smug smile, putting a hoof under your chin.
"Of course he is telling the truth. You are a good little errand colt, after all, aren't you?"
She lets go of you, putting her helmet on.
"Let's go. We're going the short route. Lollipop is already there."
The stallion closes his eyes and his horn flares up with a flash of light!
You open your eyes again, but almost regret it, due to the scorching sun… you're back in the desert.
…wait, of course she can be in so many places at once, too. Her mind reader knows how to teleport her from place to place.
The things I have to put up with! Wipe her fur off my chin, is this the fort?
You do see it, nearby.
You also see some strange… sharp rocks, gryphon carved, surrounding it, emenating a strange aura.
You also see that the mercenary troops have spread out, aiming guns and cannons at the fort.
"Give me a sitrep, somepony."
You see a mare appear from behind one of the cannon, grinning.
It's the pink pegasus that barely looks older than sixteen. She is wearing the same carapce armor as Emrille, but without the helmet. Hers also appears to be covered in blood.
"Good news and bad news. Good news, we got them cornered. Bad news, they've got pylons protecting them."
"I'm not going to wait until they starve out. We'll get a spellbreaker, or those fucking dogs to dig under, or-"
"Hold on, boss, we might not have to."
The pink mare grins still, pointing her bloody weapon at you.
"Daddy Pigeon really wants a meeting with him."
I will play up how disoriented I am and make a "Hmm" sound like I'm curious about the conversation.
"They sent out a messenger with a short-range comm crytal."
The pink mare throws a wet sack in front of you.
"Unconditional surrender. If they get him. That's his key for talking with Ra himself."
"Hey, hold on." I step back from the bag.
The pink mare still has that shiteating grin.
"Go on, it's for you. It doesn't bite."
"This can't be serious.."
Look inside the bag…
It is a blue crystal, with a faint glow inside. It is magical, and you can talk through it.
…you also get a feeling now why all the Emerald mercs wear ACTUAL emeralds on their lapels. That is how they spread information so fast.
However, the crystal in the bag is firmly grasped by a gryphon talon, the fresh, almost still warm claws gripping it with the firmness of death, severed just under the hand by a sharp blade. Not hard to guess whose.
"And you want me to.. use this to talk to them?" I will look plainly disgusted by this situation.
"And say what exactly?"
"How about ask them what they want from you. The terms of their surrender. Or… if they want to take you, it might just give us a chance to crack that shield open."
"Alright. Let's see what they say." With a heavy sigh, I'll pick up the severed claw and touch the crystal.
Literally shout at it. "Hello? Is someone there? This is Kelani Rush speaking.
There is a brief silence at first.
Then you hear that deep voice."The murderer of my son. You have come. Of course you would. You rat. I have something of yours."
"Do you? I don't think I'm missing anything." Comically check my saddle bag.
There is a brief silence."Come closer and see then."
In the distance, you hear the gates of the fort open up, safely behind their shield.
Oh boy, let's see who he took hostage.
You go past the battlements the mercenaries have set up, out into the nopony's land between the fort and the attackers.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ5sVSQ6duI
You see, walking out the gate, still behind the shimmer of the pylons, the old gryphon.
Before him you see Alice.
She… looks ruffled, but otherwise unharmed, but he the Talon is keeping his sharpened claws right at her neck as he pushes her to her knees in front of him, facing you.
You see him raise a similar crystal to his beak."The other mare told us the two of you were together, before she departed this world."
To her credit, Alice seems more brave and defiant than scared. But… she is still somewhat scared, her face does not, but her body language betrays her.
Its a little upsetting, I'll try to keep my cool, not let any anger through. '1d10' "So, you have a mare. I see. And what do you want, for her?"Roll #1 7 = 7
You see his eyes narrow, but he takes your bluff for now."Your life. For hers. You killed my boy. For that, I will kill you. If you don't come by yourself, I'll lure you with her screams. If that doesn't work, I will find something you care about and destroy it until you show your face."
"Your son died in battle. Given a chance to earn his place in the stars. Would seek to you deny me the same chance?"
You can see in his eyes how he listens intently to your reasoning…"Tell your coltfriend goodbye."
He say, before moving the crystal down to the muzzle of Alice.
She looks at you, through the shimmer, tears welling up in her eyes, before she sighs, her face bearing hardened resignation."You don't have to do anything he tells you. Send him straight to Tartarus, right after his son.
…just have a drink for my sake, once this all blows over."
The gryphon lifts the crystal back away from her.
"Save a seat for me at the bar hon'." I say passionately to her.
Then directed to the Gryphon. "Send her out first, once she's clear, then I'll fight with you. "
"Nuhuh. I don't want to be looking over my shoulder to make sure your talons
aren't killing her anyway."
>>690393"You are the one who forces my talons to do this. Surrender yourself to me and she can go.
Defy me and you both die.
"If you won't release her first, then, at the same time."
He is silent for a few moments."Fine. The moment you step through, I let her go. The crystal will let you pass."
He is still firmly holding her by the neck though.
"Fine." I agree, and hang up.
Then turn to the pegasus, with a frown, hoof her the starfish statue. "If I die, send this to my dad, you ponies know where he lives, shouldn't be hard."
She pushes it back to you, taking her helmet off so you can see her sharp green eyes. Her brows furrow as she looks at you.
"I am contractually obliged to save you and your friend."
She leans closer, her muzzle right next to yours, whispering."The moment your front hooves get past that barrier, rear up. Wings spread. Make him think you're attacking."
She pulls back.
"If you trust me, you'll both live. If you don't, it's your funeral."
Give her a very brief smirk and then look very angry as I tuck the starfish away again. Shout, "I won't forget this." and charge toward the barrier, with a hateful glare.
You trod towards it, the gryphon on the other side chucking his communication crystal to the side into the dust, unseathing a long, beautiful smithwork of a sword, pointing it towards you, claws still on the neck of the mare.
Hold the crystal in my mouth, and just as I cross the threshold, draw both daggers as if to start attacking!
'1d10' bluff?Roll #1 3 = 3
Just on the border of the treshhold, you pull your daggers, flapping your wings to rear up.
Time seems to slow down to a crawl, as if everything that happens, although just a few seconds, seems like an eternity.
The gryphon immediately reacts, rearing up as well, his wings flapping to get him on his back paws. His grip on the mare lifts her effortlessly in front of him.
You see a blur first. Then a spot of red on the coat of Alice, below her chest near the barrel. Then you feel the pain, coursing your back, through your body, your own chest. You feel the warmth of your blood from the entry and exit wound.
You hear the gunshot itself last, as the lifeless corpse of Ra, founder and patriarch of the Talon Mercenary company, slumps to the ground.
You can't help but collapse to the ground yourself as you hear the crackle of the pylon barrier failing, the source of it's magic, the gryphon himself, now extinguished.
The cacophony of shouting, magic and gunfire does not help with the blurry darkness creeping into the edges of your vision…
Maybe you have enough strenght to crawl over to her before you bleed out?
At least I could see if she's breathing..
'1d10'Roll #1 10 = 10
You muster all your power to drag your body over to her, trailing blood in the sand and dust.
She looks up at you, affording a weak smile, raising a hoof to your cheek.
She speaks very weakly, but confidently.
"Don't… panic, just breathe… relax… we can make it."
"This isn't the end of our journey. No way." I reply, struggling just to stay awake.
You think you hear her say 'relax' again…
You feel her lips on yours.
You lose conciousness…
You come to your senses with a start!
You gasp for air and strive for light as they flood your eyes, quickly adjusting to the dim light of… where are you? Where is Alice? This… is some sort of tent! You see her, nearby! There is a cloth over her face… oh no, please, she cannot be dead, can she?
That gryphon, if she died because he was holding her when he said he'd let her go, I'll kill him again!
Scream in rage! '1d10' loudnessRoll #1 10 = 10
You get so pumped up and angry at the already dead gryphon, how cowardly it was what he did, trying to get back at the death of his son by taking a mare hostage! Hurting mares to punish stallions! It's weak! It's cowardly!
You let out a loud scream until your lungs and throat hurt…
And you get snapped out of it when a (thankfully empty) steel bedpan is tossed at your head, the disheveled face of Alice looking at you.
"Not even the little colts scream like that in the hospital, you know that?"
She says groggily.
You see there is a carefully applied bandage running around the middle of her body.
I blink and cough a little. Immediately perking up. "Alice, you're okay!"
"Yes, also awake, when the thing I need most now is bedrest. Looks like the statue of the captain had some juice left in it after all. You're healing much faster than it should be possible after what we got."
"What, nooo I wanted to save that." I search around for the statue in a panic.
It's still in your bags, still activated.
"It won't save your life from the brink of death, like it did for the captain… but if you can survive something, it will make sure you rebounce in days, even hours instead of weeks or months."
I breath a relaxed sigh.
"Well, its not used up from this, thank Nature."
"I gotta' say, now that I experienced being shot, I do not envy all those wounds the captain got and how she got them. Not that I did before, but it does explain why she could be such a moody bitch sometimes."
"Sorry you had to get your first bullet scar this way."
"Hey, we got it together at least. Kind of romantic, isn't it?"
Chuckle as well, finding it overly funny.
"A matching set even."
She scoots closer, placing a hoof on your bandage, careful not to touch your wound and cause you pain.
"From a single bullet, that somehow managed to miss every organ and important vein and artery in both of us… What did we do to get so lucky?"
"I wonder.. if we were lucky at all, or if she missed our organ on purpose.." I put a hoof over hers, covering it.
"You think a ruthless murderer like her would give a shit about our lives over the death of her enemy? While I was on the ship, we had one run-in with them, the captain and half a dozen sailors were out in the docks of Manehattan for supplies. Only the captain came back, and you saw…"
She motions at her eye, reminding you of explosion and burn shaped scar she had. Can't imagine being shot in the eye must have felt good, or looked pretty to treat.
"….I made a contract with her, that she'd help me save you. I can't be sure, but she did say, she was obligated to bring us back alive.. just before I charged in to fight."
The cute nurse still seems cynical.
"She's done that. So now what keeps her from getting rid of us?"
"I doubt I could stop a mare from doing anything in this state." I reply back.
She rolls her eyes, finally smiling.
"Says the stallion who made a pact with dragon and brought down an airship."
You do feel… slightly faint. Like you're about to have a dream despite being awake.
"And the stallion too lost in your dreamy eyes to move." I wink at her, letting this day dream overtake me.
You lie your head down onto the shoulder of the Nurse…
When you come to your senses you quickly realize, it's not your
senses. Another memory from the empath! But why now?
You feel this body is lanky and small… a teenage mare? Can't be older than sixteen, maybe not even that.
You don't have much time to focus on how weird that feels when you see your host, this young mare with a red coat, throw away two hoof-strapped weapons around the room, breaking down in sobs.
Wait… her coat is not red, it's brown. Those blades and her forehooves are coated in blood!
You hear a door open, but make no effort to look or stop crying until you hear the voice.
"Oh, my dearest Angel…" The last sob is caught in your throat as you look up. You see the Saddle Arabian! He looks just like when you saw him last time. Not a day of difference.
"My most beloved, most trusted companion since you were just a foal. I see doubts gnawing at your mind, I see the tears wash your cheeks…"
You hear the little mare (almost a filly, really..) sniffle as the tall stallion wipes a tear and puts a hoof under your chin, raising it to look up.
"You think you sin in murder… I have told you every way I know how you would only sinned if you stayed your hand."
The stallion lets go, stepping away.
"If you do not chain a rabid dog, are you not responsible for the foals the bitch attacks? If you do not crush a snake in an infant's crib, are you not responsible for it's venomous bite? If you leave a fire unchecked, are you not responsible for every innocent burnt? In every case, your sloth would make you a sinner more grievous, for you have not lifted a hoof to kill."
He stops again, looking down.
"Every life you do not take lets live our enemy. The enemy who wishes nothing but ill upon the world… and that enemy is surely rabid, venomous, and a hungry inferno."
You feel your body jolt when the stallion suddenly hugs you, whispering into your ear.
"Hold fast. Push the knife. You need no forgiveness for you do not sin. Know that Equestria and the worlds beyond need you. Know that all the gods and goddesses love you."
The stallion pulls back, staring into the eyes of the filly.
"Know that I
You wake up with a jolt in the lap of the mare.
"Are you okay? You seemed a bit… spaced out there for a while."
That was interesting..
Blink as I adjust back to reality.
"Wow, how long was I out? I must have lost a bit more blood than I thought."
"Just a few minutes. I think you just need-"
She is interrupted when a mercenary clad in the black uniform steps in.
She points at you.
"You. Come with me. Now."
The nurse snorts.
"He needs rests."
"He can rest later."
"Uh, Alright, help me up?" I ask the mercenary with a shy grin, holding a hoof toward her.
She rolls her eyes put pulls you up to your hooves.
"You're not leaning on me. Move."
You see the nurse get up too.
"You stay here." The merc tells her.
"Awh, why can't she come? Jealous?" I tease the mercenary, standing and taking a few steps toward the exit.
You can walk steady enough, even if it stings a bit to do so.
"I've been ordered to only get you."
Turn to the nurse, and step back to hug in a dramatic gesture. "I'll be back."
She hugs you as well.
The merc makes a dramatic retching motion too, making fun of you.
"Come on already, if we wanted to execute you, we wouldn't need the formalities."
"I'm going I'm going." Walk along with the impatient mercenary.
She leads you outside. The sudden, bright, desert sun hurts your eyes until you raise a wing to cover your face.
You see the smouldering wreck of the burnt down fort in the near distance, the fires having died down but black smokestacks still rising, corpses of gryphons scattered nearby, some being courted by coyotes or vultures looking for a snack.
You can't stare long as the merc leads you to a big tent.
Surprisingly, the tent has no guards. Not a single one.
You hardly need guards in a place you totally control!
Go into the big tent with a slow wounded horse pace.
Inside you see the head of the Emerald Mercenaries, she throws you a grin as you enter, seeing her naked for the first time. Armor and clothes must be uncomfortable in this heat.
"See, I told you he'll live."
On the far side of the table, you see the Rais-Al Malik the Saddle Arabian you just saw in that dream recently, leaning forward on the table, resting his chin on a hoof thoughtfully.
Behind him you see her - the Angel of Death. At least fourty by a glance, but she could be keeping her better than most mares. It's stunning to see them both like this, side by side, after the dream earlier.
He speaks up.
"Emrille…. leave us."
The green mare salutes and flutters out without a word, but flashing her teeth at you. You think she enjoyed shooting you more than it was neccessary…
I bow and sit before the Rais, wings folded at my sides.
He stares at you for a while, before speaking softly.
"I have to give you credit, you have done something in the matter of a few days that took me years. You eradicated the Talons."
"They were all here then?" I ask with an unbelieving blink.
"Of course not, but gryphons are very territorial. With their patronarch and his heir dead, the remaining forces will scatter and fall back to wage a war of power between themselves, in their homelands. That is no longer an issue that concerns us."
