In To The Light Part 1
IC date: DATE
OOC date: DATE
Location: LOCATION
PCs: Player Player

The appointed day at the appointed hour has arrived, or at least according to the fliers posted all around town. There can be no doubt that the town square is ready, a big banner has been posted overnight that reads "Heroes welcome!!" and the stallion underneath seems to account for the extra excalamation mark. Hemlock is practically bouncing with excitement, it's been ages since he got to stretch his legs like this. He's currently sitting down and rummaging through his bag, to check to see if everything is there. It would be a calamity if something were to be left behind after all, it's going to be a long walk.

Now it's only a question of if the prospective adventurers are ready. Who among the ever present crowd in the town square is ready?

Shadowbuck hasn't had a good fight in over a week, and this is driving her impatient. In fact, she stomps a hoof impatiently. Which is a bad idea in retrospect, since she was hanging upside down at the time, and the stomp causes her to lose her footing. After a momentery blink in confusion, she extends her wings, and manages to gracefully land, as if it had been her intention to appear from the sky like that from the beginning.

Quintessent-Rune is the first to admit that she isn't much of hero material. Had it been some kind of story she was rather certain she would have been the one to be rescued from the bottom of some chasm… though the surface-ponies used towers, didn't they? With dragons? She shook her head for herself, that was odd but traditional she suposed. She hated traditions like that, they were the reason she built war-golems and weapons.

"Hello Master Hemlock," she greeted curtly as she took her place nearby, her thin frame draped in thick leather and cloth - full body protection augmented with shining runes of gold in the stitching. "You do seem to have quite a good day. I trust you wouldn't mind if I take part? Though mostly so as to purvey some, perhaps, usefull goods?" Yeah right. As soon as things started to go wrong she'd wind up in the middle of it… Still, it helped to stay possitive!

Grusha is not here for adventure. At least, that's not why she showed up. No, she's here because she's setting up a food cart for hungry ponies, adventuring and otherwise. Muttered remarks in her mother tongue (of the sort which little foals should not repeat) emerge from behind the cart as she rummages for something.

Big-Red didn't really consider himself that much of a hero, but with the restaurant being slow these days he was quite content to close shop and dust off his old gear. Wearing his trusty dusty old all-weather cloak, carrying one pack on his back full of all the essentials for traveling long distances, and tucked under his foreleg a long black bag. He flew into the area and settled on all fours in a slow land. "So I hear this is where adventurers gather?" he asks, looking for the pony in charge. He spots Grusha from the corner of his eye and with a beaky smile gives her a nod, moving closer to the cart.

It was a clear autumn day, perfect for an adventure. Not that adventure was anywhere near the forfront of Windrose's thoughts as she glided over town. There was clouds and rain intended for later in the week, which meants she had to have weather maps prepared for the teams to know what they're doing to prevent any meteorlogical mishaps. Nope, don't need none of that.

So of course she's paying more attention to her map in process in her forehooves than she is where she's going, having passed over the square so many times pretty much every day. Only to run smack into the banner that was most definately -not- there when she passed over a few hours prior. The pegasus manages a muffled sound of surprise as the banner stretchs a bit, then rubber bands back into position and tosses her right out of the air.


And into the fountain, naturally. There's a long standing feud between her and that fountain, ever since the first day she came to Horseshoe Harbor…

Magpie hops up on Grusha's cart and peeks over the edge. "What'cha doin'?" she asks suddenly from right above the griffon's head.

Merryweather is waiting by Grusha's food cart, patiently smiling, and shuffling about in the slightly self-conscious manner of someone trying to maintain the carefully polite dispostion of a customer dealing with staff who are in an obviously bad mood. She kees an ear turned towards Hemlock and the gathering, because she might need lunch but she's certainly not going to be left behind!

Grusha looks up. "What?" She sees the filly and very carefully does not glower. That would be rude. "Looking for pepper. Pepper is good thing to have." She sees Merryweather as well, then straightens up. "Greetings, pony. You are perhaps trying famous griffon borscht, as made in motherland? Is very good! Warming and hearty. No meat, I am swearing."

Magpie says "That sounds boring. Borscht-ing. Boringscht. Hm. I gotta work on that one."

Quintessent-Rune blinked before leaning to the side, peering into the foundtain. "Miss Windrose? What… are you doing, pray tell? And are you… well… mostly well? Besides the obvious."

"Hmph!", comes a reply from somewhere above Magpie. "You, um, don't know what you're missing. Really." It's

Straylight, slowly circling in to land nearby. Her jacket looks to have stuff stuffed into the pockets. "Don't mind silly Magpie, I'll, er, try your cooking. With meat or without." She looks about. "I heard there was call for looting and plundering evil here?"

Big-Red leaves the, ah, silliness of the would-be adventurers behind for a moment as he finishes his approach to the cart. "Hello," he greets both Merryweather and Grusha at the same time. He sets down his long black bag with a dull metal CLANG before he tilts his head to get a better look at the cart, not asking what is being offered so he can figure it out himself!

