IC date: Spring 42, 1006
OOC date: May 2, 2012
PCs: Gamble, Windsplitter, Rocket, Sadaka, Jellybean, Baron-Von-Cirrus, Blackbird, Diamond-Charmer
NPCs: None
GM: Fluttershy

What a rarity! (No, not the fabulous kind.) School did not, in fact, happen today, much to the delight of many a colt and filly. The schoolteacher around these parts is instead rushing around town, hollering this way and that. "Sadaka? SADAKA! Horseknuckles, where'd she get off to? This isn't good…"

Diamond-Charmer pokes things with her horn turning them into flowers for a moment
Diamond-Charmer says "heehe!"

" ? " Windsplitter had settled down to a lunch (of sorts) in a corner out of the town-flow's traffic way, crunching on something from a small brown bag. Seeing the teacher rushing around looking so concerned however, immediately draws his attention from the miserable fare, the weather-worn unicorn blinking beneath the brim of his straw hat. Catching the bag's drawstring in his teeth and tugging it closed, tucking it away in a saddleback before climbing to his feet and trotting over. It's not really his business, but something seems to be wrong, judging by the teacher's expression…

Enter the Gambler! Or rather, in he ambles. Fresh off The Boat, as it were, on the horizon for new lands and great adventures! Or…y'know, a new place to be himself. So new in town he's still got that New Pony smell. And right now, he's doing his best to scope out a particular food vendor's wares of tasty-looking produce. Because sea-voyage food isn't all the best stuff to chow on when one has a tendency to be seasick. He, too, happens to hear other goings on, but… Hungry. Can't be a good samaritan on an empty stomach!

Flying overhead is Jellybean, pushing a cloud into position. He wipes his brow with a hoof, but his attention is quickly grabbed by Blackbird running around below. He drops to the ground. "Hello mister Blackbird. What's wrong?"

Blackbird skids to a halt as Jellybean alights on the ground, and replies in a rather panicky, loud way. "Sadaka! Sadaka's missing! I mean — it's been less than a day but I didn't see her this morning, and I've been hunting all day. She might be lost, or sick, or hungry, or — the Bone Mistress might make a visit and —" Oh yes, Blackbird's in a panic indded. His hooves shift nervously on the ground, but his words are loud enough for most of the ponies around to hear.

"Excuse me," comes the call as Windsplitter makes his way up, the pony's face and body mostly hidden by the cape and hat — but at least a friendly voice to go with it. "Please forgive me, I did not mean to interrupt. But may I be of any assistance? I know very little of this town as of yet," he adds, sounding admittedly sheepish — how much help can he -be- if he doesn't know where to look? "But perhaps if I at least knew who to watch for… ?"

Diamond-Charmer says "can i be any help?"

The Gambler has decided! …To pick a couple carrots. Ahh, lunch~ With his food choice made, paid for, and pocketed in convenient places in his good ol' travel coat, the rusty pony begins his ambling anew. It's difficult not to amble past the gathering though, at a convenient enough time to hear something about the Bone Mistress and lost somethingorother. Now he's not one to go poking his nose into everypony's business, but it never hurts to perk an ear and listen, right? especially while he's got his mouth full muching on carrot. Maybe there'll be a reward or something… Or maybe there'll be a gaggle of uber-helpfuls before a reward gets mentioned.

Diamond-Charmer says "who is the bone misstress"

Jellybean blinks, then nervously scrapes a hoof against the dirt. "Sadaka's missing? Did you check the boats? I know she and Siyana and Lavender like to spend time over there." What with the pirate thing that everypony in town seems to be obssessed with. "Don't worry, mister Blackbird, we'll help you find her." Jellybean naturally assumes the best in other ponies.

Diamond-Charmer says "to the docks! .. i think right ?"

Blackbird looks between Windsplitter, Jellybean, and Diamond Charmer, unaware of Gamble nearby. "I have. I've been all over the place. I even checked the Rusty Bucket. I just —" He blinks, as Charmer asks her question, but at least he's a teacher. His first response is to educate. "The Bone Mistress? She comes when a pony's life has ended, to take them to live up in the stars." He rubs a hoof on his face. "I would really appreciate some help. I think she would have shown up if she were by the docks by now. I'm betting she's gone into the forest again…Hgh."

Windsplitter cocks his head as Blackbird tangents of his panic attack to give a quck lesson. o 0 (This 'Bone Mistress' is… ? Ah — so that's it. It must be what they call the 'shiniponii' here.) But that's neither here nor now. "Then if that is the case, may I lend you my ears and eyes?" he offers, dipping his head a bit. "I have traveled in the wilds before, and although these forests are not familiar to me, perhaps one who has thus traveled may see where others may not."

Gamble takes a few quick mental notes. One, check out Rusty Bucket sometime. Two, the forest is apparently dangerous. And three, ponies get lost there. Also, no reward. Alas. When Windsplitter makes his comment about travelers and whatnot, the rusty pony finishes his ambling to the group, offering a quiet clearing of his throat. "How much help are ya lookin' for?" Might as well earn brownie points if he can't earn bits, right?

Diamond-Charmer says "ok to the forest then to find … this umm who is it agian?"

Jellybean's wings flap in a startled manner when Gamble speaks up: evidently he didn't notice him until now. "Well, if she went into the forest then we could probably use all the help we can get: it's easy to get lost in there and it's pretty big. Thank you for offering, mister! I'm Jellybean, what's your name?"

