And The Tides Come Rolling In
IC date: Autumn 87, 1007
OOC date: December 15, 2012
PCs: Muzaji, Nocturne, Quintessent-Rune, Rising-Chaos, Ruby-Blossom, Skyflower, Spindrift, Quintessent-Rune
NPCs: None
GM: Diamond-Dog

*THUMP.*

Another pulse of magic running through the ground- not unexpected. But this one is sudden, and intense, and in the middle of the afternoon. For the magic-sensitive, it's like having a neon sign lit in the edge of one's vision, charting a course from the harbor and out of town. But one doesn't need to be sensitive to such matters to be aware- a lavender light erupts from the ground, a brief, narrow flash, like a fissure in the earth lit from below. It's harmless- there's no damage to any buildings, and when it passes, there's no lingering evidence of its passing save the confusion of one's fellow citizens. And afterwards, something remains: a flickering column of lavender light, somewhere on the roads to the northeast to town. It gleams like a beacon, beckoning to any who don't have enough sense to stay away.

And through the houses and shops of Horeshoe Harbor, down the roads and over the hills, through the fields and beyond, into the scrub and rough foothills hills, at the end of the vein of arcane disruption, two pairs of eyes- one sea green, another inky blank- turn towards the town with alarm, observing the column of light.

A mistake has been made. "Someone will have noticed that… no matter. The work must continue apace. Keep watch."

Skyflower isn't merely some bubbly socialite with a penchant for highly aesthetic explosives. She is, in fact, a very clever young lady with a decent educational background in the fine arts of magic IN ADDITION to being some bubbly socialite with a penchant for highly aesthetic explosives.

So the magical pulse is something that very much catches her attention. "Uncle dear," she said while at Ginger and Saltpeter, "I do believe something untoward may be happening. I'm just going to go out and have a look, all right? Won't be gone too long but don't wait up for me for dinner? Toodles!" Her departure is met with an unintelligible and vaguely irritated grunt. With that, she dons a scarf, her saddlebags (a lady is prepared for all eventualities) and dons a suitable chapeau before leaving the store and trotting in the direction of the pillar of light.

Rising-Chaos certainly doesn't have enough sense to stay away. In fact, she's been planing this trip since last night when the pulses of magic started. Chaos is loaded down with equipment, and her little wagon even makes a reappearance to help carry the load. She wearing her long robe over her cape as well as Zypher's jacket to keep out the cold. The look on her face shows that she's determined to get to the bottom of this tonight.

The sudden pulse makes her cringe. As she's very, very sensitive to magic, it almost felt like somepony punching her in the chest. Chaos stops a moment to catch a breath. She turns to the pony accompanying her. "You sure you want to come with me Ruby? This could get dangerous, I don't think I've felt anything that powerful in a long time." Letting Ruby make her own decision, Chaos sets off with a passion. Her target: the massive column of light on the edge of town, which seems like a logical place to start.

Emerging from the forest, Nocturne follows the path cautiously. After spending some time searching for a mysterious feral child from a previous encounter, the magical occurence had piqued his curiousity. It would be a lie to say he was unafraid, but noticing that the trail isn't the most inconspicuous, he has hopes of some curious townspeople following the column of light. Staring at it once again, he briefly gives an expression of grief and anxiety, but his curiousity and witness of some strange events in town push him to continue exploring.

Alas, he decides to sit down and wait for some company to appear. Patting a pocket in his jacket, he throws his head into his hooves, and sits down in silent prayer that somepony will appear.
ooc who was that, Nocturne?

While not quite the fine tuning to magic specifically, the zebra affinity for supernatural and otherworldly is more than enough to pick up strange pulses -that- big.

Who wants to bet that Muzaji's original intention was hopefully find something she could make some quick swag off of? But upon spotting a familiar face pulling a cart, she slips back into the same helpful lovable rouge demeanor that's her usual social aire. "Fancy running into you here." She flashes a smile as the brief pause gives her a chance to catch up to Chaos. "Actually, no, this seems like just the sort of thing you'd want to poke your nose into."

Quintessent-Rune had been aware of the disturbances since she arived to the Harbour, she could feel it even with her own dulled magical senses - and even if she couldn't the Servant had been going on about it the whole time. The ensuing one-sided, at least to everypony else listening, argument about heading out to investigate had even been enough for her to forget the uncomfortable experience of hind legs and the disturbing idea of frozen water falling from the sky. The massive pulse and the collumn, however, puts a stop to it.

The midnight blue mare didn't get going quite that very second, taking a few moments to enjoy winning an argument with the golem of her own making. However much it insisted, she didn't intend to stick around 'town'. She didn't need anypony, and she didn't need a guide or anything. Scoffing for herself she set off as quick as her legs would carry her - a rather brisk trott.

Ruby shoots a little sideways glance at Rising while trotting along side the mare; her own load much lighter - lightly filled saddle bags. "Honestly - after that stint on other world, I don't think this will be all that dangerous. I mean Nightmare Moon, evil lych pony, being captured by the evil general pony. That's not even all of it." a little hop to her step. "This can't even begin to compare."

Rising-Chaos shrugs, Ruby just absolved her of all guilt. It is no longer her problem if something happens. "Just be careful Ruby, don't wnat to lose you tonight if anything happens." Since she's one of the last ponies in town who actually /likes/ her. Chaos picks up the pace, wnating to be the first one there. The zebra was a not entirely unexpected surprise. "And hello to you as well Muzaji. Looking for fun and profit at my expense, are we?" she teases, giving the zebra a playful smirk. "I should hope I would get my nose into this, it's magic like I've never seen before. This is my town, it's my business."

Skyflower sees that she isn't the only one out looking, though this is hardly a surprise. "Why good evening, everypony," she says to Ruby and Chaos as she sees them, "can I take it that this isn't a usual walk towards the woods in the evening?"

As ponies draw near, the column of light comes into better focus. It isn't too bright on its own- it just tends to stand out on its own merits. The sky, after all, is not a radiant lavender, especially as close as it is to the solstice, when even the afternoon sky is dim. The light fades in and out, brightening for a moment, then flickering dark, with no real discernable pattern.

And its source… is a small crack in the ground. This is located in the dirt just off to the side of one of the roads leading out of town, where the buildings are growing sparse. Concerned faces can be seen peering out from windows and doorways, wondering just what the hoof is up.

There is no immediately evident cause of the crack, no strange effects that are occurring. The phenomenon appears to be benign. But as one draws near, the magically sensitive can feel the energy of that underground vein. It's the same one that throbbed earlier like a raw nerve. One line leads back towards town, as expected, but the other out and further to the northeast, roughly parallel with a road that runs along the valley between two low hills.

Hearing some distant conversation, Nocturne jolts up, and runs desperately to the source. Trotting along the path, he finally stops at the group before him, panting heavily. "Rising," he begings, but pauses once more to catch his breath. "Rising… Chaos, is it?" He stops and acknowledges the group with a brief nod before turning back to Rising. "Listen, would you know /anything/ about what's going on here?" He looks back at the source for a moment. He carries on, with apparent desperation in his voice. "I'm sorry, I just like to know what I'm getting into. This situation has really been bothering me."
Not being bogged down by such things as wagons and friends, Quintessent-Spark made good time. Good enough, in fact, that when Chaos' group arrive they can hear her voice up ahead, nearby the rift. "It's what?" A pause. "Admitedly, while your observations are interesting, they don't tell me much that I can't deduce myself, Servant. Does your arcane mind have some -other- insights?"

