A Stranger on the Road
IC date: Fall 79, 1007
OOC date: December 7, 2012
PCs: Kludge, Mirror-Shard, Nocturne, Rocket, Ruby-Blossom
GM: Spindrift

Horseshoe Harbor, mid-afternoon, Fall 79. The weather has been clear, and calm, such that as a breeze rolls through town, and builds, and builds, it starts to draw attention. The breeze is soon a gust, the gust soon a wind, constant and heavy, wailing amidst the buildings and through the streets, pulling hats from heads and setting street lamps to wobble atop their posts. It blows in from the plains to the east, from amidst the farmlands, buffeting the town before spilling out over the harbor to set the placid waters to churning and the moored ships bobbing about against the docks. It's warm- unseasonably warm- and humid, like the breath of a great beast.

And, after several minutes, it subsides. The air is left feeling cold and dry, suitably wintery… and dusty. Rolling up from the farmlands is a stagnant, churning cloud of dust, billowing upward. It calls to mind the telltale signs of a stampede, or a rockslide, or the collapse of a building… but it's settled on the main road heading out towards the mountains, where there are no buildings TO collapse. There are no vibrations, no rumbling… only an eerie stillness.

The dustcloud rolls higher and higher, soon visible from throughout the town as a smudge of brown in the distant east. Curious ponies begin venturing out in that way to investigate.

Such an unusal phenomena draws attention, sure as anything. Even from those that have no idea what might have caused it and what it resembles, for all that Mirror-Shard knows the wind might be natural. Though from what she'd observed for the last few days in the harbour it didn't seem like it. No, it was dramatic… um, what was it? Weather! Dramatic weather - the idea sent every fiber of her body tingling, there were something to find here. Something to learn about.

With curiousity burning in her emerald eyes she came trotting, a bit haphazardly by the looks of it, a magicked together black tricorne with a green feather perched opon her head at a jaunty angle in addition to her normal kerchief. That was for another observation, up on land only the horned ones wielded magic. The hat was to cover up the lack of a horn of her own - should the need arise.

Ruby has very little interest in the ongoings until things begin to pick up about her. The mare glancing from her spot on a bench as some minor commotion begins - this prompts her to neatly tuck away her sewing project and hop to her hooves. Curiously trotting towards the building happening.

As the dustcloud comes into clear visibility in town, Nocturne trots in its direction, going at a more cautious pace as he reaches the outskirts. Stopping to button his jacket, he notices an unfamiliar pony staring at the source. Figuring that she probably has the same questions in mind as he does, he simply moves onward, at a slower pace, towards the source, stopping every few moments to inspect it.

Ruby-Blossom mutters softly "This better not be that silly Dusty pegasi again…"

As the various investigators approach the billowing cloud of dust, it becomes apparent it's localized to a fairly small area. There remains no further indication of its source- that curious stillness remains. The air feels more still than it did before the unnatural wind swept through town. Surely more wind would carry the lingering dust away in mere moments, but it's gone now.

Still, it's slowly settling of its own accord, such that more details can be seen as ponys arrive, and linger. The road can be seen, winding along the ground, a raised ridge between two fields picked clean in the autumn harvest. Here and there, a small fence is visible along the side of the road, or the pole of a street lamp there to help light the way between the town and the mountains whenever someone feels conscientious enough to hoof it all the way out here and light it.

And so, too, does something else become visible… the outline of a figure, standing in the midst of the road, there at the center of town. It's a pony, tall and gangly, though the surrounding clouds obscure it beyond a mere silhouette. There's something strange to its appearance, a misshapen quality, a slight lean. It has no wings, no horn, but it does have something long and thin strapped across its back- a staff, or stick of some sort? It stands stock still, facing towards the town, and makes no noise, no movement as others approach.

Nocturne stops in his tracks as the figure appears. Unsure of its shape at first, he leans forward and squints, until the form of a pony of some sort is visible. At last spotting the mysterious object upon its back, he trots a few steps back, shaking, unsure if its because of the cold or his own fear.