Magpie looks around. "What?! Loot?! WHERE?!"

After checking on a bandolier of vials, mysteriously labelled 'snake oil' which apparently pass inspection and get placed in one of the rather large saddlebags. It is only then that he gets up to his hooves and looks at the ponies who are appearing out of the woodwork, (or in one case, the waterworks.) "You heard right Big Red, this is where I am gathering ponies for a grand adventure!" He's using his official voice, which is big and loud and perfect for crowds. "Good afternoon, milady Rune, it is always a lovely day when I can see you. If you would like to join me for my little expedition it would be an honour." Something seems to be dawning on Hemlock, there is a pony in the well. The big old hero knows what to do here, turning around and offering a hoof to the stricken mare. "Hello Windrose, will you be joining me too?"

Grusha, without a word, scoops up a spoonful of the ferociously red stew in the cart in front of her and jams it into Magpie's mouth. "Borscht is not boring. Is healthy and delicious." Beets, onions and paprika seem to be the main components.

Merryweather jumps as Grusha addresses her, renewing the vigor of her smile! "Oh! Ah, that sounds like an utterly fascinating journey of the senses! However, I believe this young lady was in line first." She lifts a hoof and gestures to Magpie. "And, er, this one as well." She gestures to Straylight. Merry then turns towards Big Red and tries not to jump. "Oh! Ah- are you- are you in line, too? Though I daresay I'd certainly notice were that the case, you… very large fellow!"

Windrose comes up from the fountain and shakes her head to get some of the water out of her curls. "No pony said anything about decorations. There's a whole week yet until Nightmare Night!.. And yeah, I'm fine." She turns to shake a hoof at the statue in the center of the fountain. "Why must you constantly harass me?!"

Which in turn gets said hoof grabbed by Hemlock to help tug her out of the fountain. "Huh-wha?" Paying so much attention to her job that she's got no idea what's going on here.

Grusha gives Big Red and Straylight a nod of recognition and a little flick of the tail. "I am also having meat available for fellow griffons, of course." To Merryweather, she shakes her head. "No, you are being silly pony." She ladles up a bowl full of borscht and adds a dollop of sour cream to it, pushing it towards the mare. "Three bits."

Magpie wrgl! She flails with a spoon in her mouth. "Mph! Hey, I— okay, that's pretty good." She hops off the cart and rubs her mouth. "Oh! Right. Loot where something about money whatnow?"

"I'm having an adventure Windrose! We could use a mare like you, you know. I'm sure it would be a wonderful time, I even have a spare lantern for you to use" But there's no time for Hemlock to continue to sell the idea, there's ponies to accoutn for! Like that botpony who totally flew in casually and landed perfectly.

"Hello my young lady, I don't believe we've met before. Are you looking for some excitement in your life?" Whether Shadowbuck is completely aware of why or not, there is suddenly a large stalion smiling at her hopefully.

Big-Red nods again to Grusha, findins the options acceptable, but becoming more focused on the mare below him. He smiles at Merryweather and says, "I'm just looking, I'm not buying anything. At least not yet. Go ahead, give Grusha's cooking a try. She's pretty darn good." To encourage her he gives her a gentle, friendly nudge with his claw. "You'll need all the strength you can get if you're joining this group."

Straylight sniffs towards the violently red borscht. "I want some too. Even if, um, paprika isn't traditional." She nods towards Hemlock. "You know a call for, um, heroes. Like people who buck evil in the face and take evil's stuff."

Hearing the word hero, Hemlock looks over and waves. Yes that is me, I am a hero.

Shadowbuck snorts in amusement. "I'm just looking for a good fight, to be honest," she answers, flexing out her wings slowly as she does so. "Boring is boring." Then she turns a predatory, fangy grin his way. "So where we goin' anyway?"

Magpie gasps. "I like taking evil's stuff!" she says enthusiastically. And stuff that's not evil's too, actually, but she isn't gonna say that. She runs over and pushes in front of Windrose. "IWANNAGO."

Quintessent-Rune frowned ever so slightly at Hemlock for a moment. At least till his attention waverd. "Well, good… As much as I do enjoy Master Hemlock's company I was hoping to make it a bussines of selling such things as spell-bound lanterns for this trip…"

Merryweather jumps at the nudge, scooting towards the booth, shooing Big Red another one of those brittle you-seem-nice-but-also-capable-of-throwing-me-through-a-wall smiles. "Oh! C-certainly." Turning back towards the booth, she doffs her hat, upends it, and gives it a shake over an extended hoof- one, two, three times, each time a coin falling out. These are deposited on the booth's counter, before Merry puts her hat back on, retrieves the bowl by hoof and reaches up to set it on the brim of her hat. "Thank you very much, kind borscht vendor!" she chirps to Grusha, before stepping back, because she is Definitely Not In Line Anymore.

