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The Griffon's Goblet? --Gerrard SteelEagle-- (private, PM for info)


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The sun rose high in the Appleoosan Desert sky, it's fierce rays casting the enormous shadow of a large winged creature against the sandy wasteland and his massive wingspan carried his from across the sandy expanse. A squinted look up at the high flying character would reveal the silhouette of a griffon, his exact form and coloration blocked out by the bright light of the sun. After flying a great deal of distance across the desert, he descended dramatically, towards the ground. With one large flap of his black wings, he landed relatively cleanly in the sand outside a deserted town. The griffon was clad in a nearly uniform set of black that started at the tip of his long wiry tail and drifted all the way through his wings and torso. His head was covered in silver feathers, a large sharp black beak protruding from his face as his keen yellow eyes looked over the abandoned town that stood before him, defiant against the seemingly endless heat of the area.

He raised a black talon from the ground and shuffled it through the large brown backpack that was fastened around his neck. After a few short moments of fishing about, he plucked a map out of his bag, the griffon carefully unfolding it as he looked at what seemed to be a detailed representation of this particular portion of Equestria. He quickly spotted Appleoosa, a nearby town, the hybrid trailing a claw up the map as he searched for his location. "Dullahan Springs, also classified as a ghost town. I probably wouldn't want to live in a town with a name like that either," the griffon commented with a light shiver of his neck as he looked the map over one last time. "It is strange though, this is the only abandoned town that is listed as a ghost town, I'll have to go tell the map maker about the minor inconsistency when I get back to Canterlot," he explained to nobody in particular, the griffon slipping the map back into his back pack as he thought about entering the shady looking town.

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Appleoosa was one of Pathfinder's top fifteen favorite places to go in the region of the Painted Pinto. There were more than enough ruins and caves and ancient camps that she had been told about to occupy her time, so the drudgery of civilization held little appeal to her. Why take a warm bath in the back of a salt bar when you could be dodging javelins while trying to nab some ancient relic that was also slowly falling into a pit of lava? She never understood that foalish clinging to security. Life was found in that wild moment between panic and fear when you acted not based on some rehearsed motion but in concert with your survival instinct. It was that moment that brought a smile to her face, that moment that let her know just how close she was to being who she always wanted to be. To do anything else would be degrading! Staying still was degrading. Sleeping the middle of the day was degrading.

Well, today was going to be a degrading one then. Despite her love of adventure, not even her perfect body could handle the stress it put on without some sort of rest. After s rather close call with some cave spiders in a trench at the bottom of an ancient water source in the Soggalong Swamp, a few days of rest were in order. That was especially true because, well darnit, not getting that genie-holding lamp like the old kook had said proved to be another heartbreaking chapter of a long story. The ending was guaranteed to be happy and awesome but that didn't make matters easier. Oh well; disappointment came and went with the flight of a bee sometimes. She'd rest, relax, and then go back to being an awesome pony once more. She chose Apploosa for the simple reason that if she needed to buy something, she could fly on down and get something from the general store before that Sheriff shooed her off again.

The cloud was comfy enough and the sun was, as always, a delight. She spent so much time underground that she thought she had a better appreciation of how incredible true sunlight was. The softer shades were revealed when the light had nuance to it, something torches in all their flickering glory couldn't have. She didn't bother directing the cloud, but it moved from time to time. Any creature with enough wingpower could by accident cause a cloud to dander about for a bit. It didn't come as a surprise then when her cloud juked and sent her rolling on her stomach, some powerful form below responsible. She dared a peak to the ground below and spotted a large, black-winged griffon gliding down to a safe landing outside of old Dullahan Springs. It was number thirteen on her list of fun locations in the Painted Pinto, but had been saved for her post-Appleoosian relaxation mission.

Of course, this changed everything. She couldn't allow some silly old griffon to brave a ghost town by himself. Sometimes they really had ghosts! Most of the time they had nothing but rickety old buildings whose most lethal remaining traps involved gravity and poor timing. Having a building a collapse on you was never fun.

Pathfinder sighed and stood up, cracking her back and exercising her wings. She had only a short amount of rest and her tan lines weren't getting any better, but such was the life. With a playful leap, she left the cloud and glided down towards the griffon. There was always the possibility that he was a villain, but if that was the case, she would at least be getting the heroics required for the story to advance to be over with quickly.

She landed softly a few yards behind her target and commenced trotting and talking immediately.

[colour=#006400]"Hey there, griffy!" [/colour]Pathfinder chirped as she trotted vigorously into position next to the hybrid. She took a deep, deep breath of the dry desert air.

[colour=#006400]"Yep! Not a civilized part of Equestria to be sure, but at least the air is fresh. So, what brings a talon-paw like yourself out here? You don't see a lot of griffies poking their beaks at old ghost towns. Are you lost? Appleoosa is..." [/colour]She turned in place several times until she felt she had it right, and pointed directly behind him.

[colour=#006400]"There! About...hmm...if I remember correctly, an hour as the pegasus flies,"[/colour] She immediately laughed before tapping his wings, [colour=#006400]"or the Griffon, in this case."[/colour]

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The Painted Pinto was on the griffon's least favorite regions in Equestria, his heavily feathered chest prone to getting hot and bothered in the warm climate. It was unbearably hot and and devoid of interesting things, ponies and griffons included. A smirk spread across his maw as the town brought back flashbacks to his youth in Aquellia. He remembered living in a large family of griffons and playing with his siblings in the badlands just outside their home in Talonopolis. That of course must have been almost a hundred moons ago, the griffon the only one in his family not interested in following in the footsteps of his parents. While banking and the military had their own 'unique' benefits, he found his calling in irrigation, an art that his hunter gatherer brethren often scoffed an mocked. Regardless, he applied and was accepted as a foreign exchange student and managed to spend the last five years of his life in Canterlot, working amongst ponies, designing and maintaining the irrigation that helped supplement the pegasi across Equestria.

Of course being the only architect in Canterlot who could fly and manipulate dangerous tools without magic had it's obvious downsides for the griffon, the foreigner often getting assigned to work on the outer fringes of the pony homeland, the capital of Equestria saving a fortune in horsepower expenses as they kept a thin lean crew of workers. And here Gerrard stood, on the outskirts of a ghost town named after a headless monster, the griffon realizing why his coworkers were so eager to pass this assignment on to him. This place sucked in every way he could imagine, it was hot, dry, abandoned, and most of all it felt like busy work. "Nobody even lives here, how could anybody be messing with the water here, this portion of the pipe network isn't even being used. I thought the hazing period was already over," he sighed, the griffon shaking his head as he tried to understand why the higher ups in Canterlot would send him literally into the middle of nowhere.

Before he could dwell further on his self pity, the griffon's keen hearing picked up the voice of an energetic sounding mare as she decided to boldly accost him from behind. He carefully dug his sharp black talons into the sandy earth as he turned his head to look at the young adventurer. He couldn't help but raise his brow as the mare in front of him bore a striking resemblance to the famed literary figure, the griffon having to do a double take in disbelief. He knew the books were a work of fiction, but she could probably trick many a ponies with such an outfit. "Uhh, hello my little pony," he remarked slowly, the griffon not sure if he should feel insulted to be so casual described.

He paused to speak, the eager pegasus interjecting with another comment as she interrupted his thought pattern, the griffon blinking his golden eyes as he gathered his thoughts. "Yeah Dullahan Springs, I know my way around Equestria, only spent the past five years in this country," he explained, his long black tail wagging slightly in the dusty desert air. "And no, I'm not lost. I'm here on a top secret mission that the princess herself decreed necessary for the very survival of Equestria itself. I'm not supposed to tell anyone about this super secret mission, but you know what they say? You can always trust a pony with a pith hat!" he cheered playfully, the griffon using hyperbole as tried to make a bit of a spectacle.

