The Maid Mauled! A Rusty Rescue!
IC date: Winter 23, 1007
OOC date: January 11, 2013
PCs: Aliella, Dream Daze, Goody Horseshoes, Heartsong, Lavender, Moonshine, Muzaji, Ruby-Blossom, Skyflower, Spearmint, Stormsailor, Thunnini, Zypher
NPCs: The Crew of the Maid Mareian
GM: Diamond Dog

The day has come for brave ponies to sally forth in defense of their home, their harbor. The plans have been finalized, supplies have been prepared, volunteers found, and a destination has been established- although directions are, perhaps, a bit more vague than is ideal. Somewhere out there in the sea is another civilization, and within that civilization is hopefully an answer to the Harbor's problem.

That problem- the Spire- maintains its grim presence in the middle of the harbor itself. The tower of ocean debris is truly massive by now, winding well into the sky to a height many times taller than even the tallest structure in town. The wet sand and seaweed that gives it form has calcified into a tough and rocky appearance, interrupted frequently by a jutting log of driftwood or the hulk of an old shipwreck. Windows of a sort dot the structure here and there, hinting at something inside, but there's no obvious entrance, nor is there any sign of life within, and the windows hang open, dark and staring. At the top, something of a plateau is starting to form, a little more debris dredged up that high each day.

The storm rages around it, turning ever onward in that counter-clockwise direction. There's an eerie smoothness to the whirlpool at the Spire's base, spinning endlessly; its breadth has grown to nearly two thirds the harbor's own, and the port has been utterly shut down, many residents afraid to smuch as venture out onto the docks, much less take to the seas. The whirling whirlpool is matched by a thick cloudcover above, glowing with a ghostly light cast by the thousands of Storm Elementals that frolic in the chaos of the Maelstrom. Everything between the whirlpool and churning cloud ceiling is pulled at by constant, moaning wind, and uneven sheets of warm rain.

But that is something being left behind… not abandoned, but set aside for now, while answers are sought abroad.

To the south of the town, around the southern cape that helps give Horseshoe Harbor its namesake shape, the Maid Mareian, ship of timely newcomer Goody Horseshoes has been moored, a hundred yards out to sea, as close as it can manage. Although the weather out here is rough and chill, it's beyond the worst of the Maelstrom that menaces the town… and that's why this is the ship the Harborites intend to take. A pair of small craft have been running laps between the Made Mareian and the shore, constantly, since early this morning, loading up supplies and bringing sailors and workers back and forth as things are secured and made ready for a trip into the unknown.

Along the shoreline, a base camp has been set up. It affords a nice view of the town… as well as a dire view of what threatens it. Still, already it seems a little distant. Not being exactly under the shadow of the Spire of Storms might help the ponies feel a bit less oppressed by it. It's almost enough to help a pony think this thin veneer of a plan to save their town might be a good start.

With the Rusty Bucket recommissioned and in Drydock, Moonshine has suddenly less competition with serving her exotic/toxic wares but thats not whats brought here out here today, today she's here to listen to legends, maybe even visit them! Those tales of Sea Ponies, and da' fishies, she's gonna totally visit em'!

Thunnini is at the base camp, sitting on a crate while waiting for the loading to finish. She left her go-kart with Kludge, since a wheeled vehicle isn't exactly practical on the deck of a ship, and the seafilly has no intention of swimming back to to seapony territory when she can ride on the ship with friends and other Harborites.

Goody-Horseshoes stands on deck of his ship, a few of his crew assisting in tying off incoming vessels of supplies. Long boards are lowered down as ramps for crates and bins to be walked up. "Alright Do-gooders, we're nearly done with our supplies. I need you *points to a crew member* to start taking final inventory of supplies. You! *points to another* Make sure all the guest quarters are good to go. We don't want any pony uncomfortable" He continues giving orders to his crew, but not with any overly obnoxious shouting. Everything seems to be running in a well-organized manner as the boat gets closer to being ready for launch.

Heartsong ducks her head, ears tucked back and wings tucked in as she heads down the path from Wintersong. She looks - well, 'nervous' is an understatement. She looks as though she might turn and gallop right back into the forest any moment! But she keeps on trotting, eyes on the gathering group of ponies. Is she late? She's probably late. Maybe she wants to be late! Maybe they'll leave without her! But… but that would be bad. Then she wouldn't get to help. She's a big pony now! She's not scared of seaponies or oceans or any of that stuff! …Gulp.

Muzaji had been one of the first ponies on those early boat, riding several back and forth the first few times to help get the flow of supplies and crew organized. Her business may not be on the most outstanding level, but the zebra was prompt and precious about the business she did do if nothing else. But that was hours ago.

By this point in time she was sitting on some of the crates that had been hauled up for storage, going over things with a checkboard between her hooves and a pencil in her mouth to mark things off. When the captain mentions inventory she flicks the pencil out of her mouth, getting it… well, stuck in her mane, but she nudges it to behind an ear with her hoof, then holds up her clipboard. "Already been doin' that since we started, Cap'n."

Stormsailor is much at home on the sea! But like heck is he going to Silver Shoals without his own ship, or at least a sizable paycheck as incentive. Instead he is running one of the smaller dinghies taking ponies out to Goody's vessel, being more than skilled enough to navigate the choppy waters and uncertain winds blowing from the direction of the harbor.

Lavender is doing her best to help with the loading. She's certainly no dockspony but she is at least making herself admirably useful, huffing and puffing under the weight, taking a moment once in a while to wave at the other fillies.

It seems that Thunnini has been flagged as Foal Central. For Dreamy has made 'camp' there too, with her trusty Daring-Do Adventure Hat, the best raincoat she could put on, and a saddlebag full to bursting with things she thinks she'd need. Like…treats. Oh so many treats. Which she's probably sharing right then with Thunnini at least, and probably Lav too when she wanders by in her admirably useful state.

Zypher has been flying from The Bucket, to this place, occasionally carrying supplies or whatnot back and forth, some stuff stays, some goes, overall, he's been undecided, but for certain he's not going on this boat, he's staying with his Idea, his dream of restoring the formerly Rusty Bucket to ship shape sailing shape!

Magpie hovers near Thunnini and Dreamy. She occasionally lights her horn and nicks a candy from Dreamy's batch when nopony's looking. She's not doing any work /at the moment/… but, y'know, they might need her.

Aliella immediately skitters up to the shop and peers overboard. "Wooow!" She runs back, off the boat, and toward the group of foals, getting inches close to them as she arrives. "Hi! My name's Aliella!" In her excitement, she doesn't want to waste time rhyming. She just wants to make friends, made apparent by closely inspecting Daze's cutie mark.

Magpie 's a good helper, after all. She pulled the Bucket into dock.

Another pony is hanging out at said 'Foal Central', fidgetting nervously, bundled up against the rain. Spearmint does not much like the rain, see. It's all just so much white noise! But his friends are doing something, and he wants to support them. …Plus, Thunnini's here. And Dreamy! His best buddies are all gathered together and what foal wants to be left out of /that/! Even if he's not /entirely/ sure why they're all gathering. He stands over by the cart, occasionally shaking his head to get the rainwater off of his wide-brimmed rainhat.