Grusha raises an eyebrow. "You have not had proper borscht until you have had it with paprika. Is recipe handed down to me from great-great-great grandfather Sergei Andropovitch, who gained recipe in mighty wrestling match with bear." She pauses. "Wrestling happened because bear attempted to leave without paying his share of tab." She scoops up another bowlful, this of the meat variety, adds the sour cream and presses it towards Straylight. "Meat is four bits."

At the mention of 'adventure' and hinting it's going to be a 'wonderful time' (since when do they ever work out like that?) Windrose bolts to her usual hover just overhead with a rapid flap of her wings. "What insane Harbor pony thing are you ponies getting into -this- time?" A huff into still damp bangs as she folds her forelegs over her chest, easy to do while hovering. "This isn't more of the 'we're totally not pirates even though we totally -are- pirates nonsense, is it?"

"We're not pirates!" protests somepony in the crowd.

Quintessent-Rune let her attention drift from Windrose for a moment and around the crowd… "I say, hello Miss Merryweather! How are you today?" A hoof came up in a small wave before she turned her attention up towards Windrose. "I do agree with the crowd, we are not pirates. Well, insofar that I know that those of us gathered right here are not pirates."

Big-Red gives Merryweather a look of confusion. "It's okay, I didn't mean to scare you." Now he feels a little bad, but doesn't let that deter him from joining THE LINE to get some of this bear-crafted borscht. "My name's Big Red Robin. What's your name, Miss?" he offers, trying to strike up friendliness to the cautious mare.

Grusha looks innocent, inasfar as her usual bemused expression indicates innocence.

Windrose waves her hooves a bit. "Well of course they're not going to -admit- to it!"

While absent mindedly giving Magpie a pat on the head, Hemlock nods. "You can come if you like Magpie, always glad to see young fillies who wish to help those in need." Which also includes Shadowbuck, who seems to be the kind of lady for whom 'help' rhymes with 'punch'. "Where are we going? Didn't the, er, didn't the fliers say?" The stallion is forced to consider this, coming to the conclusion that maybe he drew a few to many ponies in HEROIC ACTION POSES and included slightly too little information. "I have a map!" the nice thing about the voice, is that it carries nicely, it would be hard to miss Hemlock when he's excited. "Our destination is a cave about 2 days walk away from here, we're going to save a princess!" Then, because he's an honest pony at heart, he adds in a much quieter voice. "I think"

Windrose does a quick mental count.. Celestia, Luna, Cadance… then looks at Quintessent in confusion. "Does Equestria -have- that many princesses?"

Magpie gaaAAAAsp! "A princess?! We can ransom her for even MORE loot!" She hops excitely. "I NEED MY STUFF!" She charges out of the square towards the Mane Affair.

Quintessent-Rune shrugs slightly. "Do not ask me, Miss Windrose. I am still rather wrapping my head around the idea that you have a Princess of such a conceptual ideas as 'Love' and the implications of it."

Shadowbuck waves a hoof. "Well if it's a Princess that needs rescuing, it can't be -that- kind of Princess. Even the pansys of that group are strong enough to escape pretty much anything. Therefore, logically, it must be some prissy noblepony's daughter. Waste of oxygen if you ask me."

Straylight puts down a few coins for Grusha and sets about enjoying the more gryphon-some kind of borscht. "Um, if it's bear-recipe? Your grandfather did a great thing. Because from what I've read, bears took to, um, raiding spice caravans so much that spices were a thing for them." Her ears meanwhile flick to and fro, taking in the conversations. "Princesses to rescue? I can get, um, compromising photos of them. Or really good photos. Either may be profitable."

Windrose stares after Magpie running off. "… I don't think she quite grasps the concept of 'rescue'…"

Quintessent-Rune rubbed her muzzle for a moment. "Though perhaps it is, however unlikely it being Master Hemlock we are talking about, merely an anecdotal princess of love. Though he, as far as I know, do not have the romantic inclination to find himself a 'princess'."

Quintessent-Rune also gives Shadowbuck something of an annoyed frown… though is forced to concede the point. For the most part.

For a very short period of time, Hemlock looks a little nervous. "Well… The word 'princess' was never actually used. So Im don't knwo for sure if it's a princess we're saving here. But they did say 'daughter' in the letter and I've been doing this for a while and that usually means princess, right?" He smiles hopefully, and the nervousness fades. "Functionally it's the same at least."

Grusha nods. "In the motherland, bears are nuisance. They knock over garbage cans and hold up town hall meetings with questions answered hours ago."

By the time Quintessent Rune grets her and Big Red asks her name, Merryweather has a spoonfull of borscht in her mouth- with spoon- and jumps, eyes wide, in no position to reply! She sputters and tucks the spoon back into her brim-bound borscht bowl before swallowing hurriedly- so much beety goodness unsavored, heavens!- and offers Quintessent Rune a quick wave. "G-good evening, lady Rune! You're looking fantabulous as always!" Then to Big Red she turns, and is about to bow before remembering she's got stew on her hat. An awkwardly stiff curtsey ensues. "Oh! It's Merryweather. A pleasure to meet you, Master Robin."

