It is a sunny afternoon in the small backwoods farm town of Ponyville, an average carefree day as you all walk down the main boulevard from the inn, having all stayed there the same night by happenstance and now continuing along your respective journeys.
However, amid your stroll towards the edge of town, something turns out to be amiss. You hear countless screams coming from all directions, ponies fleeing, and the sounds of infrastructure being destroyed along with ominous growling noises. Soon, you see the source of the disturbance as a massive, thick vine grows out of the ground, wrapping itself around several businesses and squeezing tight while more branches grow off the side to cover the building.
Ponies are fleeing from what appears to be an onslaught of plants and vegetation that are growing at a staggering pace over the borders of the town. And with them, various creatures you know to be locale to the infamous 'Everfree Forest' such as owlbears and manticores are casually strolling through town, terrifying and threatening every pony they see as they claim their territory.
You hear a particularly LOUD bang and bright lights of magic coming from a nearby clearing, and the shouts of several ponies calling out for immediate assistance
Lumberjack gets up from his seated position taking up the entire sandbox of the nearby park. watching in dismay as the fillies and colts he was making sandcastles with start to run screaming to their parents.
"Why you run, friends…?
" He says, turning his head towards the large bang, "Oooh, fireworks!
He makes his way towards where the pretty colors are coming from, wanting to see them up close.
Sirocco blinks a few times at the massive vine bursting forth from the earth. Surely, all this screaming and vegetation can't be normal. Her musings are scattered at the sight of the creatures, and more importantly, at the sight of the flashing, and the sound of calls for help. Her wings are quick to propel her into the air, and towards the disturbance.
"Pippali, quick! This waaaaaay!" She calls back, towards her friend, as she dashes onwards.
"Tresspassers!" Solar shouts angrily, noticing the incoming invaders from the Everfree Forest.
"You there! Shoo, shoo, this is a manticore free zone!" she demands before hearing the shouts.
"A call for help? That sounds like a job for misplaced heroics. Don't worry citizens, I'm coming with ill-advised intentions!"
Talon finds himself startled by the hostile fauna coming from the Everfree forest and its inhabitants. He finds himself survailing the area for the possible cause for a moment.>>716668
I see the minotaur heading to the origin of the lights, growing curious and readying for a possible confrontation to fight with the minotaur. Talon follows him.
Survival: spot check rolls +3. Can create and forage for basic supplies like rope, bandages, tents, torches and low-quality meals. Can see far into the distance and can see if dim or night light.
[1d10+3]Roll #1 1 + 3 = 4
Pippali looks up from a stall of fruit, blinking a couple of times at the call and the ensuing display of angered plants and animals.
"Yeah, coming! Don't wait up, I'll catch up pretty quick!" he shouts, running after the pegasus.
As you shout at the manticore to shoo, the lion-scorpion turns towards you, opening up its jaws to give a small growl of discontent, before jumping up to the top of the nearest building, curling itself up in for a nap.>>716671
You look around for any sort of sign for useful supplies to take with you on a journey, and to be sure there are quite a few around you in the resourceful little suburb. However, the majority of it is either being over-grown by plants moving at an astonishing pace, or being safeguarded by Everfree fauna.>>716669
Leaping up into the air, your altitude lets you see the problem is all over town, plants being an even worse problem than the animals (for now) as already over a quarter of the town is being overrun with grass, flowers, trees, and vines.>>716668>>716670>>716671>>716672>>716669
You all run towards the source of the commotion, wherein you see six ponies (and one baby dragon) currently wrapped up in a multitude of vines and branches and stems, keeping them all immobile and rooted to the ground as they all try to call out for aide, biting and kicking and magic-ing against the growth subduing them but to no avail.
An alicorn in the center, the immediately recognizable Princess Twilight Sparkle (a local celebrity) is shooting magic at a vine that threatens to cover her horn, before she turns to look at you all heading into the clearing.
"H-hey! All of you! Please, come over here, we've got a major emergency on our hand!" She shouts between her struggles to fight off the vines. "These plants, they just suddenly started growing out of the Everfree Forest! They're not just rampant here, they're growing all over the Everfree's borders! J-just read that note, right there!"
As she shouts, you all see a note on the ground, which if you take turns reading states:>Twilight - >We have received reports of this from every town that shares a border with the Everfree Forest. Vines and huge trees have now sprouted up to overtake everything in thier path. The vines are, as I write, making thier way up the mountains to Canterlot. Luna and I are both headed to help, but not to Ponyville. >Twilight, you MUST go into the Everfree Forest. Find the Heart of the Forest and ask for his help. We have to hope he knows what to do. >Stay safe- >Princess Celestia >CC: Luna, Kibitz
"I'm.. I'm sorry, but I don't think me and my friends are going to be getting out of these any time soon, and there's no time to waste! Please, I know this is a lot to ask, but will you all go in our stead to find the Heart of the Forest?!"
