Children Of The Sea
IC date: Winter 22, 1007
OOC date: January 10, 2013
PCs: Lorelei, Spindrift
NPCs: Rock'em, Sock'em
GM: Applejack

Up the beach, on the north end of town, beyond the docks, the Rusty Bucket is being hauled into a clumsy makeshift dry dock. The sounds of the crowd gathered there- truly a phenomenal number of ponies- can be heard throughout the town, rising in shouts and cries as the effort wanes and waxes. The ship surges up the beach, out of the water, then pauses.

At a distance, though, a sullen audience waits and watches the effort. Far to the south, on the other side of the harbor, Spindrift sits on the beach, curled up in such a way that she can rest her shoulders and forelegs on her coiled tail. As the wind whips around and the rain drizzles steadily from the mainstrom, it plasters a ragged black cloak to the seapony's frame and helps to obscure her features. Even then, she stands out amidst a beach strewn with debris dredged up by the churning whirlpool, a black splotch in the sand. She's here very often, sitting there on the beach as if she were merely an observer and rather the architect of the town's troubles, but it's surprising what people overlook when they're busy worrying about other things.

The mayor seems to have been avoiding the shipbuilding efforts. Truth be told she knows little about ships, and is still kind of banking on a /not/-tavern ship being their way out of this pickle. Be that as it may, nopony can say that she isn't nervous about the whole thing. So she's gone to do what she usually does while nervous (well, close to it). If a swim would be ill-advised, at least she can take a walk on the beach! And stare out at the storm and /frown/. Because that will totally fix it, yup. If she frowns at it hard enough surely it will go away.

Naturally Lorelei can't seem to go anywhere without two pony figures trailing her of their own accord. Rock'em and Sock'em traverse the beach, Sock'em keeping an eye on the frowning mayor, and Rock'em kicking at shells on the beach to see how well they skip across the turbulent waters. Which, being a beach and surf and whatnot, probably isn't that well.

The shells sink rapidly. Rock'em clearly needs to put more points in Shell Skipping.

The little party of wandering ponies is just about ready to find themselves all alone with their thoughts, and their gloom, and the rotten weather, when a voice speaks up. It's Spindrift, there in her cloak, up the beach a ways, in the aforementioned curled position. "Good evening, Mayor," calls the sinister seapony. "You have picked an unlikely evening for a stroll."

Indeed, with the Spire looming over yonder and the storm ongoing, conditions are not the most favorable. Warm hurricane rains scatter across the beach in heavy, round drops, and the swirling cloud ceiling flickers and shudders with pent-up lightning seeming ready to burst at any moment.

Lorelei jumps, startled by the sudden speaker, and looks around alertly; it takes her a minute to spot the seapony. "What? Oh. Hello. Well, I don't mind the rain, much." She narrows her eyes, peering at the figure through the rain; her ears perk a bit when she notices the curved tail. "…You have picked an unlikely time to moonbathe."

Spindrift shifts slightly, sitting up, pushing her shoulders upward with hooves braced against the sand. The damp black cloth of her cloak hangs heavily over her thin frame, and from her hood, her mane spills out to pool in the sand, ragged and tangled. "You think there will be a better time?" she asks in a rhetorical fashion. "… Why are you out here? Are you considering your options?"

Sock'em jumps near the same time Lorelei does, throwing a glare down the beach at the coiled figure. "Uh… Boss? Is that the one that's causin' all this mess?" he mutters at the mayor, taking up position closer to the important townspony.

Rock'em, meanwhile, attempts to skip another shell. "Crappy rocks. Skip, darnit, skip! It's not that hard!"

The rolling surf, whipped into irregularity by the storm, catches this latest shell without much in the way of skipping, and then promptly deposits a big ugly shell on the beach near Rock'em. I see your scallop and raise you a conch.

Lorelei casts a glance over at Sock'em, then looks back at Spindrift with slightly more caution. Peeeer. Hmmm. "…I daresay we have few options. No, I've considered those already. It really is as simple as… I'm going for a walk. Being near the sea makes me feel calmer, even… when it's so troubled as this."

"I imagine it would," says Spindrift, tilting her head to better regard Lorelei. Within the shadows cast by her hood, there's a glimmer of sea green eyes, catching the light for a moment. She then turns, glancing at the two goons in tow for a moment. "Who are your friends? Bodyguards, from the look of it. Confidants as well?"

Sock'em would sure like to think so. But before he can answer, there's a bigger /splash/ near the surf, as Rock'em punts the freshly deposited shell into the waves, promptly trotting up to join the other two ponies. "Eh? Nah. We're just her goons! Every important pony deserves good, reliable goons!"

