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[STAR]To Investigate an Island(STAR Agents/invite)


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It took them the better part of a day in order to find the island that they were looking for. The island that Kyomo was on was much larger than the maps had made it look, and it took her longer than expected to go around. She could have tried to go over it, but that level of incline in such a short distance would cause a lot of strain on the ship and she wasn't sure that it would actually hold together. Not to mention that some of those mountains were pretty tall. Sure, her airships fly above the clouds but some of these mountains went well above the cloudline. Safer to go around. Still, she wanted to take the most direct route possible so that did take them over some of the farm lands. The more time they wasted gaining evidence, the more that power that Hou gained. A part of her wondered what the pony was actually up to, and what her ultimate goal was. Most ponies have a reason for doing the things that they do. Sometimes those are misguided, and many innocents pay the price for that. However, some of them are redeemable. One thing that she knew... she couldn't allow the pony to harvest souls any more.

 

The island had been spotted by Mythic Vision, to the north east of the main island, lying in between the main island and the one named Ryushima. It seemed to be a decent size, but was nothing compared to the two main islands. In fact, she noted that it wasn't actually on any map that she had of Neighpon. That was an inspiring sign all of itself. Something that wasn't actually mapped would be a perfect hiding spot for somepony that didn't want to be easily found. Though now that she thought about it, was that really the case for her? Ice Storm knew exactly where Hou was, or at least had a relatively firm grasp of her location. She didn't know the range of the mare's teleport spell, but she knew that she was spotted in Saddle Arabia, but that had been a few weeks ago. Still without magic, that time frame would have put Hou at least five days out if she was using a non-magical means to get home.

 

There was a bit of a lurch in the ship when she felt it set down. She took the time to move in front of the shore party while they were awaiting for the ramps to be lowered. "Alright everypony, stay sharp. For all we know, we are on an uncharted mystical island in the Neighpon region. I have no idea what to expect going ashore, and I have no knowledge to tell you what flora is hazardous, nor which animals in the forests here are dangerous. I would presume normal woodland animals and predators, but this island is teeming with magic. There could be animals here that have magical abilities in their own right. We need to be wary of that fact going forward. Thinking on it, I am actually very glad that the Shogun assigned such a decorated healer to the group," she said, addressing the shore party. She wasn't going to sugar coat it. This was going to be a very different experience.

 

