The Final Flight of the Vanity
IC date: Winter 4, 1007
OOC date: December 23, 2012
PCs: Queen-Pegasus, Rising-Chaos, Spindrift
GM: None

The Spire is not the most welcoming of structures. This may simply be that it doesn't appear to have anything in the way of accommodations- no doors or windows, no terraces or anything. It's just a single, solid chunk of ocean debris, stabbing upwards from the middle of the harbor. The omnipresent whirlpool that circles around it further dissuades approach. If a ship could safely draw near, where would they moore themselves?

Thankfully, it seems its mistress is having similar issues of accommodation, and anybody with a spyglass can easily find the town's resident aspirant destroyer. A shipwreck at the bottom of the bay- a Syndicolt ship sunk at the end of the criminal network's blockade earlier this year- has been dredged up and upended, such that its slick and barnacle-encrusted prow sticks upward, out of the ocean like a large, rotting shark's fin. It's situated at a distance from the Spire, far enough that the creeping growth of the maelstrom has not yet enveloped it. For now, the upward-thrust hulk of the dead ship makes for a stable platform for Spindrift to lurk. She's limp and heaped up on top of the platform-like stucture, positioned in such a way she can keep an eye on the town to one side and the Spire to the other, but otherwise sits still.

As Queen approaches the Vanity several of her crew are standing by - the sly, handsome Heart-Break speaks out. "The ship is ready to set sail, Captain. Excellent, excellent." she pulls Rising forward so the mare is in front of her. "On board with you. We have an appointment to keep." Two of Queen's green pushing Rising up the gangplank as Queen trots up beside her; without further ado the gangplank is drawn and the massive pirate ship begins to creep towards the exposed shipwreck - the smaller ship Queen acquired some months ago follows behind. "I'm afraid I've been kept in the dark regarding the current situation - something I intend to correct this very moment." Certainly there's no denying that Spindrift can see the pair of pirate ships heading her direction.

Rising-Chaos follows dutifully, head hung low. She sits on the deck of the ship, knowing full well where she's going. "Very well, my Queen." She shivers and looks more and more awful the closer they come to the spire. A massive headache comes on, making her sink to the deck.

From afar, the seapony watches the town, studying it, waiting for a reaction… for surrender, for defiance. For an attack that is surely to come. When the ships are unmoored and begin to drift in the direction of the Spire, Spindrift shifts slightly, attention turning from both the Spire and the town to the inbound ships. This may be it… especially considering the most formidable ship in the port is part of the retinue. She remains calm, however.

Nothing interferes with the approach of the ships; there is no attack, no defense. The ongoing, blustery weather and sporadic sheets of rain that pelt the harbor are defense enough for now. There's an occasional flash of silvery white eyes as a Storm Elemental, born aloft on the winds, breezes by, but they are all enthralled by the growing maelstrom and pay the ship no need. For now, it seems that if the Spire has real defenses, the Vanity is permitted to draw past them, if not welcomed entirely.

There is enough space for the ships to draw close to Spindrift's windswept shipwreck stage without getting too perilously close to the maelstrom, though it is certainly not a pleasant place to be. Once the ships are close enough, Spindrift lifts her head to watch the Vanity a bit more closely, but otherwise remains prone.

Queen watches Rising - taking particular note as the mare begins to shiver and suffer; a few moments pass before Queen lifts her tiara and places it upon Rising's head - instantly the ill-effects the magic has on Rising is greatly reduced, it would appear her jewelry is for more than just show. "Drop anchor! Grapple the wreck!" she barks commands despite the crew rushing to do everything they were previously instruted to. The tall pegasi trot towards the railing to curiously peer at the wreckage until her eye setles upon the lone seapony. "So it really is her." cackling maniacially as her crew throw the gangplank over the railing of the Vanity and the wreckage. "Come Rising - we've a visit to pay." the tall, confident pegasi trotting across the gangplank with full intentions of confronting the seapony.