Sock'em pauses a moment, closes his mouth, and hangs his head. Just a little.

Lorelei blinks and glances back at her guards (/goons), tilting an ear. After a moment's pondering she nods slowly - though Rock'em speaks before she does, making her blush faintly and chuckle. "Well. I suppose so." She looks back to Spindrift. "But they have my trust, be that as it may. They know more of me than most."

The shrouded seapony stares at Lorelei, then turns to regard Rock'em and Sock'em in turn, paying each a fair deal of consideration. Eventually she nods, slowly. "I have wondered, ever since I first met you," she says, at length, "How you have managed to rise to such a position. Surely the town does not know much about you. But then the question be-"

Spindrift pauses, arching her back, speech momentarily interrupted as a sharp cough wracks her slender body. Curling a foreleg before her face, she takes several moments to cough and gradually regain her breath. "… ahh… the question is -why- you are here, then, and not where you came from."

Rock'em, at least, is proud of the whole 'trust' comment Lorelei makes, and Sock'em stands a little straighter too. They're more or less silent though, at the moment. Eyeing Spindrift, perhaps gauging if her comments are going to dip towards the ol' 'have at thee' sort of thing. Or maybe just wondering why she's coughing like that.

Lorelei nods slightly. "'Here' as in 'in this town', I imagine? As we've covered why I'm here on the beach." She hesitated a moment, pondering. "I've wondered that myself," she finally admits, rather frankly all things considered. "I fell into the position. Not even that, I was placed. It apparently is not the landpony way - I've read their records. They speak of… choices, elections." She gives a faint chuckle. "Though this town surely seems to handle things differently. Maybe I found myself in the rank properly after all."

She pauses for a moment, peering out at the ocean. Even through the rain, she can just barely see the old, smoothe rock out in the harbor, picture how she'd lay, where she'd fold her hooves over, how nice the sun felt. "But… it's my job," she finally declares, "to be here. That's what this… 'mayor' thing is. It's /important/," and she draws herself up a bit. "The town needs me."

Spindrift draws herself up as well, though not as high, hampered not only by a fish-tailed body ill-suited to proud stances but by what appears to be a general unwillingness. "So it gives you a sense of power, is that it?" she asks, tone neutral. "Power over foolish land-dwellers who don't know any better? That would be the obvious conclusion." She pauses, watching Lorelei for a moment. She then turns to regard Sock'em. "Does she do well, your Mayor? Well enough to command YOUR loyalty, at least."

Stoic Sock'em frowns. "Of course she has! She's been a good mayor." he grunts, lifting his head into the storm. "Tried to get things done. Even when it seemed impossible. An' even when we weren't very nice to her." The stallion snorts, giving the sand beneath his hooves a single stomp and paw. "We don't follow her because we /have/ to. We follow her because we /want/ to."

Lorelei blinks, ears flattening. "What? No! Of course that's not it!" Power? What sort of pony does this pony think she is?! No, power is not what it's about. At least… she doesn't /think/ that's it. She frowns, glancing down at the sand for a moment. Sock'em's words seem to perk her up a bit, though. Her ears raise again, and a bit of the tenseness fades. She might even flash him a small smile. "No, that's not it," she states, a bit less sharply this time. "It's not power. It's… they /need/ me. …This town is a mess. I'm sure you've seen that, I knew it when all I did was watch. They have disasters! All the time! And the fires! Do you know what fire /is/? Because it destroys the town, all the time! Just out of nowhere!" She stamps a hoof. /FIRE/. "And there are all sorts of unpleasant characters, and ill trade, and ruffians, and… and…" she trails off, shaking her head. "…And somepony's got to fix it. Somehow. The way they're all so eager to rise up, to fight for it…" She frowns. "They might be landponies, but… but there are some good ones here. There are. There must be. …They're not all quite so foolish as I thought." Even if this seems to nearly pain her to admit.

Spindrift does not respond immediately to Sock'em's reply, and, as Lorelei launches into her explanation, sinks down, resting herself in that limp coil on the sand once more. Even as the Mayor finishes, the other seapony is silent, considering. "Is that why you remain? Loyalty to those who shoe loyalty to the town?" A few moments pass. "Because nobody is leaving. Even in the midst of imminent destruction they remain. Force of habit? Stubborn pride? Mere foolishness?"

Spindrift shifts slightly, and again, there's a flicker of sea green beneath her hood, as she regards Lorelei with a pointed gaze. "You could flee all of this, too, but you remain. Either you see a solution to this-" The seapony gestures towards the looming Spire. "… or you have nowhere else to go." Her voice grows ragged as she finishes, and she takes a moment to cough into her hoof once more, though more quietly than last time.

