5 June 2021
Joneigh and Aura ask for a map of where Flower and Arctica had been in the Forest of Lecta. Arctica has to dig for a journal and then teaches Aurora and Joneigh her shorthoof. They come away with her journal full of maps and notes.
Aura takes the journal. Joneigh whispers to Aura, “Is Hurryup here?” Then she loudly asks Arctica, “Why do you think Hurryup would be looking for a map of Lecta?” Arctica explains that there are supposed to be a large amount of magic items, cursed items, and treasure related to various Deathless and other mythical beings that folk could be interested in. Joneigh asks, “Is there any rumor that there might be a periapt here?” Arctica answers, “Rumor!? There are at least two I have seen with my one eyes in the temple! On either side of a piece of amber in which a mystical pony is trapped.” Joneigh says, “Maybe that is it!”
They finish tea and leave. Aura suggests they should plan an expedition and Joneigh says they should meet up at the cottage to plan it. Joneigh heads to tell Autumn on her way to Jimmy’s temporary Acting Constable office.
Flower is just outside the hotel speaking with Mrs. Garnish. Flower is about to get on the coach to go home. Shucks: “Mom, you are going to miss your coach, come onnnnnnn.” Aura is going to go the clinic to see when Sunny will discharge Hobb (and to let Sunny know about meeting at the cottage).
Before Aurora Jane can leave, there is a knock at her door: it is her dad. He has a couple ponies with him, a lawyer and the lawyer’s fiancée—a lawyer who has no affiliation with any business her mother is involved in. Aura suggest they go to the bar to get acquainted. After the meeting with the lawyer, Aurora stops in to see Hobb and is told he needs a few more days of rest before he is ready to be back at work.
The next morning , Aurora is out on her morning run when she notices Egg White by a crane next to the Bottomless Pit with a cable that goes into the pit. He is wearing a headset with a microphone and that has a wire going to the crane. She greets him, gets the distinct impression Egg White would very much rather not be noticed right now, then continues on… only to double back quietly to spy on him. She sees his horn is glowing and the handle of the crane is winding up. He says into the microphone, “Yes, I can see you now.”
The crane keeps cranking up and eventually Jimmy is visible in a harness wearing a weird helmet that has smoke coming our of it. “We lost three crystals,” Jimmy says, apparently referring to the headset/mic on his head.
Jimmy asks, “Everything go okay up here?”
Egg White replies, “Miss Buckminster-Kimblewick was here, but I think she is gone now.” Egg White then helps Jimmy out of the gear.
Meanwhile, in the hiding place, Hurryup passes popcorn to Aura. Without batting an eyelash, Aurora takes a few morsels and continues to watch. Jimmy and Egg White head off to the farm. Aura wishes Hurryup a good morning and continues her run.
Later that week, Aurora stops in at Jimmy’s farm and asks what was going on at the pit, figuring he won’t lie right to her face. Jimmy says that he figured The Oblivion and the periapt of Celestia in the pit might have some insight on what is going on with Celestia. He says he thinks the whole wiping people’s memory is just wrong and coming in person for something from the house. The Celestia periapt was surprised the older Celestia is acting that way. Jimmy says that in answer, the Celestia periapt asked if Luna or Tempest had any opinion on that. He said no he hasn’t but will try their periapts next. Before moving on, Jimmy asked the Celestia periapt if she would help him cure whatever is ailing the living Celestia, and she indicated that she would.
Jimmy then asked the same general questions of the other periapts, and asked if they would have any idea why Celestia would act this way. Two thought someone had replaced Celestia; one claimed they wouldn’t even try to understand the motivation of other ponies; two others said there needs to be balance, and if the powers are out of balance, some may act out of character to create balance; one says Celestia is the weakest of the three royal sisters and therefor most likely to go bat-shit; one opines that perhaps Celestia has just gone wrong.
When Jimmy gets to The Operator’s periapt and asks for advice, the Operator says Celestia has been acting weird for 700 years—from which Jimmy concludes that the Operator’s periapts aren’t limited to memories from the time that were created. Jimmy shows The Operator his memory about what Celestia had been doing. The Operator says she thinks the problem started when Celestia discovered that Luna and herself were both sleeping with Sombra (The Vast Empty).
Jimmy commented, “Do you know how to solve the problem? Sounds like she just needs some friends!” The Operator indicates she doesn’t disagree with Jimmy, but also that she has been unable to reason with Celestia for centuries. Jimmy asks if he can figure out a solution, would The Operator assist? She replies immediately that will gladly do what she can.
When questioned by Jimmy, the Verdict talked about balance and power like others have mentioned. The Oblivion says that if they will free him that will cause others who think they are better than others to realize their error. After several back-and-forths, Jimmy asks, “Can you show me?” The Oblivion smoothly replied, “Oh, certainly.” The Oblivion then shared what he claimed was a memory of his trial. In it, all the other Deathless make ridiculous, transparently false statements about how they are simply jealous of how awesome the Oblivion is and that’s why they decided he needed to be bound.
