The Future is Now

Dusk's picture

When: 

10,000 years hence

What: 

(Rough edit only.  Some repeated or split lines will be found.)
Chance is currently working on one of his time projects in his corner of the Center. His time spent in Marishville, working on the Time Anchor, let him learn magic, but he's still mostly just focus on time-based magics. He's currently working on a new way to wink things from the present to about 1 minute into the future. He's using an artifact that emits temporal-based energies, one of the 'trinkets' from the collection he built up over his 80-year exile in Marishville. He could never figure out how to get it to work with the Time Anchor, so just kept it for future testing. Which he's started doing recently. He's presently waiting on.. a small metal ball appears out of nowhere and drops to the floor. He checks a stopwatch. "Still random variance.." he mutters.
Mirage is busy with her usual work.  After cataloging and storing some items for the researchers, she has a small cart filled with many of the magic-storing crystals that Dusk has experimented on from time to time.  She's counting them and matching against the inventory to make sure none of the crystals are missing.  The crystals sparkle and glow with the magic that fills them.
Dusk had checked on some of Chance's work in the past.  But currently he is working on some projects of his own.  Particularly using some of the magic enhancing silver crystals to enhance some magics he is working on.  Thus a good time to verify this particular inventory.  He keeps them in various small lots so as not to have too large a single concentration, which exponentially increases their effect.  He currently has a ball of bright energy, about a little bigger than a pony's head, rotating about the workbeach he is at.  Small streaks of light project out from it as it turns.
Chance glances over at Dusk's experiment and then over to Mirage. "A rainbow of crystals. You've made organization an asthetic artform." he mentions with a light smile, then focuses on his artifact and the ball again. "Let's try something a bit different.." he mutters, writing something in his notebook. He takes the artifact and focuses on it. He still doesn't know how he can actually use these things, since he can't do magic of his own. He just knows he can. The ball suddenly takes off at an odd, impossible angle, for about 3 visual feet, and dissapears. Chance huffs lightly. "Okay, where'd it go this time?" he says to himself, glancing about, attempting to guess its exit vector. While he waits he heads over to Dusk. "That looks interesting. What do you have going on ACK!" The ball suddenly appears out of nowhere, right near the workbench, and slams into it. The temporal window it came out of bisects Dusk's energy ball. Chance sighs. "That was unexpected. Sorry about that."
Mirage hmmms? and looks up from her work when Chance makes a surprised sound, just in time to see the magical window suddenly appear right in Dusk's experiement!  "Oh no!" she blurts out as she grabs the cart and starts to push it to a safer distance from the experiments.
Dusk looks over too as Chance comments and steps on over.  He has his own work fairly magically contained and protected, but from your more average interference.  Not something like this.  "Look out.."  Mirage is aleady moving.  Dusk prepares to try and contain any reaction.  The ball slamming into the table does knock over some of the work materials, including some of the crystals and their holders.  But then nothing.  Dusk waits, then lets out a sigh.  He opens his mouth about to say something when there's suddently a bright flash and wave that passes outward like a explosion.  But other than a momentary high pitched sound, it is otherwise silent.  No rattling, no crashes, just the sounds any of us make in reaction to it.  Then it's gone, and the Center seems to have gone dark, the lights having gone out.
After the magical effect, all is silent, except for some birds chirping outside, and the sound of a light wind passing overhead, a breeze rustling the manes of the ponies. Wait.. since when can a breeze get into the Center? Fumbling around doesn't seem to do any good. Things feel wrong, out of place, and alot of stuff appears to be missing. Perhaps the magic blast knocked everything around. Nothing seems to work, not even the mechanism to the dome. It appears closed, and stuck, if one would try. It's night time now, and the sound of a timberwolf is heard in the distance.
Mirage lights up the tip of her horn, casting a glow of pretty green light as soon as she realizes the lights aren't coming back on.  "Dusk?  Chance?" she calls as she looks around for the stallions.  She glances to the cart and sees that it's filled with dull and empty crystals now.  Whatever happened used the energy stored in them.
Dusk is there as well, right where he was.  He smiles as Mirage sheds some light and calls out, "I'm right here, my dear."  He steps over to her and brushes against her.  He looks back, "Mr. Chance?  You okay too?"  But there's no answer.  Dusk hmmms and helps add some light of his own, illuminating the center.  It looks like it's been through something like an explosion indeed.  Some of the roof and parts of the walls are missing at points.  Things have been moved and lots of stuff is missing.  And oddly some things that don't even look familiar.  "I didn't feel a blast, but looks like there was one.  Mr. Chance?" he calls again.  Though if one were to look, there is a lot of dust about, on the desks and over the floor.  As if it's been this way for quite a while.
There's also rust on things that shouldn't be rusted. Parts of the magic dampening material has also fallen into disarray. In some of the storage containers there's artifacts which are completely unknown. No books are found intact, and Chance's corner currently is mostly some rubble from the ceiling above.
Chance is no where to be found.
Mirage looks wide-eyed at the surroundings.  "Are you alright?" she asks Dusk as he comes over to her.  "And what happened?  The building looks damaged but it looks wrong, too.  And where's Chance?"  She gasps as she looks to where he was.  "Is he under that rubble?  He have to get to him!"
Dusk first takes the time to make sure Mirage is alright too.  "I seem perfectly find, my love."  Indeed the two of them seem perfectly untouched.  Not even some dust or debris that might have settled from an explosion.  Their hooves leave fresh tracks in the dust, along with bird or rodent tracks, but no other sign of a pony.  Dusk looks over to where Mirage indicates.  Dusk reaches out and moves the rather small amount of rubble and pieces, but no sign of a pony, harmed or not.  "Not there.  Mr. Chance?" he calls out more loudly again.  He reaches out with his talent, looking for Chance's path, of where he might have went.  "It's not there.." he says without context at first.  "I mean Mr. Chance's path.  Actually, nopony's path around here, other than ours, and... hmmm.."
A small bird flies in from the stairs, then stops as it spots the ponies. It gives them a curious look, then zips off back up the stairs.
Mirage hasn't seen Dusk's talent fail him before.  But she can tell from the look in his eyes that something is quite wrong now.  "Maybe we should search the center?" she asks Dusk.  "Or should we go outside and get some help?  If there's some holes in the building, some of the magic could have slipped out and affected Ponyville."
Mirage hasn't seen Dusk's talent fail him before.  But she can tell from the look in his eyes that something is quite wrong now.  "Maybe we should search the center?" she asks Dusk.  "Or should we go outside and get some help?  If there's some holes in the building, some of the magic could have slipped out and affected Ponyville."  The bird arriving and then departing from the upper level must mean the ceiling is open, too.  At least a little bit.
Dusk is tracing their own paths back.  At first it seems perhaps there aren't any.  But soon he sees there are, if rather short.  But they can't just end there..  He looks back to where they start.  There is.. definitely something there.  A distortion that looks familiar.  He looks back as Mirage comments, "Hmm?  Yes yes, I think we should do both.  Just in case Mr. Chance is around, or anything else.  It seems clear here on the main floor.  I'll take a quick look upstairs and down.  See if you notice anything down here.  Then we'll look outside."  Dusk can see their future paths at least, though no sign of Chances.  After he makes sure Mirage is okay with that, he quietly slips upstairs and looks around.  He also notes what he finds around, if anything.  Perhaps he can use the telescope.
The area upstairs is a bit worse off then downstairs. There's a numer of small holes in the roof, but some big enough to get a view of a small piece of the sky. Dim moonlight streams down through one of those holes. The floor has some water damage, probably from rain falling in. The telescope is gone. It looks like the area has been converted into a different kind of lab. A nearby bookcase is just a pile of aged paper and wood, which has been picked apart by birds, apparently, given that there's a nest there. There's a few benches around, arranged in a triangle around a central bench. This center bench is round, with a cutout for a pony to stand in, and is surrounded by a number of artifacts and crystals, some of which are unknown. Where the pony would stand, there appears to be a sort of a control panel for something. Other then that, it just appears this area was used for some storage, as boxes are strewn about.
Mirage gives Dusk a nod and then searches the lower level of the center while he goes upstairs.  It's all very puzzling since the place looks disused and unmaintained more than anything else.  "But things shouldn't be damaged," she says to herself.  "Dusk had the building built quite sturdily.  It shouldn't look this way."  Then she calls out loud enough for Dusk to hear upstairs, "Could whatever happened affected the building?  It's magic proof.  At least enough that Tirek never detected us here.  But could whatever happened caused the building to start falling apart?"
Dusk looks around upstairs, and finds nopony there either.  And curious about the changes.  Looking at the paths of the objects it shows they had been here for quite some time.  He calls back, "Quite possibly.  But if the magic had just changed or aged things, their paths will still show their recent states before that.  Everything here appears as if it had been here a while."  He then slips off to the lower level, leaving it in the dark, using his talent to see what all is there.  Barring finding nothing, he checks on the magic passage, and some other special items.  The storage rooms being mostly emptied or damaged.  Some special storage areas are curiously empty but still secured and undamaged.  Hmmm.  Hopefully he'll find what he's looking for elsewhere.  With that he's back upstairs with Mirage, "Anything of note, my love?"
Mirage gives a shake of her head to Dusk.  "No, not really.  It looks like most of the things were taken away.  The few items that are left aren't on our last inventory.  All our records are gone and there aren't any recognizable records left."  She tilts her ears and gives a worried look to Dusk.  "We should go look outside and see if anything's happened to Ponyville."
Heading outside will reveal something quite different. There is no more Ponyville. There's many trees and plants around, this building being the most obvious break in the now surrounding forest. Many plants around here seem to be of the Everfree variety. The outside of the building is even in worse wear then the inside. Few things are around here. No roads. And only rubble where some of the other buildings stood, if that. Most of the places were buildings once stood has been taken over by plants and trees. Though the old statue that used to be in the Square still stands, though now worn and fallen into the fountain. At least it's standing mostly upright, so it preserves it's dignity in that way. The ground seems uneven as well, dips and rises where there shouldn't be, on the large scale of the area. And a ways off there's the small river that.. ... Since when did a river, small or otherwise, flow through the Ponyville area?
The sky at least looks the same as it always had. Or.. wait. There's something odd about the moonlight. It's like its muted somehow, as if the light itself was more dusty and dull then it used to be. It doesn't shine in the brillance it once did, but it still gives moonlight to the land. The stars are largely the same, but.. a fair number seem a bit out of place, some more then others, for some reason. And there's a group of stars in one part of the sky that wasn't there before.
Dusk hmmms and nods to Mirage, "And looks like the rest of the place has been clearned out."  And Mirage would be one to know where any records should be, and probably has all the inventory memorized.  He nods to Mirage, "I agree.  Let us go take a look."  Instead of knocking the damaged door down, he uses his magic for some simple repair, so they can close it once going out, to minimize animals and such going in, as it is.  The two look around and explore the immediate area..  "By Celestia, what has happened here?"  Indeed it's almost like they were in an outer part of the Everfree than Ponyville.  He keeps Mirage close.  Dusk is already scanning the area, and looking for paths, past and possible future ones even, as well as just looking around.
Mirage doesn't like the looks of anything outside since obviously this is part of the Everfree Forste now and she has no trouble staying close to Dusk.  Especially when the howl of a timberwolf is heard in the distance.  "Well," she says as she looks around, trying to disbelieve everything she's seeing.  But unfortunately no illusion parts to reveal Ponyville.  "So...  no sign of Chance out here, either.  It's us that's affected?" she asks, looking to Dusk.  "And if so, then where is Chance?  He should be here too."  She looks up at changed night sky.  "And the stars aren't right, either.  Though I'd have to be Starscape to tell you precisely what's changed."  She frowns as she looks back at the center which is now obviously in a state of decay.  "Maybe we should go to Canterlot for help?  It's the closest city.  We'd be able to see it from here if all these trees weren't in the way."
The sound of another Timberwolf, a bit closer now sounds. This not only looks like the Everfree, it may be just as dangerous.
Dusk looks around some more and nods back to Mirage.  "Indeed, so sign of him.  I believe you are correct about it being use that was affected.  I was suspecting that, but I think this makes it much clearer.  Hmmm that is a good idea.  We should try and find where other ponies might be."  Fortunately Dusk isn't too worried about the creatures here, if they are on par with the ones of the Everfree they know.  But he doesn't plan to sit around and find out either.  "Give me a moment.."  He uses his talent, exploring thousands upon thousands of possible paths.. of which are just a tiny fragment of them all.. seaching for which might be most advantageous.. to run across some other ponies, or at least some clue as to where to go, with the least risk..
Mirage nods to Dusk but doesn't look nearly as confident as he does.  Especially when it sounds like a timberwolf is closer than the last.  "Why don't you and I take your moment inside the center after I lock the door?" she offers.  But she's too late as Dusk is already exploring the probabilities of what we could do next.  "Because really, we have no idea what's around here now.  Things could be more dangerous..." she says softly, her voice trailing off as she looks nervously around as Dusk concentrates.
( The paths around here are a good amount different then in the Ponyville Dusk and Mirage know and love. But there are some promising paths. Some closer paths take them to ponies, but those paths seem to be more dangerous. The longer path takes them to the castle, but the pony signatures there are .. different. Fragmented somehow. But it's a safer, but longer, road to travel. If there is an actual road to go along with that metaphor. At the castle there's the signature of a teleport. Or at least something simular to it. Another timberwolf call, this time a bit closer still. Seems time isn't a commodity in excess here at night. )
Dusk is focus is taking into consideration any immediate danagers, and as to which way to go to avoid them all together, where possible.  So it is better to look into them sooner, even if they show going back into the Center for a while.  But instead he picks up on the choices.  While wanting to check on the nearer ponies, but getting Mirage there safely would be an issue.  "I believe Canterlot is our better idea, as you suggested, my love.  Let's take a quick walk there."  He makes sure she's as comfortable as she can be as we head out, making sure to take a path away from the sound of the timberwolves.  But Mirage has traveled with him before, and knows his paths have only a passing interest in actual roads.  And soon they are walking, making quick progress out of what was once Ponyville and heading towards Canterlot.  Making it easier, the pair are usually gone from a particular area before any local creatures get a second look.
Mirage becomes quiet nervous and frightened as it becomes obvious the timberwolves are getting closer.  She's tempted to start pushing against Dusk and get him moving back to the center, but he's finally comes back to the real world before she's ready to panic.  "Yes, love.  Good idea," she says quickly.  Mirage is ready for any plan that involves either getting out of here or getting inside behind a shelter with a sturdy door.  She has travelled with Dusk using his magic several times.  And with the obvious danger she has no intention of straying from his side now.  "Maybe we'll find some answers there.  And maybe even Chance as well."
As they quick-travel, it's obvious that the Everfree now extends a good deal out in this area, but they finally break free. The light-based skyline of Canterlot-at-night is seen.. but it looks larger, and a bit different, then normal. More spread out, though the castle seems to look the same. Across the bridge of the river.. which bridge has since been changed and moved.. And up the hill they go. But they run into civilization faster the expected. There's a whole community spread out past where Canterlot used to end. Houses and tents and fires and ponies. Plenty of ponies, of all types. There's unicorns and pegasii and earth ponies and.. A trio of ponies wander by, each with a simular rune on their flanks, and each colored in natural tones. An earth pony, a unicorn, and a pegasus. Suddenly a spirit, or perhaps a shade, of a unicorn gallops out of the air and lands in front of them. It seems to be wearing a spirit-cape, and has a cutie mark of two hooves pressed together, like in a shake. "Greetings new
"Greetings newcomers! Don't see many of you out here at night. Glad you could make it to New Canterlot! You may call me Greether. If you need anything, just ask!" The voice comes out like a coolish breeze, but the tone is that of a friendly pony.
