Swift Study

Equestrian Chronicles: A Roleplaying is Magic "Blog".

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Session 11

Having made the decision to return the hatchling to her parents, our heroes discussed how to travel to the Badlands. The idea of Gimble pulling a carriage through the sky was put forward, but Gimble (who secretly wanted to spend more time with the hatchling, who they named Tinder Foot) suggested that the walk would be good, and would draw less attention.


Truth be told, she wasn't the only one thinking this way, so they agreed. They readied supplies for the journey (Nutmeg was especially over-cautious, taking everything she could think of) and set off. 


The first couple of days of travel, through the Buffalo Lands, towards the Badlands, went without event. The weather was hot and dry, but Gimbal summoned a large cloud for shade. As they were setting up their tent, they spotted a hidden pony watching them, then slip off. Thinking that it might be the dragon egg thieves, who probably still want to get their hooves on Tinder Foot, our heroes decided to post watches during the night. Gimbal first, followed by Sugar Song, then Nutmeg and Champion, and finally Mutt.


The attack came during Nutmeg and Champion's watch; dozens of Ponies and Buffalo's, launching an assault on our heroes. Nutmeg shouted a warning to wake the others, while Champion erected a large force-shield to hold the attackers at bay. 


Realising their were too many for them to fight (not that many of them were really fighters in the first place), Mutt and Nutmeg came up with a plan. Nutmeg had some dynamite in her saddlebags (thanks to Bits and Bobs) and Mutt could dig a tunnel, while Gimbal, Sugar Song and Champion used the weather control and magic to keep the enemies at bay. They would then lead them down the tunnel, while Mutt made a little side tunnel. Nutmeg would then use her dynamite to trap the bandits in the tunnel while they made their escape.


The plan didn't quite go the way they expected. Gimbal, Champion and Sugar Song where able to keep the enemy at bay, with a mix of force-shields, magical blinding flashes, and hailstones, while Mutt dug the tunnel. However, while they were in the tunnel, being chased by the enemy, Nutmeg pulled out her bundle of dynamite. As soon as they saw the dynmamite in her hoof, the bandits turned and fled, not wanting to be in a small area with explosives around.


Realising the original plan wasn't going to work, Mutt and the others took the opportunity to make their escape. Unfortunatly, this meant leaving their tent behind, but at least they got away, this time.


For the rest of the journey, Sugar Song used her Light magic to make the group invisible, as they fully expected the bandits to return, and in greater numbers. They also began to wonder just who this hatchling was, if those bandits were so determined to get their hooves on her. The hatchling, while still mostly attached to Champion, whom she had imprinted to after hatching, finally started to let the others pet her without snapping at them.


They were a couple of days from the Badlands, when they saw the patrol of Pegasi. They froze, thinking they might be more of those bandits. Luckily, they were still invisible, so the patrol, consisting if about 15 Pegasi, could not find them. However, they did have a cloud hanging over them, thanks to Gimbal, and this got the Pegasi's attention.


Before they could worry about that however, an adult reddish brown dragon emerged from the Badlands, and flew towards the Pegasi, who, much to our heroes surprise, didn't flee or fight, but flew to meet the dragon. They met too far away for our heroes to overhear their conversation, until Sugar Song cast a Sound spell to allow them to do so. The dragon was furious with the bandits, for letting the egg be stolen, and threatened to destroy them if they didn't kill the hatchling.


They then started to advance on the cloud hanging over the invisible party. Gimbal had a crazy idea; she sent the cloud drifting in one direction, while she flew as fast as she could in the other, hoping to confuse the enemy, and then lead them away from the others. The plan seemed to work a little too well, and soon the dragon and pegasi were gaining on Gimbal.


In desperation, Nutmeg took out the dynamite, and stepping outside the invisibility zone still being sustained by Sugar Song, shouted to get the dragon's attention. The dragon turned to her, mouth open, fire gathering... and she threw the dynamite. The bundle flew down the dragon's throat, lit by the flames within. Now, while dragons are immune to fire, they are not immune to having their head explode from within.


Seeing their dragon boss destroyed, the rest of the Pegasi fled from the crazed bomb wielding Earth pony mare... who stared in traumatised shock. Gimbal quickly rejoined them under the curtain of invisibility, and they moved on, with Champion trying to comfort the traumatised Nutmeg, who only intended to scare the dragon off with the explosion, not actually kill it.


They came to the Badlands, and started to sneak through it. Their plan was to find Lord Ember, and ask her to help her find the hatchling's parents, since they weren't sure if they could trust any other dragon with her.


After a short while, they started to hear the sound of a pitched battle. Moving towards the sound, they saw Lord Ember, with some loyal dragon subjects, fighting desperately against other dragons. No doubt this was a coup attempt against Ember by dragons who didn't like the way she was taking dragon society.


Gimbal had an idea on how to drive off the enemy dragons, but it would take time, so Champion and Sugar Song helped to protect her, with magical shields and flash-bangs, while she started to create the largest rain-cloud she'd ever made. Still, somewhat traumatised, Nutmeg hid, while Mutt stood by, protecting her. Finally, after several near misses (including one incident where a dragon nearly bit Ember in half, only to be stopped just in time by Champion's force shield), Gimbal finally thought the cloud (which she'd formed into a ring so that it wouldn't hit the allied dragons) was big enough.


She kicked the cloud, and a monsoon strength deluge of water onto the dragons. She got caught in the downpour herself, sending herself crashing to the ground, stunned. The plan worked however, as the sheer force of the downpour stunned the enemy dragons, allowing Ember and her loyalists to drive the traitors off.


Ember greeted our heroes, expressing her gratitude, and then her surprise and joy at seeing Tinder Foot. She told them that her parents had been murdered by traitorous dragons, and most of their eggs destroyed, except one, that was stolen for some reason. They theorised that it was probably for the innate magic that could be found within dragon eggs.


Tinder Foot had one living relative left, her uncle, a cranky, curmudgeonly, yet still loyal to Ember (mostly out of respect to Torch) old dragon called Impact Crater, and he agreed to take in Tinder Foot. Thus, they bid a bittersweet farewell to the little hatchling, as they handed her over to the care of her uncle.


Dragon Lord Ember than rewarded our heroes for their help, both in the battle and in returning one of their hatchlings safely, at great personal risk. To most of them, she gave gems and bits, about 5000 bits worth each. To Champion, who had personally saved Tinder Foot's and Ember's life, and was obviously a great warrior in the making, she gifted a finely crafted jewelled short sword, which Champion accepted with giddy, child-like glee, before quickly composing himself.


The episode (and session came to an end there).





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Despite an epic session, with a dragon's head being blown off, I've opted for finishing a sketch that laid dormant for way too long. Her name, Baby Tulip, is a call back to  the "baby" versions of the my little pony toys.Only  meant to underscore how traditional and conservative she is as opposed to her rebellious wild child, Gimbal Lock.

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Session 12

Episode 7

Our heroes returned to Ponyville after their quest, a little richer, wiser, and sadder after giving up Tinder Foot. Gimbal was feeling particularly depressed, and decided to see if Tree Hugger, whom she'd befriended at the Sapphire Mountain after party she'd crashed, to see if she had any of her... special incense.


Meanwhile, Mutt revealed that he had pilfered a little piece of the dragon's brain, thinking that maybe it might be worth something. After the initial shock (and possibly secretly wondering about her canine friends sanity), the well studied Nutmeg remembered reading that a piece of dragon brain could be made into a potion to boost one's valour.


They returned to Nutmeg's house, since she had her lab there. However, when they arrived, they found her parents, listening to the first album of Lock, Stalk and Barrel. She quickly ran in, trying to babble explanations, just as "Everypony's a Little Bit Racist" came on. Luckily, her parents were just glad that their daughter was making friends and getting out of her shell, though her mother did insist that she was not the live the typical 'rockstar' lifestyle, which, knowing Nutmeg, was probably not on the horizon.


After her parents invited Mutt to stay for dinner (he'd made a good impression the last time), he and Nutmeg then went up to her lab, so she could make the valour potion. After mixing it up, she gave it to Mutt to hold onto, and then they went downstairs for dinner.


Afterwards, they took a covered bowl of the spiced potato stew they'd have for dinner, and went to check on Gimbal. They found her and Tree Hugger, stoned off their heads, having turned Mutt's Diamond Dog hole into a hot-box. This meant that Nutmeg, being the lightweight she was, was soon feeling funny as she offered the stew to Gimbal, who scarfed it down in moments.


