A Toybox Full Of Surprizes
IC date: Winter 31
OOC date: 1/19/2013
PCs: Toybox, Hemlock, Ginger-Spice, Swift-Wind, Nocturne, and Zula
NPCs: None
GM: None

It's another rainy day in the Harbor, though that isn't anything out of the
ordinary anymore. The sun is doing the best it can to break through the storm
clouds, leaving a soft grey hue over everything.

The beach has been partially blocked off with wave-breakers and sandbags to
help buffer against the storm as it strikes from the ocean. There's an orange
and black cat sitting in a small clearing of trees near the docks, unaware of
Toybox inching closer and closer. The foal has a safari hat on top of her head
and a stuffed tiger riding on her back.

The wind isn't really too much of a factor today, so Swift-Wind is feeling a
bit rainy herself, She's all bundled up in a bright yellow rain slicker and
looks almost like a duck like that. But there's another foal out here, so maybe
things are looking up! She doesn't approach just yet though, she wants to see
this great hunter in action!

Nowhere in town is safe! No matter where you go, so long as you're outside,
Hemlock will find you. Hemlock finds himself on the docks, probably his least
favorite place in town, but who can question where wandering takes you? He
hasn't noticed the foals yet, but if there's fun to be had, he will see.

Of course the cat is rather distracted, down the other way comes another pony -
a mare brown like gingerbread with a warm red and orange mane, with a slender
horn and a bounce in her step, freckles speckled across her muzzle and a
kerchief tied around her neck. A pony with a bag of steaming fresh baked goods
floating next to her and a trio of umbrella's floating over her head and
shielding her from the rain.

The smells around town have hinted at it for a while, the self-styled 'Finest
Chef You'll Ever Meet' was back in town. The mare came to a stop and eyed
Toybox and the swiftly approaching Swift-Wind before giving them a cheery
smile. "'Ello there!"
The cat starts to back up under the trees for cover as the ponies get a little
too close for comfort, still not realizing it's hunter is standing almost right
behind it and ready to pounce.

"GOTCHA!" the foal shouts, grabbing the feline's attention just quickly enough
to realize it's in danger. It takes off running with Toybox following right
behind its tail. Heading for the docks, it darts right underneath Hemlock.
Toybox however wasn't paying as much attention and doesn't see Hemlock right in
her path…

Well, he isn't a hero for nothing. Hemlock notices the cat bolting past and
immediately makes the connection. He jumps out of Toybox's way, laughing.
"Hunting again, miss Toybox?" He's perfectly ready to follow the filly if she
keeps running.

The small earth pony foal is watching the 'great hunter' foal intently, then
looks over to Ginger-Spice, then looks back to see the chase ensue. She jumps
to her hooves again, hopping in place, "Hey Hey Hey Hunter, Lookout!" she
cheer-warns of the other foal, "Lookout!" she shouts as a warning to both
Hemlock and Toybox!

Ginger-Spice blinked and took a few steps forward, her umbrellas floating around
herself. Cat hunting? "I dinnae expect to find meself a cat 'unter on my way
back 'ome today… Wha' is goin' on?"

Toybox looks back and forth quickly between the ponies, all of them pretty much
talking at once. She loses her coordination and goes tumbling in a somersault.
After the dust has cleared she stands back up, her safari hat sitting next to
her and the stuffed tiger toy sitting underneath her. A serious frown followed
by a pout forms across her face, "Aww…I…I was so close. Gweat…now I hafta
twy and get it all over again…"

Hemlock quicksteps his way over to the tumbling filly, and chuckles. That toy
tiger is ridiculously cute. "Oh, but my dear Toybox, isn't chasing it the most
fun part?" He looks over his shoulder at the other ponies, waving them over.
"Hello you two, come meet the great hunter!"

Swift-Wind charges over to the other foal, "Why ya after da' kitty, whatdid
heever dotoyou? or She, it could be a she too" she grins, "uhh WHo are
youbytheway?! I'm Swift-Wind but you can call me Swiftie!" she turns a little
and looks back to Hemlock, "oh, and Hi"

Off in the distance, Nocturne is trotting about the portside, when the
scurrying cat runs by him. Following the path it came from, he finds the trio
of ponies gathering. "Hey, Toybox," he says. "And Swift Wind, and… uh…"

Ginger-Spice walks over to Toybox, Swifty and Hemlock as well, though it's half
bouncing really. The gingerbread mare dipped her head low and smilled at
Toybox. "Sorry, miss Great Huntress. I dinnae mean tae mess up yer huntin'…
It would be a shame tae let ye go back 'ome empty hoofed. Caramel cream bun?"
The bag floating along after her opend, floating one of said buns out.