The ferry captained by Stormsailor moors itself at the coast again. "Got another load for me?" he asks a pony on the shore— Lavender, in fact! "Come on, I'll help you load it. How much more is there, anyway?"

Thunnini waves back at the energetic zebra filly. "Hi, Aliella! I'm Thunnini! Nice to meet you," she beams at Aliella.

Magpie lifts a hoof. "Hey," she says to Aliella. "Magpie." She saunters over and gives Spearmint a nudge. "Hey, Spearmint. You comin' with us to see the sea ponies?" So to speak.

Dreamy totally waves too~ Surely there will be much greeting and meeting and whatnot on the long boat ride to seapony country! Otherwise she's practically bouncing between doling out snackish things, occasionally sneaking little picture-images of the ships, or the ferry, or other ponies and such to Spearmint. Because, he's there!

Lavender looks back up to the stuff, "Whewh…There's some more but not nearly as bad as it was. I'll get s'more to the ferry then I need to take a break." Haul, drag, earth pony strength comes in handy pulling barrels of unknown junk to the Stormsailor's boat. She starts working to nudge it in.

Muzaji checks a few more things off her list as more supplies are brought up. And rolling over many many numbers of value and rarity in her head. But no proverbial skimming off the top until she's sure they won't be needing a few things. Wouldn't want to put the trip into jeopardy before it even gets going.

Moonshine helps load up that load with the foals, she uses little dabs of levitation magic here and there, all while bobbing her head like she's jamming to some sort of music in her head, looking half asleep but content at what she's doing. Once she figures out a good place she hops into that dingy ready to go. "Boats, n ships are going out with the Fish!

The clouds of the Maelstrom rumble in their curiously muted fashion. One gets the idea they could let loose a frightening amount of lightning, but ever since their formation they've been muted, their power banked. Indeed, though there's been plenty of wind and rain, as far as actual destruction goes, there was more of that BEFORE the Spire formed. One must wonder if Spindrift is waiting for something… and if so, what for.

Off in the distance, the Harbor is largely still. All the action is in here, and anybody not involved is tucked up inside. There's an exception around the Rusty Bucket, though. That old rum-soaked wreck is in its dry dock, off to the north end of town, wobbling about between two large retaining walls. Since being hauled in yesterday, it's had shiny copper plating- corrosion-resistant, and oh-so-stylish- nailed up along its flanks. Also, the sails- currently withdrawn- are a hodgepodge of materials, looking much like a quilt instead of a classic, consistent white. Some of the wood is new, some of it old. It's starting to look like several ships thrown together into one, as new construction augments the old, weathered portions.

Up close, the Made Mareian presents a much more reassuring view:

The Maid Mareion is a 3-masted schooner commissioned and operated by none other than Goody Horseshoes. It seems to be of decent size, somewhere between 50 and 60 meters in length. By far, it could easily host 20 ponies on board. The sides of the ship are a dark brown, so deep it's almost black. The deck is, for the most part, a medium dark wood of some sort. The middle 3rd of the deck is occupied by a closed-in lounge-like area with couches, a wetbar, and dining tables. Stairs lead from inside this area underneath, likely to guest quarters and the galley within the body. The captain's quarters and bridge occupy a small area of the rear deck, with crew quarters underneath. Three large white masts reach towards the skys with well-used off-white sheet sails rigged. A few brown rowboats hang from either side of the deck. On the front, carved into the prow, is what looks like a magestic combination of an alicorn and a seapony.

It waits for more and more ponies. By now all of the supplies have been loaded up- it's just a matter of getting all the ponies themselves aboard.

Stormsailor looks in the top of the barrel that Lavender is pushing, quirking an eyebrow. "Why are they bringing…?" he begins before shaking his head. "No, no, I'm sure they have their reasons." He stands over lavender and puts his head against the barrel above where Lav is pushing. "Here, I'll help," he says cheerfully before giving the cargo a gentle shove.

Goody-Horseshoes has gone into the captains quarters. The door is shut, and it looks like he's talking over important details with some of his higher-up crew.

Lavender loads all of her shoved cargo, with help! "Thanks Stormsailor," she says, then ducks out from under him and prances up to where all her friends are. And a zebra she hasn't met! "Hi guys! Isn't it exciting?"

Dreamy bounces in reply. Totally exciting! She's craning her head now, seeing if it's time to get aboard for ADVENTURE!

Heartsong slows her trot as she nears the gathered ponies. Well, it doesn't look like she's late enough to have been left behind! That's… good. Yes. Sure. Ahem. She hangs back, eyeing the small boats curiously. …She's gonna have to get in one of those, isn't she?

Spearmint blinks. "Seaponies? Like Thunnini? Is that what's going on? Are seaponies gonna come visit?" That sounds exciting! "I hope they don't mind all the rain."

Zypher has been working with the RustyBucket's idea, and construction since he posed the idea to the Mayor, advertising, promoting the help-wanted and finally hauling her into the harbor, he's grown attached to 'his' pride and joy. Ok sure she's a little bit of a 'Fixer-Upper' but she's got some serious soul, and heck she's fully loaded with proper 'sailing provisions' She's still got her booze aboard even! and he's not leaving that!.

"Hi, Thunnini!" Aliella grins widely. "I'm excited! It took a while talking mama into letting me go." She inspects the group around her. "We're gonna have so much fun! I'll bet seapony treasure is so cool!"

Magpie giggles a bit. "I don't think they'll mind, Spearmint. They live underwater all the time, right?" She pauses, then more seriously, she asks the other foals, "Hey… what do you think of that Goody guy?"

Moonshine nudges Heartsong, "Silly Pegasus, ya can just Fly there, you got dem' wings right?! FLy on over, then land, then boat, see, dat easy!" she laughs, "You got it E-A-Z-Y!" the unicorn laughs some and awaits her boat to set 'sail'

"Alright, everypony aboard who's coming aboard," Stormsailor says to the ponies on the shore once the barrel of something is properly stowed. "This'll be the last trip I'm making to the Maid before it sets out."

"Actually, Spearmint, we're going to visit the seaponies," giggles Thunnini. "Maybe we'll see my family if we have time." She clambers aboard the boat heading over to the ship.

Lavender squeaks. "Last call! C'mon guys! Everyone in the boat!" She runs around the other fillies a couple times then whips out her wooden sword, points it Maid-Mareion-wards, sheathes it again and gallops and leaps into the ferry.

Well that seems to be all the supplies. Muzaji pulls off the list and tucks it away in a pocket. Discards the empty clipboard… Then takes a look around. "Is the Mayor here yet? Could of sworn she intended to go along with this craz-ah-crafty plan." She shrugs, then hops down from the crates she was sitting on so they can be moved down into the hold proper.

Dreamy tilts her head, looking up at Magpie, and then up further at the ship in the distance. She squints at it..and..shrugs, floating up a mental image of Goody with a 'smiley face' next to him. So far, she approves!

Oh, oh, then 'tis loading time! The little mute unicorn takes a step towards the boat, pauses, retracts the step, and throws a hug around Spearmint! Because, y'know, sea voyage and all that. Then she trots off to follow the rest of the ponies on the ferry~

The bated thunder builds up to another rumble… but this one is louder, prolonged. A few flashes arc through the clouds above the storm centered in the harbor.