His keen yellow eyes glanced both directions off into the distance, the griffon making sure nothing was around before he decided to tell his dark secret to the pony. The black griffon leaned in close to her, turning his head to the side as not to poke her with his long black beak as he thought over the most dramatic way to phrase his explanation. "A dastardly deviant is diverting the delicious downpour of this district to destroy the denizens of... Equestria" he theorized in the most over dramatic and unnecessary manner imaginable. "It's just you and me horsefly! It is an hour trip as the pegasus flies, perhaps less by a driven griffon, but Equestria needs us more than ever. You can fly to Appleoosa and tell them to save their water for the coming end of days, or you can assist me in saving this land from the clutches of evil!" he replied, coming up with a nickname for her species as well, his perhaps being a bit less friendly.

"Before you decide on your course of action though, I must know your name Lady Pegasus. I am Gerrard Grayfeather, Alumni of the Royal University of Canterlot," he replied in a formal manner similar to what a Canterlot pony would say, his tone being much more sincere and welcoming than what you might expect from a citizen of the capital. The griffon did a polite bow before her, spreading out his enormous black wingspan for her to see. He soon returned to a normal posture and extended a talon to her for her to shake if she were up for such a thing.

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Pathfinder had a deep seated love of anypony or griffon who spoke with an air of theatricality. It made her think that all those marvelous little productions she had seen probably had a little bit of real life in them, even the ones where the cast and crew informed her as they were decompressing that they had just learned the lines the day before and didn't really care about this Daring Do thing. They were silly sods of course who were probably just too afraid to admit to a little filly about their undying devotion to the adventure mare in chief, but she would allow it. They knew their lines well and were theatrical enough to please little filly Pathfinder and that's all that mattered. The way this Griffon spoke reminded her of those warm days in the care of the the Cloudsdale Orphanage when little plays would be put on by local troupes. Good times were had by all, most especially the little filly who annoyed them until they did Daring Do.

It also helped that her experiences with griffons had been so wonderfully productive in the near past, something which coloured her perceptions of that species quite thoroughly. A recent trek to Talonopolis to retrieve the Helm of Commander Hurricane had been extremely exciting, if a little harder than she had anticipated. She had run into an awesome griffon named Gilda who proved invaluable as both ally and occasional foe. They had run around the city together, breaking hearts and museums and private collections until Gilda had messed up and gotten captured. Then Gilda had started working with the city guard against Pathfinder and the following few weeks involved a lot of running, hiding, avoiding spears, and more random spelunking Eventually, Pathfinder had wandered into a trap set up by a Major Razorclaw and despite her best efforts and even holding the Helm in her hooves, she was knocked out and captured.

She then spent the next month in The Pit, the city's secret prison in the ground where a chemical injection led to the disintegration of wing muscles. She didn't really eat the laced food and was starting to think some gnarly thoughts when she and Gilda found a way out. They had run across the Ruby Claw on their way out, but the point was that they escaped, retrieved the Helm and escaped the city. Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, like snatching bread from the jaws of somepony else, was always the best part of an adventure. In fact, it was far more exciting than just plain winning, because winning wasn't something that made your self-titled advetnture memoir awesome. Ponies didn't want to hear about how you wandered in and dominated a place! No, they wanted a sense of danger. The griffons had given her more than the Helm of Commander Hurricane and the Ruby Claw. No, they had given her adventure incarnate and despite being a punch of sour sports as she flew away with a company of angered guards giving up the chase once she crossed Equestria's borders. Adventure, relics, and a few smashing chapters to her book all equaled out to a fun, fun experience.

So this Griffon already was scoring major points with her, but the claim that he was working under orders from the Princess' and had a secret mission to keep all of Equestria safe? Pathfinder bought it hook, line, and sinker and did so immediately. Besides, horsefly was a rather wonderful little nickname for a Pegasus and his compliment- well, maybe it was as Pathfinder didn't know what pith was off-hoof- were well received.

[colour=#006400]"Well, if the Princesses trust you, then I trust you! I retrieved the Helm of Commander Hurricane and got this super cool little royal signet-" s[/colour]he proudly displayed the piece on her left forehoof, sticking all up in his face like an overexcited filly,[colour=#006400] "so if they say you're the griffon for the job, then I'm the pegasus you need to help you,"[/colour] Pathfinder announced proudly, only a few dozen ounces of arrogance sloshing about her words as she trotted in place excitedly, wings flapping in a stretch. Her mind started to go over the possibilities over who could be doing such a devious deed. Her catalog of cults and volumes of villains didn't seem to have anything of importance in the area, but that could also just be because she hadn't investigated yet. The chances were slim but heck, the Princesses never made mistakes.

His wings were big and black, though nowhere near as black as the Three Families' hired henchtalons had been. And the Royal University to boot? He must have been something special to be sent out here on some secret mission. Big, smart, and pretty awesome if the Princesses trusted him? Yeah, today was gonna be cool.

She bowed haphazardly in response.

[colour=#006400]"The name's Pathfinder and adventuring is the game! So, what's the plan, eh? Do we wanna hit this place shack by shack, or do you have a clue as to where the dastardly villain is?!"[/colour]

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Gerrard normally didn't like pegasi, the griffon finding their arrogance and ceaseless desire to race him absolutely annoying. They seemed to manipulate weather on a whim, the flying ponies attempting to control nature completely, a few rogues even trying to assault others with lightning. They did know that clouds managed to get by in other places around the world right? Regardless, Gerrard was a braggart by nature, and as long as it didn't involve clouds or flying, he was always for it. Her claim seemed far-fetched but plausible. Did she do that, or was it Daring Do? He wasn't a buff on the series, but he had glanced through it many times and couldn't remember if it was one of the tales.

Still, she wasn't a flying fanatic, her Daring Do diguise at least stating that a bit, his keen eyes able to barely detect a purple base beneath her black dyed mane. Not many ponies at all had such a mane and it was a welcome departure from all the pastel painted ponies he normally had to deal with. If she wasn't the nine thousandth pony to spout on about The Wonderbolts, she was A-okay in his book. "Ahh, the helmet of Commander Hurricane, the hero honored during Hearth's Warming Eve. The pegasus leader who helped in the defeat of the dreaded windigos. I know him well, required reading for the History of Equestria course," he explained, the griffon seeming rather versed in Pony Culture. He seemed knowledgeable enough to be assigned on a secret mission, but what made him so special? Gerrard knew what would seal the deal or completely destroy his credibility. That would be his finale after he explained everything.

Gerrard did a second survey of the area around them as if he prepared to tell her the most top secret information of all. "Lady Pathfinder, my department in Canterlot has detected that some evil entity has been siphoning water from this very ghost town. While you may not know, Equestria leaves water on in some remote places, even abandoned ones in the event of an emergency or immediate need for service extension.They figure that nobody is gonna steal the water in an abandoned town, and of course this is usually the case. That was until last month," Gerrard explained to her in a dramatic voice as he extended a large black wing like a cloak as he hid his maw from her. He had spoken the truth, but perhaps made the situation seem a bit more dramatic than necessary.

His yellow eyes narrowed in a dramatic fashion, the hybrid looking excessively menacing as he prepared to explain the final part of his mission. "Someone, or SOMETHING, has been taking the water from this town, and we can only assume it is for the most nefarious of deeds. As of today, they have already siphoned thousands of gallons of water. With that much water, they could cause a catastrophe of mythic proportions. They could cause a severe water shortage for Appleoosa and use that water to bury a city under a deluge of stolen liquid! That is why the princesses have assigned me, Gerrard 'fire breath' Grayfeather, to this remote ghost town. Only I have the abilities to eliminate any water attacks by evaporating it with the hottest of fires. Dragons envy my very breath, and for good reason. My fire is so hot that it has scorched my beak black. It is so hot that it has transcended the normal fire colour of red and evolved into blue with a temperature that rivals that of the sun!" he explained in the most dramatic of manners imaginable. His claims seemed impossible at first, there being no recordings of griffons with such a powerful ability, but would he just make a lie and not back it up?

The best kind of allies were the ones who believed in you wholeheartedly, and this would be his coup de grace. This would prove that he was someone of great power that needed to be trusted. His large chest inhaled a deep breath of air loudly as he prepared to let out a deep breath. He quickly turned his head to the side, giving her a good view of his cheek as a focused jet of blue flames seemed to shoot out of his maw. The fire hissed with an intensity that almost screamed power. It's shape was unusually uniform, possibly hinting to the degree of which he had developed the skill. Of course he could have been faking it, but they wouldn't send a faker out to save the world would they?