Toybox hmphs in disappointment, "But…but I wanna catch it! That's why Imma
hunting it!" She stands up and dusts herself off a little, righting the tiger
toy onto her back. "I'm Toybox!" she responds to Swifie, and her eyes go wide
as the bun floats over to her. She practically starts to drool from the smell,
"F…for me?"

Swift-Wind smiles and nods a little, "maybe wecanget that cat
togetherorsomething." she blurts out in a rush of jumbled words, then looks as
if to suffer whiplash as she spins about seeing that caramel bun, eyes go wide,
and she sits right down on her flank causing a little splash of wet grass under
her rain slicker enshrouded flanks, the foal gets all starry eyed, big eyes
boring into that of Ginger-Spice's own eyes, jaw half agape, "Ooooooooh
stickeybun" she murmurs out slowly, slow for once whoda'thunk it?!

Hemlock looks the new ponies over carefully. Satisfied they are happy looking
ponies he smiles and bows. Then suddenly another stallion! Hemlock is all waves
for him. He sits down next to Toybox and gives Swift Wind and approving nod.
"You two could have a lot of fun playing. What are you going to do when you
catch the cat anyways Toybox?"

Nocturne's attention has only been on Toybox, since sadly, she is the only one
around with whom he can comfortably converse. "Still chasing that Tiger?" He
gives the foal another typical grin. "I'll bet you've gotten faster!" So far,
his attention is still far from any of the other ponies.

Ginger-Spice nodded, her smile growing even wider. "Sure is fer ye yes, lil'
Huntress. Whi' a bit o' bun in ye, ye're bound tae catch that kitten, arn't
ye?" Spice giggled for herself and floated the bun into her hooves, and
floating another bun from her bag over to Swift-Wind. Wouldn't do to leave
somepony without. Speaking of which.

"Care fer a caramel cream bun, as well? Promise they're fresh, made 'em
meself." Spice grined widely at Hemlock and Nocturne.

Toybox takes a big bite (well, big for a foal) out of the bun and her eyes get
even wider. She chews slowly as if she never wants it to leave her mouth.
Unfortunately, this would mean she wouldn't be able to talk, and she has
questions to answer! She swallows a bit of it. "You mfmfm sure you'ref mmfmf
fast enough to catchf a mmftiger?" the foal says to the other, mouth still half
full of food. Another swallow empties her mouth just in time to talk to
Nocturne, "Hi Mr. Nocturne!" She looks up to Hemlock, "I'm gonna catch me
another one, that's what!"

Hemlock looks positively flustered by the offer. He puts a hoof to his chest
and smiles widely. "Why, it would be a pleasure to have one of your buns miss.
Which reminds me, what is your name, so I may credit you as the finest and most
beautiful chef I'll ever meet?" He notes the names being thrown around,
Nocturne eh? Good to know the ponies who interact with the ponies he likes.
Toybox reminds him of something, so he bends down to speak with her. "Another
one? So you'll have two tigers then? I once met a wealthy queen with two
tigers."

Swift-Wind kind of looks to the other foal, "I've got a skateboard and I'm n'
earthpony, so I'm good at running!" she offers politely, then looks up to the
goodcook pony lady and Ooooo's more than happy to take that off her hooves
"MmmYesplease!" she squeaks bouncing high in place to get that sugary snack.
She turns back and looks to Nocturne, then shouts "Laaaadeeedaaaaa Musicflank
Nocturne!" she cheers out

Nocturne immediately turns as he is addressed by Ginger Spice and stammers a
bit. This wasn't exactly an offer he was expecting at the moment, but
unfortunately, he can never find it in him to turn down an offer from somepony.
"Um, sure. Thanks." He levitates a bun over to him, he tries a small bite.
"They're good," he says, although pretty quietly. "Thanks again."

Ginger-Spice blinked slightly at Hemlock before turning around and looking
behind herself for a few moments. With an almost visible internal shrug she
turned back, still smiling. "Name's Ginger Spice, an' I'm the finest cook ye'll
ever see indeed! 'Cause my food's just tha' good. Includin' my buns. And ye're
wellcome!" The last part was directed at Nocturne. A few moments later she
levitated another bun, apperently the last one judging from the way she
crumpled up the bag afterwards, and took a bite out of it herself.

"So… ye're collectin' tigers…?" asked Spice as she looked down at Toybox.
"Wha' for? I've 'eard tigers are really 'ard to keep as pets… Wha' with the
claws and the fangs and everythin'."

Toybox sticks her tongue out in disgust at Hemlock, "But…bein' a Queen
bowing! I don't wanna be stuck in a castle all day..I wanna be out
adventuwing!" She closes an eye in deep though, taking another bite of the bun
to help the process along. She doesn't seem to know how to answer Spice's
question, so she whispers up at Hemlock, "What are you supposed to do wif
tigers when you catch them?"

