Endgame Part 1

Bowline=ManeSail

Two nights ago, the maelstrom escaped its containment. The Outriders had warned that their system was temporary at best, and unfortunately, they were proven right when, with a powerful surge, the storm burst from its bindings and raged once more. Ever since, powerful winds and hateful rains have lashed at the harbor. The docks and boardwalk quiver in the surging surf, and the skies have grown black with impenetrable clouds; across them roll sheets of roaring lightning, leaving in its wake a scattering of white specks, distant storm elementals cavorting endlessly in their native habitat.

But something else happened two nights ago: Verse's phylactery was uncovered. This is what Brume said would be the key to undoing the threat facing the town: all that needed to be done was for it to be brought to the top of the Spire.

More easily said than done, however. Never has that tower of flotsam and jetsam looked more distant, more foreboding. Even at a distance, anchored in the swirling heart of the harbor, it looms over the town and surrounding countryside. While bits of it are torn away by the wind, more is dredged up from below, its base churning sluggishly with fresh, wet mud and rocks pulled from the bed of the harbor. Shipwrecks adorn its surface, caked with algae and rust; old chains and ropes hang like ivy from lengths of driftwood and old ships' masts.

It was wise to have the Rusty Bucket moored to the south, outside of the harbor, nearby the still-damaged Maid Mareian. Though the surf tosses and protests, it's calm enough that ponies are still able to be ferried out and loaded up in the ship.

Tale Chaser and Eddy once more took to rounding up familiar faces- those they knew who had the courage and fortitude to try and see this thing through to the end. Now, the late afternoon approaches, and the final preparations are being made for a trip to the Spire itself. Captain Goody Horseshoe's crew of do-gooders is making quick work of readying the floating dive, while eight of the seapony Outriders- including Captain Rill- wait on board, keeping clear of the sailors as they go about their business. Spirits seem to be high, considering the impossibleness of the task, but then, they have unexpected help this time around, in the form of someone quite experienced with navigating troubled waters.

That said, some of his ideas haven't gone over very well with the troops.

"You mean to tell me," says Captain Rill, turning to fix Stormsailor with a level gaze. The broad-shouldered mare is easily as large as any seapony stallion, looking more like an earth pony painted purple than someone who belongs in the water. "That you want to take a storm battery and -break it open?-" She narrows her eyes. "You realize that will only release the trapped forces? It will ADD to the storm, if anything! How will that help?"

Dustdevil joined in when he heard there was trouble at the spire, well more so than before, he helped the other weather ponies last time, so it was only natural for him to 'join up' against this threat to the harbor "All or nothing!" he chimes for the cause braving the odds for this mission. He-is-Ready!

Muzaji was leaning at one of the railings, watching the Spire through her spyglass. No, it wasn't going anywhere, that's not what she was looking for. She was studying it and it's mangled hodgepodge of mud and flotsam and shipwrecks. Some how they had to get to the top, and do so without getting killed in the process. A daunting task indeed.

Though with every other twist and turn this quest has taken, that's rather par for the course, too.
"What's the worst that can happen?" Stormsailor asks firmly. "The storm gets bigger and wipes out the town? That's going to happen anyway, so the way I see it it's a no-lose plan." The captain's own size is nothing to sneeze at, either. He's no draft horse, certainly, but the stallion is more than capable of holding his own against Rill.

"Look, we already know that we can create eyes in there with counter-rotating winds," the blue stallion explains. "That's why we dragged that weather mare out here in the first place. I'd rather she try to take some storm force that's not already tied up in the storm and direct it into an eye for us than stop the air currents that are out there right now. It's no more dangerous than sailing out into that monsoon in the first place."

Stormsailor looks towards Typhoon Wave. "You're up for that, right? They tell me you're the best storm wrangler in town, cracking open one of those batteries and pointing it in the right direction should be a breeze for you."

Rill turns to regard Typhoon evenly, though even when she's not trying, the broad seapony mare probably looks imposing. This is because she is the opposite of smiling.

Sky Sparkler used to be a super hero. It's not something that she mentions often this side of the 4th wall, not being Pinkie Pie, but it does mean when a threat to the town arrises, so shall she.

"It might work, Captain, depending on where it was broken open. A storm like this isn't simply power," she comments. "You'd have to reverse the polarity, but you might be able to open a calm in the storm. Or if you can't do that, you can create a smaller storm, and move in under cover of the eye."

Eddy is rather low-key, sitting off to one side. She's idly gnawing the end of a pencil as she watches preparations be made. Though she's never really been one to load up on ~adventuring gear,~ this time, in addition to her little phylactery purse, she has a coil of rope looped around her middle and tied off in a loose belt. Rope is always useful. You can always find something to do with rope, or at least, that's what she thinks must be the case. Her gaze is soon darting between Captain Rill and those in discussion with her, as the young clerk considers this plan, which is SO CRAZY it JUST MIGHT WORK.

Typhoon-Wave blinks and flattens her ears, wilting a bit under the dual-gazes. "I… I-I… I, um… w-well, er…" she clears her throat, half-successfully trying to draw herself back up. "If… if it'll h-help… I'm here to help. I'll try… whatever it takes."

Magpie 's prepared for anything, as far as she can tell. She's not wearing her saddlebags; instead there's a bandolier strapped across her chest with a couple potions from Fizzy's, a couple firecrackers, and even a knife.
Oh, and a length of rope. 'cause adventurers always need rope.

Tale Chaser is sitting beside Magpie. He can't seem to get over the knife. He's got a little saddlebag on, plus- and this is important- some string lashed to his glasses to help keep them in place. Because losing your glasses out at sea sucks. He knows.

"uhh, If they are bottled up storm, wouldn't they themselves be a good weapon, I mean a storm hitting a 'weak' point on the spire would likely do /some/ damage Right?" remarks Dustdevil

Moonglow hmms. "The storm battery plan makes a lot of sense, actually.."

Stormsailor looks at Sky Sparkler. "Polarity doesn't have a thing to do with this, there aren't any magnets involved. It's just Typhoon being able to hold her own against the biggest storm to strike this town since the Winter Moon Bender of 1001." He chuckles at the memory.

Typhoon-Wave gulps. "Oh boy."

Sky Sparkler looks at Stormsailor, and points a hoof up at the clouds. "No magnets you say? Then can you tell me why those clouds are rumbling without magnets being involved? Oh never mind," she breaks off the argument, remembering that she's something of a specialist in electromagnetic phenomena. "Electrical polarity." Also technobabble. Technobabble makes everything work better.

Rill stares at Typhoon's stammering response, clearly unimpressed. She looks back to Stormsailor, though not without letting her silver-eyed gaze sweep over the others chiming in. "She seems unsure." The mare draws back and tilts her head slightly. "What made the crystalized storm forces that powered the previous containment work was that the gathered power could be released slowly. A storm battery…" She shakes her head. "It's like breaking an egg. You can try to direct it, but typically it goes where it will."

She turns to look at Typhoon once more. "If you do, in fact, have the ability to channel such bottled forces upon their release, we will be counting on you to make the most of it. This is not something you can approach with doubt in yourself or your abilities. Anything less than your all may result in this ship being destroyed. Do you understand this?"

Dustdevil steps up behind Typhoon, "Hey now, Typhoon's got the backing of Every Weather Pegasi going to the sky today, I've got her Back, and I'd be her' Wingpony any day! I've got my own move, I can create a focused dust-storm to a point, though its very pointed

Dream-Daze lurks on the deck, probably somewhere near Maggie and Tale Chaser, because they're the closest ponies to her size around. She's got her floatie on! And she's sitting in a coil of rope. Because you really can't have too much rope, and she's found rope to be more comfortable than expected for taking naps in. She can't really help the preparations much though, so she's staying quiet. Out of the way…

"It's magic," Stormsailor responds to Sky Sparkler, as if that one statement overrides all of the unicorn's technobabble. Magic is, of course, as magic does. Turning his attention back to Rill the captain continues, "It's just stage fright, she's always like this before a job. Once she gets out there, she'll get it done, mark my words." Rumors and hearsay regarding the pegasus, of course, but at this point Stormsailor's of the opinion that anything that has a possibility of helping the voyage to the Spire is worth a shot. He'll talk her up as much as he has to.

Typhoon-Wave takes a deep breath, looking over at the Spire for a long moment before nodding decisively, standing up straighter. "R-right. Yes. Yes, ma'am. I… I'll put everything I've got into it."

Moonglow stares at the Spire. She was SO CLOSE a couple days ago - this time there's no turning back!

Dustdevil stands shoulder to shoulder with the only other pegasus amongst this crew that of Moonglow, and just behind Typhoon ready to perform his duty

Magpie glances sideways at Chaser. "I'm not gonna whip the knife out and start /using/ it," she mutters to him. "So you can quit lookin' at me like that. It's just in case we need to cut stuff."

