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A Canterlot Castle Haunting [Open!]

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OOC Thread

 

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In the dark of night, something crept by, unseen by the guards who patrolled the grounds and the halls of the marble castle. It cast the faint shadow of a pony on the walls, though there appeared to be no source. It soon disappeared after a moment, making its way inside through one of the lower windows. On occasion the shadow could be glimpsed up on the walls and was gone again- the only thing that was really discernible about the shadow was a curved horn.. and later a flicker of dark magic. After its passing, an eerie air seemed to settle in the castle, something that didn't seem to let up in the days after the shadow's passing. If anything, it only grew heavier, leaving the castle staff on edge, like they were being watched. It would steadily grow stronger, building like a thunderstorm.

 

It'd been only a couple months since a certain king moved into the castle and some of the staff were certain he was behind it. Trying to frighten them. Some of them had already been scared off; the only responses to letters sent out to them was a refusal to return until it all either stopped, or he was removed, and that was something Princess Celestia would refuse to do. If anything, Sombra was tasked to deal with just to give the umbrum something interesting to do.

 

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It was a week and a half after it all started, and King Sombra was still left with no answers- only more questions. There wasn't much that his lovely wife-to-be could do about it, not when she was off busy with her duties and Princess Luna overseeing the dream realm during the latter half of the night- and she'd certainly refused to work with him because of her distrust. It left Sombra disgruntled, alone to deal with it while Princess Celestia was out on some diplomatic visit or another- he hadn't really been paying much attention to what she was saying at that moment, not when he could study her face before she left. He had the gist of it, however.

 

With so strange a task heavy on his shoulders, Sombra used what power he could seized to ensure the rest of the castle was off limits to visitors and picked a spot out in the grand foyer to stand, off to the side, to watch the occasional pony come and go with a sharp eye, all the while pondering what the reason could be for the responsibility falling to him to look into this.. strange matter. He had the skill, and the power, to be sure.. but so far nothing was really making sense. He'd made an effort to keep this issue quiet before any of these ponies could spread horrible rumors or create the sort of suspicion that'd cause problems. The day was beginning to wane towards the afternoon, and he was waiting for it to end before he could really do anything..

 

Sombra quietly rumbled from his place, frowning deeply. Ugh. It didn't help that that.. feeling in the air was putting him on edge too, but he refused to ever show that there was anything going on at all.

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Raven smiled as she walked into the castle, glad that most of the guard knew of her. She waved at one of the one's she'd met when she was younger, when she noticed Sombra standing off to the side of the entry way. Since she'd come to see him, she headed over, and bowed slightly. "Hey, Sombra, how ya doing? I figured we could hang for a bit, maybe do some research or something? If you're not busy, that is..." She said, smiling at him. So far, he'd proven to be everything she'd thought he would so long ago. From what she heard, he wasn't even lashing out at any pony, not even playfully. She suddenly shivered though, feeling like a cold wind just blew through the room...

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Ponies often wondered why Prince Blueblood had a compass rose cutie mark.  After all, it wasn't as if he was the captain of a ship, the sort of profession that a pony would normally adopt after discovering a special talent in navigation.  But like most symbolic representations, the compass signified metaphorical talents as well.  Blueblood was a navigator, yes, of social currents and atmospheres, able to sense which way the political winds were blowing, and the general good or bad vibes that could stir up and swirl about whenever you had enough ponies in one place.  It served him well in his political and diplomatic career, and he was even sensitive to currents and atmospheres of a more... mystical origin.

 

Thus, when he returned to the palace from his latest foray into the hinterlands, the Prince could immediately sense that something was off.  Granted, it was fairly obvious that the guards were in lockdown mode, though they could hardly bar royalty from entering the palace.  But still, there was an eerily familiar chill slinking down his spine, one that reminded him of a certain incident in his old summer house.  *By the rising of my hackles, an evil force has shed its shackles.*  It was at times like these that he regretted not having his regular crew of bodyguards and adventurers that accompanied him whenever he ventured someplace dangerous; though he hardly imagined that coming home to the palace would necessitate any such thing!