Dusk can shut out his surroundings to focus on what he sees with his talent.  But he doesn't have to.  But even so it can indeed being a bit distracting when trying to focus on many possibilities at once.  But he can feel Mirage's nervousness, not needing their special connection at all to tell.  He rubs shoulders with hers and nods, "I will settle for either of those.  Both would be a wonderful step forward."  We make good and safe progress, and thankfully out of the now-expanded Everfree into much more normal feeling lands.  Normal, until we run into the sprawled out populace.  Dusk can generally slip through populated areas without being more than briefly noticed, if that.  But seeing these ponies he doesn't take long to recognize them.  He notes quietly to Mirage, "The earth magic ponies from the other timeline.."  Dusk is heading towards the teleport magic is, and where he feels he is going to get the most information.  But the sudden arrival that comes up and talks as if we were taking a more causal stroll
Mirage half expected Dusk's travelling magic not to work but thankfully his spells don't seem adversely affected by the change.  The way Canterlot appears now does give her pause, and she's about to mention to Dusk that maybe they should be more cautious but the city is much larger now and she and Dusk are noticed and greeted before there's time to discuss things. She recognizes the pony trio as well as Dusk points them out.  Well, at least the type of ponies they are if not the individuals.  "From the Hidden Caldera," she says softly to Dusk with a slight nod.  "I think maybe we should stop using magic and try to blend in.  Don't rubberneck like some tourist, you know?" she says to Dusk.  But then a something resembling a cloaked unicorn seems to just appear out of thin air to land before them.  "Oh, thank you, Mister Greether," Mirage says with her practised but personable business tone.  It's the tone she falls back on dealing with the unexpected.  And this is very unexpected and strange.  Then she looks to Dus
( Then she looks to Dusk, waiting for him to address this new pony. )
Dusk can shut out his surroundings to focus on what he sees with his talent.  But he doesn't have to.  But even so it can indeed being a bit distracting when trying to focus on many possibilities at once.  But he can feel Mirage's nervousness, not needing their special connection at all to tell.  He rubs shoulders with hers and nods, "I will settle for either of those.  Both would be a wonderful step forward."  We make good and safe progress, and thankfully out of the now-expanded Everfree into much more normal feeling lands.  Normal, until we run into the sprawled out populace.  Dusk can generally slip through populated areas without being more than briefly noticed, if that.  But seeing these ponies he doesn't take long to recognize them.  He notes quietly to Mirage, "The earth magic ponies from the other timeline.."  Dusk is heading towards the teleport magic is, and where he feels he is going to get the most information.  But the sudden arrival that comes up and talks as if we were taking a more causal stroll
( ( ...  has him coming to a stop, not too near to others around.  He keeps himself partly between the shade and Mirage.  "Greetings as well, Mr. Greether," he answers quite politely back.  "And this is my special somepony, Lady Mirage.  New Canterlot you say." ) )
Mirage half expected Dusk's travelling magic not to work but thankfully his spells don't seem adversely affected by the change.  The way Canterlot appears now does give her pause, and she's about to mention to Dusk that maybe they should be more cautious but the city is much larger now and she and Dusk are noticed and greeted before there's time to discuss things. She recognizes the pony trio as well as Dusk points them out.  Well, at least the type of ponies they are if not the individuals.  "From the Hidden Caldera," she says softly to Dusk with a slight nod.  "I think maybe we should stop using magic and try to blend in.  Don't rubberneck like some tourist, you know?" she says to Dusk.  But then a something resembling a cloaked unicorn seems to just appear out of thin air to land before them.  "Oh, thank you, Mister Greether," Mirage says with her practised but personable business tone.  It's the tone she falls back on when dealing with the unexpected.
Geether nods politely to both of them. "Yes, this is New Canterlot. .. Wait, don't tell me you two got lost." He gets a slightly concerned look on his face. "Oh dear. Well, I'm glad you two made it here safely. There's food all around. Just ask one of the groups around the fires, and they'll be happy to share something. We have public meals there, you know. If you need a place to stay, we have empty tents out here for those not so well off, and more accomodating areas inside the main city for those better off. Feel free to mingle! Everypony is welcome everywhere here. Now, is there anything you two would like right now?"
Dusk has to keep from laughing when Mirage tells him to try and not act like a tourist.  He smiles and nods, "I shall do my best, my love."  He does have to chuckle a little, which is nice since the strange situation has started.  And the point becomes fairly moot as we do indeed stop and meet the spirit like pony.  "We have indeed become lost, but not in that fashion.  We have met your people before, in a Caldera, in a timeline split from our own."  He doesn't make the assumption that this is their own timeline.  It could explain the differences.  "But yes, thank you very much for the offer of food and shelter.  You had been kind to us then as well.  We may need to speak with somepony that help us find somepony we know, and with our being here."
Mirage maintains her calm demenor although she wishes Dusk weren't quite so open with information. But it would attract even more attention if she tried to stop him, so instead she just smiles and waits to see what happens.  One of the nice things about being a pony is that you have wonderful peripheral vision, and so without rubbernecking, she casually looks to the side and wonders at the tents and campfires alongside homes and other buildings.  Maybe there's a covention in town and the hotels are fully occupied?  And sadly, no sign of Chance yet either.
( Greether looks a bit confused at Dusk's statement about the Caldera, then laughs. "Oh my, no. That's the nature ponies, not spirit ponies, my friend. You must not be from around here. You can recognize the nature ponies by their earth tones and runic cutie marks. And in a different timeline?" He moves closer to Dusk, glancing at Dusk's head. "Are you sure you didn't hit your head too hard?" He pauses and takes a step back. "Trying to find a pony? Oh, I might be able to help you with that. I'm currently at the library. I'll check the register for you and see if anypony by that name has stopped by. What was your friend's name?" )
Dusk makes some note of the surroundings too.  He shakes his head, "I apologize.  Indeed I must have been thinking of something else."  He smirks as the fellow looks to see if Dusk had hit his head.  "The pony I hope might be around is named Mr. Chance."  Dusk goes on to describe some details of color and cutie mark, as per the usual.
Mirage still isn't quite sure of Greether until he says he's at the library.  Oh!  Some sort of magical projection from a wizard!  Well, that's something familiar if uncommon that she can understand and she finds herself relaxing somewhat.  And Dusk manages a nice recovery and gets Greether onto a new line of questioning.  "Maybe we should check the registry?" she offers softly to Dusk as he and Greether talk.
Greether gives a light nod to Dusk. "It's of no problem, I assure you." He perks his ears to listen, then.. recognition comes into his eyes. "Oh, you're looking for Chance!" His face falls into slight dissapointment. "I am terribly sorry. He isn't here this season. He usually visits in the later fall. But if you head to Marishville Prime, I believe City Hall there can aim you in the right direction. However, it won't be open until tomorrow morning. Why don't you two stay here for the night? Get some rest, enjoy the company of others after your journey. Just head toward the main town. The library is easy to find. I have some ponies to check on out here, so I'll meet you at the library and find you a place to sleep." He pauses, then reconsiders. "Actually, I'll meet you at the entrance gates. Even if you wish to head to Marishville Prime tonight, you'll need to go there anyways. Oh! Though I caught the name of the lovely Mirage, I'm afraid I didn't catch your name, kind sir." he tells Dusk.
Dusk sees the recognition, then the dissapointment.  He nods to Greether and looks over to Mirage, "Well good news is Mr. Chance is about.  Perhaps a night's rest might be good?"  He doesn't imagine Mirage really wanting to head out in the night right off again.  And he doesn't mind waiting until then.  "Thank you very much for the offers and the assistance.  It does sound nice," he addresses back to Greether.  He raises a brow and then realizes he did miss introducing himself, having meant too.  "My apologies again.  My name is Mr. Dusk."
Mirage gives a polite but friendly bow of her head to Greether as Dusk finally introduces himself to the projected pony.  "Yes, some rest and some food sounds very nice," she replies to Dusk.  She's still wondering at the tents and fires, but she decides we can find out about that later.  "And then we can visit with Chance," she smiles to Dusk and Greether.
( Greether gives Dusk a polite nod. "A pleasure, Mr. Dusk." He smiles over to Mirage. "I hope you two can find him. He can be a bit hard to locate at times." He turns and trots off, into the air, toward another part of town. )
Dusk nods and smiles as everypony seems to be in agreement.  He's still keeping an eye , and his talent, for anything unsusual.  Things are very strange going on, so best to be safe.  But he walks with Mirage to the suggested meeting place, and directiosn to the library to make aragnements for the night.
Mirage is feeling relieved that at least it's been a friendly greeting.  After Greether's projection leaves, she nods lightly to Dusk.  "Well, it seems that Chance is still alive.  Whether he's the same Chance you and I know is something we'll have to find out.  So," she asks in a very soft voice as she leans close to Dusk, "is Chance missing from the Center because he's already here?  Or are there two Chances:  the one already here and our missing one?"  She tilts her ears back, wondering.  "And our names are in the register now.  Hopefully that's not a bad thing," she adds as she walks along with Dusk.  "Do you think they take bits for money?"
( The pair sees a few more trios of nature ponies, other spirit ponies, and the usual kind of ponies around as they walk through the outskirts. Then they come upon a pair that looks exactly the same, except one is real, and the other is spirit, and a difference in clothing, talking to two different ponies at the same location. Spirit pony 'clothing' seems to be of a simplier variety. When they get near a gate, a real pony that looks exactly like Greether, except in a tidy neat vest, calls out to them. "Mr. Dusk! Lady Mirage! Over here!" )
Dusk nods with Mirage's comments, having a few of the same concerns as well.  Though he hadn't thought about the money issue.  "A good question, hun.  It seems the Mr. Chance that Mr. Greether knows has been around for some seasons at least.  But that does not exclude the Chance we know being here.  Though his talent may have protected him from whatever sent us here, and could still be back wher we started." (more...)
( Mirage is feeling relieved that at least it's been a friendly greeting.  After Greether's projection leaves, she nods lightly to Dusk.  "Well, it seems that Chance is still alive.  Whether he's the same Chance you and I know is something we'll have to find out.  So," she asks in a very soft voice as she leans close to Dusk, "is Chance missing from the Center because he's already here?  Or are there two Chances:  the one already here and our missing one?"  She tilts her ears back, wondering.  "And our names are in the register now.  Hopefully that's not a bad thing," she adds as she walks along with Dusk.  "Do you think they take bits for money?" )
( The pair sees a few more trios of nature ponies, other spirit ponies, and the usual kind of ponies around as they walk through the outskirts. Then they come upon a pair that looks exactly the same, except one is real, and the other is spirit, and a difference in clothing, talking to two different ponies at the same location. Spirit pony 'clothing' seems to be of a simplier variety. When they get near a gate, a real pony that looks exactly like Greether, except in a tidy neat vest, calls out to them. "Mr. Dusk! Lady Mirage! Over here!" )
( Dusk nods with Mirage's comments, having a few of the same concerns as well.  Though he hadn't thought about the money issue.  "A good question, hun.  It seems the Mr. Chance that Mr. Greether knows has been around for some seasons at least.  But that does not exclude the Chance we know being here.  Though his talent may have protected him from whatever sent us here, and could still be back wher we started." (more...) )
Dusk nods with Mirage's comments, having a few of the same concerns as well.  Though he hadn't thought about the money issue.  "A good question, hun.  It seems the Mr. Chance that Mr. Greether knows has been around for some seasons at least.  But that does not exclude the Chance we know being here.  Though his talent may have protected him from whatever sent us here, and could still be back where we started."  Dusk takes in the sites of ponies and places around us, without rubbernecking too much.  He looks over and waves a hoof back, "Mr. Greether!  Good to see you again."  He checks on Mirage and then heads on over.
Mirage nods lightly to Dusk as he makes a good point.  "I hadn't thought of that.  Chance could still be back in Ponyville wondering where we've gone."  As we walk along, Mirage looks for any merchant stalls or stands where she might see how business is conducted, such as any haggling and what's being bought and sold and what ponies are using for money.  "Just pretend we're window shopping when we stop to look," she says softly to Dusk.  Otherwise, Mirage walks along calmly and casually as if she's been here many times before. Though she carefully looking out of the corners of her eyes as she and observes how different this place is than the Canterlot she knows.  She's a bit surprised when Mr. Greether suddenly greets Dusk and her!  She'd hoped Dusk and she would have a little time to look around, but Dusk is already waving to him so she follows Dusk and greets thier new host with a polite dip of her head.
( The little shops around here are many stall-based shops, and to a fewer extent, store-based shops. They're still using bits, but the bits look .. different. They have a field of 8 stars on one side, and a generic alicorn on the other side, surrounded by 2 suns and 2 moons, in the shape of Celestia's and Luna's cutie marks, alternating, with the single phase 'Remember the Sun and the Moon' on alicorn side, written around the edge. Greether waits patiently for them, and offers to shake Dusk's hoof. "It's a pleasure. Have you decided where you wish to go? Stay the night, or continue traveling? I would suggest stay the night." he says, as he leads them past the busy gates. The inner city of New Canterlot spreads out. Much has changed, much has stayed the same, except there's no old-looking buildings here. It's all kept nice and new. And there's the castle in the distance, just as Dusk and Mirage would remember it. But one striking difference between the inner city and the outer, is that unicorns and these )
is that unicorns and these spirit ponies seem to dominate the population, though ponies of all types are seen.
Dusk suspects we'll have quite a bit of time to see and learn more about this place, at least before we move on to follow up on Chance.  He nods to Greether as he asks, "We think spending the night is a good idea as well, rather than heading right off."  It's probably a good idea for them to learn what they can first too, before wandering off  some more.  "Is there someplace we could stay?"
Mirage is relieved to notice the coinage is at least recognizable even if it's a little different. And Canterlot seems bigger and busier which is a good thing, too.  She walks close to Dusk's side as he follows Mr. Greether past the gates and into the city.  She nods lightly at Dusk's question.  Today's been rather stressful and there's still so much to do.
Dusk suspects we'll have quite a bit of time to see and learn more about this place, at least before we move on to follow up on Chance.  He nods to Greether as he asks, "We think spending the night is a good idea as well, rather than heading right off."  It's probably a good idea for them to learn what they can first too, before wandering off  some more.  "Is there someplace we could stay?"  (repose)
Mirage is relieved to notice the coinage is at least recognizable even if it's a little different. And Canterlot seems bigger and busier which is a good thing, too.  She walks close to Dusk's side as he follows Mr. Greether past the gates and into the city.  She nods lightly at Dusk's question.  Today's been rather stressful and there's still so much to do. *repose*
Chance says "Well, why don't we get you something to eat first. There's this lovely little restaurant that sells all sorts of soups, and even lets you order your own styles. Then I'll take you over to the .." He blinks and ducks as a young spirit filly comes zooming at his head, flying off behind us a bit. He whuffles, slightly annoyed. "Very funny Spitfire. Now.." He blinks as the little filly decides to have fun batting at his tail. What's more curious is that she's actually moving it, but it looks more like a breeze moving it then the spirit hoof that's striking it. "Spitfire.." She stops and gives a big innocent smile. "Yeees?" "I'm entertaining guests." "Yay! Guests!" She zips in front of Mirage and Dusk. "Hi! I'm Spitfire! .. Oh, wait, Greeter.." "Greether." Greether mumbles. The filly seems to be oblivious and continues, "already said that. Hmm." She ponders, then smiles brightly again. "Hi! I'm .." She pauses, then floats up so she's head-high with Mirage. "It's nice to meet ya! What's your names? You're a prett"
You're a pretty pony!
Dusk feels better himself, having Mirage close.  A stressful day is certainly the least of it.  He listens as Greether suggest getting something to eat, thinking that sounds like a good start.  He's about to bring up the issue of currency to pay, seeing as theirs is rather different.  But before he can say anything about it, we find ourselves meeting the young appearing Spitfire.  He smiles and bows his head, "Greetings, Miss Spitfire.  My name is Dusk.."  He looks over to Mirage to introduce herself since Spitfire was asking her directly.  "Indeed she is a very pretty pony," Dusk agrees with a playful grin.