Big-Red chuckles at Grusha's description of the bears, and moves up the line to get some borscht. "Meat, please," he says. "And…town hall meetings, huh? What else would the bears do, if I may ask?" He was slightly incredulous, but in the good-natured way. "Where I'm from, the bears were…a bit more frustrating than that."

In her room, Magpie sings a little "Dum digga dum digga digga digga DUM digga DUM dum DUM" song while she straps on her utility belt, her hoof-sheath, and ties a strip of cloth above her eyes. Draws lines of dark grease below each eye, too. "Da DUM!" she shouts as she steps dramatically into the street. Then goes galloping back towards the square. "DON'T LEAVE WITHOUT MEEEEEE!"

…… Windrose stares at Hemlock's explaination for a long, silent moment. Which is promptly followed by applying her face to both forehooves, muttering "Yet more proof all the ponies in this town are -crazy-" under her breath.

Quintessent-Rune inclined her head to Merryweather politely before turning her attention back to Windrose with an raised eyebrow. "You do not say?"

As Hemlock thinks about it, the letter never really said 'rescue' either, he has, perhaps, failed to grasp something about the situation. There is no way this will have negative consequences. Either way, Hemlcok clears his throat. "Fillies and gentlecolts, I am afraid I'm going to have to ask that anypony," he pauses, seeing a pair of gryphons. "Anyone, I mean, who is interested in joining the adventure, should come and sign in with me now. I have this clipboard here…"

He goes to one of his saddlebags, sticking his nose in to grab the sign up sheet. Not finding it immediately, he's forced to go rummaging, eventually fitting most of his neck in the bag before emmerging triumphant. Another challenge overcome, what a champion. "Once you are all signed up, we'll be on our way."

"Ones I knew made good lumberjacks", Straylight explains over her bowl. "And made atrociously strong, um, booze." She turns towards the sneakily dressed filly. "A mighty… er… ninja joins the hunt! Do you have smoke bombs?"

Grusha serves up more. "Honestly… no, bears are okay most of time. Some are annoying," she says, "but most are fine. Many live in woods still. Wood-bears are perhaps more… what is word?" She thinks for a moment. "Macho, I think."

Magpie skids towards Hemlock in a near panic. "Me! Here! I'm here! I wanna go! Me!" She scrawls MaGPi across two spaces on the sheet.

With bowl still balanced on her hat, Merryweather makes her way over to the clipboard, waits patiently for her turn, and then takes a moment to jot down her name- supplying her own little quill and mouthwriting in neat and flowing script. ~Merryweather.~ The unicorn then smiles and draws back. "A real, actual princess! I've always longed to meet one. The ones we have always seem to, er, go around Horseshoe Harbor entirely when passing through the area."

Shadowbuck stares at the clipboard, sweating a bit, at the quill. Then she scrawls something which vaguely looks like a hoofprint with three slashes in odd angles. "ma paamaashii avvvff boooh boooooh," she mutters, before spitting the quill out.

Hemlock's smile once again gets that's slightly uncertain quality. "Is that so? I hope you will enjoy the trip then Merryweather. Do you have all your equipment ready to go?"

Quintessent-Rune blinked rather in suprise as Meryweather strode over to Hemlock and jutted her name down on the clipboard… That… was actualy not what she had expected from the mare, from what she had seen off her so far. After a moment of thinking Rune herself strides forward with a sigh. "I best throw myself in this venture myself, it is not as if Miss Spindrift and Miss Chaos cannot hold down the for a few days… And I supose the exta firepower would not harm in the slightes, either."

Big-Red , armed with borscht, grabs his long black bag and hoists it over his shoulder carefully so it fits as well as it can on his back. That gives him the mobility he needs to three-leg walk over to the clipboard and await his turn to sign in. When he /does/ he writes his name "Big Red Robin" in efficient, if unflattering letters. Griffons! "So, a princess? Don't suppose we know more than that?" He blows on his borscht and begins to eat. Hrm. Not bad!

"Certainly!" chirps Merry, before gesturing to a saddlebag revealed by a flourish of her little red cloak. She tugs a strap, undoes a buckle, and hauls it open to reveal… "I've got trail rations, a sturdy length of coarse silk rope, fresh paper and a supply of ink for the purposes of mapmaking or note-taking or sending letters in a bottle in the case of a shipwreck, two bottles- one with hot sauce and the other with fresh water, a compass, a pencil sharpener, a small packet of apple seeds should civilization need to be rebuilt, a map of the local area with the shortest distance to known hospitals clearly marked in red ink, gopher repellant, and extra ribbon." She does the pack back up and reaches up to brush a hoof over the ribbon that binds her ponytail. "What more could a pony possibly need?!"

