I don't know if this format is okay for this thread, but here goes:
The cloaked unicorn approaches the town walls, though the guards take no notice of him. After a careful, thorough look around, he retreats back up the road until out of sight. After dropping his notice-me-not spell, he uses a quick prestidigitation to clean off the reminders of his journey. Now looking far more presentable, he heads back to the gate.
"Hello. This is Bellbrooke, yes?"
The guard gives a nod in affirmation before asking for the unicorn's papers and reasons for travel. The unicorn happily hands over his identification, but is succinct with his answer.
The guard raises an eyebrow at this, but doesn't press further. The gate is opened, and Crepuscular Rays enters Bellbrooke.
Thundering Cloud stared off into the countryside surrounding Bellbrooke. Whenever she stood upon Bellbrooke's walls, she always remembered her very first day of guard duty, and how she complained about receiving the rookie assignment when she'd returned to the barracks. Three years didn't do much to change her outlook on wall duty, but at least she'd made some friends who she can share small talk with whenever she was lucky enough to share a posting with them.
Today, however, she was by herself, and her eyes wandered up to the clouds for a few moments before her eyes returned to the road leading into town.
Nope, still nothing.
She was about to start heading over to her next observation point when she heard the door guards speaking, and then a third voice. Curiously, she glanced down.
Was that unicorn always there? She wondered if she'd missed him approaching the town or not, but the guy was bright purple. He seemed harmless enough, though, and when the guards signalled for the gate to open, Cloud resumed her patrol on the wall.
Just another visitor from Equestria. Too clean to be anything else, she mused.
Rays eventually found a small inn that was neither too run-down nor too extravagant. He dug the 5 bit nightly fee out of his bags and placed it on the counter by hoof. The innkeeper was so quick in scooping the money into a drawer that it almost looked like teleportation. The mare handed over a room key.
"Also, could you tell me where the local adventurer's hall is?"
The innkeeper gained an expectant look. Rays sighed.
He hoofed over another bit. It disappeared as rapidly as the ones before. The innkeeper's expression shifted to a helpful smile as she gave out the directions.
Once in his room (locking the door behind himself, of course), Rays gave the place a quick search before stripping off his gear and collapsing into the bed.
At least it's better than my last campsite. Thank Luna for magic. I thought those bloodstains would never come out.
Giving a shudder at the thought of those circumstances, Rays elected to forgo any further introspection in favor of some much-needed rest.
A cold, bitter wind blew through the cobblestone streets of Bellbrooke. Gentle flakes of white fluff drifted downwards, followed by the last few dead leaves off the trees as they snapped and descended with their snowy friends to the ground. Though it was only midday the lamps that lined the streets were lit as thick overcast clouds, grey like dirty wet cotton, hung overhead dimming the sunlight enough that it seemed like it was nearing dusk.
Warm yellow glows radiated from the windows of thatched room homes and brick walled shops that lined the streets. Lively smoke rose from countless chimneys bringing the smell of freshly baked bread, newly forged steel, and sweet alchemical brews to the largely unshoveled streets. Cheers and the occasional bout of more then slightly drunken singing could be heard through the thick wooden doors and walls of the pubs in town.
Atop the walls that surrounded Bellbrooke the guards would find the warmth of the settlement at their backs as they stared out into a bleak, frigid landscape. The lively greens of the trees and underbrush outside the walls had all but disappeared with the approach of winter. Leave stripped yews looked like rotting, brown skeletons as their trunks stood out against the white landscape. The only other colors came from the yellowed grasses and stubborn weeds that remained unburied by the snow.
The winter air that rolled over the parapets of the wall did more then just carry cold to the guards, it also carried sound. The snapping of twigs, the crunch of snow and dried leaves, even the distant howls of creatures seemed so much closer. Something about the air of the season seemed to carry sound much better then it had in previous months.
For some guards it made them more alert while others were lulled into a distracted state, having tuned out the noises all together and become unaware of their surroundings.
The approaching holidays made it difficult for the guards to focus on their jobs. Many were left glancing back, wishing they could leave early for a pint or rush to the bakery to take advantage of a sale on bread or cake. Only the automated sentries and the crude, thick limbed robots remained resolute in their duties and unhindered by the cheerful atmosphere of the town.
Even the castle, which loomed over the town with thick stone walls and shadow laden spiraling towers, seemed to have a slight festive glow to it as yellow firelight could be seen in some of the keeps and windows visible from the town. Though home to the Refrom School the castle always had a slightly dower, unhappy air to it. Many in town found it ironic that one of the coldest, more unpleasant months was when the castle decided to brighten up.
Yet for all the cheer of the town and change of the castle, there remained a room within its walls unwarmed by the happiness of the town. The sterile glow of a florescent light lit the office of the Headmaster of the Bellbrooke Reform School...
"How long have I been here?" Prince Blueblood asked himself as he paced the thick carpeted floor of this otherwise cold office.
"I’ve forgotten and that worries me so. When a gentle pony such as myself wakes up and can barely recall the days, the weeks before...it means they so are uneventful they are not worth remembering! I’m wasting my life here!”
The Headmaster bit his lip, pressing a hoof to his forehead as he glanced around his office. Despite being spacious and well furnished it managed to feel suffocating to Blueblood. A varnished oaken desk, several bookshelves lined with books and scrolls he never bothered to read, a globe of the world he had no interest in seeing, a single chair for sitting naughty children in front of his desk, an unlit (and uncleaned) fireplace, and a fat firmly locked cabinet located at the back of the room.
Blueblood looked at the cabinet, glancing to the door to his office and outside the glass paned window overlooking the castle courtyard and the town below. Trotting over his horn glowed, drawing a fat silver key from his suit pocket and sliding it into the brick sized lock. A twist and the thump of the lock hitting the floor sounded out as Blueblood opened the doors to the cabinet.
Inside was a scattering old, dirty items. Unreadable scrolls, broken staffs, dark bits of threatening stone, and even a single bleached human skull that seemed to stare back at the lowly prince with an empty mocking gaze.
Amidst the junk and colorless trash there was one object that shined with a notable worth. A gold needle left resting carefully in a small rectangular box filled with rolled up paper and silk.
The needle was long, golden and elegant. It was too long to be used for sewing yet too small to be used as a weapon. Inscribed meticulously around the circumference of the needle. Blueblood did not fancy himself a scholar, but he was far from daft. He’d found the books needed and translated the text in his spare time.
It was flowery and vague but the needle gave “Protection from the sun’s blistering gaze”.
“A glorified magical sunscreen ward!” Blueblood snarled, nearly swatting the needle from the cabinet and into the waste-bin.
"Blast those stupid, swamp smelling fools! I pay them as much as I have and all they bring back is trash and a needle. How much money have I embezzled from the school funds just to get broken bits of rock and waste paper?"
The Prince's voice raised, but he knew he would go unheard in his own office. It did little to calm him though as he fumed to himself.
“I came here to find something to put my life back on track. To give me the power I needed to earn the respect and stature I need to be important! This place...it’s special. It’s littered with artifacts, items, stones and jewels that practically bleed magical. While this one may be mundane there are others out there that are far from it. All I need to do is pay someone to find the right one and-”
*KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK*
The white unicorn nearly leaped from his body as he spun towards the door, eyes wide and teeth clenched.
"Headmaster Blueblood? The inspector from Equestria has arrived and they're asking for you to give them a tour of the school." A female voice said from the other side of the door.
Blueblood sighed, his eyes rolling back as relief washed over him. The relief was short lived and quickly replaced with a burning irritation.
"Thank you Mrs. File, you can tell the inspector I'll be with him in a moment!"
Hearing the hoofsteps of his secretary walking away Blueblood locked the cabinet, taking one lasting look at the gold needle before sealing his ill gotten gains away. He stepped out of his office where three chairs sat directly outside his door, unoccupied by human children in need of discipline.