Blackbird too jumps when Gamble speaks up. "Ah!! Uh! All the help we can get, yes!" he echoes Jellybean. "I'm Blackbird. I teach school here… Let's get moving, yeah?" Nervous! He already starts scampering off toward the forest, letting whoever wants to accompany do so! "Sadaka, she's a zebra filly, about yea tall" — he lifts a hoof to just about his own knees — "and I'm supposed to be keeping track of her and — oh, man, this is bad!"

A zebra? Windsplitter gives a bit of a start, but nodnods as he breaks into a gallop along after Blackbird. He really shouldn't be surprised that there -is- a zebra population here, it was their caravel that brought him here after all. But prior to that it'd been a few since he'd seen one, and he's still a little startled at the thought of meeting more this far across the ocean. "Please do not worry. I am sure she will be all right." However effective -that's- going to be at calming Blackbird down. "My thanks to all of you as well." Taking a moment to briefly nod to Jellybean, Diamond, and Gamble — he's not the one who asked for help, but he's always pleased to see -anypony- who's willing to help others.

Gamble certainly hadn't meant to be startling, but with all the nerves going around now it was apparently unavoidable. Ah well. Help is accepted, and the race is already on, so to speak. "I'm Gamble, I'm new in town, and..don't you worry, alright? I'm sure one of us'll find her!" Called to Blackbird's flank no doubt, given all the panic'd rush! He doesn't exactly elect to follow along that route, given that the forest has been made into a big deal about how big it is and all that. Probably best to split up anyway. He'll just have to take his own path through the woods, see what turns up! Windsplitter's given a quick nod and a half of a neighborly grin, then he's off to blaze his own forest path.

As everyone races by, there's a slamming of a door open from a nearby house, and a grumpy looking moustache steps out, trailed by an elderly pegasus behind it. He squints into the twilight at the group rushing past. "What's all this dad-blasted noise about?? Haven't you ponies ever heard of Disturbing the Peace? Hey now, don't you ignore your elder, or I'll just give you a citation right upside the head!" His wings stretch out and he yawns, his left one just twitching a little, hunched awkwardly against his side.

Jellybean follows behind Blackbird, taking wing in short order: Pegasi are a lot of help in this sort of situation. Better viewing angle, don'tchaknow. And then the elderly pegasus chimes in with his two bits and Jellybean wheels around to address him, hovering in place. "Sorry for all the noise, sir, but there's a little filly missing and we're all going to try to find her. Do you know Sadaka? She's a zebra."

"Sir, I'm sorry, sir!" Blackbird calls as he runs past. "Missing filly, sir!" Jellybean can fill in the rest. They gallop off toward the forest, the spooky, always-freezing forest that most ponies are nervous about. Gamble is free to go his own way, as the teacher is too distracted to notice the help taking a different route.

"My apologies as well!" Windsplitter calls as he runs along, likewise dipping his head politely to the elderly pegasus — how he manages to do this -without- tripping on something as he gallops is something of a minor wonder, but he -does- take the time and effort to apologize, at least. As for him, he stays along with Blackbird, apparently figuring that -not- knowing this island means he's not equipped to go off searching on his own. Odds are he's also going to be quite grateful for the cape he wears once he approaches said forest…

Yeah, Gamble probably didn't think this completely through. But he's like that. He just kinda has this tendency to get his way most of the time. Or at least turn out alright! It makes sense to him anyway, and that's all that matters, isn't it? "Evenin' sir!" he calls to the emerging pegasus, but really now he's all wound up in this task, no time for further pleasantries. Of course his rushed gait only lasts as long as it takes him to get out of town and to the outskirts of the ol' Creepy Forest, lest all the chill and creepiness and such make him as lost as the zebra filly he's supposed to be helping find!

"Missing…Filly? Fillydelphia? Well shoot, you should take vacations more, boy! No reason to be stayin' at home when you would rather be… Hey! Come back here and LOOK at a colt when he's talking to you, you whippersnappers!" With an almost audible creaking of his old bones, Baron picks up into a steady gallop, following the group while yelling crotchety complaints after them.

As everyone approaches the forest, Blackbird slows, catching his breath. He's a scholar, an inventor — not an athlete! "Okay, we're looking for a little zebra filly, remember. No telling what might happen… There are all sorts of frightening things in here. So stick close in a group!" And with that, the white colt starts slinking into the forest, ears flattening.

"Frightening?" Windsplitter blinks at that — although he -has- noticed that it's gotten noticably colder somehow. "How so?" He really -is- a newcomer here, it seems, and he has yet to pick up on just what this forest holds. Likewise walking along after Blackbird, already glancing this way and that. Wouldn't it be great if they found this missing filly right at the forest's edge? Sadly, odds are no such luck would be with them.

Jellybean nods a little and takes to the skies again, circling around the group below to keep relatively close to them while still getting the advantage of an aerial view. "There's a ghost in the forest," he offers by way of explanation. "But there's also a unicorn who lives out here named Snowfield, and sometimes she wears a white cloak. Don't mistake her for a ghost: I did that once and she wasn't happy with me."