Ruby glances to the approaching Nocturne and begins to wave - stopping midway as he rambles off to Rising. She glances away then back to Nocturne "Hi to you too Nocturne!" accomponied by a big ol smile.
Muzaji feigns a shocked expression. "Me? At some pony's expense? To think that one must be tense." … even if it's pretty much accurate. Mostly. Muzaji does have a line or two that she doesn't consider crossing, but those come up few and far between. But after that she gives a polite tip of her head to Ruby as well. "And a good eve to you as well, miss. And there it is, look at this." As the glowing pillar and it's cracked source in the ground starts to come into view.

Rising-Chaos seems to be acquiring a party, 'great'. She sighs at Skyflower's arrival. "Take a wild guess. I'm going to figure out what that," she points at the pillar of light,"is, join us if you like." Once they get closer, Nocturne joins as well. "Yes, yes, hello. Yes my name is Rising chaos. No I don't have a clue, but I intend to find out. Join up if you like, just don't slow me down."

Soon Chaos and Company reach the site of the pillar of light. Chaos nods to Quintessent Rune, fully expecting the haughty mare to ignore her. "So this is it? Fascinating." The sheer light of it, not to mention magical power is outstanding. It shines brightly to Chaos, making her avert her eyes. She gets a couple books out and sets down some arcane instrument. "Let's see what this is."

Skyflower nods to Chaos. Her horn's all tingly right now, which tends to happen in strong standing magic auras. "Well whatever it is it would appear to be enough to break the ground. That's rather a poor sign, isn't it?"

As he stands before the crack, even Nocturne's miniscule magical perception makes him aware of the magnificence of the power inside it. "I see…" he replies, though he is barely concerned with conversation any more. Standing closer to the crack, he stares in awe.

"Yet it didn't do any damage in town." Muzaji chimes in. "Prehaps proximity matters. But we're not going to find out much standing 'round." Maybe it's a good thing she's not as 'sensative' as the unicorns are, as the zebra doesn't show much problem with wandering closer to the crack to take a look for herself.

The crack isn't big- no more than a few inches wide. It's hard for more than one pony to gather around it and peer downward in those moments when the light fades out enough for one not to be blinded by the look. Those moments aren't hard to wait for, for while the column of light continues to flicker in and out, the general trend is one towards darkness, as if the effect is gradually calming.

On looking inside, Nocturne, and anybody else take a look, can see something wedged in the earth about two feet downward, something with a metallic gleam.

Below, the subterranean vein of energy continues to pulse along the same course.

"Indeed, the amount of thaumic energy here is well above conventional levels," said Quintessent-Rune, turning only slightly to give Chaos and her company a slight nod, "by several orders of magnitude. At least, that is what Servant have told me."

Skyflower tilts her head, smiling perhaps a trifle bashfully. "Well, I can see that I'm in the company of experts on the subject. I'll just watch for the moment, shall I?"

Shiny senses tingling! Like it's all that hard to miss if you wait for the right time to look. Is something buried down there? Or did the magic pulses uncover a valuable ore? Such potentials. For profit, that is. "Did you see? That sparkle, that shine." Muzaji crouchs down closer to the edge of the crack, squinting one eye and peering with the other to try and see what it actually is down there. "Something the dirt and rock do entwine."

Rising-Chaos moves around her intrument, now in research mode. "Well, it's strong enough magic to make a beacon of light that shoots into the sky through solid rock, I think that could qualify as 'worrying' yes." She sets the instrument spinning round in circles. Chaos herself moves over to the crack, waiting for her turn to look. Even being in it's presence is painful. "Yes, it's a lot of magic, I think that's been established," she snarks. Why won't ponies just let her work? Still, brainstorming solves all problems. She looks down in the crack, missing the metallic object entirely. She gets up, disappointed. Chaos returns to her instrument, slightly disappointed. "I'm sure we'll have a use for you Skyflower,

Ruby-Blossom huffs adorably "Why is everypony dancing around this?" so says the magic abhoring pony who very suddenly james a stick into the crack "Just pry this sucker up, and we can all take look!" Fearless or foolish? Perhaps somepony has been hanging out with Winny too long?

Quintessent-Rune took a step back. Several, in fact. All the ponies crowding up made her worried. At least till the promise of something possibly valuable being to find in the hole. That very moment she's back, peering into it. "Do try, yes," she said to Ruby.

Nocturne nods at Ruby's remark. While it's against his interests to tamper with the object, he trusts everypony else's judgement better than his own. "Let's at least be careful," he chimes in, only to state the obvious. "Just so long as we have no idea what it is." He takes a few steps back, hoping not to be a distraction to the more invested ponies. Still, the level of magic before him fascinates him. "I've just never felt this much magic before."

The light flickers once more, then fades completely. Though the magic presence remains, there is no visible sign of it any longer.

Within the crack in the earth, the metal object remains. It offers no suggestions on how to proceed.

Muzaji tsks slightly as Ruby resorts to using a stick to try and pry the crack open. "That will never do. Need a better way to get through." Ruffling beneath her cloak and whatever pockets are hidden without, the zebra eventually produces a small pick-hammer, more like the sort archeologists use to chip rock gently away from buried treasure… well there, now you know why she has it. She grips it in her mouth and tries to carefully widen the crack a bit.

Also, the submerged object offers no response to getting poked with a stick, other than going *donk* like something metal.

Rising-Chaos turns to her instrument, which is behaving as expected. The thing is a metal tripod with a magically charge ball hanging from the apex. the ball whirls around and around. Eventually, stopping pointing straight out in the direction of the foothills. An almost manic grin spreads on Chaos' face. "Well well, isn't that something." She now has something to work on, she knows where the magic is coming from. She turns around to see the others gathered around the hole, they seemingly found something. She sighs, the ponies here, sometimes they just don't understand. Still, there might be some use to be had from whatever they dig up. She positions herself near the edge of the group. She'll be claiming anything that comes out of that hole, just in case.

The hole widens easy enough; the earth is fairly soft and yields readily to being picked at. Of course, the object inside doesn't shoot out like a can of snakes or something- it looks like someone will still have to pull it out, if they so fancy. But at least Muzaji is making it easier to do so.

Ruby harumphs cutely as her stick is pushes aside in favor of the small pick axe; at least it doesn't prevent Ruby from planting herself on the otherside of the small hole to curiously watch and wait. "I know who to call next time I need a shrub planted." she jests.

Quintessent-Rune backed away after a few moments of peering into the hole. While interesting, there -was- a crowd of ponies. Turning slightly she eyed Rising-Chaos, nodding slightly for herself. That was the obvious way to deal with it, letting the land-ponies dig around in the dirt and then swoop in. She approved.

Muzaji diligently widens the crack to get at the buried wonder below. Almost makes one wonder what sort of activities this zebra gets into when she's not at her shop… or maybe not wonder at all, considering what sorts populate this town in the first place. Finally she steps back and stands up. "To get it out will still be a feat. But at least now, the opening is much more neat."

Nocturne moves forward and next to Ruby in order to take a peak at what Muzaji is making revealed. He gives a relieved sigh upon acknowledging that the light is just about gone - This may not be as dangerous as it seems. It's just an anomoly! After being inside for a few years, who knows what kind of strange happenings can go on?

Of course, the only way he's able to share this insight is less than expected, as he rears his head back in laughter. Gathering his senses, he looks around the group. "Group effort, perhaps?" He asks with a much more loosened up disposition.

Rising-Chaos moves back, packing up her instruments, they'll have the thing out of there in a moment. She catches Quintessent Rune giving her a look and moves over. "And what brings you out here miss rune, you didn't seem very interested in anything earlier." She nods towards the east, the foothills. "If you intend to continue, perhaps you should join us. who knows what's out there, and that's where I'm going." She grins. "I did tell you we could become acquaintances."