Mirror-Shard came to a uncertain halt where she stood, her head craning around to take in the other curious figures that's found themselves being drawn out here for whatever reson. Turning back she peered into the dust once more, wracking her brain for something to apply to such a situation as this - amongst the tales this, this was the apperance of a foe or ally of great powers, though she wasn't certain it was applicable at the moment. "And on yonder the wanderer approached, his vissage unvavering and beyond reproach. Yon wanderer did so speak, unraveling the first strands of his mystique," she recited for herself in a silent mutter, her frowning ever so slightly.

Kludge pauses in his search for Ruby, looking over at the unusual stranger. While he's not immediately diving for cover, neither is he moving in the direction of the odd pony. Instead, he does a quick glance for cover and escape routes, because a pony that appears from a localized dust storm is not one to be taken lightly when the situation is unknown.

Ruby-Blossom gives Kludge a small wave from where's she standing near a bench. She stuffs a small bundle into her saddle bag then proceeds to wave him over while shooting him a glance that just cries 'here we go again'.

As the harborites draw closer, more and more details of the pony become clearer, through the shortened distance and the clearing dust. A gaunt, even skeletal profile… pale tones, twisted lines, a body knotted inward upon itself, barely staying upright. Sunken holes where the eyes would be. For several moments, it seems the zombie invasion of Horseshoe Harbor has returned.%r

… and then a low gust of wind rolls up from below, sweeping outward. The dust is carried up and off, and the light of the afternoon sun falls upon the figure. Driftwood- bleached white, bare and twisted. The figure isn't a pony at all, but an effigy of one, cobbled together from chunks of driftwood. The branches and twigs are held together by lengths of moldy twine, and seaweed, and tangled knots of fishing line, and in one place, a chunk of an old net caked with algae. It looks fragile, and even as the harborites watch it shifts slightly, one knot giving way, the effigy's shoulder slumping forward with a creak of wood.

And beneath its "hooves," the ground is revealed to have been hewn with a shape carved directly into the hard-packed earth: a spiral. It originates quarely beneath the figure and radiates outward in even bands, looping around and around, until the spiral encompasses the entire breadth of the roadway.

Mirror-Shard blinked at the shape, her head cocked to the side. The mindight mare considered the possibility of it being a trap, though by the time she aknowledged approaching might be a bad idea her hooves was already in motion carrying her up to the cobbled-together shape. "Well… it's not directly speaking, but I supose the passage holds true…" she said, more so to herself than anypony else, "though for whatever it unravels, it provides replacement…"

The young mare's approach came to a halt just outside the spiral pattern, her hooves slowly carrying her around the edge of it. After a few moment she craned her neck around towards the other, an eyebrow raised curiously. "Is this normal around here?"

As the dust rolls and the figure is revealed, Nocturne instinctively steps back, his knees growing weak. Seeing Kludge and Ruby in his peripheral vision, he turns to the, bearing an expression of terror, eyes open wide as if begging to know what is going on, but says nothing. It's easy to tell that he simply cannot speak, as his lips are trembling and only staggered gasps escape his mouth. It was certainly something he had not seen in his time here.

Kludge walks over to Ruby. "Is it just me, or is life in town becoming more interesting than usual again?" he asks with a sigh. He gives a slight scowl at the effigy, not because it's an effigy, but because it seems to be so /frail/ and /flimsy/. It offends his sense of craftsponyship!

The ruby-yed mare gives a soft a huff in response to Kludge. "I just think it's never dull…but so far…" she trails off, figuring it best things of that nature go unspoken. She offers Nocturne a warm smile. "Relax, sugar cube. This sorta stuff happens all the time; and I severely doubt this thing can be more threatening than some of the things we've encountered recently.

Nocturne nods, and comes to his senses - mostly. Looking back at the creature, it does seem rather slow and frail, but it's still certainly an anomoly of nature. "I sure hope so," he replies.

The figure creaks further. Kludge is right- it is rather flimsy-looking. Even if it was some spooky golem come to life and ready to run through the town, it probably wouldn't get very far before falling apart.

