Waking from Nightmare
IC date: Winter 243, 1007 AN / Autumn 62, 1007 AC
OOC date: November 19, 2012
PCs: Blackbird, Brume, Carronade, Heartsong, Jellybean, Kludge, Magpie, Manyara, Plot-Twist, Queen-Pegasus, Rising-Chaos, Ruby-Blossom, Rusty-Gears, Sadaka, Sky-Sparkler, Skyflower, Snowfield, Sodium-Fizz, Solar-Wind, Spindrift, Stormdancer, Thunnini, Typhoon-Wave, Whistlestop, Windrose, Winter-Solstice
NPCs: Harmony-Charmer, Nightmare Moon, Professor Redmane, Glimmer, Heatsink, Bonfire, Daffodil, Hearth, Maelstrom, Monsoon, Spectre
GM: Applejack, Trixie, Fluttershy

The Elements of Harmony and their allies from Horseshoe Harbor have been battling Harmony-Charmer in the heart of the Changeling Hive in the Nightmare World.

Soon enough, the Harborites trapped in the Nightmare World, the Horseshoe Base ponies, and their allies arrive after battling zombies on the surface above.

The stage is set for a confrontation of epic proportions! What was once a brood chamber for the changelings who called this hive their home has been converted into a portal chamber! The light of day shines from a shimmering rift in the middle of the room from which snow occasionally blows and vines creep to dig their roots into unfamiliar soil. The Elements of Harmony lay on the ground soundly defeated, the color seemingly drained from their bodies and frost already rimed upon their still forms.

A familiar filly in the room currently facing down new arrivals from Horseshoe Harbor is likely the source of this turn of events: the Lich Queen who commanded the zombie hordes, now known to the newly arrived Harborites as Harmony Charmer. And if the way Carronade was so easily seduced to the side of evil by her fel magics is any indication she probably has that name for a reason.

Of course, she may have gone a little overboard on the brainwashing this time around, or drastically underestimated Carronade's mental fortitude, considering the larger stallion has picked up the poor filly and is mercilessly hugging her and talking about all the fun things they're going to do now that they're /best friends/ while she desperately tries to wriggle out of his grip.

"That's a good stallion," Harmony Charmer says cheerfully as she seduces another fool to her side. "Is there anypony else who wants to be my fr—hurk!" Her next victim is spared as Carronade picks her up and gives her a big ol' squeeze. "Put me down! Friends don't hug until after the second play date!" she squeaks.

A gunshot rings out with a deafening bang and the filly's writhing is rudely interrupted. Bone and flesh splatter against the far wall and the unicorn's hair falls over her face.

"…that really stings, you know?" she says with a sniffle after several seconds. Her gaze lifts to pout at Queen Pegasus, lip aquiver. She doesn't appear to have been injured at all by the bullet, regardless of the evidence on the wall! She squirm squirm squirms again to get out of Carronade's grip. "I can't do that. If I let them know Nightmare Moon will come hunting for them and it won't be safe here. The only safe thing is to let her have them so she stops looking." She shrugs at Stormdancer. Foal duty isn't her purview.

"Then you make enemies of us all," states Spindrift, a cloak-clad Mysterious Wanderer facing down the evil filly, before lashing out with a forehoof. The magical energies gathered around Brume- a shimmering wave of force conjured by the music of the hammered dulcimer he plays with his hooves- are directed towards Harmony Charmer in a sudden, sharp bolt of unseen force, aiming to punch through Harmony Charmer like a bullet. Brume, tall, slender, seafoam-green and with a mirthful air even in this oppressively sinister setting, smiles as he plays his music, drawing forth more energy to replace that which Spindrift just drew from- though he does wince a bit, hoping Spindrift doesn't strike Carronade in the process. He's a nice fellow, after all.

Spindrift rolls 1d20 (MAGIC MISSILE.) — Result: 4 | Sum: 4

Winter-Solstice tumbles down the tunnel, Sodium Fizz astride her back, and turns to nose and poke at the pegasus. "Soda?" she asks, trying to get a better look at the alchemists's wounds. "Stay awake! Don't go towards the light. Well, unless it's the light of the portal. Go towards that one! Once Evil Snowfield is out of the way!"

Well, Thunnini doesn't have much, but she does have the water in the bucket of her go-kart. On a whim, she spins up a quick looping current of water, then launches the stream of water at Harmony Charmer.

Speaking of Snowfield, she is nowhere to be seen! Must've rolled down a wrong tunnel.

Kludge rolls 1d20 (Water + Coldness pony + ??? = PROFIT?) — Result: 17 | Sum: 17

And Blackbird is charging raggedly down the tunnels toward the sounds of fighting — if he can figure out which is the right tunnel!

Sodium-Fizz, for her part, seems rather adamant to follow that suggestion, working as she is on downing her third consequtive healing drought. She's certainly better of… though not particularly good, and… "Wh-waht's going on here…?" asked Soda, her head craning around to take in the room before her. And the ponies! "They're…? The lich!" A grey hoof came up, pointing at the creature.

Way to point out the obvious.

"It IS the lich!" says Winter, contractually obligated to respond to dumb obvious statements. "We HAVE to STOP her!"

Rising-Chaos recovers a bit from the shock of the portal and takes a minute to observe the situation. Immediately she realizes she's outclassed and follows the only sensible course of action. She conjures an illusion that makes her near invisible and skulks along the farthest wall from Harmony Charmer, waiting for an opportunity.

Blackbird rolls 1d10 (Navigation, HOOOO!) — Result: 9 | Sum: 9

Magpie , riding Kludge's back, arrives just in time to see that creepy filly get shot in the head… and recover. She gasps and shudders. "You!"

We're definately going to go with the enchantment working -too- well in this case. "NONSENSE! FRIENDS ALWAYS HUG!" As despite The Littlest Lich's squirming Carronade is still trying to smother her in affection with a dopey mizemerized look in his eyes. Even as she's shot at and slung magic at while in his embrace, seemingly unphased. But considering this is a guy that shoots off cannons for a passtime, that's probably small fries to him. Though once she does wiggle free he just sort of sits there like a big doofus.

Bigger doofus than usual, that is.

Crashing and scrambling down one of the tunnels, a shaggy-maned, newly scarred school teacher thunders onto the scene, with a new bit of sharp rock wielded like a spear in his mouth. His sides heave as Blackbird's lime-green eyes flick frantically for what's going on, landing on the lich. Snarling, he rears back, but finds there's no way to attack her from his current vantage point that won't hurt Carronade. … And really, is Carronade hurting her anyway? Hard to say.

Ruby-Blossom arrives alongside Kludge-riding Magpie - certainly evil-doers that don't go down when having a hole blown in their head ISN'T a good thing. She /almost/ puts a hoof over Maggie's mouth to shoosh her before realizing it's kinda still covered in chunky zombie butter. She shhs her softly instead "No need to draw attention."