Talon stares down at the note, scrunching his face as he looks down at the lettering he can't decipher, and a bit irritated that the purple pony didn't extrapolate on its contents.>>716668
Talon tugs on the minotaurs arm and asks him. "What does it say?"
Unable to read, Lumberjack listens to the little alicorn, "Miss Princess? Is that all the way in there?
" Lumberjack points with the tree in his off hand, "All the way in the dark?
" The large minotaur looks nervous, even though he nearly breaches the treeline.
Pippali skids to a stop and looks in the direction of the wrapped-up ponies. He frowns a bit and hastily trots over, scanning the note over and humming softly.
"I'd be honored to help- are you sure you don't want help getting untangled first?">>716675>>716676
"It says someone needs to go find the Heart of the Forest and get his help."
The minotaur turns to Soft Talon, smiling widely, "Birdy!
". He pats the griffon affectionately, though the weight of his hand could easily crush if he wasn't being careful.
"Insurrection!" she cries to the manticore, waving her fist as she runs.
"Book-Princess, you've been captured by these capricious celeastrus!" she observes, before being told the mission.
"You want me to find the Heart of the…heart of the…"
Solar looks confused, before looking down to her necklace, a little shard of crystal that briefly crackles with rainbow-colored electricity like a malfunctioning machine.
"I can find your heart, easy peasy.">>716675>>716676
"Don't be afraid illiterate inferiors, I can guide us to the heart of the forest, or my name is Serena Spectacular!"
"And its not."
The pegasus casts a glace at everyone currently tied up, and gives them a sad grimace. "A-Are ya sure you want us to leave? If you think you'll be okay, I'd be fine with helping out."
She listens to the explanation of the note, nodding along as it's read. "Heart, huh? Sounds like fun."
Talon feels a bit shaken by the weight of the hand from the minotaur patting, unable to reach above and pat the minotaurs head back. He resorts to patting the minotaurs leg instead. "Pleased to meet you too." He says with a smile.>>716680
With the short introduction done with the minotaur, Talon reaches over and pats the Crystal pony in aknowledgement to him speaking.
Lumberjack turns his head, "If I shine my flashlight in you, do you glow?
" He starts searching through his undersized backpack.
"I can glow without flashlights. Sometimes I think its burning me hollow every time I do." she says chipperly.>>716681
"What in the name of forgotton divinities do you think you're doing?" she demands.
>Solar is a girl
"I believe he is trying to… pet you. Er, as a quick introduction, I am Sirocco, currently traveling the world to learn as much as possible. Pippali here is my sweetheart, and we've been traveling together for quite a bit. Speaking of which, we should get a move on!"
Twilight looks up at the large, imposing minotaur, nodding her head, "Yes, I don't know exactly where but it's definitely deep in the forest… but hey, look at yourself! I'll bet you're the biggest thing you'll find in that forest.">>716677>>716680>>716675
Twilight shakes her head, "No, that's alright! We'll be able to free ourselves eventually and time spent helping us is time you could spend fixing the root of the problem, so to speak. We'll take care of Ponyville after we get free if you can put a stop to all of this at its source.">>716679
"Yes, we have…" she says with a little blush to her face. "They were chasing our friend and then they totally caught us off-guard. I've never seen plants this aggressive before."
Twilight nods her head towards Solar, "That's fantastic! Just, right over that way: I'm sorry I can't offer more accurate directions, I don't even know where this 'Heart' will be, but if you just head deep into the Everfree I know you'll find the answer."
She points to the edge of the forest, wherein you see your first obstacle: a thick barrier of brambles and thorns and tree-trunks blocking access to the dark, dimly lit woods beyond.
"I am patting a pony, my mother told me other creatures appreciate affection. Especially ponies when you are meeting them." Talon stands tall speaking of his family with pride about why he touched the pony.
"Solar Eclipse, its good to meet you to citizen, and romantically engaged in other citizen." she says shaking Sirocco's hoof.>>716686>>716684
"I see, showing affection for somepony you just met and know nothing about, how clever. Proceed.">>716685
"I will find the heart, you can count on me or my name isn't Patricia Ponyhammer. And its not!"
She says heading over to the forest.
"We'll do our best. Hopefully we can find the Heart of the Forest and get to the root of this problem before too many more ponies get tangled up.">>716683
"And I'm Pippali. I hope you don't mind us tagging along, Miss Serena."
Talon continues the petting of the crystal pony before him.
Lumberjack claps his hands together, "Oh! Can you do the glowing in the forest? The dark is scary.
Lumberjack crosses his arms, "A lot of small things are scary. I'm allergic to hamsters.
" Nonetheless, he follows the others to the large amount of brambles ahead of them. Giving one of the trees a push, Lumberjack sees if he can't make a bridge for his little friends.