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the forest… Gamble finds a bush. And a whole mess of trees! Yes, this was most certainly not a good idea. He obviously didn't read far enough into the whole 'forest is bad' vibe the schoolteacher had been putting out. So it is that the rusty pony tugs his hat a touch lower, and makes sure his coat's secure to get him through underbrush, before picking his own meandering route through the forest. He even attempts to start up a cheerful whistle to try and beat back the otherwise oppressive feel of the woods. And beat back that feeling that he should've maybe asked what else is lurking he might find other than a lost pony.

And speaking of lurking things! A flash of white! A monster? No… nope, just a bunny. And the bunny staaaaares. But, you know, just a bunny. Nothing for the possibly-lost pony to be scared of, right?

Did it suddenly get darker? Gamble might find himself wondering, quite appropriately, if it suddenly got darker. It may have. No, no, that was just a shadow. Yep, big ol' winged shadow. Oh, and a loud, eerie screech to go with it! Now /that/ might be something to be scared of.

Not too far from that, there's rustling and soft 'skrit skrit' sounds coming from the surrounding forest. Indeed, the temperature isn't just dropping — it's plummeting like a cement block thrown off a bridge. "Yetis," Blackbird whispers, with a bit of worried tone. "Mountain trolls, lionbirds. Snowbunnies. Some say there's a monster that rules over the forest and keeps it cold, but it's an old mare's tale." He creeps onward, gait stiff from nervousness. He tries to call, "Sadakaaa…?"

"Ghosts? Yetis? Trolls? -Truly-?" Rather than be put off by that, Windsplitter actually looks intrigued. And starts peering around as if expecting to see one right away — oop. No no, they're here to look for a missing filly. He -does- make a mental note not to get too excited at the sight of a mare in white, and also briefly hopes the part of their group that's split up will fare well if they -do- run into those mentioned dangers. But otherwise stays close to Blackbird as he scans around the forest, unable to help shivering a bit beneath the cape draped over his body, and ducking his head back briefly to tug it a bit more in place with his teeth.

Cheerful whistling, care-free Gamble nearly does jump out of his skin when that brief flash of white leaps out at him with huge sharp… …oh. Okay. So it didn't leap AT him. And it's just a bunny. Still, it stopped the rusty pony in his tracks, whistle and all. Green eyes squint down at the rodent. "…Not a zebra." he notes, rather glad nobody saw him just get moderately freaked by Mr. Fuzzy there. Of course the /shadow/ is another matter. A little darker's fine, since y'know it's a dark forest and all, but…a /wing/shaped shadow? And then a screech loud enough to put his mane on end! Gamble promptly does what any self-respecting pony would do when something that sounds ultimately vicious in a dangerous setting arrives.

He dives right into the same bush the bunny just hopped out of! Even left his hat where he'd been standing, complete with a yelped out noise! "Gah!"

And a very timely exit he made, too, as with another screech the source of the shadow plummets down! But the creature does not appear to be after the startled stallion. No, the red-and-gold blur rockets straight after the little white fuzzball, which, reacting appropriately, dashes away with a squeal.

"Ha!" The griffon lands on the ground, kicking up a bit of a stir of dust she flaps her wings, glaring after the bunny for a moment before whipping her head around to the bush. "I just saved your life!" she announces proudly in the direction of the leafy foliage. "You're welcome. You can stop trying to be a leaf now."

Baron trudges along at the back of the group, muttering quietly under his breath. "Dang kids… nap… pirates, always the pirates… dumb road trip…" His moustache bristles and wiggles irritably as he keeps pace behind them, looking like /they/ were the ones who dragged /him/ along on this excursion.
When one of the ponies yelps, Baron's head goes upright, and he glares fiercely at the back of Blackbird's head. "What is it? Pirates??"

"No… it's — Sadaka!" Apparently spotting his wayward pupil/ward, Blackbird shoots forward, galloping into the enveloping darkness without a brain in his head. Sheesh! And he rockets forward into… well, a bush. Meanwhile, Windplitter spies a small thing that looks vaguely zebra-shaped, off in the distance, vaguely in the same direction as the inventor.

Having likewise heard Gamble's yelp, Windsplitter whips his head in that direction — only looking back as Blackbird cries out. And likewise spotting that vague zebra shape. Which now leaves him with a bit of a dilemma — chase after Blackbird, or go see if their companion is all right? In only takes a moment to decide though — a foal's safety must come first. "I'll go after him!" he calls back before darting into the brush after Blackbird. "Someone go see if everyone else is all right!" It's not a direction -not- to follow, certainly, but he hasn't forgotten that others have comitted themselves to this search, and hopes someone will be able to check if they're all right.

Jellybean lets out a little whimper when everypony goes off running in all directions. "Wait!" he cries, "I can't follow all of you! Somepony tell me what's going on!" And then a griffon comes down from above and Jellybean flies to it. "Have you seen a zebra filly around here?"

The bush that the griffon addresses gives a rustle, a clump of leaves lifted by a rust-red head. Glaring green eyes study the intruder upon his filly-searching duty. With as much dignity as he can muster, Gamble exits his bushy hideout, only shaking off his newfound leaf 'crown' when he's made it back to his hat, quickly replacing the cover with his more familiar head cover, straightening it all properlike. "Saved me, huh. From what, bein' victim of the cutest mugging ever?" Grumble, mutter. And then a slightly more familiar face shows up! That brings a sliver of Gamble's confidence back, taking a step sideways closer to Jellybean. Just in case. "Oh yeah! Zebra filly. You seen 'er lately?"

