Winter-Solstice's Dream
IC date: Autumn 60
OOC date: November 18
Location: Dreamland
PCs: Winter-Solstice Dream-Daze
NPCs: N/A
GM: Applejack

A bright, sunny, yet chilly winterish day in this landscape. Winter Solstice has found herself wandering through a curious forest, filled with tall but barren trees of a rectangular shape. No leaves, but plenty of dust and dead branches, and the occasional massive iron spike, covered in more twisted spikes from top to bottom, reaching for the skies. As tall as many of the trees, they are, dotting the landscape amid clumps of the dead-looking blocky flora.

Alas, one does not have time to truly contemplate the potential epicness of such a landscape. For there is a sound to interrupt the otherwise silence and whispering breezes! A cry! For help! "Help!" it cries, helplessly! From a direction just on the other side of that metal spike-spire over there! "Help!"

Winter-Solstice has a quest log! It isn't even a log. It's actually a little book. A little notebook. She's leafing through it when she hears that voice, and looks up, hooves paused over the pages. "What ho?" asks the mare, before snapping the log shut and cramming it back in her Backpack! "Is that a maiden I hear? Or maybe a gentlestallion? I don't know who they are or what they want, but surely there will be prizes to be had for their swift and immediate rescue! Even if those prizes are the respect and admiration of my peers. A good reputation, if you will. And there's nothing I like more than garnering vast amounts of Reputation." She hops upright and starts rambling off in the direction of the Spike Tower, trying to see what's on the other side, and NOT get distracted by how marvelously menacing the spikes are. The craftsponyship is clearly of a high quality.

As it turns out, it's a foal! A filly, specifically! A little, oddly familiar little piebald filly! A not-quite Magpie if you will. She appears to be caught next to one of the iron spires, where one of those spikes has managed to drop down and pin the poor pony's hoof to the ground in a way that has prevented her from moving anywhere! "Help! Help!" she cries, big filly eyes looking up at the adventure-mare come to save her! "Oh! Yay! Help has arrived! Please help me! My hoof's stuck… This huge spike caught me off-guard and now I can't go home!"

It looks like an awful heavy piece of epicly wrought twisted iron. The filly's lucky it didn't land a little differently and run her through!

Winter-Solstice gasps softly as she comes into view and surveys the situation. "Well, that's pretty rude of it!" she says, rounding on the spike with a scowl, putting her hands on her hips. "Spikes are meant to be better-behaved than that. You're doing your kind a disservice, young sir!" The big mare eyes the filly speculatively as she approaches. Magpie? Not…. exactly. Fauxpie? Something like that. Winter smiles at Fauxpie. "Not to worry, mysterious spotted filly! I've got this." Kneeling, she hooks her front hooves around the tip of the spike, and pushes upward, trying to lever te fallen spike off the filly's pinned hoof. "Nnnnnghh power lift!"

Hup! The spike, lifted! Fauxpie's hoof is free! She withdraws her hoof with a thankful nod of her head! "Ooooh thank you! Thank you ! Here…" Hey, the little filly has a backpack. Imagine that! "…I have a few bits and a couple hard biscuts I'd been saving. I want you to have them for saving my life! It's the least I can do for such a hero!"

Winter-Solstice heaves the spike over and lays it out across the ground. "And let that be a lesson to you!" she tells it, before turning back towards Fauxpie. The big mare lifts a shaggy hoof and waggles it before her. "No, no payment will be necessary, li'l buddy! I'm just doing what any decent-minded are would do. Besides, the XP is reward enough!" She plants her hooves on her hips. "I feel approximately 1% closer to being measurably stronger, smarter, faster, and knowing more spells already. How'd that spike fall, anyway? Shoddy workmanship, from the look of it!" She reaches out with a hoof and clunk-kicks one of the spikes on the tower.

Clunk-kick goes the mare.

CREAK goes the spire! A dangerous, screechy sort of creak that speaks of volumes and volumes of rootless, foundation-less metal needing absolutely no provocation to begin tipping over! The enormous, and apparently precariously balanced chunk of extreme ironwork slowly begins to tilt, over, filling the air with a metal-on-metal sound and churning up the soil all around it!

Fauxpie nearby starts stepping back, a forehoof brought to her mouth! "O..oh no! That tower! It's gonna fall on my treehouse! My brother's in there! Help! Help, hero, help!" Indeed! There is a tree, with a very poorly-constructed treehouse nestled in it that the iron spire is tilting towards! And the squeaky cries of an even younger foal inside just watching this beast of an epic sculpture slowly falling his way!

