The Fane Of The Faceless
IC date: Winter 39, 1007
OOC date: January 27, 2013
PCs: Dream Daze, Goody Horseshoes, Heartsong, Magpie, Muzaji, Ruby Blossom, Thunnini, Zypher
NPCs: Sinking Stone, Tale Chaser
GM: Diamond Dog

The journey to the ruined temple of the Faceless One left Silver Shallows early this morning. Eddy and Tale Chaser both helped round up interested parties and make sure everypony was equipped with a float, and together went with them to a dock of sorts on the northeastern part of town. The Curator, Sinking Stone, was waiting there for them, greeting everypony in a bearded fashion. The party exited into the water of the ocean and boarded what appeared, superficially, to be a blimp- a ship-like vessel suspended from underneath a massive balloon, smooth and grey.

Tale Chaser was left behind at this point. Though the young scholar seemed very eager to join in the adventure, his master was very firm: "This is NOT your journey to make, boy. Your glory days will come, I'm sure, but you shall remain to tend the Archive in my absence."

The young scholar, ever obedient, could only watch from afar and wave goodbye as the party sailed off without him. Eddy stood behind him, looking much more cheerful, and doing her best to cheer the other young seapony up.

Ponies were well within their right to wonder how exactly a blimp manages to function underwater, until a massive fin dipped down from one side and long tentacles waggled about behind it. It was, in fact, a kraken- domesticated, with a basket slung underneath for ponies to ride in. It hastened the journey considerably, the rocky leagues of the ocean floor sailing by underneath. The lights of Silver Shallows vanished, as the kraken-blimp drifted north, into cooler waters, following an undersea trench.

Occasionally, another small settlement comes and goes, visible as a cloud of star lights clustered around small houses. Curious faces invariably leave their buildings to look up and watch as the "ship" passes by, some waving, others merely dumbfounded.

But after half a day's sailing, the "ship" is slowing. Sinking Stone- wearing his phylactery, which appears to be nothing more than an old length of rope with a few small stones wound into its fibers- consults with the "ship"'s pilot (his official title is Krakenmaster) and directing it to draw closer to the trench. "There, there. It's near, I remember now…" He drifts to the front of the vessel's deck and peers out over the edge, hooves resting firmly on the railing, and frowns thoughtfully under a voluminous beard that only seems more so as it billows out in the water. "Mmm, mmmhmmm…"

Zypher clings to the rail about as 'in awe' as an air swimmer could get! Swimming/flying under sea as it were is just this /AWESOME/ new thing for him and he's just loving every minute of it, sure its ALOT harder to 'fly' in this stuff, actually really really hard really! but Oh my the Cardio training this is giving, is just gonna be so totally excellent! "This IS AWESOME!" he bubbles out still a little unsure on just how loud or soft he's speaking in this, water stuff.

Magpie sighs, hanging over the edge of the basket. This is so unfair. Chaser said he'd come with… stupid beardy-fish. She'd have stayed home, but … Ancient temple? Come on, that just /screams/ sunken treasure, and she can't ignore that!

Muzaji meanwhile continues to stare up at the 'propulsion' for the 'blimp' in a bit of awe. For the many things she had seen in her many travels before settling in the harbor, this extended trip to Silver Shallows continued to find things that even the zebra was surprised by. Tamed kalimari. What will the seaponies think of next.

Goody-Horseshoes is in just as much wonder as Muzaji. He makes his way around all edges of the ship as the journey ensues. The only time he's been on a ship and underwater at the same time…well…we won't discuss that right now.

Thunnini swims along with the others, being the inquisitive seapony she is. The kraken-ship wasn't exactly something she's used to, although she had heard that they existed.

Heartsong stares over the edge of the basket - from safely in the middle of the basket, thank you! Not that one could easily fall out, but this pony's not taking any chances. Besides, the view's perfectly good from here! She's be-floatied again, this time with wings properly situated, and seems a lot less uneasy about the water this time around! She knows what she's doing now, see. She's practically a… okay nowhere near a pro, but she can't say she's never been swimming before anymore so that's a start! But still, she keeps near the center of the basket, humming softly to herself as she looks about, taking in the sights.

The ship has high railings and only a narrow window to lean out of and peek through. Travelers may find that, due to the nature of the water, if you don't really hold onto something or otherwise brace yourself, you sort of get picked up and left behind until the nets at the back of the "deck" catch you and the Krakenmaster hauls you back down to where you can get a firm footing. Thankfully, there are places belowdecks to go if you get tired of this an djust want to sit somewhere where you can look out through a glass window.

Those who keep a good enough eye outside these windows might occasionally see a rope swing into view before swinging back out of sight, but surely it's nothing to be worried about. There are lots of ropes involved, connecting the basket to the kraken above, bot for support and for steering purposes- so one got loose, or it has a trailing end or something.

The ship slows further, the Krakenmaster pulling on a rope as one might tug the reins on a horse in another world where horses are ridden isntead of talking people who found civilizations. He then exits the vessel- swinging open a portion of the railing and swimming out- and makes his way down to the rocks, where he ties a rope off agains them. The rope leads up to the harness around the kraken. Yes, the kraken needs to be hitched up or it will wander. It whistles in a friendly, if unfathomably deep-pitched fashion, and waggles a fin at the krakenmaster as he returns to the basket.

"Alright, my friends, alright," says Sinking Stone, turning back towards the group. He wrings his hooves a bit as he takes stock of everybody. "Make sure you have your supplies. We'll need a few bags, of course, to help bring things back with us. Everypony should have a glow sphere to help light the way- it will likely be pitch black inside the temple! Are we ready?"

Zypher was inside, or outside, or inside or outside, on the way here, on the railing, or in the cabin like a cat that can't quite make up its mind.

Zypher makes ready for departure once the 'ship' has stopped, "ready, Am I ready, Are we? Are We?" he swims about the cabin looking to everypony, "We're ready, right? Right? AwwwwYeah!" sure, he's ready alright maybe.

Glow sphere, check. Underwater exploration gear she picked up at the market this morning to be more properly equipped (and less naked than she was at swimming lessons, abiet not really anything wrong with that for Equestrians) for this expedition? Check…. Really it just looks like waterproofed versions of her usual vest and saddlebags. Maybe an animator got too lazy to do more than recolor her usual attire. Either way Muzaji gives a cheerful nod to Sinking. "Ready when you are, Curator."

Magpie has her biggest saddle bags, in preparation for ALL THE GOLD she's gonna find down there. Or, y'know, huge pearls, or glittering gems, she's not picky. Her glow sphere is in her bag, which makes it look like she's carrying around something Marcelus Wallace might be interested in.

Goody-Horseshoes dons a set of brand-new saddle backs. They look expensive, but very durable and built for all conditions. Though he grabs a glowsphere, he just tucks it into one of the bags. As long as his magic is good, he can create light on his own. "I'm ready as well" he informs.

Thunnini has a glowsphere and some other supplies tucked into her saddlebags. Not much in terms of tools, though, but some food and a few other useful items. "Ready when everyone else is!" she beams.

Sinking Stone turns and fishes about in a saddlebag of his own. It's not a very big one. He's old, you see, we have youngin's to do the heavy lifting. From it he withdraws a small glass sphere. "And just to remind you all, to turn them on, it's a one, a two…" He shakes the sphere up and down once, twice… "And a three!" On the third shake, the small sphere slowly comes to life with a warm orange light. It's not especially bright, but a little light can carry a long ways in a dark enough place. "Now then." Another three shakes douses the light, and he returns the sphere to his bag. "If you'll all follow mee- aahh!!"

Just as the old pony turns to exit the craft, he bumps into Tale Chaser. The young seapony is untying himself from the rope harness he used to hitchhike a ride on the ship- clinging to the outside during the length of its journey. His expression, behind his glasses, is one of deep shame and defiance.

"ConFOUND it, boy!" shouts Sinking Stone, shaking in his surprise. "What are you doing here?! I told you, I TOLD you, I-"

"I wanted to go! I wanted to see it for myself!" protests Tale Chaser, frowning mightily up at Sinking Stone. "Where that horrible heart came from! It's the reason Spindrift went crazy and Brume and Verse both got killed! I deserve to see as much as any of these other ponies!"

Sinking Stone, taken aback by the tone of his pupil, draws back. He turns to look back at his shoulder at the other ponies, then back to Tale Chaser, reaching up to cover his mouth with a hoof. At length, the old pony nods. "So be it, boy. So be it." His demeanor muted, he slips past a trembling Tale Chaser and out into the open water, beckoning behind himself. "Follow me, every pony."

He then starts swimming downward, towards the trench that yawns open below the ship, dark and forboding.

Tale Chaser swiftly moves to take a place beside Magpie, head bowed, blinking rapidly behind his glasses.

Ready? Ready for what? Oh! Oh, yes. We're going somewhere. Heartsong scoops up her saddlebags and scrambles after the group, looking her supplies over as she went. Anything missing? No? Don't think so. Okay, good. Cool. Let's do this thing.

Magpie squeals and wraps her hooves around Chaser! "You came!" she says joyfully, shedding the gloomy mood she's carried all the way from Silver Shoals. "Oh my gosh that's awesome, you were out there the whole TIME? That's like something *I'D* do!" Cling.

