A Trip Through Everfree
IC date: Summer 17, 1007
OOC date: July 6, 2012
PCs: Blackbird, Sadaka, Rusty-Gears, Fidget, Gamble, Jellybean
NPCs: A fearsome serpent
GM: Fluttershy

From the summit of the White Saddles, the group of ponies looks down on the vast country of Equestria, as far as they can see. In the far distance is Canterlot: a group of brightly colored spires and buildings nestled against the side of a distant ring of mountains glitters in the setting sun. But between here and there is the foreboding Everfree Forest stretching out in an expanse from the base of the mountain. So the group begins the long climb down the other side, occasionally with heart-stoppin skids down the steep ledges — but they arrive safely.

As safe as one can hope, anyway, when you're staring down the mouth of the Everfree. It's a, different kind of freaky from Wintersong, but it's freaky nonetheless. The monsters here are more foreign, and more frightening. And the weather moves on its own! Gasp. Either way, Blackbird adjusts his saddlebags and his tiny Sadakan ward that sits on his back, and nods at the forest, starting the slow trot in. "Be on your guard, stick to the path, and stay close together."

Fidget watches the clouds move of their own volition, drifting lazily along under some unknown power. Eyes wide she can't help but bounce along behind the others. "ok so the plan is to be boring and not meet any monsters." The filly nods her head with a slight determination though it is quickly replaced with need to explore this strange knew land! Curse that lack of focus! Wings flutter in preperation to launch forward.

"Ya dun' have ta tell me twice." Gamble mutters in regards to sticking to the path. Just a few steps behind Blackbird even, his hat lowered to keep his head protected from any dangerous…leaves. Or branches. Or whatnot. The creepiness of the forest is not lost on him, different as it may be from the Wintersong, but he's heard his fair share of the tales of what lurks in the darkness hereabouts. Drifers are always good for catching stray stories, don'tcha know?

"Ayup, that's the plan Fidge." he calls back to the filly, "Mebbe if we're quick we can get through before any of the danged weirdness catches on that they've got company."

Rusty-Gears also sticks close to Blackbird, looking around curiously. New places! She's not the sort to get scared by places easily. Maybe because it's difficult to be intimidated when you have dynamite. …Not that she's packed… /much/ dynamite. Of course. That would be excessive. But you never know when you might need explosions!

Sadaka, on the other hand, is looking very nervous. Admittedly nothing about this place /feels/ too weird to her — but then, Wintersong never did either! — but it's easy enough to pick up on the other ponies' unease, and it's hard to blame the filly for being jumpy. She hangs onto Blackbird's neck lightly, ears perked alertly and twitching at every odd sound, head turning this way and that as she kept an eye out for anything unusual or scary or just plain there.

Fidget is perhaps the only pony that is exited for this. How often does a pony get to explore a dangerous untamed forest? "Well then lets go!" not seeming to register that fast equates to less monsters, she zooms forward. "We have some adventure waiting for us! Weeeeeee~!" she giggles zooming off into the distance.

Blackbird's ears flatten, and he starts running after Fidget. "Agh — FIDGET!" Oh man. This is going to go terribly. He races down the path, assuming the others will keep up.

Fidget, meanwhile, gets to see all kinds of creatures as she zooms: is that a snake? Hey look, some bunnies! A howl goes up in the distance: wolves? The path is long and narrow, swerving around curves and often overrun with trees, vines, and various natural brik-a-brak that makes the going tough.

Aw cripes… So much for taking the easy route through the forest! This is the second time Gamble will have had to chase after Blackbird chasing after somepony else. Through a forest of strange and terrible creepiness, no less! At least he knows how to chase, head ducked down and focused on keeping track of hoofbeats in front of him. He's sure hoping Rusty's keeping up too! "Dangit Fidget! We're not here for a forest romp!"

Oh! A snake they are sooooo cool! The Pegasus stops for a moment to give it a playful boop on the nose, and just long enough to let Blackbird catch up before zipping off again. "Bunnies? Why are they here, thats way too cute for a dangerous forest. I feel jipped!" crossing her for hooves as she floats for a moment considering what she is doing wrong. Looking back seeing the others running, no doubt exited as she is to get started, and waves a hoof at them. "Hurry up everypony! We are burning daylight!"

