Scribblegroove

private When hearts grow cold. Chapter one: Shadows fall

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OOC: https://mlpforums.com/topic/165317-when-hearts-grow-cold-chapter-one-shadows-fall-epic-adventure-dark/

 

When shadows fall.

 

Crowley was waiting. His hawk was circling high above his head, like a predator keeping a watchful eye, waiting to strike. His green, piercing eyes scanned the area. He wasn't only observing, he was percieving everything, allowing all sensations to flourish within his consciousness. From the little mouse that was running through the grass to the guard sneezing in the distance on top of a tower. Almost lifelessly he stared in front of him, to the closed door, that lead to the palace hall, and then to the inner rings of the city. Waiting and watching was something he was pretty good at. You'd think waiting isn't a skill, but if you have to wait 3 whole days, being disciplined enough to stay alert, you'd start thinking differently.

 

They should be coming now. The sun was high in the sky, straight above him, making his shadow small. It was noon. He hoped that this group would show up. The last had only two that were willing to participate. All the others had been cowards. Too frightened by the idea of having to do something meaningful. He hated ponies like that.

 

So in the heat of the sun, about as motionlesss as a statue, only his chest revealing that he was a breathing, living being, he waited. And around him, on the walls and towers, and in many corners were guards on patrol. Some visible. Some not. After all, this was the first barrier of defense to the princesses themselves. Perfect security was a must.

 

 

{Turn 1}

Arrive at the palace and enter the courtyard.

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(edited)

Upon receiving his letter War left immediately as it had instructed. The request mentioned him and him alone so he had to leave his second in command, Famine, in charge of the situation in Zebrica and went on his way.

He was surprised that the princesses had only requested him. If the situation was bad enough they needed to take him from his previous operation then why not have his entire unit look into it? The message had also mentioned there would be others and if that was the case this mission would be special. The princesses must have been seeking ponies with particular skills and his unit didn't compensate for what they needed. He would have a roll to play and he wasn't about to let his country down. 

The situation seemed odd. War had heard rumors that there was a suspicious crime spree invading his home country and while theft was bad it hadn't seemed to develop into such a large situation. Being out of the country however limited such information if it wasn't relevant. The guard must have been looking for these criminals and it was a pity they couldn't seem to apprehend them sooner. Whatever this individual or team of individuals had taken, it was important enough for the princesses to raise this band of theives from an inconvenience to a national threat. War was intrigued to say the least and even without being aware of the details, honored to take part.

The trip home had taken a week on its own, it was something to expect when your occupation kept you out of Equestria proper. The message wanted them to gather in two weeks therefore he spent the week he had left before introductions preparing. He didn't know what the details of this operation would be but he wanted to prepare for it to take him off somewhere again just in case. He did his best to learn what was already known about these thefts in an inconspicuous manor but not much seemed to be known by the general public. After finding nothing of use he decided to fight his curiosity and wait for the mission brief. 

The morning of he woke early packed his armor, sword and a few other personal items into his saddle bag, ate, and bathed. Sometimes on these trips a pony never knew when they would see a bath again so he never missed the opportunity. He then left his upstate Canterlot home fresh and ready to take on whatever challenge was required. 

War decided to walk his way to the palace rather then fly, he didn't wish to waste any stamina if it wasn't necessary. He didn't know what they would be doing once they arrived, there could be tests, physical and mental evaluations, anything and he wanted to be at his peak. He also needed to make a quick stop before making his way to the palace. He haulted just outside a large nobles home near the exit of the noble district and pulled his own letter from his bag along with a pouch of bits. Dropping them both on the stoop, he knocked a few times and then left before they opened the door, he knew the servants would take care of it.

A lovely young unicorn mare lived there, and she and War had become aquatinted. While War was away on missions she agreed to visit his father once a day to check on him. With his mangled leg and his age, if he fell he may not be able to get himself up. So War paid her to make sure that didn't happen.

War had talked to his father about this mission a few days pervious. Or well 'talked' about what he was able to safely disclose, which was very little given the confidentiality of it. His father had understood having been in the same position many times but did seem pleased that his son would be doing something for the princesses directly. By 'seemed pleased' War meant he grunted and said "good" it was more then he had hoped.

War finally made his way out of his home district and onto the busy streets to the palace. He had been to the castle before, several times in fact but spent most of the time he had there in the guard barracks were he could use their equipment. It was interesting going deeper into the castle then he had in the past. In fact he was being directed to the area nearest the princesses. A few of the guards knew War and saluted him to which he gave one in return before reaching his destination. 

The large red Pegasus entered the room, swiftly surveying it. It didn't seem as if anypony else had arrived yet but a lone pony standing motionless as stone. Well he had gotten up early and as a solider he had excellent punctuality. It would be fine, he would be here to see the others enter and be able to gather an impression before the squad became large. 

War walked directly up to the lone pony, presenting his letter and saluting. "Agent War reporting,"

 

Edited by PonyOfWar
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(edited)

The sight of a strange letter greeted Salve as he walked into his home after a long day at his clinic. He cocked one eyebrow and levitated the scroll in front of him, reading the message the princesses addressing their concern for help though the circumstances behind why they asked him of all possible ponies left him confused, at least for a while.

Robbery. Organized crime. Strange why princesses would ask medical practitioner for help. Perhaps requesting assistance for criminals potentially utilizing health-compromising strategies in relation to robbery. Will need to make preparations, close clinic myself and take next train to Canterlot at once. Situation must be of utmost importance. 

Salve immediately grabbed his essentials: a first aid kit, some poultices, six bottles of herbal potions, a small pouch of bits, and his trusty quarterstaff. No longer serving in the military meant he had to give up most of his old possessions and find a new way to protect himself. He wasn't sure about the Crystal Empires's regulations for possessing weapons so he opted to keep a harmless-looking wooden stick about as tall as he is for protection. There was no one else to bid his goodbyes to and proceeded to return to his clinic and post a message on the window reading: "Doctor will be away. Unknown when will return. Please find other clinics in the meantime. Thank you for understanding."

With most of his urgent matters resolved, Salve embarked on the last train out of the Crystal Empire and made his way to Canterlot. His journey through the night was mostly quiet with only the sound of the train's engine and the sound of several passengers making small talk keeping him company. It was about two days before he could see the sight of Canterlot's ivory turrets over the horizon; he thought he could distance himself from that sight but the prospect of working alongside a group of ponies chosen by the princesses was one he could not resist. All he had was the letter, reading it over and over to himself and imagining what kinds of adventure was in store. It was no military deployment but it got him out of his daily routine, at least for a while.

There was still enough time to stop by his old home, about five blocks away from the city center where the famed gourmet restaurant row was found. Salve's parents retired there and he had to pay a visit. The two greeted him at the door and welcomed him to stay. Salve remained there for two night to catch up with his parents, letting them know he needed some time away from the clinic and talked about the letter he received but withheld most of the details. It may jeopardize the investigation but his parents knew their once young colt could take care of himself. He bid them goodbye for the meantime and made his way to the castle. 

Salve made his way to the castle, the first time being in there on official business. The place was a lot quieter than he expected. Usually, there might be an occasional celebration or function held by some high society unicorn but this atmosphere was more preferable. He could hear the sound of his hoofsteps and the echoes it creates. The inner rooms of the castle were disorienting and Salve didn't moved from room to room, wandering around until he got lucky and stumbling upon the sight of the courtyard. He hurried to find a pony standing under the midday sun while remaining oblivious to any other pony present in the area, if there were any to begin with.  