And as soon as the fire had started, it was gone, almost on a whim. However it happened, it was quite the spectacle to the untrained eye. After a bit of light shuffling beneath his wing, Gerrard slowly returned his black 'cloak' to it's normal position, the griffon standing before her as he was before, the only thing between the pair being the large backpack that was strapped around his neck. "You ready to check the town for clues? We can start at the salt bar," he remarked, pointing to the rickety building that housed a pair of damaged swinging doors. It looked dangerous, but that only made things more interesting, right?

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Pathfinder wasn't stupid, despite what several rather mean colts said to her back in her orphanage days. A little kooky perhaps, maybe even admittedly a little silly in her younger days. But her omissions of logic had always been willful rather than ignorant, decidedly joyous whenever she pursued a flight of fancy rather than some silly so-called reality that others clung to for safety. Reality was what you made of it, what you decided was going to be and not be. Pathfinder wasn't stupid, not by a long shot. She just saw the world a different way, a far more fantastical and vibrant reality was her domain. So as her griffie friend went about almost literally blowing smoke and angled himself so as to not appear suspicious, she took it at face value. She didn't care that the spout of flame was far too short to have been an effective weapon even if true, or that turning away from her made little sense if he wanted to show it all off. No, doubts had little place. As far as she was concerned- as far as she chose to believe- he could breathe fire. Pathfinder wasn't stupid. She was just insane.

[colour=#006400]"That'll turn out pretty nifty in case we run into any giant geckos! Have you ever cooked a meal with it? Roasted celery is pretty good. How awesome is it to breathe fire? It's both a totally awesome weapon and a useful everyday tool! You can adventure, cook dinner, sell your services to orphanages for food kitchens, carnivals-"[/colour] She elbowed the Griffon in the sides, [colour=#006400]"-and all this wrapped up in some sorta smartypants university trained griffie? Ha! I guess recovering in the clouds was a good decision on my part,"[/colour] Pathfinder finished, stretching out a little more before starting a rather gainful trot deeper into the abandoned town. They had a job to do and any moment they wasted was one moment they should have used tracking the evil pony down. Or evil dragon. Or evil Griffon! Who knew? The question was almost as interesting as her.

[colour=#006400]"And yeah, I know about the water reserves. I once was running from an Ursa Major near Stalliongrad when it caught up to me and tossed me a billion miles- well, more like a hundred yards but you get the picture- right into a reserve that was being worked on," She giggled, "and let me tell you, those Stalliongrad pneumonias are nothing to sneeze about! Well, you'll sneeze a lot, but I mean they're pretty badflank. You end up hallucinating. I thought I was a worm on a mission from Unyasi, but that was probably also due to the medication I was on. I learned a lesson, and that was that Ursa Major's are shockingly strong. It came up later, so bully for me," [/colour]She ended in a chipper tone, advancing down the street some. She flung open the door to the old salt bar, one of the double doors creaking and falling down with a crashing crack.

Whatever had happened here, it had happened fast. Around a dozen tables still had salt cubes and trays on them, and old cards were scattered about due to the win. Evern they looked horrible faded, several of them almost imperciptible due to dust and grime. Pathfinder took flight and hovered behind the counter, falling to the ground and taking a peek. Spiders and various other creatures scattered at her landfall and she had to blow some cobwebs free of her tail due to the crowded space.

[colour=#006400]"So, what do you have of this villain? It seems like a silly thing to do when you could instead just break a dam if you wanted to destroy a town. I mean, it's pretty easy. I've seen it almost done a few times! And if the villain just wanted water, there are plenty of lakes to take it from,"[/colour] She started knocking on the floor, [colour=#006400]"which means that he'd have to be after the reserves for some reason other than destruction or just to have water. He'd be trying to-"[/colour] her hooves found paydirt, and she opened up the door to the cellar which had been covered by many layers of dust,[colour=#006400] "get some sort of leverage over the Royals? I mean, if he took enough to be this noticeable then he couldn't have been counting on being sneaky! Especially with Canterlot's prime supergriffon on his case. Or her case. Right?"[/colour] She said, poking her head down into the cellar. Talk about dark, she couldn't see a darn thing.

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Gerrard subconsciously patted his backpack after he was sure that the his fire breath was safely put away. She didn't give him the expression of sheer amazement at his ability, but Pathfinder seemed to accept it for whatever reason. Perhaps she thought this was all a game for her own amusement. The griffon couldn't know for sure, but he intended on amusing her whenever such an opportunity arose.

When she asked him a flurry of questions about his 'gift', Gerrard put a warm smile on his face. He loved to indulge his fans, even if it was nothing more than a fancy ruse. "Well, I normally fly over dangerous areas my dear pegasus. Why wrestle a gecko when I can fly over it's head. "I've cooked food with it on occasion, not celery though, I like my food a bit heartier, fish or eggs perhaps, as long as they aren't griffon eggs," he explained with a laugh for her, Gerrard following after her as they started walking over to the salt bar. "It's awesome, aside from the heartburn," he replied, jokingly elbowing her back as he made fun of his own trick. "But ya, I normally use it to burn metal pipes and reform them, they have high amounts of iron in them, yummy," he added with a laugh, rubbing his stomach as if he was trying to say he actually ate the metal pipes, something he obviously never did.

"I actually let my friend Asteria handle the orphan work. She donates a lot of money to their causes and works to help them out. I help her out whenever she asks, my life too busy helping ponies drink to pry myself away usually," he explained to her as they entered the building. Gerrard had to focus on investigating the actual pipe line, but it wouldn't hurt to have a diversion. Perhaps there was a clue here that might help them, although the griffon hoped it was just a massive leak somewhere on the pipe that just needed a patch up. Life had a tendency of never working out in the most convenient ways as a loud crunching noise filled the air of the dusty saloon.

Gerrard glanced down and saw a crunched up water bottle beneath his talon, the hybrid letting off a sigh as he swatted the trash away. "Today must be your lucky day to run into me. I am rather awesome, just ask me, I'll say so," he chuckled, looking at the tables, cards still strewn about the tables. "You know, maybe you were on a mission and the hypothermia and medication unlocked a hidden memory. Did you write down the details of it, perhaps there is a zebra waiting for you to return with the idol of the silver hare! But still, you must be pretty tough to survive a billion mile throw into a frozen lake. Perhaps the criminal has less aggressive goals with his criminal activity. If I was going to destroy something, I would do it from a place that has no guards to spot me. But I digress," he commented in an interested manner as she mentioned the zebra homeland. He wasn't exactly sure what the plan of any villain might be, but it was always fun to come up with absurd scheme explanations.

"Still, isn't something strange about this saloon? Why are cards on the tables still? Don't you think that the owner might have tried to clean up a bit before he left? It seems like everyone ran off while in the middle of something. Almost like the got scared off or rounded up like cattle," Gerrard explained in a concerned tone as he roamed around the saloon. When she spotted the cellar entrance, Gerrard looked around for a thing to make a torch out of, the griffon figuring that Pathfinder didn't have any magic goggles to see in the dark. Nobody had such a tool, right? "Okay, be careful, and lets not try to burn down the joint," the black hybrid explained with a laugh as he grabbed a stool and turned away from the pegasus. After a few seconds of 'conjuring' up his fire, the griffon managed to light one of the legs on fire as broke it off and made a make shift torch. "You can have the honor of exploring the cellar Pathy, here's a torch, cooked it up myself," he joked with a smirk, presenting her with a torch to purge the darkness with.

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In her experience, arrogance was the sort of trait that the bold and brave had more than the entertainers and magicians. That was mostly because she had the second grouping out of their element and invovled in the sort of mess where bluster and theatricality did little to help you against a Manticore bearing down on you or the searing heat of the lava beneath you as the floor cracked away. The first grouping were often too busy being epic and winning at life and all things associated the whole time to really care about putting on a show and impressing everypony. Coupled with his need to shelter her from the awesome gout of flame that he spewed and Pathfinder had already slotted this griffon into the adventurer category, though in his situation it was more like he was an Equestrian super duper action agent, though if he was that they'd have to be careful since in her experience griffons seemed utterly loyal to their homeland. Mystery and intrigue, even if just imagined! Yay!