After clearing out his home of smoke (by digging new holes in the roof), and sending Tree Hugger home, he saw that Nutmeg had fallen asleep, so he let her stay, on Gimbal's bed where'd she'd crashed, while resealing his roof with fresh earth.


The next day, they got an invitation, delivered by Champion, to have dinner in a couple of days at their house. Champion seemed to be hiding a bit of an ulterior motive, but they couldn't guess why. Be that as it may, they agreed, especially Nutmeg, who was exited to learn more about their family life.


In the meantime, Gimbal, realising that she might be overstaying her welcome at Mutt's home, started to look into finding a place for herself (she did have quite a lot of bits, after all). Flying over Ponyville, she saw a sign, specially made to be seen from the air and the ground at the same time, advertising a flat for sale above a shop. The shop turned out to be a hobby shop, which sold detailed, models of Equestrian cities and towns.


The shop owner, a kind, elderly Unicorn, was offering a small flat, with a shared kitchen, for lease above his shop. Though Gimbal, being loud, boisterous, and having an electric guitar, was not exactly the tenant he was looking for.


Around this time, Nutmeg came in, looking for Gimbal... and immediately turned into a geeky, quivering mess at the sight at all of the awesome models in the shop. Fantasies of being shrunk down by Champion's spell, and running through the detailed models ran through her mind. She almost considered taking the apartment herself, but she settled on buying a highly detailed train set of the Ponyville to Canterlot route.


Later, they arrived at Sugar Song's house for dinner, and when Gimble saw Baby Tulip, Sabers Crossed and Rally Point, the true purpose of the dinner became clear. Being orphans, Sugar Song and Champion hated seeing families broken apart, especially if it could be fixed by just talking it out. So, she invited Gimbal's family to dinner for that purpose, not telling Gimbal until the last moment, in case Gimbal stubbornly refused to come.


It was tense at first, but they soon started to talk. Gimbal's father had to realise that Gimbal would never be like him, and that trying to make her was only driving a wedge between them. The conversation turned to the one member of the family that Gimbal was similar to, Sabers Crossed's estranged younger brother, Chill Factor. A slacker and prankster like his niece, he moved to Manehattan years ago, after a heated argument with his brother. Sabers Crossed confessed that he did miss his little brother... but he didn't think the rift could be healed... they were both too stubborn.


Sugar Song made a unilateral decision then and there. They (Gimbal, Nutmeg, Mutt, Champion and herself) would go the Manehattan, find this Chill Factor, and bring him back, re-uniting the family. And Lock, Stalk and Barrel would be the key.



With that, the session ended. As always, there is a lot I probably left out, my players can fill in the blanks if they wish.





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mutt_s_place_by_lytlethelemur-dbf344y.pnDon't know if this would actually work but it was funny though and a chance to design Mutt's diamond dog hole/ Gimbal's room.

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Session 13

Our story continued with the dinner still going on. Gimbal, however, was feeling a bit miffed about Sugar Song sticking her muzzle in her business, and left, flying off to brood. Nutmeg, never the best at picking up even the most obvious social tells, just assumed she wanted some fresh air, and went back to playing a card game with Mutt (a game that, over time, would evolve in a Calvin Ballesque, chaotic mess of a game).


Rally Point did notice, however, and excusing herself. flew out to find Gimbal sulking on a cloud. She sat next to her little sister, and asked her what was wrong. Gimbal answered that she was sick of ponies trying to 'fix' her, to which Rally Point countered that it wasn't about 'fixing' Gimbal, but the family. She also repeated her offer to have Gimbal live with her in Las Pegasus, but Gimbal just murmured sulkily, so Rally Point left her alone, for now.


Sugar Song spoken with Paper Waltz, asking if he could arrange a gig in Manehattan. The Crystal Pony managed to get them a small performance, supporting a more well known Manehattan Punk band called Nightmare's Moon, in an underground club called Tartarus. 


In the meantime, Nutmeg was playing around with instrument designs, and ended up 'inventing' (at least in Equestria), the hurdy-gurdy. The nerdy, geeky mare loved the contraption she had invented, and worked out ways to incorporate it into Lock, Stalk and Barrel.


Still being quite wealthy thanks the the dragon treasure awarded to them by Lord Ember, the band decided to go all out and purchase the most expensive train tickets. This meant that our heroes, who are hardly the most refined of Ponies (and Diamond Dog) at the best of times, were sharing a carriage with some of the most elite Ponies of Equestria.


During the trip, Nutmeg and Mutt continued their chaotic card game, 'Monoyugiomagigathering' (it was a working title), and tried to get the other's involved. Gimbal was still sulking, and holding a grudge against Sugar Song for putting her nose where it didn't belong, and Sugar Song and Paper Waltz were quietly discussing the itinerary for the band's upcoming gig. Luckily, Champion didn't want a pouting Nutmeg on his hooves, so he agreed to play.


The players, especially Nutmeg, got quite exited with the constantly changing game, earning some disdainful looks from the other train passengers. Their antics also started to annoy Sugar Song, who was trying to work out the band's budget plan with Paper Waltz, and not wanting to snap at her friends, she decided to take a walk down the carriages. A short while later, Paper Waltz followed after her.


About an hour later, Champion noticed that his big sister hadn't returned yet, and getting a bit worried, decided to go looking for her. Nutmeg and Gimbal joined him, but Gimbal had not yet forgiven Sugar Song for the perceived slight, so just stared sulkily out the window. 


They found Sugar Song, with Paper Waltz, a couple of carriages down, in a sleeping car, built with the rooms on one side and a walkway down the other, with large windows. They were standing intimately close together, with Sugar Song happily nuzzling the Crystal Pony manager. A delighted Champion started to quietly back out of the room, not wanting to disturb the couple. Nutmeg was about to call out excitedly, but Mutt quickly grabbed her and covered her muzzle, as they left the couple to their moment.


They arrived at Manehattan that evening, and booked into an expensive hotel. As usual, they were twin share rooms. Champion volunteered to share a room with Nutmeg (much to Nutmeg's squeeing delight), and suggested that Gimbal and Mutt share another (since they were kind of housemates anyway), leaving Sugar Song and Paper Waltz together in the third. 


When Sugar Song and Paper Waltz left to have some more alone time together (to double and triple check the band schedule, of course), Gimbal darkly muttered something about Sugar Song trying to usurp the band for herself by getting in nice with the manager. Champion suddenly rounded on her berating her. Sugar Song had been nothing but patient and supportive with Gimbal and the band, despite the fact that the band's style was the furthest from the kind of music she preferred to perform. They were trying to help Gimbal's family heal their rift, since as orphans, they knew not to take family for granted while you had it. And on a personal note, Champion was glad that his sister had found some decent stallion, and was not going to have anyone undermine it.


Seeing Champion, the usually quiet and reliable colt lose it like that, snapping at Gimbal, his old foal-sitter and friend from way back, finally got Gimbal to take a bit of a look at herself, and realise that she was, indeed, being unfair, and she muttered an apology, especially not wanting to lose Champion's respect and friendship. Much to her relief, Champion was quick to forgive, giving her a hug, promising to put it behind him if she would.


With that unpleasantness dealt with, they went to their respective rooms. Nutmeg and Champion saw that the bar fridge was full of complementary sweets, which soon disappeared into their muzzles. In Mutt and Gimbal's room, in the meantime, Gimbal finished off the last of the news song she was working on, 'Dragon Child', based on their experiences Tinderfoot.


She also wanted to taste a bit of the rockstar lifestyle, so she called room service, asking the bewildered receptionist for a copy of the latest Daring Do novel, read by a pony with a Ruspony (Russian) accent. Much to her surprised delight, it was Sugar Song who showed up, about an hour later, with the novel. Using her magic to modify her voice, she read the book to Gimbal in a thick Ruspony stallion accent. This obviously meant Sugar Song had forgiven Gimbal, probably after Champion had spoken to her.


The next day, Paper Waltz told them that the gig was for that night, at 10pm. It was just one song, since they weren't the headliners, and unlike in Appleloosa, were totally unknown. So, they decided to spend the day having some fun in Manehattan, including ice skating, and visiting the cafes and fun parks. Though they were here to find Chill Factor, Gimbal's uncle, they decided it was best to start the search after the gig, figuring that getting their names out there might draw his attention anyway.