[1d10] Overconfidence: instant, recharge 3; next roll is a critical, success or fail.
[1d10] brute strengthRoll #1 4 = 4
/ Roll #2 4 = 4
"Just inside the forest? Judging by the name, I'd be it's real deep inside, probably around the center!"
Sirocco flutters her wings as she twirls to look at the wall of brambles and other vegetation. "We might need to cut our way through. Whoever's got something to help with that should probably lead the way. Like me!" She says, patting her chest.>>716687
"Citizen? Oh, I assume you're… actually, what are you?" She asks, cocking her head at the thought. Also, if her name isn't Patricia, wouldn't that mean that they can't trust her, going by that saying? Strange.
Oh, and seeing the minotaur take the lead, Siro will follow behind, changing her unarmed weapon type to an axe, before trying to (literally) chop her way through the foliage.
[1d10] chop chopRoll #1 8 = 8
"Please, Miss Serena is my father. Just Solar is fine.">>716689
Solar's eyes twitch slightly as she's scratched behind them, giving a light blush.>>716690
"Only when the monsters show up. Like those trespassers.">>716691
"What am? Explain that question."
Talon looks around, thinking that he doesn't have anything to cut down the obstacle in his path. Maybe there is a possible path around this. He thinks to himself in his search.
Survival: spot check rolls +3. Can create and forage for basic supplies like rope, bandages, tents, torches and low-quality meals. Can see far into the distance and can see if dim or night light.
[1d10+3] SearchRoll #1 3 + 3 = 6
"Er, what do you do? If I'm a citizen, what are you? A soldier? Nobility?"
Ears* twitch, Soft isn't impaling her pupils.
"The golden fire burnt my skin, now I can't go home again. I'm no noble, but I'm all that's left of what was once the noblest."
"Also I can fight." she says, drawing attention to the pistols hanging at her hips and the large golden blade hanging on her back.
Pippali hums a little bit, and gives the Minotaur a reassuring pat. "We'll all be there together, big guy. Relax, yeah?">>716693
"Solar? Got it."
"Yes, please hurry before that happens! Right now the only things being destroyed are buildings, but it's only a matter of time before somepony gets seriously hurt between the growth and the creatures!">>716687>>716688>>716691>>716690>>716692>>716694
"The center would be where I would look first as well, but be careful in there! I shouldn't have to stay how dangerous the Everfree can be. Good luck to all of you, and come back the moment you have any idea what's going on!"
Lumberjack decides to lead the way forwards, grabbing onto a nearby tree and trying to push it down to create a bridge on top of the masse of brambles and thorns, one that works fairly well but many brambles start to grow over ON TOP of the newly downed tree, granting little time to cross. Sirrocco leads the way forwards with her newly formed axe, chopping through the brambles to grant enough time to cross the tree-bridge into the dark of the forest. Talon looks from above and sees another, much more clear path going forwards deeper into the dark woods, one that is free of any more thorny barriers as the group heads into the dark of the Everfree Forest (with Lumberjack's head scratching the bottom of the canopy all the way)
The group follows Talon's direction following entry into the Everfree, and as the group navigates the eery and foreboding trees, they hear a never-ending chorus of trees growing rapidly in the distance or the roar of some agitated beast. After a bit more time, the group finds several, ominous glowing eyes in the dark observing them. The eyes emit low-volume grumbles or snarls, that raise in volume as the glowing, hungry eyes grow in number around the group.
With such a low ceiling, Siro elects to just walk along the ground, next to Pippali. Her ears swivel from side to side at every little noise as they forge deeper into the woods. The eyes give her pause, but she keeps her calm, and her own, not-yellow eyes on the ones in the dark, ready to strike back at a moment's notice.
"Come now, you all should get going if you know what's best for you. I don't want to have to hand your pelts back to you."
Solar walks through the forest calmly.
Trying his best to not let the eyes get to him, the stallion presses on into the forest with the rest of the group. He lets out a soft hum, before shrugging a little bit and saying "Straight down the clear path, then? "
Despite being reassured by by the zebra, Lumberjack's teeth still audibly clatter in fear, holding out his flashlight and pointing it around him at the arguably smaller creatures. He whimpers, following the others.
"Unless we're ambushed."
Talon thinks about going after the wildlife staring at him for a second, before deciding against it after seeing his group not wanting to be involved with them. The infamous stories of the forest invade his mind as he walks.
"Don't be afraid my chromosomally challenged companion. Everything will be fine, I promise."