He handed her a torch and she nodded in excitement before hovering down in the cellar. The air seemed damp but even more than that, she didn't smell any mold. Nothing to indicate that something had sat for a while and thus was in keeping with the bar above which had seemed completely abandoned for some time. Yet the air was damp; what was to blame? Even more than that, if the water had been there for some time, who was coming by to make sure mold didn't spread everywhere? Or if the water was new to the area, what had allowed it here? A busted pipe? No, that was too much of a coincidence But what would the villain get out of flooding a salt bar? It didn't make much sense and she didn't have the answers. Pathfinder slowly allowed herself to land, which answered at the very least one of her questions immediately.

The ground was damp, but it wasn't as if the water had started flooding the room. Groundwater had started to seep through, making the top layer of soil clingy and hoof-lickingly good. She lowered the torch to the ground and found her suspicions confirmed. The ground was darker, wet, but it had never reached more than an inch off the ground if it had ever accumulated at all. All of this was quite weird, but at least it didn't come as a shock to her. The villain likely had busted a few pipes on his water stealing spree and now certain sections were likely pouring into the ground. How much water was directly below them? Pathfinder's eyes kept on scanning the area for a sign to the events that had taken place. Instead, however, her eyes met a keg of cider.

Moments later, MOMENTS LATER, that keg went rocketing up the cellar door, where the keg landed unceremoniously on the counter with a crash. A moment later, the giddy pegasus shot on up and started looking for glasses.

[colour=#006400]"Well, it's really damp down there but there isn't any sign of mold, either. That's really strange! If it had been flooded or if the water had been there for a while, then ya'd think there'd be some mold, but nope! So our villain probably has really lame, mold-clearing magic. Not that mold is always lame,"[/colour] She said as she fished out two nice sized glasses,[colour=#006400] "it is sorta tasty when you haven't eaten for a few weeks and you're stuck with broken wings in Okeanos. Ever eat mold? Not so bad. Just smelly. So I know it isn't down there, because I couldn't smell it. Unless my snout hairs were burnt by your awesome fires, which I doubt,"[/colour] She finished, pouring them both glasses of cider. She then hovered on top of the keg, crossing her legs as she looked down at her griffy friend.

[colour=#006400]"I doubt they taste as good as iron does, though. How do pipes taste? Probably metallic,"[/colour] She started scanning the area, smelling something wafting through the air towards them. Something not so grand, really.

[colour=#006400]"So, Asteria, she your special somegriffon?" [/colour]She said, keeping up the vaneer of casual conversation as she tried to identify the smell.

No, it couldn't be...

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Gerrard let the eager pegasus take his torch and peer into the darkness. The large griffon loomed over her shoulder, peering down into the cellar, his eyes able to verify her statement that it was oddly wet. He mused over it a moment, listening to her approximate diagnosis. When she mentioned the mold, he blinked in disbelief, the hybrid climbing down into the murky water of the cellar beneath them. It was indeed a perfect environment for mold, and yet none existed for one reason. The griffon visually verified this, the wood in the cellar somehow impervious to the elements in the most odd of manners.

When she mentioned eating it though, his concentration was shattered, the dark hybrid letting out a deep laugh, finding the idea of eating mold completely disgusting. "I find vegetables pretty hard to eat at times, when they are moldy though, they go in the trash, sorry," he explained with a laugh, shivering as he thought of fur on his plant food. "I guess almost anything is appealing when you are hungry enough though," he mused, tapping his sharp black beak as he tried to figure out if she were joking about the mold. When offered a glass of cider though, the griffon agreed, taking the drink in his glass, drinking it expectantly. It strangely wasn't spoiled, the griffon enjoying it before getting interrupted to ask what iron would taste like. "Good stuff, oh, metal? That a completely different beast all together," he replied, commenting about the cider before explaining that iron was just strange.

She mused about the metal a bit, Gerrard raising his brow, wondering what it would taste like. He had never stopped to guess and paused ever so slightly, his quick mind quickly devising a formula as he smirked for her. The would be adventurer smiled and lightly jabbed her in the side, the griffon deciding to impart some theorizing onto her. "Ahh, metal doesn't taste very well, imagine eating ten year old expired sugar-free jawbreakers. You would WISH they taste like that," he explained with a laugh, rubbing his belly while he acted like his beak was being broken on hard metal. He found her infinitely amusing, the black hybrid forgetting what he was thinking about when she made him laugh.

"Ahh, Asteria can't be my special somegriffon. She is a pony after all, that doesn't mean I like her any less my friend. Special somepony perhaps? I don't know if she would consider me, or anyone like that. She is a stoic icy mare with a black coat and a fiery crimson gaze. She helps me and others who might otherwise not get assistance. The mare is completely fearless. If she didn't donate so much to help others, I would declare her emotionless too. That's okay though, we all deal with the world differently," the hybrid explaining with a smile, clearly having positive feelings for his old friend. It was unclear to what extent he really felt about her, but it was at least clear that they got along well at least, perhaps another soul who bought on to his stories.

It took the griffon a minute of searching in his mind before the reality set in. A sense of dread loomed over the griffon as a disturbing theory entered his mind. He snatched Pathfinder in his talons and pulled her and the barrel back behind the counter. "Shhhh, we might be in trouble," he explained in an unusually serious voice. "Mold warding and purification spells are used by talented unicorns in the field of water. I think this might all be the work of a rogue irrigation architect who is using his skills in the industry for evil. Perhaps he is a disgraced master looking for revenge or something. Who knows what terrible magic they might be capable of," he explained in a worried manner, knowing from personal experience that a few of his unicorn colleagues were masters of magic arts. "The villain might be, or hiring a unicorn to help them perform their scheme," he added solemnly, the joker not seeming as jovial as usual.

While he pondered on the issue, the griffon tapped his beak while he looked over to the tan pegasus. Behind him, just out of the hybrid's field of vision, a ghostly figure slowly floated through the wall, his seemingly ethereal arms reaching out to grab at the black hybrid. Gerrard was completely unaware, unable to hear, smell, or see the ghost as it reached out to grab at him. "Gerrard," the apparition moaned to the griffon in a voice similar to the pegasus. The griffon raised his brow, a bit confused by the cryptic mentioning of his name. "What pathfinder? Speak up a bit, I can't hear you?" he asked in an oblivious voice, the pair apparently spotted before he could hide their presence.

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There were seven hundred and sixteen varieties of ghosts, if Pathfinder's experiences coupled with her research were to tell the tale truthfully. The vast majority, contrary to popular belief, weren't all that unfriendly. Territorial perhaps but so were the black bears and Pathfinder didn't consider them much more than fluffy playpals. You had the normal run of the mill ghosts, who generally just wanted to get you out. Barring that and once shown their scares weren't working, they were generally a pretty peaceful bunch of apparitions Then you had Spirits, which were just sad little creatures all around. More than a few times Pathfinder had gone out of her way to help those sad little guys. Spooks were tricksters, the whole lot of them, and Pathfinder enjoyed their silly games. She knew that possession was a serious thing bit come on, all they did was play a few pranks. Why some ponies got so uptight was something Pathfinder could never figure out.

Spectres were a bit different. They were more neutral than anything else but unlike many others they tended to have a certain agenda in mind, and that made them goal focused and anything that was goal focused was liable to turn on you should the need arise. The Revenant was the most dangerous of them all and if you encountered one you had best make a quick escape or come up with a plan. Pathfinder knew of no natural solution to the horror and you needed a special unicorn to contain the threat. Wraiths were one of the most common 'bad' ghosts, being more aggressive and vicious than ghosts but with no real power or reason beyond that. Scary perhaps, but not a real threat. Well, unless you were an Earth pony who was liable to trip down stairs and such. What had happened to Windbreaker? Ha, that pegasus disliking Earth pony shouldn't have angered that pegasus wraith! Geists were also pretty common and goal oriented like the revenants, but weren't as scary or powerful. In fact she had dealt with more geists than she had any other. They tended to congregate around Revenants, who tended to like having a small army of geist minions to control.

