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Good Evening Equestria, this is your 0600 hourly broadcast come'n to you live from Canterlot Keep. In tonight's weather, Her Majesty's Weather Wing continues in its efforts to ward off the winter freeze. A reported assembly of over 50 cumulus have been gathered and flown North from the plains; bit of an early Hearth's Warming gift from the South. The second wave of this years collected warm front is reported to consist of another 40 nimbus expected to arrive some time in the next coming week, and not a moment too soon as wild storms from the Everfree continue to pile on the snow from both the North and Northeastern districts. For this evening's news, the number of perimeter conflicts continue to climb as the Everfree finds its own way of getting into the holiday spirit. The scientific community is continually baffled by the forest's shiny new toys, a collection of winter adapted wildlife both hostile and otherwise. For those of you tuning in from Froggy Bottom, keep your head's warm and down... ...Speaking of the scientific community, old developments in Ponyville are brought back into the spotlight as a formerly canceled search has been revived. Doctor Petalwing, seen as the town's natural observer, was reported missing over a year and a half ago having entered the Everfree with her team in early spring of last year. Having little friends or family, funds for the search effort were short. Reports say that after a few days the search was officially dropped by the Ranger Corps stationed in Ponyville, sparking a wave of disapproval about how future search efforts should be handled. You ask me, nothing comes for free now a'days... ....Either way, in a surprising turn of events, a press conference was held last weekend to address the up shoot in border conflicts and disappearances. During proceedings it was announced that as a show of concern for the situation a number of cases would be reopened and addressed under direct order of Her Majesty, the first of which was said to be Ms. Petalwing's. So, despite a lack of payment, it seems the Ranger's of Ponyville are in for a not-so-quite Hearth's Warming Week as the preparations for their outing are reportedly underway... Your listening live to the one and only DJ Pon3 on LUN-FM, here with you all night ever night...now while the Spectra lasts, let's get back to the music Welcome to the realm of Nightmare Moon, an Equestria far different from the one we know and love. It's the dead of winter and the eternal night continues to stretch on, as does the continually expanding Everfree forest. With a new ruler, comes a new ethical outlook as the citizens of Equestria have become a colder bunch. With harmony removed the wild forces of the Everfree have been unleashed on the world and the forest closes in. All that stands in its way next to a few thinly stretched border guards, are the Rangers. Conducting operations within the forest they use the newest technologies (something rather developed in Nightmare Moon's Equestria) to bring out those who are lost, or push back whatever comes through the trees. You will play as a new recruit, hastily brought in to assist with a difficult search through the frigid depths of the winter forest. Myself and Whitetoast will be your guides (as we have planned this thing out through the last week) as we move from objective to objective and eventually uncover a whole new case, one that may determine the fate of Equestria as we know it. Construct your applications below...
The stallion had paced his hooves up and down the halls of his manor for hours. Firestorm was impatient, but that was to be expected when the matter at hoof involved his son. When all three ponies were gathered, he spoke all he knew. Flashfire was a former REA commander, having been demoted, he resigned and walked away from the REA. That was something Firestorm could understand from his son. The REA had been his son's entire life work. His whole youth had been invested into it. Building a career that would have been his lasting mark up on the world after he was gone. But with demotion, Flashfire had felt himself a failure and sought seclusion from all Equestria. That too, was expected by Firestorm, the father. However what was not expected was the utter disappearance of Flashfire. It was almost impossible for any pony to vanish into thin air like that. No paper trail, no travel documentation. Not even sightings. All but a few personal belongings had just been delivered to the father's residence. This distressed Firestorm greatly, but he wanted to respect his son's wishes to be left in peace. He had not filed a report until a letter arrived. The letter was from Flashfire. It was a simple note. "Need reinforcements. Small detachment to the following location." The note contained coordinates of the location, but the maps of the desert area showed no towns there. Firestorm assumed Flashfire had run into hostile forces of unknown kind and become trapped. The letter had been delivered through magical means, which meant Flashfire did not have the ability to use his magic to transport himself away. Firestorm, a retired REA member himself had moved before the royal courts for help, as he had no power in the military any more. Now with the three ponies before him, he had laid out a map for them. Showing the exact location. No town or settlement located in that part of the frontier. Just empty desert and unexplored canyons. Even his friends in the REA had no idea what was there. The desert was hostile at the best of times. But that area was very hot and mostly loose sand and rock. no soil to grow crops in that was known of. After paying for supplies and arranging for the group to have additionally funding, Firestorm had only asked them one thing, to ensure their son's safety. He