"Message received. Still unsure if this is the right place but will wait until requested to relocate." Salve pulled out the scroll from his saddle bag and scanned it for a specific name. "Looking for one Crowley Ocula. Is he here?"

Edited by EQ_Theta
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(edited)

The sun bore down from above as Amber reread her letter for the hundredth time. When she finished, she rolled it up and stuck it away in her cart. She stared at the palace gates in front of her. She approached the gates, a fire burning in her eyes. Normally, she wouldn't have accepted a job without lots of convincing, sacks of bits, or copious amounts of booze, but this time, she had her own reasons. This time, it was personal.

The last five days had consisted of her heading to Canterlot from her last negotiation and, while doing so, reaching out to contacts to try to get more information on her caravan . The endeavor proved fruitless, but she was not deterred. She would find who had ransacked her family and if doing a job for the princesses would get her there, she was more than willing to help them. It also didn't hurt that she might be saving Equestria in the process and might be rewarded for her efforts, but that though was tucked away in the back of her mind.

Amber glanced upwards at the bird flying through the sky before she stepped through the gates. She saw the pony sitting almost still as stone in the courtyard and almost passed him by before she noticed the familiar sound of breathing. Stepping back in front of the stallion, Amber gazed closely at him. She saw the piercing eyes, the practiced way he stood himself still, his muscles and bones locking tight to prevent movement, and the subtle shifting of his chest as he breathed.

"Are you Mr. Oculus? The one who sent me the note?" she asked with her honey sweet voice, her Appleoosan accent laying thick upon the words she spoke. "If so, ah believe we have much to talk about. Name's Amber Whiskey."

Edited by Lil' Lovebug
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Nova Nightstar touched down into the clearing just outside of the Palace grounds in the upper sections of Canterlot, shaking his wings out to relieve some of the stress of the long flight from Cloudsdale. It had been a thoroughly uneventful journey, but the time alone had given him plenty of opportunity to ponder over the specific reasoning for his arrival here. The letter from that Pegasus...

He thought back to that training session at Wonderbolt Academy; where the mysterious red Pegasus had arrived one afternoon to deliver a letter addressed to him. He couldn't remember the last time he had seen a more clumsy entrance into the Academy's grounds, any self-respecting Wonderbolt hopeful would have been mortally ashamed of such a maneuver. Yet... something about the stallion intrigued him that day. It may have simply been the casual way he brushed off the incident and carried on his duty as normal, or the equally embarrassing way he departed shortly afterwards, but Nova didn't believe that was all there was to it. There was something else: a mysterious amulet bearing some kind of insignia that Nova had never encountered before. He didn't know exactly what it meant, but he understood very quickly that the Pegasus was obviously not a local to these parts. The Wonderbolts regularly traveled far and wide performing their various air shows for Equestrian citizens all over, and yet nopony of the sort was anything quite like what he had encountered that day. What was bothering him even more however, was that he had never seen such a clumsy Pegasus get up to such speeds... he may have been an outsider who lacked finesse, but there was no denying the power behind those wings. Nova had to know more about who he was and where he came from, and if there were more Pegassi out there like him. He could not allow such a potentially dangerous rival to go unchecked. Perhaps the Princesses could tell him more...

More importantly; that was why Nova found himself here in Canterlot this day. At the personal request of the two ruling Princesses of Equestria, Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, Nova had been invited to attend a summoning of a group select individuals alongside himself, to assist in what seemed like a desperate plea for help. Nova was quite frankly surprised to have received such an invitation. He had never had any personal interaction with the ruling monarchy of Equestria before. Though Celestia had attended many Wonderbolt shows in the past and personally congratulated them afterwards, he had never spoken privately with her, and he saw even less of her sister, the Princesses of the Moon, Luna. Perhaps they had heard of his skill and achievements in the Wonderbolts and had decided that he was the best Pegasus for the occasion? If so, that would potentially be a huge boost to his reputation! If even the Princesses themselves had respect for his prowess...

The realization excited him! Pride flooding into his veins, he set off at a quick pace towards the entrance of the Palace. As he approached, he retrieved the invitation letter from his satchel in preparation of showing to the guards. As he glanced over it again, he caught sight of the third name on the signatures: Crowley Ocula, leader of The Guild. The name was completely unfamiliar to him, probably why he had forgotten about it so quickly. "Leader of The Guild"? What guild exactly was this referring to? There were many guild-like organizations spread out all over Equestria, much less Canterlot. Was this supposed to be somepony important? Nova admittedly wasn't one for keeping much tabs on Equestrian politics. They were largely irrelevant to him.

What interested him more was the reasoning behind the invitation. A recent wave of crime had recently become widespread across the Equestrian lands. Nova had heard of a number of instances in the past few weeks where thieves had supposedly broken into and stolen many treasures or other valuables from places as far off as the Crystal Empire, Manehattan and even Appleoosa. But now it seemed that the criminals had even become bold enough to attack Canterlot itself! According to the letter, a powerful artefact had been stolen from the Canterlot library, though it did not go into specific details. Nova assumed that they would get the full explanation in person, but from what he'd been told, it seemed he and the other recipients were here to track down those responsible, and retrieve the stolen artefact. Spitfire had fortunately granted him the time off to follow up on this matter, "A team building exercise!" she called it. Tch! Still trying to push her 'teamwork' agenda on him...

The purple Pegasus showed the invitation letter to one of the Royal Guard standing at the entrance to the Palace, and after quickly reading it over, he nodded in acknowledgement and requested that Nova follow him to the Courtyard. Nova fell in line behind the stallion as he led him down the long and regal corridors of the Palace. Numerous other guards stood watch at various point all over the hallways. Such a high level of security seemed a bit atypical for the Pegasus, but given the severity of the most recent incident, it wasn't unexpected.

After over a minute, the guard arrived at and opened a large door to reveal the Palace Courtyard, looking pleasantly empty and quiet. Obviously the area had been cordoned off for the invitation bearers. The guard ushered him in before closing the door behind him, leaving Nova alone on the balcony with steps leading down onto the courtyard proper. Glancing out; he saw a group of around 3 or 4 ponies that had already arrived ahead of him. The Pegasus leaned on the railings of the balcony and glared down towards them, under no immediate hurry to meet and greet. His questions were for the Princesses.

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At last, the door opened. Crowley peered down the courtyard, between the lush green trees and behind pretty rosebushes stood the enormous warrior Crowley knew to be War. Of course he'd be the first to arrive. Few had proven themselves to be as loyal as this soldier, and Crowley could appreciate that he managed to recruit at least one experienced serviceman for this mission. The princesses had insisted on not recuiting too many hardened soldiers. Crowley hadn't questioned their judgement, but it had been frustrating nonetheless.

@PonyOfWar

War approached him with broad strides and saluted him. Crowley returned the salute and observed the letter, his senses still primed. Some would call it paranoia, but Crowley wouldn't let an impostor catch him by surprise. Thankfully, the letter was evidently legitimate, and Crowley nodded. "At ease, soldier. We wait for the other arrivals here." He grumbled.

@Dark Horse

Turning to the entrance of the courtyard, he saw more of the recruits walking in. First the doctor, then the merchant and the aviator. Conforming to common courtesy, Amber Whiskey and Salus approached him to have their invitations checked and their presence noted. Nova Nightstar seemed to deem himself above such regulations and decided to stay right where he was, looking over them from the balcony. As much as Crowley despised young fools with their lack of respect for authority, he had more pressing matters than scolding the deviant. He decided to introduce himself.

