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Canterlot Checkers Challenge

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Canterlot would find the whole of their grounds turned into a giant checkers board. Nobles would find themselves warped into a fine red and commoners blue. The rules of checkers was pretty obvious, but in the case that it was not instructions would be given to everypony. The first of the blue pieces to reach Canterlot Castle would be kinged and charged with capturing every noble participating in Canterlot to win. As for the nobles the first to reach Rarity’s Boutique would be kinged and charged with capturing all of the commoners and business ponies that were participating. The first side to win would earn a prize, but the king himself or herself would earn an even greater prize. From the Canterlot side Discord was visibly sitting and sipping jello from a coconut with a tiny drink umbrella in his eyebrow. If ever a pony was captured they would be warped to his side and, if he was feeling gregarious he could set pieces back onto the field if the leader piece of their respective side came to free their comrades.

 

Nobles, now a nifty shade of red, will start off at Canterlot Castle, warped there by the board, and must make their way to the Boutique to get kinged.
Commoners, with a fair shade of blue, start off at the Boutique, warped there by the board, and must head out toward the castle to get their boost. 

 

The rules of Checkers apply: You must hop over your opponent to capture them. You can only move forward, or diagonally and so on.

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Well this was turning out to be quite a day. This had been Taira's first official trip out of Neighpon with his mate and already things had gone off the rails. His coat had somehow been turned a vibrant shade of red and Niju had seemed to just disappear into thin air. At first he'd panicked so much he though he may drop his glamour, but he managed to catch a whiff of her particular scent on the wind. It was a fair distance away, but still there and she seemed to be alright. The thick scent of chaotic magic hung in the air too. it was unfamiliar. A bit concerning to be frank.

 

... 

 

Then he found himself in an unfamiliar place. The stocky stallion stood in the middle of a big room. Big was putting it too mildly actually: This room was gigantic. The architecture reminded him of that big castle that was one the hill when Niju and himself arrived. Apparently the upper class of this land often spent time here throwing lavish parties. Taira growled slightly as he began to look across the room, not wanting to appear intimidated if whoever did this was still around and watching... though with noone else around yet he would sit down and wait for someone else to appear... and ask them questions.

 

 

 

Edited by Pretzelparty
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Good ol daddums! It seems the foreign visitors found themselves split! Tourists were always quite interesting during the holidays! Sitting atop a balcony the magnanimous noodle watched as Taira collected himself. Holding a pair of opera glasses on his muzzle he viewed the kirin from afar. Adjusting the focus the distant pony was quite up close. When Discord removed the glasses he found himself beside the hefty harbinger of the mountain snows. 

 

"Well, well. This is quite the welcome to Equestria's capital." The spirit offered invitingly and held out an invitation. "Welcome to the festivities." With that he vanished!

 

The missive had a welcoming message to the Parade if fools and explains the rules of the checkers games. There seemed to be a grand reward to the pony who first made it to the end of the board and took over the pieces across the kingdom! The bottom had an added note for the mountain king.

 

"If ever you wish to see your queen, she's on the enemy side of the board! Good luck as she may be after your crown, and prize!"

 

But... Would Niju do such a thing?

 

Yes. Yes she would. Many found on the board were particularly competitive and would do all they could to warn a prize favored from a god beast!

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So far, this morning in Canterlot had been... unique. The sky was green, with hues of pinks running through it, and when Ice Storm found herself looking into the mirror. she found herself a very bright red in color. "Uh oh.... Did I accidentally sit in something last night? I didn't think I had that much cider...." she said to herself looking at the Opalus Spheres, making sure that they hadn't been affected. Thankfully they were left alone.  

 

She turned away from the mirror started making her way down the steps into her shop before seeing a flier on he counter. "Canterlot Checkers Challenge..." she said picking up the Flier. She started to read aloud the information on the fliers and... to be honest she was ever so slightly miffed. "REALLY!!! I was already blue!!! Why couldn't I have just been on the Blue team!!" she said with a groan. "Uuuuuuggh, I appreciate being considered a noble, but now that means I have to be on the team with Upper Crust!! I have to deal with her trying to suck up to everypony on our team while belittling everypony else...." Ice Storm said to herself looking back at the orbs. Despite her brief period of annoyance, they hadn't moved. Well... okay, they were constanly moving... they were orbiting her, but their orbit didn't change. "Well, that's a good thing. Doesn't seem the magic of the game affected those at all. Twilight would be pretty angry if Discord's magic broke these for a game considering how much work, the three of us did to get these under control..." she said to herself before stepping outside. 

