Twisted Omens
IC date: Fall 74, 1007
OOC date: December 2, 2012
PCs: Muzaji, Queen-Pegasus, Rising-Chaos
NPCs:
GM: Spindrift

Rising-Chaos stomps through a back alley of Horseshoe Harbour, on her way home. The late afternoon sun's light illuminating her frustrated expression. Without watching where she's going, she rounds a corner into another alleyway. She's mumbling to herself angrily, and scribbling furiously in her notebook, currently oblivious to the world.

Nothing seems to be amiss in this alleyway. The sun is low on the horizon as it approaches an early late autumn evening, and the shadows are growing long and deepening by the minute, bringing with them an early, wintery chill. Windows and doors are shut tight, and the sound of other ponies is distant as others hasten to conclude their business and get inside ahead of the cold. A lonely wind blows through between the buildings, moaning amidst the eaves that loom above.

But it soon becomes apparent to the magically-attuned pony that there is something here. It's a twinge at first, a slight pulling, but as Rising nears the exit of the alleyway, where it opens onto one of the roads running along the outer edges of the town, she can feel it distinctly: the pull of magic. Something enchanted is nearby. A couple of old wooden pallets leaning up against one of the buildings seems to be its source; there's a garbage can and an old, dead potted plant resting beside them as well, all of them likely concealing something underneath.

Muzaji had been out to the edge of Wintersong, rooting up some herds and fungi for whatever cladesent zebra trickery she may, before the cold season puts everything into hibernation for another year. She's just minding her own business along the path, until something causing her to take pause. Maybe not as attuned to such matters as unicorns, but it was somewhere between 'gut feeling' and 'bad mojo' that tingles at her zebra senses. "…. mmmm…."

Being oblivious to one's surroundings can be a very dangerous thing. What Rising fails to notice is a cloud floating above and off to one side of her - high enough to be inconspicuous, but low enough to be noticed. The tall, pink pegasi known as Queen occasionally fluttering her wings to propel the cloud as she watches Rising from above; single blue eyes staring intently down at the mare who hasn't come to visit int weeks.

Rising-Chaos feels the pull of magic keenly, which pulls her out of her dark mood somewhat. "What's this?" she muses, trotting over the the pile of stuff. Her expression turn to one of curiosity as the magic is strong, nearly irrestible. Chaos starts to get a headache, but still mvoes forward out of curiosity. She is still very focused, and doesn't notice anything at all other than the pull of magic.

The magical emanations are small, but steady, and intense, like a bright pinprick of light amidst the black murk of the surrounding mundanity. Whatever the source is, it's not going anywhere. It's stable, not flucuating in any regard. And it is alone- there's nothing else nearby. If this is a spell being sustained by someone, such as another unicorn, they are not to be seen. One could likely walk right on by and leave the mysterious magical source right where it is without issue.

Up the street, a brown earth pony mare with a hat and coat on is pulling a wooden wagon up and over the ridge of a nearby hill. Stacked inside the wagon are a variety of gourds- likely some late fall harvest heading into town. With gaze downcast as she tunes out the uneventful trek between farms and town, she hasn't noticed anybody else nearby, and with several hundred feet between her and the alleyway exit near where Rising is, it may be a bit before she's close.

It's no big secret by now that Muzaji has very little concept of 'personal space'. As is she meanders right up behind Chaos while she's not paying attention and probably not even noticed until she speaks up. "Well now, what's this? A little hovel that seems admiss."

The pegasi overhead softly hmms as she watches from afar; her voice unlikely to carry so far for Rising or Muzaji take to notice. "What have you found now, Rising?" she muses aloud - leaning forward to peer down at the pair of mare's.

Rising-Chaos keeps moving closer inquisitively. The magic is drawing her like a moth to the flame. Even if nothing actually happens, she seems hypnotised by it, which is why she's not expecting Muzaji. She jumps at the zebra's interruption. "I honestly have no idea what it is, but it is fascinating." She wouldn't admit ignorance in front of many ponies but Muzaji is special. Chaos looks around on the street, perhaps hoping to find the source of the magic, but is disappointed when all she can see is a unremarkable earth pony with a cart.

"Of course. It wouldn't be nearly as interesting if you did know, now would it?" But now the zebra's curiousity was perked too. She stepped around Chaos and squatted down to the ground, squinting violet eyes to try and see if there was anything under or stuck between those pallets.