Jellybean whimpers: that filly is the creepiest thing he's ever met. But now's not the time to be afraid. Or it totally is, but not to let that stop him. He leaps into the air again and leads the charge, bringing the light of the Sun Charm into the fore again.

"Agreed," murmurs Kludge, looking over at Ruby. Once again he's not completely sure what he can do to help, but he's ready to improvise as needed.

Windrose isn't far behind the others, but skids mid-air to a halt as they find a whole lot of ponies around the chamber. And the little snow bitter berry too, and whom she presumes are the other Elements sprawled out cold on the ground. The first response that comes to mind upon seeing this?

She turns and flits up next to Blackbird to bop him on the side of the head. Then points at the other gathering around Charmer. "See? I -told- you not to say things like that!"

Sodium-Fizz shuddered: that filly was like the third creepiest thing she'd seen, clocking in right behind… well, best not think about it. She slumped her head against Winter's neck, peering intently at the sceen. "W-what's going on…? And… what can we do 'bout it…? I…" She looked down, blinking. "I… have a crossbow…?"

Blackbird goes crosseyed for a moment, then grimaces. "Srree," he mumbles around his weapon. Shrug.

Rusty glares over at the little pony. There's nothing she can do - not with Carronade right there! - but she's gripping that sawblade pretty tight. It takes her a moment to realize other ponies have shown up! But she perks up immediately when she does, scanning them quickly. Familiar faces! This is /progress/!

Typhoon has made it through the portal as well! She's looking a bit dizzy and maybe a little ill, but she's here! …And so is one of the tag-along clouds. How did that happen? Oh well. She blinks dazedly as she looks around. …What is going on here? Did that pony just get /shot/? /And not die/?! Ohgoddess wannagohome.

Skyflower was helping recover the refugees but as soon as that was finished she ran off to 'grab just a few things, won't be a minute, don't wait up.' And now she returns, with a slightly manic look on her face and a certain charmingly rugged purple pegasus stallion toting a small cart of only the finest pyrotechnics supplies. "I do hope I'm not interrupting, darlings!"

Stormdancer is now playing hoofed artillery wagon! After her seafilly cargo gets off a shot at The Lich, she starts scooting around to the side. The pegasus doesn't really know what's going to be coming next, but she does know she doesn't want to be standing still when it happens!

Whistlestop has tried to get through the portal, but of course, he's just a little too big. So now he's stuck with the HIGHLY unsettling sensation of having both ends in two different planes of existence, as his shoulders are stuck. "I wanna help! LEMME HELP!" Flail flail.

Free! Finally free! Harmony Charmer successfully slinks out of Carronade's terrible hug and begins to move towards the group once more, eyes aglow with her fel light. Spindrift's magical missles seem on track to hit the unicorn but she's able to see them coming. Her sidesteps and hops to avoid the blasts link seamlessly into a dancing advance. "Me!" she says to Magpie with glee. "Aren't you happy to see me? You're here to be my friend, arwharrgarbl"

The blast of water from Thunnini's tank hits Harmony Charmer square in the face, interrupting her seduction spell as her lilting pleas turn into glub glub glubs. She stomps a hoof in frustration and pouts, "Stop /doing/ that!" Thunnini recieves /the biggest sadface/.

And then Jellybean comes in swinging that darn pendant of his. "Hey!" she shouts. "What are you doing with that? Did you carry that in here!" Her expression flashes to a snarl for the briefest of moments. "You're gonna lead her right here, you idiot!" Her horn glows that sickening acid green again, sending a ripple of energy through the air. It's a wave of pure force to knock Jellybean out of the air and into the far wall.

"And the rest of you!" she says sternly. "You all tromp into /my/ home and begin wrecking things and assaulting me! That is terrible! You are the absolute worst ponies! You should feel ashamed of yourselves for what you've done!" The words carry weight far deeper than a mere scolding. They go straight from the ear to the heart, bypassing the brain entirely and making one feel like they should sit in the corner and cry for a few minutes.

Trixie rolls 1d20 (YOU ARE WORST PONY) — Result: 3 | Sum: 3

Magpie rolls 1d20 (Shameless.) — Result: 6 | Sum: 6
Kludge rolls 1d20 (Kludge) — Result: 3 | Sum: 3
Blackbird rolls 1d20 (Aaaaaaaaa) — Result: 19 | Sum: 19
Kludge rolls 1d20 (Thunnini) — Result: 7 | Sum: 7
Blackbird rolls 1d20 (Whistlestop) — Result: 1 | Sum: 1
Rising-Chaos rolls 1d20 (save) — Result: 14 | Sum: 14
Ruby-Blossom rolls 1d20 — Result: 3 | Sum: 3
Carronade rolls 1d20 (Times like this its a good thing my head is so dense?) — Result: 15 | Sum: 15
Winter-Solstice rolls 1d20 (Winter Solstice Save vs. Jerky Jerks) — Result: 11 | Sum: 11
Ruby-Blossom rolls 1d20 (Queen!) — Result: 10 | Sum: 10
Trixie rolls 1d2 (Does a tie beat the spell? 1 for yes, 2 for no.) — Result: 1 | Sum: 1
Heartsong rolls 1d20 ((Sadaka)) — Result: 9 | Sum: 9
Spindrift rolls 1d20 (Spindrift Save vs. Rival Wizards) — Result: 14 | Sum: 14
Brume rolls 1d20 (Brume Save vs. Too Young to Hit On :() — Result: 20 | Sum: 20
Heartsong rolls 1d20 (Rusty) — Result: 20 | Sum: 20
Stormdancer rolls 1d20 (Stormie!) — Result: 4 | Sum: 4
Sodium-Fizz rolls 1d20 (Fizzy is crazy and twisted, try it, punk!) — Result: 2 | Sum: 2
Heartsong rolls 1d20 (Manyara) — Result: 6 | Sum: 6
Windrose rolls 1d20 (Oh god kids crying again) — Result: 1 | Sum: 1
Jellybean rolls 1d20 — Result: 13 | Sum: 13
Skyflower rolls 1d20 — Result: 7 | Sum: 7
Sky-Sparkler rolls 1d20 — Result: 6 | Sum: 6

"No more ashamed than you for stealing our foals!" snarls Blackbird. Of course, around the weapon it's more WHARGRABRRGRRRNRNR but hey. Whistlestop, on the other hand, gets a wibbly bottom lip, and then a keening whimper, and then a blubbering, sobbing wail. "I /AM/ A BAD PONYYYYY!" the massive lug sobs. "THE WO-HER-HER-HER-ORRSTTTTT!"

Queen can't help but tsk as her tiny flint lock pistol didn't do nearly enough damage to the creepy, clearly undead thingie. Oh but what's - the mare steps behind Carronade's unguarded cannon; fortunately for Queenie these words are like praise and only boast her vile nature. She leans against the cannon and gently taps it with one hoof - sure there are plenty of innocent ponies in this chamber; but that's not of her concern. "A little collateral damage can't be helped…" Fully prepared to blow a hole into any, and everything like the evil mare she is. Never leave your toys untended, kiddies.

