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Hunter sat in skelly's lap he seemed a bit worried, perhaps sensing something strange?

voltaire sat in his chair and gently drapped his arm around her. He looked out into the dog and strangely dark waters. The fog was indeed eeery; but it didn't bother him. It all had a logical scientific explanation.

he leaned in close to skelly and asked "when we land; do you want to go straight to the estate? Or perhaps the locals can give us some insight?" He asked her

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Skelly shivered and held tight to Voltaire and replied, "Sounds like a good idea, especially the neighbors." The only neighbors around the estate though we're few and far between, especially since the estate was so vast. At last they had arrived to Innsmouth, the epitome of a cold and dreary seafaring town . The few ponies outside seemed unfriendly and in a hurry , Skelly looked to Voltaire knowing they wouldn't find conversation on the streets. "Let's go there, there's bound to be at least one conversation going.", she said pointing to a tavern. An old, weathered wooden sign read "The Salty CiderHouse" 

They walked into the tavern, Skelly closer to Voltaire than ever. The name was perfect since the place wreaked of cider and salty water. It was not inviting but there were ponies inside, two older ponies at the bar and a group of ships ponies at a table speaking gruffly. The environment was not very inviting especially for a mare, Skelly clung to Voltaire timidly hoping he would take charge.

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Voltaire had a strange life; He found dive bars like this to be ... Idly charming. Or perhaps he felt this might be the only sancurary on the island. Either way he knew places like this were less bars and more temporary homes for weary sailors. The closest thing to a home they would have on the land. They could be dangerous indeed,but he had a odd feeling they sacrificed there safety as soon as they entered the fog.

he Spys the two older stallions. Even if they didn't know about the estate chances are they could tell them something useful about the island.

"stay close, you'll be fine. You too little kit." He said to Hunter who came I with his nose Kringled ready to protect skelly at a moments notice. 

He came to the bar using his horn to quickly clean a seat for skelly and sat down a single seat in between them and the old stallions. He leaned across the bar to the tender and said "next round for those two is on me. We will have 2 whiskeys; 'the nastyer the better!" He said his last sentence loud enough for the old salt dogs to hear him but he whispered to skelly "I'm not going to drink, but hold it up to your lips occasionally; it will disarm them a bit" 

voltaire felt oddly nervous, tricks like this usually worked. But ...

if he failed if something went wrong it was no risk. He was only putting himself in danger. With skelly a mare that was special to him he now had very high stakes.

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Skelly was relieved and impressed by Voltaire's initiative allowing her to be more confident. She wasn't much of a leader but she was never a disappointment , Skelly feigned enticement about the shot, sipping it with excessive feminine stereotype to conceal the fat she wasn't even drinking. If any pony caught on she could easily use her magic to lower the level of her whiskey.

 She enjoyed stealthy games like this. She decided to play the stereotype female and didn't speak. She listened intently but appeared to be sipping her shot, in her own ditzy world.

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Voltaire let out a half smile, so only she could see him smiling to her.

at first he was a bit worried, she would make thinks harder; not being social and having a hard time being herself; let alone a character. But she began playing the part quite well. Perhaps she could make a good negotiator?

the next part was important! he made sure his eyes were forward and watched the old stallions with his peripheral. He saw the bartender point to him and skelly. And he paid no mind pretending he was just somepony there to drink. 

Now that he had there attention. He hopped they would make the first move. Any kind of acknowledgemt would be all he needed. 

Me begam to think more about his character. He didn't want them to know who skelly was. He also had to assume the worst and that perhaps they had negative associations with skelly's deceased. Detectives?-no, realtors?-no. Bankers! Agents of his old bank here to do some paperwork. That way they would appear as a neutral party and still had an excuse to feign curiosity about the estate and the strange departed stallion.

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Skelly tried to gauge the local communication norms by listening to the group of sailors grumble like chatter. What would be an acceptable dialogue for a mare in these parts? More importantly what would get the ponies talking to them casually? Before Skelly could pinpoint this one of the old ponies took off his classic fisherman style cap. To the untrained eye it was just a plain navy blue beanie, but Skelly was an avid knitter. She knew that cap was hand knit. 

