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[Concluded] Path of the Ancient Crafter [Closed: Tacobob, Lux]

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"Hmmm fish, poker? Sure, sure let's go with it. I don't think I brought enough to play anyway." old bird said as he packed the cards back to the chest. He didn't seem to be overly bothered by it. Only now the fillies could see that apparently cards didn't came from the same game anyway. Maybe the elder griffin was at least a little senile. With some time they could sort those numerous pieces, although not without the headache.

 

Regulus clasped his talons together before saying.

"So...should we start?"

 

 

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Some time later....

 

While they were still playing fish, things were quite alright. But when it came to poker then oh boy. Old griffin proved completely unreadable, while he himself showed to have no problem with guessing the value of ponies cards. As a result Wind and Snow were so trounced that they could consider selves luck they didn't played for money. Otherwise they would be pant-less after such one-sided game. If ponies would wear pants that is.

"And that's why girls, when someone would ask you for a round or two you say no. Believe me, unless roulette wheel on your flank or something close to it, no good will come from gambling for you." Regulus said. Apparently he wasn't senile enough to not see a opportunity for a quick lesson. His stern expression softened quickly however as he patted two girls on the heads.

"Now now, don't be upset hmmm? There are still plenty of games out there that you could play. Although not that one." senior said, before quickly snatching the wooden box laying in the chest and putting it onto the high and very deep shelf inside the cabinet.

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“Ooh Ooh!”, Wind was not being very helpful, “I know! We would have fallen to our deaths!” Which by far was the worst possible way a Pegasus could die. That would be like having an unicorn die after suffering an really bad paper cut while hoofing through his favorite book. Or a griffon dying from an cat allergy.

 

Thankfully Snow had the right idea. The little filly liked the cut of her jib. The joust of her moust. And the kip of her pip. The blue Pegasus also did not know what any of the things she just thought of meant. It was probably the cold weather that was doing this to her. Or those gerbils. She did not look forward to sleeping tonight. All those little paws. Shiver!

 

Thus begin a few rounds of cards...

 

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After they had exhausted their desire to play with said cards, one thing peeked the filly’s interest. The wooden box the griffon was pushing away. “Hope it’s not that one game. The one with the hotels and houses.” OH HOW her brothers hated it when she kicked their flanks in that game. Wind Walker would have the entire yellow, green and blue properties including Canterlot City and Celestia’s castle. With hotels. It was death row. They might get ‘lucky’ and end up in jail, but they still needed to keep moving forward after that. Forward to their dooms!

 

“Come now Mister Regulus. You're not going to wave that obviously really cool game in our faces only to try to hid up there, and really.", she pointed to her wings, "Unless it's one of those creepy adult games. Then, eh.", she shurrged her shoulders. "Anything else then?"

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Snow Dancer looked at the deck of cards, looking at each of them and even comparing one to another. They certainly didn't look like the cards she would play Fish with, and frankly she never seen these cards before or what certain numbers or abilities meant. Clearly Regulus had just a collection of random cards. But before she could say anything though, Regulus said: 

 

"So...should we start?"

 

***********************************************************************************************************

 

Sure enough Fish segued into Poker which Regulus wanted to do. The two fillies didn't have much money so chips were used instead. As time passed though Regulus managed to have a huge haphazard pile of chips and the two Pegesai had none. 

 

"Yeah, maybe poker isn't a good idea for me to play," Snow said to Regulus, "At least not for bits." 

 

She noticed that Regulus referred to not playing a game up on a shelf. Snow could have sworn she heard a drum beat but maybe it was just her imagination. 

 

“Hope it’s not that one game. The one with the hotels and houses.” 

 

"Oh that one!" Snow said with a groan, "I always seem to land on my parents' spaces and have to pay. I hope that owning a house isn't that hard having to pay for things like that. I do like one game where you have to go around the board and make your way home, but sometimes you can bump other players off the board and sometimes they bump you. It's ok, but I feel Sorry for bumping others." 

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After they had exhausted their desire to play with said cards, one thing peeked the filly’s interest. The wooden box the griffon was pushing away. “Hope it’s not that one game. The one with the hotels and houses.”

