Toil And Trouble

It's been muggy today. Hot, drizzly, humid, sweltering. Clouds roll in the sky, and ponies everywhere seem to be melting into a puddle of misery. But despite that, there's a thup-thup-thup-thup overhead, as one determined pony pedals his whirlygig through the soupy air. Blackbird, be-goggled, looks down on the landscape, squinting as he tries to spot the spotted aide. Somewhere, somehow, he's got to offer his help…

One particular pony seems to stand out. Maybe because he looks like a fluttering bush. Papers stick out of every nook and cranny on Polaris. Tucked into the straps of his saddlebags, which are already filled to the brim. Rolled up behind his ears. A sheaf is shoved into his mouth, which he's unsuccessfully trying to flip up long enough to read. Of all the ponies in the town, he definitely looks the unhappiest.

Aha! There's his mark. Probably. At least, that's what Polaris /usually/ looked like. The whirlygig thup-thup-thups as it whirls down and finally comes to rest right in front of Polaris. … Which of course sends papers fluttering and flying all over! The buck blinks in dismay and scrambles out, to go chasing after them. "Sorry! Polaris, I— " He snatches a page in his teeth. " — need to talk to you— " More pages. He's muffled as he talks about it. " — and help!"

Polaris doesn't notice the descent of the whirlygig, so engrossed in the paper clutched in his teeth. Until it gets blown out of his grasp. He blinks, eyes widening in dismay. "No no no no no!" The colt doesn't even spare a glance for Blackbird, instead racing quickly towards a full-blown panic. "YES! FINE! GREAT! HELLO! Talk, but HELP ME SAVE MY PAGES!"
Cue the Benny Hill theme.

The teacher scrambles around and grabs a number of pages, finally snatching up the last one. Luckily, it's a limp and breezeless day. He stuffs them all into Polaris' overfull saddlebags, and gives him a weak grin. "Sorry about that…"

Polaris looks like his puppy has been thoroughly kicked by the time the last of the papers gets put away. There are heavy bags under his eyes, and the lanky colt stands bow-legged, like any other stance will end with him falling over. "That's alright. Can I help you, Mr. Blackbird?"

"The question is, Polaris, how can I help /you/?" The teacher blinks, frowning. "I ran into Snowfield and…Salty in the forest. And I want to help. So how can I help? I'm at your disposal." The aide having an aide? NONSENSE

Polaris's eyes widen up at Blackbird, and the shaky colt just ends up looking confused. "Huh? No, um… you don't have to do that, Mr. Blackbird. Miss Snowfield gave /me/ this task, and I need to finish it. I just…. um…." He turns his head around, spinning slowly in a circle as he tries to snag one particular paper in his teeth. "Just need to… find… the thing…"

Blackbird plucks a page out at random, hopefully. "Well, she told me to help you so here I am," he says around the paper. "The more help you have, the quicker it'll get done, and the more likely she'll come back. And I'm the local teacher. I'm bound to know /something/ right?" Hopefully. Maybe. As if he hadn't just stumbled into this profession.

Polaris chances a glance to Blackbird…and just /glares/ at that paper in his mouth. Yup, that's the one that he was looking for. "I… suppose. Do you happen to know anything about alchemy or herbalism?"

Blackbird brightens. "I do! A little bit anyway. And I have a lot of books on the subject." He turns, hiking up his hip a bit to show off his erlenmeyer cutie mark. "Don't get this for flower arranging," he grins, still talking around that paper. He crosses his eyes trying to look down. "What's this?"

Polaris blinks. "Really?" This kind of good fortune just doesn't happen. Not to him. He snags the paper out of Blackbird's mouth, flipping it down. "Some kind of recipe for a healing potion. THere's a lot of scratchings I can't make out, but I've been able to at least figure out what a lot of these ingredients are. Even if I don't know how to get them or what to do with them."