Shades were a bit of a mystery, really, mostly because they tended to be the most random. They could be bad. They could be good. They could be powerful. They could be weak. They could be tied to a location or mobile. Pathfinder didn't understand them and perhaps there was little to nothing to understand about them, as they seemed to exist mostly as adaptations of other forms. Ghouls were also variable. Haunts were silly one and done sorts, one big scare then they left you alone. Freakin' parasprites. Phantoms seemed to be powerful ghosts of all sorts who manifested physical form for one task, then departed. They were unknown variables. Phantasms were almost like phantoms, except they seemed to exist in more unusual forms; slime, rocks, underbrush. Etherals were vexing because they were always being a bunch of riddle meisters meister riddlers, though a few were more of the advice kind. Incorporeals were just annoying little party poopers who whispered at length until you started flailing your tail wildly in frustration. Then you had a bagel and all was well; so sayeth the Pathfinder.

Point was that one of the above currently advanced on Gerrad from behind. Not only that, but he seemed unaware. It was too close- too fast- to properly identify, though the way it addressed Gerrard and didn't try to ambush him silently told Pathfinder it wasn't a revenant or one of the more powerful other illusions.

[colour=#006400]"Ghost," [/colour]Pathfinder said calmly as she laid her mug of cider down and flipped on the table until her backside faced the apparition.

[colour=#006400]"Behind you!"[/colour] She screamed(half with delight) as her wings shot her out of the room like a springboarded leap by that excitable pink mare in Ponyville. What she saw the moment she got out, however, stopped her in her tracks.

There were maybe a dozen ghouls- or maybe wraiths, who knew- who had formed a semi-circle around the bar, while a few more floated above her. Yep, not necessarily a good way to begin an adventure, but this meant that after she got past the first act she would have some time to relax before the third act began. See, the worst adventure stories were the non-stop ones where the main character had no break ever. They started to break down and instead of making the villains seem dangerous by nearly beating the adventurers at their best, they instead lost to adventurers at half or worst strength. And lose the villains always did.

Pathfinder re-adjusted her hat.

[colour=#006400]"Haha! Hay Gerry, ready to send some of these annoying whisps back into the shadows?" [/colour]She roared with delight, spitting on her hooves and rubbing them together. It was about to go down-

-Speaking of, an apparition's hand came out of the ground below and latched into her tail, pulling her down roughly right onto her flank.

[colour=#006400]"Hey!"[/colour]

Then the others jumped and attacked!

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The griffon heard what sounded like Pathfinder groaning at him, the dark hybrid raising his brow in a confused manner. "You can throw your voice Pathfinder? Neat trick," he replied in a suprised manner, trying to keep his voice low. Gerrard looked to both of his sides for anyone that might have spotted their intrusion into the abandoned bar. He didn't spot anyone, the griffon completely unaware of the ghost behind him. The black hybrid's search was interrupted when Pathfinder declared Ghost, the griffon chuckling a bit. "I might not be the master adventurer, but there is no such thing as ghosts," he explained with a laugh, his keen eyes spotting pathfinder pointing a hoof behind him.

The griffon decided to humor her, turning around, only to see a spectral creature behind him, his heart stopping for just a moment. Gerrard was so surprised that he didn't know what to do, the hybrid back up so fast that he tripped and fell back over the counter they were hiding behind. He thought ghosts were just some old pony's tail, a rumor made up to scare little foals. But here they were, a small squad of ghosts doing their best to intimidate the pair, and it was working, at least enough to scare the big 'legendary' griffon. He had heard her dart out of the room, the griffon hoping she hadn't seen him make too much of a fool out of himself. They hybrid noticed she was standing just outside the bar and followed after her, the hybrid weaving between tables before making his way outside.

The griffon was greeted by a large amount of ghosts, his face drooping in disbelief, not sure if what he was seeing was actually real. He hoped that it was just some bad cider, but he was pretty sure that it wasn't, the ghosts slowly closing in on him. When she asked if he was was ready to beat up some ghosts, the griffon raised his brow, not sure of what to say. Ghosts were simply that, body-less creatures that harassed the living for reasons unknown. Could he even hurt them, they weren't alive after all. Still, it inspired him to try, the hybrid growling as decided to break their perimeter. Gerrard charged one on the outside monsters, lunging towards one, slashing into it with a black talon, only to have his claw go through the ghost. The speed of his attack caused the griffon to lose his balance, the adventurer falling on his face as he realized that he had no way to hurt such creatures. He hadn't even noticed that one tripped her up, the griffon too distracted by his own problems.

The ghost was completely unharmed, turning around to see his attacker as he gestured for half of his allies to pursue the fire-breather. The detective griffon didn't even bother dusting himself off, instead looking around for an escape path. "We gotta get out of here pathfinder, we need magic to beat ghosts," he explained in a concerned manner, the hybrid darting as fast as his paws could carry him towards the edge of town as he picked up the downed pegasus with one talon, putting Pathfinder on her hooves as he gestured for her to follow him around the corner of a building at the edge of town. He just needed a minute to think things over, his mind racing over all the different explanations of what just happened. "What do these ghosts need water for? It doesn't make any sense. Something is wrong here," he panted in a tired manner, trying to figure out what was going on. He wasn't sure what was going on, but it had to have something to do with the job he was assigned to at this actual "GHOST" town.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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There was a lot of debate internally still about just what sort of spirit or ghost she and her fire-breathing friend were facing, but she figured that didn't matter much. The key thing to remember was that no matter what the things were that were currently attacking them, they were in a better spot than ten minutes earlier when they were in a non-adventure scenario. Gerry the Griffon was on the right track when he asked what they were up to, but Pathfinder's experience told her that answers came through action rather than any other method. She followed Gerrard as he ran after pulling her off of the specter that had pulled her down to the ground, making a note to thank him once they were in a better position. The two ran, flying not being an option as the limitless ghosts above kept up lazily with them. They eventually seemed to find some cover, and the ghosts kept their distance.

She thought maybe this was because they were givig the pair a break like how a cat gives a mouse some reason to hope an dream but this was quickly dashed as an idea when she stared out into the desert beyond. A sandstorm was starting up, billowing tornadoes of sand coalescing into a violent front that seemed to consume the landscape in increasing intensity around the ghost town. Slowly, surely, pale figures moved through the storm, advancing on them without a single care paid to the storm that was engulfing them. The other ghosts in town weren't giving the duo space because they were toying around; they were afraid of the ghosts coming from out of town. That certainly added a few wrinkles to the affair, now didn't it? Pathfinder smiled broadly. This was shaping up to be a great day!

[colour=#006400]"Thanks for the save, Gerry, but it seems as though we're completely surrounded!"[/colour] Pathfinder finished not in a panic or with a trace or worry, but not-well-at-all concealed glee, [colour=#006400]"Thankfully, it looks like the ghouls behind us and the specters in front of us aren't on good terms, but anything that gets all spooooky like the ones out in that storm is something that I don't want to involve myself with!"[/colour] She ended, patting Gerrard on the head.

[colour=#006400]"Thanks for the save but you've got a good question; what the heck do they want with water? Ghosts don't drink water! Ghosts from Saddle Arabia drink ectoplasma shakes, but not water. Reavers drink syrup, oddly enough. But-"[/colour] She was rambling, eyes darting between the advancing ghouls from the storm, the ones behind, and those above, when the ground beneath her gave away as the ground was sucked below, becoming a black hole into the earth. Pathfinder was having none of that, taking flight and hovering above the ground.

[colour=#006400]"Wings over the badlands, look at that!"[/colour] She exclaimed before looking around. Couldn't go up. Surrounded. Well, hey, she wasn't one to deny fate!

[colour=#006400]"See ya on the other side, Gerry!"[/colour] And with that, Pathfinder shot down the hole.

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Gerrard was really starting to dislike the mapmaker who sold him this map in Canterlot. They could have said something more than just ghost town, a term used for abandoned cities, and the griffon felt duped. "Oh, when I find that map maker, I'm gonna give him a piece of my mind, and talon," the griffon grumbled to nobody in particular as he tried to catch his breath. He was going to demand hazard pay for this, assuming of course they both got out of the ghost town with all their limbs intact.