 

~~~Niradaña~~~

 

 

While this wasn't Nira's first time on a ship, it was her first time on an airship. She noticed that there were a lot of similarities between the two of them, but the feeling was very much different. She could feel that the ship was moving, but unlike with the waves of the water there was no yolk and sway. Aside from some turbulence from the wind that would gust, there wasn't anything. She could definitely see how something like this could trigger a sense of motion sickness in a pony that had a very limited type of vision. Especially if there was magic that was helping the ship stay aloft. Still, she was happy that the temporary remedy that they found seemed to be working.

 

The other thing that seemed to be working it's way into a positive direction, was Nira's assessment of the ponies that she was now working with. Most of them seemed to have a level head on their shoulders. The commander reminded her a little bit of Shiroi in the sense that she doesn't seem like the kind of mare that's afraid to do what needs to be done precisely when it needs to happen, but with a completely different mindset on how to go about doing it. She's only been on this ship for a day at the most, but she could already tell how relaxed the crew itself was working around her, and just in general despite the precarious nature of the mission that they were on. This commander was a pony that had earned the respect and the trust of the ponies around her. Not a pony that just demanded it, and expected everypony to stay in line. The entire crew would weigh in on decisions and try to plot the best possible outcome with what resources that they had. 

 

When she heard Commander Storm speak up, Nira would interject when she was finished. "Commander Storm, if I may, I am from the island that is just to the northeast across the strait. If the inhabitants of the island are anything like what is on Ryushima, there were be yokai and other spiritually blessed animals. Most of them can be tricksters, but some of them are genuine, and most of the plant-life should be not only safe, but possibly beneficial as well," she stated before getting a nod from the commander. She couldn't help but get a bit flustered when the commander brought up her credentials. "Bah, I'm just a simple healer that has a bit of magic to help. Nothing more. It's just nice that I'm actually getting to do what I've been trained to do again," she added.

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Flying on the airship was actually pretty fun when you weren't spending the whole time in either the bathroom or the medbay with airsickness. That Nira was pretty good with her healing magic, which Myth had gotten a kick out of watching. It was so very different from unicorn magic, and it had made her gawk in awe at just just beautiful Nira looked using it. She hadn't really voiced that at the time, but since that had happened, she'd been having a hard time keeping her eyes off the longma. That was until she saw the island. when she saw it, she practically jumped on Icy in her excitement. Although she was mostly calmed down, now, she still had a big, stupid smile on her face, and was trying hard not to bounce, too much. Even so, with her excitement about the island, she still found herself glancing at Nira with just her eyes, not moving her head, a few times.

When Nira tried to play down her healing skills, Myth's face screwed up in mock confusion "Pffff! 'A bit of magic'. As if that's not the most gor-...ram useful magic.... that..." she blushed and turned her head clearing her throat "I'm with Icy. You'll come in handy." she almost completely missed the comment about magical creatures with how distracted she was.

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The alicorn of the night sat in her makeshift office in the cabin that Ice Storm had graciously given her. She sighed as her head lay upon the desk full of papers. Why did it have to be paperwork. Celestia was the diplomatic one. Closing her eyes, she tried to imagine what her sister must have though of her current predicament. Barely into retirement and up an going on some dangerous mission with Ice Storm. Perhaps she would be glad that Luna was doing more then just moping around their new home. Perhaps Celestia would be upset that she wasn't invited? It was too to worry about that now. This mission was a somewhat...personal matter for the former ruler of the night. One she hoped to settle once and for all.

 

As Luna felt the airship descend, she quickly tried to clean up her organized chaos and make it look presentable. Standing, she levitated a cloak off her bed and flung it over herself. It was a navy blue with a few black splotches scattered about. A crescent moon turned on its side as so the points faced upward served as a clasp. With a quick glow of her horn, she would flip up the hood as it created a rather ominous shadow on the alicorn's face.

 

Outside the cabin, a lone Lunar Guard stood at attention. As the door opened he shot to his hooves and gave his princess...er Luna a salute. "Your Highness..I mean Princess er...Luna." he was embarrassed, still not use to calling somepony he served and respected for so long by her informal name. The alicorn smiled as she threw a cloak at him. "Put this on. I do not wish to garner unwanted attention."  He would nod, quickly covering his armor with a rather gray cloak. "Follow me," she said as they made their way to the gangway.

 

The alicorn and her bat pony guard would exit the large airship and meet near Ice and the other officers on this mission. Oh had the times changed since S.T.A.R had started as she nodded to Icy. "I as well am also glad to have Niradaña as part of our team as well," as she gave her a reassuring, though intimidating smile. "This encounter hath been over 1,000 years coming for myself. Hopefully it shall be the last."

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Raven stood in her armor near the gangplank, waiting for the briefing to be over. She nodded as she looked over their party, and mentally went over what she knew of each of them. She wasn't sure that in the heat of combat, that she'd be able to direct them well, but she'd do her best if it came to that. She was happy to have Nira with them, though she didn't have any clue beyond that she was the shogunate's dedicated healer as to what her skills were. Especially since she had a tendency to not pay attention to her own wounds in a fight. She shook her head, clearing the thoughts. They didn't even know if there was anything on the island, let alone threats. It did no good to dwell on it, it'd just put her on edge. Instead, she let her thoughts drift, and was surprised when they settled on something. Though, for now, asking Nira to assist in her research project wasn't a great idea, seeing as she was not a part of STAR, and worked for the shogunate...

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Feather was, by nature of her race and training, pretty perceptive. At least physically. She had been perched up high most of the trip, acting as lookout just in case something tried to come for them. She had spotted multiple things, but nothing worth mentioning. All in all, it was just a nice view. As they started landing, she strapped on the rest of her gear, pausing as she noticed how much attention Myth was giving to the new mare. Nira, was it? She had nothing against her, but something about that attention was making Feather jealous. Shaking herself off, she flew down, landing in the space between Myth and Nira as Icy spoke about being wary of possible dangers. 
 

“You got it, Boss. I’ll keep an eye out for trouble with the locals.” She said, giving Icy a salute. 

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Toboe was never one to forget a favor. A certain pony in the cabinet had recently gotten into her good graces and even provided her some very precious info. Shiroi had written this old (relatively) wolf to assist on a matter of neighponese security. It was pretty hush-hush evidently, and it was some sort of multi-empire effort to root out threats to the world as a whole. While Toboe was still a career criminal, She was not some black-hearted villain bent of world domination or destruction. Why would she ever wish such a thing? This world is where she kept all her things!

No, She was more than happy to assist such a well intentioned endeavor. There was only one issue that she had to decide how to deal with: that of her identity.  If any of them had a cursory knowledge of Polohama's yakuza clans they'd surely recognize her public face. Having a group of international do-gooders on her tail wasn't something she wanted when she had finally retired as the clan's head. Soon enough the solution came to her. Why not approach them without any illusory antics? Shiroi mentioned that the group was aware of this islands history and how yokai sightings could be quite common.  She could get a chance to stretch her paws again without having them shifted to hooves. If anything it would be a pleasant change of pace. 

 

She took a boat to the island and waited by the shoreline. Keeping herself occupied until the group arrived proved the biggest challenge. It wasn't the most lively Island that she found herself on. Whatever they were hoping to find here, Toboe hoped she'd not wasted her time making her way out here. Just as her longing to return to the city, she caught a glimpse of the airship approaching over the Horizon. It was too late to go back now. 

The ethereal wolf moved to the forest's edge by the shoreline, lying in wait and observing the group as they disembarked. She didn't bother to hide herself too much when she found some coverage. It was best they see her watching at least, hopefully mistaking her for one of the locals.

 

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~~~Ice Storm~~~

 

 

 

Ice Storm would nod both to Myth and to Luna when they spoke. When Luna mentioned that this encounter, at least for herself was a thousand years in the making, Ice Storm would give comment. "Well, if we have any luck, we shouldn't find the sorceress herself here. Aside from the stone itself, I don't have enough evidence to arrest her. If she has the stone, it would be hard for us to do so if she's already figured out how to use it. Right now I aim to find out if she's working alone, or if there is a higher source of power that she answers to that might be behind this. There's almost always a bigger fish lurking behind the reef," Ice Storm cautioned. They seemed to be on the same page as to the others as far as the locals go until Nira spoke up a bit. she commented that while she wasn't from this island, she was from Ryushima, which was right next to it. The strait was small enough that something could have easily flown over, though swimming it could be a feat. No doubt there were dangerous marine predators in these waters.

 

"Alright, ramp's down. Be wary of everything you see, and do not engage the wildlife. We don't want to create needless hostilities," she said as she started making her way down the ramp. As she came to the bottom of the ramp, she spotted something in the treeline that appeared to be watching them. It almost looked to be wolf-like in nature. It reminded her of what the timberwolves looked like in the Everfree Forest, but this wolf was most definitely not made out of wood. It did however have a potent aura of aether that she didn't need Myth's vision to see. It seemed to flow through her main, much like the way that the princess' had. Icy would hold up a hoof and point the wolf out to Nira. "That one is watching us... should we be concerned?" she asked.

 

 

