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Everything posted by Windwright

  1. [Age of Heroes] A Walk in the Park (semi closed)

    Mauser made a show of rubbing his chin. That was going to be a tricky one to manage, but probably doable with some shenanigans. He'd done so once in Manehattan for Rosetta's birthday before the Fall, and had even managed to figure out how to do it for the whole family and without needing to Loop it away afterwards. "Maaaaaaaybe." The big dog waffles. It had been an obscenely expensive affair. "I can look into it as a reward for good progress. There are a couple of places I have in mind but I'd need to figure out how to get in on short notice, which will probably take a few rounds. First though, I believe I set a challenge for you." Mauser gives a toothy grin and becons with one overly large paw, then leads the way through the park and back to the restraunt from before. He places the same order and seats everyone at the same table, then nodded to the new Diamond Dog. "Simple enough task. Using your sense of hearing, count how many workers are in the back. I'm going to let you know a couple things that might help first. One, the back area has a central kitchen with cooking surfaces and counters running around the wall, and the storage for the ingredients in the middle. There's a restroom, a broom closet, a walk-in freezer, and an office in addition to the kitchen. Two, the countermare isn't the only griffon working here, and doesn't count in your tally."
  2. 6/23.1 093045.1851 It was a beautiful day in the city of Fillydelphia. Birds were singing, the sun was shining, the grass was growing, and the trees were spreading their leaf-laden boughs over the walking trails and providing shade and privacy to those within. A pair of ducks floated in the pond, diving occasionally for the sheer liquid joy of it as much as searching for morsels. A juvenile dragon hiked his way to the edge of a secluded clearing, his walking stick making a clack with each step as it's end met pavement. His costume was a hodgepodge of wool and cotton garments with cat-like ears on the brown hood and tiny wings that would never get him off the ground, mixed with welder's goggles and a ramshackle collection of bangles, talismans, amulets, chokers, armlets, and anklets. He looked like a young dragon trying to cosplay as a gremlin who'd just flown through a tacky jewellery store. He was alone, for now, but he was never comfortable outside his costume when he wasn't at home. Habit and paranoia coming to a nervous head, even here and now when he had three hours to himself. Not that it really mattered when he could slice time into paper-thin ribbons and stretch one hour into a week. But Stable Loop was waiting for his new pupil, his sister, and her friend.
  3. By No Means Perfect! (SPONSORED- Ponyville)

    Windwright turned back to the Princess...and her gaggle of other guests. She chuckled nervously and said "I'd rather not talk business when you have such a crowd to please, princess, but I'd be happy to offer any advice I can." She surveyed the group and Twilight herself, then nodded and started rifling through her satchel of medical supplies. "In fact, I think I might have something to boost your confidence a little, if you're feeling overwhelmed." She pulled out a stoppered vial filled with a liquid that glowed a faint pink in the crystalline light. It was fruit punch (she kept all sorts of supplies meant for all sorts of medical emergencies, this one was for low blood sugar) but she wasn't going to divulge that just yet. Instead she offered the vial out. "Everypony needs a little help sometime, medical, alchemical or otherwise." Her next thoughts went to the dragon who apparently decided to observe from afar. Another creature she could probably give a boost to when she was done on the ground, but first... "Oh! Were you miss Fluttershy? A local doctor recently mentioned you in an article he wrote about Swamp Fever, he says you were instrumental in finding an alchemical cure! I'd love to swap notes sometime, and I'll be here for another week or so after the festivities. My husband and I will be spending New Years here while I work on a few business leads." she said to the yellow fellow pegasus hiding behind the Princess.
  4. Generosity of Spirit (SPONSORED- Canterlot)

    "With you here, Miss Rarity," Honeywing said, finishing off his cider and putting the empty mug on a passing tray while flashing his most cheerful grin, "I do believe they already have." He shook his mane a little, setting the bells to jingling, and threw a quick glance over to the gift sleigh. Since it looked like the new gifts were being properly sorted and handled he declined to intervene just yet, but he'd helped GG rotate stock often enough to get nervy around porters. The snow swirling in the entryway, on the other hoof, caught his eye. Thermal shock was always an issue with marble, and he'd accidentally cracked more than one tile in his failed attempt at Weather Corps. The floor seemed to be holding up well, however, and it didn't look like the cold weather was going to reach any of the glassware. Good. "Miss Rarity's becoming a household name in the fashion scene, I'm told, setting all sorts of trends in Canterlot, Ponyville, Manehattan, and beyond." the pegasus confided to Professor Theory. "To say nothing of her exploits as one of Princess Twilight's Elements of Harmony. A mare to watch, my fiancé says. Aaaand a few fashion icons like Photo Finish according to the magazines." Granted, Honeywing's own efforts to secure a trade deal with the caribou was likely to cause a splash once the furs were able to fully reach the market. Technically anyone could order some, but not many seemed to know it was available yet, and the gold-feathered pegasus was content to keep his name out of that particular footnote.
  5. Generosity of Spirit (SPONSORED- Canterlot)