He noticed the sand storm brewing as well, the small army of ghosts threatening to storm through the flying sand and collapse atop the pair. The pipe expert thought over the situation, trying his best to come up with an escape plan or even an explanation of what was going on. He often wondered if it was bad luck, that trapped him in these situations, or if he was simply the victim of the aloof hooves of his coworkers. Regardless, the griffon did think over her comment about ghosts not needing water, something he could agree with, having read a few fiction novels on the subject. "If they don't need the water, perhaps their Master needs it. Maybe there is a necromancer here, a practitioner of the dark arts! Using the water to fuel their army of minions, perhaps living ones as well as undead!" Gerrard theorized, having no real idea what was going on.

Before he could add any more speculation to what was going on, the ground gave out from beneath him, the griffon clamoring to keep his heavier body from falling into the pit. "Gah, what a terrible day," he grumbled, not nearly as thrilled for adventure as his pegasus counterpart. When Pathfinder darted down into the darkness, he reluctantly followed her, wanting to escape the proverbial cloud of ghosts that seemed to be descending upon them. Gerrard followed after her quick movements, his keen eyes narrowing as he tried to track her in the decreased light of the underground.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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Pathfinder found herself going down a somewhat unsettling amount of holes in her life. Most of the time she at least had some escape route or more infrmation to go on, as was common in her line of work- you didn't take risks without some idea of what lay in front of you. Well, Pathfinder would take the leap anyway, but she wasn't loony enough to not try and have some information beforehoof. It didn't hurt, at least. And she always tried to have an escape route planned because unplanned excursions into hot-zones was a sure way to discover danger and all the fun that went with it as well as get yoor wings broken. But this time, she was going in completely blind.

[colour=#006400]"Yeeeeeehhaaaaaawww!"[/colour] She screamed excitedly as she felt herself getting more sucked rather than having any control over where she was going. Her wings tried to flap in a vain effort at controlling her motion before the force of the pull became too much for her and she started tumbling about. For a few more seconds this continued until she felt herself coming t a complete stop in empty space. Not even floating. Still. Around her was pure, piercing darkness and overwhelming silence. A little bit disconcerting and Pathfinder moved- and she was free to do so. Frictionless, motionless, sightless, soundless. She galloped in place, flew in place, did all she could, and there was nothing.

[colour=#006400]"Heeeellllloooooo?"[/colour] She yelled out, the echo starting off loud and remaining loud the whole while as it bounced around infinity and then some. It was pretty creepy and awesome at the same time, just like that one time when she had first started to adventure! Some sentient hole had opened up and swallowed her whole. It felt like years and Pathfinder was freely admitting she felt like she was about to go mad when the hole had enough of her substance and spat her out and it had been only a few minutes. She was more prepared for a similar occurrence, but this was different. Too silent. Not enough...scarynessity.

[colour=#006400]"Heeeeeelllllllloooooooooooo?"[/colour]

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Gerrard hadn't been in nearly as many holes in his life as pathfinder, the griffon not nearly as much a fan of adventure as her, despite what his claims might have been. In fact, the only holes Gerrard were familiar with involved sewers and the like. The dark hybrid always avoided talking about those though for obvious reasons, trying to forget about the less glamorous portions of his life. He valued his life greatly and tried his best to avoid dangerous situations like the one he was in, the architect being thrown into a situation he wasn't familiar with.

After a short fall into the pitch black darkness, Gerrard glanced around, unable to see without a light source. He couldn't sense anything in the dark abyss, his limbs still operating, but seemingly unable to move him in any meaningful manner. He thought for a moment, realizing there was in fact no friction in the darkness. It meant that any movements of his would likely do nothing, the griffon deciding to test if he simply needed a light source to examine his surroundings and body. After feeling around his body, the griffon managed to find his trusty blowtorch, Gerrard glad that he could at least still feel things as he kept a firm grip on the blowtorch. With a click, the torch vibrated in his hand ever so faintly, the griffon unable to see or even hear the torch. He could tell by the faintest of movements in his talon that the torch must have been active, although for one reason or another, his senses aside from touch didn't work.

Gerrard let out a screech, unable to hear any of his noise as he confirmed this for one last time. The griffon thought in silence for a moment about it, his keen mind wandering as he thought over how this could be possible. Magic was the only thing that could explain it in his mind, but what sort of spell could do this? As it had many times, his thoughts drifted towards the most skilled unicorn he knew, a mare who specialized in illusion magic. He had seen her change her form many times, yet her actual body always remained constant, the mare using magic to manipulate properties of light and the such to trick senses. This must have been some sort of trick, designed to distract Gerrard and his friend. The griffon wracked his head for a moment, trying to come up with a way to break the stasis he felt they were in.

"Illusions can be dispelled when they are directly interacted with, or the senses of the subject are over loaded to the point that the magic can't hold sway over the target," his mind remembered the somber words of the melancholy mare he spent a lot of time chatting with. He only had one working sense, and the griffon decided on a rash course of action to break free of the darkness. Gerrard turned off his torch and opened his maw, the griffon deciding to bite down on his foreleg, the griffon wincing in pain as he took a bite of his leg. Gerrard felt his eyes well up as his leg ached terribly, the griffon's mind only able to focus on the throbbing in his leg. And just as his mind drifted that way, Gerrard's vision slowly returned, the hybrid finding himself sitting in a dark pit, the griffon next to Pathfinder.

He looked at Pathfinder, the pegasus seeming to be in a stupor similar to his own, the griffon deciding to let out a sigh as he figured what he needed to do. "Sorry Pathfinder!" he explained to the mare, guessing that she couldn't hear him as he swung his talon back, the architect deciding to knock some sense back into her as his talon flew towards her face.

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Pathfinder felt it before she heard her newfound Griffon pal's apology, a crack of talon against her face shocking her out of the illusion with more assurance than any spell or her own vapid concentration could do. Once the talon slugged her, the illusion failed as did the barrier of sound and the falling syllables from his speech filtered in as did the world around her. Well, so did the pain, but she was used to pain phasing in and out and shockingly enough that pain seemed to center around her face just as it did then. Talons were never a fun thing to have slapped across your face and while he had no intention of doing so- Pathfinder assumed the best in everycreature, even the ones who likely were trying to hurt her- it certainly left a small cut under her left eye. As she came to reality's embrace, she staggered back up and away from her griffon pal, rubbing the cut.

[colour=#006400]"Awww, darnit! This isn't a sapient hole? Danny was going to have company..." [/colour]She sighed, looking around with her ears downed[colour=#006400], "I suppose that little sidequest will have to continue."[/colour] She whispered somberly as she gandered around. There was of course her pal as well as, even with the illusion dispelled, THE UNENDING DARKNESS. Well, it had an end under hooves and she assumed an opening above but there wasn't a light to be seen. For all intents and purposes, they may as well have been in an unlit Stalliongrad sewer system which, experience told her, had more of a adventerous flavour about it than this did. So they were in a pit and it was an illusion, eh?

[colour=#006400]"Good thinkin' there, Griffy. It would have taken me an hour to get my mind around it. Once it took me six hours and when I woke up I was the size of a peanut in a zebra's hut. Now THAT was a fun week!" [/colour]She chuckled as she started pawing at the sides in an effort to investigate the room. Pit. Room pit. Pit room! That sounded better. There had to be a way. It didn't make much sense if there wasn't; why make this escape-illusion-trap in their situation? They were all balled up by those ghosts and the storm. No reason to give them that escape route unless it was for a good cause. Or a bad cause, like a super evil cause. Now that would be exciting! Hopefully it was for an evil cause. Far less boring than a good cause.

[colour=#006400]"All right, well, I have more than my fair share of experience in dark pits. Hopefully you have too, 'cause I don't think this one is fooling around if it had an illusion covering up however we got here!" [/colour]She continued pawing at the sides of the dirt surrounded pit, each furtive slap and prode running into dry, dry ground. But then her hoof smacked into dirt which had the very faint hint of moisture. Pathfinder withdrew and sniffed her hoof.