~~~Niradaña~~~

 

 

Nira would blush a bit herself as she heard Myth start to give her praise before she would pause and affirmed the acknowledgement that she would be a good addition to the team. She also noticed that the Alicorn of the Night was set to accompany them on this mission. She had briefly encountered her before at Kyomo, but instead of coming ashore she chose to remain aboard. Nira herself couldn't help but feel a bit responsible for that. After all, she had made the mistake of assuming that it was the Alicorn that had arranged the meeting with the shogun, so she presumed that she was the one in charge. She would have never guessed that a Unicorn would have out-ranked an Alicorn in any stretch, but here they were. That mere fact alone, told Nira that she would never want to get on Ice's bad side. The mare spoke of having the power to change naval warfare as they knew it. Given the airship that they were just on, and she was the one in charge of this agency, she didn't think the unicorn was bluffing. There was also a very strong sense of aether coming from the necklace that she was wearing. She had no idea what the amulet did, but she imagined that she would find out at some point on this mission. She would refrain from asking about it right now.

 

When they started moving down the ramp, they were stopped at the bottom. Commander Storm pointed at a creature in the distance, and asked her about it. "It's an Okami, and she seems to have taken a vested interest in us. That can be either really good or really bad. Of an Okami sees something they like, they will get very protective of it and try to help them. If it's something that they don't like, or fear might cause harm to it, they can be very, very dangerous. It is also possible that she might deem us not worth her time. Either way, I'm sure she will let us know her intentions quite quickly," she replied.

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When the retired Princess made her entrance, Myth once again had to fight the urge to bow. She'd been conditioned from a young age to react to those of higher station with respect, and although for the most part she'd gotten over her fear of the wrong appearances, it still showed up from time to time, especially with the royalty. And, of course, Celestia and Luna's retirement was still fresh for everypony. She did, however, incline her head out of respect, which Myth felt, Princess or no, she'd more than earned.

It was then that Feather came to land between her and Nira, which put her in closer quarters than the others on deck. Myth couldn't put her hoof on it, but something seemed to be bothering her. Her aura was filled with the heavy mist of some kind of resentment. Myth smiled at her, hoping she wasn't upset with her for some reason. She'd only just begun to feel like their relationship was starting. She'd hate to have done something wrong so soon. "Maybe I'll find a moment to take her aside, some time." she thought to herself.

 

Myth had been so distracted by her marefriend and her new crush that she hadn't even noticed the magical creature watching them from afar until Icy pointed her out. She looked over and saw her. "How could I be so clueless as to miss her‽" she shook her head. She had a job to do here and she was already falling behind. It seemed the others couldn't quite guage her intentions from looking at her. "If I may," she blurted after Nira had finished what she'd said "Her aura doesn't suggest any hostility.... not toward us, anyway. I....." she peered at the creature. All she could see, visually, was that something was there. She had practically no visual detail at all at this range. but the creature's aura was still quite easily distinguishable. She could see several things about her from here. Although to be more sure she'd have to get closer. What she could tell, tho, was that her aura wasn't hostile. But something else about it. "I wouldn't trust her, but... for the time being, I don't see any reason to worry about her." she kept looking at the Okami, tilting her head as she tried to be sure of more information "One more thing..." she added hesitantly "I... can't be sure, but.... I don't think she's from here. She kind of reminds me more of the mainland... or the palace... I don't know, but not here." 