    Honeywing bowed a little graciously, without using the full-wing-spread-bow that would have caused him to drop the cider the Princess handed him. It wasn't the first time they'd met, but generally he was...well, technically he was on the job now, come to that. "Thank you, your majesty, I'll do my best to enjoy things. It shouldn't be too hard with how much work the boss put into the event!" The pegasus smiled and nodded toward Blueblood, then bowed again and stepped back a little so he could speak to both royals without embarrassing himself. To the Prince, he said "I'm sure Glitz would love to work on something for you after the holidays are over. This time of year is always really busy in his field of work, heh. He's been tickled pink to have so much to do, especially with some of the new materials. He got a little carried away with the uniform, admittedly, heh." He took a sip of the...admittedly good cider, even if his parents hadn't donated it. Just the right amount of sweetness, and it tasted like there was a bit of citrus. Orange, perhaps? In either case, he bowed again (though less than he had for either Princess Celestia or Prince Blueblood, protocol and all) to the newcomer. He hadn't seen this gentlecolt around before, but he only rarely interacted with the academic circles beyond an occasional library delivery. Courtesy dictated that the Prince be allowed to introduce himself first, so the IMAGINE agent took another pull of the cider.
  6. By No Means Perfect! (SPONSORED- Ponyville)

    The mare landed and checked her 'patient' over quickly. "Well, nothing seems to be broken or anything. Not that I'm a doctor." She said. She turned to the princess and bowed low, her bi-coloured wings spread wide. "And actually we've met before Princess, but I was a stallion at the time and we were at the Gala so you were sort of busy. My name's Windwright, I gave you the sachet that should have smelled like old books." Granted, Twilight had been helping quell phoenix-fires at the time. "I've got a stall I need to get back to though, I'm operating a donation drive for shampoos and such! The spell worked remarkably well though, and I'd be fascinated to find out how many other spells would be boosted that well by sympathetic alicorn magic." Her mane was actually not affected all that much beyond being semi-translucent and sparkling. The crystal spell never really knew what to do with it. She bowed again and flew back to her stall, actually feeling good about the evening's prospects now that she saw the crowds.
  7. By No Means Perfect! (SPONSORED- Ponyville)

    Ponyville again. Windwright generally liked this time of the year, it practically printed her distributors money since they'd started making mane-care gift packages, but being in Ponyville always made her apprehensive. The pegasus had read a few newspapers from the town, and things that would have been front-page in Rainbow Falls got justifiably relegated to page four here. She didn't like it one little bit, and had actually accidentally overdosed on her potion by ingesting it in its syrup state two weeks ago. She was worried about another bugbear attack, or an Ursa Major or... -FWOOSH- She dived below her counter, peeking out only after the flash of light was over. It had come from the town square, which she'd wisely set her kiosk about fifty yards from down the thoroughfare. Princess Luna was there, as was Princess Sparkle (The entire reason Windy had made the trip here, honestly, had been to use the draw of both princesses to generate traffic he could use to raise brand recognition), both were standing in...oh, no nooooo. Windy hadn't brought ANY of her Crystal Empire dye bases or conditioners. And was...that fwoosh expanding..? This warranted observation, and the alchemist perched on her stall's counter with her forehooves balancing on the donation bin she'd set up next to it for shampoos and conditioners for the local orphanage ("We'll match every ounce donated!") while she craned for a better look. Which is when the strapping farm-pony discovered a moment too late that there was a sudden friction-differential. "Oh, horseshoes..." she says, flying over to make sure he was alright, her medical kit in the bags tucked neatly under her wings. No way she was leaving the stall without it in THIS town. "Let me help. I think the Princesses were planning this, but forgot to tell anypony. Name's Windwright, I'm a chemist. You okay?" Since Princess Luna had 'helpfully' warmed the area up and rendered Windy's coat thickening serum moot, she'd taken off her winter gear, save for a scarf and ear muffs, leaving the snow-flake design Stormy had drawn into her coat on full display. A dozen symmetrical crystalline flakes connected in a string that wound up one foreleg, across her back, around her belly, and down the opposite back leg, like an oversized necklace.
  8. Generosity of Spirit (SPONSORED- Canterlot)