"Hm, I see." I nod a few times. "At least until another joins them together."
"I doubt a freshly started mercenary company could combat the one I have funded. It is no matter, anyway. The important thing is… this has been another blow to Mirage. Her operation is falling apart."
"That's good news.. right?" I ask with slight worry at the direction this is taking.
"It is. But I am afraid not good enough."
He furrows his brows.
"I worry she might have outsmarted me. That all this was just a farce, and she secretly completed her objectives while I was distracted with the little war she created. She is the witch of deception, after all."
I raise an eyebrow and look him over.
"Pardon me Rais, but you seem quite alive. Wasn't her goal to kill you? What do you suspect she has done?"
"You have tried killing me as well, with little success, if I may remind you. I was never her real target. I was the one who was holding her back from doing what she truly wants."
I shrug at the reminder. "So what are you worried about? Should I go to the base and see if they are having a big party?"
"I would avoid going there for now. One of my sources has indicated that a recent murder she commited left someone less than pleased, and that secret base might be… how shall I say… be housing fireworks that are not celebratory."
He shakes his head.
"No, Kelani. What I want you to do is to finish your mission before we run out of time."
…I promised to.. I rack my brain to remember after being knocked around so much.. then my eyes go wide as I recall, I was supposed to kill Mirage.
"I haven't seen her at the base the last few times I was there.."
"She has probably abandoned it by now. It makes her harder to track."
He leans back, looking up at the tall mare, standing there silently, who glances down, meeting eyes.
"How do you find a mare among millions who can look and sound like anybody, has changeling extract to throw off any beast that might be able to smell it out and magic to surpress her true identity?"
Meet his eyes with a serious look.
"You'd have to have something she wants."
"We know exactly what she wants. Unfortunately, my best agents cannot be everywhere at the same time."
I ponder a moment.
"I think, that unhappy operative, I know the guy you mean. I could ask him to help with a plan."
"Can he be trusted?"
Bring up images of the zebra in my mind, in case he's reading it!
"We've trusted each other with life or death secrets. I know he trusts me, and he's angry at Mirage. Also he's their scientist, easy to explain why he's anywhere."
They had a unicorn doing that before. If he can read minds, he's very good at hiding it!
"Good. Just say when and where and I will have a pony pick him up. Just remember not to lose sight of your destiny. Those statues. You and your quest to find them… they are imperative to everything."
"I will not fail my Goddess." I reply proudly.
"How should I reach you? Come to your place again?"
"It would be the safest bet, for you. Meeting elsewhere might attract unwanted attention."
"I'll see you there." I reply but breath a little heavily from my injuries.
He actually winces.
"Try… not to die. You have came this far, as I expected. Your life, and that of your duty to Mother Nature… it probably means even more than you might realize."
"Then you believe me, about the black roots preparing to choke the world?"
"I know about them, yes. I also say you must believe me when I say, they are merely a prelude in something worse to come."
I tilt my head. "Worse than not being able to live on the lands?"
"Not being able to live."
He says seriously.
Think for a moment. "That's a logical conclusion to nothing growing."
"Those black roots merely make the way for something far worse to surface."
"I see, I don't suppose you've found any new leads to statues since we last spoke?"
"I might have. Come visit me and it shall be yours. My Angel will see to it."
"Excellent." I smile at the pretty mare.
"Was there something else? Sir?" I ask the Rais politely as I can.
"I just wanted to congratulate you. Your travels… should be safer for the time being. I have heard rumours of an assassin hunting down the agents of Mirage, but I am sure you can handle yourself."
"Uh an assassin huh, anyone I know?"
"Yes. It is the one Mirage got you to hire. The one who damaged the Emerald Company operations in Los Pegasus."
"Great. That guy doesn't like me."
"If you can show your true alligance, he might spare your life. If all else fails, run."
I sigh at the idea of dealing with him.
"Thanks for the head's up."
"Be careful out there."
He motions with a hoof.
You think it means he is done talking to you.
I shall take my leave then.
You hear cicadas chirping in the desert as you go out, the occasional shadow of a vulture flying overhead giving shade. Return to the tent with the nurse?
Yes, I need to see how she is.
She is fine, if resting.
She opens her eyes and sits up.
"Oh, you're back! You were gone for a while so I had a look around…"
"I'm… I'd love to go with you, wherever you are headed next, but I can't, not like this. I saw ponies who were hurt here, so maybe I can help them."
"I understand, you're still too wounded to run around under planks and through train stations." Go to her side and offer her a hoof to hold or shake. "See you in a week or two?"
"Just tell me where you want to meet, and I'll be there."
She giggles, and instead of taking your hoof, she pulls you close for a warm hug!
Hug her with my wings around her back for fluffy warmth.
"Where would be safe, but not too hard to meet up.." I say thoughtfully and when the hug is done say. "Appleloosa's a frontier town, they won't think twice about a tough mare visiting bars for fun. But also won't be to big that we miss each other. What do you think?"
"It's close enough that I can get there even if I'm still a bit hurting."
She squeezes you in the warm embrace.
"I expect to see you there, or I'm breaking out the scary doctor tools that all colts are scared of!"
She says jokingly.
"O-oh no, not the cold metal thing that goes on my chest!" I say dramatically, pretending to be scared and ducking behind the bed.
"Oh yes, I will use it, and I will know if your heart skips a beat because you saw me again!"
Pick up my bags while I'm ducking here. "Oh nooo, all my practice stilling my fluttering wings for nothing!"
She giggles cutely, but you see she is not getting up, deciding it's wiser to stay resting. She did say that statue lets you heal faster than she can.
"Maybe I will even shine a bright light in your eyes!"
"What a harsh lady my nurse is. Finding out all my little secret looks."
Make eye contact with her a moment, then make sure everything is here.. and where is that armor at?
It's on the side. It's compact enough that you can take it with you, or you can put it on now but it will make flying in the desert pretty harsh.
"I'll be waiting for your checkup!"
Pack it up with me, maybe I can convince that assassin I'm on his side with this..
"I'll keep my appointment." I tell her as I start to leave.
She blows you a kiss with a hoof, waving goodbye.
You're outside of the tent now.
Where's a close by city?
Dodge is the closest, but Ponyville is not too distant, just a few hours of flight, and it's barely noon.
Ponyville, yes. I need to see her.
Off to Ponyville it is!
Roll for the quality of flight!
Roll #1 1 = 1
Turns out you overcommitted a bit with the whole 'fly across Equestria' gig after surviving a gunshot that went in and out.
Insted of a flight of about two hours, you only get back by the time it's late in the afternoon, after having to have stopped on clouds to take some deep breaths and wait for the sharp stinging pain in your abdomen to die down.
It has subdued to just a constant, low pain that seems to hum and throb warmly, like your barrel was melting from the inside and bubbling over like a potion in a cauldron.
In short, you arrive late and you don't feel all too pleasant.
Not like she was expecting me. Ugh.
Well, let's first go to the town square, and see if I was followed.
'1d10' checking around.Roll #1 3 = 3
It's hard to focus like this, so nothing immeditely catches your eye.
Seems like you're in the clear.
Or its a tail so good I won't see it..
Let's go to the sweet shop.
A lot of the fresh wares are sold out, since it's late and close to closing, but there's still plenty of candy and chocolate to go!
"I'd like a small box of chocolates, and two coffees please."
The unicorn stallion smiles as he preps your order.
"Would you like sugar and milk in them?"
He nods, putting little sugarcubes in both coffees before handing them and your small box over.
"That will be two bits please!"
Give her the money and be on my way. Its still afternoon isn't it?
It is, but the sun is starting to set.
She should be home by now!
I'll go to her place… but the sneaky route, just out of habit, '1d10'Roll #1 3 = 3
Since you move a bit slow, the coffee is lukewarm by the time you get there.
The lights are on in her house tho!
Knock on her door.
A short while later, a curious Lockbox opens the door.
Her expression quickly turns into a big smile when she sees you.
"Kelani! You're back!"
She pulls you into a tight hug!
"Hey Honey~" I hug her back, not about to complain for the pain. Then hold out a coffee up slightly away from us, so she has to stop hugging me to get it. "I got coffee and dessert."
"Awww, thanks! Did you have dinner yet? I have some leftover salad!"
"No, I haven't eaten yet." Stare at her with a goofy smile, its been so long since I've seen her.
You even feel your heart beat a bit faster!
Awww, how cute!
She turns around.
"Don't just stand there, come in then!"
She walks off to the kitchen, quickly preparing the remaining salad into a bowl for you!
Follow her inside, watching her toss the leaves around.
"How have you been?"
She motions at a chair for you and brings the food to the table.
"Oh, I'm fine! Things have been… quiet recently which is good for a guard!"
"Sounds like easy money." I chuckle, sitting down putting the chocolates and coffee on the table too.
"Plus they say the uniform looks good on me!"
She takes her coffee, sipping on it!
"So they haven't gotten you on any detective work yet? Working your way up to it?" I munch on the salad as we chat.
"We have some meetings where I can chime in, and they appreciate my thoughts, but I don't have cases of my own yet, I have to start from the bottom like everypony else!"
"Meetings is a good start, better than sorting evidence or something."
She shakes her head.
"This is a small town, it's not like on the usual we have much to solve! All those… bad things seemed to have been a string of bad luck."
She frowns then shakes her head.
"I'm much happier asking merchants about a bushle of apples going missing."
I nod along, listening.
"As long as you're happy with it. Not like some movie where the pony gets her dream job, but finds out she hates it."
She laughs again.
"Oh, I know what it was going to be like! I just like helping other ponies!"
"Me too." I chuckle having finished my salad, I sip on the coffee, staring at her happy face.
She is taking picks from the box of coffee, staring back at you.
"I'm happy you visited! I miss you every time you are gone, I thought of you every day!"
"I missed you so much. I went through.. What I went through was hell, but I thought of you every time it got hard. Of your eyes, and smile, and.."
Her smile widens with every compliment, and she leans closer.
Lean in to her too, close enough that our breathes touch, almost a kiss. "And the faces you make in bed."
She turns bright red and her ears flop down.
She opens her mouth a few times, trying to think of a retort.
"At least you think of my face even then!"
Smirk slightly, and kiss her flustered lips.
You can almost feel her heart flutter as you do, and she smooches back lovingly!
I enjoy this perfect moment for as long as it lasts.
It makes you forget any pain you've been in. A journey well worth it!
The warmth and love from this mare, the security and stability she provides with her mere presence…
It reminds you what you are fighting for.
What I want to protect.
You can almost feel the same thought from her…
This is what she feels like her destiny was all along, hidden in a fog that you dispersed.
Not just simply protecting items and buildings… but protecting the ponies she cares about.
When the kiss finally breaks naturally, I ask her. "So, how do you like your dessert?"
She covers her mouth with a hoof momentarily, looking bashful.
"It was sweeter than any chocolate."
"I was thinking the same thing." Brush through her mane with a wing tip, sliding my seat next to hers.
She giggles as you do, her mane is so soft!
"That pretty statue that you gave me to safeguard, I put it in the living room… it's so pretty! It really does feel magical!"
I nod. "Its very special. And no one came to bother you about it?"
She shakes her head.
"I know what snooping around a house looks like and I've seen nopony who tried to do it!"
"I'm glad. I will get to return it to its collection soon. I hope." I think back to how many statues I have already, how many I might be missing. I have gotten far, but will it be enough?
You can feel you're on the cusp… there can't be much more left!
"When you do… do you think I could see all of them?"
"You want to see them? Its not safe to gather them before time.. but maybe you could be there."
She shakes her head.
"Oh, I don't want you to risk it before time! Just… when you do!"
I think about it for a second and nod.
"Its a good idea, someone might try to stop me, and I don't trust anypony to watch my back more than you."
She nods, this time with determination.
"Anything for you, my love!"
Hold her hoof with pride.
"I love you too."
She leans over to nuzzle you with her muzzle, quickly pulling back with a gasp.
"Are you hurt? Why do you have those big bandages?"
"Uh, I got shot." I tell her honestly, rubbing my head a bit embarrassed.
You see her face contort.
"You… you what? Shot? Where? How? By who?"
"The mercenary I hired. She did it to save my life."
She frowns, raising a brow.
"Shot you to save your life? That doesn't sound right. Ponies shoot other ponies for the opposite!"
"This wasn't the usual situation. It was a hostage situation in fact. She had to shoot through me to hit the bad guy."
"I… I know you must be doing a lot of things when you're gone, but I struggle to imagine what lead you to something like that! That's dangerous! Why didn't you just call some guards?"
"Well, it wasn't my choice to be in that situation! It turned out okay in the end, my enemy was killed."
"But you could have been killed too! And I wouldn't even have known!"
You see some tears well up in the corner of her eyes…
I frown in silence, and hug her.
She hugs back, snifling a bit.
"You only just recently came into my life… I don't want to lose you."
"I'm sorry, I'll be more careful."
She breaks the hug, wiping her cheeks with a hoof.
"I should have known you just attract trouble when I saved you in that barn…"
"Trouble looks for me." I carefully wipe away the tears from the corners of her eyes.
"Good thing I have you looking for me too."
"I will not let anypony hurt you under my watch, I promise you that!"
She takes a deep breath, seeming to have calmed down a bit.
I pluck a chocolate from the box, and put it on my tongue, slowly pulling it in and making loud 'yumm' sound as I roll it around in my mouth.
You see Lockbox trying to hold back a smile… and eventually fails, breaking out in a laugh.
"Just because you act cute I am still going to be mad at you for a bit!"
She says teasingly.
"Okay, but you gotta try this, did you have one already?" Hold out a chocolate for her, right in front of her mouth.
"I did… but maybe it'll taste better like this."
She giggles again, sticking out her tongue!
Very gently place it on her tongue. Smiling at her the whole time.
She pulls her tongue back, chewing on it cutely, smiling.
"Still mad, just a bit!"
"I'll make it up to you somehow."
Ah, it feels good to be here.
"You know I met my mother."
She puts a hoof on yours, encouraging you to go on, becoming more serious.
"How did it feel?"
"It was… nice. I was a little angry at her, at first. After seeing she lives with this noble family, and didn't manage to even write me or my father.. Then I met her son." I pause looking at her. "A colt with colors just like mine, with the coat and mane flipped around. And how she carefully cut up sandwiches for him. I couldn't stay mad at her."
She puts a hoof over her chest.
"Awww… you got a little brother! That's so cute!"
She smiles a bit, but speaks softly.
"Is your brother the reason she left?"
"No, but I think its part of the reason she stayed away. She said the reason was, if she left, that family she's living with, would have no one to help them out. She delivered a child from their matron, who had been injured in a horrible battle with demons. I got the feeling there were some problems with the baby girl at the time too. This was right when she was considering coming back, but that made her change her mind." Then sigh. "But, No, I think.. maybe it was.. her cutie mark was messing with her, she went on about how she feels fulfilled working there."