The intrepid party has made it to Everfree and just barely set hoof in when Fidget when spiralling and zooming off into the unknown to go find monsters. Which is just great, thankyouverymuch! The rest of the party is racing after her in a panic, because oh god, she's going to die.

Rusty blinks and breaks into a gallop with the rest of the group. "Fidget! Blackbird said 'stay with the group'!"

Sadaka squeaked, hanging onto Blackbird tighter. "Fidget come back!" Before something terrible happens! Nopony wants something terrible to happen! /Please/ don't let something terrible happen.

You paged Fidget with 'There's some sort of water up ahead! You can hear it!'.

Its not her fault the group can't keep up! Gamble even said to hurry! Why are adults so cofu-oh! Whats that? The filly hops off to the arrant sound. Ears tilting as she changes her barrling speed towards the new direction. "Oh! Water neat." stopping she thinks for a moment. "Wait … no there is tone of that back at the harbor boooooarrring." lifting her head she looks around to make sure she didn't miss anything important.

Jellybean wasn't holding the map.

This is probably for the best.

Unfortunately, this also meant that he had no idea where everypony was going and for the last few minutes he'd been spacing out and flying off in his own direction, unbeknownst to everypony else. And he's finally looked up. "Huh? W-where'd everypony go?"

Blackbird rolls 1d10 (HOW BAD IS IT) — Result: 1 | Sum: 1

KABONGGGGG

Something huge and wet smacks hard into Fidget's head, sending her flying hard into a nearby tree on the bank. Which manages just to daze her — not knock her unconscious — but she lands with a painful and sickening crunch on one wing. There's a snarling howl from the bank, but no source can be seen, for the moment.

This gives the rest of the party just enough time to catch up. Except for Jelly, who's treated to the sight of Gamble's tail disappearing around a bend far ahead. Blackbird skids to a halt and has to scramble to keep from sliding in the mud. "Fidget!" he cries in dismay. Oh snaps.

Seeing as he was as best as he could be on Blackbird's tail, the sudden scramble of a stop catches Gamble off-guard. He isn't so lucky as to keep from slipping, yelping as hooves scoot from under the rest of his rusty body, sending the drifter into a skid for a few feet. "…Ngh." He lifts his head, mud-brown splattered over his rusty pelt. "Did we catch'er?"

Fidget does a one eighty in the air as she is blind sided, eyes wide in confusion. The spin might have been a three sixty except a tree seems to end her unintended acrobatics short. A squeek of pain is all she manages to get out as she falls hard onto the wing, both left partialy open a natural pegasi reaction to falling, followed by the pop of a dislocating bone. Thankfully the mud does a descent job of exorbing some of the fall. Raising her head, stars swirling in her vision, "yay~ an Ursa." voice oddly soft before her head thuds back onto the ground.

Rusty skids to a stop beside Blackbird, managing to avoid falling /into/ the mud but kicking up a good bit of it, likely to Gamble's chagrin. Sadaka, on the other hand, is not at all prepared for the sudden stop, and topples with a squeak from her perch, splashing ungracefully into the mud. It's not water, but it initiates a similar enough panic reaction, the little filly slipping and sliding and tripping all over herself as she tries to scramble back onto dry land — which would be easier if there were more of it.

Dislocated? More like broken, unfortunately. That was a rather unfortunate fall! Blackbird runs toward Fidget, only to trip and fall over Gamble and faceplant in the mud. This is very graceful, yes indeed — but at least now there's dry land — errr, pony — for Sadaka to climb onto.

Meanwhile, another anguished howl raises into the air, chilling the party to the bone.

So much mud… Gamble yelps again, getting tripped over, leaving Rusty and Jelly (wherever he's flappa'd off to) as the sole mud-free ponies left. Lucky them! Anguished howling interrupts any thoughts the drifter may have had about keeping calm after that forest romp, prompting a quick and startled jump up to his hooves again. Wide-eyed, he darts his head about, trying to find the source of that eeeeeevil sound, while backing his way towards the downed Fidget. "U..uh, Teach? Any idea what that might be?"
Rusty started to pick her way after Blackbird, but froze at the sound, ears perked as she looked around wide-eyed. "That's… not a /good/ sound…" She half-scampered, half-hopped through the mud over to Fidget, standing over her protectively and looking back at Blackbird. "I don't know a thing about… creatures. Are you two alright?"