Fortunately, he'd brought along a guest that seemed well able to take care of himself, a visitor from the eastern lands who fancied himself a hero.  They certainly made quite an eye-catching pair, the pristine unicorn stallion and the katana-wielding diamond dog.  "So... am I going crazy, or can you sense something wrong too?"  He remarked in a low voice to his companion.

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"You are definitely not crazy." The diamond dog sniffed at the air a few times, "I can feel it in my bones. Something is -very- wrong here... Smells like dark magics. Heady and heavy on the ... aether, is it?" Hogo-sha was glad to have made a good enough impression on the prince to be trusted to tag along on this visit to the palace. He hadn't expected to run into such a thick aura of dread and unease in a place that some days seemed the very heart of happiness in this land. "I'm feeling genuinely uneasy..." He muttered to himself just under his breath, "Your Highness, I don't suppose you had any ominous dark artifacts shipped to the palace recently?"

While there was a hint of levity in the 'diamond dog's' tone, he was worried. Yokai, like ponies were very deeply tied to magic... though in his travels and studies Hogo-sha always heard that they could be especially vulnerable to dark magics. Whether it was a vulnerability to corruption or if it just meant that it was like garlic to a vampire, he wasn't sure. Frankly, he wasn't in a hurry to test it out. It was kind of far back on the to-do list. At the very back somewhere. With Blueblood around and his pride on the line however, this dog was not about to make himself look like a fraidy cat. Especially with the knowledge that the prince's personal 'cat' would never let him live such a thing down. 

"If things get too dangerous, would it be a bother if I dropped my disguise?"

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The guard would definitely not keep anypony from entering the castle; their main concern was keeping ponies out of the rest of the castle that wasn't open to the public, orders that they'd reluctantly taken from a demanding Sombra. The way to the throne room was clear for visitors, of course, to petition or bring something up to the only princess left in the castle. Without Celestia around, there hadn't been too many ponies passing through.

 

Upon seeing Raven come wandering through the tall, entrance doors, Sombra visibly perked up, though the signs were slight- an alertness to his eyes and the way his ears swiveled towards her. Sombra moved from his self-imposed post to greet Raven, a corner of his mouth ever so slightly curling up in a half-smile; not quite his signature, smug smirk. "Raven," the king rumbled softly. "It's been a while," he remarked. The last time he'd ever seen her was during Celestia's birthday party, which had gone rather well despite Stormstride's late appearance and general distaste towards the party. "You came to 'hang out' with me? Hmm." He appeared to consider it, tilting his head; he almost seemed playful, despite the general air of the castle weighing on him. "As much as I might dare to admit that I'd like to, maybe.. although research isn't quite what I have in mind."

 

Sombra reached out to wrap a foreleg around Raven's shoulders in an attempt to draw her close to him, his head lowered close to hers in a conspiratory way. "I have something to tell you. Something's been going on in the castle and.. since you're here, perhaps you can help me with something," he murmured to her, so far vague about what exactly it was. Before he could venture forward with telling her what had been going on, and hope that he didn't sound crazy, Sombra spied a familiar face entering the castle alongside a strange, bipedal creature he'd never seen before.

The stallion paused and straightened up, leaving his foreleg companionably around Raven's shoulders. If he searched his memory, he recalled he hadn't seen Blueblood around the castle as of late, not until now. Grunting softly at his thoughts, Sombra watched the white unicorn and his companion.

 

"Blueblood?"

 

 

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Raven frowned, then smiled. "Of course, I'd be willing to help you." She said, something causing a nagging feeling in the back of her mind. She could feel something about the palace was off, but couldn't quite put a hoof on it. Now that she thought about it, the guards did seem slightly weary, scared even... She frowned at this, though she smiled a bit as she saw the new arrivals. "Blue! It's been a bit... Whose your friend?"