"I don't know what you must have been feeling but…"
She strokes your muzzle with a hoof.
"I'm glad you found out that it was for a good cause, not because she didn't care or didn't know it would hurt you."
There is just something very soothing and calming in her voice.
…it almost makes you think how great of a mother she would make.
I can't help but smile at her gentleness.
"I'm glad too. And now I know where to find her."
"Sooooo… when will you introduce me to her and your brother?"
She says with a little sing-song tone in her voice.
"Oh, geez, you think its not too soon?"
She makes an exaggerated pout.
"You think it is?"
I get really anxious.
"I mean, I just met her! Shouldn't we meet my dad first?" Then my jaw drops at what I just said.
You see her… smirk?
…By Mother Nature, she has played you like you play mares!
She flutters her eyelashes at you with a loving smile, nuzzling your muzzle.
"I'd love to, it sounds like a great idea!"
Awh, dang she got me good. Chuckle softly.
"Sure. When can you take time off?"
"How about… the next weekend?"
"Alright, its a date." I nod, and think of the travel options.
You could take the train to Los Pegasus and then just hike it from there to Whitetail Woods… it is a very pretty forest to walk through.
She hugs you again!
So warm. Hold her like this a minute.
"He'll be happy to meet you."
"Have you told him about me yet?"
She flutters her lashes again!
"Yes, Only good things, my dear."
She absent mindedly starts chewing on a chocolate.
"Hmm, she was right after all… my friend said that if you really love me, you'll have no problem if I want to meet your family!"
Lean in interested.
"Oh, your friend huh? Do I know her?"
"You migth have seen her at the station, but I don't think you met her yet."
"We've been best friends ever since we were just fillies."
"I have been… talking a lot about you to her."
"Ooh, so its not just a friend, but the best friend."
"She's been giving me all kinds of useful advice!"
I gasp and look smug "Oh, that's what happened." Then wink. "She told you to be this cute then?"
She blushes a bit, but takes another chocolate.
"No, she just told me to be myself!"
"That's great, because you're perfect." Kiss her cheek, and nuzzle her neck.
She leans into it, then stands up.
"Let's make a fire in the fireplace and snuggle up next to it!"
"That sounds like a perfect way to spend the evening." I stand up too, following her.
You see that she has indeed put the beautiful statue that depicts the faceless Mother Nature in the living room! In the middle of the room, atop the table, with a little cloth under it.
While you stop to stare she starts putting in some wood into the hearth and strikes a match to light some hay under it.
Let's put my bag down close by, and find a comfy position on the sofa. '1d10' comfy levelRoll #1 6 = 6
Your wound might hurt just a bit, but with the warm fire going underway and a cute earth pony mare to cuddle up with you… it's comfy enough that you can ignore it.
This is the life.
After everything I've been through, I could just fall asleep right here, next to her.
You do just that! And it is a dreamless and restful sleep!
… at least you do not have any dreams of your own.
At some point, you feel the familiar, uncanny sensation of being in the body of somepony else.
You are surrounded by sunlight, birds tweeting… it's a beautiful day outside.
The pony is standing behind some trees and bushes on a hill overlooking a creek…
Wait, you know this place! This is near your home, a nice picnic spot in the forest!
You also see two ponies down near the little stream of water… it's your mother and your father! They look much younger, and the mare looks pregnant… that's probably you in there then, too! They both looks so happy!
You can see the pony observing them for a while. After a brief kiss, your father leaves, your mother staying behind to collect pretty flowers into a basket on the nearby clearing.
You feel the stallion reach back… preparing a bow! He also takes an arrow out, resting it on the string of the weapon, before slowly pulling it taut, taking aim, right at your mother, who is carrying you…
You feel your ears twitch and hear the slightest rustle of leaves.
The pony whose body you are in spins around, releasing the arrow at the tall, young adult Saddle Arabian with blades on her hooves who dodges it swiftly, the projectile wizzing past her head! She closes the distance and raises a blade to strike, cutting the bow the stallion raises defensively in half… not a moment later, you feel a cold inside your chest… but no pain.
The pony you inhibit coughs, staggering.
To your surprise, as he falls, the Angel of Death cathes him so he doesn't hit the ground.
You still feel no pain, but you feel the warm blood seep out of the wound where the pony has been stabbed in the heart, quick, precise and clean.
As he looks up, life ebbing away, you feel tears welling up, squeezing out a rasping question.
"T-Tell me… is it… is it really the champion?"
The mare, holding the stallion like a mother would hold a child, nods somberly. To your surprise, you see her open her mouth.
Her voice is absolutely, stunningly beautiful.
The stallion sobs, looking up at the blue sky one last time.
"He… will… doom us all."
As the last word leaves his lips, everything is surrounded by darkness.
You wake up, still in the living room with Lockbox, birds tweeting outside and the sun shining. Her head is resting on your barrel as she sleeps with a smile.
It's a beautiful day.
Wow, I'm a little spooked from that dream. I stroke the mane of my love to calm down.
It is very soft! Smells nice too!
She doesn't wake up, but hums in her sleep with a smile.
My sweet lockbox.. I don't want to wake her, but then again, I do really want a coffee after that vision.
'1d10' slide off the sofa without waking the mare.Roll #1 6 = 6
You manage to be careful enough to make her stir and kick her hindlegs cutely, but not enough to wake her up!
I can't help smiling at that.
I'll go make coffee, and look out the window while its brewing.
While the water is heating up, you look out the window. It can't be much later than seven or eight in the morning.
The sun is beaming with not a single cloud in the great blue sky. Birdies are tweeting cheerfully at each other. You see the colorful shapes of pegasi flittering through the air and a plethora of pastel unicorns and earth ponies on the streets, greeting each other with a smile as they head to the market or to work.
What a peaceful little town, so far away from world threatening adventures.
You almost think, that if you could just give it up, if there was somepony else to do it… you could just spend every morning like this, basking in this joy and happiness.
You smell and hear the coffee is about ready.
I have at least one more thing to do first.
And I shouldn't delay too long.
Pour a cup for myself and set one out for Lockbox, but don't pour it yet, so it stays warmer.
You grab some for yourself, and prepare the morning wake-up brew for the cute mare too, with a hint of sugar at the bottom of the cup, just as she likes.
Stretch and sip the coffee. I touch my wound, testing how tender it is today.
'1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
Ow ow ow ow….
Very much so.
You are guessing the strain of flying was the exact opposite of the rest that you were supposed to do.
…maybe you can take a day off from saving the world?
I sigh, its really not going to get better unless I rest..
Sip the coffee and try to relax. but can't stop thinking about mirage
What does she even want? Is it really just revenge? For what? Her kid? Her parents?
Or is it just out of spite? What's her endgame?
Despite being so deeply involved in all this, you're still kept in the dark, and not just Mirage, but by Rais as well.
"You look glum… is everything okay?"
The sleepy looking mare says, surprising you as she enters the kitchen, reaching for the cup you prepared for her.
I look at her, and shake my head. "Its my wound, it just aches a bit."
She walks up to you, nuzzling your neck.
"Do you want me to kiss it all better?"
She giggles a bit, but then sips her coffee.
"But seriously, I think you need to clean it and put on a fresh bandage. They told us that if any of of us ever get hurt, that's important."
Kiss her head when she's close. "Alright, but I might need help, making sure the fresh bandage is wrapped tight enough."
"Ah-huh… I should have some lying around in a box, I can help!"
"Thanks honey." I reply with a smile and slowly sip my coffee.
She does too, taking out some biscuits to go with it for both of you!
After the breakfast she starts pushing you into the bathroom.
"Go on, let's take a look. It probably should have been changed even before you went to bed."
Playfully resist this, by dragging my hooves about it.
"But its so cold on the tiles at night and the fireplace was cozy and.."
But its a very short walk, so I don't even get to finish 'complaining' before we're inside the bathroom.
"Don't make me subdue you!"
She pats your rear.
She takes out a small, metal medical box from a drawer.
I sit down and hold my front hooves out so she can easily unwrap my bandage.
"I'm ready to be searched officer." I playfully reply.
"You better not be carrying any contraband chocolate, or you will be in trouble!"
She jokes back, nudging the base of your wing for you to raise it as she bites down onto the bandage to find a seam and starts pulling it away with a hoof.
It stings just a bit.
I won't show her it hurts.. Chuckle softly instead watching her work.
She removes the bandage, looking you over.
You see her grimace.
"Both sides, huh…"
She gives you a sad look, preparing some gauze and bandages… but also a small bottle.
"Um… I will make up for it, whatever you want, but… this is really, really going to hurt. Twice."
She pours the clear liquid from the bottle onto ball of cotton, but hesitates.
"Its gonna make it cleaner." I brace myself by holding the counter and nod.
She almost touches the wound, then pulls back again.
"Do you need something to bite down on maybe?"
The hesitation is almost worse!
"Strong stuff huh." Take a cotton ball from her bag of them and hold it with my teeth.
Blegh, it tastes awful and sticks all into your teeth! Maybe this was a bad id-
You immedaitely feel thankful for the idea when you feel the intense burning sensation of the disinfectant! To her credit, at least, Lockbox works fast an immedaitely cleans the other wound too.
Roll to be a bigboy and not tear up.
'1d10' its not so badRoll #1 9 = 9
Yeah, you had worse.
You don't even well up!
You do have to spit the taste of the awful cotton out of your mouth, yuck!
But by the time you are doing that, Lockbox is already wrapping you up.
"See, there? That wasn't so bad, was it?"
"It feels better already." I cheerfully reply. "Thanks for helping me."
She puts the medical box away, quickly giving you a peck on the lips.
"I didn't hurt you too much, did I?"
"Not at all, my sweet." I put a wing around her back as I stand.
"I only have to work in the afternoon today… we've got all morning if you want to do something!" She smiles.
"That's a lot time, anything special you want to do?" Nuzzle her neck.
"We could go out and have a walk, it's a really nice day! Sit in the park and just enjoy the day!"
She nuzzles back!
"A walk sounds perfect. Peaceful." I nod, and slowly walk with her to get ready. "Maybe we can pack sandwiches and have a picnic."
"That's a lovely idea! Make some sandwhiches here and pick up some fruits from the market on the way!"
She gets a bit giddy, rushing to the kitchen to prepare a snack to go!
Seeing her so happy was worth the effort.. a day off couldn't hurt anyone.
Let's pack light too, just some pocket change, a make up kit, and the daggers, in case.
Just in case… although you are pretty sure that Lockbox is almost more dangerous without a sword and a spear than with one.
Once you pack up, you head out.
You pick up some apples from the market and head to the park.
Roll to spot a nice place to set the blanket down!
'1d10' shady but not too coolRoll #1 5 = 5
Sounds like some of the ponies you've met on your journey.
You do find a spot under a tree that's good enough, even though the dirt is a bit stiff under the grass at some places.
Lockbox starts setting down the blanket and taking the food out of the basket.
Must be a dry area. Pat the ground with my hoof and take the least comfortable part, leaving the comfortable area for Lockbox.
Or you could just put the food on the dry spots and both sit on the soft ones.
You see her slap her forehead.
"Oh, nooo! I didn't pack any drinks! I wanted to get some orange juice from the market!"
"Oh no, just when we found a nice spot!" I feign distress. "The whole world is going to fall apart now."
"If I was a fancy lady I would faint right now!"
"Bummer, what do we do?"
"I could go get us something. Maybe a stand outside the park has sweet drinks?"
"If you could, I'll give you a kiss on the cheek!"
She says playfully.
My wings flutter and I salute. "Right away my lady~"
And off I got to find something sweet to drink.
Roll a 1d4 to see what you can find nearby!
'1d4'Roll #1 2 = 2
If all else fails, you pass a water fountain, but you do also see a pegasus with a strange wagon!
It has Cotton Candy & Ice Cream
painted on the side.
There is a short line of two foals, both with their parents.
That's sure to have something sweet. Get in line behind the kids.
They hop in place in excitement as their parents get them their sweet treats for the day.
Once they are gone, the old stallion with the long moustache leans out the window of his wagon, looking around, as if to searching for a foal, then raising an eyebrow at you.
"Aren'cha a little too old for cotton candy and ice cream?"
You are taken aback by how serious he is, but he quickly breaks out in laughter, twirling his facial hair.
"I merely jest, nopony is ever too old for sweet treats! What can I getcha'?"
"I forgot drinks for my picnic, do you sell anything like a sweet punch?" I ask with a smile.
He ponders for a moment.
"No, no I do not… however, I assume a stallion like you is not having a picnic alone, nor with pals, so I am going to give you a special deal! Pay one bit for a nice little strawberry slush and you get another free for your sweetheart!"
"That's a deal too sweet to pass up." I pay him for the slushies with a grin.
He turns around and emerges with the icy drinks, droplets of water dripping down the sides.
The clever guy, must be using snowclouds in a box to keep his stuff cold and have fresh and clean ice ready.
"Have a lovely day now!"
"You too sir!" I tell him, and trot back happily, with the drinks that are not a trick or part of some scheme.
You didn't see the foals complain!
Lockbox flicks her ears.
"Oooh, what are those? They look good!"
"They're strawberry slushies. Its not juice, but it has a fruit in it anyway." I give her a grin and offer her one.
She takes one and takes a sip from the straw.
Her face falls.
She pulls away.
"Oh. My… this is just… this is amazing!"
She grins, drinking more of it quickly!
"Is it that good?" I try it for myself, making noisy 'yum' sounds regardless, just to compete with her.
It is really good! All the taste of a nice strawberry with the cool icy touch of ice cream, in one!
She puts a hoof to her forehead.
"OW ow ow ow… maybe you should take it slow!"
I chuckle at her. "The wicked icecream headache attempts to strike down our picnic. Don't worry, I'll banish it with a kiss."
And kiss her head where she's rubbing it, then her sweet strawberry covered lips.
She kisses back passionately…
Let's hope no kids are around to see!
It is a lovely morning for a picnic, lasting for several hours of nice food and your cold drinks, along with some kisses and cuddles.
Around noon, you can see her ponder.
"Um… I think I can switch my shift for the afternoon.. that way we could go to the circus! I hear there is one in town!"
"A circus? With little monkeys and acrobats and clowns?"
"I don't know what they have, but that's why it'd be fun to find out!"
"Alright. Do you need to go in to ask for the time?" I suggest as I munch on the last of my part of the food.
"Yes, but I can arrange it quick! Want to meet there?"
"I'll meet you by the gates. Don't worry about the blanket and stuff, I'll take it back home for you."
"Thank you! You're the best!"
She gives you a quick kiss before happily trotting off!
Smile at her, watching until she's out of view. Then clean up our picnic.
She looks sooooooooo happy! It makes your heart skip a beat!
You quickly pack up into the basket and return it to her house!
Any detours you want to make before the circus?
Yes. To my local shady bar. I do need to see what the word is.