The words of Harmony Charmer tug fairly hard on Kludge's heart… but then, it's hard to feel complete sympathy for the one responsible for all of these undead. Still, sad pouty face.

Thunnini, on the other hoof, is feeling a bit sheepish, but she's rather proud that she was able to interfere with Charmer's false friendmaking. Yay for surprise seapony attacks!

Windrose doesn't even break down crying. Because instead she makes a few odd faces and then froze up entirely from emotional overload from the lich's powers, flopping over on her back and too distraught to move. Harmony Charmer used EMOTIONAL TANTRUM. It's SUPER EFFECTIVE!

Jellybean zips and dives, twists and dodges but, well, magic wave of force. He goes flying and hits a far wall, but the Sun Charm remains undimmed despite the loud THUD of him smacking the wall and sliding down.

Rising-Chaos slips back aroudn the room, what she's seen shows her that there's nothing she could possibly do. She join Queen Pegasus behind the cannon. "My apologies my Queen, I wanted to check something," she offers as apology for her absence. She drops the illusion and join the realm of the easily visible and keeps her machete ready. She spots ponies filling the chamber from the opposite side. All they have to do, Chaos figures, is get those ponies through the portal, then they can go and collapse the portal behind them. Unfortunately, Chaos cannot seem to figure out a way to do so.

Magpie rolls 1d20 (How well can you talk with a broken jaw?!) — Result: 6 | Sum: 6

"Augh! Jelly!" Magpie winces at the magical words, but seeing her little friend slapped back like that just pulls a switch in her head, and little Maggie charges the lich with the broken-off branch she'd been kneecapping zombies with outside!

Stormdancer falters in her dashing, having to hop and skip to keep from faceplanting. She gives a giant *SNFFFFF*- but keeps going! Have to keep 'Nini mobile, after all, and that's more important!

Winter-Solstice glances back at Sodium. "Well… well, you did!" she says. She then turns, glancing back at the harbor ponies. She's staying near the back for now… and though she aches to fight like a real hero, sometimes there are more important things. "Okay, while she's distracted, let's go!" says Winter, gesturing to the base ponies. "We'll cover you while you get through the portal! We… ahh…" Her voice falters for a moment, as does her step, and she very nearly topples over, head suddenly swimming. What is this… this DESPAIR? This unfamiliar feeling? Winter is not affected overly much, but she is bewildered in the resistance, only barely managing to stay upright. "I think… I think I need… a big tub of ice cream," she sighs, melancholically.

Spindrift drops back, throwing up a fold of her cloak over her face. Around her the air shimmers; a brief flicker of nullified magic repels the worst of the bewitching spell. She does cough, dropping to a knee, and reaches up to clutch her head. For that one moment it all seems utterly hopeless. She's RIGHT. She IS the worst… wait! No! Harmony Charmer is the worst pony! Spindrift hauls upright and growls under her breath, readying for another assault.

Brume. Ain't. Give. A buck. He throws himself into his music with relish, a broad grin glittering on the angled features of his face. The ringing notes of his song play across the nearby snow and ice like rays of sunshine, the magical energy they gather felt even by those who haven't a lick of magical sense in them. It's inspiring, uplifting, calling to mind happier times, of friends and family and warm nights by the fireplace or beneath the setting sun. Even those base ponies who have never known the sun's warmth feel a little inspiring kindling in their souls.

As he plays, he turns to flash Harmony Charmer a rakish grin. "I can appreciate the gothic mystique," he says, "And you're working it quite well. But I've really found a nice jig is much more of a crowd-pleaser. Come, now, why so glum? Wouldn't you rather join us in what should be a lovely reunion? It's not too late! There's room in this party for one more!" He plays on, hoping a bit of the inspiring magic his music bears forth will soften the heart of even this frozen little filly.

RUSTY-GEARS DOES NOT CARE FOR YOUR SHENANIGANS! The pinto pony gives a snort of rage. She has had enough of this. Sawblade? Sawblade! …Or not? The blade is tossed - downwards, into the icy ground with a CHUNK! No, she's digging in her saddlebag now. Something quite different is getting tossed. Something giving off a soft ssssssssss. And smoke. This something? This something will probably explode.

Typhoon-Wave has recovered from her momentary daze. And now the little pony is talking! Which gets her attention, because wait, did they do something bad? Of course they did. They tried to hurt her. Awwww, now she feels ba- wait. Wait. /WAIT/. "Jellybean!"

The violet pegasus doesn't pause to think. She does not feel bad anymore. She grabs the cloud and just plain hucks it into the air, giving it a kick to position it closer to the offending 'filly'. And then she dives after it, spinning to give it a big firm KICK. Which would rather strongly jar a blast of lightning from the roiling stormcloud (and probably a burst of cold rain to boot!). Who's the bad pony NOW?!

Skyflower's lip wobbles. "Oh no, Whistlestop, darling, you simply MUST NOT listen to that horrible, horrible filly! You are NOT a horrible pony. You are the kindest, bravest and most gentle stallion I have EVER met and I've told you this before. Now who are you going to listen to, lamb? Me, or her?"

That having been said her horn glows as she reaches past Whistlestop's flailing form to get at the cart: several small rockets are now floating behind her, fuses a-burning. "How DARE you say those things about my Whistlestop! We've only just met but I do believe that I have never found anypony quite so distasteful as you in my entire life! You have hurt my friends, terrorized these poor foals and are apparently responsible for the simply GHASTLY plague of the living dead that we have had to deal with, and I can say without any doubt whatso-"

She really needs to remember how long her fuses are one of these days. The rockets all blaze off in the direction of the Lich. These aren't ka-blam style rockets but instead loud bursts and bright flashes: hopefully she can dizzy and distract her without discomfitting too many of her friends in the process.

Blackbird rolls 1d10 (Listening to Skyflower) — Result: 7 | Sum: 7

Queen's hoof gets all twitchy - loaded cannon and all.

Music! Oh hey. This is something she can work with. Heartsong has been hanging with the Pegasi bandits, trying to be useful. And… and failing pretty well, actually. She can fly, but she's not much of a fighter. And she startles easily. She's mostly just been fluttering around! Feeling like a horrible coward. But this, this is something she can do. She zips over beside Brume, adding her voice to his melody. Time to lift some pony spirits!

Brume's gaze flicks to Heartsong, his grin spreading, and he swiftly adapts his music to her vocal stylings. A capable musician, he, one who readily accommodates and impromptu duet. DOUBLE BARD NATURAL 20 RALLYING SONG COMBO.

Maybe it was because he was already hypnotized. Or maybe it was because his head is so thick and his mind rather simple in the first place. Either way, he doesn't seem to be breaking down into tears of induced self-pity and terror like several of the other ponies. He does make a bit of a quivering expression, but it appears more in concern than loathing. "AW SHE'S SO SAD. MAYBE I SHOULD HUG HER AGAIN" He gets up, looking well like he's going to do just that.