Hemlock takes a bite from his bun, and is suitably impressed. "I won't be
lying when I tell the world of your skill, miss Spice." He exaggerates a lean
over to whisper down to Toybox. "You keep them as guards. You don't have to be
a queen, but tigers following you around make you look absolutely amazing. Not
to mention like a super tough pony."

Ginger-Spice flashed Hemlock a smile. Her cooking being appreciated was…
always appreciated! Though she did tender heart her head to the side after a
moment. "Ye do? Maybe ah need a few tigers tae go with my kitchen cart then…
Do they make goo' draft animals? It get a wee bit tirin' tae fuel the come tae
life spell on tha' thing when goin' cross-country."

Nocturne is fairly speechless at the conversation at the moment. He trots a bit
closer to Toybox and sits down on his haunches. "So what do you plan on hunting
after the tiger?" Part of him is still begging him to at least try to socialize
with the rest of the group, and he eventually turns to Hemlock. "Oh, I'm sorry.
My name's Nocturne. And you are, uh…?" He tries to remember if he caught the name at
all.

Toybox puts a hoof to her chin in thought as she chews another bite of the bun.
Hunting this tiger has seemed so important to her, but she doesn't know what
she wants to hunt next! She looks down the docks, where the cat is 'mocking'
her by sitting just within view and cleaning itself. "Um…a Timb-ah-wolf! I
hear they have bad bweaf though…"

"Oh, you can use tigers as beasts of burden, for about 5 minutes. The thing
gets bored and decides that it wants to do other things. they're too feisty
really, timberwolves are even worse." Hemlock turns to look at Nocturne, eyeing
the stallion up again. He didn't appreciate being ignored before. "That's quite
all right young fella, I suppose I haven't introduced myself." The stallion
springs to his hooves, trotting back a few paces. He strikes a pose, one hoof
raised in the air in a heroic fashion. "I am Hemlock, the magnificent! Hero
extraordinaire!"

Ginger-Spice blinked, raising an eyebrow. "Ye are? I mean, magnificant? And
hero extraordinaire?" Spice eyed Hemlock somewhat skeptically. "Um, Hemlock?
Mind if ah ask ye a question then?"

Nocturne only nods as Hemlock replies. "Well, uh, good to-" He stops at
Ginger's question. Somehow he is suspicious that it'll be interesting.
Swift-Wind strikes a pose all heroic like just like Hemlock, "Immm'a HEMLOCK
the Mighty!" Duuudaaa da daaa! *horn fanfare in there somewhere* She giggles
and looks to Hemlock then to everypony else, "MIGHTY Mighty MIGHTY!

Toybox gives a good stare down to the cat on the docks, making an 'I'm watching
you' motion with a hoof. She looks back at the tiger on her back, "Mr. Stwipes
is a good tiger! He's been helping me catch this other tiger!" The foal smiles
at the toy for a second before giving another glare to the cat. She giggles at
Swiftie's impression of Hemlock.

Hemlock bows low before the group. "Of course! On my honor, I would never lie.
Ask me your question, receive an honest reply!" He chuckles at Swift Wind's
impression as well, looking up. "Of course Mister Stripes is a good tiger! He's
under your care after all, isn't he Toybox? How is my dearest Crocky doing, by
the way?"

"Well, I was wounderin'… If ye're tha hero… ain't ye s'posed tae be dealin'
whi' that?" Ginger-Spice turned on the spot, pointing a hoof at the Spire. "I'm
pretty sure tha' weren't 'round town tha last time ah was 'ere. An' the lot o'
ye scream 'pocalypse 'bout it."

Swift-Wind tromps in front of Hemlock, "He's just one pony, twould take an army
of Mighty ponies to stop thaaaaat thing" she says all matter of factly "Of
course" she giggles, with a shrug.

Nocturne can't help but laugh at Spice's question. "Yeah, no offense, but
shouldn't you be overseas?" He waves his over the ocean. "… Then again, don't
ask me." His mood is suddenly worsened as he remembers that he doesn't have
time to take part himself. The unicorn stands up and begins trotting away from
the group with a wave, but stops as he walks by Ginger Spice. "Oh, I'm sorry, I
didn't catch your name. Mine's Nocturne."

Toybox gives a wave to Nocturne as he announces his departure, "Goodbye Mr.
Noctuwne!" She may be a bit of a rowdy foal, but she's still got her manners.
"He's hewe to pwotect the town while all the other ponies awe gone!" she adds
in, protecting Hemlock's hero status.