Rill would take the moment for Dramatic Consideration, but responds to Typhoon's declaration with a quick nod, and turns away. "Then we shall try it. Sea Cinder-" The captain gestures to her second-in-command, an intensely purple seapony with a bright red mane. "Fetch the latest battery, and be quick. Captain Stormsailor, we need to be underway as soon as possible. I will consult with Goody Horseshoes and ensure all preparations are complete."

She turns back towards the others. "We believe there is an entrance to the Spire near its base, where its substance is in flux. This is where we saw the sea witch escape to the other evening, and it does not appear to have closed yet. With any luck, she may be found within, or at least her trail can be followed. Ideally, your battery scheme will allow us to punch a hole right through the storm and towards our target."

Sky Sparkler rolls her eyes at Stormsailor. Yes, it's magic, but magic has RULES. She's here to back up Typhoon however is needed. This may include a few tricks to stop that lightning.

Tale Chaser sniffs nerdishly and rubs his nose with a hoof. "Yeah?" He stares at the knife anyway. "You ever… you ever fought a pony? With a knife before?" He sounds like he is simultaneously frightened and fascinated by the idea.

Magpie says "A /pony/?" She winces. "No! Augh! ….well, I… I did fight a /zombie/ pony once. With a stick." Cough. "It was gross."

Muzaji lowers her spyglass and turns to the other ponies as they debate what to do. "The way this whole adventure has gone? Cray is probably the way to go." Just saying.

"Did you have the stick, or did the zombie?" asks Tale Chaser. He is more concerned with grammatical ambiguities than he is with the potential existence of the undead, yes.

Magpie eyes Chaser. "I did. Zombies just go ARRGLBLARG at you." She smiles. "It wasn't in this world, though. That was over in Nightmare World. ….wait, did I tell you about that?"

Stormsailor salutes Rill sharply. "Yes, ma'am," he says bsharpenerefore turning to yell at the crew of the Rusty Bucket. "Alright, you lot, get this accident-waiting-to-happen prepped to set sail! We're heading into the heart of the storm ten minutes ago!" He proceeds to trot up and down the length of the vessel, yelling at ponies until things get done.

Tale Chaser shuffles slightly where he sits. "Not you, specifically… but I heard stories about it… it sounded really scary."

Eddy continues to gnaw her pencil. She starts, though, as the tip breaks off in her mouth. With a frown, she spits it out, fishes a little pencil sharpener out of her little purse, and gets to work putting a proper point on the pencil. Once that is established, she gets back to gnawing.

A weather pony sits ready for his duty. Dustdevil can practically hear the sound of a beaver behind him, and shoots Eddy a glance, "That can't be healthy" he comments looking puzzled-ly at her, but shrugs some and returns his attention to the ever-present storm, ready to take on anything, and just get involved in any way he can help.

Magpie nods a little to Chaser. "This isn't as bad as that," she mutters. She regards the whirling maelstrom and the wall of storms around it. "…I think."

Goody-Horseshoes had decided sleeping in his own bed before this last journey would be a good idea. The door from the captain's quarters of the Maid Mareian opens and he steps out. By the looks of his mane and visible eye, he didn't get much rest. He's got his waterproof saddle bags on, and not one but a few different swords strapped at his side. With a bit of a slow pace, he makes his way off the ship and over to the Rusty Bucket.

Typhoon-Wave prances in place, trying to shake off a good bit of nervous energy. This is okay. This is fine. This will work. It's not like the /entire venture and lives of everypony involved/ are resting on her, right? Except, no. IT'S EXACTLY LIKE THAT. AAAAAAHHHH pranceprancepranceprance. She looks after the seaponies nervously. Prancing.

Sky Sparkler moves up behind Typhoon, putting a hoof on the senior weatherpony's back. "You'll do great, trust me," she whispers comfortingly. "We're all here to back you up, but we won't need to, because you'll do just great."

Jellybean just gives Typhoon a nod and a small smile. "I'm ready to follow your lead on this one."

Once the last few ponies that are along for the ride are on board, then all the preparations that can be made have been; all that would remain is to worry and second-guess. The anchor is drawn up, the sails opened, and the Rusty Bucket begins to take to the seas.

Then veers off to the side, drifts, unresponsive, for a minute. Then it gradually begins to turn back around to the south- no! Not that way! The ship does a complete 360 in the water, spinning about like the needle of a compass, before it starts to stagger its way towards the end of the southern cape of Horseshoe Bay.

Rill has taken position up near the helm. She's not here to interfere, but she's certainly going to keep an eye on things. Off to the side of the ship, there's a splash, before Sea Cinder vaults her way onto the deck, landing heavily on all four hooves. Atop her back is a padded bundle, one she removes very gingerly and settles someplace secure where she and one of the other Outriders can take up a stance guarding it.

In the distance, the Spire rumbles in accompaniment with the roaring wind, and the thundering skies, and the rushing of the whirling sea. It's a sinister choir, one that only grows louder as the Rusty Bucket begins to sail into view of the Spire and the maelstrom that surrounds it.

*krack*
Just the sound of Sky Sparkler riding the lightning up to the storm clouds above. She's going to direct the electrical discharges away from the ship holding her friends, and either into the sea or into the top of the spire. Given how tall the spire is, she shouldn't have much trouble with that.

Stormsailor seems unconcerned at the Rusty Bucket's aimless listing through the water as he stands at the wheel with one hoof gently upon it. "Easy, lady," he says to the boat. "I know you've got a wicked hangover, but we need you thinking straight right now. You'll get to sleep it off once we're done." He eases the ship towards the Spire in much the same way one might guide a mildly concussed friend to a chair.

Typhoon-Wave peers suspiciously at the bundle, reflexively leaning to nuzzle Jellybean. "…I r-really hope this works," she mumbles faintly, letting out a breath. "…If it looks like it's g-going wrong, pull everypony back, okay? If stuff goes bad. I'll try and… I don't know, at least get it all away from the ship."

Looks like the time for watching is done. Muzaji collapsed her spyglass and tucked it away in her vest, and did a quick mental check of what she brought with. Who knows what they would come up against, so she's made sure to stock tricks both new and old. The haphazard swaying and swirling of the Bucket doesn't seem to bother her in the least as she strides down onto the main deck.

"Across the dark tides our crew did set sail; spurred on by the hopes that they would prevail.
The storm roared its anger but they did not balk, even as the ol' Bucket sauntered her drunken walk.
Plans and tisks, the odds here stacked; but into a corner they would not be backed."
The zebra stopped at a railing, propping herself up with one hoof and pointing the other out dramatically in front of them.
"For Harbor, for home, for all we can muster; it's time to take out this storm's bluster!"

Jellybean nuzzles Typhoon back, because it's good to show affection towards the ones you love. "I'll help with the retreat if we need to, but just please, trust yourself. You know what you're doing."

The search and rescue pony looks between the gathered forces and just shakes his head, "If all that it takes is for that necklace to be placed at the top of the spire, wouldn't it make sense for one of us flyers up and into the eye of its storm?" he asks, "Then drop down to the spire top and deposit that necklace thing?"

Goody-Horseshoes stands on the bridge as well, keeping a bit of distance between himself and Rill. He's keeping his 'eye' on her, First Mate standing right by his side.

Eddy pulls to her hooves and begins to pace, and when she paces, she all but prances. Click! Click! Click! Her pointed hooves click as she trots along in a circuit from bow to stern, always keeping an eye on the storm. She slows her pace, though, as Muzaji sets to rhyming, and perks a slender ear, listening. When next she resumes her pacing, it's with a cheerful smile.

Dream-Daze perks up when the ship starts moving! They're going! Hurrah! She hops out of the rope coil 'nest' she's been resting in and scampers across the deck to stand near the edge, so she can ride out the see-saw and everything on the way to the tower. The towwwerrr!

Tale Chaser scoots a bit closer to Magpie, and hooks a foreleg around her. "I hope this works," he says, in a tone that suggests he isn't hoping very hard.

Moonglow raises an eyebrow. "Are we sure that it's just 'take it up, drop it in?' What if there's more to it than that?"

Bowline glides down from the crow's nest, landing fairly close to Eddy. He's seemed to have has his eye on her a bit every time she's been on the ship. He grins slyly at her, flapping his wings once or twice before folding them up at his side. "M'lady, you'll be scuffin' a path in the deck if ye don't calm yourself."

Magpie gives Chaser a hug. "Hey. There's always hope." She stands up and glares at the storm. "Even if it's one chance in a million, it's still a chance! And I believe we can take that one chance and make it real! 'cause I believe in hope. And I believe in us!"

And anyway, one in a million chances come up nine times out of ten.