Another bit breaks free of its binding and falls off. There are several pieces of driftwood on the carved road near its hooves- it would seem the thing started falling apart before anybody showed up to see it. Oh, and that long thing on its back? Just another stick, though this one has a gob of dry kelp wedged onto one end. Even that soon topples to the side and drops over, and as it does, the whole figure begins to teeter slightly, unbalanced and creeping towards utter collapse.

Ruby can't help but frown a tad as the whole display is rather pathetic - she glances to Kludge, then Nocturne, then to the filly she's unfamiliar with before piping. "Perhaps it's trying to get our attention..or even communicate?

"Oh dear, no!" came the exclamation from Mirror-Shard as she bounded forward, gingerly - as far as she can manage for somepony that seems to have trouble managing her hind legs - she stepped between the lines of the road. She wasn't done watching it, yet! Reaching forward she dipped a hoof into the effigy's shadow, her mane whipping up about her head, and it rose up to meet the crumbling construction - the half-thing of shadow wraping around to cradle the driftwood and kelp 'pony' in a effort keep it together for a while longer still.

Nocturne turns back to the creature, taking a few steps forward - not that they're very big. "Still," he says with a hint of uncertainty, "We've dealt with something smaller than this, from the same source." As the creature begins to fall apart, he trots a few steps closer. "Isn't it possible there's something…" He pauses, turning back to Ruby and Kludge. "… Bigger?"

Kludge simply watches Mirror manipulate the shadow. Huh, that's different. "Not sure," he admits to Nocturne. "I only know a little about the small dust critter that was caught earlier in the week - namely, that there was a small dust critter caught earlier in the week."

The spiral in the road… itches underhoof. It doesn't hurt or anything, but contact with the edges of that carved channel in the dirt sets one's nerves on edge. Even if there is nothing there- it's gap in the road, that's all- it feels like there is something stuck there, like a stick, or a shoelace, nudging upward, bothersome.

The effigy- lifeless beyond its apparent interest in exploring the functionality of gravity- ceases its downward sagging as it's propped up by shadow tendrils. Well, most of it does. One of its hind legs works out of the knotted net that binds it together and tumbles apart, leaving the whole thing a bit forward-heavy. It seems the manipulated shadows are the only things keeping it upright at this point.

After making sure, for a moment, that the thing wouldn't colapse on her Mirror-Shard turned her heads towards the others - hooves shifting back and forth uneasily where she stood. She looked like she was about to call out before turning back to the effigy and the pattern, studying them curiously for a moment. It brought… something like a rather startled realisation judging from the look on her face, though she wiped it out rather quickly as she turned to the other ponies once more and calling out, "What are you lot talking about?! What other… things?"

"Zombies, alternate universes filled with ice, exploding phoenix families, everyone getting turned into foals due to Poison Joke, caves fileld with exploding gold coins, pony-eating wolves, wolf-eating spiders who wouldn't mind the taste of ponies…" Kludge lists with a shrug.

Ruby-Blossom takes a little hop forward. "I'm afraid you'll have to be specific~ Because you'll find life here quite terrific. Magic, monsters, and adventure. Living here can be quite the risky ventuer~o." the turquoise mare sing-songs with a little sway. "But don't let the thought frighten. You'll find friend ship can lighten. Even the sourest of moods o/`" Her expresion returns to being rather stoic "So there."

A subtle upwelling of dusty air begins to seep upward from the outermost band of the spiral carved in the roadway, along with the occasional clink or clack of dry earth splitting. Inside the binding tendrils of shadow, the pony sculpture sags as though longing for a nap.

Once again, Nocturne is left with nothing but confusion. Kludge's seemingly never-ending list brought on a sense of terror, but Ruby's light-hearted singing reminded him that for now, he is safe. "Rising Chaos said something about these things, but I'm not entirely sure what she meant." He puts a chin to his hoof as he tries to think back. "Something about them not being alive." He examines the creature, taking cautious steps around the spiral. "Perhaps it's being controlled." He stops for a moment, and shudders at the thought. "Either way, she may be the only one who knows about it."

