A Field Test
IC date: Autumn 70, 1008
OOC date: November 28, 2013
Location: Wintersong Forest - Forest's Edge
PCs: Makuru, Sodium-Fizz

Lesson time, oh boy! Makuru is fully equipped for a forest adventure with his red and white hoof-kntted scarf from Petticoat, his saddlebags chock full of empty bags and bottles for collection and the strange crystal berry branch poking out of one pocket. "Miss Fizz, Miss Fizz, how far into the forest are we gonna go?" the excitable colt asks his mentor.

Sodium-Fizz pushed away one of the branches in their way with a wing poking out from under her own cloak - a ratty and worn thing full of tears and stains and trimmed, it seems, with some kind of fur… It all is worn over her usual getup of coats and boots, though a brand-new cap also sits on her head (coloured white with a red stripe across). Her back is laden with a sadlebag that much like Makuru's are full of vials and the likes. "Not too far, the Wintersong - as you know - is not a good place to get lost in. But the clearing we're looking for should be just up ahead a bit.."

Pushing the next branch away reveals a clearing, seeming much like the last six they ran into the last six times Fizzy claimed they were near. This time though she might be right as the clearing holds a assortment of strange plants that seems to range from blue-leafed creep to an icy-white moss towards the back, scragly bushes with crystal berries and many more. "Do you remember what the day's lesson is, Makuru?"

"Uh-huh!" Makuru bounces into the middle of the clearing ahead of his teacher and turns to look up at her. "I'm supposed to figure out what properties stuff has based on appearance alone, and what their uses might be!" His attention flits between the numerous strange and exotic plants which have taken root in this particular clearing. "Ooh, I don't think I recognize any of these. Are they deep forest plants that've been moved?" He trots over to one of those familiar scragly bushes and compares the branch sticking out of his saddlebag with the ones growing out of the ground. "No, you said this one wasn't native to Equestria…"

Sodium-Fizz smiled as she followed behind Makuru and found herself a comfortable spot in the very center of the clearing, noding at the zebra colt. "Indeed, they're not native to the Wintersong. Nor Equestria and even the world itself. After a fashion. These are all plants which I gathered during the incident last year, you are most likely aware of it, which evenutaly got us the inhabitants of Daybreak Village."

Waving a hoof over she beckoned Makuru nearer. "There is a reason I WAS able to use these plants for alchemy though, despite them being vastly different from what we know after a thousand years of eternal night and cold… And that's what we shall teach you here, as well. The ability to eyeball your surroundings, however unfamiliar, and discern likely applications from what one can find there."

The apprentice nods to each bit of explanation he is given by his alchemy mistress. "That makes sense," he says, "a lot of properties that plants have manifest in the plants themselves. Like how tarcaps have such stick sap, or how shyblossoms pop when you touch 'em." He moves away from the scraggly crystal berry bush and examines the white moss next, trying to determine what makes it special other than the fact that it's white. "You already know what all of this stuff does, right, Miss Fizz?"

Sodium-Fizz nods, a small smile on her muzzle. Catching on fast, Makuru. "Indeed, quite like that. And yes I do know what most of the things they can do are, though have never gotten into studying them further nor were there any alchemical manuals in the nightmare-world."

"I gave you a twig of the Crystalberry Bush last time," Fizzy continued. "I take it you have studied it by now… Would you care to guess at it's possible application?"

With a clinking of glass the zebra's saddlebag is sloughed off into the thin layer of snow that covers the clearing. Makuru unlatches one of the satchels and pulls the branch in question out to set gently on the ground. "I've spent a lot of time looking at it, yeah. Physicalwise, it's got super small leaves which means its from a place that doesn't get much rain. The berries are hard and brittle — I kinda crushed one by accident, sorry! — which is kind of surprising. Even with limited water resources it still tries to make fruit…"

Makuru rolls the branch over to look at its other side and get a better view of the berries hanging beneath the leaves. "I don't think there's much water in the berries at all. Something else replaces it. But when would you want to remove the water in something?" He scratches his head and considers this. "Could be used in antidiarrheals, preservative rubs… or noninternal uses like as a lacquer, look at how clear those berries are. You'd have to find and remove whatever's causing that frosting effect, though."