You make a quick side stop at the bar.
You see the usual patrons in their smoke filled, stenchy corners, hidden in the shadows.
It also seems, that as fate would have it, your timing was impeccable.
You see the donkey informant in the back, sipping on a beer.
Near him, a dark grey unicorn is standing.
As the donkey sees you enter, you see him narrow his eyes, raising his voice.
"Whassat'? Nature statues? Ne'er
heard of them! What do you take me for, an art fence?"
Wow, that's a pretty clear sign. Go directly to his table.
You go to his table, and as you do, the unicorn looks at you.
"Are you sure about that?"
"You've fucking heard me! Now are you going to get anything or fuck off?"
He raises a brow.
"I came to see somepony. And now… I have."
"Don't know what you mean. I'm just here to catch up with my poker buddy." I smile obliviously at the grey pony and sit down across from the donkey.
"I am sure. Don't worry. I'll be in town if you want to find me."
He turns away.
"Just follow where your butterflies don't go."
He walks out.
Once he left, the donkey spits.
"Wha' a cunt that one, eh?"
"Yea, what did he want anyway?"
He shrugs, sipping on his beer.
"Was asking 'bout the same things you were. I had to guess, he was tryinta' rile you up to find you. Makes no sense if he'd just leave tho."
I groan. "More ponies that want to find me, just what I didn't need. Got any other bad news for me?"
He shake his empty bottle of beer, as an incentive.
Nod and get the donkey another round.
You bring him a beer, and that loosens up his tongue.
"Bandits all but left town. Lucky, eh? Crime should go down."
He slams the bottle to the table.
"Not. Clever little shits, those cunts. Know something bad is coming. Things are ne'er this silent for long. Somethin' big is about to hit, but none of my sources know what."
"Something big?" I look worried. "Here?"
"Lemme ask you this. If you wanted to hide somethin' you know someone wants, where do you put it? A big place everyone knows 'bout, or some backwater town where nothin' ever happens?"
I groan even more.
"I have a bad feeling, like its not a what, but a who."
"I've been in this business a while. I think your who
is what is coming for it."
Now I'm really confused. "I don't think that mare cares much for items."
The donkey gives you a toothy grin, even though his are crooked and missing a few, the jewelry on his ears clanking.
"So it is her yer' worried 'bout. I know for a fact she is interested in the night sky."
I hum at his riddle. "And she thinks she can find something like that here.."
"If she thinks, yer' little town is safe. If she knows…
then you're fucked."
"I guess vacation time is over then.." I shake my head in dismay.
He shakes his head.
"I ain't heard of any suspicious bloke show up… but then again, they might just show up outta' nowhere."
"You mean like the one you were just talking to?"
He waves a hoof.
"Eeeh, he seemed harmless enough. Be my guest if you want to ask him for more."
Shrug. "I just don't trust ponies looking for me these days. Well, thanks for the heads up about the coming storm.."
He raises his bottle.
"Thanks for the beer. See you around."
He grins again.
Wait, he's way too happy right now.
Looks suspiciously a moment.
"Is there something more I should know?"
He shrugs, looking oblivious, tapping the table.
"I dunno'. Is there?"
I sigh and look at my coin purse, wondering how much I'll need to steal to afford this.
If you want anything useful out of him, you'll pretty much have no bits left.
You traveled light, prepping or a picnic.
But then I can't buy my girl popcorn, well, I'll just tell her I left the wallet at home. Keep a few bits back, and give him the purse.
He grins as you do, scooping it into a large, leather pouch.
"You like readin', boy? I suggest you look up the Four Seals of the blue comets."
"Four seals? What's this fish story got to do with anything?"
He lets out a loud, guttural laugh, wiping a tear from his eye.
"I like yer' sense of humour, pal, I gotta' admit. I'll give you a hint, most libraries have nothing on it."
…but the Library with the Empath might!
Smile slightly. "That's a bit clearer. Don't suppose you know when any of this might be happening?"
"I don't know the when, I only know the why.
If I knew when I might have skipped down 'ready."
"Then why?" I ask still confused.
"I told ya' already. Now scram, and read up."
"Alright, enjoy your beer buddy." I wave at him and get going. I do have a date to catch up with.
You leave the seedy bar.
You wonder if you can somehow get into contact with the empath, and if he could send you the book…
By the time you go to the edge of the town, you see ponies streaming towards the attraction, a large tent set up, surrounded by several smaller ones, stands for food and drinks and everything!
Thankfully, you don't see any fences, so no entry fee either!
Whew, that's good. Wait by outside the tent and look for my girl!
Standing there, you hear the music echoing around better, fillies and foals running around excitedly, playing with toys, holding balloons or eating some of the tasty treats that are around.
Lockbox shows up soon enough… with a cute little bow in her hair!
"How do I look?"
I smile, and offer to hold her hoof. "Its adorable, I love it." Wait until she takes my hoof.
"Almost as much as the pony wearing it."
"Is it because I am wearing it? We have some time before the main attractions, want to look around? Maybe we'll find some freaks or those strange mirrors!"
"Yes." I answer all her questions with one word, trotting inside with her.
"This isn't an official interrogation, feel free to talk!"
You make your way to one of the tents.
The enterance is blocked by a chubby mare, unfortunately, who is facing away from you.
Maybe you should ask her to step aside?
"Okay, well, I really like this town. Its small, quiet, has a nice open space for carnivals to set up." Look over her shoulder, is someone blocking her?
"It is a nice town, isn't it? All the ponies are so friendly too!"
She is quite… wide. It might be rude to try and peek over. You don't see anypony in front of her though…
"That's true, the sweet shop has such friendly owners, I kept wanting to go back."
I've got wings, just float up a little to see what the hold up it. Sneakily. '1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
"We can always go there daily!"
You sneakily peek over.
Due to the sun being bright outside, you can't see much of her, only her lush, brown mane, which is quite long!
But other than that, she seems to be standing here in the way on purpose! But why?
That's a bit rude.
Tap her on the shoulder. "Excuse me, could you let us inside miss?"
As she turns around, Lockbox breaks down into laughter.
The mare not only has a lush, nice tail, but also a lush, bushy brown beard extending all the way to the ground! It is real too, from the looks of it!
"Oh, why, excuse me dear, I didn't see you there? Come to see the freak show? You've found it!"
She lets out a deep belly laugh, theatrically, like you would imagine from an opera singer, letting you pass inside!
Then she stands back into the way…
Ooooooh, now you get it!
I am truly surprised by this!
"Ah, thank you." Lockbox seems pleased already, what a nice show.
As you walk, a young, lean stallion sitting on his haunches in a meditative pose and wearing a large, purple bandana calls out to the two of you.
"Ever heard of the rule of threes?"
"Three rules? Like in hoof-ball?"
He chuckles, but Lockbox speaks up.
"Like how a lot of cutie marks come in threes?"
The stallion nods.
"Correct. Ever wondered then, that our most important sense, sight, only has two eyes to go with it?"
I nod going along with him.
"Right, that is odd."
"That is why some spiritualists believe in the existence of a third eye! We just have it inside, as an instinct, almost a sixth sense!"
He smirks, and reaches up to remove his bandana, opening an actual
"Of course, those bozos don't know what they are talking about."
Lockbox clops her hooves excitedly, and the stallion does a little bow, putting the bandana back on.
I clop a few times too, smiling at how happy Lockbox is.
The two of you go around the tent, meeting ponies, all of whom have something strange about them, sometimes uncanny, sometimes scary, sometimes funny.
The one thing they all have in common, however, is you can see they do not mind being freaks, instead of being shunned, they find joy in making others happy with it, all with their unique styles of being entertaining! There is an exit from the tent that leads to another.
"Ooooh, the mirrors!"
Lockbox exclaims, running in front of one of the wavy ones!
She looks back to you.
"Does this make me look fat?"
Uh oh, trick question!
Quickly go in front of a mirror myself, one that makes you look warped and dramatically hold my head as if I were afraid of it changing size.
"I can't tell, this one is making my head hurt."
She covers her mouth with a hoof as she laughs.
"Clever, very clever!"
She goes over to another and gasps.
"Ohmyprincess, Kelani, you've got to see this!"
"Oh, what's the trick there?"
Look into her mirror.
You can see she is a filly!
And you're a colt!
She looked ADORABLE, and that bow! You just want to hug her!
Seeing yourself as a colt also reminds you a lot of Paradise! If you were his age, you could pass for twins!
"Wow. Wow. " I say in awe. "It looks just like the photo of me as a kid."
She nudges you in the side, and you see a smug filly nudge a smug colt in the side.
"Almost as if it was a magic mirror, huh?"
I snicker and put two feathers behind her head to give her 'bunny ears' like a kid would.
She giggles, moving on to some other ones.
She stops at each and every one, stopping when sees a sign.
It's for a booth with a warning on it!
While she's in there, you can read it.Black Mirror… Adults only, one pony at a time.Not for the faint of heart!
"Sounds spooky. You wanna pass on this one?"
"Do I look like I am faint of heart?"
She says, almost hurt in her pride, going inside the booth.
About a minute later, she comes back out.
"Seesh… I am glad I will never have to see myself like that."
She gives you a smug look.
"But it did tell me I would look great in mercenary armor."
"Oh, looks as if you liked what you saw." I smile at her, and trot in the booth myself.
You see the black mirror in front of you and it's… completely black, with a dark sheen, not reflecting much.
On the gilded frame, there is a note saying Touch me in the middle if you dare.
"Okay, okay, I'm touching the mirror." I say as if someone were waiting for it, and touch the mirror with a bold hoof.
It is incredibly cold, as if touching ice!
You feel the need to pull your hoof back!
The black sheen slowly starts to dissipate, replaced by a normal mirror, but as if there was nothing but smoke behind the glass.
It twirls around for a while, before you see the image.
It's not only reflecting you, but your surroundings too!
You are immediately reminded of Tartarus, with a complete lack of antyhing Natural, no trees, no grass, no animals, nothing.
Only the dry, yellowed, long forgotten bones of mares and foals at your hoof.
You also see yourself, as how you would look if you were an old, decrepit stallion, with only skin on your bones, your wings too weak to even stay upright against your body, your feathers missing.
The eyes are the worst though. Not that they are yellowed and bloodshot, but you have never seen anyone look so hopeless and bleak, you did not even imagine it was possible to look so bleak, and it is all the more surprising coming from yourself!
The mirror fogs up again, the black sheen returning, hiding the image.
I sigh. Removing my hoof from the mirror, and looking around with a displeased expression.
After seeing that no one is going to come out, I will compose myself and emerge with a casual stride.
Yep, nothing is going to jump you from it or come out.
Lockbox looks at you expectantly.
"I saw myself as an old man, that's all. Kind of the reverse of that second mirror." I shrug like its no big deal. "a bit dramatic of a reveal having to touch it."
"Maybe that's how it peers into your soul, OooooOoooO!"
She waves her hooves around!
Chuckle. "Probably, it felt kind of magical. And its true, I'm just not ready to be old yet. Too much to do."
"Don't worry, I'll take care of you even if you do get old."
Lockbox says, nuzzling up to you.
After you see a few more of the side attractions and get some snacks, you start to see that ponies are starting to stream into the big, main tent, probably for the main attractions!
"Oh, let's go our seats in the big tent." I tell her and trot that way with my wing over her back.
The two of you make your way over to the ten, finding seats in the first row!
The whole, large tent quicky fills, and as it does, the curtain like 'doors' are closed with ropes and the lights are dimmed, a single light focusing onto the middle of the stage with a little pedestal on it!
Nothing happens yet so far, and you hear excited murmurs from the crowd!
"Oh good, we're still in time." I smile at Lockbox.
After a while the murmurs stop, and you see a donkey jenny approach the little stand in the middle. She is wearing a large top hat, her long, black mane with red tips hanging down to her neck under it, wearing a tailcoat on her body.
She looks around, as if looking for something.
"I am terribly sorry, I had a speech written for this, but I am afraid I cannot find it."
She pats down her coat, looks into her hat, then stands on one hindleg, bending her spine back to look behind and under herself.
"Oh, wait, I know!"
She says with a facehoof, taking a short, thin sword out of her coat!
Without hesitation, she opens her mouth and drives the blade down her throat, eliciting a worried gasp from the audience!
A moment later, she pulls it out, having impaled a small note on it!
She picks it up, taking a deep breath as if she was about to read it, when the paper burst into flames as she grins.
"Just kidding, I know it by heart by now."
The audience starts cheering!
I gasp and point at the sight whispering "Did you see that? Where was the note?!" To lockbox.
She looks just as confused!
"I don't know! I didn't see it anywhere before!"
The jenny bows, tipping her hat.
"Welcome one and all, ladies and gentlecolts, foals of all ages, to Mabel's Grand Circus! Enjoy the attractions, be amazed, shocked and awed, and remember not to try any of this out at home!"
Even as she speaks you see acrobats, jugglers and clowns enter the stage, all working together yet trying to entertain the portions of the audience that are right in front of them.
"Aha! Acrobats." I say smugly at the show, kicking back and relaxing for once, no looking around for spies..
You see that the donkey jenny is looking you quite a bit, as if she was sizing you up, which does feel a bit strange…
Still, for more than an hour the attractions go well, getting gasps and laughs out of both Lockbox and you! It is near the end that something peculiar happens.
You see a phoenix fly in, carrying something in it's beak, but it is making itself so bright and fiery on purpose that it is hard to make it out, flying circles above the podium!
"Huh, they even made friends with a phoenix. I'm impressed."
The jenny extends a hoof, and to your surprise, the phoenix lands on it!
While still being covered in flames!
However, not only do the clothes of the donkey not catch fire, she seems to be completely unharmed by the heat of it all!
"What have you get there?"
The phoenix opens it's beak to let out a majestic, sing-song call, the jenny catching the item as it falls, that you can now see…
A cat statue…
It's a statue of Mother Nature!
She's got one! And she's just showing it off!
The jenny chortles.
"What a peculiar little bauble! I wonder what it's good for…"
I look horrified, I can't do anything about her just playing with the cat statue!
She looks at the phoenix, who lets out another beautiful call.
"You think so? Let's try it, why don't we?"
She takes a deep breath, and to your horror, breathes fire, large flames enveloping her,the statue, and the bird!
By the time the fire and the smoke clears up, they are gone, and the rest of the troupe begins to bow as the lights are turned back on and the curtains are drawn to open the door leading outside.
What?! You can't just end the show like that! Where did she go? Where did the statue go?
Whaaat! I get up and go outside the tent in a quick trot.
Lockbox trots after you.
"What's wrong? Didn't you have fun?"
You are surrounded by ponies on all sides as they are streaming out of the tent, making it hard to spot anyone around.
And hard to be spotted too. '1d10' sneaky exiting
"Yes, so much that I need to see the performers before they leave, to find out about the next one!"Roll #1 3 = 3
You blend in with the crowd, managing to do so well that Lockbox looses track of you!
