Bad Joke S Punchline
IC date: Autumn 10
OOC date: September 29
PCs: Gamble, Rocket, Jellybean, Ruby-Blossom, Kludge, Winter-Solstice
NPCs: Captain Flintlock, Fuzzball
GM: Gamble

That same evening, Captain Flintlock has secured a boat. Don't ask where it came from, or how Flintlock managed to get it so full of things, but there it is. It's not /much/ to look at, but then it doesn't have to be. It just has to get them where they're going…

As it turns out, getting to the island wasn't a very difficult task. They had the musicbox, and an expert helmspony. The hardest part? Sailing a full-grown ship with kid hooves. But with generally calm weather, and all other conditions met, that was a minor inconvenience at best.

There isn't really a problem until they get past the mystical fog bank that surrounds Faux Pas Island and see what they're up against. It's not even an island. It's just a giant crag with a great big cave in it. Sailing into the cave reveals a great place to park a ship, and plenty of dry ground to land on. All leading to a tunnel that looks very dark, heading deeper into the great pirate's crag.

It's here that Captain Flintlock hops off the boat, setting about mooring the thing up so it won't drift back out while they're all busy exploring. "Alright! The easy part's done!" he says, his trusty dead fish hovering over his shoulder. "Jerry, you were a /great/ help back there. Couldn't have done it without you."

Gamble hops out, taking a look around while the ship's being moored. "…It's so..empty. You sure this is the right cave, Flinty?"

"Of course I'm sure. Everything's going as planned. All we have to do is find his treasure now." One of Flintlock's hooves is gestured towards the darkness. "In there, somewhere. I'm sure we can't miss it. It's just a maze. Who's good at mazes and finding things? Who's got a torch?" A pause. "Who's got a sandwich? All that sailing made me hungry!"

Kludge did bring some supplies - not quite the same as when they found the exploding treasure, but given the demand of building materials in town… not surprising. He does have rope, food, and even some chalk, plus his blob-hunting stick and a few basic carpentry tools and some nails.

Winter-Solstice helps with the mooring, because as was the case during the journey so far, her best use was as an anchor for ropes. Holding one in her teeth, planting her hooves solidly, she proves as sure a mooring post as an actual honest to goodness mooring post. You might even be able to leave her here to hold the boat the whole time if not for the fact that she'd wander off with boredom after a minute.

Once everything is settled, she turns towards Flintlock with a bright smile. She's looking considerably better, having hopped in the tub and rinsed away the haunting odor of alcohol, having gotten some honest water to drink and some real food, and having finally decided the cure for overhanging filly bangs is an AWESOME HEADBAND that keeps her hair up and out of her eyes. She's still a bit wobbly on her feet but seems to be good to go, and shoulders her saddlebag into place while waiting near the tunnel that leads deeper into the dungeon.

"I have a sandwich! Two in fact. Three if you count the other. One is peanut butter and peanut butter, another is apple slices on dill, and the third is a cheese-covered bagel with extra cheese and mayo."

Ruby was on alert as a back-up music maker - but seems her services weren't needed! The small foal curiously looking about as the ship is moored, peeking this way and that before trotting over to Gamble. "Dark, dangerous. Well guess it's better us than any of the town foa…oh, that's right." she gently rubs a hoof against her own face. "Sooo, any idea what we're looking at here - or do you just know it's a maze?" squinting as she looks into the darkness.

As for secrets, they're out there somewhere! "Assuming we're doing this full pony style, charging in with hooves blazing?

"Hm?" Captain Flintlock glances up at Ruby. He'd been staring in the darkness. "I don't know what you're talking about. The treasure could be right on the other side of that doorway. Maze indeed." He snorts, spins, and trots back towards Winter! "Oooh, a bagel? Jerry likes bagels. I'll suffer on his behalf…" Then Jellybean mentions cookies, prompting a u-turn, the Captain practically pouncing in front of Jelly. "I would /love/ a cookie!"

Gamble sighs. "He's going to be like this the whole time…" he mutters, cantering closer to the darkness. "DID we bring any torches?" he asks, mirroring Rocket's question. Please tell me someone thought to bring a torch." He sure as hay didn't. For some reason, when 'island' was mentioned, he thought it was going to be an outdoorsey tropical one.

Fuzzball hops out of the boat! And..he has an armload of torches, and a stern 'yeah I just saved the adventure' look on his face. Bunnies to the rescue. Uh-huh.

Winter-Solstice speaks up around a mouthful of peanut butter and peanut butter sandwich. "I figured if we needed any torcheth, we'd juft find them on the wallth already. Prolly already lit by mythteriouth fortheth." Chomp. She makes her way over to Fuzzball, takes a torch, and tips the bunny with a half-eaten sandwich, then starts looking around for fires to light the torch with.

Ruby-Blossom glances sideways at Flint then back to the darkness before creeping a few steps forward - Ruby vision activate - it'd be super if she had such a power, at least she has cat-like thief prowness at her disposal.

Jellybean holds up a bag, presumably the one with cookies in it. "Does anypony else want a cookie? I didn't bring a light, though." He nibbles on a cookie.

Rocket blinks and grins faintly, looking back at Fuzzball. "There we go. At least somecreature's thinking. Good job, Fuzz."

Kludge takes a whatever from the bag Jellybean offers and bites into it. Turns out it's the PB&PB sandwich. "Mmmky, whmmmmz tnnnkm dh trrrchzis?" he mumbles around his stuck mouth.

Winter-Solstice drops her bag and digs around inside, eventually producing a little box. She pops it open and out tumbles three bottlecaps, a bit of flint and a chunk of steel, and a spool of thread. Retrieving the flint and steel, she begins striking them, producing absolutely nothing in terms of useful sparks. Snap. Snap. Snap. Soon she's waving Ruby over. "Ruby! Ruby, you're sneaky and know how to use scissors. Here, you try." Snap. Snap.

Jellybean looks at Fuzzball for a moment. "That's a really clever bunny." Then, stage-whispered to Rocket: "I didn't think bunnies got that big. Does he eat ponies?"

Fuzzball beams at Rocket, but is tapping his foot impatiently, prompting Gamble to trot over to levitate a torch up. Lighting it isn't so much of an issue, just a touch of horn to torch and FWOOM! Spark! Fire! Torch lit, light shining, the rusty Gambler starts moving to the tunnels. "A'right then, let's get this show on the road. Be on the lookout for traps guys, this place could be boobytrapped to the top of the mountain and back."

Captain Flintlock happily sneaks a cookie from Jellybean's stash, patting the little pegasus on the head. "You're a good kid, kid. Don't let anypony tell you otherwise." Then he skips off, levitating the other five torches Fuzzball had been holding, sans the one Winter snagged. He, too, touches his horn to them, lighting all five at once and holding them like a great flaming club of death. Cookie in mouth, flaming /mass/ hovering in front of him, he happily skips behind Gamble to investigate the great Unknown.

…Meanwhile, from the railing of the ship, three little pegasus dolls watch the group get organized and on their way to adventure. Orange, blue, and green.

Ruby-Blossom takes up a comfortable position in the middle of the group - leave it to the ponies in the front to trigger traps, and the ponies in the back to get ambushed - she prefers being in the middle! The small foal trotting along with the grop behind the flaming club of death - this will likely be okay until we come across some flamable material or surface…

Rocket blinks over at Jellybean. "Huh? Oh, no. Nope, he doesn't eat ponies. He eats /lots/ of carrots. And lettuce. And apples! And… most anything else I bring him. It's fun! It's like a big ol' scavenger hunt!" She likes to hunt things. Yay, scavenger hunts! That's what this whole thing is, really, isn't it, like one big scavenger hunt, yep.

Winter-Solstice drops her unlit torch in the dirt, immediately forgets about it, reboxes her flint and steel that are totally useless and why anybody would want them in a modern day and age is beyond me this is dumb, and gets her bag back in place as she moves to follow the group. She waits for the others to pass before falling in line, evidently most comfortable bringing up the rear.

Kludge takes a swig from the canteen he brought along. Sure, water might mot be as good as milk for unsticking mouths, but it works decently enough. He picks up the dropped unlit torch, since it's still good, and then trots along with the group, keeping his eyes open for trouble.

Jellybean nodnods, tail swishing eagerly. "I like playing scavenger hunts too. Does anypony want to play 'I Spy?'" His wings flutter as he tries to keep up with everypony else: he seems to be managing nervous good cheer at the moment. "I spy with my little eye something that starts with 'B.'"

"Butts!" calls out Winter, from the back.

"Bunny?" guesses Kludge.

Ruby-Blossom looks around "No, no butts around here. Thankfully no brimstone either, that'd be bad.

Winter-Solstice squints at the five ponies, one griffon, and one rabbit ahead of her in line. "I beg to differ!" she says.

Thus the party marches on. Torches in hoof (or in air?), the tunnels prove to be just your typical moss-covered, dingy tunnels. They don't glitter in the torchlight. They don't even branch off that much, except once in a while to little obvious dead ends. All in all, it's not a very exciting trip down (down?) into the depths of the mountain. It's a definite downwards spiral, there's enough of an incline to tell that much.

"Are we there yet?" Flintlock says.

"No…" Gamble grunts.

"….How about now?"

"No."

"…Now?"

"No…"

"C'mooooon when are we going to get there?"

"When we get there."

"But I have to gooooo!"

"You should've thought of that before we started walking."

"But…"

"I'll turn this expedition around right now if you don't behave!" Gamble glaaaares back at Flintlock. Whom sticks his tongue out and hangs back to walk alongside Ruby. "I spy a Bitter Berry…"

And then? The sound of small things skittering past pony legs rises up in the tunnel…

Jellybean boings excitedly. "It was bunny! Your turn, Kludge!"

And then there's the sound of something skittering: Jellybean's wings tremble nervously and then flap closed by his sides. "Wh-what's that noise?"

Ruby-Blossom says "I don't think a flank is the same thing…" she drops the subject and offers a little grin to Gamble. "I spy a beyond bonkers boy bound by a beligerent b-word." she snickers softly until the sound of skittering at which point she quickly looks about "Rats, right? Just rats?"