Rocket blinks and smirks over at Gamble. "Yeah, it'll cutely bleed you to death. Gotta watch out for them snowbunnies." She glances back and forth between him and the new Pegasus. "Zebra, huh? Can't say I have. Don't see many ponies in these woods. Not in the time I've been here, anyways. Not that I look out for ponies much."

Blackbird is zipping off into the trees, in the opposite direction of Gamble and company, and yet — he runs smack into them. This forest is very strange, and full of strange magic. He tumbles butt over teakettle, skidding in the dirt. And Windsplitter, despite having run in a totally separate direction after the elusive zebra-shaped ghost, winds up coming in from a completely other side. The group is all together, though through no fault of anyone's in particular.

Still, there's a soft hissing sound that's starting to pick up. Sssss….

" — ?! " Windsplitter had taken off at an angle, but now finds himself coming right into a clearing with — everypony else?! Skidding to a halt as he stares, then looks back over his shoulder…. but deciding that no, he couldn't -possibly- have gotten that badly turned around. "What in the — ?!" It's sheer fortune of being stunned into silence at -just- that moment that he hears that hissing sound, turning his head to peer around and try to discover its source…

Jellybean blinks. "The bunnies are bad? I'm confused. I thought bunnies were nice? They're fluffy, and I don't see how anything fluffy could be bad." Jellybean, everypony. "Would you be willing to help us find her? She could be in all kinds of trouble and lost and lonely and maybe hungry but I forgot to bring any food with me so I guess we'll need to take her back into town but I guess that's a good idea anyway."

Gamble can only stare blankly at Rocket, mentioning the whole 'bleeding bunnies' thing. "You're kidding. I've never seen bloodthirsty bunnies before!" He turns to Jellybean, brow lifted, "She's kidding, right?" And then! Everypony else shows up! So much for spreading out. At least he's not lost anymore! Jellybean even answered his question already, sorta, so the Gambler cocks his head at the other two. "So, uh… No luck yet, huh?" Windsplitter gets a double-take, seeing as he's looking distracted.

Rocket looks between them. "They're /snowbunnies/," she repeated, as if that should mean something.

She flicked her tail, jumping out of Blackbird's way as he careened into the group and looking around at the gathering crowd. "Well well! Must be some imporant zebra out here. I suppose I could be down for a hunt. Figuratively speaking, 'course. 'Fore you all get yourselves lost too."

"That would be helpful," Blackbird mumbles, mouth full of ice and dirt. Yuck. He spits it out, ears flicking, and adds, "Snowbunnies are horrifying. Don't touch a bunny if you see one." He spits one more time for good measure and shakes out his green mane, looking quickly around… Only to also catch that hissing sound. "Wait — shh!"

Sssssss…. pale yellow eyes glint from the near bushes, accompanied by the sound of hissing and… dripping water? The slitted pupils narrow in on the group, as the hissing lifts in volume.

A girlish scream. The sound of panicked flapping of wings. Apparently something startled poor Jellybean. Then again, he seems to startle easy.

"No, no luck as of yet… bunnies are horrifying?" Windsplitter repeats. Tch, looks like this one doesn't know he doesn't know about either. But still having a distracted manner, asking the question idly as he turns to put his back to the rest of the group now as well, scanning the shadows for that hissing sound. He doesn't consider himself as having -exceptionally- sharp hearing, but having traveled in the wilds for a time and run across some -very- unpleasant creatures — some of whom have the added discourtesy of not announcing themselves fore bringing sharp and/or pointy things into play — he's cultivated enough experience to learn to be especially aware in a place like this. And so he can also pick up the sound of… meltwater? The actual glint of gold eyes he doesn't -quite- catch, at least not on a conscious level, but the corner of his vision catches enough of -something- to turn his head in that direction. " ?? "

"Whoa." goes the Gamble. Mental note: Snowbunnies = Evil. What cruelty is this, for something so cute to be so dangerous?

he flapping of escaping pegusii brings the rusty Gambler out of his reverie, looking around quickly to make sure he didn't miss anything. "Huhwha? Ah…" Hiss? Yellow eyes? Dangers never cease! Ears flicked back, he eases himself to stand next to Blackbird, voice dropped to a whisper. "That's not a snowbunny or lost zebra sound, is it..?"

Rocket tilts her head slowly as she notices the sound, eyes narrowing a bit as she peered around. "Nah. Snowbunnies don't hiss. Or… drip. Something's dripping, right? That's not some… icicle melting or some such."

Blackbird rolls 1d10 (Does Blackbird have the presence of mind to think of what it might be?) — Result: 9 | Sum: 9
Blackbird rolls 1d10 (And how well does he think of it?) — Result: 3 | Sum: 3

Blackbird looks wholly unsettled, leeeeaning back. "No, no they do not. I'm not sure what— hisses and drips?" His brows knit, as he starts trying to run through the little local bestiary in his head, rifling through entries as he tries to match 'hissing' and 'dripping' to the possibilities. He's pretty slow, though, as he's having trouble hitting on the exact match.

No matter, though, because those yellow eyes rattle the bushes, and what emerges is a strange pony creature with sharp fangs. It's wet, slimy almost, and dripping, and its body is slim and exaggerated in its proportions. It gives a fierce snarl and lunges at the group, though does not actually injure or even rightly attack. "Leave her!" it snaps hoarsely. "Ssshe isss yourss no longer!"

It also has no ears! Only ear holes. Eek.