Crowley was a Pegasus. Middle aged but still standing strong. This was definitely a stallion of physical practice. Relatively tall and slender, but quite muscular, he seemed like an old athlete trying to keep the glory of the past intact. With a black coat and a salt-and-pepper mane, proudly bearing a small mustache and a goatee, Crowley seemed to spend quite a lot of time on his appearance, perhaps trying to hide the touch of time that had eroded the glory of his youth.

"Greetings to all of you." He said, with his clear and low voice resonating slightly through the courtyard. Even though he wasn't speaking loudly, the authority in his tone made it booming and powerful. "My name is Sir Crowley Ocula." He looked to each of the arrivals as if he were inspecting them, his eyes going from top to bottom to scan for any discrepancies. "I'm afraid we will have to wait for a few others to arrive, but I'll be able to answer a few of your questions before you go to see the princesses. The message was intentionally vague, and we understand that you will have many questions, not only regarding the mission itself, but also it's legitimacy." 

@EQ_Theta

He nodded at the medic, knowing that this was an ex-servicepony as well, and he had a lot of respect for ponies as brave, intelligent and resourceful as field medics. His life had been saved a few times by ponies such as him. "You are right where you should be." He confirmed.

@Lil' Lovebug

Turning to Amber Whiskey, his tone changed somewhat, though still blunt and booming with authority, he seemed somewhat more lenient. "Miss Amber, I want to apologise to you again in person, I am very sorry for your loss. If you have any questions I will try to answer them to the best of my abilities."

 

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Logic scanned the letter once again as she trotted briskly towards the castle. All of her obligations were in order so she could now investigate the matter at hoof this letter detailed.

Mind you it was not an easy past couple of days since this  confounded letter showed up on her desk, exams week was approaching at the Canterlot University and Logic Bomb, being one of it's teachers there, had to spend most of the five days for preparation instead tending to students questions for revision purposes and trying to find somepony...anypony, to cover for her while she was away during this crucial time. The Princesses obviously wanted to keep the matter from going public so to explain why she had to go without actually reviling why proved to be difficult. Logic of course did try to research into what little info she was given or what may prove useful whenever possible, often risking herself being too distracted from her students or going too long without sleep at night, it was all a very stressful endeavour where her mind rarely wasn't preoccupied with tackling one problem or the other, truly the Princesses could not have picked a more worse time.

After a rather long winded and descriptive lie to the principle about visiting her fake terminally ill aunts and uncles, Logic Bomb was finally free to address this problem the two sisters had presented her with with a clear head, this was the first time she had a chance to read the letter again properly. The mare had to admit while she was flattered to be summoned she was rather stumped as to why her precisely, she would admit despite her years of studying there were other far more brilliant scholars they could have called upon, or perhaps they were unavailable as she was on their short list?.....well...it was the thought that counted she guessed. What she was exactly supposed to do also puzzled her, she might be a smart cookie but she was no warrior, despite the numerous military textbooks she pondered over, she was aware there was a big difference between reading about something and actually doing it. The thought of her thwarting some evil mastermind with a complex algebra problem made her chuckle but it didn't help how she was to resolve the matter. The letter did read there would be others whom would be summoned so she quickly dictated she was to be the "go-to" pony for info in this party of theirs, maybe not as heroic as slaying dragons or whatever it was heroes did these days..but it was something.

Logic Bomb approached the castle gates with her letter at the ready, unlike the rest of the pert who likely came prepared Logic decided to worry about what to take with her after seeing the princess's, she did live here in Canterlot anyway so it wouldn't take too long to figure out. She caught a glimpse of a bright purple pegasus being lead inside the castle by a guard before the large door closed behind them, she trotted up to another guard standing close by and showed him the letter. After thoroughly reading it he gave it back and told Logic to follow him inside. The green unicorn had a sneaking suspicion the castle was currently on high alert as she was led through the castle, along each corridor they traveld through there always seemed to be far more guards than was necessary to stand and watch a single corridor, under the circumstances she assumed this was understandable....unless the situation was more dire than the two sisters were letting on.

The unicorn and the guardspony finally entered the castle courtyard, the guard pointed out a group of ponies gathered in the centre by another more dashing looking guardspony, Logic nodded and said her thanks as she promptly made her way to join with the group, "H-hello, I hope I'm not late I...," Logic paused a she looked around, noticing something was missing, "I...I saw a purple Pegasus enter the castle, where is he?" she looked at the group inquisitively with a raised eyebrow.

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The better part of a night and day had passed before Mirror could catch sight of the golden spires standing majestically over the mountain side. Her hoof tapped the wooden seat impatiently as the royal city grew steadily closer. For the hundredth time that day, Mirror pulled the letter out of her saddle bags and re-read it. The deadline to arrive was noon and she couldn’t exactly afford to be late. Not with the potential consequences for tardiness so high. A glance towards the sky revealed that Celestia’s burning sun was ever nearer its zenith.

 

She knew that she sshould have left earlier, but she couldn’t afford to rouse Cherry’s suspicions and more importantly, Mirror didn’t want to make Cherry feel neglected. She had only finished her most recent show tour last week. It looked bad enough that she was already leaving again, citing the excuse that she hadn’t made enough bits during her travels.

 

Mirror felt a pang of guilt over how quickly Cherry had believed her lie, times were tough for travelling shows. And it was true, this year had been the most depressing yet, she barely broke even during her travels despite being more skilled than ever. After accounting for various expenses and taxes, she only had three hundred bits left. Mirror rolled the letter back up and wedged it into her saddlebags. Hopefully catching these thieves, or at least whatever her part in it was to be, would end quickly. She’d hopefully get paid at least paltry sum of bits and she could go back home a free mare.

 

By the time the train pulled into the station, Mirror was already standing at the door waiting to depart. The second the doors opened, Mirror raced towards the castle as fast as her legs would carry her. Thankfully Canterlot was resistant to change, she still remebered all the back streets to avoid the crowds, or at least most of them. By the time that the sun had reached its peak, Mirror had reached her destination. There were more guards than she had remembered standing in front of the Palace gates, likely a result of the break-in that the letter had mentioned.

 

She produced said letter and showed one of the guards who proceeded to open the gates and lead her into the castle. Mirror Image followed the guard through the numerous twists and turns to their destination. This wasn’t the first time that she had entered the castle, she had come once on a tour years earlier. However this was the furthest she had ever been. She doubted more than a handful of ponies had been this deep into the castle excluding officials, staff, and guards.

 

Eventually, the guard opened a pair of doors that lead to a courtyard with several different ponies in it. Only one of them looked to be a guard, but he wasn’t wearing the same armor that the Royal Guards were wearing. She nodded her thanks to the guard that lead her in and quietly entered the courttyard. It didn’t seem like she was late. Most of the ponies were standing around one of the others. She didn’t pay them much mind, the pony closest to her looked oddly similar to a certain red and black pegasus she knew. “L-Logic?” Mirror said quietly, surprised to recognse one of the few ponies gatehred here. She fought the ineplicable urge to nuzzle the unicorn and settled for sliding up next to her. She could worry about the others later.

 

((OOC: Sorry if the formatting is off I wrote this in a text editor and not the site's built-in one))

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War rested as he was told to and just in time to hear the clip clop of another ponies hooves as they entered the court yard. He turned to get a glance of the new comer as he moved to a position where he would be lined up in front of the pony currently in charge. 

