At last, the final sight of the Tartarian Descent Team is engulfed by the interminable darkness. 334 posts and 1 image reply omitted. Click reply to view.
The Great Seal rends the earth with a deafening quake, as it slides nearly shut, open only by a hairsbreadth. The Loyal Kerberos, ten thousand Umbral Hounds strong, holds one end of Shei's Black Thread in one of his mouths. He leers at it contemptuously, but holds it nonetheless as agreed.
Most of the others accompanying Sir Pryce cannot look anymore at the Great Seal, ready to direct their thoughts to anything other than the fates of their friends… and foes. Sir Estuary is the only one who seems composed. He looks to Pryce, and with a slight bow of his head, says, "Perhaps we should make for the surface, milord. We have no further business here."
"Huh… never really noticed that," Pryce comments as the duo explain proper water etiquette. "Isn't that a bit odd though for you Zjetya, since you're more of a moth?"
KP splashes around with the pets, getting into a ferocious splash war as he uses the bubbles to form little islands to hide behind.
"Us changelings know how to adapt to local culture," Zjetya explains. "C'mon try it, it's fun. Just pretend you're a duck or something."
"Alright, sure," Pryce says, swimming back to the shore. This time he goes in more slowly, copying the more steady entry, dipping into the water for only a moment and shaking his wings.
"Hmm, I kinda get it, but I'd rather just dive in," He comments after a bit of it.
"You're no fun," River admonishes, shaking her head.
"Quack, quack," Zjetya says, swimming upstream. River follows her, quacking as well.
"Just feels like ducks should be saved for the bathtub," Pryce retorts to their comments of him not being fun as they swim off.
After they've swum off a bit, Pryce dives underwater to catch up underneath, intent to spring up to surprise with a little splashing for traditional water fun.>Surprise [1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
You suddenly re-emerge from below the surface of the water, intent on spooking the two ducks!
But, it's just Lockjaw there. Zjetya and River are currently further upstream.
Lockjaw appears to be having a bit of trouble, and he's splashing about with an uncomfortable grimace and grunts.
Pryce looks around, wondering if he overshot it. Seeing Lockjaw having trouble, Pryce swims over and puts a hoof around the little deviljho.
"Having trouble Lockjaw?" He asks with concern. His horn glows, reaching into the water to pull out a little floaty ring for the deviljho to help him out.>Hat Magic [1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
Lockjaw disrupts your spell by clambering onto your back, preferring you as his floaty instead.
"Heh, alright. Hold on tight, we got some catching up to do," Pryce says, taking Lockjaw on board as he swims upstream to catch up the River and Zjetya.
Lockjaw grunts happily, splashing his hind legs as you ferry him across the way. You catch up to your two special someponies, finding them lazily floating in the shallows, enjoying the mingling of cool water with the warm sunlight.
With Lockjaw secure, Pryce swims up to catch up with Zjetya and River.
"Had to play ferry. Hope I didn't keep you waiting too long," He greets once he rejoins.
Zjetya and River stifle yawns, splashing you half-heartedly with their wings. That might be the extent of the answer you're getting.
"Come on, the walk wasn't that exhausting now," Pryce splashes back, with a little laugh at their responses.
"Perchance not, but the sunlight certainly is," River says.
"This is definitely naptime weather," Zjetya agrees. "It's rare enough that the landlocked areas are permitted sunlight, so let's take advantage of it."
"They don't allow areas to get sunlight here?" Pryce questions. "Seems like that'd be difficult if they horde the clouds up high."
Pryce does think over the idea. He tries again to conjure a floaty for Lockjaw, a little raft this time for him to pilot, so he can be self-sufficient on the river.>Hat magic [Inflatable Raft] [1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
Zjetya nods, even as she floats in the water. The result is that she gets water on her face, a fact much to her chagrin. She continues as she wipes off her face. "It might sound silly, but limiting sunlight exposure for the lands below helps to keep them in line. You ever feel bummed out during the winter? It's hard to keep up a revolution when morale's down, so they limit how much sunlight everyone gets. Not to mention the affect on crops and such."
Lockjaw hops into the raft, sticking his legs through holes in the bottom which permit him to paddle. Eagerly he takes off, and immediately rams into River Spring. Bemused, she pushes him around with one hoof, much to his delight.
Pryce chuckles as Lockjaw plays around in his raft.
"Affecting the crops would definitely keep them in line… Seems like they're doing all but outright imprisonment with all the restrictions the more of them I hear," He comments.
"Oh, don't worry, they're doing plenty of that too, last time I was there. Fighting against dragons who claim godhood isn't looked kindly upon anywhere in a draconic theocracy."
"Seems a civil war was going to happen no matter what here," He mutters in thought. He looks up to the sky, with the supposed rare sunlight.
"Maybe we should take advantage of this while we can."
Apparently, the others agree. Having gone back to shore, River and Lockjaw are curled up asleep together. When you look over to ask Zjetya her input, you find her asleep on your shoulder.
Pryce smiles, seeing the others way ahead of him. He swims back to shore gently to not wake Zjetya, and setting her besides River while taking a spot with a respectable distance himself. He dozes off to sleep, with fleeting thoughts on setting to make this a common occurrence for this area again when they're done.
Sleep comes easy, and is wondrously restful, between the aid of the afternoon sun, the exhaustion of the walk and swim, and the ambience of wind and grass and water, their natural music more calming than any mortalmade song.
>>760393>>760394>Some time later…
You feel Lockjaw's large lower jaw bumping against your snout, mixed with the hot breath of his nostrils as he snorts and sniffs you.