Sock'em glowers. He's heard the rumors! More or less. He stamps at the sand again. "Maybe you can answer a question for me, huh? Have /you/ ever had yer home threatened? D'ya know what a home means? Or just because you can swim anywhere you want in that big ol' ocean, your 'home' is too big to take away?"

Rock'em, meanwhile, isn't quite so gloomy. He's observing Spindrift's coughing fit, giving Lorelei a nudge. "Is she sick..? You seaponies don't have, like, weird viruses or something do you? Is that why she went nuts?" His eyes wide. "You're not gonna go nuts too, are you? I /really/ don't want another nutso boss."

Lorelei blinks and sighs softly, looking back out at the Harbor. She gives a faint shrug. "I don't know for sure what keeps them here. …As he says, they're fighting for their home. Can anypony blame them for that? Home is… home is home. It's more than just 'a place to stay' for them. It's not somewhere they could just pack up and leave, not that easily. …I think a /lot/ of ponies here have nowhere else to go." That's the closest to an answer to that as she seems to be giving!

To Rock'em, she asides, "No, I'm not going to go nuts." She looks over at Spindrift, tilting an ear. "…What about you? Why are /you/ doing this?" She pauses, shaking her head slightly. "I suppose it's not my business in the end. But… did we - the town - do something to you? I've heard nothing of anyone here acting against the seaponies. Even before I was mayor, they never seemed to wish us ill. Why the town? Why /this/ town? …Are you really looking to start a war?" She doesn't sound accusing. Curious, maybe. A little frightened, definitely. She is young, and inexperienced, and nowhere near confident in the concept of leading the town in a /wartime/. …Not to mention the entire side-conflict to be had if the seaponies were to move to war. That would also pose quite the problem, wouldn't it.

Spindrift's sea-green gaze shifts slightly, looking to Sock'em as he lashes out. She listens, but offers no immediate reply, not as Rock'em and then Lorelei offer their follow-ups. As the Mayor finishes her line of questions, Spindrift turns to look out over the water. "I don't have a -virus,-" she states. "And I'm not starting a war. I'm not doing this with the blessings of the Queen or anybody. I suspect she'd be one of the first to try and stop me if she knew… or at least if she cared." Spindrift considers for a moment, then shrugs, looking back to Lorelei.

"I do this because it is the only way to ensure the land-dwellers cannot harm us… and that they cease harming themselves. You have said it yourself- the town would destroy itself if not for an interceding hoof. Whereas you would seek to protect them from themselves, however, I would simply see them removed from danger."

The looming clouds pick an opportune time to rumble as a bit of the built-up charge dissipates with a subtle flash muted by the swirling grey storm. "Albeit by hastening the town's inevitable destruction, I admit," continues Spindrift. "It's an ugly solution, I realize, but then, so is surgery to excise a fatal tumor." Her tone is distant and disinterested, as tired as her posture increasingly looks.

Lorelei frowns faintly, rubbing her mane with one hoof. She thinks this response over carefully. One can almost see the gears turning. Perhaps she's persued this line of thought before! Or perhaps this is just such a new viewpoint that it takes her some time to grasp it. "…But this isn't the only town by the sea," she finally says, slowly, "and many ponies here are fond of the sea as it is, and would likely end up near it again if they did go elsewhere. You suggest that… that the 'problem' is the location alone." She frowns deeper, pondering this even as she speaks. "…Maybe it is. I've… seen enough good in the citizens to… doubt that they are the problem alone. But is destroying the town going to fix it? If you scatter shells to the waves it's hard to predict where the current will take them."

She sits back on her haunches as she thinks over this philosophical conundrum. "I just… I think… I /feel/ like if they're fighting this hard for home, over and over again, that… that moving them, changing things like that, would bode ill. I don't know how. I really don't. I suppose I've just never understood… breaking something in order to fix it. What if all that happens is you… break it worse? What if you… give them reason to go to war? Or… or what if you just make them miserable? I just… I want to /fix/ it. Not break it worse." Maybe she's not entirely talking about the storm anymore.

Sock'em grunts after Lorelei speaks, adding his own two bits in. In his most grousiest tone. "You don't know if this town's gonna self-destruct, anyway. It hasn't completely washed away, or burned away, or melted, or exploded yet, despite all the disasters, for quite a few years." He straightens up. He actually read some of those Harbor History books lurking in the Mayor's offices! "I was part of one of those disasters, y'know. These guys are crazy, but you tick'em off and they'll show you what 'survival' really means. I wouldn't wanna be on the wrong side of trying to take their home away again."