As he looked over the next arrival more and more of the ponies began to make an appearance. One following the other only by minutes. He didn't know how many this team would consist of but it was quickly growing to a good size. His only concern for the moment was that none of these other ponies appeared combat ready. He understood it likely meant they had different skills they brought to the team but still did that mean he was meant to be the sole defender of this squad? No pressure.

The first to follow him in was a light blue unicorn, he appeared exhausted and was a little smaller then the average unicorn which made him much smaller then War himself. War's eyes darted straight to his cutie mark. It was a habit of his to try and deduce what a ponies talent was, it was kind of fun for him as well since sometimes it was challenging. While he didn't know the proper name for the wand on his flank he had seen it before and was rocking his brain trying to remember.

Before he could come to any conclusion though a orange earth pony mare had made her way inside. This one had really packed by the looks of it, pulling an entire cart along. The the mare spoke and introduced herself loud enough for War to catch her name. Amber Whiskey, he noted her cutie mark and low and behold it had a whiskey bottle. The bits lead him to believe she was a business pony of some kind and probably from a family that sold or made alcohol since it was in her name. 

The third pony to enter didn't seem interested in joining them. War started to wonder if he had entered the wrong room, maybe he was lost but he didn't seem to be leaving either way. He was to far to make out his cutie mark from up on the balcony but his purple coat really made him stand out even from distance. Their Pegasus host didn't jump on to him so he must be allowed in here, whoever he was. 

The black Pegasus War had saluted confirmed he was Crowley Ocula, War recalled that was the name listed with the princesses on his letter. This pony must be important to be listed with the monarchy. War would have assumed he would be the one who would brief them on the mission specs. That didn't seem to be the case even though he offered to answer some of their questions. He said they would be getting ready to meet with the princesses, meet them! 

War despite his occupation had never really met either of them, he was off fighting in other countries and they had never personally come to his unit or anything. ESO had always gotten their operation specs from some pony else. 

He could feel his heart rate rise a little and he suddenly felt a mixture of nervousness and excitement, like some school filly getting ready to meet their favorite pop singer. He could hardly breath or swallow and was going to have a really hard time thinking of proper questions now or anything for that matter. What should he say?! What should he do?! He prayed he didn't walk in there and embarrassed himself in front of them and the ponies he would be working with for an unbeknownst amount of time. He had always wanted to meet them but now he didn't know if he was ready. He felt weak and would desperately try not to pass out, he put a hoof to his head.

War tired to get a grip on himself while Sir Crowley conversed with the new comers, obviously knowing more about each ponies dossier then War knew. It took him a while to notice that two other ponies had entered the room. He finally looked over and saw a pair of new unicorns, one green and the other a dark blue. He had been to lost in his thoughts about meeting the princesses he had missed Logic's inquiry as well as Mirror alluding that she was already acquainted with Logic. He decided to distract himself by trying to guess their talents...and quickly came up with nothing.

Unicorns were so hard, 9/10 Pegasi cutie marks were weather related, 9/10 earth ponies were labor related. Unicorns though, magic was a complicated thing and the cutie marks took many forms, a lot not so obvious. Both had a large decorative cutie mark, one with math symbols which he recognized but didn't know what that meant for the unicorn's talent and the other had glyphs he knew nothing about. 

He had also decided that he had stood idle long enough lost in his thoughts when he should be introducing himself to his new squad. He turned his head to look at the group "Greetings, I am Equestrian Special Operations Agent War. It will be an honor to serve our country along side each of you."

He then looked back at Sir Crowley, "Vagueness is to be understood, wouldn't want such messages to get intercepted by the wrong pony. I shouldn't require any answers until after the full brief. If a question I have goes unanswered I will have it cleared up before we begin, thank you." 

 

 

 

 

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As the sun bore down on the train station at Canterlot Stargazer took a breath and stepped off of the train. For as long as she lived in the little town of Derbyshire she never actually had the chance to visit the royal city of Canterlot like her friend did. As she stood there she looked toward the sky-high spires that were visible from miles away, and awed in their beauty. She was reminded of the Crystal Empire in a sense; though she made sure not to dwell on that for too long. With her body glowing a slight crystalline purple and carrying a couple of saddle bags she walked through the check-in station and into the city itself. As much as she did enjoy the sites, she only wished she had arrived on a better circumstance.

Hovering the letter from her bags she read it again as she trotted. She still could barely believe what she was reading; thievery in Star Swirl's section of the library, an important artifact missing, and the fact that she was requested to join a group to retrieve it. "Why was I chosen to join this quest? Me; a lowly teacher and star fanatic? I still don't get it...Pathfinder, Sojourner, Corsair, even Autumn would've been more suited to this." She sighed though; she remembered talking with her friends about this, and how Sojourner especially encouraged her to go for it. "Don't doubt yourself Star; there's more to you than you think," she remembered the archeologist saying to her.

And there was something else too; something extra with the letter from some pony named Vrael. Who this mysterious pony was; she didn't know, but she wanted to found out, just so she could find out what he meant.

Sighing, she only wished she had that much confidence, but still, she was very curious about the journey ahead. Looking up she was approaching what looked like to be a gathering point for ponies. Putting the letter back in her bags with her books, scrolls, telescope, & such, she adjusted her glasses and cloak and approached a pony who seemed to be waiting for them. "Umm, afternoon. I am Stargazer. I presume...umm..that you are...Crowley Oculus?"

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(edited)

While there was some time to spare, now would be the best time to be acquainted with everyone else. Salve slowly became aware of the other ponies present in the vicinity though he would prefer to go up to each of them one by one instead of making an introduction to all who are waiting. The letter stated he would be working together with others who are called to the same mission as he was and it looked like he might have to take care of the group should they be injured. There didn't seem to be other doctors with him. He took one glance at each of the other ponies present and tried to guess what their professions were. One was easy, the rest left him clueless. He first turned to War given he's already made his introductions.


"Doctor Salus Veta, Salve if you prefer to use my nickname. A pleasure to make your acquaintances and looking forward to working with you."

Salve turned to the others present and continued. "Likewise to all of you. Better to be familiar rather than be strangers, yes?" 

All of those words came out of his mouth so quickly, Salve could feel his heart racing and almost hear himself breathing rapidly. He was nervous, a reminder of those days when he would be made to present in front of a class or packed auditorium in his younger days. He thought he could get away from that memory but his time spent working with patients face to face made him forget about the other ways of interacting, especially in public. Salve could already see the judgmental stares from the others, scanning him from top to bottom and wondering what to make of him. He might even anticipate them walking away, thinking he might mess things up or is simply off-putting judging by the way he speaks. It wouldn't be the first time. Thankfully, twirling his quarterstaff in the air got him thinking less about being judged and more on what the princesses would discuss.

Edited by EQ_Theta

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"Thank you," Amber said, bowing to Crowley. "Ah don't really have any questions right now though." She detached herself from her cart and set it off to the side, out of the way.

She turned to look at the various ponies who had gathered together, presumably for this quest. She took stock of all of them, listing and rating their various attributes in her head. She took particular interest in the blue and green unicorn mares standing next to each other, seemingly knowing each other. She filed that under things to try and coerce from one of them. She attentively listened to the introductions the ponies made, finding the group growing ever more interesting. 

Deciding to step forward, Amber cleared her throat and gave her best sales pony attitude. "Hey there everypony! Name's Amber Whiskey, traveling salespony! Nice to meetcha. If y'all have any questions or just want to get to me, don't be afraid to ask. I won't bite ya.... Unless you ask." She winked before walking back to her cart and sitting down, smiling. "Wonder how many'll drink with me." she said to herself. "You really get to know a pony when they drink."

