The Unlikeliest Places
IC date: Winter 13, 1007
OOC date: January 1, 2013
PCs: Rising Chaos, Spindrift

It's been a long day, a quiet day. For Rising Chaos, it's been a fantastic one. Somehow though, she finds herself unable to sleep. She's left her house and Queen Pegasus, who has fallen asleep, behind and is laying on the beach. Currently she just watching the water, perfectly warm in the jacket that Zypher gave her. She's humming under her breath softly, it sounds tuneless, reflective.

The beach is not the most accomodating place. The constant roar of the storm, the drizzle of the unseasonably warm rains, an unnatural glow in the clouds at night and an unwholesome darkness in the water by day… few ponies bother coming down here these days. That might be why it's a good place to be alone with your thoughts, though. The Spire continues to loom over the harbor, its storm dominating it more and more by the day.

Every so often, something washed up from the churning sea bed laps its way onto the shore. There's driftwood and bits of flotsom- little bits that either escaped whatever force gathers these materials into the growing Spire, or were too small to be accepted into its changing, expanding mass. Nothing unusual.

At least until, a hundred feet down the beach, a pony washes up onto the short. The waves roll in, surging; they crash against the muddied sand and, as they withdraw, a figure lays strewn on the rocks beneath a ragged black cloak. For Rising in particular, there's little doubt as to who it could be as the sprawled pony picks herself up on sinuous tail and a pair of forelegs and shrugs her way a bit higher onto the beach to collapse beyond the rhythmic lapping of the surf.

Rising-Chaos is certainly looking for solitude, it's probably not what she needs, but it's what she wants. The appearance of Spindrift is, unfortunate. Not because she hates the mare, but because things get more complicated when she's involved. Still, she looks in bad shape. With a sigh, Chaos gets to her hooves, trotting over to where Spindrift ahs dragged herself. "Are you okay?"

The seapony is mostly stil once she pulls herself up someplace where she can curl up without fear of being washed out to sea, and Rising finds her all but totally unresponsive until the question brings Spindrift to open her eyes with alarm and sit up in clear surprise. She doesn't recoil utterly, but she's clearly tense for a moment, sitting up to watch Rising for several silent moments, clearly gauging her intent. Eventually, though, the seapony relaxes, sinking back against the sand, that defensiveness suddenly giving way to clear exhaustion. The Black Heart, still chained around Spindrift's neck, thunks in the manner of heavy glass or ceramic as it settles against the sand. "Why are you here, Rising Chaos? This is not what I would imagine many would find a pleasant view."

Rising-Chaos kneels down, frowning, that isn't an answer to her question at all. "I was looking for solitude, not a pelasant view. I had some things to think about." She puts a hoof on Spindrift's shoulder. "Now, are you okay?" She looks genuinely worried. The Black Heart around Spindrift's neck worries her, that can't be good for the mare. For a moment chaos is confused, why is she worrying so much about Spindrift?

Spindrift turns her shoulder slightly, once more visibly tensing at the touch. She hasn't looked particularly healthy at any point the two have met over the past several weeks, and the trend seems to be continuing, her figure gaunt beneath the dusky wet wrapping of her cloak, cheeks sunken and face thin. If not for the clear determination that blazes in her eyes, she could easily be mistaken for someone who is very ill. "Does it matter?" she asks, clearly wondering the same thing as Rising about the questions. "Are you concerned?"

The seapony looks about ready to pull away completely, then pauses, leaning onto one hoof, and reaches down with the other to heft the chained weight of the black heart. "You were one of the ones that touched this. Do you remember what it felt like? How it would not yield to your hoof?"

Rising-Chaos forwns down at Spindrift. "Yes, I am, is that a problem?" even as she says them she realizes the truth of her words. Spindrift has, some way or another, become rather important to her. Her hoof stays on the seapony's shoulder, as comfortingly as she can manage. She shivers at the mere sight of the black heart though. "I remember all to well Spidrift, I still suffer from it's effects. I remember all too well." Even being this close would be painful if it weren't for her new cloak. Thankfully, Chaos stays strong, this is something she just has to do.