Rising-Chaos doesn't react to the addition of the tiara, though the headache is better. All the showmareship at play goes right over her head. But still, at Queen's demand she gets up and follows the pagasus. The figure of Spindrift seems to infuse her with dread, so she averts her gaze. Spindrift may be happy to see Chaos looking so deafeated, all arrogance and energy gone from her stride.

Spindrift is not happy. She isn't much of anything, expression flat and neutral as she watches the incoming ship. Eventually, as grappling hooks start hitting the sodden wood of the shipwreck around her and the voice of a pirate crew rises over the constant moan of the wind, she pushes herself up with her hooves- of which she has two, of course- and assumes a seated position, tail curled behind her. The collar-like plates of her phylactery rest heavily about her shoulders, and hanging below that, swinging freely as she sits upright, is the Black Heart, that heart-shaped crystal that is as its name implies, now wrapped in a rusted chain and hanging like a pendant from the seapony's neck.

She doesn't say anything, merely watches for now. Still no reaction. Behind her, there's a shimmer in the air, rain and blown sea spray caught up in the swirling mass that soon reveals itself to be a large elemental… the black-eyed one that has been Spindrift's companion as of late. It's hard to make out, but the hulking implication of the figure suggests a size much bigger than that of any pony, the creature half-submerged, half-lurking in the waters just off the prow of the shipwreck.

Without hesitation, and without concern Queen trots onto the deck of the wrecked ship - only stopping as comes within a few yards of Spindrift; no crew accompanies her other than Rising - Queen must be very confident or extremelly foolish. "I'm certainly surprised." Single blue eye sizing up Spindrift, and her 'companion'. "I imagined you were made of sterner stuff. None the less here we find you threatening to take vegence on an entire town." motioning behind her while wearing a broad, haughty grin. "Quite ambitious of you." clapping softly. "Sadly, I don't see how this benefits you…oh that's right, you're trying to take vegence for the loss of your little boyfriend, aren't you?" her grin broadening as she stares at Spindrift. "The one you were to weak to protect?" she laughs - much in the same manner she did when Brume was 'killed'.

Rising-Chaos follows her Queen on to the wreck. Standing beside her Queen and looking down at the deck as the larger pegasus makes her speech. The news of Brume's death is shocking, making her blink. This is something she'd never been told. For once she looks up. "Brume's dead?"

Queen snaps "What else could send this weak-minded fool into a childish tirade?"

It quickly becomes apparent that Spindrift's stoic front is as much a product of exhaustion as anything. Rising has seen as much before, but Queenie finds Spindrift in quite a different state than when last they met, a month ago. Dark circles line the seapony's eyes, and her hair is tangled and messy; she looks thin, underfed, even on top of what was already a skinny physique. Still, there's no hint of weakness in her posture, and her haunted eyes are nonetheless unwavering as she fixes Queenie's single one with her sea-green stare.

She looks ready to reply, even, as she turns and looks to Rising. The seapony visibly calculates what to say before at last speaking up. "Yes. Killed by Nightmare Moon in the other world," she says. "He gave his life so that this town's citizens could be safely returned to their homes. Think what you will of me, Rising Chaos, but remember that about him."

She looks back to Queen Pegasus. "Rising is obviously in no mood and little state to be here. Did you drag her here merely to demonstrate what kind of suffering you can impose on her if you so fancy?"

Rising-Chaos shrugs. "figures, I guess." Then Spindrift addresses her, which is a bit of a shock. In a flash she is glaring at the other mare. "I'll remember Brume as the only reason you could be tolerated. And the only thing stopping you from hurting everypony you came in to contact with. He was a better pony than you'll ever be." She winces at the last sentence, but continues. In fact, she seems angered by Spindrift's implication. "I am in a fine state to be here, don't you dare assuem a thing about me," she snarls.

Queen trots int a little half-circle behind Rising before eventually coming to rest at her other side. "Hardly. I wanted to see for myself what the weak will do when they realize just how powerless they are." she narrows her eye. "You say the stallion gave his life?" she scoffs. "Is that how you manage to cope with the fact that you were too weak to protect him? You think i didn't notice how the two of you worked together, how he depended on you, and how you failed to protect him." scoffing loudly. "You're pathetic, but I'll applaud your selfishness.." indeed she begins to clap - mocking Spindrift and her loss.

