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Teacups to Tenochtitlan (ATTN: tacobob)

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In the cozy little teahouse there was a diamond dog with a sword. The blade left leaning against the wall in its sheath while the owner calmly sipped some fragrant tea. It was nice to be able to find a place that brewed the tea close to the way it was back home on the mountain. The unusually classy canine sipping as he thumbed through a book. The Title was: “Lore of Equestria: Tenochtitlan Basin Volume 2”.

 

The book was full of various mythical accounts of sacred artifacts, ancient treasures, the various pony tribes there that protected the various ancient tombs. Seemed like most of them had apparently made appearances in those Daring Do books that were so popular around here. Finding just one that supposedly hadn’t been found, lost or returned to it’s pedestal by the heroine was strangely frustrating. Even if the events were fictional it would lessen the impact of this dog finding any to make use of himself if somepony popped up to say “Daring Do did it first.”

 

Hogo-sha let out a sigh through his nose and leaned back in his chair, “Isn’t there some sort of ancient artifact in the Basin somepony hasn’t retrieved yet?” He asked to noone in particular.

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It had seemed like forever that Pocket Change had been on an adventure or at least away from his stuffy old office! He had been busy pulling double-duty both at a private Canterlot college as an professor's assistant along with his duties with the Spellbound Magic Guild. His job at the school was rather fun and kept him on his hooves. He would help his former teacher, now professor with all manner of duties, from grading papers to putting together materials needed for lectures.. Not to mention tutoring a few students when needed.
 
During his break, he had received a letter from an old friend that he was needed....By a Diamond Dog? Really? The unicorn knew about such creatures, and they usually fell rather short in the intelligence department. Some were downright cruel. However, he did think well of an friend of his sisters...An rather pretty little pup named Eutony. And while she was sweet and rather friendly, the poor girl was as thick as clotted cream, that had been left out by some clot, and now the clots were so clotted, so she couldn't unclot them with an magic de-clotter.
 
He would need to meet this dog at teahouse. Really? Such an odd place to meet such an odd creature. But Pocket was intrigued. Maybe he was the bodyguard of an rich heiress that needed him to find a valuable thingamabob that she would pay him a king's fortune? Guess there was only one way to find out.
 
The stallion slowly entered the small parlor. So far, there were mostly ponies...A rather sweet little white griffoness...And another pony. Was he late? Or too early? Pocket's ears quickly perked up as he heard a voice...And saw what he thought was a wolf? No, he was a Diamond Dog!
 
"Mister Hogo-Sha?", the polite pony nodded his head, "I'm Pocket Change from the University. I was told you sought out help..."
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The diamond dog's ears perked up at the sound of Pocket's voice. He looked surprised at first... the university certainly worked fast. He'd sent out that letter less than a week ago and already someone had responded to it. "Ah!" Hogo-sha stood up from his chair and gave a formal bow in greeting, "It is a pleasure, Mister Change. I'm glad to see that the university took an interest in my request for aide." He gestured to the chair opposite him with a smile, "Please, have a seat if you'd like!"

 

Once Pocket took his seat, Hogosha would slide the book his way. "To be blunt... I'm looking for an artifact in that book. Not one in particular... but one that hasn't been found yet. One that would bring quite a bit of prestige to both of our names if we can find it together."  Hogo-sha was trying to be honest but he had a habit of trying to cut to the point when it was necessary. Having that Daring Do book on the table as well may have added to a feeling of urgency. "I have a certain gift that helps me locate magical items easier than others... and I can protect you from just about any threat we come across."

 

 

 

 

 

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This all made sense now. He was not a common Equestrian Diamond Dog. With the exception of poor Eutony, the upright standing dogs were better left at the kennel. He was an rather handsome fellow with well brushed fur and an stylish coat. Just hearing him speak, the pony knew this fellow was also well educated. "Yes, the university always takes its requests very seriously, and since school is currently out for the holidays, things have been rather slow.", he did not feel the need to mention that his mare-friend, Moony had also been out of town for TWO DREADFUL WEEKS. Equestria had also been going through the longest period of harmony in recent years. Creatures from all walks of life were now considered allies of his kind. It was now common to see griffons, dragons, yaks and other races in his beloved city. Attending the schools. drinking at the pubs and being good sports and all. With friends like these at your side, who in their right mind would even think about invading or even causing trouble in Equestria?
 