Rock'em, meanwhile, only shrugs. "She really just don't look so well, boss." he points out. Obviously.

"You are right, of course, that this is merely one town," says Spindrift. "There are others. I wanted…" She trails off, looking out to sea. "I anticipated this being a first step, that I would proceed down the coast and ensure the border between our worlds was enforced. Vanhoover, Seaddle, Las Pegasus, every intervening village, each one done away with in time. No more pirates, then. No more overly curious seaponies losing themselves in unfamiliar lands."

She rests her head back down. "But I don't think I will last long enough to see that through. So yes, you are correct. This may be futile. Still… wouldn't you take a chance to see things put right, however slim, if it was your only recourse?"

She shifts slightly, then, to regard Sock'em. "They have rebounded, every time. It is commendable. What is the potential cost of they do not, however? I've given them more warning than a fire ever will, than a hurricane ever could. They have had weeks, now, to leave. Better now than when the next calamity strikes, one too great to recover from, or too swift to anticipate."

Lorelei blinks and draws herself up a bit. "Maybe that's… exactly what I'm doing." She states this with the air of somepony only just realizing that this may indeed be true. "If they leave, they give up. These landponies don't give up easily." She shakes her head. "…I empathize. I do. We're… we're sisters, you and I. We hear the call of the sea and ride the currents. Sometimes I feel like I /am/ the one lost somewhere unfamiliar. …But these ponies need me. They're good ponies. They deserve a chance. If they won't give up… neither will I. I'll find a way to stop this… or I'll follow them where they go, if they'll have me." She lets out a breath slowly. This is quite a big decision to state aloud! She's a bit surprised to hear herself say it.

Another breath, and she looks over at Spindrift. "…If you are unwell… if you need anything. I bear you no ill will. Perhaps at one time I would have done the same you are…" she gives a small chuckle. "…I suppose in a way I nearly did, once.

There's no response from Spindrift for several moments, as she lowers her head, letting her hood slip downward. Nearly still, and certainly quiet, it's almost easy for her to blend in with the other debris washed up on the beach, especially as the encroaching night lets her black cloak blend in better. Maybe that's why she can get away with just hangin' around. "It's kind of you to offer," she says. "And you're not the first. Sometimes I wonder…"

She doesn't finish the thought. "You nearly did this? Something changed your mind?"

Rock'em and Sock'em both puff a breath, taking a single step back, giving each other a look. But they're silent. Quiet now, letting the two seaponies talk.

Lorelei nods slowly. "The entire series of events that led to me holding the position I do now." She casts a glance back at Rock'em and Sock'em, blushing faintly and clearing her throat a bit. "My motivations were not the… best. I believed this town meant me and mine ill. I believed they would bring my kind harm, as they harmed themselves. I thought to change things, to… to take over. To force things to be different. Had I the means I would have seen the whole place undone and gone. I was misled… but I was wrong." She shakes her head slightly. /That's/ not something she says a lot! She gives a small shrug and a wan smile. "…Don't get me wrong. Some ponies are entirely the wrong sort. Some do mean you ill, merely because you are not them, you stand in their way, you're different. But… but in that way, I think, we really aren't so different than they are here on land." She inserts a wry chuckle. "…Maybe I really am wrong in the head. If I - if /we/ fail, I'll be sad to see the place go. I've watched it for so long. But I'll do everything in my power to be sure that if anything is lost here, it is only buildings, not lives."

Spindrift listens to all of this with the same stillness as before. She's moved very little ever since Lorelei and her escort happened upon her, and doesn't seem to be in much of a hurry to change that pattern. Given the rough and tumble quality of the Mayor's bodyguards, it may seem a foolish decision to leave herself so plainly vulnerable. When at last she speaks, it's with a note of fear previously absent from her voice. "Lives may be lost, though. Nobody… nobody is leaving. They were supposed to be awed, frightened, panicked. That was the plan, but here they are…"

At last she sits up, grunting slightly, to swing a foreleg out towards the town. Its lights gleam amidst the haze of the ongoing rain, warm yellows and whites in contrast with the murk of the ocean, the fel gleam in the clouds above. "I don't want them to be hurt. Gone, away from the ocean, but alive. But the longer they stay, the more danger they're in." That edge of fear is taking on an almost desperate tone, and though much of Spindrift's face is shrouded by the shadows of her hood, it's still clear she wears a distraught expression to match her voice. "And the more I sit and watch, the more I realize I'm thinking just the way you say you were. I don't want to see that happen, not like this!"