Zypher sees the 'new' but not new pony join up with the rest, and pulls one of the many glow sphere's he's collected in his relatively small pack, he likes glowy things, and as he swims, he makes his way over to Magpie and Tale-Chaser, "Spare Glowbulb doohicky thing" he offers to the seapony and foalish friend. "Welcome aboard!" he chuups some and slightly untucks his wings, to give a little pushstart so he can swim a little quick to keep up.

Goody-Horseshoes swims along side Heartsong as she takes off after the group. He smiles at her in his heart-melting way, "I see you're really getting the hang of swimming!"

"It was really scary," mumbles Tale Chaser, wiggling in Magpie's clinging hold. "I almost slipped off and I didn't want tobe left out in the middle of nowhere. But it was… it was kind of fun, too…" He wedges his glasses back into place, because they are perpetually in the wrong place, then blinks behind them up at Zypher as he takes the offered glowbulb doohickey thing. "Th… thanks…"

Magpie giggles. "Scary but fun?" She thinks, then nods. "That's how you know you had a good adventure!" She nuzzles the colt's cheek (knocking his glasses askew) and releases him, swimming out the door in her awkward, flailing way.

Muzaji gives Tale Chaser a light bump to the shoulder with her hoof as she passes them. "Good show, kid. Way to let 'em not keep down that sense of adventure." She decides to let him have his moment and not point out that Brume died before the Heart was taken. Instead she wades off after the old timer, eager to get to the exploring, having equal interest in the mystery -and- the possible treasure.

Zypher nodnod's all turbo like, "got more in the pack if anypony needs more light, These things are just so cool!" he kinda laughs, then fully untucks his wings, does a little strain, and lurches forward,'flying' ahead

Tale Chaser grunts at the shoulder chuck. Even if it was light, he is weak to such things, but he smiles a little all the same, and moves to swim after Magpie.

Sinking Stone may be a creaky old pony, but handles the water better than shuffling about on four feet, and swims at a relatively brisk clip. His demeanor is noticably distracted now- and it's easy to imagine why, what with Tale Chaser present despite having been explicitly instructed to stay behind. Still, he knows where he's going and stops frequently to check back over his shoulder, gesturing for ponies to follow. "This way! It's down here, in the trench," he calls back. "Face turned away from what little light there is. Fitting, really…"

About a hundred feet down from the top of the trench, the rocky cliff face bows inward, creating a cavern-like hollow… and inside this hollow, built inside it as much as it is carved into the surrounding rock, is an old stone structure. Twisted columns spiral up to a roof that resembles heavy slabs tumbled together; rough steps lead upward to a doorway that yawns open like a black mouth, revealing nothing of its contents. Here and there, another window or small doorway offers another darkened entranceway to the structure. It's not especially large, but as it seems to grow out of the structure, there's no telling how far inside the chambers actually go.

Sinking Stone draws near the entrance, then turns to look back at the ponies that follow. "A nameless temple to a forgotten king," he calls back. "This is the place where the Spire and the Heart were found together. An old reliquary, perhaps? A site of a ritual that was never completed?" He shakes his head and strokes his beard as it fans out in the water before him. "Perhaps we'll find out today…"

Zypher follows after Sinking stone, at a fairly brisk pace for a pony, swimmer of the skies he may be, but he's athletically inclined, works out constantly, and has good STRONG wings, it may be a strech for him, but he's straining through with kinda flying behind him more or less. Looks tiring. Oh the workout! "Curator Sinking Stone, Uhhhh, I brought alot of those glowy bulb thingies, would ya like me to light em up n' shed some light on the place er' something?" he asks with the note of helpfulness in his voice.

Muzaji drifts down next to the old seapony, having little trouble navigating in the water after last night's practice session. If they're lucky it was a temple that included gold or other offerings to this nameless king, because the corrupt rulers tend to enjoy such finer things in tyrany. Not that Muzaji doesn't have the main reason they came here in mind, but the hopes of treasure were her original reason for coming along at the beginning, after all.

"And so here our brave crew does stand, in the shadow of seapony land.
The mystery still looms before, in a temple forgotten in its lore.
Now lying in ruin, amiss and disarray; and the hope of answers found today.
So draw forth your lights and let us swim; as a chance like this? Prehaps never again."

Heartsong paddles along at the back of the group, looking around nervously. She's gotten a bit better at swimming! At least, she's not sideways. She even knows how to use her wings (mostly)! And she keeps up decently well. She's trailed off in her humming, though. Ancient ruins aren't /always/ the best place for cheery songs, after all.

Magpie comments to Muzaji, "Seapony lands? That's kinda… uh… that thing where you say something that means the opposite of itself."

Ruby who was /totally/ not there a moment ago; paddles along beside Magpie at a leisurely pace. Her saddle bags and Dream-Daze snuggly strapped down into place. "Temples - this sounds like an adventure." grinning up at Dream-Daze. "If it gets dry you might even be able to wear your hat."

Goody-Horseshoes 's jaw drops as the group approaches the outside of the 'temple'. He does what he can to keep his eye on Heartsong from the rear of the group, but the temple is certainly distracting. "It's…beautiful. Haunting, really…but still beautiful."

Magpie AUGH!

Sinking Stone considers Zypher for a moment, then nods. "Certainly, lad. As you can see… it's pitch black inside!" He turns to regard the doorway. "Or not see, as the case may be! Aha, ha. Mmm." With a mirthless clearing of his throat, he draws back from the doorway and regards the party.

Thunnini swims along, eyes wide at the haunting beauty of the temple.

Magpie swims sideways into Tale Chaser in her shock at Ruby's appearance.

Said hat is currently strapped to Dreamy's back. And Dreamy, currently 'strapped' more or less to Ruby's back. Which is interesting and awkward given that they had to wear floaties. Still, it worked somehow, to give Dreamy the ability to nap while hitching a ride, as it were. The sleepy unicorn foal pokes her head up, blinking blearily about. Oh… OH! Temple! Her ears perk right up. Yay, adventure time! She wiggles in joy. But doesn't quite go as far as to unstrap herself from the bigger adult's back yet.

Tale Chaser joins Magpie in AUGHing as Ruby suddenly appears, darting away a few feet. His glasses are jostled off his nose in the sudden movement, and he scrambles to catch them before they fall far.

Wouldn't want to drop them.

The unfathomable black maw of the undersea trench yawns below, after all. Its darkness is comparable to that which waits inside the door, impenetrable, ravenous. Good thing we're not going down there, right? Right?

Zypher swims to one side of the group and starts lighting off the bulbs, a shake-shake-shake-Glow, Shake-Shake-Shake-Glow. Then he bodily does that shake shake shake-and sweet Celestia! GLOW. Zypher is hidden from view and replaced by what appears to be a massive glow. "Ok maybe I brought too many" he admits.

Muzaji resists the urge to facehoof at Zypher. "Well you can leave them in a trail or something at least." She gets out her own globe and shake-shake-SHAKEs it to light up. Then pauses, holding it between her hooves. … "Well, it's a good thing we don't need to walk or this would be awkward." Hurrah for swimming!

Light from the spehres Zypher is setting off spills into the doorway. It's not a very large entrance, so without actually entering the temple, it's hard to see much of what's inside, but more stone construction like that on the outside can be seen, and of assorted carvings making up the walls.

Sinking Stone, nearby, squints his eyes shut with a mumble and reaches up to shield his eyes with a hoof, mumbling about youth being wasted on the young.

Goody-Horseshoes keeps his glowsphere tucked in his saddlebags. His horn lets off a light glow around his head. Though he's being the responsible one and staying at the back of the group to help keep the foals in check, he seems eager to be up front.

The pegasus grins, not like anyone can see that, but he nods, "right, bread crumbs of light, thats a Great idea Miss Muzaji" he practically squeaks, as he starts deploying the little bulbs of light here n' there along the entry path, "let the light lead through the Night!"

Magpie gives Chaser a little squeeze around the waist. And doesn't let go. "Wanna give me a ride to the temple?" she suggests, grinning to him. She peeks sideways at Ruby. Well… so what if she IS here? 's not HER business… right?

The mischevious glint in Ruby's eyes suggests not only is Ruby interested - it's totally her business; her Magpie - her business =3. Ruby shoots Maggie a playful grin while following along with the group "Hoo - look what happens when I let you run off on your own!" *squee*

Heartsong peers down into the darkness, ears perking a bit when the carvings are lit up. Ooooooh. This is kind of… cool! And mysterious. And… wait. "Um. You… you all d-don't have, like… um… water… dragons, or something, right? Or… or ghosts? Or zombies, or… anything?" Because where /she's/ from, all kinds of things can lurk in big dark caverns like that, and few of them are friendly!

Thunnini floats over near Ruby. "You should've seen her chasing him," the seafilly giggles. "Like a shark after a minnow~"

Muzaji just smirks a bit as Zephyr takes her idea, and at least having all those globes won't go to waste. Then turns to Sinking Stone and the Captain. "Well, shall we proceed?"