The magic is fairly easy to locate- it's that pile of stuff up against the side of the building. Well, alleyways tend to collect lots of piles of stuff, and this one is no different, with a little heap of garbage in one corner, and some rubble from further down the way, leftovers from the last catastrophe to strike the town. Nothing too ghastly, though. No zombies.

But the pile that is most interesting is the one Muzaji addresses- the pallets leaning up against the side of the house, together with a garbage can and an old potted plant boxing in the space underneath. Through the slats in the wood, the inquisitive Muzaji can see the outline of something milky white, sitting on the ground. It makes no noise; it doesn't do anything. It doesn't look back, or smell funny, or attack. It just sits there.

Muzaji reachs up one hoof to give Chaos a nudge. Points between the slats of the palettes. Doesn't actually say anything, for sake of startling whatever it is hiding under there.

Rising-Chaos moves in wiht Muzaji to peer in to the shack. Muzaji bings the thing hiding in there to her attention. Chaos takes the initiative and slips past the zebra to investigate. "now now," she whispers, "what's this then?" Her horn sparks to life, casting a bit of light to illuminate whatever is sitting in the shadows.

The horn glow helps to banish some of the deepening shadows of the approaching evening. The object is revealed to be… a conch shell? Yep. A big, spine-ridged conch seashell, sitting on the ground up near the corner of the house. The magical sensation rolls off the shell, though at the 'disturbance,' it doesn't appear to react in any way. The area around it looks… clean, less dirt and gathered debris than litters the rest of the alleyway, and something appears to be possibly written on the ground beneath the shell.

Muzaji … actually frowns slightly at this. "This is certainly an unlikely lot. Prehaps tides have turned sooner than thought…" Which… probably makes no sense to anypony other than herself. "Too far from the shore to be washed in, its placement here cannot be on a whim." The zebra gets up from the ground, chuffing into her bangs. A magic conch shell. She almost seems… concerned. "I hope I am just paranoid… and this is not a bad omen to avoid…"

The cart-pulling earth pony up the road continues to approach, close enough now that the rumble of her cart's wooden weels over the dirt road can be heard, along with the occasional squeak of an axle that could use some grease. She glances up as she notices the others gathered near the side of the road, but doesn't say anything.

Rising-Chaos listens to Muzaji's cryptic words and scoffs. "Nonesense, nothing to be worried about." the sound sof wheels makes her look back over her shoulder. "Let's see what the mystery is here." She picks up the shell wiht her magic, taking care despite her brave words, and looks underneath.

On the cloud over head Queen stands up and gently nudges the cloud; clearly contemplating.

The shell is lifted without incident; as it is, the source of the magic can be sense to move with it. It's the shell that's the root of the magical aura, it seems… but mere moments after the shell is picked up, the aura flickers, then fades, soon dying out entirely like a snuffed flame. Some blue sand trickles and falls out of the shell, scattering harmlessly on the ground nearby.

With the shell moved, the 'writing' can be more clearly seen. Rough cobblestones make up the ground of this alleyway, and around where the shell was situated, the dirty and leaves and other gathered debris has been swept back, clearing out a space. And in this space is… a spiral, hewn into the very rock. It's about a foot and a half wide, radiating outwards in three loose bands. Its contours are rough, but relatively even, having gouged out the interceding material of the cobblestones and left nothing behind.

There is something… unpleasant about it. Something instinctual in one's mind expresses discomfort at looking upon the spiral. It's quickly disregarded, though, and ceases the moment one looks away.

Muzaji scoots back from the pile, the usually passive trader now on edge. "It -is- an omen, unpleasant indeed. The warning one should take heed." Golden baubles jingle lightly as she stiffens upright and looks around, ears twitching uneasily. But it's only the farmer passing with their cart. For now. "An ill wind blows, a foul tide flows. But when they shall come unknown to all but one…"

Just a farmer with her cart. As Muzaji glances her way, the mare offers a neighborly wave and a smile. "Evenin'," she says.

Rising-Chaos doesn't seem so easily impressed, and pockets the shell as she moves bakcv on to the street. She's shaking on the inside though, the spiral and shell motif seems familair. Chaos pulls out the notebook and makes a sketch of the spiral. "I'm sure it's nothing to worry about." Her voice giving a small indication of how shaken she is. She nods back to the farmer, "evening miss."