Gradually, the disarmingly placid, swirling whirlpool is beginning to warp and shift. Its steady circular rhythm is growing unbalanced, kicking up sloshing waves that crash up against the broad base of the Spire. At the same time, the clouds above are beginning to warp, shifting such that they begin to stretch downward from the sky in places, while break open elsewhere to reveal the evening sky above. Licks of warm hurricane are blow to the south- across the beach, soon rattling the canopies set up at the Made Mareian's base camp.

Heartsong blinks and squeaks. Oh! They're going! Aaaaah. She prances in place for a moment. She prances in place for a moment before scrambling down towards the boats before she can talk herself out of it.

Spearmint tilts his head. "Oh. …Oh! Oh. Okay. …Er… well… gee. I didn't know you guys were leaving." He rubs the back of his head awkwardly. "…How long'll you be gone for?"

Magpie welps. She starts to trot towards the boat and sighs, zipping her green jacket up a little higher. "Yeah, well… I don't trust 'im," she says, almost to herself. A quick glance towards Spearmint. "Not too long, I hope. Why don't you come with us?"

Weary eyes glance up at the sky as it begins to churn. "You all should hurry up with your goodbyes," Stormsailor warns. "Those clouds look like they're getting sick of spending all their time floating above the harbor. I don't know how much longer the weather team will be able to keep them from coming this way." He moves to unmoor the ferry while the group is boarding so they can set out to the Maid Mareion immediately.

Zypher fully intended to see this crew off the right way, but what that storm n spire n' all that jazz start mis-behaving, well more so than before, he works to secure the cannopies for the Maid's base camp area, making sure they got everything, he just holds his ground for right now, if the weather gets much worse though he's gonna skeaddle

Spearmint blinks. "Come with you? On the boat? Well…" he blushes. "I dunno, I didn't ask mom… an' with the storm and all… she's been talking about us having to move if it gets too much worse, but dad doesn't want to, and I don't wanna leave if you guys are all gonna be gone anyway, and…" he trails off, blushing. "…I'm not real good with boat rides. But…"

Goody-Horseshoes comes back out of the quarters, followed by the crew that had been talking with him. He makes his way to the front of the ship and looks out to the sea. After taking the scenery in, he turns around and addresses everypony, "Mares and Gentleponies, the weather appears to be picking up. We need to get everything and everypony on board as soon as we can. We will be launching ship the moment we are able."

Aliella peers closely at Spearmint, practically making nose contact. "But what?"

Hesitation! Dreamy pauses before she makes it to the boat again, seeing as the question of Spearmint coming has been floated. She looks to the boat, to Spearmint, to Magpie…and tilts her head at the blind foal. She floats an image out, of Spearmint in Knight Armor, protecting other foals (Dreamy included!) He's her knight! So of course she likes the idea of him coming along~

Magpie says "When else are you gonna get to go to a sea pony city?"

The wind stops for a moment, its constant moaning silenced. Its sudden absence, after weeks of it rolling through town, leaves the ears humming at the sudden lack of noise.

And then there is… a roar. A deep, whale-like groan rolls outward from somewhere around the spire. Is it the Spire itself? Is it something in the storm? Is it something beneath that fel structure? It's not clear, but whatever it is it's loud, and long, and not very happy sounding. The ground itself vibrates; the trees shudder.

The wind kicks back up, and the warping and shifting of the Maelstrom's circular pattern continues. It wobbles back and forth, now, unbalanced and ovoid, lashing out here and there. Shingles are pulled from from various roofs out in the harbor and cast into the wind; ponies working about on the Rusty Bucket start scattering for cover and reaching for ropes that toss in the breeze.

The little colt fidgets uneasily. "Well… I… guess if it's not gonna take too long." How bad can a boat be? Right? Spearmint takes a deep breath, slowly moving to trail after them. The roar makes him jump, and yelp, and scamper along a good bit faster.

It also makes Heartsong all but leap into the nearest boat. YAH.

Lavender waves from the ferry. "C'mon, hurry up, it's safer here than there~! Get in or get away from the water!"

As the storm shifts and intensifies, the surf beyond the cape grows choppier and choppier still. Though it's still not too much for the Made Mareian to handle, the smaller vessels will have clear trouble getting back and forth between the shore and the ship. If a pony means to go, now is the time to go!

Eep! Weather! Dreamy scoots around behind Spearmint to help lead the little colt up to the ferry. At least that's settled!

Moonshine does her best to hunker down and pray, no, not really she's lighting up her horn to be all bright n shiny kinda like a beacon to see by, since she's on one of the small boats its always nice to see a light in the storm, give a messsage to the Maid that we're on our way, wait up! Mores-code-even!

Goody-Horseshoes calls out, "EVERYPONY! We need to get going as soon as possible! We could miss our window if we don't get out at time!" His crew picks up the pace and the ship is now ready to launch. He's waiting for everyone else at this point.

Muzaji frowns, lifting a hoof to keep the hood of her cloak on her head as the winds start picking up at a quiet before the storm. But it's not the weather she's concerned with, as she leans against a railing and glares with narrowed eyes out towards the Spiral. Was that just coincidence, or did Spindrift know Harborites were setting out to stop her madness? Not that it would likely slow many of these brave (if of questionable sanity) ponies, but still. She's been dealing with the seapony before and after her fall to darkness long enough to be concerned.

Finally she turned, and walked back towards the center of the ship. "It would be best we get far from shore. An ill wind blows.. and that's not a metaphor."

Pfft! Pfffffffft! You don't put a stallion named 'Stormsailor' at the helm of a ship if you're not expecting a bit of rough water. "Alright, we're shoving off!" the blue pony shouts. "Either get on board or get to safety!" He cranks the wheel hard to the side and begins to turn the ferry towards the ocean and the the Maid Mareion to deliver the last of the crew for the voyage.

Magpie hesitates at the edge of the ferry. She turns back, and jabs a hoof at one of the dockhands — a reliable looking pony. "You! YOU! Go find Spearmint's mum and tell her he's getting out of town with us! Make sure she knows!" She scrambles aboard then, just as the ferry is pulling away."

Zypher lets go of the lines for the canopies, and heads for home after waving goodbye to EVERYPONY, "Goodluck!" he shouts, "Seeya There!" and he cruises the heck outta here, he's not getting caught in that chop and rough seas skies n all that junk.

Workers on shore who are only here to help see the adventurers off give the ferry a good shove-off, then stand back to wave before seeking cover against the intensifying wave. The agile ferry works its way over the building whitecaps and towards the waiting Maid Mareian… but it's not there yet.

Up above, the disconcerting warping of the storm intensifies. By now it's churning itself into a froth, the clouds near its plateau blurring into a haze. The wobbling whirlpool lashes out at the beach and the docks of the Harbor proper… but so far it seems like so much storm and fury. All show, but nothing to stop these ponies.

At least, until three shapes burst from t he clouds above the Harbor and begin to shoot towards the Made Marian. They're still several hundred yards off, and up in the sky, cloaked in stormclouds that would make them blend in entirely if not for their swift, inbound movement.