"Uhh yes yes, it's very similar to this game." old griffon was quick to resort to any excuses for keeping the board game away from the fillies curious hooves.

 

" I do like one game where you have to go around the board and make your way home, but sometimes you can bump other players off the board and sometimes they bump you. It's ok, but I feel Sorry for bumping others." 

 

"You thinking about Ludo Snow Dancer." Regulus said while affectionately patting filly head. Still while Dancer got side-tracked as the elder bird hoped, Wind on the other hoof proved to be relentless.

 

“Come now Mister Regulus. You're not going to wave that obviously really cool game in our faces only to try to hid up there, and really.", she pointed to her wings, "Unless it's one of those creepy adult games. Then, eh.", she shurrged her shoulders.

 

"Yes , yes! This is really, really creepy adult games." Regulus quickly said without thinking. "Wait..." he reflected "That came out sounding wrong."

Old bird glanced at both Wind and Snow. Yep, totally not convinced by his 'explanations'.

"Alright, the truth then." Regulus said, resigned. Waving his talon for fillies to sit down.

"Most games are made with a one noble goal, the help spare the time when abundant with it and have fun with doing so." Regulus explained.

"But like with everything in this world, there are exceptions. Sometimes a character with malicious streak pops up, and twist this indent that originally was to bring joy. And thus created are the games that playing with could end more then an boring evening. Sometimes the stakes are to be victim of unpleasant joke and sometimes..." with this words griffon put his wrinkled talon on the wooden box that contained the board game. The fillies could find at the very edge of their hearing, a sound of drums, coming from far away. From far away inside the...box?

"...The stakes are much higher. Do not touch such games! Be wary of the die! Don't be lured by pretty looking game pieces. Sinister magics were used in making then, and you should know how having to do with such sorcery ends." griffon warned the girls before putting the game back into cupboard, this time for good.

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"I don't think it's legal for kids to play poker for real bits anyways .", the little filly groaned as she glanced towards her latest batch of loser-cards. "Normally the day after Nightmare Night, we like to play for the reaming candy. I usually..er.." Her left ear shook a little as the Pegasus pony heard drums as well. Maybe it was more of those crazy critters outside making some sort of fuss. Or playing little drums. Or maybe it was more wind? How odd. She shook her head and shrugged her shoulders. Wind Walker wanted to say something about the strange noise, but was distracted by the older griffon who just cleaned both of their bank accounts of imagery money.

 

The weird game Regulus was talking about struck her as odd. "Why would they put something like that in a public rest...area..", she wasn't sure what the little room they were in was called. Her eyes widen as something caught her little peppers. "Woah."

 

She scurried over to the cupboard and pulled out an very old fashioned looking movie projector, which had a reel already loaded. While she wasn't sure how they would power the old device, this was something she wanted to see.

 

"How about this? Wanna see what's on this thing?"

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The drumming noise was not only heard by Snow Dancer but the others present, Regulus explained that certain game that had good intentions being made were twisted into something bad with dark magic. 

 

"So you found this evil game and decided to keep it up her. Why not, I don't know, destroy it like light it on fire?" 

 

Turning her attention from the strange game being locked away, Snow Dancer noticed that Wind Walker found an old movie projector, the kind found in a theater that had film in it. Maybe it was a movie that they could pass the time before heading out to climb the rest of the mountain. 

 

"Oooo! I want to watch too!" 

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"I found it, yes, about just when we got here. Brought it here I did not however. This old bird just knows how to recognize an malicious magical item when he sees one." Regulus clarified.

"And destroying such thing...it's never so easy little ponies. You can probably guess that throwing it into a fireplace will do nothing. And I am afraid non of us have a horn to try unusual methods. For now we better lock it up tightly in that shelter, and hope that one more qualified then us will find and dispose of it."

 

Luckily Wind new discovery proved to welcome distraction from this unpleasant topic.

"Ahh nice one Wind, very nice. And look, there are quite more reels then one already in!" said Regulus. Indeed it looked like there was much, much more to watch.