Hogo-Sha presented a book the unicorn was rather familiar with. An copy of an Lore of Equestria book. They made a zillion of these, from what laid below the sands of Las Pegasus to volumes on hidden lairs in Canterlot. "Of course, Everything from The Marentine Codex to the Ring of Destiny have been found...So if this isn't in the books, what do you seek?", his eyes quickly fell upon an menu. There was a really good selection of teas here. What should he get?
 
"I'm a skilled duelist and I have a roster of defensive, non-fatal spells at my disposal. So you won't need to worry about protecting me...Still as partners we will need to keep an eye on each other's backs."  While he doubted they would run into any walking mummies or Daring Do villains, there were always vultures to deal with. Folk that watched others work hard for their discoveries, only to swoop in and try to rob the archaeologists when finished with their work.  "I also have a good magical item detection spell, that I can adjust to fit the magical properties of what you're looking for, so we don't get alerted for common enchanted items." Pocket could only imagine what boring little whozits and whatzits that were enchanted by equally bored unicorn enchanters. Toothbrushes that glowed so its users could brush 'a' brush in the dark. Cloaks that played your very own 'theme song'. Still, the Diamond Dog had a magical talent? Was that even possible?
 
"Also, have you ordered yet?" Pocket was a recent convert to the wonders of Abyssinia tea. He would need to get a cup of Pur'erh. He heard it tasted like pure mana!
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"Well... I did hear some rumors about an mythical blade of somekind by some papers in one of the college's journal." He took a sip of his  of his tea, " I believe it was some blade called 'Chaac' Myth says ancient pegasus chieftains could use it to strike clouds and make rainstorms." Stories involving storms never failed to grab this dog's attention. Perhaps it was his affinity to them. Mom and dad always said he looked like a little thundercloud as a pup. If the rumors about this artifact were true he'd be especially curious if it was in any usable condition, sounds like a once in a lifetime chance to wield a weapon of legend!

 

... but parting with such a thing for the sake of the noble pursuits of archaeology was also good.

 

Hogo-sha smiled and held up his own cup, "I have actually. I'd been hoping to try Pur'erh for a while. I have some spare coin so I'd be happy to pay for your drink." He seemed to fluff up rather proudly at that. "If you've got a magic detection spell , it might be more effective than my temperamental method.... and if you've got some methods of defense then we can definitely watch each other's backs.

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A weapon? The unicorn sighed. Nobody ever wants to look for art, or lost literature, or even one of a kind magical gems? It’s always axes or swords. Items that were better left in the past. As a society, they should have all moved past the need to hurt their neighbors. But this one at least had a non-lethal use. Generally when found, these weapons tended to be simply hung on the wall or deposited at a local history museum. They would gladly take the donation, but for the most part the ‘gift’ would be left in a crate in the museum’s basement.
 
“Reminds me of the Staff of Sacanas that idiot 'Storm King' used..", After he was defeated and shattered into a million pieces, the magical artifact disappeared, most likely into Canterlot Castle's vaults, or even returned to is original owner, if one still existed. "Just with less features.."
 
He paused to order an pot of Pur'erh. Just enough for the pony and dog to enjoy two cups a piece. Almost felt like the dog could read his mind. Or the small advert at the end of the table that SCREAMED 'Enjoy New Pur'Erh' Tea with a rather sassy looking cat shaking her tail.  "Thank you.."
 
"The problem with Pegasus artifacts that they're generally located in places only Pegasus ponies could get to....Crypts located in the very tops of climbable mountains...Cloud vaults...From what I know of Chaac or Chac Xib Chaac, that he is the spirit of rain. Respected by both Pegasus ponies and earth pony farmers of ancient times...He was usually depicted as a Pegasus pony with scales...Almost like a dragon-pony hybrid...", he tried to dig up whatever information he could think of, but it was not much. "Our first step is to locate the nearest earth pony temple of Chac, which is probably going to be very hard to do.." Pocket Change did like a challenge!
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The mention of the storm kind made the dog raise a brow, "The Storm King? Was that the name of that strange person who attacked Equestria a while back?" Internally, Hogo-sha could appreciate the simplistically weighty title of 'Storm king'. It was a shame he couldn't have been around to see how that turned out, This land had amazing heroes of its own and he'd have loved to see how this villain was beaten. If he was going to forge his own legend he had to learn from the best!

