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Fish Aren't Always Friends [Invite]

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@DerpRavener

 

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If it wasn't one thing, it was another. Tropical seas he could get, but who thought cold seas were a logical conclusion when swimming east? Or West! Bah, humbug. Night Prophecy had made his way to the coast of Baltimare where the waters found were exceedingly chilly. The harbor was well known to equestrians and it's beaches a delight for tourists, up until the arrival of the menacing Kelpie who found something deeply disturbing about cold waters. Shoulders moved along with flippers to pull the sea-bound horse across the deep sea currents. Kelp rich and teeming with sea life: this was a location that wet the predator's appetite. Dark scales were layered with a speckling Cascade of silver, russet, and olive. It painted the shark-like aquatic like the bottom of an aquarium whose pebbles had been neatly chosen to glisten with an iridescent reflection over the bubbling waters of captured sea life.

 

While Night Prophecy still found himself a work of art the Kelpie wasn't here for self-reflection. Coming here was a matter of duty. Over his torso was slung a canvas bag. His goal? The bottom of the Baltimare harbor.

 

Was it an easy goal? No.

 

With boats coming every which way one was lucky not to find himself a few scales short of male pattern baldness. Given he was no piebald that was not a look he would rather tote. Glowing eyes managed to lock into some of what he was searching for: pretty, smooth stones at the bottom of the seafloor.

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Clef was used to civilization.  Melodia, where he grew up, was by no means a small community.  He was accustomed to urban areas, or so he believed, at least.

 

The siren had not been prepared for Baltimare.  Being an urban area was one thing, but being a port city was apparently a whole other kettle of fish.  He'd never seen so many ships, or so large!  Melodia only saw a few at a time, and those tended more towards the personal or scientific vessels.  This place meanwhile, was visited by ships of all sizes, including massive cargo ships which Clef had never seen before, at least up close.  It was amazing!  His first impression was that he was glad to have made a point to visit.

 

As Clef grew closer to the city however, he began to see some of the drawbacks of such a place.  First thing that struck him, following the skyline of the city itself and the boats gathered in and around it, was the noise.  Bells ringing, the creak of wood and metal, the chugging of the occasional mechanical or arcane engine, shouts from sailors and dock crew all combined to a constant, if distant cacophony.  For now it was novel, but the siren wasn't sure how long it would take to get annoying.

 

The second was the danger.  Clef supposed it wouldn't affect ponies so much, typically spending their time on land or on ships, but for an aquatic being such as him all the large moving bodies made the waters unpredictably turbulent and carried a risk of dangerous impacts.  He discovered this as he drew close to the docks, and was buffeted by a large, passing ship.  That would have been merely annoying, except it deposited him right in the path of a smaller, but therefore somewhat faster vessel.

 

Clef dove before thinking, instinct protecting him from the passing boat's hard, indifferent underbelly.  When the danger had passed, he looked back while continuing to drift in the same direction, reflecting that he would need to learn the ins and outs of the harbour before he could traverse it safely-

 

The siren's thoughts here interrupted when he bumped into something clearly organic.  He whipped around, wondering what sort of creatures might live at the bottom of a harbour, only to see another aquatic equine.  “Oh!  I'm sorry, I didn't see you there.  I wasn't expecting any other-” he was about to say 'sirens', when he noticed this other person wasn't.  “...aquatic types, in this area.”  He paused for a moment.  He hadn't heard of any underwater populations in Baltimare, but it wouldn't be out of the question, particularly for a town so involved in aquatic ventures.  Then again, he could imagine no one wanting to live next to the docks.  “Do you live around here, or are you visiting as well?”

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Pollution, don't forget that. And not your average, everyday pollution such as discarded paper products forgotten fishing nets. Whole fishing nets we're always a problem for visiting sea ponies who had no experience in larger cities they may be even quicker to suffer the noise pollution. The open ocean, on its surface, was quiet, almost dead in its appearance. The surface had next to no breeze leaving the surface water still and unbroken. Ships who lacked sufficient propulsion would find they needed the aid of the odd sea dweller to arrive at his or her destination. Below it was a bevy of activity and noise from floundering fish or shouting sturgeon. Dueling crabs and camouflaged Dogfish among the kelp forests that lined the bottom. All of the rotating propellers, the cheering ponies, and splashing water was enough to give an aquatic a headache that was to be nursed for days.