Dreamy grins when Thunnini swims near, finally unstrapping herself from the older pony so she can float down and give the seapony a hug! Then she shares in the mischevious grin, offering Ruby a mental image of said chasing of Chaser by Magpie. It was adorable~

Mischief moment passing, the little filly peers into various places of darkness. This is kinda like a certain dream she had recently! Only she's not a seapony now. So she must not be dreaming. Suddenly curious, especially with Heartsong asking odd questions about dragons, she floats up the mental vision of a dragon. Made purely out of /bubbles/. Because that's what lurked in the deep black pits of her dreams. Maybe they really exist!

Zypher swims back briefly to Heartsong and Dreamy giving them each another glow bulb. "A little light never hurt anypony, more light the better I always say, keeps the baddies away" he grins to them each before he opens his wings again and shoots off ahead to be up front.

Tale Chaser makes a pronounced lack of noise as he is seized by Magpie. The scrawny seacolt wiggles a bit, adjusting Magpie's hold on him as best he can without actually reaching down to do it by hoof- that would be rude- and glances warily at Ruby before nodding. "O-okay… hold on…" He then swims forward, towards the doorway and the lollygaggers there, Sinking Stone included, and inside.

The light spheres being dropped in from the doorway help give a haunting dim glow to the interior of the temple. This is just an entryway, it would seem- but a rather large one. Perhaps once this was a meeting hall, or some other general purpose chamber? It could easily hold a crowd much larger than the one assembling outside the doorway. Its floor dips downward into a bowl shape ringed by steps, and in the center is a large hole… the entrance to a tunnel smashed into the carved stonework, obviously excavated some time after the temple's construction. A doorway in the back leads to another chamber. A few windows on the top open up out into the cavern-like hollow in which the temple is constructed.

The walls undulate and twist with assorted carvings. Time and the sea have worn many finer details away, but what remain are the shapes of ponies- seaponies as well as four-legged land-dwellers- twisted about in shapes that suggest dancing as much as agonized writhing. The carved figures gather around circular tableaus which depict various scenes. Two in particular stand out: the first depicts a massive tidal wave overtaking a castle built atop a mountain- the waters mighty enough to sweep both the castle and mountain away. The other depicts, in profile, the image of a seapony stallion with a powerful figure. It's been defaced, however, in that the actual face of the carving has been cut away, obscuring his identity, while three lines radiate outward from the center of the carving, dividing it into three portions.

Tale Chaser slows as he enters, boggling at the surroundings. The shadows of the temple eat the light before it gets far, and what light remains flickers and dances, giving unwholesome life to the carved figures that adorn the walls.

Goody-Horseshoes gives a smirk to Heartsong, "But who…or what…would dare come after such a group of ponies such as us!" He looks towards the temple again as they get closer, "Everything's going to be fine."

Magpie leans over to fish (no offense) the light orb from her saddlebags. She holds it up. "Uck," she says, peering at the carvings. Then looking around she shrugs. "Go down..?" she suggests to her cheauffer.

Muzaji swims up to investigate the carvings, almost immeadiately being drawn to the missing face to the stallion in the center. "Let me guess, this is the so-called nameless king? Someone really went through a lot of trouble to make him that way." She shudders a bit. To be -unknown- is a terribe thing to have to endure.

Sinking Stone hovers just inside the doorway, observing the chamber with a pensive, even melancholy demeanor. He alone, evidently, has been here before. He furrows his brow slightly as he regards the hole in the center of the chamber, before shaking his head and looking up at Muzaji across the way. "So it would seem, young Zebra. See that it is divided into three parts-" He gestures. "We believe the king's essence was likewise split in three, each sealed away from eachother. Where, we're not sure- and what those fragments are, we still don't know. Someone went to a great deal of effort to obscure all record of the Faceless One's passing…"

Thusly armed with a lightbulb, Dreamy swims along after the others so she can look at odd cave markings too! She pokes at a couple of them hesitantly. At least now the whole 'Faceless One' thing makes a bit more sense!

Ruby paddles along with the group while curiously looking over the carvings - doing her best to be interested in things other than Maggie's little crush..which is admittedly a difficult thing.

Tale Chaser sniffs and scratches his nose with a hooftip, then looks to Magpie briefly. "Down there?" he wonders. Swimming forward, still holding Magpie against his side, he drifts towards the tunnel in the center of the chamber and peers down inside with a frown. "This doesn't look like it belongs here. If you look at the stone you can see it's rougher than some of the sculpture work… s'not as eroded. Probably much newer." He frowns. "I don't know if I want to go down there…"

Goody-Horseshoes s horn glows as he makes it into the temple. making it momentarily a little easier for anypony near him to see. He swims up next to Muzaji, "They certainly /did/ seem to not want him known…"

Heartsong gulps a bit, ears laying back at Dreamy's vision. Bubbledragon? Bubbles… aren't… /that/ scary. But nopony said anything about the ghosts! She bites her lip, slowly moving to follow the group. There better not be ghosts, or she's gonna… she's gonna… well. Flee and scream. That's what she's gonna do.

Magpie says "It's a secret door, see? That's probably where the /treasure/ is."

Thunnini swims over and gives Heartsong a hug. "If we stick together, I'm sure we'll have nothing to be afraid of," the seafilly smiles.

Muzaji turns to look down to Sinking Stone. "So, theoretically, if we consider the Black Heart and the Dark Spire to be two of said parts, there's still a possible third."

Dream-Daze swimswim~ She paddles her way up behind Maggie and Tale Chaser, her ears perking again at mention of secrets. Fillies are drawn to secrets, see. With talk of there being a possible third part… Well maybe they're about to find it!

The carvings don't reveal much with further investigation from the various ponies approaching them. They stone is worn and pitted, hiding the finer details of the identities of the ponies depicted therein beyond general builds. No cutie marks or anything can be picked out. Still the twisted figures seem as much enthralled as they are tormented by the scenes they surround.

So far, there is a lack of treasure to be found. There isn't much in the way of clues, either. If this is where some powerful artifacts were found, there's no indication of them on the walls- but that's just this chamber. The doorway leading further into the complex awaits, and that tunnel…

The tunnel yawns below Tale Chaser and Magpie. The colt peers down at the darkness, frowning, then reaches into a bag and fishes out a glowsphere, shaking it to life.

Sinking Stone watches this thoughtfully, still near the door. Rather than worry about the environment, he's studying his young pupil instead. Even here in the supporting water, away from an ungainly life on land, the old pony's shoulders appear stooped, and his head hangs a bit. "Mmm?" he says at lenght, looking to Muzaji. "A reasonable assumption, yes… though that makes you wonder: would not the third be here as well? Where might have it been taken? Who would claim one but not the others?" He shakes his head and looks back to Tale Chaser.

"H-hold on, boy," he calls out. "I've just the thing to light that tunnel up. I'll be… right back with it." He slips out the door with another brief, backwards glance, then swims up and back towards the Krakenship, outside and out of sight.

Tale Chaser nods briefly back over his shoulder, then drops the gleaming sphere down the tunnel in the floor. It briefly lights the entrance before it's swallowed up, hitting a curve in the bottom and disappearing around a corner. Nothing happens for a moment.

Then the light sphere is spat back out.

Ruby curiously paddles about the edge of the room - curiously examining the carvings while keeping an eye on the foals, all of the honest! All the talk of secrets and artifacts perks her attention as he wanders closer to the doorway leading further into the tunnel - peeking into the doorway curiously.

The second room is reavealed to not be as broad, but it's much deeper- tall and narrow, sort of like an elevator shaft. The far side, opposite the door leading into it, has a slender, arched sconce, in which a statue must have once been stood. It no longer stands there because it lies in ruins at the bottom of the chamber, some seventy-five feet or so down from the entrance, visible only in a few spare glimmers of light that filter in from above. The finer details cannot be made out from a distance.

"Seeing as Spindrift didn't -want- to do more than harass the Harbor, she may of decided not to want more than she needed to extradite her plot. Or maybe the third was taken somewhere else to prevent them from being combined again," Muzaji logics out, even as the old pony swims for the boat. She turns back to the carvings, holding up her light sphere to try and study them more closely, working her way towards the entrance to the next room as she goes.

Magpie blinks. She looks thoughtfully at the hole in the floor. Then at Tale. "Chances there's a sea monster down there?" she asks.

Tale Chaser catches the lighted globe as it drifts near, staring at it, then down at the hole. He turns to listen to Muzaji for a moment, then blinks back at Magpie at the suggestion of sea monsters. "M-monsters?" he says.

A moment later, something heavy slides in place over the doorway, settling with a scrape of stone and a solid *thump.* The skylights along the ceiling are likewise sealed a moment later, the sound of them thumping into place echoing coldly through the room. The party is left with only the light cast by the glowing spheres scattered about the floor and carried by a few ponies.

Tale Chaser whirls away from Magpie, looking back towards the door with a start. "Curator?!" he calls out. He tugs Magpie along as he paddles his way back over to the sealed entrance. "Curator?!"

A dull purple light escapes from the tunnel in the floor, flickering and shifting about, as a low, groaning roar sounds from within, loud enough to shake the stone walls of the temple and cause flakes of stone to drift down from the ceiling. That would be the monster, one can assume. A similar purple light shines from the secondary chamber, somewhere at the bottom, amidst the ruins of the statue.