Maybe you could sneak to the back of the circus that's off limits, that's probably where you'll find the donkey!
Of course, that's where the props are stored too, that's where to start. Sneak toward the offlimits part.
There's a few carnies around, but with them being distracted by making sure the crowd leaves in an orderly fashion, you get by them easily.
You see lots of carts and wagons here, some for travel some for storage, some for personal quarters, but there is a medium sized tent back here… maybe that's the tent of the ringmaster?
I make note of the storage areas, and carefully look inside the possible ringleader tent. '1d10'Roll #1 3 = 3
You peek inside and… it seems to be empty.
You see the cat statue at the back…
With the phoenix sleeping on it.
Smart. No way I can take it from the bird without making noise..
Let's hide inside the tent a minute.
You wait around, considering your options…
Out of the darkness and shadows beside you, you hear a voice, the voice of that donkey, whispering.
"Who are we hiding from?
I shutter and instantly reach for my daggers, but settle down once I can look at her and don't actually draw a weapon on her. Whisper back "I'm trying not to wake your friend there."
She doesn't even twitch.
She no longer has the hat and the tailcoat on, just a cape. From the shape of it, you're pretty sure there is
a rapier under that cape though.
"Why not? What do you think he will do if you wake him?"
"Burn the tent? Make a loud siren cry?" I tilt my head at her. "Were you waiting here for someone?"
"I figured there might be a pony after the show, showing up in my tent to try and steal that statue. I'm waiting for that pony. What about you?"
"I was waiting for the owner of the statue to come by, So I could distract her and steal her statue." I smirk.
"Oh, that makes sense! I think you'll need something for that then!"
She slinks back into the shadows, disappearing from sight, as if she became one
with the shadows.
She walks out from the darkness at the other end of the room with a rapier in her mouth, dropping it and kicking it over to where you are, drawing her own.
"Feel free to try!"
Shrug, picking up the rapier half heartedly with a hoof.
"How'd you know someone would want to steal that?"
"A little butterfly told me so."
She smirks, raising her weapon in a ready pose, standing between the statue and you…
"Wait, before we start, is this one that was in your mouth during a show?" I eye the weapon, turning it around.
"Of course not… would you like that one instead?"
"Oh, you're cute." Time to spar with the lady, making sure to be flashy about it, including a draw out bow before stepping toward her. '1d10'Roll #1 6 = 6
She giggles, bowing back.
"Aw, thank you. You're not bad yourself!"
She just blocks your attacks with a smile, not even attemtping to strike back.
"You're decent with a blade, I see."
"And with a few other things." Do a side step hop and wink at her.
"Like knowing when somepony isn't really in the mood to fight."
She smirks back, stepping closer and with a twist, immedaitely disarming you, making the sword clutter onto the ground, her own blade aimed at you.
"Or maybe I just went easy on you!"
"It amounts to the same thing, Madam Tophat."
Take her other hoof in mine and kiss it.
She lets you kiss her hoof, putting her rapier away.
"Just call me Mabel, Kelani."
"How long are you in town, Miss Maybelle?" I while staring at her eyes.
"Not for long, unfortunately. Entertaining the people of Equestria is my calling!"
"That doesn't give me long to get to know you. Do you like cupcakes? Long walks in the forest?"
"I like acrobatics, making people have fun, Nature, fire… what about you?"
"Oh, me?" I lean in to whisper to ear, like a secret. "I steal statues and shit."
Her long donkey ears drop and she nuzzles you, hiding her blush.
"Oooh… what a bold stallion you are! And you think you will steal mine too?"
"Actually, I was thinking you might, trade it to me." I suggest with a playful smile. "Maybe I can do something for you in return?"
She ponders for a second, smirking back.
"I have been looking for another clown for my troupe…"
I pretend to be surprised.
"But we only just met, I can't run away with you!"
"You are awfully
flirty despite me seeing that cute mare by your side during the show then!"
"Its true, I have a lady to go home too. That's why I can't stay in your troop. I'm so sorry Madam Mabel."
"Forgive me, this once?"
"Such a shame… now I can never show you the trick where I can swallow an entire sword…"
She winks at you.
"But you are forgiven!"
What a girl this Jenny is.
"Then, is there anything I could do for you here, that would convince you to part with that pretty cat?"
She chuckles, shaking your head.
"There was no way I was not going to let you have it in the first place. Mother Nature was very insistent. That is why I came here in the first place."
"Yes, she can be a bit persistent." Smile at her, letting her touch around my head as she pleases.
"Not without good reason. I do need them to save the world after all."
She walks to the state, waking the phoenix just enough so that it can change to perch on her back instead, picking up the cat and bringing it to you.
"I'll be there when the world needs saving too, if it should come to that."
"Better you than some sheltered kid.." I comment mysteriously as I look at the statue, is the kitty awake?
It seems so, yes!
That does mean she is, at least partially, a priestess of Nature herself, if she could do that!
She raises a brow at your comment, but doesn't pry.
"I don't intend to fail at this point."
Put the cat in the bag, and then compose myself instantly, back to that calm smile.
"Thanks for the special visit, it made a lot of ponies here really happy."
"I am sure.
Now go find your special somepony before she gets worried. I made sure one of my best entertainers got her attention, but I don't know how long that can last. Don't worry, I have a feeling we will meet again."
"Until then." and try a 'vanishing' flip to get outside the tent just to show off. '1d10+1' agile poneRoll #1 7 + 1 = 8
You should rest your wound, but you can't resist to put on some flair for the showdonkey, making a dramatic exit!
You're out now!
Now it's just time to find Lockbox again!
Yea, can't let her walk home alone!
You see her soon enough, giggling at a large stallion in a clown suit, silently juggling!
Her eyes light up when she sees you.
"Oh, there you are! Where have you been?"
"I got lost in the crowd, sorry dear." Kiss her cheek.
She raises a brow.
"Why not fly then? You have wings."
Maybe it was a mistake teaching her how to be a detective!
"I didn't think of that." I say embarrassed, rubbing the back of my head. "Want to go home?"
She nods happily, wrapping her tail around yours!
I'm gonna take my mare home. In a sweet slow walk, tail in tail.
You go home with Lockbox, the mare leaning on your shoulder as you walk.
You spend a lovely evening together with her before you both return to bed.
It is in the middle of the night when you stir.
She is still fast asleep next to you.
I silently sigh, reluctant to leave bed, but smoothly slide out careful not to wake her.
I suppose I need my daggers, but that armor.. no, I don't know who's side this guy is on, better not to risk upsetting him.
You grab your blades and head out.
The night is dark, the light of the moon and stars pale in the sky.
You see a butterfly fluttering nearby.
Well, I can't ignore that! go up to the butterfly.
It flutters up ahead of you, always out of reach.
It eventually leads you outside of the city.
Near the burnt out barn where Lockbox fought those bandits.
The grass nearby is dead, and you hear no crickets nearby.
Or no animal sounds for that matter, the silence is almost uncanny.
The butterlfy perches on your snout, as if insisting you do not go any closer.
You see the shape of a unicorn sitting on a burnt out log, smoking a pipe.
I offer a hoof to the butterfly, looking at it with concern, as if to ask if there is something wrong with the pony there.
I speak to the stallion while not looking directly at him. "So, you're still here."
He looks up at you, still at a distance.
"Afraid of me?"
The butterfly cannot really speak!
There are ways to understand without words. Lean down to a grass blade for the butterfly to hop onto, so it can know I'm going on anyway.
"No, should I be?" I move with a smooth transition into hoovering, to quickly arrive at his side.
The butterfly tries to follow you as you go, but you see it turns to ashes as it does, the breeze blowing it away.
The stallion turns the pipe upside down and stomps out the cinders.
"You tell me."
I look incredibly sad when I see that. Thinking 'no, I wanted you to stay there little thing'.
To the unicorn, I shrug. "You just wanted to talk, right?"
It probably knew.
It wanted you to stay too.
"You could say that. I just wanted to know what you are doing. What you have already done."
Do I know this guy?
"What do you think I've done?" I ask with my head tilted in curiosity.
You see his horn glow, pulling his saddlebag aside.
He…. he doesn't have a cutie mark!
"You took my destiny."
I turn to show him my cutie mark. "I have two masks, you want one?"
He lets out a chuckle.
"I did hear you were a funny guy. I couldn't believe it when I heard it would be you
instead of me. What a joke, that was."
"Hmm, someone promised you something?" I frown "Are you from a temple?"
"I used to be. I'm from nowhere now. I don't have a home now, or a name. I have nothing."
"But I used to have a purpose once."
"How did you lose your name?" I look very concerned.
"Mother Nature took it from me. She disowned me, cursed me. I'm nothing but a craven now."
I shake my head in disbelief.
"We mortals, we get ideas about who we are, who our children are, who is supposed to do what.." I look at him with a serious expression. "And sometimes we get it wrong. Horribly wrong."
"I know what I was supposed to do. Everypony told me that was what I was supposed to do. Mother Nature herself fooled me into believing it!"
He raises his voice with each sentence, but calms down and exhales.
"Maybe I was wrong. Or maybe everypony else was wrong. It doesn't matter anymore."
Let him get angry, I just stay calm.
"I'm from a little town, in the woods. My dad is a farmer. The land is being choked, barely able to grow anything. I was called to the temple one day. That day, I asked her, if there was anything I could do to help."
"That day, she told me what to do, and that if I fail, I will be denied the green fields after my life ends." Look distant, remembering the boat and hell. "It was a horrible thought then, and now I've seen the alternatives, Its too late for me to quit."
He shakes his head, giving you a pitiful look.
"Do you really believe you were the first?"
"I used to." I pause with a frown. "Then I met a little brother I never knew, a mother who abandoned me. Because she thought, she was sure, that it was my brother who nature needed. She sought to shelter him from danger." I look slightly angry myself. "I now only hope to be the last."
He takes his saddlebag off, throwing it at your hooves.
"I think you will be. These should help."
Look inside the bag.
It's… it's three of the statues!
You must be very close now, with these!
In fact, you're sure there are only one or two missing now, not any more!
I nod with a small smile.
"Thanks, its not easy to do this alone."
"Perhaps I'll see you again, maybe at the time these are used?"
"I told you. I don't have a home anymore.
I doubt she would want to see me there. Not after what I did."
Now I'm curious. "What did you do? Come on, don't make me guess."
He hangs his head, as if he was embarassed.
"I made her jealous. I put a mortal mare before her."
You see him take a deep breath, wiping his face with a hoof, looking back up at you.
"And I would do it again."
I chuckle. "I can understand, its only natural to want a mare to come home too."
"That was all I ever wanted. I followed her every teaching, all my life… but…
I just couldn't. When she… I had to."
"The mare, she made you choose?" I guess now.
He stares in front of himself.
"She died. So… I brought her back."
I frown. Thinking of the ponies that have died around me.
"Oh, that.. yea, that would make Her upset with you."
He sighs again, shaking his head.
"It doesn't matter anymore. Just try and stay alive long enough to finish this."
"I've been told that twice in the same day." I chuckle. "If I die again I'm going to need to apply for a frequent visitor pass."
"You need to-"
He is interrupted by the sound of a church bell ringing, then another, then another, from Ponyville.
This is not for telling midnight, you're pretty sure!
The town is in trouble.
He stands up.
"You need to not get involved in whatever that is."
I frown realizing that those alarms are heard all over town.
"Okay, then get involved in my place. I'm trusting you." Pat his back, encouraging him.
"Why would I risk dying for a town I do not care for and one that does not care for me? You got your statues. Now do the smart thing and stay out of it or throw your life away for something that doesn't matter."
He shakes your hoof off, standing up.
"Because. I'm a hero."
Look disappointed. "I thought you wanted to be one too."
Before he can answer, fly off into the sky to see my guard mare.
You fly around, and you see that the town is in a bit of chaos, ponies running around, you even see a few fires that have been started!
Thankfully, you spot her, in her full armor, with two other guards, a mare and a stallion!
"Lockbox!" I land nearby her, seeing she's on duty I will speak to all of them, so as not to insult her. "Guards, I see a lot of fire, what's happening out here?"
"Kelani! Where were you, I was worried sick?"
You see the other mare smirk.
"So, he's the one huh? He really is a looker."
The male guard coughs.
The other mare shakes her head.
"Sorry. We got tipped off that some evil ponies are hiding out in Ghastly Gorge, planning to attack Ponyville. The Chief and most of the guards went to find and eliminate them."
"But it seems some of them have slipped past, started making fires and attacking random houses for no apparent reason, and only six guards are left in the entire town!"
"Any weather ponies or pegasi on call? We could put the fires out." I suggest trying to be helpful.
"Good call! Do that! If you see any of the bad ponies, you could also tell us where they are!"
"Good idea, but I'll really need a few pegasi to put out fires AND scout. Who should I be asking?" I look around as if a pegasus might be around the corner.
You only see ponies who are running around in a panic, trying to find relatives or friends to make sure they are safe.
"Look at the-"
The stallion speaks up.
"Wait, I think I see Moonspark, come on!"
He starts to canter towards the main square, motioning all three of you to follow, which the guard mares do!
I'm going to let her do her job, and start doing my part. Gather up some thick, heavy, full, clouds.
'1d10+1'Roll #1 1 + 1 = 2
You start to fly up, but pretty much crash back onto the ground as your wings lock up from fright… or just the fresh wound of being shot just a day or so ago. No matter which, you can't risk trying to fly now…
From the height you were, you saw that indeed, they saw another guard.
But beside that guard, it was Mirage and the Demonologist mare! You have to warn Lockbox before it's too late!
If I can't trust her to handle dangerous situations I shouldn't let her be a guard!
I'll go there in as much stealth as I can to get behind Mirage. I know ponyville better than her by now. '1d10'Roll #1 1 = 1
You do, that much is true.
But you did overlook one thing… she is a Witch, and you never truly saw just what exactly that entails, and just how much she is capable of.
You try to hide in an alley, behind a wooden box, and hear that Lockbox is questioning the nervous looking guard stallion about where the rest of his squad is.
You see the ears of Lockbox flick.
"That pegasus is here too. I have no time for this."
The nervous looking guard siding with them looks at the demonologist.
"Are we really doing this? Here and now?"
"Moonspark, what is going on? Who are these people."
You see Mirage narrow her eyes, and manage to jump out from your cover, to warn Lockbox… A second later you feel searing pain from no apparent source all over your skin, as if you are being stabbed by a thousand tiny needles, giving the BFF unicorn guard of Lockbox enough time to shield the three of them at least.
The Witch sneers.
"I want you to handle this, kill them all."
Mirage turns around, and starts slowly walking away as the guards draw their weapons, the demonologist mare smirking.
"You aren't too hurt, are you, little pega-"
She has to back off as Lockbox stabs the air in front of her with her spear.
"Stay away from him!"
No. I have to get up. To get behind the shield at least.