That night, they set up in the club, Tartarus, and performed 'Dragon Child'. It was a surprise hit, enough so that the club goers asked for another song from Lock, Stalk and Barrel. So they performed 'Skool is For Stoopid Ponies', which also went down quite well. They left it at that, however, since they didn't want to upstage Nightmare's Moon, but they were told they would be welcome to perform here.


The next day, the started their search for Chill Factor in earnest. Nutmeg, being the smart, would be detective she was, figured out the best place to start would be music stores, since Gimbal mentioned he used to love playing the banjo. They spoke to a music storekeeper, and the mare seemed to speak fondly of remembering Chill Factor coming in to shoot the breeze and jam with other musician ponies, but that was a few years ago. She also told them the address he was last living at, and that the apparently worked at a place called Gavel and Bar, a law firm.


Gimbal was getting increasingly worried. If Chill Factor was anything like she remembered, there'd be no way he'd be working for a law firm. They decided to go the address they were given, which turned out to be an old fashioned apartment complex downtown. They spoke with a receptionist, who said that yes, he did live here. She too, spoke with fond remembrance of him entertaining the other tenants with his banjo, something he hadn't done for a long time. She asked if they'd like to wait here for him to return, which by that time would only be about an hour, so they agreed.


An hour later, they heard a stallion voice, weary from a day's hard work, greet the receptionist. They turned to see what at first seemed a strange pony, until Gimbal got a better look. Instead of the Hawaiian shirt wearing, banjo wielding, dreadlock-maned slacker and rocker she was expecting, she saw Chill Factor, dressed in a severe, dull business suit, mane worn short and sensible, carrying a briefcase. In other words, he had gone, shock, horror, straight.


And with that cliff-hanger, the session came to an end.





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Session 14

We pick up from where we left off last session. After staring in shock at each other (though Chill Factor was also somewhat shocked to see a Diamond Dog in the city), Chill Factor then expressed polite but happy surprise to see his niece. Gimbal asked what in Tartarus Chill Factor was wearing, and her uncle replied that it was his suit, the same one he always wore to work.


He then added that it was great to see her, asking, with a hopeful tone, if her parents were here as well. Gimbal said, no, it was just her and the band, asking if he'd maybe heard of them. He said that that wasn't his scene anymore, and added that as great as it was to see them, it was late and he'd had a hard day, so he needed to hit the hay. But he'd be happy to see them tomorrow, since it was Sunday, his day off. It was 'only' 9pm, and Gimbal stood stunned as her once cool uncle trudged up the stairs to his apartment, after getting the hotel they were staying at, so he could meet them there tomorrow morning.


Gimbal still in disbelief, they returned to their hotel. The next morning, they came downstairs for breakfast (including in the hotel bill), and met Chill Factor. He wasn't dressed in a suit, exactly, but it was still a sensible, boring outfit. It, like the suit from before, covered his cutie mark, something that the sharp eyed Nutmeg started to pick up on.


When Gimbal asked what he did for fun, if he still played the banjo or went surfing, but he insisted that that was the old Chill Factor. Now he played Bridge with his partners at the firm, went out for drinks, sometimes poker if they were feeling daring. Gimbal couldn't believe what she was hearing, and tried to press the issue, asking incredulously if he really was happy doing office work, and living such a safe, boring life. Chill Factor replied that he was successful, wealthy, and was looking forward to a comfortable retirement in less than 20 years. Sugar Song couldn't help but notice that he hadn't said yes, but had instead listed reasons why he might think he should be happy.


Sugar Song took Gimbal aside, and suggest that she not press the issue for now, but just enjoy the day with her uncle; she had an idea, but needed to observe some more. Gimbal agreed, even though it rankled her to see her uncle acting so... safe and normal.


At the end of the day, Gimbal asked if she could see Chill Factor again the next day, and he agreed to see them for about an hour after work. When they parted ways, and the band were talking about the day in the hotel lounge, Nutmeg revealed that she had noticed that Chill Factor seemed to be taken great pains to hide his cutie mark, even from himself. Sugar Song mused that the falling out he'd had with his brother (Gimbal's father, Sabres Crossed ) must have hit him harder than anyone realised, causing him to try to put aside everything that Crossed Sabres would see as frivolous and wasteful. The fact that he seemed to be defensive when asked about such things led her to believe that he probably still had his banjos, bongos, floral pattern shirts and other signs of his old life hidden away in his apartment somewhere, subconsciously unable to give them up entirely, but trying to hide them from himself.


Master thief Mutt suggested that, while Chill Factor was at work, they break in to his apartment and try to find these hidden things. Gimbal was all for it, wanting to do anything to get her old uncle back, and even the usually sensible Sugar Song agreed, believing it might be the best way to help remind Chill Factor of his true self, though she added that she would try to charm the receptionist into letting them in without having to break and enter, but if that didn't work, they would try Mutt's way.


Sure enough, the next day, they waited for late morning, when Chill Factor would definitely be at work, and made their move. Gimbal bought some window cleaning supplies and pretended to be a window cleaner (a common job for Pegasi in Manehattan), so she could get in through the window, if neither Sugar Song was able to charm them in, or Mutt was unable to pick the front door's lock. Luckily, Sugar Song was able to use the fact they they were friends of Chill Factor's niece to convince the receptionist to let them have a spare key.


Inside, the band searched the house, while trying to do as little damage as possible, looking for signs of the life that Chill Factor was trying to hide away. It was the always sharp eyed Nutmeg who found the hidden compartment behind wardrobe, realising the wardrobe was shallower than it should be. She felt around, and realised that fresh boards had been added... quite recently, it seemed.


Mutt tore the boards away, to reveal a treasure trove of Chill Factor's hidden life. A surprisingly well tuned Banjo, some bongo drums, vacuum sealed floral shirts, and even some special green herbs. Gimbal had an idea at that point. They would take the instruments to Theatre Park (the one the Method Mares often performed at), and Gimbal would take a taxi to pick up Chill Factor from work. She would walk with him through the park, while the band played the folk/calypso music he used to love so much. Hopefully, this would remind him of who he really was.


When he found Gimbal waiting for him in a taxi-cab, inviting him to take a walk in Theatre Park he was a little suspicious, but he agreed. As they walked though the park, they heard the calypso music, Gimbal noticed a look of wistful nostalgia coming over her uncle. Sure enough, just as Sugar Song had guessed, he was never truely able to let it go, as much as he tried to convince himself otherwise.


She saw him close his eyes, tapping his hoof, lost in the rhythm... and she pressed his banjo into his hoofs. He started playing like a natural, like he'd never given it up at all. When the song ended, he hugged his niece, thanking her for not giving up on him, and apologising for scaring her. He explained that he did, indeed, take the falling out with his older brother harder than he thought, and tried to prove to himself that he wasn't a layabout slacker, but he overcompensated, becoming a dull, dreary shadow of his former self.


Nutmeg pointed out that a pony could be both responsible and have fun, and Gimbal said that it was time they talked to her father, to make amends and fix the family.


They returned home to an overjoyed Baby Tulip (Gimbal's mother), who was just as happy to see her brother in law. Sabres Crossed tried to act aloof when he saw his brother for the first time in years, but couldn't hold on, finally embracing him back into the family. Gimbal, too, was finally able to make amends with her father, as they came to an understanding, with Gimbal promising to be a bit more responsible and disciplined, while her father would try to loosen up, if just a bit.


And on that heartwarming resolution, the episode (and session) came to an end.




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Unfortunately been very busy this last week but I am working to make a proper Gimbal Lock comic I'll be posting in full soon. A slice life adventure following her misadventures called "On the Job with Gimbal Lock." Unrelated to the campaign but it will include many of the main characters in this role play game.

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Session 14

Episode 8

We begin the episode about a week after the end of the last episode. Gimbal had moved back in with her parents, who had also opened their home to her friends, in gratitude towards their part in healing the rift in the family. Nutmeg got on especially well with Baby Tulip, sharing a love for all things botanical, and Sabres Crossed adored Champion for his precociously serious discipline for one so young.