Goody-Horseshoes 's horn flares up with light. He takes in a deep calm breath as he tries to get a visual location on everypony, "Gather the foals! Protect them first!" he commands. This might be a good time to have his sword he thinks, but he's not so fortunate.

Magpie says in a weak, tiny voice, "….chances… the third part… is a sea monster?"

The sound at the entrance causes Ruby to whip around - watching as the entrance is blocked. She deadpans and just glowers at the door - man if her angry gaze was like heat vision it'd totally blow a hole through the stone with sheer intensity. Ruby growls softly (I'm starting to consider murder as an addition to my rap seat.)

Thunnini takes a defensive posture, bringing her staff down to bear against the oncoming… waitaminute. She's been swimming; she didn't bring a staff because she didn't need it. Also, it's not like she could have brought along the broom from the hotel. Instead, she calmly searches around, looking for a staff or the like she could use to help protect her friends.

And the door shuts. And then NOISE. Heartsong yelps. No… no, that was more of a squeal. She backpedals as best she can towards the now-closed door - which does not work nearly so well underwater! In fact, not at all, really. She kind of just winds up flailing in place, somersaulting backwards a time or two. YAAAAAH WATER DRAGON GHOST ZOMBIE.

Dreamy snaps out of her daydreams. She had been (dreaming about) exploring that deep, dark tunnel, and finding a great big pile of funny-shaped rocks, that all turned out to be some kind of ancient batteries, and then they found the world's biggest flashlight to put them into.

Reality is so cruel. Jolted from this pleasant dream, Dreamy realizes there's a panic going on. The reason sets in a moment or two later, prompting the little foal to drop her glowbulb and paddle for the nearest 'adult' to hide behind!

"Don't be silly, if they were trying to -weaken- him why would they put the third piece in any sort of monst—" Muzaji stops mid-reply as the doors and other openings are slammed shut. Good thing she's got her light orb. "Well, gee, this isn't ominous at all."


And then something clicks in her head. Something that is a terrible prospect indeed. She swims over to the closed door and gives it a thump with her hoove. "You better not be the one out there locking us in, old timer!"

Magpie looks behind her at Dreamy. "That isn't helping," she says dryly. "Everypony, uh… to, uh… to the next room!" She waves at the statue room. Glowy or not, that's gotta be better than here. At least there's stuff to throw?

Tale Chaser casts a frantic glance at Magpie, but doesn't answer just yet, looking back at the door. He pounds on it with his little bookworm hooves, but they don't have much of an effect on cold, unfeeling stone. "CURATOR!" he calls out, desperate. "What're you doing? Open the door!! There's somethin' in here!"

At first there is no answer, but after a few moments, a weary, grieving voice filters in from the other side. "I'm sorry, my boy. I'm sorry… I tried to tell you to stay, but you didn't listen. They can't… they can't stop him. They can't be allowed. I need to make sure they can't interfere…"

"Noo!" wails Tale Chaser. He has let go of Magpie at this point, to tug and pull at the edges of the doorway. Still useless! Curse my bookwormy ways! "You can't do this! You can't! I…" He trails off with a panicky hiccup.

"I'm sorry… I'm sorry… I'll look for you amongst the stars, boy… I'm sorry…" The voice of Sinking Stone trails off and is soon gone. Tale Chaser whirls away from the door with a grimace, eyes wide, then reaches over to nab Magpie. "Magpie!" he wails. Holding on tight to her, he grimaces at Muzaji. "D-do somethin'! Use your zebra magic!"

In the center of the chamber, slender white tentacles are reaching up from the tunnel entrance, feeling around as they spill forward. A dozen stretch outward before the body they're attached to follows- a squid, it would seem, as big around as a locomotive! It feels out the room, tentacles reaching towards various ponies, while its beak-like mouth, there at the confluence of its tendrils, clacks lazily in the water. As it eases more of its bulk into the chamber, its eyes become visible- dull, unfocused, posessed of an unwholesome purple light- the source of the glow that follows it. The creature moves as though half-asleep, and in a sluggish fashion, reaches out for Goody Horseshoes, Ruby Blossom and Dream Daze, trying to tangle them up in its grip!

Goody-Horseshoes swims around the group, trying to herd everypony into a general group, "Muzaji, get…" He takes notice of the tentacles reach up for him, "GET EVERYPONY INTO THE OTHER ROOM…NOW!" Ruby can take care of herself much easier than Dream can, so he heads towards the silent foal. His horn glows a little brighter as a hard clear 'bubble' forms around Dream and pulls her towards him, "Ruby…SWIM AWAY!

OH SUN'S LIGHT IT IS A WATERDRAGON AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH! Heartsong is panicking now. Total panic, yup. WHAT DO WHAT DO WHAT DOOOOOOO?!?! Apparently, flail. And swim away. It's hard to swim when flailing, but she tries!

Thunnini swims for the other room, still looking for a staff or some other object she could use as a weapon to help protect her friends.

Magpie covers her mouth with her hooves, a little gasp. "T-that's not — Oh, /Chaser/…" She feels sorry for the colt, squeezing him in her hooves… Not that she really knew the old dude, but… but still… Wait, poor Chaser?! POOR MAGPIE! She's gonna get eaten by something purple!

The first tentacle to get near Ruby and Dream-Daze who's cowering behind gets a nice firm stabbing from the blade concealed in Ruby's false hoof; while Ruby uses a rear hoof to push Dream-Daze away from the squid. "Everypony - go go go."

"I'm not a unicorn kid, I can't just go blasting off spells and energy rays at a whim." Muzaji grouses at the door and the old seapony behind it. Should of seen that coming, it was all way too convenient that he knew where to look… But no time for hindsight being 20/20 right now. With a huff she turns, grabbing Tale Chaser and Magpie with her forehooves and dragging them if need be to follow the others. "Com'n, like the Cap'n said!"

Dreamy sticks her tongue out at Magpie. She's much braver in her daydreams! And when there aren't adults about! But this is different. This is being trapped in a box with nowhere to go but OHMYGREENAPPLESAUCESQUID! Alas, the little foal has no time to consider more flailing and hiding tactics, as she's summarily punted by Ruby, swept up in a bubble, and floated towards the next room. She still tries though, flailing about within that bubble, wide-eyed and horn aglow, a very panicked daydream of that squid dragging everybody into murky dark depths floating out from her.

And you thought her hiding was unhelpful.

Unfortunately, there isn't anything like a staff available for Thunnini's use. There isn't much of anything besides glass and stone- unorganic materials that could have stood up to centuries of neglect underwater. But there are rocks!

The tendril that draws near Ruby and Dreamy withdraws, the creature rumbling with pain as dark ichor escapes from the cut on its arm. This seems to waken the sleepy creature a bit- its waggling tentacles begin to twist about in a more animated fashion. The one reaching for Goody lashes upward, coiling around the captain's left rear leg, and binds it tightly! Several others dart after ponies making for the other door- the one leading into the tall, vertical chamber. The squid's gleaming eyes positively swirl as it tries to focus on the shapes darting around it.

Inside the vertical chamber, that same purple glow continues to shine from below, amidst the rubble of the ruined statue. It's a constant, steady light, however, and there's monster to be seen in that room.

Tale Chaser bustles along quickly once Muzaji nabs him, and holds onto Magpie tightly, forelegs wrapped around her, as he powers along. He's stronger than he looks when he's motivated by sheer terror, darting between intervening tentacles as he makes for the far wall and the doorway to the next chamber. His lips are drawn back in a terrified grimace the entire time and his eyes are super wide, and you can tell because his glasses fell off at some point.

Magpie rolls 1d10 — Result: 6 | Sum: 6

A tentacle reaches up to try and grab Heartsong but gets kicked back by a flailing hoof. It wobbles about, then reaches in for another grab! And gets kicked. This happens about five more times- reach, bonk, reconsider. Reach, bonk, reconsider. Can squids scowl? This one certainly is.

Magpie snatches up a chunk of volcanic glass from the floor of the cavern, her horn glowing lavender. The glow surrounds one more thing as the filly's quick reflexes let her snatch the glasses up before they get lost in the dark! …in the saddlebags they go.

Thunnini scowls at the creature, then starts focusing water currents at it. She knows she can't do much, but never underestimate the power of a well-timed nudge in interefering with the action of the tentacles!

The squid's drowsy eyes blink a bit as water currents are directed at its face. It tries to bite them. It is unsccessful! It just keeps getting squirted! It can naught but frown unhappily and just take it like a champ.

Swim! SWIM! …Ohright she has wings. Heartsong squeaks, actually aiming a kick this time and trying to use her wings to power herself away. The bubble helps! Gogogogogo swimswimswimswimswim!

After the fiasco with the driftwood beasts, Muzaji made sure to be prepared when she was gathering adventuring gear from the market. Once TC is going with Magpie in town, the zebra pauses in the water to reach back behind her saddlebags and pull out a large sharply curved dagger from where it had been hidden there. Some sort of underwater hunting knife, prehaps? Or maybe it was just meant for cutting kelp. She didn't bother beyond it being made for use underwater, which she does so by swiping at any tendrils that get too close, backstroking away as she does. "Just keep going kids!"

