My Little Pony: Magic Is Fiendish

This is gonna be BRIGHT!
Ponies... shades UP

February 27, 2021
The group follows Aurora and Ash toward the organ music (and the tower?). Aura finds a weird doorway in a hall on the 3rd floor, the padlock is dangling and the door is open. There are hoofprints on the stairs leading up. When Aura gets to the top, there is a huge organ there, three tiers of keys and there are lots of hoofpads… and they are all playing themselves. There are bloodstains on a bunch of the keys, and they notice that only the stained keys are playing. They then notice that Hurryup is standing there, she got there before anyone… musta been her that made the hoofprints on the steps. Aura waves her hoof thought the area where someone playing the organ would be sitting. That causes a ghostly image to appear there. “Yeah, we are ultimately looking for Pickmane, right”, says Autumn. “But he was at hospital, but the police said he died.” Joneigh reminds her. They search about and someone asks if the ghost is Pickmane. Joneigh replies that she’d never seen that pony before. “That’s because we’ve never been introduced”, says the ghost. Autumn introduces herself and asks what they should call him. “I’m Homebody Ravenstone”. They aske why he is here; he’d been moved and no one even said excuse me. They ask where he was when disturbed; his crypt in the basement. They offer to put his bones back and would he like to come with them. But if I go with and you put them back, I won’t to be able to play the music and I miss the music. Maybe if ALL of my bones don’t go back, I can remain. He reaches up and pulls a stop. A panel slides aside and there are stairs there leading down and grabbing a cobwebby candelabra he leads the way. Pulling out her own candle, Autumn follows the glow going down the narrow, tight, dark stairs, the others follow along.
At the bottom of the stairs is an iron door. Mr. Ravenstone is twisting a ghostly key in the lock but nothing is happening “I was sure that was the right key”. Autumn asks Hurryup if she can help with her lockpicks. She does and the door sqeeeeeeeks open. Before them is a square room with moss covered floor, there are plaques on the walls and some moss is clinging to them as well. There is what looks like a cloud of mist in one far corner. Autumn addresses it, “Hello, are you a ghost too?” Aura pushes Autumn aside as she was asking Mr. Ravenstone if that is another ghost; no. The others follow into the room and as they move forward they can see the open crypt at the mist and a pile of bones under it. “Oh that is right, I am supposed to guard the door at the back of my grave!” Autumn asks permission to go through. Joneigh examines the area (and bones) around the crypt. She sees Autumn’s prints, but the moss is growing back so fast she can almost see it. The bones look like they were just kicked out of the crypt, but there isn’t any intentional damage. Aura comes forward and heads into the crypt ahead of Autumn (after Ash says that someone with a weapon should go firts). Aura’s mane n coat work like a pipe cleaner to get dead pony, old bugs and dust all over. She pops into the next room. The floor is made of metal, there are rings hanging from the walls with chains hanging from them and in the center, is an open hatch. Sitting next to the hatch, is a pony, splattered with glitter… holding what looks like a fishing pole with the line going down into the hatch. Joneigh sees that it is Mr. Pickmane! “Autumn look it is Walter!” She asks him what he is fishing for; he ignores her. Joneigh goes to the hatch, looks in and asks him “What’s biting?” Walter ignores her. Autumn tries again, but there is a jerk on his line and his tries to reel, and pull it in, but it is fighting him. “Just a sec” he says. Autumn offers help, but doesn’t seem to be doing much. Joneigh tries, but doesn’t do much either. She grumps a bit and watches Walter struggle. Something is coming up out of the hole fighting to get out with all eight of its legs and when it is out, Walter spins and kicks it in its head, which flies off and stuffs the body back in the hatch. He grabs the head, opens a panel in the floor and drops it in with a bunch more spider heads. Joneigh asks Autumn when they went to sleep….? Autumn asks Jimmy if this is normal for fishing. Aura posits that fishing isn’t normal. Jimmy suggest that it isn’t. Walter puts his line back in the hole. Jimmy sits by Walter and says “So they’re biting?” “Just the junkers so far” Walter replies. “But they aren’t good for anything so I throw them back, cept the heads.” Jimmy asks what he is gonna do with the big one… mount it? “No, gonna feed it”, Walter says. Joneigh says ‘To what?” Walter says, “Oh no no no, I am gonna feed myself to it!” Joneigh asks why he’d do that. “The voices say that then I won’t be able to hear them anymore”. Ash has been repositioning himself to find a way to blow Walter’s head off without hitting one of the party. Autumn is suggesting he wouldn’t be able to hear anyone or anything else, is that what he wants. Aura is trying to figure if Walter is alive, and if so, is he still Walter. What she sees inside the body of what looks like Walter, is about two dozen darkites surrounding a pony that looks like the body. Autumn asks Joneigh if there is something she has read that could get the darkites out w/o harming him. Jimmy suggests DARKites might not like light. Joneigh calls for Sunglasses All! And waits for Sunny & Aurora to do their thing. There is lots of bright light and Aura calls out “Ready that Boomstick, here they come!”. Then there is a lot of Ka-BOOMs. As the light fades, the room is full of gunsmoke and everything (walls, floors, ponies) are covered in glitter. Ash is spinning around in the room to see if he missed one. Jimmy lifts his welding visit and says “That’ll do”. Walters say “Oh, it is so much quieter now”, and faints. Aura checks him again, and says she thinks he is alright. Joneigh notices that there is a scitching noise coming from the panel next to the hatch. \Bone appears standing on the panel and Autumn is suddenly back by the crypt. Ash asks if Sunny can burn inside something if she can’t see inside. She says sure and does it. Now there is smoke coming from under Bone. As the sounds have stopped, Bone moves off the panel. Jimmy looks down the hatchhole to be sure nothing escaped down it. Something is moving around down there, but it is an awfully long way down. Joneigh suggests they close and seal the hatch. As she makes the suggestion, Aura drops a glowy flare thing downs the hole and then looks down after it. There are thousands of those gray spiders down there. “Close it close it seal it shut!!!!” says Aura. Sunny focuses her fire at the hatch and welds it shut. They gather up Walter and head back to the crypt opening, which is much larger now that Jimmy has passed through it. Once they are all through, Joneigh starts to place the bones back in the crypt. Autumn forstalls her and asks Mr. Ravenstone if he is ready to go back. Autumn draws an organ for Mr. Ravenstone to go in with him. Then they will repair the panel and maybe that will help him remember how to guard the door. Does Mr. Raenstone think that will work? There is ghostly music coming from behind the crypt panel, now; so they assume yes it does.
They take Walter back to Ashes caravan, so he can be in a bed. They take the caravan to Whinnys and park it outside (3 spaces)… they are all sitting staring at the menus. Later, when Walter wakes and the group works out a story with him that he pushed back against the dungeon monsters that had broken through to our world and that caused lots of mess everywhere. He is hero. The group then takes him to Inspector Barnaby and helps him explain to the authorities.
.

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BOOOOOOOM!
Darkites, darkites, darkitesdarkitesdarkites!

January 30, 2021

Sunny stuffs Shucks’s guts back inside of him and stitches him up, then bandages the lacerations. She then asks Ash where he got his boom-stick. There is quite a convoluted answer involving an old friend who was killed by darkites. Ash asks about the cursed pony (Walter Pickmane) and how many copies of the red book there are. The group answers that they presume he is dead, and they don’t know how many. Ash is surprised they don’t know, and Joneigh looks down at herself, then back at him incredulously.

“Huh, no badge!”

Then she explains there were cops all over the scene and that the pieces that we know were there don’t all seem to be from the same pony. Ash suggests they should get away from here as the cops will show up soon. Ash mentions that they could take his caravan but it is on its side. Jimmy pushes it upright. He asks Jimmy to pull the caravan as others climb inside with Shucks—Joneigh flies and Aurora decides to run alongside, rather than be in Ash’s squalid living space. He pulls down a map and asks where this Ravenstone place is and they head off.

Hurryup is trusting to chaos to find a copy of the book, and finds herself in front of Books From Beyond (L. Hawkwings, Proprietor). She heads inside to the sound of little bells and Autumn follows her inside. Autumn assumes Prow Lee is around here somewhere, but she cannot see him. There are LOTS OF BOOKS here, so she’s very distracted. A voice floats from the back room: “Be right out!” A pegasus comes fluttering out; he’s wearing a smoking jacket and green-tinted glasses. He addresses Autumn, “How may I help you?” She replies that she is here with Hurryup. “Oh, she won’t get very far… wait?” The aisle Hurryup just disappeared down used to be blocked, but now the gate is unlocked.

The bookseller warns, “You need to be careful in this section, some of the books aren’t very friendly.” Autumn reaches out and grabs at Hurryup, slowing her down “Remember how some of Joneigh’s books aren’t friendly?” Hurryup replies, “She doesn’t treat them right.”

Hawkwings tosses a dog biscuit at a book with teeth. He asks if he can’t help Hurryup. “Well, sure,” she says, “I am looking for The Red Book.” The bookseller shakes his head and asks, “Another one?” He leaves and comes back in armor, wielding a gripper he aims at of a pile that doesn’t look like a bunch of red books, but he’s gotten a red book nonetheless. He asks that they sign a waiver before he gives it to her.

Autumn points out, “Jimmy’s uncle will be mad if you don’t read it before signing it.”
Hurryup: “I will sign and [Autumn] will read it.” Hurryup signs. Hawkwings requires Autumn to sign if she is going to be anywhere near Hurryup when she reads it. Autumn reads the waiver and signs it. She turns and Hurryup is reading the book… Hawkwings jumped back when Hurryup opened the book. Hawkwings is surprised that there aren’t more tentacles or blood. “Huh, things have usually poured out of the book by this point.” Some monsters on the third page wave at Hurryup when she turns a page.

Autumn and Hurryup ask how much the book costs, and Prow Lee appears (as if from nowhere) to be sure she has enough money to pay for it. Autumn looks closer at the armor and thinks it looks a lot like Zero Fail’s, so she asks Prow Lee if he knows this guy.

