To Bring Summer In From The Cold
IC date: Summer 52, 1008
OOC date: August 13, 2013
Location: Tinker Town and Rum-Flower's Distillery
PCs: Steady-Binding Willow-Grove
NPCs: Rum Flower

Snow, in the middle of summer? Unthinkable! And yet, here the Harbor is, besieged by what appears to be — despite all sane and rational thought — a windigo! Ponies everywhere are seeking shelter, hiding in their homes, opening their doors to strangers. Those in the know are urging others to be warm and welcoming to each other, and foster feelings of warmth and togetherness, rather than bitterness and anger. And for the most part, it's working.

But Willow-Grove isn't doing too well. Cold temperatures don't work well with her, and the white pony staggers stiff-legged through a part of town she does not recognize. Her flowers are wilted, her wings are freezing, and she can barely keep her eyes open … and as one step becomes two, her knees buckle, collapsing in a snowdrift.

This biting chill is like nothing Steady-Binding has ever felt. Is this normal? Is this the sort of thing he can expect from the earth and the air? As he staggers through the town, he looks around, and it seems like other ponies aren't doing much better than he is. Ponies are going indoors, it looks like - another good reason to have an indoors to go to.

Steady-Binding tries to look through the snowflakes - flowing before his eyes like silt in the water - as he staggers down the street, but by now he isn't even sure what he's looking for. He thinks he sees the generous sky-pony he met the other day, and he starts to approach. When he sees her fall, he forces his legs into uncomfortable motion against the cold, and runs to her side.

Willow is trying to stand again, stumbling and shivering, and not making it very far. Her mane, hanging in long limp strands not unlike her namesake, obscures most of her face, but a green pleading eye picks Steady out of the snow. "S…Steady, i-it's not winter," she stammers.

Steady slowly bends his legs and kneels down at her side, his whole body shaking in the cold. "Willow?" he asks plaintively. "Here, get, ah.. try and get on my back.."

Willow sniffles. "It's not winter," she whimpers again. "It's not supposed… It's summer." She wraps her hooves around him and shivers. "'m sorry. I never meant… I need to get home." Though she leans on him, she's incredibly light and delicate. Far lighter, in fact, than he had expected.

Steady edges in unsteadily under her. He's never carried somepony before, and the physics of doing so are rather different where he's from. He stands up slowly, shaking. "Home is a long way, Willow.." He pauses for a moment to let his teeth shake. "Do.. do you know a place of.. shelter?"

"I…I have…I have a hotel room. But I don' know how to get there from here. It's… it's in the…the Distillery." Rum-Flower's distillery is actually within sight, a few blocks away…though perhaps hard to see in the blizzard.

The displaced sea-pony squints, looking around through the blizzard. He sees something that… looks about right, at least. He turns - slowly, to as not to tip the light but precious cargo balanced across his saddlebags - and starts off in that direction, trudging through the snow. "All this.. this cold.. not normal, is it?"

"Not normal at all," whimpers Willow. "S…supposed to be warm. Snow is for w…winter! I didn't come her for w…winter!" The distillery looms as Steady gets closer: the whole building looks like a giant keg, with windows inset betraying three floors.

Steady looks up at that keg-building in grim determination. He trudges on toward it. "Last I checked… it's still summer… There's a whole season between us… and, ah… winter. This white stuff.. snow?" He comes up to the door, and weakly raps a trembling hoof against it.

"Snow," Willow agrees softly. "Something is very wrong."

A few moments pass after he knocks, but the door opens at last and a big, strong-looking almond-colored mare looks down at him. Her eyes flick from pony to pony and she opens the door for him. "Come in out of the cold." She reaches down and hoists his limp cargo from his back, tossing Willow onto her own instead. "Blizzard get the better of you?"

Steady tenses up in initial alarm when the mare takes Willow off his back. He relaxes quickly - no reason to be so protective, he thinks. She's helping. "Almost," he says, through chattering teeth, as he steps inside, neglecting to kick the snow from his hooves.

