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@abrony-mouse

Limbo Dreams shielded her eyes from the sun. Again, she lamented Celestia's splendor only to grit her teeth and bear it.

When Fuchsia asked where they were going, Limbo stopped. She realized that she didn't know where the ranch Fuchsia had mentioned was. She cleared her throat before whispering, "I'm not good with directions. You'll have to lead the way to Phantom's ranch."

With a sheepish smile, Limbo waits for Fuchsia to pass her. She then frowns and adopts a posture more befitting a filly at a funeral than the grown mare in the meadow she is.

"I'm scared, Fuchsia. When we meet the pony responsible, I don't know if I can bring myself to..."

Limbo lost herself. In her mind, one event leads to another, and the sequence only gets worse as it progresses.

"I'm counting on you to see this through and save Phantom. No matter the cost!"

As Limbo concluded, she spoke with authority only to recede inward again. It was a hollow bastion, and it showed in her demeanor.

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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

@Loud Opinion 

Fuchsia explains that Mr Phantom’s ranch is in the San Talomeno desert, not far from the train-station.

She filled Limbo in on the few details she knew for certain about Mr Phantom. She didn’t know much about his business experience. He had kept her, and a few other mares, separate from that side of his life. However, he had always seemed knowledgeable about arcane matters and his huge ranch house contained all sorts of interesting treasures. Some of which had clearly come from locations such as Port Noon. When Fuchsia had asked about these, he would say that they were gifts from associates. It is possible that some of Phantom’s marefriends are still there. Unfortunately, Fuchsia did not get on with them. One pony in particular, called Strawberry – Phantom had a thing for pink mares :P – was a pain. Still, they might know something about the disappearance.

When Limbo reveals her fears, Fuchsia looks at her curiously but affirms proudly that she will see it through. Phantom was a flawed pony for sure, but he had been a friend to her and she did like him – he had set her on some amazing adventures after she left his ranch, and but for him she would have never seen Port Noon or the buffalo – formative experiences for her. She had so many questions for the enigmatic temple mare, especially after all she had read. She confined herself to just one: “How are you going to stop the pony you think is responsible?”

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@Starforce

For a long moment, the air around the two unicorns was silent and awkward. Moonlight seemed to be deep in thought. Starlight wondered briefly if she had finally taken the truth into consideration. Perhaps this was her moment to recollect her thoughts. Alas, like many of Starlight's hopes for this mare, her dream was shattered. She was grinning and her posture was good but it was not like the stance Starlight recognized in her villagers. This stance was vindictive and deceiving, at least in her eyes.

When Moonlight spoke, Starlight wore an expression of confusion. Rather than berate her ideologies once more, she requested a backstory. She had been remotely curious of Starlight's past before, but this time, she was demanding a story more than asking. Starlight felt very uncomfortable and refused to say anything. Speaking would only provoke Moonlight further. Reluctantly, she allowed the mare to continue.

She has been to my village? she wondered as Moonlight recounted the rows of houses and the small land mass surrounding them. I do not recall her passing through and I never miss a traveler. i would assume she is lying but she knows the layout of the village.

Starlight sighed, wishing she was able to see Moonlight and welcome her to village. Perhaps that would have prevented this ongoing conflict between the two. They could have abolished their differences together and focus on unity and friendship. Instead, they dwell on differing opinions of whose worldview is correct. Starlight stepped forward, hoping she could clarify her mission once again.

"The purpose of the village is to create a sanctuary for friendship. While I have had pains of my own in the past, they are fully healed thanks to the freedom that Equality has given me," she explained. Although she meant to sound grateful, their was a hint of uncertainty in her last sentence.

She then listened as Moonlight rambled about the village and how horrible it all was in her mind. Starlight frowned sympathetically. She supposed a pony who never had the chance to live the life her villagers do would make her nothing but jealous. It is a life she never had, so how could she relate?

"My villagers are very happy, Moonlight. Perhaps if you had the chance to experience what they do, you would understand that their happiness is genuine," Starlight said softly.

"As for how my village is run," she added when Moonlight spoke of her leadership style. "I am using the tools at my disposal in the most fulfilling way possible. Ask any of the villagers and they would agree. Nopony is under anypony else's control, as that would make that pony superior to everyone else. Everypony follows the teachings of Equality but they do so out of their own will. Each villager who lives there is happy to be there. If they wanted to leave, they would have done so moons ago."

Starlight looked at Moonlight sternly, wishing she would stop trying to manipulate her. She may be rather smart but she will not bring Starlight down. Starlight was going to do everything she could to protect her village. Moonlight's clue-finding was merely a test to her--a test to see if she could continue to protect the Staff of Sameness. It had to be guarded at all costs, for it was the symbol of hope for the village! Even if it was really nothing more than a piece of wood, it meant a lot to the villagers. Starlight wouldn't let somepony like Moonlight take that away from them.