Somoene… or something… knows about the escape attempt and is coming to intercept! Shouts rise up from the crew on deck as they start to point out the incoming… things.

Aliella trots up to Magpie as she's done shouting. "That was weird!Everything was… I dunno." She immediately glances around in search of the others foals, stopping to admire the since exterior every now and then.

Lavender's eyes go super wide, and the sword comes out again. "Tharrr be boarders goin' to the ship!" the filly yells on the ferry, falling right on back to her old pirate accent. "Can't we get there any faster?!"

As Maggie scrambles onboard she receive's a helping a hoof followed by a playful little glare. "Did you ever consider asking for permission?" Ruby asks Maggie while looking down at the filly. "I mean - I would have packed some supplies and snacks, and who knows maybe even gotten you a little something extra." says the mare who pats two saddle bags - one mare sized, and the other filly sized. One might wonder when Ruby got there, and why nopony noticed; but ponies who know her wouldn't be at all shocked. "You brat." Ruby grins playfully.

"Hiya miss Ruby!" waves Thunnini as the sneaky mare makes her appearance. "You're coming along, too?"

Eeeep! Dreamy promptly hides behind Spearmint, from the incoming things, and tries to get as low as she can against the ship floor!

"If Goody's crew is half as good as I am, a few magical cannonballs won't slow 'em down," Stormsailor says to Lavender as he fights to hold the ferry's wheel steady. "I'm sailing as fast as these waters'll let us." He looks towards the ponies on the deck of the ferry. "All of you! Grab onto something! We're about to go through the breakers and I'm not turning around to fish anypony out of the water if they get themselves flung off!"

Magpie lets out a shriek when the hoof she takes is suddenly RUBY. She almost falls back into the water! "WHA! How'd you?! You didn't! I—" She falls silent and finally just says, "Hi…" Then there's elementals, and she seizes a belaying pin (hope that wasn't holding anything up) in her magic and spins to stare back at the follow… things.

Moonshine takes to the prow of the ship to light the way, she swings her jug of /something/ and takes a good long swig, swish swish, swig. She gets her grip and preps herself for some of her own special brew of magic. Hard Alcohol and Unicorn Magic can be a powerful mix!

Muzaji lets out a soft sigh as alarm goes up amongst the crew. She did warn them there was something ill blowing in the wind, after all. The zebra turns and looks up, frowning as she tries to make out just what is coming after them. Was it more elementals, or just projectiles? Though that answers her question about if the enemy knew!

"~Thus our brave crew did set forth
Hoping the trouble would be worth.
With winds rising and tides high.
And the Wanderer sending her own goodbye."

Goody-Horseshoes 's ship does not seem to be equipped for battle. After all, it's crewed by do-gooders, not no-gooders! The crew pulls up all ramps after any ponies getting on board are on. Goody takes the helm and starts shouting orders to the crew. Working fast and hard, the anchor begins to lift and the topsails flare, "Crew! It appears we have unexpected guests! Do not, I repeat, do not, fly the main sails. Get to your positions and brace yourself…" he pauses for a moment as his brow tightens, "This could get a little rocky…"

Ruby certainly doesn't have any oppurtunity to explain her presence or how she got here - instead she pushes the saddle bags into a cozy, secure corner then hastily trots towards the main grouping of foals. "I'm not surprised." she sighs heavily as things already begin to get exciting.

The approaching shapes slowly reveal themselves as… as… it's not clear yet what they are. Something round and irregular… something washed out, the color of weather-worn wood. Debris, it seems? Cannonballs of ship debris wreathed in thick grey cloud? They certainly move like cannonballs, streaking from the sky down towards the ship!

Until one is cut from the sky by a lance of black energy. It's not so much a ray as it is a ray-like beam into which light falls and is extinguished- cutting a swath from one of the windows of the Spire, through the sky, and over the bay to the south. Whatever it is, it obliterates one of the three incoming debris balls neatly. Tiny bits of driftwood and dried seaweed are scattered into the wind, raining over the water and the decks of both the Made Mareian and the inbound ferry.

But two of the things remain. One splashes into the water beside the ship, sending up a thick spray of foam. The other hits the deck with a crash.

The deck is not damaged, but wood and debris from the impact are scattered across it, threatening to take legs out form underneath ponies if they don't move quickly. BUt even before it comes to a rest, the debris begins to swirl and churn in the air, rising and rushing about of its own accord. Though the impact scattered it, the small pieces of driftwood are forming back together- coalescing around a core of swirling stormclouds. And from that cloud, limbs are slowly extending, formed of twisted branches and wave-worn logs. A head pushes out and adopts a pointed, lupine quality, before bright white eyes flare into life. And slowly, terrifyingly, a Timber Wolf crafted of animate driftwood takes shape and begins to prowl the deck, eyes seething with malice as it studies the ponies that surround it.

"Eep!" Aliella ducks for cover and scampers to the nearest adult, having their forelegs in the process. That adult was Ruby.

"Great, something with bite worse than it's bark," Muzaji grunts as the projectile shatters and then reforms itself into a familiar shape, other than its composition. "And breath worse than both!" The zebra backs up a few steps from the prowling form, needing a moment to consider, then turns towards the Captain. "This cannot bring us short, still put out of port!" Then turns her gaze back to the driftwolf. Seadog? Whatever. "Strike it down, it will just reform. We need a greater means to shatter it for harm!"

Magpie stares up at the Spire. "Did, did somepony up there just save us?" she asks in disbelief, trying to track the origin of that black beam of unlight.

Goody-Horseshoes 's face turns dead-serious the moment he realises these apparitions mean ill. He removes his captain's hat, revealing his unicorn's horn. "Whitewood! My sword!" He calls across the deck to one of his crew. The pony runs into the captain's quarters and in no time, comes back out with a rapier. Goody's horn glows and the rapier unsheathes as the Sea-Timber Wolf forms itself on deck. "I may see the best in people, but there is nothing good about you!" he calls to the beast, "Leave the other ponies out of this. If you want a fight, look no further!" The rest of the crew is scattering. Goody's first mate takes over the commanding calls as he grabs the helm.

As the ferry pushes through the waves breaking in the shallows it rears up like a wild stallion; the unnaturally violent waters create much larger waves than would otherwise wash ashore. It crests one, two, three waves in relatively quick succession, spraying all those upon the deck with sea foam with every crest and washing murky water across their hooves as it dives into each trough, threatening to knock unwary ponies off of their feet.

Spearmint prances around nervously, ears pricked. "What's happening? What's going on? Is something attacking us? Oh I knew this was a bad idea!"

Heartsong is not prancing. Mostly because she is cowering beneath one of the ferry seats. Whyyyyy did she do this.

Moonshine just watches the 'action' from the front of the ferry, eyes wide, jaw agape, then she shuts it tight, and rides out the waves, "Oy gonna need to talk to the rail here soonish, so I'm keepin right here thank you very much!

Lavender scurries forward and back across the ferry deck unwisely, but fortunately the filly's balance does keep herself from being thrown off. Still, her overall inclination is to action instead of to holding on tight, and the helpless waiting is driving her craaazy.