knew nothing of if they had any other orders from the REA for retrieval. He gave them a photo of Flashfire. The proud REA commander in full armor standing beside Firestorm. Flashfire's face was stern, like the look was permanently stuck on his lips. The photo was dated to a year prior, the most recent of all pictures of the commander in question. Firestorm's parting words as they left ere simple. "Please save my son." As the Train arrived in Appaloosa, there was a cart of supplies waiting for them guarded by two armored ponies. It was the covered kind of cart, providing it's own shelter for the users. It was stocked inside with what appeared to be large barrels of water and an ample supply of food as well as a few other basics. The guards were standing by the cart, reading what appeared to be the newspaper. The sign on the side of the cart had the primary REA symbol, as well as a notice with their names tacked to it.
Celestia's sun was rising in the eastern part of the sky, though in this region Ice wasn't really even sure that the sun was even under Celestia's control anymore. This was technically on the border so it was possible her reign may stretch out this far, but no pony could rightfully be sure anymore. Ice Storm looked over the terrain that lay in front of them, and it didn't look at all forgiving. If fact, she was fairly certain that with as many dangers as were here, the Everfree Forest was a safer place than trying to traverse this geyser filled, lava pitted, crevice riddled stretch of land. It looked like just about everything here could easily remove a pony from existence. Regardless of how dangerous the task in front of them was, the group of ponies were here for a reason. One of their best friends, and one of Ice's closest had been kidnapped by a dragon. A dragon that was wanting a rather large ransom for the prestigious painter. Ice was determined that this dragon was not going to get a single bit, and that she would do everything she could to help get her friend back. Naturally, Moondancer and Pocket Change felt the same way, and while she didn't know too much about the grey unicorn, as she had only met him during a few of the Spellbound meetings. Outside of that she never really had much of a chance to speak with him otherwise. The few times she had though, she could tell that his heart and mind were in the right place. Right now though, her thoughts weren't about him, or Moondancer for that matter. At least, not in that sense. She was more concerned about Pressy and her safety. After all, as long as they were still together, they knew that they were as safe as they could be. The didn't have the same luxury of knowing if Pressy was even still alive. Ice shook her head at the thought. "Come on Ice, stop thinking like that. This is Pressy we're talking about here. She's definitely no slouch when it comes to holding her own." She told herself confidently. "Then again, we are dealing with a dragon...." she said starting to now second guess herself. She took another gander out to what was in store for them. It was bad enough that they knew that they were going to have to deal with at least one dragon. The tricky part was the fact that there were many dragons here. This was their migration site after all. What if they accidentally went into the wrong dragon's lair and demanded that they released a pony that they didn't have? Sure they had a description of the dragon to go off of, but they couldn't be certain that they wouldn't run into multiple dragons of that description around. One of the geysers not too far away from the went off, and attracted her attention. That was another thing. They would have to be super careful traversing through this. For all they knew, dragons weren't the only things here. While she was fairly certain that they would be able to see something coming after them fairly easily, the same held true for what they were seeking as well. There wasn't a whole lot in the way of cover that they had to work with so anything would be able to spot them, and should any other random dragon become hungry and decide that they would be a good lunch, they didn't really have many options to hide from them with. There were no trees, no bushes, no anything. There was a few areas that had some larger rocks than others but that was about it. Nothing that would provide them any real protection from a flying reptilian with fire. It didn't really protect them from anything else either. The were completely exposed to all of the elements. Thankfully, Ice could at the very least keep them from being roasted alive from the heat given off of the ground itself. If need be, she could cast her ice layer on the three of them that would act as personal air conditioners at least until it melted. She turned back to the other two as the looked to appear to be waking up themselves. "Alright. Now that we are here we need to come up with some sort of plan. This heat won't be a problem for any of us. I have enough control over Ice to make sure that we don't overheat. Or even stay at a comfortable temperature for that matter. With that in mind, I did a quick scan of the area that we're most likely going to be going through, and.... it's a compete wasteland. It's filled with geysers, lava pools, and crevices that could swallow a pony whole. To top it all off, I didn't see anything that we could stick to for cover, so during most of this journey we're going to be out in the very wide open with no where to run should any dragon decide they want breakfast that morning. Not to mention, we need to narrow down the general location of where this beast is in this caldera. The last thing I want to do is go into the wrong dragon cave and make more dragons angry than we need to. One crazy, raging dragon is more than enough for me," she spoke to them awaiting their responses.