"Social ability?" Starlight asked, unsure as to what Moonlight was referring to. She soon realized what it was when Moonlight wore the expression that Starlight always used, although this one was done out of sarcasm. Starlight kept a calm disposition, unamused by the mare's antics.

@Loud Opinion

The festivity preparation was far from done. Hardly any decorations were put up and nothing even remotely eventful had begun. Starlight shook her head disappointingly. As casually as she could, she urged Moonlight to help her finish setting things up.

"How about we finish making preparations for the festival, friend."

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@ExplosionMare @Loud Opinion

Moonlight listens to Starlight intently. It seems as though that Starlight was not willing to give up so quickly. Alas, this is what Moonlight expected. Moonlight's expression and posture wouldn't falter one bit at all. It was the same manner of speaking that enraged her so much. Moonlight really wanted to fight Starlight already and smash her lies to oblivion, however that would only provoke further consequences than either of them had wanted. Besides, a small part of Moonlight wanted to keep Starlight around. She was the only mare that she had a connection to, as of yet.

"Your words will not ever convince me because I have something you don't, something real to fight for. You may not admit it but everything you said there? It doesn't matter to me at all. I can imagine how it pleases you to imagine me groveling and begging to become one of your villagers, that isn't going to happen. I know that you are wrong, Starlight. I know that you are doing this to please your pains and trust me, you are only hurting yourself far more than you ever could." Moonlight chuckled absently as she glares at her in the eye with narrowed eyes. Her eyes convey a tone of utmost sincerity, Moonlight really believes she is telling the truth. 

"Try as you might, your words are like weeds spreading throughout the garden." her smirk faded and her expression was calm, and foreboding. 

"Be careful of your words, Starlight. They will always outlast your pain. What you say and what you do has far more consequences than you can ever imagine. While you may see yourself as this great hero wanting to save the world from the plight of cutie marks..." Moonlight puts her hooves to her cheeks much like a mother would to a child, yet there was a hint that this was a little bit of a mocking move on Moonlight's part but it felt...genuine. "You are only driving yourself further and further from the truth. You may not like that truth, but it is there no matter how hard you deny it. I really, honestly feel sorry for you here Starlight." Moonlight calmly placed her hoof on Starlight's shoulder.

"I feel sorry that you think this way. It must be so long, and so arduous to keep up this persona. It must keep you up at night, thinking of your ponies and what you've actually done to them. Removed their ability to access their talent. Remove them from everything they've meant to become because of their own pains and your string-pulling behind the scenes. You probably have nightmares about what happened to you, and what made you think this way." she grinned sadly, yet it was unclear whether that grin was genuine or not. In truth it wasn't, and Moonlight was deceiving Starlight with that grin. At least that was the intention.  

"Yet you also ignored my questions. What made you this way? Why do you think this way? How did you come up with these ideas? Come on, tell me. As your friend I'd imagine I have the right to know about that." Moonlight spoke, striking up a casual pose at Starlight's side that conveyed that she was genuinely curious about it. 

"If you are wise enough, you already have the tools to unravel my secrets. You already know the answer." she spoke, referencing Starlight's final question as she sighed, tapping her hooves on the ground in a quick manner, as a relief for the excess frustration Moonlight was feeling when trying to convince Starlight. Upon the final word in Starlight's statement, 'friend' Moonlight would ponder that. Did Starlight really consider her a friend? Probably not, but what if? What if she really considered her a friend? That was a bit unexpected, but she brushed it aside and looked at all the banners and grinned upon seeing Twilight's name.

"Yes...how about we do that?" Starlight would notice that Moonlight was staring at the banners for an oddly long period of time. It was quite strange. 


 

Edited by Starforce
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@abrony-mouse

As Limbo let herself smile, the gloom that had hounded her for so many hours dissipated. "The same way every crisis is solved. The magic of friendship." It was like the sun poking through a cloud-line. Limbo's new stride tempted her to lift her head, only to be punished by the mild sunlight.

"You can guide me to Phantom, and once we're there, I can convince my-" Limbo again stopped herself. She would not allow thoughts of tragedy to creep up again. "She'll see that somepony still cares for her. If I'm correct in who we are dealing with, I know she's just lashing out."

"One must always prepare to be wrong, so just in case, I'll be counting on you to get Phantom and everypony else to safety while I keep her busy."

@ExplosionMare @Starforce

As the precocious duo approached the un-party, they noticed that the ponies were not in a festive mood. Through the cracks in the encircling ponies, BonBon was clearly at the center. There she was, clutching at her throat with a comfort Lyra at her side. Most striking was the absence of her mouth.

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Fuchsia smiled as Limbo referred to the magic of friendship. Fuchsia believed in it herself, she felt its magic every time she relied on her cutie mark for good luck, and missed it whenever she was away from pony lands. She booped her flank against Limbo's flank friendlily - to show her appreciation and also encourage the strange mare.