Mirage is wondering how the projection, or spirit pony, can apparently touch things, too.  She thought they were just images the wizard sent out.  She tilts an ear as Greether seems to correct the filly on what name to give.  "Hello," she says, blushing lightly as Dusk teases her a little.  "My name is Mirage.  And is yours Spitfire?  Or Greether?"
( Spitfire looks confused. "I'm Spitfire, silly pony-mare-lady! That's Greeter!" "Greether!" Greether corrects again. Spitfire giggles. "He's silly." she tells Mirage, being playful. Greether smirks, and gives a gentle grin. "Alright you, these two need something to eat and somewhere to sleep." "They can stay with me!" Spitfire says enthusiastically. "Now Spitfire, I'm sure your dad is tired of entertaining new ponies when.." "Dad just said yes!" Spitfire squeals. "Can we keep them for the night? Can we? Pleeeeease?" Greether sighs and rubs his forehead. He glances to Dusk and Mirage appologetically. "She gets a little excited from meeting new ponies around here. Her father owns a small hotel. One in which I believe a certain filly is supposed to be helping." he says, glancing to Spitfire, who gives a nervous big grin. "I am. Really!" )
Dusk has plenty of questions about lots of things, including the nature of the spirit ponies.  And why the nature ponies are here.  What's the order of society.  And on and on.  But all things probably better asked when in a more settled location.  And he is rather amused by the little filly.  It seems you don't have to be a high level wizard for this 'projection' and further suspects it is a natural state for such ponies.  But to the matters at hoof..  "It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Spitfire."  He grins to Greether and nods, "Well that sounds rather fortuitous, being a hotel and all.  However we are from out of town.  Would we need to exchange our currency?"  He takes out some bits from their own time and shows them to Greether.  "I would not want to try and pay a bill with unacceptable currency."
Mirage ohs softly and smiles to Spitfire.  "I thought you had a title, Miss Spitfire," she says with a little nod of her head."  She tilts her ears slightly as Greether explains a little more and talks to Spitfire.  "Are a lot of tourists coming into the city lately?" she asks casually.
( Greether looks at the coins, and furrows his brow. "I've.. never seen those before. Um.. They do have places that you can eat and sleep for those who can't afford it, but those our in the outer city." Spitfire turns to Greether, giving big sad eyes. "No little lady. Your father needs paying customers." "I'll ask dad!" "Now wait a minute.." Greether starts. Spitfire's face contorts into different expressions, and finally a sad-eyed pleading one. "You're doing it again." Greether says. Spitfire blinks, and gives an embarrased smile. "Oops." Greether chuckles lightly. "That's alright dear." Not a moment later, "Dad said yes! .. Um, I mean, if I use some of my allowance to help pay." Greether smirks. "You're never going to get anything saved up at this rate." "I make new friends that way!" Spitfire insists. She suddenly realizes that Mirage asked her a question, like forever ago. She looks to Mirage. "Nope, just Spitfire!" Greether glances over to Mirage as well. "We have tourists coming in and out all the )
"We have tourists coming in and out all the time. Though they usually come by air, train, or via telegate network. We get few that try to come in by hoof nowdays."
Dusk smiles as Mirage does a nic ejob of making some casual conversation and asking some informative questions.  And ones of Spitfire, who is being so cute.  Dusk chuckles at her antics as well.  He nods first to Greether and then to Spitfire as well, "I was concerned our coinage may be different.  But I suspect we can work out some payment arrangements as well.  Are gemstones an acceptable currency here?"  He smiles and listens to the others talk too, and give information about tourests.  Telegate?  That sounds like one of Programmer's works.  But could just be a similarity in names.  He'll have to look into it without it seeming they are all that strange to it.  "Yes I imagine those are all easier means for most.  So what might you suggest we do from here, Mr. Greether?" he says with a soft smile.
Mirage gives her head a little shake to Spitfire.  "That won't be necessary.  I'm sure we'll have something we can use to pay our way.  Dusk and I wouldn't want to impose on your father's hospitality."  Then she noses Dusk.  "Maybe we should see if there are any merchants who deal in old collectable coins?" she suggests softly.
( Greether nods lightly to Dusk. "Yes, gems are acceptable, but that's up to each storeowner to decide what they want to exchange for them." He then glances to Mirage. "Old collectable coins?" He muses over the thought for a moment, then brightens up. "Oh yes! I know where you could get those checked out! The owner of 'Artifacts and Antiques' would be able to help you there. I'll show you where that is. It's only about four blocks away." He starts trotting off, and Spitfire floats up to land on his back, laying down for a ride. "As for what you should do, I would still suggest the Soup Shop for dinner, then if you can get the money, I do have to admit Spitfire's father does run a nice, comfertable establishment. And tomorrow we'll send you on your way to Marishville Prime. If you want to get there fast, we have a direct-line telegate to it. From there just ask around to find City Hall. It's near the telegate hub, so it's fairly easy to find. I think someone there can help you further." )
Dusk smiles to Mirage as she noses him.  He feels the same about not wanting to burden anypony.  Though he was trying to avoid pointing out that the coins may be old, and just suggesting they were from out of town.  But as it is, it doesn't seem to have struck too much concern, and may give them another means of getting local funds.  He smiles to Greether, "Excellent, on both cases.  So either way we should be able to aquire some local currency, I imagine."  He nods as Greether explains about the suggested options and traveling to Marishville 'Prime,' whatever the difference is from the original.  "Those all sound excellent.  I guess our first step is funds, then food, then friends.." he says looking to Spitfire.. "And a room as well I suppose."  He smiles.  He rubs shoulder with Mirage then follows after.
Mirage is starting to feel a little guilty that Greether seems to be doing so much for them.  Or perhaps Greether gets a commission for guiding tourists to specific restaurants and hotels.  This thought makes her feel a little better, although Greether does seem very sincere.  She nods as Dusk makes the decision, and then smiles to Greether.  "I hope we're not causing you too much trouble, Mr. Greether.  If you have other visitors you need to tend to, please don't feel you have to burden yourself with us, too."
( Greether glances over to Mirage and gives a warm smile. "Not at all! I'm glad to have you as my guests. It's part of my job to show newcomers around, after all, and I like to get to know the new ponies." He pauses in speach for a few more paces, then "I hope neither of you would mind if I invite myself to the Soup Shop as well. It's dinner time for me, and I would like a bit of a break." At Dusk's words about making friends, Spitfire gives him a great big happy smile that's almost tangible, if not infectous. We wander past a grassy square that's a block wide, and there's some fillies and colts playing. But each of them have spirit-pony counterparts, and they all seem to be playing some kind of kick-ball game. The ball can apparently be interacted with by all present, real or spirit. )
Dusk smiles back to Mirage, and then nods at her comment, "Indeed you have been most kind, Mr. Greether.  I do hope we are not overly putting you out this evening."  He smiles though as Greether assures the couple that they are not.  "That's good to hear!  And we would love to have you join us for some dinner, indeed."  He smiles brightly back to Spitfire too before we continue along.  He is checking out all the different activities about, at a deeper level as well.  Practically old habit, when exploring a new area particularly.  But all in all things seem 'normal' but certainly different.  "What game is that?" he inquires.
Mirage gives Spitfire and Greether each a friendly smile, though she can't help but laugh softly at Spitfire's enthusiasm.  Evidently this Spitfire is nothing like the one that was in charge of the Wonderbolts.  She'd heard about that one and she didn't seem very nice at all.  "As long as we're not taking up too much of your time," she nods to both her hosts.  Then she listens as Dusk asks about the game.  And the sight of colts and fillies apparently having these projections as well makes her pause.  So it's not some learned wizard's spell after all.
( Greether glances over at the game, then answers Dusk. "It's a modified form of HoofBall the locals call Spirit Ball. The physical manifests are the ones that score, but the spirit manifests are the ones that determine scoring multipliers, penalties for the other side, and such. We have a tournament each year, and that tends to draw crowds, so is good for our economy. Not to mention just plain fun to go watch." he grins. Spitfire looks between Mirage and Dusk. "Yeah! It's super fun! I get to try out next year!" she claims, bouncing a little on Greether's back excitedly. Greether doesn't seem to mind. "If a certain filly can learn her seperation techniques better." She gives him a awkward smile. "I will!" )
Dusk walks nice and close with Mirage still as we head for the Artifacts and Antiques.  He idly wonders if they have actual artifacts as he thinks of them, or if used in a much more generic term.  He smiles as the game is briefly explained and he nods, "Ahh very nice.  Yes it looks like fun there."  He notes the mention of separation techniques, but doesn't ask about it currently.  "I'm sure you will as well, young Miss Spitfire."  He looks around to see where we are coming up to.
Mirage listens with interest as Greether explains about the game.  The news that there are annual tournements is a good sign that things are peaceful and prosperous enough that large scale sporting events are held.  So the ponies with the tents and campfires aren't refugees or something terrible like that.  She looks over to Spitfire and smiles.  "You try out next year?  Have you been practicing this year?" she asks, having thought the spirit ponies were something only the unicorns have.
( Spitfire beams a smile at Dusk, then nods quickly to Mirage. "Uh huh! I'm not very good yet, 'cause I'm a late bloomer, but I've been practicing seperation techniques too! I'm getting better. Really." She suddenly jumps a bit. "Dad!" Greether chuckles, and she turns beat red, and hides her head under her hooves. "That wasn't my fault! Dad scared me!" Greether glances over to Dusk and Mirage. "She is getting better, and does show promise at the game." )
Dusk smiles back to Spitfire and listens as Mirage asks about her playing.  She against mentions the separation.  He considers on a polite way to ask in a question about it perhaps, while the others talk.  He chuckles as Spitfire jumps a little.  "How wonderful!  I admit I'm not that familiar with how all that separation works.  It seems very convenient, being in more than one place at a time."
Mirage is relieved as she realizes that things don't seem bad here in Canterlot, uh, make that New Canterlot, than she first thought.  Of course, seeing nothing left of Ponyville besides the Center and the statue was rather traumatic.  Mirage hadn't realized the little town was growing on her.  As we near the coin shop, she nods as Spitfire talks about her training.  "I'm sure you'll make your try out, Miss Spitfire," she says before listening to Dusk and Greether talk a little more.
( Spitfire peeks under her leg to Mirage, and smiles sheepishly. "Thanks." "Convenient, yes, but sometimes a bit tiring when try to keep up with two different tasks all day. It's sometimes nice just to get together with my spirit manifest and just stay in one place. Or put just one manifest to sleep. Though.. that can get a bit confusing when only one is dreaming. That's a problem you non-spirit unicorns don't have to worry about. Ah, here we are!" Greether says as we get to the store. He leads us inside and introduces us to the owner, a Mrs. Caspias. She smiles to the newcomers. "Greetings! Welcome to my shop! Feel free to look around, but please don't activate anything." She does in fact have artifacts here, but they're more of the more 'common', safer variety. More novelty then anything, but some of them use magic that Dusk wouldn't be known in Dusk's time. )
Mirage smiles to Spitfire but makes a note of her comment.  If there are other unicorns that don't have spirit selves, then Dusk and her won't be seen as too weird or different.  "But you seem to do your manifesting very well, Miss Spitfire," she says with a sincere smile to the filly. She's about to say more when Greether announces we're at the store.  She nods to the owner as Greether makes introductions before looking to Dusk and then stepping over to browse and see what coins are for sell.
Dusk is concerned about Ponyville too.  Though if this is indeed another time, then he can feel some relief that it should still be fine, where they left it behind.  He gives a kindly chuckle to Greether and nods, "Ah yes, focusing on multiple things can be taxing indeed.  And yes, you both appear to be doing quite well though, as best I can tell."  As we arrive, Dusk smiles and greets the owner, "A pleasure to meet you, Lady Caspias.  And this here is Lady Mirage."  He glances around, perceiving the magic within the room as well, giving a nod.  His life has been covering the world and learning of magic, so he knows quite a many sorts of magic.  But indeed, the excitement is in all the ones he has yet to encounter and learn as well.  It would be such a pity not to find something new in 10,000 years.  Dusk takes out a sizable pouch of 10,000+ year old Equestian bits.  "We were looking perhaps to see what these might be worth in local currency."
Mirage continues to brows as Dusk sees if there's any worth to the Equestrian Bits that he has.  Hopefully there will be enough that they don't have to barter for dinner and a place to sleep.
( Spitfire peeks under her leg to Mirage, and smiles sheepishly. "Thanks." "Convenient, yes, but sometimes a bit tiring when try to keep up with two different tasks all day. It's sometimes nice just to get together with my spirit manifest and just stay in one place. Or put just one manifest to sleep. Though.. that can get a bit confusing when only one is dreaming. That's a problem you non-spirit unicorns don't have to worry about. Ah, here we are!" Greether says as we get to the store. He leads us inside and introduces us to the owner, a Mrs. Caspias. She smiles to the newcomers. "Greetings! Welcome to my shop! Feel free to look around, but please don't activate anything." She does in fact have artifacts here, but they're more of the more 'common', safer variety. More novelty then anything, but some of them use magic that Dusk wouldn't be known in Dusk's time. )
( Mirage smiles to Spitfire but makes a note of her comment.  If there are other unicorns that don't have spirit selves, then Dusk and her won't be seen as too weird or different.  "But you seem to do your manifesting very well, Miss Spitfire," she says with a sincere smile to the filly. She's about to say more when Greether announces we're at the store.  She nods to the owner as Greether makes introductions before looking to Dusk and then stepping over to browse and see what coins are for sell. )
( Dusk is concerned about Ponyville too.  Though if this is indeed another time, then he can feel some relief that it should still be fine, where they left it behind.  He gives a kindly chuckle to Greether and nods, "Ah yes, focusing on multiple things can be taxing indeed.  And yes, you both appear to be doing quite well though, as best I can tell."  As we arrive, Dusk smiles and greets the owner, "A pleasure to meet you, Lady Caspias.  And this here is Lady Mirage."  He glances around, perceiving the magic within the room as well, giving a nod.  His life has been covering the world and learning of magic, so he knows quite a many sorts of magic.  But indeed, the excitement is in all the ones he has yet to encounter and learn as well.  It would be such a pity not to find something new in 10,000 years.  Dusk takes out a sizable pouch of 10,000+ year old Equestian bits.  "We were looking perhaps to see what these might be worth in local currency." )
( Mirage continues to brows as Dusk sees if there's any worth to the Equestrian Bits that he has.  Hopefully there will be enough that they don't have to barter for dinner and a place to sleep. )
( Spitfire looks confused at Mirage's comment about her manifest. "Um.. thanks?" she answers, not sure if that was a complement or not. Lady Caspias gives Mirage and Dusk a polite nod. "Well met." she says, and takes the pouch. She takes one out and peers at it. Her face breaks into a grin a moment later. "Well, what do we have here. Bits from the days of alicorn rule. Curious that there's so many. I would expect one, but.. this many?" She considers them, and then a spirit pony comes float-trotting in from the back, that looks just like her. She holds the coin up, and the spirit pony peers closely at it. "Hmm. They have the proper magic signature, it's true. But they don't -look- old." She pulls over a small alchemy kit, mixes a quick potion, and shaves just a tiny bit of the coin into the solution. She watches the reaction. "Curious." She hooves them back to Dusk. "I'm afraid I can't take them. They're fake." she decides. "The material is far too young, you see. Looks like someone tried to age them with )
age them with a time-based spell and partially failed. I'm sorry for your trouble." she appologizes.
Dusk smiles over to Mirage, seeing her browse around the interesting shop.  H ealso watches the shop keep as she checks out the coins and test them.  He does admire their thoroughness with it and nods, "An excellent analysis, Lady Caspias.  But I can assure you they are as genuine as Lady Mirage and myself are standing there.  They are indeed simply not that old, but indeed from the correct time.  But of course, if you do not have the means to verify it, I can accept your choice not to accept them."