Typhoon-Wave blushes faintly and nods, giving Jellybean a sincere if shaky smile. "I hope so. …I… I know how it /should/ go. I know how it's supposed to feel and how the winds are meant to blow and… well, I guess for now that'll have to be enough."
Rill, ever-attentive, is as aware of Goody's presence as he is of her. She is also not the type to avoid problems.

The broad-shouldered mare turns to regard Goody Horseshoes levelly. "Captain," she says. "I realize we have our disagreements about how this situation must be resolved. We can't afford to be at each other's throats, however, and so I will say this: I will take what you have said into consideration and keep the situation regarding the witch under constant reassessment." She lifts her chin slightly. "Our priority is the preservation of the town, and if she is instrumental to that, we will not interfere until the storm has been permanently neutralized."

Dustdevil glances to Moonglow to one side and shrugs, "don't know, don't think anypony really knows for sure if thats how its going to go really" he hrumphs, "I'd be willing to give it a go, if thats all it took was a hop skip and a jump" he shrugs

Jellybean nods, getting his wings all nice and limber. "Just let me know when we're going: I'm ready when everypony else is." He looks maybe a little scared, but that's how it tends to go in times like this.

The Rusty Bucket seems responsive to Stormsailor's careful, considerate guidance. The ship doesn't put up much of a fuss, though it still seems prone to listing one way, or another, at any given moment. Whenever it shifts, bottles can be heard rolling around on the wooden decks, below, along the hoof of a pony playing an empty jug like a woodwind instrument. Even if there isn't actually anybody down there doing this.

The waters below the ship are growing choppier by the moment, while harsh winds begin to pull at her sails and buffet those on board. Soon, there's a lurch- the first hint of the momentum that guides the whirlpool that fills the harbor, seizing the Rusty Bucket and beginning to carry her in a broad circle around the spire. It spins widdershins, taking the ship in a counter-clockwise path, now heading towards the docks.

Up above, the Spire shudders. Black lights flare in the windows formed by the shipwrecks wrapped up inside the tower's mass, before several smokey shapes spill forth and take to the air. It looks like four of them- they're large, but their details are difficult to make out, save for the flapping of what appear to be wings.

Goody-Horseshoes takes in a deep breath, perhaps a big groggy from his poor night's sleep. He clears his throat, "I am willing to remain civil. But, you must remember…What you know of Spindrift is not the reality of the situation. She's been taken over by the Blackheart, it seems. The cause of this storm runs deeper than you know or understand at the moment. You are not to harm her, and you are not to try to capture her. If you do, my civility will be ended."

"It'll be easier once you get out there," Stormsailor calls out to Typhoon from behind the ship's wheel. "When your talent's braving the worst nature can throw at you, you're never really in your element unless nature's throwing the worst. As soon as you're in the action it'll all click— woah, easy, lady!" He gives the wheel a hard jerk as it starts drifting off course a bit too much for his liking. "Just a little bit further," he says to the Rusty Bucket kindly but firmly. "We're almost home, then you'll be able to get it all out of your system. Better out than in, right?"

The captain-turned-helmsman looks at Rill and Goody arguing like the experienced ponies of the sea that they are. "Hey, you two think there's a better place for this discussion than in front of the crew?" he interjects. His gaze then turns to Rill in particular. "Captain, we're in the whirlpool now. It's getting near time to have your ponies crack the egg."

Finally! Something interesting! Moonglow keeps an eye out for the storm battery being wheeled up, having not had the opportunity to see one decontainmented at such close range.

Monsters, huh? Well, Sky Sparkler knows how to deal with monsters… But the pony hesitates, not wanting to attack what could be an innocent… winged smoky thingies trying to make friendly. Still, she starts building up an electric charge into a puffball of cloud.

"An unwitting pawn in a chess game run deeper in shadows than anyone expected," Muzaji remarks on the end of Goody's remark. Winds blow through her mane as she lifts her head towards the spire. "And the only place we'll finally get all the answers is up there." Violet eyes squint at the smokey emergences, and the zebra quickly backs away from the railing. "Heads up and be ready; soon we shall have company."

"As I said, Captain," says Rill, her tone detached, "The situation is under constant assessment. The fate of the sea witch can be determined after the storm is seen to…"

She quiets as she looks up, and studies the winged shapes departing the spire. Not for long, though- she's seen enough. Raising her voice, she calls out across the deck! "Outriders, ready! Assume these unidentified flyers are hostile! Ensure the crew is not interrupted, and guard the civilians! Sea Cinder- ready the first storm battery!"

Down on the deck, the other troops are taking up positions around the edges, hooves planted and heads lifted. Those silver, unicorn-like horns on their helmets gleam. Sea Cinder, however, opens up her little padded backpack, drawing out first the collapsible rod and encircling sconce that has held the batteries in the past. It's anchored to the deck, wedged between a crate of pretzels and a barrel of ale, before the seapony draws forth a storm battery and gingerly places it atop the stand. The glass sphere swirls with dark, contained forces, and all of the Outriders look towards it with no small amount of trepidation.

Sea cinder watches it for a moment, then starts waving Typhoon Wave over to herself.

Dustdevil sees those plummeting stormmonsterthingies and worries some, "I'd say anything with wings should scramble, clear the deck and take those things out fore they reach the sails!" And with that he's into a hover awaiting any reinforcements of other pegasi or some directed magic or anything

Typhoon-Wave blinks and takes a deep breath, doing her best to steady herself - and giving Jellybean one last quick nuzzle - before trotting over to Sea Cinder, wings fluttering a bit.

Goody-Horseshoes looks over to Bowline, who's trying to flirt with Eddy, "Bowline. Prepare for possible defensive actions. Let Crow's Nest know as well. First Mate and I will stay on-deck in case anything bad comes all the way down."

The Rusty Bucket is still following the flow of the whirlpool- were it not for the building winds and driving rain, colder and more intense as the ship draws nearer the Spire and the crux of the storm, it might be an easy course. The whirlpool has been spun into a glassy smoothness, and the way the Rusty Bucket glides through the water is almost deceptively calm.

The broad, counter-clockwise rotation carries the ship near the docks of Horseshoe Harbor. There, in the town, several ponies have gathered to watch this desperate gambit play out. A few familiar faces can be seen down there, waving as the Rusty Bucket sails by- among them, Marginalia, with Codex on her back, the two of them waving to the passing Bucket. Nearby, Autumn Dust and Rainy Road hop up and down and cheer into the wind, their voices lost but the intent clear.

With careful guidance from Stormsailor, the Rusty Bucket is turning out of the circling whirlpool and further towards its heart. Its angle of approach is growing steeper by the moment- and the water begins to rush as it plays against a hull turned crosswise against the flow.

Eddy is all aflutter as she is flirted at, but doesn't play along that much. She lifts a hoof and waves it after Bowline. "You heard the captain! Go fulfill your duties~" She loves a stallion who adheres to structures of authority. They're very helfpul. At work. For doing their job. In government affairs.

Moonglow takes a deep breath, and then to the sky! She flies in as straight a line as she can - which is really a pretty twisting path, given the storm - to intercept one of the shadows. She really, really hopes you can cloud-buck a storm elemental. The one book she's read on the topic didn't go into that particular detail.

Stormsailor's gaze darts between the waters before the ship as it turns towards the Spire, the shadows in the sky approaching the vessel and the storm battery on the Bucket's deck. "Whenever you're ready," he calls to Sea Cinder and Typhoon as he makes an adjustment to the wheel to soften the steepning angle of approach and keep the churning waters of the Maelstrom from washing up over the deck and knocking all his passengers into the brine.

Jellybean looks to the rest of his weather team, keeping his wing-fluttering to a minimum: no matter how nervous he feels he needs to not show it right now. It's about team morale, after all.

Bowline gives a very gentle-colt like bow to Eddy, "As you wish, M'lady." He turns to face Goody, "Aye, Captain!" and flaps up into the air. He joins Crow's Nest in…well…the crows nest. "Keep an eye out mate. We're gonna be dogfighting' here, it looks like."

Dustdevil Jumps into action and teams up with Moonglow. He directs his attack laterally, adding a feirsome twist to his own flightpath then right rockets across the path of a pair of those storm-elementals performing his namesake 'dustdevil' spiral which draws any elements of debris thats suspended around him and the spire into play by flinging it towards the path of these monsters

The four circling shapes begin to angle towards the Rusty Bucket. The smoke pours away, revealing twisted limbs of wood and seaweed, cruel beaks carved from shells and talons formed of rusted nails. Griffons- the same sort of Timber Wolf-like golems that assaulted the bucket once before! They shriek over the wind as they begin to dive towards the ship!

One is intercepted by Moonglow, though, so intent on its prey it doesn't even notice the pony barreling into its side. The flotsam monster tumbles about, bits of dry seaweed tearing away from its flapping wings, as it struggles to regain a steady flight path.