  • Brohoof 1

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Logic's ear twitched as she heard a somewhat familiar voice quietly say her name, turning her head with an inquisitive look she blinked in surprise to see Mirror Image, a rather close pony to her sister. The green unicorn turned her lips up into a pleasant smile, "Mirror Image...oh I can't tell you how relieved I am to see a familiar face right now." She wasn't kidding when she said familiar, her mysterious mask and cloak combination made the lean mare stick out like a sore hoof, Logic would have recognised her from miles away. If she was honest though, Logic had a lot of mixed feelings about Mirror, she knew exactly why she wore her cloak that effectively covered her entire body and was sympathetic towards the tall unicorn....but...as of recently Mirror had been dabbling in the kind of magic any right minded pony shouldn't be...the kind of magic one would tell your foals about to make them behave. It worried Logic enough to question whether her beloved sister should be staying with somepony who willingly prattles around with that kind of magic, but that wasn't her choice to make.

Cherry Bomb loved Mirror Image, that much Logic knew, she had loved and supported her for a very long time, while perhaps more gullible and over-excitable than herself, Logic wouldn't dare deny the compassion and care Cherry was capable of. There used to be a time when Mirror's magic was incredibly weak, barely able to even levitate a feather off the ground. Depression and doubt had gripped her tightly until she met Cherry, the red Pegasi's optimism and encouragement allowed Mirror to slowly but surely improve on her magical ability. Logic Bomb would be impressed, it was just such a shame, in her mind at least, that Cherry's encouragement and support might have been what led Mirror to take this path in her magic studies. She dictated long ago that Cherry didn't really care what kind of magic Mirror wanted to learn, so long as it made her happy. Logic didn't find this surprising in the least, this was the difference between herself and her sister, one who does what her brain says...the other what her heart says.

Logic approached Mirror and reared up on her hind legs to give the taller unicorn a hug, while she might not have agreed with what she did or now does, if her beloved sister trusted Mirror then that was good enough for Logic. She nuzzled Mirror's head lightly with her own as she peered over Mirror's shoulders, half-expecting Cherry to come careering through the doors any second....but it didn't happen. She sighed as she let Mirror go, a mix of disappointment yet relief on her face, perhaps it was for the best her sister didn't partake in this quest....if you could call it that. Logic looked up at Mirror with a slight smirk, "It mustn't have been easy to convince Cherry not to come, how is she? Did you come here alright?"

It hadn't yet dawned on Logic she had yet to meet with the other ponies in the group, there was no rush of course, they'd be working together for quite some time, but the friendly demeanour that Logic was using to converse with Mirror shouldn't put off others to introduce themselves to her. 

  • Brohoof 1

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(edited)

@SilverHeart, @Golbez

Crowley raised a brow as Mirror Image entered, looking over the shoulders of those around him to get a close look. He frowned when the first thing she did was not report to him, but instead approach Logic. The two were apparently familiar, which surprised Crowley. Surprises were very unwelcome to him, because this sort of information was exactly what he should know on beforehand. The fact that he hadn't known these two were related somehow showed a weakness in the watching eye of The Guild, and he'd make sure to correct the discrepancy in the conduct of investagion when he'd meet the spymaster and his crew again.

@EQ_Theta, @PonyOfWar
For now, he decided to keep an eye on the two of them, but at the same time he looked at War and Salve. "The two of you should get along fine I see." He said as he noticed their mutual anxiousness at the premise of meeting the princesses. "I'd think two militants would be little tougher at the sight of meeting royals." He scoffed, though not in disdain, but in a more reassuring tone. "It's not much compared to being a recruit under the stern eye of the quartermasters boys, nothing to worry about." He nodded at the medic and the soldier, and decided to turn his attention somewhere else.

@PathfinderCS@Dark Horse@Lil' Lovebug
Trying to think of what he learned studying Stargazers profile, he remembered that she was quite a lighthearted one. Vital to the team, but definately a weak link when thinks would become heated. In his experience, cameraderie and companionship helps even the most unhardened civilians through the greatest horrors. In preparation of the worst, he decided to try and make her a couple of friends.

"Ah, Stargazer, yes, that would be me!" He said uncharacteristically heartily. "Here you see War and Salve, two militants part of this operation." He introduced them, but quickly walked them by and turned to Amber Whiskey. "This is the resident merchant and diplomat Amber Whiskey. She knows her liquor, too! I bet she can even tell you all about your very own Derbyshire Brandy." Though it all sounded sincere, the friendly tone clearly wasn't part of his repetoire. Although forced, it did have a strangely comforting, perhaps even fatherly tone to it. The only way Crowley knew how to be friendly it seemed.

"I'd like to introduce you both..." He started, looking at the two mares. "To a celebrity here in the courtyard." He turned towards the balcony where the wonderbolt in training still resided, not yet part of the conversation. "And it's about time he introduced himself too..." He said, with a reprise of his general coldness, a slight frown on his face.

He headed towards him, hopefully with Amber and Stargazer in his wake, and called out. "Nova Nightstar, very glad you're here. How about you show me your letter and then introduce yourself!" He said, though also commanded. Once he got closer, he resumed at a softer tone. "Not very polite to ignore your future companions like that now is it..."

After that grumbling remark, and checking Nova's inviation of course, he nodded to the three of them, and headed off to the final pair of mares before Nova's quick wit could come up with a comeback.

@SilverHeart@Golbez

Now nearing Logic and Mirror image, he waited in earshot, subtly eavesdropping them, appearing to watch his falcon Fergus as it circled in the air, waiting for the both of them to show their letter. He was especially interested in taking a look at Mirror Image himself. Of course he knew all about her, but he hadn't conducted any research himself. Her talents were particularly interesting and unique, and he'd want to see it up close with his own eyes.

Edited by Scribblegroove

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(edited)

@PonyOfWar

The medic turned to his fellow servicepony and examined him, eyes fixated on features as if attempting to make a diagnosis mixed with scanning for clues like a detective. He always imagined what it would be like to get one look at anypony and get an accurate reading, including a look of bewilderment, surprise, or both. Most pegasi Salve met were slightly smaller or less bulky but the horn was what caught his attention. The coloration seemed off, which led him to believe it is synthetic, as is with his odd body color. Then again, Salve didn't see much in the way of genetic differences on that scale between ponies. He was mostly working in a clinic and tended to the crystal ponies after he left Canterlot years ago. If he only stuck to his old stint in the lab, maybe his reaction would've been much different. As much as he would want to interact with the others, his experience being surrounded by soldiers made talking with War feel familiar.

"Interesting body shape and size, physical conditioning must be rigorous if not mistaken. Red body coloration unusual for ponies in general though personal experience may have influenced that thought. No matter, more to individual ponies beyond visible imagery." Despite wanting to try and identify who War was beyond this physical characteristics, Salve refrained from finishing it out of a personal concern. Previous experience with other soldiers often had them walking the other way shortly after introductions.  

"You must have some interesting stories about the battles you participated in, yes? Daring rescues, impossible odds, situations falling under similar categories, maybe? Interested in background and service record. And no need to worry about me. Have experience in battle, will not be a burden." 

Edited by EQ_Theta

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@EQ_Theta

"Right, just the same!" He responded to Crowley, mostly to convince himself. He would be fine the princesses were kind there was no reason to be so worried. 

