Snow Patrol
IC date: Winter 33, 1007
OOC date: January 21, 2013
PCs: Snowfield
NPCs: Captain Rill
GM: Diamond Dog

ThhhhhhHHHUUUMP.

The latest Storm Battery is fired off. Is that the term? Activated. One moment the Maelstrom is raging along, the next… it's still raging, but much of its strength has been sapped, the force of the storm dialed back by half a week. There's a gap in the clouds, a certain halted slosh on one half of the whirlpool, and an uncomfortably muggy stillness in the air, but the sensation of nature interrupted passes in short order as wind and rain and commotion rush in to fill the void. It's a temporary reprieve, of course, as the storm builds itself back up, but so far the Outriders haven't run out of batteries, so they can keep this up.

'Battery' is a curious term, though, for what amounts to a glass sphere set in an elevated sconce of battered brass. Once filled, the inside of the sphere churns and bubbles with a rolling grey cloud, and the seapony guards handle it most delicately as they lift it up and bring it down to a waiting box with a velvet-lined, bowl-shaped depression just waiting for it.

Captain Rill watches this with dour expression, not because it is interesting but because it is her job to keep an eye on these things. Once the battery is crated and that crate is sealed up, she nods with satisfaction and resumes sauntering about the Outrider base camp set up at the port. Seven other armored seaponies are present- the remaining four of the dozen-strong contingent out on patrols along the beach or as far out into the surf as they dare swim.

Snowfield hasn't had much reason to bother the seapony contingent since they've arrived. The assistance managing the storm is certainly appreciated and has made her work on her levies significantly easier, especially now that Jellybean is back and working on the clouds as well, but there's never really been a reason for her to swing by and say hello. Tending the icy walls on the beach has taken up all of her time, for cold as the winter air is the constant pounding of salt water against the frozen barricades always threatens to melt them.

On this day she happens to be near the Outrider camp when the Storm Battery is charged. It's unfortunately timed, however, since she uses the freshwater falling from the sky to do her patch work on the walls. Displeasure at the interruption is voiced as an annoyed, "Tsk," and a dark look towards the seaponies and their magical trinket. "How often do you need to do that?" she calls out to the closest one— Captain Rill, coincidentally.

"As often as you'd like to avoid seeing the waterfront washed out into the harbor," answers Rill in a dour deadpan, turning to regard Snowfield evenly. Or, well, at least as evenly as she can, given she's tall and broad-shoulders and Snowfield is just a wee little unicorn.

"About every four days," explains one of the soldiers nearby, offering Snowfield a nervous little half-smile. Of all the land-dwellers the group has met since they came here, this unicorn looks the most likely to start eating seaponies like they're all afraid is going to happen.

Certainly, if anyone is going to try to eat the seaponies hunting the sea witch it would be the forest witch who makes her home on the other side of the harbor. "It hasn't been washed out yet," Snowfield says as the rain begins to drizzle upon her section of the beach once more. Her horn glows and begins snatching droplets out of the air, funneling them into her ice wall to reinforce where the salt has eroded away. "Do you have somewhere safe to release all of that energy?" she asks even as her gaze remains fixed on her repair work. "You treat those things awfully gingerly, I can't imagine you're simply storing them all somewhere where they could wreak havoc later."

Several of the soldiers are slowing their work- not that there's much of it to do once securing the crated battery is seen to- to watch Snowfield do HER work. They stare a lot at her horn, and one of them reaches up to tap a hoof against the metal, fake horn built into her helmet.

Rill stares at Snowfield for several moments, considering how much she should answer but offering only a trained poker face. She then shrugs slightly. "They're brought back out to sea and shipped north, to some uninhabited oceans near the arctic circle, and emptied in the atmosphere there." She turns and regards the crate that's being hauled down to the beach, where a sea turtle with a dopey smile waits to have the crate loaded up on his back. "They're not as delicate as they may look, but we'd sooner not take any chances." The broad-shouldered captain looks back to Snowfield. "Poor form to raze your host's town when you accidentally drop a bottled storm."

The little unicorn shrugs at the captain. "It would not be the first time, and most certainly not the last," Snowfield says with an air of disinterest. "The town is undoubtedly cursed, I'll grant your sea witch that much. I have yet to see a setback as minor as 'the destruction of everything they hold dear' stop the ponies of this harbor from going about their everyday business." She gestures towards a few brick buildings on the skyline. "Really, so long as the hospital and the clock tower remain standing, the rest of the port is effectively expendable." She moves several meters down the coast and begins tapping on her ice wall in various places to try and sense weaknesses in the crystaline form of her levy.

"We've noticed," offers Rill, keeping pace with Snowfield, albeit from further up the beach. "We've seen this town get razed before during the course of our patrols. The border, after all, is right there." A few moments pass as she continues to follow and quietly observe. "What we've never been able to figure out is why you keep rebuilding, however."

"Search me," Snowfield says as she finds a place in the wall that displeases her and plasters more rain to it. "I don't live here, I keep to myself out in the forest. Wintersong protects its own." After a few seconds of contemplation and patching she adds, "I imagine it's just the sort of ponies that Horseshoe Harbor attracts. I've met more than a few ponies with little left to lose when they decide to settle down here. After making something out of nothing with their own hooves when they've spent so long downtrodden… well, it's either fight to keep it against all odds or lay down and die at that point."