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As the others on the team departed the ship, Luna’s heart sank a bit. Such a talented team. Perhaps she didn’t need to come on this mission after all. Perhaps Celestia was right and her personal vendetta with Hou was just paranoia. The alicorn began to remember her past interactions with the sorceress and how they all played out all those many years ago. 
 

The alicorn’s trance would be broken as she heard the members of the team speak. Ice Storm seemed more then capable of running this mission on her own, and Raven seemed to make a strong second in command. 
 

Luna would look to the area that seemed to spark everypony’s interest. She wished she could say she was surprised by what she saw, however when a creature reached her age, there was not much that did surprise her. “Ah yes, an Okami,” she chimed in. “Celestia had befriended one of her kind that neared our own age. I had only briefly met him. I wonder what the age of this one is?”

 

Looking over the team, Luna would smile. “I shall make contact. Only one would make us appear less threatening. Besides, it would myself feel useful.”

 

The alicorn would make her way over to the Okami. “Greetings, I am Luna of Equestria. Art thou friend or foe?” As she got closer, she would smile. “Perhaps thou knows one of your species named Taira?”

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Raven smiled a little as they docked and headed down the gangplank, before stopping as Icy pointed out a aetheric wolf in the foliage. She was about to suggest that they approach it cautiously, as it was likely watching intruders to it's territory before Nira spoke. Nira's words hinted at intelligence, and sentience. She bit her lip as she thought about that. Creatures of pure ather that could think and feel. That was impressive, and then Luna mentioned knowing another. Raven decided that she needed to get out of the lab more, see more sights of the world, other then when they were on mission. "Perhaps we should mention that we mean no harm or insult, and if we are intruding, we will be on our way quickly?" She suggested to the group, her voice low, though she had little doubt that the Okami heard her as well, as she knew wolves had a good sense of hearing.

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Feather watched the wolf curiously, listening as the others talked about what it was. An okami? Wasn’t that one of those yokai things? Definitely didn’t look like a normal wolf, what with all its aether-like cloud stuff, and the horns. She wasn’t entirely sure what to do, but she was ready to jump into action if Luna’s attempts at making contact didn’t go well. 
 

——————

 

Nensho had been tagging along with Toboe, looking to help her out wherever he could. When the alicorn approached Toboe, she would see him standing nearby, though out of sight of the group. He decided to reveal himself fully then, walking up next to his fellow okami and humming slightly at the mention of Taira.  He had a pure white coat, aside from the flames dancing across it, and a red ethereal scarf floating along just behind his neck. 
 

“Taira… I think I might’ve met him once during some kind of mountain tour…” He said, leaving the rest to Toboe for the moment.

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Once the boat had made landfall, Toboe noticed the palpable magical forces that were held within it's hull. It was almost overwhelming to her senses, one particular magical signature seemed positively huge. She didn't need to wait long to figure out who it belonged to. The sight of a starry, flowing mane and a regal profile walking down the gangplank made the wolf's jaw drop. Shiroi had mentioned that Princess Luna would be coming along on the mission... frankly, Toboe thought she might have been joking. Yet there she was, the lunar monarch of Equestria and one of the most powerful creatures on the face of the world. 

'Note to self, keep any mischief to a minimum.' Thought the Canine as Luna made her approach. Not wanting to appear intimidated, Toboe took a tentative step towards the princess. Her muzzle wrinkled slightly as the scent of her magic seemed to engulf her. Such a dense and powerful magical presence would take getting used to, but Toboe did her best to keep that knee-jerk response from looking derisive. Her eyes flicked back to Nensho behind her: a wolf who always had her back... thank goodness he was here. 

On some level she wasn't terribly sure what would be the best way to start, so Toboe defaulted to a cordial dip of her head in greeting. "Welcome, Luna of Equestria." She raised herself back up to look over the mare, "I am ... Shiranui of Polohama and I'd hope to be friend rather than a foe. I take it you and your entourage are here to take in the sights? They seem quite the motley crew. " Luna's question about a wolf named Taira was answered with a quizzical tilt of her head. Thankfully, Nensho was there to lend his friend some clarity. Nensho mentioned that name before in the past when he brought up a past journey to the mountains. Apparently, he was some old mountain wolf with a surprisingly large territory... It would be something to look into later. 

"I'm sorry to say I've not met this 'Taira'. Though I feel my packmate may have met him at some point."
 

 

 

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The alicorn look to her side where now another wolf stood. She would nod to the bowing first wolf. "Greeting Shiranui. I am also glad to hear that you are friend. I do not believe I caught the name of your friend..." as she looked over the other wolf. Midnight had now made his way over to the alicorn he had sworn to protect, standing a distance a way, but close enough in case he was needed.

 

Smiling, Luna would look back to the others that had left the ship. "They are quite skilled, especially the officer placed in charge of this expedition." Motioning with a hoof, she would summon for Ice Storm to come greet the wolves. "In my current state, I have found it much more efficient to place capable ponies...er creatures in command when an advantage is present. This is Ice Storm. I trust her with my life and she is who will be in command. I am more of a diplomata in these times then the mare of action I once was, though if needed, I am more then capable of aggressive negations." She would wink to her approaching friend. Perhaps news of her retirement not reaching everywhere had its advantages.

