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Of Mountain Ponies and Griffin Trails (Attn: Tacobob, Pyro Blaze, and Dubstep)


Pretzelparty
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About a week ago Taira had been out on the town, Niju had been planning some surprise for him when he came back that night and requested that he stay a bit longer so that she could prepare things for him. Not being one to complain about such a thing, he went out on his best behavior and had a few drinks. While he relaxed in the bar he'd caught the eye of some griffin explorer who was getting a taste of the culture from the neighponese countryside to the north. Ashley seemed the decent sort so he decided to stick around and drink with him (Taira drinking tea rather than sake), through the power of alcohol the griffin let it slip he was interested in seeing the mountains to the north of Kaminichi... a place that Taira was all too familiar with.

 

Seeing as Ashley was so interested in the mountain's mythical history, Taira told him what he did for a living: He was a mountain guide of sorts. He would bring people who were willing to pay up the mountains hidden by green mists along the safest paths and into the forests to explore. Sometimes when he did it he would learn a few things about his territory even he didn't know. There were ruins, places that could be haunted, and sacred sites where some events from ancient folklore still stood... although visiting certain areas would require him be paid a little extra. Ashley agreed but only requested a bit of time to put together a group he said he'd cover, an archeologist, someone for security, and that was all. A three pony group? That sounded like a pretty easy deal. 

 

One week later and Taira was at the midway point on the mountain road. He'd said to meet them here so he could get an idea how much walking they could take before they became winded and needed to rest. He wasn't opposed to anyone under his watch taking a breather but the longer they stayed on his mountain the longer he had to watch over them. The stocky looking Kirin had been resting comfortably on a large rock by the side of the road. Any silence on the mountain was broken up by the sound of a lively humming and some singing being done in equestrian.

 

"I used to be a renegade... I used to fool around... But I couldn't take the punishment, I had to settle down. Now I'm playin' real straight, and yes I cut my hair. You can think I'm crazy, but I don't even care. Cause I can tell what's goin' on-- oh!"

 

 His ears perked up as finally caught the sound of hoofsteps on the smoothed steps of the mountain. A sniff brought him assurance as he realized it was definitely, Ashley among them. He had that dusty scent to him that made Taira's nose itch ever so faintly: The kind of scent that taira noted clung to those fond of scrolls and tomes. He was surprised he didn't have such a smell on his fur anymore actually, "I should really start reading again." Another sniff made him realize that another of those coming up the steps an odor of literacy around him... and the other one... 

"Hm... A wild scent mixed with the city. Almost like Niju... Oh well, so long as he doesn't cause any trouble I'm sure we'll get along." With that, Taira leapt off the rock and down on the trail. His hoof raised and he waved to the approaching trio with a smile, "Welcome, Ashley and Company! I trust you enjoyed the walk up!" 

 

 

 

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Pocket Change was supposed to be a globetrotting, tomb-exploring, daring adventurer. However, after his latest adventure via a crazy underwater sub-marine, the white coated unicorn had been in a bit of a rut. As the months slowly rolled on by, Pocket kept his snout mostly in his books. And when he was not reading, the young archaeologist was writing about his adventures, and also spending time with his beloved, an mare named Moony. Things were fine, and while the adventures had dried up, he was still a happy little pony. Then tragedy struck. His beloved Moony was going away! And not just down the road or to the next country but into OUTER SPACE. This blew the young stallion's mind! Princess Celestia trusted the very brainy pony along with some others to test her something something. Pocket had stopped listening after that. She was going to be away for not days, or even weeks, but months! What horrible news!
 
Thankfully word came from one of his old dig-bosses. He should seek adventure in Empire of the Eastern Seas, Neighpon! These were lands that the unicorn had read about, but had never stepped hooves in. So after an airship and an trip via an rickety sampan, the explorer found his way to the island nation. And once he hit land, the stallion knew to find the nearest tavern, or did they call them izakaya? The stallion did his best to learn as much of the language as possible while on his voyage. What he did not know, could be easily aided by an 'babble-fish' spell.
 
Thankfully, adventure was to be found at the izakaya, and it came in the form of a griffon! He needed experienced folk to travel up a mountain north of Kaminichi. And this was no giant mound of dirt, it was a mountain that was just lousy with adventure! It had everything! Green, spooky mists! Haunted ruins! And lots and lots of history! After a round of sake and plum wine, the unicorn was more than ready to go! Unfortunately, he had to wait before the other positions were filled. Once this was taken care of, the small group headed towards the mountain road. After a rather uneventful journey, they found their guide who cheerfully greeted the group.
 