 

As soon as she did, she found herself locked in place into a checker square. She looked back down at the rules of the game and sure enough, checkers was checkers. They would have to move diagonally... She only wondered how many ponies would end up being on each team. One thing was for sure... She was determined to be the queen. To capture as many as she could... She would be the domnination of Canterlot for the Day! "Hehe.... Canterlot will be mine!!! Until tonight... then free snowcones and ice cream for all participants," she giggled as she looked around and waited for other players.

 

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"What in the hay?" Medo asked when she woke up and saw that her hooves were blue. Well... okay, not just her hooves. She was blue. "Oh, right.... checkers... This is going to be an interesting day... at least my mane and tail are still black... although I suppose it's too early to be black and blue... I haven't even done anything yet today except get out of bed!" she said looking around for her clock to see what time it was. She didn't remember what time the game was supposed to start or how far behind she was. when she looked at the clock... it said the same time on it that it did when she went to sleep last night. "Greaaaat Hopefully that's just something with the game.... otherwise I'm going to need a new clock before tomorrow... and because of the game, I'm sure everything is going to be closed..." she said to herself. "Welp, might as well see what's going on outside. No since in staying here. Today is supposed to be fun after all. Wonder what other randomness is going to happen today," she said as she stepped outside. "Okay... so the rules said that I could only move diagonally.... and I'm on a red square... that means I have to stay on red squares... so.... I guess I'll go this way," she sat starting to move diagonally towards the right.

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Finally.

Dunnie descended down the steps of Blueblood's house to the street. She was on break after a relatively easy morning, not that they were ever as stressful as working in a restaurant. But, in the lul between making lunch and dinner, Dunnie decided to relax for a bit and probably relax at a cafe and go shopping. However, as she looked down on the street for a landing spot, she noticed that the whole street was patterned like a grid. She glanced left and right, the whole road was the same, colored with perfect squares. "Thorough prank."

 

Her wings carried her back down to the steps to the house, where she landed on a sheet of paper. When she looked down, she noticed she was all red. What the... am I dreaming? Or is this some elaborate magic? Quickly she swiped up the flyer that was under her hoof. She scanned the document, searching for information. Giant game of checkers, commoners blue, nobility red. Wait. "What?! I'm not a noble!" She blurted out in surprise as she glanced down again at her now red body. "Somepony's got it all wro--!" She stepped down onto the grid and was teleported to Canterlot Castle.

 

The warping sent her mind into a tailspin, "Eugh." She struggled to keep her hoofing, so she wrapped a hoof around this large, soft, red object to keep balance. Little did she know it was a horned beefcake from Neighpon she had a leg around.

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All Earth Writer wanted to do was get home.  That is, if home was still there for him.  The possibility was doubtful, even before Discord's loopy ludological laugh-fest was lumped upon the denizens of Equestria.  For many years now, the unicorn stallion had spent more time in foreign than domestic lands, but still maintained his connection to his home city of Canterlot through regular articles to the Canterlot Chronice.  But that was before... Heart Stopper, and Kastrot.

 

Both names left a bitter taste in the now-disgraced former reporter's mouth.  He'd sold his integrity, for what?  Barely enough bits to pay for passage home.  While once quite willing to talk to fellow-travelers, eager for both the experience and potential copy, Earth had ridden the trains in solitude, stopping off late in Ponyville to sleep in a real bed while he could still afford it. 

 

He emerged from said bed in the morning, looking not one whit more kempt or pleasant than the stubble-bearded rumpled-shirted stallion that had collapsed into it last night.  There was, however, one major difference, which only dawned on him after his first cup of complimentary copy.  He was no longer tan with a black muzzle.  Instead, he was blue, from his mane to his frogs!  *Oh, great.  Nice to see my outer color match my inner mood.*

 

The checkerboard, a source of joy to many foals of a board-gaming disposition, brought a more bittersweet mood to Earth Writer on the sight.  "What a story this would be!  If I was still on the paper..."  Of course, if the Blue side were to win, and were he to be crowned king.... Well!  That might be the possible way out of his hopeless situation!  

 

That realization dawned on Earth suddenly, shaking him to a greater state of alertness than any caffeinated beverage could do.  He could play for a second chance, and by Celestia's big bushy beard, he was playing to WIN.  Scarfing down a stale crossaint, the stallion put on his trilby and his game face, barging out of the door onto the first red square he saw, calling out to the mare across to his left.  "Alright!  Let's go take the castle!"