Several sounds of skittering! Several small objects moving along the ground. Or maybe it's the walls? Or the ceiling… The torchlight doesn't make spotting whatever it is easy. All the shadows playing tricks on everypony.

What /is/ obvious, a moment or ten later, is the sound of something /bigger/ shuffling up the tunnel from behind the group of adventurers. Something heavy, that scrapes the walls and crunches pebbles, coming up quick from behind Winter.

Flintlock picks up his pace. "If it's rats, my dear, can you kindly tell them to look elsewhere for food? Pony makes a horrible meal. Good fellows, Jerry says we should probably move /faster/!"

"I think I agree with the captain on this one," remarks Kludge, who alternates between trotting to catch up with Flintlock and taking a guarding stance to cover the rest of the party as they advance.

"I don't know, one of you with the light, shine it down below!" calls out Winter. "Or on the walls! Or-" Scrape! Scrape! Something! She turns to look back over her shoulder, but only darkness rewards her effort. Stumbling along in an awkward sideways gate, she follows the group while looking back behind herself, trying to catch a glimpse of what's back there. This is spooky and exciting! "But we didn't pass anything- did we? Was it in one the dead ends? Look for an open area, we can't let it catch us in the tunnel!"

Rocket blinks and frowns at the skittering noises. And then there are more noises. She hisses in alarm. And /puffs/. Seriously… puff. She's a ball of fluffed fur and feathers which happens to have a beak sticking out of it somewhere. "What's that?"

Jellybean whimpers. "It s-sounds like something scary. What if it's a monster? Does anypony know how to make monsters go away? Is there a song or a scial word r a kind of cheese? Oh no, I didn't bring any cheese! What if it's cheese?"

"Kicking them in the nose makes them go away! Keep running!" calls out Winter. Should any pony be lagging behind, she gives 'em a good thump on the rump to spur them onwards.

Ruby-Blossom would feel a /tad/ more secure if she had any form of hidden weapon on her at the moment; sadly all her cool thief gear isn't suited to this foal size! She keeps a close formation with the other ponies for the moment - as that's really her only choice at the moment.

Scrape, skitter, scrape! The /thing/ seems to be matching their new speed, but at least the group is staying ahead of it. And then… It stops. Just as the group exits the tunnels into a great big room of shiny.

So much shiny. Treasure. They've found the treasure room. Great big piles of glittering gold, gleaming gems, shiny silver, and sooooo many little trinkets of olden times. A veritable fortune. Right there.

It's enough of a sight to stun most ponies. If they weren't being chased by something. Gamble and Flintlock, despite finding this awesome treasure pile, pretty much spin around to see if every pony makes it into this room of absolute treasure, and to see if that horrible scraping thing follows them all in. …At least, Gamble does. Flintlock is actually staring at the treasure now. "Ohhhhhh yessssss… I'm finally here. I'm /here/…"

Kludge, remembering the /last/ treasure that was found, pulls out his blob-hunting stick and *carefully* slides what looks like a gold coin over to near the tunnel entrance and /away from the rest of the treasure/. Then he hits it hard with the stick!

Winter-Solstice, like Gamble and Flintlock, seems more concerned with the Thing at first. The last out of the tunnel, she immediately turns about to face towards it, hunkering down on her hooves and ready to throw herself bodily into the mouth of any perceived threat so she can punch it in the heart. Nothing appears to be forthcoming just yet, though, and that is all the more worrying. She doesn't stay rooted for long, but instead paces, back and forth, walking a little circuit near the tunnel entrance, and only now starting to glance towards the treasure. It's quite distrracting- of course all that loot would be!- but she's still worried about the Skittering Presence. "Okay, Captain!" she calls out. "Anything here giving you wonky curse vibes?"

Ruby red eyes curiously eye the huge hoard of treasure for a long moment while trotting further into the room - she glances towards Kludge and gives a little shrug - cleary disinterested in what was found - which can't be a good sign since she /loves/ shiney. Then again, nothing is cool as that royal tiara she has at home - that is her favorite score.

Jellybean looks at the enormous pile of treasure. "Maybe we could hide under that!" With that he starts running towards the pile.

Rocket scampers into the cave, still looking rather puffed. She skids to a stop, staring wide-eyed at the treasure pile for a moment. Shinies! Scavenger hunt, success! She wins! Yay! …Oh wait, we're running from something, aren't we? "What is it? Is it following us? Where'd it go?"

At first, nothing. No sound. No skitter. No nothing comes through that tunnel chasing after all these ponies. Plus griffon. Plus bunny. Even when Kludge dares to skip a coin into the tunnel, all that's heard is the joyful *ping* of a coin bouncing off walls and bounding up the tunnel.

Then the sound of the coin going *ping* again, bouncing right back into the room to rejoin the pile! Apparently that part of the treasure heap isn't explosive. Or at least that coin wasn't.

Gamble steps back. "Nobody's surprised this place is guarded, right..? That's why we came here as a bunch of /kids/ following an insane pirate to blow up another dead pirate's treasurrrrroh Celestia this was a /horrible idea/!"

Captain Flintlock, poking around in the treasure pile, just smiles and nods. "Yes. Yes it was. I tried to go alone. But nooooo, everyone was like, 'oh we want an adventure, we must save you, we love explosions'." He's very cheerful in his delivery of this mocking though, his ears twisting about. "..Mmmm nope. Nothing giving off a curse aura. What /is/ a curse aura anyway?"

Finally something pokes through the tunnel. In the shape of a foal. A multi-colored foal. With beady coal-black eyes. Certain party ponies may remember it. Or something like it. The creature steps into the cave, watching the group, particularly Flintlock, with a very keen interest.

Winter-Solstice turns to scowl over her shoulder towards the treasure pile and Captain Flintlock, whom she continues to find punchable and entertainingly companionable in equal portions. She's about to say something when the arrival of The Thing arrests her attention, and whirling back towards it, she hunkers down in her tackle-ready posture once again. "What the- who are-" This critter doesn't look right. She keeps her distance from it, backing up a few steps, perhaps more to give her a good view than through any particular fear. "… hello? Are you what was following us? What's your name? Are you a pony? You have some crazy eyes there, is that normally what they do? Are they lenses?"

And Kludge is watching it right back! He's not sure what the combo-blob (comblob?) is capable of, or even quite what it's up to. When Winny walks over to it, Kludge tenses, ready to try swatting the comblob if it does anything hostile.

The multi-colored creature stares unblinkingly at the party. It starts to pace, just a short few steps to one side, then the other, and back. It 'looks' at Winter, its head tilting in confusion at the flurry of words she speaks, then trains its beady gaze back on Flintlock. The thing takes two steps back, and…then…

It charges! Wings spread, the thing /leaps/ in a bold effort to soar right over Winter, legs outstretched in a graceful arc that will likely take it straight into the good Captain's back! Only the Captain chooses that moment to turn and crouch to examine a particularly shiny goblet. "Oh hey! This thing looks cursed! Watch out, I'm gonna blam it!" Thus forcing the creature to slam into the gold pile where the captain had just been standing, losing its form and turning into so much multi-colored mush covering that section of treasure.

Flintlock is completely oblivious. He's busy priming the KABOOM spell on his horn. "Time to start blowing things up!"

Ruby-Blossom scampers towards Kludge just to feel a little safer; much as she adores Winny that foal doesn't tend to make the best judgement calls. In all honesty she has no idea what's occuring! "I must of have missed something…" glancing side ways to Kludge before looking over her shoulder back towards the way the group came.

Winter-Solstice jumps and flails her hooves, but is unable to catch the thing as it leaps over her head. Jumping is not her specialty at the moment. Something about short hooves and an abundance of weight. With a yelp she turns to pursue. "Flintlock!" she calls out. "Behind you-" And then it… it splats? She skids to a stop, eyes wide, glancing back and forth at the mess, at the gold, at the Captain, at Kludge and his stick. "What did- where- someone…" stammers the pudgy filly. "Someone find its face so I can kick it!!" Charging forward once more, she starts trying to mash at the goo-smeared gold.

Rocket stares at the creature. She'd /started/ to unpoof from the earlier scare, but there she goes, poofing right back up again. POOF. And then it /moves/. She hisses and scrambles back in alarm, only to blink over at it as it splashes onto the coins. Well that was unexpected. Ew, gooey shinies. "…The heck was /that/?"

Jellybean whimpers even more when he sees the thing and flaps his wings desperately to get some air which, happily, he manages. Unhappily it means that there's a panicked foal flying in circles going "What do I do what do I do what do I do?"

Kludge glances at Ruby. "Keep an eye on the tunnel; I'll keep an eye on that blob." He carefully approaches the blob, stick in mouth, making sure to not get in the way of Winny or Flintlock.

Winter-Solstice stomp stomp stomp *stomp* stomp *stomp.*

The goo is mashed! Winter does such an excellent job that the goo decides to slip between the cracks in the gold and gems and whatnot, disappearing into the treasure pile. As though the treasure just soaked it all up! Gamble starts backing up from the treasure, with an eye to the tunnel entrance. "Are… Are there gonna be more of those?" He's spooked. Yep. No calm little colt here. He parks his rump down on some flooring that doesn't have treasure on it, trying to regain his wits. Why did that freak him out so badly? It wasn't /that/ weird, was it?

Flintlock has his spell primed. The orange glow of his horn takes on a very dangerous 'spark' look. "Ahahahh! Here we go! Die you cup of the devilspawn! You smooth-skinned buggers won't win this night! Tonight I sleep like a KING!" Touch! Ka-Zap!

The cup neatly smoulders. Flintlock, grinning like the insane pony he is, spins around to buck the goblet up onto a higher treasure pile, then dives for cover! "Fire in the hole!"

KaBOOM! Gold pieces scatter and rain down from the ceiling! Treasure from that spot scatters! And the cup is just a twisted wreck of metal. Flintlock gets up on his hooves, patting himself down. "…I don't feel very different. I wonder if that was the right one?"