We opened the story proper with Mutt, enjoying having his hole to himself again. It was not to last however, as he suddenly heard a Diamond Dog shouting for him outside his hole. He poked his head up, to see a small, Skye terrier looking diamond dog, who looked like he'd been running non-stop all the way from the Diamond Dog Fields. He asked what was up, and the new Diamond Dog, who introduced himself as Paw, breathlessly told him that the Diamond Dog's back home had gone crazy, attacking each other in a wild frenzy. The few who didn't seem to be affected had holed themselves up in a secured cave. The Diamond Dog leaders sent Paw to look for Mutt, since he had a reputation of being something of a problem solver.


This reminded Mutt of what happened with the Buffalo, when they were infected with what he called the Hate Spores. He remembered that Nutmeg had brewed up an antidote, and took Paw to see her. The Ponies of Ponyville were mostly used to Mutt by now, but with a new Diamond Dog walking through their town, their was a mild panic. Pretty standard fare for Ponyville.


When they arrived at Nutmeg's house, it was her mother who answered the door. She smiled with genuine joy at seeing the charming and polite Mutt... a smile which turned into a rictus when she saw Paw. Mutt was one thing, but like most ponies, she still had a bit of a problem with Diamond Dogs. Nevertheless, when Mutt vouched for him, and said that they just needed to talk to Nutmeg, her mother called her down.


When Paw explained to Nutmeg what was needed, she checked to see if she had any of the antidote left, but unfortunately, she was out. Worse still, she needed a certain ingredient; a rare bark found only on a tree in the White Tail Woods. They decided that Gimbal, being a strong flyer, even by Pegasus standards, would be the best to fetch the bark, so they payed her a visit next.


Gimbal agreed to help, and took off as fast as she could towards White Tail Woods. She arrived about a day later... to find the forest ablaze, animals running for their lives from the fire. She immediately set to work creating a massive rain-cloud to put the fire out and save what was left of the woods. She then flew down, looking for the kind of tree that Nutmeg had described to her, one with a white, papery bark.


She found what she was looking for, and started peeling some bark off, when she suddenly saw a strange Earth Pony aiming a blowgun at her. She quickly ducked behind the tree, just as the dart hit where she was moments ago. Then three more Earth Ponies, with machete's in mouth, emerged from hiding. Not wanting to die in a Daring Do novel, she took off into the sky, bark in mouth. 


She failed to see the hidden unicorn during her escape, and a blast of fire shot at her. Luckily, she managed to escape it the worst of it, mostly, only losing most of her tail.


She returned to Ponyville, and gave the bark to Nutmeg, who set to work mixing up an antidote for the hate spores. She decided that the best way to deliver it would be to make the antidote as a fine powder, and have Flurry and Gimbal spread it among the infected Diamond Dogs.


Knowing that they will probably have to fend off raged filled Diamond Dog's while the antidote took effect, Gimbal, Mutt and Paw went to see Sugar Song and Champion, to ask for their help. They met Champion on the way, looking a bit pensive and embarrassed. Gimbal asked him what was wrong, and he blushed a bit and told them that his sister and Paper Waltz needed the house to themselves for an hour or two, so Sugar Song had given him some extra pocket money. He was happy for his sister, but it was getting a bit much. She and Paper Waltz couldn't keep their hooves of each other.


Gimbal reassured him that this was just new love, and they'd settle down soon enough. Mutt then told him about the quest to save the Diamond Dogs, and Champion gladly offered to help. They then waited for a couple of hours, before going back to his house to ask if Sugar Song would help. She agreed to do so, after assuring Paper Waltz that she would be careful. Champion also healed Gimbal's tail, though it would still take a few days to grow back to it's full volume.


The next day, Nutmeg had finished mixing up the antidote, and they set off towards the Diamond Dog Fields. As they got closer, Paw suggested they start being sneaky, just in case. This turned out to be a wise decision, as they saw about a dozen ponies, mostly Earth, but with a couple of Unicorn and Pegasi, standing gaurd over the holes that led into the caves below the Fields, as if ready to attack anything that emerged. They reminded Gimbal, Mutt, Nutmeg, Champion and Sugar Song of the dragon egg theives they dealt with before; unscrupulous mercenaries willing to do almost anything for the bits.


A couple of the mercenaries nearby suddenly perked their ears. One of them said something to the other, then started walking towards where our heroes were hiding. Realising that they must have heard something, and were about to find them, Champion sprang into action. Putting a magical shield around himself for protection, he ran from their hiding place to distract the mercenaries.


With Paw leading the way, he and Mutt started digging a tunnel under the ground, while the mercs started chasing Champion. When the tunnel went under where Champion was running, Mutt reached his paw through the earth to pull him down, almost giving the poor colt a heart attack. Paw then led them to where the non-infected Diamond Dogs were hiding.


Worryingly, the Diamond Dog leaders reported that for the last few hours, the sounds of raging battle had died down into silence. They had a couple of scouts out, but they hadn't reported back, and they didn't want to risk sending anymore. Nutmeg showed them the antidote she had made, explaining the plan while she inoculated the surviving Diamond Dogs and her party. Then, with Sugar Song maintaining an invisibility bubble around the party (except for Paw, who stayed with the other Diamond Dogs), they started to sneak through the tunnels.


They saw the tunnels full of the eviscerated bodies of dead Diamond Dogs. Then they heard the sounds of pawsteps approaching, and they froze. Into view came about a dozen Diamond Dogs. Strangely, they weren't tearing into each other in a rage filled frenzy, and yet their eyes and demeanour showed they were still under the effects of the spores.


Grabbing a double hoof-full of the antidote powder, Flurry flew over the pack's head and sprinkled the antidote over them, before quickly retreating under the invisibility bubble before they realised. Unfortunately, Nutmeg didn't know how long it would take for the antidote to take effect, so they had to keep following the pack.


The pack met up with another pack, and the party saw something strange. The Diamond Dogs stared intently at each other for a few moments, and then, without making the sound, the two packs merged without making a sound, and the new much larger pack started to move on.


A few minutes later, the party saw one of the Diamond dogs at the back of the larger pack suddenly blink and shake his head, then glance around fearfully. The antidote had taken effect, about 10 minutes after being dosed. Unfortunately, the first pack was mixed in with the second by this point, so the cured Diamond Dogs were still surrounded by infected, and not knowing if they had friends nearby, they pretended to act still infected.


They merged with more packs, and it soon became clear that they were converging to a central point in the Diamond Dog caves. Mutt realised they were heading to the central cavern, where the Diamond Dog leaders would call large multi-pack rallies. Nutmeg decided that it would be best to wait until as many packs were merged together to get as many in a cloud of antidote.


When they came to the central cavern, they saw several dozen Diamond Dogs emerging from other tunnels. They silently surrounded the central plinth, where the Zebra warlord, Hraka, stood waiting. This was not too surprising. as it was he who bought the spores from his native Zebrica. The infected Diamond Dogs surrounded him and watched expectantly. He looked over them in total silence, and their seemed to be a kind of silent communication. He must have somehow modified the spores, so that after a while, the survivors would, while still filled with rage, form into a hive mind under his control. Hraka was, indeed, a worthy equal to Past Endeavour, having a mind that was just as sharp, only focused on warfare and tactics rather than politics and intrigue.


The party quickly formulated a plan. Sugar Song would cast a magical 'flash-bang' into the centre of the cavern, to stun and distract as many as possible. The rest of them, except for Gimbal, would then fight to distract the rest of the infected, while Gimbal would create a windstorm to spread the rest of the antidote as wide as possible.


The plan went more or less as intended, though Nutmeg almost got speared, saved just in time by Champion, who put himself in the way. He did use a shield as well, but the force of the strike still seriously hurt. Still, as his special purpose dictated, better he take the harm than another. Mutt, meanwhile, charged right at Hraka, knocking the zebra down with a powerful haymaker, then trying to finish him with a flying elbow, but Hraka rolled out of the way, and Mutt hit the stone ground, hard. Hraka then said something in his native tongue, and a magical glow suddenly surrounded him, and he vanished.


Gimbal spread the antidote over the Diamond Dogs, before diving down to join the others under Champion's protected shield, along with Mutt, to wait for the antidote to take effect. Sugar Song turned to her little brother, practically begging him to stop putting himself in harms way, but he tapped his flank and said that he couldn't. Sugar Song sighed and pulled him into a perhaps too tight hug, both proud and frustrated by her little brother's courage.


A few minutes later, with Champion's shield barely holding out against the barrage of blood crazed Diamond Dogs, the antidote finally took effect, and the infected were finally cured. The party then decided that they needed to investigate what happened at White Tail woods. If Hraka knew that the bark from there was a vital ingredient for the antidote, he would definitely want to destroy or control it.