Ruby-Blossom eyes the strange 'thing' quite curiously as she trots a broad circle about. "Hello?" she asks. Whole-heartedly not expecting a response. "You've got our attention, now what?

Mirror-Shard rolled her eyes. "While I do not mind your musical caprice, I was refering to this mystic piece~," came the sung answer, a grin appearing on her muzzle. "'Tis here's a mystery to unearth, a means to test our own worth~."

Kludge looks around, finding a sturdy stick that wasn't within the spiral. Once he found it, he takes it and carefully tries scuffing part of the spiral with it, making sure not to step within the spiral.

The effigy doesn't answer. It's just a pony-shaped amalgamation of materials, it can't talk! Is Ruby disappointed that she is not surprised? Its empty face- not even a face, really, just the projection of one made by a clever tangling of sticks- stares past her.

Where Kludge scuffs the spiral, more dust billows upward. Fitting, really. Poke the dirt, get dust. Except even when he stops, more comes, a little cloud forming.

Then something skitters across his hoof.

Nocturne continues his pace around the spiral, but stops on the side from which he came. He eyes the creature, awaiting a response to Ruby, but eventually averts his gaze to the spiral in front of him. Unsure of any other way to provoke a response, he turns back to find a pebble or stone, and quickly picks one up with his horn, unaware of the skittering that crosses Kludge. Looking back, he lightly tosses a pebble into the spiral, but just barely past the first line, backing up to await a reaction.

Mirror-Shard shot Nocturne a glance. "It's just a effigy… It won't move less somepony make it. Isn't it so, my dear?" The midnight blue mare giggled softly as she walked around the thing to stand facing it, giving it a neat little bow - the shadow strands of magic wraped around it tightening for a moment as it guided the thing in a stiff mockery of a bow in response before disapating, letting it topple over into it's component parts. "No life in it, it's but a thing made from the salvage of the sea and made mockery of la-… pony shape."

Something's going on! Something strange! Well, as strange as 'dust' can be. Dust is strange. Sure. Okay shut up. Rocket's /bored/. Dust will suffice for an excuse to do /something/, alright? Hmph. Which is what finds the bedraggled, half-featherless, bandaged-up griffon edging towards the gathering of ponies, peering at the dust and the odd pony-shaped thing curiously. She's still looking rather unkempt. Maybe even still a little singed. Her fur's uneven and she's missing a good number of feathers - which has led to fluff as the down has started to grow back in. It's hard to look imposing when one is half-fluffy. But she certainly can look curious! Which she does.

Ruby-Blossom offers Rocket a small wave - she certainly knows the feather from a couple of (mis)adventures. A small smile is offered - seeing how she couldn't offer a griffon much more in the terms of feather care.

Kludge blinks and takes a look at the whatever it was that skittered across his hoof, poking it with the stick as he eyes it cautiously.

The pony sculpture collapses predictably enough when at last Mirror's shadow puppetry lets it go. As it does, there's a soft *sigh,* as of breath escaping from a body. The air throbs for a moment, such that distant sounds are muffled, and the sensation passes.

Moments after, the spiral begins to rattle and crackle. What was once the occasional suggestion of noise becomes a rustle as all of the bands of the spiral begin to send up the same dust clouds that its outer band did before. Looking close, one can see the neat edges of that carved channel in the earth crumbling, wearing down, eroding- and, as they do, the dust billowing up into the air, not settling but assuming new life. The rustle of movement becomes a whisper of wind, and soon, it isn't just Kludge that feels something moving as his hooves! Small shapes scurry about- like mice, but translucent, the suggestion of movement amidst the dust rather than something physical- and soon, tiny eyes formed from pinpricks of light can be seen whirling about.

Tiny gusts of wind tickle across the hooves of Nocturne and Mirror Shard; a small shape can be felt crawling its way up one of Ruby's legs, another one darting up Kludge's stick. Rather abruptly, something larger- a foot wide, round, a self-contained tempest of dust stirred up from the roadway- bursts from the edge of the cloud and charges in Rocket's direction, its gleaming white eyes, the size of coins and empty of any pupils, blinking with surprise even as the creature barrels towards the gryphon!