A small tremor vibrates the treasure room, making all the non-airborne treasure jingle and clink…

Ruby-Blossom doesn't need to be told to watch the tunnel but that doesn't mean she'll be taking her eyes off the the strange blob that she's never seen before. The turquoise mare certainly feeling more skiddish then her adult self would; pacing back in fourth in front of the tunnel with her attention split between the pile of coins and said tunnel. "Oh no oh no, this can't be good, this certainly is not good. This is terrible, so terrible."

Jellybean is still fluttering in circles and trying to think of something useful to do. "Shouldn't we be getting out of here? I'm scared, what do we do? Somepony tell me what to do!" he wails.

"Get- get back here! I'm not done with you yet!" howls Winter, beginning to dig at the gold where the goo critter seeped in. She doesn't get far, so she doesn't find much… inasmuch as 'more wonderful, wonderful gooooold' isn't much. But she seems oblivious to the wealth she's scooping out by the hoof-ful, at least until a bunch of it erupts overhead and she's showered in the stuff. Jumping in place, yelping in alarm, she throws a hoof up to shield her face until the shower of coins ends, looking no worse for wear afterwards- though a bit steamed up. "Oh yeah?! OH YEAH!?" Reaching down, she scoops up a hoof-full of coins and *hurls* it back at the pile. "See how YOU like it, you big glittery gob of… of…."

She falls quiet as the rumbling starts, glancing about the floor, then at the treasure pile. She clearly continues to have no real idea what's happening, and resumes her stomping. "Oh, come on! GET OUT HERE AND LET ME FIGHT YOU ALREADY! Ruby! RUBY!" The chubby filly whirls to look back at Ruby. "Make it come out here so I can fight it! Use your hairdresser wiles! Kludge- build a lure out of, out of something! ROCKET-" She falls silent, then snorts behind a sudden grin. "You look ridiculous!"

While all of this coinage being thrown around is impressive, Kludge is too busy trying to figure out what the blob is up to. He looks at the shaking coins, then looks at the walls, scanning for any cracks or the like, then looks back at the coins on the ground, especially where the goo landed.

Rocket blinks. And blushes! Luckily, it's hard to tell under all the down. She gives an embarrassed chirp and flutters her wings ineffectively. "Aw, hush! M'not fluffy!" Hmph! She looks around, peering through the poofy down. "Where'd it go? What's blowing up? Is the gold explodey again?"

Something happens that might help spur thoughts of action! The goo bursts out of the treasure pile! Only it's looking a lot more like a weird gooey arm of /something/, with gold coins and gems and such stuck all over it, reaching out to swat at Winter. A second arm bursts not far from the first, trying to stick on Flintlock! Then a third throwing things at the flying pegasus!

Flintlock, oblivious to the bursting of THINGS, hunkers down to stare at a shiny golden plate, making the gooey arm just whiff over his head. "Maybe /this/ is the cursed one…" he says, his horn still aglow from his last spell. "…Okay, y'know what? I'm done guessing. It's all gonna explode now. Take this!" The plate is touched! "And this!" Then a diamond is touched! "And THIS!" …The tip of the gooey arm is touched! All three things, now glittering like they had fuses on them, apparently ready to explode!

Gamble jumps! Holy smokes, that goo-thing just got serious! He skitters, looking between the treasure pile and the tunnel, "Uh… Everybody out? Oh geez, what DO we do? Someone grab the captain! Or… Augh!"

Yep. Fearless leader, Gamble is not. And there's more tremors. That treasure pile is /shaking/.

As an adult, Jellybean is a mostly competent flyer whose primary problem is attention. Sometimes he flies into things because he gets lost in thought. As a foal, well, he's flapping madly to keep flying and then an amethyst beans him between the eyes. He falls to the ground, whimpering loudly. "I wanna go home! Everypony, let's go!" With that he starts running.

Ruby-Blossom really is out of her element - but she refuses to cower inspite of her frantic pacing before bursting out into a song with a lullaby like melody. "Hey sweet little goo, there's nothing to do. Surely you realize it's time to close those eyeso/~" she ducks a random flailing appendage and pipes "What kind of plan was that anyways!?" diving behind a rock formation as things continue to escalate.

Winter-Solstice glances back from the HILARIOUSLY poofy Rocket just in time to catch the second Golden Psuedopod swinging towards her, there in the corner of her eye. She bursts into movement a heartbeat later, eyes focused, punchy filly muscles bunching somewhere beneath her childish chub, whirling her about and readying her for a most righteous, smite-tastic KICK. Her weight throws forward onto her forelegs, she draws her rear legs close, her shaggy hooves practically gleam with smashtastic intent, and like a spring, all that bunched energy unfurls, shooting backward, connecting with the incoming Mighty Fist of Gold-

-which swats the diminutive filly neatly across the cavern. She yelps with alarm as she finds herself being being launched, having lost far too much heft to the curse to be able to kick like a pro. She tumbles once over before landing with a grunt, rolling to a stop, and then pulling herself upright with a brisk shake of her head. Her headband is skewed over her face, covering one eye and leaving another to focus back on the gold pile, and the primed explosions, and the lingering threat of the Goo Gold Golem, there above the clueless Flintlock. As she reaches up to readjsut the headband, she calls out. "Flintlock! Blow it all up! Blow it all up and get ready to run if that doesn't work!!!" Dropping back to all fours, she stomps and scuffs at the cavern floor, exerting a wealth of willpower to resist the urge to charge back in.

And now the poofball of a Rocket is scrambling around in frantic little circles giving a caphony of chirps and squawks that are surely less than helpful. Stuff's flying everywhere! Aaaaah! "Hey! Crazy pony! Maybe the big joke curse evil thing is the /giant gold monster trying to kill us/!!" That seems logical, doesn't it? Why waste all the good treasure when what should be killed is pretty dang obvious?

Kludge golfs the primed diamond into the mass of the Goo-lem, then taps Flintlock with a hoof. "I don't know how big the explosions you're preparing are going to be, but how about we get out of the way of the ones you've already set?" he asks as he tries to gently push the unhinged captain away from the epicenter of the chaos.

Shaking! Rumbling! Lashing! Explosions! It all seems very chaotic. With Flintlock's creation of explosions, one of which even makes some of the goo splat against a wall just past Ruby's head, the tremors get worse… The walls crack. The floor cracks! The whole island is shaking now, with rocks falling in the tunnel. A mini-quake? Oh dear.

"Blow it all up!" Flintlock agrees with Winter's sentiment, the little Captain merrily setting more things to Explode. But they won't make it that far. The floor's already giving way, crumbling into an even /bigger/ chamber below, treasure spilling down, goo going with it. Flintlock gets enough time to make a surprised 'maybe this wasn't my best idea' before he's swallowed up in the treasure pile and dragged down with the rest of the flooring! Along with any pony that hadn't made it next to the tunnel.

Though it seems, by the dust and trickle of water that's coming through that tunnel exit, going back up won't be an option anymore.

For any pony who has the wits to check, this new room is /huge/. There's a lake, and a big pirate ship with an enormous chest sitting on its deck. And…the skeletons of a great many ponies. Apparently this is where Captain Bad Joke abandoned his crew before his capture… Doomed to 'guard' his treasure for all eternity. It's into this room, and in fact onto the rocky bottoms next to the pirate ship itself, that the pile of treasure, goo, and pony comes to settle.

Jellybean looks around at all the skeletons and starts crying again. "I wanna go home, I wanna go home, I wanna go home! I don't even know what to do!"

Ruby-Blossom manages to land safely in the water below, scambling her way to shore just in time to be whacked atop of the head by large item which incites a cry of pain - but this seems to be a common trend for her these past few weeks - head trauma! Sputtering the turquoise mare quickly turns about to examine the room "By Celestia's lovehandles!" she stares before scrambling for cover - better to hide than stay out in the open.

Jellybean looks around at all the skeletons and starts crying again. "I wanna go home, I wanna go home, I wanna go home! I don't even know what to do!"

Ruby-Blossom manages to land safely in the water below, scambling her way to shore just in time to be whacked atop of the head by large item which incites a cry of pain - but this seems to be a common trend for her these past few weeks - head trauma! Sputtering the turquoise mare quickly turns about to examine the room "By Celestia's lovehandles!" she stares before scrambling for cover - better to hide than stay out in the open.

Winter-Solstice 's stomping hooves are soon scraping at the floor, backpedaling as best she can as the ground begins to crumble and give way underneath- she's not about to turn and flee out the tunnel with so many ponies (and griffons) (and rabbits) still here, though. That's not heroic at all! Still, heroism has its disadvantages, and just when she decides that maybe she needs to reconsider entry and exit priorities, she's slipping down the yawning chasm and sliding into the lower chamber with the rest of the wreckage and treasure and monsters and hapless adventurers getting sucked below. To her credit, she grits her teeth and takes the descent like a champ, drawing her legs close and sliding along her porky flank and back. At least she built-in cushioning.

As she tumbles to a stop, coughing and gasping amidst the dust, she pushes past the surrounding debris to a place where she can take in the view of the ship looming above. For a brief moment she's speechless, eyes wide, mouth hanging open.

And then she starts talking. "Oh my gosh this is the most amazing thing ever I swear to goodness this is right out of Treasure Atoll is this really Bad Joke's ship that's not funny at all that is seriously the best thing ever I can't believe and is that a dead pony OH MY GOSH THAT IS TOTALLY A DEAD PONY that is so freaky THERE'S ANOTHER oh my gosh CAN YOU BELIEVE" She's charging towards the underwater lake, looking for a gangplank, a grappling hook, a catapult, anything that can get her on board, charging back and forth along the shore in her excitement. "CAN YOU BELIEVE this is so amazingly AMAZING we're gonna have the BEST story to tell EVERYBODY back in town but don't tell Salty she might try to burn it but she might appreciate the creepy decor look there's an anchor look there's a sail look there's a REAL SKULL with REAL CROSSBONES I can't I can't I can't" Toppling over, she wheezes for breath, eyes practically spinning. In between desperate, overstimulated gasps she mumbles. "So much treasure *gasp* experience points where is the exit we need to float *gasp* it back to town I can't"

Kludge shakes himself off and tries to regain his bearings. "Anyone get the name of that landslide?" he groans? Upon seeing the chest, he lets out a sigh. "Hopefully there was only *one* line of prank immediately protecting the treasure, and we're done with it."

