Love In The Time Of Madness
IC date: Spring 76, 1007
OOC date: June 05, 2012
PCs: Mad-Mare, Lily-Heart
NPCs: Rock'em, Sock'em
GM: None

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood~

Equestria is surely blessed with controllable weather. It's hardly ever inconvenient, and always able to be planned around. Nice days like this are great for walking, feeling good, and enjoying one's time. A nice, calm, soothing day~

Much unlike the actual pony whom has been thrust into said /beautiful/ day. 'Tis the Mad Mare of the Syndicolt what wanders the simple harbor streets, flanked by her two ponyguards (whom are feeling much better now thankyou), and she looks to be enjoying the day about as much as she would enjoy being kicked in the face.

Actually she looks like she might enjoy getting kicked just a tiny bit more. But who's really keeping track?

Some say she's gone completely off her rocker lately. She keeps muttering about traitors and backstabbers, and /fillies/ under her breath, when she isn't staring off in space. It's not a common mood, and it speaks volumes about what her job's been like lately.

Her cohorts, Rock'em and Sock'em, on the other hand, look like they're enjoying the stroll. They weren't even forced to carry the usual umbrella. Unfettered, and happy that they're not the immediate target of their bosses wrath, they're much more intent on browsing food stalls and cracking jokes with one another. Only occasionally do they get a little too loud, causing their boss to turn her head back towards them and glare with a single twitchy eye.

"How can you two be so…so danged cheerful at a time like this? How?" she demands, with wide eyes and flat ears. To which both of her ponyguards shrug. "It's a nice day, boss." "Yeah. Y'oughtta enjoy the sunshi-"

"Rahh! Whatever! Fine! Enjoy your stupid day! I'll just keep being /miserable/ about our bloody /problems/, alright? Is that okay with you two!?"

As if to make the day even worse, there's a young adolescent pony — probably around seventeen, by human standards — traipsing along the boardwalk. No, not traipsing. Skipping. The red and white unicorn seems quite happy to chat up a few of the stalls as well, cheerful as ever. In fact, she skips right up next to Rock'em and Sock'em, beaming up at them. "Hello, sirs! You look like you're having a good day!"

"Oh we are, lass, we are." Rock'em states in a suddenly perfect cockney accent. "Isn't that right, my fine stallion?"

Sock'em chips in, doing a much worse impression, but still somehow managing to follow up on his cohort's fun idea. "Quite so, quite so. You look like you're enjoying the day yourself, dear filly. Wonderful weather we're having, hm?"

Maddie snorts an annoyed sigh, lifting a hoof to cover her face. "Oh for the love of Celestia… That's just what I needed right now."

"Oh! Are you from Trottingham?" Lily-Heart inquires, glancing between the two curiously. But then, she looks abashed. "Err, I mean… I don't mean to stereotype, or anything… Um, but! The weather is lovely today and our pegasi team seems to be doing so well lately." She blinks and turns, though, to regard Mad. "Oh, dear. Bad day, miss? Can I help?" She looks so… so earnest!

"They're /not/ from Trottingham." Maddie interjects before either of her comrades can break into awful accents again. "They're from a few ports down. Just like me." She spins around so she can face this oh-so-friendly filly, that same eye-twitchy, angry look just plastered on her face. "Part of a crazy criminal organization that specializes in giving /other/ ponies /REALLY/ bad days. And for your information, I'm having a /peachy/ day." She turns to start walking off again, the words "Just. Peachy." being muttered through her teeth. "Come /on/ boys, we have more crap to scope out."

Rock'em and Sock'em stare after their bosses flank for a couple seconds, then turn to Lily to shrug in unison. They even keep their accents. "Don't mind her…" "She's always a little grumpy when her boss gets on her back." "But doesn't everypony?"

Lily-Heart blinks and cows a little, backing up and dipping her head down. "I don't think you are," she says, regarding her /peachy/ day. But when Rock'em and Sock'em explain, the little mare musters her all and gallops after the crazy Syndicolt boss. "Let me help! I bet I could help you feel better," she insists. Because nothing's better than being young and stupid!