But there there was lightning! And firecrackers! Bright Flashes And Colors!

"OR THAT. OOOOOH. AAAAAAAH. FIREWORKS MAKE EVERYPONY FEEL BETTER!" And now he's just back to grinning like the big lovable oaf he is, hoisting a hoof over his head in approval to the pryotechnic display.

Sodium-Fizz flinches, quite noticably, her vial of healing brew dropping to the floor at Winter's side. A shadow of pain, though not physical, flashes across her face. It's -true- really, she's always dragged trouble and pain in her wake. And… and… Soda bit down her lower lip, hard enough to draw blood even. Steadfast, Canterlot, Snowdale, Manehattan, Fillydelphia… everywhere, just missery, 'cause of her… It was just to… much.

For the second time today Sodium-Fizz dissapread from Winter's back, though this time she's just lying listlessly on the ground. Whatever lies she'd usauly tell herself swept away by Charmer's magical worlds; leaving only running, in this case running from the concious world.

Maybe it was because Carronade was already hypnotized. Or maybe it was because his head is so thick and his mind rather simple in the first place. Either way, he doesn't seem to be breaking down into tears of induced self-pity and terror like several of the other ponies. He does make a bit of a quivering expression, but it appears more in concern than loathing. "AW SHE'S SO SAD. MAYBE I SHOULD HUG HER AGAIN" He gets up, looking well like he's going to do just that.

But there there was lightning! And firecrackers! Bright Flashes And Colors!

"OR THAT. OOOOOH. AAAAAAAH. FIREWORKS MAKE EVERYPONY FEEL BETTER!" And now he's just back to grinning like the big lovable oaf he is, hoisting a hoof over his head in approval to the pryotechnic display.

Whistlestop's blubbering warbles down to a whimper, big crocodilian tears still pouring down his cheeks. He's not a hundred-percent better, but he does feel better with Miss Skyflower defending him like that. Such a nice pony.

As for Blackbird, he's about to charge in when a hissing object catches his attention, and he whirls, to spy… "RSSTY!" Spitting away his rock away, he charges toward her in glee, only to yell in surprise as fireworks explode! Lightning crashes! Bangs go off!! And he finds himself tumbled to the ground in dazed confusion. Whaaa

Winter-Solstice shakes her head slowly. Worst pony? Worst pony… she shakes her head. No, she isn't the worst pony! That's just silly. Wearily, Winter turns her head, looking to Soda, to find her collapsed. With a weary sigh- Winter may not be the worst pony, but she's not the BEST pony, seeing as her marefriend keeps getting chewed up- Winter kneels beside Sodium and draws her unconscious form close, seating herself on the snow-slicked floor as she clutches the pegasus to her chest with her forelegs. Right now, it's all she has the heart to do, until the last of the bewitching cobwebs of doubt and misery can be blown out of her ears by the WINDS of JUSTICE.

Magpie rolls 1d20 (Maggie tries to evade getting lightning'd and firework'd) — Result: 2 | Sum: 2

Magpie 's ill-fated attack not only completely misses the lichy-pony, it also puts her right there when the bangs bang, the flares flare, and the lightning thunders. She tumbles back, clutching her ears and twitching on the floor, completely stunned and out of it.

You paged Sodium-Fizz with 'Actually, Winter's ENDURANCE talent is as much about endurance of the spirit as it is physical endurance, so she'll be fine. Sodium is going to have to put up with constant irrepressible incompetent motivation, I hope you are okay with that'.

Harmony Charmer watches with smug satisfaction as Whistlestop begins to bawl madly, Sodium goes catatonic, and… well, really, not much else happens. That self-satisfied smirk sinks into a spiteful scowl as almost NOPONY seems to be affected. In fact, those two musicians seem to be ENCOURAGED by it and are now singing a cheerful ditty at her in defiance! This cannot be allowed to pass!

"You know what?' the unicorn says. "You all aren't worth the trouble of converting. I'm going to suck the life from your souls and make you /husks/!" That was less of a 'said' and more of a 'shout' by the end of it. She glowers at Magpie charging in and whacking her with a stick. Undead Lords are not impressed by mere sticks! She responds with a headbutt, a particularly potent reposte considering she has a big spike on her forehead.

This is about when Rusty's bomb bounces into the fray. "Smoke bombs? Really? /Really?/" The Lich Queen seems nonplussed by the lobbed bomb. She pulls a hoof back to kick it towards Rusty again. "Now you're just disresp—" Typhoon's well-timed lightning strikes with pinpoint precision, causing every muscle of the unicorn's body to sieze up at once. She stumbles for several seconds trying to magic her limbs into working again as the timer on the bomb fizzes away…

>BOOM!<

The smoke grenade blossoms into a smokesplosion which startles the little unicorn and makes her take a few steps back. "Play time is /over/!" she screams… just as a great big ball of ice comes crashing through one of the entrances to the brood chamber. Harmony Charmer can't see it in time with the smoke in the air and it hits is squarely, carrying her into the far wall where it shatters into a shower of ice crystals and reveal the Snowfield within.

"You again…!" Harmony Charmer mumbles to her doppelganger as she climbs to her feet.

"I hope I'm interrupting something," the forest witch says off-handedly, though unsteadily since Snowfield just spent a very long time spinning around in a ball.

Harmony casts a glance back at the other ponies in the room as if trying to decide her next move. She doesn't get very long to think when Skyflower's fireworks all go off at once! They fill the room with flashes of light and plumes of smoke and effectively drops the visibility to zero.

When the smoke begins to clear from the room there are now two Snowfields. Same bags under the eyes, same frozen hourglass cutie mark. The pink ribbon Harmony Charmer had been wearing is on the ground between the two of them.

"…really?" one of the Snowfields asks.

"It would seem that way," the other replies.

Magpie twitches on the ground, clutching her ringing head. She's pretty much out of it for now. Unfortunate positioning, though, being in the line of the cannon.

Whistlestop bellows in surprise at all the flashes and the noise; Blackbird is on the ground, much like Magpie, dazed and confused.

Kludge has an idea on how to sort out the Snowfields, but, y'know, Maggie. He dashes in and hauls the younger mare out of the line of fire of the cannon, then turns to keep an eye on the Snowfields.

A resounding thud defeans every occupant in the chamber as Carronade's big ol' cannon errupts with an explosive boom; well Queen at least had the good mind to cover her ears. The powerful recoil thowning Queenie flank first atop of Rising who's busy cowering behind her like a good pet. The smaller mare firmly squished by 'royal' flank. The mare mutters to nopony in particular "That was impressive." Not that anypony could hear her after that.