Rocket scrambles after the group, wings fluttering frantically. Still running in circles, just because. Because this /can't/ be a good situation! And… and… and… skeletons? Creepy. That gives her pause for a moment — pony skeletons look /weird/.

The dust begins to settle. There's no movement from the treasure pile at first, just the sound of stray coins falling from above to tink merrily upon the pile below. Gamble peers down into the pit… He'd just barely managed to avoid outright falling in, but the sound of water and rocks and whatnot are alarming, so he looks for the best course of action to get below. His horn lights up, picking a likely spot, and BAMF! A small pile of treasure sits where Gamble used to, the rusty pony popping back into existance in the treasure's place! Phew.

Fuzzball, the only other fluffy ball of fluff in the party, whom up to this point had been hiding his 'poofed' self in a corner, is most assuredly not going to sit in that upper chamger. He hops down to join the rest, as dignified as he can, smoothing fur down in a right quick bit of grooming. Nyah. Bunny's been here the whole time, yep.

Shortly after Kludge pops out of the pile, Flintlock does the same, gasping for breath and clamboring out of the treasure pile. "Ugh… I seem to have not explodinated enough of it yet. I still feel…cursed." He sits up, hitting his head with a hoof, making several gold coins pop out his ears. Then he looks up and…gasps. "Oh my~ Great, great, great grandpappy's ship! The Punchline!" He gets up on his hooves, trotting towards the gangplank, for there IS a gangplank just waiting for a foal like Winter to charge up it. "You know, after they hung him, the body disappeared. My family says his crew respected his last wishes, stole the body, and went off…somewhere. Here, I guess."

Another rustling comes from the treasure coins. A gooey 'pegasus' head pokes free, dragging the rest of its misshapen form out. Tattered, but apparently still functional wings flap, carrying the beast into the air, and into a glide until it perches itself atop the treasure chest on the ship. It turns around, coal black eyes practically /glaring/ at all of the adventuresome (and somewhat frightened) group of foals. Glaaaaaare.

Jellybean is flying after Winter at this point, having concluded that she's big and strong and brave so he should be near her. On the other hand she's also big and strong and brave and talking about scary things which means he's flying alongside her with his eyes closed about half the time. And then there's a scary gooey ghost head and Jellybean just starts screaming.

Ruby-Blossom brushes both hooves against her cheeks with an accompanied sigh; clearly no pony is hurt which is good, but neither is that thing. A small shake of her head as she begins to trot towards the gangplank knowing full well Winny will beat her to the punchline.

Winter-Solstice eventually drops her head to the ground and pants for ten blessedly silent seconds, until oxygen eventually reaches the adventure-oversaturated parts of her tiny brain. With visible effort she pushes back to her feet, wobbles once, and finds a measure of stability, just in time for Jellybean to start screaming overhead. Acting with her usual reflex, Winter starts kicking things, but since there's nothing nearby, she just bucks the empty air. "Ha!" Kick. "Ha! Evil!" Kick. "Taunt!" Kick. She drops her feet back down and looks around. "Uh- oh. Oh! It's back!" Sprinting towards the gangplank, she bumbles past Ruby ("Sorryrubybythewayilikeyourhair") and charges up hot on Flintlock's heels, skidding to a stop on the deck above. The sound of her pieplate hooves clattering on the wood echoes through the chamber as she scoots back and forth, staring at the Thing from a distance. "What is it, Flintlock? Is THIS the curse, somehow? Is THIS the last, worst joke? What does it want? HEY, WHAT DO YOU WANT?!"

Kludge can do staring! So he stares at the comblob with an exapserated expression. "Are you /quite/ done yet?" he sighs as he walks along in the wake of Winny's charge.

Ruby-Blossom slips onto deck - hoping to go relatively unnoticed thanks to Winny's extremely prominent nature; the diminutive turquoise mare gingerly making her way behind Winny, Flintlock and Kludge. Expressive ruby-red eyes taking great note of the eerie surroundings all the while looking for a truly worthwhile score.

Rocket finally gives up on the circle thing, standing panting for a moment and trying to smoothe down some of the poof. "I think… that /thing/… is definitely the curse-thing. It looks like a curse-thing. It's gotta be."

The blob stares. And gets stared at. And asked QUESTIONS. Apparently it decides that the best way to handle this situation, is to do something drastic. So it lifts a 'hoof', and brings it down atop the treasure chest three times. Clop. Clop. Clop.

The chest answers, with louder knocks that rattle the hinges. Bang! Bang! Bang!

Then the chest opens. Just a crack. A set of deep, solid red eyes peering out through the darkened crack. The blob on top melts into a gooey mess, the whole thing sliding into the chest. Which closes. And rumbles.

Flintlock, through this whole mess, stands alongside Winter and Kludge. His horn still glows with the power to explodinate things! "I…think…" he says, taking a step forward. "…I'm going to do something extremely stupid now." he finishes, apparently in agreement with Rocket's assessment of the 'blob'. His head lowered, he launches his body into a charge to touch the 'treasure' chest with his horn! Now it's a fuse-lit chest! And Flintlock is backing up! "Haha!"

Gamble, whom hasn't climbed up the gangplank yet, squints at the group. "You didn't just set this ship on fire, did you? Because it might be our only way out…"

Jellybean haaaas fainted by now. Apparently he has a limit.

Kludge's jaw drops (which also results in a dropped blob-hunting stick) as he watches the events unfold. "I think that now would be a good time for finding cover," he mentions to no-one in particular, then he dashes for cover, pausing only long enough to pick up the fainted Jellybean.

Ruby-Blossom oh-so briefly examines something she found - debating, debating before finally dashing down the gangplank to solid ground. Cautiously backing up while watching over her shoulder, a girl can't be too careful.

"Hey! Hey, answer us! You have a face, that means you can talk! What are you?" prattles Winter. "Why are your eyes doing that? Why do you- what's- what's with the knocking, is- there someone else in-" Jellybean faints and drops from the sky. Winter moves to catch him when Kludge beats her to the punch, so she glances about, finds a pony skeleton, and plucks a battered pirate hat off its skull instead. Same thing. She turns back towards the goo monster. "HEY! Hey, no melting! Now is answer time, not pudding time! GET BACK- I SEE YOU IN THERE MR. RED EYES YOU GUYS ARE THE WORST AT CLIMACTIC EXPOSITIONS I SWEAR TO GOODNESS." Stomping with frustration, she turns about in a circle, donning the moth-eaten pirate hat and biting her lower lip. "Flintloooooock!!! FIX IT!!" She then digs into her saddlebag, fetches one of her sandwiches, and starts gnawing on it in an agitated fashion.

Rocket backs up. Backing up sounds like a pretty good idea right now! Because things around Flintlock tend to explode. And… and that chest had eyes. /Eyes/. On a treasure chest. That's no treasure /she/ wants, nope. She'll settle for some of those shinies back there instead, those are nice. And eyeless. …Right? Right.

"I'm trying to, I'm trying to!" Flintlock says in a planative whine! Indeed, the fact that the chest is set to explode should fix everything right? Explosions fix EVERYTHING, right? …Right?

"Oh geez…" Gamble dives away from the gangplank, recognizing that others are getting /off/ the ship, so something must've happened there! Fuzzball is..burrowing into the treasure pile. For safety. One downside of being bigger, finding safe places to hide are difficult. Maybe he'll undo that jokeness after all.

"Get moving!" Flintlock says, nudging the sandwich-munching Winter at the gangplank! He gets all of one nudge in before the chest EXPLODES! Kaboom! Sending wood pieces scattering in all directions! But this, was apparently not the right thing to do. Free of the box, the contents within are revealed to be nothing but /blue/. A great mess of blue, infiltrated with the slightest smidgen of orange and green. The blue mass expands, rising up to a column of deep, dark, poison-joke colored blue. Then the top of the column forms a /face/. A hideous, 'melting' pony face, with dark red eyes. Apparently Bad Joke's Last Laugh has finally been discovered!

Flintlock stares up at this beast of a goo-monster, then up to his sparking horn. "…I…don't know if I have enough explosion to fix this." he says.

After dumping the unconscious Jellybean behind an outcropping of rock, Kludge dashes back to grab his blob-hunting stick. The coins do make for uncertain footing, and he is paying attention to the mega-blob, but he does feel a bit better with something to swat the blob with. Although, once the stick is back in his mouth, he does come to a realization: "I'm gonna need a bigger stick…"

Winter-Solstice isn't leaving the ship, this is where all the action is happening. This means she has to duck back a bit as exploding wood shrapnel blasts past her, bits of it getting caught in her mane and scattering across the brim of her Vintage Pirate Hat. Her Sandwich of Ire is dropped and forgotten, caught by the blast and sailing back in the lap of a pony skeleton who could probably honestly use the snack, have you SEEN how skinny he is? As the explosion settles, though, and the goo beast is revealed, she focuses, drops to all fours, and readies herself for yet another charge and probably more ineffective kicking. It has a face, after all. Faces can be hit.

Launch! She's soon galloping across the deck, hooves a thunderin' on the wormworn wood, when she hears Ruby taunting the thing beside her. All too quickly, Winter brings her charge up short, skidding to a stop and nearly toppling forward before a kick of her hind legs tosses her center of gravity back into a manageable zone. She snickers slightly. Spicy burritos! That's gross and hilarious.

Then she thinks, as she turns towards the goo beast with a crooked little grin. Maybe Ruby's on to something.

"Hey! Why DID the ghost cross the road? To get to the other side! Ha!" Winter snickers at the memory of that terrible joke. "That reminds me of another one. Why do they put fences around cemetaries? Because ponies are just DYING to get in. Get it?" She glances over to Ruby, and stage whispers to her. "Do you have any others? C'mon! Any jokes you have, spill them!"

Rocket stares. And… stares some more. The little griffon stares for probably a good thirty seconds before giving a loud hiss and dropping into a fighting crouch. Which would look a lot more threatening if she weren't so darn fluffy. Really all she pulls off is looking like a pouncy kitten covered in pinkish cotton. Not too intimidating, that, but she tries.