"Who's lashing out?" Fuchsia asked, curious about the relationship between Limbo and the thing that might have harmed Mr Phantom.

She agreed readily to helping the others escape, but secretly was determined to find out who Limbo was opposing and what their relationship was. 

Fuchsia breathed deeply, and as she exhaled she raised her head proudly to from the ground to the sky. The soft pad within her hard hooves felt the softness of the Ponyville earth. A pony in Ponyville truly felt like they ruled the universe! 

Sounds of pony life filled her ears, reminding herself of home. Even the dull clopping of her hooves alongside Limbo's in the winter earth seemed auspicious.

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@abrony-mouse

She tilted her head up, only to wince and shield her eyes. Her recoiling revealed the true purpose of her sudden rise. It was not a show of confidence but to allow gravity to keep her tears in place. Like a catapult, the tears flow out onto the ground.

Limbo finally decided to address the elephant in the room, "You'll have to forgive my mother." Limbo admitted, "She hasn't been herself in some time. She won't make this easy on us."

The timing of the two was impeccable. Just as they entered, the legends themselves were unloading from the station. Limbo quickly averted her eyes from the latest princess.

A pony of little remark harried over to the royal purple with a gasp and wide eyes. "Twilight! There's a situation in the town square! A pony needs help in we don't know what to do!"

"Try not to draw attention to ourselves," Limbo whispered harshly, entirely unconfident in Fuchsia's ability to lay low.

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@Loud Opinion

Fuchsia is interested when Limbo Dreams reveals that it is her own mother that is the villain that may be responsible for taking Mr Phatom, but she is not entirely surprised. 

"What is your mother like?"

Fuchsia notices the arrival of the Princesses. She waves her hooves wildly at them, like a fanpony, squeals and clutches her face. "Oh Celestia! I think that was Twilight Sparkle! Do you think she saw me?" she gushes to Limbo like a school filly.

Fuchsia skitters her hooves on the platform, and her large eyes take in the fluffly forms of the Ambassadors of Friendship departing from the carriage. First out is Twilight Sparkle herself, the air takes on a bitter tang of magic as the potent alicorn emerges from the train. Reality seems to hang from the point of her horn and all eyes flick towards her instinctually, before pushing away, as if her mere presence dominated the will. Next was Pinkie, and the oppressive feeling vanished in her wake. 

When the other Friends followed, Fuchsia barely noticed, so fixated she was on Pinkie and Twilight. 

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@Starforce @Loud Opinion

“Forgive my directness, but what could you possibly have to fight for that I don’t?” Starlight asked with both curiously and annoyance. “I have a village of kind and friendly ponies, my belief in the truth, and my responsibility to keep everything running. Who do you have to fight for besides yourself and your shadows? While it is important to keep your own well-being in mind, it is even more important to have a connection with others. Without that, you are simply going to gallop through life and never have the chance to enjoy it to its fullest.”

Starlight truly pitied this mare. She had such a strong belief that Starlight’s words were dangerous, as well as her actions, when in fact they were quite the opposite. Starlight has never tried to hurt anypony, not even when some of her villagers were out of control in the beginning. She only wants the best for them and if other ponies disagree with it, then so what? Eventually they will come to learn that they were the wrong ones, not the villagers.

“I only speak from the teachings of the truth. My words are the text’s words, not my own. If I were to alter those words, I would be going against the truth. I only want to firmly believe the truth and inspire other ponies to believe with me. The more ponies that believe, the better off Equestria will be. Someday, you might realize that.” she responded with a soft expression. Her tone suggested that she really did care for Moonlight and want the best for her. She wanted to take away whatever pains were pulling her down so that she could have a chance to live her best life.

However, she also couldn’t help but feel slightly agitated at the next thing Moonlight said. Although Starlight did indeed have pains in her past, she knew better than to bring them up. Reminding herself of them would only cause them to come back. Part of her philosophy was to live in the present, the here and now, and forget whatever plight there used to be. Moonlight may be persistent and strong-willed, Starlight gave her that, but she was unable to break Starlight’s mind. The truth made Starlight strong and resistant to pain, or at least that is what she believed.

“I no longer focus on my pain. It is all in the past. It would do you well to do the same. Holding on to your pain and strife has only caused you great anguish. It has formed these malignant shadows around you. You carry them everywhere, like a set of heavy chains. Wouldn’t you rather lay down your burdens and let go, and be free? Don’t focus on your pain to make you strong, rather, take the good things in life and treasure them.” she said with a small smile. “And you are right—I do know what ails you, but for your sake, I will dwell on it no longer. It is time to move on to greater things!”

The two unicorns soon headed back to the festival where many banners still hung. Moonlight stared at them for an unusually long time. Something about them must have caught her eye. Tentatively, Starlight asked,

“What do you see up there?”