Instead he would focus on meeting his new squad, the light blue unicorn had introduced himself as Salve, a doctor. So they did have roles and special skills, a doctor implied whatever they would be doing would be dangerous and they can expect injury. The idea of this mission was getting more exciting by the minute. Still to War most of the others didn't look like fighters nor very durable, hopefully they would be okay and were tougher then they appeared. It was a different atmosphere then being around his harden unit. 

He waved at the new purple mare when Sir Crowley introduced them to a newcomer. War was rather taken with this one, she was a crystal pony and that was something he had never seen. Her sparking coat was just so interesting he had to remind himself not to stare. He made sure to catch himself and return his attention to Salve before she noticed. 

The Unicorn was looking him over, War didn't say anything it was probably a medical quirk of some kind. Besides if War was going to be the sole protector odds were he would be hurt more often then the others. Which War was okay with, he was very durable and his armor provided extra magical protection. He waited a moment until the other pony posed his inquiries, he took note of his quick speech pattern. 

"I have a very strenuous training regiment that really helps me keep the muscle mass but my height is genetic. Both my parents were large for their races, especially my father." He noted, "And I haven't met many other red coated ponies myself. I never really thought about it before but I guess it is unusual." Thinking about it he unfolded one large wing and looked back at it thinking over his unusual color palette, studying it for a few moments before folding it up again. 

"Yes, a lot in fact. Not much in what takes place in Equestria proper I am afraid but I was just in Zebrica before making my way here. I have learned a lot about other cultures, Zebra's have a fascinatingly violent one. We were in the middle of hunting some thieves, opportunists jumping caravans full of important supplies. I had to leave with the situation still in progress, left my second in charge. I am sure they can handle something that simple without me." 

"So its as Sir Crowley says, you are in the military as well? Do you serve over seas or in the local guard. If local I would love to hear more about the channeling attack if you participated. ESO always misses out on the internal problems, we are always to far away to get back in time to help."

A doctor especially a militarily trained one would be of more use then burden, it's a good thing he had seen combat. The red pony wondered if that meant he was on the battle field directly aiding fallen ponies or in a medical tent on first response. Either was better then nothing but if this operation was going to be dangerous he didn't know if there would be a safe place to wait on the sidelines. This sounded like it wasn't going to be anything like what happens on a typical battle field.

 

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As the rest of the ponies began trickling into the courtyard one by one, Nova remained at his elevated position on the balcony, getting a clear view of the proceedings as they happened below, his well trained eyes having little trouble picking out the details even at a distance. Despite him holding back though, he was sure that his presence had not gone unnoticed. He had briefly caught sight of the dark coated, bearded Pegasus who had been standing center glance up at him, obviously expecting Nova to come and formally introduce himself. The purple Pegasus, however, made no move to do so. He had received his invitation directly from the two ruling Princesses themselves, and he was quite frankly expecting a more substantial and impressive welcome than some random Pegasus in the middle of the Castle Courtyard. Given the urgency of the letter, he couldn't understand this seemingly casual approach to the issue. In his mind, the Princesses should want everypony in Equestria to know of his arrival. To send a clear warning to these "thieves" that they would be hunted down and apprehended wherever they fled. The glory of this achievement would be his for the taking!

Nova continued to watch as several other Ponies began to join them in the courtyard one after the other. A deep green Unicorn, a pink maned navy blue Unicorn and a purple Crystal Pony all arrived to join the group of four that had already gathered around the center. Nova was quite surprised at the rather random composition of the group that had been summoned here. Asides from that one bright red Pegasus who was clearly military, most of the Ponies didn't look at all appropriately suited for what the letter had described. He could understand why his own skill-sets might come in handy, of course, but most of the group below looked like nothing more than a bunch of everyday civilians.

His patience was becoming tested. None of this was playing out like he had expected so far, and he was starting to wonder if this was all just some kind of stupid publicity stunt. He had always known Celestia for having an annoying odd sense of humor; and he wouldn't have been surprised if it turned out that all she wanted for them all to put on a grand show in celebration of some event. Well, if that were the case, she would disappointed. Nova was a Wonderbolt. He did not work with amateurs.

Before he got a chance to even consider turning hoof and leaving, however, his thoughts were interrupted by a booming tone of voice. Looking to the group again, he saw that the burly black Pegasus was the speaker, introducing himself, to Nova's surprise, as the one who was the third name on the invitation: Sir Crowly Ocula. So he wasn't just some randomly assigned liaison after all. Or perhaps he was. After all, his name was of no familiarity to Nova.

Even at his distant spot on the balcony, Nova could still clearly hear Crowley as though he was speaking right next to him. He had a powerful, commanding sort of presence about him, and Nova was immediately reminded of Spitfire, his Captain in the Wonderbolts. He found the comparison unsettling.

Crowley explained that they would all be going to see the Princesses shortly, and to hold all of their questions until then. Good. Nova had already planned on that anyway, but it was nice to have confirmation of intent. It seemed that Crowley himself was aware of the puzzling circumstance they all found themselves in.

Some of the group began to intermingle and exchange introductions, but still Nova remained where he was, thoroughly uninterested in doing the same. It didn't matter to him who any of these Ponies were. He'd rather just get to business and concentrate on what was expected of him. The rest of them just needed to stay out of his way and let him handle things his own way, just as he'd always done. Team building, Spitfire? Tch. Not with this lot.

Or at least, that's what he thought...

"Nova Nightstar!" the Pegasus was startled by the sudden, unexpected attention towards him. He glanced back down to meet Crowley's eyes, a sharp gleam affirming that the slightly aged Pegasus had lost none of his viability over time. He calmly yet assertively requested that that the purple Pegasus join the others below and present him his invitational letter, and giving him a look that once again reminded Nova of his stern taskmaster, the kind of frown she always displayed whenever she accused him of "showing off". Had Crowley contacted Spitfire ahead of time to get a better idea of him before meeting, or was his similar stances merely a coincidence? Neither option sat particularly well with him. But it wouldn't do him any good to ignore the request at this time, so reluctantly, Nova did as instructed and glided down off the balcony to the others below, landing in between the clump of collected Ponies and just short of Crowly himself, handing the black Pegasus his invitation. Crowley accepted it with a dry remark about his anti-social behavior towards his "companions", and Nova resisted the urge to shudder as a chill went down his spine. Crowley's remarks were hitting a little too close to home.

Bristling, but remaining silent, the purple Pegasus retreated to the side and returned to his thoughts, his eyes now occasionally scanning across the others, as if inspecting them.

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@Golbez

Mirror Image reached up with one foreleg and returned the shorter mare’s hug. A small voice in the back of her mind was screaming that this was just a coincidence and not some scheme to expose her in front of Logic. The magician pushed the poisionous thoughts back down before they could fester. Afterall, Cherry would have been the better choice. There was no reason to panic just yet.

 

The unicorn returned Logic’s nuzzle lightly, careful to keep her new mask from moving around too much. Once their greeting was finished, Mirror stepped back so she could better look at the other unicorn. Maybe it was because Logic was Cherry’s sister or that if you ignored the difference in their colors and lack of wings, or perhaps she was just scared that this would get back to Cherry but she felt compelled to tell Logic the truth. “I...I didn’t actually tell Cherry about the letter.” Mirror avoided Logic’s gaze while her left hoof idly scuffed at the ground. “She doesn’t need to worry about whatever this is.” Mirror excused her actions, “Not to mention she would have wanted to come. I told her...that I was just leaving to go another tour. Money is tight.” Mirror admitted while still avoiding looking at Logic and instead looked around her at the other ponies.