The giant jokeblob appears to pause and frown. The great gooey 'mouth' turning down. Then it hisses out something that could be mistaken for laughter, the sound reverberating off all the walls, shaking loose a stalactite or two.

"I started that joke!" a haunting voice echoes from the blue creature. "It was one of my best! Ha ha haaaaaa! Let me show you another…"

A mass of blue tendrils lance out from the blue 'joke', every which way, all over the ship! Each one, aimed at a particular boney corpse of an ex-pony. Suddenly the joke-blob has a veritable crew of skeletons, with blue lines of gunk connecting each one to its master. A special set of tendrils lances out to latch onto Captain Flintlock, dragging him to join a couple of the skeleton crew! In fact, the joke blob's draged Flintlock next to a skeleton with a Captain's Hat on it. Flintlock looks all sorts of perplexed. "Ahhhhh! Great great grandpappy's bones! Ahhhhhhhh! Jerry make it stoooooop!"

"What do you think?" the gooey-headed monstrocity echoes. "My best creation… A fake ghost ship! With real skeletons!"

Ruby-red eyes just stare up at the giant blob thing - strangely enough not frieghtened or amused! "Are you kidding? This is the /best/ you've got? I'm starting to think they put you to death just so nopony would have to listen to your jokes anymore. I mean seriously? Do you even know what funny is? Funny is like 'How do you get ahold of a Unicorn? Get them on the horn.'. Now that's humorous. Or maybe Why did the pegasus cross the road? Be-caulk it thought it was a chicken." all said with an extremelly straight face - the big, intimidating humor based blob getting ZERO emotional reaction out of Ruby!

Winter-Solstice bites her lower lip, stifling any further snickers, especially when things start getting all ectoplasmic. Darn. She was hoping bad jokes would be the answer. Still, the monstrosity is talking- more than anything did before. That's a good sign. That's progress, right? It is, at the very least, an opportunity for answers.

Winter hops forward, inching towards the blob, and mindful of any tendrils, keeping her distance from them. "It's pretty funny! I'm not sure I really get WHY it's funny just yet. Where's it going to go next, huh? Do you roll down the coast and scare everybody? They built a new town nearby for just such a thing, it'd be great. Oh. OH! Hey, can you teach me how to make some of that exploding gold? GREAT trick, by the way, totally almost had us all in stitches! We were all like…" She throws her hooves up and goes wide-eyed. "'GOLD!' And then it was like…" She throws her hooves out wider. "BOOM! Ha!" With a cackle that might be genuine, Winter drops her hooves back to the deck and prances in place. "Played us all for fools. Oh! OH! And the shrine! With the keys! You have no idea how much trouble that gave us. That was a GOOD one. Well, it was a bad one. But it's really good how bad it was and how much it stumped us anyway. The welcome mat. Did you know- hey, did you know the kelpies out there, out in the forest, they worship that thing now? They think it's sacred!" She sits back on her haunches and waggles her hooves a bit, grinning up at the blobstrosity. "NO LIE! You left a clue and started a religion! Bwaha *snort* hahaha *snort* ha!"

When in doubt, try something that at least partially worked before! Thus, Kludge goes chasing after Flintlock, swinging his blob-hunting stick to try to swat away or break the tendrils attached to Flintlock. Maybe this time it'll be more effective than when he tried the same thing on the small blobs affecting Rock'em and Sock'em!

And now there's crazy walking skeletons. Like the pony skeletons weren't creepy enough /before/. POOF goes the Rocket again. Dang it's hard to act tough and not-scared when you've got such an obvious tell. But she gulps, and creeeeeps closer to the boat, and looks around. For something. /Anything/. Anything useful, interesting… like it's a scavenger hunt! Yes. Anything that could be useful in this situation. She's good at hunting! Hopefully.

The red-eyed monster stares at Ruby, the great gooey head tilting to each of her 'jokes'. It doesn't seem very amused. But it doesn't seem very upset either. Part of this could be because Winter's job of playing up to it seems to be having a greater effect. Namely she's got it laughing again. "Hahahahaha! Religion! Really! Those silly slick-skinned devils…"

It doesn't seem to notice Kludge's attempts to bat at the gooey strands with his stick. These strands aren't like the ones by the smaller puppets. They're more like…iron bars. Sticky iron bars. So sticky that the stick sticks to them. Flintlock whines… "Try something else! I don't know, kick it! KICK IT!" Panic!

But the blob is laughing. And he's making all of the skeletons 'laugh', which really just makes all their bones rattle. Rattle, rattle, rattle. "Hawhawhawhaw! Even now my jokes are still out there! I truly am a genius. Pity not all ponies share your sense of humor." the JokeMonster says, staring at Ruby. STAAAAAARE.

"I intend to sail all over the ocean. I will scare other ships! I will claim them for my own! I will build an armada of ghost ships, and the looks on those royals faces when I come back to haunt them will be PRICELESS!"

Ruby-Blossom rolls her eyes at the blob. "Oh, I'm .sorry. Are you insulted that I don't find your jokes funny? Does that /bother/ you? Are you going to curse your family line just to get back at some annoying royals who have waaay to much free time on their hoofs? I can totally relate to disliking royals and fancy pants ponies, but you know what? If I had a family I wouldn't curse them just to extract revenge! I admit it, I was wrong. You DO make me laugh. But only 'cause I think you're kinda pathetic." she begins to laugh - AT the blob!

Winter-Solstice snickers a bit, reaching up to cover her nose with a hoof. "Oh, and I guess you're the one behind everybody in town turning into foals. THAT'S pretty funny, too. It's also really kind of ruining the local economy, but you should see, like, the captain of the harbor watch? She was getting ready to shell the town or something she was so fed up with all the kids running around. Good one! Yeah, you've left quite a legacy, that's right! Totally hilari-" She drifts off. Ghost joke fleet? Okay, that's kind of spooky. "Well, uh," she says, pushing to her feet and glancing to Ruby on one side, then Kludge on the other. She watches Kludge's stick stick. Ha! That's why they call them that. She looks back to Ruby- she's trying to insult the blob into defeat! Winter honestly doesn't know if that will work, but she can only hope. Turning back to the monster, she follows up Ruby's taunting. "Anyway, chasing the royals around, you've already done that trick, haven't you? I mean it sure worked!" worked at getting him hung! "But they already know the punchline, don't they? Surely you can think of something hilarious! I mean, you've been down here for a long, long time, right? I bet you've come up with lots of zingers since then!"

So much for the blob-hunting stick. Kludge closes his eyes and exhales, focusing calmness as he mentally prepares himself for his next idea. "May the Bone Mistress grant you final peace," he whispers as an apology to the skeletal horde… right before he goes stomping and kicking into the controlled crew, trying to smash their bones into uselessness.

Rocket gives an irked hiss. Nope, nothin' useful here. She clacks her beak, looking around for Fuzzball and Gamble. At this point she's highly considering cutting her losses, snatching some shinies, and getting for the exit! /She/ doesn't much care about a fleet of ghost pony ships.

Between Ruby's insults and Kludge's flailing, not to mention Flintlock's whining of 'GetmeoutgetmeoutgetmeoutskeletonsaregrooooooooossJERRYYYYYY!', the JokeMonster seems to be getting a little miffed. It looks to Winter, almost scowling. "…It seems you are the only one that shares /my/ glorious sense of humor. You shall join my crew!" Then it glares, at Kludge, and at Ruby, and off the ship at all the others! "The rest of you shall WALK THE PLANK and be buried with my treasure!"

Ooops. All those skeletons that Kludge is smashing are finding weapons. Sharp swords to poke at Kludge with! Another group 'dancing' up to surround Ruby in a half-circle, pointy objects and all! "Or maybe pincushions…" the JokeMonster intones. "Some fresh skeletons to scare the royals with. What do you think?" he says, eyes cast down to Winter.

Gamble? He's…actually trying to think of a good plan. By digging through treasure piles, looking for something. /Anything/. Anything other than gold and gems and little useless objects. "C'moon, c'mooon… He hid magical crud in here too, didn't he? Something's gotta be useful in here!"

There's a little whine from behind the rock outcropping as Jellybean sits up and rubs his eyes. "What happened? The last thing I remember something scary was ha-" he says, looking up from behind the rock and seeing that something scary is happening. He lets out another yelp and hides back behind the rock. What's this? There's a music box sitting not far from where he landed. Having a vague inclination that this is the right thing to do he turns the key with his teeth and then steps back.

Winter-Solstice squeaks. "Your crew? Me?" This is just the second time in recent memory she's been 'recruited' by a crazy evil pirate… thingy. Now, she might have flunked out of Salty's Academy of Swashbuckling, Carousing and Pillaging when she passed out last night after much more grog than her filly physiology could handle, but still, she's already GOT a crew, sort of, even if that crew consists of Iron Stock and a reliable paycheck. Besides, she doesn't want to be a skeleton, that doesn't sound very exciting at all!

Still, she manages a big grin, because this is exciting and adventurous in that electrifyingly frightening way. "These guys? Er- er, I know! I know! Make them walk the plank, but hide a trampoline just under the water, so that when they're about to land in it, BOING." She waggles her hooves. "Imagine their surprise! Ha! They'll think they're going to drown but nope!" She snickers to herself, then catches herself and glances about, and raising her voice, shouts at the others. "Guys, pretend you didn't hear me say that, it's a surprise!!" She catches Gamble out of the corner of her eye as she looks about, and then Jellybean. She really hopes they have something else up their sleeves, she's not sure she can tank the boss with chatter much longer.

