September 26, 2020
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.
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.