Walking down the hall he arrived at his secretary's desk and saw a blue coated, brown maned Earth Pony waiting for him. They were dressed warmly with a jacket, scarf, and fedora. Their smile was as warm as their clothes as they nodded to Blueblood at his approach.
"It's a pleasure to meet you Headmaster Blueblood, is everything well?" The inspector asked and Blueblood forced a smile.
"If it was any better I'd be genuinely worried. I must say I'm quite surprised, I wasn't expecting you until after the holidays..." The Prince's smile soon gained teeth as the inspector laughed.
"Yes, I'm sorry about that. The reason for my early arrival will become clear soon. Shall we begin?" The inspector stepped to the side, waiting for Blueblood to take the lead and show him around. It took deep personal restraint not to simply swat the inspector as he began walking down the hall.
Silence hung in the air as Blueblood led the inspector through the corridors and halls of the castle. He could hear the scribbling of a pencil on paper as the inspector took note after note, rolling the pencil in their mouth between writing.
"Here is where the children sleep." Blueblood said, pushing open one of the doors lining the hall to reveal a large open room filled with rows and rows of bunk beds. It was a barracks style room with colorful walls, clean sheets, and a pair of windows at the back of the room that let natural light in.
"I see. So there's no individual rooms for the children?" The inspector asked and Blueblood shook his head.
"The layout of the castle simply doesn't permit it, Inspector. Besides by sharing a sleeping space the children become closer. They sleep together, eat together, learn together, and play together." Blueblood explained. Though as sensible as the answer he gave was, he was simply parroting what the drivel the teachers in the school had stated. Seeing the room all he could feel was a sense of relief that the loud, human brats were kept in one place.
"Hmmm, very intriguing idea. I assume the sleeping areas are separated by gender and age of course?" The Inspector glanced into the room and Blueblood could feel the hair on the back of his neck stand up.
"Of course, it'd be ridiculous if it wasn't! Come now, I'll show you the dining hall." Slamming the open door Blueblood took the inspector by the back and began leading him away from the sleeping room.
In truth Blueblood hadn't bothered organizing where the children slept. They all attended different classes, but he simply didn't have the patience to separate everyone into specific rooms. Simply letting the children sleep where they chose (or dropped) was convenient and the presence of the teenage humans near the younger ones seemed to reduce the crying from their petulant little nightmares.
Walking farther down the stone laden halls Blueblood brought the inspector to a large room. The stone floors had been replaced with sterile white tiles and long wooden tables with benches fixed to them dotted the room in orderly lines. At the back was a kitchen with a cafeteria line.
"Here is where the children eat. We recently served breakfast so lunch won't be ready for another two hours..." Blueblood explained, stepping back to lead the inspector out but the Earth Pony simply walked farther into the room.
"It seems clean enough, but what kind of food is served here? Humans have different dietary requirements from us, they're nearly carnivorous given what they can eat. Meat may have been somewhat taboo for us, but they used to eat mountains of it."
"Well we serve eggs, local fish, and whatever we can get affordably from the local shops. There are a few Griffon and Minotaur run butcher shops here in Bellbrooke. So meat isn't entirely unavailable..."
"I've heard rumors of Rended meat being bought and served to the human children in some reform schools. Have you ever done that here?"
"W-what? No, no, don't be ridiculous. It's true the meat does occasionally show up for sale, rather cheaply, but we've never done that." Blueblood shook his head firmly and the inspector nodded, taking a long line of notes as the Prince glanced back to the freezers.
"That's good to hear. The Rended...well they used to be human. Feeding their meat to other humans could have some dangerous side effects."
"Yes, we wouldn't want anything happening to the children..."Blueblood said, his tone dipping slightly as the inspector looked away. Luring the inspector back out into the hall the Headmaster of Bellbrooke took him to the lively part of the school. They began to pass classroom after classroom.
"These are the classrooms?" The inspector asked and it was all Blueblood could do not to roll his eyes as a smile flashed across the Earthpony's face.
Bright colorful rooms filled with desks, books, toys, posters, and smiling teachers and aides served as the classrooms for the school. Human children of varying ages from gradeschoolers to teenagers sat attentively at desks, smiling, talking, and eagerly raising their hands to ask or answer questions.
"Yes, these are some of the classrooms where we teach the human children the important aspects of life. And all that other drivel" Blueblood muttered the last part as the inspector walked into one classroom with teenagers, his eyes lighting up as he noticed some young ponies mixed in with the class.
"Are the children regularly taught alongside ponies near their age?"
"Sometimes. Plenty of the staff here have children of their own that are taught here out of convenience. Occasionally classes from the local school house in town are brought up for shared lessons, but since Winter arrived we've been toning them down."
The Prince straightened his stance, giving a more convincing smile as he walked into the classroom. Some of the students looked his way, but averted their gaze the moment his eyes met theirs. Silently the prince gestured to some of the fixtures in the room for the inspector to look at, all while approaching the teacher in order to pawn the inspector off on her.
“As you can see, everyone is in class engrossed in their studies and-”
“Are you sure? Does anyone sit at that empty desk?”
Blueblood stopped dead in his walk, eyes going wide. He slowly turned his head, seeing the inspector pointing at a desk at the far back of the room. Tucked away near the bookshelves at the back of the classroom was a battered desk with all manner of graffiti carved into it's wooden top. Pegasi being struck by lighting, strange and outright crude words, and one name that had seemingly been carved deeply into the top of the desks wood.
Blueblood flashed a smile and turned his head, glaring over his shoulder at the teacher whose own smile immediately became forced.
“O-oh I nearly forgot about her. She’s sick and spending some time in our infirmary for the sake of the other children. After all they love to share everything, including their germs! Ha ha ha…”
Blueblood faked a laugh and the Inspector gave a more legitimate one, failing to see the tension in the teacher's eyes as Blueblood approached her desk. With the inspector strolling to the other side of the room to look at the books laid out from the children Blueblood leaned in, speaking through gritted teeth to the teacher.
"Where. Is. Falling?" Blueblood demanded, in as hushed yet harsh tone as he could manage without being heard by the others.
“I don’t know. One of the other children said she wasn’t feeling well so she went to the nurse’s officer. She was there for about an hour and that was the last time anyone saw her. She might be around somewhere sleeping or-”
“She could have snuck off somewhere and gotten off the school grounds entirely.” Blueblood rubbed a hoof into the side of his head, eyes narrowing into an even more threatening glare at the teacher.
“Y-yes that might be what happened. But I’m sure she wouldn’t do something like that…”
“And I’m sure she’d do exactly that.”
"Oh there's no need to apologize to me. Apologize to your own children. The fact this girl keeps giving you and the rest of the school staff the run around is nothing short of disgraceful."
Blueblood pulled his hoof away, his tone growing venomous as he spoke.
"Were it any other day I wouldn't have cared. Just wait till she comes back, give her the usual scolding, and let her spend the night in the dungeonto think things over. But the inspector is here. If he catches wind of this my job is on the line, and if that happens I'll ensure you'll never teach anywhere on Earth for the rest of your life."
The teacher grimaced, nodding her head in quiet fear as Blueblood turned and walked away.
“Oh Celestia help me, why did I have to get stuck with this girl?”
"I must say I'm thoroughly impressed so far Headmaster Blueblood. You've done a wonderful job running this school. I'd heard some disturbing rumors but they all appear to be false."
Blueblood simply nodded, growing more and more unable to bear the Inspector's obnoxious smile.
"Yes, yes. Very glad to hear that. Now why exactly have you come out here early?"
A flash of realization flashed through the Inspector's eyes and he swatted a hoof against his forehead.
"Oh that's right! If you met the standards needed for a Reform School I was to give you this bonus sum of bits."