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@ExplosionMare @Loud Opinion

Those words that Starlight said drove Moonlight up the wall. Starlight fighting for the truth? That makes absolutely no sense. By this point Moonlight was convinced that either Starlight was genuinely putting up an extremely complex front to hide what she truly was or she genuinely believed what she was saying. Either way Starlight had the intelligence to go along with these ideals, but they were misguided to the point where Starlight believed her lies. 

"What I have to fight for? You don't need to know anything more about that. I don't trust you to behold that information. Your mindset is a clear indicator I am not going to trust you." she spoke, her agitation with Starlight's words was hidden. Moonlight wasn't willing to let Starlight to see how frustrated she truly was. Starlight did drive a point there about the pain. No matter how well intended or logical that point may have seemed, Moonlight would know well enough to not fall for it.

"Do me a favor and stop talking about me. If we are to work together it will do you well to stop trying to brainwash me. I'm willing to be tolerant up to a point, but I will not tolerate you talking about me in this manner. I will do the same for you in return, How about that?" Moonlight seethed, maintaining her cool for now. "The reason why I am not going to tell you about who I really am, and what my past really is, is because of these things you say to me. I don't trust you. I don't even like hearing you talking about these delusions." Moonlight's glare intensifies as she stepped forward, her eyes staring into Starlight's soul.

"I am asking you to stop as what you are saying about me honestly makes me uncomfortable. If you are such a friendly, tolerant pony, you will understand how that comes across. I am not your slave, nor am I going to be your next project or experiment to manipulate." Moonlight growls, she felt very off put by Starlight. She wanted to leave, but knew better than allowing Starlight near other ponies without supervision. 

Upon arrival at the festival Moonlight put her hoof to the air. "Do not speak on what we were talking about further. We have an objective to complete here. A test, I figured." Moonlight said in an attempt to hush Starlight from speaking about the previous topics as there was something truly concerning here. "The pony known as Bon Bon is lacking her mouth. I don't know why this is or how it happened, but it is our job to fix it. Hopefully it wasn't something you did." Moonlight spoke to Starlight with a glare, but Starlight could tell she was quite concerned about Bon Bon's missing mouth. 

With that, Moonlight would begin to head towards Lyra and Bon Bon. Starlight would likely follow.

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@abrony-mouse 

Pinkie waved with a big smile over at Fuchsia.

Limbo fought her hooves and their rising urge to grab Fuchsia by the scruff and slap some sense into her. It was a losing fight. However, at the last moment, empathy came to trounce her frustrations. It was a sudden shift of perspective. Limbo, for a moment, didn't see Fuchsia. She saw herself, and a bitter nostalgia threatened to lead her tears out of her eyes.

When Fuchsia would look back to Limbo, she did not see the scorn of frustration but a smile of days past.

Snapping back to the present, she processed Fuchsia's question. Fuchsia had no idea how cruel the task she had given her was.

"I would also like to know. I never saw my mother's dreams. This morning was the first time I'd seen her. I shouldn't even recognize her, but, somehow, it's like she was always there."

@ExplosionMare @Starforce

Lyra looks to Moonlight approaching with uneasy eyes. On one hand, she did recognize her, and that familiarity carried some comfort with it, but on the other hoof, she was acting suspiciously. It was all too coincidental to her that Moonlight would meet her one moment, and her friend would suffer from this the next. To complicate her feelings further, a mare she was once adversarial toward was in her company. A strange mare that talked about extreme changes to one's way of life. The pink one had convinced BonBon to speak to her in private. It seemed more likely that she was responsible.

Just to be safe, she gave them both a suspicious look.

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@Loud OpinionFuchsia waved back at first, before turning to Limbo with a 'what' expression, only to see the mare give a beatific smile. When she turns back Pinkie has gone. 

"What? I meant did you just see Pinkie totally wave to me!" Fuchsia gushed, forgetting she was meant to be a gritty investigating pony. "What do you mean 'your mothers dreams'" she says uneasily.

Fuchsia experiences a feeling of intense loss and disorientation as the Princesses and the Pink ambassador disappear. Her pony instincts lead her to want to follow the pony paragons, but she is loyal to the mission and Limbo Dreams. She takes a deep breath, and sniffs at Limbo Dreams idly, wondering if she smells of wet sheep :P 

Fuchsia rubs her hoof into the dirt of Ponyville, wanting to feel the grit of the dirt inside the hard keratin of her hoof. This whole situation gave her the willies.

 

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@abrony-mouse

Limbo was silent through the rest of the train ride. She despised simplifying her words. It was soul-crushing and fostered a resentment for pony-kind. Better to let questions hang with her company than to debase her art.

"Ah, there it is," Limbo said, interrupting Fuchsia's asinine pestering.