Mirage hmms? at Spitfire's reply.  "Oh, I'm sorry.  I meant you seem to be very good at doing that," she says with a gentle smile.  Then she watches with curiousity as yet another spirit pony makes an entrance, this one the doppelganger of the store owner.  And Mirage looks wide-eyed at the spirit alchemist's decision on the Equestrian Bits.  She's about to say something but Dusk does his best to explain about the coins.  So Mirage composes herself and waits to see what the stallion decides is best to do next.
( Spitfire just gets more confused. "Doing what?" she asks innocently of Mirage. She's not doing anything, that she knows of. She glances down at herself. Nope, she's behaving! "I'm afraid I have to go with what my expertise tells me. I've been doing this for years, and I've yet to see my alchemic test fail. However, I will test it again." She mixes up a new potion, this time a bit different. "Let's include a .. hrm.." She holds the coin up and the spirit inspects it again. Both horns light up, and it seems a ghostly figure of the coin is 'pulled' away from the actual coin. To Dusk's point of view, they're pulling apart the coin's history, though on a far more specific scale then what Dusk does. "That shouldn't be there.." The horns stop glowing, and the coin-ghost dissapears. She mixes in a few other things, and adds a shaving of coin again. She watches the reaction. "Tell me how you came about these." she then says to Dusk, mixing up yet another solution and adding a bit of shaving to that as well. )
Dusk idly wonders from Spitfire's reactions about the manifestation, if the spirit forms might be their natural form, and the physical ones the actual manifestation.  Though he can't help noticing Mirage's reaction to the evaluation of the coins.  "Did you have something to add as well, my love?"  He nuzzles Mirage a little and smiles, then turns back as he is asked a question.  He ponders a moment and concludes it shouldn't hurt to be truthful in the present company.  "They are my own funds, and we live in that time.  However we can not have much knowledge to explain why we are here and now, more than there being an accident at our lab."  He waits to see just what extent of a reaction that brings.  And hopefully Mirage does not mind as well.
Mirage is puzzled, too, by Spifire's reaction.  "I apologize.  I was trying to compliment you about your spirit pony.  I'm sorry for not being clear," she says in a soft voice to the filly.  Then she perks her ears and leans lightly on the counter wtih a slightly bemused look and waits to hear how Dusk 'came about these' coins.  She returns Dusk's nuzzle but only smiles and tilts her head to indicate she'll defer to him.
( Spitfire looks even more confused. "My.. spirit pony? You mean, my spirit manifest?" she asks. She looks over to Greether with a pleading look. Help. Greether trots on over by his resting place near the door. "Do I understand correctly, lady Mirage, that you've never met a spirit pony before?" Caspias furrows her brow. "A temporal anomoly. What a headache." She sighs and rubs her temple with a hoof. "That explains the time signature. It looks like the coins are real. But.. unless I take them for my personal collection, I can't buy them at their proper price. For one, I'd never be able to sell them as old coins, because technically, they're not. And even if they were in my personal collection, they would mean far less in value to me then the, shall we say, 'real' thing." She looks over them. "But, since they are authentic in coin strikage, and all markings so clear, I could use them to bring more interest in the old coins by selling these for souvenirs." At this point she's more talking to herself then )
( At this point she's more talking to herself then anypony. She dumps the coins out of the bag and counts them, then looks up to Dusk with a smile. "Yes, I think we can work out a deal. I'll buy these at bit value, plus inflated current value." She gets out a dusty tome and opens it. "Let's see.. ancient coins.. value.. um.. You have 50 bits here. How does 90 'modern' bits sound?" )
Dusk can at least see Mirage is not shocked or bothered by his comments, and perhaps more bemused by having to try and explain the situation.  He grins back to her after she nuzzles him, and kisses the to of her head.  "While I too have not meet these specific sort of ponies either, I suspect this is their 'normal' form," he says to Mirage and then looks up to Greether for possible confirmation, or correction.  He nods, glad to see Caspias accepts what he says readily enough.  He nods, "That would be quite acceptable, Lady Caspias.  Assuming that will be sufficient for food, lodging, and some simple expendatures here, yes?  And perhaps in time you may find somepony interested in them with the knowledge of their temporal state."  And if we need further funds, he still has some gems.  Most of which safe enough for public distribution.
Mirage stops leaning as her apology only causes more problems.  "And this is what I get for trying to be nice," she thinks to herself as Greether comes over and asks her about spirit ponies.  "I'm sorry, Mr. Greether.  It was a very poor choice of words on my part.  Please accept my apology," she says with a dip of her head to Spitfire and Greether.  Being busy with their two hosts, Mirage doesn't pay attention to Caspias and Dusk.  But then, Dusk is dealing with that issue.  She gives him a little smile as he kisses her and nods as he concludes the deal.
( Caspias gives a professional smile to Dusk. "That will be enough for two or three days for you two, depending on how you chose to spend them, if you're wishing to do so inside the city. Outside, you can get good accomodations for about half the amount, if you need the money to last longer. As for their temporal state, I'm not really interested beyond their resell and historic value. If some pony wishes to investigate, they are free to do so." She exchanges the money. "Is there anything else I can help you with?" Her spirit pony starts putting the coins away, though it seems to take some concentration and magic to do so, though the horn doesn't light up. Must be something inherent in the spirit form. Greether glances between Mirage and Dusk at their reactions about the spirit ponies, then smiles gently to Mirage. "Not at all, dear Mirage. If you've never met a spirit pony, I can see how it can be confusing. It's just that most ponies at least know about the spirit ponies." He considers a moment, and Spi )
( He considers a moment, and Spitfire watches all curiously. "We're born like normal pony folk, but shortly after we're born, say a few days, we manifest. That is, our spirit and our physical bodies seperate. We call them our physical manifest, and our spirit manifest." Spitfire gives a big grin and waves as Greether says 'spirit manifest'. He chuckles lightly at her. "Yes, that's right. You're an example of a spirit manifest." He turns back to Mirage. "We're essentially one pony, but with two bodies. When we grow up we have to learn how to keep our bodies' reactions seperate. We teach these through seperation techniques. Some ponies, like Spitfire here, manifest later." Spitfire blinks. "Greeter!" He chuckles softly. "It's alright, I don't think they mind. She's still learning to seperate reactions, so sometimes her spirit manifest reacts to something that happens to her physical manifest. I hope that clears up some things about spirit ponies." )
Dusk nods to Caspias, "Ah then that should be perfect.  Thank you very much for your assistance.  And well I didn't mean specifically in the temporal quality itself, but that accept that they have it, and would find value in the coins as they are.  Then perhaps you might make a nice profit."  He smiles.  He accepts the new coinage and bows politely.  He turns to Mirage and the others, listening as well, "Ah, so not quite as I imagined either.  Very interesting indeed!"  And well Spitfire did say she was a late bloomer earlier, so it's not quite a surprise at this point.  "Thank you for telling us.  I imagine there is much we'll need catching up on at some point.  Perhaps when we find Mr. Chance we can get a lot of the details as well."
Mirage listens as Spitfire and Greether explain to her and Dusk about spirit ponies.  She nods after they're done and smiles her thank you to them.  Then she dips her head lightly  to Caspias as Dusk finishes his business.  "Yes, we should be on our way," she adds to Dusk's last remark.
( Caspias gives a light smile to Dusk and nods. "It was a pleasure doing business with you, sir." Greether shows them the way out, and Spitfire floats up to settle on Mirage's back now. It feels like a light coolish breeze on one's back, but somehow tangible. "Where are you from?" she asks curiously of Mirage. )
Dusk nods to Mirage in agreement, "Indeed.  And thank you as well, Lady Caspias.  Have a good evening."  He listens to Spitfire and Mirage as we had out.  As he walks besides Mirage, he also takes a bit more of a look around the shop, guessing they will not be buying much in artifacts today.
Mirage waits patiently as Dusk does a little last minute window shopping.  Luckily he's not buying anything.  It will take some creative accounting to make 90 new bits last any amount of time between the two of them.  But we're soon walking along.  Mirage blinks as Spitfire settles on her back, but manages to remain casual.  "A little farming town you may not have heard of," she replies with a glance over her shoulder to Spitfire.
Spitfire perks her ears foward. "What is it?" she asks with filly curiosity. That she might not have heard of it, especially with all the ponies that come through here, makes her even more curious.
Dusk grins as he sees Mirage's look and knows him all too well.  Though the 'artifacts' here seem to be of a much more normal nature than what what most would have considered as such back home, as it were.  He is curious, glancing to see Spitfire upon Mirage's back, and listens to them chat as we head out of the shop, "Off for soup, I presume?" he inquires to Greething without interrupting the other two.
Mirage smiles back to Dusk.  "I'm afraid a curio store isn't going to have what you're looking for, dear," she says to Dusk.  Then she tilts her ears slightly at Spitfire.  "Which farm town do you know of that grows the finest produce?" she asks the filly.
( Greether nods to Dusk. "Yes. I'll take you two to the Soup Shop next." He smiles at Mirage and Spitfire chatting. Spitfire swivels an ear back in thought. "Um.. the Appleloosa plains?" she asks, glancing to Greether. He nods his head slightly. "Yeah, the Appleloosa plains! They've got everything, and a biiiig town." She thinks a few moments longer. "Pony Villa!" )
Dusk chuckles a little, "Well one never knows what you might run across at the right shop," he says with a grin.  And he listens in as Mirage tries a guessing game with Spitfire rather than just giving an answer.  And works out to tell us some about the places in this time in the process too.
Mirage nods lightly to Spitfire.  "Well, we're from a much smaller place:  Pony Ville. Even though the name is close to the same, it's not as fancy as Pony Villa," she replies with a soft smile.  "Have you ever been to Pony Villa?" she asks as we walk along to dinner.
Spitfire tilts her head a bit. "Ponyville?" She glances over at Greether. "It's a small town a few hours outside Marishville Prime. Though, if these two are being honest and I heard right in the last shop, these two arn't from that Ponyville. It would explain why they don't know anything about spirit ponies though." he muses thoughfully, stroking his chin with a hoof for a moment. He then grins. "You meet all types here, don't you?" Spitfire smiles enthusiastically and nods.
( Spitfire then answers Mirage's question, pulling her ears back a bit, and droning the answer. "Noooo. Dad says I'll get to go see the other places when I learn my seperation techniques." and she gives a youthful snort. )
( Dusk chuckles a little, "Well one never knows what you might run across at the right shop," he says with a grin.  And he listens in as Mirage tries a guessing game with Spitfire rather than just giving an answer.  And works out to tell us some about the places in this time in the process too. )
( Mirage nods lightly to Spitfire.  "Well, we're from a much smaller place:  Pony Ville. Even though the name is close to the same, it's not as fancy as Pony Villa," she replies with a soft smile.  "Have you ever been to Pony Villa?" she asks as we walk along to dinner. )
Spitfire tilts her head a bit. "Ponyville?" She glances over at Greether. "It's a small town a few hours outside Marishville Prime. Though, if these two are being honest and I heard right in the last shop, these two arn't from that Ponyville. It would explain why they don't know anything about spirit ponies though." he muses thoughfully, stroking his chin with a hoof for a moment. He then grins. "You meet all types here, don't you?" Spitfire smiles enthusiastically and nods.
Dusk grins at Greether's musing on the situation of the two ponies.  He steps outside and holds the door for the others, waiting there for the rest to leave the shop.  "Meeting new ponies is quite the delight though, of course."
Mirage gives a gracious nod to Dusk as he holds the door open for the rest of us.  Then she waits for everypony...  and for Greether to lead us to the soup restaurant.  It's been a confusing and nerve wracking time so far and she's getting hungry and a bit tired.  "No, I don't think it's that Ponyville," she replies to Spitfire and Greether.  "Our town is known for it's apples."
Greether thinks for a few long moments. "No, I'm afraid I don't know any place like that." He leads them out and down the street they trod. "So, time travelers huh? Those arn't unheard of, though they are unusual. And if I heard right, from the time of alicorn rule as well. That's.. pretty much unknown. Never heard of such a thing, and I hear many things, true and false. Of course, you do realize I'm skeptical." he mentions with a grin as the trio of hooves clip-clop down the street.
Dusk nods back to Mirage and smiles as she stands by him to wait for the other two.  He curiously takes out one of the new coins and looks it over, front and back, to see what they look like now.  He then looks up as we head off and Greether leads us.  "Oh we're pretty skeptical of the whole thing ourselves.  So I don't blame you.  Fortunately helping out a couple of visitors doesn't really depend much on it being true or provable."  He grins.
Mirage walks along casually and nods along with Dusk.  "Well, the only proof we had were the coins. But regardless, we're most grateful for all the help you've given us, Mr. Greether.  A good dinner and a place to rest for the night will speed us along our way tomorrow."  Then she tilts an ear, looking back at Spitfire before looking to Greether.  "If you don't mind my asking, how does one become an official greeter?"
Greether chuckles lightly. "Of course, I'm more then happy to help. And no, it doesn't have to be true for me to offer you the proper amenities deserving of a guest. Though the coins were interesting. She knows her stuff. If she says they were from that time, then I'll believe it. As for you two.." He suddenly pauses, taking a rather delayed double-take. "Wait, you're skeptical?" he asks incredulously. "Wouldn't you know if you were from that time period?" Since Greether is busy having his mental facilities involved in a rather abrupt train wreck, Spitfire is more then happy to help. "That's easy! You go around and help ponies! If you're good enough, they let you be an official greeter and let you show others around and stuff!" she claims matter-of-factly.
They have a field of 8 stars on one side, and a generic alicorn on the other side, surrounded by 2 suns and 2 moons, in the shape of Celestia's and Luna's cutie marks, alternating, with the single phase 'Remember the Sun and the Moon' on alicorn side, written around the edge.
Dusk is at least glad to have Mirage here besides him.  In part he imagines it would have been better if she had remained behind.  But then she'd probably be worried about what happened to him too.  He nods to Greether, "She indeed seemed adept at her trade."  Dusk can't help smile a little as he seems to have thrown the rather sharp pony for a bit of a loop.  He lets him think on it a moment, then helps clarify what he meant, "As in skeptical that we are actually in another, far future time.  That it may be an illusion, or elaborate rues to some end.  However, I do have my own resources, and seem to agree that we are indeed where we appear to be."  He smiles as Spitfire helps out for Mirage.
Mirage ohs and nods back to Spitfire.  "I'll bet the competition to be an official greeter is very tough.  Are you going to be a greeter someday, Spitfire?" she asks the unicorn filly.  She glances over at the coin as Dusk looks at it.  "Eight stars?  Could that be one each for Celestia and Luna?  And then one each for the Elemements of Harmony?"
"Now wait a minute," starts Greether, "don't you think I would know if.." He pauses, then gives a grin and a chuckle. "Alright, I can't prove that either. I suppose we'll just have to trust each other. What time are you actually from, then? Perhaps I can help you with when you are, relative to that time." Spitfire makes an 'bleh' face and flops out her tongue. "Nah! I wanna be a Spirit Ball player!" She swooshes her forehooves in a kicking motion, imagining she's playing for the winning team. Greether glances down at the coin. "It's actually for a group of stars that Chance said arrived a while after the alicorns dissapeared. One at a time, over a bit amount of time, I believe." He points out the 8-star cluster in the sky, new to Dusk and Mirage. Or at least, new to their sky.
Dusk shows the coin to Mirage as she takes interest in it as well.  He hmms and nods, "That would be an excellent guess, I suspect, my love.  It would certainly be a pretty logical one."  He smiles, nuzzling her just a bit.  He turns back to Greether as he rolls the thought around in his head and Dusk smiles back too.  "Exactly, Mr. Greether.  And yes, I feel trusting each other at this point works best for us all.  Oh.." he comments as we're told about the stars.  "Interesting.  Though that still doesn't explain what they represent.  As in, why did they appear.  In our time we had six Elements of Harmony that for a time were represented by six ponies.  One of which eventually became a princess and the elements were then withdrawn from them.  If that also might help you determine the age we were from as well.  Historically that is a fairly short time span."