A few moments after Rising and Muzaji look away from the pile, there's a BANG as the garbage can beside it is jolted by a sudden impact. This is followed by a rustling, there in the hollow between the objects. The pallets thump as whatever it is thumps up against them from the inside.

Queen-Pegasus's interest perks as things begin to happen. This is enough to prompt the snooping mare to lean over the edge of her cloud and watch.

Muzaji fortunately is very good at feigning pleasantry, putting on a more typical smile as she waves back. "And good evening to you as well, may the rest of your night be as swell." Ouch, that rhyme was forcing it. Once the mare is passed though her expression falls, ears lilting back partially, voice lowering again. "It was hidden too thoroughly to be 'nothing'… or prehaps not hidden at all. Baited. Only ones of certain awareness would of ever sensed such a—" She's cut off by the loud noise. The zebra literally jumps a few inches off the ground due to already being in an agitated state, followed by bolting across the street and diving for some bushes next to one of the other buildings.

Rising-Chaos tsks at the firghtened zebra, though she's equally spooked. "Nothing indeed, nothing that I cannot handle or understand." She rounds back on the source of the noise, scowling. Her voice rises in volume and takes on an aggresive tone. "I don't like being toyed with." She advances on the source of her noise, hoping nopony can see her shaking with nervousness.

The farmer smiles broadly at Muzaji's lyrical greeting, turning her head to watch her and Muzaji as the cart rolls past. "Oh, you zebras!" she says. "You really have a way with wo-" She's interrupted by the commotion in the alleyway, briefly stopping as she looks past the pair and towards the source of the noise. As the spooked Zebra dashes past, she rears up a bit, startled, then tucks forward into her harness, aiming to hurry on past. This is -weird,- and she just wants to get her gourds into the town before night time, she doesn't have time for weird stuff!

Underneath, there's more rustling, like that of a small animal. There's another thump against the pallets, followed by a scratching, and a soft whistle, like that of wind flowing throuh a narrow passage… and then a visible flicker of movement as something squirts out from between the wooden slats of the leaning pallets, tumbling to the ground near Rising's feet!

It's… a mouse! No, too small. A rat? It's rat-sized- or maybe potato-sized, if you prefer- but hazy, indistinct, in constant flux. It looks like a small cloud of dust, whirling around, twsting about, then flowing back in on itself, maintaining a relatively constant size and shape. The… thing rears up much like a rodent might, turning one end upwards, and two pinpricks of white light appear, like eyes, watching Rising. It then drops back down and swooshes along the ground until it hovers near the unicorn's hoof, reaching outward to sniff-sniff-sniff at it, creating a small, tickling breeze against Rising's hooftip.

… When there's no follow-up disaster Muzaji sticks her head out of the bush. Squints at the small sandy creature. Not the sort of doom she was expecting, to say the least. ".. What is this, some sort of dust bunny?"

Queen-Pegasus smirks broadly as she watches this whole scene from above - chaos, fear, panic. For Queen there is only a single course of action to take - a spry little hop upwards followed by throwing her weight down into the cloud. A thunderous boom heralds a lone lightning bolt that strikes the ground some distance away from the the grounded mares; not dangerous but certainly startling!

Rising-Chaos laughs. "Muzaji, come out, it's nothing to be worried about." She kneels down to get a closer look at the creature. "And what are you then?" Her horn sparks to life as she examines it for magic. The creature is curious, certainly, but seems nice enough. Soemthing about it makes Chaos deeply nervous, but she supppresses it, she was obviously worrying too much. She jumps away from the shock, thinking her fears founded. She looks up, scowling, spotting the cloud but missing the pegasus inside.

(OOC) Rising-Chaos: can Chaos detect magic on it?

As far as magic goes, the little creature- a dust bunny?- doesn't seem to radiate much magic. Or rather, it does, but it's hard to focus on. Pursuing its magical signature is like trying to look at something forever at th e edge of one's vision- retreating always when one draws near, so there are only vague suggestions instead of a definite image. But what Rising CAN perceive of the magical nature of the creature is… unpleasant. Like the spiral, there is an undefinable wrongness to the thing.