"I saw a pony in your dreams before you acquired that 'thing' that you so righteously destroyed. She was bright pink and lashed at you with her words. Do you believe she will be a problem at the ranch?"

"My plan was to enter first, and for you to sneak around the back and evacuate the ponies there. I know my mother would never do anything to hurt me, so I'll be relying on you to capitalize on my distraction."

As they exited the train, a cold trepidation washed over her. Would it be so simple?

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Fuchsia eventually tired of trying to get the strange pony next to her to explain, almost finding herself missing the loquacious Silver Tongue. Of the minds that had written the research she'd nosed through earlier, she had picked up a cryptic bent among the excited scribbles - that was clearly Limbo Dreams. Also, earlier, she had seen the shadow pass over the mare and then later Limbo's response to the magic of friendship and then again later she was pretty sure she caught the flicker of a hastily removed scowl before a genuine smile. Fuchsia wondered about the desire for ascension and the fight against this mysterious entity - Limbo was clearly linked to it. Whether it really was Limbo's mother or if that was a metaphor she couldn't say, and she gives a little 'hmph' of annoyance that the mare next to her was keeping schtum. She gazes out of the train window at a collection of lumberjack ponies returning with bundles of sticks on their backs. She smiles longingly at them - why couldn't she just carry bundles of sticks about? Clear goal: collect sticks, bundle sticks, place sticks on back, put down stick bundle, repeat. Chop things. Simple. Actually, maybe being a bundle of sticks would be better... 

Fuchsia shakes her head and forces herself to stop thinking about bundles of sticks and instead think about her mission. Fuchsia brooded on the events so far - trying to make sense of what was going on:

1) She had woken up to find Limbo trapped in her dream catcher and Silver Tongue had gone to Golden Oaks.

2) She had skim-read the strange research in the temple. She withdraws her notepad:  'mysteries behind the skin of the earth,' 'seven histories' and 'dreams being linked to the foundations of reality.' She had made a note of a grim line - Limbo viewed immortality as a curse and wanted it for herself.

3) Limbo had talked about other ponies she was helping ascend... or alternatively curse with immortality... who were called *checks notes* 'Moonlight Sparkle' and 'Starlight Glimmer'". 

4) Fuchsia agreed to help and Limbo had gone weird and grim and mentioned bad memories which seemed to be brought about by what she'd seen in the dream catcher. Her 'mother' presumably, but Limbo had been too hurt to talk about what was bothering her.

5) Fuchsia thinks over the memorable trot to the train station. Limbo had seemed like she hadn't been outside in years! Limbo said that she would use the magic of friendship to defeat their foe and had seemed happy.

6) Then they were waiting for the train. Twilight had appeared and Limbo had shied away from her and wanted her to lay low for some reason. Maybe due to Limbo's views on immortality? Limbo seemed to react quite strongly to the presence of the princess and ambassadors, although Fuchsia had been a bit too carried away to focus on Limbo's reaction too closely. 

7) After the famous company departed Limbo had described her 'mother' in strange terms. She didn't know her but she was always there? And she hadn't seen her dreams even though she was able to see most ponies' dreams. What was her mother!? Why was her/it so dangerous that it threatened other ponies at the ranch, and even a powerful pony like Mr Phantom? Or maybe it was the wrong question to ask what Limbo's mother is? Maybe her mother used to be a normal pony but had become something else? Maybe If so, maybe Limbo thought she could change her mother back with the magic of friendship?  

All the way to the Talomeno Fuchsia mused and scribbled in her notepad. As they drew into the station Fuchsia's pink lips had taken on a grey sheen from the lead of her pencil. 

Fuchsia decided to give another go at getting answers to her questions but Limbo was still having none of it. Instead she asked about Strawberry. "Ugh I'd forgotten about her..." she moans,  "She's not as bad as in my dreams really... she can't really brainwash ponies or make them hideous..." Fuchsia shivers, recalling the nightmare, "she was just a bully and the one thing that spoiled the Talomeno for me. I shouldn't have let her get to me." she pauses. "She was never far from Phantom though, so if she's there she'll know where he is." Fuchsia adds bitterly, why do some nice stallions like bitches like Strawberry anyway?   

Fuchsia nods agreeably as Limbo explains the plan of attack, but when Limbo finishes her explanation her expression shifts to a much more serious one and her arms shoot out suddenly, holding the other mare in place with surprising strength. "Fine. I swear on my suns I'll help you. But first you tell me what your mother is. I know it hurts to think about... but I can't help you or these other ponies if you don't trust me with your secrets." her large lilac eyes stare into Limbo's, looking for shadows. The effect is a little spoiled by Fuchsia's lead pencil 'lip-stick' :P  

 

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@Starforce @Loud Opinion

Starlight met Moonlight’s gaze with a stern expression. How could she say that Starlight was manipulating her, or that she could not be trusted? Starlight had done nothing but be friendly and truthful thus far. Everything she was offering Moonlight was in her best interests. One day, she would have to realize this. This behavior reminded Starlight of how a foal would behave when a parent told them what to do. The foal may not believe it’s the right thing for them, but with growth and maturation, they will come to realize that their parent was simply looking after them.