Lorelei shakes her head slightly. This is a feeling she can share; distress she can empathize with. "…Can it be stopped? Is there a way to stop it? You must know what /started/ it. Maybe… maybe with some direction. Maybe if we just knew where to start. Stop. It." Huff. "I can tell them to leave, but few will listen. I can plan all I want but I have know way of knowing if it'll do any good. I can pack them all on a ship but I don't even really know if the ship /exists/ and how are we going to get out to it anyways, so few of these ponies can swim worth anything, and I don't know how much time we have even before it's too far in, and…" she shakes her head again, moving a small step closer. "Please, if… if there's /any/ way to help… if they stay until the last, if I can't get them to leave and I can't make it stop, I don't know what I'll do. Can we stop it? Can we /move/ it? Can we keep it only to rain even, and then there can't be more fires either?" If she didn't sound so sincere and concerned one might almost think that was a joke.

Spindrift draws up and, as Lorelei draws nearer, pushes back a bit. Her alarmed demeanor has given way to wariness, and with her tail curled beneath her, hooves planted in the sand, she almost looks like an animal, hunched and tense and ready to flee. The position pushes her up enough that the Black Heart- true to its name, a heart-shaped crystal, wrapped in a chain that hangs around Spindrift's neck- swings free to hang below her like a ball and chain. "Stop it… I…" She falls silent, gaze darting towards the Spire, eyes haunted. "Stop… no. No…" Her head hangs. The dark tones of the Heart seem to deepen. "It wasn't ever supposed to be stopped. Not by you, not by anything. There's… there's no point in even trying."

Her tense posture dissolves and she sinks to the sand, reaching up with a leg to drape her hoof across her face. "There's no hope. And now you tell me they couldn't even flee if they wanted…?"

Lorelei frowns and looks down. "Not by boat. Not through that, not easily. By land is difficult, with the town's surroundings… dangerous forests, forboding mountains. There's can't and there's won't, and I'm afraid we have a little of both." She sits back heavily. "…Luckily," she finally states, rather wryly, "I've never been much one for giving up myself. …I'll try and find a way to stop that thing if it kills me." She peers over at her. "I'm glad to know that… that you don't want it to be… any worse than it is. That's… reassuring, at least. If things work out… when they do, maybe… maybe you can give landponies another try. They're not so bad."

Spindrift shakes her head, though it's a very slight movement, as she lies limp and defeated in the sand. "Maybe not… but it's irrelevant. They'd never have me, not after this." She shifts slightly, looking towards the town, then out to sea. Her tone is once more tired and resigned. "What little I had left, I squandered."

She stares at the ocean for a while longer, then turns to glance sideways at Lorelei. "But at least you know better. It is strange to see you taking so well to them. I'd assumed you had something else in mind, some angle, but you speak too sincerely for me to believe anything other than what you say." Sitting up, she starts pulling herself towards the water, though her movements are short and stiff, as if, having sat for so long, it's difficult to spur herself forward. "I suppose, then, that if this town really had a chance, you'd be the one to help see it happen."

"Well, I don't know about that," Lorelei admits faintly, scuffing a hoof at the sand, "but I intend to try." She hesitates a moment, rather awkwardly, before slowly turning to head back up the beach. She pauses after a step or two to glance back at the other seapony. "…You'd be surprised what the ponies here will have. They let the old mayor back in, and Queen knows what all /she's/ done." And now she's Lorelei's assistant. …Whoo. "…Sea's blessings be with you, wherever you go."

Spindrift is shrugging her way towards the water as Lorelei speaks, and once more her hood and the curtains of ragged black mane that hang from it do a good job of hiding her face. Indeed, with that rain-slicked shroud covering her and the darkness of the storm-clouded evening, there's been very little actually seen of the skulking seapony, though the more she moves, the more is revealed of her thin and wasted condition as the thin fabric lays wetly across her back. She freezes at the shoreline, though, at that final parting, and waits there, surf lapping against her hooves.

"… and her bounty be with you," she responds, voice forlorn, and a bit shakey. "It's been a long time since I've heard that from anypony…" She hesitates a moment longer.

"I've seen the ships you know," she says, at last. "The new one in town, around the cape to the south. The Rusty Bucket being repaired. I don't… I don't know if you intend to flee, or have something else in mind. And I bid you don't tell me, as I am still your enemy."

She turns her head at last to look at Lorelei, expression grim. "I will… I will not interfere with either. I can offer tha tmuch. But the Spire… the Faceless One… may not so readily allow safe passage. Tell your people to be careful. You know as well as I that the sea is a dangerous place."

After another moment, she shrugs her way back into the water, catching a rough wave to the face, then letting the tide carry her back out into the surf and a prompt disappearance.