The object remains in the hole. It's still just a few inches wide and it's still about to feet down and the dirt around the hole is still loose.

The vein of magic continues to throb underground, unaltered in the course it draws, leading in one direction to the center of town, in the other to the northeast.

Muzaji nods a bit, shifting her position to one end of the crack and squatting down to reach in with her forehooves to try and get a grip on the metallic object. "You would seem to be right, this may take more than one might." Someone is actually going to try and help her, right?

The Zebra's hoof bumps the edge of the object, and it shifts slightly. It isn't wedged in there very firmly. It is not unreasonable to assume that, with a grip, you could just pull it out.

Quintessent-Rune frowned ever so slightly at Rising-Chaos, shuffling away to adjust her personal space ever so slightly wider. "It depends on what there is to interest. Magic of this calliber is of interest, obviously, as is proven by your pressence and that of… these…" a sweeping gesture of her hoof encompased the rest of the group. "I found myself woundering if it could be harneshed in form, but not so much now. I'm not entirely convinced this is a natural occurance any longer… As for associat-."

Rune frowned and glanced down at her scarf for a moment, the burst of magic comming from it washed away in the intense energies of the object. She frowned. "But I do not…" A brief pause. "Fine. The Servant does have a point, I supose that for the time being, we will join your expedition."
Rumble-Riot has disconnected.

With everypony distracted by the contents of the hole - it's no surprise that Ruby has managed to slip away to study something a tad more interesting. The mare's voice piping up from behind Rune. "These -what-?" she accusingly asks the other mare; clearly somepony has an issue with the haughty new-comer. "Go on, and say it."

Nocturne watches as the zebra tries to lift the object, and gives her a brief nod as he begins to try lifting it with his magic. He gives it a very slow nudge, at first, but his concentration is thrown off at Ruby's outburst, presumably prompting him to send much more force.

… And it looks like the other pony got distracted. Oh well, Muzaji is no stranger to having to wrench things out of the ground by herself. Only it's not by herself as one of the unicorns help. The combination of magic and might is enough to pull it free?!

Until the outburst throws Nocturne's focus off, faster than Muzaji realizes. Whatever the object is likely dropped back to the ground… on the zebra's own hoof by the way she abruptly hops away snorting and hissing and trying to keep from outright yelling.

Quintessent-Rune blinked and flinched away from Ruby. "I…" She paused, head cocking to the side as she thought - or listened. "Nothing worth wasting time arguing over. How about you help with extracting the… Or well, not. How about you lend a hoof to our zebra companion, while we investigate the object and decide what to do about the other nodes of power."

It's not a request by the sound of it, and from the way Rune's muzzle is tilted ever so slightly upwards.

Rising-Chaos nods to the mare. "At least your servant has some spirit." She moves away back to her wagon. Chaos finishes packing her things away, it's time to go. "If you guys are fine with this, I think I'll be continuing. Shiny things in the ground are nice and all, but I'm looking for what caused this. And whatever caused this, is that way." Chaos points off to the hill in the northeast. She starts moving, calling back over her shoulder. "Join me if you like."

The object is lifted, by hoof and by magic! It's not very heavy at all, long and slender like a broom handle or some sort. The dirt of the chiseled hole loosens and sifts as the object is drawn upward, filling it in underneath, such that even if it was dropped it wouldn't go very far. And the object is revealed… to be a length of bright pink coral, about two and a half feet long. Its ends are protected by little can-shaped caps of metal- simple polished iron.

And when the object is removed, the underground vein of magic PULSES again. Immediately the course of it changes- it's as if it was severed at the point of the removed rod. The sensation of energy underground flares brightly, then fades uttterly.

Off in the distance to the northeast, towards the edge of the foothills, another column of light spills into the sky.

"I'm okay, no foul!" Muzaji blurts out at the suggestion to help her. "Just surprised me that's all." She calms down, shaking her hoof out behind her before trotting back over.

Sees that the object is some sort of coral.

This actually causes her to frown slightly. That it's -coral- that is.

"Tides shift again, but to what end?", the zebra murmurs mostly to herself as she goes to pick it up once more. "What are you thinking, what are you doing? Just what sort of scheme is it you're stewing?"

The zebra isn't the only pony that seems suprised of the coral rod, Quintessent-Rune leaning forward slightly to peer on it. "Is that coral? A shaft, by the looks of it. But for what? Though I am not familiar with coral implements of such particualr length and style…"

The newest pulse nearly knocks chaos off her hooves. She wasn't expecting that, the magic quieted down, no fair. Still, this works out well, since the new pillar of light splits the sky exactly where she was going. Chaos stops, turns around and raises an eyebrow. "Told you guys, come on. Let's go." She turns back and sets a brisk pace out of town, muttering to herself. "I did say not to slow me down."

For a mare like Ruby who dislikes socialite ponies, and their better than thou attitude - Rune is exactly what Ruby doesn't want to see or deal with. The corner of her mouth twitches angrily before softly replies. "Typically dogs do the fetching, so it should be right up your alley." her gaze shoots to Rising-Chaos. "I certainly hope this isn't one of your new friends Rising." Rune leaning over is opportunity enough for Ruby to give her a light nudge in attempt to send her toppling - repositioning herself instantly on the otherside of Rising.

Nocturne begins to inspect the device, but as Rising begins to trot off, he turns around and marches towards her. He turns back to the group to address everypony. "She's right. We don't have as many answers here." He trots a couples ponies' distance behind her.

Muzaji's gaze goes from the coral to Rune for a moment, briefly mouthing part of what the mare said silently to herself. This dame may be another one to keep an eye on for assorted reasons. But enough of that. Muzaji picks up the coral rod and tucks it in away before following after the others. "Deeper and deeper we go, but to what fanthoms noponies know.."

Quintessent-Rune eeps loudly, stumbling forward a step or two before turning about - golden eyes narrowing on Ruby-Blossom. "Did you ju-…" The midnight blue mare fell silent, her ears perking as she listened to something. "But she-! No, I don't care, I don't need them! They can go on their own fething ques-…" Silent. "Fine…"

With a sigh she fell in behind Rising, fuming.

Ruby may be glared out - but she's far enough along with Rising that she simply couldn't have been the culprit! Nope! The turquoise mare holding her chin high as she trots along side Rising. "Ugh. Magic. Why does it always have to be magic? I mean, can't anypony stir up trouble without it? I mean - I know it's possible; I do it all the time - but good trouble."

The road is clear, favoring the open plains and tamed farmlands that surround the harbor, such that even if it is infrequently traveled it's still in good shape. The same lavender light marks the next step along the way- flickering in and out, fading, then brightening once more. One imagines the glow of an ember in the bed of a campfire whose light waxes and wanes with the heat that fuels it. Soon its base can be seen to be in the midst of the sparse trees at the forest's edge; they thicken to the north and northwest, but not so much in the other direction, where the rough foothills of the White Saddle Mountains begin.

The underground vein of magic, though terminated at the edge of town where the coral rod was removed, can be sensed once more. Its new termination appears to be in the vicinity of the colum of light- and it's not hard to imagine there's a connection between the two. The rhyming, squabbling party approaches a scene where the road at last gives out, fading into the brushlands of the forest's edge, where the lavender light shoots upward from the midst of a thicket of prickly bushes, left bare by winter's coming of leaves and fruit- but not sharp and pokey thorns.

Rising-Chaos moves forward,m anypony who doesn't follow gets left behind. but it seems everypony has decided to tag along, excellent. "Magic isn't only trouble, and I would like to stop it being used for such." Ignoring the fact that she's planing to stir up trouble wiht magic. It's her trouble, it doesn't count. Chaos picks up the pace once more, eager to get to the next spot.