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It wasn't exactly reassuring to have his suspicions confirmed; whatever it said about his sanity, Prince Blueblood would most certainly have preferred to be wrong about an evil presence in the capital building of Equestria.  If there was any comfort to be taken, it was in the power and competence of his companion.  Considering Hogo-sha's questions, he pursed his lips.  "No, but then, this isn't exactly my palace; somepony else may well have.  It is somewhat similar to the feeling I got in my summer home, and that came from great-great grandfather Bluebeard bringing home cursed treasure."  Clicking his tongue at the memory, he caught a sour taste in the air and grimaced.  "Bleah... I think I'll definitely want you at your full power when we run up against... whatever's causing this."  

 

Taking a few more steps as he considered their options, he finally nodded.  "We'll need to consult an expert.  Fortunately, Auntie does keep one around, though not for that exact purpose..."

 

 

It didn't take long for the pair to find Sombra, accompanied by Raven.  Smiling in greeting, he turned to the Umbrum.  "Yes, I just came back from another trip.  I say, there's something in the air here, something not right.  I daresay you know more about it than I do, so how about it, old chap?"

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Hogo-sha nodded his head at Blueblood's response. It was good to have the approval of the prince. Being in this form was nice, but having to use digits and walking on two legs was very awkward. It also made casting any magic harder to do and if this menacing air was any hint, he'd need to make use of all his faculties sooner rather than later. Blueblood bringing up the existence of an expert on this kind of things put him more at ease. Maybe this expert would be welcoming of a yokai's input, "I shall be upfront about my nature with this expert. If he practices some odd magics then I wouldn't want to obscure any of my own magical nature from them."

 

As Blueblood and Hogo-sha drew closer to this expert, the diamond dog noticed that curious scent of dark magic from earlier growing stronger and stronger until they finally ran into a veru curious pair: A mare with an azure coat and a strapping stallion with a nice mane... that he swore he'd seen somewhere before. He could scour his mind later, there was evil that needed thwarting! 

 

The diamond Doog offered both the umbrum and the unicorn a formal bow, "Arashi Doro no Hogo-sha. My friends call me Hogo-sha... or Stormy." Straightening himself back up he would look between the two of them, "Are you the experts that, His Highness spoke of?"

 

 

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Sombra knew that Raven wouldn't refuse him, not when he was her adopted brother. A smirk twitched at the corner of his mouth and his attention shifted back to the newly arrived pair and he could see from here that they were speaking quietly among themselves. If he listened, he could hear the faint sound of their voices across the space, but he couldn't make out any words, not until they started towards Raven and him and addressed them directly.

 

The umbrum withdrew his leg from around Raven's shoulders and straightened up, taking a few steps across the remaining distance between them. Before he could formulate an answer for Blueblood, he heard the strange, bipedal canine's introduction. Sombra was glad that a shorter name was provided- he didn't think he'd deign to bother remembering a long name like that, and not for a stranger. "Experts?" Sombra echoed. "Expert," he corrected, glancing over at Raven. He didn't know how much she might know about dark magic, or anything about what could possibly be causing all this activity in the castle.

 

"I can't say that I know much more about it than anypony else here," Sombra said at last, his inequine red eyes flicking towards Blueblood- he hadn't forgotten the unicorn. "All I've been able to pick up is dark magic, here and there. Like an unusual smell that drifts under your nose every so often and you can't find a source; if I were to put it that way." His snout wrinkled, one side of his upper lip lifting in an expression that might have been distaste.

 

"Celestia is out, currently, so I'm.. intent on handling it, but it's been elusive. Luna's been handling court, when ponies do come. I think that particular problem has more to do with Celestia's absence than the castle, however; I doubt any visitors have seen anything. I'm sure you've noticed that the rest of the castle is off-limits to visitors for that very reason."