Ruby-Blossom rolls her eyes at the joke monster and yells loudly "You're lame and boring! How many years have you waited for this, huh? You can't even crack a joke, and your first instinct is to stab other ponies? I think you're just a bitter old coot who's angry…" gingerly trotting between the skeletons legs - because you know if they want to bend down to try and swipe her - they're welcome to - but good luck keeping those heads attached! Her pace is swift, and agile - much like her normal older self. "I think you're just angry I'm funnier than you are, and guess what the hay - that look you've been /dying/ to get from the royals? I'm not even 20 years old, and I've already made the stupid royals wear a look of disbelief!" teering dangerously close to revealing a massive secret - still under the effects of the poison joke and very honest from it! "No wonder why you couldn't die peacefully, you certainly didn't accomplish anything worthwhile in life!" How reflective - Ruby can almost understand his feelings as she was on a very similar and bitter path before arriving in the Harbor. "You know, I really like the part where you desecrate the dead, that's /real/ funny." mockingly she mimics the monsters voice - quite well actually. "And for my next joke I'll orphan children, and commit acts of senseless violence. Look at me, I'm hilarious." a mocking, utterly stupid face mad at the monster as she talks in /his/ voice.

Well, the smashing didn't go according to plan, and the swatting didn't work either, but at least it left Kludge with an escape option. Since the blob-hunting stick is a 2x4 that is heavily stuck to the blob's tendrils, Kludge pulls himself up with it, then jumps onto the bony backs of the skeletons and runs across the top of the horde to get away from the middle of the crowd. "Not to state the obvious, but… this isn't working!" he calls out to no-one in particular.

Rocket freezes. She does not want to be a skeleton pony ghost thingie. She's quite happy as a griffon, thanks! She edges closer to the ship. Then tucks in her talons, and paws, and tail. Just a fuzzball! Ignore the fluff! Thinkthinkthinkthink boy it'd be really nice to come up with a plan right now, ummm… What defeats a giant bad humor monster thing? Good humor? No humor? A teacher? Why didn't we bring the teacher pony?! We need a grown-up!

For the record, it's a pretty good-sized music box. Probably at least as big as Jellybean himself. So the sound that comes out of it is…haunting. Familiar, even. An exact copy of the tune that had been necessary to get to this island in the first place. Peaceful. Lullabyeish even. The sound echoes throughout the cavern, interrupting the joyful laughter of the JokeMonster, all its animated skeletons pausing as the puppetmaster does.

"I remember this song…" it rumbles, beginning to hum along with the tune. Red eyes glimmer. But this doesn't seem to be completely enough to do more than stall the great blue thing. Especially when Ruby goes off on a beautiful tirade. Those red eyes glow hot! All the skeletons shudder, more blue tendrils lancing out to keep them all held together. Certainly the little loudmouth is getting chased about! Several swordswipes probably even come dangerously close to nicking her tail!

"I'll show you what /funny/ means!" the JokeMonster roars, making even Captain Flintlock do a 'dead pony's dance', dangling off so many blue strands in attempts to catch Kludge and Ruby! The nearest threats, see.

Gamble's ears perk up… Music soothed the creature. But then insults fired it up again. He starts looking around for something else. Instruments, perhaps? Is that a trumpet..? It IS a trumpet! He dives for the trumpet, and hastily attempts to join in the music that's going on. …Or, he would, if he knew one thing about playing a trumpet. Aw geez. Fuzzball has slightly better luck, his burrowing skills having scrounged up a harmonica. This pirate really did just stuff everything in his treasure trove, didn't he?

Ruby-Blossom certainly notices the temprorary lull in the monsters assults and the way it reacts to her insults - which are actually well calculated observations of hte creature and his past life~ Now Ruby can do one thing to help here - at least she can after hopping up a steep incline and onto a ledge - clearing her throat she begins to sing the notes from sheet music that was tucked into the Captain's journal! She tries her darndest to sing her little heart out, which is a lot tougher as a filly!

Music, huh? Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Kludge dives into the treasure, rummaging around in an attempt to find something he knows how to play.

"No?" asks Winter, looking to the side as a troop of skeleton ponies march past, jaws flapping and swords swinging after Ruby. "Don't like the trampoline bit? Hmm, hmm… bungee cords, then! Sneaky bungee cords so that when they fall off the plank they just… they just bounce around…" Her voice trails off as she turns to the other side and watches a different gaggle of skeleton puppets, led by Flintlock, chop their way after Kludge. Her cheerful grin has given way to a grimace of desperation, and Winter turns to look back at the monster. "Er… uh… hey, what did the ooze say to the other ooze when he was, uh, on his way to the, er, er, the er, the ooze party?" she stammers. "'Flowin' my way?" She strikes a little pose. Funny? "Oh, crumbs!" mutters Winter, realizing she's not about to ad-lib her way into making the creature laugh.

So, she spins about and heads for the heaps of treasure lying about. Music! Okay! Gamble and Jelly, they're trying music! It's better than nothing! She can't play an instrument at all! This is going so wrong! She vaults a skeleton, ducks a rope of joke ooze, and flies down the gangplank, into the debris and scattered remains of treasure, rustling around inside. Something, something, bongos, a tamborine, a recorder, anything any fool of a foal can pick up and play- a- a- oh! OH!

Winter pops up with a gold-plated comb. This, this she can play! She cups her hooves around it and blows across the tines. A sound that might tickle vague recollections in Ruby's memory floats up from the treasure heap as Winter plays the comb like a woodwind instrument. *Honk!* *Honk!* *Honka-honka-honk!*

Jellybean listens to the music for a few moments, soothed from his habitual terror by the music. Then he starts humming along, his voice soft but quite pleasant and able to carry fairly well. After another minute or so he makes an attempt at singing along to it, mostly improvising on the theme of 'la.' He seems to be calming down, at least.

Rocket blinks and peeks back up slowly. Why's everyone singing? Are we singing now? Hey! Wait. That's the music box noise. Well… okay, then. It got 'em in, maybe it can get 'em out! So she sings. Surprisingly well! It's chirpy, most definitely birdsong, but quite melodious birdsong, if a little high-pitched compared to the rest of the musical stylings going on in the room.

The musicbox seems to be somewhat amplified now. There's at least three voices singing, a comb-twang, a harmonica… A veritable makeshift band! Something about it makes the JokeMonster pause again, red eyes softening. "…" It seems lulled. Shrinking in upon itself just a little, all of the skeleton ponies sitting down in rapt attention.

Then the creature, too, begins to sing. Starting as a hum, a deep reverberation that rattles the ship, growing into a deep bass noise that joins in with the rest of the music. The monster is singing. It doesn't seem to be so keen on its previous thoughts of assault and battery and crew management while it's singing. This could be a plus?

Of course, Flintlock isn't convinced. "HEEEEEEEY! I'm TRAPPED here! How are we gonna kill this thing if you're all singing, huh? I don't wanna be a skeleton tooooooooo!"

Winter-Solstice glances about at the others, at Jellybean, at Rocket, at Gamble and Kludge, still honk honking on her comb. It is not much of an instrument, but its honking noise is vaguely musical all the same. Do we need… do we need lyrics? She clears her throat and speaks up, hesitantly at first, then louder. "What do we do with a grumpy sailor *HONK*, what do we do with a grumpy sailor *HONK*, what do we do with a grumpy sailor, ear-lie in the mornin'? *HONK-HONK* Make him laugh with an ol' knee-slapper *HONK*, make him laugh with an ol' knee-slapper *HONK*, make him laugh with an ol' knee-slapper, ear-lay in the mornin'. *HONK-HONK*" She tucks back into her honkin' and looks up at the monster, then starts scouting about for Ruby, hoping more and more that she didn't get skewered when everybody abandoned ship.

Jellybean soars out from behind the rocks, still la-ing along to the music and flying towards the disgruntled and panicked-sounding Flintlock. He flies in a circle, trying to see if there's some way he can help him. He's afraid, but managing it.

Kludge found something! He comes to the surface, catching his breath and taking a good look at the instument he had found.

It's a box.

He blinks, then opens the box in a hurry. Maybe there's an instrument inside? There's /something/ in there, at least!

A set of bagpipes.

Kludge looks at the 'pipes in disbelief. "No. Just… no." He digs a hole in the pile of treasure, slides the bagpipes into the hole, and then covers it back up. It's not that he doesn't appreciate good bagpipe music, but he has no clue on how to play them, and knows it.

Rocket continues with the chirping. Chirpy chirp chirp! And creeeeps ever-so-slowly up the gangplank. Everycreature seems to be leaving the ship! But one of 'em's still on there. LEAVE NO PONY BEHIND! Or, you know, something like that. S'not the Captain's fault he's crazy and related to crazier, right? Nope, don't mind her. Just a little floating fuzzball. Big ol' dustbunny (no offense to other fluffy members of the party). Heading towards the still-gooed Flintlock.

Ruby-Blossom tries her darnedest to calm the thing with song - stopping briefly to call out to it. "Surely there is something more important than revenge! What about those you left behind? What about your descendant?" hoping to get a positive response from the monster. "Think about it, there's more to life and death then wealth and revenge! I can attest to that, I used to be blinded by the same things; but I found something more! Well she's found a little more, but is still searching for that special something.

Distracted, that's what the JokeMonster is. And still shrinking. Captain Flintlock flails, the gooey strands holding him starting to loosen, but not quite enough to let him go. He blinks up at the singing feathered pegasus, holding a hoof out. "A little help..? I could use a good tug right about now!"

Gamble blows uselessly into his trumpet. And sighs. He should really have learned how to play something, huh? He looks around for something more useful, and considers. Music is certainly keeping the beast from killing them, but how can they beat it? Can they even beat it? He waves at Kludge and Winter, seeing as they're the two closest ponies that aren't otherwise busy singing. "We gotta /do/ something! We can't just stop the music or it'll swat us!"

When Ruby stops singing and tries to talk sense to the creature, its eyes brighten up. Just for a moment. Then they dim down again, fading from read to a more pleasant purple. Almost blue. "Of course there's more to life than revenge. There's laughter. There's jokes! There's…song. I will bring all of these things to the ponies of the world. And more! Much, much more!" He resumes his song! He's having fun. But his tone is getting deeper, and presenting a new problem. The cave can't handle a whole lot more shaking!

Ruby-Blossom steps forward as much as she can on the ledge "There is more to life! What makes jokes, and singing worthwhile is sharing them with others - friends and loved ones! A good joke doesn't come at the expense of somepony else, a good joke brings laughter and joy just like a good song!" hoping her words to have some effect. "A true legacy is something that ponies will remember positively, and with a genuine smile! If you want to see a truly happy smile then stop all of this madness, and end this curse! Let your family remember you with a honest smile! she stomps her feet.