There's no time to make a witty quip! Winter gasps, spins on a hoof, and bolts towards the treehouse before she realizes she has a plan on what to do. Fortunately she's fast- in ways that might actually make her question the logic of her swift movement if ever that was a thing she was prone to doing in a dreamscape such as this. But it isn't a dream, so of course she has no reason to. The big mare hauls up the tree, grabbing a branch, pushing up, seizing another, and barrels through the flimsy wall of the treehouse. She tucks into a roll, she scoops up the colt inside, and she makes for a window to leap out, clutching the child protectively!

"Wheee!" the little colt squeals! Rescued by an honest-to-Celestia hero! There's much cheering by both the foal, and the filly too, whom has scampered around to thank the hero for saving her brother!

And yet! As mare and two foals now sit safe from harm's way, the spire has continued to fall. It crashes into the tree, splintering the treehouse with a horrid cracking sound of wood flying every which way! But then that tree, with the weight of an iron masterpiece pushing on it, begins to tip over, too. Into another tree. And another. The flat, rectangular construction of these trees seems to ensure that one tumbling into another will cause it to fall too!

Fauxpie gasps! Her brother gasps! They both point as, at the end of this particular line of falling trees, a cottage sits, with two elderly-looking ponies rocking on a porch in the shade of one of these dead trees. Enjoying themselves some lemonade. "Gramma! Grampa! No! Hero, please save them too!" Fauxpie pleads, tugging on their newfound hero's backpack!

Winter-Solstice hits the ground following her dive and rolls over and over, bracing to protect the foal, not herself- it's rough! She's a durable mare but she's not beyond pain. With a grunt, she slowly unloads the rescued colt, only to sit upo and look on with dismay as t he trees start to tip over in a coordinated disaster sequence. "Uh…?" The big mare pushes upright, re-checks her backpack, and nods to the children. "Stay here, younglings! I'll, uh, I'll stop the, er, bad thing from happening. Hopefully. For real this time. I think." Winter mumbles as she charges through the dust and crunchy leaves towards the house, raising her voice!

"HEY! GRANDMA AND GRANDPA! GET UP AND GO!" She skids to a stop nearby, turns, and braces against the nearest tree, ready to hold it upright! She doesn't really feel like grabbing more ponies and hauling them away just yet, and maybe if she plants her weight solidly enough, that'll keep things upright and copacetic. The big mare shouts back over her shoulder as she braces. "NO LEMONADE IS WORTH YOUR LIFE! MAYBE SOME QUALITY ROOT BEER, POSSIBLY, BUT NOT LEMONADE! HURRY!"

Both of the elderly ponies blink at Winter as she bolts and braces. Gramma adjusts her glasses. "Eh? What's that now? Quails and boot rear?"

Grampa grunts. "No, she said quality ginger!"

Fauxpie bolts onto the scene, starting to nudge the backs of either elderly pony's chairs. "Come /on/! The nice hero's trying to help you escape! You're gonna get squashed!"

"Squash? I don't like squash! Too nutty!" Gramma grumbles, old bones creaking as she's pushed and tugged, both elderly ponies in a properly designated 'safe zone' shortly thereafter. Just in time for the last tree to tumble into the one Winter's holding up, the weight of the world pressing against the heroic mare!

Winter-Solstice hnnnnnnrrrnngngnggngngghhhhgggffffffmmmmnnnnffffffgghhh- okay this isn't working out. Winter jukes to the side and out from behind the tipping tree, deciding that, well, as long as everypony is safe, that's what really matters. So the tree will smash the house! These old folks look like they can find someplace else to stay. Surely they've got more well-meaning relatives wherever the two rugrats came from. The big mare pants softly as she sits nearby, back turned towards the carnage like some kinda mustang. "Okay! Okay… definitely… 4% closer to being better at… at things. Gonna learn Greater Fist of Justice. Gonna be great." Huff. Puff.

As the tree falls into the house behind Winter, a slow-motion effect is cue'd. Why is it in slow-motion? Because…no sooner does the tree crush into the walls of that poor old-folks place than something within the house EXPLODES! Pieces of wood and glass go flying! Two of the walls of the house are blown apart, sent crashing into two more of those flat trees!

Which creak. And tip. Into other trees…

Fauxpie and her family cheer at first! "Yay we're all sa—" then the explosion happens, leaving their mouths hanging open.

"My moonshine cider operation!" Grampa cries out, a hoof lifted towards the burning, crushed wreckage.

"The trees!" Gramma then cries out, noting the fact that there are now two chain-reactions going off, two sets of tumbling domino-shaped trees, crashing into one another.