Prow Lee and Hawkwings both say simultaneously, “Him? Never seen him before in my life.”

Hawkwings adds to Hurryup: “If you are going to read that, you need to leave the shop.”

Autumn suggests, “Maybe you should close the book while we cross the street.” Hurryup scoffs, “It’s okay.” As they leave, the bookseller suggests, “You’ll be okay as long as whomever reads the book isn’t extremely evil or extremely stupid.”

They head across the street to the tea shop to sit in some squishy chairs to read the book. Hurryup allows herself to be guided to chairs and Autumn reads over her shoulder. Only some of it is readable by Autumn, but some of the text is squiggly lines that are probably words in another language. She figures she would need some reference books in order to understand it. She tries to parse out what it would be trying to do in someone’s brain while they read it.

The rest of the group arrive in town. There are a lot of ponies hauling bodies out of Ravenstone. Ash says, “Since the cops are still here, we may have to wait till night to go in to see if this Pickmane is really dead, not just mostly dead and inhabited by a darkite.” Joneigh and Aurora are outside the caravan, watching the process. Aura asks if Joneigh can just call Autumn with her trump card to see if they are all right, so she does. “Hello, Autumn?” They check on each other and wish luck to one another. She reports to Aura that they are fine and having tea. “Oh, a cup of tea would be so good.” So they cross the street to the tea shop that just happens to be right there. Jimmy makes sure that Shucks has been put into nap time mode, then suggests they could put on white coveralls and help the cops.

While Autumn’s tea is being refilled, she notices the waitress’s face looks wrong. She rubs her eyes and realizes—the waitress didn’t have a seam down her front before and one of her eyes looks odd. Autumn lifts her tea cup, making a clicking sound like she is clumsy, and looks at Prow Lee, trying to get his attention. “Don’t make any sudden moves,” Autumn says conversationally, “but how long has this shop been full of the undead?”

Prow Lee replies, “Um, I am not sure….” Autumn notices gold glitter on her cup and in various places around the shop. She asks the others what should they do now. Hurryup realizes that Autumn and Prow Lee are talking but as she turns the page she notices the words at the top of the next page: they’re a warning that she is surrounded by evil that is about to harm her friends. The words morph into, “Buck first, think never.” She closes the book loudly and says, “Do you know what you are interrupting?! With your stink and driving around in waitress’s bodies!” She automatically kicks out behind her and a whetstone and knife clatter to the floor—they had been carried by a darkite behind Autumn. Autumn reacts by bucking out at the darkite behind Prow Lee and he one that was sneaking up on Hurryup pins to the wall. Autumn tells the others to brace themselves and STOMPS. Many of the darkites fall to the floor. Hurryup kicks one that didn’t fall down, right out the window. Glass goes everywhere.

Across town, Jimmy senses a localized earthquake somewhere off in the distance. He whinnies and says, “My friends are in trouble!” He tells Sunny that he’s going to check it out and heads off towards the disturbance. Joneigh tells Aura that Jimmy seems to be headed off that-a-way in a hurry. She dumps her sandwich in her bag, gulps her tea, throws down some coins and runs out. Aura grabs up her order in a field, grabs one from a table nearby… paying for all and follows. “Where are we going?” she asks. “West!” says Joneigh, now flying toward the dust cloud. Sunny decides to stay with Ash and the unconscious Shucks.

Joneigh and Jimmy see ponies screaming and running away from the exact spot they are hurrying toward. When they reach the disturbance, Autumn, Hurryup, and Prow Lee are in the street; there are pieces of pony bodies and gold glitter littering the street and there are shadowy beings wearing parts of dead ponies. The group are covered in glitter and pony gunk splattered on them.

Jimmy charges in to fight the evil undead. Joneigh builds up some weather. Aurora runs up, panting, “They are never going to let us visit this town again!” Fight noises ensue. They all plow into the evil darkites. One has Prow Lee by the neck and says, “Just give us the book and we won’t kill the cat,” but before Hurryup can kick him, Prow Lee kicks it and his claws come out through his shoes. Piles of glitter are everywhere that the dead darkites have fallen. There is a weird noise from inside the tea shop and they all look as the glass that had broken out of the shop gets sucked back into the shop. Then a huge pony—bigger than Jimmy—steps out and seems to be made out of all the broken crockery and glass.

Back at the caravan, Sunny offers to polish Ash’s boom-stick if he’ll take them in the caravan to where her friends are.

Joneigh is working up a big sonic boom for the glass pony. Aura reacts to an attack and then blasts at him. The glass pony addresses Hurryup: “Everything you care about will die unless you give us the book.” Then Aura’s blast is reflected back at everyone in smaller bits (except Joneigh because she is zipping around building magic).

There is a very, very, very, very loud boom.

“Holy fuck!” says Aura and then looks around cause she can’t hear herself. The glass pony shatters, as do all the windows nearby. “That was pretty bad ass.” Joneigh hears screaming and weird sounds as all the darkites are sucked into the ground where they originated. Hurryup taunts them: “Who’s gonna die? My friend is a bad ass!”

The ponies are all pointing and talking to each other, but can’t hear each other over the ringing in their ears. Joneigh settles down and finishes her sandwich. Ash comes up, pulling the caravan, with Sunny and Shucks inside. “We made it!” Sunny says, “and wow!”

“What?” says everyone else.

Sunny asks, “Is anybody hurt?” She gets odd, misheard answers. So she writes in the air with flame. Everyone shakes their heads; Aurora writes back, “My ears don’t work.” Sunny starts making ear drops. Ash suggests they leave before the cops show up, and maybe the commotion will have drawn them away from Ravenstone; now might be the ideal time to get in. Prow Lee snaps his fingers and his car zooms up: Autumn, Hurryup, and Aurora jump in with him. Jimmy helps Ash pull the caravan and they head back the way they came.

At the sanatorium, Ash is getting out his weapons and suggests they all have some kind of weapon with them. They all kinda give him a look that says, “This isn’t our first rodeo.” He advises, “When you see a darkite, just do away with it. Don’t let it talk, don’t engage.”

Sunny and Aura “cock” their horns. Ash asks who can lead him to the grease spot. Joneigh leads the way to Walter’s room. It smells like they tried to clean but there is still glitter everywhere. “Did anyone else hear that?” Joneigh asks, pointing at a closet. Aura uses a field to open the door. There is a pony cowering in there: she is elderly and pulls out an ID that indicates she is an auxiliary member of the crime scene clean-up crew. She was hiding because when she was cleaning the stuff on the walls, it came to life and tried to kill her. “I even used Bon Ami!”

Jimmy sees her and says, “Aunt Nydia! What are you doing here? I thought you retired!”
“Jimmy, oh thank goodness you’re here!”

She is Nydia McCobb, Jimmy’s great aunt, retired but sometimes she needs a little extra cash and they needed everyone on this job. As they resume going toward Walter’s room, Nydia tells what happened to her: she was trying every soap and cleaning trick she knew to clean the images off the walls in one room when some of them leapt off the wall on and attacked her. Jimmy says they are gonna need a plasterer here too. Autumn pulls out her sketchbook and pencils and starts copying the drawings on the walls. Aura is trying to figure out how to just cut this room out of the building and utterly destroy it. Sunny notices that Autumn is not sketching the blank bits, but the things in the blank spots. She encourages her to stop sketching what they can’t see.

Aura yanks the pad out of Autumn’s hooves with a field. A bunch of critters jump out of the paper inside the bubble forming around the pad. Aura says, “Horse apples!” Autumn thanks her and grouches about stealing another artist’s brain. Jimmy asks if she has an eraser. She holds one up. Aura allows the eraser into the bubble and starts moving it all around. Sunny shoots fire into the bubble. Everything burns then turns to ashes and soot, then transforms into glitter.

Ash has been looking around the room, seeing how solid the walls are, and asks if this is where Pickmane died. Joneigh explains. He calmly replies, “Horse apples, we’re going to have to break into the morgue, aren’t we? There are three possibilities: Pickmane has been torn to pieces and possessed by several darkites; he was killed and eaten by the kind of darkites that do that sort of thing; or the darkites have decided he’s useful and they’re possessing him without killing him until they’re finished with him and then they’ll kill him.”

Autumn tries to parse it through about the timeline of how much and which insanity happened as the drawings were completed. Ash goes on about the darkites and the book and someone reading it aloud. Autumn surmises from this that Walter could still be alive! Joneigh suggests, soto voce, that this is why they learned to read with their lips shut.

Autumn suggests someone should go check out the weird pipe organ music that just started up somewhere in the building and some of them should go back to the caravan. Ash begins a don’t-split-the-party lecture. Joneigh suggests they get going and asks Ash to go first unless Aurora has to go first… aaaaannnnndddd Aura hurries out the door ahead of Ash and looks for the easiest way up to the tower and the spooky pipe organ music.

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My Little Boomstick
Let's just assume the Red Book has been read, okay?

January 2, 2021

After food, the group goes up to Aurora’s suite’s common room.

They settle in and Joneigh looks about and asks Shucks and Jimmy to take the ginormous fruit basket and champagne basket out onto the deck. Kronk is scurrying around with a tiny broom and box marked “bug sweep” to look for eavesdropping devices. Joneigh explains about being in the shop and Walter’s apartment, and that he’d been burgled and harmed and was in hospital. She mentioned Inspector Burnaby and Ravenstone Sanatorium and that Walter was agitated that she’d been in his shop (and was tracking in gold leaf).

There is a knock at the door and a bellpony has a silver tray with a telegram on it for Joneigh. Aura offers to open it when Joneigh dithers; Joneigh backs away in case it explodes. She requests it be burned. When the burn bubble is dumped into the fireplace, instead of ash; a couple puffs of gold glitter drift down.

They all go to bed, agreeing to get up at a set time and to follow two leads in the morning—talking to the inspector and tracking down the glitter-gross-pony from the restaurant.

