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Fuchsia commits the strange sheep's responses to memory. 

She is shocked and intrigued to learn that the nail file is a key, "Sorry to hear it didn't work out for you. I'll have it back then. I promise I won't use it." she says innocently :P and hands out her hoof for it. Fuchsia will ask what Elysium is, if she does not already know. Incidentally, it is not entirely a lie to say she won't use it - Fichsoa does not believe Limbo's warning about Tartarus but she does imagine that using without proper guidance could cause trouble.

She digests the story about Vinyl and Octavia - if it were true, its implications were dire. Octavia existed now, but they had effectively killed Vinyl. Magic would be needed to separate the two - magic beyond any pony she had ever encountered other than, perhaps, the magic of the ascended.

The distortion of a pony's identity speaks to Fuchsia of a reckless use of powerful magic which has had very poor results - and does not bode well for Limbo's, in her view, hair-brained scheme to alicornify ponies. Whatever dark magic that Limbo Dreams has used on Octavia, Fuchsia is determined to unravel it. As a 'justification', if that is what Limbo was attempting, the lanky mare's ideas are unpersuasive. Fuchsia wonders about other ponies drawn to this misguided mare's agenda and is determined to identify any subjects for alicornification that Limbo Dreams has already experimented upon, and will endeavour to disrupt the process.

Fuchsia will begin snuffing candles once she has her 'nail file' key back.

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Fuchsia considers, wishing the coffee in her hoof was something stronger  As Octavia was speaking about being a musician, the idea occurs to her that it could be song-based magic - she had heard of Si

OOC The address on the invitation was easy to find as it was the only house to show up on the road for some distance just barely cutting into the edge of the Everfree Forest. The long, tall build

@ExplosionMare Magnolia was surprised at the very least by all of what had happened. What was on the book told her about something that seems to be a revealer of the truth - Moonlight was Magnoli

@abrony-mouse

At Fuchsia's outstretched hoof, Limbo snaps out of her self-indulgence and lifts her head with an incredulous scowl. "That was a joke! Why, in the name of Celestia's polka-dot throwers, would I give you a key that unleashes the underworld's most heinous villains?!"

"I-" Limbo gasped, still trying to grapple with Fuchsia's request, "No! In fact, you've made me realize how dangerous that key is. Silver and I will destroy the key the first chance we get."

Silver Tongue gave off a laugh too hearty for his age, "Oh, Miss Dreams, cut the filly some slack. It has been a long night, after all. Besides, the young are attracted to power, no matter how impractical."

"Tell you what, Fuchsia," Mr. Tongue continued, "why don't you go home early. We'll finish up so you can get a good night's rest". Silver's laughter and tone made it seem like a request, but the fact that he opened the door for her told a different story.

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Fuchsia withdraws her hoof reluctantly. Part of her was glad to see some edge to the mysterious pony, but mostly she wanted her item back - all the more so if it was important. "If you're going to destroy my nail-file key then I want to be the one to do it. I don't mind if you come along and help. That thing always gave me the heeby-jeebies. That's the only reason I gave it away to be examined." Fuchsia proposed - heavily emphasising her genuine feeling of finders-keepers ownership of the key, which she had given to Mr Phantom.

She suppresses a small smile as Silver Tongue supports her. Perhaps he wasn't so bad after all? :3 "Thank you Mr Tongue. Are there temple quarters I could go to rest?" Fuchsia said, in a friendlier tone to Mr Tongue. She definitely needed to sleep, but she didn't want to leave the temple. Also she didn't have anywhere to stay and didn't want to bother Octavia. "If not then if there's any fresh hay... or I can sleep standing." she added - Fuchsia had lost count of the times she had rough-slept - she had a horse-like ability to sleep anywhere, which had served her well on her travels.

 

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@abrony-mouse

Silver Tongue was mildly surprised. Limbo Dreams, on the other hoof, was positively befuddled.

"Ahem," Silver Tongue cleared his through, "We weren't expecting you to trust us enough to share a sleeping quarter."

Limbo gave Mr. Tongue a pleading look, only for Silver to nod.

"Forgive Miss. Dreams. She's not used to having unfamiliar company. You wouldn't believe how long it took for me to get her out of her shell."

"Well," Limbo says with a stomp of her hoof, "you two can spend the night together. I have work to do."

As if fate itself had taken Limbo's side, Silver collapses with all the grace of a cadaver. Perhaps fate was a little too enthusiastic tonight.

Limbo quickly rushed to his side but did not look concerned. "Our living quarters are at the top of the tower. You should make yourself at home, and we'll be with you eventually."