    In the two years since he'd joined IMAGINE, Honeywing had been busy. True, a lot of that was staying out of Prince(ss) Blueblood's way while (s)he worked, but the pegasus had taken it upon himself to ferry messages, documents, bills, and contracts to the appropriate parties to keep IMAGINE ahead of the walls of red tape that international trade could run afoul of. Which is how he'd found out about the charity event that was part of the festivities this year. And in true Honeywing fashion, he'd made sure that the local foster care system had been properly primed and were ready to recieve whatever gifts were collected this evening, and had passed a suggestion along to Blueblood's secretary to split the donation centres into clothing, food, and toys. What happened instead was that he and another agent had been voluntold for the position of Hearth's Warming Helpers to collect the food donations before they hit the sleigh so that they were on top, or in Honeywing's case, to sort the clothing into neat stacks behind the toys. Since there weren't any guests yet, he was going over the last of the apple crumble plates (made with genuine Sweet Apple Acres apples) and hot chocolate donated by his father's tavern, the Avalon, meant for the guests to enjoy at the buffet lines. "This is shaping up surprisingly well." He was saying as the doors started to open and he took his position with his slightly modified Helper's vest. Glitz had insisted on remaking the patterns from scratch with caribou-sourced fur lining inside and cotton he'd dyed himself. Even the hat was toasty warm with his ears tucked into it, and his mane had been done in an elaborate Prench braid tied with a blue ribbon and silver sleigh bells that matched the outfit. Honeywing'd been forced to admit that while it wasn't exatly protocol for the uniforms to be modified or remade by an agent's fiancee...GG'd done a typically excellent job.
  9. Sī Jīn nodded gracefully to the bright red stallion, conceeding to his assurance that the filly was excited. Granted, she had been too when Lián came to visit after she'd gotten to know him in the monastery. He had an air about him that tugged on the mares around him. Stallions too, sometimes. The hoofmaiden didn't have time to contemplate this too much, or to answer Big Macintosh, before the group was joined by a griffon owlet. This...was an interesting turn of events. The kirin frowned at the cub, and checked her list. Aspen, most likely, but the docks hadn't listed him among the foals who had disembarked. A second or so later, her cheerful façade was back up as she decided he couldn't be a threat in and of himself, at least not one she couldn't handle, "Goodness, our little group grows!" She waves a hoof at the collection of foals, indicating to the griffon to join them. Then she turned her attention to translating again, getting everyone's questions out into the three other languages she was using. Kaze's question would likely best be answered by Apple Bloom herself, who seemed to be doing her utmost to fill the role of an ambassador at least, even if the ninja suspected that these weren't the sorts of 'foreign relations' foremost on her mind. Or maybe she was projecting, as the filly's questions were the sort of thing one might expect her to ask, though she pretended not to hear the query into the location of the royal quarters. "The Imperial Palace was built over a period of many hundred-hundred-moons, bit by bit. It began as a fortress in the Huangjing Valley, but the Emperors eventually began using it as an informal summer palace, and then as the official palace after expansions and the refortification of the walls. The Water Gate, through which we are about to pass, was originally stone, but ice damage during a great winter many many years ago prompted the Imperial Architects to replace them with enchanted wood, as it is more supple but just as strong. There is a mixture of palace-grown and tithed food that makes up a majority of the Imperial Household's diet, but most of the food for the staff, the watchers, and a portion of the food for the Empress and her family are purchased from the city outside these gates." The hoofmaiden said. She'd actually researched all three questions, and others, to be able to answer them easily, though she already knew about the food sources and some of the secret passageways and tunnels. "And of course, what palace is complete without a few hidden paths and chambers? I'm afraid I only know of a couple though, and those are mostly just side-passages that the serving staff use to stay out of the way of the Court while they are discussing important matters." Like gossip, or lunch, she thought uncharitably. She elected not to translate names back and forth, and so left 'Kaze Hokosha' to bond in peace. It seemed the filly would be able to distract herself well enough, and Sī Jīn folded the little fan she carried and tucked it into her bun, careful not to cut the ribbon holding it in that shape on the blades hidden in the silk. Yes, they could probably actually manage this event without losing or maiming anyone.
  10. [Age of Heroes] A Walk in the Park (semi closed)

    "Nope. Same day, new experiences." the dog says as he removed the amulet that kept his form disguised. "That was a snapback. The first of three ways one can occur, and the one I have the least control over, personally. Technically there's a fourth way for your personal timeline to snap as well, but I'll get to that after I demonstrate the third method. Second method is that I can end the loop, which snaps everything back but doesn't continue to loop. I won't demonstrate that one, since the loop is useful and takes me a bit of mental effort to set up. I just cheat and recover inside the loop, most of the time." He perks his ears and Listened to the area, taking mental notes while he waited for the idea to sink in. A dog howls somewhere in the park in answer to Mutt's commotion, and the nearby duck pond is empty. The scent of roasting peanuts drifts in on a breeze. Mauser nods and picks up his bindle.
  11. 'Baka wa shinanakya naoranai!' Her NAME. Of all the stupid things to forget! Sī Jīn cursed herself inwardly as she listened to Lián's introduction. The prince had, of course, hit the major points he needed to hit and had added the details she'd neglected. She did hope it wouldn't be TOO interesting, though. Interesting meant unexpected. Unexpected meant unpredicted, which was dangerous. She wasn't paranoid enough to think the foals themselves or their chaperones were likely to cause problems, intentionally anyway, but she wasn't naïve enough to think the Empress's enemies were above...inconveniencing her guests to maintain their status quo and strength. Think like the kunoichi you are, Hitomi. She smiled broadly to the large red stallion when he acknowledged that he could handle his charges, not that she expected otherwise, and was joined by the other chaperones. It was good to see dependable ponies being chosen as emissaries, even for such a relatively minor event as they likely thought this was without knowing how many snouts were being tweaked by inviting foreigners...other foreigners into the Palace itself. She wasn't sure how many of the court had guessed she wasn't actually a native but she didn't count in either case. Droit du seigneur as the Prench would say. Then princess Soyokaze spoke, and Sī Jīn translated automatically, every nerve in her body relaxing with the realization that her accent was going to be much more heavily Neighponese than Sī Jīn's was. Kami be praised, the princess hadn't been taught both languages together and her pidgin accent was still safely exotic. Where had she gotten that idea about the name of the Empress, though? Granted, courtiers tended not to use it, but...though, come to think aside from herself and the Prince she hadn't heard anyone use the personal name since Yu Yue's ascension to the throne, and neither of them were the BEST sources for courtly etiquette. She'd need to inquire discreetly and relay her findings back to the Clan, their Long court training might need to be adjusted. What relief she'd felt at Soyokaze's accent, however, froze in her heart when she saw Apple Bloom's reaction to the Prince. Perhaps not immediately, but it looked as if the filly was likely to grow into the sort of mare that drew Lián's eye when he thought he wasn't watched, and if her puppyish excitement developed into devotion...'Then you will do your duty, silly girl, and not interfere.' her second thoughts chided her. She shook the embarrassed flush out of her face and translated the Apple's comments into Long with only a slight delay. All those responses out of the way, she waited for Lián to reply (which she'd translate to whichever language he didn't use), and then let her gaze settle on the other Equestrian filly. The little pegasus had a look about her the kunoichi recognized from her own training period: a determined set to the jaw, eyes a little sharper and a little harder than the ponies around her, and a stance that suggested ready energy. A guard, likely, was her future. She doubted the Equestrians trained shinobi, or that their foals knew how to spot one, but it wouldn't hurt to adopt the stances that better hid her equipment. She was one of the best-armed Kirin in the Palace, but there was no need to advertise that fact either. Instead, she counts the charges again, comes up with the correct number again, and pulls out her clipboard to check the itinerary. First stop after the Imperial Courtyard was the atrium, then sweeping through the serving sections of the palace to show the group how the castle was maintained and operated, and then down the Hall of Emperors for a short history lesson. That would be educational, at least, and likely one of the more entertaining portions of the compound since the tradition was for those portraits to show what made each ruler great, and several displays held regalia that had been retired. The place was crawling with Watchers of course, but she assumed they'd be well-behaved. Maybe the foals too.
  12. [Age of Heroes] A Walk in the Park (semi closed)