"Gamble I found a mmbmmmm…." The filly was delirious, and now stone cold out of it. To make matter worse, wings should not bend that way, and wings are meant to bend lots of different ways. All the feathers mud caked and sprawled out at weird angles. Twisted primaries are a pain known only to pegasi and griffons.

"I don't know, I have /no/ idea," Blackbird sneezes, trying to get the mud out of his nose. "But I'm okay, Rusty, thank you. Fidget?" … Is out cold, much to the teacher's dismay. He turns to look around for the danger, as another enormous /something/ swings overhead and narrowly misses the ponies. With a mighty splash from the river, an enormous /something/ rises up from the depths, howling and wailing. Thrashing. Violet claws crash down on the banks, churning mud and sod, as a gargantuan head levels down, each tooth the size of a pony. Great eyes narrow down, as the fearsome beast lets out a, "OOoooOOOHHH!! You SABOTEURS!!"

…You did not expect its voice to be so high. … Or … lispy. Nor was the combo mou-stache of swirly purple on one side, and day-glo orange on the other exactly expected. But whatever you might have expected, an angry sea serpent is thrashing before you now. Which is just great.

Honestly, Gamble didn't expect it to talk at all! The voice is quite disarming to the image of a giant pony-eating creature, honestly. The drifter has to spend a long moment, just /staring/, to decide whether he's legitimately frightened of something that could surely eat them all in a couple quick bites, or whether this is somehow just a great big joke. Is being so scared it's funny an option?

Of course, once that initial shock of the creature's voice wears off, and Gamble realizes that there's a definite note of hostility there, the whole 'frightened' thing kicks back in, prompting him to duck down, steal Fidget from behind Rusty, and place the broken pegasus on his back as gently as he can in a great big hurry. "It's big'n it's mad, can we run now!?"

Sadaka freezes halfway through clinging to Blackbird's saddlebag, gaping up at the big purple… /thing/. What is that? …Wow it's huge. And loud. And colorful. And OH YEAH I THINK I'M SUPPOSED TO BE SCARED OF IT. Wail and cower. In the mud. Yeah, that's a good hiding place, right?

Rusty, on the other hand, hardly looks frightened at all. It's not that she's particularly brave! No, she's probably just as scared. It's just her head's already halfway in her saddlebag, trying to dig out some sort of defense or distraction. Hard to look scared with explosives in your mouth.

Blackbird rolls 1d10 (Hit Blackbird) — Result: 9 | Sum: 9
Blackbird rolls 1d10 (Hit Rusty) — Result: 10 | Sum: 10

Blackbird backpedals, but Sadaka's wail catches his attention and he wheels around to leap to her defense. He grabs her from the mud, scrambling away as its tail smacks down on the bank and sprays everyone with mud, before swinging around to slam into Blackbird and send him and Sadaka sprawling. He wheezes without breath, as the tail whizzes past Gamble, knocking his hat off, to smack into Rusty, flinging her into the water. Blackbird lets out a hoarse whimper that would be a yell if he had breath, but he doesn't.

The serpent starts to claw his way out of the water. "I just KNEW you'd come back! You THIEVES! You SCOUNDRELS!! It's ALL /YOUR/ /FAULT/!" He pauses his advance, to smack his fists into the earth in frustration? Anguish? Both? But he lets out another terrible howl.

Hat! No! For a third time Gamble yelps, just barely avoiding getting his fool head knocked off! Lucky. More mud than pony by now, no doubt, the drifter's practically the last pony standing, with an unconscious filly on his back. He glances back at Blackbird and Sadaka, knocked flat in the mud, and then over where Rusty got tossed into the water, then up to the wildly thrashing, anguishing, frustrated beast of a serpent.