Straylight is about ready to put her signature down too, before looking up in alarm, as if she recalled something. "You all will have to start without me. Looks like, um, our fluffball is in trouble again." She hands Magpie a small oilcloth pack. "Here, you can do better ninja-ing with these. Be careful!" And then she flies up and out of sight.

Magpie waughs, taking the pack, and falls over.

Quintessent-Rune eyed Merryweather and her pack for a moment. "I supose that is… a form of preparedness? Shall I also surmise that I am the only one that have something of an extended emergency kit?"

Windrose has no intention of getting wrapped up in this nonsense of course. She's just following Quintessent to keep up the conversation. "If you ask me, you're braver in the fact that you'd be willing to leave somepony with 'Chaos' in their name in charge of anything," she half-jokes with the other mare. "Not that I've seen the crazy unicorn lately. Or Spindrift, for that matter. What do you guys do, keep her hidden in the bathtu—" Then stops as she remembers Rune is also.. uh… whoa, that would of been awkward. "Nevermind! Eehehehe.. Ahem." So wrapped up in her little near faux paus that she just takes the clipboard as it's passed along, and weather team paperwork signing reflex kicks in, scrawling out her name and passing it along. "… Wait a minute." Oops, too late.

Hemlock shifts his weight. "Possibly a princess? the letter wasn't very precise with its information." Thankfully he can never hold on to doubt for long, and ponies have signed up! "What a fine collection of heroes we all make," he says, contrary to all evidence. Hem prances over and gets his saddlebags on, a complicated process that has been practiced many time. The clipboard is slipped in to one of the bags and immediately forgotten. "I believe it is time we hit the road, the sooner we leave the sooner we get there and I'd like to cover plenty of ground before we set up camp for the night. Anyone know any good marching songs?"

Merryweather turns towards Rune, a confused look on her face. "What do you mean? I've got apple seeds and hot sauce! Oh, I suppose bandages might have been appropriate, and perhaps some manner of antibiotic ointment.."

If you're coming along, you'd better move, because the leader is in fact, leaving. Humming the whole time, Hemlock is moving along with the kind of pace he can maintain for miles and miles. It's not fast, just constant.

"I ment," said Quintessent softly, "more something along the lines of amror and weaponry? Or is adventuring here that much different from back home in Blackfathom? It usualy involves a fair bit of monster slaying and possibly ancient, cursed relics? There are windigos so I surmised… Ah well." With a shake of her head Rune pressed forward. A bit at her own pace, following Hemlock.

Windrose slumps midair as she realizes what she actually did. Then shakes it off with a hmph and flaps her wings to glide after the rest of the group. "I suppose there has to be at least one sane pony in this sea of madness." Drowning in it, if you ask her.

"Weapons are a crutch," Shadowbuck says. "That said, I've got a few in my bag if you're really short." She reaches her snout into a pouch that looks about the size of a mitten, and pulls out a katana. "hmmm… naaaaa," she adds, sticking the long sword back in. "Maybe more of a dagger is your style."

Merryweather blinks at Quintessent Rune, then looks around at the others gathered. "Brawling with monsters? Physical confrontation? Miss Rune, I'm not a duelist, I'm a…" She trails off. Scholar? Not really. Wizard? What is her job here? Her brow furrows slightly as she considers and discards various options, and eventually puts forth a weak smile. "… a supporter!" That's right. Seeing that Hemlock is headed off, Merry flashes Rune another smile before turning to pursue the stallion. "Ergo, the confronting can be left to those better-equipped and more sturdily-muscled!"

Magpie trails along behind Merryweather. "I can pop somepony over the back of the head… y'know, if we need to…" If they're really evil, that is. She doesn't go beating up random ponies. Or anypony really.

Windrose turns just enough to point a hoof at Magpie. "No knives for her. If she hurts herself with a knife Ruby would kill us both!" Yes, she's slightly overreacting a bit. What else is new?

Magpie shifts a little to try to conceal the sheath strapped to her hoof.

With Hemlock setting a brisk pace, the party cover plenty of ground in the first day. It's very important, mostly because it becomes clear that Hem might explode from anticipation if the trip takes too long. Eventually, as Celestia lowers the sun a suitable spot is found for the party to camp for the night. Hemlock gets his little tent set up (with extras in case anypony was unprepared) and then works on the fire whiel the others set about the busines.

Once the fire is roaring and the meals are eaten, and the big hero is laying by the fire contentedly, it is story time. "How many ponies here have never been on an adventure before?"

Quintessent-Rune raised a hoof from where she had practicaly face-planted form exhaustion next to Merryweather. She does raise a forehoof. Her back legs seems to more or less have given up at this point. How earth-bound ponies manage is beyond her. So much for 'sturdily-muscled'.
Magpie smiles a slightly superior smile, having been on at least three, including one where she snowballed Nightmare Moon in the black snoot, one where she went under the sea and located a boyfriend, and one mass kidnapping. Adventures are old hat, don't you know.