As this “memory“ unwinds in Jimmy’s mind, three crystals in the mystic helmet Jimmy is wearing blow up, and a small alarm bell in the middle of the helmet starts ringing. “That wasn’t very neighborly of you," Jimmy says. "I’ll come back when you more amiable.”
Aura is not convinced that the existence of several of these entities is necessary. Jimmy asks if isn’t that what she wants to become? There is a long back-and-forth about mystical beings, the nature of the Deathless, the relationship between Princesses and the other Deathless that does not come to a consensus.
Toward the end of the argument, when Aurora implies that she could become the Princess of Secrets, a note flutters down in front of her: “That position is already taken.” Aurora immediately asks, “What position is open?” Night Messenger declines to answer.
The group makes ready for the journey to the temple in the Forest of Lecta.
Joneigh interjects, “The Temple of the Ensnared Prophecy.”
Prowl Lee heaves a very heavy sigh. “If you want to go to the Lost Graveyard of the Kelpies, the car won’t go within three miles of there.” Under further questioning, Prowl Lee says, “Yes, to the temple. Anywhere else in the Forest of Lecta on your own hooves!”
The whole group piles into the car. Matthew has come with Autumn and Joneigh and Shucks is tagging along with Jimmy. Egg White makes a list of the group going so he can do holograms of them to confused the mystical scans that happen from time to time.
During the car ride, Autumn uses her trump card to call her dad. Autumn hears static then the Operator says, “A moment please, let me try another means.”
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” comes across the connection, along with the sound of running hooves. Then there are crashing sounds and screams from other voices then Choosy’s roar, then Autumn hears a moment of quiet followed by, “I think that one is still moving!” Then there is gross splat sound. A few moments later, Autumn hears, “Hello, dear, how are you?”
Autumn explains the situation as she understand it, and then says Aura hasn’t heard from her great-uncle in response to several messages. So Autumn’s father checks with the general and then asks if she can’t ask him right now? Aurora explains about the need to know about breaking one of Celestia’s spells.
While this conversation goes on, Autumn has a vision of her father, Choosy, and General Huntfield in the middle of some kind of battle—surrounded by pony shaped bodies. Then the General Huntfield says, “Celestia problems, you say? It isn’t that hard to break her spells, you just have to be creative and determined.”
Earthbreaker agrees, saying, “Do it or don’t do it, there is no try.”
Autumn reminds Aura of how she tried some Earth pony magic and it worked.
Autumn asks her father and comrades where they are. They say, battlefield is the simple answer. She asks, “Do you need help?”
Earthbreaker exclaims, “Not that kind of battlefield.”
Autumn reminds him that it is a two-way card and he could call. Deflecting, he asks, “Have you been talking to my sister?” Autumn rejoins immediately, “Which one?” He asks as an aside to Choosy, “Do I have more than one sister? The Lady of the Harvest, Seed-sower.” Choosy replies with a screech that Autumn translates as, “Don’t play dumb.”
Aurora steps out of the car first, of course. It is a lot warmer and humid in the Forest of Lecta than it had been at Brindlebury. Aurora’s mane and tail frizz out immediately. When Joneigh steps out her mane/tail go completely limp. Everyone else follows and they are standing looking at an Aztec-like step-pyramid temple with a red gem on top, it looks like an enormous ruby. There are bunnies all over the meadow between them and the temple.
They notice that Hurryup’s cutie mark is vibrating.
Joneigh asks if the vibrating cutie mark tickles at all.
Not wanting to dwell on that, the ponies look around. Aurora consults Aunt Arctica’s journal and says, “There is no danger around here until we get in the temple!” So she runs forward toward the temple… and three of the bunnies leap at her with gigantic fangs in their huge mouths. Aurora screams and runs away, but one on the bunnies latches onto the side of her face; the other two miss her.
Now the rest of the group can see the bunnies are watching Aurora; their eyes have turned red and their fangs have become visible. Aurora is hurt, and starts blasting.
Joneigh takes flight and readies a lightning spell.
Hurryup is hiding and sneaking, ninja-style.
Jimmy helps get the bunny off Aura, when she finally stands still instead of dancing in place. There is a gout of blood and Aura blasts the bunny right out of Jimmy’s hooves. Sunny starts blasting bunnies.
Aura says “Am I ugly, tell the truth, please!” Autumn stomps again, meaning to pull more of the bunnies into the ground, but instead falls into a hole she makes.
Two of the bunnies try to attack Sunny, but she dodges and instead the bunnies half swallow each other.
Joneigh is blasting bunnies from the sky.
Suddenly it is very, very quiet. Joneigh saw Autumn fall into the hole and dive bombs to grab her and lift her out.