The ferry is now close enough that several crew members can toss ropes out towards it, though it takes a few before they land atop the small craft. Hauling aboard in the chopping conditions is going to be a trying experience- even without a monster prowling about up above!

The Driftwood Wolf turns its head this way and that, rumbling with a dry little growl as it looks from Muzaji, to Ruby and the Zebra foal huddling behind her, to the Captain. The Captain is the one with the sword- he's the one who's making himself out as a threat. With a snarl, the wooden beast lunges towards him, jaws open, white wood teeth gleaming! And its breath sm ells like low tide! Augh!

Meanwhile, on the far side of the ship from where the Ferry approaches, there's an eagle-like cry as something bursts from the water! The ship rattles as the sound of something digging into the wood climbs towards the railing, moments before the head of a Griffon appears. But this is no normal griffon- like the Timber Wolf, it's crafted of driftwood wound together, bits of seaweed tangled up in its midst. The beast glances about the commotion on deck before hauling up higher, and then with a push off its pwoerful legs, vaults towards the main mast of the ship, latches onto it, and starts to crawl its way up.

Moonshine prances on deck reaching for the other ship, "We gotta get there!, We gotta hurry, they're under attack, by, by, by wood things!" Moonshine calls out, "I like wood things, they're neat when you carve em! and they make great houses!"

Magpie grabs on to Spearmint and the rail, clinging to keep him from tumbling away in all the rolling and bucking!

Goody-Horseshoes 's sword presses forward at the Driftwood Wolf as it lunges towards him. He jumps out of it's path, horn still aglo. It would seem that this isn't the first swordfight he's been in. "Is that the best you've got, you foul-breathed pup?" For someone usually in such a good mood, he sure seems to be trying to taunt the creature. His first mate calls out to a pair of the crew, both pegasi. "Protect the main mast, whatever you do!" They nod and take flight, bludgeons in mouth. The rest of the crew is doing what it can to keep the ship stable in the wind and rounding up all non-crew into the belly of the Mareian.

Dream-Daze clings to what she can! Which also happens to be the rail. She totally didn't expect to see monsters before they even got to the boat proper!

Well the captain seems to have this matter appropriately attended to as the master of the ship, so Muzaji is all too glad to leave him to it and see to it that the cargo that needed to remain at hoof on deck was properly tied down and stored.

Except that's brought to a halt when something leaps over her from the water and bolts for the mast. The zebra looks one way, then the other. Pegasi are taking off, but how long can they stay in flight with the winds building up? As much as she shouldn't get involved, all is for naught if they don't even get to set sail. What can they possibly d—wait! Remembering her list, she darts behind one of the clumps of cargo.

And comes back out moments later setting several bottles of dark viscous goo on top of the crate. "Must defend the ship as best as we can; time to plug this hole in the plan!" She grabs one of the flasks and with a snap of her head flings it at the drift-griffon, aiming for its head.

Turns out the flask is filled with the pitch resin for fixing leaks and sealing between planks, dark and sticky and hopefully good for blinding something long enough for the crew to beat it off the mast.

Sword in mouth, Lavender hauls herself up onto the first rope she can get hooves to. She clambers up onto the deck and her eyes immediately lock onto the Captain engaged in what is sure to become a deadly-dangerous fight. So she does the only sane thing and charges at the Driftwood Wolf from behind. What doesn't occur to her is that her sword is made of wood, whether or not this has a different effect on the critter.

Aliella takes a single glimpse of the beasts before clinging to a railing near Dream Daze. "Nopony told me there would be monsters!" She yelps.

"Up you get!" Stormsailor calls out to his passangers as he ties the wheel of the ferry in place to keep the it alongside the Maid Mareion. "I'm gonna tie the last couple barrels of supplies, y'all climb up! There's no time to hang around down here!"

Moonshine takes her trusty bottle of moonshine in her magicla grip and charges aboard, mind you a little bit tipsy with wind, waves, water, and whatever, but thats all for nought, she's bound and determined to foil these foul creatures, Gryphon driftwood, wolf likewize. The driftwood wolfpup is engaged by the captain, but that gryphie is something else. She charges her horntip, lights it up and exhales whatever pent up alcohol she's been keeping up with, aiming a nice quick small fireburst its way! Its well aimed and she's not gonna go burning anything else like this!

Thunnini climbs aboard - or to be more accurate, holds onto a bigger pony as they clamber aboard. She ducks for cover once aboard the main ship, glaring at the wooden creatures and wishing she could do something to help her friends.

Magpie pushes Spearmint towards a rope. "Can you climb this?" she almost shouts at him.

Spearmint blinks. "What is 'this'?" He flails his hooves around until he manages to grab the rope, clinging to it tightly. "Aw man I hate PE…" But up he goes, just the same. Here's hoping it leads somewhere, y'know… decent!

Time to climb? Dreamy shakily steps towards a rope, shimmying up with the rest of'em! Nothing like a little threat of danger to get one's rear in gear.

The Driftwood Wolf skids past the captain, his deft maneuver keeping him out of the beast's jaws for now. It whips about, dull wood claws skidding across the deck's surface, to face him once more, and gets ready to lunge again! Because it bites things! That's what it does! It-

Bonk! A foal with a wooden sword stabs it in the butt. The beast lifts its head and turns to peer backward, ears perked. For a brief moment, its eyes- pools of white light- fixate on Lavender.

The monster then turns to bear down upon the foal, jaws slavering open once more, that rasping growl rising in its tangled wood throat. Slowly the beast stalks towards its smaller prey, looking at any moment as though it is ready to pounce!

Up above, the Driftwood Griffon whips its head this way and that, following the approach of the the cudgel-armed crewmembers. It hunkers close for now, though, its wings- plumed not in feathers but in strips of tattered kelp- tucked against its body and its claws, formed of old and rusted nails, holding it tight to the main mast. As bits of kelp flutter away in the wind and, most signifcantly, as a cudgel blow to the back knocks several pieces off its wings, it becomes apparent that the monster, though griffon-like in appearance, can't actually fly! At least there's that. But it does have claws- sharp claws- that whistle through the air as it take a swipe at one of the pegasi.

Moments later, Muzaji's flung vial of deck sealant splashes against it! Much of the fluid is flung into the wind to scatter across the deck in stainy little drops, but a lot more gets caught up on the creature's various wooden joints. It howls and whirls about, clinging to the mast with three legs as it looks for its assailant. A moment later, Moonshine's burst of alcohol-fueled fire lights into the thing, and it shrieks like the storm that birthed it as bits of flame race along its dried wooden body- and set the gathered pitch into a positively brilliant blaze!

With lingering bravery but still a feeling that she may have made a tactical error, Lavender backs up a few paces as the timber wolf advances. She keeps the wooden sword pointed straight at it and narrows her eyes. Even if she can't do much to it herself, she can keep it well distracted while the others take care of it.