Jellybean swoops down and grabs onto Flintlock. That part's relatively easy. Pulling him out? Well. Jellybean's bitty and this stuff is sticky. His voice falters for a moment, grunting and straining as he tries to pull Flintlock loose, but he keeps the rhythm of the music going.

Winter-Solstice tries to carry on a covnersation with Gamble in the midst of her 'music.' "It's getting smaller, can" *Honk* "we find something to put it back in? And then stop Flintlock from" *Honk* "blowing it back up? I don't know if we can destroy it, but" *Honk* "maybe we should contain it! Or convice… yeah, what" *Honk* "Ruby's doing right now! Tell it to, you know, be" *Honk* "nicer about it!" *Honk, Honk, Honk!* Playing her improvised comb kazzoo with all her breath once more, she looks about, hoping for more ideas, before looking up, spotting the ceiling- and noticing the dust and pebbles rattling down from above as the cavern prepares does what caverns do best- collapse at the thrilling climax. Her eyes widen. *HonkHonkHonkHonkHonkHonkHonkHonk!*

Rocket peeks over at the blob. Then over at Flintlock and Jelly. Then at the blob again. Still chirping. She tenses, then springs over to Flintlock in a quick pounce. She grabs ahold of a hoof and tries to help with the tugging as best as she can.

Kludge looks at the box, looks at the JokeMonster, looks back at the box, looks at the ceiling, looks at the debris, looks again at the JokeMonster, takes one final look at the box… then starts looking around for any tunnels leading out of this level of the cave.

Flintlock is freed! Between Jelly's tugging and Rocket's wonderful pull, the crazy /living/ Captain is tugged from the awful gooey grip, sending him flying through the air to land…on the pile next to the bagpipes. He bounces once, skids to a halt on some coins, and groans. "Ooohhhgh… H..hey! I just got a WONDERFUL IDEA!"

Gamble squints. "Is it as good as your /other/ good ideas? Cuz' right now we're about two 'good ideas' away from meetin' the Bone Mistress."

"No, no! A good /good/ idea!" Flintlock insists, picking up the bagpipes and /thrusting/ them upon Kludge. "You! Take these! Do..something with them to the monster. TRUST ME!"

Speaking of said monster. It isn't sure what to think about Ruby's monologue. It's nodding emphatically. So are all the skeletons. "I /want/ to share it with the world! They /will/ smile! Or they'll die. Either way all the ponies that are left will be happy!" It's still shrinking though. The continued music in the background, and lack of insults are doing much. Now it's down to about the size it was when it was contained within the treasure chest in the first place!

More singing from Jellybean, as he circles what's left of the goo-monster. He's playing with the tune a little, pushing it more into the direction of a lullaby, and his nonsense-lyrics are adjusting to match the new tone.

Ruby-Blossom frustration sets in and Ruby yells "LISTEN TO MY SONG!" She begins to really it give to the ol' chap - putting all that much more effort into her singing - perhaps the renewed vigor well help put things to an end! The young mare bellowing the delightful little lullaby with all her might, hoping that music might reach him where words won't.

Suddenly, bagpipes! Kludge blinks and reflexively catches the bagpipes, then looks at Flintlock and then at the JokeMonster. He shrugs with an "might as well, what else could go wrong wait don't answer that" expression on his face. He trots up to the JokeMonster, jabs the output pipes into the blobby goo, then takes a really deep breath and blows into the bagpipes with all of his might. Horribly bad idea? Probably. Only idea he had? Certainly.

Winter-Solstice hauls upright and out of the treasure pile, leaving Gamble, Kludge and Flintlock to do whatever they have in mind. With Ruby launching into a song, she figures she'll pick up where the rogue hairstylist left off, and hopefully buy enough time for the ponies left below to put their plan into action. The golden comb is tucked into her headband, there underneath the moth-eaten pirate hat she still wears. Clomp clomp clomp, up the gangplank she goes, back onto the deck, and into the midst of the calmed skeletons and dwindling jokemonster. "See, that's not a bad idea!" she says. "Well, aside from the killing folks, because that's ev- I mean because then you have that much less of an audience to play to. Okay, so what you need to do is build some sort of a stage here on the ship. Maybe we can convert the quarterdeck, so you can just back into port and there you go, you're set up. You can turn this into a traveling stand-up routine! And hey, with THESE guys," she reaches over to elbow a skeleton, "You're primed for some good ol' slapstick puppet stuff. Kids love that. It'll be a hoot. Here, I can help you write." She settles down. "So an alicorn walks into a bar, see? And the Bartender says, 'We don't serve your kind here!' So the alicorn says… 'Of course you do! I'm a princess!'"

And fling goes the Captain! Rocket topples, sprawled out on her back, warbling a bit on that chirp. Eeep. She picks herself back up as quickly as she can, shaking herself off. Did it work? It looks like it worked! Now… what to do about the rest of the blob?

Splortch! goes the bagpipe. A bubble forms within the JokeMonster. A big bubble. That winds its merry way up through the creature, distending the thing's head. It bursts! And a loud bagpipes squeal echos throughout the chamber. The monster shudders and turns to stare at Kludge. "That… Was a pretty good joke." it notes, a tendril neatly plucking up the bagpipes, with or without a Kludge still attached to it. "I used to play one of these…" it speaks, many of its tendrils retreating from the skeleton army to wrap around the musical instrument instead! Except for one tendril. That it uses to pat Winter on the head. "You have a great sense of humor!" the creature says, before putting the pipes up to its 'mouth', and blowing.

Only nothing happens. No sound. Just a wet noise. The creature rumbles in confusion and tries again! Still nothing. Again! Nothing. AGAIN! Each time it seems to be shrinking, and the bagpipes bag is getting..bigger. "I /used/ to be good at this! Why is it not working! Work you confounded contraption! Work!" Blow! Blow! Blow! It doesn't stop until it's a mere shadow of its former self, struggling to hold both the bagpipes, or have anything left to blow into the bloated instrument.

"Nobody ever said great great grandpappy was a smart cookie." Flintlock says from behind Kludge, peering down at the much smaller JokeMonster, most of it practically stuffed in the bagpipes. "Someone mind putting a cork in that other end? Maybe grabbing a torch..?"

Ruby-Blossom panting and exhausted Ruby slides down the cliff face and trots over to the pint-sized joke monster - looking down at it - locking eyes really. She leans way down and whispers to the monster!

With its original purpose obsolete, Kludge starts whittling the blob-hunting stick into corks for the bagpipes. "Y'know, if it weren't for the fact that it's be more hassle than it's worth, it'd be tempting to hit Saltlick with this," he observes. The Dread Pirate, Joke'd into submission? Nice idea. Letting the JokeMonster out as a result? VERY BAD idea.

Winter-Solstice cringes slightly as the pseudopod looms near, but relaxes when all she gets is a pat on the head. And a compliment regarding her horrible non-joke. Part of her feels guilty for being rewarded for something so terrible, but that is not the part that fuels her big smile. "Thanks!" she chirps. "I got another. This pirate walks into a bar with a ship's wheel held between his back legs. The bartender says, 'Hey, what's with the wheel?' And the pirate says, 'Arrrr. It's drivin' me n-'" She quiets as she sees the blob is mostly contained, biting her lower lip. Don't kick anything. Don't say anything. Don't screw this up.

Rocket blinks and brushes herself off, heading over towards the blob-filled bagpipes. "Well… that… seems to have worked?" She looks sideways at Kludge. "On who now?"

Jellybean lands with everypony else, swishing his tail. "Does this mean we get to go home now? I wanna take a bubble bath." It does smell pretty bad in here.

A sudden idea strikes Winter in the midst of her silence. "Oh! Oh! I know just what the thing to stop it up is, hold on!" She casts about the deck, surveying the skeletons, then spots one in particular- the one wearing the captain's hat. Making her way over to it, she roots about the dried out husk, finds something, nabs, and pulls. Tromping back to the bagpipes, she holds up in one hoof her prize- a little chunk of tailbone. "His funnybone." There is no such thing as an actual funnybone, but then, isn't that what ALL of them are with this particular skeleton?

The monster blinks tiny red eyes up at the gathered ponies. "How did you all get so big..?" it asks, the part that hasn't been put into the bagpipes. It especially blinks at Ruby in complete confusion, before Flintlock trots on up with a musicbox on his back. He places it down next to the JokeMonster, opens it up, and unceremoniously tosses the creature in! Then he closes the lid on the box, takes the bone from Winter to plug the mouth end of the bagpipes up with, and looks between bagpipes and musicbox. "Well! I'm still cursed, but at least that thing's dealt with. Now uh…" He looks around. "…How do we get out?"

Gamble and Fuzzball choose then to climb on the deck, looking at the cavern. "They had to get it /in/ here somehow, right? Maybe one of those walls knocks down or something."

Jellybean looks around. "I don't know. I could look for a sky exit but I don't think I'd be able to carry anypony else. Should I see what I can find?" he asks of the general group, scuffing a hoof.

Kludge gives Jellybean one end of the rope he brought along. "If you could find a way out and something to tie the rope to so the rest of us can climb out, that should work."

Winter-Solstice watches the box for several long momenths, before reaching up and patting Kludge on the shoulder. "Bagpipes! If that isn't a makeshift solution I don't know what is. I'm glad you're on our side, Kludgey!" She stands up and turns to look out over the lake, towards the cavern walls. "You're still cursed, and we're all still foals. I was kinda hoping this would all get solved by now, too! Jellybean, Rocket, can you guys see if there's anything that looks like… like… like a door? You know, along the sides of the lake? Maybe there's a big chain we pull to flush the boat out and into the ocean. That'd be funny, right?"

Rocket blinks, fluttering her wings. "Yeah. Right. Heh, you know, at this point I wouldn't be surprised?" She flapped a few times to get into the air. Flying fluffball! She's… a decent bit less graceful as a hatchling. Hasn't quite grown into her wings yet. But she can fly! So it'll do.