Big-Red has been quiet a good deal of this trip except for the occasional bit of advice and the omnomnom of good griffon cuisine. When camp is set up and further meals are eaten, the griffon sits down by the fire and /finally/ drops the long black bag he's been carrying, opening it up and pulling out a spear. "Depends on your definition of 'adventure,' but this isn't my first rescue. May not even be my first princess rescued," he muses while looking in the bag for something that was not the spear. As he rummanges, much metal and wood clank together.

A road-weary Merryweather is settled by the fire, having realized several hours ago that perhaps the gopher repellant and hot sauce were not wise things to include in favor of, perhaps, helium balloons or possibly ponies paid to carry her. "Indeed, the specific quantity heretofore referenced as 'adventure' would need to be ascertained prior to any confident answering of that question on my part," she explains. The unicorn glances about a tthe others, then squints slightly at Magpie. She's got a shady look about her, what with that secretive smile.

Windrose makes like a proper pegasus and pulls herself up a small cloud to sit on just over the fire gathering. "More than I could ever want," she reples dryly. It's been, what, two years or so, and the whole Nightmare Winter escapade still gives her the creeps.
Shadowbuck stares at Merryweather blankly. "Was that Equish?" She streches lazily. "Dunno what an adventure is exactly, but been on a few rescues, a few ponyhunts, even a hunt hunt or two." She makes a 'bleech' face at the latter.

"I got bit by a zombie once," Magpie brags. "Wanna see the scar?"

Quintessent-Rune noded. "Indeed, hunts are not particularly appealing. We were called upon a few to the Black Abyss to protect the local vilages form Mort Eels. It… got rather messy, rather quickly…"

Raising an eyebrow, Hemlock chuckles. "I see I have a party of veterans with me." If another pony said that it'd sound sarcastic, when Hemlock says it he sounds sincerely impressed and grateful. He looks up beyond the party, towards the mountains they'll be in tomorrow, then back at the foothills they'd been crossing for most of the day. "Should we swap stories?" Magpie's offer gets a nod. "Sure!"

Magpie wiggles around and points at her shoulder just below the base of her neck. "It's kinda hard to see now, but it was right here!" She beams. "That was after I hit Nightmare Moon with a snowball and we had to run away." These events were not actually connected. She oohs at Rune. "What's a mort eel? Is that like when Tale Chaser and me defeated a giant squid in an ancient temple to an evil cult?!" Fine they had some help, but seriously it was totally her.

Nightmare Moon?! Merryweather blanches. Mort Eels?! Merry doesn't even know what they are but they sound beastly! GIANT SQUID?! Well, she's seen a regular-sized squid before and it was positively strange looking, and a giant one must be even more so! The mare removes her hat, setting aside her long-emptied bowl of borscht, and wipes a hoof across a brow smudged with trail dust.

"Wonder if Mort Eels are anything like Quarry Eels," Windrose muses mostly to herself.

A full-body shiver runs through Rune at the mention of a squid and she reaches out, fumbling… and finds Merryweather's hat. A hat that moments later are used to cover her head and face. "Please, Miss Magpie… Don't mention giant squids… Mort Eels are to eels what Eldritch Gargants are to giant squids… Huge, mean-spirited, full of sinister magic and a perchant for eating ponies."

Windrose says "Yep, a lot like Quarry Eels… except for the whole magic part."

Hemlock grins around at the assembled ponies, then leans back. "I could always tell the story about why I wear this vial around my neck, it's when I went in to a hydra's lair."

Magpie awws at Rune. "It's okay, the squid was actually a nice guy once we smashed the glowy crystal ball that was making it be mean. I hit it with a rock." Pause. "…the ball, not the squid."

Windrose leans over the edge of her cloud-seat to aside to Hemlock. "Let the foal finish first, or she'll just keep interrupting to do so."

Magpie just blinks owlishly at Windrose. Crickets chirp.

"Hydras are real?" asks Merryweather, looking away from a hat-cowering Rune and to Hemlock. "I thought they were simply fabrications of myth and legend, like chimps and gullybogs and skellumps."

Shadowbuck shrugs. "Gullybogs are real. Fought one once. Wasn't fully trained yet so it wasn't an easy fight."

Magpie says "What's a gullybog? Is that like a giant frog?"

Shadowbuck shrugs. "Didn't get a real good look at him, he was covered snout to tail in thick mud. But sorta like a crocadile, but meaner and sneakier. Also, they're kinda puny, but wicked strong and fast." She waves a hoof. "They try to sink ya in the mud so they can eatcha later, or at least so they say."

Merryweather turns to smile cheerfully at Magpie. "It's a it like a gullysnog, except adapted for swampy environments!" She turns and eyes Shadowbuck through narrowed eyes. "Wait! I thought the gullybogs had long arms and swung from the trees like this…" She sits up, hauls her hooves over her head and waggles them about all gangly-like. "And made a sound like a hurricane blowing through a harmonica. All fictionally, of course. Are you certain you're not thinking of a wallybawg?"