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Taira took the missive with a frustrated grunt, his eyes scanning over the parchment for details until he looked up back up... only to find the spirit gone. Discord was just as wily as the legends told. 

 

The old kirin took in a deep breath, noting that a couple other magical presences were popping in around him then exhaled a weary sigh. Of course it had to be checkers. Taira wasn't a terribly big board game player. Whenever he did play, it was almost always with Niju. To this day he'd never managed to beat her, though that could be because somehow every time it looked like he was doing well the board wound up getting knocked over. Well, there was no way she could flip or 'bump' into this big ole' board so maybe he had a shot! "Only one way to find out I suppose." He mused to himself as he rolled his shoulders and did a couple stretches to limber up. 

White A pair of white lines crossed eachother beside him, it soon dawning on him that he was in the 'corner' of his space. He was about to take a step forward when a popping noise came from right beside him and he found himself suddenly being embraced by a mare! ... The mountain pony let out a very unponylike yelping noise as he was grasped. He blinked once and put his hoof to his muzzle as if inspecting it, then let out a sigh of relief. He cleared his throat before speaking up, "So... You've been pulled into this game too, hm?" He asked, a little bit concerned about how this game might react to these two pieces touching.

 

 

 

 

 

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As more arrived on the board, or awoke to find themselves the targets of the chimera's manic delights some became quite focused on a goal while others decided it was better to just go through the motions. Those were the miserable lot not able to find their inner foal. Taira, the old mountain goat, seemed to have met one of his companions on the side of kings! When the chef and mountain goat collided there was a strange noise before poit! The two were stood side by side within their respective squares. It seemed they could not hold the same space for long before the board decided they were out of bounds.

 

Some nobles had the head to enjoy the day off, even some of the citizenry found it was more approachable to pass out fliers to their restaurants and hotels while they were caught in a literal tourist trap.The reporter found himself allied with a Neighponiese mare, the pony blinking as she was beckoned by the stallion. "Are you stuck here too? What's going on?" She bounded along her squares with relative ease, her leaps agile and acrobatic. "Is this normal here!?"

 

For Icy it was going to be one heck of a day. Free ice Cream? That was right up Discord's alley! But it seemed Icy's hunt would be met with a troublesome trial. While she made forward march, a pair of nobles stood arguing about who should move into the square first. In front of them was a spooked deliverypony who had been on his way to deliver a pizza! He looked to her pleadingly, the pockfaced lad only trying to do his job!

 

Medo now blue as the sk-- well the sky was green now. Maybe they switched spots? In the distance the reporter and bouncy mare would be seen over a few hundred squares of mix and matched colors! The Castle, relatively, was hardly a distance for ponies but it was no short trot to its courts. The guards were hardly of noble bloodlines so the castle was wholly unguarded as they were sent to the blue field and nobles, who were in no place protecting the gates had no choice. They too had a desire to win this game and would do all they could to interfere. 

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Grim Solace didn't typically come to Canterlot.  His typical practices were frowned on particularly harshly by the ponies that lived there, and for that matter his attitudes likely weren't received well either.  Granted, all that was mostly speculation on his part, but what little time he had spent in Equestria's capitol supported the assumptions, even if it hardly made for a complete account.  He wouldn't turn away from a situation in Canterlot that needed his attention, but that was the most he could say for the city.  He had no other reason to come here.

 

Well, almost no other reason.  As much as Grim Solace prided himself on his ability to be independent, he could not do everything on his own.  There were a number of rare materials that he lacked the time or expertise to acquire for himself, and of the two remaining options for magically active materials, he much preferred academia to the black market.

 

Grim Solace had spent most of the day inside thus far, and so while he had felt the tingle of some sort of large scale magic, he hadn't known what it was or what it signified until he stepped back out onto the street.

 

The moment Grim left the doorway he immediately noticed the change, or at least one of them.  This was not the part of town he'd entered, let alone the building or door.  This was a part of town he didn't recognize.

 

A shift of location would have been irritating, but easily solvable.  If only that were the only thing affecting him at the moment.  His coat seemed to have changed colours, now a dark shade of blue instead of his usual grey, though it still managed to be somewhat sombre.  The ground was similarly...'decorated', covered with alternating colours of squares.  Trying to move, having not yet decided if he would aim to escape or to confront the source, he found he couldn't, unless he shifted diagonally.