Spindrift looks to Rising as she snarls back at her, then rolls her eyes and looks past the both of them at the town. "Even before this all began, it would have been pointless to defend myself against your accusations," she says. Her gaze soon returns to Queen Pegasus. With a little lift of her chin and a narrowing of her eyes, she considers the pirate queen. "You consider this entire town pathetic and weak, though. Both of you hold Horseshoe Harbor in as much contempt as I, if not more. I would be more concerned if you did -not- see fit to insult me, frankly."

Queen laughs softly as she circles in front of Rising - concealing her from Spindrift's view. "I'm not insulting you - simply stating the truth. You were too weak, and your 'Brume' suffered because of it. While the Habror may be full of fools - they'll still best you, and your pathetic attempts to destroy their town." She begins to trot towards Spindrift while staring at her. "Do what you may with the town - it doesn't concern me; I've no attachments - so I guess we're the same in that respect now that've you killed your partner."

Rising-Chaos clutches her head, snarling. "I clearly have no business here. My Queen, I am not feeling well, may I retire?" she keeps her voice civil, somehow. She turns back to Spindrift, breathing hard. "Do have a nice night, Spin." She awaits permission, then will retire to the Vanity.

Queen waves a hoof to Rising. "My Quarters are yours. Tough Love will bring you anything you desire."

The looming cloud of the black-eyed elemental draws closer, and a sound not unlike a roll of thunder plays through it; the deep black pools of its eyes fixate on Queenie, anxious and attention. Spindrift herself adusts her position slightly, fishlike tail shifting behind her to curl the other way. She keeps her eyes on Queenie, though after a moment she turns and nods to Rising. "Yourself as well." She turns back to the pegasus. "You are hoping to provoke a reaction," she says. "You want me to overplay my hand, I'd imagine. Not in the interest of saving anything or anybody here, though. What, then? Would it please you to be seen as powerful enough to have vanquished this town's nemesis?"

Queen rolls her eye. "I'm notorious enough - and I've certainly no need for praise from the denizens of this backwater dump. Admittedly that little trinket of yours is starting to tickle my fancy." a half-grin forming as she continues to pace before the seapony mare. "I'm here for my own amusement - nothing less. Certainly you're amusing me - not quite as amusing as when you killed your stallion friend, but still amusing." her pacing taking a wide arch that brings her a tad further away from the seapony. "That aside - you've also given me invaluable insight." turning she begins to trot closer to Spindrift. "It's clear to me you've taken on a task far too momentous for as weak as yourself. You've all this power, and sit idly by while hoping to get your way. You've shown me that you're too scared, too weak to see good to your threats on this town. You haven't the guts to take me on, let alone level this town.

Spindrift turns her head to track Queenie's movements, but otherwise remains in place. The looming elemental surges larger and eases a hand tipped with frozen ice claws onto the hulk of the shipwreck, once more rumbling like thunder. It stays resolutely behind Spindrift, however, keeping her in between it and this spooky pegasus.

"You do not appear to understand," says Spindrift. She reaches back and gestures to the Spire. "This process is gradual. The storm will build of its own accord and intensify. The town WILL be destroyed, but not for a few weeks- and not until its citizens have had time to head inland. -They- are not the target, after all." She lowers her hoof back down. "Is that what vexes you enough that you saw fit to leave your posh accommodations? You don't want to lose a populace content to let your kind fester among them, to take advantage of them. Why else would you remain when your ship is clearly seaworthy enough to depart at any time?"

With a defiant scoff Queen replies. "I've no interest in this town, no interest in it's denziens. My interest lies beyond the town, beyond the Wintersong forest." Even in the presence of the powerful storm elemental Queen remains defiant - in fact she takes several more steps towards Spindrift. "Your little storm is a hinderence to my goals - one that needs to cease before I can resume my hunt." the 'spooky pegasus' continues to draw closer to Spindrift. "Unfortunately that means I'm going to need to put an end to your madness." drawing closer to Spindrift with one hoof extended.