Most ponies would probably be startled, and not a little horrified at the vision that reveals itself — heck, one of their group didn't even -need- it revealed before they took to the skies. Windsplitter had been distracted from that stirring in the bush to stare after the fleeing Jellybean; by the time he looks back, the creature had lunged out to reveal itself. Which leaves him staring openly, eyes wide beneath the brim of his hat — the traveler has -not- seen anything like this in his travels, and for a moment he's struck completley silent. But when -it- speaks, and speaks of who they're searching for…

….he takes a moment to collect himself. And then calmly trots a few steps forward, actually -approaching- the fanged, glistening menace. "We do not claim ownership," he says politely, bowing his head. "The filly is a friend, and we are worried for her. Please, can you tell us where she is?" Speaking as calmly and reasonably to this — whatever — as he'd done to Blackbird when he approached him in town to ask what had worried him. It doesn't seem to have sunk in for him that this isn't the sort of being that presents itself as being open to negotiations — certainly not after a demand like -that-.
Not a bunny! And certainly not friendly! Gamble is one of those 'most ponies' who gets startled when supernatural beasties appear like that, backing himself up to the nearest tree. "By Celestia's tears, what IS that?" Of course, Windsplitter's already wandered up to ask it questions, of all things. Like something with drippy fangs could just be reasoned with. Played out in Gamble's imagination: 'Pony iz mine!' 'Can we have her back please?' 'Oh okay, my bad! But first I eat you!'

Needless to say, Gamble's going to take a minum to come back to reality.

Well /that/ actually seems to startle the griffon! For a moment. She may have started a bit, but she recovered herself quickly, drawing herself back up and giving herself a light shake. "Well. You… are no snowbunny." And… it had the zebra? That seemed to be the gist of things. Man, she hated walking into situations late.

The creature draws itself up in surprise as Windsplitter approaches it, and it takes a guarded step back, sinewy muscles bunching under its slimy skin. Hissing again, it snarls, "No! Go back to your pony-village! Ssshe iss gone! Call ffor Sssada no more!"

"KELPIE!" Blackbird yelps, rather belatedly. He scrambles back a few steps, before his mind catches up and his eyes widen in horror. "What have you done to her?! Did you eat her?" Sudden anger rises in the colt's chest, and he snarls back, "Tartarus take you, creature! If you've done anything to her—!" He lunges, and the kelpie gives an unearthly shriek, whirling around to flee. Blackbird, stupid as ever, is giving chase.

"Wait, don't — !" Tch — and it looked like they were making progress! ….well okay, the — kelpie, was it? — had said 'no' twice, but it -had- stayed to actually talk it over. To Windsplitter that -is- progress. All of it going promptly out the window as Blackbird rockets from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other, and ends up chasing it off. So now Windsplitter chases after -him-, thinking there's a chance the enraged Blackbird might catch up to the fanged, menacing, threatening horror and do it serious harm (the poor thing?).

Minum, up! No sooner does Blackbird go ragepony and chase after fleeing Kelpony, Gamble snaps out of his gorey daydream. Now he's not exactly a coward, see, he's just been surprised by a few supernatural oddities and confusing anti-fuzzy thoughts, that's all. He knows when it's time to move, even if he's not quite as quick on the draw as Windsplitter seems to be.

"Aw cowpies…" Gamble mutters under his breath, bounding after the others, head bowed enough to let his hat brush branches and such away.
And… there they all go! Before she'd even had a chance to really figure out what was going on. "Hey… woah there, hold up, wait for me!" The griffon scrambled after them, bounding a few steps before remembering she had wings. Not that she really had any investment in this… she was just curious, to tell the truth. And, y'know, maybe a little worried. 'Cause kids getting eaten or whatever was never good.

Elsewhere entirely…

Sadaka has been relegated to the little cave by the half-frozen lake. Not Snowfield's cave, nor Snowfield's lake — somewhere in fact Sadaka's never seen. The kelpie had been friendly enough, promising to play with her and show her cool new things in the forest. But when a far-distant shout went up, the kelpie had told her to 'ssstay put,' and had run off. The cave is cold, and very shallow — more like a den than anything — but what water remains unfrozen reflects off the walls in pretty crystalline patterns. It's been rather boring, though. Very boring.

Right up until the kelpie breaks through the trees and races toward her, teeth bared. The ragtag group of ponies (and one griffon) chase after in pursuit, Blackbird among them. Her new friend, though, skids over and grabs her nape in its sharp little fangs, and launches herself toward the water. Into the water.

Pacing the cave had gotten boring fast. The little filly had pondered exploring, but no… Mr. Blackbird had told her never to go off in the forest alone! She'd just have to wait for her new friend to come back. Then they could explore together! Right? On a less-exciting note… water. It was kind of damp. She was okay with damp — cold wasn't /too/ bad either — but it was another reason to stay in the cave, 'cause out there was water.

Boredom turned quickly to confusion, however, at the sudden ruckus. "Hey, you're back! What's going on, what're all those voices?" She blinked and brightened a bit. "Mr. Blackbird? Hi! I met a new… eep!" And she was lifted. And then confusion into terror, because /WATER/. She gave a frightened squeal, flailing about uselessly as panic did a very good job of eliminating any sense that might tell her being in water and /not/ held onto by something that could swim would be worse than the current situation by far.