After a while, Chaos picks up the trail of magic again. It's throbbing, already she has a headache. She navigates carefully through the underbrush, worried she may have to leave the cart behind. She approaches the thicket cautiously, the last one was harmless, but you never know.

Ruby ooos loudly "Wow! This one is surrounded by all sorts of prickly, sharp barbs. I reccommend we use our dullest asset to retrieve it." she glances back at Rune who would have been out of earshot for her quip "It's your turn!"

Muzaji puts a hoof over her snout to keep from snickering too loudly at Ruby's not so subtle jab. "It would seem our trip has reached a," she turns to the other ponies with a pause for dramatic effect, during which there's a briefly audible glint off some of the thorns, "point."

Nocturne follows Rising at a distance, then moves off to the side carefully, afraid of getting involved with the conflict between Ruby and Rune. "I don't know about any of this," he mutters under his breath, but he is far too invested to turn back. With a sensation of defeat, he moves closer to Ruby and Rising. "Anything different here from the last one?" He asks, scuffing a hoof on the ground, hanging his head.

Little appears to be different with this second font of light- aside from the location, of course, and the unaccomdating thicket of thorns that cover it. Looking close enough reveals another hole in the ground, made distinct by dry and cracked earth, from which the light flickers and glows and, gradually, darkens. With the subterranean vein of energy noticable once more, the ongoing path can be felt once again, leading up and into the foothills, trending away from the forest to the northwest.

Rising-Chaos rolls her eyes, great. A budding rivalry is /exactly/ what she needed. It's almost like everypony wnats to slow her down. In a flash, her machete is drawn and she starts hacking at the thorns. "Or we could just remove the thorns?" She frowns, concentrating for a moment on the beam. Chaos puts the machete away, quite a few throns now gone. "No, it's the same, hold on a moment, you guys can inspect the crack, if there is one." She gets her instrument out again and sets it up, this time bringing out another one as well.

Quintessent-Rune frowned at Ruby. "I can't say I like what you are implying, I'm not dull-wited and I take offense at the insinuation that I am. An-…" Rune bit herself off, to prevent herself from rambling on and insulting Ruby further. It would be rather counter-intuitive to the strategy put forward by Servant after all, establishing a messure of respect would help her should she ever need anything.

Turning back to the matter at hand she nodded northwest. "I supose we could try to excavate this piece as well… or we could continue and see where the trail of crumbs lead us. The later might be prudent, the pieces can always be retrieved at a later date."
Ruby-Blossom bumps Nocturne and cheerfully chimes "Don't look so glum, chum." offering him a smile!

Ruby-Blossom quietly glares at Rune while being chummy with Nocturne. "Just grab the thing, and we can go. I mean - that is if we should even be grabbing them.

Muzaji says "Though it was pulling out the last piece that made this one appear"

The thorns yield readily to Rising's machete- the branches are dry and brittle, the plant evidently having been dead long before winter set in. Snicker-snack, the machete goes, clearing the thorns away with little difficulty.

Nocturne fails to suppress a sympathetic smile, and gives a light chuckle. "Thanks. I mean, I really want to help," he says, turning to see Rising using her instrument. "I just don't feel very useful at the moment." Upon hearing Muzaji's point, he adds, "And yeah, we're not done yet."

Rising-Chaos usues her device, which is soon whirling around again. It seems some things aren't quite understood by the ponies. At least, Chaos feels like /her/ priorities are superior to /theirs/. "From what I can tell, the nodes of magic pulse for a while, then die down. This one was here before you pulled that out, it just wasn't… Active, I guess." She frowns, tinkering with the second device, which is some sort of puzzle cube. "Whatever you guys did seems to kill the node, which I would quite like to do if we can. We do need to hurry though, if this is pony made I don't want them just shutting everything down."

Quintessent-Rune sighed for herself. "You are not the only one, stallion. You're blessed, however, not to have a mare trying to make things more difficult than they need be at your back."

Muzaji half-squints lavander eyes at Chaos, even she's getting a bit lost in all that brainiac babble there. "… Does that mean you want to dig it up, or not dig it up?"

Ruby-Blossom pushes away from Nocturne to quietly trot in a small half-circle around the group. "Celestia forbid anything clash with your sense of entitlement." a mock bow given. "Allow me to make this easier for you." the mare trotting off a seemingly random direction and dissapearing into the thicket without another word.

Rising-Chaos waves a hoof idly. "Yes, pleas do, dig it up." She keeps messing with the little box, beckoning Nocturne closer. "Nocturne, if you could, come here for a moment." By now the tripod device is slowing down, spinning much more slowly.

The column of light has since faded to nothing. The subterranean vein of magic lingers, charting the same course to the northeast, dead to the southwest. The winter afternoon grows steadily murkier, the skies glum and overcast; back in the direction of town, the lights are starting to stand out a bit more clearly, warm and welcoming even from this distance.

Nocturne glances at Rune. "I suppose you've been just as blessed." His ears perk up as he overhears his name "Hm?" He trots next to Rising, briefly examining the crack. "Yeah, uh, what's up?"

Muzaji rolls her eyes, murmurs something about unicorns not always being clear yet complain about zebra-talk, and goes to pry out the second spot with her pick-hammer once more

The dry earth crumbles under the point of the pickaxe. With the dimming of the light, it's harder to see if there's something in there, but soon enough it becomes clear that there is another, similar object thrust into the hole in the ground, a gleam of briefly visible in the dirt.

The device has finally stopped, firmly pointing further to the northeast. Rising Chaos grins, things are working out well. Nocturne trots over just as she seems to figure out the cube. "This, is a portable version of that." She points at the tripod. "It will help us follow the magical signal, I want you to hold it and take point. Can you do that for me?" Her tone doesn't make it sound like a question. She wanders over to Muzaji, leaving the cube with Nocturne. "Need any help?"

Quintessent-Rune huffed loudly for herself. Ungrateful wretch! She stared after Ruby for a moment before sighing, whatever for she had been antagonized over by the ruby-eyed mare she had no idea. But apperently there was something, and that left a sour taste to the thrill of exploring. Not that there had been much to explore, just more samey and boring over-land things as far as the eye could see. And more frozen water from the sky.

And, she lamented silently, her hooves were getting cold now. The getup that Chaos was sporting did seem almost appealing for the warmth, whatever this place was… she wasn't truly ready for it. With that in mind she turned about, silently slinking back of to town.
Quintessent-Rune has disconnected.

As the object is placed before him, Nocturne stammers for a moment. "Um, uh- yeah!" He picks the object up and levitates it in front of him. "How will I know where to go, though?"
By the time Chaos is trotting over Muzaji has already extracted the coral device and is tucking it away with the first one. "No, I got it okay. We should continue on your way."

The cube splits open, shining a light towards the east, hopefully answering /that/ question. Chaos herself hadn't seen the rods before, so she intrigued. "May I have one of those, to look at?" she moves back to her cart, hitching herself up. "To the east, let's go. I don't want to be in this forest after dark."

The second coral rod is much like the first- though this one is a bright green, its ends a copper color. Once more, upon its removal, the underground vein of magical energy THROBS with a sudden, powerful surge, then winks out, like a light bulb surging and dying.

This time, there is no column of light highlighting the next goal… but there is more subterranean energy. It pulses within the mountains themselves, in a direction to the northeast. The Unicorns can sense it- and even Muzaji can get a feel for it. The raw nerves of the earth itself, aching and sore.

The waiting terrain is rough, but not too much for a capable body to climb. Rising's cart might be quite a burden, however, for there are no roads, only sloping, rocky terrain interspersed with trees and shrubs.