Blueblood's face remained passive. He watched the Earth pony reach back into his saddlebags, half expecting him to pull out a pathetic little pouch. The noble's looked changed completely as the inspector pulled out a heavy bag, bulging and straining under the weight of the money inside.
"Oh!" Blueblood's horn glowed and he reflexively took the bag of money from the Earth Pony's hooves with a telekinesis sell. The Prince smiled, wide and legitimately at the fat bag of bits he had. "I assure you I will choose to use these funds wisely for a task benefiting the school. Deciding what that is will be difficult given the sum-"
"Oh there's no need to worry about deciding what to do with the money, it's already been decided." The inspector exclaimed and Blueblood's face stiffened.
"...I'm sorry what?"
"Yes! Miss Meadows, the councilor here, told me how the children hadn't had a proper holiday celebration in a while. She was very persuasive." The inspector said, smiling and staring off blankly at the mention of the councilor. After a few moments of awkward silence he shook his head, blinking as his senses returned to him.
"I admit I don't really remember exactly what she said, but it was clear the school deserved some additional funds. There is enough enough bits there to buy a number of gifts for every student in the school and ensure they have a bountiful feast and plenty of goodies when Hearth's Warming Eve arrives!'
Intentionally raising his voice the Inspector threw up his hooves and looked to the human children sitting at the nearby desks. Hearing the announcement clearly their eyes lit up like long forgotten Christmas trees and a number of cheers, squees, and excited shaking rang out.
Even the recently threatened teacher smiled more genuinely at the announcement seeing the children explode into smiles and joyful banter.
Blueblood simply stood there, teeth clenched and face frozen in smile that grew readily less friendly the longer he stood in the room.
"How...noble of her." He said and turned to the door. "I'll deposit these funds somewhere safe, Mr. Inspector. Please refer to the teacher for any more information you need regarding the school. I'm sure she'll be more then helpful"
Shooting what only a deranged man would call a smile at the teacher Blueblood left the room and walked back to his office. As soon as the door was closed he dropped the bag of bits onto the floor and took a deep breath.
Blueblood shouted, as long and as hard as he could until his lungs were empty. As soon as he felt the burn in his throat he turned his gaze to the useless globe beside his desk. His horn became engulfed in a glow and the globe was lifted off the ground, spinning a top briefly before flying across the room.
It struck the adjacent wall with enough force to break apart, throwing bits of plastic and metal across the room.
Seeing the destruction brought a weak smile to the Prince's face as he stood, heaving and huffing amidst his office.
No sooner had he recovered then the fire of anger returned to his belly. Blueblood gritted his teeth, picking up the hefty bag of bits and dragging it across the floor to the window of his office.
There, embedded in in the stone, was a rotary phone. Recently made and wired down to the snow laden settlement below. Picking the receiver off the line and pressing it to his ear the prince began to make a call, every turn of the dial harder then the last until a tone panged in his ear.
"Operator, how can I help you?" A nazzly female voice asked.
"Connect me to the mayor, tell him it is urgent." Blueblood said fiercely, hearing the operator jump on the other end.
"O-one moment please..."
The prince waited, smiling as he looked down at the money he was supposed to waste on the brats packed into the castle. As soon as the mayor picked up, the Prince spoke, refusing to let the man on the other end speak.
"Hello my dear and graceful mayor! How are you? Good I'm sure. I am calling to hire another expeditionary band. Yes I remember you saying it would cost more after the last party was completely butchered, but I figured you'd be more generous with this particular request of mine."
Blueblood's tone was cheerful, forcefully so as his voice shook.
"Not because Hearths Warming Eve is just around the corner, but because I still have those photographs. Oh yes. I'm sure the local paper would just love these, they capture you so well. Your voters will just perk up seeing this new and wonderful side to you I'm sure."
Blueblood's lips curled and he leaned into the speaker, voice sick with frustration and anger.
"You will find and send a handful of skilled individuals up to my office at the castle or I will have you thrown out of office like a filly into the streets."
He paused letting his words sink in.
"I don't care if they're from the adventure's guild or some decent guards, as long as they are COMPETENT for a rare, blissful change. Am I understood? Good. Don't keep met waiting."
Hanging up the receiver Blueblood breathed, feeling his heart rate slow as satisfaction swept over him. Returning to his desk, bits in hoof, he sat down and leaned back.
"This time is going to be different. Oh I can just feelit. Nothing is going to ruin my mood now. Not even that troublesome girl..."
Despite what the Prince told himself a frown spread across his face as he glanced back to the window, out into the snow...
From the outside of the Reform School the walls and gates of the castle seemed totally unpenetrable. Though old no child or teen, inside or out, could hope to scale the walls or worm their way inside. Or so they would likely tell themselves. Most were too well behaved, others were simply too afraid to do so.
But one girl out of countless others tried and more often then not-
Falling Down's brown hair burst from a snow pile beside the west wall of the castle. Her face held a victorious smile, even as frozen mud dirtied her face and hands as she climbed from the hole she had appeared from. Down in the darkness was an old stone drain that ran out of the castle and down the hill. It had been sealed off with iron bars and was normally filled with water.
But the arrival of winter had led to the draining and freezing of the water, and a steel file put an end to the bars that kept anyone from entering it.
"And Daring Doo's assistant burst from the ancient catacomb tunnel and into the icy air of the lost land. Ready to search for treasure and excitement!"Falling spoke to herself, mimicking the narration of the adventure books she leafed through when she was supposed to be reading Equestrian history.
Even as the snow stung her exposed fingertips from her gloves and reddened her cheeks, Falling couldn't stop smiling. It'd been too long since she left the school, escaped the boring classes to do something she actually wanted to do.
Wasting little time Falling began to run, leaving footprints in the snow as she ran to a lone naked tree not far from the walls of the castle. She got down on her hands and dove her hands into a well hidden hollow at the base, pulling out a backpack and a large length of metal piping.
Securing the backpack over her shoulders and shouldering the pipe, Falling turned her gaze to the forest down the hill from the castle.
"I'm not coming back without something cool this time. I don't care how long it takes..." Falling spoke with what she felt was resolve, glancing back at the castle walls and glaring before starting down the hill.
The Castle overlooking Bellbrooke was outside the settlement walls. It had its own walls and was near enough that assistance could easily be called. Thanks to the placement of the school a child couldn't run out into Bellbrooke and potentially hear something they shouldn't. If they approached the town the guard would likely see them and return them to the school.
However there was nothing stopping a child from simply trudging out into the unexplored woods and wilds not far from the castle. Fear was the only thing that stopped children from venturing far, but Falling was not mired fear. At least not the fear of spooky woods and monsters.
"I'll head to the lake. I remember seeing that old, tall building near the water. There has to be something there." Falling picked up the pace and was soon running in between the sleeping husks of trees, her sneakers growing wet with cold snow as she ran farther and farther away from the school...
Location: Bellbrooke Interacting with: (Following Falling Down @Crosswire)
Lightning Flash had always been the resident nice guy. Even after the discovery that he possessed magic, he was quick to dissuade any assumptions that he might use it against them and continued to work with the Guard. He had to suck it up to them if he wanted to continue working as one. All these juicy findings and his superior's willingness to give him some Electrum every now and then had always been to his advantage, and if he wasn't part of the Guard, he guessed that everyone would be too wary of a regular human with the power of Zeus in his hands.
Provided, he isn't invincible. Even he doesn't rely on magic too much as he knows that it might lead to his demise. Not because of its cost, but because it was too slow ot chant. Flash only used it when he had the element of surprise with him, or if someone else had been distracting the enemy so they couldn't pay attention to him in particular. Though there were few in between, he's managed to make some rather good and loyal friends who would cover for him if need be. Certainly, they wouldn't lay down their life for him - but it was good enough for now. Any help was appreciated, after all.