Sodium-Fizz flashed Makuru one of her small smiles. "Quite so, though I do clearly see that you approach the subject from the perspective of a pony with medical applications in mind only. If one lets themself narrow down to a field, it is certainly one of the betters."

"The Crystallberry is also rather a magnificant component for most elixirs that mimic frost-based magical effects," continued Fizzy as she reached over and plucked the branch from Makuru, not seeming particularly disturbed at a crushed leaf. "And you did notice its preferance for fruits and its clear nature though did not delve deep into the potential applications of these. Double-distiling a mixture of these berries can produce the foundation for an invisibility elixir while the stem can be powdered and works as an stable phanthom mass for several concoctions such as… well… lets not get into that too much."

Makuru catches sight of that smile and beams brightly! His mentor thinks he did a good job! "Momma and papa only make health potions and stuff so that's all what they've taught me. I'll try to think harder next time, Miss Fizz." But… he missed a bunch of stuff. A buuuunch of stuff. The grin fades a hair. "Invisibility? Wow, yeah, I didn't even think about that, but you're right. If it can turn something solid clear like that then of course you'd be able to transfer that to another entity if you were to flood their systems." He's downright embarassed by having completely forgotten about the qualities of the branch itself. So distracted by the pretty berries!

Sodium-Fizz gave Makuru an encuraging smile. It's still not bad after all. "Don't worry yourself, you'll learn to see it in time. I just want to show you the importance of it and teach you the fundamentals of seeing. Flexibility, Makuru, is the makings of the great. Now, if you look right over there." Fizzy streached out a hoof, pointing towards a small moss hanging from one of the nearby trees, a wing extending to nudge him as well. The moss… is rather generously called moss. It seems more like silky strands, intermitedly dotted with a tiny little star of light.

"If you were to give it a quick look-over, what would you guess it could do in an elixir?"

That broad smile returns to Makuru's at Sodium's kind words. "One second, Miss Fizz!" he says with a nod at the gentle wing poke, trotting over to look at the white hanging moss. He's silent for a minute as he walks around both it and the tree it is suspended from, occasionally poking it with his hoof or giving it a hesitant sniff. "It glows, first of all," he observes. "Naturally glowing plants are super rare. You could make a self-feeding light concentrate out of this if you put some untreated moss into the completed brew as a seed to continue the reaction." But wait, she said an elixir. Something you drink. Another sniff. "Or something that could make a pony shimmer or glow. Miss Blossom would love this stuff for mane conditioner, I bet."

The zebra next pulls a small bit of moss off the hanging mass and tries to pull it between his forehooves. "It doesn't grow like moss normally does, look at these filaments… I bet that stringy quality could be useful. Mix it with a congealant and you could have instant rope in a bottle. Or… for internal use…" A thoughtful look. What uses fibers in the body that could benefit from this? "Can it supplement muscle strength or endurance? The way it's glowing, it seems really well suited for channeling energy through and into fibrous tissue."

More staring. He frowns at it, sure he's missing some potential use again like he did the last time. "Maybe… the filaments and the light…" gold eyes return to Fizzy, unsure if Makuru is on the right track. "If it conducts energy well, since it needs to get the strength to sparkle like that down its length somehow, you could… um… if it does that, you could use it as a stabilizer in high energy reactions? It could hold the energy until a catalyst draws it out. Maybe not long term, it'd vent off energy slowly in the form of glowing, but if you don't need to keep it for more than a few days…"

By now the grin on Fizzy's muzzle is about a mile wide, and after a moment of basking in the string of insights she waved Makuru back over to her. "That… is quite a bit of deduction work I must say. And I shall also say that I came to much of the same conclusions myself. It was one of the components used for a elixir to grow Winter to about the size of a dragon - too reinforce and strengthen bone and muscles. I have not contemplated the energy perservative qualities of it myself as, rather unofrunate, most of my elixirs focus on instant expenditure of potential energy… Still, it is an exelent observation. Once we leave, do feel free to bring some of it with you too do with as you wish."