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"Thanks." Fuchsia responds to Limbo sleepily, swaying on her hooves.

When Silver collapses, Fuchsia rushes with Limbo to Silver's side and reaches down to pick him up, expecting Limbo to do the same. When she does not, Fuchsia gives her an odd look, but lifts the elder unicorn anyway - who is a little heavier than she expected - and carries him up the stairs.

As she ascends the stairs, she sees the large church bell and wonders at its foreignness, never having seen one of that size. She also sees numerous papers and her nail-file key! Her hooves tingle with relief as she sights the file - nothing quite gouged out a rotten piece of keratin like it. She notes it, glad that at least Limbo and Mr Phantom had not been lying about its presence; however, she makes no move towards it, and simply keeps helping the elderly unicorn to his bed.

Once Silver is tucked up in bed and seems content, she gives one look round the room, eyes lingering on the key, before settling down on the other bed. She pulls the covers over her pink pony body and hangs her wind-chime over the side of the bed. She doesn't recognise the significance of its silence at the moment, though, as she falls into slumber. 

 

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@abrony-mouse

Eventually, Fuchsia awakens to a surprisingly calm sight. The bell still hangs overhead, but Silver is not in his bed. That's not the only thing that's missing, though.

The dream catcher is no longer in it's pride of place but instead, laying upon the ground.

Most peculiarly, though, is a subtle tremor coming from the dream catcher.

Now, it was evident that the noon sun hadn't waked her up. It was clearly the ethereal shouting coming from Fuchsia's trusted companion. The voice was oddly familiar. Uptite and motherly. Hark, it was Limbo Dream's voice coming from dream catcher.

The weaving was also disturbed. It had been refashioned to look like Limbo's head.

If that wouldn't wake the adventurous pony, then nothing would.

Besides that, the smell of rain persisted, despite the cloudless sky. 

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@Starforce

“I-I can eat the sandwich, I-“ Starlight stammered, despite the opposite being true. In truth, once the sandwich were to hit her stomach, she’d be running for the stalls. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem like she had much choice in the matter. It was either way this, or have nothing at all.

Uggghhh! Starlight pouted, letting out an infuriated and elongated groan. A small blush formed on her cheeks, embarrassed she would have to continue eating this horrid sandwich. What was even more embarrassing was that Moonlight was clearly enjoying this. Sighing, Starlight grasped the sandwich in her magic and prepared to bite down again.

Wait…she isn’t wearing that coy grin of hers! Starlight observed. She looks…genuinely happy. She looks like she’s laughing around a friend. Is she staging this, to get me to trust her? No, she would not fake her emotions this way. But…why is she acting like this? Has she finally accepted the truth and seen the light, or something else?

Starlight couldn’t comprehend why Moonlight was suddenly so nice, so friendly. Even that delusional, friendship-ideal brain of hers could not understand why such a cold and stubborn mare would suddenly turn so pleasant and cheerful. It just didn’t make any sense. She thought to observe the mare some more, but if she did that, then Moonlight would start to ask some questions. With a resolved sigh, Starlight forced herself to bite into the sandwich again. She hastily grabbed Moonlight’s beverage and gulped it down.

“Gasp! This is still awful, but at least the drink helps!” she exclaimed, trying her best not to choke on the garlicky nightmare.

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@ExplosionMare @Loud Opinion

Moonlight observes Starlight's grotesque reactions to the taste of the sandwich with a laugh. She enjoyed seeing Starlight be all frantic like this, the delusional mare was broken down all by the taste of a sandwich. It was hilarious. "I can tell your enjoying it, Starlight. Come on, eat the whole thing!" Moonlight said in a rather playful manner as she shoves the rest of her own sandwich into her mouth. Her cheeks were stuffed with the garlicky goodness.

Chew

Moonlight didn't understand why Starlight was acting like this in truth, this sandwich was amazing! After some time of chewing the sandwich she swallows and it was all gone now. Only the empty plate remained. Moonlight gulps down the rest of her beverage to counteract the intense taste in her mouth. "You know, you haven't been around a whole lot, have you? This is what a sandwich is. Most sandwiches are like this, some even have hot peppers and hot sauce. I quite enjoy those ones." she spoke with an almost leering grin at her obvious lie, but to Starlight it may just be believable since she hasn't gone outside her town much at all. "Hehe, I wonder if Starlight will actually believe that!" she thought.

Moonlight was genuinely being playful here, deep down. It was something she hadn't felt in a very long time. It felt...good. But how did being with Starlight make her feel this way? 