"The cliffs!" the little colt cries, pointing at one iron-wrought cliff one set of domino trees are tumbling towards, where a very rough iron boulder is looming on the top of. Surely even the smallest nudge might send that thing careening down!

"The orphanage!!" Fauxpie shrieks! Pointing at a curiously familiar two-story building just chock full of happy foals bouncing around, built on what looks oddly like a bowling alley. Opposite where that cliff and iron ball are.

"Oh hero! Save the orphanage!" all four cry out, group-hugging their would-be savior!

Winter-Solstice pushes upright! "I go!" she announces, and goes she does, once more leaping into action before she has a plan. She scowls at the boulder. That's a lot of iron! She could make some really cool stuff out of that. A hat… some armor… an armored hat… boat armor…

"Fish armor…" murmurs the mare between huffs and puffs as she rambles up to the rock and prances about, trying to come up with a plan. "Ovens… stoves… pots and pans… mailboxes… oh!" Scooting around to the side of the boulder, glancing back over her shoulder, she sticks her tongue out as she considers. Maybe she can kick it off to the side, so that it doesn't fall into the course that will oh so inconveniently carry it to the orphanage, but instead off to the side, beyond where the falling domino-trees will strike it! She's gonna have to make it count, though. This thing looks more precarious than a position of government authority in Horseshoe Harbor. The big mare hunkers down, leans forward, looks back… considers… takes a deeeeep breath, rears forward, winds up, and… *KICK!*

*KICK!* *CLANG!* The boulder goes rolling off the cliff, in a direction that is most certainly not towards that orphanage! And look, all of the foals that had been there are watching this with all those big foal eyes, the whole lot of them cheering! "Yaaaaaaay!"

Fauxpie and her family race to catch up, panting for breath, gathering atop the cliff where the domino-trees are falling towards. The last one tips forward, thunking into the cliff, kicking up a small dust cloud but not much else. But…

"Oh gosh! Those trees are headed towards the dam!" Gramma notes, pointing to where the distant line of domino-trees are tumbling, towards a wooden-looking support beam that looks like it's holding a plate of iron up against a cliff, where waves of water lap at the very tip-top.

Grampa sits back, hooves to his cheeks. "No! If that dam breaks, we'll all get flooded! Oh goodness if we ever needed a hero…" he trails off, all four of the Fauxpie family staring at Winter expectantly.

Winter-Solstice throws her hooves up as her gamble proves successful! "Huzzah! The day is at last… saved…" Her voice trails off as she watches the dam become the latest critical structure to be threatened, and sags for just a moment, before levering upright. The mare hastily shrugs out of her backpack, so as not to be encumbered, as she jets off once more! Pie-plate hooves churn the twig and leaf-riddled landscape as she moves to pursue to the line of collapsing trees.

And if she knows anything about disastrous chain reactions, she knows that if you take a key factor out of the equation, it probably becomes unsolvable and your math teacher tells you you've messed it all up. So Winter tries to head off the domino trees by running up beside one of the ones ahead in the line, and knocking it over sideways with a powerful backward kick. Hopefully this will prevent it from continuing the chain. Hopefully. She could use a chance to sit and rest. That lemonade sure sounds tasty now.

It's a tense moment, Fauxpie's family perched on the edge of the cliff, watching as Winter bolts off to head off the line of trees! A streak of dust and dirt and branch and twig racing the collapsing domino-effect of blocky trees tumbling into one another towards an inevitable doom! The reasoning is sound… One solid kick sends a tree tumbling sideways out of the line, mere seconds later the falling trees coming to a stop where that missing link was. Thunk! The next tree from that one wobbles… Dangerously wobbles. Back and forth, and back, and forth, teetering teasingly, but eventually standing still.

Dust is still settling from the massive amount of domino-trees and twisted wrecks of iron pillars that had also managed to tumble over in the ensuing chaos. The sound of cheering ponies rises up, as Fauxpie's family has been joined by not only a bunch of orphans, but a whole bunch of townsfolk too! Cheering! "Hooray! We're saved! Way to go hero! Huzzah!"

It's almost enough cheering to drown out the rising sound of something else big and heavy tearing across the landscape. A rumble of noise that ends with a sickening *CRACK* of something big, sturdy, and wooden suddenly losing all structural integrity.

The cheering stops with that cracking sound. Replaced by a sea of gasps, and an army of pointing hooves. "No! The dam! Hero! How could you..!"

Grampa in particular, white as a sheet and shaking his head. "That was no hero… That blasted fool just doomed us all! Now the floodgates of Tartarus are gonna open and the aponyocalypse is gonna happen! WAY TO GO YA BIG DUMB LUG!"