Goody-Horseshoes 's face becomes that of pure anger, "Attacking a foal? You should be ashamed of yourself!" He lets out a thunderous cry and charges the Driftwood Wolf bearing down on Lavender, sword charging along side him. Goody's first mate locks the helm as he commands a pony to drop the anchor. Being a unicorn as well, his horn starts to glow. A wave of water washes up onto the deck, but it's not strong enough to reach the Driftwood Griffon. The two pegasi try to bludgeon the creature away from the mast before it can catch on fire, but the smell of smoke starts to swirl into the sea air as the main sail begins to lightly smolder.

Moonshine puts away her bottle, she's done enough dammage, instead she just tries letitation spells, "bring me buckets!, Bring me Filled buckets, I can huck em at the sails!"

… Somepony thought to use fire -after- she provided a means for it to burn what it was meant to burn with a more flammable substance. Well okay Muzaji was just aiming to blind and gum up the thing since it's made of wood and that's what pitch does, but she's not going to look a gift combo in the mouth. "Somepony that can, put out that sail; upon the fiends we shall wail." To which she grabs a pickle spear. You know, that long pole with the prongs on the end for digging pickles out of the bottom of the barrel where you can't reach. In other words, something long she can reach up with without getting up close with the drift-griffon or the fire it is now on. "You should flee; have at ye!" The zebra lungs with her weapon to help try and pry the thing off the mast and get it back into the water or something.

Off in the distance, the Maelstrom is still twisting and wobbling on its axis in the middle of the harbor. The wind is still roaring, angry and agitated, the seas tossing and churning below. There's no sign of further pursuit- or interference… or was it assistance…? from whatever the source of that black ray was in the tower. That third driftwood monstrosity remains gone, its destruction apparently having been final.

The Driftwood Griffon thrashes about, fire soon racing through its form. The dried driftwood catches quickly, even beyond those parts that are coated in tar, and the creature is soon wholly ablaze. It swipes furiously at the pegasi swarming inward, and then down at the pickle fork, and then, in a mad fit, starst tearing at the sails and mast itself! Nail claws start raking across the mast for as long as they hold out, cutting ropes, shredding canvas that smolders with greater and greater intensity. Rather abruptly, the creature's blazing body gives way, whatever enchantment holds it together evaporating and leaving chunks of burning wood to rain to the deck below and a few bent nails to remain stuck in the mast. Its legacy is a glowing fire, however, spreading along the bound sails and upward along the mast!

The Timber Wolf is about ready to take a big bite out of Lavender- nothing tastes more delicious than foolish bravado!- when again, it's stabbed in the back end. Not fair! This is what wolves do to other creatures, not what happens to wolves! It yelps and skitters around to fixate on Goody Horseshoes with an expression that is at first wounded and frightened, and then angry! It moves to lunge at him as it did before- but then hobbles a bit, its stabbed rear end stinging far too much. Of course, there's no visible wound, and even if there was, it's just made of beaten up driftwood, but who knows how these things work.

Moonshine squeaks, and to-hecks with everything, screw buckets, she needs water, she needs a flippin Straw or something, "I NEED A STRAW!" she shouts at anyone, "A BIG ONE, FAST!" she begs as she starts flinging gobules of water like water balloons magically contained from sea to smoldering sails, sea to sails, she huffs and puffs, "Anypony Please!" she begs

Magpie makes her way up the ropes, at last, to the deck of the Mareian. "What the hay?!" she asks, suddenly seeing timber wolf and flames and chaos! It's just like being back home, actually.

Thunnini scrambles over to the edge of the ship, then focuses really hard. Soon enough, a small jet of water starts arcing over the railing of the ship. The aim is somewhat erratic, but at least the seafilly is able to aim the water close enough to the embers on deck to start quenching them.

The two Do-gooder pegasi fly down to the surface of the water. The griffon may be gone, but the fire sure isn't. They spin together and create a waterspout that washes over the main mast. The fire may be out, but the damage from the thrashing is fairly noticable regardless of any fire damage. Goody's sword holds steady in front of him as the Driftwood Wolf prepares to lunge. His first mate comes to his side. "Please, let us wash this ship of this foul stain!" Goody commands, and both their horns glow. A strong wave washes up the side of the ship, aimed right at the side of the wooden menace.

While other ponies are getting water to put out the sails, Muzaji uses her pickle spear to snag some of the larger burning chunks of former wood griffon and throw them over the railing into the water. At least until various efforts start putting out the fires in general.

Lavender decides to press the advantage. Even if her own sword isn't doing all that much, she trades sword-pokes on the Timber Wolf with Goody Horseshoes again. "Hyaa! Get off our boat!"

Magpie 's eyes widen as a wave comes washing across the deck, coming right at the timber wolf… and, ultimately, at her. "…of course," she says in a flat voice.

Dreamy scampers out of everypony's way! Diving behind a barrel conveniently on the deck as a good place to peek out from behind, holding onto her hat. She cheers on the good guys! Silently, but with a waving hoof! Yah! Yah!

The fires are rapidly doused, thanks to a concerted effort from the crew and those passengers brave enough to step forth! … but it's true. The mast is left in a terrible condition, many lines broken, the elegant dark wood charred and smoldering. A cursory inspection of the sail reveals it's in poor shape- with a massive hole in it.

There's still the timber wolf, too! The beast is whirling about in an increasingly frantic fashion, eyeballing- as much as a creature without actual eyeballs- the various ponies. It turns one way to get poked, it turns another to get stabbed! That little wooden sword of Lavender's may not be doing much damage, but boy, if there's anything that cheeses off a creature made of wood, it's having more wood turned against it! It's just about had it up to HERE when a big wave washes in. The water trips the beast up neatly, its feet scrabbling for purchase as the water washes underneath, until rather abruptly it's spun about, flipped into the air, and dropped back down on the deck by its own weight. There's a clatter as its breaks apart, bits of driftwood and seashells scattering across the desck.

They gather in various nooks and crannies, skidding to a stop and spinning about. Soon they begin to rattle, though, not yet animating, but obviously preparing to recollect. The beast is vulnerable, but not yet truly defeated!

Moonshine gets right drenched by the onslaught of the whirled water from the formed waterspot. she directs some of the water, this way and that aiming it like the water-tube that it is. She's really huffing now but at least she's been cooled off with all this water, she's just not used to using her magic so much and like this even, but she's pushing hard now!

Magpie fetches up against the railing with a grunt and staggers. She pauses. Wait, are those — "EW! Moving bits?!" She starts seizing chunks of driftwood and such in her magic and hurling them overboard with as much force as she can impart!

Thunnini looks at the waterspout that the pegasi have made, and carefully "borrows" a small stream of it to start hosing the wolf-shrapnel off of the ship. The circular motion of the water in the waterspout seems to make this task a bit easier than simply pulling a stream of water off of the ocean.

Muzaji was already doing it with griffon bits, so she just joins in with discarding driftwolf bits as well, using her pickle spear to pry them out of some deeper cracks before they can get wedged in too deeply.

