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[Starfall] The Frozen North (Open)

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The world can be a very hostile place. Some do not welcome you with open hooves. Some would want to see you dead. The trick is knowing how to defend yourself.

 

Heavy snowfall rushed through the mane of Ruby Spear. Her coat the color of rose quartz, her short-cut mane ruby. Of note were her determined sapphire eyes, covered up with a wooden plate designed to help visibility in this sort of weather. She had a wool jacket and scarf, the former black and the latter green, to fight back the cold.

 

Attatched to her side by a leather strap was Magic Rifle, a long wooden piece with an ornate carving of Her Majesty's cutie mark on the stock. This particular gun's origin could be traced all the way back to the Pony-Griffon War, and it was a story she was fond of telling.

 

She moved through the forest at a brisk pace, intent on keeping the blood pumping. She was not alone in her scouting duty, however.

"Is it colder than usual today, Krulos? Or am I just imagining things?" She asked, her voice slightly muffled by the scarf.

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Krulos, decorated in a white coat with grey and black splotches, along with his changeling armor nodded in agreement. "Yes, today's temperature has been different form what we've been seeing lately" He responded, his wings buzzing lightly to prevent them form losing blood flow incase he needed to use them. 

 

He wasn't the one to complain about weather, given military background, but a change like this did interest him in the slightest. He quickly turned his focus back to his objective scouting,

 

"Do you see anything Ruby?" Krulos in a low voice, as not to provoke anything or anyone

 

 

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Ruby squinted her eyes as she looked through the snowfall. "I think I see a hill up ahead." She said. "Might be good for a lookout tower down the line. We should add it to the map if we can get some cover; I'd rather not lose it to the wind."

 

Indeed, there was a small hill rising above the treetops. It was mostly covered thick with snow, and some trees were growing off the top. She could see that the left side seemed to be made of rock, which she found curious. She began to make her way towards the hill.

 

"Something's odd about those rocks." Ruby said, gesturing towards the left side of the hill as they got closer. "Too smooth to be natural. Perhaps it was built by the former inhabitants? Would make a good map marker."

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Krulos raised am eyebrow as Ruby spotted the oddly shaped rocks, the idea of former inhabitants intrigued him, "How could something with atleast competent intelligence lived here without any pony or griffon knowing?" he pondered to himself.  

 

"Make sure your ready to fire if something stills lives here and doesn't like us" He whispered to Ruby as he pulled out his griffon rifle with his telekinesis.  

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Ruby Spear unhooked her Magic Rifle, holding it against her shoulder with her right hoof. Using her other three legs to walk, she advanced towards the formation, and found that it was the mouth to a shelter.

 

Flickering yellow light gave her warning. This cave was inhabited. She could see a shadow backdrop across the flickering light ahead against the wall that curved to the right. She gave Krulos a nod, and slowly and quietly made her way into the cave, the loud and harsh winds outside masking her presence.

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Krulos nodded in return, as pulled his rifle closer, so he was looking directly into its sights. He followed Ruby into the cave quietly, "You think whoever lives here is gonna like when two people with guns show up to their house?" Krulos whispered with sarcasm. Sarcasm aside. Krulos did hold concern to whether or not that they would get into a fight, mostly because if one of them got wounded, he did have confidence that they would be able to bring themselves back safely .

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"Probably not." Ruby said "Best to err on the side of caution, though."

 

She carefully turned around the bend in the cave.

 

There was a small, weak fire going. Sitting in front of it was a lone stallion. He had a blue coat and light-blue mane and tail. Both were badly disheveled. He was covered in wounds, some wet with blood. and caked with dirt. His eyes showed the exhaustion of a pony that had not slept in a very long time.

 

One look at his cutie mark set off alarms in her head. This was Cold Shoulder, one of the ponies assigned to helping curb the intense weather around their town.

 

He had vanished weeks ago.

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Marquis Ebony Centurion.  The Brigadier General of the RLG.  The father of celebrity DJ Nightingale.  The husband of renowned signer, fashion designer, and model Luxor Radiance.  

And he was alone.

It had been a simple expedition-explore the areas Whitescar as part of a tri-annual check-up to ensure security.  He wasn't supposed to enter the smaller villages, but something had happened.  As their simple scout-and-secure went along, so did the strangest of news.  

Disappearing ponies.  Strange creatures.  