Currently, Flash wasn't on Guard duty - or at least, his shift wasn't until later. So currently, he was strolling around while reading his book, or rather the book he had acquired from that mysterious Adventurer from years ago. There were still a lot of spells that he hadn't learned, and more magical theories that he had to test. Whoever this Adventurer was, he was surely one hell of a smart guy. Flash had to consult so many books from the library to make heads and tails from the wording used by the Adventurer, and he had to do it while no one was looking! Or at least, no one would be watching his every movement and action. He never really told anyone about the fact that he took some possessions from the Adventurer - though technically, he was allowed to do it since the Adventurer did give it to him.
As he flipped a page, he heard some quick footsteps. His head snapped upwards from the book and then saw a young child bolting for it from the walls separating the settlement from the reformation school. Flash sighed and then placed the book inside his coat's inner pocket. He then ran after the child, vaulting over the obstacles with relative ease. Intercepting the child at just the right moment, he successfully caught the kid without having to suffer from a collision with the kid and potentially knocking the both of them down - not that the kid could actually do it.
The kid struggled as Flash raised his - flinging his arms around in an attempt to hit the white haired guard. "Lemme go!" He exclaimed over and over again. Flash looked at the kid with relative interest. He was scrawny and his clothing were in tatters. Surely, this kid would still be in school. Must have escaped a while back and thought he could strike it out in Bellbrooke without being caught. Unfortunately, not a single one could escape into the town. It was odd though, seeing the kid so... horribly unfed. The reformation school gave out some rather nice food from what he could remember. The kid was probably trying to be a rebel or something.
Flash rolled his eyes. "No way kid, you're going back to school." He said before putting the kid down, but still held onto the kid's shirt with an iron grip so no matter how hard the child struggled, he didn't manage to break free.
"Not back there! Anywhere but there!" There was always that one problematic kid in school. Okay, maybe not one since there were usually a lot of them. Bellbrooke had quite a number of them. Flash never understood why these kids want to escape in the first place. They should be happy that they had a roof above their heads and food served in their table. Besides, they couldn't even live out of these walls without the proper equipment and knowledge of fighting. It was their safest bet, to stay in school until they graduated.
"Sorry kid, but rules are rules." Flash responded with a small shrug. "And it's my job to enforce them." He then began dragging the kid back to the reformation school.
They soon came upon the school and then he gave the kid over to the authorities there - a male pegasus who served as one of the teachers was the one who came up to take the child. "Thank you, officer. We'll make sure he doesn't escape again. Come along now!" The pegasus urged the child to move on. The child looked ruefully back at him.
"Wait." Flash said. The pegasus stopped and then Lightning Flash approached the child. "Tell you what kid. After you're done with reformation school, coem find me. I'll hook you up with some adventurers and teach you the ropes. If you manage to finish it here in Bellbrooke that is. That means you should not get expelled." He told the child and looked at the unicorn who stayed silent. It wouldn't really be a problem. After all, once a child is done with reformation school, they get to do whatever they want.
The kid grinned at Lightning Flash. "You got it!" It would seem that he just wanted motivation to continue his studies. Flash nodded at the kid and they both went to their separate ways. He was about to leave when a man dressed in a coat entered. Flash gave him a salute and he nodded in return. From what he can remember from his times at the reformation school, those kinds of suits usually mean that they were inspectors. Good thing he got that kid back in time, or else Headmaster Blueblood - that utterly fake unicorn he always didn't like - would be in a hell lot of trouble... maybe he shouldn't have done it but oh well.Since he was practically already doing his Guard work, he figured that he would change into it. He basically just changed his clothing but not into the usual Guard uniform made of real armor, but just regular clothing with padding on it. Why? Well, ever since he became a magician, it was better for him to have more agility and flexibility that was offered by this choice of clothing. Flash was more comfortable with this anyway. He could move freely in it. There was a Guard badge on the coat, so people and the ponies knew that he was part of it. Though the cold bothered most, Flash seemed to relish in it as he walked.
Lightning Flash now re-entered the town of Bellbrooke as a Guard. His green eyes were now watching everything like a hawk. Even if he was doing this because it aligned with his interest as someone who likes to bring harm and destruction, he still needed to do a well-enough job so no one would catch on. He typically smiled and waved at those he knew, though, because he was a relatively friendly person. Besides, the mood was rather festive! The holidays were just around the corner and everyone seemed to be high spirits. Aside from the incident earlier, everyone was all smiles. He could see that the guards at the gates were focused on the outside, and he understood why. With the wind came the sound, the sound of something out there. Waiting to strike. Flash wasn't all that worried though. He'd survived with encounters with those monsters.
Besides, what he would do for some action around here. And he meant real action, like fighting others and whatnot. Flash found himself wandering near the Bellbrooke Reformation School's walls once more, having been assigned there for the meantime.
"Oh, Mr. Flash, if I can have a moment of your time." The pegasus said, returning to the man with hair that rivaled the snow around them. Flash looked back at her and then nodded. "You see, one of our students is quite problematic. Falling Down - maybe you've heard of her?" She asked, tilting her head to the side as she did.
"I have, indeed, heard of her. We've met before, when she tried to escape." He honestly replied. Falling Down was a lot like him in terms of having a thirst for something - for her adventure, for him destruction. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like she could hold down that thirst. It was quite a shame really, since she would need to be dragged back every now and again. Flash always wanted to recommend acting like a good kid until you're finally let go from that accursed school and just gain the freedom you always wanted. Unfortunately, not all people were patient like him.
The pegasus shook her head. "She has escaped again, you see. Last we heard, she was in the clinic but now she's not. She then pressed a hoof to her temple. "Headmaster Blueblood wants her found as the inspector is here. Can you go look for her?"
Lightning Flash did not join the Guard to be ordered around to look for missing kids. There was a flash of annoyance that ran across his eyes, but he smiled at the teacher regardless. "Of course! That is my job after all!" He cheerily replied. The pegasus smiled at him before leaving without any further information. Great, now he'd have to act like a detective. How unfortunate.
However, being a naughty child himself back then, he knew the inner workings of the castle. While normally someone can't escape, Flash had found himself close to actually getting out. It was a sort of failsafe for him if someone were to ever find out of his true intentions. He walked around the wall and towards the back where a drain that could be opened was placed. It wasn't used anymore, so Flash figured that at the right time - Winter - he could probably get out through there. And indeed, footprints were embedded on the snow.
Shaking his head, he began to follow - his feet crunching the snow beneath his boots. It was odd, she seemed to have been heading to the largely unexplored part near Bellbrooke - a forest. He never knew why there weren't any expeditions heading there but he guessed that people were just afraid to find out what was directly outside the castle walls. Fools, every single one of them. However, Falling Down was a fool as well as going around without proper equipment in this condition would only lead to her eventual demise.
And if she was trying to escape, she could have done a better job in actually hiding where she went. Footprints were everywhere, but since Lightning Flash was walking calmly as opposed to her running - he wouldn't really catch up to her soon. He had his hands inside his coat's pockets. His sword was hanging from his waist and his bow and arrows were tied to him as well. He wondered what kind of things were out here. He was starting to find an interest in it himself.
Spying the young girl as she weaved through the trees, he kept silent - his steps becoming lighter so it wouldn't make as much sound. He wanted to see what she had found - what knowledge she stored of this place. It would certainly be useful to him... eventually.
Rays was beginning to question the wisdom of turning down the weather adaptation charm for his cloak. The merchant in question had been asking for an awful lot though, and it's not like he knew he'd be trudging through the snow in some near-polar region of Earth when he bought the thing. The unicorn's sullen grumble turned into a full-body shiver as his breath misted in the cold winter air. How did the weather change so quickly? He hadn't seen any pegasi getting the skies ready, and yet it had gone from chilly-but-bearable to frigid and covered in snow overnight. Equestria really needed to step their game up and get some weather teams cleaning up this world's climate.