Starlight would have to continue approaching this matter gently. She had to find new words that wouldn’t upset Moonlight while also holding firm to the truth.

“Moonlight, I understand your concerns, but believe me when I say I wish you absolutely no harm,” Starlight began in a gentle voice. “I would never wish anything bad upon you, or anypony for that matter.”

She was unable to say much else before Moonlight put a halt to their conversation. She practically dragged Starlight to their next destination. Starlight followed but kept a neutral expression. There, the two unicorns saw a very peculiar sight. Bon Bon was missing her mouth! How this came into occurrence, Starlight was unsure. She just hoped she was able to help.

“While I do not know what could cause a pony to lose their mouth, I do want to assist if I am able. Is there anything I can do as a friend to help?” she offered politely.

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@ExplosionMare @Loud Opinion

Starlight's gentle words were ignored. They didn't even appear to register to Moonlight but internally they did. She knew that Starlight was lying, and would stop at nothing to enslave and abuse Magnolia if she had her ways. Such abuse wouldn't have to be physical, if anything it would be mental. Horrific images crossed across Moonlight's mind, imagining what that might be like. Starlight breaking Moonlight until she was nothing but a hollow shell.

Starlight completely breaking Moonlight is what she wanted, right? It wouldn't happen, never in a million years would she submit to Starlight's thought process. Then at the end of it all, what if Starlight really did mean well? If that was truly the case, Moonlight would feel conflicted. Even through all of this Moonlight wanted to free Starlight from these thoughts. Moonlight wanted to help Starlight. They both wanted the same thing! Why must Starlight be this way?

Granted the current situation those thoughts fell away but a realization crossed her mind. Moonlight had the watchman. What did Starlight have? Did she have the guide of any other entity? If so, that would be the most probable cause here. She had to know more about Starlight's inner powers if she were to effectively understand who she was, and what she would become given time. Truly, she hoped Starlight didn't have any dark intentions. The last thing she wanted to do was fight her, as much as her wrathful side would - she would be throwing away the only chance at friendship she has so far, as well as throwing away any credibility Moonlight's word held.

Moonlight's eyes scan across Lyra's face and looked down to the mouthless mare. "I find this most unusual but given the powers that be in this world I am not surprised. I would like to know, how did this happen? Were there any unusual causalities that occurred previously." she states and then looks to Starlight. "When I was away from you, what did you do on your own in town here? Tell us, and leave absolutely nothing out. If we are to help these ponies, we all need to collectively know any possible factors and previous situations." she spoke calmly, yet internally she was wondering if Starlight was responsible for this. If she was, than she may hold the power to fix it. 

A thought crossed her mind. If Starlight told what had happened, Moonlight would attempt to call upon the Watchman mentally as she gazed into Starlight's eyes. Moonlight wouldn't settle for anything but the truth. She demanded answers, and felt that demand roar through her psyche like a gale wind.

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@Starforce @Loud Opinion

Starlight noticed a slight shift in Moonlight’s expression. It looked troubled. She was unsure what was wrong, or how to help. She sighed to herself. It was like no matter what she did, Moonlight only descended further into her own sorrow and madness. This wasn’t how Equality was supposed to work. The pony was supposed to be reluctant at first, maybe even curious, then soon come to realize they were wrong and Starlight was right. Equality was the only thing that allowed ponies to truly live. Starlight had heard of things such as “love” and “hope” giving ponies life, but what point did they have if they always caused so much pain on the journey towards happiness?

Starlight didn’t understand what Moonlight was so afraid of. She would never try to hurt her. She was trying to save her from all the pain in her past and present. That was all she wanted for anypony. Starlight wished Moonlight could see it that way. It killed her not to be able to just take her to the Village to see how happy and content the followers of Equality really were. All she could do right now was influence the ponies around her and have Moonlight learn by example. That relied on ponies actually accepting the philosophy, however.

She took a moment to think about the strange powers she inherited on her journey. No, her powers must have been inside of her all along! They felt like a part of her despite how new they were. She wished more than anything that her heartbeat would match Moonlight’s. She wanted the mare to see that she truly did care and would never wish anything bad upon her, no matter how many times they have fought.

Moonlight spoke to Lyra for a moment then turned to Starlight again. She immediately suspected her of stealing a pony’s mouth. Quite rude, but not atypical of Moonlight to say. Fighting the urge to roll her eyes, Starlight plainly responded,

“I have not done much in the town thus far. I have simply been observing and then spending time with you,”

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@ExplosionMare@Starforce

Starlight's vision was assaulted by an intense rise in brightness. It was not enough to be blinding, but her eyes squinted automatically. 