Maybe it was all gossip.  Maybe it was true-but the REG weren't taking any chances.  He split his crew into two-one half staying to complete the check-up, the other half to investigate the Red Mound situation.  He had left a Colonel in charge of the check-up, for he himself was going to investigate with his half of the crew.    

They begun the journey in a few days' time-the journey was short, so they traveled by hoof.  The first two nights they camped, all was well.  The third night..well...

 

...something had gone wrong.

 

He woke up in the darkest of the nights, the wind howling and frost biting all around.  Any signs of the camp was gone.  Any hoofprints were banished by the wind.  And his crew...

...gone.  

He lay on his bare back in contact with the snow, his blanket, pillow...Everything was gone.  Well, not everything.  His armor, his weapons, and his saddlebag filled with supplies remained.  

 

He grunted, stood up, pulled out his map, and began to walk in the direction of Red Mound.  Something was clearly very wrong.

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Krulos slowly looked over the corner and saw the stallion, he internally recoiled, "What in the of chrysalis happened to him" Krulos was thinking "That explains the colder weather" he muttered to himself. He took note of how fresh the wounds were, here couldn't tell if they were caused by animals or not. 

 

Krulos decided to slowly approach him, "Hey Cold Shoulder" He said softly, as he made his to the fire 

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Cold turned to the pony and the changeling. "We have no time!" She shouted. He then grasped at the changeling's hooves. "We have to warn everypony!"

 

"Woah, woah! Slow down, Cold!" Ruby said, holding his shoulders. "Warn us about what?"

 

"Th-The Ice Ponies are coming." Cold Shoulder said in a hushed tone. He trembled at the near mention of the name.

 

"...Ice Ponies?" Ruby said, incredulously. "You can't be serious."

 

"They're going to kill us all. We invaded their island, and now they're going to kill us a-"

 

With a hard slap across the face, Cold Shoulder was silenced. Ruby sighed as she shook her hoof. "No good to us panicking like that. C'mon, we need to get back to camp as fast as we can. If these Ice Ponies really are coming to attack us, we need to warn them now."

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Krulos sighed, "Just my luck" he whispered to himself. "Come on, we'll get you out of here" Krulos said to Cold Shoulder, lifting said pony onto his back. He turned to Ruby, "I'll carry him, lets get out quickly, before any of those ice ponies' show up" He said  

 

With that said Krulos started to move out of the cave at a quick pace 

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Ebony hated being on patrol. It was boring and tedious, and now on top of that she had to deal with the snow and cold as well. She pulled her cloak tighter around herself, the black fabric helping to hold back the bite of the wind along with the matching scarf that was wrapped around her face, her snow goggles keeping the snow from stinging her eyes.

 

She continued to trudge on, however, even after the pony she was supposed to be on patrol with had deemed the weather 'too bad' and had ditched her to go back to his warm bunk. She'd make sure he'd get his though after she got back. For now, she was stuck trudging through the snow along the familiar route that she could probably take in her sleep.

 

A strong gust of wind nearly blew her off of her hooves, and she readjusted her rifle and cloak once it had passed. Stupid weather.

 

As she began to move again, she stopped once more as she saw a dark figure moving along through the snow ahead of her. She tried staring through the snow, but she couldn't make out anything more than a vague shape. Readying her rifle, she changed her course to intercept the dark form. As she drew closer, the form became more pony like, and when she finally got ahead of them, she raised her rifle at them, and waited for them to come close enough to hear before yelling, "Halt! Identify yourself!" Keeping her rifle trained on them incase they tried anything.

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He blinked, was there...a voice calling him.  It sounded like the voice of a guard...or maybe someone from the REA?  He shook his head-there were little to no official stations out here.

 

"Brigadier General Marquis Ebony Centurion-reporting," 

He was tired, and his muscles were fatigued from the cold.  His senses were dulled, and he squinted to try and see the face of his addressee. 

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Ruby Spear sighed as she followed Krulos out of the cave. This was not a situation she had expected when she got out of the day. You can get out of bed today, Ruby. Everything's going to be great today, Ruby. A simple bit of exploration, marking a few things on the map, then heading home to a warm fire and some cocoa, the kind with the little marshmallows in it, that's all she wanted. But no the universe had to screw with her today. Now she has danged ice pony. What in the name of Cadence is an ice pony?!