This means it's up to him to think of something in a hurry… Breathing in a big gulp of air, he relies on that quick-talker spirit his kind tend to have, braving a step or two toward the thrashing serpent. "Whoa there, Mr. Big'n Scaley! We're jus' tryin' ta pass through this forest, an' I'm pretty sure we didn't stop ta steal anything from anyone! Ya can't just go smashin' everypony that wanders by!"

(OOC) Sadaka: how bad is the current here?
(OOC) Blackbird: Not bad. You can get out easily.

Sadaka wails some more as she's scooped up, though it's cut off into a grunt as they're sent flying. She winds up sprawled dazedly in the mud, more brown than striped by now, though her earring is still sparkly! That's something, right?

Rusty gives a faint yelp as she's smacked, flailing a bit before splashing rather impressively into the water. Ow. She flounders for a moment or two before popping back above water, coughing and spluttering.

Blackbird rolls 1d10 (Grab the Gamble) — Result: 7 | Sum: 7

"Ru— Rusty!" Blackbird manages this time, as he tries to scramble to his hooves. But Rusty can honestly handle herself, and Sadaka's in need of help and aaaaa HIS BRAIN EXPLODE.

The serpent, however, slams another fist down. "You /brute/!" he wails at Gamble. "You /lured/ him away, you /scoundrel/! I just /know it/! Don't you try to trick me, I can see through your ~facade~!" He makes a swipe for Gamble and Fidget tumbles off his back (luckily for her, perhaps) as he closes his fist around the wanderer and yanks him off his hooves. "You don't look so fabulous to /me/," he glares accusingly.

"Gah!" Plucked like a flower on the riverside, Gamble can't do much more than squirm in the great beast's grasp. Squirm, and try his best to make some kind of smile, nervous as it may be. "Well, uh… First, I dunno who in tarnation 'he' is supposed ta be, an' second… Why in the blue blazes would we come /back/ if we'd done somethin' to tick ya off? Last thing I'd wanna do is come back to a place where I'd get turned into mud!"

Coughspluttercough. Ugh. River water. Rusty paddles to shore and gives herself a shake, which does nothing towards getting her dry. She glares up towards the giant serpent irritably. "Put him down, you brute! We didn't take anything from you, we've never been anywhere near here before!"

Blackbird noses Sadaka up and starts to canter toward Rusty, only to slow and look back at Sadaka. Oh god. He's worried about them both. TOO ANTSY. He prances nervously in place. And now Gamble's caught, and he wants to go /that/ way too. And Fidget is helpless on the ground! AND AND AND. You can't be a hero to everyone, Blackbird; relax.

The serpent, eyes red and nostrils snorting steam, glares down at Gamble. And it becomes clear, in those few quiet moments, that the serpent's eyes are red from /crying/, not from /evil/. "You have a point," he sighs, "unless you were terrifically silly ponies. But I'm thinking you're not his type anyway." Aggression dropes thoroughly into moroseness, and he sets Gamble down a little carelessly as he sinks down into the water and sighs, head on the bank. "I suppose it was inevitable anyway. Just so ~tawdry~." Sigh. :(

Gamble tumbles when he's set down/dropped, but at least he's out of harms way now! He scrambles for his footing, and his hat since he's there. Once adorned with his duds again, the drifter cocks his hat high on his forehead, cantering over to where Fidget fell off so he can make sure she doesn't end up drowning in mud or something cruel like that. "There, ya see? Not his type." He pauses, peering at the great head on the bank. "Uh. Who's type?"

Sadaka all but droops in relief to see Blackbird up and moving around, letting out a heavy sigh that turns into a sneeze as she tries to shake off some of the mud. Not very effectively. And then she looks back up at the serpent, all but ready to take off running again… and pauses. Her ears droop and she tilts her head. That sad, depressed look… she knows that look.

The little filly hesitates a moment before picking her way through the mud a few steps towards the 'monster'. "…Who're you missing, Mr…. um… rivermonster sir? Did… did somepony get lost? Or hurt, or…" or worse?

"Rivermonster? Oh goodness gracious /me/, I'm no monster!" The serpent straightens again, dabbing at its eyes a little. "Technically, my name is Eredocious Whidderwise, but that's such an ~atrociously~ tacky name. Most people just call me Steve." He flashes a grin and waves a claw. "And you, little pony? Er, ponies?"