Goody-Horseshoes does the best he can to try and break some of the peices of wood from the Driftwood Wolf by stomping on them with his hooves and hacking with his sword. "Fire!" he calls out, "Any pony with fire, burn what you can of the pieces!" The two pegasi crewponies finally land back on the deck and start checking everything for damage. Goody's first mate walks back onto the bridge, followed by Goody himself. "Sir…our main sail is badly damaged. Do you think we can still try and set off?" his first mate asks. "We need to try. We won't be as fast, but we can't let a bit of damage set us back," the captain responds before turning to the rest of the ship, "Prepair for launch! Lift the anchor and hoist the jib! We can still do this!" The crew does as followed, but it seems the ship has other plans.

As the wind catches the sails, it becomes apparent that the main sail is no longer containable. It flys open, showing just how many holes were really burnt into it. To make matters worse, the main mast starts to let out a sickening groan…

Lavender looks up at that main mast, and her ears go back. "Oh no no no no no…" She dives over behind barrels with Dreamy. "This is not good, not good at all."

Moonshine shouts "Lift those pieces up get em off da' ship and I'll put holes in em!" she shouts out, and drops all focus from the water spout, right CHUGS from her bottle, goes wide eyed, and lights her horn again aiming for any debris, She blasts a blazing ball of fire off towards the contained bits that Thunnini had disposed of, she just aims here and there all avoiding ship, at all costs. *Bloom! Bloom! Bloom!*, she gets to her knees, aiming here and there doing little micro shots, then refilling, she guzzles at her bottle the effects of both booze, and intense magic are starting to show on her, and her little blazes are getting rather small,

"What isn't?" Magpie asks from behind the barrels. "We got the thingies."

Dreamy's (silent) cheering stalls, eyes drifting up at the groaning mast. Suddenly Lav's there next to her! She blinks at her friend, up at the mast, and promptly clings to the other filly. With a blurry mental image of a ship sinking into a whirlpool. Their adventure… It was so short…

It's just one thing after another tonight, isn't it? If there was time to do so Muzaji would marvel at how karmatic this was, like some ulterior motive to make this trip as difficult as it could be. And before it even barely gets started! "Cap'n! The sail is practically a lost cause already, I suggest just cutting it free so the winds strain the mast less. Maybe give us time to find where it's weakened and repair it." She pauses, looking to the crew. "… There is some way to reinforce it, right? Never dealt with a broken mast in my times as sea before."

The good news is the swift action by the ponies on the deck halt the reformation of the Driftwood Wolf before it can even get very far! The bits and pieces are easily crushed, or burned, or simply tossed overboard. Cast away from eachother, they're put beyond the weak magical dweomer that would have drawn them back together.

The bad news is that groaning mast is looking worse by the moment. Weakened by fire, with a few chunks taken cleanly out of it by enchanted claws, the main mast really isn't going to last. Ropes begin to snap as the towering spire of the mast teeters, then cracks, then pitches towards the deck with increasing speed! That ponies have time to see it falling and get out of the way is cold comfort- it only means the horrible, gradual descent is all the slower to watch!

With a crash that rocks the entire ship to and fro, the snapped main mast cleaves through several of the crossbars on the mizzenmast and hits the deck. The wheel of the ship is set to spinning, but thankfully the impact is enough to sever its connections to the keel lest the ship be sent spiralling out of control. Barrels and boxes scatter across the deck, bursting free of the nets and ropes that held them. The ship rocks about in the storm-tossed surf for several moments, before everything becomes distressingly still.

The Made Mareian is dead in the water. Anchored, and afloat, but not going anywhere, not today.

If only the brave Harborites had another ship. A ship as weathered and hardy as they are, and likely as soggy with spirits and pirate lore. If only there was a desperate and unlikely plan B somewhere in the works!

Magpie sits quietly in the aftermath. She lifts one hoof to point at the fallen mast. "We… need that part, right?"

"… Nevermind," Muzaji adds to her previous comment as the mast just topples.

Thunnini looks at the mess, then looks at the size of the ship, then looks over at the adults in charge. "I don't think I can tow the ship by myself," the seafilly remarks rather sheepishly.

Moonshine looks up from the broken mast, she's wiped out, intoxicated as usual, but pipes up, "We got any Oars, n Portholes, or gunports cause we could totally Paddle this boat right? Right?" she asks of level heads, of which she's not really one of them. She just props herself against the side of the ship totally exausted from all that magic and booze

Goody-Horseshoes drops down onto all four of his knees. Before he even got the chance to send his pegasi up to tend to the damaged sail, he watches in horror as the main mast cracks and splinters, tumbling to the deck and taking out half of the fore mast with it. His jaw remains open for a moment before he lets out a sigh and bows his head. Recognizing when his captain needs his space, Goody's first mate backs away and starts ordering the crew. The pegasi do what they can to secure the rest of the sails to avoid catching any more wind. Regardless, there is no way The Maid Mareian will be sailing off on any adventures.

Back in town, someone notices all of this. Someone's been watching- studying the struggle aboard the Mareian through spyglasses and binoculars or just good ol' fashioned squinting. Quite a crowd had formed along the docks, in fact, braving the storm to witness the hope for their town setting off on such an important journey. But the disaster on deck is a visibly demoralizing blow- ponies crying out, sinking to their knees, raising their voices in fright and dismay.

But then they start to act. There's a bustle of commotion around the Rusty Bucket, ponies shouting and waving, gathering up tools and materials, undoing ropes preparing for the ship to sail. The repairs are done, or at least as done as they're getting. A new ship is needed and it's needed now.

Several ponies are moving forward, seizing ropes and lashing themselves into place! There are a few familiar faces visible even from this distance- looks like a lot of th e town's prominent muscleheads. Winter Solstice and Rumble Riot are taking place, and between them, towering over both, is Whistlestop, only barely held at check by a frantic-looking Rolodex. Several others take position at the sides.

Soon, there's a great show of effort, then not a lot of results, and then gradually, the Rusty Bucket eases forward out of its drydock. It's built in such a way that it's not nearly as hard to get the ship OUT as it was IN- and good thing, too! Not only is there a much smaller crowd to assist, but there isn't even any free beer to motivate them with! What is up with that! Soon the ship is lumbering its way through the guided walls and down the beach, a faint hint of the sound playing across the waves and out to sea where the crippled Mareian founders in the surf. The muscle crew lugging it along hasten to get out of the way, and manage just in time before the Rusty Bucket hits the water; sea foam sprays up around its keel to either side, and the ship bobs about like a rubber ducky in a bathtub for several moments before coming to a rest. On board, a makeshift crew is already hard at work getting ready to sail the thing.

Of course, it is on the inside of the harbor… a harbor dominated by a land-eating whirlpool. This may not be a very good plan at all…

"Well." Without a second thought Muzaji turns and trots towards the side of the ship. "No point in loitering around here. I'll send the other ferries back out to start unloading the supplies so they can be moved to Plan B." She jumps down onto the ferry boat still moored at the side of the Mareian. Then looks in the direction of the commotion across the harbor where the Bucket is being dragged into the water.

"… Figures the final hope of this madcap town would be the questionable boat as surly and drenched in booze as much of the populance."

Magpie snorts, "Well, I like the Bucket better anyway!"

Zypher is amongst the crew aboard the Shiny new Bucket and is ready for the trip. He just helps out with the rest of the crew and makes himself useful!