 
 

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On 2021-07-30 at 1:51 AM, Loud Opinion said:

@abrony-mouse

Eventually, Fuchsia awakens to a surprisingly calm sight. The bell still hangs overhead, but Silver is not in his bed. That's not the only thing that's missing, though.

The dream catcher is no longer in it's pride of place but instead, laying upon the ground.

Most peculiarly, though, is a subtle tremor coming from the dream catcher.

Now, it was evident that the noon sun hadn't waked her up. It was clearly the ethereal shouting coming from Fuchsia's trusted companion. The voice was oddly familiar. Uptite and motherly. Hark, it was Limbo Dream's voice coming from dream catcher.

The weaving was also disturbed. It had been refashioned to look like Limbo's head.

If that wouldn't wake the adventurous pony, then nothing would.

Besides that, the smell of rain persisted, despite the cloudless sky. 

Fuchsia groans and shuffles about under the covers, trying, vainly to resist the apathetic impulse to return to sleep - the cherry brandy she consumed the day before was playing tricks on her mind. This wasn't the first time she had woken up in a strange bed, with a feeling of dread. The previous evening comes back to her gradually, in flashes and her ears droop. "Oh my sunny flanks, what the Tartarus did I get into last night." Memories of Octavia, the flowers, the monster and the temple rear up before her and flood her mind. She remembers putting a knife to Mr Tongue and she winces at the recollection. Her blood runs cold as she looks around the room. But her feelings pale to nothing next to the mystery that is Limbo Dreams.

As she is processing the night's events, she receives a horrible shock. She rears up in the bed, as the sound of the mare occupying her thoughts manifests itself by her large pink fluffy pony ear. Like a scene from a horror poem, the dream-catcher, the thing she had regarded as a source of safety on so many nights in the wilds of Equestria and beyond, begins to talk with the voice of the mysterious mare. The voice sounded strangely like her head-teacher in primary school - this did nothing to allay her terror :P Fuchsia backs all the way off the bed and lands on her soft pony rump on the other side of the bed, with the duvet on top of her.

She takes a deep breath and thrusts her fear away - she knows that she is now committed to whatever hair-brained scheme she has gotten herself into. She hopes that Limbo Dreams did not see that and, arranging her mane under the blanket, proudly thrusts it away. She was not going to let these strange ponies get to her, or get away with their schemes . Alicornification was pony heresy in her view, and so was pony-possession.

Fuchsia glances around the room, noticing the 'nail file', which she pockets and puts in her saddlebag. She then prances with mock confidence down the stairs and into the temple. "Don't you take control of my stuff!" she shouts angrily into the temple as she trots through the door.

 

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@abrony-mouse

Fuchsia vainly throws her vigor into the emptiness of the temple. The soulless temple only throws her own voice back at her.

The emptiness of the temple emphasis a rustle of paper in Fuchsia's hooves. A note was comically stuck to her other for-hoof.

The thing was signed by Silver Tongue.

'Miss Dreams,

'I'll be away to Golden Oaks. I want you to do some investigating into this Phantom fellow. I've finished a commission from him, but haven't heard from him since. He was acting quite zoned. Your expertise on the subject may be what this needs. I also would appreciate it if you could look into our newest sister, I'd like to know her intentions. She claims that the key is hers, so she has a reason to make Phantom disappear. She is the prime suspect.

'The townsfolk are superstitious enough without linking actual crims to our professions. I'm counting on you.

'One more thing. I know you are aware of my condition. You are very polite in dancing around the subject. I just want you to know that if I don't make it back from Golden Oaks, I have full confidence that you can see this through to the end.

'Live well,
'Silver Tongue.'

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Fuchsia notices the note and reads it incredulously :P 

She understands that both Limbo and Silver are away from the temple. What are they up to? She gathers that they are investigating her friend!? She realises that it was strange not to have heard from My Phantom in a while. They said he was 'zoned out' - what had happened to him? She gathers the commission is the 'nail-file' - in fact key. She thinks about what Limbo and Silver had said to her last night - that the nail file was the key to Tartarus - presumably that was why she was a suspect. But a suspect for doing what? Making her friend disappear? 