The hulking elemental cringes back for a moment, obviously intimidated, but finds some swell of confidence within whatever passes for a heart and surges forward. A blustery limb encircles Spindrift- evidently catching her a bit by surprise, as she widens her eyes and looks down at it, rearing up slightly. The seapony quickly catches herself and settles down, though, looking up to Queenie. Her brow knits, and her face gradually curls into a frown. "A hunt? Mmm. The treasure from the sunken chamber and its life-blighting waters."

The encircling limb of the elemental forms something of a chest-high wall of churning rain and wind, and the elemental's black eyes gleam from over Spindrift's head as the beast settles in closer behind her. "I should have perhaps given more consideration before letting it be handed off to you without understanding it better, but, we had other priorities at the time. Either that," The seapony hikes her chin, "or it never really struck me as something you'd be able to do much with. I suspect that even if you were to wield the fel spear that gave birth to this-" She gestures back at the Spire- "You wouldn't manage to do so to very great effect."

With a soft chuckle queen reachines under her wing to produce the small box which Brume, Spindrift, and Muzaji had previous procured. "Once again you severely under estimate me…" she brings her other hoof to box which seems to yield and collapasse under the Queen's touch - rapidly flattening until becoming something more akin to a dagger. "This little 'box' is a particularly interesting consolation prize." the pegasi thrusting the dagger into the elementals 'limb' "It's the type of artifact that can drain the life from somepony…or something." a wicked smile growing as the mare attempts subdue the far more powerful creature with a trinket capable of stealing life away - it lives so should be succeptable or so she believes.

The Elemental's black eyes widen, then it snatches its limb away, drawing it upward, as it sits up. It cradles its stabbed limb with the other, ice crystal claws holding over the sight of the injury, as its black eyes well up with tears drawn from the swirling rain and mist that makes up its body.

Spindrift turns to look back at it, and with a frown, reaches up to settle a hoof on its chest. "These things have no life- not as you or I would understand it. They are entropic essence given form. They feed on destruction and vanish, exhausted. You can no more rob them of life than you could a candle's flame."

The seapony sits up, stretching with a wince, back arched downwards. "Tell me, Queen Pegasus, how did you lose your eye?"

Queen watches the large elemental curiously as it acts like a child with a booboo. "Tch…magic. Always troublesome. Of course this does leaves /you/ rather exposed." that limb out of the way leaves Queen an open path to trot even closer - dangerous close to Spindrift. "Yet again, you're mistaken. Now it's high time you end this little charade so I can go about my business."

Spindrift pushes herself back, then, tail coiling about herself. "I agree. This has gone on far too long. And you're right." The seapony lifts a hoof and points it at the dangerously close Queenie. Normally, Spindrift is a tall pony, but in fish out of water mode like this, it's easy for the big pegasus mare to look down at her. "I -have- been too readily discounting the sort of threat you can pose. Thank you for reminding me." She draws back slightly, edging towards the edge of the shipwreck platform. "Are all of your crew pegasi, or are some of them without wings? I know Rising is aboard. Anybody else?"

Queen narrows her one-eyed gaze "I've a mix of crew - you'd find I'm quite accepting." The mare lunging forward as she perceive's Spindrift's movement as an attempt to escape - the tall pink pegasi grasping the small dagger in her teeth - clearly intent on putting it to 'good' use at Spindrift's expense.

Spindrift rolls 1d20 (fishdodge) — Result: 13 | Sum: 13

Though emaciated and exhausted, Spindrift is clearly driven by more than physical ability as she reacts to the motion quickly. It's not a graceful maneuver, but it's effective enough, as she pushes herself upright and twists her shoulders such that the incoming blade of the dagger strikes her- but scoots off the collar-like plates of her phylactery. Blue sparks shoot upward from the point of contact, for the phylactery is more than a mere bit of jewerly- it contains a potion of a seapony's very life essence. Spindrift hisses at the touch and falls backward, tumbling towards the edge. Behind her, the black-eyed elemental reels back, eyes widenening, then glances back and forth betwen the ponies, clearly unsure what to do. "Ad- advise them," Spindirft gasps, casting a glance up at Queenie. She reaches out and hooks a hoof around the edge of the upward-thrust platform of rotten wood and metal fittings. "To abandon ship. The Vanity has sailed its last."