    The big dog nods and makes a mental note of the paths they'd need to take tomorrow to go through the library and end up at the Liberty building. He knew there was an observation deck, which might actually segue into another demonstration, since it was probably necessary. Once his mental map was constructed, he let out a big sigh and glanced up at the sky again. "Alright, time for the second major lesson. There are two ways for a loop to reset. The one we want is the easiest one. Time passes until it hits the end of what I set out originally, and then..." he said, pausing for dramatic effect, appar- There's an intense sensation of vertigo, accompanied by the scent of birdsong, the sound of a rose in bloom, and the colour of a foal's joy. It lasts for less than an instant, but when it's over... 6/23.2 093834.22179 The fatiugue, the meal, the bugs, the maps, everything was gone. Returned to how it had been six hours ago. The 'gremlin' was frowning again, but continued as if the world hadn't just imploded. "Things just snap to how they were when I started it." He started taking off his accoutrements again, calmly and methodically busying himself while his charges recovered and took stock.
  13. Dubby's AMA

    What is combination to this safe?
  14. 'Ichi, ni, san, yon, go, roku...' Sī Jīn, personal hoofmaiden, personal assassin, and now tour assistant for Prince Hēi Lián counted her charges to herself, her fan bobbing as she made sure the numbers added up. When she'd ascertained that the numbers and general descriptions matched, she nodded to herself. "<I still think this is a bad idea.>" she said aloud in Long. The prince himself was likely the only one who'd be able to hear her, much less both hear and understand, from her hiding spot behind the gate, so she didn't bother with the vocal disguise. A bad habit to get into, but the walls of the Forbidden Gate were so ridiculously isolated even by Long Guo standards that even she wasn't that paranoid. She didn't wait for a response however. Between her...personal reasons for wanting an eye kept on Apple Bloom and her very real concerns that princess Soyokaze's education might leave her with a similar accent to the one she'd established here as being from...somewhere else, the kunoichi had been busy since the trip was finalized making sure everything was ready without tipping her hoof to the entire court, and had explained her reasoning to Lian at least a dozen times. Today. Now there was nothing for it though, so she stepped out from the gate and walked over the bridge with the detached grace everyone expected of the personal arm-candy of a prince. Mane held in a bun with chopsticks, simple yukata with a discrete clutch in the sash that held her clipboard. Everything was ready. She bowed elegantly to the group and, in clear view of all the foals, she snorted out a quick puff of pink fire that smelled of flowers and left a (carefully pre-arranged) scorch-pattern on the ground in the shape of the Imperial seal. THAT trick had taken her a week to learn, and still had required a thin layer of flash powder on the ground. "Welcome," she said in slow, deliberate Equestrian, as if it were her fourth language. It was, but there was no reason they needed to know that she was making sure Echo could understand her without trouble, even if it seemed that Wind Walker was assisting her, "to the Imperial city, Huangjing. Before we begin, there are just a couple of rules. "You will be guided on the tour by Prince Hēi Lián, but the areas through which we are traveling are part of the Palace's daily life. Occasionally, the prince or I may stop someone to speak to them, or someone may come to us, but please do not interrupt anyone that looks busy. You are otherwise encouraged to ask questions, especially of the Prince, myself, or your chaperones, unless we indicate that it is not a good time. Part of the tour may carry us through the Court itself, and there are certain traditions that are followed there which are difficult to quickly learn. We will instruct you if so, but it is likely better to hold questions at that point until we have passed through. One other area may come up, though we will try to avoid it, and we ask that if the tour goes through the staff quarters you keep noise to a speaking level, as some staff may be sleeping for an overnight shift." she said, using her fan (and the notes written carefully on the back) to cool herself with lazy flutters well to one side so that her mouth was not obscured. She then repeated her spiel in Caribou. And once more in much smoother Long-accented Neighponese for good measure, though she suspected everyone who could understand Neighponese could understand one of the other two. Lecture out of the way, she folded her fan with an audible snap and stepped off to one side with the chaperones. Sotto voce, while the Prince made whatever appearance he was going to make, she asked "I believe you can all translate for your charges, so I will focus on translating any questions from the group into Long, and then answers back into Equestrian. Can everyone handle the rest?" She knew the answer was yes, but she'd read that it was good manners in these sorts of things to allow the chaperones to speak for themselves.
  15. As soon as AB has a post in, I'll get mine out too.
  16. FYI, my intent is to let (at least) all the foals go, then have Si Jin count heads (also assuming we have at least a couple of NPC foals) and do a quick 'rules' rundown, then fade into the background and let Lian be the gracious host. (Which is not to say I won't be actively posting, just that most of Si Jin's actions are likely going to be herding foals along, acting as an interpreter for bonus NPCs, and conversing quietly with Mac.)
  17. Sī Jīn listened idly to the chatter around her while the traditional pleasantries were exchanged and Qing stepped forward to taste-tes-Aiya! The hoofmaiden stands from her seat with as much deliberate haste as she could manage without being obvious about it. The chaos allowed her to snag a dumpling from the serving tray and get back into her seat unmolested, her fan covering her muzzle while she tested it herself to identify the...poison..? 'I don't taste anything.' she thought to herself as she chewed. When it didn't provoke a reaction, she swallowed. When THAT failed to cause a reaction, she suddenly understood. A quick nod to Lián confirmed the theory he seemed to have reached already, and she stood to obey his directive to seek out Discor-oh. Liviel had that covered too. Well. If she didn't need to assassinate an assassin, and she didn't need to diplomate...diplomacise? quell the spirit of chaos's (completely understandable) frustrations... A laugh broke through the tense air. Not a quiet chuckle or a demure giggle, but the delighted sort of laughter the Ancesters usually gifted only to foals who were first discovering the joys of life. A triumphant squeal of jubilation. Sī Jīn laughed and dabbed at her eyes with a kerchief. "Goodness, well done Lord Discord! That poor crustacean looked so small there at the end. A wonderful trick!" she exclaimed, less for the draconequus's ego, though she hoped it would help Liviel's efforts, and more to clear the tension before someone said or did something that they'd regret. She fanned herself as if all the excitement were getting to her, though the makeup she wore was as perfect as it had been when she walked in, and added "If this was the main course, I cannot WAIT to see what Shèngjià has planned for dessert!"
  18. [Age of Heroes] A Walk in the Park (semi closed)