At breakfast they ask about the glitter-gross-pony from the night before. He seems to be a regular there. First time he’s left a mess in the bathroom and sometimes he doesn’t pay, but he did last night. They ask his name, and the staff agree that he goes by Ash and maybe his last is Hemholdt? When asked if he is a regular, the bartender explains that Ash is more of a seasonal. They ask if he stays at the hotel and get a firm no. Joneigh asks if anyone knows where he resides, as he dropped something and she would like to return it. The employees do not know, so the group decides to see if they can follow a glitter trail from the back door, after they finish eating.

They follow the trail out the back door, down an alley and a couple roads, finding small plops of glitter at irregular intervals. The trail leads them farther and farther from the center of town and into the outskirts. Autumn pauses a moment to write a note to Night Messenger, then crumples it and tosses it into the air: “You DID send a telegram to Joneigh, right?” Then she hurries to catch up to her friends. Soon there is a pony trying to catch up to them calling, “Pony Express for Ms Gallery!” The telegram is from Night Messenger telling her yes he did send it; she replies thanking him.

There is a sign up ahead: “Moss Haven Caravan Park”. There is a little trail meandering between parked caravans. There is a stream and a pond, and at the edges some moss-covered trees. The glitter trail leads to a battered caravan that has signs in every window/vent/etc saying “No solicitors, no trespassers, no bill collectors, not kidding.” Joneigh just walks up and knocks on the door. She can hear snoring, so she pounds on the door. Thumps and crashes are heard from inside, and some noises like bottles roiling around or plates settling.

A voice inside calls out, “You did see the signs about bill collectors”. Autumn replies they don’t have any for him, yet. Joneigh says “yet?” They argue a bit.

Sunny notices a thing with a glint of light near a vent. They determine it is a periscope. Aurora waves at it. There is more thumping; the caravan rocks a bit. Aura has sneaked around the back in case the occupant makes a gallop for it. The caravan door opens and a disheveled pony, hastily dressed in yesterday’s clothes, is standing there. He has a prosthetic hoof. He says, “You better be looking for an autograph or be buying.”

He steps on a pedal and a shingle pops out on the side of the caravan. The shingle lists various prices for an autograph, a personalized autograph, and so on. The party has discussion that he is a fake and not the guy we were looking to pay. Hurryup says while we were doing that, she had sneaked inside and he just rolled his eyes and made a bloody Mary. He did have a lot of weapons and secret compartments. Oh and gold glitter everywhere.

As they are making their way back to town, Joneigh asks “Did I mention the monster?” She explains about the attack from the monster and the place was ransacked—that could’ve been the monster or this Ash guy. They discuss if this guy might be after the monster, but he couldn’t track it here, as it just appeared. Or he could be opportunistic and burglaring. They decide to go check in with the Inspector and then go see Walter.

As the inspector is not in, they continue on to the hospital. Joneigh leaves him a note about the gold leaf and the guy who was covered in it at the restaurant. Aurora stops to buy flowers on the way in an effort to cheer up the insane bookbinder. As they approach the sanatorium, Joneigh notices the inspector leaving it. She catches up to him and explains about the note she left him. As she is telling him this, several police vans arrive, accompanied by some hearses. The inspector asks where they were last night; they explain. He says there were about 85 murders in the sanatorium. This shocks them and they stammer about is Walter okay/alive/etc. And the inspector says none of those words apply to him anymore. This makes Joneigh and Autumn very sad. Aura deadpans that her bouquet of flowers can now be employed with equal facility at his funeral.

The group is separated by the constables for statements about their whereabouts last night. While they are being separated, Hurryup drifts away and follows one of the morgue teams into the crime scene (picking up something to make her look official). There is glitter everywhere, and disemboweled ponies too. In fact, it looks as though instead of blood spray around each corpse there is glitter spray!

In Mr. Pickmane’s room there are writings and drawings all over the walls with artistic splatters of glitter across them all. A morgue technician is asking if they’d had a picture of the victim. Seems that one hoof is a different color than the other three they’ve found in the room. Another answers that the death is more important than what color the fur is. Hurryup uses her stolen clipboard to record some of the stuff from the walls. She returns to her friends and as they walk back to town, she tells them what she found inside. Hurryup shows her copied markings to Joneigh, who recognizes a picture of a creature that she thinks was in the red book.

They go back to Aurora’s suite where Kronk is making tea. Joneigh puts some spirits in hers. The rest of the group starts randomly asking questions. Then telegrams arrive. There is talk of needing an adult bandied about. Joneigh is pretty sure NO. Prow Lee takes exception to there not being any adults there. No one had noticed him.

Joneigh just burns her telegram. Aura’s telegram says she, Aurora, should not be the first to read the book, as she and Sunny should stand guard over whomever reads it. Hurryup’s says the sooner she reads it the less likely her friends are to die. Autumn’s says it is probably safe for her to read the book. There is further arguing about the book, and somepony notices that if you look at Hurryup’s drawing of what was on Mr Pickmane’s wall from certain angles, the figures in the drawing move. When Hurryup tries to see the movement, Joneigh feels something happening in her saddlebag, and becomes more adamant that no one is reading the book. Autumn talks to Joneigh about the book and responds that it isn’t her job to find all the copies… besides it is already red.

There is much argument about reading the red book. Kronk’s telegram looks like a bunch of scratchings; he disappears and promptly returns with more booze. Prow Lee is gone and his telegram is crumpled up on the ground. Aura picks it up and reads, “Don’t let Hurryup out of your sight.” Sunny reads her telegram, which asks if tornadoes are normal in Fillydelphia. P.S. Go step out on the balcony and look north. So several go out and look north. There seem to be a huge tornado with a lot of caravans swirling at the edges of it. Jimmy jumps down and starts running north. Shucks looks out trying to guess the best way down when he falls after Jimmy. Jimmy asks Shucks if he has any rope. “More than one, okay?” “You take the left and I’ll take the right, we need to get those caravans back on the ground.”

The group tries to decide where to go… hospital, library, tornado? Aura suggests to Joneigh that weather magic could help, and that they should go help ponies. Joneigh flies out the window. Everyone follows except Autumn, who tries to follow Hurryup and Prow Lee (who is not letting her out of his sight, damn his boss). Joneigh senses that the tornado is somehow made with unnatural magic instead of normal pegasus magic. She calls up weather magic and tries to send reverse winds against the tornado. There is lassoing of caravans and catching of flying ponies going on at the tornado, while Joneigh is flying anti-directional around the outside of it. Joneigh hears Shucks say, “Well, h,i fellers, can you help us get back down to the g… well that’s not very nice!” He seems to be tangled in the rope that is tied to a caravan with frightened ponies inside; there are screaming shadows swooping around it, laughing.

One has flown up to Shucks (who is holding a small pony) and the shadow-thing explodes in a BOOM, then turns to glitter. The group looks toward the source of the boom sound, sees a shabby caravan laying on its side and Ash standing atop it, cackling, “Take that Darkite!” He is wearing a different prosthetic than before, this one with some sort of gun: Kaboom!

Aurora continues to rescue ponies and then starts firing at the shadows, too. Joneigh is managing to reduce the tornado. Jimmy is trying to lasso all the caravans to pull to him. Sunny launches a big flare against the darkness. Now the shadows with very toothy mouths can be seen. A shadow calls out, “The book!” and makes a beeline at Joneigh, who hits it with lightning, making it smaller. Kaboom! Joneigh throws lightning again, boom-poof, and more glitter everywhere.

A group of the shadows are screaming back and forth to each other: “She has the book, get the book!” “I thought he had the book!” “Yes but she has the book, get the book!” “Get the book!”

Now half the shadows are going after Joneigh and the others are going after Ash. Kaboom, kapow, zap.

Jimmy is trying to protect Joneigh from the ground as best he can. Aura and Sunny keep pew-pew-pew-pew-ing. The group takes some damage except, of course, Jimmy. Shucks is down and surrounded by a puddle of glitter. Ash is shaking his Boomstick at the retreating shadows calling, “That’s right, that’s right, run back to your mama!”

Aurora says, “What the hell is that? And where is Hurryup?”

<jump>

“That my friends," Ash explains, "was a bunch of Darkites. Which means someone read the book, or they copied it!”

Joneigh says someone tried to put the title on the book, but didn’t read the whole thing. Ash responds that altering the book is probably just as bad as reading it.

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Pickmane's Dream
Who is that three-hoofed stallion?

December 5, 2020

Borealis shows up at Aurora’s room, she asks him in. He wants her to be executrix and trustee for his will and trust. She agrees, of course, and he says papers will be coming from Uncle Grits eventually. When he leaves he heads to the library to see Joneigh. He wants her to be an alternate executrix and trustee of the same document. She agrees and he heads to city hall looking for Autumn. He asks the same of her and she also agrees. Next on his list is Jimmy, who agrees. The trust will own the house and the trustees could, if a majority agrees, kick Borealis out. This clause is discussed by the trustees. They all eventually sign the will and the trust agreement.

The group are invited to Borealis’s new home for dinner. Jimmy brings Shucks and Aurora brings Constable Hobb. When they get there, Borealis welcomes them and points them toward the drink cart, says dinner is almost ready, and hurries back to the kitchen. Kronk takes over the drink mixing. Autumn takes the salad she and Joneigh brought into the kitchen and Joneigh takes a vase of flowers into the dining room. Autumn stops in the doorway and boggles at the chaos and items being manipulated about the kitchen by telekinesis and the large number of timers. The dinner all comes together (Borealis mentions how when his platoon took turns being in charge of cooking). At dinner Borealis makes a small speech to this ‘sorta family’. Mint Slush and Mountain Berry will be moving into his house along with Starbeam. There is a room for Moonbeam if he wants to stay there or actually move in. He adds that his father is looking for and interviewing for servants for the house.

Hurryup and Night Messenger are speeding back to Brindlebury in the back of Prow Lee’s car.

Early morning and Aurora is on her run. She sees a sort of glimmer in the empty pasture across the main road from the Wately Mill and the granary and a creepy house appears! Meanwhile, in the speeding vehicle, Night Messenger asks Hurryup if she wants to stop at her mother’s before they unload at the house. She says no, and he gives Prow Lee the location (telepathically, which freaks him out). Soon Aurora sees the car streak by and enter the drive to that house. She follows and sees the honeymooners making out in the drive as Prow Lee unloads the boot of the car.