Standing motionlessly, Nocturne leaps back as he feels a small gust against his feet. The tempest before him is a phenomenon he never imagined would happen. Looking back and forth in a panic, he reaches for another, somewhat larger stone, and levitates it in front of himself. Despite having no idea what is to come, and knowing the stone isn't of much defense, he braces himself, keeping his eyes on the storm before him.

Mirror-Shard eeped and blinked as the winds once more whipped up, throwing dust into her eyes. dang this surface-world, the patterns of it's climate is just far to unpredictable and weird! Reaching up she keept a hoof on her tricorne, pulling it down to cover her eyes and hoping the quasi-real creation would be enough to keep the sting out of her eyes as she backed away briskly, the winds lapping at her legs unsetling to say the least.

Kludge watches the odd dust critter run up the stick that he doesn't drop from his mouth, his eyes going slightly cross-eyed in the process. Just what the iceball /are/ these weird little creatures?

Small scurrying things! Something has called up the perfect griffon distraction. Rocket drops into a crouch, tail lashing, eyes darting this way and that as she watches the little moving whatevers, swiping at a nearby one, snapping at another - and not at all noticing the barrelling big one. It's probably not tasty at /all/.

(OOC) Spindrift: MIRROR
(OOC) Spindrift: and NOCTURNE
(OOC) Spindrift: Roll 1d20.

Nocturne rolls 1d20 — Result: 12 | Sum: 12
Mirror-Shard rolls 1d20 — Result: 14 | Sum: 14

The critter running up Kludge's stick runs right up onto his nose and perches there, if he really wants to stick it out. What is it? It's a mouse-sized cloud of dust, churning and whirling back inward upon itself, capped by a pair of bright little pinprick eyes that blink at the pony. The creature then runs up over the top of his head and down his back, its passing feeling like a tickling breeze. Two more come running up the stick, next.

Still others are spilling from the edges of the cloud. The spiral in the ground contines to erode at the edges, and as it does, more of the little dustcloud creatures are formed from the crumbling dirt, skittering about and shooting off. All of them have the same little lightspeck eyes- and soon, to see them all surging out across the ground away from the spiral is like looking upon the reflection of the night sky in the rolling surface of the ocean. They don't really seem to pay much attention to their going as they swarm outward, bumping into ponies' legs, the combined sensation like that of being caught in a windstorm.

Except when the big ones do the bumping. Most seem to be small, but there's a few like the one charging towards Rocket, sized like a pumpkin or a melon, their shapes warping and bouncing in a suggestion of loping, hurried movement. The dustcloud charging towards the gryphon doesn't seem inclined to alter its course, eyes wide, a little pig-like squeal of wind heard as it draws close. It careens off her legs and bounces backward, tumbling about, the dust that comprises its form dissipating- only to recollect a moment later as the creature winds off down the road and towards town, a breadth of tinier dust clouds hot on its tail.

Still more surge out from the center. There's enough, now, that it's tricky to keep one's footing, especially when the skittering brushes of the small creatures give way to more solid blows from the larger dust creatures. Still, it's not quite enough to sweep any ponies off their hooves entirely, but there are several close calls as it feels like the ground might give out beneath Nocturne and Mirror in the midst of all the commotion.

Nocturne loses hold of his stone as the swarm of creatures erupts. Now flailing, he falls onto his stomach, and, seeing nothing but eyes in front of him, creates a small gust with magic, mustering what little concentration he can. Blinded by dust, he attempts to roll backwards, as he feels the ground give under him.

Mirror-Shard let out a whinney tinged with the begining of panic - a mystery she can handle, likewise a spot of danger. But this freak weather thing, this… magical freak weather thing? Not really, it was well outside the confines of what was comfrotable. Droping her the hoof on her hat she planted it firmly on the ground to try and keep steady on all fours, the hat itself whiping away in the wind and unraveling into gossamer strands of shadows and water as it went.