[colour=#006400]"Hmm, that's weird. There was water right here..." [/colour]She ran her hoof across the whole area, finally realizing that it was still moist in a small circle area, [colour=#006400]"like a pipe was here an suddenly...gone. And there isn't space missing like a pipe was here and the ground is still moist a little. That's strange-"[/colour] She began once more, honestly confused just before the hairs on her pelt stood on end and she ducked. Not a moment later, a stream of water burst from that same position in the wall and missed her by inches, though she could only guess her Griffy pal wasn't as lucky!

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Gerrard was glad to see that it had worked, his tough black talon slapping Pathfinder back to her senses. He didn't often hit other people with them though, his hand throbbing lightly as he shook the pain off. The black hybrid hoped she didn't hold it against him, he knew the slap probably didn't hurt as much as his own bite though, the griffon a bit relieved about that. "Sorry about cutting you. It worked at least though," he added with a smile, feeling as if he finally managed to do something helpful for his adventurer friend. He glanced around the darkness, finding it incredibly hard to see anything of note. He limped about in the dark, his foreleg throbbing badly as he tried to make any details out. "Sapient hole? Danny? I'm afraid I don't have any clue about what you are talking about. I know irrigation, not

He could hear his friend pawing at the ground in a focused manner, searching with her hooves for something that she could use to figure out where they were. Gerrard was at a loss himself, the architect starting to feel that he wasn't cut out for adventuring as he followed her around. After a few awkward moments of searching, the hybrid heard pathfinder find something. He could only imagine what it was though, the hybrid trying his best to figure out what was going on with this pit. He was new to the whole adventure thing and it probably showed, the griffon hoping to follow her direction. When she mentioned water though, the griffon paused, raising his brow. "Water? Pipe? You should be careful. We are in a pit in the ground. If you break something, the water could flow into here and drown us," he explained in a worried tone, the griffon unable to finish his thoughts blasted the griffon in the face, knocking him over. While griffons were a bit bulkier and stronger than pegasi, there was no doubting that they lacked a bit of the agility of their hooved counterparts.

Gerrard hacked and wheezed and tried to dry himself off, the hybrid standing in a slowly growing puddle of water as the liquid slowly started filling their hole. "Oh gosh, let's get out of here," the griffon commented in a clearly disturbed voice, the braggart clearly not as confident as he was before. He quickly shuffled through his bag and pulled out his trusty blow torch, Gerrard igniting the tool as he created a shimmering blue flame. "You have something to make a torch with?" he added quickly, wanting to figure some way out before they met a watery demise. He flicked the fiery tool around with his deft wrists as he waited for her to find something to make into a torch.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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Pathfinder had a long list of things she'd rather not do in life and chief among them was drowning. It was an embarassing end for any sapient creature to be done in, and especially so for any creature such as she who had a pair of working wings attached to a cute little frame. She didn't want to think that it was even worse that one could be hung up and done in by a sapient hole in the ground, especially since they at least had senses of humors and were more apt to tickle her. Then again, she had experience with them. Maybe her griffy pal would be tastier, what with his non sapient hole knowing ways, but that was neither here nor there in the grand scheme of things. The wall burst with water and started flooding their tiny hole, which was a rather unlucky thing to have happen and put them at a severe disadvantage since they couldn't find a way out.

Luckily, one of them had a torch, or at least one half of the ensemble. You could always count on somepony- or griffon- to have a bright idea or in this case just a nice start to their eventual escape. He asked if she something to light it with as the hole started to fill at an increased pace and by Celestia, she was pretty sure she did. If not, then she'd have to hold her breath and start beating the walls to escape. That probably wouldn't work but hey, nothing she ever did was supposed to work. It just did. She nodded and made sure to keep her saddlebag above the rising water. Quickly, she tossed a hoof in and started rummaging around her near endless supply of various knicknacks.

[colour=#006400]"Where is it? [/colour][colour=#006400]Book...book...snail!...smoke pellets...arrow...snakes...fanfiction...letters...plushies...book...book...tools...artifact...letters...photos...unmentionables...ahh, there we go!" [/colour]She puled out a single stick of matchwood as the water started to breach her lower chest. Not the quickest search, but it was what it was. She quickly turned to her griffy friend, smiling.

[colour=#006400]"Alright, there...huh..." [/colour]It was then that she realized they had no dry surface to strike the match on. Again, not the best situation. Luckily, she thought quick on her feet. She placed the match against Gerrard's head and in one swift motion lit the match against his forehead, the wood lighting up. She then dropped it on the torch and soon the gift of light was theirs to share.

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Gerrard impatiently watched his friend as she seemed to rummage through an impossibly cavernous bag. He didn't feel it was appropriate to ask what matter of magic could contain so much stuff into a saddle bag, the griffon eyeing their hole as it slowly filled up with water. Lucky for the griffon, his love of diving for fish had turned him into a capable swimmer, not that he was exactly looking forward to treading water in watery tomb. He did remember practically drowning once when he went diving when there was a particularly fierce storm on the eastern shores of Equestria. After a wave introduced himself to a beach, he took it upon himself to avoid terrible weather and dangerous situations. Of course it couldn't always be helped, the griffon trying his best to simply escape the hole and move on with his life.

The water was rising surprisingly fast, or at least it felt like it was, not that he could see anything. He heard Pathfinder mumble on about finding something, the hybrid unable to make heads or tails of her words when he was greeted with a rough match to his face. His pegasus friend had struck a match on his face, an unpleasant, but seemingly acceptable thing, at least compared to what he had done to her. With water already up to his waist, the architect took the lit torch from his friend and held it firmly in his talons, raising it high into the air as he illuminated the hole above them. The pair seemed to have fallen into a cavernous pit of sorts, numerous stalactites hanging from the ceiling above them as the pair seemed to have somehow gotten trapped in an under ground cave.

"Uh, well this seems like it will take a long time to fill such a cave with water regardless. We should be looking for an exit somewhere. I would love to claw my way to the surface, but hard rocks would probably serve a bit too much resistance for me to make any progress," he sighed with an annoyed tone in his voice, the architect just wanting to get home. He would probably be more scared, but his familiarity with water and it's inner workings helped temper his fear for drowning, if only until it got serious at least.

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At least they had slightly more information to go on now, a gift that light really did wonders to give in her line of work. Few things were as universally welcome as a light in the darkness and for the first time in the twelve times she had been in a situation like this, there weren't spiders or saw blades all around. Flooding or not, this was already better than most of her days. Heck, she was even getting a bath for free which was the sort of luxury she assumed only fancy homeowners like Snowfall had the pleasure of and Celestia knew Pathfinder needed a bath almost as bad as she needed a way out of the cave. Speaking of, the cave was certainly much larger than she had anticipated. It had felt like a hole at first and nothing more but she supposed it was just where they had landed, a very narrow part of a much larger complex.

The solution was clear enough. A cave had to have an entrance or an exit and at the rate that it was flooding, they had more than enough time to flitter about and find an escape. By law, that meant something negative would happen and they'd get out just im time. As long as the contents of her bag were fine, she would be. Otherwise, she looked forward to her exciting daily near-death experience! There were a hundred dangers a day to face and she wasn't going to miss one, so time to get cracking on finding the best route out of the cave. After all, a cave only offered seventy three different dangers when it wasn't filled with deadly animals and this cave lacked all of the deadly animals she would have wanted to see. Not even a meat-eating sea serpent, and those were dime a dozen!

[colour=#006400]"All right, let's get up and goin'!" [/colour]She jubilantly prattled as she rubbed the griffon's head pushing herself up using his noggin and giving her the space needed to open her wings. She would be useless without that torch, though.

[colour=#006400]"C'mon, get your lazy rump up in the air with me. We've got an escape route to find and some ghosts to chase!"[/colour]

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Gerrard of course had nothing to compare this to, aside from the pleasant days he had to deal with in Canterlot. Perhaps it was slightly to his benefit though, unable to truly gauge how much danger they were in, the griffon wasn't initially too bothered, at least not until his head was dunked under water by his overeager pegasus friend. The architect took in a deep breath of water, hacking and wheezing a bit as he pulled his head back out of the water. "Normally people ask for permission before using others as stepping stools," he grumbled, the utterly drenched hybrid paddling his body over to a wall.