 

Just as Grim's confusion was reaching it's peak, a paper floated conspicuously down to his hooves, and he finally had an explanation: checkers.  A foals game.  He vaguely remembered playing it sometimes when he was young, but that was ages ago.  It was perhaps fortunate that instructions were provided, even if he would have far preferred not to have need of them in the first place.

 

Grim's 'companions' were chittering in his ears, just as anxious as he but not as skilled at containing it.  “Hush,” he muttered under his breath, “this is only temporary.  If not meant to be, I will make it so.”  He noticed he wasn't the only pony so affected, perhaps it would be better not to speak with his usual company unnecessarily, lest he start getting funny looks from his teammates.  Speaking to the apparently empty air was the sort of thing which got one remembered.

Indeed, Grim wasn't the only pony affected.  Already, another blue-tinted pony was calling forth a charge of sorts.  Much as Grim didn't like charging forward without a plan, the only way out did seem to be through.  And besides, what's the worst that could happen?  Being captured could only mean one was out of the game.

 

With a nod toward the other pony Grim began walking forward, stepping on such spaces as the game allowed him, in a steady advance toward the castle some ways distant.

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Well, this certainly was interesting, he had yet to see anything like it. Nensho stood in his typical disguise, though for some reason he was much more blue than normal. He wasn’t entirely sure why until he found the paper explaining things. Commoner? Well, he certainly wouldn’t consider himself a noble...

 

In any case, looked like he could have some fun playing a giant game of checkers, the rules seemed simple enough. Although with a board this big, he wondered how they would go back to get any they missed. Or was that solely the job of this king/queen for their side? Only time would tell, he supposed. 

 

The disguised okami was about to head out when something caught his nose. A very faint smell, but a somewhat familiar one. Where did he know that smell from? To find out, he started to move towards the smell as the game allowed, which happened to be towards the castle anyways, cracking his neck a bit as he walked. 

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This was going to prove top be an interesting day, and more than likely it was going to be a day that would try Ice Storm's patience. Not that it was easy to irritate Ice Storm to that point, but today was meant to be chaotic, and she knew that other ponies would be confused, bickering, or Luna only knew what else. It was only a matter of time before somepony started berating another. Especially once nobles and commoners started intermingling. For now though, things were just starting. Already though, Ice was forced to come to a stop. Apparently there was a descrepency already as pair of nobles couldn't decide who should move first and then a delivery pony that was apparently just trying to do his job. Gosh, this was going to be a bad day for ponies who weren't participating in the game. She wondered why some of these places were still even open. Pizza Delivery of all of them! there was no way to guarantee a pizza Delivery!! All somepony had to do was jump over the delivery guy, and the pizza would never get delivered! That would kill their reputation!!!

 

Ice Storm herself was going to be nice and let the pony pass. She moved up directly behind the nobles. She knew the rules of checkers well. She wasn't gonna get double jumped!! "Quick delivery pony!!! Jump over them!! You can get to your destination!" It was true they would need as many pieces later, but it was her understanding that there could only be one king, in her instance, queen. At least if she remembered the rules correctly. Besides, both of these nobles were mean. They didn't deserve it. Off in the distance though, she did see a couple of other nobles. A Kirin and a pegasi that looked to have landed on him... before getting moved to another square by the game. Ice made a mental note that contact was not allowed in the game. So occupying same square was impossible.She could use this later to her advantage.

 

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As she started moving away from her home on the red squares, Medo found herself taking in the sight of the city, and how different it was. With the sky being green, and her coat now a shade of blue, anypony that knew her could make a joke about her changing the sky. Of course, she didn't have anywhere near the power to do that. All of her ability was in medicine. Natrual medicine that is. She avoided the chemical medications like the plague. Some of the chemicals that were used.... just weren't meant to be inside or on a pony's body. The natural remedy sometimes took longer, but had no side effects... which meant a full recovery, and when aided with magic, these healing affects could be bolstered.

 

However, this was neither the time nor the place to recount some of her lessons in the college. If she didn't pay attention, she could find herself out of the game, and honestly... she didn't want to find out what happened to the captured ponies. She was certain it wasn't anything bad, but... no pony could ever be too sure of things. As it was though, she was a bit startled when another pony appeared next to her. She was immediately concerned that it was an opposing piece, but was relieved to see that it was a fellow commoner. Another unicorn, though she couldn't say that she recognized him, at least even less now that the game was changing everypony's colors. She supposed that was to be expected though, she didn't know very many ponies here at all. It wasn't like she was back home where she knew everypony in the village. When he hollared to the castle, she smiled. "Already heading that way myself. Keep your guard up though. I don't know the consequences for being captured," she said. "Perhaps it's best to move in pairs. Prevents them from ganging up on us," she added waiting for him to move along side her.