She thinks about the eldritch and remote location she found the key in. It was one of the most terrifying, yet strangely anti-climactic experiences of her pony years. Following a trail fraught with danger and treachery, through the prancing planes - where she touched base with the buffalo tribe of which she was an honorary buffalo - and past the dangerous Stormlands, she arrived at Port Noon. She had been seeking lands beyond those which ponies had explored and cultures long-forgotten or obscure - as well as their artefacts >:3 She had had a tip off from Mr Phantom that there would be something 'big' in the dungeon. She had been disappointed by the ravaged state of the ship-wreck, assuming that her long trek had been in vain. She had felt betrayed by her friend, her flank and her gut instinct - manifested in the form of a manticore, which had so rarely been wrong. However, her disappointment had turned to joy when she saw that the treasures of the wreck were in-tact; in the captain's quarters, alongside the single skeleton of a pony wearing a magnificent tricorne, was the 'nail file' key around the pony's bony neck. Like any good adventure pony she swiped it.   

She remembers the frailty of My Phantom last night and assumes that the condition refers to that. Had she misjudged these strange ponies?

Fuchsia stores the note away in her notepad in her saddlebag.

The first thing she does is push her chin up because her mouth is open with shock. The second thing is to trot back up the stairs of the temple, looking for further evidence relating to the motives of Limbo Dreams and Silver Tongue. She wanted to know specifically how alicornification fitted into their plans. The key burns in her saddle-bag pocket - could it really be evil and be what they said it was - a gate to Elysium? She also wanted to know what they knew about the key.

After she has investigated, she will try to find Limbo Dreams. Fuchsia is not on board with the alicornification idea, but her mind is not closed and, now she has got over the initial shock of the weirdness of the ponies, she is genuinely ready to commit to them.

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(edited)

@abrony-mouse

When Fuchsia returns up the bussy tower and started her investigation, she was assaulted by the sheer volume of texts to go through. As she delved, the authors began to seem more detached from reality.

The texts that were dated first describe 'mysteries behind the skin of the earth,' 'seven histories' and 'dreams being linked to the foundations of reality.'

Immortals were more common than Fuchsia was led to believe -if this text is to be taken seriously. Though, the secrets behind their unnaturally long life have been closely guarded secrets.

Then, Twilight had ascended. A 'Long' --as they put it-- had made their finding public. Silver and Limbo had taken this very seriously. Twilight herself is described as a prophet, and her friends were her saints.

One particularly disturbing passage laments Twilight's immortality as a curse. She alone is gifted with life long enough to see her dearest kin leave her behind. A grim solution was posited by Limbo Dreams: She would ascend herself before Twilight realizes the bleakness of her situation, and have her pass on. Twilight would not face eternity alone. Instead, Twilight would be the first to cross the finish line, and she will await her friends there.

Her rummaging was interrupted when a lost-sounding Limbo spoke up, "Is that you?" Came a slightly shrill inquiry, "I heard somepony coming, but I can't see you at this angle."

Again, Fuchsia was alone in the room. The voice came from her bed, though.

Edited by Loud Opinion
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Fuchsia's large lilac pony eyes grow even larger as she digested the impossible information: the Princesses were not alone and nor was their protege. The texts lacked details on the who and what of these unknown historical alicorns... the fevered nature of the texts could explain for that - however, a long time ago, prior to Luna's disappearance, it seemed many of these alicorns disappeared. The ponies who had written these texts had not necessarily intimately followed the practical operation of the Palace, but were rather theorising from afar, with perhaps a couple of historical inside sources. However, the story fitted Fuchsia's preconceptions of the dark sister of the sunny pony ruler Celestia, with whose flanks her own sun-flower mark had kinship - if any royal pony would so misuse the office, it would be the Dark Mistress of the Moon, who for so long had darkened the her sun-sister's skies.  

Fuchsia frowns as she reads about Limbo Deams' 'grim solution'. It raised many questions for her, such as - why Limbo Dreams had not reached out to Twilight. After all, hadn't Twilight resided in Ponyville? Nevertheless, it was clear that Limbo was not the straightforward villain that she had initially thought. Perhaps even Octavia fitted in somehow? 

Fuchsia looks up at the voice. She puffs her chest and narrows her eyes, "You have a lot of explaining to do, lady." she says. "But maybe you aren't the monster I thought you were." Fuchsia pauses. "Let me help you with Mr Phantom. I promise I will clear my name with you." she brandishes the note. "I swear I didn't kill him. I didn't know anything more than you about the key I found at Port Noon - I used it as a nail file for pony's sake!"

   

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@abrony-mouse

Limbo takes a good few seconds to take in what Fuchsia is saying, mostly in confusion.

 

At the mention of explaining, the weaving of the dream catcher shifted to reflect Limbo's scowl. 'So this was her plan from the start,' she thought to herself. That leap in logic was proven wrong as Fuchsia carried on.

