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Outlaws and Alchemists (Ask for invite)


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Well, that could have gone better, he supposed. Coulda gone worse too, so he had to count his blessings. The hippogriff touched down on the edge of town, shaking out the coat he had been wearing and glancing back over his shoulder. It seemed they had given up the chase, or just lost him, but he should probably lay low for a bit still. Heading off into the town, Vera looked around, his eyes landing on an interesting looking shop. Potions and magical trinkets, huh? Seemed as good a place as any to hang out for a bit, so he made his way inside, starting to browse the shop. 
 

“Well, let’s hope they weren’t as interested in this place as I was if they make it to town.” He said to himself, picking up a bottle to look at the colorful fluids inside. This pink fluid was supposed to help with stomach issues? Interesting. 

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"Ah, suffering any gastrointestinal issues?" The charming staccato of a young mare sounded off from further up in the room, where a green mare with an exceptionally curly mane seemed to have just manifested, smilinging cordially.

 

Her hooves were crossed lazily over the glass case that made up the receptionist desk, featuring more advanced mixes. "Although if it is polyps or an infection, I would suggest the potion to the right of that one, of a lighter shade. It helps to clean out the stomach. I have antacids too, if interested..."

 

Pausing in her explanation, she took the time to study her new arrival. She studied him very closely, in fact...

 

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“Nah, just browsing. I take it you’re Rose then? Or working for her at least, I don’t see anyone else in here.” Vera said, setting the bottle back down to turn towards the mare. He examined her in turn, not sure why she was seemingly doing it so closely. Maybe she just didn’t see many hippogriffs? 
 

“New in town? I don’t think I saw you last time I passed through here.” He asked, trying to make small talk while he went back to idly examining the products on display. 

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"Yes, in fact. Nary a month or two present, but well-established, as you can we'll see." She gestured broadly to her store, never taking her eyes off of him.

 

They went over his beak, wings, forelegs... And seemed to linger on his hind legs. His ungulate hind legs. "I take it you are one of these 'hippogriffs'? I must admit, you're the first specimen I've come into contact with since arriving in this strange land."

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That confirms that then. Not only is she new in town, she hadn’t seen one of his kind before. Fair enough, he supposed, though it was unfortunate that she hadn’t said anything about her identity. Oh well, no big deal, they could dance around giving their names all day for all he cared. 
 

“Yes, yes I am a hippogriff. Strange land, huh? Guess you’re not from Equestria at all then. Anything you wanna know? I’ll answer if I can.” He said, looking at a bottle with a rainbow liquid in it. 

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"Yes, in fact!" This seemed to cheer her up, eliciting a chipper tone from the mare. She stood up straight, ears perked, and seemed to draw her attention away from the rest of his body to give him her proper attention. "I hear that your kind are amphibious in nature- residing first in the waters, and then on land. You may switch between the two forms at-will."

 

"My land is one dominated by the sea, a place called Andalusia, where I once called the tides my home. Lately, I have found a nearby lake as one such place, and my love, Aloe, has expressed an interest in making residence there. Alass," she sighed, ears wilting as she rubbed one hoof over the other, gazing down at them, "My architectural skills pale in comparison to alchemy. You would not, perhaps, be knowledgeable of this subject?"

 

There was a note of hope there, but it was tempered by realistic expectations. After all, she couldn't expect just every hippogriff to know how to make an underwater sanctuary.

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Vera nodded to the mare's words about hippogriffs, as they were mostly true. True enough, at any rate, so he remained silent as she began explaining about her homeland and what she planned to do at the nearby lake. He tilted his head a bit at that, wondering how that was supposed to work for them, if she actually meant in the lake.

 

"How would an underwater home work for two ponies? Last I checked, you didn't like having water in your lungs." He hummed slightly before continuing. "Also, you're almost right, but we need shards of an old artifact to switch forms, it's not really an innate trait. In fact, I've heard the artifact actually works on ponies, and assumedly other races as well."

 

"As for construction, I wasn't ever a part of any actual construction projects, but I have made little clubhouses or hideouts before, so that's better than nothing." He shrugged, still not sure why two ground-bound ponies wanted a house underwater. "Aloe is that earth pony at the spa, right? I think I recognize the name, but I can't be sure."

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Shards? Strange, she'd never heard of that before, and she very easily transmuted Aloe's form with a simple pearl-based formula. 

 

Bringing a hoof up to her chin, she narrowed her eyes on the hybrid before her. An idea was brewing in that gnoggin of hers... One that would benefit both parties.