 

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Many many many reel later both fillies were still glued towards the screen. Once the elder griffon showed the two how to power the projector and change reels, both fillies chugged down movie after movie like hardened connoisseurs. The first one was about

. If only ponies in it could speak in some understandable language. The next one more understandable. It was about some group of ponies who were
Half of them was salty about it and lead with pony wearing funny helm. The others half was much more forgiving and sought to co-exist with normal ponies, so obviously those factions clashed. It seemed to be adaptation of some comics book so premise was a bit silly. Why would you hate somepony only because she shoots laser from her eyes?

As for Regulus himself, he dozed off before the first movie climax. Still the old bird seemed very content to snore one the armchair he took for himself, and didn't looked like he was to wake up any time soon! As such he wasn't able to stop the kids from reaching into box containing more movies...

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“Probably cause it’s not ours to destroy.”, the little blue filly added as she took a good look at the projector. “And it’s probably not evil-evil. One of my teachers in Canterlot likes to shake her hooves at things she believes to be evil. Like loud music or comic books. But that game is probably one of those adult type ones that has more rules than fun. My friend Fast Track always wants to play this silly train-based board game which involves connecting railroads and junk. Bleh.”, she nickered. “I prefer the fun ones, like the one you gotta pull the ‘Charlie Horse’ or ‘Funny Bone’ from the patient just right or his snout lights up.”

 

(OOC: Feel free to put replies or reactions anywhere needed. Once Snow Dancer's pick has been shown..Wind will doze off...Leading us to the next day...)

 

Wind Walker really got into the first reel. She had heard about these movies before, usually coming from the east. Although didn't this just happen in Ponyville just a year or so ago? She had heard some big dumb dragon had stomped all over the little village. The film itself was silly fun, and while the city the monster stomped on was obviously made of cardboard and she noticed the actor's tail as it poked out of his costume from time to time, she was still enthralled.

 

The second one was a poor-mare's copy of the 'Power Ponies', but with less heroics and more whining. And why were the ponies scared of the good guys? They were saving everyone from those monsters and other villains. The filly let out a 'hmmmph' and could not believe how unrealistic it was. She did notice that the old bird was fast asleep again.

 

"How about this?", she asked Snow Dancer, "I'll pick a reel and we'll watch it, and then you can have your pick?", after she watched the griffon work the protector, the blue filly was able to properly remove the previous film. Once the film was back in its canister and with the other reels, she carefully considered her pick. It was obvious by the gasp she made, the filly had found her pick. Which after a few tries, she managed to load the projector, which proved a bit more difficult for one without claws.

 

The film itself was an rather old recording of a Wonderbolts show in black and white. Princess Celestia could be seen in her special seat in the stadium, but Princess Luna was nowhere in sight. The show itself was exciting, but there was one thing that made the little pony waggle. "Holy socks.", she whispered as she pointed towards a young uniformed mare who flew in the back formation, "That's my Great Aunt Stardust. She's so young there, and I think the stallion on the other side is Wind Rider. My parents actually named me after him."

 

The show ended with the 'Bolts preforming an perfect 'Icaranian Sun Salutation' before a very impressed princess. Once it was finished, the filly glanced at her new friend, "Wow, just wow.", she gasped, "Er, guess it's your turn now. Pick a good one!"

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Snow Dancer had a feeling that destroying such a game wasn't going to be easy, but hearing it confirmed by Regulus made her feel that this was very difficult indeed. 

 

"I guess keeping it up here where few ponies can interact with it is the best option," the Pegasus said looking at the cupboard where the strange game rested, "Imagine if somepony or griffon tried to destroy it and couldn't and another got their hooves or talons on it." 

 

“Probably cause it’s not ours to destroy.”, the little blue filly added as she took a good look at the projector. “And it’s probably not evil-evil. One of my teachers in Canterlot likes to shake her hooves at things she believes to be evil. Like loud music or comic books. But that game is probably one of those adult type ones that has more rules than fun. My friend Fast Track always wants to play this silly train-based board game which involves connecting railroads and junk. Bleh.”, she nickered. “I prefer the fun ones, like the one you gotta pull the ‘Charlie Horse’ or ‘Funny Bone’ from the patient just right or his snout lights up.”

 

"Yeah, maybe not ours to worry about.Ooh! I remember playing those games. Yeah I don't like that game either because I usually get stuck having to pay for the highest property. But I do like that other game, thought it's quite an "operation" to win." 