Ginger-Spice frowned ever so slightly at Nocturne, that was a bit mean
spirited. "Name's Ginger Spice, tha finest chef ye'll ever see! And, I s'pose
tha' might be the case, I was jus' wounderin' all things considered…"

Hemlock doesn't miss a beat when asked the question. though he appreciates the
support the filly gives him, he has a better excuse. "While I would quite
easily handle it, there is one thing stopping me. Unfortunately the spire is in
the ocean, I do not deal well with the ocean. It and I are incompatible." He
bows low, looking really sorry. "It is my deepest regret that I cannot assist
in saving this wonderful town more directly. But in the mean time, I will
protect it from any other dangers that may loom. Let the others deal with that
danger without worry." He smiles at Toybox, nice catch!

Swift-Wind perks up suddenly and stares off in some direction outskirtish "Oh
uhh, Sorryeverypony I think I hear myMom" she squeaks, nudges the other foal
with her head, nudges hemlock, headbutt/nudges ginger-spice too. Its her
version of a quick hug, she also waves to the departing Nocturne and chirriups
out a cheeerful "Laaadeedaaa" note his direction then trots over to the side of
that building where she was hiding at before. Then wheels on pavement are heard
and she's off like lightening as she grabs her skateboard and right TURBO's it
towards home, "Laaaaterrrrr Poniessss!" she shouts out behind her as she
cruises off towards home.

Ginger-Spice blinked and rubbed her forehead, looking decidedly confused at
this moment before turning her attention at Toybox. "Who's Crocky?"

Toybox perks her ears up. She almost forgot to answer Hemlock! A big smile
forms across her face, "Cwocky is doing good! He's been making sure to pwotect
me! He's getting along wif Cwabby…" she leans in a little close to him and
whispers, "I don't think he likes Mr. Stwipes though…"

Hemlock lies down on his stomach, looking quite comfortable. "He doesn't? I'm
not surprised. The monsters I deal with are all striped, Crocky is a protective
Crocagator." He smiles up at Ginger Spice. "You can rest assured miss Spice,
that this will pass. I may be mighty, and a hero. But the ponies of this town
each have it in their hearts to be just as great. If little Toybox here is any
indication, Horseshoe Harbor will be just fine."

Ginger-Spice smiled. "I 'ope so! I like this place an' it would be sad fer
somethin' bad to 'appen to it." Spice glanced upwards, her umbrellas floating
lazily around her. After a moments, her horn flaring, they drifted forward,
covering the small group… mostly.

Toybox looks up, slightly cross-eyed, at the umbrellas floating around. She
looks at the toy on her back again and closes her eyes in concentration. Her
horn glows for a moment but quickly sparks and fizzles out. It would seem her
magic needs some training.

Hemlock nods to Ginger Spice. "Thank you for the cover, my dear." He's wrapped
up in a rain coat, so doesn't need the cover, but nice thing from pretty mares
are always appreciated! "Do you think I may have Crocky back soon? I am quite
lonely without him, and his protection is invaluable."

Ginger-Spice smiled down at Toybox. "If ye wan', I can try an' teach ye the
spell I'm usin'… When ye're a wee bit older, mayhaps." With that said her
gaze returned to Hemlock, and then back to Toybox. She looked a bit confused.
"Um… is Crocky… a plushy or a real crock'…?"

Toybox makes a bit of a pout over her horn, "I wish I could use it now. I bet I
could catch the tiger…" She tries again, but once again it just pops, sparks,
and fizzles out. Perhaps she /will/ have to wait until she's older. Defeated,
she looks up at Hemlock, "Of couwse! I have other fwiends that can help me!"
Her head tilts to the side in that sort of "Are you kidding me?" look at
Ginger, "He's a bwave and stwong cwockogator! He pwotects us fwom monsters!"

Hemlock pats Toybox's shoulder. "Magic is a hard thing to use. That you can do
even that much at your age, is impressive!" He chuckles at Crocky's
description. "Indeed! He is my friend and constant protector. He's also very
soft, which makes hugging him very comforting." Throwing out the soft comment
in the hopes Ginger Spice understands.

Ginger-Spice blinks at the two of them, for a moment anyway before nodding
formally. "Oh, righ! Sorry, but ah 'ave run inta… bad… crockogators before.
They're nae plushy and huggable. An' evil. Jus' wannae make sure 'es not a…
evil crockogator spy. But ah guess I dunnae 'ave to worry, sounds like he can
deal whi' tha." Spice nodded firmly, a wide smile on her freckled muzzle.

Toybox grins a bit toothily. Her missing tooth becomes obvious again. But,
alas…she /is/ a foal still so the occasional missing tooth is a bit expected.
It would seem her target, the cat whom she's been trying to catch the last few
days, has disappeared while she was distracted. WELL PLAYED, FELINE! Toybox
frowns a little before looking at the grown ponies, "Well, if you want I can
give him to you now!"