 

"Tis a shame about Taira. When I saw you had gotten my hopes up about meeting him once more. It is rare to meet somecreature as old as I." The alicorn smirked. "I do not suppose all of your kind date back as far as Taira?"

 

 

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~~~Ice Storm~~~

 

 

 

For the second time in as many days, Ice Storm would let Luna clear the air. She wasn't surprised that most ponies, or creatures in this case, out this far from Equestria didn't know that they retired. So it would make sense for them to believe that this was Luna's mission with herself and the others being Luna's bodyguards. There was a time not too long ago where that was the case, but this was not the case any longer. Still, Ice Storm would look to the princess of the night for guidance whenever she needed it. There was a piece of her that still trusted her judgment over Twilight's. That likely had come from personally serving as one of her guards when she was in Canterlot right after she cemented the creation of Star.

 

She was a bit concered about Luna's initial statement before engaging with okami, however. The comment about making herself feel useful didn't set well with her. She knew the princess had been pretty much bored out of her mind since retiring. It was one of the reasons that she'd inquired about joining STAR to begin with. That said, there was a bit of a strategic sense to that as well. The fact that Luna was an Alicorn meant that she was ever so slightly stronger than she was herself. Thanks to her spheres and her training with the Princess, she knew that she could at least draw with her on several occasions but she never did win a training exercise. Hearing Myth said that the Okami didn't seem hostile, at least not to them, but that she wouldn't trust them added to that thought. It was puzzling though when she said that the aura of magic surrounding them didn't seem to match the island that they were odd. Interesing... probably someone sent to keep an eye on us then... she thought to herself.

 

She couldn't really say that she blamed them for such an action. She herself would employ similar tactics whenever a powerful pony of importance came into Equestria. A unit of STAR would be on them and tailing them almost immediately, often times without ever approaching them. To see the Neighponese government using such tactics at least made her feel a bit better knowing that she wasn't the only pony that was using the practice.

 

Upon hearing the rest of the conversation though, apparently this wasn't the first Okami that Luna had met, and at least one of these other wolves seemed to have met them as well. She also heard Luna introduce her, telling them about their skill level and how Luna trusted had trusted herself with her life. "Greetings, Shiranui of Polohama. It is a pleasure, although would be more so were it being that we were meeting under better circumstances. Unfortunately we came to this island to follow a lead and get some information on a sorceress that we believe is conducting a scheme that, with some of the artifacts that she's stolen, might not only threaten Equestria, but all of the known land. It's also believed that she feeds on the souls of the living in order to prolong her lifespan. However, I have no verifiable proof of that. Just heresay from a few of my operatives. That is why we are here. To find any plausible proof of what she might be planning and how she sustains her longevity," Ice Storm explained.

 

 