The light in Makuru's smile is almost as bright as the glimmering starlight in the white moss. So many compliments! And she said she thought the same things he did! "Thank you, Miss Fizz!" the little colt cheers joyfully. "Wow, in growth potions, too? That's so cool! That makes a ton of sense, you'd definitely need to have something to increase muscled strength 'cause of the different ratio in size to muscle mass so this stuff'd be perfect for it." He trots over to his saddlebag on the ground to carefully put the moss he already plucked into a bag then returns to his mistress' side. "You made that for Miss Solstice? It must've been really important for you to make something so important for your friend like that." There's a subtle flick of his ears, reminded of his own friend in need of help. Oh, but now isn't the time for that, he's in the middle of a lesson.

"Well, we HAD to fight at dragon at that point and Winter would be the one most suited for it…" There's a small smile on Sodium Fizz's muzzle, though if it's a memory of huge Winter or the resulting mess thickling her mad scientist side is anypony's guess. After a moment, and a vigerous headshake, she shot up straight again before trotting over to Makuru, and past, towards a small rock overhang. "Well, we got one last little thing to look at…"

Reaching the rocky overhang she fell onto her chest, peering in at the very darkest recess of it. "It's right over here… So tiny a little thing."

Makuru tilts his head quizzically when led to a small rise at the edge of the clearing. "What are we looking at?" he asks as he, too, gets onto his belly to peer underneath of the overhanging stone. "I don't see it, it's super dark under there…"

Sodium-Fizz flashed Makuru a small smile before reaching a hoof forward, brushing at the dirt near the far back and… Is that a little mushroom that she revealed? Yes! It's tiny, miniscule even. It looks like the small pebles and rocks around it, having a simmilar greyish texture. "These little things… What would you guess about them?"

Squiiiint. Makuru tries to figure out what exactly Fizzy is showing him. All he sees is a bunch of rocks. There aren't any plants here at— "Oh, it's camouflaged!" He reaches his own hoof into the crevice, barely able to reach the pebbles and mushrooms in the back. He can brush them enough to confirm that some of them are, in fact, rooted to the ground by their stems. "They're so small! I've never seen such tiny mushrooms. They're really well suited to hiding, huh?" He looks at his mentor with wide eyes. "Is this another ingredient for the invisibility potion? No, not quite… this thing doesn't redirect light, it redirects attention. It makes your eyes pass right over it and pretend its not there… elixer of anonymity maybe? It could keep ponies from remembering your face."

The colt tries to sniff the dark hiding place but all he's really picking up is the scent of rocks and dirt. Darn. "Shrinking draughts seem obvious. So do straight up camoflauge potions. What sort of texture does it have? I can't feel it from here and it LOOKS like a rock but it grows so out of the way I don't know if it's hard like a rock, too. It wouldn't have to be if nothing is gonna step on it."

"It's exactly as hard as rock, yes," said Fizzy with a small smile. "It works well as a agent for petrification as well thanks to that."

Makuru pouts at the pegasus beside him. "Miss Fiiiiizz, now I can't guess that!" he says with the biggest of lip wibbles. Oh well, what else could it do? "Petrification or hardening. If you mixed this in with everroot I bet they'd feed off of each other and make a pony's pelt darn near impervious. …oh! You used this in Miss Solstice's growth potion, too, didn't you? For the bone hardening!"

Sodium-Fizz shook her head, her expression darkening somewhat. "No, I didn't… I've used it to turn ponies to stone with, though. And myself at one point. A bit of a… unfortunate misscalculation on my part. And let that be a lesson to you too, make sure you give any antidote to dangerous elixirs to someone you trust and that is nearby." Fizzy laid silent for a moment. "And that doesn't have giant pie-plate hooves and is panicking."

Another earflick of agitation betrays Makuru's concern, his mistress' dark mood flowing around and into him. "R-right, make sure my assistants have good heads on their shoulders…" What was she testing that she petrified herself? The zebra is almost afraid to ask. Almost. "What were you trying to make when that happened?"

Sodium-Fizz frowned, then sighed. "I was… removing the third most disgusting pony in the whole afair - again. On a bit more permanent basis… Or that was the plan anyway…" Fizzy shook her head as she pushed onto her hooves and backed out from under the rocky overhang, her pale yellow eyes cast skywards for a moment before she seemed to pull herself together; though even then there's a dark look on her face and she seems unsemely tense.