A second creature is likewise disrupted from its flight as it is pulled into Dustdevil's whirlwind! But Dustdevil's dust-devil only lasts so long- around him, the storm howls, and a powerful gust of wind blows through that secondary cyclone, disrupting it before it can destroy the captured timber-griffon.

Two more descend towards the Rusty Bucket. One pulls up at the last moment, wings flaring, as the other crashes to the deck. The Outriders are on it in a flash- darting in, and with jousting movements, spearing the creature with the horns that crown their helmets. With every strike, there's a bright, blue flash, magics unleashed to try and disrupt the shrieking monster!

"For they sow the wind," Sky Sparkler whispers, as her eyes pick out the last of the storm beasts, building up her charge for a full power jump. "THEY SHALL REAP THE WHIRLWIND!" As she shouts she rides the lightning down from the clouds to the middle of the back of one of the wood beasts.

Magpie loosens the first vial from her bandolier. She was kind of expecting the same trick as last time. She hovers the vial in her magic, waiting for a clear shot — then suddenly blinded by a lightning strike right in front of her! "AUGH!"

Moonglow keeps going for a second, recovering from the slight surprise of "buck it in the face" actually WORKING. And feeling a lot more like wood than she was expecting. As the golem - ah oh, it's a golem, golems are kickable, she knew that! - tumbles, she swoops up and then into a powered dive, trying to land on its back. Hard.

Goody-Horseshoes draws two swords, floating one to First Mate who grabs hold of it with his own magic. They stand defensively, waiting to jump in to the fight against the timber-gryphon on deck. Bowline and Crow's Nest don flight goggles and take to the skies. They immediately go to attack the gryphon that nearly landed on deck.

Sea Cinder gasps drawing back as the melee erupts nearby. She looks to Typhoon with wide eyes. "To the bow! We'll release it there!" Seizing the stand that holds the sphere-like storm battery, she charges across the deck, nimbly avoiding the scuffle in the middle as she nears the bow and plants the orb.

The seapony waves Typhoon over once more. "Once this thing cracks, you'll have to start directing it immediately! Remember- be strong! We don't get a second chance, so make sure this one counts!"

She watches Typhoon for a moment, obviously anxious, then gulps, turns towards the sphere, and touches the horn of her helmet to it for a moment, eyes wincing shut. For a moment, nothing happens. Then, a silvery seam begins to spread down the surface of the glass sphere… before splitting. Thick grey clouds begin to boil from the opened glass.

The air on the deck suddenly becomes oppressively heavy, pressure building at a rapid pace, as though a massive breath was being drawn inward in preparation of a catastrophic outburst. In a moment, another storm is about to erupt outright on the ship's bow- unless Typhoon is there to direct it outward!

Dustdevil wheels about in flight dodging and weaving as if intoxicated, trying to confuse the one that was ensnared in his Dust-Devil effect for a moment, so that he may do some serious sky-bucking to this creature

Eddy clambers back towards the forecastle, and takes shelter behind the minibar. Every so often, she pops up and chucks a shot glass or an olive at the beast squaring off with the troops on deck.

Dream-Daze scampers back to her rope nest to hide from the storm! This is not something a little filly should probably be running amock in…

Typhoon-Wave leaps into the air as soon as the storm battery is touched, shouting a warning back to Jellybean and the others. No time to panic now! She dives for the center of the building stormfront, flapping her wings as hard as she can and beginning to circle, trying to gather up the building energy around herself and start it in a swirl out and around the ship, hoping to get it caught up enough that they can do something with it. Stopping it from breaking into a - well, a typhoon, right in the middle of the ship, is, of course, top priority! The rest can be sorted out later.

Oh look, more driftwood monsters borne of the Spire to interfere. Though phraise a good thing it did not throw something new at them just yet. With a snort Muzaji muzzles into her vest to pull a vial from a hidden pocket, then bolts across the deck, weaves between two soldiers and then dives. Rolling onto her back as she slides under the beast while it's hopefully paying more attention to the soldiers, she aims to smash the flask into a seam between driftwood and seaweed, then scrambling back to her hooves as she comes out the other side to scurry out of the way again.

Said flash she smashed into the cracks is full of that same wood eating spore powder she used before. Hopefully using the whole thing will be more potent than just that little dart though…

Jellybean takes to the air shortly after Typhoon does, following her lead and trying to build her wind current with his own, while simultaneously trying to keep it from getting TOO strong and, well, you know, making problems. It's all about focus right now.

The fourth timber-griffon is circling about, readying to descend upon the ship, when a sudden bolt of lightning carves it in twain. Its shriek trails off into a surprised "awk!" as bits of singed driftwood and seaweed are scattered in all direction, smaller pieces peppering the forecastle of the ship. Rill scowls as a chunk bounces off her helmet.

The first creature is battered by an ongoing assault from Moonglow. Try as it might, it can't regain a stable flight as the pegasus hammers it with hooves from above- and its ragged wings are ill-suited to snapping out of its free-fall! The creature bites and claws up at Moonglow as it plummets, but its violent thrashing soon turns to a panic, before it hits the water and splashes into the sea.

Meanwhile, the other airborne creature is snapping at Dust Devil, thoroughly distracted, if not confiused. It flaps its wings powerfully, charging after the pegasus!

On the deck, the Outriders are keeping the monster that landed thoroughly occupied- enough that it barely sees as Muzaji slides under it and launches that potent potable into the clattering midst of its driftwood body. It raises a claw to strike at one of the soldiers only for that limb to shudder and fall loose! The creature staggers, surprised, and has but a moment to recover before it's set upon by the soldiers. They make short work of disrupting its enchantments, disassembling it with practiced skill and seeing the pieces tossed into the ocean.

Good job! The first wave seems to be folding quickly. Half a dozen more dark forms are deploying from the tower's 'windows,' though, and beginning to circle it like vultures, wings extended as they ride the storm's winds.

Moonglow pulls up sharply, slamming through the crest of a wave on her way skyward. Her next target - the golem on Dust's tail! With its attention on Dust, hopefully it won't see her coming, forehooves extended to maximize the blow.

Sea Cinder pries her eyes open only to find the storm energy pouring out of the split battery… is NOT obliterating the ship. Huh? Color her surprised. She looks about, mouth slack, as a growing sheath of whirling wind surrounds the Rusty Bucket.

Slowly, the rush of the sea and the howl of the maelstrom are being drowned out- by a storm of a different sort. Typhoon Wave, with assistance from Jellybean, is guiding the gathering forces around the ship! The rocking, the abuse of the maelstrom are lessened by the moment as the Rusty Bucket is gathered up in a shelthering cocoon of blowing, blustering storm energy- albeit on that also has the ship skipping about, rattling and bouncing on the waves.

Sea Cinder is quick to point out across the bow. "You're doing it!" she howls above the wind. "Now try and direct it outward in a sun-wise spin- try and cut a tunnel through the storm to the Spire's base!"

Dustdevil practically swears "OH FEATHERS" as he charges away trying to get out of range of that attacking gryphon monster, but also trying to lead it away from the ship too, spare them from harm.

"Hey!" Stormsailor calls out to Sky Sparkler and Magpie. "Don't yell! You're going to upset the Rusty Bucket!" He holds the wheel steady with one hoof while gently patting it with the other. "You're doing great, lady," he says reassuringly. Eyes flicker towards the fighting on the decks of the ship and the storm battery being fractured on the prow. Actually, THAT'S probably going to upset the Bucket.

The blue stallion grits his teeth, tightly braided main flailing away behind him in the heavy winds of the raging storm. "We rigged our ship with lines of silver," he begins to sing. "Way, hey, and we'll all come down. And we set her sails in New Shetland waters. Way, hey, gonna bring her round." He nods at a few of the crew members, encouraging them to sing along with him. Sea shanties help keep everyone's actions timed properly, after all.

Bowline and Crow's Nest both charge at the gryphon attacking Dustdevil. Bowline shouts as he kicks at it with his front hooves, "Hey! Over here!" He makes a boxing motion at it. Crow's Nest shoots up, dropping back down at the wood beast with a bludgeon in his mouth.

They're doing it? They're doing it! Though admittedly there's not much time to revel in that. Typhoon casts a glance about, making sure everything's holding in alright, before calling back to Jellybean, trying to let the wind carry her words. "Okay, we're gonna keep it spinning! Hold it steady and head a course towards the Spire just a-front of the ship! But we might need to get it going a little faster!" After all, the Maelstrom isn't exactly lazing about.

Muzaji snorts and flicks a few pieces into the water once they've been disenchanted. "Take hold and take heart; I fear that's only the start." But… the storm cloak is working? Well that's certainly a relief. They might make it through this crazy scheme yet. Thankfully she's not the one that has to come up with the shanty this time. But she joins in on the words just the same. It's just rhyming to a song, after all.