As you all attempt to walk past the set of glowing eyes watching you from the dark, the deep rumblings of their snarls intensify, and then, leaping from the shadows of the forest at once, you are all beset by a trio of beasts>A three-headed adolescent hydra, owner of three of the eye-pairs you saw, leaps onto the path with all three of his heads gnashing and biting, venom pouring from the fangs as they drip onto the ground below
[1d10] Poison, Head 1 attacks Solar
[1d10] Poison, Head 2 attacks Pippali
[1d10] Poison, Head 3 attacks Sirocco>A ten-foot Lumber Bear (basically the ursine equivalent to timberwolves) stomps its way from the brush, letting out a fierce roar as it jumps towards Soft Talon
[1d10+1] Great, Attacking Talon>A giant dire koala, horn-like bones growing forth from its head and shoulders as the monstrous, pony-eating marsupial leaps from one of the trees to land on top of the towering Lumberjack, trying to climb him like a towering tree while clawing and biting
[1d10] LumberjackRoll #1 6 = 6
/ Roll #2 4 = 4
/ Roll #3 8 = 8
/ Roll #4 10 + 1 = 11
/ Roll #5 7 = 7
/ Roll #6 9 = 9
Solar suddenly erupts in a brilliant aura of golden energy that rises from her body with burning intensity.
>"Da nananana na, nananana.">"I am number fun."
She thinks to herself as she draws her pistols and brings a hail of lead upon all targets.
[1d10+3] Empowered BlastRoll #1 8 + 3 = 11
Talon feeling endagered by the ambush and large rampaging lumber bear coming towards his direction. He attempts to dive away from the attack and take to the air above the monsters in the presence of the group.
[1d10] Dodge.Roll #1 2 = 2
Sirocco screams out as the hydra's jaws clamp around her, and after a bit of wrestling, she dislodges herself, leaving a pretty nasty bitemark in her side as a result. She angrily huffs, before taking to the air, and dashing directly into the hydra's body.
Flurry of Feathers: When taking off, you leave behind a swirling cloud of feathers, disorienting and distracting any enemies nearby, who take a penalty to their next action.
Racial Trait - Supersonic; once per combat, ranged, automatic; You dash in a massive burst of speed to ram into any target and deal damage. On a successful roll, the shockwave from your sonic boom renders all nearby foes helpless. More powerful foes are immune to this effect.
[1d10] supersonicRoll #1 8 = 8
"Well, I guess this is an ambush, then!" he shouts, jumping for the Hydra and smash it upside the head.>[1d10] Revolving Blade (Heavy Guantlet, Single Weapon)>Dynamic Duo: SiroccoRoll #1 6 = 6
Oh, and Dynamic Duo on Pippali, of course!
As you start to glow with a brilliant, vibrant golden light, one of the hydra heads manages to successfully bite your leg, venom seeping through your blood>5/4>>716712
The jaws successfully manage to leave their mark on you before you make your escape, and your legs feel a bit numb from the poison>5/4>>716709
You attempt to dodge the Lumber Bear's fierce wooden claws, but the thick pocket of trees renders your maneuvering options limited. The Lumber Bear, more used to this environment, grabs hold of you in his claws, injuring your wings>0/4>>716710
The dropbear grabs hold of your mid-section, his twin pairs of claws digging into your skin as he lets out a rabid, angry growl at you>0/4>>716713
You manage to avoid the hydra's bite, nimbly maneuvering out of its path as you smash the Hydra's head, sending it reeling backwards from the force of a might blow that slams it hard into another tree, dazing it>>716710>>716712>>716708
As the ambush commenses, Lumberjack lets out a blood-curdling, ear-splitting wail that sends everyone's hairs, even the creatures without hair, standing on end, the Hydra, Dropbear, and Lumber Bear petrified and stunned. As they stay stunned, Sirocco builds up enough speed from her flight to slam directly into the hydra, creating a sonicboom in her wake that sends the other monsters onto their backs from the force. And then, for the final blow, Solar Eclipse's golden form lights up the Everfree, as though the sun itself had started to pierce the canopy and light up the forest. Her bullets shoot out in all direction in a shining maelstrom, tearing apart the hydra and drop-bear to ribbons and reducing the Lumber Bear to mere splinters, even as it tries to invoke its species' famous regeneration skills.
After the wailing stops and the sounds of bullets stop echoing through the woods, you all stand victorious, your would-be devourers laid bloodied and humbled upon the forest floor besides you.>Combat over, everyone may get up from helpless automatically if they are
However, as this scuffle concludes, you all hear another sound emanating from the brush. Soon, a small, unassuming form approaches you, reaching up to shield his eyes from Solar's glow.
"W-What in the Everfree is going on here? What are you DOING?"
When he gets closer, you can all see clearly it is a very young deer, a boy.
"Another one!" Solar shouts in surprise, turning and firing a round that slams into a tree right above the deer's head.
"No! Bad Shiny!
" Lumberjack says, wagging a finger at Solar, "Don't hurt the puppy!
Lumber gets on all fours, looking down at the small deer, "Hello Puppy!