Goody-Horseshoes's horn glows brightly when the tentacle binds onto his leg in his attempt to escape. Rather than attack the creature right away, he uses his magic to give Heartsong a boost towards Ruby, "Her too! Any foals…get them out!" He's definitely worried about the children. His magic is rather occupied for his current attention span, so he can't afford to try doing anything magical to the tentacle without jeopardizing the protective bubbles around the foals. For a moment, the bright light around him disappears as he stabs his horn into the attacking tentacle!

The tentacles trying to grab flailing Heartsong give up. Blunt trauama is more than they bargained for! They instead go for Muzaji, only to be nicked enough by the zebra's knife to learn to keep their distance. The squid rumbles and curls those tentacles back against its body and decides to stick with the ones that are actually having some luck- OW!

Well, it would say ow if it could. Goody pokes it with his horn, and the creature promptly lets go. For the moment it seems to withdraw all of its tendrils and reconsider, purple-glowing eyes swirling dizzily, before its body stiffens and it surges up into the chamber, beak spread wide, a fierce shriek escaping from it! Can squid shriek? This one can, and it doesn't sound happy at all!

Tale Chaser has since dragged Magpie- who herself is dragging rocks, glasses and other detritus into her bags- into the secondary chamber. As the monster surges more of its bulk into the entry chamber, the young scholar gulps and swims further down towards the bottom of the second room- there where the ruined statue remains wait, as well as that curious matching lavender light. He doesn't seem to be heading specifically for either, though- simply moving AWAY from the beast above! The young seapony looks up and unhooks a leg from around Magpie to wave at the ponies above. "Th-this way! I think I see an… an exit!"

Ruby oblieges Goody by guiding Heartsong along as the mare nears. "Hurry hurry - go go go." she tells the other mare while standing her ground - while her concealed blade isn't the largest or most elaborate of weapons it's sharp and efficient. She glances towards Muzaji while quietly pondering "Hi - I don't think we've properly met, anyways if we get out of this alive I'm Ruby-Blossom." Manners! Ruby appears intent on staying with Muzaji and Goody until the others are out of danger.

Muzaji kicks herself over towards Goody, tucking the knife in the collar of her vest for a moment as the squid withdraws, but still in easy reach. She tucks her light orb under one foreleg, and uses the other to reach into a pocket and pull out.. is that a vial of the pitch from the ship? The zebra was resourceful, if nothing else. They had been attacked twice so she wasn't taking chances now.

She holds the vial towards Goody. "I say Cap'n, use your magic wise. Take this sticky goo, and aim for it's eyes."

Shriek! The big ugly squidthing is charging! Dreamy's bubble pops and she's right back with Ruby! Whom she promptly glomps onto with terrified foal legs. She closes her eyes tight and hangs on for the ride, focusing as hard as she can on not projecting any more bad images.

Goody-Horseshoes picks up some of the larger rocks littering the bottom of the room with his magic when the monster 'screams'. He launches them at it's opened beak, aiming for the mouth. Muzaji catches his attention and he magic-grabs the vial from her. It floats in front of him and his monacle glows, dropping off his eye to hang from a chain around his neck…

Swimswimswimswim ACK more noise! Heartsong winces and flattens her ears, glancing back over her shoulder. /ANGRY/ water dragon! This cannot be good. AAAAUGH what do we dooooo. …Distraction! We need a distraction. Especially if there's an exit down there, because if it blocks the exit, well…

And so the little pegasus takes a deep breath, flares out her wings like brakes, and does an abrupt about-face, kicking back out in the direction of the creature. THIS IS A TERRIBLE IDEA AAAAAAHHHHH!!!! But she doesn't seem to want to get /too/ close to it. Just close enough that, as soon as the screeching is done, she can raise her head, open her mouth, and counter the sound. With /SONG/! This can't /possibly/ go horribly.

Magpie clings to Chaser. She keeps a sharp bit of obsidian in her magic. Just, y'know. In case? There's purple light below, and that's kinda creeping her out. "Where are we GOING?" she shouts at Chaser. Other than away from the monster, anyway.

Docking procedure complete!
Dream-Daze equip get!
With the Dream-Daze now attached - Ruby reconsiders her position and begins to steadily back pedal towards the doorway Magpie and the others took - briefly glancing over her shoulder before sheating her concealed blade and reaching back to strap Dream-Daze in before retreating towards Maggie and the others.

The creature's shriek trails off as it gets a rock in the mouth. It nibbles at it a few times, and then with a mighty crunch, shatters the stone with its beak. Can squid bite through stone? This one can! It spits out a few fragments of gravel and turns its bleary eyes up towards Goody, looking as surly as it is bewildered. Its tendrils twist about and prepare to dart for the captain again!

But then pause. Music! The thing freezes in place, gaze turning up towards Heartsong. Who is… singing at it.

The tentacles reach towards Heartsong and waggle in her direction. The creature looks like it isn't sure how to respond. It wants to grab her and stuff her in its mouth, of course, but it's just as fascinated. For the moment, it's soothed- or at least, dissuaded from any further attacks, or from pursuing ponies heading into the secondary chamber!

Tale Chaser shakes his head briskyl at Magpie's question. "I don' know! There has tobe some other exit!" he says, searching about. "Th-there! In the wall!"

He swims close to the wall near the bottom of the tall, vertical chamber, and ruefully lets Magpie go, before looking back to his find… a narrow crack in the wall. It's narrow enough that not even his scrawny self can fit through, but he can press up against it and wave a hoof inside. "Feels empty. It might… might lead into the same tunnels the creature came from…"

There doesn't appear to be much else in the way of an exit from the bottom of the secondary chamber. Could it be a dead-end? The statue fragments- they're large, for the statue must have once stood as tall as the chamber itself- are littered around a stepped dais, and it is from amongst their rubble the secondary source of the purple light continues to glow.

".. Or keep it as a backup," Muzaji muses as the squid stops because of the singing. "Best we not waste the oppritunity!" She turns and starts swimming down the shaft after the others, pulling her knife back out of her vest. Just in case. There is no point in not being cautious at this point.

Strapped! Okay, at least this way Dreamy can stop worrying about clinging. Not that she /does/ actually stop, because SCARED, but it's not on the top of her worry-list anymore. At least it's enough to let the foal open her eyes again and peek back at the squidthing, whom seems momentarily dazed by music. …Oh. OH! Dreamy suddenly gets an /idea/! If it works, she'll have to go hug a certain un-named filly back at the Harbor…

But… What sort of mental daydream would a squid even like? Or be soothed by? Or anything? Dreamy opts for something simple, her horn lighting up as she tries to focus a daydream on the monster. A dream of the monster, sleeping in a deep, dark place. Something to hopefully mesh a little with Heartsong's music. Sleep, squiddie, sleep!

Heartsong looks like she might well have a panic attack any second, but her voice carries smoothe and strong, some old folksy song, the first thing that had come to mind. The squid reaches for her and she flinches, but keeps on singing, glancing back at the group. Somepony better find a way out, because while she sure knows plenty of songs, the only other thing coming to mind right now is a drinking song, and that just doesn't seem at all appropriate.

Magpie starts swimming under her own power. She pokes around the ruined statue. Where IS all that purple light coming from? "That's… that's not how squids are supposed to act, right? It's really weird, right?" She's not really an expert on marine creatures.

Goody-Horseshoes nods to Muzaji, magicing the vial into one of his saddlebags. He was fortunate for Heartsong's gift and not a moment too soon! Goody avoids direct eye-contact with any of the other ponies…he doesn't want them freaking out even more in this moment of panic because of his strange eye. Staring at the squid, he furrows it's brow, "It…it's not evil…it…it's confused. I think it has no more clue as to what's happening as we do…"

The creature's curious poking at Heartsong slows a bit as Dream Daze adds to the effort with her comforting daydreams. It appears to be working! The squid appears to be lulled- its eyes half-lidding (do squid have eyelids? this one does!), though they still swirl about dizzily. It seems to have lapsed back into the sluggish demeanor it had when it first emerged. For now it continues to wave curiously at Heartsong, the visible- or rather, audible- source of that strangely soothing noise. It might be a little scary to watch, tentacles bobbing about in the water around you, but they don't come any closer…

Down below in the chamber, Tale Chaser, still struggling to wedge himself into the crack in the wall- and not having any luck- spares a glance upward. "I don't… I don't know…" he says. "I've never seen one of these before, but… I've heard of them, and they're normally more scared of us than we are of them…"

Magpie's investigations quickly reveal the secondary source of light- there's little else illuminating the bottom of the second chamber, so the glowing purple sphere she uncovers stands out readily. It's tucked underneath the edge of one of the chunks of broken statue. It's a sphere of glass, much like the kind seaponies use elsewhere to entrap magic forces, be it flashlights or something else. This one has a swirl of glowing purple inside.

Magpie looks down at the little globe in her hooves. "Hey. Uh. Hey. Does this look like an evil artifact of evil to you?" It's… actually kinda pretty, in a funkadelic sort of way. Still…. she lifts a rock in one hoof and sets the purple globe against another…

The first thing Muzaji sees is Tale Chaser trying to cram into a tiny break in the wall. "Stop that kid. The effort is great, but you're getting no where. Literally." Then the glow of purple catchs her eye as Magpie uncovers it and the zebra floats down closer to the young pony. "… Either the old coot was bluffing about it not being here." Notice she's started using coot instead of old timer after he locked them in. "Or it was buried so well they never found it."