The griffon-like amalgamation of driftwood and jetsam drools thick strings of salt water as it pursues Dustdevil- try as he might, he can't quite outpace the creature, and ever is it snapping at his hooves! Its wings begin to churn all the more quickly, and its claws extend, ready to bury themselves in the pegasus's flank-

Until a net seizes it! The creature is hauled from the sky with enough force that several pieces are shaken free and cast lifelessly into the ocean! A moment later, Crow's Nest and Moonglow descend upon it, pounding it. It doesn't take much to send the tangled beast shrieking into the drink, and it's soon down with a splash!

Jellybean nods, holding up a hoof in a 'OK!' gesture. Weatherponies have these kinds of gestures: you never know when you'll be in a storm. He pours on just a little extra speed, trying to stay inside her slipstream still.

The maelstrom roars a bit louder with every small victory the heroes of the Harbor score on its minions. Angry lightning dances back and forth across the clouds like ripples on a pond's surface, building up a thunderous boom that snarls like furious beast! The air grows colder still- unlike the warm hurricane rains that have been falling on the town for so long, this is biting, almost painful. Soon, outright hailstones are pelting the deck of the Rusty Bucket- though only for a few moments. Typhoon Wave's gathering storm barrier starts deflecting the hail- sending it harmlessly into the surrounding sea.

Dustdevil cruises well away from, from, from that in just the nick of time as that net descends upon that monstrosity and the other pegasi capture it. His flight erratic for a multitude of reasons, now as he rejoins with Moonglow, a bit spooked but none the worse for wear then that hail, Ouch

The Rusty Bucket leans forward into its direct course for the Spire's base. The momentum it built along the edge plays smoothly into a direct course, one that carries it forward… but is soon arrested. Powerful winds buffet the ship from the side, pulling it into a lateral sweep along the course of the whirlpool. With the Spire as a hub, the ship is soon spinning around it, the surrounding mountains and hills and buildings of Horseshoe Harbor and its environs rotating slowly and steadily in the backdrop.

Sea Cinder squints against the wind, shielding her eyes, trying to gauge the progress of the storm vs. the counter-acting spinning of the shield. "Keep it up!" she shouts across to Typhoon, before gesturing. "We need more of the storm directed-outward! Just a bit more should do it!"

By now, the Storm Battery has begin to spill the last of its pent-up fury, the broken glass halves rattling about atop their stand as more swirling clouds spill out and into the bubble that surrounds the rattling ship.

"RIGHT YOU! STOP THAT!" Sky Sparkler shouts back at the rumbling thunder, treating it like she was an angry British Cop. "Head over that way, out to deep sea!" Her horn is glowing as she says it, willing the electrical part of the storm away from the ship and the town. Oh, and she's back on the deck of the ship again.

Magpie staggers as she ship suddenly goes sideways. "Augh! No! Wait! Back the other way!" She looks around wildly. "Uh- uh- This is working! Break open another storm whatsit!"

Moonglow flashes a hooves-up to Dustdevil and loops back around to form up with the other pegasi.

Typhoon-Wave nods, ear twitching as she tries to keep attention to Sea Cinder's words. She gestures back to Jellybean and adjusts course, widening the circle a bit and powering forward against the counter-spin of the main storm. Almost there, almost got it, oh man this better work right. Can two pegasi turn aside enough of this Maelstrom? They're gonna find out!

Muzaji meanwhile saunters up to the bar. Checks that the seapony clerk is still there. "Hey, Eddy." Shifts her weight a bit to not loose her footing as the Rusty Bucket lists and rattles beneath her hooves. "They got any rum or such back there? I don't think I've had enough to drink to be doing this heroics thing pirate style."

"We scraped her decks till our backs were strong, and we caulked her seams with strands of oakum!" Stormsailor continues to sing as the voices of several sailors on the deck rise up with him, making the lyrics a little more understandable over the roars of the competing storms. The waves attempting to wash over the side of the ship have subsided for now thanks to Typhoon's work, but the incredibly choppiness that makes the ship skip over the surface of the harbor is taking a great deal of concentration to fight. "We oiled her rails with hooves of linseed! Way, hey, and we'll all come down! And we sailed her up to the Brumby Sea—" Hailstones begin pelting the helms-pony momentarily he responds only by singing louder. "Way, hey, gonna bring her round!!"

The sudden lateral move causes Stormsailor to stumble in kind. He spins the wheel to try to compensate, trying to turn the ship to take advantage of the current and speed up in preparation for the final charge to the Spire "We sewed her sails with threads of seaweed! way, hey, and we'll all come down! And we sailed her into Riggingdee! Way, hey, gonna bring her round!"

The circling monstrosities begin to home in on the ship once more. Several of them seem to be flying in a group- drawing close to Moonglow and Dustdevil, as well as Bowline and Crow's Nest if they remain in the air. They shriek in a constant, angry cacophony, drawing the air for their cries from the surrounding storm and letting it loose without need to stop or inhale. It's really kind of freaky.

The two weather ponies in the sky are flying in tandem now: no sooner does Typhoon correct her course than does Jellybean move to compliment hers, his path now a wider circle around the ship. Is it enough? He isn't sure, but he's trusting her. How could he not?

Dustdevil forms up the ranks with Moonglow, and the two pegasi from the ship, making a right air wing, ready for the next assault, which looks to be too soon. Dustdevil looks to the other pegasi in the air-wing "Gotta keep em off the ship!, keep em off our friends down there!" he shouts out hoping they all can hear him

Manesail and Crow's nest sort of look at each other for a moment, a bit puzzled. A third pegasus comes up from under the deck on account of the commotion. He peers around a the singing sailors before taking lazy flight up to his fellow crewponies. "Are they…singing?" he asks. "Yes, brother. They're bloody singing!" Manesail responds. They all stare down at the ship for a moment, a look on their faces as if they're about to either laugh, cry, or mock every living bit out of the other crew.

Magpie hefts the little vial from her belt, eyes on the incoming fliers. "Right! Come on then! How 'bout some FIRE, scarecrow?!"

The whirling winds that Typhoon guides, surrounding the ship, protecting it from the worst of the maelstrom's might, channel forward, spiraling whorls of sea-foam and grey cloud twisting towards the Spire. Endlessly intricate twists of countering forces form where the directed winds from the courageous pegasi collide with the maelstrom's might- before the rush of the wind abruptly dies away. That sweet spot where Typhoon's directed force is enough to neutralize the storm is reached, and all of the momentum behind the Rusty Bucket, all of the momentum keeping her steady in the whirlpool, sends her rocketing forward. The ship is soon cutting through the water like a knife; the whirlpool, disregarded, the buffeting storm a mere howl in the background as the sails billow outward and the drunken lady pursues her target with the sort of bravado brought on by a bottle of whiskey and an irresistible barroom dare.

The base of the spire, churning with wet sand and tangles of seaweed, looms closer and closer. There- there's the entrance! A cave-like hole in the side, in which a watery hollow waits! The Rusty Bucket has a clear shot at this target, and appears to be headed straight for it! But then, the cavernous entrance begins to drop away… along with the rush of the water… and soon any sight of the ocean.

The wind has caught the ship outright. Its prow is lifted from the water along with the rest of its bulk. The powerful forces of the maelstrom hook beneath the Rusty Bucket and have lifted it aloft- patchwork sails flapping desperately, rudder dripping useless in the open air! Timbers creek and beer bottles rain upon the surface of the sea as the Rusty Bucket becomes not just a ship for pirates, but a ship for AIR pirates, swept up into a circular flight around the Spire!
The troops cry out as they see themselves being carried up with the rest of the ship, because if you're a seapony, nothing is more terrifying than FLYING. Captain Rill grits her teeth and seizes the railing of the ship, looking towards Goody Horseshoes and Stormsailor.

Eddy, lurking behind the minibar, starts rattling through bottles. She doesn't say much in response to Muzaji, and merely passes the zebra a bottle of the Captain's finest. Rum, that is. None of the numerous captains that are on board.

Tale Chaser is clinging to Magpie, eyes wide, thoroughly convinced that she alone can protect him.

Moonglow nods. "Let's lead them off! You break to leeward, I'll take windward, we'll cross!" And then speed, a war cry, and a sharp descent into the mass of antagonistic wood and seaweed.

Goody-Horseshoes and First MAte run to the edges of the ship as it lifts up out of the water, both staring a bit in shock that it's even holding together with the forces being exerted on it. The Pegasi trio up in the air perch on one of the crossbeams of the main shaft.

Magpie stashes her fire potion for the second time. Oh geez oh geez oh geez she's short a pair of wings to be doing this. She clings to Tale Chaser and the rope at her waist curls around the ship's railing several times, then wraps around their waists and she ties a big solid knot. There. Now she can't fall out.