Aurora notices that Hurryup is taller than she used to be. She compliments the couple on the house and grounds, etc. Hurryup thanks her. As Prow Lee steps up to the side door, he seems to be whisked inside, then he reappears at the door in a sort of butler’s uniform instead of his normal attire. He appears to be taller and his voice has gone very deep when he asks if Aura is joining them for morning tea. Aurora says that she doesn’t want to impose, but Night Messenger says it is no imposition. Prow Lee snarls under his breath about impositions and violation of body autonomy and he makes an obvious effort of concentration, and he returns to his normal height, normal attire, and his smoked glasses. Aurora thanks the couple for the invitation and they go in through the front door as Prow Lee is yanked back into the house via the side door (cue the big cartoon hook here). He is opening the front door as they approach and direct them to the front parlor. Aurora notices Zero Fail dressed in a strange costume with an obvious fake pair of sideburns and buck teeth, a battered hat, and saddlebags loaded with gardening tools. Zero Fail slips Aurora a note. Prowl Lee refers to the disguised Zero Fail as, “Gardner McYokel.” Night Messenger doesn’t remember hiring one, but Prow Lee reminds him when and where he did.

After tea, Aurora heads home and the honeymooners go across the street to visit Hurryup’s family. When Aurora is back home she reads the note, which asks her not to say anything in front of Night Messenger, as he and Prow Lee haven’t figured out what he’s really up to.

Later that day, Hurryup shows up at the library with a book that is years past due and a big bag of pennies. “I am returning this book and paying my fine.” Joneigh grabs the book and looks through it as Bristol wanders out and takes the money from Hurryup… he comes back and gives her a penny in change.

Hurryup asks, “Am I back in good standing? I want to borrow a book.” Joneigh says, “Hurryup is on probation and can’t take out a book out, but we could hold it in reserve for her here, and she can read it when she is at the library.” Hurryup says she wrote the name of the book down and hands Joneigh a note: The Red Book, by Ruby Nameless. Joneigh tells her that it isn’t there, it has been sent to Walter Pickmane in Fillydelphia for repair, and it’s been there a long time, which isn’t like him.

Hurryup suggests they go there to find out why and if he is okay. Joneigh doesn’t think a group needs to go, it is something she can do herself. She gets Bristol to cover the library, goes to tell Autumn she is leaving, and after a stop at the house to get anything she needs she flies east.

She arrives in Fillydelphia, finds a room and has dinner, then goes to bed, as she is tired. The next morning she finds Walter’s shop and there is a closed sign on the door. She knocks anyway. There is no noise from inside the house, so she moves to look in a window. She notices glittery stuff all over the porch and when she lifts her hoof there is gold leaf on it. The room looks disheveled: books knocked over and papers strewn around. She looks to see if there is a lighted or open window above the shop. She goes to the back door (locked), knocks, then tries it when nopony answers. She flies up to peer in windows of the living quarters and the rooms look as though they have been ransacked. She goes to the roof to see if there is an access door up there; there is and it is unlocked. Autumn calls her on their card and chatters at her about how her flight was and did she eat and how many books did she take to read and Joneigh grits her teeth, closes the door and tries to get her off the damn card.

She sneaks down the stairs and of course there is one creaky step. At the bottom there is a hall and doors, but she goes to the main room. It obviously had been searched and there is gold leaf everywhere. She investigates. There are a couple of spots where there are book dust covers, and near them are little black spots amongst the gold leaf. When she checks closely, there is impression where the gold leaf had been applied, but didn’t stick to the red book. At the main workbench, there are lots of tools and lots of gold leaf; several of the sharp tools are sticking out of the wall as if thrown at someone and missed. There are sketches laying around the floor, showing different ways to apply “The Red Book by Ruby Nameless”; so he had been working on the book.

She finally finds the book in the parlor meant for customers at the bottom of a pile of books that had fallen over. She decides that maybe Walter was here and having a fight with someone—an intruder?—and some ponies (police?) came in and took him away, leaving a calling card behind, and locked the place behind them. The card is for a certain Inspector Barnaby. Joneigh picks up the card and retraces her steps to the roof and heads off to the inspector’s office.

When she meets the Inspector, he tells her that Pickmane will be in hospital for quite some time. She is dismayed. The inspector wants to know if she knows of anyone who had a grudge against Pickmane. She does not; she is from out of town and did most of her interaction with Walter via post. He tells her the doctors may be able to tell her more. The name of the hospital is Ravenstone. On the map, that place is listed as a sanatorium.

Joneigh decides to eat before she goes to the hospital and while she is eating, she calls Autumn. She tells the story and she is going to get some research done on Barnaby and Ravenstone. She arrives and is warned not to agitate Walter: don’t mention books, gold leaf, or book covers. She is all, “Buh?” As she passes a potted plant, she automatically looks behind it—half expecting to see Hurryup there, as usual—and finds a note in an envelope. It is a note from Night Messenger seeing if she needs help from Hurryup or anyone. She thanks him and says she will scream for him. Then she meets with Walter.

Walter tells how, after repairing the binding of The Red Book, that each time he tried to emboss the title on the cover, a moment after he finished, the gold leaf would fly off in flakes. After several attempts, he realized he was hearing laughter when the book rejected the title. He decided to make an outer dust cover instead of putting the title on the cover itself, but whether he made the title and author’s name in gold leaf or black ink, the cover would throw it off as soon as he wrapped the dust cover around the book. The laughter got louder each time, and sometimes the book would leap off the table and attack him. Things escalated until somehow the book had maneuvered Walter into a position where he got a hoof caught in one of the book vices, and then the book carved Walter’s name, the titled of the book, and the author’s name into Walter’s flank. His screaming during that is what caused the neighbors to call the constables for help.

Joneigh is expressing sympathy and taking notes. Then Pickmane suddenly asks, “Do you hear the laughing?” Joneigh listens. “No.” Pickmane gets more agitated. “Did you go into the shop?” “Yes.” “It followed you! It’s come for you! It’s HERE!” By this point Pickmane is clopping about in circles and babbling louder. The orderlies come and wrestle him down and take him back to his room. He keeps ranting and getting more agitated all the way.

Joneigh leaves Ravenstone and heads back to her hotel, but calls Autumn in flight. She tells her an abbreviated version of how things were at the hospital and suggests that she contact the honeymooners to help get to Fillydelphia fast to help with the problem. She continues on to dinner at the hotel bar and Autumn goes to rally the troops.

In the hotel bar there are a pair of earth ponies, a young filly and a not-so-young stallion. He is obviously dying his mane and tail and has a prosthetic hoof. He is telling a tall tales to impress the filly. They go off toward the restroom. Eventually, a rather irritated filly comes back across the bar, followed by the disheveled older stallion… who heads to the bartender asking if there is a back way out and winks at Joneigh on the way by (she looks behind her, shrugs, and goes back to her dessert). The stallion goes out the back door. Joneigh finishes her meal and heads up to bed.

Prow Lee’s car pulls up and as the group are figuring out rooms and luggage, they overhear several employees discussing the mess in the bar restroom, which now has glitter everywhere. Autumn checks with the concierge to see if Joneigh is in —he thinks she may be in the bar. Autumn doesn’t find Joneigh, so calls her. They agree to meet in the restaurant. The whole group is there and Joneigh is catching them up. At one point the waitress apologizes for the gold glitter being on a glass or two as it just gets everywhere. Joneigh notices it on a glass and says that is gold leaf, like was all over Walter’s place. Then she makes the connection between the restroom, the stallion, and the glitter. She explains. Aura says, "In a public restroom?! Eugh! How gross.”

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Houses and Add-ons and Books, Oh My!
Home again, home again, jiggity jig!

November 28, 2020

Aunt Blue has taken the office of mayor and found someone to appoint as the new sheriff of Windsmouth. Joneigh spends a day going over the job and her 10” binder of notes. Then the group heads home to Brindlebury.

Borealis is looking to buy an abandoned house on property in town, to upgrade into a home for him and Starbeam. Jimmy is going with Borealis to visit Grits to help with the arrangements and also to help him find a house. Sunny is concerned about her aged patient, Mauve Finery, whom she hasn’t seen recently. She makes a house call and she is still alive! Aurora visits Hobb to check in and tell him how she missed him. Autumn and Joneigh are considering expanding their house in case they end up with Starbeam as well as Moonbeam.

Once the house is purchased, Aurora visits to see how her brother is doing, if he needs anything, and finds him dressed as a cleaner, with mop heads attached to each hoof. She starts to leave him with his kinks, and he says no… he is cleaning. “Why don’t you just use magic?” “It is more fun this way!” Aura laughs until she realizes he is serious. He offers to make her tea and they can look through the bags of gifts she brought for him. As she leaves, Aura notices the landscaping and decides he needs a fog lawn and a shade tree. She spends some time on the grounds, testing her magical senses and trying to feel the same things she felt when, during Crystal Slippers! she and Autumn changed places. With an excellent effort, she feels… something… and may, in fact, be the first unicorn to learn Earth Pony magic!

When Joneigh goes to the library (she really missed the books) she finds a box waiting for her, delivered while she was gone. She dons her goggles and gloves before opening, since it was addressed to and from herself! It is full of books and there is a note from Agent Ayyyyy: “We recently completed an inventory and this property of the Brindlebury library was in our headquarters, where it does not belong.” This makes her happy! She can stop writing angry letters to the Mares in Black and she can put the books back onto the shelves. She finally takes that one book—the one that always makes her frustrated because the red cover has no title on it—to the post office to send off Walter Pickmane of Fillydelphia (the eccentric bookbinder of note), to get the gold leaf embossed onto the spine.

Autumn has chatted with Shucks about wanting to add on to the house for extra ponies and so there is already a couple of rooms haphazardly stuck onto their house. She goes out to the garden and calls her dad about her aunt. When he answers there seems to be yet another battle. She asks him to call her back when it is more convenient.

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Crystal Slippers!
Am I Pretty?