He took another sip of his tea as the stallion elaborated on the nature of pegasus artifacts. "I actually think I may have a way to help get us up to a temple in the clouds... although it won't be easy to move around much with. But like you said, locating it would be difficult. I might be able to speed up the process if we had any other magical artifacts from the same temple on hoof, but I'm sure such a request to see one would require a lot of paperwork..." Cloud magic was something Hogo-sha knew a little bit about, but he was nowhere as good as any pegasus, "... and that description sounds sort of Kirin like, doesn't it? I've known a few of them and not many have shown much propensity towards weather manipulation or cloud making." He cupped his chin in thought before looking back to Pocket Change, " 

 

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"Yes, he flew in with a horde of mindless beasts and attacked Canterlot." Pocket could never understand how quickly Equestria was taken over. Some of the most powerful spell-casters in the world lived here and to be humbled so quickly. "I believe he was some sort of elevated yeti monster, probably enhanced by his magic staff. One of my old friends was at a concert the day the attack happened, and he referred to the 'king' as a crazy goat monster. But whatever he was, our local heroes put an stop to his plans and his army.." The unicorn could still not believe sweet little, shy Twilight Sparkle was now a hero. And a princess. And ran a school. A wrote books. And did a million other exciting things.
 
The unicorn smiled as their sever arrived and started work on their tea. A second sever brought a small tray of snacks. There was some strawberry tarts along with a few pieces of lemon cake. Yum!
 
"Thankfully some of these so-called sky temples had other ways of entrance besides flying to the top...I'm aware of flight spells, which are still beyond my reach...And I can cast a walk-on-cloud spell, which is a tricky transmutation spell, which I simply cast on my horse-shoes..And I guess we would need something for you..If we needed the spell. Which I'm hoping we will not.". Pocket's eyes fell upon the book the Diamond Dog kept on the table. "Tenochtitlan Basin....Looks like you know where our first stop will be." There was a reason writer A.K. Yearling used the 'TB' as a setting in more than a few of her books. It had everything an adventure needed! Ancient temples of all sizes. Unique monsters of all kinds. And all kinds of bizarre places to get lost it.
 
Once the tea was ready, the unicorn added a little bit of honey and milk to his cup. "We could meet at the train station....I'll need to stop at home first and gather some suitable supplies...And also make sure my sister waters the plants and looks after my pet." He would also need to send a note to his mare-friend, Moony to make sure she knows he would be away. He really hated how busy she was as of lately. Of course she would be a distraction....Her beauty was supreme....And he would just cover the area in little pink and purple heavy light hearts...And being as clever she is, the mare would probably figure out and find the Diamond Dog's artifact in record time. And where would the fun be in that? Just the thought of the unicorn caused a few hearts to appear from his horn.
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"It always amazes me how quickly this country seems to bounce back from attacks. Still, it is a very admirable trait in this land I'd say." the diamond dog took another sip of his tea and smiled to the pony, "... and Don't worry, Mister Change. If we need to take the skies I have my own ideas for how to get up without the aid of unicorn magic. I'll show you what I mean when we arrive at our destination." It was always fun to lose the disguise in the presence of the unsuspecting, it was one of the little pleasures of being a yokai.

 

It seemed one of the surprises ponies could produce was... magic floating hearts? Was he the only one who could see those? Were they caused by thoughts of his pet or his sister, perhaps familial bonds were stronger in Equestria. They were already very serious about friendship, Maybe Family was of great importance as well. "Well, Um...  I shall meet you at the station and we will embark for the basin on the morrow!"

 

=====One Trip later=====

 

Finally they had arrived. The journey alone had already been quite a trek. Getting to the Basin required a try via airship to Griffinstone and then it was a long hike east. Arrival in the griffin city was rough for the prim and proper pooch Pocket had proceeded with. Apparently, he was allergic to cats and that made him allergic to half of the entire population: specifically the back half. Once they made it past there, It was just  long walk with their equipment. Hogo-sha despite his seemingly noble bearing was happy to carry the supplies, splitting them up with Pocket all the way until they finally could see the jungles of the basin over the next hill.

The dog took a deep breath of the air of the mountains they had been passing through for presumably the last time until his return. "Well then, Mister Change. Since we're here there's something I'll need to confess to you..."

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"Um." The unicorn took a sip from his cup as he imagined other ways they could get into an temple in the sky. There was an catapult. Ouch. Maybe an balloon? The Basin was known to be rather windy. How about a telekinesis spell on himself? He could make himself fly. But there was always a chance a spell can be disrupted. Splat. Maybe befriend a giant bird and have him fly them up? Nope. He wasn't friendly. He was hungry. GULP!
 