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Raven smiled and nodded. "I'm don't know much about dark magic, except what little I've seen Sombra use." She said, before feeling that shiver run down her backbone again. "That being said, I'm... more sensitive to the ebb and flow of magic than most, so hopefully I can help. If nothing else, I suppose I could be a detector." She smiled as she continued. From the sound of what Sombra had said, it seemed as if the source of the magic was moving, or not very concentrated. Either somepony powerful had placed the spell, or it was an ambient effect generated by Sombra presence... She hoped the former, of course. She didn't want to lose Sombra. Between him, Ice, and Blueblood, they'd really helped her come out of her shell...

 

Her eyes widened suddenly as she realized that she hadn't introduced herself. "Oh, Sorry, I'm Raven Shadowfire, last heir to House Dupone. Though most just call me Raven... I'm kinda new to the whole socializing thing..." She said, a little sheepish. She extended a hoof out to Stormy, a soft smile on her face...

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Introductions completed all around, Blueblood nodded.  It was slightly disappointing that Sobmra couldn't immediately recognize what exactly was going on, but these things were hardly as easy as all that in any case.  It was the nature of dark magic to be tricky like that, and no competent wielder would allow themselves to be sussed out at the first go, even posthumously.  "Mmm, nothing specific?  It feels like a curse more than an active enchantment, the sort of thing that lingers around an artifact or grave rather than something done by a living caster, but I've really only dealt with curses before, so I'm not the best judge of such things."

 

He sighed.  With no leads, the only thing to do was hunt them down.  "Alright then, Raven, if you don't have anything on your plate for today, I propose we start hunting it down immediately.  Not straight to the source, but at least dig up enough to prepare to face... whatever it is.  We may have to bring in reinforcements before the end; I know a few who I trust to do an exorcism if necessary."

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"A pleasure to meet you, Raven and ... Sombra, was it?" The  seemed to be in thought a moment, "That name sounds  so familiar. but either way if you are sensitive to the ebb and flow of magic perhaps I can help with that. I may not be a pony but I can certainly sniff out odd magical manifestations if they pop up. Though this place feels a bit saturated in mystical energies." Hogo-sha eagerly shook the offered hoof, he was careful not to do it too hard or too soft for this new aquaintance. "Don't worry about inexperience in social matters... for most of my life I only had my family for company until I set out on my own... It's still can be a bit overwhelming some days."

 

Once the hoof was freed from his grasp he dipped his head, "I am eager to assist however I can, Miss Raven."

 

At Blueblood's mention of curses, Hogo-sha's ears perked up. "I know some about curses, but only a certain type and... a yokai's curse could be different from an Equestrian based curse. Most of ours are based on  broken pacts and can affect the one who made it the same as the one they made a pact with. Sadly,  I can't say I'm the most knowledgeable enchanted either... this sword was made by a friend for me and only she knew how to place her enchantment on it..." He grinned as Blueblood proposed starting up, "I'm excited to see the quest begin!"

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Sombra tilted his head towards Raven's voice and rumbled softly. If what she said was true then perhaps she could help him figure out where all of this strangeness was coming from. As well as the biped, Hogo-sha, if his senses were as good as he claimed.

 

"My name should sound familiar," Sombra replied, lifting his head to meet Hogo-sha's gaze. "I am King Sombra, albeit no longer of the Crystal Empire." It was a good thing he wasn't, for both sides. Equestria was his, now. His possessiveness aside.. he didn't offer his hoof as Raven did, nor perform any other social habits that ponies did during introductions. It was something he didn't see much point in, nor was he the friendliest of creatures.

 

"I'm not sure if it could be a curse. I know curses and this doesn't quite seem to be like one.. But it's hard to tell." His brow furrowed. The word yokai was yet another thing unfamiliar to him and even Hogo-sha's explanation didn't fit. There'd been no broken pacts here, as far as he was aware. Nor did the magic follow him or happen around him. It just seemed to happen in the castle. Still, maybe some of what they, especially Blueblood, had mentioned was worth looking into? With some companions, maybe they could hunt down this source.. if there was one. For all Sombra knew, there wasn't.