November 14, 2020

[There is a sting after the end credits from Thar’s a New Sheriff in Town. The camera focuses on a small house and a hoof knocking on the door. It opens and a pony looks at the mare standing on the porch. “Hi! Yes, it is me and you are my biggest fan!”

“How’d you know that?” asks the pony in the house.

“I read it in here,” says Hurryup, holding up a fanzine. ”May we come in?” The camera pans back to put Night Messenger in the frame. He is sharpening a knife. They follow the pony inside.

Fade to black.]

The group has convinced Aunt Blue to run for mayor and Joneigh is endorsing her and helping with campaign stuff.

Shucks and Jimmy are going off to explore the tower to be sure nothing bad is still lingering there. Aura wants to go along and Autumn will follow suit. Hurryup is employed to show them the stuff she discovered days before while sneaking around the compound: she shows them the chamber with the pool that the idol sat in—only the base is still there. Aura practices using her great-great-grand-uncle’s spell to cut up the base and drop the chunks through the clouds, and in so doing, exposes some pipes leading from the wall to the pond.

Hurryup is looking for cult paraphernalia to stick in the pond, as it oddly looks swampy and coated with algae: a little weird for having been only a few days. The stuff she puts in just get slimy, and nothing else happens. Jimmy pokes it with a stick, which just moves the water about. Sunny takes a sample in a vial. Shucks suggests they extend the pipes down through to the clouds, eels are happier in clouds. Jimmy goes in search of pipes and to let Blue know that this may be a larger problem and the infrastructure should probably be inspected.

Hurryup goes searching for more brass goblets and things for Jimmy and Shucks to make pipes from (she keeps any gold or silver she happens across). While rummaging in one cabinet, with mostly glass things, she finds something that look like glass horseshoes. She immediately puts them on, because that is what horseshoes are for! They fit absolutely perfectly! She looks around, wondering why it got so much brighter in this dark little pantry. She hurries out to the other room where she remembers seeing a mirror—and sees in it a very familiar face—the Mare on the Moon! “Hello your Ho-ness!” She finally realizes it is a MIRROR and that is her own reflection looking back at her!

She goes trotting down the stairs to where her friends are making pipes.

The group is working there, when they hear steps coming down the stairs. They look around at the steps and see the Mare in the Moon coming toward them. Aura starts yelling insults and throwing things telekinetically.

“It’s me!” the Mare shouts.

“It’s her! Where did you come from?”

“I came with you, you yobo!”

Aura keeps flinging things at her, Sunny stares wide-eyed and backs up. “Help!” The brass things hit Hurryup, as she can’t seem to dodge or conjure magic. Then magic washes over her making her look like Hurryup.

“Now there are three Hurryups?" Aurora exclaims. "Damn it!”

When the magic washed over her, Hurryup suddenly feels like Aurora Jane is the most beautiful pony ever and why did she ever think any other was as attractive?! She starts stumbling toward Aura. Aurora siphons the icky pond water and splashes Hurryup with it.

Hurryup pleads, “Just let me love you!”

Sunny notices the horseshoes, as they are repelling the slime.

Hurryup continues to plead with Aurora. “Why is it bad, I just want to love you! No amount of algae can taint our love.”

Autumn has been looking back and forth between them; now she focuses on the shoes and sees runes on them that say, “Worship Me.” She suggests taking the shoes off of Hurryup.

Aura holds her in the bubble and Sunny works at pulling the shoes off, mid-seduction. Her eyes go back to normal and she asks why they threw stuff at her. She goes translucent and slides through the bubble, leaving the slime behind.

They put the shoes in a bag that Autumn had with her. They ask Hurryup to show them where she found the crystal shoes. In the same cupboard they find an athame (a black-handled dagger used in witchcraft), a decanter, and some crystal goblets with runes that say, “Blood Sisters.” Autumn decides to try drinking water from them with Hurryup. Aurora and Sunny stand by to shoot.

Autumn uses the matching decanter to pour and when they clink glasses the water ripples colors and turns blood-red. They finish it and it tastes really yummy!

Autumn: “Do I look different?”

Aurora: “Show me your teeth!”

She smiles widely at Aura. “Are they pointy?”

Since the red liquid seems to have passed straight through Hurryup, Aurora tries drinking from one of the goblets. When Aurora and Autumn drink, a ripple runs through their bodies and they look like each other now. And their magic switches, too: Aurora can sense everything about the ground far below, but when Autumn tries to levitate something, she sets it on fire instead. They try the goblets again and switch back. Aura says, “Oh, thank fuck!” They try their own magic again and it works.

When they get back, Shucks and Jimmy tell Joneigh about the pipes and the algae and the eels and the horseshoes that make Aurora look pretty (that’s not what they do, but that’s how it gets reported) and the decanter/glasses that seem to swap people into different bodies. Autumn excitedly adds about magic being harder than she thought and asks, “How do you think magic through the horn or how do you do magic through your wings Joneigh? Is there a extra brain there? It must be just as hard as through a horn.”

Joneigh gets a headache and suggest camomile tea for her and a lie down. Then she goes to the library all night to dig out the lore.

Later that night…
Aurora, Autumn, and Hurryup are dreaming about mostly dark ponies and there is cake, it is red like blood spurting from a wound. Hurryup is going to have cake, the others are trying dissuade her. The cakes looks like Mother Malice and the other two of the Sisters who were devoured by the giant cloud eel. Hurryup listens and continues stuffing her face with cake.

As soon as they wonder if it falls thru this “ghost” Hurryup, it does, like their thoughts have some effect on their surroundings.

Autumn is looking around at moth ponies and cakes and then the Mare in the Moon shows up.

Aurora and the Mare in the Moon verbally sparred for several moments: the Mare in the Moon asserts that Princess Celestia will never allow Aurora to become a Princess. Midway through the conversation, Autumn gets exasperated and demands to know why Nightmare Moon and most of the other Deathless won’t answer questions. “Stop dropping cryptic hints and just give us a straight answer!”

The Mare in the Moon becomes irritated, replying that her job in the pantheon wasn’t to simply give ponies answers, but to provide dreams that allowed them to find their answers on their own. During the back-and-forth, the Nightmare Moon notes that sometimes Autumn is just as irritating as her father, but other times sounded more like her aunt, with a clear implication that the aunt is much more highly regarded among the Deathless.

Autumn asks the Mare why they are there. The Mare in the Moon confirms that it is almost certainly because they used the Blood Sisters crystal glasses. There is more discussion. Joneigh is mentioned and the Mare excuses herself from arguing with Autumn to go over and look through a mirror. She is looking at Joneigh, who is studying in the library at Aunt Blue’s house and she is muttering to herself; piles of books around her. A paper floats down toward Joneigh and the books and the Mare reaches through the mirror and pulls the note back. She reads it and then it goes up in flames.

Autumn argues about choice with the Mare, and how she shouldn’t be taking it away from ponies. Later, she learns her Aunt’s name: Seed Sower. Autumn tries to get the Mare to admit that this dream is side effect imbued into the crystal when it was created (partly by the Mare). Autumn decides to wake up from the dream and get some sleep. She wakes, rolls over, goes back to sleep and dreams she can see and overhear Hurryup and Aura in the dream, but isn’t there.

Aurora continues to try to get the Mare in the Moon to give her useful information about how to become a Princess. The Mare is snarky for a while, but then shifts gears to try to warn Aurora of dire consequences if Celestia decides that Aurora is a threat.

The next morning…
Then there is a knock on the Aurora’s door saying breakfast is ready. Joneigh asks Autumn “What about the eggcup?”

A: “What eggcup, there’s an eggcup? We should go back for it!”

J: “Just don’t put an egg in it.”

A: “Why what happens?”

J: “Tentacles.”

A: “Ohhh, okay then.”

Aura shows up with a package addressed to Joneigh, grumbling about other people getting mail through her dragon. It is a package from the Mare in the Moon with all the missing notes from Night Messenger that Nightmare Moon had intercepted; with a note of apology for taking them, that Autumn was right about choice.

They go to the tower to get the eggcup.

Joneigh finds it on the floor rolled under the bottom shelf. Autumn turns to go and she sees an ice-box that wasn’t there yesterday. “Hey, that wasn’t here yesterday. Let’s open it.”

“Um, no? We don’t open something that is magically here today that wasn’t yesterday.”

Autumn puts on Joneigh’s protective gloves and opens the main door: shelf after shelf of eggs are in there. She slowly closes the door and then puts a padlock on it.

They go back to Blue’s and she tells Aura and Sunny about the box of eggs that magically appeared. A few days later, the votes are counted and Blue is mayor. The group will stay around till she appoints a new sheriff so Joneigh can brief her on the job—and giver her the manual she has written.

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Letters from "Home"
"I didn't sign up for this... " Joneigh

October 24, 2020

The group hurry to the surface because of what the big worm told them: pegasus ponies in danger!

Autumn reminds everyone of the stories they heard as kids about those things that would pretend to be someone they know, so they decide on code words that only pertain to each of them—

Aurora – blue jay
Autumn – cherries jubilee
Jimmy – corn starch
Sunny – sparrow
Hurryup – hasty pudding
Vaporum – Honeydew juice

Aurora goes first, then Jimmy and Sunny, followed by the rest, running to the surface and into the clearing. There are the six pegasi and the cart. All seems calm. To test them, Aura asks how much she agreed to pay them. She gets six different answers; only one is correct. They all look a little confused. Aura puts a telekinesis bubble around all the pegasi but one! It emits a weird flash or magic from an invisible horn. Sunny and Jimmy thwack the pony that didn’t get into the bubble and it changes form, becoming an unconscious changeling on the ground.

The pegasi in the bubble all panic—“Ewwww what is that thing?!” Aurora agitates the bubble like a cruel kid with an ant farm. Four of the five in the bubble figure out the rhythm (one screaming, “Mother Malice was right! EVIL unicorn! EVIL unicorn!”) and adjust their flight to avoid the force field. The fifth turns into a changeling and is buzzing around angrily, zapping at the bubble. Aura prepares to release just that one. Jimmy and Sunny get ready to hit it, Autumn is trying to make the ground softer to trap it. It eludes Sunny’s shot, but not Jimmy’s slap-down. It has a thin blue shield around its body.