Nocturne recoils as the light flashes. "Oh…" He trots in front of Rising, and hesitates for a moment. "OK. Let's go." He trots onward, carrying the cube in front of him, walking as the light guides him. Stopping again before the rocky terrain, he looks back. "I don't know about that cart, but… seems to be the only way to go from here." He gestures at the device. "Just don't blame me."

Muzaji pauses in tucking the rod away. Then shrugs, pulls it back out and passes it to Chaos. "Sure, more than one is enough to go around." Then pauses, expression clouding over briefly. Even her vage senses felt -that- surge quite plainly. Curiosity perked once more, she's quick to follow along. "Not much a path to be found, you may have to leave that cart on lower ground."

The pulse HURTS. Rising Chaos sinks to one knee when the wave of pain hits her. She gets back after the worse passes. She takes the coral rod, now scowling. She trots after Nocturne, her appointed guide. The rocky terrain makes her growl. "Perfect, there is no way I'll be able to take my cart up there." She unhitches herself, taking only a few key instruments and books in her already laden saddlebags. "Let's go." Once they are under way again, she motions Muzaji to come over.

Nocturne grimaces as Rising leaves her cart behind, but presses onward. After his hooves slip a few times from the imbalance of the terrain, he takes more cautious steps. He turns back and watches as Rising struggles with her saddlebags, then glances at his own back, bare aside from the jacket he's wearing. "Hey, uh… do you want some help with those?"

Mercifully, the path ahead- or lack of one- does not grow more cluttered. The mountains loom above, however. One must wonder how far this path may lead. The White Saddles stretch from the northwest, beyond the dark mass of the Wintersong Woods to the west, then curl around before the party to the northeast and continue south, outlining the semi-sheltered region in whose heart the Harbor rests. One particular spur of the mountains breaks away from the main chain and proceeds down towards the party- such that the rise they follow leads upward towards them.

A good fifteen or twenty minuts of upward climbing ensues, with the underground energies beckoning further, and no indiciation given of where they lead. The climbing elevation affords a better view of the land below, the farmlands spreading out, the town in the distance, brighter by the moment as evening encroaches. It's cold out, definitely wintery; there's no snow, but the air is crisp as if primed to take it.

Suddenly, there's a brief flicker of light up ahead- the same arcane purple of the intense columns from before. A hundred feet upward, the rising hill reaches a wooded plateau, and it is from here the glow emanates briefly before dying out.

"Just allow me to see to its safety." Muzaji pulls out an oddly shaped device, sticks it in the space where a pony would be strapped in to pull the cart, and extends it with a twist to lock the two pronged ends against the struts. Another twist and whatever internal lock clicks into place. "No pony will take it now, and we continue our little journey amongst the rocks." The zebra turns to follow the others, grinning at Chaos as she trots along.

Rising-Chaos moves upwards, the saddlebags are heavy. She gives Nocturne a thankful smile as she passes him several thick books, wiht arcane and strange titles. She gives the coral rod a cursory examination. It's nothing, completely ordinary. She nods to Muzaji. "Thanks, I like that cart. But listen, I can't help but notice that nothing here seems to be surprising you. I've been meaning to have a little chat wiht you ever since I foudn that first elemental. I think now's the time for that." She gives Muzaji a very pointed look as the get to the wooded plateau.

Nocturne nods as he accepts the books, giving them a quick and curious glance, before putting them away. He remains ahead of the rest of the group, but gets a little closer as his curiousity begs him to learn what's going on. "And I think you can trust both of us." Giving Muzaji a confident grin, he goes on. "I'm barely any sort of magic-user. As far as I know, I have little to gain here. I just want to know what's going on here.
"
Despite the pointed glare as the arrive on the plateau Muzaji maintains her usual charming smile. Granted Chaos already knows well enough the zebra is not all slick and clean as she publicly portrays herself, but it's as much a force of habit as anything else. "I'm a trader and traveller, I've seen much of things in my time. But some old habits and curiosities never die."

Rising-Chaos rolls her eyes. "Yeah, I bet. Listen, I heard you recite a certain ryhme when I foudnt hat elementla, somehting about tides. I wnat it explained." She increases her pace, getting closer to where the light was. "Otherwise, I'll be forced to assume you're hiding information from me, which I see as betrayal." The magic is easy enough to follow wihtout using the instrument, but the lack of light is worrying Chaos.

'Plateau' is a generous term for what is just a broad stretch of flattened ground on which several trees grow. It isn't particularly majestic, and this low in the mountains doesn't afford more than a pleasant view of the town below. But it's wide, and smooth, covered with scrubby grasses and stretches of stone. It might be a welcome spot for a rest- but it's already occupied.

Spindrift stands at the center, very much the same as she was when Rising saw her last, there at the portal between worlds. She is considerably less finny than the last time Muzaji saw her. And Nocturne… has never seen her. The seapony, tall and lanky, has a new cloak- Thunnini has the old one- one of a dull black, its edges ragged. Across her back, a long, thin object of black velvet is strapped. She has her back turned to the party, but turns to face them as they surmount the ridge of the plateau.

So, too, does a presence at her side shift to watch them. It's a swirling mass of dust and snow- an elemental much like the ones that have been plagueing the town as of late. This one is immediately recogniable as different, though; there's a hard edge to its whirling, cloud-like profile, the suggestion of clawed limbs reaching down from the sides. And its eyes… while the elementals in town have bright, white, starlight eyes, this one's eyes are inky pools of depthless black.

The seapony regards the three arrivals calmly, looking from one to the other. Two she recognizes very well- the third is unfamiliar. Spindrift stares at Nocturne for a moment before turning towards the zebra. "Indeed, Muzaji. How much have you shared with Rising Chaos? Or for your friend, for that matter- does he know what you two are getting him into?" She turns, briefly, to regard the elemental at her side. "Continue."

The creature stares at the party for a moment longer, then turns away from them. It surges towards the ground, pounding it with its fists; as it connects, there's a bright flash of lavender light, and a brief surge of the lingering energy underfoot, the same energy the party followed from town to this point.

Nocturne stands in horror at the sight of the creature, as well as the mysterious seapony. Remaining still as she observes him, he is clearly in shock. All sense of understanding and comfort in this situation has been severed. He turns to the two behind him. "What is she talking about!?" He hurls the cube in Rising's direction, as to have it stop before her. "/What/ are you getting me into? Do you know this mare?!" As he is turned back, he takes the opportunity to open up the pocket on his jacket - but he doesn't remove anything just yet. He takes one look back at the two mysterious figures behind him, but quickly turns back. "I want answers."

Despite the sharp tone of the inquiry her smile remains.. abiet her over all ambience does turn a bit less cheery. One coulde say a bit of the darker side of the zebra's nature starts to show through a bit if they wanted. "I was starting to wonder if any pony would even catch on," the zebra replies, her tone still retaining some of its gregariousness despite the conversation getting a bit more seriously. "If you can connect those dots between the lines, you can probably imagine why I simply do not say out loud… certain things. As for an answer."

But whatever the zebra was going to say is lost in the moment as they surmount the threshold onto the plateau, and to a very interesting sight.

Though instead of being tremendously shocked at whom they see, Muzaji turns her head back to Chaos ago. "I think you just got a visual aid, instead."

Rising-Chaos stops her line of questioning, it suddenly becoming redundant. Up ahead is the one pony in town who makes her angry like no other. A low growls escapes Chaos' mouth as she stride forward wiht a measures pace. "Apparenlty I've brought him to watch your final moments Spindrift. Somehow it doesn't surprise me to see you as the cause fo all this." The elemtnal rears up from behind Spindrift and smashes the ground. Chaos is beyond initmidation right now, and seemingly ignores it. "I did tell you, remember? that if you messed wiht my friends I would destroy you? I keep my promises." Chaos has yet to pull a weapon, but she's tensed for action.