"Please just ignore these.", Pocket Change grinned back as he waved away the last of the hard-light magic, "I sometimes get little heart illusions when I think of my marefriend." Thankfully he had yet to suffer from the heart-eyes syndrome. This could call blindness in some cases. "Till then." Once tea was over and the bill had been settled along with a doggy-bag of tarts. The pony left to stock up on supplies.
 
 
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Pocket Change was always prepared, but knowing the hazards of having too much stuff, he packed accordingly. He wore the outfit Javasun had purchased for him awhile back. The light enchantment made the journey a little less steamy. Still, the unicorn DREADED Griffonstone. While things were slowly starting to get just a little better, the adventurer was keen not to stay there too long. Although the perky little 'welcome' griffon with the grey coat was an welcome site. Gal enjoyed chatting and hugging. Pocket's partner seemed to be rather allergic to cats. Gabby's constant need to hug did not help the poor pup. Unlike her fellow griffons, she did not ask for coin when he needed information. If only the dog wasn't so allergic, she would be an idea third companion. She was incredibly gorgeous with her freckles and little pony-tail and sweet Celestia he missed Moony so much.
 
Once they were free of griffons and civilization, the Diamond Dog had something to tell him. Oh no. What could it be?
 
"Yes?", he squeaked as he tried not to let his imagination get the better of him.
 

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The dog took a deep breath and soon it seemed as if his image melted away, his colors remaining mostly the same but his farm shifting from bipedal to quadrupedal. The coat seemed to fade out of existence into the form of a glowing ball (one of several orbiting his neck). With a bit of a yawn the wolf that had took Hogo-sha's place stretched out, harmless arcs of electricity jumping across his dark fur. He smiled calmly at the pony, making sure not to show any teeth and startle to poor archaeologist. 

 

"Surprise!" he said with a playful bark before levitating some of the luggage off his back, "... I usually just have that diamond dog look because I have a harder time taking on pony forms or the like. I swear I've sneezed myself out of them a couple times." The large yokai rubbed a paw to his muzzle before dipping his head to the pony, "I wish to thank you for coming this far with me despite my hiding of the truth." If anything the spirit was excited, that long, flowing tail of his was eagerly whipping about behind him. He looked to the Basin and grinned, "Shall we proceed or do you have any questions?"

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Pocket Change watched as his new partner broke out into a bit of magic. Was he an changeling? Considering those creatures could turn into a new form in the blink of an eye and not require any unique special effects, that was probably not the case.  At first it looked like Hogo-Sha simply ditched his jacket and decided to walk around on all four. But his tail was considerably longer..And he appeared more like a feral wolf than Diamond Dog. There were also magic globes. Hurray! This means there would be no terribly awkward conversation where the unicorn would try to ask why his partner was a good deal smarter than all the other Diamond Dogs he had encountered in the past. No casual racism for their little adventure!
 
"You are an Yōkai...Particularly an Bakemono...", he gasped. He had encountered such creatures before. Thankfully, all were positive encounters. "We can walk and talk..If you wish..", he slowly started to follow after the rather large wolf-ish creature. "So, why the disguise?" They had just left an city where all forms of creatures walked the streets. Dragons. Horses. Ponies. Yaks. Griffons. Changelings. Diamond Dogs. Hippogriffs. Minotaurs. There were probably more that he left out. A large dog was probably the more mundane of the bunch.

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The wolf pondered Pocket's words a moment, "Bakemono?... Well that is technically true. I prefer 'Okami', as does the rest in my family." Hogosha looked over to the stallion with a smile, " As for the disguise... Well, I usually stick to the diamond dog form so as not to stick out too much. That, and it's the only form I'm able to maintain consistently for long periods of time and not be knocked out of them." The wolf sniffled a moment as they grew closer to the verdant jungles, "... And I was raised to be careful around ponies, there are still some in Neighpon who'd love to take my hide for a coat." Like he'd ever let such a thing happen, Hogo-sha loved his coat and all the little arcs of harmless lightning it produced. 

 

"My father got to see first hand the rougher days between yokai and the Neighponese. He seems to have gotten past it mostly, but he raised the rest of us to be careful..." He heaved a small sigh, "... enough about my habits! I've yet to hear about the inspiration of those hearts that floated off your horn? Is that some sort of condition of ponies? Some sort of love curse?" 

 

As they drew closer the fauna around them seemed to change more and more. Rich shades of green, exotic leaf patterns, curious smells, unfamiliar bird calls. It was almost overwhelming! Hogo-sha wrinkled his nose at all the strong scents and levitated a handkerchief to his muzzle, "Hmmm... I think the map of the basin is in the back-left pocket of our bags, could you get it?"