Rays was snapped out of his reverie by the realization that he'd made it to his destination. At least the innkeeper's directions proved accurate (once her greed had been sated anyway). Hurrying inside, he looked around for the help desk. Ah, there it was.
"I'd like to register a Rended encounter."
The receptionist looked a bit more attentive than he had before.
"A new variation?"
"New for me, at least. Hopefully it was the only one of its kind, but you never know with Rended." Rays began to rifle through his saddlebags as he continued, "I think it used to be one of the native equines. You know, before."
Finding what he was looking for, he pulled it out and placed it on the desk. It was a horn. Spiraled like a unicorn's, but longer and far more deadly in appearance, it was broken at the base.
"It was like some sick parody of a unicorn. Big as a horse and completely insane. Barely managed to kill it before it could kill me."
"Well, we'll certainly add it to the watchlist. Was there anything else?"
"Got any good tips on salvage nearby?"
"Funny you should ask. We just got a commission from the mayor to send some adventurers up to the reform school. Sounds like the Headmaster's offering a job."
Beeline | Bellbrooke --> Bellbrooke Reform School A pale green earth pony watched as Beeline fiddled with the straps on his armor, repeatedly tightening and loosening the bindings holding the plates in place. “Where ya headed so soon, Bee?”
“T’the reform school,” Beeline grunted after a few seconds, satisfied with the fit of his armor. It wasn’t until he was deep into his coat that his roommate asked a follow up question.
“A job.” He looked up from his coat’s zipper. “Didn’t say what fer, jus’ told me the pay was good. Kinda job only a pony o’ my caliber could perform.” He slung his rifle over his shoulder, the hunk of mismatched metals fitting into a pair of loops on his saddlebags. “Figure there ain’t nothin’ wrong with havin’ a look, right?”
“But what about the artifact? You know, what we all came here for? You’re still going to help us, right?”
“Look. Fer all our sake, this magical, wish-granting whoozimawhatsit’d better be hearsay some merchant cooked up ta drive business out ‘ere,” he said as he adjusted his hat, “‘Cause I reckon if it is a real artifact, that can grant wishes...” With a derisive snort, Beeline stepped backward, through the doorway and out into the hall. “I don’t want any part in it. How do ya surmise Earth got the way it is?”
Beeline left while his friend was still distracted. He knew nothing he could say would dissuade the scavenger. The Artifact as he, and many others he’d come in contact with, had begun to call it, dominated every conversation. It was an obsession. Beeline could sense every ounce of it, and the simultaneous desire to feed upon and distance oneself from that gross mass had bred nothing more than resentment for his host.
He needed somebody new to latch onto. Preferably, somebody that wouldn’t lead him into a pit of greed and betrayal.
It didn’t take long for Beeline to cross the gap between the walls of Bellbrooke and the reform school. “Hello?” he called into the lobby as he shook the snow from his legs, “I’m here to see the headmaster.”
Location: Bellbrooke Reform School Interacting with: (Following Beeline @Ramzam
After the tip, Rays set off again, this time headed for the old human castle that had been re-purposed into a reform school for reeducating human youths. He cast notice-me-not once he was outside the adventurer's hall and kept it active as he traversed the city streets and the path to the school.
He reached the front door just as a brown unicorn called out into the entryway, "Hello? I'm here to see the headmaster."
"What a coincidence, so am I."
Rays allowed his notice-me-not spell to fail as he approached the other unicorn from behind. After a quick prestidigitation to clear the snow of his legs, he joined Beeline in the old castle's entry hall. Spotting a bench, he pulled out a book and sat down to wait for their presence to be noticed by the school's denizens.
Cloud's eyes remained on the snowy horizon, not allowing herself to be distracted by the climate and general sounds of merriment coming from the town behind her. Unlike a few of her fellow guards, Cloud relished in her position, and found a sort of solace in pacing the walls, making sure that all of those behind her were safe and free to go about their day.
Her quiet observation was interrupted, however, when the speakers on the wall crackled to life and a gentle, mechanical voice called out.
"Guard Shift 2 will commence wall duty. Sections 3 and 5 will report to castle walls for patrol duty."
Cloud shouldered her spear, and then heard a groan from her left. One of her fellow guards, a maroon unicorn who held his spear to his side with magic, had a rather sour expression. He turned to her, frown turning slightly upwards.
"Is that us, Cloud?"
Of course, Cloud already knew what section she was on, but she smirked, making it a point to motion towards a sign on the guard's side of the wall with her spear. The sign hidden from outside view by the crenellations on the wall, and displayed the number "5" in neat, black paint.
"You already know, Battlement. Off to the castle we go."
The unicorn groaned again, although he did it as he got moving. Of course, Thundering Cloud knew Towering Battlements well. His groaning and moaning was more for humor than actual complaining.
And so, they, along with several other guards, a mix of reformed humans and ponies, a group with a drastic slant towards the equine persuasion.
Secretly, Cloud enjoyed patrolling the castle walls the most. Sure, the Reform School was behind her, but to her, the school held mostly positive memories. She hadn't been one of those problem children, and she never quite understood the desire to run away from the safety of the castle walls.
Whether this was a testament to her prospects as a city guard or to the Equestrian mind-clearing spells, she'd never know.
Another half hour passed, and she was happily looking over the town from the castle's high walls. From here, she could see the whole town and the forests past it, gaze into the ocean that Bellbrooke was nestled against. She sighed, leaning against her spear slightly, eyes captivated by the constant rhythm of the waves.
Someone tapped her in the side with a spear, and she jumped slightly.
"Take a picture, it'll last longer," came the voice of Battlements, smirking like a bandit.
"Stuff it, you know it's beautiful out here."
The gates at the castle walls opened to receive someone, and immediately she snapped back into attention. She did her best to look "guardly", hoping the helmet would hide her flustering for being caught at ease like this. Curiously, she looked to see who had entered, and when it was a brown unicorn, she looked back out. He was an adventurous looking type. The kind of individual she'd seen enter the Reform school before.
For the life of her, she couldn't understand why the headmaster was so keen on bringing those kinds of people into the school.
If there was one thing that pony kind could be counted on, it was the fact that they as a species had decided early on in their history to shy away from the idea of total war; That wasn't to say that they weren't ready or willing to protect themselves or those that mattered to them, but that the idea of waging a war solely to exterminate their chosen enemy and everything that they had built from the world had simply never occurred to them...
Unfortunately, this also had the nasty side effect of making it difficult for Worried Mind to actually get funding for what he was trying to do. Most of the humans he had interacted with also didn't quite understand it either, but that was more because few bothered to try and research human history like he did rather then having a state of mind in which the concept of a nuclear weapon was alien. Ponies just didn't understand why any race would create a device that could not only utterly annihilate a large area, but also blight it and make it toxic for decades to come as well as roasting an even larger area outside of the initial blast zone and unleashing pure poison into the world that would sicken and kill people hundreds of kilometers away... let alone understand why anyone would create enough of these devices to effectively end all life on the planet at least twenty times over.
Granted Worried couldn't help but feel that he was missing information that was messing up his equations about just how bad the 'Cold War' could have gotten if the situation had truly gone south and that the actual number of how many times the world could have been destroyed was higher then it actually was, but the fact that the powers that be in a pre-Rending world felt that they needed to have the ability to end the world and everything on it several times over just to make sure everyone was good and dead was horrifying to the extreme.
And those weapons were still out there, hidden away in vaults and solos without anyone to maintain or dismantle them safely, their whereabouts lost when the old government was destroyed in the Rending...
Ponies didn't quite understand that these weapons were still a threat to the world because most of them simply couldn't wrap their head around something like that existing in the first place. Which made getting bits in order to fund research and exploration trips to try and locate the damn things somewhat difficult... and forcing Worried to have to take odd jobs in order to earn the additional funding he desperately needed.