 

"Then we should get started." Sombra agreed, moving away to gesture at the guards to close the front door. During their short conversation, Sombra hadn't seen any other ponies coming and going- the number looked to have dwindled. With hope, all visitors had gone, but he'd never know if there were still any other ponies around.. Hopefully there wouldn't be. And he could just hope because he had no interest in hunting down any lingering visitors when they had something more important to get to. "I'm sure all of your skills may come useful."

 

 

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Raven nodded with a smile. "I wasn't really planning on doing much today, was just going to ask Sombra here about some crystals... I kinda want to forge a sword for myself, and I have an idea for a unique design..." She said. She felt that shiver yet again, and frowned, her brow furling... "I agree, we should get started... I'm not sure I'll be able to concentrate on anything else until we get rid of whatever magic's in the air..."

 

She glanced around, especially after the door was shut, taking in the guard. "I'll admit, the part of the castle grounds I'm most familiar with is actually just within the walls, where the guard train and such... As well as the REA supply rooms..." She suggested as a starting point. She'd been there a few times with her parents, when they'd been meeting with old friends. She couldn't help but idly wonder if, between being friends with Blueblood, and family with Sombra, just how far she could get into the palace on her own... Might be fun to try someday, she decided, before returning her thoughts to the matter at hoof...

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Despite the looming cloud of darkness hanging over the place, Blueblood couldn't help but feel a little lighter in his heart.  It always happened like this, whenever he changed from a bystander to an adventurer.  It was addicting, in its own way, which is why he kept doing it, even after so many harrowing and life-threatening experiences.  Facing darkness with good fighting companions was just... right, in some fundamental way.  Perhaps this is what Twilight meant, when she kept talking about the magic of friendship?

 

"Excellent!  Glad to see our little party gelling well."  Yokai disguised as diamond dogs wouldn't necessarily be an easy sell with everypony, but it looked like Auntie Celestia was wise enough with her choice of lovers, at least in so far as the circle around him went.  "I'll cede leadership to you, Sombra.  This is, after all, more your house than mine."  While a common sight around the palace, the Prince had his own manor to call home.  "Now that we're all together... where do you suppose we'd start?  Where does it feel the worst?"

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"King Sombra? ... -that- king sombra? The stallion who ruled an empire with dark magic? You're... -that- sombra?" He said his tone betraying his disbelief, "... Well um. You're looking quite well for your age." He cracked a slightly awkward smile and dipped his head, "If you are who you claim than, well I suppose it is a pleasure to meet such a notable historical figure." This was turning into quite the strange day. Haunted Castles and shadowy stallions claiming to be ancient kings? Equestria was truly a fascinating land. No wonder Father had wanted to visit for so long.

 

Bringing his attention back to Raven, Hogo-sha sniffed a few times at the air and had to stifle his urge to retch. He'd caught a whiff of that sour, rotting smell that Sombra had alluded to earlier.  "Well the rankness of whatever curse has befallen this castle is definitely an obscuring presence. I might be able to sniff out where this magic is weakest... or at least in the general direction of where it is weakest." The foreign dog looked between the group, his own knowledge of equestrian magic rather limited. 

 

 

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A grin flashed across Sombra's face, baring many of his pointed teeth at the yokai. "I am exactly who I claim. Being trapped in an icy pocket-dimension beneath the ice as a shadow can do wonders for preserving one's looks," he quipped. Chuckling low in his throat, he turned away with a little toss of his mane.

 

"I'm sure we can look into making this sword after this problem is dealt with, presuming we can do away with it tonight," Sombra told Raven, looking her way as he initially picked a direction to walk in. Whether there were any civilians still in the castle, or if any might have slipped through the door, he neither knew of them nor cared if they were here as long as they didn't get in the way. Blueblood leaving leadership to him encouraged a smirk to flash across his face and Sombra paused then at the question that came afterward, glancing back at his current companions with a thoughtful look on his face.