 

All Night Prophecy could do was focus on his gathering, at least until he was able to find the perfect sand sample. The dark eyed shark blinked when he spotted it. He spread out his forefins and slowly hovered closer to the silty surface. This was it! By the grace of the seven seas! He moved lower and lower, jaws parting as his whiskers twitched in the chilly currents. The tip of his find touched into the sand. There beneath the silk soft sands was a precious white coral. He was totally focused and even poked the tip of his tongue out his muzzle.

 

Just a bit clo-- ah!

 

When suddenly bumped against the Kelpie snapped forward. Unlike on the surface: there wasn't much in the way of friction down below the open seas. The knock sent him forward, face hitting the sands. This cause a small billow of dusty silt to fill the air. “Hey!” He barked, whipping around as the other began to apologize. Night Prophecy wiped the sand off his muzzle and snorted, his fin quickly flipping back to his side as he shifted his buoyancy and moved to level his gaze with the other. “Well unfortunately for you I am not from around here.” he pursed his lips, eyes narrowing in a slightly sassy manner. His eyes would widen. “The coral!” He swam around and searched about the kelp bed only to find that his coral was swallowed by the flurry of sand which settled again. He sighed and swam out of the forest of kelp, zipping around the other sea pony.

 

“I’ve lost my coral!” he complained, expression flattening. “Great. Now I have to search all over again.” He sighed and turned his head to the side, eyeing the other. “Where are you even from? There aren't any sea pony settlements near here.” So observant, but likely crabby due to the loss of his coral.

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Clef grimaced as the other aquatic pony crashed into the sand at the bottom of the harbour.  Even if it wasn't really his fault, he could hardly know how dangerous the Baltimare harbour could be before having been there, and he hadn't intended to knock the guy down, he still felt somewhat responsible.  Fortunately, it looked like there wasn't any damage greater than a little bruised pride.  Or at least, it did until moments later when the other...seapony?  -Clef would have to ask- when the seapony cried out over missing coral.  “Ahh...I really am sorry about that.  Here!  I'll, uh, help you look.”  He didn't love the idea of sifting through the sand, but he helped make this mess, he should help clean it up.

 

As he started searching the base of the harbour, Clef reflected that he did get a bit of interesting information before that, though.  Apparently the aquatic pony he just ran into wasn't a native of Baltimare either.  It meant he'd have to go elsewhere for the answer to his previous question.  But hey, it was always nice to meet another traveler.

 

Of course, they weren't properly meeting if they weren't talking to each other.  And clef was still wondering a few things.  His new acquaintance apparently was too, and beat him to the punch, wondering where Clef was from and noting there weren't any the siren's kind around here.  That answered that, he supposed.  He replied as he searched.  “You're right, home for me is Melodia.  I wanted to see the world.  So now I'm here!”  He looked over at his new acquaintance.  “And what about you?  Are you a tourist too, or are you here for something else?”

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Tourism? How droll. The fins on the side of his narrow skull seemed to flatten. Painted the same magenta hue as his primary crest the side fins likely were his ears, just so thin they had the dark coloration of his inner workings. It did to keep the warm water fish cool, but here it just aided in chilling him to the bone. He did to keep the folds tucked away. As for his crest it stood on display with its bright color, strongly contrasting his scaled. He eyed the other, those predatory slits he had as pupils examining the sea pony with judgement. He was brighter than Night in comparison, but that much was obvious. The hunter couldn’t stand out lest be spotted before his approach. When you lived in the dark depths it was always a simple task to stalk the shadows until opportunity swam your way. His silence seemed to linger as his gils silently  opened and closed, bubbles building up at the edges of the openings. His whispers danced against the currents as he bobbed up and down, keeping steady his placement. His brows curled up as he rolled his head, fins spreading out allowing his body to drift down before he did a roll and flicked his tail. The motion allowed him to shoot forward so he moved in on Clef.

 

Melodia huh? He’s heard that place is just as bright as ol’ Clef here. He could not help but scrunch his face at the unpleasant idea of loud, bright sea horses just bucking about making a swirl of things. He rather serenity, something of which was difficult to come by with faceless rules imposing impious laws and selfish decrees that unfocused a country from reaching ever higher. Alas … His tongue dipped out to brush over his sharp, pearl white fangs before he snorted. While dismayed by the loss of the coral he sought, this was just another opportunity. A Melodian, huh? And who said the stars shunned him?

 

Too many, many of which would pay soon enough for such reckless accusations.