"Yes, there is so much beauty to behold.", the stallion spoke. While the trip had lacked ADVENTURE, it made up in sights. "I am Pocket Change, archaeologist and adventurer.", he made sure to give the proper greeting as he spoke. * The Kirin was an interesting fellow. He almost looked like the very mountain birthed him. He even bore an mountain cutie mark on his rump. Pocket was more than prepared for this journey. He wore a lightly enchanted adventuring suit, which was an Hearth's Warming Eve gift from an old friend, along with dual saddlebags stocked with useful gear. HE WAS READY!
 
 
 
 
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* I'm sure they have a proper greeting in these lands. Something that Pocket would have read about. Not sure myself. Do they bow? Hoof-Bump? That weird thing Twilight and Cadance like to do? As I type this, it's really late and I need to get some sleep. So sweepy.

 

 

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Y'know, seeing as he had lived in Neighpon his whole life, one would think he would know more about these mountains other than they exist... Granted, it wasn't like there was much cause to look any further into it until now, but still...

 

In any case, Nensho trotted down the road in his pony form and in full armor, humming to himself as he looked around. He hadn't ever expected to get a job that took him up here, so it was a good thing they had a guide waiting for them. 

 

Speaking of, there he was up ahead, and he certainly smelled the part for the job. "Nensho Ha. Security. Nice to meet you." He smiled, nodding to the Kirin. "That walk was nothing, I've had worse."

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Neighpon, ahhhh Neighpon! It was just as beautiful as the last time Ashley had sat paw on it's shores. The globetrotting griffon's exploits took him many places multiple times, but there were always new sights to see and new mysteries to try and uncover. It was such a vastly different place from Aquellia or Equestria, but still held many of the comforts of home. Like good food and drink! It was at one of these eateries that Ravencrest managed to meet one Yamato Taira! The handsome kirin was a friendly sort, having likely found it obvious that Ashley was a stranger in the lands of Neighpon, and saw fit to show him some hospitality! For which the archaeologist was certainly grateful for. Through the drink and merriment filled chatter, Ashley had spoken of his interest of the mountains, specifically those to the north of Mount Kaminichi. It was one of many places in Neighpon that the griff hadn't gotten to explore yet! Through luck, chance, serendipity, or perhaps just plain fate, Taira made a living as a mountain guide into those very mountains. And there were ruins and folklore tied to the mountain? All the better!


After a bit of talking, and a bit more price negotiation, Ashley eagerly agreed to the trip! Though he wouldn't want to do it alone, and requested some time to put out word. He had considered calling up a couple of his old friends to join him, but at the same time he was sure they'd want him to give newblood a chance too. It wasn't as thought bad of anyone new on the scene or new to him, quite the contrary. But Translucent and Shimmering were among his oldest friends. But that was neither here nor there! Once Ashley was sure that Taira was agreeable, the griffon sat out to round up a group.


Fate once again managed to smile on the adventurer as it so often did, Ashley found himself a fellow archaeologist at the very town that he had met Taira. If he didn't know any better, he'd say he was using up all his luck before he got to the mountain! Only time would tell though. The unicorn, who he came to learn was named Pocket Change, was just as eager and raring to go as Ashley himself, alas for the both of them the griffon needed to find some muscle still. Not that he didn't think Taira capable of handling himself in a scuffle with a build like he had, but it never hurt to have someone watching your front and flank! Sadly whatever mistress of fortune that had deigned to kiss Ashley so had moved on for the time being. Oh well, he wouldn't want everything he needed to fall in his lap.


After another day or so Ashley at last managed to run into someone, almost literally, who just so happened to work as private security. The griffon thanked whatever powers were watching over him to make things go so smoothly! With Nensho paid and Pocket Change rounded up, Ashley sat off with his two new acquaintances to the mountains! The trip was scenic and just absolutely delightful. Some would say it was a touch boring, but Ashley proffered boring over bandit attacks or things like that.