 

~~~Niradaña~~~

 

 

 

Hearing Myth said that the Okami weren't from the island threw Nira off for a moment. How could she possibly know that these creatures weren't native to the island that they were on? A question that was answered without her having to ask, as she commented that the magical signatures in their auras were different from the magical signatures on the island. Nira could immediately see why Shiroi took a vested interest in this one. Knowing how paranoid she is, she's probably already trying to draw up plans to change just about everything. Hopefully that wouldn't be her problem for too much longer. Even if she was permanently assigned to this brigade, she would be able to do vastly more than what she had done in the palace.

 

Still, the fact that these two creatures weren't native to this island, and this island was remote, could only mean one thing. They were sent here by somepony specifically to meet with them. That didn't sit well with her. So far their intentions didn't seem to be hostile, but you could bet that she would be sleeping with one eye open tonight. A longma didn't survive as an imperial field medic without having good awareness and survival skills after all, and this smelled like a trap. She would have to wait until they were alone and well out of earshot of the okami in order for her to state her suspicions. Okami had naturally high perception and could hear the smallest of details so she couldn't try to say anything right now.

 

One thing that did make her feel a bit better though, was the fact that these Okami seemed to make the same mistake that she did when she first met this group of ponies. They instantly presumed that Luna was the pony that was leading the expedition. The news of her retirement hadn't really made it's way out here yet, so she wasn't surprised by that fact, but it still made her feel better that she wasn't the only one to have done it. When she listened to Commander Storm speak on the issue again, she started to scan the island once more before turning to Myth. "Do you see any other unusual magic signatures in the area?"

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  • 3 weeks later...

“You can call me Kaen, nice to meet you, Luna.” He nodded, introducing himself. Under a false name, but still. Toboe did it first though, so he was just following her lead. Nensho looked over at the unicorn mare that was introduced as Ice, apparently the one in charge of the group. 
 

“No, not all of us. We weren’t all born at the same time after all. I’m sure there are some just as old or older than him though.” He shrugged at the question about Taira. 

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Toboe hadn't heard details on the target that these foreigners sought, but if the pale blue pony's account was true... well she'd be happy to help capture this sorceress. The very thought of such a pony walking the streets of Polahama and supping on the souls of the herd she saw as hers, It sent her hackles skyrocketing. Still, she kept her calm and nodded in Ice storm's direction, "I'd be happy to help you seek out such a threat ... If there is anything an okami is good at it is the following of magical auras." It was probably something that Taira had shared with this princess: That yokai similar to them are able to literally scent out magic on the wind and even sniff out casters or relics if they've met them before. As Far as the old wolf knew, Okami were only second best compared to that of an Onikuma...

Toboe would have considered that foolish, her nose was the best in Neighpon and noone could tell her otherwise.

Besides the obvious dangers this pony posed, the possibility of seeing some magical artifacts was a novel experience this wolf couldn't hope to pass up. Such fanciful thoughts had to wait as the princess had further thoughts on the nature of Okami, sadly Toboe was the worst authority on that given how she and Nensho grew up. Speaking of Nensho, her old friend gave Luna an answer that took a bit of pressure off of her. She'd have to thank him later. 

"My packmate is correct, I'm fairly sure we're both seen more summers than the rest of your entourage." 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

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Luna was glad to have Ice Storm there to explain the situation. If she had to be honest, Ice was the next best thing to her elder sister when dealing with grave threats to Equestria. Perhaps this was just the change however she needed to defeat this ancient unicorn. Her past interactions had been with Celestia...and if her memory was correct those meetings always seemed to end in a draw. Though Ice might not be an alicorn, she brought a fresh strategy to the Hou Shuren conundrum. Luna herself had always let Celestia do the brunt of the battling with the seemingly immortal sorceress , though that was their terms of engagement.... Perhaps this time she could show her full power for once. Rumors had circulated that Hou had a companion now so it would only be far in the alicorn's mind.

 

The retired royal would nod to both of the wolves as a sign of respect as the each spoke their name. "We are glad to have somecreature as skilled as you both on our expedition. Any help to stop this threat is appreciated, and perhaps may give us an element of surprise on her. If all else fails, I do have only last trick up my hoof," as she looked to Ice Storm to judge her reaction. 

 

"Now then, where is the best location to make basecamp? I'm interested both of your feedback and would like to have camp made before nightfall." Luna would look back to where Midnight was. She had a quick letter to send and he was her way out of the conversation momentarily. "It appears my loyal guard requires my attention. I am sure between the three of you, a decision can be made.

 

Luna would nod and make her way to Midnight. "Take a letter. Dearest Twilight, I shall be raising the moon this evening from my current location. It is of the most importance keeping up our cover. Signed, Your loyal friend, Luna." With a flash of her horn, the letter was on it's way to Canterlot.

 

With a motion of her head, she would make her way back over to the group, Midnight close behind. "Tell me Kaen and Shiranui, woulds thou like to see a moon rise this evening?"

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~~~Ice Storm~~~

 

 

 

Ice Storm would listen as the Okami spoke. The second one mainly just introduced himself, and the name Ice Storm would register with a nod in affirmation. He also stated that not all of them were born at the same time, and that there would likely be some that were older and younger than the one that Luna had mentioned meeting before. The first one then started speaking once more, Shironui if she remembered the name correctly. Ice was relieved to hear her say that she would be more than happy to help her track this mage, and that their ability to read auras would help out a lot in that regard. "Interesting. I myself have an aura reader within the party. I wonder if there might be a connection between the abilities," she said before turning back to Myth. "That could be something worth looking into later when the fate of the world doesn't possibly hang in the balance," Ice Storm said before hearing Luna speak once more.

 

She nodded in agreement when Luna said that they were happy to have creatures as skilled as they were helping with this. She added that anything they found could give them an element of surprise on the sorceress and that if all else failed, that she did have one other trick up her sleeve. A comment that Ice raised a small eyebrow at, especially when she saw Luna look back at her. She must have been talking about either the orbs or her amulet housing them. The orbs were at least common knowledge at this point, as was her power level. She would rather not reveal the other trick that her amulet had in it with so many ponies watching. It would kind of ruin the entire point of having the alter ego in the first place. Not to mention she was vastly more powerful normally. Frostbite was just for deep-cover recon. Though she supposed when it came to a pony, a dragon was no slouch to begin with. She just had minimal access to her magic in that form.

 

At the mention of a basecamp, Ice Storm would nod in agreement. "Indeed. A basecamp on the island will be important for operations such as these. However we would need it to be in an area that wouldn't be out in the open. A large number of creatures making camp in a large open area is a dead giveaway to anything that might be watching or scrying on the island that something might be amiss. We need to be as covert as possible while we are here. I don't know how powerful Hou is, but we definitely don't need to give her a reason to teleport back here if she can. I would rather not have to fight her yet. I don't think, even with all of us here, we could defeat her on her home turf. If she has her full arsenal at her disposal, there's no telling what she could do," Ice said matter of factly.

 

 

 

