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Loose Ends and Gates Ajar (Open)


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Tongue Twister checked her compass again before looking around the forest.


According to her mother's optimization calculations, this site would be a nearly perfect place to build an underground lair.


Of the two dozen locales she'd already checked, only two actually had a lair.  All were decades old, abandoned long ago, decrepid and all but collapsed from the ravages of time.
One was just a hidey-hole somepony constructed to keep a stash of questionably legal liquors and probably stolen items until the heat died down.  Unused for years.

 
TT paced around a bit, looking for something ordinary that was trying a bit TOO hard to be ordinary.


She noted a very old tree, wider than her wingspan.  Its roots would make excellent free roofing for an underground complex of quite respectable size, but she didn't see any secret levers, nor did any of the nearby rocks she tapped do anything.


But she had a sneaking suspicion that there was a hidden entrance here somewhere; she just needed to open her mind a bit.  Broaden it to see other possibilities.


So she reached into her saddlebags and pulled out a padded mat and set it out.


Then got comfortable on it and tried to meditate (once she was sure what was left of her wings were tucked under the heavy dark blue cloak she was wearing).
It was a nice, sunny day.  Even if this 'mission' failed, it was still nice to be outside.

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((gawd I wish this were FFA - I have a "bat pony" Twilight who decided to embrace her "evil" appearance (and the prejudice against her new race) and build a villainous underground lair... she fails miserably at being a villain (I mean, she *IS* still a Twilight) but what fun she could have in this situation! XP ))

 

((Azure "Iggy" Ignine))

 

Unfortunately, little did TT know she was about to be interrupted... 

 

From another direction came another pony - well, not a pony per-se, but being a kirin she was still atleast half pony- floating a map up in front of her face, paying no attention to where she was going, causing her to bump right into TT, stumbling back and dropping her map, navigation compass, protractor, slide-rule, drawing compass, astrolabe (why did she have an astrolabe during the day?!?!) as well as a notepad filled with strange symbols that were clearly either a foreign language or written in code (and given the fact this was a kirin, either was possible)

 

Her first reaction was a little harsh, but she quickly adjusted herself when she saw who she bumped into "Watch it Clou- Oh, hello, so terribly sorry, I didn't see you there" she said awkwardly as she tried to quickly grab all her stuff "Didnt expect anycreature to be out this way" she laughed a little awkwardly, glancing around and adding "er... You wouldn't happen to have seen a dragon and a hippogriff come this way, did you? I seem to have lost track of them" she then paused "Oh, I forgot to introduce myself again!" she said with a bit of a smile and a playful soft flap to her forehead "Azure Ignine, but everyone calls me 'Iggy' for short" she offered a hoof to shake

 

 

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Tongue Twister was focusing on her breathing, calming the torrent of emotions and thoughts in her head.

 

"Well, there is a chance there MIGHT be a secret lair here." she mused to herself, "But there is also a chance there is nothing here.

Of the two dozen locales I've checked, only about half had the remains of something.  I suppose that is a good thing - fewer threats to emerge from hidden bases, and so a good chance there won't be any drama for a little while at least."

 

Then somepony bumped into her.

 

 "Watch it Clou- Oh, hello, so terribly sorry, I didn't see you there" the pony said.

 

Then TT noticed something - the yellow coated pony had scales.  A single horn, and a fiery orange lion-like mane with electric blue streaks.

It took TT a moment to realize that the mare wasn't a pony.  Or a Qilin from Long Guo, but a kirin.

 

 "Didnt expect anycreature to be out this way" the mare laughed a little awkwardly, glancing around and adding "er... You wouldn't happen to have seen a dragon and a hippogriff come this way, did you? I seem to have lost track of them" she then paused "Oh, I forgot to introduce myself again!" she said with a bit of a smile and a playful soft flap to her forehead "Azure Ignine, but everyone calls me 'Iggy' for short" she offered a hoof to shake.

 

"We are Tongue Twister.  TT for short." TT replied as she got up and shook the offered hoof.  "We haven't seen any creature out here.  But we've only been here less than half an hour."

 

She noticed the stuff Iggy had been carrying.  "What are you looking for so far from the Peaks of Peril ?" she inquired.

Spoiler

(( It sounds like your batpony Twilight could use a consultant.  Oddly enough, TT is trying to start business as a consultant.  She even has a business card - "Phantom Consulting Inc." that has an enchantment on it so the card can only be found by those desperate enough to need her help.

 

On the front of card : a silhouette of a pony, but when the card is tilted, the pony shadow disappears and the words 'Phantom Consulting, Inc.' and an address appear.