Nocturne nods at Rising's bold words. "So I see…" He trots back to Rising and whispers very quietly. "I'm sorry, but trust isn't coming easy right now, and I'm sure you see why." He closes his eyes and shudders, continuing to whisper. "I'll help you… but so help me Celestia, this all better stop when she's dead."

Spindrift's gaze locks onto Rising as she approaches, eyes widening slightly, but the seapony holds her ground. "Have I -messed with- your friends?" she asks. She looks to Nocturne next, lifting her head slightly. "Let me at least hear my crimes before I am to be executed for them."

Beside her, the Elemental with the black eyes continues to work. It doesn't seem to be trying to intimidate anybody- rather, it's worrying over a little hole in the ground that should perhaps look familiar to the party by now. Reaching down with one clawed hand- solid ice gives it an edge the clouds and snow that make up its body never could- and digs a little. Then, balling its fists once more, it drives them down, hammering at the hole again, driving something further down in.

Muzaji lets out a soft sigh. Despite how far ahead she saw the clues, she wasn't expecting it to climax in quite this way. Though she remains aptly casual even as her two companions tense up, despite the strange turn of events. It's hard to tell if the zebra isn't scared, or just really good at keeping it under all the other layers she bears.

"~So the tide of despair has indeed rolled in
Bearing a wanderer on vengeful whim
But the question does still remain
Just what from this game is to gain.~"

Rising-Chaos sneers as she strides forwards. The worst part about Spindrift is how she's always so /cool/ about everything. Chaos brushes paast Nocturne. "Help or not, I don't care. If you're scared, run back to town," she hisses, shwoing her true colours at last. Bringign her glare back Spindrift's way. "This thing," she nods towards the elemental. "Implicates you with the elementals appearing all over town, they've been causing damage. So much so that I was supposedly recruited to a group just to fight them." She keeps growling and moves forward. "But in the end Spindrift, this isn't about a promise. What are you doing here, and why did you come back?" Unfortunately, hatred and bravado can only get you so far. Chaos starts to shiver as she steps closer to Spindirft. The mare obviously terrifies her, though she doesn't back down.

Nocturne continues to shudder as Rising's words echo in his head. There is certainly a chance of doom if he runs, and now that he has evidence that this seapony is a threat, as well as the cause of several dangerous encounters of his, he realizes that it's in his best interest to stand and fight. Stamping his foot at the ground, he roars in the direction of Rising and Spindrift. "I'm not scared," he scowls. "I'm so bucking /sick/ of being scared." He is still shaking, but this time out of sheer anger, as the perceived risk of death has caused many of his repressed memories to flash before his eyes.

Spindrift is quite cool, and alert, looking back from Nocturne to Rising, fixing the unicorn with a hard-edged stare. As Rising draws closer, she can get a better view of the tall seapony. Her mane is long and black, but a bit frizzy. She has split ends. There are faint circles under her eyes and a slight gauntnss to her cheeks. She doesn't look as healthy as she once did.

But, like Rising, she's standing her ground. Her tall ears turn, listening to Muzaji's song, then Rising's questions. She offers no immediate reply, instead looking away, past them, towards the lights of the town in the distance. "When was the last time Horseshoe Harbor nearly consumed itself? Six months? Less? It's hard to tell. It happens rather regularly. Do you really think these… things-" She gestures with a forehoof to the elemental beside her. "- are really doing anything that the citizenry itself isn't prepared to do?" Her gaze snaps to Rising, eyes narrowed. "That it will continue to do until its clumsy hoof is forcibly stayed?" She watches the unicorn for a moment, before looking to Nocturne. "… and stay your anger. I'm not going to hurt you unless you insist that's what this comes to." Again, she lifts a forehoof and gestures, this time towards the town. "What ALL of this comes to."

Rising-Chaos laughs, she actually /laughs/. Though the laughter cuts off abruptly. "So that's all this is? That's it? That's your master plan?" She chuckles grimly. the shaking stopped. "You idiot! You honestly think you know better, and are better, than every pony in that town?" She gestures back at Horseshoe Harbour. What Spindrift said bothers Rising Chaos, it offends her.

The more cheerful aspects of Muzaji's aire do finally trickle off, leaving a more solemn, abiet still casual demeanor. Though maybe even a faint hint of concern in her eyes as she notes just how much of a worn, usually disheveled state Spindrift appears to be in. A faint frown tugs at the corners of her mouth, looking to the elemental for a moment, then to the other two ponies, specifically Chaos. "Prehaps now you see why I was obstuse. The hints and rhymes were not a ruse. But another panic was not needed, blind pursuit would be unheeded. She would return on a revengeful vow; but the actual plan unknown… until now."

Surprisingly, a more cocky side of Nocturne is seen, as he has stopped shaking, but is still clearly livid. "Oho, no, no, no." He almost grins as he glares at Spindrift, eye-to-eye. "It's /your/ choice right now. You can either tell us…" A glow occurs in his pocket, invisible to the naked eye, but traceable to one with enough perception. "Or /we/ will hurt /you/." At the moment, his breathing has hastened, like an anxiety attack, but he is standing his ground; yet in his own mind, his thoughts still race and battle, both regretting the decision to even come, and embracing the decision to fight.

Rising-Chaos keeps chuckling. "Oh, I hardly think this is going to be a fight." She throws the coral rod off in the distance. "She's nothing, pathetic. No need for all the doom and gloom." She laughter falls away to a look of angry disappointment. she stares Spindrift down and covers the remaining distance. "You know Spindrift, I was really afraid of you once. You had so much more power than I could ever dream of." How she admitted that, she will never say. "But this? this is beneath me, even. Get out of my sight, and I won't even bother to remember you came back." She gets close and lowers her voice so only Spindrift can hear. "I suggest you don't even attempt to stay," she growls.

The elemental pounds the hole in the ground once more, then leans in, peering downward into it. The unicorns can feel that well of energy down below pulse, then a sudden *snap* as it aligns with a single, radiant course leading further up into the mountains. It's like the veins felt before, concentrated and direct, a live wire below the ground. It terminates at this latest hole, though. Probably because some meddling ponies disrupted the previous nodes.

Spindrift listens to the accusations and rhymes once more, then slowly shakes her head. She meets Rising's gaze as the unicorn draws close, holding her ground. Beside her, the elemental rumbles, turning towards Rising- it's only tall enough to reach the unicorn's withers, but it still has considerable presence. Spindrift reaches out, though, laying a forehoof across the front of the creature, and regards Rising tiredly. "Maybe, Rising Chaos, when this is all over, I'll let you have what you want." She pauses, briefly, but lets her expression harden a moment later. "But not until I am finished. Not until you all cease holding on to your sinking ship."

At last she draws back, whirling away from the unicorn, tattered black cloak tossed with the movement. "I'm not going to make threats and I'm not going to monologue further. I am certainly not going to detail my -plan- for the sake of your curiousity. I am going to tell you what I told Muzaji weeks ago: Nobody needs to get hurt that is not welcoming it. Surrender your gritty little bastion on the borders of a world that does not want you, and this becomes easier for everybody. And you-" She points towards Nocturne. "-You- are far too violent for a pony with a talent for song. The pirates are rubbing off on you. See to it that does not continue and nurture your talents instead."