She blurted to the old pony, "What an absolutely perfect hand knit fisherman hat!" Internally, Skelly shrunk, feeling like she'd ruined their chances, however she was lucky. The old pony chuckled gruffly and replied "Heh heh, my wife, she knits, she would be flattered." He chuckled again and turned to Voltaire "Heh heh, mares eh? I know you two aren't locals, what brings yeh to the area?" He was drunk and friendly with breath that smelled of liquor and tabbacco .

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Voltaire seemed calm  and relaxed outside but on the inside he was very nervous, his heart jumped a bit when skelly made the first move screwing up his first plan. But it worked! Quite well actually. They made a good choice as this guy seemed talkative and friendly. 

Voltaire faked a sip swallowing some spit to a simulate a sip in his throat. With a warm smile he nodded "aye were not. were bankers; here to help with some issues of inheritance and land." He faked another sip giving himself some time to word his next question carefully 

"have to say we never been to a place like this before. innsmouth seems a place like no other!" He said hoping to spur the friendly old man into telling them some more

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Skelly was genuinely satisfied with the encounter and her act became reality as she  sipped the whiskey happily thinking of knitting and how good a knitter the sailors wife must be, immediately after tasting the fiery liquor she caught herself and focusing once more.

The old sailor chuckled again, "Heh heh, a place like no other! Yes!" He chuckled drunkly and waved to the bartender "Two shots for the young love birds!" He chuckled again and stopped,"Hey! Finish yer shots! You got fresh ones heh heh!" Skelly thought fast and "drank" both the shots immediately with the aid of an illusion spell and some acting, she giggled to Voltaire "Oh, sorry" in a soft tone, the old sailor paused and then burst into a hoarse laughter and finally explaining to Voltaire "she's a keeper!" 

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At first skelly's little display almost foed Voltaire! But the he quickly saw she was just making a good cover! 

Voltaire raised his shot and said "here's to the crazy mares in our lives" honoring the toast before drinking it and using magic to dissolve it in his stomach. 

He leaned to skelly and whispered "your doing great! We got them! What was the full name of your uncle again?

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Skelly was pleased with how well things were going. "Hexter Spellberg" she whispered back carefully. She had noticed the energy of the other old pony at the bar changed. She didn't think he heard them whisper but she wasn't sure how much attention he was paying or how drunk he was. She decided to pay attention to the odd old pony and let Voltaire speak to the sailor.

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Voltaire nodded, and leaned in the opposite direction. He figured he should be as direct as possible 

"so uhh, know anything about the old spellberg estate? Or the stallion who used to own it? We're just curios, that's were we need to go."

a bit direct, maybe a bit more charming would of been better but with the amount of light and time they had. Voltaire was sure they couldn't waste. 

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The drunken sailor appeared to search his memory for any information of Hexter, he finally blurted out "Lonely fella! Never had a mare or seen him with one. Kinda quiet guy. Other folks thought he was odd but I never knew why, he was just you know, shy I think. Spent a lot of time in his house." Skelly listened closely pretending to sip her drink.

Her eyes darted back to the mysterious pony, he was definitely listening, she could tell, she played off her gaze and panned the room with her eyes. She wished she could determine the pony's mood, not knowing was making her concerns arise again. She knew something wasn't being said. Skelly feigned a giggle and asked the sailor with a drunk charm, "Everypony thought he was weird but you? Why didn't you think he was a weirdo too?"

Skelly felt a tiny shift in energy, the sailor looked a bit befuddled "Er, well, I mean, he was odd just that….", suddenly the mysterious pony interrupted sternly, "He was odd, to those to young or ignorant; he was right!" 

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Voltaire listened 

it seemed all standees fair. Perhaps her uncle was just a strange recluse who didn't like leaving his home.

but then as he said that last word a chill went thru his spine. This was starting to get serious. They were about to be stumbling literally into the dark. And they needed as much info as possible.