She drags herself over the edge and drops from sight; a moment later, there's a brief splash as she hits the water. The elementals stares at Queenie for a moment before dropping away, carried towards the water along a breeze and disappearing below the surf.

Queen snarls as Spindrift runs. "Coward!" she snarls while angrily pacing back and fourth along the edge Spindrift dropped from - with an angry huff she turns towars the Vanity only to find it already several yars away. "Bah!" the crew are no fools and well aware Queen can fly. With a powerful upwards thrust the mare takes flight - intent on heading back to her ship. "Coward!" she calls out again while fighting the gale force winds as she soars towards the Vanity.

The winds are certainly strong. Flying in them is a challenge; their progress is constantly counter-clockwise, inexorably spinning along with the whirlpool above and the thick cloudbank above. What's more, they are very noticably intensifying. A low and steady moan is rising to a roar, as the churning of the clouds and air accelerate. What's more, the even, circular motion is warping and twisting, growing unbalanced, ovoid, surging this way and that. Not only is the storm speeding up, it's shifting about. Maintaining a stable flight is difficult- and the two ships moored near the shuddering Syndicolt shipwreck are tossed about on increasingly violent waves, straining at their anchoring chains.

Without hesitation the sea-faring scallywags cut loose their anchors - unicorn crew members doing their darndest to push the ships apart while their helmsmen attempt to steer into the wind for fear of being torn apart! Queen unfortunately is still airborne and despite being a powerful flier the increasingly unstable winds are making it immpossible to maintain her flight path; coupled with the whipping rains she's in a fair bit of trouble. "Blasted seapony!" The smaller of the two ships manages to break free from the Vanity and turn into the wind - catching a powerful gust that rapidly pushes it away from the center of this event.

It is good that the smaller ship distances itself from the storm when it does, for the rapidly escalating storm soon has the Vanity in a grip that will not yield. Though the whirlpool is still relatively small, and the Vanity is well beyond its swirling edges, the wind alone is strong enough to catch the ship and pull it along, away from its sister ship, away from the upward-thrust wreckage of the Syndicolt blockade vessel. For a time, it appears that it is just wind- powerful, irresistable, but wind alone- and likely something the crew could ride out.

At least, until the Storm Elementals come. They swarm down from the clouds above, the lights of their eyes drifting to and fro like descending snow, until they draw close that the minute storm each represents can be seen. The creatures swarm down around the Vanity, swirling through the surf, whirling around the masts; they fill the sails and draw the lines tight, they rattle the remnants of its anchoring chain and they frolic amidst any panic or madness of the crew.

And, slowly, steadily, they begin to lift the vessel. The ocean roars as the ship is tugged upward, bit by bit, leaving the safe embrace of the ocean to be left only to the mercy of the winds.

As for Queen Pegasus, she's still caught in the wind. Though swarming elementals breeze past her, they pay her no heed as they focus on that which they have been bidden to consume. The Queen is given a good, if tempestuous, view as her ship is born aloft.

Queen is all but helpless to watch as the Vanity is torn from the seas and slowly lifted into the air by the assaulting storm Elementals. The massive ship slowly hefted skywards while the panic crewing do their best to find off creatures - cannon shots, musket shots, magic bolts from the unicorns; little effect do the defenses have on the forces of nature. With a low growl Queen does her best to surge forward against the battering winds "I'll have your head for this you soggy sow!"

The storm elementals are easily destroyed. A swift blow, a blast of magic, a stomping hoof is all it takes to snuff one of the little swirling, animate clouds out. The blow from a cannon can clear large swaths through the air. Unfortunately, the crew of the Vanity doesn't have the hours it would take to destroy all of the swarming things, and the burgeoning flight of the ship continues.