 

“A most unwitting tourist.” He cooed, his speech slow, deliberate as if he measured each word he spoke. He hummed softly, exhaling a stream of bubbles, his usually flaring nostrils shut to prevent water from rushin down his rarely used lungs. “I myself have come afar from Okeanos. Came in search of ...coral--” He paused and looked to the side, flapping his flipper uselessly in the direction they had lost that piece… He grunted and shrugged his shoulders before focusing his muzzle directly at Clef. “I am Night Prophecy, an abrupt pleasure.” He was assured it was not, but keeping up pretenses and all. You had to remain polite if nothing else. “My search simply lead me here.” Nothing too extravagant. “Though I was hardly expecting the traffic.”

 

He motioned above to where several ships and other irritating sorts of fishing nets and lines lay to trap unsuspecting visitors. One would think ponies would have no conscience to do such things.

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Night Prophecy, which Clef finally knew as the sea pony introduced himself, explained away a number of small questions about why he was here.  Clef barely heard them however, and even only just registered the name, in the face of one particular thing the sea pony had said.  He paused, head tilted slightly to the side and at first said only a single word, “...Okeanos?”  Did that make sense?  According to the more reliable sources, that place should have been long abandoned.  “Isn't that that old pegasus city that fell into...”  He trailed off as he put two and two together.

 

“That means the rumours were right!” he burst out suddenly.  “My mother was talking about how there's all these rumours about how Okeanos was inhabited after falling into the ocean, but no one's ever found any hard proof!  That's so exciting!”  Much as he didn't agree with his mother's methods, he understood and picked up some of her appreciation of both history and the mysterious.

 

Clef suddenly swam up right in front of Night Prophecy.  “I don't suppose you could bring me there, could you?”  His voice was reserved, but he couldn't fully contain his excitement.  At least, not until moments later, when he remembered the sea pony had introduced himself.  He blinked.  “Ah!  I'm sorry, I'm forgetting myself.  My name's Clef,” he said, extending his hoof with a smile.

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Okeanos was not a place you would find yourself writing home about. Of course to the formerly nomadic seapony settling in one place where your enemies could find you seemed foolish, contrived even. The king, self proclaimed, voted or divined, found himself in charge of a population of predators he would corral into a kingdom. A lofty goal, to be sure, but the reasons behind the kelpie’s actions seemed generally hidden from the wizard. He was a difficult fellow to divine, which is why Night Prophecy found himself traveling to these icy seas for one fantastic piece of terra. As it was the star itself had a cruel sense of humor. To drag him all this way.

 

And for what?

 

For the seapony to find company with another of its kind, though one so vastly different at the very same, and lose the one piece of coral that could have led him to truly lording power over the king was a detestable and derisive. Just one secret. It was all he needed to warp the system in place to his advantage. Though this was still a relatively new Kingdom, in compare to age old sea capitals like Melodia, a system of rule and law was in place. When used correctly a kingdom in its infancy gave great advantage to those capable of deposing a blood honored hier such as a king. It was only after his mention of Okeanos  that Clef lost his mind.

 

Well most would call that excitement, but for Night it was about the surest way for one to prove they have traded in their apples for oranges. He was sure the seapony wa going to burst a gasket. His spine pinned back as well as those seaweed-thin ears at the top of his head. His brows would twist up with concern that Clef was bitten by something poisonous or had been cursed by a witch! It took the wizard a moment to hear what it was he went on about. Okeanos wasn’t really all that legendary. It was an abandoned hovel turned into a kingdom. One could put a piece of candy on the sand, but it would now just be sweet piece of sand. T-that was not the best analogy, but analogies were not his forte. He sighed, bubbles blowing from between his lips at the sharp exhale. For a moment he sunk, literally, feeling exhausted by Clef. He put on a brave face and flapped his forefins, pulling back up to level himself with the seapony.

 

His eyes pinched closed as he smiled weakly. “I am Night Prophecy. Court Wizard to his lord and majesty of Okeanos, actually.” Oh, so Clef came face to face with somepony of prominence! What luck was this. “You wouldn’t happen to have -- any questions, or -- better yet. I was looking for certain types of coral for my divinations.” He noted with a bitter curl of his tongue and a slight tilt of his head having lost that lovely piece. It called out to him so!

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Night Prophecy didn't react the way Clef might have hoped.  Not that the siren would know exactly what kind of reaction to expect, but exasperation was never a good sign.  If he had to guess, he'd overstepped his bounds.  Maybe asking to be taken to someone else's home, essentially inviting himself, was going too far.  Night hadn't turned him away, and indeed had introduced himself and asked about any questions, but perhaps it would be better to stick to the present.