 

"So, you didn't do this on purpose?" Limbo stated more than asked, "And you've been doing some snooping. I can't help but imagine that you don't have the whole story. Something I'd love to clarify given better circumstances."

 

Limbo sighs but straightens up, "Well, if you want to work with me, then I suggest you help me get out of this woven nightmare! Why do you even carry such a horrible trap, let alone hang it over your head?!"

 

"And when you're done, we still need to hand out the bread to the poor."

 

"You're not off to a good start are you?" with a huff, Limbo continues, "but I can see that you're trying, and you seem more genuine this time around."

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Fuchsia does a scrunch face that inadvertently matches Limbo Dreams' woven scowl on hearing that she had 'done this on purpose' - Fuchsia was about to say 'done what?' in reply, when Limbo Dreams explained that she was trapped in the dream-catcher! 

Fuchsia is conflicted. She believes, instinctually, that Limbo Dreams is somehow caught - she will ask the how of that as soon as Limbo is 'freed'.  However, the dream catcher is of sentimental value to her and she did not want to break its enchantment. She also wants to hear Limbo's side of the story.

Ultimately, after more than a few moments of indecision, she decides to act: the buffalos had warned her that a delicate, for buffalo, procedure was required to dismantle the Catcher. It required an equine to raise its hooves into the air, like it just doesn't care, and then bring them down in a decisive stomp and then do so repeatedly until they are divided into thirteen sections and to breathe repeatedly while doing so, so as not to tire out the buffalo performer. She gives one last mournful look at the dream catcher and then, humming a pop song to herself, begins the elaborate stompy ritual. 

When it is finished, the remnants of the dream-catcher lie strewn about the room. Fuchsia pants with the exertion and wonders whether she has done the right thing. 

"That's my first act today to help the poor." she pants, "But sure, I will help with the bread. I have had to rely on charity myself on my travels and when I can, I like to give."

She walks to the body of Limbo and produces her knife - more to show her sincerity than as a direct threat - although she does point it to the mare's chest, "Before I partner with you, maybe you can answer one question: who have you helped into alicornhood? Are they good, or are they evil?" Fuchsia's heart thumps in her own chest.

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@abrony-mouse

At first, Limbo was relieved to finally be back to her mostly plain pony shape. She then looks to the knife with annoyance, but a hint of respect was evident.

"Ahem," She began. The motherly tone had vanished. Instead, a child-like whisper took its place, "Look to your fellow pony Fuchsia. We all see their destiny as clear as day. Yet, of all the destinies you've seen, have you ever seen a wilted field or a bloodied hoof? Evil has no place in the pony heart. That is why harmony is so effective. There simply is no reason to fear your fellow equine. I'm sure today is an excellent example."

"If that does not suffice, then I challenge you. Would you call a mare held by tragedy 'evil'? That is what the ponies we are talking about are. They are neither good nor evil, for they were never given a chance in either respect."

"Perhaps a show of trust is in order. The ponies we are guiding are 'Moonlight Sparkle' and 'Starlight Glimmer'".

Limbo is aware of the extent of her explanation and pauses to make sure Fuchsia is following.

"I must be upfront as you've saved me without concern for your own benefit. I was not entirely honest when I said that I can see your past. I have seen your past. Past tense," She emphasizes, "I saw every dream you ever dreamt. I followed your journey with wrapt attention. The same is true for Vinal Scratch, and Moonlight, and Starlight. You all were like superheroes to me. You kept me hopeful in the years leading up to Silver Tongue's rescue."

"I tried to keep up, but your dreams stopped. You dreamed of a train ride, and no dream ever followed that. That," She shudders, "thing was the source. I planed to misplace it for a night and get my hero back; Maybe understand how you've changed so much."

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Fuchsia nods along to Limbo's diatribe about good and evil ponies, and is pleased to finally have names to put to the cult's goal of alicornification. She agrees with what Limbo says, but is concerned about the chequered nature of the ponies chosen - couldn't they have been nice, sweet ponies? She wonders about the names "Moonlight Sparkle" and "Starlight Glimmer" - she would remember them. What Limbo said matched the idealistic, if a little deranged, author of the scrolls she had sifted through and she finds the story plausible - but she still has some doubts.