Dreamy's ears splay. This is a new experience! Something about the way her magic's working on this beastie is off. The little filly sets a look of focus on her face, finally relaxing her grip on Ruby so she can put more effort on her magicalness. Namely her attempts to push her more pleasant daydreaming on the squid! As long as it's working, even somewhat, they can keep the creature at bay while everyone else figures out a way out!

Goody-Horseshoes forms another bubble around Heartsong. He starts to slowly swim towards the chamber with the others, dragging her carefully with him.

As the sphere wobbles about in Magpie's grip, the squid freezes in place, its eyes- glowing with the same purple as the sphere- unfocusing further. It looks away from Heartsong, then, tendrils reaching towards the doorway to the secondary chamber. A few of them catch the edge and pull the monster towards that doorway. Those in the second room can see this if they look up- the first few tentacles coiling in around the doorway high above.

Down below, Tale Chaser withdraws from the crack in the stone as Muzaji chastises him. "We gotta… gotta try something… I don' know if we can open the door up, back up there…" he offers. He blinks and squints through the dim light, at the sphere Magpie's holding. "Evil artifact? Can I see that…?"

Magpie's rock starts to descend. She freezes, looking at TC. "I…I guess? I think we're supposed to smash it. Right?" She holds the globe up, but still poised to rock its world if necessary.

Muzaji waves her hooves a bit at Chaser. "no, no kid, I mean you've got the right idea, but just trying to wedge yourself through isn't going to do it. Even if you got through, none of us would. Or Celestia forbid, we'd break our floaties." She floats closer to the crack and peers inside of it while the kids insepct the swirling orb. Though she comments over her shoulder "Don't break it yet! If it IS a third evil artifact, we might need it to figure out how to stop the other two."

Heartsong is nearing the end of her song, so the bubble is well-timed! Although she's frantically trying to think of another one. But the squid seems to be paying less attention now! This fact certainly seems to alarm her, and she raises her voice, singing a bit louder. Another song, another song, think of another song!

Ack! The daydreams stopped working. As did the song, apparently. Dreamy pins her ears back, taking a few moments to try and figure out how to 'say' what she's thinking. Sometimes not being able to talk /really sucks/. Ultimately she pokes at Ruby, and broadcasts out a daydream of the Squidmonster, and Dreamy, with Dreamy trying to give the Monster a dream! But there's a dark cloud already there! So Dreamy's dreams bounce off! It's like there's something in the squid's mind already!

Ruby notices Heartsong's song nearing an end - she offers a reassuring smile even if no pony is watching, and while she doesn't have the emotion enducing powers of song that Heartsong has - it doesn't stop her from breaking into a lullaby that she's used on Unknown on more than one occasion…even if the feral foal doesn't seem to get it!

The crack in the wall is empty and dark and narrow. Without more light, it's impossible to tell how far it goes beyond the swipe of a hoof.

Tale Chaser draws away from it and looks instead at the sphere Magpie is ready to smash. He reaches out to take it and draw it close, squinting at it in a nearsighted fashion. He gives it a little shake and frowns. "S'just common glass. I don' think.. it's kinda a cheap artifact, if that's what it is."

The squid seems further agitated as the sphere is shaken down below. It seems to be disregarding ponies utterly at this point- pulling itself further towards the doorway. By now most of its tentacles have reached into the second chamber, and its beak chomps at the water up above in a distracted, chewing fashion. Its dizzy, purple-glowing eyes turn and peer at Ruby curiously, then blink in a slow, sleepy fashion. She's singing, too. All these singing ponies.

Magpie looks up. Notices the squid. She lets out a shriek, snatches the globe away from Chaser, and hits it with a rock as hard as she can!

Goody-Horseshoes magics his monacle back on to make it more comfortable looking around. His horn glows intensly and a similarly-colored aura glows around the squid. Unfortunatley, Goody's been using a lot of magic and thus isn't strong enough right at the moment to successfully stop the creature from continuing on.

Muzaji ughs. "Where's Winter Solstice's pieplate hooves of demolition when you actually need a wall demolished?" With little else to go on at the moment and the squid on the move again, Muzaji grabs her knife between her hooves and tries to chip at the crack in the wall with it.

"Hey! M-Magpie-!" blurts Tale Chaser, as the rock is swung and the sphere is smashed right out of his grasp!

The sphere shatters effortlessly, and as it does, a brief, bright flash of purple flares up through the chamber! The released swirl of purple magic swirls formlessly in the water, then disperses, and shards of glass rain down to the stone floor.

Up above, the squid freezes immediately in place. The purple gleam in its eyes disappears immediately- along with a lot of the muzziness in its bearing. Still holding still, the squid blinks at Ruby, then Goody Horseshoes, then turns to peer down into the chamber with one eye.

Then, with as mortified a look as a squid can muster, it retreats back into the main chamber and huddles hear the bottom, curling its tentacles close and nibbling at the cut it has on one of them. Big tears well up in its eyes but nobody notices because we're all underwater.

Thunnini watches the expression on the squid's face, then follows it after it flees and gives it a hug. "Not your fault, mister Squid," she says, then blinks. "Or are you a missus Squid?" the seafilly wonders.

The squid blinks with confusion as the teeny seafilly hugs it. It doesn't speak pony. Even seapony. And even if it could, could it reply? No. Can squid talk? This one can't! It does pat her nervously with the tip of a tentacle, though, on the head.

Heartsong blinks, looking a bit startled as the waterdragon retreats. It… it doesn't look so scary now. In fact, it looks rather sad! …Awww. She frowns, paddling a bit towards it and tilting an ear back. And humming another song! A happy song. Because she doesn't want it to be sad! She just doesn't want it to eat them, either.

… So the orb was controlling the squid? "… Well, that was a nice trap, but the artifact was crap," grunts the zebra, before looking at her knife. Then at the crack. Then looks up. "… Anyone speak squid? Try and tell it to pry that door open or something else useful."

Magpie almost faints with relief. She flops back on the floor among the debris of the destroyed statue and lets out a long, bubbling breath.

The squid shuffles about awkwardly at the song, and looks a little less anxious. It still keeps its sliced tentacle in its mouth, the others coiled close around it while it listens.

Down below, Tale Chaser squints up at the doorway and what he hears from above. He then blinks down at Magpie. "Good idea, Magpie… sounds like it worked." He then takes a moment to start looking around the bottom of the chamber for the first time, only just now seeming to notice the statue, the dais and the surroundings. He frowns a little.

"I remember Brume and Spindrift's stories… this is the spot," he says, swimming up slightly for a better look. "This is where the artifacts were, here in all the statue chunks."

Ruby finally descends towards the lower chamber with Dream-Daze in tow. Gently touching down she inspects Maggie for any damage from afar before she begins to rummage about.

Dreamy blinks. Suddenly the squid threat is gone! Aww… It really /was/ being mind-controlled. Poor fellah. She ducks her head down a bit to relax against Ruby. Phew.

Thunnini hugs one of the squid's tentacles, then gently tugs on it, swimming towards the crack Muzaji wanted opened. Maybe some hooves-on arrainging is in order here?

Goody-Horseshoes blinks a few times as the squid retreats. After all, from his end he couldn't see anything going on down in the chamber since the squid interrupted his journey there. He swims up to it and his horn glows, surrounding it in a peaceful soothing feeling. He knows he can't talk to it, so he does what he knows works. After things seem to be settled, he swims to the chamber and sees that they're all trying to get through the crack. "Need help?'

Magpie opens one eye to peer at Ruby. "I'm fine. He didn't lay a tentacle on me." She slowly hrrruffs and rolls over, looking over at Tale Chaser. "So. I'm gonna… go out on a limb, or a … I dunno, a kelp, here, and say Beardy put that thing here as a trap."

The squid seems confused a bit as Thunnini starts tugging its tentacle along, but watches, curious, letting the tentacle be pulled along. It takes a few moments, but in time it seems to figure out what the filly is getting at. Strring and drifting towards the door, the hulking creature reaches up with several tentacles, feeling out the edges of the slab sealing the exit shut, pushing here, tugging there. It narrows its eyes and leans in with a few tentacles, and after a few moments of concentrated effort, manages to twist the heavy slab out of the way.

Deep in the trench, deep under the water, not much light reaches from above, but the faint blue gleam that fills the upper chamber as the door is opened shines like a beacon to those waiting for an exit. The open water beckons- the ponies are free! There's no sign of Sinking Stone on the other side, though, in case someone was expecting him to be gloating on the other side.

The squid withdraws from the door afterwards, then starts drifting back towards its tunnel in the middle of the floor, glancing about at the ponies curiously.

Thunnini gives the squid another hug. "Thank you~" she smiles.

Tale Chaser's expression falls at the mention of 'Beardy,' before he reaches up to rub one of his eyes. "I guess so," he says. "He said he… didn't want you guys to succeed. At stopping the storm, I guess… I din' know he was going to do this…" With a frown, he turns and looks to Magpie, then Muzaji. "He's been gone a lot, lately. I don' know… maybe he's been… been settin' this trap for a while." His lower lip quivers a bit and he drifts down to seat himself on one of the larger statue chunks- what used to be the head of a pony, it seems, save that like in the bas relief display up above, its face has been chipped away.