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Seeing another blue piece come up behind him, Earth Writer felt a little bit more secure.  For a second, he had feared that his side would be outnumbered and outflanked!  Of course, neither Grim Solace nor the disguised Nensho seemed up to giving him more than a nod, leaving the reporter without much to reply with save a wave and a shouted "Good Luck!"  *But not too good; I do want to be the King myself, though that will be ultimately pointless if those nobles end up winning...*

 

The thought set his mind back to his early foalhood.  He rather enjoyed board games as a colt, and checkers had been an early favorite.  Actually, it was surprising how much was coming back to him now; he had a knack for quick assessing of position and situation, part of his talent as a geographer, though a different aspect than the one of traveling writer he'd focused on up until now.  It took some time to scrape the rust off the mental gears, but they were turning nicely by the time Medo suggested strategy to him.

 

"Hm, what?  Actually, I don't think so."  He shook his head firmly, rejecting the suggestion of pairing up.  "Remember the multi-jump rule?  If you bunch together too much, you end up latticing your pieces, like this:"  He ripped pages from his notebook, whipping them about in an attempt to illustrate his point

 

"See us now?"

[  ][  ][X]

[  ][X][  ]

 

"If we move as a pair, we could end up like this:"

[  ][X][  ]

[  ][  ][  ]

[  ][X][  ]

 

"Or this:"

[  ][  ][  ]

[X][  ][X]

[  ][  ][  ]

 

"Both of which allows a double capture!"  He concluded, bunching the papers back into his pocket.  "You gotta be careful out there; your own pieces can get you into trouble if you don't watch for the opportunities they present to your opponent!"  With that bit of free advice, admittedly slightly tinged by his recently-acquired cynicism, he bounded off.

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Grim would become a variable inside an already carrying game. Checkers had a rather straight forward set of rules conditioned over years of foalhood play. When the sullen participant begrudgingly budged to partake in the parade he brought with him a piece of the pi... In short Grim was withing earshot of the arguing nobles who thought they could talk the other into jumping the pizzapony! With the nobles too busy arguing they would leave themselves open...

 

Taking  Ice Storm's advice he would nod and steel himself. He would jump over one of the nobles and take off to the next space. The one jumped over would blink as he felt s pull and poof! Into the penalty zone! He would appear on the Botique side, seated behind a white line he could not pass. Well at least refreshments were offered... Medo and Earth Writer shared their topics on teaming up. It was a sound refusal, but somepony didn't tell the nobles that! They thought teaming up would better their chances so there were now two, side to side, heading on toward Writer with a grin.

 

Nensho would soon be able to see a deliverypony hop over s noble and send him away, which left Ice Storm, a red piece, and another noble, who was left dumbfounded and angry at the mare. "You're a red piece!" He'd competitively dictated to her. With Nensho being blue that would give him a chance to capture either.

 

Taira and Dunnie has a bit to catch up to themselves. Still nearer the castle entrance many of the more competitive ponies has gone out to win themselves the elusive title!

 

 

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Dunnie grunted as she was pushed back to the next available square flopping onto the ground but quickly standing back up, resuming her annoyed demeanor. It seemed as though there were a few other red pieces going up against a few blue pieces. A surprising turnout, given the size of the city. Maybe most of the ponies had the intuition to not leave their homes while something was so obviously off.

 

"You!" She turned and pointed her hoof at the hunky kirin, "I want to give a piece of my mind to whoever started all this. And the fastest way to get that done is by winning this game. I don't care who wins as long as I can get my shopping and cafe time in before I have to go back to work!" She turned and tapped her hoof to her chin, "Actually, if you help me get this over with quickly then you and whoever you want are invited to dinner at the Blueblood residency. What do you say?" She clasped her hooves together, slitting on the floor while doing her best to make big puppy eyes to drum up some sympathy.

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Taira's first thoughts were, 'Whats a Blueblood residence?' but realizing that she was offering food either way stopped him from actually saying that. "Free food, hm?" Niju and himself had only recently arrived in Equestria and they'd mostly brought food from home. The old kirin had always been curious about the foods of other cultures. From what he could recall about the cuisine of the land of the princesses, things were varied. If they had a large enough menu maybe he could order some fish rather than the green all these equestrians ate.