"Whoah, hold your horses!" Sirocco quickly slaps the gun's barrel downwards, before giving Solar a sad look. "Jeez, monsters don't usually talk, so maybe don't start off with shooting.">>716715
The pegasus lets her bitten leg dangle as she hovers above the ground. She gives the deer a shrug, and gestures to her friends, and the monsters. "We were walking along, and they ambushed us. I tried to tell the creatures to back down, but… I don't really… speak animal. What are *you* doing here? It seems rather dangerous for a young lad like yourself."
The mighty Solar, still radiating a glow of ancient, uncontrolled power responds by pouting.
Talon stumbles over over with his injured wings folded to his sides to see the deer. Talon raises his voice to be heard. "We are doing pony errands, the everfree is attacking ponies."Talon slumps to the floor looking forward. "Do you have anything to eat?" Talon tilts his head asking.
Pippali helps the mare down after knocking the Hydra's head into the next zip code, rolling out his shoulders and patting her down. >>716715
"Hey… you're a little young to be running around on your own at this time, aren't you?" he asks, leaning down to look at the young buck. "We were just fending off an ambush. We're here looking for something."
You fire your round towards the deer, the bullet just barely misses the fawn, impacting on the tree behind him as he falls back onto his rear, eyes full of shock and surprise as they open wide towards all you.
"I-INVADERS! I knew it, our enemies have breached the border!">>716717
As Lumberjack reprimands Solar and gets down to look at the deer, the deer snarls back, "I am NOT a puppy! My name is Bramble, a-a-and you're all not welcome here!">>716718
"I am not a young lad!" He shoots back, his ego taking precedence over the fear of almost being shot. "And these woods are my home! The monsters and the deer have made peace for centuries, they'd never attack any of our kind. If the creatures of the Everfree are attacking you, it should be a sign that you should go back where you came from, <i>PONY</i>". He practically spits the last word.>>716720
As Talon explains the situation, Bramble narrows his glare, "That's why you've entered the Everfree… well you should turn back. What the Everfree does isn't your concern. The Heart of the Forest wouldn't be happy with you all here right now…"
As you ask if you have something to eat, he pauses, looking towards the bushes. "How can you possibly be hungry? There is a bounty of food everywhere you look. Did you even TRY those berries?" He asks, pointing towards a dark, ominous looking bush.>>716721
"I SAID I'M NOT TOO YOUNG TO BE HERE!" He raises his tiny voice, getting rather defensive in a high-pitched squeal, as he stomps his hoof. "I understand you were just defending yourselves, but that's all the more reason you should just leave!" As you say you're looking for something, he raises his eyebrow, "And what would that be, zebra?"
Lumberjack pets the deer's head, "Good boy. Roll over!
"I mean, what the Everfree does is our concern, since it is growing over our towns, where we live. If anything, the forest is… well, invading US." Siro explains, as she gingerly sets herself onto the ground.
"Those places are MY home, and while I'm sure you love your little forest, it's not fair that it gets to ruin our homes."
"Peace with monsters? Unacceptable! And these whole woods are lawful Equestrian clay. You leave us no choice but to conquer or reconquer the entire forest as the situation demands. Take us to your leader as that we might better shoot at him!">>716725
"What the pegasus said! Consider this a raiding party in response to hostile aggression!"
"I already tried the berries, but they weren't filling." This is expanded upon with the Talon patting his own stomach looking at the beast on the forest floor. "And you seem awfully hostile to my new friends here." Talon says questioning tilting his head.
"WHOAH, okay, Solar, you're not allowed to talk anymore. Let me try to NOT fight these people. Jeez." Sirocco huffs, as she paps Solar's snout shut.
"Okay, ignore her, we just want to talk and find out why. These woods are yours, if you want them. I have no real care either way, but this isn't to uh… raid your forest. I just want the vines to stop strangling ponies."
"I agree completely Siri, war is the only option to this sustained act of weapons of mass gardening. You hear that deer, you're being invaded! We all agree on that!"
"Come on now, don't call him a dog. It won't help us out any.">>716722>>716725
"Ah- well, apologies. If you're supposed to be here, I won'ty argue that. And yeah, like Sirocco here said- we're here to try and stop the spread of the Everfree. We're looking for the 'Heart of the Forest', if that means anything to you."
Sirocco uses both her hooves to close Solar's mouth.
"Shhhut up. I literally said nothing of the sort."
"Goof poin Siroc-co" Solar muffles through the hooves
"I shldn't waste mah words on the enemee"
"Pupper is not a doggo! Puppers become doggos when they are no longer small.
" Lumberjack says, astutely.
As Lumberjack pets Bramble's head, he grimaces, sneering underneath the minotaurs hands.