Big-Red had, during all this time, kept quiet and let the ponies tell their tales of monsters and adventure. It was enough to bring a smile to him, and enough that he didn't even know he had found what he was looking for: a whetstone. Looking up at the spear he was holding, he shrugs and pulls it down to sharpen it while listening to the others.

Forest, forest, trails and paths, twist twist, and follow the trail, by sky by hooves and paws and talons bringing up the rear of this little party is of course the town's doctor; Dr. Cross Redfeather catches up with the group. Finally. "Oh dear, dear, did I miss anything important" chirps the small griff as she makes it into the circle of the encampment.

Shadowbuck shrugs. "I'm no expert on critters, coulda been a wallabawg. Or a whatchablog. All I know is little sucker gave me a black eye before I was able ta chase it off."

"That depends, Doctor Redfeather," said Quintessent after a moment, "on if you brought something against muscle strain?"

Hemlock gives Cross a little wave. "Not a thing my dear, come join me by the fire. We're sharing stories of our many adventures."

Merryweather casts the newly-arrived doctor a smile, then turns towards Hemlock. "Master Hemlock, you were saying something about hydras?"

"Indeed I was! Hydras are quite real, though like most such monsters they usually just want peace and a safe place to sleep." Hemlock has always been the kind of hero who solves things peacefully if he can.

"It was many, many years ago, when I came across a quiet village on the edge of a jungle. They relied on the nearby river for all of their clean water, but a massive hydra had made recently made a home in the lake that was the river's source. Now, I am a stallion of quite considerable constitution, and most poisons do not affect me. So I volunteered to go and fix the problem through any means necessary."

Magpie makes a mental note: Don't try to poison hemlock.

Cross-Redfeather bounds by flutter and a hop over to beside Hemlock and gives the various ponies, griffi and others a little bob of her head and tucks into her wings warmly beside doing the griffin feather poof that her sort does when chilly.

Despite her best efforts to not look -too- interested Windrose leans over the edge of her cloud a little more. "What was the hydra doing, making the water dirty or something?"

It would probably not be worth the effort, no. "The breath and skin of a hydra can be poisonous, though I didn't know just how poisonous," he replies to Windrose's question. Hemlock gives Cross a hug before continuing. "Now, the first thing any hero does when facing a new kind of foe, is study it. So I found one of the creature's footsteps. I had heard that they leave some of the poison wherever they tread, and there was some left behind on the shore of the lake. Thinking to make an antidote, I gathered it up in a vial, just like this one." He points to his necklace, the liquid inside is a sickly green. "Unfortunately, I slipped and fell in to the wretched stuff, and to my shock I began to feel the effects almost immediately."

"I stumbled in to town, where I spent a week that I cannot remember recovering, but once I was once again feeling well I managed to find an antidote, which I could use to cleanse the lake."

Magpie ooooh.

Merryweather listens, remaining respectfully quiet, but she does start looking to see if Quintessent Rune is ready to surrender her hat.

Windrose scruches her face up in an adorably disgusted expression. "Well hopefully it was just its breath or sweat or something if you fell in and swallowed it, and it not it using the lake as a -bathroom-."

"I still had a problem facing me however. cleansing the lake once would not be enough, while the hydra was filling it with it's posion, it would never be drinkable for long. So I had to find the beast itself."

For a moment Hemlock shifts nervously. Remembering all that water got to him for a second there. "Thankfully, there was an entrance above ground, so I followed it down to find it sleeping there. The creature was massive, easily five times my size and seemed to fill the whole chamber. 'How do I get rid of such a thing?' I wondered."

"But I didn't have to wonder for long." Hemlock is slightly disappointed that there's no ominous roll of thunder, the land around here has no sense of dramatic timing, really.

Magpie says "DUN DUN DUUUUUN!"

(OOC) Magpie helps
(OOC) Hemlock: thank you

Cross-Redfeather fluffles a little at the hug, and winghugs in return. She listens to the tale and looks aghast about the thought of dear Hemlock falling into that nasty concoction, "That is a variety of neurotoxin if I have heard correctly" she asks with some clarity "Only a week out, that is surprising, even given your relative imunity to damaging effects, such osmotic dosage of that sort of toxin is almost always fatal to anycreature, be it griff, or pony alike.

… Oh, dramatic moment. Windrose gives her cloud a little kick, making it crackle ominously. Then turns her head to look 'innocent' like she didn't do a thing

Magpie says "oooh, nice one!"

"Master Hemlock," mumbled Quinty from under her pilfered hat. One she's not really pulling tight down over her head any longer, "I think your talents would have been most invaluable during our encounters to Mort Eels."