Blackbird scoots over and leans down to squint at it. "Alright, let's see here. Healing potion. A bushel of Sweethearts… blah blah, three pop stones… And…I can't make it out either." He pauses, squinting at it thoughtfully as he rubs a hoof at his chin. "Instant heal. Hmmm… maybe a white phoenix feather. That would probably be enough to catalyze the potion. It'll have to be dropped in last minute, though."

"White phoenix!" Polaris wails around the paper clutched in his teeth, eyes rolling to the sky. "Where am I gonna find a white phoenix?? Oh man, Salty's potion is going to wear off any day now, and I'm not even close to a healing potion!"

"Shh! Shh, shh, it's okay. Relax. I'm sure there's one we can find in the forest," Blackbird says with a grimace. "And if not, there are plenty of traders with…exotic goods. A white phoenix feather shouldn't be too hard."

"Umm…" Polaris swallows, and actually seems to brighten up a little. "Yeah? Yeah! I mean, we're in a trading hub, right? There's gotta be somebody selling something good! Heh, okay!" Is this the first happy thought he's had in a while? Tucking the paper back into his bag, he looks up at Polaris hopefully. "So…what do we do next, boss?"

"Wha— me? No, you're the boss!" Blackbird blinks rapidly. "You're the one with all the notes and… such. I mean… Well, how much of this do you already have, Polaris?"

"What? But, I don't know anything about this! You're the knowledgable one!" Polaris glances back at the paper in his saddlebags. "I just…started collecting everything any papers that looked important! I've read them all so many times, I don't even know what they say anymore!"

"W…well…" Blackbird rubs his mane nervously, then hmms. "Okay. Well, let's get this all straightened out." He grabs Polaris by the tail and drags him into the schoolhouse, where he sweeps a bunch of educational detritus off his desk. Piles of papers are pulled from Polaris' pack, and he spreads them all out, grabbing a red quill. "Alright. What've you already acquired?"

Polaris acks loudly, hooves scrabbling on the cobblestones as he's dragged away.
"Ah…" Shaking out his tail, Polaris helps Blackbird with spreading everything away. "W-well… I've got a bottle…" This gets pulled out of his pack. "I've managed to get some Rainbow extract. And a moss that I've heard helps patch things up really well. Er, Ponies! Not things, ponies! Umm…" He pulls his pack off his back completely, and starts shaking everything out onto the floor. Out falls a rock, some whiteish feathers, empty pudding cups, random bits of fur, a dead bug, a half-used book of matches…

Suddenly Riot!

Or at least, Rumble's head. Why he's poking his head into a school house is anybody's guess. Apparently he was curious. Or maybe it was the scent of trouble he followed. It's amazing how much the scent of trouble smells like ADVENTURE! And often times like sewer or body odor too.

Who does he find, but Mr. Adventure! It's downright amazing. And some other little pony dude too, emptying out a pack full of /stuff/. "Hey! Are you guys talking about that dead pony? Huh? I couldn't find any clues to anything, and I've been /bored/! When's our next adventure, Mr. Adventure!" He may have forgotten Blackbird's name already. "Surely you'll need my hooves of FURY!" he says, rearing back and shadowboxing with the shadow of the door. "…Right?"

Blackbird blinks, and watches. His ears flick back. "…Well alright then." He looks over it all, and starts marking things off on the list. "Okay… we're missing all these things. That's not too bad actually. A quick trip in the forest will take care of most of it. We can also talk to Manyara, or the local pharmacist. And the zebras. So. Let's mark these off into different lists here."

He yanks out a new parchment and starts scribbling. "We need sweethearts. We can probably get those from the pharmacist or the hospital. Forest, if we have to. This stuff we can get from the zebras. We'll probably want to ask Manyara about the base healing potion to work off of. The feath— Wagh!!" Blackbird nearly leaps out of his skin as Rumble busts in. "Jeez!! Uh— yes, we're working on that— and uhhh… we may need a trip to the forest, so… yes? I guess?"

