3 July 2021
Autumn Gallery finds herself in the bottom of the pit. It isn’t completely dark in the pit. There is starlight and The Three Sisters Fluff are at the bottom. “Hello there.” One of the three goats said, “It is time for you to re-pay the favor.”
Autumn replied, “Well, that was coming due. I’m a little distracted right now, can you remind me of the small print on that again?” They seem to want her to recover one of the sister’s eyes. She wants it back in exactly the same condition as Autumn finds it. Autumn can use the eye to get herself out of dangerous situations, but it is not to be damaged further than it already is.
Autumn agrees and thanks them.
Joneigh, who had dove into the pit moments after Autumn fell in, grabs her and takes her back up to the surface. They conclude, after some discussion, that Autumn had fallen into a time bubble with the sisters.
Joneigh says “Let me see that diary, Aurora”.
Aurora had decoded her Aunt Artica’s shorthoof to say, “There is no danger in the meadow—just fluffy bunnies, fashionable ivy, and blooming clover.”
Joneigh reads the shorthoof as, “Nothing but danger in the meadow: including fangy bunnies, flesh-eating ivy, and burning clover.”
As if to prove the point, the ponies see a bumblebee approach a small clover blossom, only to be flash-fried and eaten when it gets too close. Hurryup asks about the flowers on the side of the temple because she is trying to find pearlescent blossoms. Sunny trots across the field to check it by magic, trying to avoid the clover as she does so. Sunny thinks the large white flowers do look kinda shiny and opalescent. Hurryup’s notes say she must eat all the blossoms covering the surface of the temple but avoid the seeds.
Hurryup starts eating blossoms and spitting out seeds. The seeds bounce around and don’t stop. It becomes clear they are propelling themselves to hop toward Sunny and Joneigh. Joneigh says, “Flesh-eating ivy!” and flies up. Sunny tries a short-range blast. Aurora stops trying to figure out if the harm to her cheek has disfigured her when she sees Sunny blasting and begins blasting at the increasing number of bouncing seeds.
Hurryup is continuing to eat flowers and spit and the seeds. If a bouncing seed lands close to a pony they start bouncing toward the pony. Autumn notices that there is only one plant and it wants to eat all the ponies. Aurora notices that every time Hurryup eats a blossom, her magic aura increases in power.
Joneigh works up some wind magic and sweeps up the seeds into a dust devil. She makes the whirlwind follow Hurryup to pick up the seeds as Hurryup spits them out.
Aura tells everyone about Hurryup’s earth pony magic getting stronger.
Sunny is trying to zap each of the missed seeds. The others notice that over by the car there is a weasel hanging from a tree having a discussion with Prowl Lee; they appear to be betting on the outcome.
Aura pulls a jar out of Autumn’s bag in one of her kinetic bubbles and catches a single seed. The seed bounces around angrily, trying to escape the jar. Various ponies use their magic to analyze the seed and plant, and agree with Autumn’s diagnosis that the parent plant wants to eat the ponies. Meanwhile, the seeds want to burrow into pony flesh, grow, and eat the pony from the inside out.
Autumn suggests that Sunny shoot at the plant.
Shucks, meanwhile, trots forward and whacks one of the seeds into a flaming clover with his trowel. “The clovers want to eat the seeds!” he declares.
Jimmy joins Shucks in batting seeds into clover flowers.
Prow Lee, meanwhile, is sauntering across the meadow.
The ivy tries to grab Hurryup, but she stomps on vine branches, and evades getting eaten. Hurryup gets to the top and the last flower is bigger than her head and hisses at her, she hisses back in Southern.
Prow Lee extends his claws and slashes at any vines trying to grab Hurryup from behind. Hurryup eats the last blossom and it screams.
The pyramid vibrates as the ivy turns brown, shrivels up, and dies.
Hurryup lets a huge buuuuuuurrrrrrrrp rip. The hiss and the burp show off her new fangs excellently. This startles the group some. The seeds are gone, except the seed that Aura has trapped. Joneigh checks out Hurryup and aura just looks like a more concentrated version of herself. Hurryup mentions that she had noticed that there were skeletons, but no skulls, of eaten ponies in the vines as she was eating blossoms.
The ponies approach the opening to the pyramid temple and see a partially broken pony statue and a pile of pony skulls. Aura doesn’t detect any traps when she checks and she enters first. Joneigh follows her.
They read the inscription on the pony statue: “Princess Judiciea the Blind.” Joneigh can see teeny tiny paw prints of a ferret or weasel that seems to visit often. They notice that amongst the pony skulls (including unicorn skulls) are also goat skulls.
Hurryup wonders where the wine cellar might be in this place. “Down?” suggest many of her companions.
They look around at all the walls made of ancient stone. There are bas relief carvings of ponies of all types frolicking with goats and monkeys and other less identifiable critters.
Aurora points out that they are being watched and Joneigh says there are things in the walls. When Aurora says to listen closely, Autumn puts her ear near a hole that seems to have been drilled into the eyes of the bas relief, and a small finger is stuck into her ear and wiggles. Autumn jumps back with a startled noise.