Hemlock taps his hooves on the ground in front of him excitedly. "Ooo, could
you? I have missed him terribly." He's beaming now that ginger Spice is playing
along. All of the ponies in this town are so fun, and nice! "Oh, I can sniff
out a spy. though I bow to your probably far vaster crocagator experience miss
Spice. tell me, do you have a guardian of your own? They help in keeping away
the monsters at night."

"Um… I dinnae 'ave one," said Ginger-Spice with a slight shake of her head.
"Thou' I usualy sleep aroun' my kitchen so ah do feel safe. A good kitchen's…
well, good!"

Toybox hrms and wrinkles her nose in thought, "I betcha I have another fwiend
who could help pwotect you, Miss Ginger Spice! You can come too, if you want!"

Hemlock nods and gets to his hooves, they're going somewhere? how exciting! "you
really should, miss. Toybox's friends are the best, next to her, of course."

Ginger-Spice nodded and smiled. "O' course I'll come! Thou' please, dun call me
Miss Spice. Makes me think o' my mum, Pumpkin Spice…" The small gingerbread
brown mare picked herself up, and with a glance upward got her umbrella
rain-shield of umbrellas ready for a move on as she fell in beside Toybox.

Toybox gives another glance down towards the peers just in case the cat decided
to show its face again. No such luck for Toybox, though, so she stands up and
straightens Mr. Tiger on her back, "Okay! Follow me den!" She starts to trot
towards the town.

Hemlock chuckles and follows the little filly. As they move he looks across at
Ginger Spice. "Whatever may I call you then, I certainly can't do anything but
show the greatest respect for such a pretty and talented mare." He looks
perfectly at ease, and his face betrays nothing but a smile.

Ginger-Spice looks the other way again once more, her head cocked curiously.
Just what was Hemlock talking about anyway. There's nopony here but them. Once
again shrugging for herself she turned back. "Jus' Spice works fine… Or
Ginger, thank ye." A smile reasserted itself on her muzzle as she looked ahead
at Toybox. "Ye have a lot o' friends, then?"

Toybox turns her head to look at Spice, nodding as she trots merrily towards
what one would assume is her home, "I gots lots of friends!" She doesn't seem
to mind that she's walking right through a bunch of puddles.

Hemlock is quite happy to be walking through puddles, and even deviates from
the path to splash in some good ones. "Very well, Ginger it is then. I'm
charmed to have met you." He's quite excited to see where Toybox lives, though
the possibility fo parents makes him nervous.

Ginger-Spice is the only pony that doesn't go puddle jumping… too much,
anyway. Her tail takes a bit to much work to get clean for excessive puddle
jumping, but some is fine. "My pleasure, Hemlock!"

Toybox finally leads the other ponies to a somewhat run-down looking house set
a bit back from the others. As she approaches the door, she turns around,
"Alwight…gimme just a second. I want to make sure my mama knows you're coming
in!" The foal smiles again before disappearing into the house. It sounds like
she's talking to somepony.

Hemlock patiently waits outside while Toybox negotiates their entrance. "feel
like I'm getting permission to enter royal chambers again." He chuckles and
starts to take off her rain coat. "So are you a chef Ginger? I don't know all
that much about you?"

"Ah am not just a chef, ah am the travelin' chef. Ye know, travelin' the lands,
learnin' the skills… Ah'm goin' tae be the best chef. Ever," said
Ginger-Spice with a wide grin. "One day, ah'll be cookin' fer Celestia an'
Luna." Though even as she spoke she frowned slightly up at the building,
Toybox's home. It looked a bit… sad, for such a cheery little filly.

The front door opens back up and Toybox pops her head out, "Alwight! You guys
can come in now!" and she opens the door the rest of the way. Inside the house
is…well…just plain odd. The floors are covered in a bit of dust and dirt as
if they haven't been cleaned in a few months. There's not a whole lot of
furniture. In fact, the only furniture in the living room is an old run down
couch. In the corners there are piles of what appear to be toy stuffing, while
small piles of scrap fabric can be found here and there. On shelves, the couch,
counters…everywhere, really, are various hoof-made dolls and stuffed animals.
Some are in much better shape than others. Even odder yet, there's a wooden
crate with the lid slightly ajar sitting right next to the front door.

Hemlock bows low. "With what I've tasted, and what I know from previous
experience, you are sure to attain your goal ginger. you just keep trying and
the princess will be begging you to come to their court." He bows again at
Toybox's reappearance, and follows her inside. His smile doesn't waver, but he
/thinks/ he can see what's going on here. "What a lovely place you have Toybox."
Ginger-Spice looks a lot -less- thrilled of the inside of the house, herself.
Though quickly covers that up as her eyes sweep the room. "Indeed, lovely…"
it was genuinely creeping her out a bit as she fixed Toybox with a discrete
stare. All these stuffed toys seemed almost unhealthy, laid out like this.