 

Eager to change the subject from her less-than-noble actions and her financial issues Mirror, “Did you receive this letter too?” Mirror asked Logic. If they were both brought to the courtyard, it stoodto reason they had both received the same letter, sans Crowley’s threat. Mirror reached into her saddle bags and produced the letter from the Princesses and only their letter. She lifted it in front of Logic’s face so she could verify the letter.

 

Mirror was doing her best to pointedly ignore the other ponies for now, if they were all to be forced to work together, there would be time to make personal introductions later.

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@PonyOfWar

Most of Salve's experience was only on a local scale, and even then, he didn't see much beyond his tent in the event he had to be deployed on the field. No matter where he was needed, there was not much in the way to see other than the sickly and the broken. Otherwise, it was more going in to the field to send supplies and get out before the outpost started losing professionals. That was where the personal shield came in; his job demanded rapid response and getting his fellow ponies back in the fight was what he signed up for. A lot of stress goes into those moments but the mention of the changeling invasion of Canterlot was a sore spot. 
 

"Yes, changelings." Salve began though not in the usually perky or elated tone and with a slowed, almost slurred speech. "Internal affairs messy and chaotic after infiltration in ranks. Missing supplies, reports and notes misplaced, unable to quickly treat wounded. Some faked injury to initiate kidnappings while others went in disguised as abducted civilians. Field response was problematic until horde broke away to the castle though numbers were still low. Cleanup after invasion arguably more relaxing." 
 

Though victorious in the end, the sting of defeat was demoralizing to the local guards of Canterlot. Some questioned whether or not their preparations were ever enough and while they couldn't have done all they could to ready themselves for a changeling invasion, a lot of those stationed in the city on that day never truly got over it. Salve was no stranger to it after seeing how little he could do given the situation. He looked at War and wondered if things would've turned out differently if he were present on that day. War's stature looked like it could take down entire groups of changelings. Regardless of how the events of the invasion turned out, rapid response and getting the injured back on their feet was what he knows well, and he will bring that expertise to the table when the team needs it. 

"Will be ready should the team require bones to be set back or a quick remedy for what ails them. Supplies should be enough for everyone present but will advise caution. Working on case involving organized criminals different from warfare or invasions." 

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@EQ_Theta

The change in his tone quickly indicated to War that the changeling encounter was not a pleasant memory. He would imagine, the way he heard it the queen of a nearby hive had gotten close enough that she captured one of the princesses and nearly beat the elements of harmony. All the while the guards were without a captain due to influence and had to scramble. To hear the many other situations this pony brought up it was worse then he could have imagined.

"That sounds terrible, if only we had been prepared. They did manage to fool even the princess and the elements. There was probably not much else we could have done and I am sure we did all we could. Still wish I had been here, it's a good thing changelings can do little more then transform." It would have been a lot worse if changelings were more like the ponies they masked themselves as. It seemed other then a Queen the creatures couldn't do much else. Not magic like a lot of ponies outside of changing themselves. 

"I wonder what changeling counter measures we have worked on since then. It was a learning experience if nothing else." 

War looked around at the few others who were conversing. Many of the ponies seemed nervous about speaking to one another but this really took War's mind off of meeting the princesses. The green scholarly looking Unicorn and her Decorative masked friend seemed to already know each other really well and passed the time among their familiar company rather then meeting new ponies. Having a few already aquatinted would be good, it meant their teamwork would hopefully already be excellent while working with each other. 

Some of the other ponies he wasn't so sure about. Namely the only other Pegasus that Crowley had called Nova. He seemed distance and uninterested. War would try not to worry about that to much until they were actively on the operation. How they acted among strangers and the way they behaved on the field could be very different. Still it wasn't the best first impression. 

He looked back to the doctor. "I agreed, I believe this will be very different from any normal battle field. Criminals play dirty, we could end up in one of many different situations. These criminals could be any pony and that's the real kicker, they very well could be ponies, our own people. We are going to have to be carful who we trust and play this smart." He felt his thoughts drift back to the mission ahead and wondered who else they maybe waiting on. "A group of ponies skilled enough to get into the castle and steal something important enough for this meeting must be intelligent." 

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(edited)

 

It had been a long journey, mainly because Dancer preferred to walk and that he was never really sure where he was going. So he walked through cobbled roads, thick patches of vibrant grass and forests with trees rising up to the sky. He walked alone, something he was very used to. Letting his mind wander and marvel at the miraculously green landscape. Something Dancer had never known until recently.

The cruel twists of fate were not lost to him. To be judged unworthy of his homeland, to somehow survive and find a home so fertile and now to be personally called upon by the leaders of this land; it made no sense. This could be his fate, the reason for his banishment and why he found Equestria. Alternatively, this could be a trick, a test to see if he was still loyal to The Mother above all else and not these pony princesses. Although, he had nothing to lose. Already he was deemed unfit for The Mother's embrace. So, Dancer walked. Walked to Canterlot to meet his fate. Feeling the weight of his sword on his shoulder, Dancer reflected that it has been to long since he has danced. He missed the beauty of The Mother and the intensity of death. The need to fight, to dance, to be a Blade, drove his steps more than anything else.

This is how Dancer found himself in Canterlot. Walking through crowded streets of ponies, all of them busy but happy. Foals playing in the streets without blades on their hooves. Not for the first time, Dancer wondered what it would be like to be born in Equestria. To never experience true hunger, the one and only true desperation. To be whatever you wanted to be. This glorious freedom was the source of Equestria's weakness. In such a fertile land there could never be a true warrior, a true Blade. That was the only reason why Dancer could think that the princesses would call upon him. They needed a warrior, a Blade something that Equestria could never have.

Approaching the castle, Dancer could see many guards in shells of armor. A desperate attempt to cheat fate in battle, but such a crutch only made Equestrian warriors weaker. One of the guards led Dancer to a courtyard where many ponies where gathered. Apparently, this was to be his new tribe. None of them appeared to be warriors, at least not to the extant of a Zebrican Blade. A couple appeared to have the stiff, rigid posture common to Equestrian warriors. A pose that Dancer could never guess the use of in combat. Approaching the group, the lean muscles of his shoulders and hips rolled frictionlessly, a posture that could be mistaken for a cocky swagger. It was merely the gait of one that trained his whole life in acrobatics, agility and endurance.

@PathfinderCS

Jolting to a sudden stop, Dancer's body tensed, "is... is that pony glowing?" He stared in alarm until recalling stories of Crystal ponies from the Crystal Empire. They were somehow different than regular ponies. They were shinier. So, was this a crystal pony then? Realizing he was staring, and feeling bad as Dancer himself has received that exact same stare plenty of times, Dancer smiled at the mare and averted his gaze.

@PonyOfWar @EQ_Theta

Walking closer, Dancer overheard two stallions talking of the one war he remembered hearing that Equestria had. The changelings. Hearing the emotion in their voices, they were clearly disturbed still by that one war. "I suppose war is disturbing to Equestrians. They are our way of life." Then the large red stallion began talking of the concern he had for these criminals, these thieves. Thieves are impure and as such they always fall to a true Blade. Dancer was not worried.

@Scribblegroove

Trying to recall what his close friend told to him to do, Dancer approached the one pony that appeared as if he belonged there. A pegasus with green eyes; he was clearly in charge. Slipping his sword sheath off his back and untying a piece of paper from his sword hilt. A scrap that apparently had importance in this land. Handing the paper over to the pegasus, Dancer re-strapped his blade to his shoulder, Dancer cleared his throat and said in a deep voice with a heavy accent, "they have asked for a Blade, and the Blade has answered." Pounding his chest with his left hoof and nodding to the group, a gesture of respect in his homeland. "It appears you are now my brethren. I am Dancer, I know you all are curious about me. Ask me anything."   