 

The group watched a movie of the power ponies, albeit one that was an older quality. For some reason it looked... campy, like it wasn't meant to be the action packed serious superhero show like she saw them as. Still it was a good movie, but then Wind Walker found another film, this one of an older Wonderbolts video. 

It was amazing watching the team perform,no matter who was there. But what made it better was seeing her friend's relatives performing. 

 

"That's my Great Aunt Stardust. She's so young there, and I think the stallion on the other side is Wind Rider. My parents actually named me after him."

 

"That's so cool having your relative in the Wonderbolts! I'm not sure who this Wind Rider is other that what i saw on the film. Oh, it's my turn right? Alright.. let me see what's in the box." 

 

She rummaged her hooves through the box, trying to find the best video. Granted she didn't feel too much pressure from Wind Walker but didn't want to find a real bad one. Finally she selected one. 

 

"Oh, I remember watching this one: The Last Alicorn! It's animated, but I think you'll like it." 

 

This movies is based off The Last Unicorn, except all human characters are replaced by ponies.

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"Indeed, one can not call this game evil per se, despite some anger existing in it. Most likely it's from it's desire to fulfill it's purpose - however hazardous would it be for the players. Make no mistake however, evil items do exist. Created with nefarious intent their purpose is solely to be tools of malice. Be wary of them little ponies."

 

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When the girls woke up the next day, the first thing that was noticeable was the absence of the old griffon. Since he left his sparse belongings around the chair he had to be in the shelter....right?

 

While the fillies explored the junk-room previously in search of something to busy their attention, this shelter - unlike the others, located at lower levels - was much more specious. It was no surprise really, as it was cut in stone rather then being very heavily reinforced tent like them. Just where the Regulus could be?

 

And what was that faint sliver mist?

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She does not know who Wind Rider is? The little filly wanted to let out a gasp and then proceed to teach the girl all she knew about the heroic flying sensations! Would she start all the way at General Firefly's founding of the team? Or even Commander Easyglider, whose flight choreography is still in use by the Wonderbolts in recent times? It took her a moment to remember that not all ponies liked the same things she did. It would be the same thing if Fast Track decided to lecture her on who invited the steam engine or even about the 'Golden Age Of The Ashpan hopper'. Instead she just shrugged her fuzzy blue shoulders, "Eh, he's just a famous, but now retired member of the Wonderbolts. Let's see your pick."

 

And Snow Dancer sure picked a dozy! Unlike the previous films, which were shorts, this was a full blown movie! The giant, red bull was rather scary. The lousy wizard sort of reminded her of her brother, Punk...And to think...An Alicorn had to hide herself as a regular old pony to escape from the horrible bull like beast? What a strange world this movie took place in. The filly knew an Alicorn was more than a match for some silly bully!

 

Wind Walker managed to stay up for the entire film, and managed to keep her eyes open for part of the credits. Before she dozed off, the little Pegasus saw that this was all based off of a book. One she would have to pick up at her favorite store. Lore Weaver was bound to have a copy on hoof.

 

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Wind Walker was rather surprised to find herself waking up in one of the sleeping bags. She could only assume Zelda had put her...And Snow Dancer as well. After letting out a stretch she whispered, "You up?" as she quickly rubbed off dried drool from her bottom lip. "Zelda?  Regulus? Hey Snow, do you know where the griffons...And what's with that?", she waved a hoof at the mist......

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Snow Dancer watched as Wind Walker looked surprised at not knowing who Wind rider was. Granted Snow knew about the current lineup of Wonderbolts, but the older and founding ones were less known to the filly. 

 

"Eh, he's just a famous, but now retired member of the Wonderbolts. Let's see your pick."

 

Snow merely shrugged, thinking there was more to this Wind Rider that Wind knew about. Why she didn't tell the light blue Pegasus Snow could only guess. But more important things were in mind as the two settled down to watch the movie. Snow had seen it before and read the book. She often wondered what it would be like to be an Alicorn and the last of her kind, just like the one in the movie. The bull was scary but some of the creatures in Mamma Fortuna's carnival were creepy too. 