'1d10'Roll #1 3 = 3
You manage to drag yourself to the hooves of Lockbox, who stands over you protectively.
"Don't worry, I won't lay a hoof on him. I know for a fact he laid his hooves on me plenty that one sweet night we had together."
You see the eyes of Lockbox widen, but then narrow with a grimace.
"What, he never told you? That he worked with terrorists? How do you think he got that magic bauble for you? He was the one who blew up the house! He managed a pony to kill dozens of others for us in Los Pegasus! Not to mention all the fucking around… Innocent little Kelani, and I thought you were the smart detective mare!"
She lets out a cruel laugh.
You see tears starting to well in the eyes of Lockbox, and you can see her hooves are shaking.
"You can always ask him if you don't believe me. Unless he just lies to you again."
It hurts too much to move, or speak, as this witch tears my life apart. I just lay here under my mare.
Trying to capitalize on the distraction, the traitrous guard tries to attack Lockbox, knocking her spear out of her hooves!
She rears up, kicking, shattering the spear of Moonspark, catching the tip in her mouth and spinning around, the sheer force and momentum driving it right through his armor and into his chest, making him wheeze for air from a punctured lung.
Despite both of them having been guards in the same unit, maybe even friends, Lockbox doesn't hesitate to draw her sword and swipe at his throat, putting him out of his misery.
Lockbox sneers through the sword in her mouth.
"Get out of here, Kelani."
Her spear is right in front of you, and you can feel your limbs again… while Mirage has gone away, the demonologist mare is turning into… you've seen this before when she was practicing against the witch, she is turning herself to be a demon! Not even three guards are going to be enough!
"Lockbox, she's a demonologist. You need holy weapons to beat her." I insist.
"You stay out of this, Kelani!" Lockbox sneers at you.
Her marefriend responds, her unicorn horn glowing.
"I'm not a cleric to bless anything, but this magic should do the trick! Not as effective but similar!"
You see a faint white glow surround the weapons of the guards and your own!
Meanwhile, the demon-mare… or demon thing, more like, is the size of two carts stacked up on top of each other!
With a frighteningly fast motion compared to her size, she waves her 'hooves' around and a small orb materializes, a demongate!
It will start spewing out small imps!
By themselves they are not too much of a threat, but if those little nasty demons are in a pack they can tear anyone apart.
The guards jump at the large demon without fear or hesitation! What will you do? Help the mares fight or ambush the little imps as they get through the gate to buy those two time?Handling the imps does not require a roll, as long as their numbers remain low
I will try to close the gate up instead, attack the orb. '1d10'Roll #1 8 = 8
You don't really know how to close a demon gate, you don't know the first thing about magic, let alone demon magic! However, as you dive and stab through it, your material form passing through it (making you feel sick from the connection to Tartarus though) you realize something for now…
Quickly grabbing the broken spears from the ground, you erect a barrier of spikes around the orb in four directions, so the emerging demons will be impaled and block the way from other ones until their body withers… which is fast, but it will buy you time!
In the meantime you see the two mares, who have know each other since they were fillies, are as if they can read the minds of each other, circle the large demon like a pack of hounds, attacking from angles it cannot defend!
With an enraged roar, the flesh of the monster rips apart at the back, a spiked, mace-like tail emerging from it… well, that tactic of theirs won't last anymore now that it is defended from the back.
I need to help them, keep the tail busy.
'1d10'Roll #1 10 = 10
You do what you do best - be an annoying but effective distraction. By darting around above and behind the demon, she focuses on you enough that the two mares manage to stab their magical weapons into the front of the beast, making it let out a piercing wail as black tar oozes from the wound…
That hit the mare inside, not just the 'shell'!
I-it can't be helped, well maybe..
"Give up and maybe we can save your life." I urge her while dancing around behind her tail.
'1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
To that, the only response is a laugh…
Your sentimentality gets the better of you and the demon does too, the spiky tail slapping you in the side, puncturing a few bloody wounds in your side!
It's not too bad, and you won't bleed out, but it hurts like hell!
"Right, you won't listen while you're in there, time to pry you out." '1d10' I try attacking the demony parts of her legs.Roll #1 2 = 2
Doing such a bold manevuer right after getting hit seems like it's not the best idea you could have ever imagined, and you see the sharp claws at the end of the leg coming straight for your neck…
You feel a strong impact as you are shoved out of the way, the sound of rending metal screeching in your ears.
When you look up you see Lockbox land on all fours in a wide stance, her legs wavering.
You see tears flow from her eyes and blood seeping from under her mangled armor.
"I told you to get out of here…"
She manages to squeeze out before biting down on the sword harder, to keep it from trembling and to bite the pain back.
The barricade around the imp gate is starting to waver too…but you're sure help must be on the way by now!
I can't be sure.
"I don't want to leave you with this." I tell her and try going for the head of the demon.
'1d10'Roll #1 1 = 1
You and her marefriend, seeing she is injured, try to step in.
Another quick swipe from the tail sends you flying, falling to your side behind Lockbox.
The unicorn, trying to interfere hastily, gets grabbed by the demon in those horrible claws, and you hear her scream as she is crushed then thrown at a nearby wall with a sickening snap…
Lockbox cries out in anguish, holding her wound, but even now, stepping over you protectively when she sees you are too weak to get up.
The large demon, oozing black blood from multiple wounds, closes in cautiously…
This doesn't look good.
You can pretty much only pray at this point.
A prayer might actually have been useful earlier, now that I think about it..
"may Nature remove this foul blight from her lands." I say as I close my eyes, too horrified to look.
You close your eyes and prepare for the worst.
You only hear the snarling of the demon, getting closer and closer.
Even with closed eyes you can feel the shift in light as it rears up to finish you two off.
Then you hear the most viscious, feminine roar you have ever heard in your life, making your every hair stand on end more than the screeching of the demon followed shortly after, accompanied by crunching and breaking sounds, then a large thud and sizzling…
Once it's all quiet, you dare open your eyes, seeing Lockbox, still standing, if barely, her sword embed deep to the hilt in the demon, striking the mare within right around the throat, the carcass slowly withering and burning away as the dead demonic energy leaves back to Tartarus.
You see your mare spit blood onto the ground, two of her teeth falling out with it, probably from the enourmous amount of power she must have used to deliver that strike, then she starts weakly hobbling over to her fallen friend.
Maybe that guy was right.. but at least I survived..
Let's stand up and stop any bleeding I have.
A few bandages are enough to do the trick, for now, but you probably shouldn't get hurt too much more around your side if you don't want it to get serious.
Go to lockbox, If its as bad as it looked then she might need someone..
She is kneeling beside her childhood friend.
From the looks of it… she is…
She is alive, you can see her breathe, but her back may be broke.
As you try to put a hoof on her shoulder she pulls it away, sneering at you.
She looks up at you with tearful eyes.
"…get out of here. Get out of my sight."
back away a bit shocked by her anger, but keep it together, a mare has a broken back here.
"I'll get help. " and go find some doctor pony. '1d10' luckRoll #1 3 = 3
You come across a young robed stallion, a priest of the Sun.
"Is everypony alright? My flock has been taking shelter in the Church when we heard the bells, but it has been quite for a bit, so I elected to come out and check if it safe."
At first I'm so relieved to see someone I put my hooves on his shoulders. "You're here to help? Do you have a doctor?"
He seems a bit taken aback.
"No, no… but I have healing magic! Somepony is hurt?"
"Yes, two mares are, its pretty bad." urge him to follow me.
He does so with a hurried canter, immedietaly rushing to their side when he spots them, pulling the robe back from his hooves as they light up!
nervously watch from a distance to see if the mare friend gets up.
She doesn't, but at least she seems like she is regaining conciousness!
"That's good.. keep working on her. I'm going to go.. sleep at the church." I groan and slowly trot myself that way, collecting anything important I might have had on me.
You have your saddlebags and whatnot on you right now as you get yourself towards the church, tired, beaten and exhausted, both mentally and physically.
You're not sure how much more your body can take.
I'll just find a soft blanket and sleep somewhere inside, figure out things in the morning.
When you enter it, it is completely empty. It seems that everypony who huddled in here has left, hurrying home or to loved ones and all the priests are probably out there, helping.
The clopping of your hooves echo eerily, as the statue of Celestia seems to stare you down as you find a blanket and a secluded corner to sleep in.
Not even I would do something wrong with that tall judging statue looking at me, this is a perfectly safe spot to sleep. rolling for dreams.
'1d10'Roll #1 10 = 10
You have a feeling that if it was anywhere else you slept, it would have been bad things and nightmares…
But under the watchful gaze of the Princess, nothing can invade your dreams. Not invade, perhaps, but visit.
After you feel rested enough, you have a dream that you're under the Moon and the stars next to a lake.
All is calm.
I wake up with a yawn and stretch, smiling at the lingering images of the moon, then slightly frowning as I realize that's probably a sore topic for the Princess.
Is there a window I can look outside with?
You're still in the dream, beside that calm lake!
You feel you're not alone here in this dream, either.
Oh, This is different, I heard some ponies can control their dreams.
Try finding a stone to skip on the water.
You find one easy enough, skipping it across the water, disturing the mirror-like surface of the lake with ripples for just a few moment.
As you stare down into it, you see the reflection of the stars… some of them are moving, like in a mane? It must be Nightmare Moon!
"Oh, I've seen you before. In my dreams." I tell the reflection in mild surprise, and turn around slowly.
You turn around and… she was taller, like Celetia before. A lot more ebony armor too.
Now she just wears a suble, small crown, looking at you with sadness in her features.
"I do not believe thy hast met me."
I blink slowly. "No, you're right. I've never actually met a Princess." I bow to her properly. "Would it be too far to say you look as beautiful as the night's sky?"
She smiles a bit, motioning for you to stand.
"Rise. Thy have nay a reason to bow before me."
Stand up then.
"As you wish." Admire her mane a moment before focusing again. "Since we haven't met, I'm called Kelani Rush. And.. this is my dream.. I think, it might be your dream thou.. I'm not very good at this yet."
"It is thine, I assureth."
"I am Princess Luna. I can only visit thee thanks to thee being in a place of our power."
She must mean her and Celestia
I get a look of realization about a few seconds after she says this.
"Then, you must not get to see many ponies, and you must have something important to say." And my ears perk up in attention.
"Correct. I must tell thee that you must rightet the wrong I hast commited. I gaveth a pony life eternal. He shan't rest until his duty is fulfilled."
I look really surprised, mostly because this sounds familiar.
"What duty did you give him?"
"To protect the world from an evil witch, one I fear might riseth soon."
"Who is this evil witch? If I stop her, would the immortality curse end?"
"The one called Aumetra of the four dark comets."
You've heard of those, from some fortune teller…
"And this pony, he's been training to stop the witch? Wh-" then rub my head a bit.
"Can you change the dream, to show me him and the witch, what you're asking me to do?"
"I can show thee as it happened, centuries past."
The dream swirls away, and you see the Whitetail Woods, your home, but in a ruined state!
You see large war machines, of both Equestrian and exotic makes, as well as a giant shield containing the battle!
You see creatures of pure magic, unlike nature or demons, entirely alien from your perception of what life is!
You see all races standing as one… and losing.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiboHWwr12M
The dream shifts to show you a few people…
You see it from the point of view of someone, curved blades, the same ones the Saddle Arabian Angel of Death has, fighting through the horde.
In one last desperate measure, you see them rush towards something in the middle.
You hear screams and the sound of glass shattering as the giant dome of the barrier explodes into a million pieces, revealing the four, large blue comets in the night sky in all their horror, leaking the magic that powers these alien beings that look uncanny, like thing you should know but always different.
The heroes make a desperate last push.
You see a unicorn raise a defensive shield over others as small meteors strike down, one of them crushing the life out of her as she cannot shield her friends and herself at the same time.
You see a buffalo fall to the blade-like appendage of a monster.
You see a diamond dog raising his tower shield against a being which explodes against him, the plasma melting through shield, armor and bone alike.Continued in the next post
You finally see the one with the curved blades close in on the 'evil witch', a mare younger than you, barely past her teens, with tears flowing down her cheeks, looking up at her assailant in fear.
"Why couldn't you just let me be?"
She cries out, weeping.
You see the hoof that holds the blade waver and hesitate.
You hear the witch yell and see blinding blue light from the comets.
You see two majestic Alicorns, flying in a spiral, perfect unison, the famed Elements of Harmony spinning around them, unleashing a torrent of rainbow coloured magic onto the witch.
You see her close her eyes, as if in a deep sleep, a shell of hard, impenetrable amber surrounding her like a casket to preserve her.
You see yourself from the perspective of Princess Luna now.
You look down on the Saddle Arabian. The one who employed the Angel. He… he is centuries old and hasn't aged a day. You see him crying. You hear Luna utter.
"Thine has bestowed a terrible danger on Equestria with your weakness and failure."
Her voice is stern, remorseless, without the kindess you heard in your dream.
You hear the stallion weep he could not bring himself to do it.
"I shall gift and curse thine with life eternal until thy can right this. Thy shall take not die, but thy shall neither take nor sire life until your duty is fulfilled."
The dream swirls away again, and you find yourself in front of the sad Princess of the Night.
"And this curse, wait the wording, doesn't that mean that he can't kill the witch?"
"He cannot be hurt, but nopony can hurt him either. That is why he employs his Angels."
"And why she uses those weapons.." I frown deeply.
"Its unbelievable the power that child.. that witch has. No wonder he thinks he needs so much power himself."
"All witches can control an aspect. Hers was ambient magic. The comets chose her, but she never meant to use it for ill. Alas, she was young and scared, and ponies were likewise scared of her and her powers."
"That's so sad.. ponies just changing into evil because of fear.. Can't something be done?"
"The Elements of Harmony could only imprison her for so long, and my sister cannot wield them again alone, as the comets close in."
Sigh and look into the lake. Imagining memories of the fight with angel in the garden.
"Angel is a better killer than me, even with help I couldn't come close to beating her. But, if the witch doesn't die, then the curse will go on, even if she truly didn't want to be a threat."
"I know thine Goddess of Nature wants thee to seal the witch for more centuries with the statues… but then the stallion I doomed will suffer longer."
"Wait, the black roots killing the land is caused by the witch too?!" I look at luna in surprise.
"The witch was taken to a crater. Upon that crater, where a meteor hit, a large tree of Life hast been planted."
So… it has been under there the entire time! Under your hometown! You didn't even know!
"It is not the witch causing it. It is the magic seal that holds her that is breaking, causing things to wither, as it has done to the Everfree."
So if that goes unchecked, the wild magic could turn the Whitetail Woods into another Everfree…
I rub my head in distress.
"So if we kept sealing the witch away, whitetail woods would survive, but another of your followers would be suffering for all eternity."
"And Mother Nature's tree of life would be ruined if we let the seal undo."
She nods solemnly.
"I am afraid so."