Rum-Flower trots her way up the stairs, ignoring Steady's reactions for the most part. She's a laid-back mare, Rum-Flower is. "Well, you're more than welcome to wait it out here. I know Miss Willow's rented a room here for the better part of the last season or two." Speaking of Miss Willow, as they get further into the distillery and out of the snow, her flowers creep open bit by bit, and what color she has returns to her coat.

Steady follows along after, with an odd gait. He knows it's warm in here; he doesn't understand why his legs still feel cold. "Th-th-thank you, Miss." The opening flowers catch his eye, and he watches with fascination. "Are you f-f-feeling any better, Willow?"

Willow opens her eyes, and manages a meek nod. "Th…thank you," she stammers. Rum-Flower thumps open a door and leads Steady into Willow's room, bare of pretty much anything but a bed and a magic-driven lamp. The pegasus is deposited on the bed, Rum-Flower salutes, and they're left pretty much alone.

"I'm sorry," she says quietly, as the door closes. "I don't…handle cold very well."

Steady turns and looks as the door is closed behind them. He then walks over and sits down beside the bed, and looks down at Willow, worried. "You don't need to apologize to me, Willow. You did so much for me, to, ah, make me feel welcome. Is there any way I can help you, now?" He rubs his legs together, and then looks down… and frowns, puzzled, as he brushes the melting snow off his legs.

Willow sniffles, looking to Steady with wibbly eyes. "Do you know why it's winter outside instead of summer? Have you heard anything? Is— is something attacking?"

Steady-Binding looks at Willow again - nonplussed for a moment. He's never thought of a season as anything other than a collection of days. "I… I don't know, Willow." He shakes his head. "Is this what it's normally like here, in winter? …Ah, right, you're not here in winter."

"It's… it's like this a lot in the Winter. That's why I stay home in the Winter. It's too cold. And I'm worried— I'm worried that it's like this because something bad happened." Willow curls up on the bed into a small little ball. "I shouldn't have left. I knew something was going to go wrong."

Steady whimpers audibly, reaching a forehoof toward her but not quite touching her. "Wh.. what do you mean? What happened?"

"It's— it's a really long story. And I'm probably just blowing things out of proportion. It's probably nothing to do with that." But still, Willow looks just miserable.

Steady nervously glances at the door, and then leans over the bed and says to Willow, "Will you be okay for a few minutes? I could go back out to the front and find out if anypony knows what's going on out there."

"But what if—" Willow trails off and shakes her head. "No— it's fine. I'll be okay. Just… be safe, okay?"

Steady smiles. "Don't worry. I'm not going outside." He stands up. "Just gonna see if I can find somepony who knows why this is happening. I'll be back in just a couple minutes. Okay?"

"Yeah… yeah, okay," murmurs Willow. She sniffles and curls up a little, in such a way as to watch him go. And then probably stare at the door while he's gone.

Steady leans in and hazards a gentle nuzzle to her cheek. Then he turns and goes to the door, much steadier on his hooves than when he came in. He goes out, carefully closes the door behind him, and makes his way back to the front room. He keeps careful track of his path, so he can find his way back.

Back down at the front desk, Rum-Flower is reading some kind of book. When Steady comes down, she lifts her head and looks at him. "How's she doing?" she asks. "Everything okay?"

Steady gives Rum-Flower a worried frown. "I don't know. She's.. really worried about all this cold and snow. Do you know what caused this?"

Rum-Flower scratches her chin. "Rumor has it that there's a windigo up there causing havoc. Not a clue where it came from, but apparently it's here now. She ain't the only one fretting about it neither."

Steady tilts his head. "A… windigo," he says, sounding out the unfamiliar word. As to fretting… he doubts other ponies are talking about this like it's their fault, but he gets the impression that raising that subject would be a bad idea. "Do you think that's what it is? A win…digo?"

"A windigo? Well, maybe. 's one of those things that straddle myth and reality. Least, that's what I think. Plus, this town's been choc-a-bloc fulla disharmony lately so it wouldn't surprise the pants offa me if it were." Rum-Flower shrugs and leans back in her chair. "Some folks say they seen it between the clouds up there sometimes."