 

"Deal." He bows his head to her and stretched himself out to limber up, "I suppose I should start us off. If I remember right we can only move diagonally... so..."The stocky kirin made his way towards the corner of his space. He put his hoof outside of the boundary and stepped onto another tiles and out towards the gate. Taira took a deep breath, noting the curious smell of competition in the air, someone was playing this quite seriously. Stranger still he caught the scent of another familiar presence! Figured he'd have to compete against a younger member of his kind, it was the fate of any pack leader.

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As the ponies played it came into notice that the fileild was slowly sheinking or.. were they growing? During the course of the game the ponies and like would find their size coming to fit the large board. It would not be easier to clear spaces in a single step and jump over opposing pieces.

 

With this alteration they would now be able to see everypony on the board. The pizzapony yelped and headed towards the castle. With one noblepony captured and the other facing threat of the blue side was on the way.

 

Time is ticking my little ponies....

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At this point Ice watched as the pizza pony jumped over the noble piece and the "piece" disappeared and went into some sore of penalty box type thing. It was kinda funny, She poked her tongue out at the rude nobles as she walked by them and kelp making her way for the boutique. She would have to try to position herself, as she could now see everypony else on the board. She spotted Medo off in the distance, and was actually the only other pony that she recognized in the game. She was unfortunate enough to be placed on the blue team. Not unfortunate because it meant that she was a commoner! No, Ice didn't care about that. It was unfortunate because the blue team was going to lose! If she couldn't be on the blue team, despite being blue, then she was going to dominate the blue team. She started moving towards them a bit, knowing that if she could get the right angle, she could get really close to the boutique. If she judged it wrong though, she could get taken herself though. She was decent at tactical planning though, so as long as she watched what she was doing, she should be okay. She kept her eyes waiting and letting others poke in front of her, making sure to stay at least two spaces back from anything.

 

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Medo nodded at the statement of the other pony. She had completely forgotten about that part. Moving together was in fact a bad idea. With that in mind, it became apparent that even though there were two teams, this was not a team game. There would really only be one winner, and she.... well... she was never really good at board games. She spent most of her time outside, even when it was raining. While she knew the rules to most board games, actually having the strategies to play them was a completely different thing. Some of them were simple enough though, and she started moving in a diagonal line just really, trying to avoid other ponies. Before she knew it, she was standing right in front of a massive Kirin... and.... he was red... Oh dear.... this wasn't going to end well for her.... "Um.... hi?" she said with a sheepish smile. Maybe if she was nice he wouldn't jump her... Little did she know of the must jump rule  though.

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Well, well, well, wasn't life just the funniest thing?  Here Earth Writer had just finished teaching Medo about basic strategy in checkers, and here were a right pair of noble ninnies, trotting right into his hooves with a prime example.  Grinning as they approached, the stallion bent down as if in a mocking bow, before springing into a double-jump!  The laughing unicorn had just enough time to see the looks on their faces before they were bounced straight into the penalty box.  Two captures for the blue team, Huzzah!

 

"Aha!  Did you see that?"  He whipped around, only to find his protege facing certain capture at the hooves of an enormous kirin!  Well, two for one wouldn't be a bad trade this turn, but he was going to have to play better for his team if he was going to pull out of this with a win.  But he felt confident, holding his head high... much higher than usual, in fact.  *Huh, I think I can see my old house from here.  Well, Canterlot, here I come!*

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Well, things seemed to be getting interesting, now that they all seemed to be growing. Or the city was shrinking, he couldn’t really tell...

 

Regardless, he had more pressing matters in the form of the crowd of red in front of him. Well, three reds, and a blue on the other side, but hey. Nensho grinned a bit, leaving the unicorn mare to her own devices in favor of the easier prey. He charged, jumping the noble and giving a laugh as the pony disappeared, then turning to head further towards the castle. 

 

One advantage of this new size was he could see the whole field, and it was pretty clear who that familiar scent was now. Of course it was him. Better than Toboe, though she probably would’ve been on the blue team anyways, but still. 

 

“<Taira, right? Been a while, how’ve you been?>” Nensho called in neighponese, partly to greet him and partly to distract him from the mare he seemed to be staring down. “<Shame we’re on opposite sides, means I’ll have to crush you.>”

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Grim held no ill will toward his teammates.  Perhaps, in better circumstances, they could have had a nice conversation.  As it was however, priority was to be kept on resolving the current situation, the game, such as it was.  He was fully intent on doing just that.  However, he was stopped by what one might describe as a screeching in his ear.  His companions could get... excitable, when the wanted got something in their heads.  “No, that is unnecessary, I am sure they are perfectly capable of-” he was cut off by more rapid chittering.  He looked back, only to find that he'd made too much distance from his teammates, who were no longer in comfortable earshot and where enacting their own moves.  “...It's a moot point anyways.  The only way to talk to them now would be to go backwards.”  More chittering.  “Well, do you want me to play the game, or sabotage my own chances to tell them that?”  This time silence followed.