When Limbo talks about walking into Fuchia's dreams from fillyhood she recoils in surprise. She associated dream-walking with Celestia's evil sister. She narrows her eyes as Limbo mentions it, but does not necessarily consider it an evil magical talent - she had seen many forms of magic as she had seen many types of life, and none struck her as intrinsically good or evil - that was something reserved for what was done with the magic or the life. She represses a smirk as she hears that Limbo had been caught in the dream-catcher, "Well I am sorry, perhaps you should ask permission before spying on a pony's dreams." she says, but despite her words she smiles more genuinely than before.

"All right, lemme find Mr Phantom for you. Then we'll help the poor. I stayed at his ranch, maybe one of the girls there know where he went? Do you want to come?"

 

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@abrony-mouse

"Yes," Limbo whispered grimly, as she tried to hide her face in the shade of her mane, "lead the way."

Something had changed. But what could have sparked such a shift?

A hatred spanning years was ignited and ready to burn down a million bedtimes. To snuff out a thousand hopes.

Like so many times before, Limbo used that desire to smother her own feelings. A gift Silver had given her -among other things.

Like water over hot coals, Limbo seethed, though not so loudly.

"Sorry," Limbo corrected as she realized that she had not mastered Silver's technique, "bad memories. It's not your fault."

"I," She chokes a bit, "think I know what may have happened to Phantom. In the dream catcher, I saw-"

She hults. A wall of sorrow had erected itself within her path, and now she feels the pain.

"I saw through someone else's eyes. If those eyes belong to the pony I think then," Again Limbo pauses, "I think I really will need your help with this one."

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Fuchsia sees the shadow fall over Limbo's face and her pink ears flatten. The hay-burger she had eaten on the train on the way to Ponyville, which now feels days away, threatens to reappear, but she fights against her nausea. She senses that something is amiss - very amiss, the mare she knew seemed to be something else entirely for a second - but Fuchsia does not say anything right away. Fuchsia already believes that Limbo Dreams is connected to evil magic, and so the metaphorical shadow merely confirms her prejudice. Other than the flop of her pink ears against her pony-head, she does not react. "I understand." Fuchsia says, and puts a forearm over Limbo's slender shoulder, trying to be comforting.

As Limbo begins to hint at the possible villain who has taken Phantom, Fuchsia skitters anxiously on her hooves. Her fur quivers in what feels like a cold draft from the temple stairs - as Limbo pronounces ominously as to the evil presence. "Who is it!?" she says, like an extra in a super-hero comic. Fuchsia is ready to play her part alongside Limbo, "Will Moonlight Sparkle and Starlight Glimmer help us stop the villain?" she asks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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@Starforce

Starlight watched in horror as Moonlight shoved her own sandwich fully into her mouth. She chomped on it with delight, completely unbothered by its strong flavor. Starlight resisted the urge to gag. This mare was becoming increasingly more strange by the minute. Yet, in spite of this, she couldn’t help but consider Moonlight, more…likable?

She is indeed showing a better personality than usual. Moonlight is acting much more approachable, much like she should be. I can talk to friends and help them more easily this way. I cannot help but wonder, however, is she merely manipulating me? She has fallen so far into the darkness, she may not know what the light looks like. She may not know any other way but to pull others into the darkness with her. she pondered with concern. For now, until she poses an immediate concern, I will continue to play along. she decided.

When Moonlight was finished, she explained how sandwiches such as these were typical in society, or at least the society she knew of. Strange ponies, Starlight thought, but since she knew better than to judge, she kept that to herself. All she could really say is that she was glad she didn’t have to put up with that horrible taste back home. Sure, dirt muffins weren’t so great, either, but at least they were bland enough to be tolerable. These sandwiches, on the other hoof…

“I am glad these are not a delicacy back in my village. Not only would my friends be overwhelmed by the taste, they would have no idea how to make such a thing. Without talents, they only know the most basic of cooking skills. Of course, I do not judge them for this, as we are all on the same level anyways.” she spoke, barely catching onto the fact that Moonlight was joking.

She wouldn’t lie here and say she wasn’t secretly having a good time herself, but her paranoia kept increasing by the minute. What were Moonlight’s true plans? Why act so cold and dismissive before, only to act so open and friendly later? Had Moonlight reflected on the meaning behind an equal life, or was she just doing this to mess with Starlight? As these thoughts swam around in Starlight’s brain, so did the garlicky contents of the sandwich in her stomach. She clutched it softly, begging the physical reminder of eating the sandwich to leave her at once. 

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@ExplosionMare @Loud Opinion

Moonlight's eyes glare at Starlight for a few seconds. Moonlight was silent upon what Starlight had responded with, but her eyes conveyed that she was highly irritated by what Starlight just said. No ponies are on the same level, and they shouldn't be. 