“Don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me!”

Autumn wants to know if the ones left in the bubble are really the ponies’ friends or more changelings. It answers that it has no friends. Jimmy asks where its hive is.

“Who said I have a hive? Oh, you think I’m a changeling?"

Aura and Autumn ask questions. One gets Autumn’s question—"Who is the sheriff of Windsmouth?"—right. Aura lets that one out of the bubble, then asks, “What amount of money did I agree to pay you for flying us here?” Everypony gives different answers. The GM says 18 bits is correct, but no one thinks the one who answered is convincing. Sparkle Flutterwings—the leader of the pegasi—says, “Can changelings make lightning?” She flutters her wings and little flickers of electricity float from her wings. Unable to create lightning, the remaining pegasi reveal themselves as changelings, still trapped in the bubble and attacking it with pathetic little zaps. Aura shrinks the bubble some to stop them. Sunny is moving the two other changelings into the bubble from the ground.

Autumn goes to peek over the cliff again and sees five pony-sized cocoons hanging from the cliff a little way down. Autumn uses her earth pony magic to make steps down to the cocoons so they can be retrieved to the clifftop. They open the cocoons and wake the ponies. Explanations are given to them. Autumn calls Joneigh on her trump card to find out how to get rid of them. Joneigh’s book says to tap the five times to clear them… whatever that means. So they give the recently released pegasi some tea and cakes before tapping them, just to make sure. Aura releases the changelings one by one; they are blindfolded and bopped on the head by Jimmy. Pretty soon they have a pile of sleeping changelings. The away team heads back to Windsmouth.

MEANWHILE, back in Windsmouth

A black-winged pony walks into the sheriff’s office and introduces himself as Heron Blur. He babbles on for a while. Joneigh is not impressed. Heron wants to be mayor and thinks Joneigh would make a wonderful permanent sheriff. Shucks goes off to inspect the secnd hole in the clouds.

Later, Etheria Skylark comes in—someone Joneigh interviewed from the eel eating time. She is having bad dreams. The sheriff calms her fears and offers her some of Aunt Blue’s calming tea to help with the stress. Windy Daydreamer—the town clerk—comes by at lunchtime and begs Joneigh to convince Aunt Blue to run for mayor because both Heron Blur and Gale Skylark would both be a disaster. Shucks comes running back in soon after, apologizing for not being back in time for lunch… there was an outbreak of rainbows at the end of the street and it took a while to sort out.

Joneigh goes to Dibbler’s for lunch. She hands some to Shucks and then eats at her desk. She chats with him about the hole he inspected. He rambles on until her eyes glaze over. Shucks asks about her candidacy for mayor while they eat. There was also a note on the receipt from Dibbler’s that had a line on it about the same topic. She goes to see Windy at the clerk’s office and lets her know if something is turned in that it might be nice to ask if she is interested before putting her name forward. Windy indicates that any petitions turned in without having been approved ahead of time would automatically be invalidated!

On her way back, Joneigh is stopped by Borealis and Starbeam who ask if she has heard from their friends. She hasn’t, but says there hasn’t been a billowing cloud of smoke from that part of the country, so things are probably fine. Later, when she hears from Autumn via her trump card, Shucks is very excited and wants them to bring a changeling back for his kill-jar… he also really wants to go see the cragadile.

About dinnertime the group reunites at Aunt Blue’s. Shucks is asking anyone who will listen about the cragadile and wants a map to where it is. Everyone notices Joneigh is a bit crankier than they expect her to be. She tells them about the mayoral race and begs Aunt Blue to apply. Joneigh mentions a large pile of letters that have come for Aura while she was gone. The gang sends more food and drink up to Aura while she’s trying to read all of the messages in order.

Some messages are from her family—her father and mother, and many more she hasn’t corresponded with in years who are just fishing for gossip—but most are from Princess Celestia and the Mare in the Moon. Celestia’s messages are all of a tone like, “Oh, my faithful student; I’m sorry we haven’t talked in a while…!” without offering any information or advice, whereas the Mare in the Moon’s messages all seem to be a running commentary on what was happening at the cave of the Cthonians and the subsequent encounter with changelings.

There is a letter from Maize for Jimmy as well: someone has killed █ █ █ █ █ █ █ █ █ and she wondes if Jimmy cares and whether she should be going after the pony who did it—Maize suspects Hurryup. There is also a letter in care of Aura to Autumn from The Three Sisters. Aurora is a little miffed that she is getting mail for so many ponies, but brings it to Autumn. She looks around at everyone and then opens it carefully. It is a note offering “one (1) resurrection” without an extension of her obligation to them, due to a contract elsewhere being interfered with. No one really understands this part until Autumn gets out her magnifying glass and locates the fine print, which details the circumstances under which the resurrection cannot take place—e.g., if the soul of the person to be resurrected has been sequestered or consumed by a being of equal or greater power to the Three Sisters. This leads everyone to assume the interfered contract was █ █ █ █ █ █ █ █ █’s, and that Hurryup did the interfering with help from Night Messenger.

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And thousands of Voices Screamed Out as One in Terror

October 10, 2020

Next day several of the group are breakfasting with Starbeam and Borealis. Autumn and Joneigh offer a room and start thinking on how they can remodel the house to accommodate all the strays they keep accumulating. Aurora is off looking for detached unicorn horns and collecting them. She is starting at the Tower. This could take a while.

The sheriff (Joneigh) is investigating some unusual deaths of council members and others that said yes to the eels, giving their permission to be eaten. She is dubious about these, as they were folk that didn’t seem to agree with Mother Malice. She takes Shucks and he can see where folk died because of shed eel skins. In one home they find a diary with spindly writing saying as the rest of the family has “succumbed to the madness” this person will say yes as well. There is another note/will at another house that says they are doing this to further the cause of bringing Mare in the Moon back to her rightful place as ruler of Equestria. The next home is that of a council member and Joneigh notices a very slight burn mark on the keyhole to the front door, which is standing open; it looks to her as if it is from unicorn magic. Shucks is looking at the ground near the porch; he says it looks like thousands of the eels came up here, which is really strange and different from the other houses. Then he sees a HUGE pile of eel skins just inside the door and says this is odd—the eels were chewing at the rug, and there is a bloodstain. Maybe they were chewing the bloodstains away… making a path leading upstairs. There are more eel skins here and the eel feasting looks more like what happened at the other houses they have visited.

“There were two ponies at the door when the eels came in, one was severely injured and it ran up the stairs, the other stayed behind to fight and lost; the eels seemed to eat up the bloody carpet as they followed and got him at the top of the stairs; and then just took the others. Why did the pony run if he was saying Yes?” Joneigh explains that Shucks has done a good job, it is now the sheriff’s job to figure out and explain what happened. This relieves Shucks.

Aurora is searching Mother Malice’s office for horns, and is being VERY thorough about it. She finds some horns and some sex toys and a book with a blank red cover. The first page of the book has “A Crescentric Fantasy” on it. She tucks into her saddlebags for later. She finds a storeroom full of feathers (still a bit of blood on the tip).

“They use it for Blood Magic”, says a voice behind her. She spins around and no one is there.
“Who’s there?”
“That’s a difficult question to answer, am I there? Is something wrong?”
“I can’t see who’s talking to me, so it’s a little rude. Did you forget to flip a switch? Or are you tiny?” Aura looks about her with this voice in mind and realizes every room she has been in has at least one portrait, picture, or shrine, of the Mare in the Moon. [Gene has to splain here – why she sees Aura] [and more about becoming a princess]
Then she asks that Aura to give her warmest regards to the Whately girl.

There is a note waiting for Aurora wrapped about a letter asking for her to send the letter via the dragon-mail. Everyone else feels “somethings wrong” when they walk into Aunt Blue’s. Jimmy and Joneigh feel like “millions of ponies called out in terror at the same time”. Vaporum is running around with a sage smudge to purify the house. We determine that it is probably the pile of severed unicorn horns and feathers that Aurora brought back with her. Autumn uses her trump card to call her dad and ask for the nearest lava pit. He says one is 20 miles away on a peak and that she could detect it once she was there. They check out this plan with Blue and with the others in the group. They discuss it, then send Jimmy for a cart from the cult compound to carry the horns/feathers, invite Vaporum to come along. Shucks, Borealis, Starbeam and Joneigh are staying behind to work on the reorganization and rebuild of Windsmouth.

The away team decides to leave as soon as possible. They go off with some hired pegasi, flying them in the cart.

Aurora is wanting to see the cards that Autumn uses, so she could duplicate them. Autumn looks around and sees Hurryup is reading a book inside the Almanac as “cover”. She also notices a locket hanging from Aura’s necklace, so she asks about it. Aura starts and says, “How did that get there?” and pulls it off, then opens it. Inside is a picture of Hurryup on one side and Night Messenger on the other. It speaks to her about wanting a way to communicate. Autumn sidles up to Hurryup: “Whatcha reading?” Hurryup shows her and Autumn looks at it and turns her head upside down to see the tangled ponies (Celestia and Night Messenger).

Morning is coming when Autumn sees the peak she thinks they are looking for and points it out. They land on the mountain and Autumn leads them to the place where the lava pit is located. She finds the cave and they walk in. Autumn ties a scarf around her nose, and they keep walking. It is getting humid and they hear dripping. Aurora sees the lake of water first; Autumn says, “That isn’t what I expected but there is lava past the lake.” They discuss how to get across and settle on Aura creating a bridge with her magic across the lake. Everyone crosses the magic bridge. They can see glowing fish in the lake and then a large crocodile shape following under the ponies on the bridge. On the other side of the lake, it is starting to feel warmer. They continue they smell sulfur and see slime on the walls.