Focusing on her own magic she tried to draw forth… something to aid against the bufferting wind-critters, though it's a task far easier said than done under the circuimstances. Her mane whipped about her face, not in it's typical waterswept fashion, and the shadowstuff she drew from the ground unraveled even as she grapsed it - leaving the young mare to try and wether the stormy assault on her own.

Kludge sighs and shuffles forward, his hooves remaining on the ground as he advances towards the spiral, intent on scuffing it so much that it becomes no longer recognizable as a spiral.

Well she sure as hay notices the big one /now/! Rocket is caught off-guard enough to topple as her legs are bowled out from under her. She even gives a rather undignified squawk in the process. And then sneezes a few times, because it's windy and dusty on the ground and what the /heck/ is going on here?! She snaps again at one of the passing creatures, more out of irritation that hunting instict this time.

At this point, it's hard to tell what dustcloud is a result of scuffing at the spiral- for even Nocturne and Mirror's frantic squirming are hastening the erosion of the edges of the channel that forms the pattern. It's also hard to see it but for all of the dustcloud creatures spilling outward. They swarm in all directions, across the fields, down the road in either direction. As Nocturne tumbles over, they swarm up and over him, dozens of little gusts of wind puffing about his face and sprawled limbs in a dozen directions. They whistle and hoot and squeak amongst themselves in sibilant, windy whispers, filling the air with the sounds of an alien menagerie.

And they also taste terrible. Rocket's snapping catches one of the mice-sized critters, and it squirms about in her beak! Against the tongue it feels like a bubble of air, like a balloon without any real edges. It would likely be easy to crush the little bubble of churning air and grit without much effort. One could also swallow if they were feeling particularly adventurous.

But there are limits to how many of the creatures the enchanted spiral can produce, and the crowd of little things is starting to clear in short order. The thick carpet of dustclouds is thinning such that more of the torn-up ground can be seen; fewer are left to bump into pony (and gryphon!) legs or skitter across their prone figures. For Mirror, it becomes easier to resist the tide, then trivial. Nocturne finds he can breath once more without having a crowd of dusty monsters trampling over his face with implied feet.

Mirror-Shard gasped loudly as the tide finaly started to subside around her, her legs shivering from the unacustomed strain of bracing against the monsterous wind. Sinking to the ground Mirror let out a sigh of relief.

Kludge doesn't stop until the spiral has been eliminated, then he looks at the dispersing critters. "That… was different," he observes with a shake of his head. "Not sure what all of that was about, and not sure I want to know."

Nocturne goes into a brief coughing fit as he finally regains sight of his surroundings. Standing up, he looks to make sure that the spiral is completely gone. "Well, this is the second time I've seen anything like this," he says in a disgruntled tone, dusting off his jacket in vain. "I don't know what's causing it, but maybe the science girl does." His tone grows angrier. "After all, /nothing/ good has come from these things, and it's only getting worse."

OMNOM AIR THING. No one ever accused Rocket of being intelligent. In her defense, the swallowing of something she has successfully caught in her beak is probably more instinct than conscious decision to be adventurous. There is a distinct moment of 'GAK that tasted awful!' though. Myah myah myah. Yuck. Bleh. "What was /that/?!" she chirps, shaking her head and moving to roll off of her (now) sore wing. Dangit. Ow.

Mirror-Shard rolled onto her back, raising a unsteady hoof. "I'd personaly say, they're… Actualy, I'm not certain. Elemental beings, or perhaps some form of magical creation. For certain thought, there's been… magic at work here." She sighed and let her head drop. After a moment of just resting she noticed her head was quite bare, wich might just be a problem. Pushing up onto her hooves once more she tucked a hoof into her own shadow, finaly able to work free some of the shadowstuff without it ripping in the wind.

A moment later a magic-woven tricorn was once more situated atop her head, covering the lack of an actual horn.

