Mild Mannered
IC date: Spring 83, 1007
OOC date: June 12, 2012
PCs: Blackbird, Snowfield
NPCs: N/A
GM: None

School's been out for the summer, and maybe a bit earlier than normal, much to the foals' joy and excitement (and their parents' dismay). There hasn't been a reason stated, really, but many are speculating that it has to do with the mysterious fate of his zebra charge, Sadaka, who has recently up and disappeared. Was she eaten by Seabears? Poisoned by fizzy juice? Turned into /another/ pegasus? The most sordid rumor would be that Blackbird himself killed her, of course — and it's usually substantiated by the fact that the teacher's been alternately cagey, twitchy, and mopey since she disappeared.

At present, Blackbird has flopped himself down in the field that stretches behind the houses, as today is a 'mopey' day. His ears are flat, his eyes half-lidded as he stares into space. Mope mope mope.

Snowfield is on her way back to the forest from a quick shopping trip in town. It's unfortunate that she had to go during the day, but certain shenanigans last night involving a mopey mare and a self-loathing foal caused the unicorn to not be able to finish her to-do list before everything closed. Accursed ice cream.

She catches sight of a familiar pale stallion moping in the fields on her way and, after a moment's consideration, alters her path to trot over to him. "Hey," she says plainly, bending down to look at Blackbird's face. "I heard your kid drank some bad fizzy juice."

Blackbird winces, rolling his eyes upward to meet the taciturn mare's gaze. This will definitely be one of the few times that direction would be /up/, not /down/, of course. "Is that what people are saying?" he asks morosely. "Well, fair enough I guess."

"I can't stand idle gossip," Snowfield says disdainfully, "but it's hard not to overhear the housemares chatting when one is forced to do her shopping during daylight hours. The odds are evenly split between that little zebra having a truly monumental case of the trots or that she turned into seafoam when her prince didn't kiss her by midnight." The little mare walks around and begins to poke Blackbird in the side with her hoof. "Get up, you, it's unbecoming of a stallion to wallow in self-pity."

The teacher snorts, and lays there for a few moments longer after the nudge before he sighs and pulls up to his feet. "Fair enough," he agrees, as he rubs a hoof over his face to get some life back into his countenance. "But now I'm terribly curious what you predict has happened to my wayward ward. Who can guess what the witch of the woods has to say?" He offers her a somewhat grim smile.

Snowfield tilts her head at Blackbird. "You wish for my analysis? She hasn't been seen around town in a week and you've been miserable since then, which leads me to believe that you don't know where she is. You're not a complete nutjob so it's unlikely that she was taken into custody by foal protective services. You're also never panicked and made a big fuss trying to track her down, which means that you know where she is and either cannot or do not wish to go there."

The little unicorn circles Blackbird as she speaks, judging his reactions to her observations. There's very little magic in witchery, truth be told, most of it is getting ponies to give you the answers they expect to hear.

Blackbird's grim smile, if anything, gets grimmer. "Right enough," he answers. "Her parents showed up. Which is great and wonderful." Boy, he sure sounds like it's wonderful. Oh yes. His head turns to follow her while she circles him, ears flicking back. "Well, wonderful except for the fact that they're Syndicolt goons." He pauses, and then amends, "Well…not goons, per se. Captives may be more accurate."

"Well, that's an amazing coincidence," Snowfield says as she stops pacing behind and to the left of Blackbird. "Do they even come to shore? I heard the captain does occasionally, but I wouldn't think the rank and file would get shore leave, and certainly not captives. How'd they manage to find her?"

The teacher snorts, looking away to the right. "Sadaka and her foal friends all piled into their pirate ship and attacked the boats. When Sadaka fell overboard, her parents recognized her and dove in to save her." He tries to keep his voice neutral, but the very act of doing so is pretty telling, after all. There's a little tremor running beneath it all.

Snowfield is silent for a moment, giving Blackbird a moment to recover from having to think about losing Sadaka all over again.

Then, in a very Snowfield-esque display of no tact whatsover, says, "Wow, that filly must have some darn terrible luck with boats if /that's/ what made her parents recognize her." The unicorn is nothing if not reliable.

That actually gets Blackbird to snort a laugh. "Well, she drowned to begin with, which is how she wound up here with amnesia. She's terrified of water. But however they recognized her… I don't know. Maybe it's a parent thing." He, after all, wouldn't know, except he'd probably be able to spot Sadaka drowning a mile away. So maybe he does know. Eh.

"Still, it's a pretty spectacular coincidence," Snowfield says with a shrug. "After spending all of that time looking for her parents, they fell right into your lap, so to speak." She moves back in front of the stallion and looks up at him to read his face. "If they're really captives on that ship, then just send message to Canterlot that the blockaders have hostages. Honestly, I'm surprised the navy has let them stick around this long— some /did/ report the blockade to Canterlot, right?"

Blackbird's ears flick back at the mention of a spectacular coincidence, but otherwise, he shrugs. "The world is a strange place," he comments. As to the navy, he gives a bitter snort. "Whose job would that be? Probably Mayor Salty. Which means…no. There are a number of things to report to Canterlot at this point, not the least of which being the ponygeist camping out on the edge there. But it's not an easy trip, getting out to Canterlot. Unless a particularly strong pegasus takes on the trip, the only other way is by sea. Which…" Shrug.