Muzaji does cast one last warning in Chaos' direction. "Do not underestimate her just because she has not her counterpart. All we've seen are the first washes of a much deeper undertow." She really likes using those ocean metaphors when it comes to the seapony doesn't she? "Though it's questionable just whom is drowning in this dark tide of dispair. The Harbor is not her target. It's… in her way." The zebra frowns, at a bit of odds with herself. This is really one of those things she shouldn't care about, but at the same time, even she isn't so… detached from things.

Normally, being blown off hurts. Normally, it makes rising Chaos mad. Tonight, it makes her smile. "You don't get ti Spindrift. I am going to stop you." She lays her hoof on the elemntal. Chaos closes her eyes and mentally dives into the thing. It's a magical construct, so she can influence it. The scope of it is beyind her, incredibly so. So she does what she does best.

Chaos messes up.

She systematically goes through, and changes every aspect of the elemental in every way she can. She changes everything, pumping magic where it shouldn't be and messing with the thing every way she knows how. the best part of knowing so much about a topic, is leanring what not to do. So Chaos is breaking every rule in the book. Unfortunately, it's very draining, if this doesn't work, there is no second try.

Nocturne snaps at Spindrift's perceivedly arrogant assumption. "Don't you /dare/ tell me how to act." He glances over at the town. "I've shut out a whole three years of my life because I didn't trust the outside world. Now that the outside world has turned against me, I have you to blame." He trots over to stand next to Chaos, feeling that she is exerting herself heavily.

And he laughs. Nocturne breaks into a hysterical laughter, shaking as tears stream down his eyes. The entire time, he was scared to death of having to fight, and as Rising penetrated the Golem's magic, he knew that Spindrift's deal has been broken, and he must now fight against his own will to hesitate or run. Still lividly glaring at Spindrift, the object in his pocket finally comes into view. A small, serraded hunting knife levitates before him. The handle looks old and worn, and some rust is present on the blade, but it appears to have been recently sharpened, as what little light is around glimmers off of it. His body tenses, and he gets into a stance that is ready to run.
.
The elemental's black eyes widen as it senses the magical intrusion, and it rears back, clearly alarmed. The stormy body of it churns and warps, losing definition; its frozen ice claws are drawn inward as its arms lose form and are swept up to bounce around on the inside of it in the same way these creatures draw in all manner of debris. Falling back, it scatters along the ground, twisting about, flowing through the grass and shrubs like a breeze, evidently trying to flee Rising's attempts to disrupt its corporeal form.

Spindrift whirls to face it, eyes wide as she watches, clearly surprised. She then glares at Rising, and turns away. Reaching up with a forehoof, she unslings that slender object from her back and begins unwrapping it. "You two ought to listen more to the zebra… but then, they have always been far better company than unicorns," says the seapony, in a tone of exasperation.

She then brandishes the revealed weapon. It's a spear, about four feet long, crafted of some sort of silvery metal. It has the shape of something melted and twisted into an elongated screw, streaks of deepest black worked into the metal alongside the gleaming silver- and the very sight of it brings pain to the eyes. Like the magical signature of the elementals, like the strange spirals in town, something about it feels wrong, otherworldly- hostile to everything around it. Even Spindrift winces as she touches the bare metal, clutching it between her hooves.

She then drives its tip downward, plunging it into the ground. "Stand back," she commands, glancing up at the others- particularly Nocturne. "I am leaving, and you cannot stop me. To try is to invite discomfort you would be better off without on your journey home." At her hooves, a line is beginning to form in the earth- stretching out from the downward-thrust point of the spear, curling along, around and around, beginning to draw a spiral. The earth itself grinds away in a lengthening channel, forming loop after successive loop, wider with each pass.

Nearby, the elemental with the dark eyes recollects itself at the far end of the plateau. Its form bubbles and warps, but though it clearly has trouble maintaining shape, it hasn't been destroyed utterly. If anything, it looks… larger. Larger, and not sure how to handle the constantly shifting bulk of its cloud-like body. The creature starts dragging back towards Spindrift, black eyes full of fear as they watch Rising.

Rising-Chaos opens her eyes, it worked. Perhaps not as well as she had hoped, but it worked. she looks voer and sees Nocturne. She groans. "You fool, you just got us both killed." She sighs, too late to go back now. She was hoping she could kill the elemental, make spindrift reconsider, but it looks like it's fight time. Chaos is going to die tonight.

From her saddlebags floats her machete once more, an unremarkable blade. But after it follows a new weapon, sleek, fast, beautiful. Limit Edge, Chaos' new sword is going to get it's trial by fire. It's bearer doesn't look enthusiastic or even confident as she takes a step forward. "No, not unless you never come back. And not unless you leave the Harbour alone. I am not leaving until that happens." She puts the two blades in a ready stance. "Because you see Spindrift. As much as I hate Horseshoe Habour. As much as I despise the ponies in it for being weak, greedy, and stupid. As much as I distrust nearly every single resident. As much as I am willing to betray them. They still deserve better than you." She starts shaking again, she's like an ant in front of Spindrift. "Just try and stop me." Melodrama over, she starts walking forward, doing her best to stop looking afraid.

She really intended to go through with it, didn't she? If dispair and desperation was a pit of madness for ponies, was it a whirlpool for the ones of the sea? But now was not a time for metaphors.

The spear, oh gods, the spear. Even Muzaji withdraws from the sight of that, from the inherent wrongness in it, much the same as the unicorns had reacted to the surges of magic earlier. There was just something painful, something fundamentally.. disturbed in its presence.

"Anger and sorrow yearn, elements in madness churn." Muzaji backs the hay away from the growing spiral. "To stab the darkness of no day; for what the Nightmare took away." But otherwise there was little she could do at the moment, this was a fair stretch beyond what amount of magic she was familiar with. Seapony magic was different from unicorn magic, much the same as zebra 'magic' was.

"It's a bit hard to threaten her over something she really does not care about," she finally just says normally, because as apt as they may be, the rhymes were getting lost in the tension.

"Now's not the time for blame," Nocturne adds, though easier said than done. Guilt begins to envelop his mind for, as far he knows right now, putting his comrades in danger. It's all too late now, of course, and while an escape seems promising, he wouldn't live down provoking battle only to run. Besides, Chaos' wrath is only slightly below Spindrift's in his fears at the moment.

And so, he trots alongside her, keeping some space between them for her to maneuver. His fears are still constantly screaming in his head, but they only push his rational thought farther in side. Right now, he looks as though he's starving for a fight. He glances at the spear, which with his limited magical perception, sends emotions of fear into his mind; but with the anger still present in him, those quickly turn into disgust, as he continues gazing at it, with an expression that would read "Get that thing out of my face!"

Rising-Chaos can't help but shiver as she gets closer to the spear. Why is she getting closer to that thing again? Oh right, Spindrift. She halts for a moment, turning to Nocturne. "Listen, you shoudl get back and protect Muzaji, or something. This isn't your fight. Get back to town, warn ponies, something. This mare isn't going to bat an eye." Without seeing if he follows her advice, Chaos turns back around, and waits

The seapony glances up, watching Rising out of the corner of her gaze, even as her attention remains on the quivering, twisted spear in her grasp, the energy being channeled through it, the spiral spreading outward on the ground. It's a big spiral- approaching eight feet wide- and large enough that Rising's approach brings her near its edge. Under her hoof, it itches uncomfortably, as unpleasant to come in contact with as the weapon that creates it is to look upon.

With a sigh, Spindrift rolls her eyes. "I find it terribly ironic that someone who professes to loathe the town so thoroughly is trying to protect it from someone that wants to see its citizens quit hurting themselves and everyone around them. But then, I have long since given up on trying to determine your motivations. Satisfy yourself with -that- victory, at least."