 

"I can't really say. It comes and goes," he paused as the tall, double doors of the castle's entrance finally swept shut with a hard bang. It didn't look as if the guard had much to do with it. "Maybe the two of you have a good idea. We can start out and work our way inward, though I doubt we have to go out onto the castle grounds anywhere.. It's only been in the castle." He frowned. "Let's look into where it's weakest, then. Take the lead."

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Raven nodded with a smile, glad that Sombra would help her. She had to admit, she was also a little giddy at how she'd get to see parts of the castle that the general public usually weren't allowed in. "Well, Hogo-Sha, you'd probably be best to lead on this. I'm only picking up faint traces of the magic myself, and I've never really tried to track using magic, so..." She said, her smile fading a bit. She went to stand by Blueblood, and stood there for a bit, waiting for the group to move. She had an idea to surprise Icy next time she saw her, and Blue and her seemed to be close friends, so Raven wanted to pick Blue's brain on it...

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Ehehehe.... whoops.  Blueblood hadn't informed Hogo-sha of the rather... storied past of their party leader.  Thankfully, it wasn't a problem for the yokai, one instance where his being a foreigner actually helped with them getting along.  Not having suffered at Sombra's hooves, either personally or vicariously, there was no lingering bitterness to linger like a hidden rock serpent, waiting to strike.  The Prince shuddered, he felt as if he'd had a narrow escape from some dark machination, and that a plotter was grumbling in secret while drawing up some elaborate plan b.

 

Trying to get his mind on the subject, he threw himself into the role of lieutenant, trying to get as good a grip as he could on the situation.  "Great, while we're tracking down where this is coming from... does anyone remember when it started?  I've been away for a while, and I don't recall anything dark in the atmosphere when I left... so it must have come up between now and when I took you out for drinks, Sombra.  What's been happening around here since them?"

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Hogo-Sha smiled at Raven and nodded, "I shall do my best, Miss Raven." Since he was being entrusted to lead the way for the time being, Hogo-sha strode up ahead and tipped his head back. He took a deep breath of the air around him, holding his eyes closed as he tried to sort through the myriad scents in his head. He turned his head and took a few more steps forward, sniffing rapidly until his ears perked up! "Ah! I think I've found something." The canine kneeled down and smiled as he noted a more pleasant magical scent wafting on the aether a good distance down the hall, "It's shifting a bit... but mostly stable from what I can tell." 

Soft footsteps echoed down the spacious hallway along with the faint sound of the group's magic bloodhound rapid sniffing. He wasn't sure how it felt for the rest of the group :in addition to the thick sense of dread hanging over the hall, Hogo-sha could also say it smelled... not so much foul, but stagnant. If all haunted or cursed areas gave off this strange magical scent, Hogo-sha could certainly say he'd be able to sniff out another one: He'd be in no hurry to, but still it was possible.

 

Ears swiveled as he listened to the rest of party converse amongst each other. This visiting canine only paused in his search to itch his muzzle, odd scents magical or otherwise always bothered him. One fairly long walk later, Hogo-sha could tell he was getting close. He picked up the pace a bit and brought his nose to the floor as some old instincts took over. He went around the corner ahead of the group as he was sure he was coming up to the chamber but froze as he felt something get yanked up his muzzle. This must have been a section of the castle the cleaning crew had slacked off on as some dust bunny soon found itself pulled into the regal pup's muzzle. 

 

The shock left Hogo-sha gasping in deep gasps as reflexes took over,  "GAH! AHH! AAH!" He felt himself tensing up and through his tearing eyes he could make out the outline of a large door. Before he could say anything about finding the room he'd been sniffing out something needed to be taken care of.


"HAAAAHH-GSHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH!"