As Windsplitter breaks free of the treeline and sees the kelpie racing towards the filly with fangs bared… beneath his hatbrim his eyes narrow, the straw hat hiding the faint silvery shimmer of the horn beneath it. But then he sees that the filly — apparently the same one they've been searching for — is looking to get picked up and not bitten. The relief that he feels is there and gone almost immediately as he sees the kelpie now making for the water. HIs head whips to the side, shaking off the chinstrap and sending that straw hat flying, then whips down to snap at his cape's catch and likewise send it flying, saddlebags following a moment later. And -trying- to put on an extra burst of speed, making for the same stretch of lake the kelpie is. He -does- know how to swim, he had to demonstrate that fact with an unfortunate spill off the docks with his arrival here. This however, is going to be the first time he's tried to swim in water that's literally freezing cold. It does not promise to be a fun first experience.

Gamble thusly brings up the rear in the oh-so-zany chase through the creepiest woods in existance, just in time to witness Windsplitter take a dive with the zebra-carrying kelpie! Gamble may be a decent enough runner, but swimming isn't his strong suit. On the other hand, what if there's some kind of freaky ambush? Like a whole family of those..things, waiting for tender zebrette bites? The horrors!

Rocket dashes after the group as quickly as she could, alternating between a flat-out sprint on the ground and a few hard flaps of her wings to add an extra burst if she started to fall behind. Ponies were /fast/ when they wanted to be! And these ones wanted to be.

And apparently with good reason! She gave a small screech of surprise as the kelpie took off for the water, skidding into a turn to try and follow. Not that she'd be much use. Feathers and water didn't mix well.

Blackbird skids toward the lake, but Windsplitter overtakes. He hackles as Sadaka's panic reaches his brain, and in he goes after, leaving Rocket and Gamble on-shore with a parting, "Find a rope!" Rope? Maybe a vine would do.

In the water, the kelpie doesn't let go of Sadaka. In fact, her teeth are painful, holding her tight. Windplitter is far better-suited to this rescue than Blackbird, but what the teacher lacks in athleticism, he makes up for in enthusiasm. The kelpie glances back, eyes glowing lightly in the water, and with a spin she zips to the bottom.

On the upside, the lake is not very big. In fact, it's more a deep pool, than anything else.

Sadaka at least has the presence of mind to try and hold her breath, kinda sorta maybe, though her continued flailing as she tried to find something to put her hooves on and get her back /out/ of the water was less than helpful. And it was /cold/, not that that was really high on her mental priority list. Either way, she's pretty much in an all-out panic mode, not even really trying to get /away/ from the kelpie so much as 'get me out of the waaaaater!!!!'

Oh, he was right…. this is -not- fun. Sweet Celestia, it -hurts-! Because Windsplitter likewise broke no stride as he dived right into the lake after the two, and plunged headfirst and full-bodily into the icy lake. To Sadaka and Blackbird it might just be 'cold' ; for him, he -can- feel- his heart lurch in his chest as if threatening to stop, feel his body trying to seize up — never in all his life, not even sleeping out in the rain, as he felt such cold. But he forces his legs to pump, able to keep little more than a pained hiss from escaping between bared teeth in a series of bubbles, and swims down after the kelpie and her treasure. Sadly, even though he may be more suited than Blackbird, it becomes clear he is -not- suited to chase a kelpie in what is literally her own element. The swift creature outraces him completely, and it's only the fact that the pool is so shallow that she doesn't manage to outdistance him as well.
He can't catch her, and he can't hold his breath long enough to dance around with her either. And the fact that the filly can only hold -her- breath for so long finally cements his decision: it's time for the warning shot. This time the silvery glow is more than a shimmer, it flares bright enough to be seen throughout the water, and as a silvery pool to those up above, smaller within the larger one. And at section of lakebottom in front of the kelpie, a silver flash of light streaks briefly before a long slash carves itself through the dirt in front of it.

Though he can't see all that clearly what's going on in the water there, Blackbird's words prior to taking the plunge spurs Gamble to his own action! Rope? Not unless there's a magic closet somewhere in this cave. Now vines… "C'mon Feathers!" he shouts towards the gryph, bounding his way right back out of the chilly cavern, to the nearest trees he can find with strong-looking vines hanging from them. He fishes for an appropriate-length, rope-like item, gives it a good tug, and then gestures to the (hopefully) nearby winged one. "Would ya mind nipping the ends of this thing?"

Rocket skids to a stop at the edge of the lake-pool-thing, hind paws kicking up dirt as she spun around to try and look for a rope-vine-thing. At least, that is, until the sudden flash of silver distracts her quite handily. "Hey! What was that? S'that magic? One of you ponies got somethin' magic down there? Is the water-thingy magic? Are /zebras/ magic?" She bounds back over to the pool, peering down into it curiously.

But question. Addressed to her. "Ah-wha? Oh! Oh, right. Rope'n stuff. Right, right! I got it." She bounced back over to him, looking the vine over for the right place before snapping her beak on it to cut it loose.

Blackbird rolls 1d10 (Kung fu action grip!) — Result: 9 | Sum: 9

The magic causes the kelpie to rear back, precious flailing zebra burden in its teeth, and the thing reverses directions, zipping back by and around the freezing-cold unicorn. Blackbird kicks out, manages to hit the side of the kelpie's head as it speeds past, and it's that that sends Sadaka tumbling out of its grip and upside down into the terrifying waters. It's cold, so very very cold down there, and all the ponies can feel their extremities numbing, as the dark, suffocating water surrounds them.