 

Grim stopped himself from saying 'that's what I thought' as he came across a pair of nobles, loudly arguing over who should move and capture a hapless delivery pony, caught up in this whole mess.  By holding his tongue, he was able to sneak up with them unawares.  He got into position just in time to hear another red-tinted pony shout for the would-be victim to jump over his aggressors.  When the pizza pony finally listened, Grim made his own move.  He tensed for a moment, then took a galloping start before leaping over the second noble could react to something other than his friend vanishing.

 

Grim landed heavily on the opposite square, which brought him to a space adjacent to the mare who'd spoken up.  A voice in his ear helpfully reminded him this meant they couldn't capture each other, with neither able to move in a way that would put the other at risk.  Though filing away the information, Grim pointedly avoided reacting to the voice, and that was only partially due to the reaction he might get.  With nopony immediately ahead of him, he took a moment to assess.  He had planned to ask the red-tinted mare if she had merely been generous or if she too wanted the game to end, but with the other nobles dealt with and the pizza pony away, she had moved on.  Just as well, perhaps.

 

The voices were muttering again, though this time Grim couldn't quite tell what they were on about.  He took a step forward, intent on getting a slightly closer look at his surroundings, only to stumble a bit when his hoof landed further ahead than he expected it too.  Oddly enough, the lane seemed... smaller... hmm.

 

Spoiler

Apologies for the delay, I moved and got a new job recently, and the newfound business has wreaked havoc on my posting schedule.  Let me know if I missed or misinterpreted anything, and I can try to correct it.

 

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Dunnie grinned at the Kirin's response. "Good, I knew you would be reasonable. Now." She took a glance out at the playing field, eyes darting around as she scanned positions of fellow red pieces. "There!" A red unicorn with a long mane and tail who was alone and an open target for any coordinated group of blue ponies. "Quickly, we must go help her out!" She commanded the stallion, not waiting for a response before hopping off. A large group ganging up on loners was a good tactic, now they would just need to form a large group themselves and steamroll the blue team.

 

Little did she know as she hopped off she missed a small detail: a blue player had positioned herself in front of Taira, and as Dunnie bounced off to support the blue player, she had unknowingly bounced ahead of Taira, just far enough to not help. "C'mon! Keep u--" Her command was cut short by the sight of Taira's position. "Uhhhhh. You in the blue? If you let yourself get caught I'll treat you to dinner at the Blueblood residence." The literal only advantage she had.

 

Though she kept her head on a swivel, so no ponies could sneak up on the three.

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Free food was always a particularly good incentive, but in the Pizzapony’s case it was the worst time for somepony in the castle to order a pizza. With now three nobles in the penalty box, two slammed in there thanks to Writer, the Blue team was already at an advantage. The red Kirin now faces Medo, in fact with all of Canterlot in view the boxes didn't seem all that gigantic as they were. They were big enough for the participants to stand in, but too small to occupy the same space. It made for a tight field.

 

Make that four nobles as the disguised youkai visitor sent another noble to the box. They seemed quite annoyed despite their comforts. They complained and stamped their hooves as tea was served by a ponyquinn given life by Discord's games.

 

Five!

 

Grim took out a noble in a flash, he who had been absorbed with arguing over quantity rather than the quality of the game. For shame. Grim went on and would find they were not too far from the Pizzapony with his off-copper fur and black, docked tail he seemed to hardly fit in his uniform as he carried the hot pizza on a bag on his back. Something about him… he was staring ahead at… oh.

 

The Pizzapony flopped on his rump and snorted. “I'm never gonna get my tip…”

 

It seemed Dunnie would try to bribe Medo, but what would she do? A free meal at Blueblood’s with a chef or… whatever the heck Discord was offering as a prize? Was it worth bringing the game into disarray?

 

But… was that part of the rules? Certainly it was the rules of checkers, but what was the rule of this game? So far it was do not share a square. But they were not dark and light pieced and were, instead: red and blue. The field was much larger than average, some of the larger boards being 10x10. They also knew the reds’ goal was the Boutique and the blues' the castle.