Toybox walks over to the kitchen area. It seems just as desolate as the rest of
the house. The refrigerator runs, but who knows what, if anything, is actually
in it. The cabinets are all dusty except for a few small hoofmarks on one. The
foal climbs up on a chair and opens the one with hoof prints, bringing down a
few cups, "Do you want water? Mama always says it's nice to offer some to your
fwiends. Isn't that wight, mama?" She looks for a moment to the side where a
hallway leads towards the back of the house then back to Ginger and Hemlock
with an honest smile.

Hemlock nods, he was right, then. "I would love some water Toybox, thank you."
His smile somehow doesn't lessen at all, but his voice lost some of it's cheer.
After a couple moments of silence, he shivers. "Would you mind if I just had a
word with Ginger Spice outside for a moment?" He nudges the mare, come on!

"We'll be back 'fore ye know it," added Ginger-Spice before turning, heading
for the door. "'Fter all, I cannae wait tae meet all o' yer little friends.
Jus' 'ave tae do some of 'em borin' grown-up stuff first."

Toybox gives a nod at the ponies, "Okay!" before pouring the water. She moves a
few of the toys on the counter to the side so she has a place to set the cups.
When the two guests step outside, it sounds like she's talking to somepony
again.

Hemlock escorts ginger Spice outside hurriedly. Once outside, and the door is
closed, he breathes out. "Ginger? I don't want to go back in there. That's
just, just so…" His voice trails off. "Keeping a smile on my face was one of
the hardest things I've ever done. And I've fought dragons, by myself."

Ginger-Spice nodded slowly. "Aye… I dun' like what I'm seein' in there…"
The mare turned eyed the house worriedly.

Hemlock sighs, taking a few deep breaths. "We have to though, alright? You and
I, keep smiling, play along, be happy. She needs our support, and I will not
let you break her heart." He sounds super serious, as opposed to goofy as
normal. "Also, I'm going to pay you in advance for some meal for her, okay?"

Toybox sounds like she's still conversing. In fact, it sounds like she's having
a conversation with her mother…only it sounds like there's nopony actually
responding to her.

Ginger-Spice shook her head, her wild mane flying into her eyes. "Nae ye don',
I'm nae poor Hemlock, and I'm nae greedy. She'll 'ave meals free, and that's
tha'." Spice nodded firmly before turning back towards the door.

Hemlock hugs Ginger. "Thanks, it means a lot." He lets her go, composes himself
then re-enters the house. "Sorry about that, little Toybox. We're back" He has
a smile again and is happy and bouncy as ever.

Zula wanders down the street after another shopping trip - who knows what it is
she always goes out to buy, but she does go out a lot for such a frugal mare.
She all but trots past Hemlock and Ginger without acknowledging the pair or
their conversation; after all it's not her business - and as Hemlock will
attest she tends to her own business!

Hemlock hugs Ginger. "Thanks, it means a lot." He lets her go, composes himself
then moves ot re-enter the house. Before he does, he spots Zula. For a second
he's in conflict, then calls out to her. "Erm, Zula? Could I get some help,
please?"

The spectacled zebra mare stops mid-stride to glance over her shoulder at
Hemlock - as if she had noticed he was there at all. She turns then trots
closer to the stallion. "Yes, Hemlock?" her expression plain - almost as if
bored; then again that's common.

Ginger-Spice nodded, surprisingly grimly for being her. "Any time… A-… Huh?"
Spice turned to look at Zula for a moment before turning back, giving Toybox a
smile. "Heh… Nothin' bad I hope."

Hemlock waves towards the house. "I think we may have a spirit problem, can you
help me with this situation please?" He looks a little desperate, and doesn't
want to go in the house.

Zula quietly eyes the house "Very well. This would be considered a green level
mission at the moment. Standard fee of 50 stallions applies." she begins to
trot inside after telling her own team member (underling?) he's getting charged
for a mission.

Toybox is standing towards the hallway off the side of the house, talking down
the hallway to somepony, though whoever it is doesn't seem to be actually
talking. She hears the door and turns around expecting Ginger and Hemlock.
"Um…hello!" She says to the stranger, a friendly smile across her face.

Hemlock follows zula in to the house. He sighs and takes the payment form a
saddlebag. He tosses the bag then moves around her to smile at Toybox. "Hello,
sorry, but this is Zula. Zula is my good friend, and heroic partner. Do you
mind if she comes in as well?" He drops his voice so only the zebra can hear.
"This mission requires some tact. If you break this little filly's heart, I will never
forgive you."

Hemlock's little comment ears him a icy little glare from the zebra mare.
"…We have met before. The night you gave the crocogator to Hemlock." she
informs them both.