It's pulled into the air, and thankfully, for its crew, remains upright. But the wind spins it about- even as the ship is whipped towards the harbor, then back around, following the widdershins course of the storm. Higher and higher it climbs, a thick, rolling cloud of swarmed elementals bearing it up from below. Soon the cloudbank above looms closer than the water below.

But like the storm itself, the ship's orbit is growing erratic and elliptical. It surges perilously close to the tip of the Spire for a moment, then away… then back again… and away. Up, and towards the town. And then, it is flung free, the howling wind abruptly dropping off as the ship is slung out of the storm's grasp and through the sky, slowly turning about.

Water and barnacles rain on Horseshoe Harbor from above. The evening sky is blotted out by the bulk of the sailing vessel. Whistling, howling elementals continue to harass the ship and its crew, pulling at chains and ropes, turning wheels and untying knots, but more and more are dropping off. An upward momentum begins to reverse and the ship starts to plummet towards the ground, off towards the northeastern field. A squash field, to be specific.

A passel of elementals whirl up from below the struggling Queen Pegasus, and with little gusts and windy nudges try to push her in the direction of the flying- now falling- ship.

Queen appears far more tenacious than the crew of her ship - kicking at the elementals with all four hooves while trying to mantain her own flight path - struggling against the elementals with all her might. "Wretched unnatural things! Get away from me!" she snarls and hisses bucking wildly in the air and doing her best to subdue the force of nature itself.

The elementals don't have much will to fight. A few kicks is all it takes to scare them off- and they hurry away, silvery eyes wide and frightened. Whatever they were bidden to accomplish, they'll surely not manage now.

The intensifying of the storm has stopped, but it remains wild, unruly. Soon, the whipping crosswinds are too much for even a powerful flyer to endure. A sudden gust drives downward, if not knocking Queenie out of her precarious flying altogether, then putting her into a tailspin. It presses in then from the side; then below. The murk of the sky above and the dark waters below blends together and it is rapidly becoming difficult to tell which direction is up.

The Vanity hits the waiting squash field at a speed just gentle enough to stop the shop from being utterly dashed to pieces. All hands still on board are thrown to their feet; cannons and ammunition are tossed into the air; the ship itself may threaten to buckle inward with the sudden impact. It digs a deep furrow into the earth as it skids to a halt, Storm Elementals fluttering away from the sudden impact like startled birds. A thick cloud of dust is cast upward to roll outward in every direction, and when it settles, the ship is revealed to have found a new- and likely permanent- mooring square in the outskirts of town.

At a distance, the poor pony whose field this is , a brown earth pony mare wearing a thick hood, stares with a slack jaw.

As the Vanity crashes into the fields on the far side town the crew is tossed and strewn - but no worse for the wair. The worst of the injury is poor Mo who's ended several yards from the vanity itself with a traffic cone atop of his head - giving him the appearance of an over-sized garden gnome as she he staggers about in a daze.

Queen may be a fierce flier by the constant barrage of gale force winds eventaully gets the better of her as the downwards gust knocks her smack out of the air and into an uncontrolled spiral. Within moments the pink pegasi hits the dark blue sea with a resounding splash following her high-speed descent - a forceful impact that sends the mare deep below the waves. This begs the question if Queen crashes into the ocean and no pony is about - does she make a sound?

She goes 'splash,' actually, like most people do when they hit the water. Who is to say there's nopony about? The moment she hits the waves, she crosses a border and enters a world far more populous than many suspect. Especially given how unpleasant it is- violent, turbulent, and shockingly cold. The ocean waters are hostile and biting, stealing breath and warmth alike from the body. She is briefly aware of someone close, of sea-green eyes amidst the dark waters that extend in every direction, but that darkness is closing in fast, and it's harder and harder to stave it off.

The impact with the water rings the strength from Queen's body; falling from that height and speed even water makes for a poor cushion. The mare defiantly struggles as the cold blue depths take her - eye patch torn from her face to reveal her other seemingly perfectly good eye. Struggle as she may her body refuses to move and her consciously rapidly fades; despite this Queen refuses to even acknowledge the possibility of this being end. Then she blacks out.