Still the seapony lingers. Maybe she isn't strong enough to pull away. Maybe she doesn't want to. The almost irritated furrow of her brow suggests she's not so sure which it is herself, her normally controlled demeanor noticably suffused with distraction. She gives the danging Heart a thump with a slender hoof before she plants it once more. "Then you understand the cost I pay to wield it so readily. As I have said before, this is not a conflict I anticipate surviving." She turns and tosses her head back over her shoulder, towards the looming Spire. "Everything will be wiped clean."

Rising-Chaos sahkes her head, doom and gloom again. "This is getting old Spindrift, I know what you want to do. You've told me all of this before." She lays down beside the mare, offering her a smile. "I understand the cost, which means I also understand if what I'm asking seems ridiculous. I want you to find a way to survive this. But I won't dwell on that." Taking her hoof away, as it's clearly distressing the mare. "What's brought you to this beach tonight Spindrift?"

Spindrift relaxes once that hoof is withdrawn. She doesn't go anywhere for now, merely sinking back down to the beach. One foreleg is folded beneath her shoulders, the other a bit higher, so she can turn and rest her head against it, and close her eyes. "I wanted to rest, that's all. The Spire…" She falls quiet, face tensing. Her words have quickly taken on the quality of someone speaking without really realizing what they're saying, or who they're talking to. "I can't sleep there. It has a voice, you know. It won't let me sleep. It's impatient. But here it can't reach me…"

Again, she falls silent, and it seems like she's asleep. Her face curdles with a scowl as reality rushes back in and she opens her eyes to regard Rising warily. "You want me to survive this. Why?"

Rising-Chaos looks at her with, certainly not pity, but sympathy. "I understand, it must be hard, to spend time up there." Spindrift's question takes a while to process. Mostly because she doesn't know, herself. After a good minute or so of reflection, she finds herself able to answer. "It's because I care about you spindrift. even if you hate me, and my entire race, my entire culture. I care about you, and have nothing but respect for you. You have taught me a lot, and are important to me."

"I do not hate you," says Spindrift, fixing Rising with an insistent stare to match her steely tone, before her gaze wanders and she relaxes once more. "Any of you. No matter how much it may seem that I do."

She's quiet, again, tail shifting about behind her. Its fins leave little patterns in the sand as it drifts back and forth, like parenthesis. "Would it surprise you if I told you you are the one I have spoken with the most since Brume's death?" she says. "That in spite of everything, you're the closest thing I have to a friend?" A hint of bitterness creeps into her voice as she says this, and she flashes a look up at Rising. "Does knowing this amuse you? It would certainly delight your pirate patron to know." The seapony lifts her head slightly and stares, clearly gauging Rising's reaction.

Rising-Chaos finds Spidnrift's words odd, to say the least. She decides to leave the hate topic aside, it's not needed here. "Surprise me? Yes, of course it would. Though you asking if it amuses me hurts, a bit." She looks it, in fact, she looks a little crestfallen. There's still the smile, but her ears are back, and her head's hung a little low. "It wouldn't amuse me if you thought of me as a friend, I would be quite honoured actually. as for the Queen, she's irrelevant to this topic. I may care deeply about her, but I'm still my own mare." She sighs deeply. "I try not to be a cruel mare, I only do what I think is right. My harsh words to you, I now realize, weren't right. And I apologise."

(OOC) Spindrift: roll 1d20 for a Perception Check~

Rising-Chaos rolls 1d20 (what was that?) — Result: 12 | Sum: 12

The seapony's sea-green gaze bores into Rising the entire time, studying every reaction, every twitch of an ear, every shift of a muscle. After Rising quiets, Spindrift is silent, still watching. Only then does she gradually relax, looking away, past the unicorn, towards the distant gleam of the town behind her.