There is a decently sized vine out there, looped carelessly from a tree. It appears to be easy to grab!

Noticing the vine was quite likely the last thing the little filly was going to be doing. Sadaka kicked weakly, cold numbing her quickly and lack of air certainly /not/ helping in any way. This feeling was way too familiar in too many terrifying ways, and it was rather obvious that whether from panic or just plain lack of knowledge that she had /no/ clue how to swim, even if she had still retained any idea which way was up. Which she had not. At all.

Windsplitter whips his head around as the kelpie darts past him — she's swifter than he is, but all he needs to do is track her movements as his horn glows bright once more. The warning has been ignored… the next cut, will not be. However, when Blackbird lashes out with the kick and knocks the kelpie's precious cargo loose, that glow immediately cuts as Windsplitter turns his attention towards Sadaka instead. Pumping with his legs again, another hissed trail of bubbles escaping his teeth, larger than the ones before; he can feel his chest, aching at first but now pounding, demanding for air. He can feel his strength seeping out of him along with the feeling in his legs, feeling as if his body's very warmth is being leached out into the dark waters. But he forces himself downwards, stretching his neck to try and catch Sadako's nape in the same way the kelpie did, looking to haul her up and surge up desperately towards the surface…

Vine, get! Between pony and gryph, a good, sturdy vine is obtained and dragged back to the cave, whereupon Gamble shakes his hat loose to free up his own horn. So much for keeping it secret in these parts! In his eyes, it's rather required though, so he can magic one end of that sturdy vine about his middle, the other end tossed Rocket-wards!

"D'ya mind a little pony fishin'?" Gamble calls to the gryph, before diving into the pool himself, figuring that it'll be easier to help drag the others out of the water if they've got more than the thin end of a vine to grab onto. Ker-splash!

Rocket brightens at the sight of the horn, mouth already open to ask /so many questions/… but she was cut off rather effectively by sudden vine! She caught it as best she could and braced herself with a startled squeak, as there was quite suddenly pony on the other end of it that she had to hold onto. Questions later. Pony fishing now.

The kelpie has… well, basically it's disappeared. Somehow. Perhaps it gave up the ghost, or the zebra as 'twere. But for now that leaves a flailing, panicking foal, some very cold water, and a pair of adults trying to mount a quickly devolving rescue. Blackbird swims toward Sadaka, but he's starting to lose his own hold on his breath, and he just manages to bump her with his head toward Wind, as he tries to also grab at the vine.

(OOC) Sadaka: poor Kelpie. it just wanted a friend. …I think. :/ It coulda eaten me a while ago, so I assume that was not the plan.
(OOC) Blackbird XD
(OOC) Windsplitter: Who says it couldn't be both? Granted, it wouldn't be a -lasting- friendship, but… well. 'Dear Princess Celestia: today I learned a -very- important lesson. Having a friend over for dinner doesn't always mean what you think it does.'
(OOC) Gamble snrk.
(OOC) Blackbird giggles!
(OOC) Windsplitter: ' On the plus side, I actually learned something new about a good friend of mine: Pinkie Pie doesn't actually taste like pie. I guess it just goes to show you that even after you've known someone for a long time, they can still surprise you! Your Faithful Student, Twilight Sparkle.'
(OOC) Blackbird dies!
(OOC) Jellybean giggles. "Oh dear."

Sadaka's flailing was getting a good bit less effective — if it had ever been effective in the first place, granted. The sudden bump startled her, but did give her enough of a nudge to send her towards Windsplitter.

And Windsplitter seizes on the nape of Sadaka's neck as if it -were- a lifeline — not able to keep enough presence of mind to be as gentle with her as he would like, but odds are the filly has other concerns at the moment. And now it feels like the black of the water is not just blotting his vision, but actually creeping into his eyes, feeling that numbing cold starting to seep into his thoughts. He actually convulses, a large choked-out swarm of bubbles escaping past his teeth where they're clamped on — but he forces himself to surge upwards. With what's left of his fading thoughts he can just make out another shape in the water… and even though he can't recognize actually Gamble, he forces himself to swim towards the other figure — out of instinct more than anything else — even as the pumping of his legs finally start to weaken….
Gamble didn't have much of a way to insulate himself against the chill of the waters, but he's reeeaally hoping he won't be in there long enough to go numb. Not like the others already close to drowning! That initial chilly shock keeps him from outright barrelling towards the first dark shape he spots, but luckily enough Windsplitter and Sadaka's already close enough for Gamble to get a hoof on, tugging the vine with one of his rear legs to signal the gryph to pull!

But what of Blackbird..?

Well that seemed like as much of a signal as anything. Rocket dug her talons in and pulled as best she could, flapping her wings for extra leverage.

Well… if nothing else, at least she's safe.

Blackbird tries very hard to swim up, swim toward the shapes, the vines. But alas, he's just so cold and so numb, and the last bubbles leave his mouth in a rush, as he tries to kick and only manages a weak little jerk of his limbs. For once, his unthinking actions have caught up with him, and maybe for good.

Sadaka probably would have squeaked at the feeling of being grabbed again, but conditions are not optimal for sound. Couple bubbles, but hey. She gave a few weak kicks before going limp and letting herself be dragged along and hopefully up.