Blackbird freezes as Sadaka approaches the monster, but as it seems to be going okay and Gamble seems to be on his hooves, he makes a break for Rusty to check her over. Complete with nuzzles. And worry. He's very worried about EVERYTHING at the moment.

Still, the questions about who he's talking about gets Steve a little down again. "Oh, Basil," he sighs, waving dismissively and flopping back into the river unhappily. "He's just so… oh, what's the word? So ~brutish~ sometimes. Just charges off after some little morsel on four legs, and leaves me here, all alone. I don't even know if he'll come back." Pout.

Oh dear… Gamble raises his eyebrows. That explains the 'fabulous' comment. And just about everything else. He takes a moment to secure Fidget on his back with a handy bit of rope, lest she fall off again and end up hurting something worse, sparing a peek towards Blackbird and Rusty. Then he lopes his way to Sadaka, studying the river serpent curiously as he introduces himself. "Well then, Mr. Steve, my name's Gamble. This lil' striped filly's Sadaka. The two ponies o'er there ya just about crushed are Blackbird 'n Rusty." He takes a second to clear his throat, "An' we didn't bump inta anypony else on our way in, so we can at least say that this Basil fella didn't go towards the mountains. If that helps any."

Rusty blinks and smiles, nuzzling Blackbird in return. "I'm fine. Gonna have one heck of a bruise. No biggie. What about you?"

Sadaka nods slowly, sitting back on her haunches. Well, at least 'missing' is better than… than the other thing. "Yeah, we didn't see him… must have gone some other way… I'm sure he'll come back, though. I mean… if you're friends… he'd wanna be around you too, right? He probably just went to explore a little or something." Siyana liked to go off and explore. But she always came back.

"I'll join you with that heck of a bruise," Blackbird replies, relaxing a little now that everyone seems okay. "How's the dynamite?"

Steven sighs, and sighs again. "Well, I certainly hope so, Sadaka. Oh oh ohhhh, and I'm so ~pleased~ to meet you ponies. I'm sorry I threw such a tantrum. There's just no helping me when I get this way." He makes a dramatic noise, and flings a hand to his forehead, in all seriousness, before looking down. "Oh, I suppose you'd like some help across the river? It's the least I could do for getting so rowdy with you."

"That's mighty kind of ya, Steve." Gamble says, cracking a half of a smile. "A little help on our way again would be appreciated. We're kind of in a hurry ta get to Canterlot." He tips his hat, "What's this Basil guy look like? Maybe if we bump into him on our way, we can give him a nudge back this way?"

Rusty cast a glance back at her soaked saddlebags. "…Wet. Not that that's an insurmountable problem, but it might be a /liiiittle/ difficult to get it lit if we need it in a hurry now." She blinks and glances back at Steve. "Least he's nice enough once he's calmed down. Not a bad idea, some help across… since we've got at least one non-swimmer among us."

Blackbird winces at the soaked explosives, but nods, and speaking of the non-swimmer, he heads back to stand by Sadaka (hopefully with Rusty alongside, because yay). Steven, though, lowers his head and ripples his back into powerful arches for the ponies to use as a bridge across the water. "I hope you can accept my sincerest apologies," he offers, helping them up. "But Basil's a big, green air dragon, with the most ~striking~ muscles. If you happen to see him, tell him his Magnet wants to see him~"

The description makes Gamble's grin strain a touch. He's certainly not looking forward to meeting a big, green, air dragon with striking muscles. Not unless he also happens to be rather easygoing, and not hungry. He finds himself nodding in agreement nontheless, starting his way across the serpent bridge. "A'right, if we see him we'll let him know!"

Sadaka looks up at Blackbird. "We can keep a look out… can't we, Mr. Blackbird? It shouldn't be… /too/ hard to spot a dragon…"

Rusty gives a wry chuckle. "Yeah, I imagine one would be hard to miss."

"Absolutely, kiddo," Blackbird replies with a smile that rather echoes Gambles. And so across they go, bidding Steven farewell, and venturing deeper into the Everfree…