The creatures haven't dispersed completely. One of them perches atop Nocturne's head as he sits up. A few more follow behind Kludge, nosing curiously at his stick and his hooves. Several seem to be chasing eachother around Mirror's feet, squeaking windily at eachother.

And Rocket went and swallowed one. She can feel a sensation rolling around in her stomach, around and around and around and around, like a ball being rolled around the inner curve of a jar.

But most of the creatures are filtering out across the surrounding landscape… and towards the town. Even now thy can be seen- little smudges of brown, blurs of movement- swarming up over a small fence that runs alongside the road at a distance. It shudders as if buffeted by a powerful wind, before several nails that keep it held together shoot out and the cross-beams that make it a fence and not just, you know, a series of posts, drops off.

Little remains of the spiral- just a round suggestion of dirt in the road. The driftwood and other debris that comprised the pony effigy remains, scattered about like so much flotsam.

Huh. So these things can disassemble relatively simple construction. At least the stuff that Kludge makes is durable, which gives the craftspony a measure of comfort. After all, it's not like these overenthusiastic breezes can do any harm to the things he's constructed.

At least, he's pretty sure.


After thinking about this for a bit longers, Kludge quietly curses. "We finally make the salon fireproof; do we now have to make it extra-windproof now, too? I am not looking forward to this," he grouses.

Nocturne sighs and begins a trek home. As he walks by Kludge, he stops. "I'm sorry for that outburst. It's just that… I was starting to like going outside." He turns back and continues his path, turning back briefly to say "But I'll be back. We'll figure this out."

Aaaaagh that is a weird feeling. Which results in one squirmy griffon. Cough cough gak. Aggh things aren't supposed to /keep moving/ once you eat them. Stop thaaaaat. Rocket hauls herself to her feet a bit unsteadily, looking somewhat ill. Urp. "What just h-happened." One would think she'd be used to this sort of thing by now.

Mirror-Shard blinked as she followed Kludge's gaze towards the… "Is this what it's like here?" she asked out loud, biting of the rest of the thought. It wouldn't be very conductive to secrecy to let herself blurt out something along the lines of 'how do you crazy ponies live on the dirt?!' or variations thereof.

Her head craned around at Rocket's voice. It sounded a bit familiar, a quality that. The seapony in disguise froze on the spot, staring at the Gryphon. Gryphon! The last one had tried to eat her!

Things aren't supposed to keep moving when you eat them! This is not like most things. It continues to run around and around and around Rocket's stomach. It seems to prefer a clockwise direction.

"Odd dust creatures emerging from a spiral in the ground? That's not normal," admits Kludge. "Weird things happening that you wouldn't likely find in any other town in Equestria? *That's* normal." He gives an amused chuckle. "Welcome to Horseshoe Harbor, where every week is some kind of adventure."

Rocket doesn't seem too interested in seafood today! Or pony food, as the case may be. Or any food. She's looking increasingly green. Blurgh. Urp. She gives a rather pathetic little chirp, turning in a circle as if moving with it would… stop it? Slow it down? Who knows.

As Rocket turns around, the circling in her stomach stops.

It is soon replaced with bouncing.

"I'm not sure if I should be enthused or terrified," muttered Mirror-Shard, her head turning ever so slightly to take in the spiral pattern and the remains of the effigy - though still keeping a suspicious eye on Rocket it seems. After a few moments though, a wide grin splitt across Mirror's muzzle. "Though I can say, it'll be interesting and there'll be quite a few tales to tell of this place!"

The midnight blue mare motioned at the wreckage. "And this… This intrigues me. I do belive the other mare might be right, it's certainly a message… If not a very friendly one…" She fell silent for a moment. "And on yonder the wanderer approached, his vissage unvavering and beyond reproach. Yon wanderer did so speak, unraveling the first strands of his mystique," the mare bit her lip, hesitanting before finishing, "And yon wanderer gathered the lightest breath, whispering promise of vengeful death."

Kludge blinks and headtilts slightly. "Interesting tale. What else does the story say?" he inquires of Mirror.