Mirage chuckles softly at Spitfire's reaction.  "Becoming a professional athelete isn't easy.  But I'm sure you'll do well in your tryouts and then build a career from there.  Can anyone play spirit ball?  Or is it for ponies only?"  She blinks as Dusk surprises her with a quick nuzzling and just gives him a warm smile in return.  Then she looks up at the night sky along with the others.  "I'm not much on stargazing so I didn't even notice that new constellation," she notes before looking back to Spitfire.
( Greether thinks for a few long moments, then rubs the back of his neck with a hoof. "I'm afraid I don't really know. I've never heard of that." He perks up a bit though. "I bet the library has something on it. Since the alicorns used to rule from here, we have one of the best libraries of ancient history here. I'll have my spirit manifest check it out while we eat." Spitfire giggles a little. "Only those that have spirit manifests can play it, so only spirit ponies play. Though our cousins play to. They're like us, but they can't live apart from their spirit. Instead, they manifest, and unmanifest, at will." She leans a bit closer to Mirage. "They're kinda weird." Greether glances over sternly. "Spitfire." "Well, they are!" she insists. )
Dusk smiles at Mirage and the spirit filly.  He grins pleasantly just a touch as unintentionally surprises Mirage just a little, pleased with her cute and nice reaction.  He nods to Greether, "Yes I suppose we'll need more information for you to figure it out then.  It was certainly during the rule of Princess Celestia and Princess Luna.  And there was a Princess Cadence, and a unicorn named Twilight Sparkle asended to alicorn status and became a Princess during our time."
Mirage smiles back to Greether when he chastises Spitfire to let him know there's no harm done.  At least in Mirage's opinion.  "And who are these cousins?  They don't sound like spirit ponies," she asks Spitfire.  She tilts an ear as Dusk goes through the list of princesses.  "Yes.  At the time, castle construction was very lucrative," she chuckles softly.
( Greether listens to Dusk's details of the time. "Alright, I'll start there." he says. "Not sure how much I'll find. Those names seem to be.. well.. it's like I've heard of them before, but I can't remember where. Ah, there's the library. And the Soup Shop!" He points out the Soup Shop. The library is no where in sight. "I'll start in trying to figure out when you were, and you two relax and eat something." Spitfire shakes her head, in such a way that her ears flop back and forth. "Nu uh. They're spirit ponies, just different then us. They live in the Forgotton Forest, and are all secret like." Greether chuckles softly at Spitfire's description. "They're guardians of the forest. They went there after the forest started to be remembered by pony folk. Something about its protection spell fading or some such." )
( Greether listens to Dusk's details of the time. "Alright, I'll start there." he says. "Not sure how much I'll find. Those names seem to be.. well.. it's like I've heard of them before, but I can't remember where. Ah, there's the library. And the Soup Shop!" He points out the Soup Shop. The library is no where in sight. "I'll start in trying to figure out when you were, and you two relax and eat something." Spitfire shakes her head, in such a way that her ears flop back and forth. "Nu uh. They're spirit ponies, just different then us. They live in the Forgotton Forest, and are all secret like." Greether chuckles softly at Spitfire's description. "They're guardians of the forest. They went there after the forest started to be remembered by pony folk. Something about its protection spell fading or some such." )
Dusk can't help chuckling a little at Mirage's comment about castle construction.  He listens curiously about the other ponies too.  "I wonder if they were the other ponies I detected in the forest area.  We had a forest call The Everfree.  The one we were in was very similar."
Mirage nods lightly to Spitfire after Greether explains a little more.  "So they guard the forest but come out now and then to play spirit ball?" she asks, wondering if she's understanding correctly.  "And who are they guarding the Forgotton Forest from?"
( Greether listens to Dusk's details of the time. "Alright, I'll start there." he says. "Not sure how much I'll find. Those names seem to be.. well.. it's like I've heard of them before, but I can't remember where. Ah, there's the library. And the Soup Shop!" He points out the Soup Shop. The library is no where in sight. "I'll start in trying to figure out when you were, and you two relax and eat something." Spitfire shakes her head, in such a way that her ears flop back and forth. "Nu uh. They're spirit ponies, just different then us. They live in the Forgotton Forest, and are all secret like." Greether chuckles softly at Spitfire's description. "They're guardians of the forest. They went there after the forest started to be remembered by pony folk. Something about its protection spell fading or some such." )
( Dusk can't help chuckling a little at Mirage's comment about castle construction.  He listens curiously about the other ponies too.  "I wonder if they were the other ponies I detected in the forest area.  We had a forest call The Everfree.  The one we were in was very similar." )
( ( Mirage nods lightly to Spitfire after Greether explains a little more.  "So they guard the forest but come out now and then to play spirit ball?" she asks, wondering if she's understanding correctly.  "And who are they guarding the Forgotton Forest from?" ) )
( Spitfire nods to Mirage. "Uh huh! And.. guarding it from?" she echos the question, glancing to Greether. Greether is currently explaining "We have a forest called the Everfree. It resides down in the vallies beyond New Canterlot. The only ones we know that live there are some nature pony tribes, and a tribe of zebras. Personally, I think they're crazy, but what can you do?" he says with a light shrug of his whithers. He then glances to Spitfire and Mirage. "The Forgotton Forest borders the Blasted Plains. They keep whatever might come out of those plains away from other places. I've.. only heard stories, but they're not usually nice stories, about what you find there. Of course, those stories are usually just retelling themselves. Few, if any, venture into the Blasted Plains. Nothing survives long there." He holds open the door to the Soup Shop. )
Dusk hmmms and nods, considering about the Everfree.  Of course they had zebras there in their own time.  The nature ponies.. perhaps some connection with themselves, and the tree they had.  If they end out that way again, he may have to check more into it.  "That all does sound pretty interesting.  We had zebras around in our time too, though just a couple of them.  The Blasted Plains do sound rather inhospitable."  He smiles as we reach the shop, and again holds the door, and smiles to Mirage as well.  Though he's not sure her question about the cousin ponies quite got answered.
Mirage dips her head politely to Greether as he holds the door open.  "So all in all, it's a time of peace and prosperity.  At least from what we've seen of New Canterlot," she says to Greether and Spitfire in a soft voice that won't carry thought the restaurant.  Then she looks to see where to go next.  To a table?  Or will somepony seat them?  Or is it a buffet?
Greether grins a bit. "Well, somewhat peaceful, when ponies arn't having problems with the griffons or dragons, but all in all, I'd say it's a pretty good time to be alive." A waiter comes over and shows them to a table. There's a nice menu given to each, except Spitfire gets a different menu. There's 40  different types of soups, and a 'make it yourself' section. It wears its name well. To go with the soups there's a number of sandwhiches. The prices range anywhere from your basic 6 bits tomato soup, up to a 25 bits exotic berry soup, which comes with sandwhich. Most are reasonably priced though.
Dusk nods, listening about the current times, seeing as that may be important for them.  So no major wars or upheavals around here.  That's a good start, yes.  He smiles as we come in and get settled and check out the menus.  He's a little surprised at the price, if 90 bits are suppose to last two ponies three days with room and board.  But then he wasn't really looking for anything too fancy, and orders a basic but tasty sounding soup.  "Quite an impressive soup shop, yes.  Are there much problems with griffons or dragons?" he inquires.
Mirage glances over the menu, and many of the dishes look very tasty.  But she's of the same mind as Dusk so she orders the least expesive soup and bread on the menu for herself.  She glances over as spirit Spitfire gets a menu, too.  Mirage does a good job of not expressing her surprise that a spirit is actually going to eat.  So she decides to wait and see what Spitfire gets for a meal.  Mirage listens quietly as Greether and Dusk converse.
( Greether orders a bit more expensive soup, and glancing to Dusk and Mirage for a moment, he orders a sandwhich plate. Spitfire orders something called 'Spiritene Sauce Soup'. "Very well ma'ams and sirs." the waiter says, and heads off to apparently give the orders to the cooks. The place is fairly busy, but there's flora placed around the place in a way that it seperates all the tables into smaller groups of three tables, so it feels a bit more private. "The griffons can be problemsome at times. There's a number of griffon cities around Equestria, and they have their own part of Cloudsdale, but they think they should be the primary political power. But Marishville Prime is the power center of the ponies, and the griffons know they can never have that, so they make themselves noisy and obnoxious from time to time. Aside from a couple smaller towns where ponies and griffons mix, we typically keep to ourselves, and they to themselves." Spitfire taps her hooves silently against the table, waiting for her m )
( waiting for her meal, then looks at Mirage. "Is your town pretty?" she asks out of the blue. )
Dusk sits besides Mirage, looking the place over some, noticing the layout and current patrons.  He nods and smiles to the waiter as he heads off, and back to Geether, "It doesn't sound too bad then, as long as things remain at the current balance.  Is the country still called Equestria?"  He supposes that's something he hadn't thought to think of.  He's a little curious now as to what it is Spirfire ordered too, but will find out soon enough.
Mirage tilts an ear as Greether explains about the troubles with the griffons, and wonders what happened over the years to change the relationship between the griffons and the ponies.  Spitfire's question get her attention and she blinks before smiling.  "Oh yes, it's very pretty.  It's surrounded by orchard covered hills and little farms fill the valleys.  The town itself has quaint little cottages and an open market where the farmers and merchants sell their produce and wares.  And of course there's a school for the colts and fillies among the other things a town needs."
( Greether nods to Dusk. "It is, yes. It's been Equestria as long as I can remember, and as long as the history books have told. And speaking of which, I've finding something interesting information about old Equestria, but haven't come across anything like you described, yet. Was there any big event around that time I could possibly reference?" Spitfire ooooohs, and looks mesmerized by the visual image that Mirage paints. "That sounds neat! Can I visit sometime?" she asks hopefully. )
Dusk listens as Mirage describes aspects of Ponyville and smiles as she does so.  "Yes, it has a lot of nice qualities.  Though New Canterlot seems to have plenty of nice things too."  He nods to Greether, "Well it's nice to know it still has the same name."  He smiles as Greether speaks of finding interesting things, but asks for some event more significant, to which he furrows his brow a little, "Did ponies rising to alicorn status and crowned princesses become common at some point?"  He gives a little grin though.  He did have a little bit of suspicion in that regards, what with both Cadance and Twilight doing so in relatively short timeframe.  "Well there the release of Discord, god of Chaos, who eventually became friends of the ponies.  And Tirek, a creature of similar power, who acquired nearly all magic and came to take that of the alicorns, but was defeated by Princess Twilight.  Or something more specific than that?"
Mirage looks over to Dusk as he mentions off some events.  "What about the return of the Crystal Empire?" she offers hopefully.  She finds it a little unnerving that Greether is not only here and at the library at the same time but having no difficulty in carrying on two completely different tasks at the same time, too.  She gives Spitfire a gentle smile.  "You can if we can find a way to get there.  You see, we got lost and ended up here.  So we have to find our way back home and that may not be easy."
( Greether chuckles a bit and shakes his head. "No, we have no more alicorns, and haven't for thousands of years." He listens though as Dusk lists off some things, but his eyes grow in recognition almost immediately. "Discord? The one who ended the djinn and pony war?" The look isn't one of disdain. "His release.. that was.." He seems to be hunting at top speed through memories. "That was so long ago, even the history books don't remember. I.. wait.. I've got an idea. The early age archives. I'll check there. They're mostly collecting dust, except for the deep-time historians which dig up info now and then. As for Tirek.. that doesn't really strike a chord." He glances to Mirage and smiles more. "Ah, the Crystal Empire. Yes, that'll help as well. A major city like that would most likely have more references in the old tomes." Spitfire ohs softly, her ears drooping slightly, but they perk back up after a moment. "I hope you find your home." she says sincerly. )
Dusk nods to Mirage and smiles, "Yes another very significant event of the time.  The reappearance of an entire Empire that had been cursed and banished for 1000 years."  Dusk and Mirage are somehow 10,000 years in the future, at a soup shop in New Canterlot, with two spirit ponies, able to be in two places at once.  "I'm not aware of a war between ponies and djinn, but also not aware of any other being known as Discord.  So quite possibly one and the same, yes."  Dusk smiles as Greether feels he's getting closer to the trail, trying to find what time they had come from.  And he smiles to the spirit filly Spitfire as she hopes for their safe return, "Thank you as well.  Perhaps we'll figure a way to show you sometime even."  If Mirage feels like bringing up her talent at all.  He tries not to impose it though.
Mirage is pleased Greether is making some progress and now has some historical events to reference in his research.  She's careful though to not get her hopes up at this early point.  She and Dusk have only been here half a day.  And what's left of Ponyville is now swallowed up by a much larger Everfree Forest.  Mirage smiles to Spitfire and places her hoof on the filly's hoof.  "Hopefully we will.  But we'll need to leave for Marishville Prime as soon as possible.  What's the best way to get there from here in New Canterlot?"
( The waiter brings the soups and sandwhich plate. "Ah, here we are." Greether says. The sandwhich plate has a half dozen sandwhiches on it. "Please, have a sandwhich." he tells Dusk and Mirage. Spitfire gets a soupy solution in a magic bowl. It's steaming slowly, and looks like a white tomato soup. Spitfire grins and pulls the bowl over, smelling it. She looks over at Mirage before taking her first bite, and smiles brightly. "Just take the telegate to Marishville Prime! We have one near the castle." )
Dusk perks an ear at Mirage's questioning about how to get to Marishville Prime from here.  He's curious as well.  But food is here too and he smiles as Mirage and he get our soups.  He takes a nice deep whiff.  "Mmmm smells very good.  And thank you, Mr. Greether.  Very kind of you."  He nods as Spitfire gives directions, but thinks we'll need more clarification than that too.
Mirage enjoys the smell of the soup, too.  Although she's a little embarrassed at his kindness by offering the sandwich platter.  "Thank you, Mr. Greether.  But you've already been more than kind to us," she says with her gentle tone.  But she is curious about the spirit food Spitfire's spirit form is about to eat.  Mirage sniffs delicately to see if what the filly is eating even has an oder.
( Greether grabs a sandwhich and smiles to the two. "It's of no problem. I'm happy to help. Besides, I'm on a dinner break now, too." He munches on his sandwhich, but watches Mirage watch Spitfire, giving a small grin. Spitfire's soup has a warm, but almost ordorless smell to Mirage. Like trying to smell steam, but with just a slight hint of onion. Spitfire dips her muzzle into it, and takes a mouthful. Her horn glows for a moment, then there's a soft glow around her cheeks, and it flows to the rest of her, fading as it does, until her mouth is empty. After enjoying the first 'bite', she digs in, in her own way. )
Dusk doesn't get to smell Spitfire's from the other side of Mirage, and over the scent of his own wonderful soup.  He does his best not to watch, having a bite of the offered sandwich, and some of the soup then too.  "I imagine we can check on traveling after we get some rest at Spitfire's father's inn."
Mirage's eyes go wide briefly as she watches Spitfire eat in a very different way than she's ever seen a pony eat before.  And that the spirit soup has heat but almost no odor makes it even stranger.  So Mirage composes herself and makes a point not to watch Spitfire finish her food and instead concentrate on her own tomato soup and slice of bread.  She starts to use her hooves to hold the bowl, but then gives a small smile to Dusk.  Her horn glows softly with pretty green magic and she magicks a spoon up and sips at her soup.