"I don't suppose you could tell us what you mean by that? Not that that we'll pass it onto anyone." Voltaire said sternly 

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The mysterious pony never looked up from the shroud of his shadow. He sneered very slightly and spoke, "Other folk called him crazy...a necromancer! They feared him, they won't admit but they were afraid of him. But it wasn't because they thought he was a necromancer..." Skelly listened, she wanted to know everything now, this was her family, she exclaimed, "Then why did he scare them?!" 

The sailor pony became uncomfortable, neither agreeing or disagreeing. The mysterious pony answered, tone unchanged, "He knew the truth. But he didn't deny it or ignore it like everypony else." 

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Voltaire listened his heart seizing up ready to hear the awful truth.

and then he felt awfully silly. Upon hearing the word necromancy it was almost as if you could see him deflating. 

He turnes back to the bar and took his lips to his drink. 

Necromancy wasn't real. A silly idea created by some old story teller. it was simple. Dead tissue was simply that ... Dead! Voltaire now felt bad about possibly wording himself and skelly. He sighed and said "well then a toast to the dead!" He raised his glass before tapping it to the counter and faux drank.

well it all seemed simple to him. Hexter was a strange stallion not to unlike skelly. He spent his life trying to work on a science that simply didn't exist and like skelly didn't socialize much. Very sad actually, the true horror was that perhaps no one wants to live there life like that! Once skelly and who ever else was in his family forgets about him he will be lost forever! He looked to skelly with a warm smile and swore that he wouldn't let the same happen to her!"

he turned to the odd couple. He actually like the fisher but the clocked figure seems a bit like a jerk. Time to close up and get to work. 

"I see well sorry if I was prying there. Just trying to learn more about the guy for my job. ... Now anything to do around here for fun?" 

He decided to end it with a simple tourist question and drapped his arm around skelly. 

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Skelly smiled as Voltaire put his arm around her. She definitely could relate to Hexter and this soothed her worries of something terrible awaiting them at the estate. The drunken sailor had had so many shots by now that he answered "Fun?", followed by a long wheeze of a laugh and , "get a room!" 

Skelly grimaced harshly unable to contain her disgust, the bartender sighed and said to her and Voltaire, "He's always like that. There's a great view of the ocean just about anywhere you go so long as it's along the coast. Then there's the Colt State Park, Ocean trail, Martha's Vineyard and Blightsworths gardens." The bartender also wrote directions and explained that everything is very close as the island is very small. The old sailor was still laughing and wheezing a bit and the mysterious pony wasn't any more appealing, Skelly gave the cue to leave to Voltaire.

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Voltaire smiled and nodded to the barkeep taking the paper as he stood up off his stool. "Thank you; have a good night!" He said. 

Hunter eagerly got up being a bit bored of just listening to them talk. He walked by the drunken sailor and patted him on the sder "good talk, old sport." He gave a simple nod to the cloaked pony and left with skelly around his arm. 

Mad they got out they got a whiff of the salty air. "Well at least you have some friendly neibors? Odd but friendly." He says. 

"Ok I suppose our next arep is to find the house. That is if you feel your ready?" He said putting both hoofs on her shoulder looking o to her eyes"

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Skelly blushed as Voltaire put his hooves on her shoulders . She felt very hot and forgot what he had even asked her and she blurted "Yes!" Skelly laughed softly out of embarressment and gazed into his eyes; but only for a moment then shyly broke the gaze by nervously burying her face in his chest.

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She said yes, but in reality he felt she said no. He softly let go of her rubbing her neck as he took his hoofs off of her. 

He looked at the paper the barkeep gave him and guides her along the coast. Walking a bit till she was ready 

"necromancy ... Pure fiction. It's sad that your uncle wasted so much time, but there are some things that simply ... Aren't  real. This should be simple. And safe" he said to her reassuringly.

still there was a strange essence that you couldn't deny to this land. He looked down to Hunter whom clearly was uncomfortable with this whole place. He scooped him up and as trained he climbed up on his shoulder. A sad look in his eyes.

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Skelly smiled sweetly at Voltaire , "I suppose you're right, no matter what I feel safe with you." The wind rustled through the streets with a salty ocean smell. They began their  walk to the estate. No pony was out but it was relatively chilly so it didn't seem too unusual. 