 

"One basic potion is one that grants the imbiber the ability to breath underwater. However, I bring a formula from my homeland, one conceived of by hippogriff alchemists, that does something a little different." Gesturing towards the door, she smiles. "You may have noticed I have beside my shop a pool freshly installed, and by it a rack of potions particular to that setting."

 

"Sample one of them for me, and if it turns out to be the key to your lost power, I would like for you to instruct me on how to build one of these 'hideouts.'"

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A potion to breath underwater? He supposed that made sense, though he had to wonder what this other potion would do differently than that. Seemed like it might invoke the transition into an underwater form, so it probably wouldn’t hurt to try it. Vera nodded, setting the item he had been examining down before walking out to approach the pool. 
 

“Wouldn’t hurt to try, I guess.” He shrugged, picking up one of the potions. After a bit of examination, he popped the top and drank it down. 

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The pearly fluid was smooth, and tasted, oddly, like actual pearl (if he'd ever attempted eating one.) Rose followed him outside to watch by the sidelines as the effects began to take hold mere moments later; First was his mane and tail, the burgundy fibers thinning and flattening into one continuous membrane highly reminiscent of his natural manestyle, retaining its basic shape but gaining a new, more hydro-friendly texture; next came his legs, previously fiersome avian talons retracting into the appendage to be replaced by a translucent fin much like his mane and tail; finally, his beak softened, melding into his face to create a stunning equine snout.

 

As the final touches took place, his hind legs fused together below him, becoming coated in a stream of copper scales, his tail-fin flaring out at the end in a spectacular display of radiant red color. Two crimson fans protruded from his back where his wings once were. 

 

Rose beamed at her creation- or, rather, unlocking his potential. She clapped her forehooves together, eyeing him up and down. "A stellar success. Tell me, stranger, how do you feel?"

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Vera hummed a bit at the taste, looking down at his body as the changes started. It was all rather familiar, actually, but slower than with the shard. He hopped into the pool before he lost the use of his legs, popping his head back out as it finished. 
 

“Well, I didn’t expect to be able to do this without a shard, but the end result seems about the same. In the end, I’d rather carry around a reusable shard than consumable potions to achieve this.” He shrugged, looking over at the mare. 

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She likewise shrugged. "The potion was intended for creatures that lacked the capability of transformation. It may be true that some hippogriffs carry around a shard, but most ponies require magical assistance. I, however, do not ~

 

Grinning, she hunkered down on her forelegs, wagged her tail- and leapt into the water in a graceful dive that barely disturbed the surface. When she emerged next to him, she had transformed into a leonine seapony, with lionfish characteristics that gave her an unusually fierce appearance compared to most regular ponies. "I failed to mention that the potion's effects typically last for approximately five hours. The sample, however, should wear off in an hour to a half an hour. Any less potency would require an exorbitant amount of moderation to keep from inflicting negative side-effects."

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Vera raised an eyebrow at the mare’s words about not needing assistance, watching as she dove into the water and changed into a more aquatic form. 
 

“A changeling, huh? Interesting.” He mused, nodding at her explanation of the potion’s duration as he looked her over again. “Sounds fair, I suppose. I am no alchemist, my strengths lie elsewhere.” He shrugged again, diving under the water to see what kind of materials they had available for a demonstration. 

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Rose, too, raised a brow. A small little grin rising onto her muzzle. "You see a pony grow a piscine tail and your first assumption is that she must be a changeling?"

 

Slowly shaking her head, and chuckled internally. "Very well." Diving under after him, she also surveyed the small pool, although there wasn't much to see. "Tell me, what strengths are these that you speak of? Do they pertain to the creation of these 'hideouts' of yours?"

 

Unfortunately, it was a rather mundane pool, simply fit to house a school of seaponies acclimating themselves to a watery habitat. "... If you're seeking building materials, we will need to look elsewhere."

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“Yes, especially if said pony has no artifacts on her and did not drink any potions. Most unicorn spells I’ve seen take longer than that to cast.” Vera said, looking over at the mare. “No need to worry though, revealing your secret wouldn’t benefit me at all, so I have no reason to tell anyone.”

 

”Somewhat, since building something sometimes involves lifting heavy things. My main strengths are physical, and I like to think I’m good at talking too.” He explained, rubbing the scar across his throat idly at the end. “It would appear so. Where should we go so I can show you how I build underwater?” 

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"Well that depends," she responded cordially, brushing over his acknowledgement of her true nature. If it became a problem, she could probably just make him forget about the day, but that was a last resort. "What kinds of materials would you need? I have some leftover from the construction of this pool..."

 

She had to really think about this. What do you use to build structures? She suspected a large part of it, for underwater denizens, would be materials naturally found in the sea or ocean, or lakes and ponds.