 

That Night Prophecy introduced himself as the court wizard of Okeanos proved to be something of a mixed blessing in that light.  Much as it was exciting to not only find a member (arguably) of an lost civilization but one who was so close to royalty as well!  However, Clef was also fairly certain he wasn't making a very good first impression, and if the pony he was talking to was so important then that made it doubly bad.

 

Clef realized it would be better to focus on the present.  Helping with the issue ahead of him would probably go a ways toward fixing that first impression he'd made.  He listened intently, as Night Prophecy first asked if Clef had any questions, before once more explaining the situation with the coral.  “Ahh, well...” The siren scratched the back of his head with a hoof, and looked away for a minute.  “Honestly, I'm not even sure what I'd want to ask.  It's just, almost nothing is known for certain about Okeanos after it fell.  It's almost a lost civilization!”  Hopefully Night could see why that would be such an exciting find.

 

Clef moved on either way, to the issue of the now-missing coral.  He considered for a moment, then looked up, towards the surface of the water.  “Say, how well can you travel on land?”  Realizing that his new foreign friend might not understand the way Equestrian civilization worked, having potentially not really encountered it, he added something else.  “I'm sure somepony up there either knows where we could find, or knows where we could buy some.”

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Night Prophecy wasn’t the most -- energetic fellow. For those that knew him he was the sort that always looked like he needed a nap, at best. At worst he was one of those ponies they warned you about who needed coffee prior any sort of social engagements. He never seemed the sort chuffed by social engagements, let along some fanatic fanfish of a long lost civilization. For him it was better to remain an anonymous shadow working in the background than a loathsome puppet on a throne who acted on the will of a school that hardly understood the difference between autonomy and dictatorship. But that was simply the nihilism speaking. Night Prophecy was under the general understanding of government and its necessities… but he wasn’t about creating a puppet government befitting their helpless monarchy.

 

His thin ears folded back. He had not ignored the boy’s question on bringing him to visit, but he could not trust himself not to take a bite out of the fish were he to get hungry along the way. Jokes aside he did not think it the right time to start bringing strangers before the throne… unless… Oh how delightful. Succor for the weak… He rubbed his forefins together only to be knocked out of his daze by Clef’s query.  He blinked, claret pupils washed over by his nictitating membranes as a few bubbles expelled from his nostrils, the shock causing him to hiccup a bit of his own oxygen.

 

His head turned to the side as his tail and back fins shifted to lift him up slightly, forefins held together, far from the forehooves of Clef. “Up there?” He looked up. “What sort if question is that?! O-of course I can walk on land.” It had been a while since he has been on land. And by a while...

 

...he never has before.

 

How horrendously problematic. Yet the temptation of finding a coral proper on land? It seemed silly, yet attractive. He could find new stones on land that would help with his divinations. Though finding a truly useful rock was -- slim He raised his head proudly. Yes he will make this deal his!

 

“Very well. If we can find a good rock or shell… I will take it home and you may accompany me as my guest.” He held himself proudly and waved a fin to urge Clef to lead on. Land? Ha! How hard can it be...

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Clef sat back as Night Prophecy went through a range of expressions, each indicating a different emotion or mood, without actually saying anything.  It was a curious thing to watch, seeing his new friend go through so many moods at once, but Clef couldn't bring himself to interrupt.  Whatever Night was thinking of was evidently a private matter, else it would have been shared.  Besides, it was the siren's belief that everyone deserved a few eccentricities.

 

When he finally did respond, Night seemed affronted that Clef would even ask him such a question.  The siren for his part thought it was a perfectly reasonable thing to ask, given that his current companion was from a previously unknown ocean-dwelling civilization.  But, he supposed this was its own form of answer, even if Night had an odd way of expressing it.  If the sea pony was so sure of himself, who was Clef to argue?

 

Night finished by suggesting that finding a good bit of shell or coral would be a reason for him to return back home, and that would in turn be excuse enough to bring Clef for a visit.

 

That was it then, it was decided.  There was a way for each of them to find a mutually agreeable outcome.  Clef nodded to himself, and then started looking for the quickest way up out of the water.  It wasn't easy, with all the boats coming in and out the surface of the water was choppy and a little hazardous.  There were docks, but those were built for travelers going to and from floating on the water, rather than the water itself.  Clef swam around a bit in lazy circles as he looked for a way up.