With that, the session came to a close.






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Been trying to get this comic finished, I was planing on drawing Paw or Hraka but they may have to wait a bit. Here is a little teaser of what this game has inspired. A note on Rarity she probably would never work in the way depicted, but it was a good way to hide face and not detract from our characters. At least that was my intention.


Another note, we are possibly doing a Legend of the 5 Rings (and no, I won't ponify any characters in that one) so my posts will be a bit less frequent on this thread, but I will share my art for 5 Rings, I have a rough character idea for that game and hopeful I can make something worthwhile out of that as well. 


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This was while back but I dreamed up a impulse buy by Gimbal Lock while she was reforming her Uncle Chill Factor in Manehatten a while back.  She purchased a painting titled the Princess's Supper by realist painter Egg Tempura, who is known for his court painting of the Crystal Empire Royals.  

Here is she is gloating to her manager, Paper Waltz.


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Session 15

We open with the band discussing how to get to White Tail Woods. Well, first, Gimbal, ever looking to promote her band, snuck among the sleeping Diamond Dogs, whispering, "I want to rock, with Lock, Stalk and Barrel..." into their ears. Unfortunately, she got a whack across the muzzle from a Diamond Dog who thought she was an annoying bug. So much for subliminal marketing.


They decided to take the river from Ponyville to White Tail Woods, and with Nutmeg's encyclopedic knowledge and Mutt's immense strength, they turned a log into a large canoe. They then started to journey to the Woods.


A couple of days later, they saw a large column of smoke coming from the forest. It looked like it was being burnt again, most probably to destroy the bark needed for the antidote against the Hate Spores. They then saw the dragon, flying among the smoke, breathing gusts of flame. It was Skyscale, the dragoness who had been part of the Dream Stealing conspiracy with Past Endeavour and Hraka, and who, in return for her life after being defeated by the Mane 6 and our heroes, swore never to return to Equestria. Obviously, she had broken that oath, and was working for Hraka, destroying the forest on his behalf.


Under the cover of the smoke, they landed their canoe, then Sugar Song cast her invisibility curtain. They snuck closer, trying to figure out how to deal with Skyscale before she reduced the entire White Tail Woods to ash. As they approached, Mutt suddenly shouted a challenge to the dragoness. Skyscale flew over to where she heard the shout, but saw nothing.


The dragoness had a way to deal with hidden enemies, however, and she suddenly breathed a gout of fire in the general direction of the shout. Champion quickly threw up a shield spell, just in time. Noticing her fire spreading around the shield, Skyscale knew who was there, and breathed harder. Champion buckled as the fire started to melt through his shield. Growing desperate, realising that shield's alone were not going to protect those he cared for, Champion did something he never imagined he could. Still maintaining his shield spell, he grabbed his sword, the same one given to him by Dragon Lord Ember with his telekinesis, and bought it up and around into the surprised dragoness' neck.


The enchanted blade pierced the hard scales like they were nothing. Then, crying out, Champion ran the blade across Skyscale's throat. The dragoness gave one last roar, then collapsed, dead. Champion just stood there, staring at his blade, having just purposely killed a living creature for the first time. While Sugar Song and Nutmeg tried to comfort him, Gimbal and Mutt tried to put out the fires.


Thus, they didn't see the mercenary ponies until they were surrounded. A desperate battle for survival broke out. The mercenaries were soon getting the upperhoof, since it seemed that whenever they started to get tired or injured, they got a second wind from somewhere else. It was Nutmeg who saw the culprit. Hraka was watching the battle from a distance, using Zebra magic to keep his troops fighting fit (in Roleplaying is Magic: Season 4 Edition, Zebras can learn a lesser form of magic; not as powerful as Unicorns can get, but still effective).


She pointed this out to the others, and knowing that things were getting desperate for them (Champion had exhausted himself into unconsciousness trying to maintain his shield spell and heal wounds), Gimbal, Sugar Song and Mutt acted in unison. Mutt threw a spear he had yanked from one of the mercenary ponies, Sugar Song sent forth a sonic pulse, and Gimbal bought down a lightning bolt... all on Hraka.


Hraka didn't see the triple assault, and found himself impaled, smashed and electrocuted, he collapsed, and with their boss dead, the mercenaries decided to hoof it, since they weren't being paid anymore. With Hraka and Skyscale out of the picture, White Tail Woods was saved... well, at least, what was left of it was saved. Still, a victory for our heroes.


They returned to Ponyville to wind down and relax, though Champion was still troubled by the fact he had killed someone, despite Nutmeg's and Sugar Song's best efforts to cheer him up.


In the meantime, Gimbal found that she had a couple of packages. The first was the painting she had ordered, which she planned to use as the inspiration for a new album cover. First though, Chill Factor and Paper Waltz would need to wring out the legal issues of using Crystal Empire royalty, especially since the type of music Lock, Stalk and Barrel were known for might not be something Princess Cadance would want associated with her and her daughter.


The second package contained the torn and shredded remains of the frilly dress Gimbal had sent as a present to Tinderfoot. With it was a letter, thanking Gimbal for the gift, but declaring that Tinderfoot was a noble and fierce dragon who would not be shackled to the chains of ponydom... and that she was looking forward to seeing Champion and the other's again.


Champion suggested that they put on a concert for the dragons, which Gimbal and the others thought was a great idea, so they started to make their preparations.


With that, the session and episode came to a close.


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Session 16

Episode 9

We open with the band beginning to make preparations for the concert in the Dragon Lands. Gimbal had a plan to show the awesome pony of the pony species, through ostentatious and outlandish outfits and props. She went to Rarity, with a heap of crazy ideas for costumes and props, which, among other things, included a leopard print leotard for herself, since, she reasoned, leopards were often found on royal heraldry. Rarity's eye twitched.


A troubles started when the band seemed unable to communicate with each other about what the look should be, resulting in a chaotic miss-mash of styles, most of which sent Rarity into a catatonic state due to the fashion trauma. It was Sugar Song who finally told the others that they should first agree among themselves what the concert theme should be (in this case, "Royal Extravagance"), and then tell Rarity, and let her, the expert in fashion and design, create the costumes and set pieces.


Gimbal also decided to call in the favour that Luna owed them for stopping the plot to steal her Dream-Walking power. She wanted Luna to make the moon rise over the mountains during the climax of the continent, briefly eclipsing the sun. Luna agreed, and they hashed out the details in Gimbal's sleep.


Knowing that they were going to see little Tinderfoot, and thinking that, as her mommy, it was her responsibility to bathe the hatchling, Gimbal also had the idea to buy large bathtub. They bought a fairly large one, with wheels so it could be dragged around. This would prove somewhat useful later.


With the preparations made, they took the train to Appleloosa. Once again, Paper Waltz arranged their own carriage, allowing room for the band, their props, and a large bathtub. They arrived at Appleloosa the next day but then had to decide how to get to the Dragon Lands.


They came up with the idea of piling into the tub, with their props, and having the immensely strong Diamond Dog, Mutt, pull them, aided with a stamina enhancing spell from Champion. It was a very tight (and perhaps somewhat intimate) squeeze for the 5 ponies and their stuff, and it must have looked a strange sight to the Buffalo tribes whose lands they travelled through, but it seemed to do the job, nonetheless.


As they neared the mountain range that marked the border between the Badlands and the Dragon Lands, Paper Waltz asked them to wait while he went in to make arrangements for the band and make sure Dragon Lord Ember knew they were coming. He returned about an hour later, just as Sugar Song was starting to fret, with a friendly teenage dragon to act as an escort for the band. He had successful sold the band to Lord Ember, and she had set aside a small flat plateau Lock, Stalk and Barrel could use as a stage.


At the stage, they started to set up for the gig. Gimbal also got some water for the bathtub, then started to ask around for Tinder Foot. They didn't have to find her, since she had heard that her pony family was here. It was Nutmeg who saw her sneaking up on Champion, ready to glomp him. She didn't warn Champion, since the adorb potential was too high to resist. Thus, Champion had no chance against the vicious, sudden hug attack from the savage Tinder Foot.


Tinder Foot jumped all over Champion and the other band-members, her eyelashes ablaze with joy. She took to the bath surprisingly well, though to be fair, most of it ended on Gimbal and Champion and the ground around the tub. The magical flames that burnt on Tinder Foot's eyelashes turned out to be water proof, burning even under water, so long as she was happy.