 

"So what did you think of the movie?" Snow said with a yawn as she looked over at Wind only to find her new friend sound asleep, "I guess I'll ask her tomorrow. Sleep does sound like a good idea." 

 

***

She didn't know how long she was asleep. All she heard was the sound of Wind Walk waking her up. 

 

"You up?"

 

"Uh... I am now," sh said with a yawn as she slowly got up on her hooves. 

 

"Zelda?  Regulus? Hey Snow, do you know where the griffons...And what's with that?"

 

"I don't know. I thought they were here with us... you know... sleeping. I.. I don't know what that mist is. You don't think it's dangerous, do you?" 

Edited by Scootalux

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Whatever the Tartarus that silvery mist was it gave no sound. It got closer and closer becoming more opaque and occupying bigger amounts of girls vision. And when the world almost became completely silver-white, Regulu's  voice was heard and strange vapor...vaporized. Instead the familiar face of elderly griffon could be seen - standing in half open door leading outside.

 

"Oh you awake already? Good good. I was out stretching those old bones as well as doing little scouting ahead. The weather seems very nice today, we will have no troubles reaching the summit - and the tomb placed on it - today." he squawked.

 

Wrinkled griffon made his way to the center of the room, reaching towards the kettle. He apparently didn't noticed girls expressions after recent experience.

"Nothing like a cup of cocoa at the morning. By the way have you seen Miss Zelda? She wasn't in the room when I was going outside." Regulus asked, still oblivious to his surroundings. Only after taking the first sip of the hot liquid he finally seemed to take notice that something was off with the fillies.

"Hmm? Why the long faces? You look like you seen a ghost or wendigo."

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As Wind Walker climbed out of the bed, the last remnants of her dream briefly shuffled about in her brain before vanishing for good. There was the Red Bull from the movie. He was chasing her friends and the little blue filly around a mountain. For some reason, she could not fly. Her friend Wiseacre was dressed as a clown, and he was able to distract the mean bull with a red towel. The bull ran into the towel and was knocked out. Apparently Wise had hidden an anvil behind the towel. Then there were evil green unicorns with scary hats. Witches! They wanted to turn the kids purple..But when they used their magic, Double Time pulled out a mirror and their spell bounced back and the witches were turned purple. Then there were bees and some pony named..Bumble? Ho-Boy!
 
"I'm not sure. Maybe this is common in these mountains?", the filly stood still as she watched the strange vapor, which was almost as strange as her dream..But this was real. It all vanished when the older griffon made his way back into the hut.
 
The filly groaned. She had a long face. She was a little horse. "Not sure Mister Regulus...There was this strange mist...Guess it was from the outside? I think...oh...", her ears perked up as a familiar scent had followed the griffon. "Zelda is making Pamcakes!" Nothing like a hardy breakfast before the climb! The excited little Pegasus pony waved her new friend to follow her. "She makes the best pancakes ever! Calls 'em 'Pamcakes' for some reason! Come on! Gotta eat 'em before they get cold!"
 
Remembering there was a small grill outside, Wind Walker quickly made her way outside....
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Snow watched as the mists advanced. What would happen if she breathed it in? Before she could worry the mists vanished and Regulus appeared. 

 

"I'm not sure. Maybe this is common in these mountains?",

 

"Maybe. This place is starting to give me the creeps though. You don't think it's because of that dragon the Prince slew here, would it be?" 

 

 

"Oh you awake already? Good good. I was out stretching those old bones as well as doing little scouting ahead. The weather seems very nice today, we will have no troubles reaching the summit - and the tomb placed on it - today." 

 

"Well that's good. I feel very rested at this camp. I think I needed that as it isn't every day that I go climbing mountains." 

 

"Not sure Mister Regulus...There was this strange mist...Guess it was from the outside? I think...oh...", her ears perked up as a familiar scent had followed the griffon. "Zelda is making Pamcakes!"

 

"I saw it too. Really strange, like is came from inside the tent. Ooo! pancakes sound yummy! Come on Wind! Last pony's there is a rotten egg!"

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Old griffon scratched his head with his dulled talon.

"Mist? What mist? I assure you young ladies I didn't saw any of it, either inside or the outside. Are you sure it wasn't some of dream visions still clinging back there?"