Autumn stops to investigate, but doesn’t discover anything weird, but now they are in a lava tube! It starts getting lighter up ahead. They chat about what they will do when they get to the lava. Aura wants to watch the items dissolve or whatever. A strange voice interrupts their musing about the potential to encounter lava lizards, discounting them as mythical, though fire spiders make sense. They look around and realize that it is in their heads. Autumn determines that it is the walls; she puts her hoof on the wall. “That tickles!” [Gene Placeholder for the Earthbreaker fight, etc]

It seems they are Chthonians. The ponies hear something that sounds like a siren/klaxon. The tube expands as they continue, and there is a very short lip before the lava which stops their forward progress, except Hurryup who slips over the lip and hits a pile of geodes, knocking some into the lava. The siren gets louder! Those geodes are actually eggs. Autumn uses her Earth magic to make a solid column of lava to push the eggs back out. Chthonians are BIG, and have started to come out of the walls. One tries to grab Hurryup but the tentacle goes through her, [Gene to explain what the fuck is going on I lost track of the different worms] Aurora hauls all the severed horns, sex toys, and feathers out of her saddlebags and drops the whole lot into the lava.

The large worm in the lava says, “Is this a gift?” (The group all whispers to say yes say yes!!) She does and makes a vague motion toward a curtsy. The big one then says to Autumn that she should hurry back to the surface and help the ponies she left there that are being captured by Changelings. Jimmy turns and heads to the surface and the others follow.

Cthonian.jpg

Cthonian by Loïc Muzy on ArtStation.

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As the Worm Turns

September 26, 2020

Joneigh escorts Borealis to the jail and locks him into a cell. She then deputizes Shucks to help keep the prisoner safe and protect the town from evil doers.

The group discusses what to do about Starbeam. The group raids the sheriff’s office for a gun and hoofcuffs and some law books.

Sunny sidles up to the bars of the cell to talk to Borealis.The group takes a half step to the right (together) to give them space… while still listening HARD. Borealis apologizes for getting himself arrested. Sunbeam says it isn’t his fault, but now he needs to let his friends help him. And to let her help him, because, “That’s a girlfriend’s job,” which makes Borealis go a bit melty.

Then the gang heads back to Aunt Blue’s where they can talk openly. Aurora asks Blue how much she knows about the Sisters of Sincerity. Will they turn her away if she shows up with a backlog of birthday gifts and want to see Starbeam? Aunt Blue suggests they won’t know until they try.

They head back to the tower, everypony helping with the carrying of gifts. Aura steps up to the reception desk and asks to see Sister Starbeam. Visitation hour is in about an hour an a half, she is in her studies just now. The group decides on lunch. Hurryup does her sneaky thing and goes off to find Starbeam.

Hurryup finds that Starbeam IS studying—in what is like an arena, surrounded by pegasus ponies armed with unicorn horn wands, she is practicing fighting unicorns. “Go for the kill!” she is instructed. Hurryup then lifts some uniform bits and a status necklace. She meets back up with the group at Dibbler’s cart having deep fried alfalfa cakes.

Aurora and the others return at the aforementioned visitation hour and are escorted into the complex to a morning-type room. Soon Starbeam is brought in by Sister Daybreak. Starbeam is a bit wary of Aurora, though she seems to warm a bit when Aurora agrees that Borealis can be a bit dense. Then the conversation turns into Starbeam attempting to proselytize about worship of the Mare in the Moon. Aurora nods along and asks questions to keep her talking.

Meanwhile, Daybreak is being intently interested in Aurora, so Autumn and Joneigh run interference by chatting her up and blocking her view. The distraction works and soon she is trying to convert them. They have been joined by Hurryup who is curious about the whole “blood of the larvae” bits. While Aura is talking with Starbeam, Sunny checks the teen surreptitiously for brainwashing and sees several telltale signs that yes, she has been.

The gong sounds for end of visitation hour.

The group leaves the gifts Aura brought and they leave.

Mother Malice stops Joneigh on her way out. She wants the sheriff to deliver the third ordeal instructions to the prisoner. She then turns to Aurora, and wants to ask a personal question. She’s noticed that Aura is “touched” by the Mare in the Moon, and wonders why isn’t she a part of the Sisterhood. Aura answers in a circular way, implying that it isn’t any business of the Malice’s. Aurora offers to call the Mare if she needs to know more right now. Mother Malice demurs. They part.

The gang goes back to Blue’s to do some gossip/research and to check the summons (combat to the death between Borealis and Sister Starbeam). They check with Blue about the letter of the law about the ordeal. Starbeam is underage and cannot legally volunteer.

Jimmy and Joneigh go back to the jail with the summons, followed by the rest of the group. “Deputy, report”. Shucks was reading a big book, with Borealis helping him with the big words. He reports that all is well. The book is a biology book and he thinks he has an idea to fix the eels.

Once Borealis reads the summons, he wants to reverse his decision to appeal the death sentence. As his legal counsel, Jimmy gives him reasons why he shouldn’t and what problems there are with the summons. If Borealis withdraws his appeal, Starbeam will be truly orphaned, for one, and she will still be in the clutches of the Sisterhood. The ordeal, as stated in the summons, isn’t legal, and if they bring this up after the ordeal begins, the Sisterhood can’t substitute another. Jimmy is confident that if he takes Borealis’s place, he can save Starbeam without any harm coming to her.

After more urging from Aurora, Sunny, and Joneigh, Borealis agrees to the plan.

Next they head to the registrar’s office at city hall to have Hurryup petition to be Starbeam’s legal guardian.

During the night, Shucks, with the help of Aunt Blue’s gardener, Garden Tiger, and some of the others, scours neighboring yards for herbs which can be used to lure the cloud eels into newly created clouds, which they hope will allow the large holes in Windsmouth’s foundation to be repaired.

The next morning they go to the tower grounds. Hundreds of pegasus ponies from the community jam the seats of the arena.

The Sisters of Serenity have had the enormous larva idol brought out and placed at one end of the arena, so that the loser of the ordeal may be swiftly sacrificed. Mother Malice and her assistants, Sister Daybreak and Sister Gloaming, stand before a trio of thrones on a viewing standing above and behind the idol.

Jimmy, dressed in old-fashioned earth pony armor, complete with a visored helmet, declares that he is representing Borealis. Starbeam is brought in, and seems put out that she is not getting to kill that murderous pony herself.

The ordeal officially begins!

Blasts, dodges, and counters go on! Starbeam trained to fight another unicorn, who would presumably have to stop in order to aim countershots. Jimmy never stops moving. Jimmy kicks up clouds from the floor while fighting. He finally gets her in a grapple. A stray shot goes wild and almost hits Aurora who deflects it… right at the horn on Sister Malice’s helmet, but Mother Malice has a anti-magic shield.

There is a very loud rolling thunderclap, followed by Aunt Blue who calls out, “This must stop!” She is with Hurryup, the town registrar, and Vaporum on the reviewing stand. They announce that it is illegal for a minor to volunteer for a fight to the death. Starbeam’s birth mother—Hurryup—has petitioned to be her legal guardian, and officially refuses to grant permission for Starbeam to participate.

Joneigh makes out Starbeam asking where she is, who Jimmy is, and why is his hoof on her face?! Jimmy lets her stand, and after she shakes her head, as the brainwashing seems to have worn off, she spins toward the review stand and calls out to Mother Malice: “You killed my Mother!” and tries to zap her.

Mother Malice stands and declares that the ordeal has not been won by the petitioner, and everyone who has conspired to disrupt the ordeal will pay the price. The statue cracks and a giant larva is there! Jimmy suggests, as she is the loser, Mother Malice should feed the larva.

“It is what She would want, after all,” says Aurora.

Mother Malice tries to control the larva to attack the gang. Shucks charges it, singing the Predators’ Lullaby to stop the larva from eating innocent ponies. He trips over the kicked up cloud and one bag of herbs flies out of his saddlebags, flies over the larva, and and cover the thee sisters.

The giant larva’s head follows the flying bag of herbs with great interest. It turns to go for the sisters, who are all spiced up by the herbs. It scoops them up in one bite and crunches them. Shucks and Jimmy sing at the larva. It seems content to roll in the herbs like a cat with nip. It suddenly turns into a bunch of cloud eels which all slither down into the clouds.

The group will remain in town for a few days to help patch up the clouds and help with the election of a new mayor and permanent sheriff, and to help with the order’s reorganization. One day when Aurora walks into her room at Blue’s, there is a flat, black envelope waiting on her vanity. Inside is a single sheet of black stationery, with a short note written in glimmering silvery ink the color of moonlight.

All it says is, “Why didn’t you call me?”

Aura puts it away and on her own stationery writes a response: “If it’s ever necessary, I shall.” She addresses it to the Mare in the Moon, seals it up and puts it in the mail-dragon.

The other ponies, meanwhile, make arrangements to take Starbeam back home with them.

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Thar's a new Sheriff in Town
supporting the back burner, supporting the back burner!!!!

Early morning [Gene stuff] Joneigh comes down to the kitchen, but hears someone at the door clearing their throat, she recognizes it is Zero Fail… who then knocks. She goes into the kitchen for her tea and mentions to Autumn that he is at the door. She sits and sips. Autumn goes to the door and Zero is there, with an oddly wiggly book standing on the corner of the porch. He says he has to leave Brindlebury, but had found a note when he was getting his tea. It was from his former employer asking him to do something off in another part of Equestria. He trotted across to tell Prow Lee and found that EVERYTHING in his room was gone, including the rug and the paint off the wall. There was a note from HIS employer: Note_to_Zero_Fail.png

So Zero is going to hurry off to do the thing for his past employer, so he can go see what kind of trouble Prow Lee is getting into. He says he has a gift for her, it is a glasses chain with jewels; for her glasses. It is magic that makes it so she will never lose her glasses. He also wants to swap the book jiggling on the porch for one that Joneigh has: Supplication of the Faithless for I Was Once What You Are, You Will Be What I Am, which smells like an old crypt. They make the trade and he rushes off. He says he will let her know what he finds out and he hopes to see them soon.

As Autumn is closing the door she hears someone calling Hurryup Ann in her head, and a weird staticy hologram of Agent A forms itself and talks to Hurryup [Gene stuff] – He talks to someone “off camera”, makes sure Hurryup knows that the foster pony of Autumn and Joneigh cannot go to Windsmouth; it is too dangerous for him there.