"She hasn't changed a bit, has she? She is still the same absurd fool she always was. I thought that some sandwiches could change her mind! Seems I was mistaken...she always interjects her stupidity into our conversations. I can't stand this thought process, walling yourself away in a cage! Well, at least it isn't mine..." Moonlight ponders herself further. "If I am going to change who she is...I shouldn't stoop to her level. It will feed her delusions...hmm." she thought that was the way to proceed. For now. Of course if Starlight were to try anything against Moonlight, then she would respond accordingly. 

Moonlight sits up from her chair and pushes it in as she grabs her drink in her magic. While she does this, she looks Starlight in the eyes with the same knowing yet cold stare. It was a way for Starlight to know that she was always watching her every move. With another adjustment of her mane because of the breeze, Moonlight grunts slightly. "Come on. Let's go now. We have a...celebration to attend to, last I remembered." Moonlight turns away and begins walking back into the center of town. 

Moonlight makes sure that Starlight stays by her side. She didn't want Starlight running off and harassing other ponies about equality or her pedantic delusions. That would be unacceptable. At least for now, she felt like she had Starlight under her control since she hadn't been going up to ponies about their cutie marks. Her plan was working so far. But to go further, how would she truly stop Starlight? She had to find out why Starlight was acting this way. 

With a sudden turn Moonlight asked, "Why are you like this?" she asks with genuine concern. 

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@Starforce

Moonlight was suddenly very upset and Starlight could not fathom why. If she were to ever see past her delusions, however, she would notice that Moonlight saw their lunch as a bonding opportunity. An opportunity Starlight had wasted on her ideals. Starlight got up from her seat quickly to try to interject but before she could get a word out, Moonlight stormed off. Starlight quickly followed her, feigning the concern from her face as best as she could.

Either I did something to upset Moonlight, or she could no longer put up the act, Starlight thought. I have a feeling I simply caught her in the act. She was behaving in quite an unusual manner earlier. I thought that this meant she was beginning to see the truth but perhaps I was wrong. There is still so, so much more work to be done for her. I may not be able to help her until she is exposed to my village. Seeing how happy the villagers are with their lives could motivate her to seek the help she truly needs. For now, I can only hope that my ascension occurs hastily.

Once the mares headed outside, Starlight noticed that Moonlight was standing extremely close and was staring at her with that look Starlight despised of. Not pleased by her attitude, Starlight chose to ignore Moonlight and happily trot as if the strange mare wasn’t barricading her side. It wasn’t until Moonlight suddenly asked a question that Starlight turned to look at her.

“To what are you referring to?” she asked calmly.

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@ExplosionMare

Moonlight chuckled at Starlight's reply. She could tell that Starlight was thinking about her reply. "It is quite obvious what she wants to hide. I must drive a bargain with her so to speak. I will tell her a little bit about me, hmm. I know what to do now." Moonlight grinned slightly at the thought she had concluded on. For an uncomfortably long period of time Moonlight didn't answer Starlight. Her grin was almost too wide, her stance was confident. The anger faded away. She was entertained Starlight's attempt at deflection.

Suddenly Moonlight's stare returns and Moonlight's glare was now back to what it was. It was a searching glare, though. "It is amusing to me that you intend to dodge my questions. That attempt won't work on me. I am wanting to know why you are like this. Why you want to take away everyone's cutie marks but your own." she looks to Starlight's flank. "Don't ask if I forgot. I didn't. Why you rule a town of brainwashed ponies. Don't even bother countering my points, because I know exactly what you will say as well as the manner you will say it." she said in a serious manner. It wasn't an angered manner, it was just incredibly direct.

"I am going to say that you were traumatized in your youth. This fascination of yours doesn't come from nowhere. I'm going to assume you were bullied and berated for not having one when your peers did. Seeing that, you wanted to rationalize why the world was being unfair to you. You wanted to create a utopia by removing everyone's marks, and magically everything would turn out okay, right? Wrong. You have but a small village." Magnolia grinned at the mention of her village.

"I've also been to your village too in the past. It's small, just like you and your worldview. It's a row of houses? And guess what? Yours is not in the equals sign that it makes. It is outside of it, just like you place yourself on a pedestal as a spokesperson or mayor of your village. It's quite obvious you are only doing this to please your own pains. You think that, by removing the pains of others you will also remove the pain of your own. You also think that the world is naturally unjust and requires change, to that I actually agree, but this isn't the manner you go about it." her eyes blink with a slight flutter. The manner of her speech remains entirely calm, but internally she was quite frustrated at Starlight's thought process.