Makuru stands back up when Sodium does and stares at her with innocent worry. He doesn't entirely understand what happened but it's very clear that it was upsetting and really hard for her! So the little colt does what comes naturally to him: he walks up to Sodium's side and begins nuzzling her wing, trying to nose his way underneath of it and comfort her with the physical contact.

Sodium-Fizz squeaks in about as much shock as fear, it seems like, as Makuru's muzzle prods at her wing and she freezes up. After several moments of complete stillness from the mare she seems to relax, just a little bit, and extends the wing just enough for the little zebra underneath before draping it across him. "Makuru…"

The zebra notices the jump and freeze but has no idea that part of it is a fear reaction. He just assumes his alchemy mistress isn't used to the physical contact. She always seems so surprised by his hugs, after all. "Don't be sad, Miss Fizz," he mumbles once he's wrapped in that feathery gray wing, rubbing his cheek against her side. "I don't know what happened but everypony is happy to have you around and nothing is broken or anything and we haven't poisoned the water supply like you said you might and I don't like seeing you sad."

"I'm not sad Makuru. At least not the way I'm used to being sad," mumbled Fizzy half for herself. "I'm scared though, always worried where my mind'll take me…"

Fizzy stood there for several long moments before shaking her head. "I don't think I am keen on this lesson any longer, Makuru… Lets return to the Harbour. I think you have learnt that which I had to teach."

"That's what I'm here for," Makuru says firmly. "I'm gonna make sure nothing bad happens to anypony, so you don't have to be scared." He only steps away once Sodium Fizz says it's time to go. "Okay, Miss Fizz. Thank you for the lesson. I'm really looking forward to the next one." He waits for his mentor to begin leading the way out of the forest.

Sodium-Fizz nods slightly, taking a few moments to collect herself - as well as some of the glowing moss from the tree and some other ingredients, giving a few small samples too Makuru. "Here, you have done well. Consider them yours to do with as you wish."

Turning towards the way they came in - she thinks - Fizzy sets of back towards the forest, wings up to brush away branches and bushes hindering their progress. "And… thank you, Makuru. I'll feel more comfortable knowing that."

Following in his teacher's wake as she clears a path with her wings, Makuru is oddly silent for some times. Conflicting thoughts stew within his young mind as he tries to reconcile what he wants to ask with what he knows he can't. "Hey, Miss Fizz… I was wondering…"

Sodium-Fizz's ears perk up slightly at the hesitant tone, comming to a brief halt during which she peers on Makuru over her shoulder. Then she continues. "Yes, Makuru?"

Makuru bumps into Fizzy's rump when she stops, so distracted is he by his own thoughts. "Oh, sorry, Miss Fizz!" The colt takes a few quick steps back to look up at his mistress. Then he looks down awkwardly. Eyes flick up to hers and back down to the ground in an instant. "I've, um, I was wondering… I've been having trouble sleeping recently, see, and… well, Dreamy has been helping out with her magic…" He's gonna beat around the bush for a while, it seems.

Sodium-Fizz frowns slightly. Trouble to sleep? "It's just to put up wi-… Actualy, I do belive I have a recepie or two that will keep you asleep even through a restless night."

Black and white dreads whirl around Makuru's head as he shakes it emphatically. "No! I mean, I don't want dreamless sleep potions. I know how to make those already. I kind of wanted… something I could use to help Dream Daze." He scuffs his hoof on the forest floor. "She spends all her nights galloping through ponies' heads fighting off nightmares and it's not fair. I want to help her so she can rest, too."

Sodium-Fizz cocked her head slightly. "I see… Hmh, I've never encountered someone else in my sleep…" The grey mare seems to contemplate this for a moment. "Well… I SUPOSE there are ways to do this. But. You should only ever do so if you're ASKED to do so. Tampering with the minds of other is nothing you should do, and while waylaying nightmares isn't it… It does skirt the territory."