On the approach to the appointed meeting place, the sound of humming and singing came to Ashley's ear. One that was somewhat familiar to the griffon, as was the voice carrying it. Indeed, just around the next turn was Taira who hopped down from his rocky resting spot to greet the trio. "I see that it's Hip To Be Square even in Neighpon!" he said with a chuckle as he neared the kirin. "Most certainly! The beauty of these sorts of places never ceases to inspire me. But before I risk waxing poetic, allow me to thank you once again for this gracious offer!"

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"... Pocket... Change..."  The stocky kirin mulled the name over and soon let out a delighted chuckle, "You Equestrians always have some of the most fun names I've ever heard! It's a pleasure to meet you, Pocket-san." Taira bowed his head to the green eyed unicorn, catching a whiff of magic on his clothes. As he brought his head back up he though to himself,'Hm. This one really did prepare well. Maybe this journey will be easier than the usual fair.' 

 

This stallion with the wild, blue mane was a curious case. He smelled vaguely familiar, or perhaps like his scent was mingled with someone Taira had known long ago. It was diluted though, a fleeting aroma that could only conjure hazy half memories. Either way, This Nensho was clearly quite serious about his profession. That armor was rather impressive, it actually reminded the guide of some of the armor his old pack-mates wore into battle long ago. Taira gave another respectful bow, "And you as well, Nensho-san. You certainly look the type who'd be un-phased by such a paltry walk. I'll do my best not to need too much saving."

 

Taira grinned as Ashley recognized the song, "Good to see you haven't lost your good taste now that you've reacquainted yourself with sobriety, Ashley-san!"  The Kirin would give the trio a smile before gesturing to the thick mists looming not far before them, "No thanks needed, It's a pleasure to show off this place to those curious. Not as many come around here like they used to." The stallion pulled out a small satchel from beside the resting rock, unfurling a map. It was somewhat simply drawn, but still the drawing equivalent of legible. 

 

"I only wish to ask what types of places you wish to see. The mountain is home to much his- lore regarding yokai, or at least a clan of them and a conflict with one very dangerous and powerful one. There are a few interesting sites here, some of which I haven't gone too deep inside." His hoof pointed to a spot on the map with several vertical lines that looked sort of like segmented pipes, "The bamboo forest you can hear what sounds like chopping sometimes at night." His hoof drifted off to what looked like a small house on stilts, "The mountain spirit's ancient shrine. When some neighponese lived here in the past they would leave gifts but since they left it's fallen to disrepair." Then there was what looked like a series of spheres stacked on top of each-other. When Taira spoke up, his tone was a bit more serious sounding, "This is the palace of the demon-bear, Shinku. It's where a lot onikuma drawn to him gathered to plan and rest, not too far off is the final resting place of the Onikuma before he was defeated... I can take you to these places but I'll request you stay close and not wander off."

 

The pipe in the kirin's mouth swapped sides before the  guide took a deep breath and stood up, "If you want we could also just wander about and you can see what you'd find. There are some nooks and crannies I've not explored yet after all. Whenever you're ready we can traverse the mists."

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"There were so much beauty to take in, I probably could have trotted a hundred miles before I would even noticed that my legs were starting to tire." The stallion was in very good spirits. Photos and paintings did not do this land any justice. One had to be there to experience it all. "And there's usually lots of walking in my field." One thing amused him about the first pony. Was his name 'Nensho Ha' or was his name just 'Nensho' and he made a slight laugh sound. If 'Ha' was part of his name, would he name his child 'Ha Ha'? Somepony could ask what his name was, and he could just laugh in their face. And that armor he was wearing...What sort of creatures was he expecting to encounter here? The unicorn would have to toss his 'Monster Manual' in the bin as there was a whole new world of critters to be found here. Thankfully, he made sure to read as much as he could about the unique creatures he may encounter.
 
"Yes, we have fun, but rather prophetic names." While it did not happen all the time, pony names had a strange way of foretelling the eventual personality or skills of the named pony. While Pocket Change did not completely reflect his career, the bright coins did foretell the first thing he would discover that gave him his cutie mark. An very ancient bit of pocket change. "And I also wish to thank you for the opportunity to visit these lovely lands." he returned the bow and listened patiently as he spoke. The kirin said something about an entire clan of Yokai. It was a generic term for pretty much any sort of magical monster. They could look like just about anything and some, he had heard, can shape-shift. He would have to be weary of the Mononoke as they were usually portrayed as being rather blood-thirsty.  And demon bears? There was also stories he had read about sickle weasels, a speedy threesome who would take away a pony's legs before they would even notice. A giant skeleton made of people who died of starvation and even a specialty ghost that will kill or torture you in the bathroom. How rude!
 