Now it's an entourage plus one! Rock'em and Sock'em certainly don't mind the extra company. Nothing like a cute little filly to take ones mind off of the rest of the world, right? They're both grinning. It's not like they actively want to annoy their boss right now, but they have this ultimately crazy theory that if they put enough good effort and optimism into their attitude at this moment it'll snap her out of her funk.

Unfortunately the addition of a bleeding heart to Maddie's thoughts is less than effective at this ultimate goal of cheering her up. Her head dips lower, her eyes closing and gait picking up speed. "I feel /fine!/ I don't need any help, and I especially don't need any of you harbor idiots trying to cozy up to me! Leave me alone or I'll… Kick you!"

Rock'em pipes up, "Aw c'mon boss! She seems awful nice!" Sock'em chimes in, "Cute, too! You sure you couldn't let her /try/ to help? What's it going to hurt?"

Lily-Heart blinks, eyes burning a little, but she keeps pace with Mad anyway — even after she speeds up. "Well — what about flowers? Would you like some daisies? Or— or maybe I could find you some ale at the tavern! Would you like that? Or are you more into cider?" Big pink eyes are following Mad, desperate to help. On the upside, at least briefly, they're turned on Rock'em and Sock'em for a blush and a pretty smile. "Well, thank you!"

"I /hate/ flowers!" Maddie screams, head lifted in that moment. …The cider sounds good though. Not that she's going to admit that! Obviously Maddie just isn't running fast enough. She picks up her pace again, moving into a full gallop down the streets! …Of course, Rock'em and Sock'em are /encouraging/ Lily to keep up, and the continued offers of help only bring more and more heated snorts to the Mad Mare's nose.

"She's not gonna give up, Boss!" "You better let her do /something/ for you! Or else she's gonna swim out to your ship and be nice to you there too!" "You don't want /that/, do you?"

Lily-Heart pants now as she tries to keep up, because this isn't exactly her forte. But still, she's bound and determined! A charity case!! MUST HELP!! "I'm sorry! I didn't know you hated flowers! I can get you a sword maybe, instead! We have some good weaponsmiths in town! Nopony should have a bad day, miss!"

A sword?

Maddie slows from her dead gallop, back down to a gait, and then to a stop altogether. Snorting to catch her breath, the Mad Mare turns slowly to regard the uber-helpful filly, and the two stallions she used to call her ponyguards. A little wild-eyed, she is!

"You…" she starts, staring at..or maybe through Lily. "…Are annoying! Don't you know who I am? I'm a bad pony! I hurt foals! Why are you trying to /help/ me!?"

Ooh she gets right up in Lily's face, which is enough to make both Rock'em and Sock'em take a few steps back, and they weren't even in immediate line of fire. "I don't get help! Ponies need help to deal with me! Not the other way around! If you get me a sword, I stab ponies with it! If you get me flowers, I will find a way to use them to strangle somepony! If you…/help/ me do anything, I will make you regret it so much your /grandfoals/ will have nightmares about me…"

Her voice, dropped to a mere whisper, Maddie finally focuses her eyes, staring straight into those adorable, innocent pink ones. "Do you understand yet..? Or do I need to threaten you s'more?"

Yep. Lily's eyes are getting bigger and bigger with every word. As Mad gets in her face, the mare backs away, ears flat, staring tearfully into Mad's eyes. Wibble! Her sides shudder, and she looks like she's trying so very hard not to just start /sobbing/ right there, like a scared foal.

And yet.

She stomps a hoof. Maybe it's not an aggressive stomp, but she's trying /so hard/. "I— It doesn't matter! Even if you're a terrible pony — and it sounds like you're a /terrible/ pony — you don't… You don't deserve to hurt. You're /hurting/." S-stomp.

Rock'em and Sock'em both whistle… Now that's some resolve there! But then, this harbor seems to be full of ponies that actually stand up to other ponies. It's kind of frightening from a bully-ish perspective.

"Told ya so, Boss. You better let her help." "Or she ain't gonna get out of /your/ face."

Maddie blinks. This filly is so obviously scared! But not running. Or cowering. Or..even cussing her out. So much..kindness? Her pupils shrink to mere pinpricks amid a sea of white, two hesitant steps back being taken before she catches herself, recovering a hint of her attitude again, a shake of her head bringing the world back around her.