Skelly walked close by Voltaire, something she hoped he was used to already. As the sun set the street lamps turned on, and soon after they came upon the great house. Skelly felt dwarfed by the massive house. Something about it was a bit....intimidating, but Skelly would not admit to being frightened by a house so she ignored the feeling.

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Voltaire looked upon the great manor. It gave off an eerie sense. One he didn't like. He took a moment to study the architecture and a natural snark drove they him as he said "well geez no wonder he never left he probably got lost inside of it! ... Come on let's go inside." He said as they aproched the gate 

"I'll keep you safe no matter what! Not that there's anything to worry about" he said confidently  

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Just a few days ago Skelly couldn't imagine what a great, and handsome, help Voltaire would prove to be, by now she truly felt safe, despite any lingering concerns. The house was eerie, it was intimidating, but it was also the entire reason she had reunited with Voltaire and for that she was grateful and optimistic. 

The two ponies walked up the stairs and onto the porch. It was a mansion and it was clear that Hexter kept it clean, or highered ponies to do so. This made it difficult to pinpoint why the house was eerie, usually a decrepit manor is spooky but this home felt that way without really looking that way.  Skelly retrieved the key from her satchel and unlocked the door with a satisfying click. 

They opened the large double doors and were greeted by a beautiful room with cathedral ceiling and an intricate chandelier. "Wow... I didn't pin Hexter as a pony with such style..." The architecture and furnishings were all exquisite and it was clear he bought the finest, nothing was mass produced, only the finest handmade furnishings. A long stairway waited in the next room through a wide entrance. "I'd like to visit his study first, I hope his notes are all there."

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Voltaire entered the mannor and ... Was actually kind of jealous. Perhaps it was the vanity of his biological parents but this home was much better than his own! 

"I suppose if your home alone all day you would at least want a nice one."  He gently shot a fire ball in to the hearth warming up the main hall greatly.

"of course; my dear let's see if we can find it" he says as he walks with her along the halls. 

Hunter onbhis shoulders lets out a little fox yelp. He doesn't like the house out all

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Skelly felt the exquisite charm of the house invade her and for a moment she hesitated, then she noticed Hunter's disdain, she always believed dogs to have a unique insight. "This house is lovely, indeed, but we still don't know how Hexter died and he died in this very house, I don't want to forget or make light of that fact. The study should be right up these stares, but let's be mindful. Thank you again for all your help...I truly feel safe regardless of possible impending doom."

The two ponies and the dog walked up the broad and elegant staircase, light fixtures were large but far between, adding a lurking darkness to every room and hall. "Hexter built his study to overlook Devil's Reef..." Skelly said as she unlocked the study door, she opened it revealing an exquisite room. A beautiful chair at a heavy desk overlooking a huge window which displayed a breathtaking view of the ocean and beach (and of course, Devil's Reef). Skelly continued, somewhat in a stupor, "It was part of his research...the reef that is. I'm definitely going to be searching for notes on the subject." She opened the desk drawer and her eyes lit up as an old book with thick leather cover was revealed, "Ah ha!" she exclaimed, "something to read by the fire?"

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Impending doom? Is hat what she said? Voltaire was a bit taken back. He was about to say something 

when the words couldn't quite come out. He couldn't 100%?say that they were safe here. 

He followed her to the study as this happened and looked out to the coast. Once again he had to admit Hexter had good taste. He looked out to the ocean and paused; before it was so foggy they could barely see now they could see the waves clashing against the cliff and everything.

this very place toed the line between beautiful and cozy, eldritch and alien. As if it was the gate way between 2 worlds.

voltaire shook his head. No! He told himself. It's just a normal old house and a normal old island. the only thing to fear was the the dark hearts of other ponies. Nothing else! He put those thoughts away and looked to skelly with the fine notebook. 

"Good work. You would make a fine royal detective, you know!" He said as he walked along inspecting the book shelf. He picked a book at random taking a sample of what Hexter would of read if he was alive and happy jointing her.

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