 

A loud sneeze echoed through the hallways and when Hogo-sha opened his eyes, he noticed the door was now open. He blinked his eyes and laughed awkwardly as he brushed a bit of moisture from his eye, "Sorry, Everyone. Had a rough encounter with some dust but... I found the spot!" He blinked once the rest of the group came around the corner, his tail wagging ever so slightly, failing to realize he was now on all fours and in his true form. The glowing eyes, flowing tail and little sparks of harmless lightning popping across his fur and about the same size on all fours as large stallion.  "We didn't lose anyone, did we?" He asked rather casually as he took his kerchief in his paw and held it to his nose, "Something wrong?"

 

Spoiler

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Edited by Pretzelparty

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It'd been some time after he and Blueblood had gone out together for drinks, although Sombra couldn't recall how long it'd been between that time and when it all started. He did, however, have a general idea of when it might've started. His brow was furrowed throughout the time he'd fallen into step behind Hogo-sha, following the strange biped through the halls of the castle as he sought out a 'scent', what Sombra assumed was the magic the canine could smell. However that worked.
 

"A week ago," Sombra replied. "Maybe a little longer?" his voice held a questioning lilt as he tilted his head, eyeballing the ceiling in thought. "So far it's been strange noises, and some of the castle staff have seen chairs or tables move by themselves. A few books flying off shelves. Doors slamming on their own. Things like that. It's becoming more and more common. Escalating."

 

It hadn't escaped his notice that Raven had chosen to walk beside Blueblood instead of him, leaving him to walk alone between the yokai ahead and the pair of ponies behind him. Sombra tried to ignore this slight and tried to keep track of the bipedal canine, who was roaming further and further ahead in an attempt to track down the magic-scent. Soon, Hogo-sha had disappeared around the corner, and all Sombra heard of him was strange sounds. His brow furrowing, his pace increased to a trot and then to an all out gallop after that last, loud shout and the sound of a door banging open.

 

He skidded around the corner and came to a halt some distance away from Hogo-sha, who was no longer a biped, but something four-legged and wolf-like, eyes aglow.

 

"No," Sombra replied with a confused frown. This was.. unexpected, but it wasn't much of a problem. At least as far as he could tell.. ? Glancing over Hogo-sha, Sombra strode to the room the yokai found and took a step inside. His eyes narrowed, unsure what he expected to find in here.

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As they walked down the hall, Raven spoke, loud enough to be heard by all of their group. "So, Blue... You've been friends with Icy for awhile, right? I... It's been a bit since our last date, since she's been busy, and I wanted to surprise her with something... Got any ideas?" She asked, smiling slightly even as she shivered from the atmosphere. When Hogo-Sha dashed around the corner, she head a shout and a large door bashing. She reacted instinctively, stepping in front of Blueblood even as they rounded the corner, the guard mentality that had been drilled into her as a child dictating her action. When she saw the large wolf-like creature, she calmed though, a wide, enthusiastic grin on her face. "Wow... This is cool. I take it you're a natural shapeshifter? Or is it a kind of magic that requires a lot of concentration?" She asked, looking interestingly at Hogo-Sha...

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"Hmmm...."  Blueblood did a quick comparison in his head between these paranormal manifestations and the ones he had to deal with in his summer house.  "So, it's mostly been objects moving by themselves, not shadows taking strange shapes, cryptic messages, or anything like that?  I think that sounds more like a haunting than a curse, or at least the kind of curse I had to deal with.  I'm assuming no one new came to the palace in that time that you can remember?"

 

His reflections, as he fell back, were pretty grim.  Whatever was causing this, there was probably an active agent of some kind, either a ghost or some kind of well-hidden monster.  Well-hidden monster with magic.  He'd seen too much to disbelieve in either at this point, and his only comfort was in the fighting competency of his companions.  *Kind of still wish Foxglove were here.  Could use her expertise.*  Of course, if worst came to worst, he supposed he could just send her an invitation.  He had a fairly extensive network of ponies who could deal with these things, now that he thought about it.  Totaling all them up... heck, whatever they were facing hardly stood a chance!