 

On the back is a commercial :

 

"Need something translated from Bureacratese or Legalese or any other language into Ponish ?

Need somepony to track down what forms you need for whatever you're doing ?

Need a second opinion to determine if your 'Big Idea' is actually a good idea ?

 

Then just send a note to Phantom Consulting Inc !

Ponyville PO Box 1123 !"

 

Her dad set up the Devil's Business Card enchantment for her awhile ago.  ))

 

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((O_O you put too much effort into your side-Hussle ;)  though I do think that could be a hilarious idea sometime.... oh yes, I can see exactly how that would work out *evil grin*))

 

"...really? where did they wander off too....?" asked iggy quietly to herself, though she managed to maintain just enough focus on the conversation at hand not to be rude. "Its always a pleasure to make new friends" commented the kiren, unsure if TT's use of 'we' was meant to be symbolic of a status, indicative of a mental illness, or a warning that there were invisible chihuahua assassins waiting in the bushes that she should be warry of.... despite the logic of the situation being the latter, deep down, iggy was really hoping for adorable chihuahuas in assassin robes just once!

"Either an exciting adventure or a fools errand" smiled iggy as she lowered the map, showing a lot of calculations scribbled in the corners as well as a path that seemed to be where iggy had come from, though it was drawn onto the map very... sloppily "My friends and I are trying to map out the local intersections of Dragon Lines!" the excitement in iggy's voice was obvious, not to mention... well... infections might not be the term for it, but it was clear that the kirin was excited to share her task with anyone else she found.... probably literally anyone....

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TT noted that Iggy was very enthusiastic about what she was doing.  Then she remembered that, until recently, the kirin were under the effects of the Stream of Silence, and had their emotions dulled and bottled up for most of their lives.  So a little emotional recoil was to be expected.

 

"Mapping out local nodes of Ley Lines ?  That is a rather ambitious project." TT stated, "Creatures of all types have been doing that for centuries, so it's not that rare an art.

 

So you think there's an intersection of Dragon Lines around here ?" she asked, adjusting her glasses slightly, "That would be another factor making this a good place to build a secret lair, if you're doing magical experiments.

 

Hmm - we wonder if Cozy Glow's almost eliminating all magic in Equestria for a few days did something to the Dragon Lines.  May have to check on that ...."

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"yeah, you'd think there would be maps all over the place but for some reason this area has never been mapped out" explained iggy "I don't know if it was just an oversight or if something was being hidden, but I'm gonna find out" she explained with a bit too much enthusiasm "while I hope to find an ancient lab of Starswirl the Bearded, used for focusing energy and infusing the most dangerous of magics... I realize I'll probably at most find a clearing where the magic is so chaotic that nothing grows there" she sighed, clearly wanting to find something important atleast ONCE

 

"it wouldn't surprise me at all if her trick had unintended side-effects --- these things always do... though I do wonder if all the dragon lines in equestrian have shifted or perhaps combined because of it... I mean she was channeling all that power into one place, it wouldn't be too surprising if a new intersection formed!" she was getting even more excited now, momentarily forgetting her missing friends and the fact that TT had mentioned the possibility of a secret lair around here....

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"yeah, you'd think there would be maps all over the place but for some reason this area has never been mapped out" explained iggy "I don't know if it was just an oversight or if something was being hidden, but I'm gonna find out" she explained with a bit too much enthusiasm "while I hope to find an ancient lab of Starswirl the Bearded, used for focusing energy and infusing the most dangerous of magics... I realize I'll probably at most find a clearing where the magic is so chaotic that nothing grows there" she sighed, clearly wanting to find something important atleast ONCE


"Uncovering one of Starswirl's old labs WOULD be quite the find !" TT replied, "I know a few museums that would pay almost anything to have anything like that on display !


Magic flows through this world; figuring out how to collect it and shape it to do what you want is a major feat for anypony.


Early on, he most likely had many failures - explosive and otherwise - when the rules of magic weren't quite what he thought they were.  So it would make sense that he'd have somewhere to test his ideas that wouldn't endanger others.


But we suspect such a lab would be closer to his original home of Canterlot.  


Assuming, of course, it wasn't blown up, liquefied, vaporized, or displaced to another dimension.  Or left a clearing where magic is so chaotic that nothing can grow there.  From what dad told us, some of Starswirl's spells were REALLY high energy !"


"it wouldn't surprise me at all if her trick had unintended side-effects --- these things always do... though I do wonder if all the dragon lines in equestrian have shifted or perhaps combined because of it... I mean she was channeling all that power into one place, it wouldn't be too surprising if a new intersection formed!" she was getting even more excited now, momentarily forgetting her missing friends and the fact that TT had mentioned the possibility of a secret lair around here....