And in that moment, with Spindrift's head lifted and turned towards Rising, the impenetrable darkness of the Black Heart, cradled against the seapony's chest, seems a little less dark, a little more grey. Surely it's a trick of the light, though, since a direct look reveals the same depthless void as there ever was.

Spindrift stares at the town, then shakes her head and looks away. Maybe in another lifetime. "Thank you," she says, quietly. "I think I can believe you." Her tone is quiet, crestfallen… even defeated. "You have changed, Rising Chaos, and for what it's worth, I think it is for the better. Regardless of what you think of your own abilities, you would have made an excellent student back where I am from. You are ambitious, and that is a noble trait."

The seapony turns to fix Rising with a defiant glare. "Whatever happens here, in Horseshoe Harbor, continue your studies and pursue your potential to its utmost. I would be disappointed if you did anything less. The only real defeat is the one that stays your growth completely. Anything else is a mere obstacle to be surmounted and left behind."

Rising-Chaos nods, smiling. Even if that's not exactly friendly, at least it's not talking about destruction. "I'm glad you can believe me, because it's the truth.." She matches the mare's defiant glare with a confident smirk of her own. "You don't need to tell me that Spindrift. No matter how much I have changed, I'm still me. I will never stop my quest for knowledge and power, to do so would deny an entire life's work. I've vowed to let nothing stand in my way of it." The look of worry makes it way back on to her face. "The only thing that's changed is now I want ponies to enjoy it with. Ponies like you, perhaps." With that, she falls silent, looking down at her hooves. Perhaps she's said too much?

Spindrift nods once in response to Rising's accepting of the half-challenge, half-pep-talk. That seems to be the answer she was hoping for. The rest, though, gives Spindrift that same distracted, thoughtful demeanor. Eventually she settles back in the sand, closing her eyes. "If you want someone to share your troubles and triumphs with, good. Find them and hold onto them." She hesitates before continuing. "Myself, I am a lost cause. Speaking to you has convinced me of as much. Perhaps things might have been otherwise, but the Spire does not relinquish its hold and there is little point in looking back at missed opportunities."

Rising-Chaos shakes her head, moving closer to Spindrift. "I am looking at a pony right now, who could be a friend." With a surge of emotion she touches Spindrift's shoulder again. "There's no such thing as a lost cause Spindrift. That spire is nothing but an object, a force. You are a pony, a beautiful, smart, determined pony. The only way for you to lose is if you stop trying, if you lose hope. Do you understand me?" Her voice takes on a comforting tone. "I'll help you, if you want. But there's no reason this has to be the end of you." Letting her hoof fall away, Chaos gets to her hooves.

The seapony's eyes open, focusing rapidly, as she tenses and pushes up and back. The conflict plays openly across her face- she obviously wants to believe what Rising is saying, but the Black Heart weighs down at her neck and shoulders even as she listens to the unicorn, pulling what might have been a defiant posture down into a defeated slouch. "I -can't- stop this," she says. "Even if I… even if I wanted to. As I said, I paid a cost. I…" She quiets, eyelids dropping heavily. She clenches her jaw and pushes herself up straight once more, then wobbles onto a single hoof as she reaches out with the other towards the Unicorn, obviously beckoning for support.

Rising-Chaos is quick to provide, moving in and holding the mare. This brings her in contact with the black heart again. "You can do it Spindrift. I believe in you. You can do whatever you set your mind to. I'm not asking you to stop this though, just to live." Even as she speaks, the dread of the black heart's influence makes her shiver, even if she can't feel it's effects yet. "If I have to, I will help you. Every step of the way. You do not have to be alone."