 

 

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“I am rather surprised you stuck with an Diamond Dog form...As they’re not...Er, I mean they are a bit...” The unicorn tried his very best to find an proper and polite word to use. “Addlepated....You might want to act a little less refined, educated and well spoken around strangers as the first time I met you, I was pretty sure something was a bit odd about you...But I understand your need to conserve magic..” He could see why the poor creature needed to hide away as his real form was rather intense. "Thankfully Equestria has become a bit more open nowadays, so you should be safe...safer to show your true self." Someone wanted to kill and skin him so they could have his coat? That sounded like something from the very old and very bad days. One would simply have to be cruel beyond belief to do such a thing. And while the pup's coat was beautiful, nowadays, clothing makers could make a fur coat that matched his companion's and was also dry clean safe.
 
"The hearts? Oh.", let loose a chuckle, "It's just all very silly. When I think of my beloved...My Moony.....Her beauty....mind....body...everything...I instantly cast little heart illusions....They're not even proper spells. Just what we call 'cantrips'. Probably the same thing a unicorn does when he or she is attacked...They would quickly throw up a shield....Or even teleport...Which I have finally mastered, thanks to my Moony...", he let out a sigh. Thankfully no hearts appeared. "They tend to be released if I don't think about them." Curse was a good word! He hoped this would be one of those life-time curses. Forever in love with his sweet matchless marvelous mare.
 
Pocket Change levitated the map from the dog's bag and let it float over into view. "Since vegetation is usually drastically changed near a temple while its occupied, the sudden change in flora will be a good sign of previous civilization...The nearby trees will also be shorter and younger than those that surround them." The pony waited patiently as his partner checked out his map.
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"Well... To be honest, I'm not that skilled at Shapeshifting. Seeing as Diamong dogs are still... well, canine they seemed easier to keep the shape of for a while. I have a pony form I've used in the past but It's felt so awkward to move around in." The wolf looked to his paws as they trudged along through the grass, pondeirng pockets words about equestria being safer. Yokai poachers and their contacts probably didn't come so far out to the west... so maybe he could try and relax like this once in a while. "You raise  a good point about your country, it often seems one of the most kind empires in the world. Especially with that friendship school."

 

Pocket's explanation of his 'curse' was an amusing one. He'd heard things like that with some yokai as well, "Hmm... I had to really train myself to use some of skills I have. Some Of us Yokai seem to have similar... 'cantrips' you called them? I think my father has one that acts up whenever he sneezes. He produces large amounts of mist and can even exhale it and make illusions or alter someone's perception." The wolf's ears flattened, "I seem to mostly just make loud noise and fierce winds.... well , also lightning. I can make that. I do have a reflexive shapeshift spell for situations when the diamond Dog look won't work."  As Hogo-sha walked behind a tree he came out as a stallion dressed in similar garb as his diamond dog form and with the same color scheme...

 

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His gait was a bit stilted and awkward, Having slowed down somewhat before shifting back to his wolf form with a sigh. "So hard to get used to." He muttered before looking eagerly at the map, "I'd love to meet your mate someday, She sounds very kind and knowledgeable!" 

 

As the two went along, like Pocket had predicted: the flora began to show changes... and not far off they could see the outline of a water's edge. Hogo-sha rubbed a paw to his nose as the smell of spores and exitic vistas got to him. "Seems we are making good time!"

 

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The stallion let out a chuckle, "If that's what you consider unskilled, I could only imagine what you could do once you've mastered your shape-shifting abilities."  All of his forms were utter masterpieces. From the wolf, to the dog, and even his pony form. And while his earth pony form was a bit rough and almost reminded him of an rather nasty fella who prefers to himself as 'king', he probably would not have any problems hitting the old 'Pony' Jazz pub in Canterlot and finding more than a few mares that wouldn't mind following him home.
 
"Please feel free to use whatever form you are most comfortable with...Although, would you be able to shorten your tail a bit when we enter this temple?", Pocket Change could only imagine what sort of nasty traps his fuzzy end would set off.  The stallion nodded his head. Cantrips were awesome. Where would he be without his favorite 'phantom stirring' cantrip'?  Was it just a very simple Air Manipulation spell, or was there a real spirit stirring his beverage? Might be for the best if he never found out.
 
"Great. We should be able to....er...", the unicorn's ears perked up. "I hear something...." Were they already to face an epic battle for the first time? Would they face ancient undead temple guardians? Deadly Cipactlis? Timbersnakes?
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