You see that? That's Snowfield rolling her eyes /so hard/. "It always pleases me when ponies take initiative for the well-being of the community." Which is to say the entire town is bitter berries. "I still do not understand why you're so strung up over this, Blackbird. You found the filly's parents. It was your goal from the start when you took her in. Mission accomplished. Sure, they may be members of a cutthroat band of pirates who are destroying everypony's livelyhood, but consider the alternative: imagine how she would turn out if /you/ had to raise her." The unicorn shudders at the thought.

The teacher closes his eyes and grimaces. "Precisely," he grates. "There's no way she'd be safe in my care any longer. But…she's even less safe with them. Because that crazy mare has said in no uncertain terms that Sadaka's on the automatic recruitment docket for the Syndicolt, which means they'll be teaching her to murder and putting her in line of cannon fire. And it means that as unsafe as my care may be, it's a good deal safer than she is with them. Plus she's terrified of water. I can't imagine how she's feeling right now."

"Not bad enough to run away, clearly," Snowfield says as she casts an eye ocean-wards. Not that it's very easy to see the oceans from here. Too many hills between here and there. "This Mad Mare really brings out the worst in everyone. If it's not that little Lavender filly complaining about how she's ruined everyone's lives then it's you being wibbly about the zebra's future. Things happen, it was out of your control. Look, unless you plan on doing something stupid like wishing for the gypsy to bring your zebra back you should stop stressing about how terrible life might be at some indeterminate point in the future."

She pauses a moment. "That was not meant to be a suggestion, incidentally," Snowfield clarifies. "Do not under any circumstances make a wish about your zebra, nothing that gypsy does ever ends well."

Blackbird manages to blanch, jaw clenching in an effort to ward off unwanted words. "That's what happens when disaster rolls into town," he says hoarsely, starting to move away from the little unicorn and back toward the houses. "And I can't help but worry. It's what I do. And anyway, we've all seen enough death and blood to last a lifetime. Especially the death and blood of innocent foals."

"I am reasonably sure no foals have died yet, or the townsfolk would be boarding those Syndicolt ships even as we speak," Snowfield says cautiously as she sees Blackbird's wholey unexpected reaction to bringing up Manyara. "Unless you're referring to some other dead foals, in which case I have some serious concerns about leaving one in your care in the first place." Snowfield would not have pegged the rumor about Blackbird killing little fillies as being the true one. You think you know a pony!

Blackbird bristles, and slams a hoof into the grass all of a sudden, whirling on Snowfield. "That's not— /no/," he snaps. "No, /no/. I didn't— I never—" But after a few quick breaths, he manages to get his breathing under control again, eyes narrowing and looking away and down from Snowfield. "We're mounting a rescue soon," he says stonily. "And hopefully take care of the blockade at the same time. You're welcome to give it a go with us. I'm sure your ice magic would be…useful."

"Touchy touchy," Snowfield tsks. She masks her surprise — and a bit of fear — at Blackbird's outburst behind a wall of careless apathy. "I didn't mean for you to bring up a sore spot." She shakes her head at the invitation to storm the blockade. "I don't imagine it would. The ocean is salt water, if you recall. You've seen what trouble that gives me. Unless you happen to know where that mare Phosphor escaped to, I doubt I'll be freezing the harbor again any time soon."

"…I apologize," Blackbird mutters. "Just took me by surprise is all." He clears his throat, listening thoughtfully for a long moment. Finally, and with zero of his trademark trepidation, he asks, "Have you ever tried to freeze blood?"

"No," Snowfield says. "I don't imagine it would be very difficult. Nature manages to do it on its own just fine when ponies wander too far into the forest and can't get out. The experience is hardly a pleasant one, though. Any frozen extremity is almost guaranteed to be lost, and if you freeze someone's core… well, they're a goner then and there."

"Then you could be useful, if you're up to it," Blackbird replies. "Probably not on just anypony, but any of the ones who are clearly a lost cause perhaps. Our forces are pretty small. We're going to need a lot of help." He surveys Snowfield, trying to pick up on her feelings at the moment, masked or not.

Snowfield is a little shocked at Blackbird's suggestion. She wouldn't have taken him for the sort of stallion to resort to such desperate measures. Sure, the sinking of the Mirage may have galvanized the townsfolk, but to such an extreme? "I will… consider it," the unicorn says slowly. "I just want you to understand the full consequences of your request. I have no grudge against the Syndicolt. Their interest is in the harbor, not the town. You're asking me to turn the tools of my art into a weapon against these ponies."

The teacher takes a long moment, absorbing that. At last, he speaks quietly. "I understand. And it's not something I want to resort to, by any means, but there are some genuinely evil ponies on that ship. The crazy mare is one of them. And if we hold back, good ponies will die." He takes a deep breath, and looks Snowfield in the eye. "I absolutely will not press you to do something you're unwilling or unprepared to do. But if you find you're interested…we'd be happy to have you." With that, he looks away again, turning to leave again.

Snowfield says nothing as Blackbird turns away. Something about this whole situation stinks. Especially the way it's transformed Blackbird from a comically absent-minded science teacher into a smoldering, tormented, determined stallion.

…what?

Anyway, Snowfield will need to investigate this further. Simply losing Sadaka to pirates surely wouldn't be enough to make Blackbird so despondant. Upset, yes, perhaps even distraught, but not so… whatever this is. There must be more to this scenario.