"Get your filthy paws off of me, you darn dirty minotaur.">>716727
The young deer huffs his nostrils at Talon, "That's because ponies are nothing but trouble! Same goes for griffons, and especially minotaurs!">>716725
As you mention the forest over-growing and destroying the homes of Equestria, Bramble's hard, cold glare turns a bit more sympathetic, before scrunching up his muzzle. "Well… t-that's too bad. Maybe if ponies knew how bad that felt to start with, none of this would have even happened.">>716726
"W-WHAT THE?!" Bramble shouts in surprise, looking towards Solar with a look equal parts fear and surprise. "J-just hold on! I don't want you shooting any other deer!">>716730>>716728
As Pippali mentions the Heart of the Forest, Bramble turns towards the way he came, frowning. "Hrrmmm. The Heart of the Forest would NOT be happy to see you right now… b-but if it's the only way to get you to leave, and NOT shoot at my people, then fine, I'll take you too him. But I'm just warning you now, my father is really mad."
Bramble, frustrated but compliant, leads you all deeper into the forest. You see more eyes pop up around you in the meanwhile, but whether it's due to your earlier impressive display or having Bramble as part of your party, they all leave you alone this time. Soon, you come across a giant ravine, with a long, narrow bridge made entirely of green, lush vines stretching the chasm. Besides the entrance of the bridge is another deer, this one a full grown buck adorned in bright red armor, with a little bird on top of one of his antlers. He turns towards Bramble as he approaches, shouting, "Your highness! There you are. You were gone for longer than we agreed, you said you wouldn't travel far. Your father-"
He pauses, turning to look at the group. "Ah. You brought guests. Welcome. I am Blackthorn." He gives an awkward smile. "I think I can guess why you're here, and I can escort you the rest of the way." The red-armored deer bends over the green, lush vine-bridge, and opens up the barrel on his collar (similar to the one Bramble holds). It pours out a blue, viscous liquid over the vines, and then suddenly the narrow bridge grows exponentially wider to accommodate all of you, the vines spreading out far and stretching quickly in a similar manner to the quick-growing vines back in Ponyville. He steps onto the newly widened vine-bridge to test its strength, then begins walking across. "Please, follow me."
Lumberjack nudges Pippali, though the force is enough to knock one over. "See Stripey, that is dog.
He follows happily, tapping the larger stag on the back, "Can I have the blueberry juice? I will trade for apple!
" He says, producing an empty apple juice box and holding it proudly.
"Good to hear that we might be on the same terms, now do you have anything to eat" These berries and flora don't quite fill as much as I would like to." Talon chuckles smiles at the deer leading them.
True to her word Solar does not waste words on the enemy, instead following along silently.
>Her aura faded awhile ago
"I-I'll do my best to make sure grumpo over here doesn't shoot anyone else." She chuckles, giving the crystal pony an especially strong shake.
And then, she's off, trailing close behind the young deer, her wings keeping her a few inches off the ground as they continue deeper. Once the new deer shows up, and calls Bramble "his highness", her ears perk up.
"Ohhh, so you're the prince of… the deer? I see." She nods, both at the little deer, and the new, larger one. "Hello there, Blackthorn, my name's Sirocco. If you know why we're here, is there anything you can tell us about it? What's going on?" She asks, hovering generally near his head, instead of using the bridge.
"We won't let her shoot anyone, don't worry. If this Heart of the Forest is your father, it'd be much better to just… talk things out."
Pippali offers a bow in greeting to Blackthorn, before nodding his head and saying "Pippali. The escort would be very welcome, thank you. And, thank you… Prince Bramble, for giving us a chance.">>716736
Pippali goes to say something, but decides it's not much use.
"Good plan everypony. Lure them into a false sense of security." she stage-whispers.
"I will not hesitate to toss you off this bridge, missus. Watch yourself." She gives the mare a suspicious squint as she hovers over her.
As Sirocco and Pippali promise to keep Solar in check, Bramble nervously shouts, "S-see that you do!">>716736
Blackthorn turns back in confusion, raising an eyebrow. "Dog?"
"Ignore him, Blackthorn…" Bramble grumbles, "These outsiders are just making fun of us."
As you ask to trade for his 'blueberry juice', Blackthorn turns up in confusion again, before realizing what you mean. "OH! You mean my magic potion. I'm sorry, but I can't: this formula is very precious to us, without it we could not manage the Everfree Forest as we have for countless generations. Its secrets must be safeguarded carefully.">>716737
Blackthorn nods his head, "Yes, I suppose it wouldn't for you, but I'm afraid I have only disappointing news: we are a strictly vegetarian society. But there are plenty of small creatures to hunt in these woods, if it so pleases you.">>716739
As you comment on Bramble being a prince, the little fawn sticks up his nose at the group, while Blackthorn explains. "Yes, Bramble here is the son of King Aspen, our glorious leader. And, as to what's going on, I feel the King should be the one to explain things in full. I feel I can tell you this much, at least: the cause for all of this is the Everfree is in turmoil. We are desperately trying to correct an imbalance that if left unchecked, will destroy our realm entirely.">>716740>>716738
Blackthorn smiles genuinely. "It is my pleasure, Pippali. The Zebra in particular are welcomed guests: our magical potions aren't all that different from the very same your kind uses."