The creature rears up to sniff-sniff-sniff at Rising's nose as she leans down, its pinprick light eyes blinking out a few times. Its shape abruptly blurs and expands at the shock- apparently, even dust bunnies can be started- before it reforms. With a swirl, it shoots upward, form distending to a thin, narrow cyclone, the air whipped into a brief storm around it. The cloud of dust shoots upward towards Queenie's cloud, and with a *puff,* disappears inside it.

A moment later, and Queenie can feel the cloud churning beneath her. Slowly at first, the gathered cloud begins to spin at the center, then faster and faster, in an ever-widening pattern; the cloud is being wound up into a small cyclone, growing increasingly unstable and difficult to perch upon as it does. The occasional glimpse of tiny white eyes can be seen on the inside, along with a short, hissing gust of wind that almost sounds like… giggling.

Queen-Pegasus huffily thrusts herself airborne as whatever the thing is takes residence in her cloud. Single blue eye fixated on the thing as she pushes away while growling "Impudent, insidious little devil. I'll have my unicorns tear you asunder." powerful wings beating as she attempts to move away from the spiraling cyclone. Her presence now clear as day as her perch is occupied.

Muzaji climbs out of the bush. "Docility does not necessarily mean harmless," she murmurs, somewhat unconvinced of the 'dust bunny's' innocense. And then fwoosh off it goes, up into the cloud, and starts making a minature storm instead. "Incidious! It was locked beneath that shell, waiting to be found to raise he—" The abrupt rush of wind from the growing vortex briefly drowns her out.

Rising-Chaos frowns, her fears confirmed about the little thing. Whatever she felt from it was wrong, unidentifiably but very wrong. She spots Queen Pegasus and grimaces. "My Queen, how nice to see you." Meanwhile she's watching the mini cyclone form, and worries form with it about how dangerous this little thing could be. She backs up, not sure if she likes this anymore. "Perhaps you are correct Muzaji, I am not sure if I wnat that thing running loose."

The farmer is still hurrying away. Thunderclaps and mini-cyclones don't convince her to linger any further! Soon she disappears around another corner, and though the rumbling and squeaking of her wagon's wheels can still be heard for a while longer, even these signs fade in time.

The hijacked cloud whirls and whirls, faster and faster. It's growing ragged at the edges as the agitation begins to disperse it. There's a few flickers and crackles inside- lightning stirred up and dissipating- but even this subsides. Soon, there's not much of the cloud left, wispy white shredded away to reveal a churning cloud of dust. When the dust zips back out of the cloud, there's not enough cloud left for the thing to maintain its shape, and the next gust of evening wind dissipates it utterly.

So, too, does the passing wind disperse the dust, making the dust bunny abruptly vanish. It appears to be gone entirely until a few leaves and some more dust near the ground, along the road across which Muzaji fled, gather together and once more form the "body" of a potato-sized stormcloud. It swooshes across to the side of the road, skidding low along the ground, and nears the edge of a building, then starts picking its way along, creeping away from the gathered ponies, a blur of movement easily overlooked by one who does not know what they are looking for- but easy enough to pursue if one chooses.

Rising-Chaos scowls as the thing reforms, and follows it, determined not to let such a thing get away. She keeps her distance for now, not certain how dangerous it is.

Oh curse her excessive curiosity. Despite her previous aggitation Muzaji is quick to follow on Rising's heels, if only just to find out what the buck is up with this thing and why it was left where it could be uncovered.

Queen-Pegasus gives a little shrug and begins to flutter after Rising and Muzaji. "Perhaps you should stuff that thing back into it's shell, yes? THen give it to me for safe keeping?" Such a thing could be very useful indeed.

The dust bunny skitters along the base of the building, then swooshes away, over to a bush. The leaves and branches rattle before the little swirling cloud emerges, laden with a few more leaves caught up in its currents. By now it seems to realize it's being followed, and skids along the ground to dart between Muzaji's legs… and linger there. Once again it stops and rears up, extending part way to *sniff sniff sniff* at one of Muzaji's stripes. It tickles, but it's otherwise harmless. Tiny white light eyes turn and blink up at the zebra curiously.

Muzaji skids to a stop when the dust devil scoots back towards her. And under her. And stops to sniff at her. She leans a little in the other direction, but refrains from making any sudden moves. Now would be a good time for somepony to shove the shell back on top of it….