However Regulus ramblings fell on the deaf ears, as two fillies where quickly distracted by the delicious smell. The two quickly rushed outside leaving elderly bird alone.

"My oh my. Kids are so much different then in my time." he said to himself before following the two. A couple of small, silvery wisps accompanied him for a moment, before disappearing.

 

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"So what are those pamcakes....or pancakes you apparently making?" asked Regulus as he observed the female griffon struggling with cooking utensils. He could not see the fillies from where he was standing but it was safe to assume there were drolling in anticipation of coming meal.

"It better be filling. The road ahead may not be as hard as the one behind us, but it still better to challenge it with full strength." old bird rambled some more before giving a painful grunt. It seems that his back have taken pity on the ponies and female griffon and decided to intervene, to give them at least a few moments of silence.

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"Geez, guess you must have missed the mist?", Wind Walker quipped as the old griffon mentioned that he did not see what their pair had encountered, "It happened quickly, so you might have blinked and not seen it..."

 

 


"I saw it too. Really strange, like is came from inside the tent. Ooo! pancakes sound yummy! Come on Wind! Last pony's there is a rotten egg!"

 

There were Pamcakes to be had and no other pony was going to get her hooves on them before she did! But she needed to be chatty! The filly was always a chatty-horse when she woke up. So she could always rush 'n' talk...And they still needed to figure out what the creepy mist was...
 
"Nahhh.", the filly responded back, "I'm sure it was some weird mountain thing..Or maybe something with the cold air pushing the warm air from those weird bubble springs things.. Or.", she flashed an somewhat evil grin, "Maybe it's a dragon-ghost? Huh?", the blue pony quickly scooped up a small pike of Zelda's 'Pamcakes' that were waiting for her. "Of course, it couldn't be! Cause a dragon ghost would be both cool and we know ghosts are only allowed to come out during the night.", she quickly added a quick slip of butter and an slightly large scoop of maple syrup.
 
"Hey Squirt! Save some for the others!", the blacksmith growled. Thankfully, there was still more than enough to go around.
 
This did not keep Wind Walker from chattering away, "And I wonder what a ghost-dragon would say? Boo? Roar? Boo-Roar?" These were VERY Important questions that needed to be asked and answered! Maybe there would be a wise pony that lived on the top of the mountain they could ask. THANKFULLY, Wind was silenced as she started work on her breakfast.
 
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After Wind had her share, Zelda helped the other filly with a few of her pancakes.. "Don't forget some syrup..And butter."
 
She puffed out her chest as the older griffon dared to question her pamcake making skills. "Hey!  These Pamcakes are being made by an Rockwington-Griffon. We work hard, so when we make our breakfast packed with protein!", she made sure the old bird got a good share of the tastey griddle-cake-goodness. "And for the record, when my brother Zerald lost some of his baby-teeth, he used to slur some of his words, and would say 'Pamcakes' instead of 'Pancakes'. so we used to call them that."
 
Once everyone got their share of breakfast, the bird prepared what was left for her plate. She also tossed out a few cartons of milk or orange juice for those who wanted it. "So, I hope you kids got enough sleep cause we've got a long trek today!", she turned to Regulus, "Any advice for today's little adventure?"

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"Nahhh.", the filly responded back, "I'm sure it was some weird mountain thing..Or maybe something with the cold air pushing the warm air from those weird bubble springs things.. Or.", she flashed an somewhat evil grin, "Maybe it's a dragon-ghost? Huh?", the blue pony quickly scooped up a small pike of Zelda's 'Pamcakes' that were waiting for her. "Of course, it couldn't be! Cause a dragon ghost would be both cool and we know ghosts are only allowed to come out during the night."

 

"I hope it's not a ghost," Snow said with a shiver, thinking about how even a ghost dragon could be defeated! But her thoughts quickly shifted as she raced towards the kitchen hut, driven by the promise of hot pancakes.

 

"So what are those pamcakes....or pancakes you apparently making?"

 

"You never had pancakes Mr. Reglus? I thought everypony or griffon had them at least once in their life!" 

 

"It better be filling. The road ahead may not be as hard as the one behind us, but it still better to challenge it with full strength." 

 

"Oh they are! I can barely finish three before being stuffed." 