~~~Niradaña~~~

 

 

 

Seeing that the aetherically gifted one was likely in an overwhelmed state at the moment, Niradaña turned her attention back to the conversation that was taking place between the leader of this expedition, the retired princess, and the Okami. She didn't really have much to say herself. It was true that she was from the island of Ryushima which was the mainland just across the strait on the other side of this island, but she had never been here. She wasn't familiar with its layout or what places would be good for what Commander Storm was wanting. She did agree with the assessment of the commander though. Between her tactical assessments, her entourage, and her way with words, she had little doubt as to why she ended up in the position that she did. This was a mare that knew exactly what she was doing, and when she needed to do it. She reminded her a lot of the shogun and Ishi. Strict yet fair, hard yet compassionate. She couldn't wait to work more with her. Hopefully they wouldn't need to make too much use of her skill set while they were on this island.

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Myth stood silently. Something had been bothering her from the time these magical creatures had come to view. She wondered if..... she frowned. Perhaps some other time. Her thoughts were interrupted when Luna cast her teleportation spell on the parchment, sending it whizzing by her as a packet of pure aether, heading back to Equestria, she presumed. She sort of jumped a little at the startle, and then sighed. Then Icy said something that perked her ears. At this distance, and with the bright magic of the okami backlighting her, she could'nt see Icy turn, but she could feel her gaze. She gulped and gave a half-hearted smile and wave. She needed to talk to one of those okami... perhaps tonight after everypony was asleep.... unless... do okami sleep? She laughed silently to herself. She'll find out tonight.

Then she realized something and turned to Nira "Oh, my gosh, I'm so sorry! I am vaguely aware that you said something to me, but I was sorta lost for a minute." she laughed uncomfortably and scratched the back of her head.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Nensho hummed slightly as he listened to the others talk, thinking about what he was hearing of the target. He would help, of course, especially when he noticed that the description made Toboe kinda upset. She did a good job hiding it, but he grew up with her, he could tell. 
 

“A hidden basecamp? Yeah, I could probably search out a cave nearby or something.” He said, looking around the area. “Sharing a moon rise with my packmate sounds wonderful, thank you Luna. I’ll be back soon, once I find a place.” He added, bounding off to search the area. 
 

—————

 

Feather had been watching the scene, though as Myth failed to respond to Nira, she looked over at her to see what was wrong. Myth looked lost in thought, making Feather tilt her head as the time stretched on. Eventually she seemed to snap out of it, and Feather draped a wing over her back briefly. 
 

“You ok, Vis? What’s on your mind?” She asked quietly, looking over Myth a bit. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

 

 

A basecamp, huh? That would take some thinking. Toboe wasn't terribly sure about this island's geography to advise anyone. Let alone a princess seeking an optimal location to set up shop. Luna walking off to confide in her  personal guard would grant her and Nensho a chance to figure out a good spot that could serve as their campsite. Since they had some time previously while waiting for the group to arrive, Nensho and Toboe did do a bit of exploring around the island... though not much to be honest. Only two spots came to mind, "Well, Kaen and I were sniffing around the island earlier and found an old cave deeper in the woods. There's a clearing in past the treeline that would be closer though."


She looked over to 'Kaen' with a curious tilt of her head, "Any other spots come to mind?" Nensho was more used to life outside the city than Toboe was so she put a lot of trust in his survival skills. Whatever suggestions he may make she would accept as an option. Whatever her friends response was, before she could respond in turn she noticed Luna making her way back. 

Luna's offer was intriguing... Any good wolf loved the moon. Getting to see the pony who made it rise in action was an exciting prospect, "I'd love to! We don't get to see this sort of thing everyday. Right, Kaen?"

 

 

 

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The alicorn smiled to both wolves and Ice Storm. “Wonderful. Once my sister l begins lowering the sun, I shall begin to raise the moon over the horizon. I believe tonight is scheduled to be a full moon as well.” 

 

As Luna listened to the discussion on locations, Luna would tap her chin. “While I do like the idea of the cave for its ability to be hidden and the protection from weather, I do have one concern….the single entryway. It is both a blessing and a curse.” She’d look to Ice, the way she had many times before. “I am no military mastermind. What do you think Ice?”

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Raven bit her lip as she watched them, though when Luna came back she figured everything was going good. As such, she followed back, seeing as she was second in command to Icy, she needed to know. When the talk of base camp came up she spoke, as she weighed their options. "Yes, as Luna said, the single point of entry, assuming there's not a second entrance, would act as a natural choke-point, both for us and any attackers. It would be easy for us to defend, but also easy for them to keep us in... The clearing would be problematic, though, as we'd need more on watch. However, we would also be closer to our escape route, as well as reinforcements and supplies. I'm leaning towards the clearing, if it matters Commander." She said, her use of Icy's title a way to indicate her own importance to the wolves.