Distractions are wonderful! They allow sneakier ponies to partake in certain trades when everypony else is distracted.

Ruby wanders back to the group to curiously examine the situation and re-join the discussion. "Soo…" she looks around before gently rapping on the ship with a hoof. "I don't want to live to here either." she grins at Rocket. "Thank you for taking a look~

Rocket and Jellybean certainly find a way out! Kind of. One of the walls shows signs of daylight through it! A few cracks. Apparently this was the wall the great Pirate Captain Jean Luc Faux Pas Joke Monster was going to sail through to escape and being his reign of joke-fueled terror!

Captain Fintlock starts brushing the bones of long dead ponies off the ship's deck. "I don't know about you all, but I'm taking this ship with me. If I'm going to stay cursed, I'm going to make sure I live in comfort! Would you all…like a lift back to Horseshoe Harbor?"

Winter-Solstice makes a face as the bones get brushed aside. "Hey, hey! At least wait until you can bury them at sea, huh? I mean, that's what a sailor would want, right?" She makes her way over to the edge and peers down into the lake. "If you're offering us a ride, we'll take it. I don't think we can get up to our ship up above. Are you gonna give up on finding a cure, though? Maybe there's something on board?" She quiets, then turns towards Flintlock. "Maybe you only have insomnia because you've been worried about finding Faux Pas' treasure and now that you have, you can relax, and not have insomnia anymore? I mean…" She glances back towards the box and its HILARIOUS contents. "Assuming you find someplace secure to put THAT."
Ruby-Blossom looks around the deck to ascertain what is left now that the less desirable monsters and skeletons have been mostly taken care of! "Oh come now, we've all earned whatever treasures might be lurking about, right?" offering an addorable grin to the remainder of the party - hoping they'll agree - she likes shiney things!

Jellybean finds an outcropping to tie the rope to and then flies back to join everypony else. "I think we found something," he says, "but we'd need to make it bigger if we're going to use it."

"A ride back to Horseshoe Harbor? Sounds like a great idea!" Kludge exclaims with a smile… which quickly shifts to an "oh crap" expression. "Uh, we arrived on this island in a cave at sea level, yes? And then the tunnel we walked through to get here spiraled downward, correct? And then the room collapsed into a cavern even further down, right? So… how far up will the ship have to go, and how will it get up there?"

Rocket flies back along with Jellybean, fluttering down to land next to Gamble, pointing out the wall. "Hey, what about all the /rest/ of the treasure?" she asides to him, keeping her voice down enough to hope that Flintlock doesn't hear it, lest he recall that there may be more things to explode. "We just gonna leave all that here?"

"I can hold my breath! What about you?" says Winter, smiling back to Kludge. She then looks past him, towards the treasure pile left ashore, then back to Flintlock with a furrowed brow. "Hey, your explodey magic, does that work on, like, everything, or JUST treasure? Because we could… we could use the gold to blast our way out, but… if we didn't HAVE to… that would be better…"

"That?" Captain Flintlock looks at the box. And the bagpipes. "I'm going to take that with me… And I'm probably going to set it on fire. Somewhere. Not here." In fact, he takes the bagpipes, sets them on the box, and starts scooting them towards the captain's cabin! For safekeeping.

Gamble flops onto the deck, glancing sideways at Rocket. "Right now, I just want a hot bath… That joke-cure-ship should be in the Harbor now."

The Captain stops, his ears perk up. "Hey! That's a /great/ idea! Everybody, load the treasure up onto the deck! We'll use the gold as cannonballs and blast our way out to the open seas!"

Winter-Solstice stares at the captain with a flat expression, before shrugging cheerfully and making her way down to the gold to start gathering it up. Hey, she DID say she was just in this for the experience points. Oh well! Soon she's tromping her way back up the ramp with a big saucer on her broad back, stacked with coins and glittering jewels and maybe a few rocks that got mixed in with it all.

Kludge assists with the loading of treasure and useful debris onto the ship. Broken boards? Scrap material. Rocks? Maybe we can use *those* for cannonballs. Other miscellaneous crud mixed in with the treasure? We can sort things out later; let's focus on get the ship loaded.

Ruby-Blossom places both hoofs on the ship railing and cheerfully cheers on the work-horses "Good show! Lug that gold! You' got it now! Hey Kludge, Winny is carrying more than you!" clearly she has no intention of working /that/ hard.

…SIGH. Rocket gives Winter a sideways stare for a moment before flapping her wings againg, fluttering off to lug some herself. Maybe they won't blow it /all/ up. Or at the very least maybe she can keep ahold of a couple pretty shinies herself.

Jellybean helps out as much as he can with the lifting which, and the narrator is sure this will come as a shock to the audience, is very little. Wings flapping in overdrive as he starts loading things up. He does keep an eye out for anything pretty or neat-looking, but he doesn't want to be a bad pony.

"That's right, load 'er up! All of it! Everything must go! Pirate clearance sale! Our low low prices will make you go 'Arrrrrgh'!" Yep. Captain Flintlock is definitely of Bad Joke's blood.

He isn't completely heartless though. Even as the bunch of treasure transfers from the ground to the ship, he turns to poke through the pile. "If there's anything in here anyone wants to keep, ye best speak up and grab what you want. Cuz' the rest is going through that wall!" he shouts, pointing to the wall with the rope attached to it. "Ready the cannons!"

Kludge snags a few trinkets, including an odd-looking bauble. A bit of treasure… well, he'd say "never hurt", but after that exploding gold incident…

Winter-Solstice glances about at the treasure, digs out a single coin, and holds it up, smiling. It's got a pony on it! Ha ha ha! She loves ponies, some of the best people she knows are ponies. She flips it into her bag. "Okay, I got what I want!" Beneath her headband, beneath her moth-eaten pirate hat, the golden comb glitters, momentarily forgotten. She takes up a stance near the edge of the ship. "You think these cannons still work after all these years? I hope so. Otherwise we might have to magic our way out. And by we I mean the one who knows how to use magic. Last time I tried all I did was set the kitchen on fire, but in my defense, they never told me the blowtorch was only to be used by *expert* unicorns." She starts to prance in place, because explosions will be happening soon!

Now that's what she was hoping for! Rocket scans over the pile of treasure, snatching up a couple coins and gems and other shinies. And that fancy-looking thingie over there! 'Cause /something/ has to be magical and awesome, dangit. …And not blue and jokey sort of magical, with any luck, but she'd take that too, really, that /was/ some interesting magic!

"They should work." Captain Flintlock says, all grins, Gamble helping wheel one of the cannons over to the front of the ship. Flintlock starts loading it, touching each of the goods as he does, until it's chock full of exploding shiny (and not so shiny) objects! Then he aims it to the wall, touches his sparking horn to the fuse and…

KABOOM!

The rocky cavern wall crumbles, just as it was supposed to! A flood of water rushes in to occupy the space difference, as this cavern was indeed lower than sea level, but in the process it somehow manages to create a current that sets the ship sailing, just barely avoiding breaking a mast on the mouth of the newly created cave! Flintlock hangs onto a railing for dear life, squealing like a kid in a candy shop. "Wheeeeee! Hey you guyyyyyyys! We're freeeeeeeeee!"

Free! Free to sail back to Horseshoe Harbor, to be free of the jokes and the foalocalypse. Free to return to what passes for normal lives in the most /interesting/ Harbor in all of Equestria.

Free to go home!

Jellybean cheers and prances on the deck, his mane bobbing to and fro as he does so. "Yay! We get to go home and I can take a bath!"

Winter-Solstice prances upt to the prow of the ship, getting as good a view as she can- and, if it should spin about on its journey out of the cave and into the ocean, she follows along, clambering along the railing, over and under ponies and griffons and giant bunnies. She throws her hooves up with a cheer with every explosion and shattering rock, she hops and hoots and hollars with delight at the salty sea breeze blowing into the musty cavern and embracing the battered ship as it washes out into the ocean. Adventure! Adventure! Adventure, ho!

Kludge is just happy that the majority of the adventure is behind him. Finding some treasure was nice, and being turned into a foal might have had an unexpected advantage, but he does get the feeling that he's not really meant to be an adventuring pony - except maybe in a support role, but once you're there, you might as well adventure. Ah well.

Thankfully there are no more surprises to be had, at least not until the ship nears port! Two ships now sport Queen Pegasus colors - the first is her behemoth of a ship which is still undergoing repairs thanks to last night, and the other smaller ship is the very same one the group used to sail to the island! This means she followed the group, and then stole their ship. "Oi Queen! A ship." the pink pegasus shoving her crew member down to stand on his back and peer out at the unfamiliar ship "By Luna's bed hair, they actually made it back." she motions to her crew who takes who take to the skies like flying monkies and begin to circle about the unfamiliar ship - looking for traces of gold and treasure - thankfully there isn't any as it was all used to blast a hole in the wall! "Nothing Queen" the flying monkies call down to their Captain - but that doesn't stop a pair of them from dropping a cannonball on the newly arrived ship!

…Which bounces off the deck and right back into the crowd of pegasus, just like the ship were made out of rubber. Oh man, that Captain Faux Pas was /such/ a kidder.

And so the brave group of foals were taken back to Horseshoe Harbor, to be harassed by real pirates and real life once again, each of them given a little share of what was left of unexploded treasure. By then the town had already started the treatment of Anti-Joke, and as they say, all's well that ends well.

Days later, just before something Great and Horrible happens once again to the Harbor, a note arrives.

"Dear Friends of Captain Flintlock. I wanted to thank you again for your help in finding my ancestor's treasure. Though we didn't fix the curse, we did have a great adventure, and I think I regained a little of my sanity."

"Unfortunately, I set fire to the bagpipes and the box containing my great great grandfather's spirit encased in the horrible poison joke monstrocity. I hoped it would destroy the creature, but instead my ship has an infestation. Fortunately there was a convenient island to crash the ship onto. I have since sailed away on a raft, and have not looked back."

"Hope everything is going well, and good luck with your life!"

"P.S: Whatever you do, don't sail near the Giant's Big Toe Islands. My Great Great Grandfather's creation may have taken offense to being stranded."