With those images in his mind, the unicorn could not help but smile and add, "If you do not mind, I'd prefer to stay with the group."
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Wait... there was Yokai history up here? That was interesting... maybe he could learn more about his kind, or his parentage. Honestly, he couldn't really remember his birth parents, or any additional family he might have had...

 

That wasn't something he usually worried about though, his adoptive family was great in and of itself, especially since Toboe had been there to help him through it all. 

 

Nensho broke out of his thoughts as his nose twitched, causing him to furrow his brow in confusion. What was that smell? Underneath what one would expect from a mountain pony, there was something else that he couldn't quite figure out. 

 

"I'd like to see this Yokai stuff, sounds interesting." He nodded, trying to focus on the conversation again and file away the strange scent for later. 

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"Ahah, if anything sobriety has returned my ability to carry a tune in a bucket my friend." The griffon said with a hardy chuckle. Sure he may have drank a biiiit too much that night, at least he was sober enough to get all this ball started to rolling and here they were!


And speaking of here, from the sound of it 'here' had a lot of sights to see! Exactly what he wanted to hear! These cliffs and ruins were bound to be chock full of ancient history of Neighpon. And even of more interest, history on a clan of Yokai! Ashley had meet a very small number of Yokai in his travels, letting him write just enough about them for a couple of pages in one of his books. The Yokai weren't the most open species. Friendly enough but secretive about...well, most everything about them. So any insight into the lives or minds of a clan of them would be most welcome! "Goodness me, there's a lot to get around to eh?" the griffon rubbed his chin in thought. "I'd love to visit everywhere honestly...Perhaps we could start at the mountain spirit's shrine? Pay our respects to the spirit that once, or maybe even still does, reside there. And then from there move on where you think is best, Taira?" Ashley looked to Pocket Change and Nensho to see if that sat well with them.

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"I should be thanking you, Pocket-san. I don't get nearly as many ponies interested in exploring here anymore, I'd been thinking about trying to open up some sort of side business to better care of the family."

 

Four mouths to feed beside himself. Sometimes he missed his days alone on the mountain when he needed only to worry about stuffing his own face... but he still wouldn't trade it for his current life. The stallion got a small laugh out of pocket's response. He looked very wrapped up in his own mind until he spoke so he could only guess that Taira's description was a bit too vague. Yokai were very diverse, sometimes even frightening so saying a clan of them lived up here and not specifying was certainly an error on this guide's part. A response from Nensho gave him a chance to clarify although Taira would chuckle when  he noticed their security's nose twitching.

 

A cloven hoof reached into Taira's bag of supplies and soon pulled out a small packet of tissues, "You alright there, Nensho-san? If there's something in the air it's most likely the cottonweed. There are some stubborn, eager plants that bloom up here that made even the clan who lived here sniffle, according to some tales. Can you imagine that? A clan of might bear slaying Okami in fits because of small plant and some seeds in the air... although I'm hardly one to judge. The stuff makes my nose itch too." Figures that stuff was in season already too. Thankfully Niju had packed him more than a few things to help him deal with certain annoyances like that. "Since we've got one vote for the yokai options I'll be sure to make sure you get there by nightfall as best I can. When the sun goes down any of the areas that were home to Shinku-no-Kabuto become... restless."

 

Ashley already seemed to have an idea of where he had hoped to start. A visit to the shrine of the 'mountain spirit'. Just the idea brought a smile to Taira's muzzle, "Well, the Shrine is always a nice place to start. The town in front of it is still rather old and worn down but I know some things about how they used to pay their respects... they do say that sometimes you can catch a glimpse of him looking down on the village from the top of a waterfall near the shrine. Since Nensho-san is interested in the yokai history and our friend Pocket-san is undecided I'll take you to some of the yokai sites afterwards and we'll see what we're up for after that." Hoping everyone was mentally prepared, Taira stood up and approached the thick wall of mist that stood before the group. 

 

The kirin took in a deep breath and then stepped forward and blew. Perhaps it was some form of wind based breath ability, whatever it was though the mist parted and formed a neat tunnel through which the group could proceed. "I hope you're all ready!"