She then snaps the spear upward and hastily tucks it under one forehoof, glancing between Rising and the pattern inscribed on the ground. The edges of the spiral-shaped channel crumble and crack, dust billowing upwards in a growing cloud. Here and there, little white eyes begin to appear- new storm elementals beginning to form. The larger one, the black-eyed one, is close enough that it can latch onto Spindrift, wrapping its cloudy arms up and around her neck, then peering up over her back at Rising, still looking terrified. Spindrift rears upward, her free forehoof raised upward. The air pulses as ambient energies- no doubt drawn from the ley node nailed into the plateau's surface- are gathered about that upraised fist. Spindrift turns to glower at the three ponies. "This will not be my final warning. Consider Canterlot, or Ponyville, or Trottingham. Abandon this town."

She then drives her hoof downard, directing a blast of magical energy with it. It erupts amidst the spiral with a burst of dust and wind- the elementals positively exploding from the impact, spilling in every direction, as irritating and nosey and curious and windy as ever. But most of the wind is directed upwards, blasting Spindrift up into the sky on a windy current not unlike a tornado of her own making. Her cloak and long, black mane flutter about her as she shoots up towards the darkness of the sky, until with a bright flash of magic, a burst of momentum to redirect her chaotic flight, she shoots over a higher ridge in the mountains and out of sight. The black-eyed elemental is gone with her.

The newly-created elementals swarm all about, eagerly exploring their new environment. They love ponies- ponies are fascinating!- and the little things crowd around Muzaji and Nocturne and Rising alike, sniffing at their hooves, trying to crawl up their legs, peering curiously at the swords and knives, finding themselves entranced by the zebra's stripes.

Muzaji leers back away from the elemental eruption, grabbing one end of her cloak with a forehoof and pulling it forth and over to shield her face from the rush of wind and dust. Her mind was reeling, awed at the level Spindrift had apparently gone to. Or sunken to, depending on how you look at the matter. Despite all the clues being there this was much bigger than it first had seemed.

And now they have even -more- of those little dustdevil pests. Great, just wonderful.

Nocturne becomes rather frenzied, and flails his hooves about in all sorts of directions around him, barely able to see Rising and Muzaji. As soon as the spiral comes into view, he places the knife back into his pocket, and frantically scurries around it, kicking at the ground in order to remove every last mark. He groand and scowls at the unpleasant sensations that the spiral brings, occasionally having to check if he's even still on it, and continues.

Rising-Chaos watches in mild horror as Spindrift executes her spells. Then in abject terror as the mare makes her retreat. That was far beyond anything Chaos could do. She wilts noticeably, this is a confrontation she can't win. The elementals are ignored, stupid things. Her swords drop to the ground, and she backs up from where Spindrift stood. Then, without another word, Chaos runs. She gallops as fast as she can back to town, not stopping to get her cart, or her sword, or anything. What can she possibly do? Can she justify the struggle merely to show Spindrift she's worng?

Scuff, scuff, scuff! The spiral is easily scuffed. It seems whatever lingering elemental mojo is in the accursed design was largely spent, and the inscription yields easily to angered hooves. Even before Nocturne finishes scuffing it out entirely, it's little more than a drawing in the dirt.

… Okay running off like that after everything else was -not- what Muzaji had expected at this point. Apparently once the point of anger was gone, so was Chaos' courage. Or maybe not. Bangles jingled together as the zebra shook her head, the milling elementals mostly ignored as she shook herself out, then watched Nocturne erradicate what was left of the spiral in a fit of stomping and scuffing about.

Then she shifted her gaze upward, in the direction Spindrift had departed. To where and what for, who knew. Other than it's ultimate purpose. "I fear the Wanderer has strayed into shadows that even she will not find her way out of…"

As the ground is cleared, Nocturne nearly collapses to the ground in grief. Whatever had given him courage - or whatever it was that brought about his behavior - was gone, and the damage had bided. He stands in the middle of where the spiral once stood, now a disheveled mess, as tears run down his face. Without so much as a thought, he takes Muzaji into an embrace, as she feels his tears running down her neck. Finally managing to piece some words together, he begins to speak, as the comforting euphoria of an intense cry take over. "Well, we're alive." He takes a few steps back to give the zebra her space, and levitates Rising's sword in front of him. "Well hopefully she got her ca- Oh, yeah." Looking down the path back into town, he goes on. "If you could at least remove that thing, I'll see that it gets to her."

Then he pauses, finding his current, and previous behavior uncharacteristic of him. "I dunno," he mutters. "At this point, being on her good side is a priority."

Muzaji blinks a few times as she's hugged. Not at the hug itself, but more that it was her. This was the sort of being used for comfort most ponies would avoid the trader for. Though one could chalk it up to need on the part of Nocturne, and unfamiliarity with whom he was actually hugging. As is she just sort of lets him get it out of his system, weathering it as she has so many other things in this twisted tale so far. "I'm not sure our wayward troublemaker has a good side left to be on. Grief and desperation do strange things to any pony."

With that out of the way, she nods a bit as he picks up the sword, and turns back towards the path they had initially followed up. "Prehaps I was wrong in not giving more thorough warning, wanting to wait to see just what she had intended. But causing a panic would of just brought what she wanted in the first place." Pause. Oh, right, the cart. "It is a sinch to release the hitch." So that's probably a yes.

Nocturne only nods and picks up the sword and begins his trek back downward. He takes slow, careless steps, in part from his own exhaustion, at times letting his hooves slide down the hill, and not complaining when that doesn't go according to plan. As he reaches the cart, he gives Muzaji a nod… although it's suspicious that such a device would be handy in the first place. "I'm just gonna turn my back," he says, doing so. "Just let me know when it's off."

As the arrive at the cart Muzaji tosses the machete in with the rest of whatever Chaos had. She must of picked it up when Nocturne only got the sword, being the last pony of the sort of leave -anything- behind. Then just chuckles a bit… By the time the unicorn is done talking there's a *click* and the lock-bar is already gone. "It's not really hard… just most would be thieves lack the patience to try, when they can just find an easier target for less efforce and time."

Takes one to know one, eh Muzaji?

Nocturne begins to drag the cart, at this point uncaring of its weight and burden. Right now, the only thing on his mind is a good night's rest. After several moments pass, he finally speaks up. "Listen, thanks for sticking it out up there. You've got quite some character." He's of course still looking onward, and the closer he is to town, the more he is teased with the distant comforts of home, as he begins to think out loud. "What I'd do- Wait- Oh yeah! I /did/ buy cider last week." His trek home is suddenly all the more worth it.

Some character indeed. Why -had- she stayed? Was it to really see what Spindrift was up to.. or just the hope that the seapony had come to her senses in her time away, which was clearly not the case. It was a shame what events had done to that mare. "I should leave, now that the source has been matched." She pauses as the faint evening lights of the town come into view. "… But prehaps I've made the error of growing attatched."

Muzaji turns to look back up towards the mountains as they walked, that point already seeming so far away. And yet what had happened tonight was very close and very, very real. Magic nodes and leylines, elemental swarms.. though the later seemed to be more of a side-effect than anything else, after tonight. Brought free and turned loose by whatever Spindrift was doing, rather than the purpose in itself. Small waves before the bigger storm hits.

"~The Wanderer's fall has been revealed; though the purpose remains concealed.
Tides of sorrow become a darkened wave; that she intends to plunge like a glaive.
Into the cause of her anguished descent, to destroy a world hath become hellbent."

Nocturne turns back, at this point only mumbling, as the town becomes visible on the horizon. "Why don'tcha sleep on it," he says, at this point still thinking out loud. "I sure plan to." With that, he disappears out of sight into town. The cart has been taken into his house, with the intent of returning it at some point, and Nocturne is presumed to be dead asleep in his household.