Starlight's heartbeat felt weak. It was as though any 'thump' could be her last. Yet, it never ceased. Her rhythm could not be trusted, but it delivered all the same.

BonBon looked like she wanted to say something. Lyra noticed and looked at Starlight with frustration. "Something must have happened! Ponies don't just lose their mouth for no reason!"

Deep in Moonlight's mind, a phrase resonated "Dead mares tell no tales."

@abrony-mouse

A conflict could be seen in those striking red eyes: A paradox of shame and pride occupying the same memory.

Pride won the fight, as it often does. She scanned the sparse train before speaking in a hushed tone, "My mother's name is Limbo Pass. More importantly, my mother is a monster. We were separated before I could see her face, but I recognized her this morning. Don't ask me how."

"A single tooth could split you in half. She moves like a streak of lightning: unpredictable, targeted, and too fast for father time."

"Equestria at large will stop her eventually. I can't correct her. This is the reality of the situation. The best we can do is distance ourselves until the inevitable happens."

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@Loud Opinion @ExplosionMare

Upon the cryptic phrase being delivered into Moonlight's mind she would lament upon it. Wherever that phrase had came from - it was confirmation that Starlight had her own hidden power. It also felt like whatever the intentions were, she figured that it was a warning to not mess with this further. At least for now.

Looking to Lyra and Bon Bon she would snort. "Obviously something did. And obviously it is a result of our presence of being here. At least...that is one possibility to consider. You wouldn't understand. If I told you, you would be left off more confused than you are currently but for now the true cause remains...unknown." she spoke, squinting to Bon Bon's missing mouth. She pitied the mare. Moonlight noticed the sudden squint of Starlight's eyes.

Moonlight didn't know of what Starlight had seen however she had a good idea that what she mentally called upon was the cause of the squint. "It is in your best interest to tell me everything, Starlight. You play with powers that you don't understand. So do I, apparently.she spoke with an eye roll. "That is why we should be in communication of the events around us, or else we risk...baggage in the way to that." she spoke, her mouth curling into a smug smile. 

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@Loud Opinion @Starforce

Starlight suddenly squinted from an unknown light source. She rubbed her eyes since they now felt very uncomfortable. She blinked a couple of times to reorient herself but that did not make her completely okay. The next issue that arose was even worse. Her heart began to feel very slow and weak, almost as if she was on her last breath. Starlight wasn’t sure if she was really dying or if something in the atmosphere was making her very fatigued. Whatever it was, it needed to be addressed soon in case it was something harmful.

“Normally, I would find such conversations to be fruitless, but since I am in an unusual state, I may as well reveal what I am experiencing,” Starlight responded to Moonlight who suggested she share every detail of her powers, or whatever this was. “You say you have an…unusual bit of knowledge? I believe that is worthy of sharing as well. I have possessed greater knowledge long before I came here but this is the first time it was manifested into something physical. I…feel strangely weak. My heart is beating…so slow.”

It was hard to keep the worry out of her voice. Starlight didn’t truly know what she was feeling or why. She could only hope that this was just one of many traits of her power. Her heart had beaten erratically before and it had turned out just fine.

Starlight turned slowly to Lyra who appeared to be very frustrated and confused. In as sweet of a voice as she could currently muster, she replied,

“We will figure this out soon, friend. While I do not know the cause of Bon Bon losing her mouth, I know that we can relocate it if we work together harmoniously.” 

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@Starforce @ExplosionMare

After a moment of uneasy beats, Starlight's heart redoubled in defiance. With this new internal vigor, the crowd showed equal enthusiasm.

The crowd around them grew restless.

When Starlight finished talking one, particularly bold pony chimed in, "Ya! Get off her back!"

Another said, "She would never do something like that."

The crowd was now glaring at Moonlight. BonBon was all but forgotten in their frustration toward Moonlight.

Lyra's distraught scowl grew shifty as fear crept in. At first, she looked for validation. Now she searches for an escape.

"What's going on," Lyra muttered under her breath in an effort to understand the upset.

Moonlight could hear the heartbeats around her. Like a marching army, the ground itself trembled with the strength of their unity. Some even looked ready to start throwing stones.

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Fuchsia sees, not for the first time, a hidden depth to Limbo Dreams, which she cannot read. Limbo's words betray deception, however, leaving Fuchsia only a moment to wonder as to what the red eyes of Limbo hide.

Fuchsia instinctively felt sick at the unnatural, to her, idea of Limbo not knowing her mother. As a mare with a happy family life, Fuchsia was deeply troubled by the thought of another pony whose family was a source of pain.