 

 

 

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"Right. Mountain shrine. I believe I have the proper protocols on how to pay the proper respect to such a sacred place.", a few scrolls surrounded in a green glow floated from the unicorn's saddlebags and made their way in front of the stallion's eyes, "Always walk on the side of the path to the shrine rather than in the middle. That part is not meant for mortals. When dealing with the chozuya always wash your front left hoof, followed by your right front hoof. Oh, there are several steps for this.", he sent the scrolls back before turning his attention back to the group, "So much to learn.", he whispered, "And I'm happy to follow you and your companions to wherever you go.", he smiled back at the griffon.
 
"It's a shame.", Pocket Change turned to the kirin, "I would hope my fellow ponies would like to expand their knowledge of your lands beyond what they normally would encounter. Which is mostly a unique variation of your local cuisine and that one ride in Whinny World." He was also sure 'Soon Fatt' was not an traditional name one would use for a local restaurant here.
 
"And forgive me for saying, but I would not consider myself 'undecided', I would prefer to been seen as one that is open to check out anything as this will be all very new to me. Also.",  he added, "What are Shinku-no-Kabuto? From what I recall, Kabutos are helmets, but I am unfamiliar with the full term." Could they be the sprits of fallen warriors? He had dealt with strange apparitions before. Most fall to the power of Celestia's sun. Which could be replicated through magic. Once the mist had parted, the eager unicorn was ready to move on, and followed once it was time to do so.
 
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Nensho blinked slightly at their guide's response to his nose twitching. Of course he had noticed that... well, not like he could tell the truth here, may as well go along with it. 

 

"Oh, nothing serious really. Just makes my nose a bit itchy. Thanks for the concern though." He smiled a bit, taking the offered tissue and stowing it away. After that, he kinda remained silent while waiting for the plan to come together. So far it seemed to be visit the shrine, then some Yokai sites, and then play it by ear. Fine by him. 

 

"Right, let's go then." Nensho nodded, trotting after Taira as he led the way through the mist. 

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Ahh what a fine journey this was turning out to be! And for once Ashley was able to say that without it being sarcastic. So far. It was a beautiful day, he had a guide and companions with him — going it alone now and then was fine, but sometimes you really needed someone to talk to besides rocks and ancient remains — and he'd be able to have all sorts of material for a new book! It seemed like Pocket Change was just as eager as he was to see everything there was out here in these mountains. "Sounds like there's quite a bit of etiquit involved, goodness. Well I do hope whatever spirits may be out there are understanding of foreigners not quite getting right the first try." the griffon said with a little chuckle.


As Taira parted back the mists with a breath of magic, Ashley let out an impressed whistle. "What a helpful trick that is! Ahh times like this make me wish that we griffons had magic of our own as well. Would have gotten me out of quite the number of sticky situations. Both figurative and literally!" a shake of his head and a shudder escaped Ashley before he pressed on with the group.

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There a small pause from Taira as Pocket spoke. Not because he took any offense, in fact the visitor's description was pretty accurate. The only thing was that their guide needed a few seconds to determine whether or not that was right. It had been so long since he'd seen anypony walking up those steps and back in the day he was free to walk down the middle as he pleased anyway. "Sounds about right, Pocket-san. I'm sure that the mountain spirit is already delighted to have all of you here, though." A knowing chuckle came from him as he calmly strode through the tunnel in the green mist. 

 

It was something of a surreal experience. Strolling through a tunnel, surrounded by billowing green tinged mist all around them as the group traveled in. Taira was unphased, for reasons that would be obvious to himself. When the admirably inquisitive unicorn asked his next question Taira paused, somewhat annoyed at himself for not realizing how much of an insider to the lore of this mountain he was. To be a proper guide he'd need to do some more elaboration, "Shinku-no-Kabuto, or just Shinku was a great bear yokai who attempted to take over this mountain range and the rest of neighpon long before the shogunate was established. He got his name for the mane of red wisps that flowed from his head to his back, so the old neighponese called him the Crimson Helmet or... Shinku-no-Kabuto. His remains are still on the mountain, along with his great palace of unmovable stones."

 

 

Now that they were passed the mist barrier, the group could see the expanse of the mountain forest stretched out before them. It was a vibrant series of plains and forestes that spread out farther than one would think if they'd viewed this mountain from the outside. The wall of mists that surrounded the forest could be seen at it's edge, seemingly keeping the expanse of green from travelling to fall beyond the mountain sloped. Some of the areas that Taira had pointed out on the map were visible in the distance, the most immediately noticeable being the great mountain of stones set up in one thickly forested area. Much closer to the party though was a series of old looking buildings with a shrine not far beyond them, the structure almost built into the base of a mountainside by a waterfall that lead into a stream that traveled across the entire forest. 