Muzaji looks at all the broken bits, then up at what remains of the statue. The light from the door being opened filters over head. "Good job guys." Now where is the head… ah, there it is. Smashed beyond identity like before. "He mentioned some sort of cult before. Is that true, or just trying to throw us off I wonder." Muzaji hmms, rubbing her chin thoughtfully. "Tale Chaser.. how long to seaponies live for? Just a ball park estimate."

Magpie swims over and gives Chaser a hug, squeezing him gently. "I know how that feels," she says quietly to him. "Getting turned on by… somepony you ought to… be close to."

Ruby-Blossom glances to Muzaji who seems to be having similar thoughts. She shakes her head and paddles closer to Maggie and Tail-Chaser to pat them both gently atop their heads.

Dreamy joins in the hugging, because group hugs help everything! Then she retreats to being 'secured' somewhere against Ruby, so she can take a nap. All this excitement. Oy.

Tale Chaser looks up glumly to Muzaji, as he reaches out to wrap a foreleg around Magpie, leaning up against her. He might have felt kind of awkward doing this before, but right now, there's not much more he wants than to just hold onto someone. "Uhh… about a hundred years," he suggests, to Muzaji. "Same as land ponies, I think…"

He falls silent as Magpie mentions betrayal. "He was like… like a father. To me, an' to the others. But he sent them all away, too… Verse, an' then Brume and Spindrift… maybe he's been… been planning somethin' for a long time." He shakes his head and sighs shakily. "I don't know if there's a cult. Never been able to find any official record… or anything there was was obviously… destroyed."

The squid pats Thunnini once more with e tentacle, smiling as much as a squid can at the hug. It settles back into the tunnel for now, but doesn't withdraw completely, instead lurking in the hole and watching ponies drift around up above.

Goody-Horseshoes looks down at the squid as it retreats after opening the exit back up. He smiles at it, giving it another one of those warm-feeling-magic-auras for doing a good job. His face gets a little more serious as he approaches the others, "Here's the deal. We can explore here more, if there's any validity to Sinking's stories. Just because something isn't obvious to us doesn't mean it's not here. Or…we can leave…

Muzaji gives Tale Chaser a pat on the shoulder. "Don't blame yourself kid. You had no idea. None of us did. We were so eager on trying to find a solution to the problem we didn't see the trick right in front of us." Then lets out a soft sigh as she settles herself back towards the debris scattered ground. "We're -here-, it wouldn't hurt to make sure we've looked around properly." She hmms, looking around. "Or try to widen that crack to see if there's anything on the other side."

Magpie runs a hoof over the statue's effaced, uh.. face. "Why cut the face off anyway?" She gives the problem some consideration. "I mean, I guess it could just be like, 'Blarg, we don't want anypony to remember you!' or something. I just… that seems so petty, I keep wondering if there's some other reason. Like… like burning all the wanted posters so nopony can pick you out." Not that she knows anything about that.

Ruby-Blossom snickers softly at Maggie - she'll refrain from commenting on how alter-egos work better.

Muzaji says "… The kid has a point"

Heartsong looks around, gulping a bit. Now that the crisis is over, she… has /no/ clue what's going on. There's a statue, and it's broken. And… that's about all she can gather. She clears her throat nervously, rubbing the back of her head and casting a shaky smile over to the squid. Well… at least /you're/ friendly now. "…Does… does this mean we can't go back to town?" she asks a bit squeakily of no one in particular.

Tale Chaser mulls all of this over, staring glumly at the bleary murk before him. He rubs his eyes a few more times, then looks up. "You think Sinking Stone is… is some kinda… incarnation of the Faceless One?" He makes a face. "That's… well, I don' know. It could be true…" He wrinkles up his nose. "M-my glasses fell off. If one of you see them, could you, uh…"

He stops, and fishes around in his pack, withdrawing the light sphere the squid spat back out once upon a little while ago. He reaches out and offers it to Muzaji. "Toss that in the crack and see how far it goes?"

The squid shrugs a few tentacles at Heartsong in reply to her inquiry. It can't really tell what she's saying, but it knows she's saying it with a questioning tone.

Magpie ohs! "Right, sorry! I grabbed 'em." She fishes the glasses out of her bag and gently sets them on Chaser's nose. Smiles. She slowly turns in a circle. Then suddenly, indignantly, "HEY!" A second later she asks, as if offended, "Where's the SPIRE?!"

Muzaji says "Or a descendant. Or… something. He's connected to and knows -something- he didn't want others to find out, or why bother calling a bunch of us here promising help just to try and trap us." Muzaji accepts the lightball, as she didn't want to sacrifice her own… though she could of just picked up the one of many that Zypher had left, but that would require swimming back up. "Thanks." She props the ball in the crack, then turns and gives it a kick with her back hoof just to make sure it gets enough oomph to go through all the way. "I'm starting to think he, or somepony, has been planning this for a long time… but Spindrift's heartbreak proved to be an oppritunity.""

Tale Chaser blinks gratefully behind his glasses, and looks relieved. "Thanks…" he says. A moment later, and he's pinning his ears back as Magpie shouts. "The… spire? Spindrift took it with her up to the surface. This is where she got it from, though…"

If Magpie was hoping for the room, or something else to answer, none seems to be forthcoming. The defaced statue keeps its own counsel.

The light sphere flares against the narrow walls of the crack as it sails further into the darkness… and then thunks against the far end of it about five feet back. The crack doesn't seem to really go anywhere- if Tale Chaser was hoping it opened up somewhere, he was woefully mistaken, but that's the sort of grasping theory you put together when you're running from a big giant mean squid that wants to eat you. Rather, the crack looks like it was struck into the solid stone by a powerful force blasting against it, several old, dusty fragments blown away and lying on the floor nearby. As the light from the sphere spills back out of the crack in the wall and into the bottom of the tall chamber, it illuminates that debris…

… as well as worn lettering, gouged into the floor nearby.

Magpie blinks. "She took the whole SPIRE? I thought it was… some kinda.. like… staff thingummy."

"Well so much for tha-" Muzaji stops as she turns around from the crack, only to see what it's now shining on. "-hello what's this now~" Curiosity piqued, zebra going to investigate! "Come take a look at this." She shoves the debris out of the way to get a closer look at the gouged letters.

Tale Chaser scratches his head. "The Spire of Storms… it's like a spear, sorta. She says she found it here, along with the, um… the heart… huh?" He eases forward from his seat as Muzaji calls attention to the writing on the floor. For an archaeological student interested in field work, he sure is doing a lot to leave that to someone else.

Muzaji is notibly less shaken up than the poor kid is, we'll leave that as the explaination and carry on.

Goody-Horseshoesswims over alongside Muzaji, "Here…allow me…" His horn flares up and slowly but surely, the debris from around the writing shuffles and floats away.

Magpie ohhhhhhhhhhhhh. The spire is a spear. Only it's also a big tall tower thing. Huh.

The writing on the floor is nearly worn to illegibility, for it has obviously been there for along time and was only scratched very shallowly into the stone floor. Still, with a bit of brushing, the gathered silt can be cleared out of the grooves, revealing the following text:


Anything further is either worn away… or, it would seem, was never finished by whoever scratched the message into the tiles.

Heartsong glances back at the rest of the group, biting her lip and fidgetting awkwardly. Well… they all seem to know what they're doing. She does not! So as no answer to her question seems to be forthcoming, she starts to look around the rest of the room for anything else interesting.

"Once activated the the spear likely grew -into- the spire by drawing from the ocean, thus why it's made out coral and old shipwrecks and such," Muzaji theorizes. "Maybe from those leylines she was trying to energizing? I don't know." Then turns back as Goody moves the rocks out of the way. "Much abliged Cap'n." She sweeps the silt away with her hooves, and reads it back out loud. Until it stops. Which she trails off, and after a pause puts her hoof to her face. "Well that's -some- help."

Tale Chaser mumbles to himself as he reads the text over a few times. "Dunno if… if they saw this before. I don't remember hearing about it, an' I remember their stories pre' well." He pushes up and makes a face, then starts poking around elsewhere in the tall chamber, looking for further details. It's pretty dim down here, but the light spilling out of the crack in the wall opposite the apse in which the statue once stood gives him a little to see by.

Goody-Horseshoes swims over to Tale Chaser. His horn glows brightly to act as a light, "Here you go." He follows the seapony around to assist.

Magpie says "This is weird. It's like they thought the heart was s'posed to be a weapon /against/ the Spire."

"Thanks…" murmurs Tale Chaser, glancing back over his shoulder at Goody with a weak smile. He looks back down and resumes poking about.

It's mostly just rubble. No real plant life to be found. "I don't think there's much here," he says. "I kinda… think this was… mostly a trap. Like he knew there wasn't anythin' to find here anyway even if he said there was." He draws close to the floor and sifts around, running his hoof over the tiles, then frowns. "I think I found some treasure, though."