He paused for a moment to clear his head, the Canterlot resident resisting the urge to pull her back into the water. After he reached the wall, he climbed up the rocky walls with his deft talons, his dark form completely drenched with water. After a brief pause, he shook his body violently, throwing water in every direction as he tried to dry himself off. As soon as most of the water had been dislodged from his fur and feathers, he quickly puffed up, his fur and feathers airing out and making him look more ridiculous than usual. "Coming," he grumbled, the griffon hopping off the wall and flapping his heavy wings to remain in the air, a light mist of water filling up the air as his movements dried him off. "Lead the way Miss Horsefly. I'm sure there is something down that passage, it seems to increase in elevation that way, the water is flowing towards us. Wait a minute, water is coming this way from somewhere else as well? That way leads to the exit, just don't fly into any traps," he commented in an excited voice, suspecting he had figured the way out of their prison.

Regardless of if it was right, the water continued to slowly build up and challenge their presence in the cave. Gerrard could smell things in the cavern, but he couldn't make anything out with the wet horse flying in front of him. She apparently needed soap as well, not that he was going to say anything about it. "Path, there is uhh, stuff ahead, people or things, just saying," he warned, giving her essentially no idea what was waiting for them.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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That torch sure as heck was paying dividends, and in more than just one way. It really showed off how goofy looking Gerrard was, caked with mud and his hair wildly acclimated to the environment in the silliest manner possible. If she wasn't trying so hard to see, she probably would have ruffled his feathers a bit and tried molding it into a mohawk with the mud. How he would have responded to this was lost to the ages because the second and more important fact was that the light provided by the torch made it actually possible for her, the little horsefly, to fly with some speed with her griffon compatriot in otherwise foreboding circumstances. Thank Celestia for circumstance and poor relations with the townsfolk nearby, otherwise she wouldn't be here having so much fun!

[colour=#006400]"You're right, Gerry. And where there's water, we either have our culprit or civilization, both of which are much better than dying here," [/colour]She ruffled his mane playfully as she took the lead by a few feet up the path where the water was streaming from. It narrowed and narrowed and the air grew thicker as the space eroded and the ground rose up to meet them. Eventually, it got to the point that it was big enough for one griffon and no more. Luckily, she was ahead of him, which would prove to be good fortune. She started to smell something different from eroded rock, dirty water, exposed root, dirt, and mud. Wood. String, which could only be smelled as age could give them a fine timbre, especially when ancient magical softwalls were decaying-

-Pathfinder stopped and pulled back just as she triggered the trap and a spring trap spike wall launched itself from the ground, splayed as it was across the entire length. Water, dirt, and mud were flung at her and beyond her as she narrowly avoided having her head caught by the spikes, the rush of hand knocking her hat sideways.

[colour=#006400]"Well, it seems we have ourselves a good old fashioned spike wall trap! You can smell the old magical barrier decaying. Pretty common in ancient ruins, but odd to find it here. And this wood,"[/colour] she knocked on the wood as the trap started to reset itself,[colour=#006400] "is rotting. Or starting to, at least. This place must have been dry for who knows how long, the water recent. And that string," she flicked it, "must be good olf Everfree Redbark. That stuff has a shelf life of eternity,"[/colour] She finished before picking up a few rocks, throwing them one after another into the dark. She heard another snap, then another, and then another. Finally, silence.

[colour=#006400]"So, four traps, probably on all four sides of the passage," [/colour]She mumbled, picking up some more rocks and licking her lips before a devious smile lit it up. After a few more moments, the traps had reset.

[colour=#006400]"Well, knowing is half the battle. Now let's do the other half."[/colour]

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Gerrard managed a smile, even if the pony was messing with his fur and feathers. Most ponies kept a safe distance away and rightly so. He would have returned the favour, but decided against disturbing her hat or yanking on her dark dyed mane. "Well most anything would be better than death, but I agree with your guess," he added calmly, scooping a clawful of gunk off his drenched head feathers.

The dark hybrid followed behind her as they ascended the watery path. When Pathfinder triggered the trap, Gerrard nearly fell head over heels as he tried his best to react to her quick movements.

Gerrard may have the vision and keen sense of smell of an eagle, but it was clear that he had no idea how to apply them. He could smell the wood that she mentioned but had no idea what any if it meant until she mentioned it. "Ahh, I see. Lots and lots of wood down there. Run of the mill traps," he remarked with a loud cough as he tried to play off his fear. She couldn't see behind her, which was one thing he could appreciate, the griffon having quite the manly image to uphold.

"So how do you propose we progress? Only one of us have a pith helmet to absorb arrows. I suppose we could trigger all the traps and dart through before they reset, clearly nothing could go wrong," he joked, offering his two cents to the adventure expert.

He never thought it would be, but the irrigation architect found such stressful situations fun. In small doses of course!

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  • 3 weeks later...

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The griffon had nearly been impaled but he played it off cool, his character entirely stoic in the face of ultimate danger! Her companion was a worthwhile one to be sure, and she was more than happy to have somegriffon of competence along. She had a good track record of griffons in all actuality, but Gilda didn't return her letters. He would have to suffice, but a competent griffon as a basic backup to her fourth favorite adventuring buddy was a pretty good system, and good systems were key to good adventures. As were pretty good traps, and the spike trap was a pretty good trap. Her track record with spike traps was pretty good too, as the Equestrian healthcare system would attest to(though their definitions of healthy and sustainable living would be different from hers).

He had the right idea in any case, setting the traps off. She clapped her hooves together.

[colour=#006400]"Exactly! Set them all off, then one of us goes. Do it fast enough and nothing bad happens. Go slow though and you could get something caught, and then it will reset and sense something and..."[/colour] she let the thought finish as she smoothed over another rock. They would only need two, but she couldn't risk messing this up and only setting one trap off by accident. Nopiny nor griffon would be pleased with that result!

[colour=#006400]"Okay, I'll set this off, then you go," [/colour]She selected a rock and peered into the darkness as a few seconds of silence followed, licking her chops with unbridled excitement as the traps were now fully reset, [colour=#006400]"I'd go first, but these traps get extra twitchy with repeated use. Each time it's used, it'll start snapping sooner and sooner. You're big- I mean, you're not fat or anything, though you've got a bit much under the wings for my taste but then again I'm a pony so what do I know about griffon attractiveness- so you should go. Then you find a rock an throw it in the other direction after the traps reset, and I'll go. Then we can continue doing awesome and save the day, yay!"[/colour] And with that, she hurled the rock and the traps sprung.

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Gerrard was starting to question the sanity of the odd pegasus. Most ponies would be at least a little scared, but Pathfinder seemed to revel and thrive on danger. She had the faintest of crazed glimmers in her eyes, but Gerrard figured that it was probably for the best. What truly frightened him was the fact that she agreed with his plan, something the novice adventurer was hoping she had a better plan for their escape. Gerrard silently gulped and decided to put on a fake sense of bravado, pumping his chest out proudly.

"Of course my dear mare. I will lead the charge! I will protect you from the traps to the best of my ability," he proudly remarked without being sure of what to do. He nodded in agreement with her plan, at least until she had seemingly called him 'big'.

Gerrard gawked at such a notion that he was above average in size. "Perhaps you lack a certain level of sophistication to understand the specimen before you. In Canterlot, I must swash buckle my way through a menagerie of mares who marvel in my magnificence and machismo. Perhaps you are simply too small," he playfully teased, the griffon possibly embellishing, if only a 'tiny' bit.

When she explained her plan, Gerrard resolved to be brave and daring, reckless even! He knelt down in a lion sprinting posture and tapped his talons on the stone floor. When she triggered the traps, his keen eyes watched spikes fly before he snatched up Pathfinder in his right talon and darted into danger, pegasus in tow.

"Fear not my fair feathered maiden. I will protect you with a portion of the safety allotted to my earlier run of the gauntlet to you," he explained, darting the the set off traps with ease. Upon reaching the other side, his talon set off a hidden arrow trap, spraying a hail of projectiles at him. With a bit of quick thinking, the griffon raised his pith hatted friend and used her head ware as a shield, deftly stopping all of the arrows in their tracks.

"How about them apples?" Gerrard confidently commented, hiding his shaking talons from view.

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