 

That thought perked him up, enough to even engage in a little small talk.  "Hmm... she's a real night owl, as you probably know, and not one much concerned with the sort of things mares usually buy to show off.  I'd probably go with giving her a unique night-time experience.  I wonder if Auntie Luna can do temporary constellations; one of Icy on her birthday be pretty fantastic!"  He smiled, but then dipped a little bit as his political mind ran through the implications.  "Of course... then poor Auntie would be swamped with mountains of requests by the rest of the nobility for such a privilege.  Not to mention all the businesses that would try to purchase it as advertising space.  Hmmm... I think I'll have to get back to you on that."

 

Hogo-sha's boomign sneeze brought them all to the front, and Blueblood had to sigh a bit as he saw his friend's true form.  "Well, I suppose there wasn't going to be any hiding it for long.  Yes, my friend is a wolf-yokai.  This is his natural form, say hello everyone."

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Hogo-sha gave a solemn nod to Sombra as he made his way inside. The wolf clearing his sinuses with the kerchief until both Blueblood and Raven made their way around the corner: He'd hate to look so uncouth around his new companions. His pride would never allow such a thing. With a wrinkle of his muzzle the kerchief was stowed away in his coat pocket, after being swiftly folded into a neat square. The jacket was firmly secured on his back by some harmless static cling. 

 

Raven's approach made him smile and puff himself up a bit to try and look as regal as he could, the stalwart princely look his was going for lessened a bit by  a reflexive sniffle at the dust still in the area. "Most of my kind are able to change our form, In my experience it's sort of like learning to walk." He rolled his shoulders as he got comfortable out of his disguise, "At first it took concentration but eventually it is as easy as thinking about it! It's easier for some than others. As I'm sure I've demonstrated we can be jostled out of them by a strong enough  disturbance... in my case a dust bunny attempting to make a burrow out of my muzzle. I can do others forms but the diamond dog shape is the easiest for me to maintain normally." He cleared his throat and bowed his head, "A pleasure to meet you as this face, Miss Raven."

 

 

Blueblood had most assuredly been worn out by the introductions. This hadn't been the first time his disguise had been blown around the prince(ss), "I'll be happy to answer any further inquiries once we finish the investigation." Hogo-sha took a deep breath through his nose and exhaled some wisp of plasma that soon floated up beside him, functioning as a lantern that lit up these darkened halls around him for a few feet. "Shall we continue before I end up opening up another door with an overly loud sternutation?"

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A grey ear twitched back towards the sound of Raven and Blueblood's voices as they talked, as well as the latter's musing on what could be going on here and something involving Luna. It did seem like a haunting- not that Sombra would really know anything about haunted places. This was his first experience with it, as well as most things since he'd come to Equestria. He didn't answer Blueblood's question as he stepped into the room, feeling that he'd answered with everything he knew about it so far.. which was very little. Just unusual.. activities.. Nor did he try offering Hogo-sha another greeting, in usual, grumpy fashion; not that he'd really said hello to start with.

 

This particular room was just one of a few public rooms in the castle on the ground floor. Sizeable enough for a small gathering, with some furniture, a coffee table, and a couple shelves of books just for appearances, as well as two tall vases of flowers in the corners and some tapestries along the walls. Sombra stood just beyond the doorway, looking around the room with his usual frown for any sign of.. whatever might have lead Hogo-sha to this particular place. So far, he didn't see anything out of the ordinary..

 

A book flew at him, flying off of one of the shelves. Sombra ducked his head just in time, and its passing over him ruffled his mane as it went flying out the doorway behind him. He scowled, straightening up, only to narrowly avoid a second one that flung itself at him. Maybe Hogo-sha had managed to sniff out something here, after all, though it was, thus far, a little half-hearted. Or perhaps it was just the beginning tonight? The castle always grew more active as evening waned towards moonrise..

 

Sombra quietly grumbled to himself, seemingly unbothered by what had becoming something of the norm for him. "Maybe you've found something."

 

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