Again she focuses on Lily, but this time she looks more confused than angry. And then like she has a headache, putting her forehooves up to her temples. "…Did I mention you're annoying, yet? What can you possibly do for me that I can't just send one of those two idiots to go fetch me?"

Rock'em and Sock'em look to each other, shrugging. "Good point…"
"I-I'm sorry," Lily-Heart replies quietly, about being annoying, though she /still/ doesn't back down. Instead, those big pink eyes look up at Mad. "It's my special talent," she claims with a hint of pride. "I help healing hurting hearts. I can help share your emotions, take some of the burden!"

Both of the bodyguard ponygoons double-take. Share emotions? Share burden? On their boss? "Uh… Maybe that's not such a great idea after all." Sock'em notes, with Rock'em nodding emphatically. "Yeah… Hey, I know! Why don't you go get us a couple drinks of cider? We'd be really appreciative!" Hopeful tones~

Maddie doesn't look amused by the sudden change of heart. If anything, it brings the barest hint of a grin to her features. "/Share/ my emotions? Really? Like, you actually take some of them? In you?"

Apparently a part of her likes this idea.

Lily-Heart blinks a little. "Welllll…yes," she replies, looking cheerful but maybe a little confused. She glances to Rock'em and Sock'em, frowning. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea, indeed. But she has a /job/ and /somepony/ has to do it. "I mean…I can't help a pony if I don't understand what they're feeling. I can also look into your emotional memory, and I can also help soothe stormy souls."

This is too good! From annoyed at the intrusion, to almost too eager to become a 'patient', Maddie sets her rear down right there in the street. She tosses her head back, still-growing mane flittering in a breeze. "Alright, little filly~ You want to help me, go ahead. Try your little spell. Tell me what you see when you're done. If you still think you can /help/ me after that, I'll give you a chance."

Now both of the ponyguards are ducking their heads. Oh Celestia, what have they /done/? And now the Boss is committed! Rock'em looks like he's about to tackle Lily to keep her from doing whatever she's about to do, and Sock'em's mostly just crouching down to put his arms over his head.

Lily-Heart beams! The mare trots eagerly forward and sheds her saddlebags, which sport the same mark as the one on her flank: a heart-shaped padlock flanked by two heart-shaped keys. "Okay, now this might be a little uncomfortable at first, but you'll feel better after, okay?" With that, her horn strikes up a glow (pink, of course), and leans in to touch Mad's forehead…

A little uncomfortable, hah! The Mad Mare gives Lily a stonefaced look. "Whatever. Hit me with your best shot!"

Then, SPELL!

So what would the inside of Maddie's emotions look like? That depends on how deep one dives… The surface is certainly all boiling rage, and hate, and anger, and a purely destructive need for something violent. Such a strong desire to take the world, and bring it down to her level.

Yet there's a cold side to the rage. Perhaps the origin. Her reason. Like a cold little filly curled up in a blazing sun of anger and madness, burning anything that gets close.

The mare's body suddenly seizes, muscles stiffening and teeth gritting as all that rage and anger washes through her like a tidal wave. Lily clamps her jaw down tight, muzzle wrinkling into a snarl, as she pushes forward, /growling/. Her presence in Mad's mind is definitely an intrusion, but even if she echoes those emotions, it's on a calmer scale. It's like a tiny island of peace and serenity. Not content to stay on the outskirts, the burgeoning empath pushes deeper into Mad's psyche, trying very hard to focus on being that calming influence despite all the destructive anger coursing through her."

A serene island of calm in a sea of rage? A harsh intrusion to a mind that's never truely known calm! Maddie's teeth grit, the mare starting to duck down, unable to quite break the contact of horn to forehead under the sway of the empathy spell.