Muzaji takes the bottle in the crook of her hoof and pulls the cap off… and then ends up sliding backwards a bit on the deck as the ship pitchs upwards in the winds. "… Well, that was unexpected." Takes a swig from the rum bottle all the same. Just another strange turn on the insane ride this adventure has been, twist after twist. "Try and set her down somewhere near one of those openings Cap'n, it'd save us time climbing to the top." What? She's just trying to make lemonade out of the lemons the storm is giving them. Pulls another long draw of rum. "Okay now I feel up to speed with the crazyness."

The flocking monsters starts sweeping towards the pegasi still in the air, shrieking their constant shrieks, ready to do all the horrible things these monsters are sure to do when at last they catch those rascally, slippery ponies!

But then a ship surges up through their midst. Squawking timber-griffons scatter in all directions, their flock disrupted for the moment. One gets plastered to the prow of the ship, wings and limbs slicked back along the hull, turning it into a screaming figurehead until it manages to pull free and flap off in a tiff.

Stormsailor is as surprised as anyone else when the ship takes to the skies. A brief expression of panic crosses his features as he spins the wheel to no effect. The panic, however, is soon broken by a wide grin across his face. "Hahah!" he shouts with manic glee and a glance to Rill. "Now THIS is sailing the storm!" He lets go of the wheel entirely and rushes forward to look down at the sailors on the deck. "All you lot! Lash yourselves down and loose the riggings! What's a sail for if not commanding the wind!?"

The helmspony looses one of the ropes keeping the sail in place and calls out for several crewponies to join him in pulling it. "We filled her decks with bales of hay!" he resumes singing, letting the beat of the melody synch the crew's pulling of the rigging. "Way, hey, and we'll all come down— you lot, hold this one steady!" Running to the other side of the deck he joins another part of the crew to align another of the sails, hopefully spinning the ship towards the Spire. "And we ran her down to Cantle Bay! Way, hey, gonna bring her round!"

IT WORKED! IT WORKED! IT - yipe! She flaps as hard as she can as the air currents suddenly shoot UUUUUUP - if it's strong enough to lift an entire dang ship, it's gonna take a little pegasi with it! She tumbles a bit, but manages to right herself moderately quickly, tilting her wings to ride along with the wind and looking around frantically. Did anypony fall out? Dear Celestia, WHAT IF SOMEPONY FELL OUT?! Typhoon-Wave squeaks out with her question.

Whoosh! Updraft and away they go! Jellybean tumbles upward briefly, buffeted by the winds before he manages to correct his pattern and resume the circle. He's never done anything like this before! Delighted laughter rings out, audible even over the winds.

Muzaji discards the empty rum bottle and gives the crew some help with holding those ropes. Because dang it all if they weren't going to make this work in their favor like the band of ragtag misfit heroes they were.

Well, that was unexpected. Fortunately, Moonglow is able to break off in time and not do an impromptu barnacle impression. She comes out of her sudden Immelpony loop, hot on the tail of two scattered griffins before they can regroup.

Dustdevil is along for the ride flanking the spire-bound Rustybucket, keeping pace with Mooonglow and trying to help defend the bucket

What IF somepony fell out?

Around the Rusty Bucket, the storm rumbles and moans. The rushing of the water below is an increasingly distant sound- replaced by the bellowing wind, cracking the sails, twisting the timber such that it groans at the stress. But the Rusty Bucket holds- as it did in its first desperate flight from the Harbor weeks ago, as it did as monsters assailed it on its journey to a distant land. The slapdash repairs of a hopeful town keep it together, because much more than mere glue and nails (and twine, and duct tape, and staples) holds this ship in one piece- hope itself helps bind its timbers and steady its lines.

With Stormsailor's expert guidance, the sails are brought about, reefed and broached until they are like wings. The storm has seen fit to bring the ship aloft- let's see if it's ready for what she can do once she's there!

It would seem that it is. Another roar rolls through the maelstrom, and the Rusty Bucket is tossed about and nearly upended as one side lists heavily to the side. A snap of the sails rights it once more, only for the ship to bank backward until another adjustment can be made. Those on board are tossed about, straining against their handholds or their securing ropes. Bottles of booze are scattered to the wind- but not to worry! There's lots more.

On board, Tale Chaser holds tight to Magpie, eyes squeezed shut and face burrowed into her neck. Up on the forecastle, Captain Rill scowls and holds onto the railing, doing her best to counter the storm with Glower Power. (It's not working.)

So far, so good. All crew and passengers ride the tossing ship with aplomb… at least until a shriek rises over the wind.

A pencil and a martini shaker drop to the deck where once Eddy stood. The slender seapony is flailing her legs as the wind carries her aloft, up above the deck and into the sky. She's soon tumbling about in the buffeting wind, for any force powerful enough to hold a ship aloft can turn a slight secretary about like a top in its cruel embrace! Her aquamarine figure grows more distant from the ship by the moment, pastel colors steadily being lost amidst the haze of the wind and rain!

Sea Cinder, huddling near the front of the ship, keeps her head covered as if afraid her helmet might blow away in the wind, while her other foreleg stays hooked around her padded backpack. She squints about the ship, before looking up and across, spotting Typhoon nearby. The seapony desperately waves the pegasus over, shouting something about a second storm battery.

Dustdevil sees all this, the ship the crew, oh Feathers, Eddy off the side. Thats it, thats all it takes, all or nothing, Everything! Dustdevil pours on his name sake move, that of his dustdevil spiral and aims straight for Eddy! Hoping to ensnare that pony in his own dustdevil wake, and whip her around in the contrail he's generating!
The Psudo-Dustdevil turbos through the air, straight for Eddy! If he can time this right, that tail of his own storm will find its way to her, and have her on that deck so quick she won't know what hit her, likely dizzy, probably a bit sick, but she'll be in the place she should be! Dustdevil makes his rescue attempt in his own special way, with his namesake move, where his dustdevil spiral catches Eddy and twirls her about. He rushes straight for the ship again weaves tween the masts and attempts to deliver her back aboard the deck of the ship as he passes through!

Typhoon-Wave blinks, spotting the waving seapony on the ship - somehow - and veering closer to the bow to try and make out the words. "What?" she calls back, as loud as she can over the wind. "You've got another battery?" For as panicked as she gets waiting for stuff, she's held surprisingly together mid-crisis! As for the wind - well, if the situation weren't so serious, she'd probably be having quite a bit of fun with it! Wheeeee! "I'm not entirely sure how to make a storm blow /down/!"

"EDDY! NO!" Magpie can't do anything tied to the deck — well, she couldn't do anything /anyway/ but still!

Tale Chaser looks up, eyes wide, startled by Magpie's cry. Like the young unicorn, he can do little but watch as his fellow seapony is swept off, but he freezes and watches as Dustdevil attempts his rescue.

Jellybean sees the seapony get swept off the deck but knows that if he stops helping Typhoon the ship could plummet and then everypony would be in danger. C'mon, Dustdevil, he thinks. Show us what you can do.

There's so much action on the deck of the ship that Stormsailor sadly doesn't notice when one Diminutive seapony loses her footing— certainly not when his own is lost as well. The whirling of the ship through the air sends the helmspony, who was himself not tied down as his crew was, off the deck and into the sky. He hits one of the ship's sails, tumbles along it and manages to grab onto one of the yards just as the ship spins back upright.

"We're almost there!" he shouts down to the crew. "Bring the trysail around this way! Let's see if we cant butt right up against the Spire and save these ponies a few flights of stairs!" Seeing no easy way to get back to the deck without risking being spun off into the twisting winds Stormsailor pulls himself along the yard towards the riggings. From the deck of the ship he hears the chorus of the sailors: "We filled her holds with rum for the winter! Way, hey, and we'll all come down! And we ran her into Horseshoe Harbor! Way, hey, gonna bring her round!"

The trio of ponies perched up on the sail see Eddy go over the side. They look at each other for just a moment before darting after the seamare.

Moonglow , being rather locked in on her attack run, remains unaware of Dust's heroic change of plans until well after her hooves have made contact with another monster - pulling away, coming around for another pass - and her wingpony is gone. She'd search, but there's no time, the golem's partner is coming around. Dodge and weave and kick and dodge and weave..

Eddy tumbles about, thin legs flailing, utterly helpless as she is carried aloft! And soon she's spun around all the more by the dustdevil- this keeps getting worse! Her screams turn to querulous burbling, because in addition to being terrified she's now DIZZY and NAUSEOUS. She can't tell up from down, sea from sky- all she knows is that strong winds are bearing her along, and all she really wants is a stack of paperwork and a nice warm pool to sit in and coming here was the worst idea ever, whoever heard of an action secretary, and-

*THUMP!* She's deposited on the deck without much grace, but you know what? In situations like this, grace is overrated. Her eyes swirl as she slowly gets her bearings- and once she has them, turns about to latch onto a rope- any rope- and clutch desperately to it, grimacing. She turns her head about, trying to get an idea of who brought her back on board.