    102316.2844 Mauser scratches the back of his neck and glances aside sheepishly. "Eh, heh. Would you believe not? If I'm not on a mission I spend as much time napping as anything else usually. Not that there are many of those days." he says, muttering the last mostly to himself, though he was under no illusion he couldn't be heard. The big dog stood up and stretched, the muscles under his fur rolling visibly, to his full height. "For now though, let's get moving." ---- 152812.1171 And move they did, spending a couple of hours walking the city and exploring the museums. Mauser spent most of his time on two legs, though once or twice he bounded off on all fours to pursue a sound or scent that caught his attention briefly, always ending with a slight frown and a silent moment staring off in a random direction. He led the group to one or two family-oriented museums, and insisted on taking the stairs and paying for everything with bits and bobs from his satchel, then to a sprawling botanical garden on the roof of one of the highrises, and then to the municipal district with no real urgency or plan to his movements. Eventually he calls a halt at the head of a long set of marble stairs before a government building of some sort, silently studying the shadows and nodding to himself. "Just about time now. Take a look at that map we bought and pick a couple places for next time. Too much of the city to see in one go, and we'll have an abundance of opprotunity."
  19. The elderly dragon nods and settles into place at the table, giving the apprentices ample space with which to work. "I favour the blackcurrant myself, though there are merits to a nice cup of chamomile after a long day. Today I shall enjoy the peach blossom though, since these two were kind enough to bring some and I would hate for their efforts to go to waste." she says, gesturing with a claw at the assembled chinaware for the aforementioned apprentices to begin preparing the requested refreshments. "Now, on to why I invited you, xīn'ài de zhínǚ. As you are no doubt aware, We have done something unprecedented in Our history this past year. We have made not one, but FIVE Gifts of Breath to heads of state. One to your...counterpart in Neighpon, and one to each of the four active Princesses of Equestria in the West. And yet there is one Gift conspicuous by its absence." the aged Long starts, using her claws to form five perfect spheres out of the cloudy not-ground arrayed in a hexagon missing the corner nearest the Empress. She pauses a moment, waiting until Yu Yue's face showed a dawning understanding of the implication. "We have power enough for another Pearl," she continues, pulling the five orbs into a single ball, "but it is not yet made. This was not intended to sleight you dear, but to fit you properly it could not be made ahead of time." Yuchou sighs as she takes the ball and works it into an equid shape, followed by a slightly smaller one. "Ordinarily We spend the Emperor's twilight years cognizant of who his or her successor will be, and are able to deliberate amongst Ourselves as to how best to empower and guide the next generation." "However though We applaud your father's choices," the Matron smiles proudly at Yue here, banishing the clouds back to the not-ground, "he sprang it rather suddenly on not only your Empire but us as well, and at a time when Our own council was recovering from the departure of Ao Shenlong." She leans in over the table, lowering her voice to an almost conspiratorial sotto voce that the other guests would need to be deaf not to hear, "We had been prepared that if that one of your eldest siblings ascended we would have provided a Gift to temper some of their wilder habits or to ignite their nobler aspirations, but you caught us rather embarrassingly and somewhat pleasantly off-guard. So rather than embarrass your Court by delaying the ceremony through Our sometimes endless debating, I wanted to ask for your input. Where do you think you will need help the most?" By this point, the tea was ready, and the Matron settled back with her cup nestled delicately between her claws. Granted it would likely scald any pony that held the steaming cup, but Long claws were somewhat inured to heat thanks to the plating.
  20. Short and sweet: I'm looking for Clan Chiyo operatives, contracts, contractors, family members, and Kakikara villagers. Main families are Kaze (no relation), Josei, and Chiyo, but others do live in the village. And of course all of this is OOC Council of Elders: Chiyo Hayate - code name Storm, associated with the colour black Chiyo Akane - code name Crimson, associated with the colour red - The two have at least two foals, one of whom (Hitomi) is persona-non-grata in the village. Chiyo Fumiko Josei Mami Kaze Himeko - has at least one foal, married or mated to Kaze Ichiro Elite Shinobi: Kaze Ichiro Unknown Chiyo sibling At least one shinobi capable of bilocation, at least one capable of sending scrolls via Breath magic. Exiled Shinobi: Chiyo Hitomi - Code name Si Jin, contracted to protect a foreign prince. Current contracts: Hitomi is contracted to protect a foreign prince, was originally contracted to protect Ryuichi's prospective fiancée who is now Empress of Long Guo. It's complicated.
  21. [Age of Heroes] A Walk in the Park (semi closed)