 

"And I wonder what a ghost-dragon would say? Boo? Roar? Boo-Roar?" 

 

"Hmmm.... I think they just roar very loudly but has an echoing sound, you know, like a howling wind." 

 

After Wind had her share, Zelda gave Snow her stack to which she set forth buttering each cake and applying a generous amount of syrup. 

 

"Wow, these are great. Thanks for cooking these Zelda!" 

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"You never had pancakes Mr. Reglus? I thought everypony or griffon had them at least once in their life!" 

 

 

"I am not really up to times with those...modern inventions, In kitchen or outside. You could say I am really old fashioned! Har har <cough cough>!"

Regulus quickly dismissed Snow surprise at his apparent unfamiliarity with pancakes.

 

Soon afterwards everypony and everygriffon had eaten their share. Though the old bird ate surprisingly little, despite his earlier worries if meal would proe filling. He didn't drunk anything aside from earlier tea either.

One could even say that he looked very frail, even for elder of his age. And yet when he stood up, Regulus wasn't looking as if he had any issues with that ancient body of his.

 

 

Once everyone got their share of breakfast, the bird prepared what was left for her plate. She also tossed out a few cartons of milk or orange juice for those who wanted it. "So, I hope you kids got enough sleep cause we've got a long trek today!", she turned to Regulus, "Any advice for today's little adventure?"

 

 

"Stay on the path. No matter what do not stray off the path. The rest of the climb will be easy as long as you do just that. Outside of the trail, the the ground and ice is very unstable. You can imagine the rest I assume."

 

With those words Regulus picked up his sparse belongings. Come to think of it neither of the girls could see him unwrapping the bundle even once through the whole climb. What could be the contents of that bland looking baggage?

 

"Come. Times wasting. If we hurry we should be at the summit with enough time to spare to return here." griffon informed with a squawk.

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“A ghost dragon would have to find a really big sheet to cover himself with to be a proper ghost.”, the little filly added between bites of her breakfast, “But I doubt he would return, considering he was beat fair and square by the hero.” The hungry little pony finished off her pancakes and was already starting to clean up her spot before the black griffon even started in on her cakes. And once everyone had their share, Wind Walker was more than happy to finish off any leftovers.

 

Once everyone was finished with their meal, Zelda made sure everything was cleaned up so the next group that used their little grounds did not have a mess to contend with. After that, the griffon made sure to help the fillies with their climbing gear. “You hear that kids? We don’t step off the path. Ponies who do that become mountain troll food.”

 

As soon as the group was ready to move on, the griffon and filly followed her elder down the path, “So far..The weather looks good. Hope it will keep it up..”, Zelda added.

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"I am not really up to times with those...modern inventions, In kitchen or outside. You could say I am really old fashioned! Har har <cough cough>!"

 

Snow Dancer cocked her head at the griffon, wondering how not being into modern inventions related to eating pancakes. All pancakes needed was a pan, a flame, and of course some mix. But no matter, the filly had one thing in her mind: those doughy pillows of perfection! 

 

“A ghost dragon would have to find a really big sheet to cover himself with to be a proper ghost. But I doubt he would return, considering he was beat fair and square by the hero.”

 

"I Hope so," Snow said thinking it would be creepy meeting a dragon even if it wore a sheet. 

 

***

 

With their bellies full, Snow was ready for the next phase of the climb. She was going to miss the nice camp, but she would visit it again soon on the return. 

 

"Stay on the path. No matter what do not stray off the path. The rest of the climb will be easy as long as you do just that. Outside of the trail, the the ground and ice is very unstable. You can imagine the rest I assume."

 

“You hear that kids? We don’t step off the path. Ponies who do that become mountain troll food.”

 

"Mountain trolls?" The Pegasus said alternating her gaze between her friend Wing Walker, Zelda and Regulus. First ghost dragons, now trolls! 

 

"Come. Times wasting. If we hurry we should be at the summit with enough time to spare to return here."

 

"Wow, we're close to the top then, aren't we? We must have climbed a lot the day before."