Calming a boiling sea of rage and anger isn't easy… Not when there's so much! But parting the seas to get to the core? Perhaps simpler. It's odd for emotion to be so visual, but that's the sort of shape emotional memory can take! In Maddie's case, it's a big iron box in the middle of the anger and madness. A prison even. With a viewport, and a tiny filly-Maddie huddled in a corner, staring at the walls. All of which are covered with constantly shifting faces, each of which laughs in cruel tones. There's a high-pitched sound all around, mixed between laughter and screaming that just permeates the whole memory…

Outside of the spell, Rock'em and Sock'em are entranced. They've never seen..this type of unicorn magic before. Can it actually heal ponies?

Lily-Heart pushes forward, though she's broken out into a sheen of sweat. This is /not/ an easy task. She presses through all the chaos, the anger, to the iron box within. To Mad's little filly, Lily-heart looks much like herself, but her eyes are glowing and almost alien. But unlike the cruel voices, she radiates a warmth. (And perhaps tension, given how difficult this particular patient is.) She approaches the viewport, looking in, and straining every second to be there and not ripped back to reality. And her hold is slipping.

Maddie's practically whimpering by this point, looking more pained than ever, crouched low with her head nearly touching the street!

Inside her 'emotional memory', the trapped little filly does see the glowing eyes. The calm stranger, not laughing. Not part of her prison. For the briefest of instants the filly stops trembling and screaming, and seems to reach a hoof towards the vision…

…but then the faces turn. From mocking laughter, they switch to angry howling, the prison shifting in shape to make barriers of endlessly scowling, grinning, angry, sad, or flat-out stabber-crazy faces, focused on the intruding presence!

"YOU DO NOT BELONG HERE!" they all scream at once, the sound followed by the renewed wailing of the filly, growing fainter as the mountain of faces grows, as though smothering their diminuative captive.

Lily-Heart's face breaks into a warm smile at first, about to say something, when suddenly the world erupts into screaming at /her/. She jolts, blinking and wilting, staring up at the faces. "I'm helping! You're hurt! Let me release you!" she cries, lifting her hooves to ward off crazy stabby faces of crazy.

Endlessly changing, shifting, a formless mass of masks is what the faces become, encircling their invader, swirling with their mixture of taunting cries and madness laughter. A new voice joins the cacophony, two words whispered repeatedly. "join usssss~~~", while the multitude of voices continue to 'attack', as much echo as they are booming. "WE ARE PAIN! (suffering! agony!) THERE IS NO RELEASE! (no escape! can't run!)"

The screams that could have been the filly have faded to a faint buzz within the emotional memoryscape. The Mad Mare, on the other hand, is making them loud and in full-force, shocking both of the burly bodyguard ponies to their hooves! "Wha..?" "It's… It's hurting her!"

They're attracting quite a lot of attention, as ponies slow down to stare in wide-eyed fear. This is partly because Lily is /also/ screaming. She pushes forward, strains, shaking on her hooves as the voices envelope her. "No! I won't join you! I'll save you! I'LL SAVE YOU!" Poor poor pony. You can't save them all. She stomps her hooves and throws out the all the rest of her power in one enormous lash, slashing across Mad's subconscious with a strange wound of calm and love tinged with her own echoed /anger/. It's not precisely healthy, but it is certainly…foreign.

Back in the real world, an explosion of pink light sends the little mare tumbling, to smack flat into Rock'em and collapse in a heap. She's never done crazy like /that/ before, never in her /life/, and it leaves her dazed at best.

Everyone's knocked for a loop! The last thing in that memory is the sight of all those faces, the whole symphony of voices, uniting in one intense mental cry. "NOOOOOOO!" …before a foreign emotional /sword/ of calm and anger and love, of all things, slashes through the entire memoryscape. What becomes of this is left to guesswork, as the spell is broken, and Maddie is just as much knocked flat on her back as Lily is.

The Ponygoons are the first to get up, Rock'em trotting over to give Maddie a few nudges, seeing if she's responsive at all, while Sock'em does much the same to Lily. "What in the name of Luna did you jus' do to our boss? We've never heard her scream like that." He strategically omits the fact that they were /both/ screaming. It doesn't seem important at the moment.