Makuru takes a step forward. "I have! Well, I mean, sort of! Spearmint and Freezey and I all agreed that we needed help keeping our nightmares in line or we'd never get any sleep! That's why we were asking Dream Daze for help, but…" He looks down again. "I feel like I'm taking advantage of her. She's my friend and friends help each other. I don't want to use her like a security blanket if I don't have to." His amber eyes drift back up to Sodium Fizz's with hope glimmering behind them. "So… you know something I could make?"

Sodium-Fizz keeps on walking in silence for several long moments. "There's suposedly an elixir known as the Dreamwalker Draught, though I have never heard of an actual implementation of it in anything but alchemists legends. It requires three properties, three that is fairly easy to create and is a potion upon themself if you wish - something to strengthen the mind, something to induce sleep and lastly something to bring dreams."

The grey mare fell silent for a good few moments before glancing back towards Makuru. "But producing these three effects are the easy part, bringing them together is the difficult on… Introducing the forth effect is the seemingly impossible one; something to bridge the gap to another. I've managed it once, but that required most of the exotic reagents I had and a dozen or so different elixirs to make."

The only sound from Makuru as the story begins is his footsteps crunching over fallen pine needles and crisp snow. Strengthening the mind? Easy enough, he can think of half a dozen ingredients that bolster mental accuity. Inducing sleep is simple, too, his momma taught him how to make Moonshade elixers years ago. Bringing dreams is a little weirder. He can't think of anything for that. And that last ingredient… "Something to bridge ponies? Momma's told me stories about magic that can connect hearts, but I didn't think something like could really exist."

Sodium-Fizz frowned, very darkly. "There are some magics that can do that… Most of it is symphatetic magic; binding two things together through a common conceptual source. Two ponies drinking the water from the same well would be symphateticaly bound for example. It's a weak bound, and fades quickly, but it's there. Pledges and promises are stronger, and the stronger the pledge the stronger the bound. Blood ties are amongst the stronges, as is sharing a Tallent."

By now Fizzy's heads half-hangs, and she seems to purpusfuly stomp at whatever half-frozen pine-cones she can find as she walks. "It can exist, though creating such a bond is difficult with magic. And near impossible with alchemy."

Makuru notices the change in his mistress' demeanor and the way she's mutilating every pinecone that dares challenge her. "Near impossible… but not totally impossible, right?" He takes a deep breath and steadies himself. "If it's gonna help Dreamy, then even impossible isn't a problem. I owe her that much! Near impossible will be a walk down the beach."

Sodium-Fizz noded glumly. "Good for you then, Makuru."

Thoughts race through the zebra's mind. "Things that connect ponies… well, we're already all connected by Dreamy 'cause she keeps running through all of our minds, guarding our dreams, so that's not very difficult. There has to be a way to tap into that connection… are there any plants linked to that sort of magic that could tap into it? I mean, if it's possible… alchemy is all about using and redirecting the magic that's already there, and the magic is already here!" He taps his head with his hoof.

Sodium-Fizz sighed for herself, trying her best to pull herself together for her student's sake. After a moment she shrugged slightly. "I… do not honestly know, Makuru. I don't know any specific plant, mineral or something else that produce that effect myself. It sits squarely in the realm of myth and speculation."

Makuru's frown grows to match Sodium's darkened expression. "Oh… darn…" Wait, no! Just 'cause Miss Fizz doesn't know is no reason to get glum! The colt shakes his head to banish the thoughts of defeat. "Okay! Well, I guess I'm gonna have to go to the library and look up myth books! Momma says that all the old stories have truth in 'em somewhere." His head is now held high and determined. He has a goal!

Sodium-Fizz craked a weak little smile. "Yeah, most of them do. Be it mysterious alchemical components, mares in the moon and vampire ponies."

Makuru picks up the pace so he can trot alongside his mentor. "I still don't get how 'ponies with pointy teeth for breaking through rinds' turned into 'blood-sucking monsters'. That's super weird! The bat ponies I've met have all been really nice! Oh, that reminds me, I met a filly named Falalalan the other day…" He continues nattering away as the pair wend their way out of the forest and back to town.

Sodium-Fizz glanced glumly at Makuru, thinking of the the kind of 'vampires' SHE knows and hoping for his sake that he never runs into. Putting on her best cheery smile she turned her attention to the colt's tale. It was a good one.