Ruby-Blossom rolls 1d10 (Explosive~) — Result: 3 | Sum: 3

Trixie rolls 1d10 (Snowfield 1) — Result: 6 | Sum: 6
Trixie rolls 1d10 (Snowfield 2) — Result: 2 | Sum: 2

Spindrift reaches a hoof back, feeling out the magical well conjured by Brume's lively jig. That's good music. Nice. Potent. She can do a lot with that. She could crush a lot of skulls with music that potent.

Or she could just start packing up and leaving. Throwing her hand forward, she gestures towards Maelstrom, and channels Brume's magic into a cushion of force that lifts the burly, frozen unicorn. Spindrift then reaches towards the portal, and starts levitating Maelstrom's body in that direction.

"Picking out your souvenirs already, Spindrift?" comments Brume with a smile.

The other Mysterious Wanderer shakes her head. "We can just leave," she says, to Brume and anybody else nearby. "And the unicorn that objects and tries to stop us is the one that needs to be destroyed." Her manner is curt and businesslike as she focuses on levitating Maelstrom out through the portal. If he's still alive under the frost, she's more than confident he can be restored back in the safety of the warm world.

Brume, his instrument set up near the portal, smiles as he watches the big unicorn drift past. "Nice. Get Spectre next, though. She's the cutest."

Ruby finds that there is simply too much going on for her to jump into the fray - particular since the big players are now duking it out. She does the best next thing and latches onto Maggie once Kludge drags her out of the fray - intent on holding the smaller mare, and protecting her from additional trouble. She winces and cries as the defeaning ring of the cannon.

Whistlestop, still wedged in the portal, finds himself having to smoosh against the side with a whine as they try to wedge Maelstrom past. It takes some significant magical shoving, with how big both unicorns are.

Blackbird, meanwhile, sits up a little and spies… two Snowfields? He tries to still his spinning eyes but alas. He squints. "Why are there two…?" Herburble.

Thunnini is just hunkering down in the bucket of her go-kart. It's somewhat cold, she's low on water, and it's not safe to try bonking foes on the head, especially when you can't tell the two apart.

Carronade's ears flick up at the sound of cannon fire. -His- cannon firing. First he looks down at his hooves, dumbfounded. Did he learn how to fire it by remote somehow?… No wait, that's stupid. He gets up, shakes himself off, and the tromps over to see. And sees the pirate queen sprawled out from the recoil on top of her sidekick, which actually gets him to guffaw a bit. "SERVES YOU RIGHT FOR MESSING WITH OTHER PONIES' STUFF." He grabs the cannon and pushes it away from the two of them. At least not it's unloaded and harmless, right?

Stormdancer awps and dives for the floor as the cannon goes off, her thwackin' stick skittering out across the way. Sure, she and 'Nini were far enough away from the target that there wasn't any real aim, but she hardly wants to guess wrong on -that-. Then looking back at the mess, then back over to the seafilly… "- This's gettin' -real- confusin'."

Jellybean sits up, looking wobbly but apparently without anything broken. He's dazed and apparently there are two Snowfields now. But one of them's the evil pony. There's no lightbulb over his head because he's already wearing the Sun Charm so nopony would notice, but he flies above the two and looks down. "Snowfield! Are you all right? I… I don't know which one of you is the real one but I'm so scared and I can't think of any way to help! I…" he sniffles, wiping his eyes with a hoof, "I just want this to be over so we can have a nice hug like we always do!"

Rising-Chaos is bowled over by the Queen, catching her by surprise. She helps the pegasus back to her hooves and looks to see the effects of the shot. Before that, she notices Spindrift levitating the element bearers back through the portal. Her eyes narrow, hoping the mare doesnt think she's going to escape before the affair is over.

Skyflower, seeing that her barrage has apparently no effect amidst everything else that happens, focuses instead on trying to help Whistlestop out of the portal. "Oh dear. Oh, oh my! Whistlestop, dear, do stop fidgeting. Just… yes, that's right, err, no, no your other hoof, there's a lamb…"

Whistlestop is busy flailing and being deaf by cannonshot! But at least he can /see/ Skyflower being soothing, as he squirms and sticks, and and and… gets wedged worse in his panic. At least he gets /one/ hoof through, though! That's better than he was, as he wibbles at her.

Spindrift is about to levitate Maelstrom right out of the portal but Whistlestop is in the way. She scowls, and raises her voice, shouting after him and Skyflower. "Stand aside! We can't rescue anybody if you're going to get in the way!" Spindrift yells at Whistlestop because she is a jerk. She is a jerk and that's terrible.

Queen huffs softly before shaking her head. She nudges Rising. "Lets see about getting out of here…" nudging the mare towards the clogged portal. "Ugh. Get that lunk out of the way." Sorely tempted to shove Skyflower - but noting the bigness of that big stallion is a tad discouraging.

"No hugs!" one of the Snowfields says almost instantly as Jellybean suggests it.

The other Snowfield follows up quickly, "How many times have we been over that, you clingy pegasus?"

The banter may very well have continued for longer save for the unexpected cannon blast. And really, who expected somepony to be dumb enough to fire a giant honking cannon in an enclosed space like that? The Snowfields didn't, that's for sure! There are twin cries of pain as the two of them are struck. One of them has been struck square in one of her hind legs by the grapeshot, which is not called grapeshot lightly. That ammo is awfully big and has succeeded in ripping off the poor unicorn's hoof just above the fetlock. She falls to the ground in shock. The other one is not nearly as injured, sporting several grazes which are bleeding an awful lot but don't appear to have penetrated anything important. She, too, falls down from her injuries.

Blackbird rolls 1d10 (How likely is it that BB got hit in the barrage, seeing as it's scatter shot and all?) — Result: 5 | Sum: 5

Winter-Solstice keeps Soda clutched close, lifting her head and looking up. So much smoke! So many explosions. She shakes her head and seems to be over the worst of it. Any world so full of explosions can't be too bad. She sits up, gently lowering the unconscious Soda to the floor- regretfully so, as the pegasus twitches and wrestles nightmares Winter can only imagine. The big mare starts shrugging out of her snowsuit's jacket, and then with a bit of effort, pulls Soda uprigth and uses the jacket to lash the pegasus to her back with a clumsy knot. It's not the sturdiest, but HOPEFULLY it will keep Soda snug in place as Winter looks back to the group. She turns and glances to the base ponies, and gestures to them. "Alright, Professor, Glimmer, Heatsink… all you kids whose names I can't remember… except for you! Orange Acres! I remember your name since it makes no sense for a pony from a world with no oranges! Okay, all of you, start heading towards the portal while they're fighting!"

Suddenly the ground shakes! The whole hive lurches in what feels like some kind of earthquake! Or impact… The roof of the portal room begins to show cracks in a spiderweb pattern, as several more sounds of something /smashing/ into the nearby walls echoes throughout the various tunnels!