 

She followed her changeling ally through the blizzard, cursing her poor luck under her breath.

 

Cold Shoulder held onto Krulos as tight as he could, the harsh winds making his injuries sting further. He began to wonder if they were even going to make it back.

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Krulos kept his up his brisk pace through the unforgiving cold, trying to get Cold Shoulder to safety before the cold weather could do him anymore harm. He turned his head to face ruby,

 

"So whats the plan Ruby, when we get back?" he asked, panting slightly due to his additional weight.

.

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He would find it impossible to see her face with her wrapped up like that, but he soon wouldn't need to squint. Ebony nearly dropped her rifle when she'd heard the title, managing to catch it before it fell into the snow. "G-General? What are you doing out here?" She asked, getting closer to him so they could speak easier. She stopped in front of him, pulling her scarf down and removing her snow goggles. "Corporal Ebony Dawn, Sir. General, why are you all alone out here in this weather?" She asked, nervous about being around such a high ranking pony.

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He bit his lip, trying hard not to shiver, "I was camping out with the ranks-and I woke up to find everything.  EVERYTHING.  Gone," 

He didn't bother with any formalities anymore.  He was so cold, so, so cold.  His vision began to fade in and out, and the cold air started to dull around him.  The ground felt warm, and the snow felt so soft...even when he was facedown onto it.  

 

He gave a slight groan, as if to try and awaken from his hypothermic state.  He tried to breathe, but his lungs were all caught up.  

 

Corporal...

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 "Warn the neighbors." Ruby said. "I doubt anything about 'ice ponies' is actually anything more then a figmant from a damaged mind. But I wouldn't be surprised if some ponies do show up to wreck our little corner of the colony; We knew of at least the posibility of a few tribes of natives still being around."

 

The forest cleared, and they could see their town of Red Mound.

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(Sorry for the last post) 

 

Krulos nodded, "I think a doctor will be able to confirm if these wounds were inflicted or not, if so, then we warn everybody" he responded. As he saw the town appear before him, he quicken his pace towards the closest medical building.

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Nightwind rushed to Marquis' side when he fell, putting her hooves on him and noticing how cold he was. "Oh no! He's freezing." She muttered to herself. "General! General, please get up!" she tried to shake him back awake. She looked around, but couldn't find anywhere they could take shelter. "Hold on General, I'm going to take care of you." She told him as she grabbed one of his forlegs with her own and pulled him up onto her back. Using her wings, to steady him, she put her own cloak over his form to try and use her body heat to warm him up. "I'm going to get you back as fast as I can." She told him, not sure if he could even hear her anymore or not. She quickly turned and began heading back, trudging back through the snow the way she had come. She needed to get him to a doctor and fast.

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Pain.  

 

Cold.

 

Pain.

 

Cold.

 

He shivered.

 

He felt a lurching thrust into his stomach.

 

He threw up.

 

It hurt.

 

It was so cold.

 

It was black.

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Ruby rushed through the snow alongside her companion and the now unconsious Cold Shoulder. Their fellow residents turned their heads, surprised and concerned.

 

Ruby ran towards a dark gray building that had a worn red cross on the front. She kicked open the doors to make way for Krulos. "We got injured!" Ruby shouted. Doctors sprung into action, one, a griffon, brought forth a stretcher as a unicorn nurse gently floated Cold off of Krulos' back and onto the stretcher.

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Krulos let out a sigh of relief as he felt the weight lifted of him,  he slowly made his way to one of the chairs of the waiting room, and sat down to catch his breath. He turn his head towards ruby, "Hey, wasn't some general was suppose to show up? If these Ice ponies are real, it would be a good idea to tell him whenever he gets here" He suggested to her 

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Ebony was within sight of Red Mound when she heard it. That distinctive sound of a pony's digestive system starting to work in reverse. "Please don't. Please don't. Please don't." She chanted as she picked up the pace, trying to make it back before-. She froze in place for a moment as a hot liquid suddenly began flowing along her back and down her shoulders. "Ewwwwwww!" She whined, disgusted and nauseated at the same time. With a renewed effort, she began running back, feeling the squishing of the liquid getting into her coat with every movement. "Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew!" Wih her quickened pace, she was getting closer now, however, able to make out the shapes of the ponies on guard.

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((He's passed out.  He's being carried.  There's not much for him to say or do.))

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