Champion then asked if he could have an audience with Lord Ember. He was granted the request; helping save a hatchling, and Ember herself during the attempted coup, got him a lot of favours with the dragons. The others, not knowing why Champion wanted this audience, went with him, and they found themselves in a massive cavern, flanked by several large dragons, the elder council of the Dragon Lands, chosen by Ember for their wisdom and experience.


When Ember, seated on a throne of gems, holding the Bloodstone Sceptre, asked Champion what he wished to say, Champion bowed, and pulling out the enchanted blade gifted to him by Ember during their last visit, held it out non-threateningly to Ember. He then explained how he had killed Skyscale, confessing his guilt at the death of one of her subjects. Ember listened gravely, then declared that, by breaking the oath to never return to Ponyville, she was no dragon, and thus, Champion had not slain one of her subjects, but had instead rid her of a potential enemy. She bid that Champion keep the sword; it was a gift of a Dragon Lord, and not lightly returned.


As they walked out of the cavern, Sugar Song waited to make sure no dragons were in eyesight, then suddenly pulled Champion into another perhaps too tight hug, once again proud and frustrated by her little brother's courage and honesty, even if it turned out he was beating himself up for no reason.


After that, they put on the performance. Paper Waltz had done a brilliant job hyping them up, as was his job as their manager/promoter, and many dragons showed up to watch. Once again, Lock, Stalk and Barrel gave a spectacular performance. True to her word, Luna raised the moon during the climax of the final song, and this was met with roaring cheers and skyward spouts of flame from the dragons. All in all, Lock, Stalk and Barrel made a damn fine impression on the dragons.

And with that high note, this admittedly short and sweet session (and episode) came to an end.







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Session 17

Episode 10


After the concert, Lock, Stalk and Barrel had their usual after-party. Dragons, especially teenage dragons, liked to party hard, and even Gimbal was a bit overwhelmed by the exuberance of friendly dragons. Besides, she also wanted to get her mane back to normal, not wanting to try balancing a battle-axe on her head for much longer.


She asked Champion for some help first, since he tended to use body magic a lot. Unfortunately, he was more used to using the magic to enhance his own or other's physical prowess, and trying to restore Gimbal's mane back to its usual style proved beyond his ability. The best he could do was crudely undo the battle-axe style, leaving Gimbal with long, brightly coloured dreadlocks.


Luckily, Sugar Song had learnt that the dragon's had natural hot springs, and invited Gimbal and Nutmeg to join her in a relaxing bath, while their personal bodyguard, Champion, kept watch. Sugar Song started the long, arduous process of cleaning out the several bottles worth of product in Gimbal's mane.


At that moment, a young female dragon by the name of Rhythm Quartz was watching Champion with growing interest. She had seen his confession to Ember, offering back the sword he was gifted as recompose for his slaying of the traitor, Skyscale. Other's had slain dragons before; ponies, griffons, and probably others, but never had she heard of a dragon-slayer not bragging about the act. Champion seemed almost ashamed succeeding at such a mighty task, and Rhythm Quartz had to find out why, so she decided to secretly follow him.


It was Nutmeg who first saw the rather pretty, quite slender (almost serpentine, in fact) young female dragon spying on them. Her shocked "Eep!" both startled Rhythm Quartz, who disappeared down a narrow tunnel, and got Champion's attention. When Nutmeg pointed to the hole the dragon had fled down, Champion ran over to it, incensed, and shouted a warning and threat down the tunnel to stop spying on his friends.


After that brief unpleasantness (and misunderstanding, though they didn't know it yet) they decided to see how Mutt was doing. He'd decided to join some of the young dragons in their more physical games. Sugar Song had styled Gimbal's now totally clean mane into a high ponytail. Not Gimbal's preferred style, but that would require a visit to a proffesional hairdresser. It did keep her rather long mane from dragging along the ground, though... and Champion thought it looked nice, for his part.


They found Mutt, in the middle of a wrestling match with a particularly muscular teenage dragon. Judging by his bruises and scars, Mutt had not been shy in testing his physical limits against the dragons. And judging by the way many were chanting his name, he had earned the respect of the adolescent dragons around him. After the match, which Mutt, lost, though only barely, Champion started to heal his wounds, bruises and broken bones, while they made preparations to return to Ponyville. Paper Waltz wasn't able to secure any record sales (mostly because the dragons didn't have record players) but he did manage to get the band quite a hefty fee for the concert.


Ember approached the group, with a pretty, young (probably about 16ish, or the dragon equivalent thereof) female dragon, with a long, slender, almost serpentine body. Ember introduced her as Rhythm Quartz, and said that she was interested in learning about Pony culture, and had requested leave to move into Ponyville, as part of a kind of cultural exchange.


The band agreed, and greeted Rhythm Quartz warmly. Gimbal thought having a genuine dragon friend sounded awesome. And so, after one last goodbye hug from Tinder Foot they started to make their way back to Ponyville. The trek back would be easier, since they were leaving the bath with Tinder Foot.


It was Sugar Song who noticed the way that Rhythm Quartz kept secretly glancing towards Champion with interest. She whispered jokingly to Gimbal, saying that if she wasn't careful, the Pegasus might soon have a rival for Champion's heart. Champion just kept his ears on the ground, trying not to blush.


Gimbal then challenged Rhythm to a race, saying she hadn't tested her speed against a dragon before. Rhythm agreed, mostly because she wanted to fit in, and thought this might be a good way to make friends with Gimbal. She unfurled her wings, revealing a wingspan as wide as she was long; the wings were very light and flexible, able to fold extremely neatly against her body when not in use.


Rhythm proved herself a worthy foe for Gimbal, especially when it came to speed in straight bursts. Gimbal still won their 200 metre race, but it was a close one. Being in the air, they then noticed something strange. A huge, white furred monster, looking like a mix between a giant ape and a wolf, fighting a group of Buffalo braves. Gimbal rushed to help, shoyting to the others to follow, followed closely by Rhythm Quartz.


The others were confused, but still followed. By the time they arrived at the scene, Gimbal and Rhythm were trying to distract and herd the beast away from the braves, many of whom were already badly injured or dying from its massive claws. Gimbal flying around its head to try to disorient it, while Rhythm breathed intense streams of blue flame at its feet to try to move it away from the braves.


Sugar Song started casting bright flash spells at the creature's eyes, while Champion created his shields to protect the braves, while Mutt and Nutmeg and even Paper Waltz rushed in to drag the injured Buffalo to safety. Gimbal suddenly had a flash of inspiration; since the creature had thick, white fur, she realised it must come from the arctic north, transported here somehow. No matter it was pissed off.


Realising this, quickly started to form a snowstorm within a cylinder of arctic cold. No easy feat, since this was a desert, but with great effort, she managed to pull it off. The ape-wolf beast instatnly calmed down under the soothing snow, and started to lie down to sleep. While Gimbal maintained the blizzard, the others asked the Buffalo what had happened.


The braves had been on a patrol, just an everyday routine thing, when there was a sudden pale blue glow, and that thing appeared. It immediately went berserk, attacking everything around it, which unfortunately included the Buffalo. Gimbal, Mutt, Nutmeg, Sugar Song and Champion all recognised that glow as Past Endeavour's magical signature. It made sence, since he was a master of teleportation magic, perhaps matching, or even surpassing, Unicorns like Twilight and Starlight.


They realised they needed Twilight's help. She would be able to teleport the beast back to the north, where it belonged. Since Gimbal needed to maintain the storm, they decided to send their next best flyer (in fact, their only other flyer), Rhythm Quartz, along with Nutmeg to explain what was going on, to Ponyville.


Nutmeg hopped onto Rhythm's back, and the serpentine dragon took off at full speed, racing directly to Ponyville. Meanwhile, Champion used his body magic to keep Gimbal's stamina up while she maintained the blizzard.


After about a day and a half off non stop flying, Rhythm crashed into through the top window of the Castle of Friendship, where Spike was busy reshelving books. Nutmeg started talking at a million miles per hour, trying to explain everything at once. A concerned Spike called for Twilight, who came up the stairs. As soon she she saw Nutmeg, she realised something must be wrong, but Nutmeg was in too excitable a state to speak clearly. So, apologising, she put her horn on Nutmeg's head, and cast a memory recall spell, learning what had happened.