Ginger-Spice shot a glance over her shoulder at Zula for a moment before
turning back to Toybox. She wasn't sure what Hemlock and the zebra was up to,
but it seemed to be something… And that'd give Spice something to do too…
"Say, Toybox…. Ye said ye would' introduce me tae a few o' yer friends? Care
tae do tha'? I'm really eager tae meet 'em!"

Toybox gives another smile to the zebra, "Sure! It's okay!" She walks back
towards the kitchen, "Do you want any water?" After getting another cup down and filling
it up, she walks over to Ginger and nods, "They don't all have names
yet…and not all of them like to talk to me…but I can twy!"

Hemlock nods apologetically to Zula. "Sorry, just, this filly means something
to me, yes? Can you just check for some of, you know…" He smiles and nods

Zula's mood seems to deteriorate slowly - hints of a frown worming their way
onto her usually neutral face. A few more moments pass before she shakes her
head to clear the weight the aura places upon her. "There is something…not a
spirit…" gaze slowly wandering about the hallway where she stands.

Ginger-Spice smiled at Toybox. "Nae worries, Toybox. Care tae introduce me tae
one o' the nice ones? I bet they'd like tae meet new ponies to, eh?"

Hemlock turns to look at Zula, moving back to stand beside her. "Is it okay?"
He sounds really worried.

Toybox sets Mr. Stripes on the counter then nods a few times, walking over to
two stuffed animals that are sitting by themselves. One of them is a crab, the
other some sort of lizard. "This is Cwocky and Cwabby! They're two of my best
fwiends, though Cwocky also likes to help Mr. Hemlock fight off monsters!"

Zula seemingly ignores Hemlock - her eyes taking a slow, long gaze about the
room moments before she begins to wander while brushing her hoof along the
wall, over the door kob, along a counter; her attention seemingly elsewhere.
Ginger-Spice smiled, still. Though it is a bit of a strained one. She gave the
two plushies a curteous nod as she folded her legs under her. "G'day, Mr.
Cwocky and Mr. Cwabby," she said, doing her best to imitate Toybox's inflection
of the names. "So… Ah, 'ear ye're a hero, Cwocky? But what about ye, Mr.
Cwabby? What do ye get up tae?"

Hemlock knwos when to leave Zula to her business. He trots over to the two
others, all smiles and happiness. "Crocky! How I have missed you, my friend!"
He bows theatrically towards the plushie. "He certainly does. My greatest
protection comes from that heroic crocagator. I am pleased he made a friend!"

Toybox stands behind the crab toy, "Cwabby also likes to fight off monsters!
Him and Cwocky like to play together! They're good fwiends!" She walks over to
the counter and takes a drink of water before coming back over to the toys,
nudging 'Cwocky' at Hemlock.

A casual observer might think Zula was aimlessly wandering thanks to the glassy
look in her eyes. Step by step she explores the dewlling while brushing against
this and that - strange spirtual attunement making it difficulty to block out
the gloomy atmosphere that doesn't damper Toybox's spirits. A more mannered
mare likely wouldn't wander around another's home so freely - then again it's
less a question of manners and more a question of a semi-conscious state that
brings Zula to one of the back rooms where she does find something of interest
- by invading Toybox's privacy =3

Ginger-Spice cocked her head to the side, eyeing Cwabby and Crocky both
thoughtfuly. "So…. both o' em are heroes? Like Hamlock, or are any o' em
Super Heroes. Ye know, like whi' super strenght an' laser eyes an' stuff like
tha'?"

Hemlock puts Crocky on his back, where the crocagator belongs. He seems to take
offence to that statement. "Excuse me Ginger, but I am beyond a mere super
hero. I am the greatest there will ever be." He winks at her mischievously. "I
do like the sound of this mr Crabby fellow."

Toybox shakes her head, "Naw…they don't have super powers…they're just
weally stwong and…and bwave…and and yeah!" She walks over to another toy
sitting just a foot or two away. It appears to be a squid of some sort, "And
this is Squidoodle! She's not as stwong as Cwocky or Cwabby…" she leans in a
little close and whispers, "But she's smawter. Don't tell them I said that!"

Hemlock puts a hoof to his mouth in mock shock. "Oh dear, she sounds very
interesting. You know, being a hero isn't just about being big and tough. I
know Crocky and I both share that we're happy not too smart, it's not as fun
that way!" He chuckles, it almost sounds genuine!

Ginger-Spice chuckled softly and nodded, giving Toybox a impish smile. "Aye,
havin' the smarts is often as good, if nae better," she whispered back. "Does
Squidoodle cook? She looks like she can be a great chef, wha' with all them
arms and smarts."

Zula certainly takes her time with whatever she's up to before wandering back
to join the group - her eyes wandering before settling on Toybox as she wanders
right up to the foal.

Toybox hrms and thinks for a little bit, "I don't think she's ever twied
cooking. You'wre pwobably wight, though!" She tilts her head up at Zula as the
zebra starts to approach her.