There is giggling behind the walls.
The ponies head toward the next opening in the far wall, into a bigger room. In the center of the room there is a unicorn sealed in amber upon a dais with braziers on either side and two in front. Of the two large braziers on either side of the trapped unicorn, one is filled with swirling blue liquid and the other has flame; the two in front are empty.
The ponies notice there is a line painted from the door to the unicorn, bisecting the room.
Aurora and Autumn look around for periapts. The flame brazier is a powerful magic device exuding Celestia’s aura while the swirly pool is similarly glowing with the Mare in the Moon’s aura. The unicorn in amber appears to be a deathless and is still alive. She looks just like the statue at the front door of the pyramid.
The ponies determine that the flame and pool are periapts.
Hurryup mentions that her cutie mark is going crazy (it is a protection spell). Joneigh checks out the amber and notices there isn’t as much dust in here but there is still some. It looks like other ponies have tried to get the unicorn out the amber by chipping, fire, other magic. On the pool side of the room are lots of monkey prints, the other side has goat prints; but only weasel prints in the area immediately next to the unicorn in amber.
“You were making a bet with one.”
“Oh that was Nisi; he isn’t a weasel, he just looks like one.”
The ponies ask who he is and why does he look like a weasel? Technically he is a white-furred ferret, Prowl Lee explains, and is a servant of The Verdict. (The other servant of The Verdict is Vide, who looks like a black ferret.)
Joneigh checks the fire periapt and it looks like someone has tried to move it before.
When Aurora makes a comment about not attracting the attention of any other Deathless, an envelope flutters out of the water to land in front of her. It’s from Nightmare Moon and claims she is right there in the room. (The periapts are basically little shards of a Deathless’s consciousness, or maybe more like a still-conscious snapshot of who they were at the time of creation.)
Meanwhile, the group notices that Hurryup is missing. “Damn it!” Hurryup has been searching for the wine cellar and found it, sneaking by everyone/thing in the room, probably shortly after they entered this big room.
Autumn reminds them Hurryup did want to find the wine cellar.
There are at least five ways out of this room, but hoof prints going toward only one.
Shucks has his trowel in hoof and is nervously prowling about and looking up and down the walls and when Sunny asks what he is doing, he answers, “We are surrounded by critters and I don’t know what they are. I don’t think they are friendly, I think they are like the bunnies!” Sunny lights up the room with her horn and can see the hundreds for teeny tiny monkeys hanging from the ceiling on their side of the room. A monkey larger than the others drops down and says that all ponies on this side of the room are their prisoners.
Aurora steps back to the goat side and says, “Nyahhhh!”
A goat appears with a strange contraption on its head with a big eyeball in it. “Who dares to take prisoners in our temple?”
Aurora starts jumping back and forth across the line dividing the chamber.
This gets the goats and monkeys angrily throwing insults back n forth.
Autumn is losing patience with both the goats and monkeys, and decides to stomp to shake things up a bit.
A beam shoots out of the eyeball in the contraption and disintegrates a monkey (missing Aura and the big monkey). The monkeys fire a rain of crossbow bolts across the room, some lodging in Aura’s shield; they miss Sunny and Joneigh but Shucks is hit. Joneigh raises a wind to knock subsequent crossbow bolts aside.
A goat calls out, “Kill the pegasus!” Others say, “No! Kill the unicorn.”
The goats’ horns are glowing like a unicorn’s!
Joneigh continues with her windstorm.
Autumn asks Aurora to encase the biggest goat in a telekinetic bubble. Sunny shoots at the biggest monkey. Shucks says something(?) and then goes whoops and is rolling toward the goats. The goats are shooting with horns at unicorns; monkeys are shooting arrows.
The big monkey makes mystic gestures in the direction of the dais and braziers. The smaller brazier on the monkey side of the line suddenly fills with water which swirls around and starts exuding a fog that slowly creeps across the room. The goat with the extra eye fires a beam of magic at the small brazier on the goat side, and the brazier erupts in fire. The big monkey is yelling at Sunny about using fire, you evil pony. He gestures at Sunny, and a water spouts shoots from the brazier toward her, engulfing her in ice cold water. Meanwhile, small fireballs start flying from the brazier toward Aurora and Joneigh.
Aurora dodges two fireballs and uses a spell to erase the line down the room’s center.
Sunny tries to throw a piece of ceiling at the monkey, but completely misses. She then tries to shoot the goat and the goat blasts back—their attacks meet in the middle! The monkey was still yelling when suddenly it looks like he is holding his breath, like he forgot to breathe, thanks to Aura’s spell of respiratory neglect.
Joneigh’s wind knocks several small fireballs aside.
Shucks is surrounded by goats; no one has been watching him. More monkeys and goats are emerging from doors on either side of the room.
Joneigh hurls a huge lightning bolt at the amber and there is the thunder and a huge ringing like a bell from the amber.