    102038.4228 Mauser nods again. He'd chosen an easy task for the first run so he'd fully expected Mutt to pass the pop quiz. Now for the demonstration. Mauser waits for Rosetta to seat herself again (though he makes no move to take back the bell) and says "Good. Simple enough task, isn't it? You can also use that same sense of hearing to do more advanced things, like count that there were six ground-ponies, two pegasi flying, and a griffon that went by when Rose was out, or if you can focus in some dogs like Mom can tell when some lucky mare is expecting by hearing the extra heartbeat. Admittedly, not a trick I have a lot of practice at. What we're gonna do is this: Each time we come to this cafe, I'm gonna ask you a question, the next day I want you to find the answer. Usually, it'll be a matter of counting, like next time I want to know how many workers are in the back, but eventually I'll ask things based on scent as well." The giant dog leans back on his stool and cushions his head in his big paws. "For now though, why don't we just explore the city? I don't think you guys have had a chance yet, and it's a good opprotunity to do all the tourist things without embarrassing yourself, since nobody but you will remember you doing them. We can start the serious training stuff in a loop or two."
  22. Who Wants This Doge?!

  23. [Age of Heroes] A Walk in the Park (semi closed)

    101546.1285 Mauser nods understandingly. "Yeah, reliably finding food is lesson three, I think. Lessons one and two are the difference between hearing and Hearing and the difference between smelling and Smelling. Like I said, not gonna put you through the training we got, though I think it might not be a bad idea for after, but I want to make sure you know how to use your senses and avoid getting overloaded." He picks up his staff and rummages around without looking, then pulls something out and passes it under the table to Rosetta. There's a tinny little jingle as he does so, since the bell could only be muffled so well by a beefy paw. Especially one being passed to someone who could only hold it because of the thaumicite tag it was attached to. "Rosie's gonna walk up the street, wait, and head back. Your job is to raise a paw before she reaches the door, but after she's past the window. Catch is, you need to look at the delicious meal in front in front of Bahamut I guess. Speaking of, d'you know I caught his tail fluttering once when I called him a 'good boy' as a joke."
  24. Sure enough the prince slept soundly. Lian was a quiet and peaceful sleeper, picturesque some would say. Though he was also a fairly heavy sleeper and at times was as difficult to wake up as a hibernating Long. This day however was not one of those days. The soft rustling of the curtain and the faint beam of light that slipped through coupled with the curious scent of flowers stirred the qilin awake with a soft yawn and a looooong stretch. Through the curtains of his bed he saw the familiar figure of Si Jin. Likely with breakfast, but was she wearing perfume? He didn't take for for the type. Rubbing the sand from his eyes, Lian exhaled and the curtains around his bed parted. "Ahhh. Good morning!~" The hoofmaiden's head jerks up quickly. "Aiya! Oh! Good morning, my prince. S-several matters await your attention after breakfast." she says, tucking the scroll behind her back and cursing her decision not to wear a robe yet. Her mane was already in the tight bun she used before she'd gotten her armor and clothing on, but she had neither as she'd intended to get dressed while Lian did. Ancestors take the timing of it all! The one morning Lian slept lightly. "I trust you slept well?" Lian gave a little nod and a smile as he grabed a brush from his bedside stand and began to comb. "Like a babe. But something is on your mind." he replied as he glanced over at his friend. "You don't usually jump even when I surprise you." The mare blushed a little and, not for the first time, wished she could use her Pearl to store or summon things for her own benefit rather than only for another's. "Some late mail is all, my prince." She said, regaining her composure. "I was not expecting it and it caught me off guard." Not technically untrue. "Oh? Well I certainly hope it was good news! I won't pry into your private matters though." Lian sniffed at the air once more and smiled. "I take it the smell in the air has something to do with the letter as well?" "It was perfumed, yes." She answers, distracted again but more at ease now that she knew Lian wasn't in a teasing mood. She wasn't sure she could handle that just now. Nor how much of Chiyo's inner workings were safe to reveal to him. Well, the clan's inner workings anyway, her own were hardly a mystery. "My waking thought was to ask when you started wearing perfume." he said with a coy little grin. "But I figured better to hold off on that." The prince finished with his mane and rose from his bed with another hardy streeeeetch! "I usually do wear perfume, you just prefer subtle scents. It's easy to lose it in the palace, my prince, with so many lovely mares trying to get your attention." She casts a glance at him from the corner of her eyes and nodded to herself, internally. She'd chosen a poor stallion to fall for, but she'd chosen a good stallion to fall for. The qilin chuckled. "Well should you change your mind on subtle, I'd not argue with a scent like this." Lian grinned as he sat about towards the washroom to brush his teeth and continue his morning routine. Si Jin sighed and wiped the sweat off her brow. She took the opprotunity while Lian was seeing to his ablutions to get herself dressed and the letter tucked, what DID this thing mean..? She understood the message, but why now? And why was she being REWARDED for breaching the contract? She sat in front of Lian's uneaten tray and stared at the letter. It wasn't long before Lian returned. He always had this bad habit of forgetting his meal, brushing his teeth then having to eat and just repeat the process. "One of these days I swear I'll get this." he said with a laugh as he bit into the toast. He was silent for a few moments as he chewed and afterwards as well. "There's something more to that letter. Isn't there?" Si Jin shook her head and sat the letter on the empty tray. "Sorry, prince Lian. It's complicated and I'm not sure I understand, but it bothers me. The letter is from...well, who is not important, but they have the authority to reassign me. Which they have. I think they found out about your sister's...manuever." The prince let his toast clatter to the plate as he looked up at Si Jin. "You're not. Ahem, that is. Your reassignment. It's not taking you far, is it?" The hoofmaid frowns and gestures at the letter, explicitly granting permission for the princec to at least attempt to decipher it. She waits until he starts reading it, then says "The code should be simpler to understand knowing that it's a code. And that the inks are different colors." The prince reads over the letter, studying it quietly. Knowing there's a code does indeed help, but it takes him a few moments to decipher the meaning in his head. When he does though he breathes a sigh of relief. "If I read this right, you've been reassigned to me?" Si Jin nods and smiles , then frowns as she takes the letter back "It...shouldn't have happened though. My...employers don't work that way. It's important to know my original contract was for ten years, not five. That bit of code is a Kachinonai...well it's like an exile, I suppose. I'm not welcome in their village, even if your business should carry you there. That is...light, compared to what others would have received for not reporting a mission's outcome." Lian frowned and stayed quiet for a few moments. Si Jin had her secrets, and the prince was polite enough to never pry deeper than he felt the need. This was one of those times it was best to not ask too much. For now though, the qilin did something he hadn't ever really done before, and embraced Si Jin in a hug. "I am truly sorry if I am the cause of your exile..." Si Jin leaned into the embrace. This was one of the many things in which she was trained that she was more than happy to do with Lian even if she hadn't been. "No, it was a difficult situation, and it was my fault. I should have immediately reported the fact that the Empress