Fuchsia's next thought was more practical. If Limbo Pass was as dangerous as described then Phantom, who she does care for, was clearly in greater danger than she thought. Even a powerful stallion like him would be threatened by such a beast. Fuchsia's next feeling, deep in her loins, was of unbridled fear - she does not want to die - she wants to see her family again and feel the sun on her back as she trots across the plains of Equestria. 

"I... see." Fuchsia says gravely. She longs all the more to not be here on this 'adventure' and she growls internally at her manticore which drove her to the latest insanity and she imagine it looking back at her sheepishly :P "I'll head round the servant's entrance and see if anypony is there." Fuchsia does not say 'if anypony is alive' although she is thinking it.

 "What will you do if your mother attacks you?" Fuchsia is not merely asking out of curiosity, she also wants reassurance that even if Limbo Dreams falls, Fuchsia will be able to save herself and hopefully Phantom too. 

 

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@Loud Opinion @ExplosionMare

Well, that changes things. Moonlight could see how she was outnumbered by the crowd - not only she was seeing it she could also hear it. For all the words that she spoke to Starlight none of them seemed to register or resonate. Why bother talking to a wall further? Moonlight also realized that a show of defiance to the state of affairs would only inflame tensions here further. Her place in being here was not to start a fight. Moonlight got what she wanted from Starlight, she wasn't going to engage that point further. 

To contrast the emotional rise around her she would find herself with a calm expression. Ignoring the raging chorus around her she would walk towards Lyra with a calm stride. Her eyes met Lyra's own with a sense of duty. Looking to Bon Bon with a quick glance she felt even more of a sense to fix this. There were other issues quickly adding on. Moonlight realized that she made a mistake in getting into another spat with Starlight. They never ended well, so she would be sure to be more careful of her word. After all, she would be wise to heed her own advice. Words will outlast your pain. 
 

Moonlight would put a calm hoof onto Lyra's shoulder. "We are going to need to act carefully if we are to be virtuous. To tell you the truth, I don't entirely understand either but I have a few guesses as to what it might be." she spoke quietly. Whatever Starlight had said was now completely ignored, her focus was on Lyra and Bon Bon. Moonlight would take no act to inflame tensions further, her calm gaze looks to the ones holding the rocks and then back to Lyra.

"Perhaps we should distance ourselves from this. It isn't helping anyone. Especially..." her eyes moved to look upon Bon Bon. "Especially her. What is her name?" she asked, the name of the pony in question she hadn't heard of yet. 

 

 

Edited by Starforce
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@abrony-mouse

"You worry too much, Fuchsia," Limbo Dreams says with a smile.

The ranch swelled into vision as the train ground its rails to halt. The silent train had met its destination. Part of her drifted to her past. Miss Dreams couldn't help but feel a little happy about what was up and coming. Limbo Pass. For the first time, she would see her face to face. It made her wonder about other ponies she would like to see with her own eyes.

"It is not my right to say what my life will amount to," She continues, "If I were to fight. If I were to defy my creator. To what end? If your mother wanted your house, would you deny her? What right do you have to claim a life you had no part in making?"

Limbo sighed in resignment. She knew her message had little chance of resonating. "I waste my breath. I will live to see tomorrow and our cause will go on. Destiny has plans for us, and she does not like to be cheated."

Edited by Loud Opinion
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@Loud Opinion @Starforce

Starlight’s heart was no longer weak, instead it beat twice-fold. She suddenly felt a strong sense of power and duty. The ponies around her cheered her on and defended her against Moonlight. If she wasn’t concerned with evening herself out with the crowd, she would allow pride to swell up in her heart.

“Friends! Now that you see the true power of Equality, I encourage you to gather around and listen to the truth that the world has denied you for so long,” She gestured towards herself to encourage the ponies to step forward. “For years, you all having been living in a world that tells you Cutie Marks are special. That world tells you to celebrate what makes you different and live out whatever destiny is chosen for you. This will only lead to destruction, my friends! Difference leads to disharmony and mistrust. Friendships can be split apart and ponies can become miserable all because of a Cutie Mark.

I encourage you to listen to the truth. The truth will set you free and relieve you of your pain. Your Cutie Marks have been holding you back. They force you to live a certain way or do a certain job. This either results in making other ponies envious or misery due to failure to live up to your mark. Without them, everypony would live much more freely and have many, many friends.”

She smiled peacefully at the crowd. She sincerely hoped that at least some of them would take an interest in joining. Instead of looking interested, however, they looked strangely aggressive. They looked as if they were about to throw stones. Starlight stepped back, anticipating a series of flying rocks. However, she soon realized they were not aimed at her—they were aimed at Moonlight!

“Friends, do not place hate onto Moonlight! She may be misguided, but that does not give you the right to act aggressively towards her. Please, put down your rocks and approach her with kindness and friendship.” she hastily announced, looking over her shoulder to see if Moonlight was alright.

Edited by ExplosionMare
Edited for the stone part that I forgot
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