She agreed that the poor, misplaced beast needed to be taken back to where it belonged. Luckily, she had seen where Nutmeg's friends where in her memories, and using this, was able to teleport them back. Just in time, since, even with Champion's magical assistance, Gimbal look ready to collapse.


Twilight touched her horn to the creature, and with a flash, they both disappeared. Gimbal finally released the blizzard, and collapsed, exhausted. A few minutes later, Twilight returned, and then teleported everyone back to Ponyville.


They then discussed their next plans. It seemed that Past Endeavour was up to some sort of nefarious scheme, though what, exactly, they had no idea. The band decided that they had to find out what, and so decided to travel to the north to see what they could learn. Rhythm Quartz agreed to come to help them, even though she didn't have as strong a connection to Past Endeavour as the others had.


Before that, however, they planned to hit the spa. Gimbal wanted her old mane back...



With that, the session came to an end.














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my depiction of Rhythm Quartz, Swift I apologize in advance if the colors are off, I drew her for a local drink and draw session here in Savannah. 

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Looks fine to me (though I had to go to your deviant art page to see). Maybe not exactly how I pictured, but a certain level of artistic licence is permissible, so long as the general feel of the character is captured, which you're quite good at. 


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GM's Note: I've decided to experiment with a more narrative prose style of writing. Let me know if you like it, or prefer the old style. Also, there may be a little artistic licence in the name of narrative cohesion.


Gimbal sighed happily as she leaned against the sauna wall. It had taken the Spa Ponies most of the day, but her mane was back to its old glory. Now she and her friends, including their newest friend, Rhythm Quartz, though not Paper Waltz, who was busy arranging for the return to Ponyville of the Lock Stalk and Barrel train-car, were relaxing in the sauna together.


"I hope we all realise, that if we do, indeed, try to stop whatever it is that Past Endeavour is planning in the Frozen North, we'll be breaking the verbal contract we made with him," Sugar Song spoke, breaking the pleasant silence. Even with her eyes closed, she could feel the questioning gazes of the others on her. "He promised to not act against us or our friends, in return for our non-interference in his plans."


"Does that mean we should let him do whatever he wants?" Champion asked earnestly. "Who knows what harm he could cause?"


Sugar Song nodded with a sigh, "I know. I'm not happy breaking a promise, is all... even one to a villain like him."


Rhythm Quartz, who had been listening with the slightly perplexed expression of an outsider in these things, spoke up, "It's like my Lord Ember, said, to Champion here: sometimes you have to do things you might find distasteful, if its to protect those you care about."


"I know," Sugar Song said. "He's too dangerous to leave alone, we need to at least investigate what he's up to."


"Ooh! Ooh!" Nutmeg practically jumped up and down in excitement. "Lunar Tinker lives in the Crystal Empire, right!? We can visit him! He can help!"


"Sounds like a plan!" Gimbal said, and everyone else nodded in agreement.



"Hey, Nutmeg, I've got a cunning plan." Gimbal said to her shy friend, as they were walking down the street after their spa session. Nutmeg looked at her curiously, and she continued. "We want to 'lie low' as they say, right? Well, Past Endeavour is an old stallion, so we should dress as old mares. Old ponies are constantly gossiping and complaining about young ponies, so they must all trust each other, right?"


A small part of Nutmeg was shouting at her, telling her that this was a stupid idea, and she knew it. Of course, that might have also been her Breezy friend, Flurry. Her constant desire to keep hold of her friendships, made her ignore such wisdom, and she nodded enthusiastically. "Yep, sounds like a great idea! I'm sure we can scrounge up some old fashioned dressed, grey wigs, and things like that." They hoof-bumped each other, then ran off to their houses.



The next morning came, and the friends were boarding the morning train to the Crystal Empire. Paper Waltz, being a Crystal Pony himself, had decided to come along. His sister still lived in the Empire, and was looking forward to meeting her brother's new Special Somepony. In order to deflect suspicion from any agents of Past Endeavour who might be at the Crystal Empire, they had decided to spread out among the train, instead of all claiming one carriage; Nutmeg and Gimbal in one, Sugar Song, Champion and Rhythm Quartz in another, and Paper Waltz and Mutt in a third.


An hour into the day long journey, Gimbal nudged Nutmeg, grinning, "Come on, let's get into costume. If we can fool our friends, Past Endeavour has no chance."


Still ignoring the niggling little voice of reason in her head, as well as Flurry's tiny facehoofs, Nutmeg nodded, and they each headed to the bathroom at either end of the carriage.



"Do you see this mark?" Champion asked, tapping the shield surrounding a musical note on his haunches. "A shield. Not a sword, not a vanquished enemy. I'm a defender, not a slayer!" Rhythm Quartz had expressed her confusion at Champion's shame at slaying the dragon Skyscale, when so many other dragon-slayers would brag constantly about such a feat. The Unicorn Colt looked down, breathing heavily, trying not too get too worked up.


Sugar Song glanced at Rhythm, who had the grace to look ashamed at upsetting Champion, then to her little brother with a mix of pride and concern. She was just about to pull him into a spontaneous hug, when they suddenly heard a creaky, falsetto voice, "Well, hello there, young whippersnappers! How are you this fine day!"


"Oh, dear Celestia, no..." Sugar Song murmured, then turned to see two of the most ridiculously cliched old mares she had ever seen. Big blue manes, straw hats with flowers and fruit, even the cat's eye glasses. "Gimbal, Nutmeg, what on Equestria are you wearing? You look... ridiculous, even for you, Gimbal. And, you, Nutmeg, you should know better."


Champion just looked crestfallen, his chin slumped against the back of the seat. "Why?" he asked plaintively, in the tone of one trying to make sense of the senseless.


"Gimbal? Nutmeg? Who are they?" Gimbal insisted, refusing to break character so easily. "We're just a couple of normal old mares, on our way to the Crystal Empire Bingo Club."


Sugar Song turned and slammed her head against the train window, groaning in both physical and mental pain. Champion put a comforting hoof on her shoulder, then said, hopefully, "You know, if you need more adult in the team, I could use my magic to-"


"No!" Sugar Song said curtly, face still pressed against the window. "You will grow the normal way, young stallion. And besides," She turned and nuzzled him affectionately, "you're already adult enough as it is. Don't be in such a hurry to grow up."



The train pulled into the Crystal Empire station just as the sun was starting to set, and the party disembarked from their respective carriages. Gimbal and Nutmeg, who was staring in awe at the beautiful, sparkling buildings of the Empire, had removed their old mare disguises, for now, but they had them at hoof, "just in case."


Paper Waltz, being the only pony of the group from here, had a few suggestions. "There's a good hotel with great views of the palace, called, not surprisingly, 'The Palace View Hotel'. While Sugar Song and I pay a visit to my sister, the rest of you can check in there. It's pretty expensive, but definitely worth it for rock-stars like yourselves."


Gimbal nodded enthusiaticully, then whispered to Nutmeg, "And I bet they have a senior citizen discount, right, 'dearie?'"


Nutmeg whispered back, "Or a foal discount," Nutmeg, who was always looking for an excuse to be shrunk, glanced to Champion, who was chatting with Rhythm Quartz. "First, though," she said out loud. "Let's try to find Lunar Tinker."


"You all go ahead," Sugar Song said, "I'm going with Paper." With that, Paper Waltz gave them directions, to the hotel, and to his sister's house, then they parted ways.



They asked around for Lunar Tinker, and found that he was somewhat famous in the Empire, for both good and ill. Ponies young and old delighted in his wonderful, clockwork marvels, though town planners and other authorities lived in constant dread of his next 'brilliant idea!'. His house/shop could be found in the Craftspony District, so, with that information, the party headed in that direction.


The Craftpony district turned out to be the newest district in the Crystal Empire, built not long after its return from the shadow world. It had the largest non-Crystal Pony population in the city, mostly Earth Pony and Unicorn of various crafts, who came to help modernise the Empire. At this time of night, most of the shops were closed, but it wasn't hard to find Lunar Tinker's Mechanical Marvels, by the huge gears that turned slowly on the roof. 


The shop was closed up, and there was a sign in a window, that read, 'Of on exploration and adventure. Closed for foreseeable future. Apologies for the inconvenience.'. When Nutmeg read the note outloud, she groaned in disappointment. "Oh, horseapples! I was really looking forward to seeing him again."