Steady glances at the window. "That'll have to do," he says, "there's, ah, no way I'm going back out there to get a better look." He looks to Rum-Flower again. "Thank you for your help. I'll go back to keep an eye on Willow…"

"No problemo. Just lemme know if you need more help. Best you can do if it is a windigo is just be nice and get along, yeah?" Rum-Flower waves him off, gesturing distractedly toward the stairs. Away with you.

Steady hurries on back up to Willow-Grove's room. He stops at the door, catches his breath for a moment, then quietly eases it open and slips inside.

Willow's curled up on the bed, but she lifts her head when he comes back in. "Is it Terros? Or maybe Kelea?" Whoever those are.

Steady pushes the door closed with a hind hoof, and comes back over to the bed. "Some ponies have seen a, ah, win-di-go, through the clouds?" He sits down. "Do you know what that is?"

"A windigo?" Willow blinks a few times, and then laughs in relief. "Oh, just a windigo? Oh…gosh, okay. That's a relief."

Steady rests a foreleg on the bed, and puts his chin on it. "So… not that big a problem?" he asks hopefully.

"Not that big a problem," nods Willow, smiling slightly. "Thanks for checking on that. I'm sorry for falling apart on you like that."

Steady looks down, and undoes his saddlebags, letting them slip off to the floor. "It's alright," he says. "I'm just glad you're okay. Ah…" He looks away, uncertain. "I'm starting to get the idea you're kind of a big deal, though. Are you, ah, somepony who I should know who you are? Before we met, I mean?"

"Me? No, I'm not a big deal." Willow smiles slightly, brushing her mane back from her face. "I'm just a pony. What about you, though?"

Steady smiles. "Me? Just a pony, too. If, ah, if even that." He glances down at his saddlebag, nervously. Then, he chuckles softly. "You know.. I haven't actually found the library yet."

"Seapony, right?" Willow hazards with a small smile. "Don't worry. Your secret's safe with me. And I'd try to find the library with you but… all the snow and all.."

Steady ducks his head, blushing visibly. "I was about to tell you! I… I know I can trust you. " He ducks his head behind his hoof. "…Is it that obvious?"

"Mmm…I'm a cosmopolitan pony," grins Willow. "I've been many places and lived many years, honestly. Between your lovely coloring and all the foreign concepts… It was a wild guess. If not a seapony, then perhaps somepony else equally foreign."

He folds his ears back, blushing even more at "lovely coloring". He noses into one of the saddlebags, and takes out a pouch with a long cord, which he hangs around his neck. "Well… you're right. I'm a seapony. Everypony here's been so nice, so far, but… there are rumors, y'know?" He taps nervously at one of his back hooves. "It was a big step, even coming up here. But I felt like it was something I had to do."

Willow nods gently. "Yeah, there are some jerks out there so the rumor's not totally unfounded, but I doubt landponies are any jerkier on the whole." Still, she smiles at him. "Well, welcome to land, Steady. And…and thanks for helping me."

Steady smiles faintly. "It's only what any decent pony would do. I.. I'm just glad I saw you there." He looks down at his hooves, with a bit of a haunted expression.

"I'm glad too," admits Willow. "I don't think I'll be leaving this room until the windigo goes away. You're staying someplace warm, right?"

Steady laughs nervously. "Well… not as such, no. I don't have any, ah, anything, lined up yet. I was going to see if I can make it to the beach, actually. This cold can only reach so far down through, ah, the water…"

Willow's eyes widen slightly. "You can't go out there! You'll freeze before you reach the beach!" That is probably not true, but who can know? "How about you stay here? I'm sure Rum-Flower can bring up a cot."

Steady is certainly inclined to believe her. He smiles gratefully. "Stay here, with you? Willow.. you're very generous. Thank you."

"Friends look out for friends," beams Willow, and she offers a hoof for the appropriate hoof-bumpage. "And anyway, I would be very sad if you froze out there."

Steady raises a hoof and taps it against hers, starting to blush again. "Well, Willow, if you'd frozen out there.." He shakes his head. "I don't know. I just don't know. I'm glad we're in here, safe and warm. …And I'm really glad to see you again."