Spindrift leans up against Rising, weight shifting off of her single supporting leg, spilling in against the unicorn. Not that there's much weight in the first place- she feels frail and hollow, as light as her malnourished appearance would suggest. Her head hangs, long black mane tangled in her face. "I don't want to be alone," she says, voice quiet, wavering, openly afraid. "I can't take it anymore. I can't…" Again, there's a brief suggestion of a lightening in the Black Heart's darkness, and Rising's nearness allows her to feel what she might not see. That oppressive chill, that hungry void in which hope is snuffed out, seems to lighten for a moment, pulling less hungrily.

But only to a point. Spindrift lifts her head, looking up the beach towards the town again, eyes unfocused, nearly delirious, but gradually adopting a clarity mixed with terror. "But they'll never let me back. Not here, not at home. Not after what I've done. It won't…"

The Black Heart sends out a heavy, sickening pulse, wet with misery, and Spindrift draws back from Rising, doubling over. She coughs as she hits the sand, forelegs wrapped around her middle, tail curled up. In the distance, the Spire groans, sending out short tremors that froth the oceans around it.

Rising-Chaos doesn't just elt her pull away. Once Spindrift collapses, she rushes over and gives Spindrift a hug. A real, genuine, friendly hug. "You aren't alone anymore then Spindrift. I am here for you, I promise. If ponies won't let you back, I'll defy them. If your home won't let you back, then they can drown for all it matters." She looks Spindrift right in the eyes, while hers are almost in tears. "I'm not just going to let you go." she feels so helpless. This is power she's not built to use, or understand. Even her magic is unavailable to her. Worse, she can feel the effects of the black heart creeping in, not as serious as the last time. As if that matters, since she's still suffering from the effects of the first wave. There isn't time to worry about it now, she's not the one in trouble. "You are not alone, Spindrift."

The seapony's frail form shudders in Rising's grasp as she breathlessly coughs to the point of gagging on her own dry throat. When Rising pulls her up to meet her gaze, she finds it a hard gaze to hold- not only are Spindrift's eyes once more unfocused, her head obviously swimming, but the seapony's pupils, normally a radiant sea-green, are suffused with an ugly, oily black, as clear an indication of some fel force having taken hold of her as anything. It takes a bit of gasping for her to find the breath to reply, and when she does it's barely above a whisper. With obvious effort, she focuses on Rising. "You must go. You can't- you were right, before. It hurts everyone around it. It feeds on your hope; if you stay you'll be pulled under just as much as I am." She bites her lower lip. "I don't want it to do that to you. I'll… I'll try to… to fight it, but you need to save yourself, now, for my sake as much as yours."

Rising-Chaos shakes her head. "I'll go Spindrift, but not just yet. I have one last thing to say to you." She pulls the seapony close, and drops her voice to a whisper. "You can contact me any time, I will come. Stay safe Spindrift, I love you, my friend." with her goodbyes said, she pushes herself away. Already she can feel the black heart's influence growing, making her shake. Somehow, she manages a light trot as she leaves. "Oh, and don't worry about me being brought down. Haven't you heard of me Spindrift?" She turns back, offering the seapony a smile. "I'm Rising Chaos, I always lose!" Giggling as she strikes a pose. Then, turning to go, Chaos makes her way down the beach back towards town. She doesn't make it all the way there, collapsing on the sand. She just feels tired, and it's not long before she's drifting away to sleep.

If Rising was hoping for laughter, or a smile, or something, she doesn't get it. As Rising pulls away from Spindrift, the seapony drops to her forelegs once more and watches, green and oily black gaze filtered through her ragged mane, expression flat.

Still, a month ago all Rising probably would have earned is a scowl, so maybe it's progress.

The seapony doesn't linger. The beach is not safe. The town is not safe. She finds some strength that has not already been sapped and turns back towards the water, dragging herself back into the waves. She'd like to think she could make good on her promise, but she knows there's no fighting it. There's no hope, not for her. Knowing she has bought her unexpected friend some time will have to be comfort enough to see her to sleep this evening, somewhere in some dark and hidden corner of the harbor.