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As the quartet kept climbing the the intensity of the smell that was keeping them company started to lessen. The number of hot water pools themselves diminished as well, and - as should be expected - the temperature started to decrease again as they were climbing up, until they left the last of geyser behind them. After a few more minutes of monotonous ascent a new mystery appeared. What was laying before their eye was...forest?

But no, that couldn't be the case. After all for one to grow at such high was impossibility. And besides...since when trees were made from ice crystals?

 

"Behold the famous Everfrost phenomenon, the Rime Forest." the strange ice sculptures were introduced by Regulus. The resemblance was unreal. Every rot, every leaf even the mushrooms growing at the tree trunks and their feet. The shape was very much like that of the real thing. However the lack of any animal made the scenery somewhat eerie, even if still beautiful.

"No one really know why the ice took such forms up here. Some theorize that the mountain itself is standing on the path of aeather stream from Everfree or Leota. Others that at some primeval forest actually grew here before the Everfrost raised." the eldery griffon spoke some more. Before Regulus could say soe more a pained squawk escaped his beak and he reached toward his back with one of his talons.

"Ughh my back. It looks like this is a limit for me, no more climbing for this old bird. I visited the summit every year but it appears that previous time was the last." he grunted before sitting down.

Afterwards old bird gazed at the three girls before dismissing them with wave.

"Well what are you waiting for? Go on, the summit is close. After all you came all the way here to see the tomb at it isn't it. I will only slow you down."

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Before leaving the camp for good, Zelda made sure the two fillies had their gear back on. The black bird caught the ‘eye’ the blue Pegasus pony gave her. “I know you’re not a fan of this, but it keeps you two safe." She was still not sure how she ended up a mountain with her friend’s kid sister and her little friend. Thankfully Wind and Snow were of the non-annoying brand of foal. And it could have been worse. She could have been stuck hiking with Punk Walker. After making sure everyone had used the little pony (and griffon) room. It was back to their climbing adventure.
 
The blue pony let out a huff, "Don't worry Snow Dancer. I heard Mountain Trolls don't eat ponies. They just think we're toys. Erm.", she glanced over at the blacksmith, "Not sure if that's worse or better.", Zelda could only shake her shoulders.
 
As they continued on, Wind Walker couldn't help but make out a squeak of excitement as she spotted the strange 'trees'. "Wow.", she gasped, "That's sort of impressive .", the filly's eyes fell all over the ice forest while something else came up.
 
Zelda handed the older bird a small packet, "This should relax your back without making you sleepy. Would you be able to make it back to our camp? I know you're the more experienced of all of us put together, but I don't like the idea you being by yourself here." She realized that they had become rather dependent on the old griffon's experience, but she did not feel the need to force him to continue with them. "You can rest at the camp, and by the time we pass your way again, you should be ready to move on to the full decent."
 
Once Regulus was taken care of, the black griffon urged the fillies to move on. Wind felt the need to give the old bird a quick hug, "Thanks for guiding us!", she gave the griffon a smile before turning away.
 
As they moved on, Wind Walker glanced over at her new friend to see what she was doing...Was she fearful of this strange place, or was she curious? 
 

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Snow Dancer shuddered after hearing that a troll would think she was a toy.

"Not sure if that's worse or better.",

"Err... thanks for the encouragement?" the filly replied.

They left the nice camp and made their ascent, stopping at a very strange sight. To Snow it looked like somepony carved sculptures of trees and mushrooms out of the ice!

"Wow, these are neat Wind! It's like a garden of ice sculptures!"

It was then that she heard a squawk and saw Regulus sitting down, complaining that his back was sore and that he couldn't take them to the summit. It was sad that the previous time was his last and she hoped that when she was as old as him she wasn't so hurting or slow. Luckily Zelda was there to lend a talon.

"Awww! Sorry you can't take us to the peak Mr. Regulus. Thanks for taking us this far. Like Zelda said, we'll see you back at the camp in no time!"

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Leaving the old griffon behind the girls kept climbing. Little by little the were approaching the summit and the king's tomb that was there. Accompanying them was the haunting melody of the icy forest. The crystalline branches swung by the gusts of wind sung beautiful - if unnerving - melody. The trio didn't stopped here, they kept going up leaving the sound of the thousand icy bells behind. The only companions that were still with them was the cold winds of the frozen peak.

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