He had been stationed in Bellbrooke for some time, looking for odd jobs to earn bits and leads to follow. While he wasn't one for social events and the like, he liked to think that he had enough of a professional relationship with the Mayor that they would point him in the right direction if either of them came up and that friendship had paid off; With his rifle resting in his lap as he sat down at a chair, he waited in the waiting room of the Headmaster of the Bellbrooke Reform School in order to meet with the pony who seemed to have a job offer going.
He didn't really know all that much about Headmaster Blueblood personally, but he had heard that he had offered jobs before... through sometimes people didn't come back from them. No harm in hearing him out at least.
Though ignorant she was being followed Falling moved quickly through the woods, even as she jumped and nearly skipped her way between the skeletal snow covered trees. Being out in the open air, however frigid, drove her away from the castle and the walls of Bellbrooke. Of course the cold wasn’t lost on her. The numbness at the tips of her fingers and the stinging touch of the frosty iron of her pipe against them bothered her.
“Damn it. I need to find some better gloves.”
Falling cursed putting the pipe between one of her armpits as she fished out a pair of rags from a pocket. Quickly lashing them around one of the lower and upper sections of the pipe length she fashioned a pair of crude cloth grips. The grimy, threadbare fabric did little for warmth or traction but it beat touching the freezing cold metal directly.
Gripping the iron pipe in her hands like a two handed sword Falling swung at the outstretched branches of trees, knocking the snow off them or outright snapping them.
“Ugh. This thing is lame. I need to find something cooler if I’m ever going to become a real adventurer.”
Falling breathed, looking down at the worn iron pipe with some measure of disappointment.
It didn’t take very long for Falling Down to reach the end of the woods and arrive at the lake.
Stepping out past a final row of trees she found herself in an open, snow laden area. With all the snow on the ground it was almost impossible to tell that she was standing on the shore of the lake, were it not for the long stretch of ice that reached out before her into the distance.
Bearing Lake, also known as the “Stone Bearing Lake” was a short trip from Bellbrooke and an even shorter trip from the Reform School. In the summer it’s waters were warm and welcoming, ideal for swimming or fishing. However the waters also concealed many secrets and even more dangers, to the point very few if anyone dared go near the lake unless they were trying to dredge up hidden treasures from the bottom of it.
In the winter however the lake was considerably safer. Anything dangerous was trapped beneath the ice and adventurers deemed cutting it too risky to get at mere potential riches that they could more easily get in the summer.
Falling’s maroon eyes scanned the particularly length of shore she stood on, gleaning through the white until she found what she was looking for.
Tucked away, farther back from the shore of the frozen lake and into the woods themselves as an old church. It was practically invisible, lost in the browns of the bramble bushes growing up it and the thick tangles of tree around it. In the summer the leaves would have smothered it from sight entirely. But with the coming of winter it was revealed.
“Yes! I knew I wasn’t just imagining things!” Falling cheered as she started off towards the dilapidated church. “No one has ever talked about this thing before, it’s gotta be filled with stuff!”
The orphan girl was practically giddy as she moved, wading through the dried brambles that tugged at her clothes and shimmying over the short crumbling stone ‘fence’ that surrounded the border of the church. Sporting cuts and scrapes Falling Down finally arrived at the front doors of the mysterious building.
Old, wooden doors on rusted hinges were all that separated her from the interior.
She reached out, hand trembling from both the cold and her own excitement, and pushed against the door.
CRNK CRNK CRNK
The doors refused to open.
“Oh come on!” Falling yelled, yanking on the rusted latches of the doors and shaking them in their frame. However the doors remained closed, either locked or simply fused together from years of exposure to the elements.
“I’ll have to break them down then!” Falling said, stepping back down the front steps as she readied her pipe…
Entering the lobby of the reform school a young paper-yellow earth pony, probably only a few years out of school, sat behind a beaten and abused desk waiting to greet Beeline. She smiled as the front doors to the school opened and she quickly adjusted the crude nameplate at the front of the desk that read “Ms. Files.”
“Hello and welcome to the Bellbrooke Reform school!” The secretary said with rehearsed practice and cheer.
She lifted her hooves and gestured to the room around them. Carpeted stone floors and yellowed fluorescent bulbs made the lobby of the Reform School seem warmer and more welcoming than the frozen courtyard outside. However the corners of the room carried shadows and the stone interior of the castle had a strange dreariness to it.
Even the secretary, who smiled bright and earnestly, seemed somewhat unwilling to the idea of being where she was.
“Oh, yes! Headmaster Blueblood has been expecting you-”
“Yes, yes Ms. Files thank you.”
A voice called out from down the leftmost hall. Turning her head the secretary almost grimaced as she saw Blueblood trot down the hall. Though his golden mane and pure white coat and clothes stood out like a road flare amongst the dreary walls of the castle, Blueblood carried an oppressive air with him as he walked.
He approached the desk, flashing a perfect smile at Beeline and Crepuscular, before looking back to his secretary.
“You’ve done your job job adequately Ms. Files now please go on your break so I may speak with these fine ponies alone.”
“But I don’t get a break-”
“Take your break, Miss Files.”
Blueblood remained smiling but the female pony saw something in it that made her wince. Slipping from her seat she hurried through a heavy iron handled door behind her desk, slamming it behind her and disappearing out of sight. With the secretary gone Blueblood sighed, his face and posture relaxing as he looked to the ponies before him.
“Hmmm. You’re all that came? Well I’m sure quality is better than quantity.”
Blueblood looked to Beeline, noting his impressive rifle and armor plates with a flicker of intrigue in his eyes. The intrigue he had was lost as he looked to the seated Crepuscular and Worried Mind, gazing at the seated humans with some measure of faintly hidden disgust.
Looking back to Beeline, Blueblood pressed a hoof into his own chest as he spoke.
“I am Prince, soon-to-be-duke, Blueblood! Though I am Headmaster of this ‘school’, I assure you this is not my permanent resident or job."
Blueblood paused, as if feeling his words had some grand weight to them that needed to be absorbed before continuing.
“As I hope you three have guessed I have called you here to do a service of great importance of me. Others have attempted it in the past and every single one of them failed me…"
He tilted his head away, glaring into space as he mentioned the 'others'.
“However I know that won’t be the case here. I want you to go out and search a nearby building for me. It’s located near Bearing Lake, hidden amongst the forest. From what I understand none of the scavengers in town know about the place. I only learned about it quite recently from some old texts here in the castle. There is something of significant importance there and I want you to bring it, and any other valuables you can find back to me.”
Blueblood pointed to one of the nearby walls, vaguely in the direction of Bearing Lake.
“Of course there are probably dangers, and complications, and you could both be horribly killed, blah, blah, blah. You likely know the risks. However what you don’t know is the reward I’m willing to give you."
The Prince's smile deepened and he pressed his hooves together, rubbing them eagerly as he circled Beeline and walked over to the two humans.
"The three of you will be paid a flat commission by the mayor of course, but if you manage to bring me back a magical item that isn’t trash then I will reward you accordingly with a large sum of bits I have gained..."
The Prince shook the saddlebag on his rear, producing the heavy jingle that only a bloated bag packed to the brim with Bits could make. It sounded almost like Hearths Warming bells, only with a greedier tininess to their sound...
Atop the walls of Bellbrooke the guards would feel a harsher, colder wind then they had mere moments before. At first it seemed like nothing but with the harsher wind something else was brought.
Amidst the trees and the snow mounds beyond the walls of the settlement, something approached. Though no movement could be seen in between the trees the soft crunch of freshly fallen snow under light feet rang true. The sound carried awkwardly, echoing in the open chilled air. Each step seemed impossible to pinpoint, yet grew closer and more frequent the more seconds clicked by.