"Those - are very good points."  TT noted, "With that much power focused into one place, we would not be surprised if whole new Dragon Lines formed if the old ones didn't quite snap back into place.


But we wonder just how far that draining reached.  She was trying to eliminate Equestrian magic - but there are other kingdoms far away from Equestria.  They may not have noticed if the effect weakened over great distances.


Was the kirin's magic affected too ?" she asked.


"We do have to wonder how many times an ancient villain or unspeakable evil was imprisoned with unicorn magic, with the idea that the prison would hold as long as unicorn magic did.


They would've thought it would hold forever.


But for almost three days, unicorn magic did not exist.


So the idea that something MIGHT have gotten loose is worth investigating.  We almost feel sorry for them though - given how much more powerful the forces of harmony have gotten, those old unspeakable evils may not stand much of a chance !"

 

TT paced around a bit.  "This location would be ideal for a secret lair.  It is close enough to town to get there quickly, yet far enough away for privacy.  We've been checking for hidden switches, but all of the visible rocks are just rocks.

 

This tree is more than large enough to hold a staircase" she continued, gesturing at a rather wide tree, "It is a bit out of place - this species of tree is usually found in wetlands and bayous.  Mage Meadowbrook's home is a tree something like this one.  But I haven't been able to find any secret levers !"

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At the question about her race's magic being effected by the pint-sized chessmaster iggy kinda moved her head side-to-side in a "ehhh, kinda? maybe?" motion "I had already left the village by the time she launched her plan - I was already on the coasts of Equestria - and I felt the drain but probably not as much since our magic, while similar, is significantly different enough that I've never found a unicorn spell that worked for me without modification...., and I'm not exactly close with anyone back home" she said awkwardly, making it clear she didnt have any other kirin she could send a letter to for inquery "Cloudy and Jasper are in the same boat really never having any friends till we met each other in equestria" she explained "Though I might still be able to contact some creatures from the other continents or just other countries far from equestria..." she said this last part more to herself than to her new acquantience since the trio were trying to keep their affiliations secret for good reasons...

 

Iggy looked very concerned at the things TT was talking about, no doubt more than a few would get lodged in her brain and at some late point she would start looking into them - even if just out of paranoia! - but fortunately for the kirin, the pony circled back about the possibility of a hidden lair nearby, unfortunately for them both, this was exciting iggy more and more, causing her to lower her guard

 

Iggy walked aroun, gently pawing at the ground and tapping on the tree "cant tell if there's anything there... could be hollow though..." she commented, thinking a moment "I'm gonna see if the owner or anycreature related to him or her is nearby, they can probably tell us" she said as her horn took on a sickly green glow, the magic feeling... just wrong... not severely wrong; not eldritch, but whatever the kirin was doing, she was channeling a lot of dark magics for her spell

 

((Now you get to have fun... Iggy just cast 'raise spirit' on a large area (along with a necromantic control spell!), so it was a lot of magic... if this really is junction of dragonlines... there are going to be a LOT of ghosts from a surprising distance or else the dragon lines power corrupts her magic and 'upgrades/mutates' her spell to "Summon the rotting horde" raising a potentially large number of Zom-creatures... or just 1 ghost, or no ghosts at all! your the OP, your choice))

((and yes, if iggy were a unicorn she'd likely have something like a skull as her cutie mark - she is *very* skilled in Necromancy))

((kinda hilarious and ironic, by dark semi-evil black-and-silver-loving gothic pony specializes in battle magic, and my perky happy brightly-colored kirin is the necromancer... I think I picked the color-wheel up upside-down when I first designed these two :blah: ))

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Iggy tapped the tree a bit, then stated "I'm gonna see if the owner or anycreature related to him or her is nearby, they can probably tell us" she said as her horn took on a sickly green glow, the magic feeling... just wrong... not severely wrong; not eldritch, but whatever the kirin was doing, she was channeling a lot of dark magics for her spell.


"By Nyarlathotep's one thousand and first name !" TT gaped as she watched Iggy's power sink into the ground and make it glow for a moment, "Is EVERY creature I run across an adept at dark magic ?!"


A few moments after Iggy cast her spell, a faintly glowing green mist rose from the ground, condensing into the barely visible shape of a REALLY old unicorn stallion.


Who then glowered at Iggy and TT for a bit, before energizing his horn and pulling every nearby loose rock and twig to him to form a material body.


"WHAT DO YOU IDIOTS WANT ?" the matter-clad ghost bellowed, "The forces of L.O.V.E. do not tolerate trespassers or looters !"

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