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~~~Ice Storm~~~

 

 

 

Ice Storm listened to all of the suggestions that there were for the possibilities of a base camp. They mentioned of a clearing just past the treeline that would give them a better vantage points of exiting should they need to. They also mentioned a cave. Ice Storm initially liked the idea of the cave, but as she listened to the others speak up, they made some rather good points. Luna seemed to be on the same track as she was as well, speaking up that the cave only having one way in and one way out was both a blessing and a curse. She also noticed that Myth was starting to get more accustomed to the magic in the area and was speaking to Nira, who also gave her piece about the strategies. She added that since the clearing was inside the treeline, the canopy should keep the camp mostly covered, and that they had several ponies here trained in the mystical arts. Creating a base camp that would camouflage with the rest of the forest was well within their means. Raven also seemed to be leaning in favor of the clearing, adding that the clearing would need more watches, but it would be closer to their escpate route as well.

 

"Then it's settled. Let us move forth and set up the base camp in the clearing. I would rather not disturb the land itself too much, so anything we gather should be items that have already fallen. I do not want to harm any of the trees or the wildlife here and give the magic of the land a reason to be angry with us. Let us take only what we need and nothing more. If need be, I can use my ice magic to give us some temporary structures that we can navigate around. Especially if we want this to be something that we can set up and fall back to later if things go array. We can also use it as a bearing point and establish landmarks and positions that can help lead us where we need to be, and then lead us back. And remember, we're in a foreign land here so be extra careful where you step and make sure to pay attention to every detail. We could easily get stuck wandering a forest here ad infinitum, and finally nopony ventures alone. Buddy systems at all times while on the island. And Myth that means an actual buddy, not an illusion," Ice Storm stated, turning to the Okami named Shironui. "Lead the way then. We will follow you to this clearing."

 

 

~~~Niradaña~~~

 

 

Nira listened to the options that had presented themselves as for the possible locations for the base camp. There was the mention of a cave with a singular entrance, though whether that was true or not was yet to be determined, and they didn't have the right kind of equipment to try to discern that on the fly and caves were naturally dangerous. One small mistake could kill everypony in the group. However, if the cave was sturdy, it would be a good fall back bunker in case something happened. "If I may, Commander. But I would also be leaning in favor of the clearing inside the treeline. With it being past the trees, the canopy overhead will protect us from most airborne threats and will also hamper their ability to spot us. The Imperial Legion would often use caves as well, but they also have a means of reinforcing the cave walls so that there isn't a collapse and ponies who's entire jobs were to navigate and map out the tunnels so we knew exactly where everything was. We don't have those kind of resources in this group, so the cave would be a liability at the moment. However, the cave would be a good fall-back point if something were to happen at the base camp," Nira stated.

 

It was about then that Nira heard Myth speak up once more. She had told her that she was sorry, but was only vaguely aware that she had said something to her. Most probably would have taken that as a jab, but knowing a bit more about her condition now, and what it does, she knew that Myth was sincere. The magic in the lands in Neighpon was abundant and often times, chaotic. Especially when it's apparently on an island that's been housing an evil sorceress that's been feeding on souls for thousands of years. "I was asking to infer if you could see any major imbalances of magic here and if so what direction they were in. That could help guide us where we need to go," Nira repeated with a smile. The wing that Feather put over Myth made her smile widen and grow warmer as well. It was good to see such comradery between crew-mates. Something like this didn't exist in the palace, with the exception of Ishi, she didn't get along with a majority of them. And Ishi was her charge, though it remained to be seen for how much longer. She still cared for him deeply after spending so much time with him, but the desire to do more was taking it's toll on her. That was why she was out here to begin with. When the group would start to move towards the clearing, she would follow.

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Myth was about to answer feather's question when she noticed that the others' attention was turned so that they could hear their side discussions. She gave Feather a genuine smile "Don't worry about it." she said. After which she cast an auditory illusion, suppressing the glow of her horn, so that only Feather and Nira could hear it like a whisper in their ear closest to Myth, but sounding like it was inside their ears "I'll need to talk to you guys about it later." During which Myth's smile did not fade and she appeared to be focused on the discussion. When she heard Icy say they didn't want to disturb the magic of the island, Myth smiled. Icy knew that Myth had a love for magic, and that she would appreciate the efforts to preserve this island's magical ecosystem. That, or she just didn't want the possibility of out-of-balance magic causing them issues. Myth chose to believe the former. When Icy addressed Myth about using an illusion as a "buddy" myth put a hoof on her chest, and feigned hurt "I would never!" she insisted in an exaggerated voice. She turned to Nira and winked.

 

"As for hiding our base camp" she addressed the others again "I could either hold an invisibility spell over the entire camp, which I would have to focus on constantly, or I can cast a few simpler persistent illusions to enhance our existing natural cover. Depending on the canopy, it could last us 2 to 3 days before I have to recast them." Myth knew she was capable of more than that, but she wasn't quite ready to reveal her true limits to these newcomers. There was still her nagging feeling that they weren't entirely trustworthy, and she usually trusted these feelings.

 

She turned to Nira again and smiled "Don't think I forgot you. I was just thinking we could discuss that at base camp. For the time being, I don't see anything that's a danger to us. I'll let you know if that changes, don't worry."

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