Edited by Convergence

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@SilverHeart

Logic smiled sympathetically as Mirror Image admitted she lied to her sister about her reason for being here, she took a step forward and lifted the masked mare's hoof up with her own as she smiled up to her in a kind manner, "I understand Miss Image, although I may not have minded her company with us, it might not have been a good idea if she did, I mean...let's be honest...she would be a little bit too... "naive" for this." Logic chuckled slightly with a sideways smile and manoeuvred herself so she stood right beside her, giving her a little comforting nudge, "You wouldn't have done it if you didn't care about my sister...so....Thank you...Mirror Image."

As Mirror Showed Logic her letter, she raised a curious eyebrow as she unrolled hers, levitating both of the letters to compare them. They looked exactly the same, both stated the reason for the summoning, that others would be joining them and that they'd be rewarded for their help, nothing peculiar or any differences could be found.Logic blinked and looked at the letter for a moment longer before promptly rolling them both back up telekentically, giving Mirror back her letter, she smiled up at the lean mare, "Yeah I received the same letter too, I guess everypony here did too, "she took a moment to look at the other ponies in the group, noticing most of them were conversing amongst each other, whilst the black armoured pony stood to one side, seemingly just looking up at his bird flying overhead, "I guess we better give these to him, come on." With a subtle gesture with her head, Logic lead Mirror to give their letters to Crowley.

@Scribblegroove

As they approached the guards pony, Logic looked him quizzically with a slight frown as she gave her letter to him, "Forgive me but, the princess's do know it's exam week yes? Finals are coming up within the next two months and it is an incredibly important time for the students up at the university. I understand the importance of this summoning, and believe me I am deeply flattered to have been summoned...but I had a very hard time trying to get away for it in the first place, and the fact I had to keep schtum about it didn't make it any easier...a bit of help with the matter would have been appreciated."

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@PathfinderCS

"Greetings." Amber bowed her head to the mare Crowley had brought to meet her. "Name's Amber, as you now know. Trading's my game, though ah wouldn't call myself a 'diplomat'." She waved her hoof, dismissing Crowley's claim. "Ah may know a few individuals across Equestria, but it ain't no fancy hoof shaking, royal greeting thing." The fact that Crowley had had called her a diplomat left a bad taste in her mouth, and raised a few questions about just how much he knew about her, but she quickly dismissed those thoughts. No doubt the princesses had investigated everyone here thoroughly. Plus, she'd already gotten into slight trouble with the royalty over her contacts anyways. She shook her head slightly and smiled at the mare.

"So, its not everyday you see a crystal pony so far into Equestria, let alone getting involved in Equestrian affairs. What brings you here, miss?" She started following Crowley, intrigued by talks of a "celebrity". Could some big name pony really be of assistance to going after a large group of thieves, especially if what was stolen was to be kept hidden from the public? When the arrived underneath the balcony, Amber looked up and a hint of realization crossed her face. Not a big name celebrity, per se, but anypony wearing that familiar yellow and blue would instantly be known for what they were. She pondered whether  such a distinct outfit would be a benefit or hindrance in the future as Crowley conversed with the wonderbolt.

She went to introduce herself to the pegasus, but watched as he quickly moved off away from everypony. She let out an annoyed huff and turned back to her new crystal companion."So tell me about yourself."

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@Golbez, @SilverHeart

Patiently waiting for their conversation to end, whilst listening intently of course, Crowleys eyes darted across the sky as they followed Fergus floating on the wind. So Mirror Image was somehow related to Cherry, Logics twin sister. He'd read it in the reports, but had passed off Logics sibling as unimportant. He wish he hadn't. Knowing more about how exactly these ponies knew each other, and how much they knew about each other was important.

When they finally did approach, Crowley waited for one of them to speak before looking down. "Yes Logic, we were aware, but there wasn't much we could do. If you desire compensation, I will see what can be done." He said colldly. The Princesses had insisted on remaining humble in their request for help, instead of sending out an order like they fully had the right to. However, a friendly approach did make civillians more compliant, albeit more demanding at times.

He looked at their invitations and nodded. "Very good." He said, and looked at Mirror "I'm glad you could be here as well Miss Image. I'm confident your abilities will prove vital to the mission." The expression on his face was perfectly neutral. "As well as yours Logic. If I may be blunt, why you're teaching in a school is beyond me. Have you never been offered positions in research teams?" It was meant as a compliment, but only barely.

@Convergence

With a new and final arrival, Crowley turned his head. "One moment." He said, intent on continuing the conversation in a moment. The Zebra announced himself to the others, as imposing and powerful as Crowley had expected him to be. "We are grateful, Blade of the mother. I am Crowley Ocula. I am glad that you consider Equestria and it's people worth helping." He pointed towards war and nodded.

@PonyOfWar

"That there is one of the few true warriors of Equestria. Get acquainted, and try to learn to respect each other. You'll need to count on each other when circumstances grow dire." He gave Dancer one more look. He was concerned... maybe even a little bit afraid. The associate responsible for Dancers presence knew a lot about Crowley, far too much in fact. He didn't know how much Dancer knew...

Finally he gave one last look to the letter, nodded, and said "If you wish to speak with me further, I'll be over here." He said. Looking up, he whistled, and the falcon dived down to land on his back. He took a moment to write a note, roll it up and slide it into the cylinder strapped to Fergus' back. He whispered something, his low grumbling barely audible, and the falcon took off towards the castle, watching it go before turning to the two mares again, waiting for their response.

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(edited)

@Convergence @EQ_Theta

The large red Pegasus' attention was grabbed by another member joining the herd, this time a Zebra. How interesting although he didn't look at his strips in the same way the Zebra probably caught other ponies. War had been and lived in the Zebra homeland for months at a time, having met many and learned a thing or two about their culture, he didn't seem anymore out of place then the rest of the party. It was probably just War's experience that made him feel this way. 

Something he did note though was his athletic appearance and the weapon on his back. This stallion was a blade, a Zebra warrior. War was relieved to see another competent looking fighter joining them. He had learned quite a bit about them and about the Zebra's ritualistic style to combat, these enemies likely wouldn't be interested in respecting his culture. Though any combat experience was better then none so the group would have to make it work.

Crowley seemed keen on introducing the pair, they were the most similar when it came to occupation. Now at least the soldier wouldn't be on his own defending these ponies. War would pick up were Crowley left off and attempt to greet the Zebra, it may help that War probably knew the most about Zebra culture.

He noted the new comers respectful gesture and mimicked it in return. He had done it quite often while working with Zebra's. "Greetings," War knew some Zebras lived in Equestria and didn't think to ask what he was doing here, rather he assumed he called this land home and as such had the same right to defend it as every pony else. Of course the odd shape of his blade and his mannerisms were a give away he had lived in the Zebra homeland at some point, long enough to be cultured. 

"It will be an honor to work with a Zebra blade. I am called War, an Equestrian Special Operations Captain and this is Doctor Salus Veta," He gestured to the Unicorn he had been speaking with wanting to make sure the group was getting acquainted. Well the best he could without approaching each pony himself. War would converse with any pony willing to speak to him and he didn't want their new Zebra companion to feel like an outcast. Not when this group was already pretty strange and diverse.

 

 

 

 

Edited by PonyOfWar

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