The one last stroke that Windsplitter gives promises to -be- the last, the last of his strength seeping away… but then he feels hooves clapped over his as Gamble takes hold, and the two of them are dragged out of the lake. -Somehow- he manages to hold on to Sadaka though all of it, only releasing his hold on her when they're both dragged ashore. And once he's -out- of the water… Windsplitter starts shivering violently, teeth chattering over his words. " ….f-f-f-filly… is-s sh-she… ?" Like Blackbird, Sadaka's safety is the foremost thing on his mind at this point — on the very edge of blacking out, the bedraggled unicorn isn't able to recall if Blackbird actually started swimming up.

Success! Kinda! Gamble is hauled out with Rocket's pulling, dragging Wind and Sada with him, a pile of soaked, hypothermic mess. But Gamble hasn't been exposed to all that chill quite as long as the other two, managing to untangle himself long enough to point back at the water, his legs just numb enough from cold shock to keep him from bounding right back into the water. "One more! Couldn't grab 'im…"

Rocket blinks and looks them all over, dropping the vine. "One, two, two and a half… where's the white one?" Gamble's words answered the question. With a growl and a snapped word that was probably far from kosher in most societies she grabbed up the vine that was still connected to the tree, folded her wings, and practically dive-bombed into the pool.

The point here being, of course, to find the missing pony. And, with any luck, getting the vine around him and getting back /out/ of the pool again. She dove down for him, rear paws kicking powerfully, finally getting close enough to loop the vine around a hoof and try to start tugging him back upwards.

Just as Blackbird's consciousness is starting to get spotty, there's big beautiful beaky diving in after him and wrapping the vine around him. The teacher tries to grab firmer hold, but eh, really, he's useless. Rocket, though, manages with ease to pull the spindly colt up and out of the water, and not long after he breaks the surface, he starts to cough and sputter. Good signs! No Bone Mistress tonight.

Provided the hypothermia keeps away, of course.

Sadaka flops out on the ground, a little pile of wet shivery coughy exhausted zebraling. But not dead. Not dead was definitely a perk. She coughed up a few mouthfuls of water, giving a pathetic little mewl, still quite shaken and not entirely aware she was back on dry ground again.

Is that more screaming? Who could possibly be screaming now? It sounds familiar…
THUD. Well, that was somepony hitting a tree.
THUD. Aaaand that was Jellybean hitting the ground. Evidently he's been flying in circles this whole time.

The sounds of ruckus and the rescue being made for Blackbird are lost to Windsplitter as well; his thoughts can't force themself into enough coherence to recognize Gamble's words or the reason why Rocket dives past them; he only knows that it's neither 'yes' nor 'no.' And so he turns his head, nosing briefly towards Sadaka… and when he hears her coughing, huffs a -huge- sigh of relief, letting his head flop back on the turf. " …sh-she's… all r-right… w-we d-d-did it-t…. " A look of sublime relief on his face even as the whole of him considers shivering violently…. and both that state and that expression stay as he finally slips away to unconsciousness.

Rescue, success! Not bad for his first night in town. Though now, seeing as Gamble 'n Rocket are the only two not passing out from hypothermia/drowning, it's going to be a long walk back, isn't it? Ah well.

At least he's still got his hat, and only that gryph saw his horn~

"Better get'em hauled back, yeah?" the rusty pony quips, now that he's not so numb, already arranging the fine to see about carrying Wind and Sadaka on his back. "Think you could help out one more time? Get these ponies to civilization and out of all this blasted cold?"

Rocket gives a little irritated croon, looking back at her dripping wings. With all her fur and feathers plastered to herself, she was actually quite scrawny. She gave herself a firm and completely ineffective shake, flinging water everywhere but doing little else good, before glancing over at Gamble. "Two ponies in one day. Heck, three and a half if I really wanna count. In for a bit, in for a bushel, I guess," she muttered. Flappaflappa, wings still drippy and useless. Sigh. "Where're we goin' then?"

And suddenly, Jellybean. "Oh hey, there's the other one."

Blackbird coughs up a few lungfuls of water himself, eyes woogly and uneven, and more than a little cross-y. And /fumpf/. Down he goes to join the popular kids. Everyone's doing it!

Sadaka was by this point rather out of it herself, sprawled out and shivering and looking decidedly waterlogged.

Seeing as the three are officially passed out, it's a mighty decent walk carrying ponyweights for Gamble and Rocket.

Which is fine, since it gives Gamble the chance to say, at some point along the way back to the port:

"Hey, Feathers? Sorry you had to get wet. An' thanks for chasing the deathbunny away. I owe ya a couple, I think."

Jellybean gets back up on his hooves, though he looks dazed in a 'vaguely concussed' sort of way. "'s everypony allright?" he asks, stumbling this way and that.

Rocket blinks and glances over at him, smiling faintly. "Heh… didn't know I'd be havin' an adventure today. Glad all you ponies are okay, though. Well… relatively speaking. Don't think I won't remember that, though." She glances over at Jellybean, giving an exasperated chuckle. "Careful, you. M'I gonna have to carry you too?"

Oh hey, there's another pony after all! Gamble winces, seeing the poor pony all..dazed. "Eh, they're a little waterlogged, but they'll be fine."
There is no one in the room who you haven't yet awarded karma to today.

Jellybean shakes his head, mane floofing out in every direction. "I'll be fine, just give me a second. I can help carry ponies, don't worry."