Mirror-Shard shrugged slightly. "Not to much, it's a old tragedy from where I grew up," she said - growing up apperently being rather relative, "about a soldier losing his love by the negligence of others and sets out to find a way to avenge her death. Its a piece out of the early second act, where he returns back to the town of his origin. By the end of it, most of the protagonists and antagonists are all dead - it's not the most uplifting of tales to be honest."

Ack that's no better. Flop goes the griffon. Grooooan. Rocket blinks over at the poetry-reciting pony. "The heck does that mean?" She doesn't mean to sound irritable. She really doesn't. She's just dusty and confused and kind of wants to belch. She blinks. Pony plays. "That sounds depressing," she states bluntly. This is why she doesn't understand theatre.

The bouncing in Rocket's stomach once more gives way to circling. The dust bunny seems to be having fun in its new home! Though it does make the gryphon want to burp. What does one do when one wants to burp, but the burp does not want to be burped?

Kludge thinks for a bit. "Out of curiosity, how much of the tale of the tragedy has lined up with events in Horseshoe Harbor since you've come to town?" It could be a coincidence, but 'tis better to check…

"I don't know? I mean, this is like entering the theatre during the second act!" exlcaimed Mirror-Shard with a frown. "At least of that particular tale. I've not seen anything else myself."

Rocket drops her head onto her talons, grousing irritably. Well if nopony's gonna answer her she's gonna stop asking questions! That'll show them. Dumb ponies. Hmph. Urp. Hack. Blurf. She rolls onto her back, hind paws kicking at the air. "Will you settle down in there? Geez. I didn't mean to eat you. You were just… in my mouth." It's so much easier to hunt mice. Or bunnies. Well, not so much bunnies anymore. Why does she always seem to 'befriend' her food?

When Rocket speaks long enough, the stirring in her stomach slows down, then stops. Maybe the vibration of her voice is soothing to the swallowed dust creature? It does start to run around again once she quiets.

"Fair enough," admits Kludge. "Although… if you happen to see anything else that reminds you of that tale, let me know, please? I'd rather have advanced warning about something that may or may not be happening than be totally blindsided by it when it hits." He walks over to Rocket and offers her a hoof up. "Maybe you should have one of Fizzy's drinks?" he suggests. "At the very least, it'll give you something different on your tastebuds."

Rocket blinks, taking the offered hoof and picking herself up slowly. What? Fizzy? Urp again. "Don't say 'fizz'." She shakes herself off - sort of. Barely. Don't want to stir it up /more/. Cough. But it would be nice to have something other than dust in her mouth. "…Got anything cider-flavored?"

Mirror-Shard nodded slowly, though there's a grin on her muzzle. "Yes, I'll do that. Most people seem to fail to realize the value of stories as more than just tales of amusement. But for now, I'll leave you two to… Well, solve that." Turning away she snuck off on her own, keeping an eye out for the dust things as she went back to the relative safety of the harbour.

"I think one of the flavors was apple," agrees Kludge. "I think there was also a vanilla-raspberry flavor, which was pretty good too. The blue leaf flavor… might be an acquired taste. But generally speaking, they seem to mostly be fruit flavors and the like."

Rocket nods. "I like apple." Ack, bounce. She bops a talon at her stomach as though that might help. Hey. Hey. Settle down. Do you want to be vomit? No. Nothing does. It's gross. She flutters the still-feathered wing. "Fine. I'll try it. Sure. Might work."

Kludge smiles. "Let's go. I'll even buy the first round." He sighs a little when he glances at the dismantled fence. "Alicorns know we could all use a drink before this all gets sorted out," he mutters with a roll of his eyes.

Off in the distance, back in the town, the sound of something crashing to the street can be heard, along with some poor pony's disconsolate wail: "The horror, the horror!"

Sounds like a plan! Skies know Rocket doesn't have any bits. And most shopkeepers have stopped accepting her fancy rare forest berries. She doesn't know why - they're delicious. "Alright, cool. Lead the way." She blinks and glances back towards town at the shout. "…Whatever's going on, I'll tell you what. I am /not/ eating any more of it."