Lily-Heart's eyes spin in a daze as she slumps against Sock'em. "I…I tried to heal her," she stammers, a little thickly. "G-Get off me!" Anger wells up in the little unicorn, still leaking all that chaos from her encounter, and she staggers unsteadily to her hooves. "W-why won't you just HEAL!" she shouts at the fallen Mad, even going so far as to run over and kick the mare while she's down. It's not much of a kick, though, and she staggers back a step, eyes widening at what she's done. The horror!

Sock'em's eyes go wide! That wasn't the same nice little filly of earlier! He steps back uncertainly, reaching out a hoof when her boss gets kicked, too. "H..hey! What're you doing?" Rock'em, equally caught off-guard by that brief burst of anger, at least manages to do his job and step between the fallen filly and the Mad Mare. "A'right lady, jus' calm down, hey? I think you've done enough."

Maddie groans… Limbs flailing weakly in the air, the Mad Mare flops onto her side instead. She's not going anywhere anytime soon!
"I— I'm sorry," Lily-Heart squeaks, letting Sock'em pull her back. "So much anger, I just—" And then she turns and collapses on the goonpony to just start /sobbing/. All that emotional overload has to go /somewhere/, after all.

So now Sock'em's an emotional support. He looks over towards Rock'em, shrugging helplessly, providing that shoulder to cry on. He pats Lily's back consolingly! And wisely avoids saying 'I told you so'. He did encourage it up to the last second!

Rock'em manages to help Maddie sit up, after a few failed attempts, the Mad Mare putting her hooves up to her head. "Nnnghh… tha help?" she mutters, eyes lidded in a mostly-dazed expression. Yet somehow she's looking at Lily. At least, her eyes are aimed in that direction. "Whaju do toooo my heeead?"

Lily-Heart weeps bitter tears into Sock'em's coat, just wailing now. Her head is killing her. Her horn hurts. She's got all this pent up emotion, and what's worse, /Maddie yelled at her/. In her head! Oh, her poor little heart! And yet, the sniffling, weeping mare looks at Mad, and just…runs over, abandoning Sock'em to throw her arms around the Syndicolt and give her a GREAT BIG HUG. "You're hurting /so much/," she wails. "I swear, I swear I'll make it better!"

Rock'em flails as he's pretty much pushed back too, to allow for sudden hugging of the Mad Mare by the strange empathic filly! He falls back in a comical heap, Sock'em loping over to help him up.

Maddie doesn't..respond at first. She just sits there. A lump of Syndicolt, wrapped in filly arms. "'course I'm hurting… You make my head hurt." she mumbles out in a monotone voice, though the claim of making it better puts a wince to the mare's face.

"No… No better. S'worse. Worse!" Maddie pushes at the filly's shoulders, trying to break up the hug, finally showing some signs of her old self again. "Sweet sun-loving seaponies, girl! You nearly killed me with that!"

Lily-Heart wails and weeps and clings, and is /so hard/ to push away, but at last she tumbles free and rolls head-over-hooves to flop in a pile. And cry more. "It hurts at first, but it gets better! Just— jus— just let me recover and I-I'll try again!"

Ugh! Just the thought of a second go-round is enough to put Maddie on her feet, wobbling over to her ponygoons for support. "Nuuuh-uh, crazy filly. You ain't touchin' me again with that horn. I actually feel a little..warm..and tingly.." She shakes her head woozily, "' vomity."

She really isn't completely sure how she feels now. It's like someone went and threw her perfectly ordered chaotic world into a blender, hit puree‘, and started sprinkling glitter in there. Feelings so foreign she can’t even understand it. One thing's for certain though. She isn't quite the same angry as she was before the attempt! So that's good, isn't it?

Lily-Heart looks up at Mad through bleary, sad eyes. "Warm and tingly is good! Don't you want to feel that all the time? It's a wonderful thing! You could feel /loved/!" She staggers up and moves closer again. Oh god. It's getting closer. RUN.

"Noooooo! Stay away from meeeeee!" Maddie immediately cries, scrambling for her footing so she can get the buck out of dodge! Or the harbor! Both of her ponygoons grunt and chase after, putting some lesser-known herding skills to use in guiding their wayward boss down the street, and not into any garbage cans or other ponies. What have they done..?

Lily-Heart's hooves lift from the ground, straining after the pony as she runs away.