 

It took him a minute to spot something.  Near some of the private docks was a wide staircase, which lead from the land into the water.  Clef didn't get the purpose of them until he spotted a filly run down the stairs and splash into the water.  He started swimming that direction, before remembering he was supposed to be getting Night onto land as well.  He waved the seapony over, before continuing to move toward the stairs.

 

Clef poked his head out of the water on reaching the stairs, accidentally startling a few ponies in the process, and looked around.  He took a moment to get a view of the city from above the waves, but not for long.  It was simple enough, with a small application of a natural siren ability, for him to get himself out of the water.  He turned to make sure Night Prophecy was still following, and as the latter made his own way out of the water Clef asked a question of his own.  “So divination, how does that work?  Or is it the sort of thing you can't tell laypeople?”

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Night Prophecy wasn't the most elegant of fish. While he was well spoken and had a strong personality his will was weak and his propensity for cloddishness was ill suited for one who was a member of a royal court. He was raised in a nomadic gam, the kelpie had a sharp nature shaped by his predatory habits. Feeding off the weak worked well when you were hungry for food or power. While it wasn't the way of all kelpie these days: Night was part of a dying breed finding difficult times assimilating to the more give and give ways that ponies spread. The poisonous habits eroded their proud ways, but they had to adapt lest go the way of the wendigo.

 

Flapping his fins he moved to keep up with Clef. His fin pinned back against his skull as he ducked passing boats. There didn't seem to be any means to get on land as there seemed walls of stone raised to keep the water out. Ponies seemed a backwards sort. The sea was a source of food and safety. It .made little sense to him to wall it out of your city. You could even grow kelp in it! They just needed to learn to breathe water.

 

He sneered, bubbles rippling from his nostrils as his gills spread open to catch his sharp breathe. “Are you sure about this? It's be a shame if the ponies decided to toss you back into the water thinking you've beached yourself.” As soon as his snarky comment scrawled from between his fangs a motorboat zipped by.

 

His neck recoiled faster than a turtle in a storm. He bit down on his lips, brows furrowing as he hissed out a choice curse or two in a magic tongue. He watched as Clef studied a filly across the way. Hurrying over, and being sure to keep his head down, the aquatic equine watched as his cousin found way above the waves. Tentative in leaving the safety of the sea, leaving the unquestionable security of his oceanic abode: he hesitated. Nickering in irritation he would finally flap his fins, kicking his tail to rush up, breaking surface.

 

This was the first time he's been above water so it took a deep, panices and chocking gasp to expel the water from his lungs to fill them. He bleated out as an excess water was forced from his mouth, gills closing against his neck. Reaching up his find he would follow Clef up. The black, mottled scales of the shark pony glittered under the splash of the ocean below and gaze of the sun above. His fin raised to half mast as he pulled himself out of the waters for the first time.

 

Not as majestic as he was in the sea the finned aquatic pushed about like an underweight seal. The shark was used to warmer waters so there was no need for abundant fat stores. While the chilly waters were unpleasant without the guard of layers he still preferred it to being on land.

 

He blinked and shuffled after Clef and parted his fang-filled jaws. “Are you sure about this?” Some ponies seemed to have seen a ghost when they rose up from the deep! “Where would be the best place to find this? I've … never been to this city.” Right! This city. Yesss.

 

He didn't want to let on his never being on the surface after all. He looked over to the youth and shook his head.

 

“What? Don't seaponies have divination?” While he too was a seapony he was of a different breed. “It's like predicting the weather, except with rocks and not clouds.” That made a whole lot of sense actually. “Pegasus read the clouds to know the weather than alter it, right? Well I read the earth to see what the day will be like and try to alter it.” It was the simplest means to explain how geomancy worked!

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Clef found Night Prophecy's doubts odd.  Why would the ponies think either one of them had beached themselves?  Ponies from central Equestria maybe, but most of the dockside ponies could be able to tell the difference between something which had gotten itself stuck on land and something which went there deliberately.  Besides, Clef was perfectly comfortable on land, and Night said he was too, so why would anypony think they couldn't make it while out of the water?  Needless to say, he hadn't noticed that his new friend had reservations about venturing above the water.