( Greether grabs a sandwhich and smiles to the two. "It's of no problem. I'm happy to help. Besides, I'm on a dinner break now, too." He munches on his sandwhich, but watches Mirage watch Spitfire, giving a small grin. Spitfire's soup has a warm, but almost ordorless smell to Mirage. Like trying to smell steam, but with just a slight hint of onion. Spitfire dips her muzzle into it, and takes a mouthful. Her horn glows for a moment, then there's a soft glow around her cheeks, and it flows to the rest of her, fading as it does, until her mouth is empty. After enjoying the first 'bite', she digs in, in her own way. )
( Dusk doesn't get to smell Spitfire's from the other side of Mirage, and over the scent of his own wonderful soup.  He does his best not to watch, having a bite of the offered sandwich, and some of the soup then too.  "I imagine we can check on traveling after we get some rest at Spitfire's father's inn." )
( Mirage's eyes go wide briefly as she watches Spitfire eat in a very different way than she's ever seen a pony eat before.  And that the spirit soup has heat but almost no odor makes it even stranger.  So Mirage composes herself and makes a point not to watch Spitfire finish her food and instead concentrate on her own tomato soup and slice of bread.  She starts to use her hooves to hold the bowl, but then gives a small smile to Dusk.  Her horn glows softly with pretty green magic and she magicks a spoon up and sips at her soup. )
( Greether nods to Dusk. "Yes, tomorrow. The inn serves free breakfast, and if you have lunch there, the night's stay is 25 percent off." he tells Dusk. He pauses for a moment, then clarifies, "No, the lunch isn't free, but is fairly priced." Spitfire pauses in her meal to glance at Mirage's horn glow. "Oooh, that's a pretty horn aura." )
Dusk smiles to Mirage as she goes out her way to use her magic for him.  He doesn't mind, but he likes that she tries.  He does think she can be very good with her magic if she wants to.  He of course uses his own magic to eat his soup too, but his magic is colorless.  "Oh that sounds very good, Mr. Greether.  It will help out I'm sure, thank you."  He smiles as Spitfire admires Mirage's magic too.
Mirage gives a little nod as Greether tells about a discount package for the inn.  "I thought you were off duty?" she gently jokes back to him as we eat.  She looks over to spirit Spitfire and chuckles softly.  "Why, thank you.  And what color is your magic?"  Mirage gives Dusk a little side glance.  At least our hosts weren't surprised by the unicorn magic so at least some things are consistant here.  "Are we staying for lunch tomorrow?" she asks Dusk.
( Greether gives a grin to Mirage and chuckles a bit. "Hey, I can still give useful information while off-duty." "It's pink!" Spitfire says, then gives a little pout. "Some of the colts say it makes me look frilly." She flops her tongue out, making a 'bleh' face. Her spirit manifest horn magic color is a muted white, though, as seen when she 'eats'. Greether continues to eat, sips up some soup, then suddenly does a surprised double-take, spewing some soup. He coughs and magic-snags a couple napkins to clean up. "Sorry, I am sooo sorry!" he appologizes profusely. Spitfire just giggles. )
Dusk at least had seen other unicorns about too, so it was reasonable.  But indeed, one never knows just how far things might be different here until we encounter it.  At least the soup and sandwiches seem normal as well.  He chuckles at both Greether's comment, and Spitfire's talk about her frilly pink magic.  "Nothing wrong with having pink magic, Miss Spitfire.  Don't let the others bug you about it.  Just do better than them.  Then they'll all wish they could have pink magic."  He blinks though as Greether has a rather sudden and adverse reaction to something.  He does what he can to assist the other stallion, "Is everything okay, Mr. Greether?"  Perhaps it's something to do with his spirit form, which is off at the library, or the archives.
Mirage says "Pink?  Pink can be fun instead of frilly."  Then she shakes her head lightly as Dusk takes the words from her mouth.  "What you do with your magic is more important than what it looks like."  Then she blinks and stops for a few moments before setting her spoon down and hoofing up a napkin.  "Are you all right?" she asks Greether as wipes sprayed soup from her muzzle as she wonders what happened."
( Spitfire looks between Mirage and Dusk, perking back up, then gets a mischievous grin. "I'll become the best Spirit Ball player ever, and show them that pink rules!" She blinks, then gives a sheepish smile to Dusk and Mirage, before giggling at poor Greether and his spit-take. He coughs again and wipes his muzzle, finishing the clean up. "Yes, yes, I'm fine. Thank you." he says, his voice cracking weakly for a moment. "I just found something in the archives, that's all." he says, his initial reaction quickly fading, the 'I just saw a ghost' look in his eyes clearing up. He clears his throat. "I found some records from the era you described. Midnight Moon, the rise of Princess Sparkle, Discord.. all there. Then I found some old 2D photographs of the town." He muses over it for a moment. "That's what that was before the Everfree overran it." he mutters to himself in sudden recognition. "Many are faded, but they've kept fairly well. I think there's an anti-entropy spell in here to keep the books somewhat )
somewhat fresh." He takes in a breath. "Then I found one of the square. There's a fair number of ponies, but I saw you.." glancing at Dusk, "you.." glancing at Mirage, "and Chance in that picture. The dates on this book.. it's around 10,000 years old." He looks between the ponies. "I believe you. You really are time travelers. But.. time-traveling 10,000 years. It's unheard of! How in Equstria did you even get here?"
Dusk is glad to see things settled more back to normal.  And that Greether is actually okay.  Seems even experienced spirit ponies can still have slips in their reactions between their two forms.  He gives Mirage a relieved glance as well, leaning against her slightly.  He raises a brow though as Greether goes on to explain.  "10,000?  Really?  I knew we were somepoint seemingly into the future.  But, indeed.  That is an amazing amount of time to cross.  Though perhaps traveling forward is less difficult than back.  As for how, there was a small mishap at the Center just before this occurred.  But it didn't seem that major to affect over 10,000 years.  And Mr. Chance may not have been affected, or was sent somewhere other than where/when we were.
Mirage finishes cleaning her face and then checks her mane to make sure she got everything wiped off.  "That's the spirit!" she says with a grin to Spitfire.  She's about to say more but Greether's odd look is kind of scarey.  "Are you serious?" she asks incrediously at his announcement. Then she glances around, hoping we haven't caused too much of a commotion. "Why would a photo of us be in the library?" she asks, looking to Dusk for an explanation.  He manages to make her smile as he leans against her.  "Ten millenia?  I'm surprised anything is even remotely recognizable to us now."
Chance says "It was a part of a history book on Ponyville. It was a photo of some town meeting. Had many ponies in it." Greether answers Mirage. Spitfire has gotton distracted by the new news. "10,000 years! Wow!" A number of ponies had glanced over, but the plants concealed most, and we've by now lost their attention. Greether continues, glancing at Dusk. "This is really outside my knowledge. I would suggest you find Chance, and ask him." He pauses, considers something, then nods to himself. "I'll have you go straight to Marishville Prime's City Hall. Hmm.. you'll need something to convince them of your need to find Chance. They do help, but you'll be mostly on your own for searching otherwise. Chance isn't the easiest pony to find. I'll have to get a letter from Mayor Ponygale. He'll be able to help cut through all that bureaucratic mess to help speed things up for you. Hopefully." He resumes his work on his soup."
"It was a part of a history book on Ponyville. It was a photo of some town meeting. Had many ponies in it." Greether answers Mirage. Spitfire has gotton distracted by the new news. "10,000 years! Wow!" A number of ponies had glanced over, but the plants concealed most, and we've by now lost their attention. Greether continues, glancing at Dusk. "This is really outside my knowledge. I would suggest you find Chance, and ask him." He pauses, considers something, then nods to himself. "I'll have you go straight to Marishville Prime's City Hall. Hmm.. you'll need something to convince them of your need to find Chance. They do help, but you'll be mostly on your own for searching otherwise. Chance isn't the easiest pony to find. I'll have to get a letter from Mayor Ponygale. He'll be able to help cut through all that bureaucratic mess to help speed things up for you. Hopefully." He resumes his work on his soup.
Dusk looks back to Mirage.  He was about to guess it was a general photo when Greether confirms that's the case.  "Ah just a photo of the Square with others too.  Well.. I guess that answers your question about staying or not for lunch tomorrow, my dear."  He nods in agreement as well, "Yes I do hope we find Mr. Chance in short order, as much as possible.  10,000 years.."  He talks in less than a raised tone, to not cause too much of a fuss with other ponies around us.  "I certainly hope there's a way to reverse the trip."
Mirage gives Spitfire a smile but also motions with her hoof to keep her voice low.  Of course, Greether and Spitfire are excited and Mirage herself is feeling nervous about all this.  She'd almost rathered that Greether hadn't actually identified them.  "Well, we don't want to make a big event out of all this," she replies to Greether.  "And is Mr. Chance a celebrity of sorts?  Or a pony of importance that he's well known?"
Greether shakes his head to Mirage. "I won't make a big event out of it. But I would like to help you find Chance. You three were together in that photo, so you obviously know him personally. Especially since you're stuck here." He follows suit, keeping his voice lower. He grins. "Not every day I get to help a time traveler. Now I have another story to tell newcomers." He chuckles lightly at Mirage's last question. "No, definitely not. He's just well traveled and helps out alot of places. A pony of many trades. But the reason why you might find others know him, is because we've all seen him from time to time since we were young. He's a well-known face. Well, that, and he's known around here because he helps keep the castle fixed up. There's rumors that he actually owns it, but those are just rumors. Most likely the Ponygale family owns it." he says with a light shrug. "There's many rumors that surround Chance. The thing I know for certain though is, he doesn't age. And.. seeing that photo.. that defini
that definitely confirms it. He's older then I thought."
Dusk grins to Mirage, "I believe crossing 10,000 years is a big event already, my dear."  And he tries imagining Chance as some celebrity and grins.  "But yes, no need to turn into a circus of activity.  Just those that need to know.  Hmmm.."  He thinks a moment, "Mayor Ponygale?" comments outloud the name striking his memory now.  "I wonder if any relation to Mr. Programmer Pony's family.  Well his proper name being Mr. Terrance Herbiforce Ponygale.  But I suppose it could even more easily be an unrelated pony with the name."  But he refocuses on the current conversation, chuckles to Greether, "We do really appreciate all the help too.  And yours also, Miss Spitfire.  We'd have quite a time trying to figure things out otherwise."  Then Greether brings up the Ponygale name once again.  Hmmm.  Certainly another something to put on the list of things to check.
Mirage tilts her ears slightly as she listens.  "Well, it was just an accident.  It would be more impressive if we'd planned the journey," she softly with a gentle smile to Greether and Spitfire.  "And thank you for your help but we don't want to cause anypony any problems.  If all we need to do is take the telegate...?" she looks to Spitfire to see if she's using the right word, "then we should be able to find Mr. Chance."
( Spitfire smiles. "Um.. thanks!" she decides, then nods to Mirage. "Uh huh. The telegate is faster then the other ways." Greether perks up to Dusk. "If they were a Ponygale from New Canterlot.. or whatever you knew it as.. they probably were part of the current Ponygale family. They go way back, usually working as Mayors around here. Technically New Canterlot is a family oligarchy under the Ponygale family, but they let us make most of the day-to-day decisions for the town. The only thing we don't have much of a say in, is the castle. But no one really complains. They keep it repaired, we benefit. Win-win." He looks over to Mirage. "I'm afraid you'll have to wait until tomorrow anyways. You could go tonight, but City Hall would be closed, and it'll take me until tomorrow most likely to contact the mayor here." )
Dusk nods to Mirage, "Indeed, that would be impressive if it was intentionally."  He knows a bit at least about manipulating time, if not as much about time travel itself, and would have a hard time imagining doing it outside of the use of an artifact.  But then, that was what Chance was using.  He smiles to Spitfire and nods to Greether, "If that is the case, then I would suspect they may be related, yes.  Well at least there are a few more familiar connections to this time.  Though what if anything they'll still recall from our time would be questionable.  And yes, if it makes it easier for you and others, as well as ourselves, waiting until tomorrow is just fine.  Some rest will be nice too."
Mirage feels rather uncomfortable about this plan.  But Dusk approves and Mr. Greether seems genuinely interested in getting things arranged to help Dusk and her.  "Alright then," she replies to the others.  "So I guess we'll just wait and see what you find out by tomorrow."  She magicks up her spoon and gets back to her soup.
( Greether grins to Dusk. "That I really don't know. They might have lost as much knowledge about that time period as the rest of us. Though, since it is a connection to your time, however distant, I could introduce you to them tomorrow." he offers. He finishes the last bite of his sandwhich, using it to sop up the last bit of his soup. )
Dusk picks up a little on Mirage's subtle hints of discomfort.  But she appears to be going along with things for now.  He nods again to Greether, nearly finished with his own food now too.  "Hmmm I'll trust your judgement, Mr. Greether.  If you think it would be best to do so, then yes.  Perhaps they can have some connection to finding Mr. Chance, or our way back to our own time.  In my day, Mr. Pony was starting on an impressive path of construct magic.  And his grandfather was already much more so."
Mirage continues with her soup and bread as she listens to the stallions decide on what to do tomorrow.  It's been a shocking and stressful afternoon that seems like it's lasted less than an hour and more than a day.  She decides to take a moment and relax as she finishes her meal.
Greether listens to Dusk as he wipes his muzzle. "Construct magic? Yes, that sounds like the Ponygales. They helped kick off the magitech revolution some millenia ago. Not to mention they're responsible for the Spirit Pony races." he mentions. "It's said that the Ponygale family is capable of living as pure spirit ponies, without the need for a body. We've never seen an example of that, but I wouldn't be surprised. But I'll be happy to introduce you tomorrow to the mayor. I'll get an appointment after lunch. That way you and charming Mirage there can have some rest and lunch. Oh! Almost forgot. I saw the picture of Chance in that picture with you two. I should let you know, he looks a bit different now. Has some extra black markings on his horn and elsewhere. Just so you know." he mentions. Spitfire looks around as she finishes her dinner as well. She's looking a bit groggy.. if a spirit manifest can be groggy. The waiter comes around to get our money (and put Spitfire's name on tab). "It's 'cause our
'cause our spirit manifest has a hard time carrying money around." Spitfire explains.
Dusk rubs shoulders lightly with Mirage, giving a gentle smile.  At least they have each other here.  He considers and nods to Greether, "That does sound like the Ponygale family we know too.  Though I am surprised they have something to do with the spirit ponies.  I guess we shall find out more tomorrow too."  He puts out the bits for Mirage's and his meal, and thanks Greether again for the sandwiches too.  He's finished up his food now.  "I think perhaps time for ponies to get some rest," he says, with a smile to Spitfire too.
Mirage looks curiously at Spitfire.  "Why is that?  You don't seem to have any problems carrying other things around or playing sports."  She looks over as Greether mentions Chance's appearance has changed.  "After so long," she says softly, "I'm sure chance has gone through many changes."  She lets her comment end there as Dusk pays for his and her meal.  "Where to now?"
( Greether smiles lightly and nods to Dusk. "I'll let them explain things to you then." Spitfire looks over to Mirage. "'Cause carrying physical things is harder for my spirit manifest. I can lift stuff, and push stuff, but that's only for a short time. It's harder when you have to carry something around allll day!" she says with an exagerated tone. "Our clothes are made just for spirit ponies, but money is physical stuff!" She forgets to mention her ability to play ball, so Greether adds. "The ball is magically altered to allow spirit ponies to interact with it strongly in short amounts of time." he explains. "Now, I'll show you to the hotel." he answers with a friendly smile, and stands up. Spitfire hops up as well, and decides to ride on Dusk's back this time! When he stands up, of course. She's not quite that impatient. Quite. )
Dusk smiles and helps Mirage up and nods to Greether, "It sounds like a plan then.  I hope it goes well for everypony.  I imagine traveling back to our home will be no small task."  He ohs and smiles, being the one that gets the feel the 'cool breeze' of the spirit form, and gladly gives Spitfire a lift.  "Let us go get some rest."  He walks besides Mirage, and lets Greether lead the way to the hotel.
Mirage ohs and nods as Spitfire explains.  "So there's no spirit money?" she asks with a little smile as Dusk helps her up.  She nods to Greether and walks alongside Dusk as we follow our guide to the next stop.  Mirage is curious to see Spitfire's family hotel.