had her own bodyguards and...and allowed myself to be reassigned. However things were not so simple as that and I let m- I acted with a complete disregard for the customs of my people." "You and my sister are alike in some ways you know. She too tends to disregard that she is a pony first and a figurehead second." the prince sighed softly. "This is one of those situations where I wish I knew more, but I respect you enough to not ask. Despite really wanting to ask. Regardless though. You are your own pony first and foremost." "Lian, there may come a day when you will know everything there is to know of Clan Chiyo, I truly wish that were today. What I can't tell you would fill an entire library of burned scrolls." Si Jin mumbled to herself, forgetting her inside-the-head voice for a moment. The prince chuckled softly and pulled back from the hug slowly, gently brushing a strand of mane out from Si Jin's face. "Prehaps another day then." She'd said that out loud. Ancestors preserve, she'd said that out loud. She pulled away and scanned the room quickly, straining her ears. "I'm...I'm sorry, that was-That was wholly inappropriate, and you shouldn't have heard that." she said, straightening herself up and glancing out the window as if she expected a kunai to come back through it. "Heard what?" he asked with an innocent face as he continued eating his breakfast finally. "The last thing was said was just me saying that you are your own pony." Lian smiled and drank his juice. There was a long, pregnant pause in the air while Si Jin calmed herself down. She wasn't used to being out of sorts like this. She was a Shinobi. Kunoichi of the Chiyo clan. She'd been trained to maim and kill with the barest of efforts and nerves of steel. And here this stallion was, able to waltz through her nerve and her defenses like she was the vapid little courtier she pretended to be. Kami blast her she even thought like them more often than not! "Hitomi." This was not tradition. This was not what "Chiyo, Hitomi." was trained for. But if she was going to really do this, she had to trust him sometime...right? "The new silk screens you ordered. They will need to go back, someone will have slashed a hole in one by the time it arrives. It will have been ugly anyway. And you have a poetry reading with your half-brother." "A lovely name." he said with a nod after finishing his drink. "That's a shame, they looked so delightful in the catalogue. But I suppose pictures can't do some things justice then. I've always loved those poetry readings you know? I've never been good at writing them as he has, but it's always a good time to just...relax and unwind and forget about the world even if just for a few moments." "Just a mare from a tiny diving village." Si Jin responded, cagily. Then she shook her head, "He does it to show off you know. 'See how much more creative and cultured I am than these pretenders?' Did we ever figure out if he was behind the bees or if that was your cousin?" "I'm sure she's more than that." he said as he sat about brushing his teeth again. "He does, yes. But it's a mask to hide insecurity. As for the bees? I'm unsure. I believe it was my cousin, but there's no proof one way or the other." "If there was we'd need to keep an eye on one fewer Feng..." Ahem, not counting Yu Yue's 'secret' suitor. "Regardless, you'll be there most of the day, which is when I'll address the woefully damaged screen. A shame someone ruined the poison." Lian looked up quickly, toothbrush hanging in his mouth. "Poison?" he questioned before rinse-spitting. Si Jin waggled a hoof. "I don't know who, and I think it would have just made you sick, unless they switched the poison. My...supplier mentioned that someone had bought out all of their stock. I was able to follow it to the silk workshop who's handling the screen. If it turns out the poison was used somewhere else I'll let them go through." The stallion arched a brow and shook his head. "I'll never understand why ponies feel like trying to poison me will avail them anything." "They want to hurt Yue. I don't let them find out about failed poisoning attempts so that they think no one else has ever tried. So everyone thinks they came up with the idea first, makes thwarting it easier." "Makes sense." the prince sighed. "I sometimes wish her and I had stayed with mother...This whole...royalty thing is so much more difficult than needs be." Si Jin blushed and stared out a window. "There...are some perks." she says, thinking about the idea of never having met the two of them. She'd certainly be less conflicted, at least. "Regardless, you don't need to worry about this attempt. Or any other if I do my job." "True, I'd not have met you." Lian rubbed his chin as he looked in the mirror. "Hmm, mane up or mane down today?" "Up, you're going to need to change outfits several times." she says, pulling out the spare set of armor she hid under Lian's armoire's base and setting about equipping it. "Joy, Dress-Up Lian, everyone's favourite." he said with a chuckle, pulling up his mane as he hummed to himself. "What is it the Prench say? Noblisse Obligé?" She pulled on the last of her armor and slipped a yukata on over it, silk and steel once more. "Besides, think of it as being one area where brother dearest can't hope to keep up with you: Style." "Oooh that is so so true. And his hoofmaiden isn't nearly as beautiful and deadly." he said with a nod as he finished his mane. "I think that eats at him just as badly." "Pfft. The fewer who know I'm not just a pretty pearl on your arm the better. It makes my job easier." she replies, bringing out a simple happi coat and hachimaki headband. "Dockworkers' guild first." "Well at the same time, if everyone knew, I'm sure no one would try." Lian replied as he got dressed to impress, while still remaining appropriate for the location. "I'm not immortal, my prince." Si Jin answered, making a couple of adjustments to the set of the coat. "I must sleep, and eat, and I can't be in two places at once. Some of us didn't get THAT talent." Her tone was somber, but not rebuking or reproachful. "And there ARE shinobi more skilled than I am. There are rules that can protect you, but only while I live, and only if I'm in the good graces of my mentors, which I remind you I am not." "Fair enough. But at the very least, were someone to try and harm you, let me remind you that I'm certainly not harmless myself, and would do my best to defend you, should the need arise." "I know, I just worry." she replies offhoof. She had to admit to herself it probably didn't sound like a professional concern, but her tones were always neutral and guarded, so it might pass for that. "I likely have more knowledge of electricity than any Kirin or Ryuma ought to thanks to your training sessions. We need to restart those soon, by the way, but the Watchers seem to have discovered our previous dojo." It was an empty quarry, Hitomi, don't act like it was in Longri-La. "It's hard not to be discovered when bolts of lightning shoot out from 'nowhere'." he said shaking his head. "I don't understand why they cannot just let us train in peace..." "Well, from their perspective, you vanish for hours at a time, doing dangerous exercises. And their job is to keep you and the palace safe. They just aren't as good at it as I am." "Dangerous perhaps to them or my siblings. But I didn't spend years at the Monastary making tea cozies..." "Another thing to consider, then. Their duties also require they protect your siblings." the ninja said, picking a loose thread off the shoulder. "Well it's not as though I go out of my way to harrass my siblings. On the contrary, I try to play nice with them to the best of my ability." "No, but politics being what it is..." Si Jin sighs and shakes her head. "I don't think there's anything else I can do for now. I'll have a few spare outfits for you through the day." "It's alright, thank you for everything. I'll do my best to stay out of trouble today." The prince said with a wink...pausing on his way out to give his friend a kiss on the cheek before making his exit. Si Jin stood still for a few moments with a hoof on her cheek, then hurried after Lian, summoning a fan from somewhere on her person to cover the blush. Today was shaping up to be a good day for an unexpected change.
  25. [Age of Heroes] A Walk in the Park (semi closed)