Meanwhile, at Jimmy’s farm…
Jimmy can hear Shucks saying that “Nononono, of course I don’t give you permission to eat me!” He seems to be talking to the cloud eels in the pond. He asks Jimmy to find Joneigh to come freeze the pond. Jimmy goes to Autumn’s and knocks on the backdoor. Joneigh opens the door and greets him. He asks if she can come freeze a pond. Joneigh flies off to help Shucks and so Jimmy and Autumn go by road. When she gets there, Shucks and Corn Silk are singing a lullaby to the pond. She flies up and does a focused blizzard at the pond. She overdoes it a little. Shucks says we have to go Windsmouth. Joneigh notices that Corn Silk has the most blood-shot eyes and is very mussed. Joneigh flies off to find Aura and Sunny.

At Garnish Towers…
Aurora wakes to a strange noise, like a metal thing rattling, getting more intense by the second. She peels off her beauty mask in time to see a belch of fire come from the mail-dragon and there is a weird parcel on the floor. She uses a field to pick it up and open it. [Gene Stuff] It is from Joneigh’s Aunt Blue and there are inclusions (one for Sunny and one for her—from Borealis).

To Aura, From Blue:
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To Aura, From Borealis:
To_Aura_From_Borealis.png

The Last Will and Testament of Commander Borealis James Buckminster-Kimblewick:
Last_Will_and_Testament.png

Aura drops everything she was doing and runs off to Sunny’s clinic to give her the letter addressed to her.

To Sunny, From Borrie:
To_Sunny_From_Borrie.png

Sunny exclaims that they have to go save him now! She grabs her go-bag and closes up the clinic, leaving a note on the door. Aura is packing and Sunny is pacing when Joneigh gets to Aura’s room. Joneigh reads the note that Aura gives her, then explains what her morning has been like, concluding that the rest of their group is on their way into town now. Aura sends Kronk to line up the fastest carriage in town for them to go to Windsmouth.

After a travel montage, complete with red line traced on the map…
They land at the Windsmouth dock and there are a few differences since the last time they were there. There is a big, fortified guardhouse at the dock and there are posters on the walls of the house and the city. [Gene, insert posters]

A pony comes out and notices them, he has a BIG gun. He looks panicked when he notices them and reaches inside the guardhouse and hits a big red button that causes blaring announcements [Gene, insert blaring unicorn warnings here] He calls out to the group to step away from the unicorns… which causes the group close ranks and step in front of Aura and Sunny. From inside the city a bunch of pegasus ponies (including bat winged ones!) swarm out. They all have helmets with a little glowing moonstone on them. One of them who looks like they are in charge steps forward and asks what all this trouble is about. He has wings and other features like a moth. Joneigh whispers to the group to let her ask the questions and to please be quiet so we can find out what is going on with Borealis. Before she can get very far there is a streak of pony yelling “Cousin JONEIGH! Cousin Joneigh!” It is Vaporum Moonchaser, sent by Aunt Blue. The captain asks if Blue invited them, since no unsecured notices have not gone out. Invitations to Blue’s birthday went out month’s ago. He will allow them to enter once the unicorns are peace bonded. What does that entail? Basically an ankle monitor for horns authorized by the Sisters of Sincerity. There is a bit of argument about this, but Joneigh quiets them and suggests they allow this so they can continue. Autumn is very upset and indignant and all of her inner ponies pop out so all ponies can see. They follow Vaporum to go to where Aunt Blue may be for her birthday prep.

They notice the guard ponies are wearing necklaces that correspond to their ranks. Each has a bunche of feathers differing in number and color by rank. There is a cart off to the side that sells deep fried alfalfa cakes; Aura is hungry and Joneigh goes over with her to suggest calm and determination here; Sunny agrees. They notice more posters and see some bars on windows. There is a chunk of city missing up the road that they can see from the next intersection, and a big hole in the city where it was and there is sunlight from there. They approach Blue’s house, they see guards all around it. They ask for papers and Vaporum shows them and says these are the guests they’d said would be coming to Aunt Blue’s birthday party. Everypony is allowed to pass and make their way into the house. Vaporum greets the tiger moth pony working in the garden as they go through. He taps the silver crescent moon above the door, there is a swoosh, and he says “Okay, we are safe here. The ribbons won’t work here. Lets get to Aunt Blue.”

The group enters her parlor and greet her. She sends Vaporum to get tea. Autumn wanted to know if this was our fault, and she explains. [Gene notes here] Borealis wanted to talk to the filly who is his daughter, Starbeam Eclipse, and it caused some difficulties. When he finally got to talk to her she was getting ready to take vows to become a Sister of Sincerity. He wanted to get her out of there, but Starbeam stopped wanting to see or talk to him that started the problems here for him. The group asks where Borealis is now. He is in The Tower; he survived the First Ordeal. He’d sneaked into the abbey to “rescue” her; she refused and sounded the alarm. It was his daughter who actually shot at him and he wouldn’t fight her, so he was arrested for breaking into the Abbey and was sentenced to death. He appealed, which caused the ordeals to be set. He refused to kill the pony he was set to fight and had beaten; she (the sheriff and adoptive mother to Starbeam) was sacrificed to an Idol of the Tower. Jimmy asks if she has any law books, so Jimmy goes to her library to read up (wants to know if they removed the old laws before creating the new ones). Aura wants to know if there isn’t just a fine they can pay. Joneigh asks Aura if she has any way to detect what kind of magical influence Ms. Moon (the new sheriff) is having on the town—if she can tell where it is stronger or weaker. Joneigh suggests that she, Joneigh, might apply to become the new sheriff. Aura and Sunny want to visit Borealis, but it is suggested that someone who can be more detached and level headed go with them, and Autumn is elected.

Shucks is chatting at things wiggling in the ground. He is arguing about eating ponies. Autumn walks up. Pony blood was fed to the “thing” in the Tower and some ponies here have said YES to being eaten!. Autumn asks him about the Agent in Charge of the Mares in Black of Brindlebury. He suggests Egg White could be it? Hurryup went into invisible snoop mode to look for good hiding spots, Joneigh went to read law books with Jimmy. She is looking for any loopholes for becoming sheriff.

Aunt Blue, Vaporum, Jimmy, Shucks and Joneigh head to town hall to see the clerk. Jimmy is made official as a legal representative for Borealis. There is some kerfuffle when they try to install a new sheriff; one has already been appointed. It is moth pony, Sister Gloaming. The mayor appointed her, but there is an exchange about law. She says that she is sure Lotus Nectar will agree, and the clerk interrupts that Aunt Blue is the senior Justice of the Peace, so she takes priority. A lot of jaw drop around the room. While Sister Gloaming is arguing with the Clerk, Aunt Blue leans over and snatches the badge off her chest and puts it on Joneigh; asking for the form to appoint a proper sheriff. Joneigh stands up straight, ruffles out her wings and drops the glamour covering her. She feels a pressure and notices that Aunt Blue has pushed aside the brewing storm around Sister Gloaming, who stomps away, saying she is going to talk to Mother Malice (the mayor and abbess).

Autumn, Aurora, and Sunny have gotten to the Tower. The guards seem very nervous that two unicorns are walking through the public areas of the Tower. They go up to the front desk to check in to visit Borealis. Autumn speaks, then they give there names. The clerk says she needs to check on when the fluctuating visiting hours are currently and could they take a seat to wait right over there? They do so. Sister Daybreak comes to fetch them and asks if they are there to retrieve the body. Aura jumps to her feet and wants to know what has happened. Autumn intervenes and just asks to be taken to see him. The pony says she needs to speak to her commander, Mother Malice. After another wait, another moth pony comes in with a necklace with more feathers than they have seen before, she is wearing fancy robes and her helmet has the moonstone in addition to a unicorn horn attached to it that looks like it was recently removed from Borelais. The girls are girding themselves against rushing right in and trying to kill her… it is Mother Malice, of course. She asks how she can help Aurora.

“You can take me to my brother.” Malice glances to Sunny and back to Aura. “If you come with me, we can ask the cardinal if he can have visitors.” There is some back and forth [Gene & Jared barbs]. She invites them to come to see the cardinal with her. They go up the tower and ask to see Cardinal Wanton. Weird music comes from nowhere and a secret panel opens in the wall; three ponies in red robes come out. “No one expects the Crescentic Inquisition” The are the Second Ordeal.

Brother Bantling starts to say something and is cut off by the cardinal. Aura answers and says she wants to see Borealis right now. Brother Wunderkind is a fanged unicorn; Brother Bantling is a moth pony; Cardinal Wanton is a bat-wing pony. “Oh, the sister!” Aura asks if he is going to take her to her brother or not. Autumn says they want to see Mr. Borealis. They pull out a viewing-glass; he is on a rack. (He has his horn, but there is a dotted red line with ‘cut here’ in small letters.) They ask to see him in person, face to face, and preferably off the rack. “But it takes so long to set up the comfy chair!” says Bantling. The cardinal says to come with him; they follow and he walks into the wall. He glares at Wunderkind who does something and the wall disappears. When they arrive in Borealis’s room, Shucks and Jimmy are unwinding the rack and Joneigh says to the affronted cardinal that she is the acting sheriff and has brought Borealis James Buckminster-Kimblewick’s legal representative. The Inquisition is babbling about the comfy chair and the legal representative is here assist. They put Jimmy in the comfy chair and he FLEXES. There are loud cracking noises and the windy bits whirl and the rope gets one Brother and the other is wound around the other wheel as if he were the rope; the chair breaks and some of the debris knocks the cardinal against the wall.

Mother Malice rushes in, and the cardinal says, “We concede, he passes the Second Ordeal.” Mother Malice calls for the Crescentric Inquisition to be taken to be sacrificed at the Idol. Wonderkind zaps and knocks out Mother Malice and the cardinal calls for the smokescreen of [gene stuff] and the Inquisition vanishes. Joneigh takes Borealis to be locked in the regular jail and asks Mr. MacCorn to come with, and the others follow along.

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