Who indeed? The storm snarls furiously to see its prize snatched away from its clutches. Powerful winds pursue Dustdevil- a channeled, billowing cloud rolling in after the pegasus. As he rockets past the deck of the Rusty Bucket, lightning and thunder are his constant companions, closing in, closer and closer, crackling, booming. A thick claw of billowing black fog stretches outward, skeletal and clutching, tipped with tumbling hunks of driftwood and laced with biting, coarse sand. The maelstrom itself seeks to snatch the pegasus from the sky, and dark fingers close in around Dustdevil's form… and envelope him utterly.

Thunder booms, deep enough to draw the breath from a pony's lungs, and the ship shudders with the force of the burst. The gathered debris born aloft by the storm's fury is scattered to the wind, and as the Rusty Bucket sails on through its orbit, it's not clear what became of the pegasus.

Though Stormsailor aims to bring the ship close, the maelstrom is growing wary of his tricks. For every surge towards the Spire, another gust of wind sends the Rusty Bucket back. It's going to take more than mere sails to at last bring the flying bar into… what do you even call this? Into dock?

Sea Cinder draws out a second- and final- storm battery and clutches it to her chest. She nods to Typhoon, eyes squinting against the wind. "When I release the energy from this, use it to drive the ship forward!" she howls, struggling to be heard. "We'll fill the sails and send t he ship right into the sand of the Spire, or at least close enough we can get a grip!

The Search and Rescue Pegasus did his duty, but is himself ensnared by the storm, shrouded by clouds, and torn from the sky, clouds remain where Dustdevil once flew…

After Eddy bounces back onto the deck a rope is tossed around the seamare, giving her something to tie down properly with. Then Muzaji goes back to helping the crewponies with the sails. An ear twitches in another direction as Sea Cinder shouts. "Hold on as tight as you can, it's going to be a rough port to land."

Typhoon-Wave blinks and nods, calling out a "Got it!" before wheeling back off to communicate the plan to Jellybean with a few shouted words and a few more gestures of hoof and wing. A strong gust that-away right into the sails, and with any luck it'll end the Bucket's stint of thinking it's an airship.

Finally. That's it for this group. Now where did Dustdevil get to? Spotting the remains of his dustdevil - it really is pretty distinctive - Moonglow beats her wings hard, rushing to the spot, ready to spread the clouds and find him!

"Keep trying!" Stormsailor calls down to the ponies on the deck. "We need to capture more wind!" They sing and brace themselves to hold the riggings in place in response. "Where's the weather team? Hey! You pegasi!" He swings around on the riggings to look towards the prow where he catches sight of a familiar purple pegasus. "Any chance of some more wind in the sails? One more push will get us in, I think!"

There are no remainders of the pegasus that once was, his only his vest was dashed to the wind…

Eddy pulls herself along the outstretched line, dragging herself towards Muzaji. She grins up at the Zebra in a shaky fashion, eyes wet against the biting wind, and huddles against the deck.

Jellybean adjusts course again, crossing along the ship's sails this time rather than continuing the circle: he's using his wings to guide the flow of the micro-hurricane they've made along the sails to give it that push that Typhoon was requesting. Just the one pass, though, before he goes back to circling: keep push going without losing lift, that's the ticket.
"More wind?" calls out Rill, her low, loud voice carrying across the roar of the storm. "I think you're about to get it! Everybody, hold on tight!"

As she says this, Sea Cinder is hastily touching her horn to the second Storm Battery. Nothing happens at first, the seapony struggling to maintain concentration enough to draw forth the magic that will split the sphere open. "Come on… come on!" she stammers. "Come on!!!" Tap! Tap! Tap! Her helmet-horn taps against the sphere!

Which suddenly fractures. Oops. Seapony magic, kids: it's not the most reliable.

Again, pressure builds as pent-up storm energy is nearly released. Typhoon and Jellybean have a few precious moments to prepare that energy to go someplace useful- and right now, directing the Rusty Bucket, like a dart, at the Spire, seems to be the only real plan!

This is also sort of the only plan! Good heavens, Horseshoe Harbor, don't you know that THROWING SHIPS at things is not the answer to anything?!

Manesail, Fullsail, and Crow's nest circle near the ship the best they can, trying to find the lost pegasi.
(OOC) Typhoon-Wave: no, it is the answer to /everything/. :|

And there's another storm. Typhoon twitches her ear, circling tightly as she feels the energy building. Building… building… and GO! She gives a wave to Jellybean and sweeps forward, gathering up as much of the energy as she can in one go and urging it up and forward into the sails, hoping to make it one big burst of wind and forward motion towards the imposing Spire structure.
Magpie has never found "throw something at it" to be a poor answer to any of life's major challenges. So… this seems like a good idea to her! "FULL SPEED AHEAD!" she shrieks.

Unable to find the lost pony, the 'trio' makes back to the ship. They join in the efforts to push the sails of the ship as hard as they can. Goody lets go of the side of the ship, a bit dizzy. Even for a sea captain, this has been a bit intense. "First Mate!" he calls out. "Aye Captain!" The other unicorn calls back. "Get all the crew on deck…now" - "Aye, Captain! Right away!"

Tale Chaser, clinging tight to Magpie, nods briskly. "G-go!" he shouts, before feeling awkward. Is that what you say? What do you say in this situation? He blushes and glances at Magpie, hoping she still thinks he's a cool guy. He tries to puff his chest out a bit and look brave, but he's also squeezing his eyes shut tightly as he does so, so… yeah…

Eddy, clinging to the deck, waves a shaky hoof and punches it into the air. She's still winded by her brief journey into the sky, but hey, as long as we're all cheering the ship onward…

Jellybean doesn't need to be told twice: he sweeps forward and banks off to the side opposite Typhoon, bringing in what he can of the wind across the sails before coming around again and trying to land on the ship: in all likelihood it's about to be going quite fast here, and he'd like to not lose track of it. Or, you know, get lost in the storm. That would also be bad.

Magpie 's pretty sure 'thinking Tale Chaser is a cool guy' was never, EVER on the list of things that could possibly happen.

Muzaji keeps hold on her rope wrapped around one foreleg.. and uses the other foreleg to reach over and wrap around Eddy so she doesn't get tossed around a second time. "Sail the seas, sail the sky; here comes the ship, now open wide!" No it doesn't directly rhyme, but that's besides the point, it's morale support all the same!

Moonglow pushes on, desperately kicking clouds aside, hope fading fast. No sign of Dustdevil. And then - his vest! She swoops, elated - elation that quickly turns to sorrow. It's JUST his vest. Well, nothing else to be done. At least we'll have something to remember him by. Her trip back to the Bucket is a melancholy one, though still infused with the urgency of this whole affair. The adrenaline hasn't worn off yet. Quite. Hitting the deck, though - that's it. A vest, splayed out on the deck. Tears that had been held back by sheer urgency. And collapse.

Manesail drops down from helping the sails. After all, a certain mare he's had his eye on just suffered *le gasp* a traumatic experience! He hovers next to Eddy, a genuinely worried look on his face, "M'lady! You were nearly swept away! Are you okay?"

Goody-Horseshoes 's eye goes wide for a moment as Moonglow lands back on the deck. He trots over, looking at the vest, then at the mare's face. His demeanor drops as he realizes what it means, "Oh…oh dear…" He embraces her as she cries.

Typhoon-Wave dives down to land on the ship beside Jellybean, skidding a little and nearly losing her balance. Did it work? Did it work?! She looks about ready to spring back into the air and try again at a moment's notice.

The blast of pegasus-forged current blasts into the sails of the Rusty Bucket, darn near throwing Stormsailor off of it again as he clings tightly to the ropes holding the sails in place. They strain and fray under the immense force of the storm, sails making terrifying tearing sounds under the onslaught. Against all odds, even buffeted from all directions by the raging Maelstrom and the unleashed storm battery, the Rusty Bucket continues to hold together and lurches through the sky.

"We rigged our ship with lines of silver," Stormsailor hums as the vessel races forward, his eyes locked on the rapidly approaching tower of flotsam and debris. "Way, hey, and we'll all come down." He laces his hooves through the rigging to secure himself in place. "And we set her sails in New Shetland waters. Way, hey, gonna bring—"

Sea Cinder throws herself to the deck and covers her head with both hooves. Most of the other troops are doing the same. Up near the helm, Rill has her eyes shut and her head bowed; she doesn't look like she's looking forward to this, but can at least manage it with a bit of dignity. (Flying is seriously scary, you guys, you don't even know.)