For a moment it seemed like many things were moving through the snow when others it sounded like only one thing was moving. Before any of the guards could get frustrated and call out something appeared from behind an icicle laden tree. It was slender and bleached white, with only the yellow stains along it’s form giving it away from the snowy background behind it.
It was a skeleton.
Stripped of flesh and devoid of fluid the human skeleton stood on two bony legs. Though no muscle or sinew was present to hold its form together it stood. Tall, straight, and moving without strings to trickery to guide it. The pace of the ghastly thing was slow, sluggish. It’s arms hung at it moved forward seemingly aimless until it turned its head.
With empty sockets the skeleton looked forward, up at the wall where Thundering Cloud stood on watch. The skeleton tilted it’s head, awkwardly swaying it’s skull around on the worn segments of its spine.
For a moment it simply stood there, staring at the flesh and blood human human.
Then it raised its arm.
Clutched in its thin digitted hands was some kind of weapon. It was a Macuahuitl, a long wooden board with a handle. Ragged, razor sharp bits of stone and glass were embedded along the edges to form a toothy blade. The skeleton swung the Macuahuitl against the tree it stood near.
THUNK THUNK THUNK
It rapped loudly against the wood, shaking the branches of the barren tree with each blow.
Then, from behind another tree, another skeleton stepped forward.
Several skeletons stepped out into the open space between the forest and Bellbrooke’s walls, each carrying a crude Macuahuitl of their own.
Then without pause or hesitation the undead skeletons charge, bolting forward towards the wall and the guards atop it…
Worried glanced at the other 'adventurers' that had answered the call, giving them a slight look over as he nodded his head towards them in greeting while raising his hand in a quick wave. He didn't exactly feel in the mood for talking; He was reluctant to talk to random people most of the time anyway, but there was something about this Reform School that just felt... off. It seemed welcoming enough, but by the prickling of his back there felt like there was something under the surface that was wrong...
When their client presented himself, a lot of dots suddenly lined up to draw a very clear picture.
The more he watched and listened to Blueblood, the more Worried couldn't help but dislike him. If he didn't need the funding so badly he would have happily walked out and never gaze upon the 'Prince' again, but beggars could rarely be choosers. Still, he smiled a little as he asked "Isn't Duke a downgrade from Prince? I mean, unless the Prince in your name is less a title and is just your first name or something..."
Location: Forest outside Bellbrooke - Bearing Lake - Church Interacting with: Falling Down @Crosswire
The girl still stayed none the wiser as he followed her, a smile playing on his lips as he figured this one out. It was quite fun to watch the young girl explore by herself. She looked like she knew the terrain well enough - so Flash deduced that she actually has escaped before and has traversed through this same forest at least once. But this was not the time to admire her bravery, or stupidity, as he was here on a job. Job or no, however, he needed to know where she was headed in the off chance that he was interested in sacking the place, or something similar to that action.
He was tempted to go to her and hand her a pair of extra gloves as the conditions were quite extreme. She had a weapon, yes, but that would be useful if she could use it thanks to her numbed hands. But he stayed his hand and watched as she made cloth grips on her pipe. Good enough, he supposed. He followed the trail of destruction that Falling Down made in her wake - branches now lay on the ground or broken on their trunks. Shame, she could get away much more easier if she covered up her tracks better. But it didn't seem like she was thinking that someone actually might be following her.
After some time of walking, he saw the edge of the forest and Falling Down there. This was Bearing Lake, was it not? Hm, now what would she be doing here. Certainly, she wouldn't be attempting to retrieve treasure from the dangerous lake - for one, she didn't have any cutting tools with her. This place was deemed to dangerous by most to visit and hunt treasure at. Flash himself wasn't foolish enough to go here by himself, but he never found anyone who was willing to come with him.
Once she was heading towards the church, he emerged from the forest. There was no cover here, but it didn't look like she was on the lookout for people... or people following her. Flash slowly followed her once more but now knew where she was headed. He spotted the run-down church off to the woods.
"Oh, would you look at that."
Interesting, he's never heard of this place before. It would seem the adventuring spirit in Falling Down was more useful than he originally thought. No one has talked about it before, imagine what sort of secrets it has within.
Carefully maneuvering himself through the dried rambles, making the occassional snap to get through without harming his clothing, and then he cleared the stone fence as well. He landed just as she began trying to open the door, masking his landing with the jiggling of the door. She seemed intent on having that door opened, and he was looking forward to what it had in store. But with his close proximity, it would be better to help than to keep himself hidden.
Clearing his throat, he began speaking. "I am inclined to advise you to not do that. With your pipe's condition, I'm afraid that it would break or not do the job." He paused for her reaction but didn't wait for very long as he continued forward. Indeed, the door was locked from the inside - or at least, it would be very difficult to open. They could just hack it to pieces, but that would decrease the sharpness of his sword and he wasn't too keen on that. He could blow it up...
He could blow it up.
"Stand aside and stay clear. You wouldn't want yourself to get hurt, would you?" He gestured to his back as he reached for his pocket and then took out a bit of electrum. Just a small amount, just enough to blow this door up. The church was dilapidated, yes, but it shouldn't go down with only a small force applied to it. Whether or not Falling Down followed his instructions, he began.
He made a series of movements, all precise and timed - green eyes focused on the closed door before them. Electricity began crackling around his hands as he moved. He then pointed his palm at the door and a surge of electricity poured forward. Instead of merely electrocuting what was there, though, there was quite an explosion. It should be enough to fling the doors forward, but not enough to take them off their hinges - unless it was weathered so much that it would fail to withstand such a force.
A grin spread to his face as he watched the explosion. It was small in size, definitely not as big as he would have wanted, but it would have shaken the structure of the church if it was really in bad conditions. But it was enough to make him giddy. Ooh, he hoped he could do so much more. Alas, he could only do this right now or risk exposing himself to this girl. While it wouldn't be of too much consequence, seeing as he was willing to accompany her now, he didn't want anyone to know. Never, if he wanted to continue his job at the Guard.
Nevertheless, he dusted off his hands and then looked towards the teen. "After you."
As a Canterlot native, Rays was quite familiar with Prince Blueblood, if only by reputation. As such, when the human made his (honestly mediocre) crack and put that expression on the noblestallion's face, it was all he could do not to laugh.
An amused snort escaped and he did his best to play it off as a sneeze.
I'll stop there because nopony nobody has sounded the alarm yet. Also, any views and opinions expressed by Crepuscular Rays do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of his writer.
Beeline | Bellbrooke Reform School Beeline’s jaw shifted from sided to side as Worried Mind spoke. He couldn’t tell if the question came from ignorance, or somewhere else, but he could already feel the mood turning sour. Sourer than it already was. He had to change that.
“Is’not uncommon ta hold multiple titles,” he said, looking to Worried, “Hay, he already does. More importantly, there’s no kingdom to be prince of, here on Earth. Reckon a duke would have proper authority in this realm, given these colony towns are more or less their own states.” He cleared his throat and turned to the rest of the group. “Not like any of that changes the fact he’s payin’ us the proper amount fer our expertise.”
Blueblood’s face hardened. Though his smile was maintained, it soon grew to show teeth. Like cracks in a porcelain mask his facade of noble control only grew more damaged under the pressure of his own anger. The Prince’s sapphire blue eyes locked with Worried’s own lesser blue eyes as the petty attempt at what he assumed was an insult graced his ears. Atop his head they flicked as he caught Ray’s poor attempt to hide a laugh. Beneath his white coat Blueblood’s skin grew hot as a rush of blood flooded to his head.
“Mr. Bee is the only one here that appears to be speaking intelligently and not out of some blither, brain blighted ignorance. It is possible to hold multiple titles. Here on Earth being a ‘Prince’ of a family back in Equestria does not hold much authority. However being a Duke would give me a tremendous amount of power and dictation regarding pretty much everything in the area.”
The prince looked deliberately at Worried as he emphasized ‘everything’ and his smile normalized, sharpening with a newfound sense of superiority.