"A bit fatalistic," suggests Rill. "But it makes sense. It suggests this is as much the frontier of your civilization as it appears."

She stops and looks up at the town. "Not as grand as Vanhoover or even Las Pegasus. If I didn't know better I'd say it was a muddy little backwater." She considers for a moment longer, then shrugs with a grunt. "Yet here they gather."

Snowfield keeps her attention fixed on the ice wall as she replies, "It's hard to build grand when large swaths of real estate are struck down every few months. Besides, the criminal element is present here in sufficient strength that they wouldn't want the town to be significant in the eyes of others. Too much attention makes it difficult to do business, or so I am led to believe." She spares a moment to glance towards Rill. "And what of your own cities, hmm? Are the fairy tales of glistening spires of shell and pearl true?"

"In a few cases," answers the captain. "The larger cities gleam impressively enough to please the aristocracy. But most towns are mere collections of small, muddy green hovels." She turns back towards the town and regards the buildings thoughtfully. "The ocean is unkind to structures that go long without maintenance. Rural towns- and most are just that- rarely build for anything other than practical purposes."

She looks back to Snowfield with a drawn expression. "Is that really what the rumors suggest, though? Opulence? Gleaming riches? I'd be surprised if the Zebras shared much of the truth of the matter."

"'Rumor' is the wrong word," Snowfield says. "As far as the majority of Equestria is concerned seaponies are simply a thing of legend and legends are prone to embellishment. The sailor who tells an entirely accurate tale of how strange ponies with fins took him into their underwater mud hut when his ship sank is labeled mad, while the skald who weaves a tale of undersea princesses falling in love with a land dweller is entertainment to be enjoyed." She steps back from the levy to look over her work. "Really, I imagine the only ones whose towns could possibly live up to their reputation are the pegasus ponies. They've had a certain flair for the dramatic in their architecture for generations limited only by their imagination when cloudcrafting."

The mention of Pegasi causes Rill's expression to curdle into a deeply suspicious frown. "Building on clouds. -That- sounds like a tall tale if ever I've heard one." She shakes her head. "Though likely true, however absurd." She lifts her chin in a little nod. "Do they really tell fanciful tales of undersea princesses? They tell US that you're all pony-eaters and tyrants. Seems our PR is better than yours."

"I don't know how they manage it," Snowfield admits. "They have some sort of innate magic that makes clouds as if they were solid to them. I'm sure there are spells to mimic the effect in our libraries but I'm not particularly interested in finding out." When the conversation snakes back around to seaponies the unicorn nods. "Generally, yes. If anypony is going to be a tyrant in our stories it will be a unicorn, hooves down. It's ingrained in our history, you see. Before the advent of Equestria the unicorns were the aristocracy who kept the pegasi and earth ponies in line with their magic and it shows in the oral history. Even once the pony tribes united the idea of the 'wicked witch' persisted in fables."

Captain Rill grunts softly in response to this explanation. "I was expecting more of a denial than that," she offers, before shrugging. "You're the unicorn, though. You'd know best."

One of the other soldiers is drifting close, hesitantly at first, and then, when the captain notices her and does not dismiss her, close enough to lean up and whisper something in Rill's ear. The captain frowns as she listens, then turns to regard Snowfield thoughtfully.

Snowfield shrugs again. "I'm something of a collector of fairy tales. Occasionally there will be a gryphon bandit, and Llamreian legend is chock full of pegasi since it's a glorified rewriting of several decades worth of their history, but otherwise it's unicorns all the way down." When the captain begins receiving reports from her underling the forest witch resumes her work on the levy. She moves another few meters away to inspect the next portion. It won't be long before she's too far away to carry on much of a conversation.

Report, hardly! The captain turns to eyeball her soldier. "Ask her yourself."

The soldier looks terrified, practically quaking in her little metal hoof booties.

Rill grunts, and turns to call out after Snowfield. "Unicorn," she says. "Sand Penny here wants to know if you can make it snow."

Sand Penny nods rapidly, helmet rattling around atop her head, still looking spooked even as she watches Snowfield distance herself down the beach.

"Yes," Snowfield says plainly. She does not, however, actually do it, since that is not what was was asked and she just found a crack that sea water is seeping through. That needs to be filled with fresh water and refrozen before the integrity of the entire section is compromised.

Both seaponies stare after Snowfield for a few moments longer, until the nature of her answer- and the obvious lack of a demonstration about to follow- becomes evident. Sand Penny continues to squirm anxiously, while the barest of smiles crosses Rill's face.

"Alright, back to work. You're up next on patrol duty," says the captain, gesturing back to the camp with a nod of her head. Penny frets for a moment where she stands, looking back and forth between her flinty captain and the frosty forest witch, before rolling her eyes with a disappointed huff and falling in.

Snowfield's work continues. She patches up the crack and continues her own patrol down the beach away from the seapony encampment. Perhaps if they stick around for a couple days after Spindrift is brought to justice they'll get to see a proper snowstorm in the harbor instead of all the dreadful rain that washed every speck of white out to sea.