 

….could they change the game's rules? After all checkers was with fourteen or more variants of the game, each with their own rules across Equus. Were all the rules viable?  The rule saying one must take their piece was only introduced later after all and didn't exist in some versions.

 

Discord himself took a loooooong sip from his drink and chuckled as he laid on a large, pink cloud pulled across the sky as he watched the giant players from above. His gaze drifted toward the Pizzapony for a moment who has taken off again for the castle.

 

Wait.

 

“Long live the king.” He slurpped.

 

That was Discord's piece!!!

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With the growth of the players, or shrinkage of the world, finally leveling off, Earth Writer found himself now well able to take in the whole board position.  His team were pretty strong at the moment, being up a full five pieces, though that could shift at any moment.  The unicorn was quite proud to have swelled that capture number, but now the question remained, how to best approach his next move?  Continue as a lone sidewinder, or back up another of his team?

 

*That will have to depend on the tactical opportunities that present themselves.*  There didn't seem to be any of them right now as juicy as the double-capture he'd just pulled off.  With Medo about to be captured, though... that would put the large Kirin within two spaces of Earth.  A hop could make that diagonal-adjacent, making the forced capture a forced trade.  It would be risky, though, with the pegasus he could see following behind.  Too much hesitation, and it would be Earth walking into a trade.

 

"No time."  He muttered to himself, making the jump to position himself.  Multi-captures were what would be needed to reach the castle faster, anyway.  And he wanted to be king, oh so much...

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Taira's brow arched as the world shrunk around him and the other players. This was an odd but not unfamiliar feeling to see all the large structures reduced to the size of those impressive models seen in those kaiju battle films back in Neighpon. Once the growth period ended Taira's ears perked and his nose twitched. He knew that scent and that voice calling over to him! "Nensho-san!" He beamed brightly over to the stallion with the voluminous mane,"<Good to see a familiar face! I've been doing alright, Me and the missus have decided to do a bit of traveling... at least we picked an interesting time to visit this place.>" 

 

Nensho's taunt made Taira freeze in place then turn to face the younger stallion with a devious grin. His glamour faded somewhat, accidentally exposing his normal conical teeth to his competitive opponent. "Crush me will you?" Taira rolled his shoulder and puffed up his chest, "Sounding awful confident for a pup...  Let's see if you can catch me." 

 

On might not expect a stallion with all the grey in his mane to have jumped as high as he did but he managed to completely clear Medo's head as he completed the first capture of the game. As the kirin soard over the fresh smelling mare's head she would call out an apology, "Sorry to make you my first victim, but I'm not letting Niju win this game!" Landing nimbly on his hooves he turned in Dunnie's direction, "Keep an eye on that stallion by you, He's a hairy adversary!"

 

 

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The way that everything was going so far... it seemed like this was going to be fairly easy. Ice kept pushing her way through the lines of fire as she moved. However, she was caught off guard by a sudden shift in board size... bringing her much closer into proximity with others than she wanted to be in. she watched as the Qirin next to her jumped over the unicorn she recognized as Medo and she instantly slid into that spot to get out of the jumping situation that the shift had put her in. If the board is shifting against us, I'll have to be a bit more careful... the downsize put me right in front of an enemy... she thought to herself as she looked around now from where she was. There was still another commoner next to her, however since ponies could only move diagonally, she was safe from being jumped. This was going to be more complicated than she thought.

 

"Alright... it looks like from her... it will require some special maneuvering.... At this possible moment there is no way for me to move in a way that will allow me to land on the boutique.... I'll have to find something... perhaps there is a weird power up item or something that will let a pony move sideways... I guess I'll have to look for that before I can move towards the end goal," she said aloud to herself.

 

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Medo wasn't sure what was going on. Well.... yeah, she was.... she was about to get captured... The stallion apologized and then jumped over her... just like that she felt herself blink out of existence before finding herself in a box of sorts. She huffed. It seemed like she was the first pony that was from her team to captured. "Ah horsefeathers... I've never been good at games," she said looking over to see the ring leader of the game. "Why couldn't this have been like a Scavanger hunt or something like that! I'm good at those!!" she shouted in frustration but no anger. "Now I get to sit here and be bored, with no one to entertain me... Looks like I get to yap yer ear off now." she said being a bit dramatic trying to push Discord's buttons. Maybe she could gain some sort of super powers if she annoyed the super power enough. Or at least annoy him enough to put her back in the game and out of the box.

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