 

"Well then... Let's get walking. Any other questions for me?

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“I’d like to think of visiting an sacred place is similar to visiting a friend’s house. Common curiosity should be followed.”, the unicorn seemed to be in a rather good mood as they talked and trotted. “I would hope the spirits see me not as an ignorant foreigner, but as a friendly visitor seeking enlightenment." Even as a magic user, the splitting of the mist was still a pretty interesting sight for the explorer. "We all probably envy other's abilities.", he whispered, "Being a griffon.. Can't say that wouldn't be so bad. You have flight, great strength, agility, talons that can manipulate items with the greatest of skills and ease. And the griffon girls are as beautiful as one can get."
 
The stallion was familiar with mists, even magic mists, but he was still caught off guard by the experience of cantering through the green tinged mist. It almost felt like one of the more unique mind-altering spells college kids would cast on friends. 'Light Summoning Darkmagic' was a favorite spell back then. It was a variation of an several stepped recreational illusion spell that sent its target on an hyper-hallucinant-hallucination. This did not seem to faze the kirin at all. Pocket assumed he had encountered this magic in the past.The trip was quick, and thankfully without any lasting psychoses.
 
The bear had his own palace? Considering how difficult it was to find a reasonable flat in Canterlot, he could only imagine a big ol' bear trying to find an actual palace to live in. How did they check his credit score? Did he need a referral? He also tried to take over the entire mountain. This is what the pony saw after the mists. Beautiful mountains, and waterfalls...Pocket Change could never get enough of these sights. "Questions? I have one.", the stallion asked as he resisted the need to raise his front leg as if he was in school, "What could you tell us about the mist we walked through? I am aware of certain spells that could create barriers that could be crossed through if the passerby met certain criteria set up by the spellcaster. You could summon a mist that would block those with impure thoughts or a devotion to a certain hoof-ball team you didn't like for example."
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Nensho hummed to himself briefly as they set out through the tunnel in the mist, looking around at it. It wasn't like he was some sort of expert or anything, so as far as he knew this was something a kirin could learn to do. Honestly, he was still a bit suspicious about Taira and if this was his true form, but there was no point bringing it up in front of the others. 

 

Emerging from the mists though, put those thoughts out of his mind. He let out an impressed whistle at the sight, looking around until they started moving again. "Well, that bear certainly didn't lack for nice scenery. Though I get the feeling he may not have cared about that. "

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Crimson Helmet hm? An ancient evil bear Yokai? Fascinating! Digging through his pack, Ashley pulled out a small notebook and pen and jotted down some notes. If he got around to writing about this location, that'd be one important bit of information he just simply couldn't leave out! The griffon scribbled a little sketch next to it as Taira described the creature. Without colour it didn't do it as much justice, but Ashley was a fairly decent artist. He drew little arrows noting 'red wisps' at spots along the doodle's back.


Once they had passed through the misty barrier that bordered on mystic, Ashley paused his writing to get a good look at their surroundings. The beautiful forest that was hidden by the thick mists laid before them. It really was a spectacular sight. Even after having seen so many valleys and forests and plains in his day, each one still held something that the other didn't. Enough so to still be just as beautiful as the last. This one had the advantage of the billowy mist of green that gave it a curious but uniquely beautiful ambiance. The griffon soon jotted down even more notes and sketches on another page of his book. When Taira asked for questions, Ashley had no sooner opened his beak when Pocket Change took the words straight from his mouth! He chuckled and nodded. "Pocket Change beat me to it! I must say I'm rather curious myself. It's quite clearly not just a normal mist."

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It was always nice to hear enthusiastic questions from somepony like pocket. Back when all the poaching of his kinda had started up Taira set up the mist himself as more of his kin disappeared, a sort of magical protective barrier that would turn away most of those who entered the mountain range without his permission. It was still able to be bypassed by the most skilled of mages but doing so took time and energy to part without his notice. Now that he had a family to look after the old wolf had put some more magical mojo into the mists that protected his home but it tended to turn away only those who meant harm to his territory: Ponies like yokai hunters, or someone seeking to take something from the place. As their guide reflected inwardly he realized his introspection left a pregnant pause between the question and his awaited answer, "Ah... Well you see. The head of the pack who lived here -the locals called him Ookami no Taisho-  put up the mists to protect his territory not long after the hunting of yokai became more... vigorous. If you walk in to the mist on your own without the proper spell to clear a path you could find yourself wandering for days in a thick fog for what seems like miles only to come out where you entered. Wild animals and those who are simply lost seem to be able to get through it though."