 

Or at least, Clef didn't until Night immediately followed his first foray above the ocean with a very wet cough, and it was only then that the siren finally had some doubts of his own.  Just how long had it been since Night had been on land?  The latter clearly wasn't used to this sort of thing.  Yet he had made it clear he was perfectly capable of it, very confidently in fact.  Clef frowned, but didn't know what to do about it.  Perhaps his new friend had spent too long away from land to be used to the air.  Perhaps he would just have to keep an eye on said new friend, lest something happen which neither of them were quite expecting.

 

On 2018-04-17 at 4:05 PM, RexDraco said:

“Are you sure about this?”

Clef glanced in the direction Night had been looking.  “Hmm?  Oh, I've gotten that in a few places.”   Well maybe not quite the same reaction, but close enough to matter.  “I wouldn't worry about it too much, they just aren't used to seeing seaponies around.  They'll get used to it in a few minutes, I'm sure.  Or at least find something else to draw their attention.”  The fact that a number of ponies' gazes remained fixed on the two of them did nothing to dissuade him.

 

On 2018-04-17 at 4:05 PM, RexDraco said:

“Where would be the best place to find this? I've … never been to this city.”

“The best place?”  Clef paused for a moment, and thought about the question.  “I've never been here before either, but the obvious place would seem to be the docks.”  Clef pointed a little ways away from where they'd surfaced.  Unfortunately, there hadn't been a closer place for ocean dwellers such as themselves to get onto land, at least from what he'd seen.  “I imagine most things picked up from the sea would pass through there, so if that doesn't lead us to what you're looking for we're bound to find somepony who can.”

 

As the two started moving that direction, Night revisited the question of divination, suggesting it was a lot like what pegasi did with the weather.  Clef considered that for a moment, thinking it sounded reasonable but that something didn't quite fit.  After a moment he replied.  “But pegasi study clouds because clouds are a big part of weather, I'm pretty sure.  I'd think studying stones would be something more like...” he absently waved his hoof in a circle, looking for the word, “geology or something.  How do rocks tell you about the day?”

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This had been Night's first time one land, or anywhere near a pony's city. Everything was different and held a sense of anxiety over the aquatics's head. It was obvious in the way his gills rapidly danced against his neck, lungs struggling to fill up for the first time. By the way his fins tapped against the concrete surface it was clear it was difficult for the seapony to steady himself. It was difficult to imagine a seapony spending his life in the trenches as the majority of sea ponies lived closer to the surface or the like. His dark scales were designed to shelter him in the shadows against rippling bioluminescent plankton and fish. The hunter was, at his very nature: an ambush predator.

 

You would never see him until his fangs were upon you!

 

The shark did to keep to the deep waters up until recently. His nomadic lifestyle came to a halt when ocean territories saw an increase in supplanted villages scattered in the reefs. It drove the prey of the trench dwellers ever deeper. Joining the royal court as an advisor of sorts was something that forced him to the forefront. But this? This was too much! At least when at court he could stay in the background and duck away behind curtains. But there were so many eyes, staring at him. Clef assured him this was the usual response when sea dwellers happened their way onto land.

 

It was suggested that the coast would be best to search, but that meant they had to cross the pier and down onto the beach where some ponies and other species vacationed. Night raised his head, nostrils flaring as smells became obvious. All of this was sensory overload, particularly for one who had never left he sea. The smells were bewildering, having never taken a whiff of anything before. His sensitive whiskers danced at the movement of all the ponies and he became annoyed! Which was his default setting in any case.

 

“Let us make haste.” He began to waddles along with Celf for unlike him Night had flippers for forelimbs. It took a bit, but he eventually learned the motion he needed to get a forward march. It was not unlike the lumbering movements of seals. “What?”

 

Clef began to explain that ponies, maddening as it sounded, controlled the weather?! Night was not sure if he should be envious or horrified. It seemed a useful skill to be able to manage weather. With such power one could change the course of the sea. If he had to choose between ultimate, cosmic powers and divination, well it was a clear choice. He knew that ponies turned the cycles of the day and night for many generations now, but he thought such power needed to manage the world on such a level required great power…

 

The more he thought of it the more angry he became. How dare ponies! His neutral expression drifted down into an angry scowl, though it was nearly impossible to tell the two expressions apart save an upturned lip that bore his fangs. He let out a snort, which unexpectedly and comically causes him to snot a bit… hurriedly shaking his head to clear the embarrassing reaction.l, he let out a squeak. What in the dark trench’s name!? He wiggled and stamped a flipper on the ground.