I give it a deep thought, imposing more of myself thinking in my dream-scape and shake my heads collectively, dismissing the dream copies. "Princess Luna.. I'm sorry, but the only way I could do this, not sealing the witch, is to betray my Goddess, allow her scared tree to die, monsters to move into my hometown and be doomed to never experience Her gardens in the afterlife."
She nods, still looking sad.
"I admire thine loyalty and alligance."
She turns around, looking away, hiding tears you suspect.
"Thee hasth slept for two suns and one moon. Alas, thine must awaketh, for a pony preys on your sacred relics. Just heed this advice…"
The lake goes muddy and dark, and her voice gets low.
"No matter how desperate thee might be, take heed of the pony with the many mirrors. It
is far more dangerous than any witch or foe."
"Thank you Princess." I tell her with a sadness in my voice too, telling a pretty girl no is the hardest thing.
"It has been captured in songs before even my time. Take care, Kelani. May your Goddess smile upon you and save your soul."
As the dream fades away, she disappears too, with a final word of warning.
You hear the sound of colts and fillies singing a jolly tone."His smile fair as spring, as towards him he draws you
His tongue sharp and silvery, as he implores you
Your wishes he grants, as he swears to adore you
Gold, silver, jewels - he lays riches before you
Dues need be repaid, and he will come for you
All to reclaim, no smile to console you
He'll snare you in bonds, eyes glowin' , afire
To gore and torment you, till the stars expire."
I never really thought about the dark meaning of that old rhyme..
I will try to remember this as I wake up.
You remember everything.
You also see it is still dark outside… has two days really passed? You must have been beyond exhausted.
Some priests have laid out water and food in front of you… but your saddlebags…
They are gone!
Time to steal back my stolen goods.
Let's start by listening for someone moving around '1d10'Roll #1 9 = 9
You see a buttefly, guiding you, then you hear the rustle of hooves…
You see a pony in a cloak, heading into the Everfree!
Nuhuh, I'm gonna tackle that pony to the ground.
'1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
You're far too behind to do so!
By the time you're close enough to do so, you are both deep in the Everfree…
He stops, though, turning around.
"I told you to stay out of it."
The butterfly turns to dust near the unicorn.
But… he helped you! He gave you statues before!
"And I told you I couldn't be that much of a coward." I growl at him. "So now what? You're going to stop me from doing my task?"
The sound of the dark forest at night surrounds you, creepily eerie, worse than if it was just the silence between you two.
"No. Now you are like me, a Vagrant. You have nothing. So if you could do it with nothing, what stops me? It was my
Destiny you stole from me!"
I huff angerily.
"You're such a moron, I'm only serving Mother Nature, if that's what you're really trying to do, you have no reason to steal from me."
"Do not worry, I will finish what you started… no, what I started."
You see his horn glow and something pricks your leg as it wraps around it!
"If Mother Nature truly believes you will be the one… surely the deadly toxin of that vine will not be fatal to you."
He starts backing into the shadows.
"I'll deliver these for you, don't worry."
You already feel your leg go numb and you feel dizzy…
"You just don't get it.. Its not about the glory."
'1d10' I need to try to remove the poison, sucking it out like a snake bite might help.Roll #1 4 = 4
By the time you tug it away, he is far too gone for you to catch. So is the toxin, you feel it in your chest…
You feel like fainting…
You wake up on the ground, weak…
This doesn't look good.
let him go, I know where he's headed.
instead I need to help myself, perhaps I know of something that can cure the poison the grows in the wild forest?
'1d10' foraging.Roll #1 1 = 1
You pass out again, unable to think straight…
You think you're hallucinating too… you see Lockbox in the distance.
What a sight to die with…
You are awoken by a hard slap across your cheek, proving she is not just a mirage.
"Come on, Kelani! Yes, Yes! Wake up! Listen to my voice!"
You feel yourself being hoisted up on her back.
You hear howls, not sure if it's true or just another hallucination.
"No, no no… Not timberwolves, come on, Kelani! Hang in there!"
"What… Lockbox?" I guess I wasn't that far from ponyville.
The Everfree is not that far.
"I'm here, love, just stay alive for me… don't you die on me now, not like this!"
You pass out again, only waking up to being thrown off of her back.
Your conciusness returns to you a bit later, and you see her fighting off two Timberwolves… your hallucinations make even the corrupted tree animals of the Everfree seem like demons with eyes on fire!
The next thing you feel is Lockbox gallopping, those creatures hot on her heels!
"The boomstick in my saddlebag…"
You're not sure what she means, everything is fuzzy and dark…
Words are hard to understand.
The demon hounds you fought in the snow of the north, they are gaining on you!
"KELANI, PLEASE! YOU NEED TO SHOOT THEM, NOW! I can't fight them all or outrun them, NOW!"
You're not sure if you are just imagining the distress in her voice, or the commanding tone…
But even with the toxin, you know you love her too much to let her get hurt because of you.+9 to your roll if you try to shoot the Timberwolves.
'1d10+9' If something is attacking Lockbox I have to stop it! Shoot the demon-dog creatures.Roll #1 6 + 9 = 15
You muster the energy to take it out of her saddle and raise it, pulling the trigger.
When you shoot them, they splinter into a hundred pieces of wood, your hallucination breaking, the other wolves in the pack peel off, not wanting to share this fate.
You wake up next to the force of the guard mare kicking in a door.
"What are y- Kelani?"
"He needs help! Quick! He is dying!"
That's… the voice of the nurse mare, Alice!
"On the bed, now!"
You pass out, waking on the bed.
You see Lockbox running around frantically.
"That syrenge and that bottle, NOW!"
All goes dark…
You come to your senses, for real this time.
Your head hurts, and the shutters of the windows are closed to keep it dark.
You see Lockbox next to your bed, on the ground, fast asleep.
The Nurse peeks over you.
"Hey. Welcome back to the land of the living, again. You can't get lucky and get away with these close calls, forever, you know. I told you to rest."
"taking a vacation is hard.. how long have I been asleep?"
"Half a day. Any other pony would have died from that toxin long before she got you here."
Wait… how is SHE here?
"Where is here anyway?" I rub my head groggily.
"Last thing I remember I was chasing a pony who stole all my stuff saying I would have to be homeless now."
"I don't know about that, but you're in Ponyville."
"Ah, alright. Then.. maybe its not too late if I use.." I feel for my saddle bags to see if the crystal is there and groan as I realize that I don't have my bags.
"Whatever it is you are worried about… I think you need to sort out things closer to home first."
She motions to Lockbox with her head.
"What did she tell you? Was she still mad?" I ask in a worried hush.
"I came here because I heard ponies got hurt and needed healing…"
She chuckles, shaking her head.
"Just like you, I cannot take doctor's orders for resting."
"She was one of them. She cried to me, so much… mentioned her name."
You see her grimace.
"I… I couldn't lie to her. I'm sorry. I told us that I've… met you."
You see the guard mare stir.
"I'll… give you two some space."
She turns to leave.
I nod and quietly nudge the earth pony beside me.
She raises her head, pulling away from your nudge.
She sits in silence for a while, looking deep into your eyes.
"You looked for me.. I thought.." I frown, looking sad with floppy ears.
She doesn't look away from you.
"When… when I heard all those horrible things, and when that nurse told me that… demon wasn't the only one…"
You see her face contort in anger.
"I thought I never wanted to see you again. I thought that you would be a stranger to me, that I could not forget that anger, and the bitterness, that I would look at you and feel nothing…"
Her ears droop too.
"But… that's not true. I… I look at you, and nothing has changed. I feel the same way I did in the morning…"
She exhales loudly.
"I know I'm pathetic."
"No.. I'm the horrible one, thinking only of myself and my urges." I sigh.
"I thought I knew how much you meant to me, to be able to come back to someone, but I didn't, until it was gone and I was sleeping on a cold stone floor alone."
"And… it was my dream to be a guard mare, and what you did to help me… to think that it was because you were there
. You helped me investigate something you did."
She takes another deep breath.
"None of the wounds that demon did to me hurt as much as… knowing all that now."
"They were manipulating me, the ones with the demon mare. Forcing me to get involved in their private war. I thought I could use them for what I needed, and get out clean, but they made it impossible." I huff angerily at the memories.
"Still… that doesn't change the fact that because of you, the the pony that has been my best friend since we were fillies almost died… and she might never go back to how she was before."
She stares you down.
"You do know that I will never forgive you, don't you?"
"I.. I really want to comfort you through this. To be here for you. Have you seen her since that night?" Then stop. "but you probably don't want me too."
"I will not forgive you, but I can… try to forget. And you have to know that I will never, ever trust you again, like I used to. Just…"
She sighs again.
"I can't stop you from doing… whatever you always do when you are not with me. But please, just spare me the pain of knowing what it is. Just… let me pretend I'm the only mare who matters to you."
"Lockbox I.. I don't want any other mares. I know that now." reach out to her with a hoof, trying to touch hers.
"I only want my one. My one that I would do anything for. My love."
She smiles a bit, and doesn't pull her hoof away.
"And I would do anything for my love…"
She pulls the hoof away, and gives a small smack on your head.
"But I'm still angry at you! I'll need some… time when I can be angry at you, until it burns out and I can miss you again."
I smile like a fool and rub the spot.
"Okay.. That's fair."
"Actually, I have to find a thief, the one who poisoned me in the woods."
add in, "Its a male thief."
"I told you, you can go out and do whatever it is you do, I don't care about it!"
"I remember." Try to get up and test how much pain I'm really in.
Your heart stings a bit, but that's not really anything medicine can fix.
Otherwise, you seem good!
"I know you're mad at me, but if you had to choose, between keeping everything the way it is, but passing a problem on to the next generation.. and destorying some things, but removing a problem forever, what would you do?" I pose the question to her.
She snarks at you in a witty way, something she must have learnt from you, to avoid the real quetion.
"I'M sure passing on to next generations has been on your mind a lot."
I flinch a bit, but inside I'm a little proud of her, she was so shy when we first met.
"Guess I'll find out when I get there. He has quite a head start on me, I better go.." but stay perfectly still, taking in the sight of the mare that rescued me again.
"Just… be more careful next time. Don't you dare die on me after all this!"
"I didn't come all this way to die at the end." I reply in confidence.
And off I trot.
Uh, where exactly am I?
Still in Ponyville, it seems like a doctors station.
The nurse is still outside, giving you a look of concern.
"Everything went alright back there?"
"Better than I expected. She didn't break up with me." I smile and rub my head.
"Oh, she said her friend was hurt really badly, do you know anything about it? Could there be a special medicine that she needs?"
She shakes her head.
"Hope, mostly. And determination. She can walk, but her back was really hurt. With some luck she'll be able to run again in a few weeks, but she won't be doing the Running of the Leaves anytime soon."
"Oh, I see. She might have to change her job too, poor mare.." I frown
"Let's hope her cutie mark will tell her what she has to do now. She's a strong and clever mare, she'll figure something out."
I nod, "Well.. I need to.." I squint a bit. "I need to get a few supplies before I go anywhere."
"Anything I can help with? You got my back before, I'll help you out too."
"Some food for a start, something to fend off wolves, and a new make up kit." Pout at the last one. "Hey, I know you use some fur liner."
She snorts back a laugh.
"Make up, huh? I'll make that my top priority."
She motions with her head.
"Let's go get some apples first, you must be starving."
"That sounds great." I follow the pretty nurse pony to the nearest apple cart then.
She buys you a few, and a few more for the road, before munching on one of them as she keep walking.
"What do you need to fend off wolves for? And why?"
"Because my girlfriend isn't the only female around that wants to kill me. There's a wolf girl that's got her fangs set on me too."
"A wolf girl, huh? What did you do to get her mad at you?"
"Its an issue of an artifact that she owns, and knows I need." I sigh with a shrug. "She said she'd kill me if I went near it. I should be ready in case she was serious."
"So uh… did you hit your head around that time? How did you talk with a wolf again? You couldn't speak to animals last time."
"Nono, I can't speak with just any animal, this one was special."
"I see… what if I just got you some sedatives? Knock her right out for a good nigth's sleep while you get away with the goods?"
"Hmm, that's not a bad idea."
"I'll get you some once we have everything else.
Knowing you… some healing potions as well."
She goes to a beauty shop.
"Oh, hey, they're open today! A lot of shops didn't open after the little incident, but beauty can never rest!"
She goes inside.
I follow her into the beauty shop without even a hint of shame.
You see rows after rows of beauty products, eyeliners, lipsticks, powders, everything a mare could ever need to be beautiful!
You see the nurse smirk at the handsome stallion at the counter, who seems to be wearing just a touch of makeup himself, but his mane and coat are absolutely ravishing.
He seems very elegant too!
"Surprised you're open, when you can barely get a hot meal out there today."
"My dear, after all the fright that night gave us I am sure a lot of my darling customers cried their mascara off. I cannot just stand idly by and not let them be as pretty as they deserve to be."
I will pick out dyes, powders, and lipstick too, that's always good for making you look a little different. and, that shampoo that removes dyes, and happens to make your feathers super soft too, but that's not the reason I get it, or that it smells like honey.
Yep, totally not because using that shampoo makes you feel fresh and pretty and makes you want to stare at a mirror, nope!
Once you picked your things out, the stallion starts adding them together, and putting them in a bag.
You see the nurse put a few items as well, something for eyelashes and a shampoo for mane and tail hairs to make them extra sparkly.
"What? I'm paying for all of this, so I'll throw some things in for myself too!"
"Nothing, I just think that color's a bit too dark for you."
"Doesn't it make my eyes stand out more?"
"Yes, yes, but it makes me ignore your cheeks." I point out, and rub my head.
"Yeah, but with the shampoo, my mane will be all sparkly! And I can just have it fall over my cheeks if I undo my bun!"
"Hmm, that's true." I nod along with her, like a good stallion should do. "You'll be very pretty."
"Already am, but it never hurts to improve! After all, I'll need to look for a new job, now that the ship has quite literally sailed on my last one."
She pays for the goods, and hands you over your part of the make-up.
"You needed weapons next, right?"
"Yes, that would be the last thing on the list."
"I'll give you the tranquilizers for the wolf, but you'll need something bigger too, for potential trouble causing ponies, huh?"
She walks out.
"Not sure who would sell us weapons at a time like this though."
"there was one zebra I used to go too, not sure where I'd find him at a time like this." I scratch my head a bit, trying to recall a secondary meeting place he might use.
You've got absolutely no idea if he would even stay in this town.
"Can't just mooch off the guards either, huh?"
Shrug "Well, if the guards and normal weapon shops aren't available to us.. there is a place I can check."
Off to the seedy pub.
She follows you inside, looking around.
"Well, I do really love the places you take me to, Kelani. Reminds me of that saloon down south where you got me into a bottle-fight."
There are fewer patrons than usual, but the ugly and scarred donkey with the plethora of earrings is at his usual corner seat.
"Hey, its where the most useful types show up!" I reply defensively, as I approach the corner table.