Stormsailor is halfway back to the harbor with the ferry when he catches sight of the Maid's mast collapsing. "…well, so much for THAT plan," he groans. He'll be rounding the southern peninsula and making his way into the harbor shortly, able to relatively safely skirt the edge of the whirlpool with the little ferry and possibly, quite possibly, find the Rusty Bucket being hauled into the water.

Moonshine scrambles over to where the Captain is and offers her apology for the burny burny, "Sorry Cap'n here, I think you need this more than I do right now" she offers the Captain her bottle of moonshine whiskey. "To The Maid Mareian" she lifts the bottle, "May she sail again!"

Muzaji is already off to pursue the next business venture. Because danged be it all if she lets one wreck stop her from getting to sate her curiosity into seaponydom. Let's just hope this plan is crazy enough to work, or they're all gonna be in really deep horseapples.

Lavender prances sadly over as well, beside Moonshine and the Captain. "To the Maid Mareian," she agrees, and raises an empty hoof to the sky in woe. "These ships…they never last, do they? They never do last."

Slowly the Rusty Bucket angles about, getting its bearings. Who? What? Water? Sailing? It used to do this. We can do this. Right! There's a certain amount of pomp to the unfurling of its sails, the quilt pattern patchwork nature of them resembling a well-worn and oft-repaired pair of trousers. Even to ponies who have no concept of trousers. Pants on, check. Okay! Adventure, oh Celestia I'm going to be sick.

The Rusty Bucket turns about in the water. Apparently it's sailing forward, but rather than cutting a nice, direct route around the edge of the whirlpool, it's swirling about in a manner most inebriated. Is there something wrong with the rudder? Is there nobody at the wheel? It's hard to tell, but as the ship slowly turns about, it heads right where it shouldn't- right for the whirlpool! Ponies on the shore are shouting and waving, clearly panicking! The crew on deck aren't doing much better! It's going to get pulled in! This is going to be awful! Oh, the Equanity, it's-

… gliding smoothly in a direct course across the whirlpool. The Rusty Bucket is an old ship, tossed by the waves and tossed on by boozestruck ponies, barely aware of its surroundings through an alcohol haze. But piracy is something it used tobe good at. Adventure is something it was built for. And with a dancer's grace, it takes to the churning whirlpool waters with graceful ease, its natural spin counteracting the turbulent pull of the storm without any effort from the crew.

Fear on the shore turns to shock, then amazement, then cheers of delight, as with all the skill of a drunken kung fu master, the Rusty Bucket weaves a multicolored, rusted arc through the storm. It not only takes the storm like a champ, it seems to ride the winds and chop and emerge from the far side of the whirlpool at a brisk clip.

It then promptly begins to bob about, still moving quickly but adopting a drunken swagger once more. Eventually the crew up top, with Zypher's help, get over their terror and elation and start steering the ship towards the foundering Mareian.

Goody-Horseshoes regains his composure and stands back up. His horn glows and in a second or two his captain's hat comes floating onto his head. He looks at the inebriated equine and lets out a sigh, "I normally do not partake much, but it a case such as this…" he magic-grabs the bottle and takes a long swig. After shaking off the burn, he looks out to the water and sees the Bucket afloat. His demeanor tightens and he stands tall on the bridge, "Alright crew! Load the boats! Any supplies we can lend, lend them. Any that do not fit, bring to the docks!" The crew gives a chorused "Aye aye!" and starts to scatter to fullfill orders. The first mate gives a smile and a nod to his captain before trotting along to supervise operations. Goody shakes his head with a small smirk, "Wouldn't ya know…"

Stormsailor watches, mouth agape, at the Rusty Bucket doing its best waltz across the whirlpool then start threatening to crash once it's safely on the other side. "…huh."

Magpie is perched on the edge of the rail as the Bucket seems about to crash, but then it emerges without even difficulty — she beams widely at her friends. "Tol'ja," she says with a cocky swagger.

Moonshine offers her good cheers to the captain retrieves her bottle fastens it to a saddle bag, finds a deck rail, grabs ahold (checks first to make sure she's clear) and worships the rail. Too much magic, too much booze, too many waves, its all over!

Dreamy scoots out from her hiding place, peeking out over side of the ship with the other ponies. At the other ship. Watching with amazement. Then ponies get with moving things around again, apparently preparing to switch ships! So she gets back out of the way, leaning on the railing instead and looking up to the grinning Magpie. Now she has this mental image of the Rusty Bucket, swaying back and forth as it sails off into the horizon… At least the adventure is still a go!

Heartsong peeks slowly out from behind the bucket she'd hidden behind. "…D-did we c-crash? Are w-we broken?" She peers out at - whatever the other ponies are peering at. "…Is th-that another ship?"

Someone has awarded you karma! Keep being awesome!

Muzaji watchs all this, as despite every odd pointing to a blistering wreck upon the spiny base of the Spire and sunk to the bottom of the whirlpool, the Rusty Bucket manages to refind its place upon the waves after so long away from its seafaring home. Karmatic fate struck upon the Maid Mareian, so the weezing old buckaneer of a ship could sail again.

"Spirits did fall and spirits do rise, despite interference from the skies.
Deem the ocean blue to be sailed by tried and true.
Like a drunksailor on shore leave; it meanders through storm with drunken weave
Teeter to and totter fro, yet down the drink it does not go.
Too surly to stay down, to stubborn to give in
Pirates don't die and the Rusty Bucket sails again."

Magpie , still balancing on the rail, grins at Heartsong. "That's the Rusty Bucket! It's practically part of the city. It IS part of the city! The drunk part!"

Another shuddering roar escapes from the Spire, but this one is much weaker, much shorter. If the first one was furious, this one is defeated. Whatever force conjured the driftwood interlopers has apparently spent its resistance for now, and nothing more rises to stop either ship. It's a temporary reprieve at best, though: The storm continues as it has, and if anything, it's worse. One can almost see the whirlpool swelling still. In a matter of days it will consume the entire harbor- and then what?

But for now, there is still hope. Inebriated hope, yes, but the Rusty Bucket is pulling up close to the Mareian in short order. The crews begin to shout back and forth as they coordinate an impromptu docking, tossing lines back and forth and reading gangplanks. No need to head back to shore- everything, and everybody, can be transferred from one ship directly to the other.

The rest of the evening is spent doing just that, and shortly before midnight, the Rusty Bucket is ready to go. There's a few repair ponies still on board, but they're quickly ferried to the shore along with the ship's makeshift crew.

Someone finds a new nameplate down below. It was going to be bolted on when the repairs were finished. Someone went and found the ship's original name, somewhere in the record books in the Mayor's office, back before the thing was a bar, back before its old nickname stuck, the only thing anybody used until the original name was forgotten. For a brief moment, the nameplate is considered, then set aside, the name on it disregarded. It doesn't matter what it used to be called. The Rusty Bucket is its name now, as much a part of the ship as the ship is a part of the town.

And in such a spirit, carrying the hopes of Horseshoe Harbor alongside its people, it emerges from underneath the stormclouds into an open sky and bright stars and sails off into the night. The ongoing rumble of thunder from the Maelstrom gradually fades away, replaced by the creaking of timbers and the wash of the surf against the copper-plated hull.