He lifts up a severely tarnished silver earring to the light. "Kinda lame treasure, though."

Muzaji mulls it over a bit, rubbing her chin with her hoof as she tends to do when she's being thoughtfuly. "With hope…I don't think he knew this was here, kid. Or he wouldn't of used this for the trap." But then her ears snap up at Magpie's remark. "Wait a minute…" The zebra paces as best as she can underwater, which is more like swimming in a circle. "What if it -was- meant to be a help? Just follow me here for a moment, ponies. What if it was… but it has been corrupted in some way to make it not helpful? What if somepony convined Spindrift these artifacts would be useful for revenge, not telling her that doing so would also turn the thing that could be used to stop it into something else?"

Goody-Horseshoes sits down for a moment as he thinks, looking at the earring, "Hold onto that…or if you don't want to, I will. Just because it looks old and faded doesn't mean it's worthless. In the end it could be, but we can figure that out later"

Tale Chaser squints at the earring, pocketing it, and starts poking around a bit more. He finds another that matches it, plus a handful of old coins, and sets about carefully storing these in a little silk bag. He offers a smile to Goody as he works. "Yeah… it still means somethin'." He peers at one of the earrings. "I like to think everything has a story, and even if we don' always get to hear all of it, just having part of it means a lot. These musta belonged to someone once."

Lifting his head, he glances about the chamber… at the broken statue, the crack in the wall, the writing on the floor. "Somethin' happened here once, an' the artifacts were left behind. Then… then Spindrift, an' Brume an' Verse an' Sinking Stone all found them an' brought them back. Maybe… maybe we'll figure out somethin' else. Maybe there's more clues here than Sinking Stone thought there would be." For a moment, he looks about ready to dip into a funk about the Curator's betrayal, then frowns it away and shakes his head. "We'll figure it out."

Pushing up away from the floor, he squints through his spectacles towards the exit up above. "S'an interesting theory, miss Muzaji," he says. "Come to think of it, they never seemed really kinda similar. The Spire sorta… sorta hurt to look at. Like it hated you just for tryin'. The Heart never did that, though."

Goody-Horseshoes swims to the first chamber for a moment. When he returns, he's got a decent half-pony sized rock floating magically behind him. He swims up to the crack with the glow sphere still behind it and starts smashing the rock against the crack in an attempt to open it up.

Muzaji grunts. "Don't remind me. I get a headache just thinking about it." She grabs her light orb and starts to swim upward. "I want to take another look at that wall mural before we go too, just in case. And the chamber in general. I didn't get long before the whole double-cross thing. Then we need to get back to Silver Shallows." She pauses to look to Goody. "When we do, we need to make sure Rusty is still sailable. I.. don't know how long we'll be able to stick around. No one else -seems- to be in on this other than Sinking, but if he's got the power to throw around…"

Tale Chaser frowns at Muzaji. "I don't know. I wouldn't think there's mucha a… a conspiracy, but… but I didn't… I didn't know that Sinking Stone was part of it…" His voice trails off, and he follows the zebra up to the upper chamber, though not without taking one more look back over his shoulder at the room of the broken statue.

Chip, chip, chip! The old stone of the wall is stubborn and does not chip away easily. Whatever drove such a deep gouge into the wall to begin with must have been a mighty force indeed.

Muzaji nods a bit to Chaser as she swims over to look at the walls. "If there is a conspiracy, it's deeper than that. Everyone else seemed genuinely intended on helping us, which made being bluffed a bit easier, I admit…. though I wonder if he isn't the one that's been sowing these seeds of Spindrift being a 'sea witch' or whatever to try and push more aggro on her, keep her angry or whatever…"

Goody-Horseshoes doesn't get anywhere, so he uses his magic to pull the light orb back out of the crack and carries it with him as he follows the others into the first chamber. It was worth a shot!

The upper chamber is much as they left it. The squid lurks inthe entranceway to its tunnel, and turns to watch Muzaji and the others as they enter. It seems docile enough, and rather curious, but keeps to itself.

The relief carvings on the walls are as they were left: twisted figures enthralled by various scenes. Most have been worn away to illegibility, but the two primary pictures remain; that of a tidal wave overtaking a castle on a mountain, and that of a chiseled seapony stallion, broken into three and with his face scoured away.

Tale Chaser frowns as he follows. "'Sea witch' is an old term…" he mumbles. "Kinda almost like from a storybook. Used in old legends to refer to rogue wizards and others that defied the crown and brought the power of the sea against our people. Not sure when the last time it was used against a real live pony was, though, it's kinda archaic that way… an'… an' I never really thought it fit Spindrift at all. She wasn't… she's not a monster…"

"She's not," Muzaji replied, even as she's studying the mural. "A bit offputting and distant, maybe… Losing Brume hurt her deeply. She wanted revenge…. but she didn't intend for it to sink so far. This has become more than she intended." The zebra pauses, hmmming. "Twice she came to make sure we would get here, she's realized she can't stop what she's started. If she knows Sinking Stone has gone bad… I think she would of pointed us this way anyways, so see it for ourselves…. Hmmm, this shows a massive tidal wave. The storms over the Harbor haven't gotten -that- bad… yet… I wonder if this fellow being split is just to represent him being defeated, and the whole being split up thing was to try and keep us convinced the Heart is part of the evil…"

Goody-Horseshoes isn't very knowledgeable on Spindrift. After all, he hadn't been to Horseshoe Harbor until not long before the journey that has brough him here so far. But, he still has thoughts on the general matter, "Well…do we actually know what the third piece could be, or is there a way to find out? Big or small, it likely matters a lot. After all, that's a third of the puzzle unknown.'

Tale Chaser floats beside Muzaji, observing the reliefs. "The common perception of the Faceless One is that his return would herald the surface world bein' drowned," he offers, staring at the tidal wave carving. "I guess this is related to that. Mosta… mosta us just don' -trust- surface ponies, but the old king, he HATED them." He turns and eyes the other relief curiously, but has no answers, or even suggestions. The young seapony turns to shrug at Goody. "Dunno… maybe it's sittin' in another temple like this, somewhere out there. But there's a lot of ocean to search."

"If that storm gets to full power, it could right well -flood- everything in the vicinity. Just as bad." Muzaji grumbles as Goody brings up a very good point. "For every answer we get, two more questions come up." She turns to the young seapony. "But we know Sinking Stone is a sunken prospect. Do you know anypony else whom might have some insight, kid? There has got to be somewhere else we can look for more clues."

Tale Chaser hangs is head. "No…" He's quiet, sullen for a few moments, before frowning and looking up. "Well… maybe." For a short while the colt is staring past the temple walls as he considers, and a slight, thoughtful frown crosses his face. "Maybe. I gotta… I have an idea but I gotta do some research, first." Turning his head, he looks to the door. "We should get goin'. We can always come back here sometime, but maybe we should get back to town before Sinking Stone does, if he's goin' that way."

He disappears out the door, but not from sight, visible at a distance, out in the open water and looking up. "The kraken's still here," he calls back. "That's good. Woulda been a looooong swim, otherwise."

Goody-Horseshoes gives a nod to Tale Chaser from down in the room before turning to Muzaji, "Well, I'll admit I didn't know this is quite what I signed up for when I offered my ship…" his face gets serious with though, "I'm certainly glad I did though. It's been worth it so far…and it would seem this is far from the end." He swims up to join Tale.

Muzaji says "… I hate to think of where else he would have to go if he didn't take the kraken, but that's not important." One last look to commit the mural to memory, and then Muzaji turns to swim out. "Com'n, lets get back to the city." She swims up to put a leg around Tale's shoulders, both in reassurance and to guide him to the ship. "Let's get you home so you can do that research.""

The young scholar looks back and forth between Goody and Muzaji, then nods wearily. He looks exhausted, and troubled, but smiles a bit to see he has friends by his side.

As they go, a couple of tentacles poke out of the door of the temple and wave goodbye to the ponies.

The party finds the Krakenmaster out cold on the deck of the ship with an ugly knot on the back of his head; he comes to without much fuss, but has no explanation what happened. Several of the supplies that were stored on the ship- food, a makeshift shelter- are missing. The ship is brought around in short order and is soon back on its way to Silver Shallows, arriving sometime in the late evening.

Eddy is shocked at the news of what happened, and quickly mobilizes a search for Sinking Stone. It pays to have connections. Nothing can be found of him, however, save for one big mystery left where the party may have thought they once had answers.

Muzaji is… unspurprised to eventually hear back that the scholar was nowhere to be scene. He did take more than enough supplies to 'rough it' for several days. Why? Did he know he would be ousted if they did somehow survive his trap? Or did he have somewhere else to go? Was he the one behind this, or was someone, or something, pulling strings here. Sigh. Still so many questions, and they weren't really any closer to the answers they had hoped for. Just more mysteries wrapped in enigmas wrapped in riddles.

"A lead turns false, a trap was set. But to danger's face the crew has met.
The old man's tricks were not enough; these brave souls made of sterner stuff.
No answers yet found, just more mysteries confound."
The zebra paused a moment to look off to the side where Tale Chaser was trying to find whatever he needed for his research.
"And one young lad gets the adventure he did desire
In an effort to still help the overlanders quell the storm of the Spire."