What is it that crashed into the wooden pillar propping the dam open? It's… A big metal boulder. It looks an awful lot like the one that was sitting on a cliff just a few minutes ago. Look, there's even a couple pieplate hoofprints, and a divot that makes it look like an epic bowling ball.

Winter-Solstice watches with wide, hopeful eyes as the plan just barely appears to work, and the relief washes over her like a cool wave of delicious lemonade. Or preferably root beer, but lemonade will also do. The big mare counts up in her head h ow many villagers that saves… "Ten… thirteen, plus… fouls count for .75, masterwork grandparents count for two each, add in the… three unicorns in a row bonus… ah ha! Yes! That's enough!" Up she surges, pumping her hooves! "DING! I leveled! Go me! Of Strength thou has gained 12! Of Moxie thou hast gained 7! Thou hast learned Greater Hoof of Justice! Thou canst now equip the-" *CRACK*

The color drains from Winter's face. She looks towards the dam with wide eyes. The boulder sits there, accusing.

Hoisted by her own petard! She groans and runs her hooves over her face. "That's not- that's not how it was supposed to go! Look, um, okay, okay-" Even she knows she can't prop that giant wall of iron up! And it looks about ready to give way at any moment. "Okay, uh, remember, ponies float! Now hold your breaths, and- pegasi, make sure the smaller ones get lifted to high ground!" Up she surges to her hooves, so she can run around in frantic circles. "Thinkthinkthinkthinkthinkthinkthink…" A solution is not presenting itself. Much flailing ensues. The mare turns towards the angry mob and throws her hooves out in a gesture. "RUN!!!"

But the mob isn't running! They're pointing accusing hooves, and looking really torked, and glaring! "Run where?" Fauxpie cries, "We can't outrun a flood!"

"And there's monsters!" the colt pipes up from Grampa's back.

Said old pony points his hoof again, dramatically, at the cracking pillar of damaged wood, splinters flying, falling… The metal plate it holds up starting to loosen, water already pouring out the sides of the barely propped-up 'gate'. "Behold! The demons of Tartarus are upon us! Everypony for themselves!"

Chaos! Panic! Ponies scatter, as the plate comes away altogether, a massive wave of water flooding through, sweeping up trees, iron spike pillars, dust, dirt, ponies, and everything in its wake!

As if that weren't enough, a hideous metallic roar shakes the very heavens, as from the gap where all the floodwaters had come from an enormous iron and chrome equine statue emerges, with fireballs for eyes and thick gouts of smokey steam coming from its nostrils. A horse from Hades it may as well be, unleashed upon the world by the equivalent of a steel marble kicked in place by a would-be hero…

"Anywhere! Run anywhere!" comes Winter's exasperated reply, with more flailing hooves. "You've got to at least try!! C'mon, it's the heroic thing to do! I…" She trails off as the gate gives way, wincing despite herself and skittering back a few steps. "This is… that is basically the worst designed dam ever!" hollers the big pony, as she whirls away and starts running. "With possibly the worst big giant monster containment system I've yet encountered!!" With an expression bordering on panic, the mare makes for an iron spike-riddled sculpture and starts clambering up- the water licking at her heels even as she does, as the mare barely manages to keep ahead of it with her hasty climbing. It's rough work, she's already tired, and these spikes are definitely not the friendly kind she usually puts on things, not at all. "Hmm… mngh!" she huffs, pulling up to the very top, then turning to look back over her shoulder at the monstrosity rampaging through the surf.

From her lofty new perch, Winter can see the devastation spread from the rushing waters of the evil dam let loose upon this world of twisted metal and precarious balance. Trees float by, some with ponies clinging to them, giving Winter the most dark looks as they go, floating off to some unknown destination.

One tree in particular has Fauxpie and her brother balanced on it, trading sad looks with the clinging mare. "We thought you were a hero…" Fauxpie mutters, sadly. Then Gramma and Grampa go floating by. Without trees. Just on their backs. Muttering things about cider and doom and how useless heroes are in this world…

Off in the distance, one chrome monstrocity of a pony is joined by a second, this one looking like it were built entirely out of flames and explosions. And then a third, though this one's form is shifting constantly, looking like a pony made out of twisted wind and hurricane, whipping up columns of water as it moves. Doom indeed!

But then, rising up on the breeze, just above the constant rush of water and mutter of dissapointed 'innocents', a voice seems to just hang there. Along with a sudden extra bit of weight upon Winter's back.

Oh…my. I'm really late this time! I'm sorry! A pair of little filly legs suddenly hug around Winter's neck! But it's okay! I'm here to tell you that this is just a bad dream… If you wake up, it'll all go away!