The ceiling shatters, shards of broken hive falling to the floor. With the shattering comes a harsh cackle, an evil sound to echo throughout the hive! Pure moonlight pours through the opening, showing a straight shot all the way to the outside, where a silhouette lurks framed by the shape of the moon outside. There used to be a canopy of trees there…

When the ceiling of the brood chamber cracks open there is an immediate change in one of the Snowfields. Where the lightly injured of the pair once lay the pillar of moonlight that now bathes them reveals her to be a horrifying crime against equinity. Patchwork skin stretched taught against the skeleton. Broken hourglass brand upon her flanks. Brightly burning green fire in empty eye sockets. One of her cheekbones is missing, freshly shattered by Queen Pegasus' earlier black powder shot, and she has several holes in her side from the grapeshot which are oozing black ichor— it looks like that grapeshot hit her a lot more severely than she was letting on with her glamour.

The open sky also prompts a downright curious reaction from the lich. "Ack! No! Not her!" she shouts in a panic.

Jellybean hears the cannon-shot and gasps, but then flies down and grabs the grazed one and pulls with all of the might his little wings can manage. "Somepony help me! This is the real Snowfield!"

As the smoke clears, it seems that more ponies were injured. The injuries are just stacking up! A couple of shots hit pegasi; but another one grazed Blackbird. He's sprawled out now, a big bleeding scrape across his back and haunch, dazed as hay.

Of course, then the SKY OPENS UP, and he yawps, trying to get up. He straggles up and manages to avoid falling debris, scrabbling to Rusty's side, if he can manage it, so he can look on all this with abject horror.

Queen's response to the apperance of the evil, magnificent Queen Moon is a clasp of her hooves and resounding "Oooo! Magnificent!"

Jellybean screams when he realizes that Talent or no Talent he apparently grabbed the wrong one, drops her, and flies off in a panic, out through the portal.

Spindrift is about ready to yell at Whistlestop once more, when she is understandably distracted by the roof collapsing. Hastily she drops Maelstrom to the ground, her magic instead surging outward, creating a brief force field to catch chunks of the falling ceiling, stopping them from landing atop her, or Brume, or Whistlestop and Skyflower, or anybody else near the portal. The caught pieces are slowed for a moment before gradually sliding off the dome of force to land heavily, but harmlessly, off to the side. Exhausted by the sudden spell, Spindrift drops to her knees, quivering, and looks up towards the opened sky, gritting her teeth. Who? … no, really? Really?

Brume is likewise looking up, his music having been interrupted by the crash and the fall. He's safe, thanks to Spindrift's magic, but he's a bit slow to pick up his music once more, tapping distractedly at the strings. Around him, the shimmering well of conjured force fades as it is no longer sustained.

Rising-Chaos had been following her Queen when the ceiling opened up. Her look of worry is not form the reveal of the lich, but rather that there's something that the lich is afraid of. She gets the feeling this si going to end poorly as she looks on.

Hey! It worked! …That's pretty shocking, actually. …No pun intended. Typhoon pauses to stare for a moment, surprised she actually did something useful. That proves to be a bad idea, actually. She yelps and tumbles as the cannon goes off, toppling clumsily to the ground and cowering. Where the hay did somepony get a /cannon/?! Why would you do that?!

Easy! Because you don't care about anypony but yourself - Queen Pegasus

Kludge is helping to escort the foals to the portal, trying to keep them in an orderly bunch to keep things moving.

As for Thunnini, the seafilly has a wide-eyed look of confusion and wonderment. What is with this place?!

Magpie rouses a little, head still ringing. She looks up at the half-occluded night sky. Whua..?

Brume's song may have been interrupted but the sound continues to echo via the spectacularly strange acoustics of the hive. Such uplifting and powerful songs seem to develop minds of their own in the way they inspire others… and this song seems to be of a mind to inspire the lifeless ponies on the ground. When Maelstrom is dropped he stirs and grunts, "Cheater…"

The cannon fire, and its results, sends Skyflower into a near-fainting tizzy, and that's precisely what galvanizes Whistlestop to action. His one unstuck hoof flails and catches her, hugging him to his chest as he flails and bucks and bellows, squirming backwards out of the portal in a panic. With a resounding POP, he wrests free and the portal is open again, free and clear!

Spectre and Monsoon both shudder and seem to recover their glow, as do the twins and Daffodil. Groaning, they start to stagger to their hooves, as Monsoon mutters, "What… What?!" Heads whip up, as horrible laughter echoes through the hive.

Rising-Chaos takes a step back towards the portal, her worried expression deepening. "Wueen? Permission to leave?" For Chaos it is time to leave, now.

Winter-Solstice throws a hoof up over her face and draws back, doing her best to avoid the falling ceiling chunks. And her best is pretty good, since she totally doesn't get squashed at all! Ha ha ha! Winter grins brightly and ignores the looming evil above. And look! The portal is clear! With renewed vigor, Winter turns and bustles over to Redmane, Glimmer, Heartsong and any lingering foals. While Kludge is being slow and methodical, Winter will have none of that. "Now! Now's your chance! Go, go, go!" One hoof reaches back to occasionally shore up Sodium's balance on her back, while with the other, she starts shoving the base ponies towards the portal.

Queen lifts one rear leg and roughly bucks Rising back through the portal while keeping her eye fixated on the magnificent Queen Moon. Once more Rising is forced to endear an undignified trip through the portal; but this doesn't bother Queen one bit.

Stormdancer dodges around to avoid the debris from the sudden entrance, looking up at the gap- Looking at the full form of the Lich- and starts back towards the portal at high speed. "Oh, buck this fer a sack've bits- 'Nini, hang on!" Of course, there's the challenge of not tripping over the -rest- of the refugees making for the exit!

The leftover Base ponies happily follow Kludge towards the portal, taking advantage of /all the distractions/ to start filing out to the sunlight one after another! Only the Professor lingers behind, with the frozen forms of the Elements.

Only they don't seem to be quite so frozen anymore… They seem to be waking up! Daffodil, rising with a groggy groan of his own. "Ohhhh that wasn't very fun at all…"

Outside, the laughing grows louder, echoing off every wall, drowning out the remnants of the song that had so woken up the Elements from their lich-induced stasis. With a mighty swoop of sound the black shape of Queen Nightmare Moon dives into the opened chamber, alighting in the very moonbeam she had created, touching nimbly down amid the shards of broken hive ceiling.

"Ahahahahahah! Behold the might and power of your rightful Queen! Behold the might of Nightmare Moon! Tremble, mortals, and despair! Ahahahahahahahah!"

Spindrift pushes herself upright. Legends made real. Her gaze darkens and she turns to regard the Elements. "Hearth, Bonfire, Daffodil, Maelstrom, Monsoon, Spectre. It's time."

Brume, still staring, hooves hovering over the fretboard, shakes himself out of his reverie and starts strumming along, preparing a brisk little war ballad. To arms! say the strings. To arms, and let the light pierce the darkness that surrounds! Once more the thrumming magical energy conjured by his music begins to form, and Spindrift turns her head slightly, listening to the magic as one might listen to music, waiting. Oh, sure, we've got the Elements of Harmony here… but they might still need a little backup.