Rising-Chaos may not be the most foresightful mare, but she sees an opportunity when it's there. She grabs the shell and slams it down on the cloud as best she can. "That's just about enough of that," she growls. She looks up and smiles at Queenie. "I think that this thing should be taken the utmost care of my Queen. Perhaps it would be safest with you."

Queen-Pegasus perches atop a roof to curiously watch the events unfold - she has half a mind to believe things won't end so easily; but that's not really a concern for her consindering she's up here and that thing is /down/ there.

The creature twists about and looks up just in time to see the shell dropping towards it! It moves to dart away but is too slow, and the conch drops down heavily atop the thing. There's movement inside, soft thumps and surges, as the captured dustbunny pushes against the confines of its prison, but it seems unable to escape. The occasional windy squeak can be heard from within.

Muzaji whews when Rising shells the thing. "Slip something under that before picking it up again," she mutters as she steps out of the way. "If allowed to roam free and gain more dust, I doubt it would stay so tiny and harmless."

Queen-Pegasus humms softly while tapping a hoof against her perch while watching the 'help' do all the work. "Isn't magic wonderful? Always there to stir up trouble when nopony asked for it." smriking. "Magic is certainly troublesome.

Rising-Chaos moves closer to it, grinning. she looks around, seeing nothing she can place underneath the shell. Sighing, she slides her clipboard beneath it, and levitates that up. She's not having any troubles with the thing, though after some time the constant pressure may wear her down. "I rather think magic is a wonderful thing my Queen," she replies to Queen Pegasus, looking up at the mare and smiling. "For now, I'd like to get this thing in a secured container, where it can be contained indefinetly."

The shell and clipboard rattle against eachother as the contained dustbunny tries its confinement, but again, it isn't strong enough to escape.

Muzaji just looks relieved that it proved to be only a minor nuciance… thought what if this is only the first? Meh. Time to worry about that another time. "A jar or a vase, anything to keep it in place."

After several moments the rattling and thumping inside the shell ceases. Soon it seems as though there's nothing in there, but then, the substantiality of the dust bunny was always suspect.

Queen-Pegasus ponders curiously while pacing atop of the roof. "Indeed. Secure that thing. I doubt putting it back at this point would even herald a result. This is what you two get for meddling." Whatever, she totally would have disturbed it.

Muzaji pulls a length of leather cord from the depths of her cloak, passing it to Chaos. "Wrap that 'round, to be safe and sound." Then turns to give Queenie a look that's equal parts annoyance and bemusement. "As if you would not."

Rising-Chaos isn't taking any chances, and keeps the clipboard tight over the shell. "I'll put it somewhere safe." She smirks, trotting away back towards home, wrapping the leather cord around the shell. "I am glad I meddled, it gives me something to do." She casts an eye back t the two mares. "Keep an eye out though, something tells me this isn't the last one we'll be seeing."

Queen-Pegasus hmms softly as Rising begins to run off without asking for permission. "So disrespectful." She mutters before taking to the air with the intent to head back to the Vanity.

Rising-Chaos bows to the Queen. "My Queen, you'll have to pardon my departure, I'll be coming to see you soon however, we have something to discuss."

"Far from the last before this has passed," Muzaji murmurs. The unicorn goes one way, the pegasus goes the other, and the zebra just shakes her head a bit. It could just be a coincidence, but… the zebra turns, narrowing her gaze slightly at the heap the thing came from. Was this really her work, or was she just being paranoid because of that ominous note the 'Mysterious Wanderer' left upon? "Something stinks and it's not the trash; only time will tell before larger waves crash…"

Queen-Pegasus waves a hoof dismissively as she flutters off towards the Vanity.

… Later, in the dead of night…

A cloaked figure emerges from the alleyway, thick cloth masking the finer details of its appearance, a shadowed hood obscuring its face. A saddlebag adorns its side, and something long, thin, and bound in black velvet fabric is strapped to its back. On slender legs, the figure quietly pads over to the arrangement of materials there against the side of the building and pulls the dead potted plant aside to peer underneath. The shell is gone; the spiral remains, but its edges are rough and worn in a way they were not when the design was hewn into the cobblestones, or when it was discovered by unknown interlopers. "Intrigiung…" the shrouded pony whispers to itself. "The containment held… and then was broken. Where did it go…?"

The figure draws itself up, looking around slowly, observing the surroundings. It then turns away and disappears back into the shadows from whence it came… and the remaining night passes peacefully.