 

“Ha! This pony weather control is nothing compared to Geomancy!” His ego wouldn't allow it! Pointing his fin down he would pat the docks. “You see I read the soil, sand and stones and learn of things to come before they occur and can change the course of one's very destiny!” It sounded pretty deep.

 

Luckily they had a goal. Finding a new shell on the coast should be easy, but by the way Night made it seem it was an in depth task. If Clef found a nice one, though, they be able to go to the capital and despite his rather arrogant attitude Night was the sort to keep his promises. It was exciting! And Night has never been to a beach either so it would be a treat for them both!

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Their foray onto land started off well enough, but before long Clef noticed his friend scowling.  Paired with his... awkward method of travel on land, combined with a big of mucus.  Clef made a face.  While Night was of course very comfortable in the sea itself, the sea air apparently wasn't treating him as well.  “Are you sure-” the siren began, misinterpreting his friends reaction as being to the land.

 

He was interrupted by Night suddenly bursting out with a claim that his own geomancy was much better than any kind of weather control.  Clef didn't really see what the two had to do with one another, weather magic was almost a bureaucratic thing, making sure everything was running smoothly with the weather it needed as best one could.  And, from Clef's observations, making up for when things inevitably went wrong anyways.  He didn't see what that had to do with predicting the future through stones, although the ability did sound very impressive.  “Yeah, I could see how that could be very useful.”  He still didn't get how it worked, but then he was no mage.  “I'd like to see that sometime, too.  I-if you'd be okay with me watching, of course...” he trailed off a little.  This did sound like something important, maybe Night would prefer to keep it hidden from outsiders.

 

Clef considered going back to his earlier concern.  Night had seemed to suddenly encounter difficulties when coming on shore, was it really alright for him to be up here?  Then again, he had stated very definitively that he was no stranger to land, and talking about geomancy seemed to give him his energy back.  Clef held a look of concern on his face for a moment longer, but decided it was something he didn't need to worry about right away.

 

Night made for the beach, forging on ahead, which hadn't been Clef's original plan.  On consideration though, maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to check there first.  Night had gotten a little ways away while the siren was lost in thought, forcing the latter to sprint for a moment, or at least the rapid shuffling which sirens did in place of sprinting, to catch up.  “Actually,” Clef said once he'd caught up, “I'd been thinking to ask ponies on the docks if they'd found any shells worth looking at.  But looking over the beach first is probably a better place to start.”  Clef's eyes scanned the sand, but he didn't fully know what he was looking for.  “So what exactly makes a good shell for geomancy?”

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To say that Night Prophecy had an ego was like saying the sun set in the West. It was quite well known the shark had a touch of pride when it came to his divinations. Geomancy was a particular skill he's practiced over his lifetime and depended on the current soft the oceans and the soils below. On land was a different story. There was no telling what terra would speak with so many of these hooved ones shuffling about. The kelpie pricked his webbed ears, the crinkled, web-like forms shifted to turn to Clef. His hearing was strong on land by the very fact the sea was not in the way. Twitching his whiskers his throat cleared.

 

His body shifted as he tried to raise his front flipper, which caused him to stumble as balancing on sand was quite different. “Sh...pfft.” he snorted out, shaking his head. “Shameful it is we are not in the sea for there are greater resources. But these will have to do.” He lowered this head to the dry sand and flicked his foreflipper in it.

 

His struggles were expected for a first time landlubber, though in his case it was land scrubber as he shuffled along the tenacity of an underweight seal. The Marine pony looked to Clef. The acquisition of a shell would prove to revive his efforts in his duties. And it would let him explore this land a bit more. He looked down and back to Clef when he suggested the locals. The shark was against the idea of cajoling natives when he was more than capable, but out here there was not much he could smell or sense above the waves. He had to use his eyes and for the deep sea predator that was all task in and of itself.

 

“The shells need to have been beneath the sands for a long time. You can tell because they are bright and not dulled by the light.” He explained. “They can be flat, round, or in pieces. “ It mean any shell deep enough in the sands or maybe even the shiny ones they sold to tourists at shops!

 

Speaking of a certain pair of peddling ponies were selling seashells by the seashore and it could be assured their false advertisement was blustered by a benign effect, good luck or being able to hear authentic sea back home! But what would be their choice? Eyes would occasionally drift to the underwater natives and murmur amongst themselves. Of course there wasn't just shells hiding beneath the sands. Crabs and other ornery sea life that easily transitions between sand and surf hang out on the beach.