Heartsong freezes mid-note, giving a frightened squeak. Queen Moon! Ohmanohnoohdearohno… oh bad oh bad oh bad bad bad. She stares, wide-eyed, cowering down low, song momentarily forgotten. /This is bad/. She looks up at Brume almost… pleadingly? She has /no idea what to do/. But then there's more music. She lays her ears back, gulping thickly… and opens her mouth and begins to sing again. Shakily at first, soft, barely audible, but slowly getting stronger.

Ruby is not an important, magic weilding pony by anymeans, but that doesn't prevent Ruby from contributing! The turquoise mare gives Nightmare Moon the biggest scowl she can muster, take that you evil mare, you.

With the evacuation well in hoof, Kludge stands guard at the portal. He can feel the magic flowing in the air, and though he's very tempted to try to help, he knows that this is a job for the professional, not some amateur with erratic capabilities. But he can still glare defiantly at Nightmare Moon.

Ruby's big ruby-colored eyes blink as Heartsong joins with Brume's song - hey this is something she can do to; sure the contribution may not be as awesome as what Brume and Heartsong offer; but it's something. Rock on!

Sodium-Fizz twitches again, though not quite the same panicy ones as before. Not at all! With a very drawn-out groan she opened an eye, then the other; tiny, dilated eyes drifting across the room unsteadily, the mare still being very much in the bad place somewhere between crazy and complete clarity. Though for once there's no compulsion, none of the crazy focus on a task that needs doing, a idea that needs creating. Just the soothing music of Brume and Heartsong's… well, song. Her ears perk upwards at the song and she turns around, at least as far as she can manage and even then she almost slides of Winters back, "Wh-what…? Winny…"

She blinked, her eyes focusing up at Nightmare Moon.

"Soda?" asks Winter, glancing up and back as she feels Sodium stirring on her back. "You're awake! You're-"

Winter panics for a moment, and drops her butt down to the trampled snow floor to let Sodium slide smoothly off of her back. Winter shrugs out of the loosened knot of her hacket and turns to waggle a hoof in front of Fizz's face. "Don't panic! Yes, it's Nightmare Moon and this could get pretty scary, but, but- but don't do your Thing, okay? We got this! We got- those are the Elements of Harmony and they're gonna be totally better and I'm starting a petrification potion collection would you like to contribute right now please thank you!"

There's certainly a lot of trembling going on! The Queen is pleased. Her attention turns first on the routed zombie mistress. The undead Snowfield, the ruling body of the zombie horde. "You've been a thorn in my side long enough! It's time you went where you belong…" Bright eyes glitter, her horn glowing an ominous shade of purple, and then it lowers to throw a beam of magic to the fleeing lich!

In a bright shower of sparks and twisting magicks, the grotesque form of Harmony Charmer dissolves into the air, leaving behind a scream of sound, and the afterimage of a spiritual version of the same filly. "I'm…free? Free! Freeeeeee!" the spirit shrieks, floating up into the skies, a light twinkle amid the endless cloud cover showing her ultimate fate. It seems there may be some rest for the wicked now and then after all.

Despite this show of 'mercy', the Queen looks about ready to perform the same rite on the rest of the assorted ponies. She laughs again at the sight of the Ponies of Elements, and the Saviors from Horseshoe Harbor. "Ahahahahah, all of you! I applaud your audacity and your survival skills! But…" Her voice trails off. Music once again lights up the eerie tunnels. Music that gives the Queen pause, ears perked, twisting, orienting on one of the sources… Her eyes glitter, her horn again glowing an ominous shade of dark purple.

"But I've had /enough/ of your meddling… Begone! All of you! BEGONE!" Another burst of energy lances from her horn, this time shot at Brume!

The Elements aren't sitting idle through this… No, they've fought through their grogginess to assume formation, grim looks of determination had by all. "Are we ready to /really/ be meddlers now?" Daffodil asks, his voice even now like a giggle on the breeze.

"One second," Maelstrom says as he reaches around to grab something from a small satchel of a saddlebag. Where the other Elements had been wearing their necklaces Magic had been bare-headed for reasons that become abundantly clear.

A delicate gold tiara with ann amethyst eight-pointed star set in it is floated up to his head and placed daintily upon it. It's almost comical in how small it is considered to his big, square-jawed head.

"Now I'm ready," he says with determination.

Spindrift throws a hoof up over her face at the first blast. Such magical powers are intense, radiating like a sun against the channeler's senses. She starts drawing up more of Brume's conjured energy, struggling, through the haze that clouds her thoughts, to start formulating a useful spell. A barrier to protect them? No, an attack to ready her for an assault by the Elements! No- she's- she's turning this way- Spindrift panics for a moment, the magic slipping through her grasp. If she could only focus…

Brume looks up, wincing as well at the sight of Harmony-Charmer being blasted into blessed release. Charming. Really. He smiles and looks back to his instrument, confident that things are going well. The Elements have been brought to bear. The tide is turning. Everyone is being seen safely home.

Perhaps, if Spindrift and Brume couldn't save the one they were looking for in Horseshoe Harbor, they can rest easy knowing they've saved someone else's family instead.

Nightmare Moon's blast lances through Brume's chest, blasting the spindly seapony back from his instrument. He staggers, dazed, then collapses to a heap by the portal, and does not move.

Spindrift looks back, stricken. The rest of the world is rapidly disregarded as she hurries to her friend's side.

Blackbird's jaw is hanging open, utterly horrified. Wha…?

A lone pair of hoofs gleefully clap at what appears to be Brume's demise. "Bravo!" the one-eyed mare cries out. "Wonderful shot!

Heartsong squeaks and stumbles back away from the blast, song cut off abruptly, eyes wide. And, within seconds, quite teary. She gives a little squeak that was probably supposed to be words, and just stares.

Sodium-Fizz's grin is wide, and grows wider still at Harmony Charmer's disintegration. Almost downright manic in fact. Turning she shoots Winter a brief glance - even giving her a quick peck on the cheek, "Don't worry about it… I'm just going to enjoy watching this…" With a little, twisted giggle she turns, trotting over in Brume's direction, downright casualy while fishing for another medical vial in her cloak, her own wounds seemingly more or less forgoten.

As she passes by the Elements she watches them for a brief second - whatever they're up to… well, it just looks like… It - before turning towards Nightmare Moon, giving her the full benefit of her grin. Even giving her a cheery little wave. "Well, it was nice seeing you, Queen Meany. Have fun."

That said, Soda procedes over to Brume, vial ready between her feathers.

Stormdancer flomps down at the power being thrown about, shrugging her passenger and her cart to roll down her back- helpfully, towards the portal. Eyes wide, she gives the seafilly a nudge, too. "'Nini, think ye oughta get movin'-" She can't help but stare, though. Not a thing she can do- But she can bear witness.

Thunnini quietly nod and starts poling her way across the portal, still looking back to see if Brume recovers.