"… really?" Polaris looks up, trotting forward to peer at the list. His bag still hangs out of his mouth, and a shed cockatrice skin slowly slides out of the bag. "Are you su—AUGH!" That makes two ponies jumping in fright when Rumble busts in, and he stares at him wide-eyed. Though it changes to a dirty look and he blanches when the newcomer mentions the "dead pony". He backs up, putting the desk and Blackbird between him and the new unicorn. "No, I… I don't think we'll need Hooves of Fury."

"Oh sweet!" Rumble stomps the wooden flooring, grinning right up until Polaris attempts to say otherwise. This confuses Rumble, looking from Blackbird to Polaris and back, grin fading juuuuuust a smidge. "…No?" He trots up to the desk with all the stuff strewn about, planting hooves on the tabletop. "Then maybe you'll need my Super Awesome Magic instead." He grins! "I'll tackle that forest head-on!"

"Uh— well. Maybe," Blackbird comments slowly. He pauses. Thinks. "How good are you at … quests?" He lifts a brow at Rumble, grinning slowly. He looks over at Polaris, like, hey hey! Who had a good idea? It's me.

Polaris ducks behind Blackbird when Rumble gets closer, tucking his head against the teacher's side. He looks up at Blackbird balefully. A /good/ idea? Really?

"Quest?" Rumble's ears immediately perk up! "W.. Of course! I'm THE Adventurer! Quests are my life!" He bounces back and forth, hopping like some excited little colt. "What'cha got? What'cha got? Do I get to kick something?"

Blackbird looks back at Polaris and nudges him companionably, reassuringly. Then he looks back at Rumble and grins. "It's a vital quest. VERY important. And it needs to be done fast. It may even involve kicking. It may involve fighting for your life. Are you sure you're up for it? I'd understand if you have some reservations— "

Rumble strikes a heroic pose, one hoof lifted. Complete with the hint of a fiery aura! "Bring it on! I'll buck anything that gets in my way!" Indeed, just saying such things like 'quests' and 'adventure' and 'danger' around him has him shadow-kicking at everything in the room! With a near miss or two at the desk, nearby chairs, just over Polaris' head, etc…

"Gah— Rumble! RUMBLE! AT ATTENTION, SOLDIER!" Blackbird hollers, more out of panic than anything. Reflex! "Receive your orders! Will you be able to restrain yourself in the field of duty?" His words are quick and sharp, and commanding.

Polaris squeaks and ducks, flattening himself to the floor before urgently belly-crawling underneath the desk. Away from flailing hooves. Oh yeah, this was a GREAT idea.

Whoa what? Rumble stops his wild bucking about, stamping impatiently when he's told to settle down. How can he settle down? There's QUESTS to be done! "Can't…restrain myself for long! Must have…adventure!" So excited. He might just explode! "What do you want me to do? Tell meeee!"

"Just remember that the details of this quest are /more important/ than adventure," Blackbird replies, his stock-stiff posture relaxing a bit. "This is a list of things we need for a potion. You need to get these ingredients from the zebra traders, the local abada, the pharmacist, the hospital, or…" He hesitates, not wanting to send him tearing off into the forest. "…wherever else you can find them. It is absolutely vital that you acquire these. Do you understand, s… Rumble?" He nudges the scribbled list: Sweethearts. Pop stones. Frostjacks. Winter plume. Snowbunny eggs. A dragon scale, griffon dander, sweetfire wine, and finally: a white phoenix feather.

Polaris pokes his head out from under the desk, peering up at Blackbird and Rumble-Riot together. The colt is in a little bit of awe as he looks up at the middle school teacher.

Rumble squints at this list being pushed his way. A lot of this stuff he has /no idea/ what it is, or what it does, or where to find it. But. That's why they call it an adventure, isn't it?

Wearing his best Serious Face, Rumble salutes Blackbird with one hoof. 'Alright! If this is all the stuff you need, count on me!" He scoops the list up with his mouth, spins on his back hooves, and gallops right out the door! Gone in a flash!

And off the pony goes, leaving Blackbird blinking and then cringing for a moment, before turning back to Polaris. "…We'd better work on getting some too," he comments. "Rather than assume he'll get it all." He offers a weak smile.