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Had Clef been a more experienced and savvy adventurer, he might have picked up on Night Prophecy's posturing and been able to work out some things significantly earlier.  Unfortunately for the siren, he was not his mother.  As such, it was just now that he was starting to pick up that maybe not everything his new friend was saying was on the level.  For someone who claimed to regularly spend time on land, Night sure seemed to be struggling with it.  It made Clef start to wonder if there were other things his new friend had said that weren't entirely the truth.

 

He didn't see the need to call Night out on it though.  No reason to ruin a perfectly good, if still new friendship, and he had to admit a bit of curiosity around why Night would lie about things that seemed either small or could be easily helped if asked.  Heck, Clef wondered if maybe it would even be good for him!  His upbringing in Melodia had been fairly sheltered, all things considered, and part of the point of this whole journey had been to prove he could survive on his own.  This could be a good opportunity to test himself, or failing that, to learn.

 

As the two of them made their way down to the beach, Night explained what it was they should be looking for in a shell.  The key aspect was apparently time, the shells needed to have a certain amount of time in the sand, which seemed like it would be a tall order for someone without any divination magic, but apparently one could tell because they weren't faded in colour.  “So, just look for the vibrant shells.  I think I can do that.”

 

There were, as it turned out, a pair of ponies were selling seashells by the sea shore.  Clef took a moment to lightly smack himself for thinking it.  He could tell they were there, because they were announcing it loudly, to the whole beach.  Something about it seemed off to Clef.  At first it was bristling against the idea of selling seashells at the beach, but when he considered he realized there was a more pressing concern.  How would they know whether a shell had been under the sand for long?  What's more, he'd heard of ponies painting shells before, could they be sure the vibrant shells were that way naturally as opposed to being made more pretty?

 

Clef supposed it couldn't hurt to ask.  If worst came to worst, and it didn't look like these particular ponies would have what they needed, they could always go somewhere else.

 

Clef moved toward them.  He looked over the assembled shells, but he wasn't really sure which ones would be suitable at a glance.  He thought about asking if they had any applicable shells, but he honestly wasn't quite sure how to phrase the question, so instead he settled on something else.  “Hey Night,” he called back, “do any of these look like what you're looking for?”

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Night was not a difficult pony to please, but he was an uneven tempered sort. He was prideful and had great dignity when it came to dealing with his business. Pushing his flippers along the pier was a foreign sensation. It caused him to flinch, his fins twitch on occasion. Looking to Clef he would admit to choosing to search for shells with vibrancy. It was true. Colorful shells  were easier to find, but they were the weakest. Night turned his head.

 

"Colorful shells stand out, but it makes them weaker. All of their energy was put into painting themselves with such colors to make their lives easier, so they are less effective, but ... still have their uses." Wow it seemed Geomancy had its own intricacies! one could suppose it was not any different than the spell components used in a Unicorn's casting, but nevertheless Geomancy isn't something everypony could use. 

 

The two yellow ponies with bright red manes tipped their hats to the foreign tourist. The perfect prey! The twins removed their straw hats in unison and welcomed the lad, declaring they had sea shells from as far out as Mount Erie! A fantastic claim to be sure, but by the unnaturally vibrant colors of the various shells it was not like to be false. The salesponies held up a rather large, rainbow colored conch that had a fantastically deafening sound when blown into. They tell Clef it was  used to summon soldiers into the old Hippogryph undersea palace during the armed removal of Storm King operatives from their home!  While the rowdy pair spoke Clef seemed to call to Night, unable to yet decide. Night had been staring at the strange sand sculptures, curious about the strange cults ponies looked to follow. Even in public they do such things? How queer. Night was very private about his affairs. He shook his head, gills sealed closed at this point as his lungs took over completely. Waddling to Clef he looked around the stall. 

 

"These are all so...gaudy." he spat out. "They look falsely colored. How?" Underwater things like paint or dyes didn't stick but he knew these colors were unnatural. And indeed they were. 

 

It seems the salesponeis were not as honest as they seemed, but they declared they never said they didn't shine up a few of the boring old shells they found on the beach.

 

"You've tainted them!" Night barked and lunged forward, snapping his sharp, predatory teeth at the equine who yelped and jumped to get out the way, but ended up running into each other and a few flashes of magic they and their stall, tumbled to the ground.

 

Night sighed and looked to Clef, dejectedly. But he couldn't give up! Some of the beachcombers seemed a bit spooked by the commotion too!

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