"Let's ask around, see if anypony knows where he might have went." Mutt suggested. Luckily, they did find one shop still open; an armour-smith's. An old Earth Pony was beating out the dents in a guardspony's barding, something which Champion watched in fascination. When asked about Lunar Tinker, he told them that a few days ago, he saw a Unicorn with a long beard and a cutie mark showing a heart in puppet strings, talking with Lunar Tinker. He couldn't hear what they were talking about, exactly, but whatever it was got Lunar Tinker all exited, and he closed up shop and left with the Unicorn the next day, loaded for a long exhibition into the Frozen North.


After they thanked the armour-smith and let him get on with their business, Mutt took his friends aside, and said, "That Unicorn was definitely Past Endeavour but we need to know more. I say we come back later tonight, and, um, search Lunar Tinker's shop for information."


"But it's locked up," Nutmeg said, before remembering who she was talking to. "Oooh!"


"Alright then," Gimbal added. "Let's book into that hotel Paper Waltz suggested, and come back in a couple of hours."



On the way to the Palace View Hotel, Gimbal had slipped into her old mare costume, hoping to get a discount. Nutmeg had asked Champion to use his magic to shrink her down to the size of a filly, "For no particular reason, honest!". Champion sensed she was up to something, but couldn't figure out what, and besides, she pouted. What's a colt to do?


When they saw the concierge behind his desk, Gimbal put on her 'best' old mare voice. "Why hello there, dearie! One senior citizen, 2 foals, and 2 adults for the penthouse floor, please!"


The concierge sighed when he saw the painfully obvious ploy before him. "Sorry, ma'ams, but the discounts don't apply to... cos-players or... little ponies."


"Oh well, worth a shot right?" Gimbals grin faded under the concierge's flat expression. "Um... I mean, 4 adults and 1 foal for the penthouse floor, please." The Ponies, Diamond Dog and Dragon then paid the room fees, and made their way upstairs.


They decided to share two rooms between them. Rhythm Quartz quickly claimed a room with Champion (a little too quickly, Gimbal thought). Nutmeg, who usually liked to share a room with Champion. seemed a bit disappointed, but then quickly grinned at the idea of a puppy pile with Mutt, Gimbal and herself. Mutt just rolled his eyes and grinned at his friends childish antics.


They sat together on the balcony, enjoying the view and killing time until Mutt decided it was late enough to risk a break and enter. The Diamond Dog had proven his thievery credentials before, so the others trusted his judgement in these things.



The Craftspony District was deadly silent, as the 5 friends snuck through through the streets towards Lunar Tinker's shop. It was going fairly well, until Gimbal suddenly caught her hoof on a slightly raised flagstone, and landed face first into the ground. Her short cry of pain made the others freeze, waiting. Know lights came on, no hue and cry was called, and they breathed out.


"Ow! Ow! Ow!" Gimbal rubbed her reddened, swelling muzzle.


"Here, let me." Champion walked up, touching his glowing horn to the wound. As the bleeding stopped and the swelling went down, Gimbal sighed happily, "Thanks, Champ!" She then glanced up, to see Rhythm Quartz giving her a brief, but intense, look of hatred. It faded as soon as it appeared, and Gimbal wondered if she'd even seen it.


They arrived at Tinker's shop, and Mutt scanned the front door with an expert eye, before taking out some of the tools of his trade, hidden in his vest. "Rhythm, Gimbal, can you two fly up to the roof and keep a look out for any night watchponies?"


Rhythm nodded, and got ready to take off, but Gimbal whined plaintively, "Awww... but I wanted to see all the cool toys."


Champion chuckled and rolled his eyes, then said, "Fine, I'll ride on Rhythm's back, and keep watch with her," he looked to Rhythm, "if that's okay with you, of course."


Rhythm blushed slightly, then nodded quickly, "Of course." She crouched, letting the colt climb on, and they flew up to the roof.


Mutt got the door open, and he, Gimbal and Nutmeg found themselves in a large workshop, full of half finished mechanical and clockwork marvels. Nutmeg's eyes started to widen, and Mutt covered her mouth just in time to muffle her high pitched squeal of pure, nerdy joy.


They then started to search the room, looking for any clues to where Past Endeavour and Lunar Tinker went. Gimbal's attention was drawn to a strange contraption, consisting of a hollow frame with four equine like legs. A blue-print nearby labelled it as, "Prototype for Assisted Movement". 


Nutmeg found a complex watch, one that not only told the time, but indicated the phases of the moon and other astronomical events. "Oh, wow! I wish Lunar was here, so I could buy this!"


"Just leave some bits," Mutt said, "Not stealing if you leave money." He nodded sagely. "Them's the rules."


Nutmeg nodded, and put a hefty pile of bits on the table, pocketing the watch. Then her eye was drawn to an old tome, labelled, 'Ways of the Ancients'. "This looks promising," she said, opening to a bookmark. The entry she found detailed an ancient tribe of Earth Ponies called 'The Hooves of the North', who had cities deep in the mountains of the Frozen North. "I think this is where they went. Past Endeavour is probably liking for an artefact weapon or something."


The rest of them nodded. They knew enough about Past Endeavour to know he would seek any advantage in whatever long term plan he had; anything that was obscure and not well known would be especially valued.


"Lunar Tinker probably doesn't know exactly what Past Endeavour is looking for," Gimbal said. "He probably just thinks Endeavour is a fellow history enthusiast. Once Past Endeavour does find what he's looking for, however..."


"Then we have to catch up with them before that happens!" Nutmeg exclaimed urgently. "Let's get back to the hotel, get some sleep, then tomorrow, find Sugar Song, and get some supplies for the Frozen North."



The next morning, the friends were enjoying a hearty breakfast in the hotel's dining room. All except for Rhythm Quartz and Champion, who hadn't emerged from their room, something which Gimbal took note of.


Champion finally showed up, about an hour after they'd started breakfast. "Turns out, dragons are deep sleepers," the colt said, sheepishly. He then looked to Nutmeg with a wry smile. "She also has your bad habit of using me as a plushie. Had to wriggle free."


Nutmeg blushed a bit, as Champion started loading a couple of plates, probably to take back to the room.


Gimbal sidled up to him, "Hey, Champ. Word in your ear, over here?" Champion cocked his head, but nodded and followed Gimbal to a corner of the room.


"What's up, Gimbal?" He asked, when they were out of earshot.


"I can't but notice that Rhythm Quartz seems to have taken a bit of a shine to you, Champ," Gimbal said, and Champion blushed and coughed. "Look, I just want you to be careful," she added. "We still don't know all that much about her."


Champion looked up at her, and said, in an almost hopeful tone. "You're not... you're not jealous, are you?"


"Of-of course not!" Gimbal said quickly, looking away.


"Oh... okay.." Champion nodded.


In the meantime, Nutmeg had been watching this exchange, with sparkling eyes. She couldn't hear them, but her romantic imagination was running wild. So when they came back, she almost literally dragged Gimbal aside, "Spill! Spill! What did you guys talk about!"


"Oh, um, it was nothing, forget about it," Gimbal said, distractedly, as she watched Champion leave with two plates in his magical aura. "Once Champion and Rhythm have had some breakfast, let's pick up Sugar Song, and get some supplies. We got an adventure to look forward to."



When Sugar Song learnt about the plan, she agreed to come along, mostly for her little brother's sake. After ensuring Paper Waltz, several times, with both words and kisses, that she would be fine, they then made their way to an exploration supply store, to buy the supplies they would need fpr a trek in the Frozen North. Tents, snow-shoes, skis, and woollen cloaks from crystal ewes.


By the time they had everything together, the sun was high in the sky. With one, possibly last, glance back towards the crystal spires of the city, they stepped through the northern gates, and into the Frozen North.

Edited by Swift Study
Removed unnecessary blank space
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I like this new style keep it up swift, I do apologize for the old lady bit that I came up with it was very unnecessary to the story.

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Okay Swift you can tell me to knock this off, but to everyone following this blog I've started my own sporadic RP using the Equestria Tail's RP and  I couldn't help but make a drawing of Character I intro to the PC's, Big Daddy McColt's and Ma Hoofield's (among dozen's) grandchild  Jaw Harp.  Think of him's as West Virginia's answer to Apple Bloom. That is not to say I've abandon artwork on the Equestria Chronical's RP, oh no, I'm actually working on a second comic book based on the adventure staring Nutmeg and working hand in hand with Willdabeard on it. 

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