The donkey chuckles, followed by a cough.
"Well, well, well, if it inn't the talk of the town with… uh… whoever this mare is. Ne'er heard o' her."
She seems a bit insulted, but sits down anyway.
"that's because she's a fine upstanding citizen. Wait, you mean there's ponies talking about me?"
"A few ponies were 'round t'ear what that demon and witch broads were there t' say. Not much, but word spreads fast. Could have lied though, since you did rough them up. Only makes 'em talk more about you, what is true, what ain't."
groan at the idea of a rumour mill.
"Just what I needed when my mare is already mad at things she's heard."
"anyway, I'm not here about that, you don't deal in more than information do you? Like say a sword?"
"I don't… but 'ppen to know ponies wh' do."
"Hmm and perhaps you'd be willing to share that information for a small price.." I infer and look at my friend silently asking if she'd give a few coins, and then back to him "or a small trade, if I knew something you wanted to know about."
"Fer a moment, I thought you'd be offering 'er!"
"Eww, creep. I'll break things you didn't know you had if you try."
"Got fire in 'er… anyhow… tell me about them broads who attacked. Why'd they do it?"
"Oh, the witch? Hers is a tale of passion, she wants revenge on the saddlearabian pony."
"Oh, n' why would that be? What'd he do to 'er?"
I lean in close, to tell the secret. "He tricked her into murdering her own daughter." I add in "And undoing these magical seals he placed is a part of that. One of those was right here in ponyville."
"Ohyea? N' what will happen if she undoes all o' them?"
Shrug, "She never did say, I got the impression she'd summon some kind of demon, the witch did work with at least two demonologists."
He lets out a hearty chuckle.
"One o' them is dead now at least."
"Look for a big fella' working 't the shack near the train station. Ask fer railways spikes. Tell 'im it's fer the Midnight Canterlot Express, it'll be free fer ya that way."
"Owe you that much. Can't broker information in a ghost town, can I?"
He laughs again.
"Thanks, I'll see you again sometime." I chuckle a bit in reply to his laugh, and excuse ourselves.
The nurse follows along, whistling.
"I'm impressed. You really do know all kinds of ponies… er, people, don't you?"
"When they say I get around, they don't mean just in the bedroom." I smirk at her as we go toward the trainstation.
She shakes her head.
"And you got away with it too, unbelievable. You really are the champion of Nature, but I think she's in cahoots with the god of Luck or something!"
You see the shack near the train station, just down the road, and a large statured earth pony in front of it, shoveling coal into boxes.
"Naturally, how else did I end up friends with a pretty nurse?" I wink at her.
Then go up to that pony, and ask "Hey, are you Railway Spikes?"
"By getting injured all the time."
The stallion looks up from his work, sticking the shovel into the pile.
He retorts defensively.
Okay, so definitely him, I lean closer to him and try.
"Hmm, I'm Kelani and, Its for the Midnight Canterlot Express."
He takes a hankie out of the pocket of his work clothes, wiping his hoof, sizing you up…
Before turning around and walking to the shack.
Follow the large pony into the shack, unarmed, nothing could go wrong.
You see more boxes in here. He rears up to shove one of them, looking so heavy you don't even think you could nudge it, off another. He pries that open, and it's… a bunch of coal, but among it, you see the glistening of weapons.
"What exactly are you looking for?"
After all I've been through, I've learned I need something to block with!
"A sword and shield would be best for this."
No more mister double dagger guy!
He pulls out a sword, nothing fancy, but it will do the job!
He hoove sit over.
"Can't help with a shield, mate. Too much hassle to hide."
I recall using them to block with half the time anyway!
"Can't be helped I suppose." test the weight of it while I think, and eyeball the other weapons. "Yea, this will do."
It seems to suit you well.
No need to be as close and personal as a dagger but not a heavy and hard to handle claymore.
"Pleasure doin' business. Take good care of it."
"I'll try not to break it." I say as leave the shack, rather than bothering this poor weapon's dealer further.
Sword acquired! Where to next?
"So the last thing I need is a bit of medicine, then I can stop drawing disasters to you."
She nods, heading back to the nurse station.
By that time, Lockbox is gone.
The pony hums as she collects some healing potions and the tranquilizers.
"Just stick the pointy end into someone you want to go to sleep. It's not instant though, you'll need to give it a minute or two to work. Don't try to use more than one to speed it up, you'll just kill whoever you are trying to not kill."
"Only one dose per bad pony, got it." I reply affirmatively, and smile softly. "Thanks for your help."
"I'll add it to your medical bill."
"It must be a king's random by now." I chuckle back at her, and slowly start to go.
As you try to open the door… you realize it's locked from the outside. Or jammed.
You try to look out the window, but it slowly falls dark… the whole room is enveloped in a dark shroud.
"Uh… Kelani? What's happening?"
You can barely see her in the dark too.
"Um, I don't feel too well." Did I stab myself with the tranquilizer or something?
No, you didn't.
"Why did it get so da-Ack!"
Her words get caught in her throat, and you see her lifted in the air by the neck by the magic of someone!
She passes out unreasonably quick, probably due to the magic of whoever is doing this!
Her body drops to the ground! She is… alive at least, but you've got bigger problems!
draw my sword and try to attack the darkest shadow of the room !
You blindly swat at the shadows, until one of your strikes is stopped in the air, the sword twisted right out of your grasp by magic, cluttering to the ground.
From that same darkness steps out a grey pony, wearing a changeling mask… the mask you delivered in Los Pegasus.
This is the pony whose memories you saw. The stallion who single handedly slaughtered more than two dozen ponies, including the heavily armored Elite of the Emerald Mercenaries…
Needless to say, the way he locked you in, how dark he made it, the way he dispatched the only other pony in here and how effortlessly he disarmed you, no, you remember, how effortlessly he killed a small warband…or his very dark magic that courses through him and the room…
It's absolutely one of the most terrifying things you've ever experienced.
I take an angry stance, a growl under my voice. "Your revenge has shitty timing, I have important things to do just now."
He speaks, the mask distorting his voice to be lower than you heard it when you spoke in his office.
"You lead me back to this life. I did not choose to do this. Evil ponies always get to their targets by threatening to hurt their mares. It is cowardly. It is weak. But that's exactly what you did."
He takes a few intimidating steps closer, his magic yanking off your saddlebags with all your stuff and tossing it aside… crap, now you don't even have the tranquilizers!
Not like I could have used them in this situation. Actually laugh at the irony, not moving from this spot.
"You too huh, except you still insist on attacking the messenger. She's not here. And she recently tried to kill me, so I can't easily find out where she is."
"She wanted to know my powers. Know who I am. What my destiny is. See what I can do."
He takes another step closer.
"Think of the pony you love most in life. Wife. Mother. Children. How would it feel to let them know the pain of losing somepony they love, and life with that pain forever?"
He changeling mask stares you down.
"I was here. For her, not you."
Stare back at him.
"Your speech is quite lovely, poetically summing up part of what wandering in tartarus is like. Why are you here exactly?"
"I saw you fight her. I never spare enemies. But now you are the enemy of my enemy. I know I cannot get to her hideout without her. But you know where her portals lead. Tell me every location you know and I will do enough damage to lure her out again and finish this."
Raise an eyebrow at him, and relax a bit. "Sure, got a map?"
With a spark of magic, he conjures one out of seemingly thin air.
It is a map of Equestria, with a detailed map of the cities. You see several locations, some of which you didn't even know of, already crossed out.
With a feather point at the exact locations I know of, explaining "A whorehouse here, a warehouse there.." and the portals I never went to, just point out the city, and say "I didn't go there, but they have a portal to it."
He nods and folds it up.
"I did not know whether I would kill you or not. But I see what you are now. What you will be… but what you can be too."
The darkness grows thicker around the two of you.
"I wore the masks to save my wife. I ended up trading mine for hers. She recovered, but I was never the same, with all the blood on my hooves."
He reaches a hoof to his mask, pulling it off.
You see how red his eyes are. The bags under them. The wrinkles of stress and fatigue, not of age. Being worn out by pushing beyond his limits time and time again.
"I will not kill you, because you create and not destroy. But learn from my mistake. Don't just save others. Save yourself while there is still anything left to be saved."
He puts the mask back on, and the darkness engulfs you completely.
In a few moments, the shade is gone and light returns, but the stallion is gone.
The nurse wakes up, coughing.
I sigh, feeling stressed myself after that conversation. Then go to the nurse and help her up. "Hey, take it slow. "
She keeps coughing.
"What… what happened? I thought I was going to die…"
I make an annoyed face. "Someone wanted a private conversation with me, they don't kill innocent mares, so you were never in real danger."
"What? Who? Who does that
"An assassin of sorts. Not someone you want to meet, trust me."
"Oh right, you're friends with an assassin too… and just when you literally told me you're going to leave and take your bad-guy magnet with you! It's like you have a large bullseye that says 'Hey, I'm Kelani, come kick my ass and the ass of this nurse who's dumb enough to patch me up everytime too'!"
"I need a drink."
"I should have left quicker, sorry for that." I rub the back of my head and pick up my stuff again.
"I don't suppose I can make this
up to you?"
"Once this is all done with… you owe me a crate of the most expensive whiskey you can find."
"Deal." I smile at her, and leave for real this time.
Where to, exactly? The Vagrant probably took your statues to the Whitetail Woods… that means that aside from the one with the wolf, and he has all of them… wait, no you hid a few at Erdei, the pony who doesn't age in the forest! And Chell is still there too!
Actually, I am going to Erdei's house. I will need those statues to help me defeat my new rival.
Yep. Being cautious about ponies following me, by first heading to far west, and then hiding in a tree or cloud and waiting to see if someone keeps going that way.
'1d10'Roll #1 5 = 5
Not anypony you can see, at any rate.
Coast is clear.
Then off I fly, try staying really high, so anyone following me will have to fly up here too.
You see nothing but birds!
In around half a day, by late afternoon, you see his house in the distance!
Sigh, finally feeling a bit relaxed, and land by the door.
Knock using his knocker even. No need to go in like a thief.
After a short while, the beautiful gold mare that is Chell shows up.
As soon as she sees you, she jumps at you, giving you a hug!
"Kelani! You're back! You've been gone so long!"
I hug her back, a beautiful mare who's happy to see me, I can't help but grin.
"Its been, challenging." I admit.
"I've learnt so much since you were gone! This new body is highly unusual, very weak, but nonetheless exciting!"
"You seem happy Chell, and healthy too. I'm really glad." Trot inside while talking to her. "Tell me everything."
"First it was just Erdei, but then I found a distress call, and since then it's been the Doctor too!"
She tells you cheerfully.
"Doctor? The shaman lady with the snakes?"
She shakes her head.
"The zebra doctor who helped me wake up with you in the first place!"
"Whoa, how did he find you?"
"I found him! And rescued him! Erdei wasn't very happy I brought him here though…"
I nod, "Erdei likes his secrets. That's why its so safe here."
Pat her on the shoulders. "But look at you, you're already out there saving equines, and not even a month in your new body."
To the commotion, you see the zebra emerge as well.
Still wearing a labcoat, although it has caked blood, old scorch marks and dust on it now. His mane is singed too, and he's got a few new scars decorating his shoulder and neck.
"Ah, Kelani. Good, you made it. I was hoping you would. There was no telling what Mirage would have done after I blew her hiding place up."
I snicker. "Well, I was hoping you were fine, after she decided to start attacking villages in a rampage I was worried."
"So I sped up her actions instead of slowing down… I should not have counted on her being a rational creature."
You see Chell get up to him and hug him.
"Do not worry doctor, your heart was in the right place!"
"Seems like everything is advancing quicker than I'd like." I take a seat nearby, smiling at the cuteness of Chell.
"I actually can't stay because of that." Then scrunch. "Well, maybe I could, but that wouldn't be right."
Chell's ears and almost entire body droops, even her mane.
"Aww, not even until Erdei is back with dinner?"
"Where are you heading next?" The zebra asks.
"Okay, I can stay that long." I give in to her pretty face.
"Maybe until morning even, it is a bit of a flight back whiterun."
She smiles and lets out a cute 'Yay!'.
The zebra sits down at the table, inviting you to do so too.
"Whatever it is you are planning, you haven't got much time. I can already see the faint trails of the comets in the night sky. There is only two, maybe even only one seal left."
"That seal is surely the one under my hometown. If I don't go, it will surely be destroyed by insane ponies."
Shake my head and look at Chell. "going there and fixing that seal, is the only thing asked of me by Her. I should go." And almost don't sit down but rub my forehead in frustration. "going in unprepared wouldn't help. I need the remaining statues."
"You left some here, I remember! They are pretty!"
The zebra nods at the mare then you.
"If that is truly their goal, and yours too… she'll bring out everything she has left. You will need all the help you can get."
My eyes widen
"Wait, didn't you just escape an explosion? You can't be serious."
"It was almost a week ago, I'll be fine. But I didn't mean just me. Or Chell for that matter."
He picks up one of the knives on the table, set out for the dinner… then throws it at Chell out of the blue!
Amazingly, her… reflexes are just as fast as she was machine.
She just leans aside in a fast motion, catching the blade mid-air with a hoof and spinning it back around, wielding it at the ready, with a smile to boot!
"I meant… well, whatever you can get. Send the word out."
I just shake my head.
"If that's what we're going to do, let's call in the ras and the emeralds and, shucks, I could even invite my mother." I laugh a little.
"Ooh, I'd love to meet her! Is she like you too?"
"Got any way to send a message to so many ponies at once?"
"…actually I might, but I need to feel some strong emotions before I say the intended message.." And then think. "What should that message be even, something simple like 'come to whiterun' ?"
"Inneffective communication, Kelani."
Chimes in Chell, before continuing, as she places the knife down back to the table.
"You need to specify the time, place and the reason, and put ample stress on the urgency and importance of it."
"Right. Well, the way this should work, is just sending my memory of the message to them. That's what he sends me, memories."
"Does Erdei have a map close by?"
"How will you contact him again? By feelings? That's… unreliable."
The doctor snorts.
To your question, Chell shakes her head.
"He does not need a map, this forest is all he ever needs, and he knows it like his hoof."
"Actually its incredibly accurate, I'm surprised you haven't heard about him." I comment to the doctor. "The empath?"
He just shrugs.
"Never even heard of such magic before. Only in rumours. Didn't think they'd actually work."
Shrug. "its the only way I can think of to tell a bunch of ponies something so quickly, I can't exactly fly all over equestria in time."
"And how do you expect to garner great emotion?"
"Well, the strongest emotions are… rage, joy, sorrow, love.. So we just have to force one of these?"
Chell shakes her head.
"You cannot force emotions!"
The doctor nods.
"It would have to be quite the feat."
"You think not?" I grumble and rub my head. "It would take time to go see him in person."
"Maybe I just need to eat and then I can think of a better plan." I reply and lean back as if exhausted.