Winter-Solstice's ears fold back as she watches the ponies drift by. "I'm sorry! I didn't know!" she calls back in meek response to their accusations. "I thought… I was trying to help!" This isn't how it's supposed to go at all! Her own clumsy enthusiasm backfiring on her? This isn't a real problem for real heroes. Real heroes save the day and that's that and their bold and forthright manner is celebrated by bards and stuff. "The dam was… I had to do SOMETHING!" As one monster becomes two, becomes three, the mare looks down. It isn't that the situation is frightening… it is, but that's not what bothers her. It's that she can't see any way to fix things at all. It's too much Where does she even start?

But then, a strange voice! Hooves! Winter sits up and whirls about. "Hubbajawho-?" Sounds familiar! "Who's there? Yes! Higher ground! Seek h igher ground! The water will rush by and also monsters never check the trees, they just stomp things on the ground, and… er… d-dream? Wait, what?"

A dream! the voice repeats, the limbs belonging to a little filly! A little blue unicorn filly, whom has ended up taking a seat next to the big heroic mare. The voice appears to be hers, though her muzzle sure isn't moving to produce it.

You're dreaming! This isn't real. And you need to wake up… Amber eyes peek from Winter, to the trio of monsters wading through the mess of floodwater. They seem to have a goal in mind. That goal appears to be Winter. The sounds of many furious snorts and wicked whinnies is filling the air as those three epic beasties slosh water about, slowly stomping their way to the ex-hero's location.

Winter-Solstice frantically looks back and forth between the filly and the monsters. "D-dreamy?" she says, stunned. "You can- you have a really pretty voice, you know? I never noticed before. You shoudl take up singing! I-" Back to the monsters. "You have to run! They're going to- if I wake up, will you come with? You have to wake up too, okay? I'm not gonna leave you behind here! That's not how this works!" She's looking increasingly desperate as she looks back at the beasts, gritting her jaw. Maybe she can break one of these spikes off and wield it like a club. "I can't just flee. I made this mess! I have to fix it! I have to at least try!"

Dreamy, for that is certainly who it is, pins her ears back. She, too, is glancing back and forth from the giant monsters of ponies coming closer, to Winter and back. That's why you need to wake up! the voice says, looking duly concerned. If you don't, I may be trapped here… Or worse! Plus I need help and you can't help me from here. You have to wake /up/ and help me there!

The little filly seems relieved about something. It's the longest conversation she's been able to have with a nightmare-having pony yet! But time is running out, already the waters are rising as three…no, four! Four sets of gigantic pony legs get close enough to nearly smell the breath, the iron and chrome behemoth being the first in line. The fires that make up its eyes blazing ever brighter as they glare down at the mare what freed them.

Winter-Solstice watches Dreamy with the rapt attention of someone who knows there isn't time for repeats, and rattles off a nod. "Okay, okay! I'll- okay. I'll wake up! But- ahhh!!" The big monster looming nearby startles the mare; she digs into a secondary bag, grabs a [Medicinal Juicebox]- it's the first solid object she encountered- and flings it at the creature. Doubtlessly the box bounces off its metallic hide uselessly. She goes digging for another. "Quick! Tell me how I can help you! I'll make you another dreamcatcher. I'll enroll you in singing classes! I'll buy all the filly scout cookies you want to tell, just-" Dig dig dig. She produces the [Crushing Skullmace of Splintering Bonepain]. Cool item! She got it off that one boss with the teeth. A pity she needs to lug it at the monster. It bounces off its SLAVERING JAWS OF DOOM as they loom near. "I- I'm sorry, Dreamy, I can't- I can't-" Winter stammers, staring.

And then she wakes up.

There's no time to explain. As Winter wakes, the remnants of the dream echo, roars of monsterous ponies about to chomp hero and filly, and the last whisper of a voice, cut off by the act of waking up.

Music—

And then it was gone.

WHUMP. The big earth pony rolls out of bed and hits the wooden floor, groaning. The familiar, dusty silence of her cluttered room seems unreal at first, even more so as she considers the place she just woke up from; she relaxes, sighing slowly. Is that rushing water? A roaring flood? No… the lapping of the ocean waters nearby, and in the next room, the sleepy huff-puff of the furnace, out in the workshop and tamped down for the night.

Slowly, Winter pushes herself up, looking around. No Dreamy. Wasn't she supposed to wake up as well? Maybe she's out there. Winter can't even recall where the filly lives… music? Ugh. Winter rubs her face and picks herself up, sitting on the edge of the bed, and reaches over to shake a blanketed shape nearby. "Fizzy? Fizzykins? Wake up… I had this awful dream…"