((OOC: This thread is a continuation of the Gem Hunt thread found here.) "Of all the worst things that could happen, this is THE. WORST. POSSIBLE. THING!" Rarity stammered feebly, tears in her eyes, as she paced circles around a small colt, lying prone on a cold cave floor. The Ponyville top fashionista was quick to making such declarations, and usually they were admittedly overblown. She had a definite habit of over-exaggerating matters for dramatic effect, but in this case her words might indeed be accurate for once. Her current situation was just that dire. It had been a pleasant, uneventful day of gem hunting in the mountains and hills just outside of Ponyville. Spike had been off with Twilight Sparkle attending to business in Canterlot for the week, so Rarity had instead brought Applejack's young cousin, Valen Orange, along with her to assist her. Things had gone well at first. Valen had unearthed many gems, they had had a nice lunch and had some pleasant if rather elliptical conversations. That was when Rarity's gem finding magic brought her attention to an incredible bounty of buried gems which if successfully extracted would have sent them home early. Making what in hindsight was a critical mistake, Rarity had chosen to dig out those gems and in doing so a massive cave in had been triggered. Her and Valen had been swept up in an underground stream that both nearly drowned the young colt and saw his head collide with a concussion inducing rock. Rarity had managed to save herself and the colt, but while his breathing had steadied, he remained unconscious. The unicorn herself was bruised and battered, but still lucid and without critical injury. She was, however, in the depths of some deep, underground cave, all alone with an unconscious colt. Hours had passed. Several hours. Rarity wasn't really sure how many. She had long since stopped trying to keep track of such things. Instead she merely sat there and occasionally got up and paced, hoping Valen would return to her soon. Eventually she started to wonder if the colt would ever wake up. How could she ever explain it to Applejack if he didn't? How could she explain it to the colt's parents, whom she didn't even know? She was shackled with guilt at these thoughts, but they were not the worst that crossed her mind. At that moment, Rarity couldn't say for certain she'd ever see Applejack, any of her friends or even the light of day again. This underground cavern could very well be the end of her. Grim thoughts increased the rate of Rarity's current pacing. She was hungry. The food had been left in their saddlebags which had been left atop the wagon they left behind. If their friends did go after the two of them, that wagon would be the only clue they had to go on. Maybe that would be enough. After so long it was proving harder and harder to be hopeful. At the same time, Rarity was a pony who had faith in her friends. If any group of ponies could find her, it was them. Maybe, just maybe, they would come to the rescue. "Oh, Valen darling, you need to wake up," she muttered quietly, as she looked toward the colt and let out a small sigh.
I missed days 3 and 4 of EqD's training ground because... well I just wasn't in the mood to draw anything for it. So I'm making up for it by doing both days I missed and day 5 in one go. Took me about an hour total. There are problems everywhere, mostly proportions, but you know what? I seriously don't care. Pushing myself to do this gave me a kind of rush of excitement. Completing it immediately swtiched my mood from "Oh gods I hate myself and everyone else" to "Oh yeah! Who's awesome!? I'm awesome!". It's a wonderful feeling.
© Diego Havoc 2012