Time freezes and Joneigh is suddenly floating in a golden space and there is the unicorn floating too. She cocks her head at Joneigh. “Wow, you are really good.” The unicorn asks what she was trying to do. Joneigh explains that she figured if she freed the unicorn it would stop the goats and monkeys from hurting her friends and put their attention to worshiping their deity.
The unicorn replies, "If I am free, that would summon Celestia.”
Joneigh: “Wouldn’t it bring Luna too?”
The Verdict: “She is trapped on the moon.”
Joneigh: “She has minions.”
The Verdict: “True.”
The Verdict replies, “I believe she has lost her perspective. I already have put The Finder in the world, I guess you will have to be The Resolution.”
A gavel floats towards Joneigh and she takes it. It changes her cutie mark to add a gavel.
The Verdict says, “I’ll see if I can take care of the monkeys and goats without bringing Celestia here.” Multiple magical beams for various colors fire from her horn. Some envelope goats and monkeys in a glittering silver glow. Others gather all the shards of amber back and reconstruct the amber around the unicorn.
Time starts again. Aurora and Sunny perceive that the lightning bolt hit the amber exploded it into a billion pieces; the unicorn inside looks surprised, for just a moment, then her horn glows and the amber returns around her—by her power. Now the amber looks very polished and sparkly.
The monkeys and goats freeze in place and gasp—except the one that can’t breathe. Joneigh and Autumn go help a dazed and scorched Shucks out of the circle of goats. They pull him to the middle of the room where Sunny and Aurora are standing. The big monkey and lead goat are pushing spells at each other.
Joneigh uses her wings to boost a charge at the goat to try to head butt him. She hits his magic bubble and he bounces around some until the bubble disappears and he lands, dazed.
Sunny yells, “Look out!” as dozens of small monkeys in ninja costumes appear and swarm toward Joneigh. Joneigh whips around at the same moment and hit the ninja monkeys coming at her with wind. Sunny shoots fire at a group of the ninja monkeys.
Shucks yells, “Watch it!” and tackles the downed big goat as he tries to kick Autumn with a spike on his hoof.
The big monkey falls unconscious, succumbing to Aura’s spell, and immediately begins to breathe again.
After a brief struggle, there is a loud CRACK of bones breaking from the big goat and Shucks.
Sunny and Autumn continue to Shucks.
While all of that was going on above, Jimmy descended a lot of stairs following the sound of Prow Lee and Hurryup talking somewhere below him. He hears the thunderclap boom above just as he reaches the wine cellar.
Hurryup is laying on her back and Prow Lee is helping by pouring an open cask of wine into her mouth.
Jimmy asks, “Are ya ‘bout done?”
In between swallows, Hurryup gasps, “Not yet.”
“The others sound to be in trouble,” Jimmy observes.
Prow Lee says, “She finished the year’s worth a while back, now I’m just trying to find out how much she can hold.”
They head back up the stairs to the others.
They reach the temple chamber just as the CRACK sounded.
The goat has a broken neck and has died; Shucks has broken a foreleg. Shucks says the goat was playing possum and had a close-in weapon. As he unwraps his legs from around the goat, they see that his beard looks odd, there is a perfectly trimmed goatee underneath the false beard that Shucks usually sports.
It is SILK.
Autumn snatches away the beard and says, “How long have you been doing this? Is Shucks okay?”
Silk sputters and tries to fake being Shucks still… then drops the guise.
Autumn turns away from Silk and works at getting the eye patch thing off the goat.
A small group of goats and monkeys surround Joneigh and begin bowing down to her. Joneigh is a little shaken from the headbutting. Aurora asks her what happened and notes that her cutie mark changed. Joneigh does the round-go-round trying to see her flank and says there was a fight and a surprise.
Aurora pushes for more detail and Joneigh suggests they talk later.
Jimmy comes over, looks at Silk, and raises one eyebrow. “Really, Silk?”
Silk says “The Extrapolator said that if you all came in your usual formation, some of you would die. There was an 80% chance that you would be one of the casualties, and I refuse to be the pony who tells Mom you’ve been killed.”
There is discussion about the disguise between them, including a pointed comment from Jimmy about the body spray that Silk wears which is completely incongruous with Shucks (there is an aside about the flower shampoo and conditioner Shucks uses because of his sisters, but how that is nothing like Silk’s cologne).
Silk actually looks a bit contrite as he explains that it is a magical device that performs risk assessment—and he might have forgotten to turn his back in to the Mares in Black when he was discharged.
The monkeys who aren’t worshiping Joneigh suddenly realize what Hurryup said about the wine cellar and start hollering about “The booze! Oh, no! The booze!” and run down the stairs.
Aurora and Autumn look hard at Joneigh and her aura; she looks to be more of herself. But she also has that spark inside her that connects her to a Deathless.
Note: the next thing on Hurryup’s list: she needs to go to the kelpie graveyard, steal the Pearl of Foolishness, and swallow it. Joneigh says she has read about that: it is part of an enchanted necklace that belonged to the Queen of the Kelpies and helps with insight, self-awareness, and a sense of perspective.