Pryce stirs a bit, raising a hoof to boop his deviljho alarm.
"Hmm? What is it Lockjaw?" He asks, drowsy and half asleep.
It's a bit later into the afternoon, as you can see. Spitshine sits watch, as the others snooze. Sugar, Onion and KP lay nearby, having gotten their own chances to nap. Presumably, Spitshine got the last watch.
Lockjaw continues to sniff at you, drooling a little. It takes no adept beast tamer to realize he's hungry.
As you shake off your sleep, you realize that all are present, except for Hopper. KP would know that Hopper was there when he laid down for his own nap, but that the frog was acting a little off towards the end…
Pryce sits up, stretching after the nap, seeing everypony else followed suit.
"Ah, hungry? Hmm, let's get you something better than those little meat snacks," He says after a moment of thought with the opportunity at hoof.
He conjures up a simple fishing rod, walking to the river side to try and catch lunch for the apex predator.
He looks around, then looks to Spitshine.
"Have you seen Hopper around?"
Lockjaw sits by your side, patiently watching you for the delivery of food.
>roll for fishing
Spitshine shakes his head. "I don't know where he's off to. He was gone when Onion woke me up for watch duty. I doubt he's gone far. This is his kinda turf, isn't it?"
Pryce flicks out the lure, and waits.> <>< [1d10]
"It is, but we are in foreign territory. Got to be cautious."Roll #1 7 = 7
Lockjaw hops up and down as you hook a mid-sized trout. He'd probably eat it as it is, but you could always try to raise your cooking skill too…
"True… since you're awake, you wanna go look for him while I keep watch over the others?" Spitshine offers.
Pryce reels in the trout, unhooking it and holding it out for Lockjaw to snap up.
"Yea. He's a hardy frog, but I don't want to risk anyone getting lost out here."
Pryce stands ups, and offers the fishing pole over to Spitshine if he wants.
"I'll be back as quick as I can," He says, turning off to look for the missing frog.>Search [1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
Spitshine nods, taking your place on the bank while Lockjaw makes short, messy work of the first course.
After scanning the topmost stretch of river and finding nothing, you retrace the others' steps, and head down to the pools below, searching among the rocks and crannies that might offer a frog shelter…
Somewhere in the reeds, you hear soft ribbiting.
Pryce searches around, making sure to check every spot a frog could fit in. As he heads down and hears ribbits, he approaches carefully, not wanting to spook Hopper in case he's napping.
Small bubbles containing leaves, sticks and such float out of the reeds before you. peering through from a distance, you see Hopper, back in his full wizard outfit… and another frog is nearby. This second frog watches as Hopper performs small cantrips with his staff of water, the two occasionally ribbiting when a trick goes off successfully.
Even without an amulet of frogspeak, something's obviously going on here…
Pryce smiles, seeing Hopper get into the full showmanship of magic. He keeps his distance, watching to see how the show goes further.
However, it really doesn't. The other frog ribbits and examines Hopper, while Hopper holds his staff close and looks askance… almost bashfully.
looks off to the side*
When the other frog gets closer to Hopper, Pryce is able to pick up from his reaction that he was playing up a show to impress her.
He quickly backs up, giving them their privacy and not wanting to get in the way.
You leave the frogs to their froggy business, slipping away unnoticed.
Pryce heads back to the where the others are, relieved to know Hopper isn't too far off.
Back at the main camp, you see that Spitshine and Onion are fishing together now, while Lockjaw runs little laps of excitement behind them. Probably not great for attracting fish…
Meanwhile, River, Zjetya and Sugar are sleepily stretching, trying to wake up after the last of their nap (and not to fall into another one).
"Come on Lockjaw, gotta be patient if you want more fish," He says, ushering the deviljho over.
"Everypony rest well?" He asks over the the trio shaking off the last bits of nap.
Lockjaw runs over and crashes against your leg in his excitement. He doesn't seem to mind, turning his fall into a dust bath.
The three nod, then survey the area.
"Hopper still swimming around?" Sugar asks, ushering Pucchini and Katcher to her side.
Pryce chuckles at Lockjaw's enthusiasm, giving him a belly rub.
"Oh, uh, yea. He's off doing his own thing," Pryce answers, stumbling a little over his words.
Sugar nods, then goes over to sit with Spitshine and Onion as the two fish.
Some time later…
As you sit on the bank, watching Lockjaw make short work of his third fish, at last his appetite satiated, you hear some hopping coming from behind you. You look over, and see that Hopper is coming back to the group. However, his gaze is downcast, and his pace is lifeless.
Pryce looks between Lockjaw finishing his meal and watching the river flow on by. When he starts to hear hopping off in the distance, he turns and looks, however when he sees Hopper look down, Pryce grows concerned.
He gets up, walking over to his little buddy.
"…Did something happen Hopper?" He asks with concern.
Hopper sighs. You didn't know frogs were capable of that… he's completely deflated.
Perhaps – heartbreak has struck.
Pryce reaches down to pick up Hopper, feeling he needs one.
"Oh… did things not go well?" He asks. "I looked around for you earlier and saw you doing a little show. You were doing great, so I figured you'd be fine."
"Anything I can do to help out?"
Hopper doesn't react to your offer, just laying there as you pick him up. With a melancholic personality like his, he'll probably need some time to process it all before recovery can begin.
"It's okay, I'll be there for you through this."
Pryce brings Hopper over to the riverside, sitting down with him to let them have a moment in silence as the others pass the time.
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Hopper weakly squeaks, idly carving shapes in the sand beside you. Despite his reticence and depression, you can sense he is grateful for your company.