 

"Actually, yes, tell me what you require and I shall fetch the materials. In the meantime-" her horn flashed, and suddenly the two appeared in Saddle Lake, in the approximate area that she and Aloe occupied preciously. "- this is the environment in which I wish to build a residence. Familiarize yourself with it while I acquire the materials... " She watched him expectantly, idly flipping her tail this way and that. She could probably create hard-water duplicates of basic materials, complete with texture, but it would lack the impermanence of its actual counterpart, not to mention it would be immune to water and weather, which would make for poor testing conditions.

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  • 2 weeks later...

“Well, I mostly used natural materials, since this was before I could go above the water. Whatever I could find, really. Rocks, coral, pieces of shipwrecks.” Vera shrugged, blinking a bit as they suddenly moved to a larger body of water. Right, teleportation was a thing that could be done, but he had never experienced it himself. 
 

“Right, I’ll go do that then.” He said, swimming off to go explore the lake they were in. The good news was that it would be even harder for any pursuers to follow his trail since he had been teleported from one body of water to another. 

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Rocks, coral, debris. She knew where she could find all of those. With a bright smile, she nodded. "Thank you for your cooperation ~"

 

And then she was gone, leaving him to his own devices.

 

---

 

She'd already had a simulacrum at Eggshell Bay where she'd stored the fire hydra's remains for further study. Scoping the place out further revealed that the mysterious harbor was also home to some Maretonian ruins, something which the young scientist took quite an interest in.

 

Some of the pieces were loose, or fallen, and removing them from their habitat wouldn't cause any structural failure, so she had her copy send it her way, also collecting samples of wood from the environment- both above and below water.

 

---

 

When Rose returned about tweny minutes later, it was with scripted ruins, swampy bark, and miscellaneous samples of underwater flora from the Eggshell environ. 

 

"Alright, so I have acquired materials from Eggshell Bay, as well as some debris. What have you found to work with so far?" She asked, quickly and easily locating him by his unique magical signature. 

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Vera was swimming around the lake when Rose appeared again with various materials. He had spent part of the twenty minutes gathering some local materials as well, but he had to raise an eyebrow as she came back with what looked like ruins and clearly wood from a swampy area. Well, whatever, it was here now, so it was time to make use of it.

 

"Mostly stone and local plants. There is a small cave-like thing over there that could work well as a starting point." He said, gesturing towards the cave where he had also started piling the resources. It was usually easier to add to a pre-existing feature like a cave rather than construct something entirely new.

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Rose had to admit she hadn't expected to find something like that in this particular kind of lake, but as she approached it, she came to realize it was less of a 'cave' and more a hole in the lakebed. She suspected it lead to a larger, open space if it wasn't simply a tunnel.

 

"Very good, you certainly seem to have an eye for these things," she said as she telekinetically eased her collective findings next to the hole, studying the hippogriff with a critical eye. 

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“I did a lot of exploring back when I was stuck underwater, you learn to spot these kinds of things when they’re the only form of shelter around.” Vera shrugged, looking over at Rose. After a moment of consideration, he started to build around the hole, explaining things as he went. 

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Rose floated closer, orbiting his workspace as she listened and jotted down mental notes. She jotted down literal notes, too, summoning a notepad and pencil that were apparently waterproof- or something akin to it.

 

"You've mentioned shelter and hideouts, pardon my prying but I would very much like to hear more on that while you work. I shouldn't be concerned, should I?" While she didn't make it sound like it was a significant matter to her, it was still very much present in her mind. She'd been a pirate, once, and she knew those two terms rather intimately. It's not something a civilian or simple vagabond includes in their vocabulary.

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“Concerned? Not at the moment, no. Pretty sure I lost my pursuers before I even got to town. Plus, it was just a card game, they probably won’t be looking too hard anyways.” Vera shrugged, continuing his work. Hideout he could understand raising red flags, but shelter? What was wrong with that? Everyone needed shelter, especially if they were trying to escape the rain.

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"Ah," Rose nodded sagely. "I know how that can be. Liars Dice is much the same, although that is the name of the game ~" the seapony giggled into a hoof as she continued to orbit his work environment, providing idle commentary.

 

"So what kinds of card games do you play? Perhaps we could test each other's mettle after this, hm?" It's been awhile since she last played any sort of game, but she should still remember how to play.

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“Yep, and yet they get upset anyways.” He chuckled, continuing his work until he heard her ask about what he usually played. “Oh, different stuff. The kinds you see at casinos, oftentimes. Poker, Blackjack, that sort of thing. We could even play Go Fish, if that’s more your speed.” Vera said, giving a teasing wink at the end. 

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