 


Taira looked to Nensho with a smile, "Indeed he didn't , he didn't actively destroy the landscape but the legends say the trees twisted and gnarled while he made his home here at least until he was driven out. I think there are some old painting of the battle back in the shrine actually."

 

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The stallion listened carefully as their guide spoke. There were those who hunted yokai? He could picture it. Pesky spirits about. Hire someone to go and chase them about before nabbing them. Almost sounded like a favorite movie of his. "That spell sounds familiar and is probably an more advanced version of an misdirection curse.", the unicorn added, "It simply makes its target go back to where they came. A being with a strong will however, could eventually overwhelm and defeat the spell. But it's useful when somepony is giving you chase." Good on them for not messing with animals. One of those spells could prove deadly as it would muck about with their instincts to travel during certain periods or even hurt them as they found food.
 
Pocket Change continued to trot along with the others, hoping to see more of this new and wondrous land!
 
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OOC: Sorry for the short post. Didn't have a ton of free time and did not want to stall the RP!

 

 

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Hmm, paintings in the shrine? That sounded like it might be worth a look once they got there. For now, Nensho simply gazed around at the scenery while listening in on the others talking. 

 

“Wolf general? Sounds impressive. I wonder what the world was like back then, when yokai and ponies could live together like that.” He shrugged, looking over at the group and chuckling slightly. “Just a random thought, I guess.”

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A misdirection spell of sorts ah? Well now that was interesting! Ashley made sure to jot a note of that down. Wouldn't want to have any would be explorers getting lost. They'd have to make sure they had a trustworthy guide to take them through the mists. It was shame that the poor pack leader had to do something so drastic due to the actions of fools. Yokai were clearly more than just animals, and even if they were poaching was outright wrong. "It's sad that such a beautiful place had to be separated off from the rest of the world. But better that than the alternative." Ashley said with a nod. This bear yokai on the other claw sounds like he was just as bad as the poachers perhaps? Maybe even worse for all the griffon knew. But the twisting and corruption of the landscape sounds pretty bad to him.


Nensho's pondering on the intermingling of Yokai caused Ashley to perk up. "Well while I can't speak for the past, I have spent some time down in Poninawa. Very pretty island! Lots of meadows and forests. A lot of Yokai live down there, some even say that it's the island where they first came to be. But if so well ahah, they're not telling." the griffon chuckles. My few days spent down there taught me that no matter how much you learn about the Yokai, there'll always be much and more you don't know! But they get along well with the islanders in spite of their little pranks and teasing."

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  • 4 weeks later...

LHoNTYo.jpg

 

 

 

Taira's ears swiveled in Pocket's direction, "Could be! I can't say that the old wolf knew anything about magic where you come from though." The notion did make him wonder if there was a possibility someone with a sufficiently strong will could break though it. Maybe the mist could do with a bit of tweaking after this lovely tour. The path they tread on was evidently one of the most scenic routes, the emerald green hills stretch far out on to the horizon. 

 

 

"It was an interesting time-- so I've heard. Back then there were a lot more yokai around, more interactions with us mortals. Stories about the them are still told all across the land in more rural areas. The city not so much... and while it was nice for a time, Well the yokai started to hide and disappear for a reason, Nensho-san. Some ponies are just far too eager to to have what's someone elses." The stallion let out a sigh that sounded stuck between disappointment and frustration. Soon though her perked up to look back at Ashley and company once again when the griffin spoke again. 

 

Nice to hear a tourist who actual knew his stuff too, "I should stop by there sometimes honestly, in all the time I've been associating with Yokai related things I've never visited Poninawa... one day I'll have to hire a tour guide of my own, hm?"

 

The temple was soon in view. An old and weathered looking place, in disrepair but still standing despite the many ages that weight heavy upon it's frame. Atop a large hill is where it stood, right beside the top of a great waterfall, making a river that snaked all across the vibrant green fields. Down at the base of the falls was a collection of rundown old buildings, long abandoned and left to the elements. On the whole the abandoned township didn't fair half as well as the temple up above it, but some buildings still stood tall... even while many holes tarnished their rooftops.