( Spitfire giggles. "No spirit money." she answers. She settles on Dusk, and plays youthfully at his ears. Bat. Bat. Bat. But comes across more like a breezy 'whoosh' across the ear. Greether takes us to the next place. Even at this time of night, New Canterlot is still rather busy. A few blocks later, we arrive at a four story hotel. The word for this hotel definitely isn't 'bling', nor is it very 'fancy', but 'cozy' seems to fit it nicely. There's a common room at the lower floor, with a open dining area next to it. The common room has a sunken area where some fillies and colts play. )
Dusk grins to Mirage, "I was considering the same thing, about spirit money.  Perhaps the Ponygales can get on that over the next millennium," he says with a grin.  Dusk blinks and looks up at the sensation, then grins again and wiggles his ears as she bats at them.  It's not too long before we end up at the hotel, passing through the town on the way.  "This looks to be more than sufficient I am sure.  What is the name of the hotel?"  He looks around the place.  Other than different sorts of ponies, it wouldn't be too unlike other hotels in their own time.
Mirage looks at the hotel, too.  The archetecture is different but still seems to emulate the style of Canterlot that she's familiar with.  But there are many differences, too.  She's a little puzzled by what she's seen so far but she needs to think more on this before she says anything.  "It looks very nice," she smiles to the others.
( Spitfire giggles. "No spirit money." she answers. She settles on Dusk, and plays youthfully at his ears. Bat. Bat. Bat. But comes across more like a breezy 'whoosh' across the ear. Greether takes us to the next place. Even at this time of night, New Canterlot is still rather busy. A few blocks later, we arrive at a four story hotel. The word for this hotel definitely isn't 'bling', nor is it very 'fancy', but 'cozy' seems to fit it nicely. There's a common room at the lower floor, with a open dining area next to it. The common room has a sunken area where some fillies and colts play. )
( Dusk grins to Mirage, "I was considering the same thing, about spirit money.  Perhaps the Ponygales can get on that over the next millennium," he says with a grin.  Dusk blinks and looks up at the sensation, then grins again and wiggles his ears as she bats at them.  It's not too long before we end up at the hotel, passing through the town on the way.  "This looks to be more than sufficient I am sure.  What is the name of the hotel?"  He looks around the place.  Other than different sorts of ponies, it wouldn't be too unlike other hotels in their own time. )
( ( Mirage looks at the hotel, too.  The archetecture is different but still seems to emulate the style of Canterlot that she's familiar with.  But there are many differences, too.  She's a little puzzled by what she's seen so far but she needs to think more on this before she says anything.  "It looks very nice," she smiles to the others. ) )
( Spitfire floats down off of Dusk and smiles up to him. "It's called the Travelers' Lodge!" she says. "Daddy!" she calls from the other side of the counter. A stallion in a comfertable, but nice, suit comes out. He smiles gently. "Yes dear? Did you bring those friends you were telling me about earlier?" "Uh huh! This is Dusk, and Mirage!" she says, introducing the two. "Well then, I bid you welcome." the stallion offers the two with a friendly smile. He pauses as he looks up to them, however, pausing his gaze on Dusk. He looks both curiously and slightly confused, then shakes his head a bit. "Sorry.. just thought I recognized you from somewhere, sir. How may I be of assistance?" )
Dusk smiles as we step inside and he looks around.  He turns and smiles back to Spitfire as she tells us the name, "Ah that seems a very fitting name indeed."  He looks back to her dad and nods, reaching out a hoof, "Good evening, Sir.  Indeed, my name is Mr. Dusk."  He looks back to the fellow, not recognizing him first off at least, "Hmm?  I strongly suspect we have not met before.  What is your name?"  He'd introduce Mirage, but Spitfire has already been kind enough to do so.
Mirage is surprised by the Travelers' Lodge.  Canterlot had two kinds of businesses:  upper class and upper upper class.  What passed for casual in Canterlot was thought of as rich in other cities.  But cozy isn't something Mirage ever saw in her visits to Canterlot.  After she takes a few moments to take this in, she offers a gentle smile and a dip of her head to Spitfire's father as he greets us.  "Thank you," she replies as she wonders at his reaction to Dusk.
( "Heckle Trottingler, sir." comes the answer. "I see many come through here, so forgive a stallion if this turns out to be a moment of false recollection." He takes Dusk's hoof and shakes, then turns to Mirage. "And greetings to you as well, dear Mirage. You two make yourselves at home. I'm afraid our amenities arn't consider the best for the inner city, but we try to get by. It's 20 bits per pony to stay, unless you have the same room, then we have one for 15 bits per pony. Breakfast is free, and lunch is served at noon, at 5 bits per pony. If you stay for lunch, your night's stay will be 25 percent off." he adds, in a practiced tone. )
Dusk gives a bow of his head and smiles, "It is no problem at all, Mr Trottingler.  And I'm afraid the name isn't familiar to me.  No offense intended."  He nods as he tells him about the pricing.  Seems our coin dealer may have been slightly off.  But we should be able to get by for a couple of days.  And if we're here longer, he has other resources.  "A single room will do us fine, yes."  He looks to Mirage but doesn't suspect any issue there.  "And it is a fine establishment.  We are glad to have run into your daughter and found our way here."
Dusk is a little curious though.  Back in their own time there were few black ponies, much less that looked similar to him.  Well there was Nettleglum who had some similar color.  But even she was surprised when first seeing him.
Mirage tilts an ear as she puzzles over the rates.  The inn must either have the thinnest of profit margins or it's been here so long in the 'inner city' that it's exempt from taxes and maybe even utilities.  Or perhaps Mr. Trottingler has other businesses that turn enough profit to cover the inn's losses.  Of course, Mirage isn't here to go over the inn's books so she's grateful that Greether has led Dusk and her to a place where they can afford to stay for a couple of days if necessary.  She catches Dusk's look and gives him a reassuring smile.  "We're together, Mr. Trottingler," she says easily to the innkeeper.  "And a simple room is more than enough for us."
( Heckle gives a polite smile and nod to Dusk and Mirage. "Very well, a single room then. We'll take your bits tomorrow. That way you have time to decide if you wish to stay for lunch or not." he mentions. He reaches over to the key board and brings down one of the few keys that are actually there. He chuckles lightly to Dusk. "She does like to bring in new ponies and make friends. There's not many rooms left, but I was able to save a couple of them since I knew you two would probably be over. We're always running out of open rooms. So if you wish to stay again, try to let us know in advance. At least it keeps us busy." "If you two don't mind, I need to get going and check on other visitors." Greether tells Dusk and Mirage. )
Dusk smiles at Mirage's comment as well and nods back to the inn keeper.  And well we don't know the finances of this time, and costs may have dropped post war in the past and not raised that much.  Or indeed we may be fortunate to find a quality and affordable place to stay.  However Dusk isn't too worried really, and nods, "Excellent.  Thank you for holding us a room.  And indeed, little Miss Spitfire has been quite friendly and helpful too."  He smiles softly.  He accepts the key and checks for the room number and then looks to Mirage and the others, "Anything we should do or see here before the night?  Or plans for tomorrow?"
Mirage dips her head to Mr. Trottingler.  "Thank you, Sir," she smiles as he turns to go.  Then she looks over to Spitfire.  "So your other self is here somewhere and working with what your spirit form learns?" she chuckles softly.  "That's quite a neat little trick."  Of course, she saw Greether do this at the restaurant but she hadn't thought that Spitfire would be doing it too.  She looks thoughtful at Dusk's question.  "I suppose Mr. Greether can tell us what time he'll need us tomorrow?"
( Greether smiles to Mirage. "I'll come back in the morning and meet you here. Sleep well, you two." He trots on out. Spitfire grins and nods to Mirage. "Somethin' like that!" she says. A few moments later a head that looks just like Spitfire's, with a bright pink mane, sticks out from around the corner of the office. She trots on out. She's wearing overalls and carrying a broom. She sets the broom down, and zips over to Mirage and Dusk, giving them both a big smile. Heckle grins down at his daughter, then looks to the other two. "She doesn't like dresses." he says softly to them. "As for things to do, most come down here to socialize. I'm afraid we're not very fancy here. But it's somewhere alot of middle class visitors like to stop by. It's what I made this place for." he states with a proud smile. )
Dusk nods to Mirage and Greether, "In the morning it is then."  Though he's sure we'll work out more specifically what time at some point.  "Thank you again and have a good night, Mr. Greether!"  He looks down and smiles, "Oh well who do we have here?  Hmmm some mysterious pink maned filly!"  He chuckles and gives her a little bow of his head.  He then looks back to Heckle and nods, "Well we'll be wanting to rest soon anyways, so I don't see any problem with that.  Have you been in the hotel business for long?"  Dusk does like to make contacts, particularly with business folks and those with connections.  We were fortunate to run into Greether to start off.
Mirage smiles at Mr. Trottingler's obvious pride in his inn.  And if the inn is sold out, then his business strategy of low cost and high volume must be working.  Perhaps the 'novelty' of a simple and cozy place amid the grandier of New Canterlot attracts customers, too.  "Thank you for all your help, Mr. Greether," she says.  Then she can't help but chuckle softly as Dusk teases not-spirit Spitfire just a little.
( Physical Spitfire giggles at Dusk and smiles to him. "Hi!" She flicks her tail, which is also pink. The rest of her.. is not pink, but rather cherry-apple red (and she's worried about her horn magic making her look frilly). "Dad says I can go play once I finish my chores. Then I can visit!" she says enthusiastically. She and her spirit form zip off, with her spirit form waving a goodbye to Dusk and Mirage before dissapearing around the corner. Mr. Trottingler leans on the counter with a smile. "All my life. Got it from my father, actually. When business picked up, we had either the expensive inner city places to stay, or the lower class motels in the outer city. Don't get me wrong. There's nothing run-down about the outer city, but many ponies like something a bit nicer when they come visit. My dad thought if they had a place in between, those that wanted the better place, but without the price, would come to there instead. And so he built this place. Turned out.. he didn't do so well for a while. Word )
Word got around slowly. After all, we're just one hotel in a fair number. We were scraping by for a number of years, until I got an idea. To have the greeters in the outer city recommend us. Yes, Greether is one of those, but he isn't exactly on my payroll. You see, I watch for greeters that have the most enthusiasm and love for their job, then I offer then a bit in return for helping others find us. The important thing is that they have to love their greeter job first, or else they're not all that sincere about helping others. It still took a few years before business picked up, but once it did, it never slowed down. Father is now old and living comfertably, and I'm running the place." he says with a smile. He rubs the back of his neck with a hoof with slight uncomfortableness. "Um.. so I guess I didn't technically make this place. I only helped pull it out to make it more popular."
Dusk nods in agreement with Mirage about the keep's help with a room.  Dusk smiles and waves to Spitfire, "Very good!  Take care, miss!"  He listens with some captivation as to the history of Heckle and the hotel.  He grins a bit about the greeters, "Ah, so not entirely by chance we came across the place."  He smiles though and nods as he explains the rest of it.  "Well then it sounds as though you have finally found your place.  I am glad to hear business has turned out well.  With good planning and execution can come success.  And that's as important as starting the place.  Your father's work wouldn't have mattered as much if the place went out of business."  He smiles over to Mirage, who knows that all too well.  She helps keep the MRC running as smoothly as it does.
Mirage waves goodbye to the two Spitfires as they go off to finish chores.  "Do they finish the work in half the time?  Or do they get twice the work to do?" she wonders aloud with a smile that shows she's only teasing.  Then she gives Dusk a meaningful wink.  "Not entirely chance, no," she replies with a soft laugh.  "We're fortunate that, as Mr. Trottingler said, Mr. Greether is a good greeter and works for reputable restaurants and inns.  But it's an occupation in tourist areas that helps the local businesses against their competition."
Greether grins lightly. "Not completely by chance." he agrees with the two of them. "As for success.. we might not live up to the expectations for success that others in the inner city look foward too, but for us, to be able to keep customers happy and provide for my family, that's more then sufficient for success for me." He chuckles at Mirage. "Not really. Though that is a good idea. Hey Spitfire, I got an idea..." "No!" comes the answer before he can even finish. He chuckles lightly under his breath. He grins to Mirage though. "Ah, somepony else that understands business. And yes, you're correct. And as far as greeters go, they do the manticore's share of work in that area. It is their expertise, after all."
Dusk chuckles just softly too as Mirage suggests the double work for Spitfire, and not-too-surprisingly the filly disagrees with.  He nods as the two talk about greaters and business, now much more in their forte than his, "And it all seems to work out for everypony, assuming the greeters are working for reputable businesses."
Mirage tilts her head lightly to Mr. Trottingler.  "I know a little of how business operate, but I haven't turned an inn around and made it enduring and profitable," she says as she defers to Mr. Trottingler's expertise.  Then she bumps her shoulder lightly to Dusk.  "Reputable being the key phrase.  There are places where out of towners can be lead into places that charge them far too much for services.  And the tourists don't realize it until it's too late."
( "Those that don't work for reputable places have no business helping me." Trottingler says simply and seriously. He nods to Mirage. "Thank you, kind mare, but it'll only be enduring if kind ponies like you enjoy their stay." )
Dusk grins as he watches the two business skilled ponies converse back and forth on the subject.  A point you can address clearly though:  "Yes I feel quite comfortable that we will enjoy our stay, as we have so far.  Having wonderful ponies such as yourself, Miss Spitfire, and Mr. Greether go a long ways.  And I would imagine any staff you have will meet the same expectations."
Mirage blushes lightly at Mr. Trottingler's compliment. "I'm sure we will.  And thank you for your hospitality."  She begins to feel a little guilty though as Mr. Trottingler mentioned something about tending his other guests and she and Dusk have been chatting away with him.  "I'm afraid we're going to have a busy day tomorrow," she says to Dusk.
( Trottingler nods lightly to Dusk. "I trust my staff. But if you have any issues, just let me know. Thankfully, issues arn't common." He also smiles and nods to Mirage. "You're very welcome. I hope you both enjoy your stay." Then he grins and lowers his voice. "I have to make sure Spitfire isn't breaking anything." "I heard that!" comes a voice from the back. Trottingler chuckles a bit and heads toward the back as well. )
Dusk discretely smiles as Mirage blushes, always finding it admirably cute.  He nods back to her though, "Yes, I imagine it is going to be so indeed.  But at least we have some friends to help us out now."  He nods to Heckle, "We will let you know of any issues indeed.  Though I don't expect any as well."  He chuckles at Spitfire's response and nods to Heckle again, "Thank you again, Mr. Trottingler."  Dusk then looks over to Mirage, seeing what she'd like to do next.
Mirage smiles as Mr. Trottingler goes off to other work.  Then she glances around the lobby.  "I wonder if they have any little brochures for the tourists?  You know, ones that list places of interest?  Or perhaps a map of the city or maybe even a map showing where this Merisville Prime is?"
( One of the other ponies, it looks like another visitor, points out a small case of what Mirage is looking for, along with some maps. )
Dusk smiles to Mirage, "An excellent idea.  I'm sure plenty has changed since we were around before."  He heads over to where the other pony pointed them out, thanking them on the way.  He glances and looks some of them over while letting Mirage check some others at the same time.
Mirage thanks the other pony and then tries to find ones that will help, such as 'things to do in New Canterlot' or a tourist's map of the city.  What she would really like is an area map showing the nearby towns but of course that's not always in demand.
There is a map of the city, showing tourist locations. Stores, restaurants, inns, a couple theaters, and of course the castle. There's a grassy area near the castle with some kind of archway labled 'Telegate Park'. It's all hoof-drawn, of course. And there is one map that has the instructions 'Please Keep at Inn'. It's an Equestria map, with some nearby lands. Much looks familiar, but much has changed. There's the Crystal Empire, now surrounded by the Crystal Forest. There's Canterlot. And Everfree has taken over the entire area of Ponyville, and some beyond to the hills. The train track now goes around to the north instead of through the Ponyville area. There's a new river, and Ghastly Gorge is now larger. Some names have changed, but Apple Loosa and Dodge Junction are still there.. only now there's a number of smaller towns spanning across the area between them. The Pony Villas. Some forests have grown smaller, some larger, and Cloudsale now has a sister city to the east, labeled Griffondale. Way dow
Way down south we find Marishville Prime, Ponyville (a small town), and further southwest, beyond the desert, where there's usually ocean on maps, is the Forgotton Forest. On the south side of that, is a large region of land labeled 'Blasted Plains'. There's warnings for no pony to enter there, and the Forgotton Forest is labled as dangerous.