    Mauser nods to Rosetta and opens his muzzle, then perks an ear and holds up a paw. He sighs after a moment and walks over to the counter, where he pays for the food and carries over a tray of something slow-roasted over a rotisserie and smothered in spices. He slides the tray onto the table with a practiced ease and speaks, "Hey, sorry for springing that up. I know it's probably a sore point still, but I'm not exactly in control of what I say during and right after a Read like that. When someone's destiny is balled up enough or big enough whatever gave me my powers likes to peek out and poke fun at me trying to understand things. Didn't think it'd happen again, last time was...well, let's just say I'm not on Hopesguard records because I got lucky." He spins the tray and deftly plucks out a plate of chicken for himself and Mutt, then nudges it so the third plate and the tray itself settles next to Bahamut across the table. "So, it's tricky to go from a sight-base to smells and sounds, but we're gonna change things up a little and I'm gonna take you on myself for a couple cycles to teach you how to be a dog. After that I'll turn you over to Rosetta and Bahamut to teach you how to be a hero. We'll work on your powers somewhere in there too. For now though, you ever wonder what these things are for?" He opens his maw wide and taps a very decidedly pointy canine tooth. "Diamond dogs aren't like ponies, inside. We need to eat things ponies don't. Dragons too, but they can cheat and use gems. Us though? We need meat. Chicken and fish are both pretty safe bets, without upsetting ponies too much, and some griffon settlements have other stuff we can eat too. First rule of Diamond Dogging: Learn when to indulge without upsetting ponies, because everyone gets along better that way. But we DO need to indulge in things like meat, and sniffing things, and occasionally chasing something. We make good heroes, when ponies let us. We're wired different, and we're made of different stuff. Our instincts aren't hard to fight for a little while, but if you don't ever give in, it just builds up like an itch."