“In fact the reason the Mayor of this dreary little settlement is paying your primary wage for this job is because he already answers to me to a degree. So it’s only a matter of time before I usurp his control entirely once I’m handed a proper title of dominion that is so rightfully mine.”
Pressing a hoof into his lapels once again Prince Blueblood dragged his words slightly, ensuring that everyone in the room would have to hear and let the realization of his office properly sink in.
“But as before, Mr. Bee is quite correct. We’re not here to talk about the authority and power of my station, because if we were none of you would be involved in the discussion. You are here to do a job. One I am frankly offer too much for. You can either choose to do it or walk away bitless, into the frozen grips of winter. I’ve already told you where to go.”
Location: Outside Bellbrooke, through woods and at Bearing Lake
Falling heard the voice behind her just as her pipe met the rotted wood of the door. Despite knowing the presence behind her wasn’t just in her head she did her best to ignore it entirely. She struck fruitlessly at the door, each word of the stranger’s voice disrupting the sense of joy and excitement that flooded through her seemingly moments before. It barely seemed like a few minutes had past since she escaped from the school and found a place of her own to properly explore. Hearing someone’s voice, feeling their presence in what Falling already felt was supposed to be her special place irritated her to know end.
Barely listening as Lightning spoke Falling grit her teeth, missing his words and damning his presence as she continued to crack at the door with her frigid pipe. Eventually what little patience she had evaporated under the strain and she stopped, spinning in place on the snow covered steps of the church to face the stranger.
“Listen you loudmouthed-”
Falling barely began to speak when she saw the glow of magic between the green eyed stranger’s heads and saw it surge forward. Without thinking Falling threw herself over the handrail of the stairs, dropping into the withered hedges up against the side of the church as the door exploded. Though the force was not large, it did not need to be large to blow a chest sized hole in the feted wood and snap the doors clean off their rust eaten hinges.
One door rocketed into the dark church while the other was flung sideways, snapping the left hand guard rail of the front steps before crashing into the snow laden front yard.
Breathing heavily, shaken by the sound of the explosion, Falling pulled herself out of the dead hedges and glared at the green eyed stranger.
“Just piss off you spark throwing jerk off! This is my stake and I found it first.”
Falling grit her teeth, brandishing her pipe at the stranger still some number of steps away as she walked back up the front stairs towards the newly 'opened' doors.
Thundering saw the skeleton emerge, of course, but for whatever reason, it didn't immediately dawn on her. Didn't hit her as fast as it should have.
Because one moment, she was staring off into the trees, and then in the next, the cursed thing stepped out from the dimness past the treeline and almost locked eyes with her.
Had it been a person, she doubted she would have noticed, but from this distance, she could clearly see the two black holes in the skull as it peered directly at her. She was stunned for a few moments, never having seen this specific thing before in her time as a guard.
She wasn't completely frozen, however, and she managed to start walking towards the alarm bell on the wall, more an instinctual reaction her training had given her than a conscious decision. Then, the skeleton raised its weapon, and suddenly, she was back.
It was a threat.
She made it to her section's alarm and rang the bell just as the skeleton started to bang on the tree with its weapon. She gave it a few more rings, just to be sure everyone heard it, and then returned to the wall's battlements, crouching down to access a long crate set against the wall's interior.
By the time she'd clutched one of the crossbows stored inside, loaded it, and looked back up, the skeletons were running from the trees and towards the wall. Cloud tried to ignore the chaos around her as her compatriots responded, instead taking aim for the lead skeleton. She didn't fire immediately, taking a moment to steady herself and brace the crossbow on the wall before loosing a bolt at her target.
Whatever the result of her attack, she did not stick around to look, instead crouching back down to grab another bolt from the ammo reserves.
Rays quirked an ear at the distant ringing. Was that an alarm? As more bells chorused in response, the answer became quite clear. Ignoring the others, he hurried to the nearest window. His face paled at what he saw.
"Skeletons! Armed and numerous, attacking the city wall!"
Rays cast magic sight before adding, "Animating magic centered where the heart should be."
Why did it have to be undead? Almost none of his spells worked on undead!
Resting against a tree, Romt let out slow breaths. He was a little tired, as he'd been digging into the earth and only popped back out about twenty minutes ago. Glancing to his side, he could still see the huge hole in the ground where he entered the earth from; Not yielding much today, but clearing a path which might fetch him better results tomorrow. The old hound had spent years digging around Bellbrooke, and only occasionally yielded anything decent: The only place for him to go was down, at this point, and so it made a good distraction whenever he decided to take a break from patrolling the woods for Rended wandering too close to town.
He contemplated moving further on through the woods and potentially exploring far out on occasion with one of the groups that ended up coming back and forth, though he disliked being too far from Bellbrooke. It was always dangerous around here, and the old hound worried for the humans. He knew there were people, and ponies, there to protect the masses; But even they were given a run for their money sometimes. It was a risk; A risk that Romt didn't see a good reason to take, so he'd remain.
He ought to have been going back soon, anyways. A little downtime, perhaps a meal. He licked his lips at the thought of meat; Tongue hanging out of his mouth, panting momentarily as he had satisfied himself with his plan. He reached down to his satchel, pulling out his flask and taking a long, deserved gulp of water. His eyes locked with the trees above as his head tilted, noting the shifting branches. He soon pulled the flask from his mouth, capping it and putting it away, feeling restored, at least a bit, after the short break.
What was currently a moment of relaxation for Romt soon changed, however. He perked up; His ears picking something up in the distance. They flopped in the air as his head attentively turned towards the direction of Bellbrooke; The hound was familiar with that sound. That was an alarm... Bellbrooke was under attack. Protective instincts kicked in, and he let out a slow, menacing growl from his throat as he stood; His tall figure intimidating as one of his fists smacked against the ground, expressing his anger more clearly.
Nobody harmed Bellbrooke. Nobody.
His fists sounded like a rabid animal stomping through the woods as he charged towards Bellbrooke, to aid in the defense. It didn't matter what it was, how big it was, or how dangerous; Romt would fight. He didn't feel fear, not from monsters. Unlike the ponies and humans, monsters didn't make him think twice. They didn't deserve mercy, and therefor he wouldn't offer any. Drool dribbled from his mouth as his rage built up during the charge, his pace astounding while focusing on running in a single direction, without interruptions aside from dodging trees.
It wasn't something the creatures expected; Perhaps the defenses were hoping Romt would hear them in the distance, so he'd rush back. If so, they succeeded in pulling him back.
Wielding the sledgehammer at his side, Romt took note of the threat as he approached; Skeletons. Undead, vicious beings. Blades and arrows hadn't much of an effect, but Romt had the big solution to the issue; That issue being a hammer that could smash through a brick wall. And much more, with Romt's strength behind it. He came out of seemingly nowhere; swinging his sledgehammer viciously; Colliding with the center mass of one of the skeletons attempting to emerge from the trees. It's bones shot out from the trees, and scattered about the current battlefield.
And soon after, Romt himself emerged; Big, red, terrifying. Bellbrooke's 'Guard Dog' as some put it was on the field, his presence easily known to those on the wall as he snarled at the skeletons. He figured that once this was over, he'd have a nice supply of bones to chew on, so that was certainly a plus to this situation. Much better than the usual disgusting monsters that ruined his appetite.
Closing in, Romt gripped the sledgehammer; Preparing to take a swing at one of the skeletons charging towards the wall. If he could help it, they wouldn't get inside Bellbrooke: Hopefully with the help of the guards, that'd be the result in the end.
Romt swung his weapon; Intending for it to collide to the torso of one of the skeletons with a shattering impact that'd break it apart with relative ease. He noted to stay out of the center, as he didn't wish to be surrounded: He was tough, but getting swarmed and beaten on was still not okay in the hound's mind.