With two ponies dealt with, and others in various states of cowering or general defiance, Queen Nightmare Moon stands tall! More of her rolling laughter echoes throughout the chamber and every tunnel in the hive! "Hahahahah! What can you do that you haven't already tried? Your Elements have failed you once before! They shall fail you again! I shall wipe all trace of your resistance from this world AND the one you came from!"

The dark glow on the Queen's horn intensifies… The ground quakes under the force of the Queen's spell, the maddening cackle reflecting a hint of the way Nightmare Moon's mind has bent and twisted over the years. "You are all /dooooooomed/!"

"Noooo!" Daffodil squeaks, gaping at the fallen pony! "That's not supposed to happen! We're supposed to save everybody! This is all…wrong!"

"Daffy!" Hearth gasps, with Bonfire's lip quivering. "Focus!"

But the little yellow colt won't stand for it. He jumps, from back to back, perching onto Maelstrom's back, standing just behind the big stallion's pretty tiara. "I won't let anyone else get hurt! C'mon Strommie! Let's do this!"

"Yeah!" comes a chorus of voices, as each of the Elements of Harmony light up, one after the other, the ponies attached to them rising up into the air… The magical energies intensify, lights forming everywhere, from every direction! They surround every pony, Element and Queen, Harborite and not! Much like the spell that was cast that threw these ponies into a strange new world of sunshine and hope…

Only this time its working in reverse. It's going to save ponies. The lights settle around every pony. They intensify. They strengthen! They EXPLODE!

And when they fade? Everybody is on the other side of the portal. Everybody, except the Elements of Harmony, and Queen Moon. The portal gives one last bright flash, then implodes altogether into a soft spark that fades out like an ember, a faint voice following the casting of the spell.

"Thank you guys…! For everything…!"

As the light builds, Soda can hear hooves thundering across the slush-riddled floor, of a enthusiastic voice calling out after her. "Soda! Soda! Hold on!" cries Winter. "I think we're getting teleported and I really don't want to have to save you from spiders again on the other side-"

Silence. The light builds and fades. As it disperses, the pegasus finds herself held in big, strong, clumsy pieplate hooves, as Winter grips the smaller pegasus tightly, possessively, as if worried she won't be there when they all awaken. Winter blinks her eyes open slowly and peers about, trying to get her bearings.

Before the light built, Spindrift had drawn Brume's limp figure close, looking it over. Seated on her haunches, she bent over, clutching his slender face against her chest, the long, dark tresses of her mane spilling about her face. The light intensifies; the vision is gone.

When the harborites re-emerge in their world, the Mysterious Wanderer is left crumpled over. Brume is nowhere to be seen. She drops forward onto all fours, hood and long black mane hiding her face still. Desperately she casts about. Though her friend is gone, his instrument remains, toppled over near where the portal once stood. She hastens over to it and lifts it hurriedly; it rattles as she picks it upward and starts to shake it.

Kludge blinks. And then he blinks again. All of these events…

The craftspony just stands and watches, waiting for everything to sink in.

Thunnini also looks rather overwhelmed. She looks at where the portal was, then over at Spindrift. The lack of Brume is weighing on the seafilly's heart, but it hasn't sunk in quite yet.

Blinking through the fading light, Sodium-Fizz find herself inside somewhere outside of temporary insanity - right in the right in the rubble of every lie, dead centre amongst the ghosts of the past. Right amongst the things she's always tried to leave behind, hide in a far-away corner and forget. And she finds herself in Winter's hooves, right where she needs to be.

The mare bit down on her lower lip in a vain attempt to crush the storm of emotions rising through her throat. A moment later her face was pressed against Winter's broad chest, her tears joining her blood in the large mare's coat, a keening wail rising through her throat.

Rattle, rattle, rattle. Whatever is loose inside Brume's dulcimer bangs around inside, several times bouncing off the strings to drop back into the box-like instrument. "Come on, come on…!" hisses Spindrift, voice quivering. Rather abruptly, she's about ready to lift the instrument up and smash it against the ground, when a sparkling object falls out of one of the holes to land in the dirt at her feet.

She sets the dulcimer aside, hurriedly, and reaches down to retrieve the object. It's a series of shells and gleaming lapis stones, suspended like beads from delicate silver wiring. As she holds it up, it catches the light, and the bead-like adornments line the strings like notes on a sheet of music. Yet for the necklace's beauty, there's something missing. A dullness to its adornments; the suggestion of life once held and now gone.

The mysterious wanderer draws the necklace close, lowering her head. After a moment's pause, she unslings her cloak and uses it as a makeshift bag, tying up Brume's dulcimer and the necklace as well, and turning towards the exit of the chamber… and pointedly ignoring the gazes of any surrounding ponies in the process.

Winter-Solstice is a bit surprised to hear Sodium crying, and even if she's not entirely sure why, she's soon looking pretty sniffly herself. The big mare wraps her forelegs more tightly around Sodium and holds her close, tucking her head down over Soda's own. She's exhausted, and confused, and all sorts of things, and right now all she can think to do is hold the wailing pegasus close and hope the ghosts leave soon enough.

Blackbird stirs, dizzy and confused, struggling a little to get to his hooves. "What… what happen… is everyone okay?" he groans. Then: "…Sadaka?! Rusty??" Panic!! He straggles up to his hooves, casting about. So consumed is he with that, he misses Spindrift's or Fizz's distress.

All of the many ponies from the other universe are dazed, confused, blinking. The portal is closed, the other ponies are saved…for the most part.

Kludge blinks once more, slower this time, and looks around at all of the ponies. Everyone is exhausted, in various combinations of physically, mentally, and emotionally. Looking at all of the ponies in general (and Ruby and Maggie in particular, a small smile crosses his face.

"Let's go home," he suggests with a note of calm in his voice.

Rusty blinks. A few times. She rubs her eyes, picks herself up, shakes herself off. Wait, where… oh. Right. Dang. That was a good sawblade! Well, it's in some other dimension now. She doesn't miss it for long. Her ears prick. "Blackbird? Blackbird!" Boy she can move fast when she wants to. She's on her hooves and dashed across the hive in an instant.

Blinkblink. Sadaka shakes herself off and rolls onto her hooves. Wow. Still gotta work on those landings. Ow. She looks around nervously, frowning. "Papa? One, Two? Three? Dakani?" Oh, hey, there's all the Pegasi! Yay. That's good. And… it looks like most everypony else, too! …But not everypony looks very happy. …In fact, most of them do not.

Blackbird looks up, shaking his over-long mane out of his eyes and grinning as Rusty, /his/ Rusty appears. He limp-gallops to her and hugs her /tightly/, showering kisses on her cheeks and falling over. And Sadaka's there! "Peanut! We're home! Rusty's here!"

Thunnini looks around at all of these odd ponies she hasn't met before, but the time doesn't seem right to make friends right now. Instead, she poles after Spindrift, because she's going to need a friend - if not now, then soon.