Merryweather's narrow hooves are reaching up and sort of gingerly poking at the brim of Rune's hat- that is the, hat that she wears, not the one that she owns- but the unicorn is much too polite to merely take it back without permission. Poke poke. Poke. Merry glances over at Hemlock in the meantime, listening.

"Thank you everypony, this must not be story country. Hemlock shoots an upset look skywards before continuing. "The hydra woke up, and stared at me with a dozen eyes and I felt very small indeed. It stalked towards me, but I cried out to it that I had the antidote. this seemed to get its attention, because the hydra stopped. It turns out, no one had every thought to try an antidote before, their first response was to run the hydra away from its nest. So I tried giving it a dose, filling a pool for it to drink from."

Hemlock puts a hoof to his chest. "I am a master with antidotes, and because of this, it worked. The hydra's breath lost its potency, and its skin would no longer harm a living being for the duration of the antidote. I found the villagers, who agreed to help the hydra by brewing more of the antidote when it was needed, while the hydra would keep away other, less understanding monsters. As a momento, I took one last vial of the poison, the only one to ever slow me down, and keep it around my neck at all times just in case."

Magpie peeks at Hemlock's vial. "Soooo that's super-poisonous hydra poison?" she inquires.

Hemlock nods. "Yup, securely fastened of course."

Magpie scootscoots a little away from Hemlock.

Merryweather looks at the hanging vial with a bit of wonder, a bit of trepidation. "Just in case…?" she asks, glancing up at Hemlock himself.

Windrose gives Magpie a 'don't you even think of taking it' look… but fortunately she scoots away instead of closer to Hemlock

Cross-Redfeather nods a little as she has heard bits and pieces of this tale at some time, "Such posion is used in a sect of griffon air defense for uhh" she fades off a little and shrugs, "But it was always harvested after a Hydra had expired" notes the little griff "by experts at the science of collecting such noxious materials from such creatures." Cross looks from Merryweather and Magpie, "Oh its a wize precaution of any scientist, doctor, or mixologist to keep a sample of effective drugs" notes the little Doctor. "Its most prudent a thing to do to assist in future development of necessary antivenoms or other derivatives. She gives Hemlock another little Winghug

Magpie gives Windrose a hurt/innocent look.

Hemlock shrugs. "It's always nice to have a reminder that I'm not completely invincible. and besides, what if I turn bad? Every hero needs something to keep them in line." he nods. "Like the good doctor said, I an use the stuff for all manner of things, including another antidote if I forget the recipe"

Shadowbuck scoffs. "If somepony needs to keep you in line, they're not going to use poison. Everything has a weak point, and that's the only smart place to hit."

Quintessent-Rune lifts the hat of her head and fumbles with it for a moment. She winds up placing it on one of Meryweathers hooves. Turned inside out… "Well, Master Hemlock… I can understand such a momento. Past experiences are what defines us and they all leave their marks in one way or another… At times they are physical as such."

Merryweather stares at her hat. It's been inverted! She smiles weakly to Rune and goes about the delicate process of fixing her poor poor hat. "Well, ah, I sincerely doubt there's anything that's going to turn you against us like that, master Hemlock, but in the event it's very kind of you to keep your one weakness in a place where it can be so easily accessed. Then again, you can access it just as readily as the rest of us, so…" She shrugs.

Magpie says "I'd keep it so's I can throw it into a monster's mouth when I need to."

Hemlock nods. "It's a wonderful memory, and I also doubt that I'd stop being on your side my dear

Merryweather." He shakes his head. "When I do have to fight, I usually rely on sleep potions."

Windrose says "Just don't spill it in anypony's food or something."

Cross-Redfeather perks up suddenlike and looks off into the woods in a direction opposite the trail, tucks close to Hemlock for a mere moment then bolts into the sky in a blur of small griffon, zoomgoodbye. Startled by something evidently, and monster stories did not help.

Magpie pulls a blanket over and rolls up into an untidy mass. "Welp… g'night!"

If anybody know Quintessent Rune they'd most likely figure she would have everything one could possibly need with her in that scarf of hers. Possibly some kind of tent that is larger on the inside than the outside, full of comfort, self-deploying and maybe even teleporting. Most likely blue, too. She might even have more than one, to share around… Sadly nobody will ever find out, Rune seems to be snooring already in the same position she crubmled into as they stoped.

"I think we should be going to be bed son, my little ponies. we have a long day ahead of us tomorrow. I'll take first and last watch." Hemlock settles in by the fire, not expecting any trouble but smart heroes are alive heroes, and smart heroes set watches at night.

Windrose don't need no tent! She grabs the edge of her cloud and pulls part of the fluff over herself like a blanket as she rolls over on her side and snuggles in. "Goodnight."

Merryweather glances about, but it seems like everypony has her has dozed off or settled in for the night. Well, then! She eases back, takes a little while longer to fix her hat, tucks it atop her head, draws her cloak around herself and stares at the fire in that sort of aimless way bored horses do.