As you thank Bramble, he looks towards you, your gratitude seeming to soften up his exterior a little bit. "…it's fine. Just don't make me regret it, okay?"
After crossing the massive vine bridge, Blackthorn looks up towards a massive, wooden/golden gate that awaits you on the other side. "We are here."
He moves up to the entrance, giving a call to the guard-deer stationed above the gates, and he motions his way through them, "Welcome to Thicket, my friends."
However, before you enter through the gates, a few figures emerge from the woods, one of them large, imposing, and radiating with charisma. "Blackthorn. Bramble. You have returned…"
The party can see to the side, before the gates of Thicket, more deer (wearing scornful looks on their faces) exit from the trees and into the light of the lanterns. The one in the center is a tall, powerful looking white buck with a heart-shaped necklace.
"Your highness." Blackthorn states, bending a knee to bow before his king.
"Papa!" Bramble states, running to his father's side.
Blackthorn turns to you. "Everyone, may I introduce the Heart of the Forest… King Aspen. Your Highness, these guests have come seeking your audience."
King Aspen looks over you all with a hard glare, "Hmm. At LAST, we hear from those beyond the borders of our woods, and this is what Celestia sends us? Speak then, outsiders."
"I'll try my best, Prince Bramble." he says, before turning to Blacthorn. "I can see that, yes. I'm afraid I've got little in the way of potioncrafting, though. It's something I saw a lot of back home."
When they finally reach the King, the zebra offers a bow, much like he did to Blackthorn. "We weren't the ones she intended to send, but… the initial group was busy. Apologies, your highness. We were here to find help in dealing with the incursion of, well… the forest. Is there something you could do to turn the vines back? The Princesses seemed to believe you could."
"We weren't sent by Celestia, we just formed a group as the last ones were quite inconvenienced by these vines coming from the everfree." Talon shrugs after saying his piece.
An imbalance? How strange… Perhaps they could help in some way? Whatever the case, she decides to save her questions for the king.
Once they arrive at the town… or is it a city? Either way, once they arrive, her eyes are very much drawn to the architecture. A place like this surely had much to learn from, but that's for another time. For now, she focuses on the king, settling down to the ground and giving him a bow when he speaks.
"Greetings, your highness. My friends have already explained that we weren't really sent by Celestia, considering that they others were stopped. The woods are spreading outwards, and strangling the cities in its path, and we're looking for a way to stop it."
As Solar sees the heart her eyes seem to focus, like some subtle madness was departing, and the little crystal shard necklace she wears crackles again with little buzzes of rainbow colored energy, before once again her body erupts in light.
"I am Solar Eclipse, of new I am she. I come from the north, though it forgets itself, and I wield the power long-forgotten. In the name of the gods I give this command. Recall your vines and your monsters, the borderlands of the forest are ours, and by our will alone do you reign in the forest. I come in peace, for I am a mare of peace. I did not bring artillery. But if you continue this war of aggression you will leave us no recourse but to the use of force, and we are diplomats not warriors. Come, oh great King of the Forest and let us reason together. Weigh the lives of your people, and mine. Nopony else need suffer today. Let us have peace, or I swear by my own right hoof which sustains me, I will tear down these gates and do whatever is necessary to sustain these people. You walk a hazard to your own servants when you walk in war as so."
[1d10+3] Empower Fervor Diplomacy
"Let us negotiate! Or else!"Roll #1 6 + 3 = 9
Sirocco flaps her wings, floats over Solar, and picks her up. She then carries her upwards, into a nearby tree, as high as she can go, and sets her on a branch. "Stop that. I said you weren't allowed to talk. Let the grownups discuss things." The pegasus gives the crystal a bap on the nose, before floating back down to the ground.
"Do not question my masterful negotiations silly pony!" Solar demands, as Sirocco finds her impossible to move, as though her whole body was suddenly made of metal.
Lumberjack nods, "Right! If they are us and us are bad, then how come they are over there?
Sirocco's no weakling. Unless this is some kinda racial, let's see what the dice say.
[1d10] strong liftRoll #1 2 = 2
Talon walks over and pets Solar right behind her ears scratching them. "There, there." He tries to calm them down.
Solar lightly blushes despite being in the midst of her golden-energy-enhanced diplomating.
"Not now." she whines, shaking her head.