 

"You folks wanted to go straight to the temple or to the town?"

Edited by Pretzelparty
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Taira had spoken about Temple paintings, he had seen many frescos, carvings, statues and other forms of artistic creativity in such places. Some liked to brag about their old gods or leaders. Some liked to tell stories through the limited scope of the vase. There was even the very creepy catacombs under Prance. Ossuaries made from pony and griffon bones littered the dark undergrounds. These could give even the hardest of souls the heebie jeebies. Pocket could only imagine what sort of art they would see here. Probably a mix between calm images of the landscapes and epic adventure stories. Heroes versus horrifying monsters.
 
Nensho mentioned something about a wolf general, and the unicorn could not see an adorable little wolf cub dressed up in military gear. How adorable. Poninawa? He could only imagine the bikini clad Yokai as they harrassed travelers. That's probably why most would instead headed to the Gallopocus Islands. The hotel rates were insane, but it was better than being splashed by an thong wearing Kappa. "We could check out the town and I'd be curious to hear how this all happened. This reminds me of Griffonstone. Once it was a beautiful city that rivaled even Canterlot, but fell into ruin over time."
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“Yeah, I know why they hide, but still. Guess I just wish it didn’t have to be this way, you know?” Nensho shrugged, sighing as he finished speaking and they stopped in view of the town and temple. Looked like they had seen better days, but he supposed that was to be expected given their age. It was kinda exciting, actually, to see how this group lived. Who knows, maybe he was from here. 

 

“Sure, let’s head to the town first. Might as well.” Nensho said, looking between the two destinations. “If you need a guard or something on that trip, feel free to hit me up. I wouldn’t mind checking out Poninawa either.”

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  • 3 weeks later...

It's always a shame when ponies, or griffons or anyone for that matter, causes harm to such a degree that a species feels they have to go so deep into hiding to survive. Times have changed since then, but for a long lived race like the Yokai, it probably feels like it was just yesterday. Time heals all wounds, they say, but when time moves slower? Well...

 

There wasn't anything for it right now, really. Dwelling on it wouldn't do any good! He was hear to learn after all, and spread that knowledge to the rest of the world. With a few more notes jotted down, Ashley placed his journal back into his pack and smiled. "Visiting the town sounds like a grand idea. I'd love to get a few sketches in of it." When Pocket mentioned Griffonstone, he couldn't help but to sigh and nod. "That it was. Oh what it must have been like in its heyday. I've been there a time or two recently, and things are...improving it seems. But it's certainly got a long way to go. It's nice though to see it on the incline, rather than decline."

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  • 8 months later...

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"I'd been meaning to visit Poninawa for ages... I just never managed to find the time. I hear it's a very pretty place... mostly from Niju, she's told me she visited a couple times." The stallion scritched his chin a moment in thought before remembering that they'd been hoping to see the village. He couldn't be dwelling on his potential vacations now: he had a tour business to run!

 

Nensho's word's made taira's ear's perk for a moment. He'd thought about such a thing himself but... experience told him it would have to be done very carefully. Neighpon's Yokai poaching industry may have become less prominent, but it was still going on as far as Taira knew. The older kirin gestured down the path and lead the group down towards the town by the falls. "I'd love to see the yokai out and about again sometime too, but I think Neighpon has a ways to go before they'd come back out. tracking and catching Rare yokai still happens even today... I heard an okami with a tail made of rainbow ribbons was snatched up by a bandit queen not long ago." The group's guide's tone was noticeably sadder the longer he spoke, once he changed the subject he would swap back to his more chipper manner of speaking.

 

"I think Niju and I could stand to have someone watching our backs... but let's save any more business talk for after the tour, Nensho-san."

 

A brisk walk later and soon the group made it to the village. Like Taira had told them it had been abandoned long ago and it certainly looked like it. Roofs had fallen in likely worn down by years of rain and wind, Walls had crumbled and rotted away and were replaced by climbing vines and other forms of wildlife. "Watch your step around here. Snakes sometimes make nests underneath bits of wreckage here and there. Once a while you might see a wild boar with some piglets waddling through... keep your distance if you see one of those, they can be meaner than timberwolves."

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