The wind of the storm battery fills the sails, which strain against their patchwork stitching and the clumsy knots that bind them to the Rusty Bucket's masts. The ship struggles against intervening winds for a moment, as the raging maelstrom desperately tries to hold it back. Powerful gusts pull at the keel and tear at the crow's nest; the beast roars in the face of this interloper, this soggy little hulk full of misfits and nobodies, this ceaseless aberration in a grand scheme of destruction. The beast roars and roars until at last it runs out of breath, and the surging winds catch the Rusty Bucket once more and send it sailing forward like a dart.

Your dive bar is the dive bar that will pierce the heavens! RUSTY BUCKET STRIKE!

Like the tip of a spear, the bowsprit smashes against, and into the side of the Spire. Its sandy surface buckles inwards, crackling and scattering to the wind. Old, tangled masses of fishing nets, fractured husks of long-dead shells, driftwood tangled into latices, they are torn away as the Rusty Bucket punches through the side of the Spire and into a hollow interior. Those on board must struggle to hold on, lest the swift and sudden stop catapult them forward and off the ship.

The shell of the tower shudders, the whole, looming mass of it rocking about. For a moment, it seems as though the sand is going to continue to crumble away, that the upper portion of the pierced tower is going to collapse utterly… but it holds. The Bucket shudders to a precarious stop, embedded in the flotsam of the Spire, such that its prow now forms a balcony overlooking the dark interior.

Jellybean flutters his wings indistinctly, looking around and trotting towards the front. "Is everypony all right? I hope that was okay: Typhoon and I haven't ever landed a boat before." He leans over and gives the aforementioned brilliant, talented and beautiful mare a nuzzle. "You did good."

Magpie and Tale Chaser are nowhere to be seen on deck. This is because they are currently outside the ship, dangling upside down from the ropes that tie them to the railing. After a long moment of silence, Magpie looks at the colt and grins. "…We're alive!" She kisses him firmly on the muzzle.

Muzaji braces herself! And keeps holding onto Eddy too. Until the ship finally stops, and after a moments pause relaxes and releases the seapony back to the deck as she lets go of the rope. "Okay, -that- was new. Can't say I've ever been on a ship crashing -in midair- before." The zebra brushes herself off, then gets to her hooves. "Now, before we go wandering inside, I need to make one more preparation."

She trots over to the bar and claims another bottle of rum, uncorks it, and leans back on the bar to gulp the whole thing down quickly. Because, seriously, that was pretty dang crazy, even for a seasoned adventurer.

Typhoon-Wave blinks and looks around dazedly; the (relative) stillness after all that wind was… startling. "…D-did it work? …Are w-we safe?" She relaxes slowly, letting out a heavy breath and tucking her still-flared wings back against her sides, blushing faintly and leaning into Jellybean's nuzzle. "Heh… hehe… it /worked/…" she shakes her head, giving another nervous/relieved giggle. "Thanks. Y-you too. That was… that was wild."

Tale Chaser is stirred from his shock and amazement by a kiss. His eyes widen behind his glasses- which are skewed out of place- before he closes them and decides that, at least for this moment, he can forget about all the adventure and savor a smooch with his sweetheart. They ARE alive, and that's amazing.

He draws off after a moment, though, and calls up. "Someone pull us up?" After a short while, the rope begins to be tugged upward, a pair of seaponies hauling it hoof-over-hoof and reeling the couple in.

Eddy lifts her head slowly, shakily, and rises to her hooves only when she's sure doing so won't result in her being pulled into the sky again. That happened once, you guys, it was YIKES.
Stormsailor dangles from the riggings, hanging from his rear legs which have become tangled in a mess of half-snapped rigging attached to the main mast. He swings pendulously several meters over the deck and surveys the damage, both to the ship and to its cargo. "That wasn't too bad," he comments to nopony in particular. "Definitely not my greatest docking, but not the worst, either. They bucket's well moored, at the least." He swings around for another pass, which happens to take him over Typhoon and Jellybean. "Hey, you two, stow the bedroom talk," he calls out to ruin the mood. The rigging then swings him near the entrance that Muzaji walked through. "While you're in there can you grab me something to drink?"

Moonglow gets to her hooves. Dust is gone, but there's still a job to be done.

Fullsail and Crow's Nest cling on to another piece of the rigging. This one swings over Muzaji, Eddy, and Manesail. As they pass overhead, Fullsail can be heard chanting to Crow's Nest, "Manesail and Eddy sitting in a tree…K-I-S-S-I-N-OW!" Crow's Nest bops him on the head with a free hoof.
The eye of the storm is… surprisingly calm.

Though a raging wind can be heard outside, within the dark interior, they seem muffled and distant, and little else seems to be making sound. Debris knocked loose by the collision can be heard raining into this vast, central shaft, and downward, to bounce off something below or splash into water. Slowly, flickering lights begin to illuminate this central space.

The Spire is hollow, tube-like, rising from a sheltered cove at the bottom to a closed ceiling on top. Just as it is on the outside, the walls are formed of matter collected from the bottom of the sea. Just as it is with the Rusty Bucket, a shipwreck that protrudes outside sees its other half hanging over the dark void within. A path, of sorts, winds along the interior, from the beaches that line the pool at the bottom, to the top, hundreds of feet above the water's surface below. The walkway consists of all manner of materials, cobbled into ramps and stairways, spiraling upward, sometimes switching back at a landing and continuing at another angle. There is no handrail, of course.

But what may be most interesting is what lies just fifty feet below the point where the Rusty Bucket pierced the structure. A circling, balcony-like landing marks the midpoint of the tower's vast, columnar atrium, and suspended in the center, above the open air, is… the spear. Silver and black, twisted like a molten screw. The spear that was the seed for this structure, the one that Spindrift first wielded on that night in early Winter when she called this fel structure from the heart of the Harbor.

At first, it appears as though it's hung from several chains, stretching outward to the walls in a dozen directions, but on closer examination, the lines between the spear, the chains, and the tower walls appear blurry. The metal of the weapon flows seamlessly into a ropey length of rusted iron or a algae-caked rope, which tangles into the tower walls.

And nearby, on the balcony, sits the black-eyed elemental. It's looking up at the ship with both fear and curiosity in its coal-black gaze. Its gorilla-like profile- all shoulders and upper arm muscles, with diminutive rear legs- is seated such that it folds its arms around its knees.

Twisted pathways of sand and driftwood lead from the Rusty Bucket's perch, upward towards the ceiling, and downward, to the balcony with the spear, and lower still, towards the bottom, and the sheltered cove found there.

Dream-Daze , post crash into the spire, finds that her rope nest has been relocated to the front of the ship! In fact, more like…hanging off the ship. With her dangling from the mass of rope like some foal-sized marionette. She blinks a swirly-eyed blink, shakes herself out of the daze, and makes a quick climb out of getting back on deck to join the rest of the celebratory ponies.

"You guys," Stormsailor says, waving his hooves at Fullsail and Crow's Nest to catch their attention as his rope swings past their own. "Lend a hoof? I'm a little tangled here."

Muzaji grabs another bottle of rum since Eddy is too busy to play bartender and tosses it to Stormsailor. "Drink up now while you can, this wild ride isn't over yet." She tosses her own empty bottle… well it doesn't really matter at this point, and trots to the edge of the ship. Looks down over the edge of the ship, and lets out a grunt at the sight below. ".. Well, ain't that an ironic view. One root of the problem below." Then cants her head back to stare upward. "And the other supposedly above." Looks down again. Hmmms.
Then picks up a piece of debris from the deck and idly tosses it down at the spear. Or more specifically, at one of those 'ropes' connected to it to see what happens. Too dang curious for her own good as usual.

Stormsailor catches the bottle that Muzaji tosses up to him. "Thanks," he says as he grips the cork in his teeth and pulls it out, holding the bottle upside-down (rightside-up?) so that it doesn't all spill out while he's hanging. He takes an awkward swig and awaits rescue.

Jellybean squeaks and blushes when his affection shenanigans are pointed out and flutters up towards the ponies still lashed to the ship, trying to help them out. On the one hoof, he's clumsy. On the other hoof, nine-tenths of untangling knots is about guessing where they want to go, so.

Captain Rill is slowly making her way down from the forecastle, moving cautiously, though she seems more concerned about the precariousness of the ship than anything else. "Outriders, report," she calls out, her voice echoing oddly through the hollow interior of the tower. The soldiers pick themselves up and join her- everybody seems to be okay, though they all seem a bit shaken. For the moment, they seem less like trained soldiers and more like… well, ponies on an adventure, and out of their element.

Fullsail and Crow's Nest look at each other and chuckle, but obloge to the caught pony's request. It doesn't take long before they get him free. "Sorry mate!" Fullsale apologizes, "Couldn't pass up a good chance to poke fun at me brother, you know!"