"I see right through you, just like I see through everyone else. Your attempts at deception will not work. If you are willing to tell your tale I will be able to tell if you are lying. To tell you something about me, well, I was born in Canterlot. I eventually struck it out on my own and traveled the world for around a decade. I know a lot about the world, and I also know exactly where your town is. I've seen the conditions your ponies live in. I know how you have that area where you force ponies to undergo brainwashing by your voice, I also know their smiles are just as fake as your world view. I also know that when you aren't around, your ponies aren't truly happy. They gossip and some even want their cutie marks back. But oh, they are so afraid of what you will do to them if they even dare oppose you. Talk about friendship." she states, a veneer of logic crosses across her tone. It's nothing Starlight has heard from Moonlight as of yet. 

"I am so disappointed in you. You have this ability to lead others and you have all of this talent, but you use it to make others do your bidding. This is not how friendship works. I know I am one to talk, clearly, as I've never really been like the other ponies but I at least know what friendship actually is, you don't. You have the tools for real friendship, but you use them in the wrong manner. If other ponies are making boats, you'd be making carts. You completely don't understand anything you are doing, because you are so far lost in your desires that they have completely consumed you." Moonlight spoke with pity. 

"If anyone is the true victim of your lies, it is you." she pointed her hoof to Starlight's chest. "You lied to your ponies. You made them think that you have to have a staff to cast it, but in all reality that is just a spell. You are one of words and persuasion, appealing to the pains of others in hopes of roping them in like a lure. I know what you are, I know what your tactics are, and I also know what you are probably thinking. So don't play me." she huffed. "Because when you are playing me, you are playing on my terms." Moonlight spoke ominously.

"But if anything you've rubbed off on me it is your...social ability. It's useful, actually. Thank you for teaching me it." Moonlight said with a grin, it was one that almost seemed to match Starlight's own. She was beginning to use Starlight's tactics against her here. 

Edited by Starforce
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@ExplosionMare @Starforce
The heart of the town thronged with joviality. Balloon placement was shotty. The rest of the decorations weren't much better. Without the dedicated party pony the hamlet had relied on, any celebration was doomed to mediocrity.

Such shortcomings were superfluent, though. The real allure of the festivities was as strong as ever. Ponies chattered and gossiped, as they often want to do, but a mild crowd had formed near the center of it all.

The center of attention could still be seen from a distance, but it would prove difficult to make out her features.

A table with a punchbowl was the most immediate element of the party. Alone it sat, with no hors d'oeuvre to accompany it. Not even a table cloth lay below it.

Some distance away, the banner Moonlight saw earlier hung proudly among the streamers.

@abrony-mouse

Miss. Dreams leans into Fuchsia's semi-hug. Moments ago, Fuchsia had held this pony at knifepoint. Now she confides in her assailant.

"Such a dear sentiment. You can not know what has inflicted me so. I won't allow it. It is a burden too great for me to outsource."

"Moonlight and Starlight will not be accompanying us. You are a part of this now, and should be given due agency."

Limbo then abandoned the unanswered question as well as the room itself. The door was left open, inviting Fuchsia to follow.

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Fuchsia nodded about the other ponies, secretly glad to be doing this on her own. She liked companions but tended to work best by herself.

Fuchsia had been with her fair share of reticent companions on her travels. She had only just gone from holding a knife to this horned pony's throat, so it was understandable that she would not open up right away. When the time was right she would find out who they were after.

Fuchsia fell into investigation mode - thinking to herself about the "who", "what", "where" and "why" of the mission with Limbo. 

She didn't know the 'who' and knew only a fraction of the 'why' but not all - what did Limbo know about the possible reason behind the disappearance of her friend? Nor did she know the 'where' or 'what' could have been used against him.

As Fuchsia was musing, Limbo trotted out of the temple and Fuchsia scampered after her, hooves clippety clopping against the stone flags. Fuchsia bounds out of the entrance and into the Ponyville day. In the noon-day sun, the pony heartland settlement was even more picturesque and nostalgic - recalling her to her fillyhood on the farm outside Manehatten. She gazed towards the rolling hills of the farms surrounding Ponyville and spies the distant specks of country ponies working the fields as well as, above them, the multi-hued flash of pegasi diving towards Ponyville proper. She breathes deeply the rural air and feels at home, but also very glad to be leaving.

Where was simplest, so she lead with that. "Ok, so where are we headed?" she asks after Limbo Dreams.

 

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