As Talon and Pippali make mention of them not being the original group, Aspen raises a brow. "Is that so? Then who did Celestia originally mean to send as her messenger?">>716746>>716748
"I am aware of the outward expansion of my lands' borders. Celestia is also correct in her assumption in my ability to halt it. I can not, and will not, do so however." He closes his eyes, taking a breath. "Now, I do not wish to be rude, but you all must leave. Ponies, griffons, zebras, minotaurs, outsiders of any kind are no longer welcome in this forest. Blackthorn will escort you safely to the forest's edge.">>716753
Sirocco attempts to move Solar as she begins to go into her negotiations, but finds the empowered pony extremely difficult to budge.>>716749
As Solar's body erupts in light, Aspen and the rest of the deer gathered are staggered, taking a few steps back in surprise as you make your demands. Everyone is stunned by the display, but Aspen's expression turns into fury as you mention his war of aggression,
"You come in to my realm and ask for peace after what your kind has done? All that I
have done is 'tit for tat'! PONIES
have broken the Golden Rule-!" he snarls, his anger fully on display. "Ponies
have shown their TRUE colors! You've proven you can be JUST like them
However, Bramble, VERY familiar with the earlier encounter, and looking sympathetically towards Sirocco and Pippali as well, tugs on his father's tail, "Uh, Papa? I think you should hear them out… JUST for a minute… then you can oust them from the forest?"
Aspen's rage is broken by his son's words, and the buck calms slightly, looking on towards the group. "…very well. We we'll have a talk." He motions his head towards the gates of Thicket. "Follow me. I have something for you all to see."
Siro huffs at Solar, and turns her back on her.
"She originally meant to send Twilight here, but she got a little wrapped up in the vines. I do find it funny that you're talking about the "golden rule" when the vines you control are destroying folks' homes and capturing folks. Regardless, I recommend against allowing Solar here into your city. She has been nothing but uncooperative with us, and insists on being aggressive to folks despite there being no reason. It's disgusting."
"A… Twilight, I believe? I'm a stranger to Equestria, but she and her friends seemed importa- he winces a little at the sudden outburst from both Thicket and Solar, and shakes his head a little bit to try and clear out the ringing.
He gives Bramble a soft smile when the buck vouches for their group, and nods in agreement. "Very well. I'd be happy to see what you have to show us."
"I feel lost, I have been accused of many crimes through my lifetime, but I don't even know what this golden rule is? What could be so important to hold it over the head of all the races?" Talon raises his claw in question as his stomach growls loudly for food.
"Sending plants and monsters to attack our homes isn't good reason? King Asspain has already made up his mind on fighting us, all thats left is to convince him its a fight he won't win. Peace through strength is our only option. Besides war through strength, which I also approve of." she says in full audience of the king, still glowing.>>716756
"If the Princess hadn't asked me to find the Heart and if the power wasn't making me all djorn mustard right now I'd be more offended at that." she says following along.
"Twilight? Twilight Sparkle?" Aspen states, "Ah. Celestia has spoken of her. Unfortunate she was caught by our vines, but probably for the better. I doubt she'd have made it as far as all you then if she could not even make it into the woods.">>716757
As you mention Aspen's vines destroying folks' homes and capturing civilians, he growls, "You ponies have forced my hoof. None of this would have happened had your kind not started this conflict by destroying OUR homes.">>716757>>716760
As Sirocco recommends against allowing Solar in, Aspen shakes his head. "It is fine. I sense she will be MORE trouble if left out of my sight." He turns towards Solar. "It is as I said though: I was not the one who started this fight. I have been left with no alternative but to take extreme measures to finish it. Do you think I take what I have done lightly? I am aware of what Equestria is capable of, but I am left with no other choice.">>716760
As you make fun of his name, Aspen growls. "Do not test my patience, little pony. I have met your request for negotiations, I can be turned.">>716758
Bramble returns the smile you give him, before quickly turning to a frown again, seemingly still a bit unsure about trusting the outsiders.>>716759>>716758>>716757>>716760
"The golden rule is very simple: do not stab your friends in the back." He says, a fierce snarl accompanying the last part of the sentence. He climbs through the stair-ways of Thicket, leading you all upwards into the tree tops on a path of wooden stairs and bridges.
"The Everfree Forest is a very delicate ecosystem. We that live here… not just the deer, but every creature from the tiniest grasshopper to the largest hydra, NEED the land that we have to survive. We cannot afford to lose any more of our homeland."
"Uh… really? So… your vines are destroying the homes of folks who did nothing to destroy your forest, but you… left this unclaimed?" She raises an eyebrow at the deer, before nodding towards the deforested area. "Reclaim areas that AREN'T occupied. There are plenty. Seriously, you expect us to think you're in the right when you destroy the homes of children instead of destroying the… well, the nothing that's out there?" Again, she points to the deforested area. "Where are your vines?"
"Ah… hmm. I don't think I've seen this… Fun-Fun Land, before. I'm not sure how this came about, but I can see the issue. Though, is the answer really to just head straight for a town? It might be better to either try moving back in here, or for us to just head over and see what exactly this is about."
"I am sure this is all a big misunderstanding here, my father always told that happens a lot in equestria. I am sure if we went to Celestia. She will tell her ponies stop, and I can go back to the hotel." Talon nods at his presented possible solution.