Zula trots right up Toybox then reaches out to place a hoof atop of the foal's
head in a gentle manner. "Would you like to see how our group operates?" she
asks the foal calmly. "We have a ship in the harbor that serves as our base of
operations. However, Hemlock is too afraid to step hoof board the ship."

Hemlock watches Zula worriedly as she approaches the little filly. Suddenly, at
the invitation, he beams! Toybox gets to spend more time with him! "Oh, please
Toybox. You have shown me your home, the least I could do is… Well… Allow
Zula to show you her home! I don't really spend time on the ship, myself."

Toybox tilts her head to the side a little bit…she seems to be a tad
confused. "Op…opwer…Opewation?" She looks at Hemlock for amoment, then
Ginger, then back to Zula, "What do you mean?"
Ginger-Spice reached out and patted Toybox on the head softly. "She asked if
ye'd like tae see 'ow they do heroics… an' where they do their heroics from."

Zula nods softly at Ginger's explination. "Correct. If you like heroes you can
check out our base, and I can share the details of some completed missions with
you. I have file cabinets full of completed missions." Neat and tidy!

Hemlock nods enthusiastically, prancing in place. "And then when she's done, I
cna share you some of the stories I remember! We've been together a long time,
Zula and I!" He pauses for a moment, in reflection. "Though I'm still nto going
on the boat, unless Zula will protect me again."

Toybox looks back up at Hemlock, her eyebrow raised a little bit. "So…its
sowta…like a school fow hewoes?" She seems to be putting the pieces together!

Ginger-Spice nodded. "I s'pose kinda. Thou' I 'ave tae to do a few thing's
meself so I cannae come and 'ave a look now. But, tell ye wha'. Ye come an'
find me whenever ye get 'ungry, okey? I can whip ye up a tasety meal."

Zula curiously Zula ponders before nodding slightly. "You can say that I do
tutoring now and again." No doubt Hemlock could list of plenty of times Zula
has schooled Bomani and Hemlock. "If you would like to learn about heroes, you
are welcome." she glances to Ginger-Spice. "You are also welcome. More so if
you are interested in cooking; Hemlock and Bomani can't cook to save their
life…they actually had to once. The Mad Chef of Hoofville…that was one odd
stallion."

Hemlock gets all mock offended. "Hey now, miss Zula, I can cook just fine."
He's not that bad at things that aren't smiley, or that require strength.
Althoguh admittedly, his cooking could at best be described as 'serviceable',
the kind of stuff you could expect on a ship. "I could take little Toybox under
my wing, metaphorcally. I've been adventuring a long time, even longer than
I've been with you, Zula. We could all teach her a bit of what we know!"

Toybox wrinkles her nose up in thought…the sound of 'hero school' does sound
rather enticing! "I…I gotta ask my mama about it fiwst, but I wanna go! If Mr
Hemlock is there, I'll be safe!" She smiles up at him, "I'll go ask now!" She
turns towards the hallway. "MAMA! MAMA!" The foal calls out for her mother. Her
eyes lock on to something and her head tracks movement, but there's nothing for
any of the other ponies, including Zula, to see. She's now facing more towards
the wall, looking up at the same level a full-grown pony would be standing at,
"Mama…is it alwight if I go with my fwiends to hewo school?" *silence* "I
can? Awe you sure?" *silence* Her ears perk and eyes light up. "Thank you mama!
Thankyouthankyouthankyou!" She hugs somepony that isn't there…

Ginger-Spice bit her lower lip as she looked at Toybox before picking herself
up, hurrying for the door. It wouldn't do to burst into tears right in front of
Toybox. Though that said, by the time she reached the door her eyes were
brimming over, when she'd gone a block away they were rolling down her cheeks.

Zula gives Hemlock a small, disapproving glance while waiting for Toybox to
wander back; for Hemlock it couldn't be more clear that Zula is already laying
out a plan to help the foal, and it's likely going to eat into Hemlock's
savings.

Toybox doesn't seem to notice anything wrong, other than the fact that Ginger
had suddenly left. She wrinkles her nose in thought then trots off into one of
the back rooms. When she comes back out a minute or two later, she's got some
foal-sized sattle bags. "Just gotta gwab me some snacks!" she explains, but
instead of looking in the fridge or anywhere in the kitchen for that matter,
she goes up to the wooden crate by the door. Sticking her head inside, she
pulls out a few wrapped food items and puts them into the bag, "Okay! I'm weady
to go!"

Hemlock smiles sadly at the scene. Doesn't even care about her disapproving
glace. Hemlock really likes the filly, and just wnats to see her smiling, which
is good. Toybox never seems to stop. "Let's go then, little Toybox." He holds
the door open for the others, his smile happy again.