Dusk tries looking for those and hooves copies of any intereting ones over to her.  Looks like we'll have to leave the map behind, so he spends some time trying to memorize the fine details of it.  "This is very informative.  Curious they'd lable the Forgotten Forest on a map.  I guess it's not so Forgotten now."  He grins.  "And there's Marishville Prime.  Quite a ways away.  I hope the telegates work as I expect."  And that they fixed that glitch with trains affecting them.  Or that Dusk and Mirage should avoid taking a train with them in use.  Never did figure out just what was causing it.
Mirage chuckles softly, though she's aware that other inn guests are milling about.  "Our greeter did say something about the forest having guardians since it's not forgotton anymore.  I doubt it's much of a vacation spot."    Then she nods about the gates.  "I just hope they're not too expensive.  Otherwise we might have to find another way."
Mirage nods to Dusk.  "I'm glad you enjoy it."
Way down south we find Marishville Prime, Ponyville (a small town), and further southwest, beyond the desert, where there's usually ocean on maps, is the Forgotton Forest. On the south side of that, is a large region of land labeled 'Blasted Plains'. There's warnings for no pony to enter there, and the Forgotton Forest is labled as dangerous.
( Dusk tries looking for those and hooves copies of any intereting ones over to her.  Looks like we'll have to leave the map behind, so he spends some time trying to memorize the fine details of it.  "This is very informative.  Curious they'd lable the Forgotten Forest on a map.  I guess it's not so Forgotten now."  He grins.  "And there's Marishville Prime.  Quite a ways away.  I hope the telegates work as I expect."  And that they fixed that glitch with trains affecting them.  Or that Dusk and Mirage should avoid taking a train with them in use.  Never did figure out just what was causing it. )
( Mirage chuckles softly, though she's aware that other inn guests are milling about.  "Our greeter did say something about the forest having guardians since it's not forgotton anymore.  I doubt it's much of a vacation spot."    Then she nods about the gates.  "I just hope they're not too expensive.  Otherwise we might have to find another way." )
Some colts and fillies play in the center of the common room, ponies chat, and the smell of some late dinners arrives to tingle one's olfactory senses. If you're going to be stuck 10,000 years away from home, this is a good way to spend an evening there. Also on the pamphlet shelves are ones about the castle, the Everfree forest (titled 'The Everfree, and things that make you go eek!' It's apparently targetted at young ponies to warn them in a nice way). And then there's one about Marishville Prime near the bottom. And it's right beside one labeled 'Fine dining and you'.
Dusk smiles and nods to Mirage, "That he did.  I thought he said the spell was weakening.  But perhaps it's entirely failed, yes.  And true, that is something to consider.  But then we are only staying the one day, so hopefully should have the funds."  And perhaps making some contacts will assist as well.  In traveling a lot on his own, he's always been good at having a working relation with that can help.  Dusk does glance through the other pamphlets for the various info that might be useful.  He chuckles at the Everfree one, showing it to Mirage.  "Well what we suspected about it having covered a larger area now, at least."  He does make particular note about the castle and Marishville.  If there are free copies he'll keep one of each of those too, letting Mirage keep track of them.
Mirage nods lightly to Dusk as he and she peruse the vistor phamplets.  "At least these will help a little," she says with a light smile.  Then she reads the one about Marishville Prime, using her magick to float it so Dusk can read it, too.
The castle and Marishville Prime pamphlets are in the free-to-take section, so they can keep a copy of them. The first map shows Marishville Prime. In a word, it's a huge city. Think New Yak, on a larger scale. At the very center is 'Time Anchor Park'. The Time Anchor is shown to sit in the middle of the park, with a large round open area around it. Nearby is a ring of archways with benches both surrounding them, and arranged in a few circles inside the archway ring. It's a fair size park apparently, lots of trees, though the area around the archways and Time Anchor is pebblestone (at least, that's what it appears on the hoof-drawn map). The map shows different major interests in the city, including City Hall, which is a few blocks away from the city center. There's a couple rivers that now run through the city, with some parks adjacent to them, and a major railroad station which splits off in a few different directions.
Dusk nods back to Mirage and looks at it with her.  "Well, appears the time anchor is still in place and presumably working.  That's good for Marishville.  And after all this time too.  It sure looks a whole lot bigger now."  Dusk keeps a good reference of all this in his head with the help of his talent too.
Mirage feels her stomache tighten, and her ears droop down as her eyes widen.  "Oh... -that- Marishville," she almost whispers tonelessly.  She folds the pamphlet up and gives it to Dusk.  After a few moments Mirage composes herself and appears her usual self again. "Maybe we should get ready for tomorrow?" she asks Dusk.
( An older colt, in a neat little dress shirt, comes trotting out of the office area. He goes around, asking if anypony needs help. He ends up at Dusk and Mirage. "Excuse me, ma'am, sir, do either of you require assistance?" he asks in his best practiced tone. )
Dusk looks to Mirage and her reaction at the pamphlet of Marishville.  Not that it's that recognizable from the map.  But most probably due to the time anchor.  He nods to her, "I thought you had remembered it.  Yes, it seems to have grown quite a lot since we were last there."  He lets her keep the copy of both of them for reference.  She's better organized anyways.  He nods too, "Yes, that might be a good idea, and get some rest."  And he'll ask her more about if she's okay with it or not when more in private.  But as they turn to head off the encounter the colt, "Ah good day, young sir.  I believe we were just heading towards our room."  He looks to Mirage to see what she might have to say.
Mirage softy sighs as she takes the pamplet back and tucks it and the others under her saddle skirt.  She nods to Dusk but then looks surprised by the bellcolt when he checks on them.  "No, no thank you," she says to him.
( The bellcolt gives them both a friendly smile. "Alright. Just ask if you need anything!" He trots off to find somepony else to help. The room that Dusk and Mirage are given is on the third floor. Some may be put off on going up three stories, but there's a good view from their room of the city, at least. The room is comfy, with a small private table, a queen size bed, and some chairs to relax in. As well as a small storage room. )
Dusk smiles to the colt and nods, "Indeed, thank you very much."  He smiles back to Mirage and they head up to their third floor room.  Well it's not like they have any luggage they needed brought up.  Inside the room, Dusk puts a little passive magic on the door and windows, so as not to be surprised at all tonight.  The place does seem pretty nice though, so he's not too worried.  "I think this will do just fine."  He looks out the window and shows the view to Mirage.
Mirage looks out at the view when Dusk calls her over.  "It's large," she remarks about the city. "But for some reason I thought more things would be different."  She gives a look to Dusk.  "I mean the city.  The ponies have changed but the city doesn't seem all that different."
The lights of the city shine gently through the window. A part of the castle can be seen from this vantage point.
Dusk nods to Mirage, "I suppose when you're built on a ledge on the side of a mountain, you have only so much you can change."  He grins and nuzzles her as we look outside.  "So, are you concerned about going to Marishville, my love?"
Mirage moves away from the window and goes over to turn down the bed.  "Just bad memories of it is all.  It's nothing important," she replies softly.  "After so much time it should be completely different.  And for that matter, Chance may be completely different too.  So we'll see what happens."  Mirage gets ready for some rest.
There's the sounds of the inner city outside, but the windows help mute it. The bed is nice and soft, at least.
The sun comes up, though what brings it is unknown, for there's no more Celestia to do so now. The birds chirp outside the window in a tree that sits adjacent to this side of the building. Soon there's a knock on the door.
Dusk nods in agreement with Mirage, "Yes there is a lot yet to still find out.  I suppose we should feel lucky things are as familiar as they are.  We could have woken in a world ruled by some strange animals."  Monkeys or something.  Dusk gets settled in for the night as well, and has a good night's rest.  The next day.  Which Greether had told them a bit about not having Celestia around and all that.  He opens the curtains just enough to let some light in, and open the window for some fresh air.  He looks to see if Mirage is awake.
Mirage tilts an ear and arches her eyebrow at Dusk.  "Planet of the Monkies?" she says before chuckling.  "That would be weird."  She hears the knock at the door and steps over and opens it.  "Yes?" she asks, looking to see who's there.
( Greether is there to greet them with a smile. "Good morning you two! I hope I didn't wake you too early. I managed to get you an audience with the mayor. It'll be this afternoon, about an hour after lunch." He hooves Mirage a couple of passes. "These will let them know you have an appointment." He has a blueberry muffin in his other hoof. "Oh, you should try the muffins. They make them fresh each morning. Mmm." He turns and heads out, munching on the muffin. He figures they don't want him to stay and chat too long before they're fully awake yet. )
Dusk chuckles to Mirage and nods, "Indeed it would."  He looks over at the knock and smiles as Greether arrives, "And good morning as well.  Thank you so much for coming by, and for helping take care of so much.  And yes, should we try and catch a quick breafast before we go?  We will need to get there and be ready before our appointment.  But otherwise I am pretty much set to go."  He's already had a chance to freshen up before Greether arrived.
Mirage was just finishing combing out her mane when Mr. Greether knocked.  "That's very kind of you," she says to Mr. Greether before he goes.  Then Dusk mentions breakfast.  "Yes, let's do that.  And then we need to decide what to do until our appointement.  And we'll need to reserve this room again if we're staying another night," she says to Dusk before giving him an affectionate nuzzle.
( "You're quite welcome." Greether answers Dusk before he heads down to the lobby. Spitfire is down tending the main desk, on a box to help with the height issue. "Hi!" she greets Dusk and Mirage when they come downstairs. "Breakfast is ready!" she adds with a happy smile, pointing to the dining room. )
Dusk nods in agreement with everypony, smiling as Mirage nuzzles and he nuzzles her back, trying not to be too embarassing for Greether too.  We all head out and Dusk smiles, "Good morning, Miss Spitfire!  Thank you so much."  We catch a nice but reasonably quick meal, working out the plan for the day at the same time.  "I suppose we can wait until we find out what we're doing and if we can leave today, before booking the room."  Dusk does make sure to pay for our night's stay before we go, in case we don't come back this way, and makes our good byes as well.
Mirage gives a friendly 'hello' to Spitfire.  Then she and Dusk discuss what to do after the little breakfast.  "I think we should be on our was as soon as possible.  Maybe we could see this teleportal and what is involved in using it?  Spitfire said it was the best way to get to Marishville."
( Greether is there, having breakfast himself. He perks up as Mirage mentions the teleportal, and wanders over to the two. "I can show you two where it is. It's just near the castle. We have time to see it." he offers. )
Dusk nods in agreement to Mirage, "Yes, perhaps right after our audience, depending what the Mayor says.  The Mayor may perhaps even offer to help.  Or at least in good advice."  He smiles to Greether's other self and nods, "That would be nice, as long as we have time.  I wouldn't want to keep the Mayor waiting."  He finishes up his own meal and waits for the others.
Mirage looks thoughtful but sighs and smiles.  "Well, I hope so.  Some help would be nice if Chance is difficult to find.  They said he comes by here occasionaly to do repairs and such.  I'd hate to have to wait for him to come here."
( Greether nods to the two. "Alright, if you're done with breakfast, I'll be happy to show you." His spirit-manifest must be out helping other ponies at the moment. Spitfire comes zipping out in her physical form. "Can I come?" she chimes in quickly. She's currently in brown overalls. Greether glances over and smiles a bit. "I should leave that decision up to Mr. Dusk and Lady Mirage here." )
Dusk nods to Mirage, "Hopefully he won't be as hard to find as some suggest.  And yes, like twice a year or such.  I think we will want to find him sooner than that," he says with a grin to Mirage.  He nods to Greether then 'ohs!' as Spitfire pops up.  He smiles, "I do not have a problem with that, if she can join the audience with the mayor.  I wouldn't want to presume without even having met the mayor yet."  He glances over to Mirage as well.
Mirage gives a nod to Dusk and then smiles to Spitfire to let her know she's welcome.  "Alright then.  Where are we going?"
( Greether smiles. "Very well, Spitfire can come." "Yay!" Spitfire says, giving a little bounce. "But only the mayor can decide if she can join you two with your appointment. For now, I'll show you the telegate to Marishville Prime." he says. He leads them out, and heads toward the castle. Spitfire trots alongside Mirage. "Are you going to come visit again?" she asks excitedly. )
Dusk smiles as Mirage agrees.  And even if the Mayor doesn't allow others in the audience, no reason Spitfire can't come for the rest of the trip.  He nods as well, "Excellent, let's go.  And Miss Spitfire.. we're not sure.  We're going to try and get back home.  To our own time.  Though.."  He considers and nods, "If we do make it, we'll leave a note to Mr. Greether in one of those old books and photos he found, with a message not to read or mention it until we've left.  Then you'll know if we made it home safe, okay?"
Mirage gives a little smile to Spitfire, though her smile is tinged with some worry.  "I don't know," she adds to what Dusk says.  "It may be turn out that we can't leave after all.  But we'll see."
Spitfire's ears droop a little. "Oh.." she says softly, but then she perks them up again and gives them a smile, though her eyes arn't fully in the smile. "I hope you get back home!" she says. We wander down the street toward the castle. It's a nice morning. Birds are chirping, the air is crisp, and a large phoenix flies overhead.
Dusk nods to Mirage, "Traveling forward in time is one thing.  Going back is another.  But if anypony knows about artifacts that mess with time in ways they shouldn't, that would be our Mr. Chance."  He gives a grin and gives Mirage a reassuring little nuzzling.  He smiles, "And thank you, Miss Spitfire.  We hope so too."  He walks besides Mirage as we get to check out the city in the daylight now.  You can see much more, and even more ponies out and about.  Mirage was right though:  At least we do not stick out much as there are other regular unicorns about too.
Mirage feels bad that she made Spitfire sad, but she'd rather be honest with the filly so there wouldn't be any disappointments later on.  She smiles reassuringly to Spitfire before returning Dusk's nuzzling.  "Well, it does look much larger," she says as she looks at some of the buildings.  "And the tents we saw on the outskirts are part of the city?" she asks Spitfire and Greether.
( Spitfire gives a smile back to both Dusk and Mirage, then goes looking about. Greether nods to Mirage. "Yes, it's part of the city. It's partially the middle and lower class, and a place for visitors to go if they want to stay around for a little while. Cheaper living there." Greether leads us up to the castle grounds. It's kept largely like it was in Dusk and Mirage's time. On the left though, in what once was an empty field, there now stands a large stone archway, quite empty by the look of it, and a pony next to it. There's runes over the archway, as well as some power crystals and silver crystals. As we approach the pony looks up and smiles. "Good day, sir, ma'am. Where would you like to 'port today?" he asks cheerfully. )
Dusk smiles pleasantly at the nuzzling, and listens as Greetherh explains to Mirage about New Canterlot.  "Much of it looks like it must have been around for some time now."  As we arrive at the gate, Dusk looks around, checking for the construction and quietly examining it over.  He lets Greether talk to the pony stationed here.
Mirage'ohs' softly to Greeter.  "In Canterlot, their middle class was everyone else's high class. And there was no lower class living in the city.  They would hire workers from outside but the workers didn't live in the city."  She does wonder about the city itself and how it looks.  Then she stops next to Dusk as we're addressed by the operator of the 'portal' and waits to see what happens.
( Greether nods to Dusk. "Yes, but over the years it has been repaired or rebuilt. Though instead of replacing the buildings with new structures, they've kept to the same. Most of us here prefer it that way though, to, say, the bigger city life." He glances to Mirage. "Some things change, some things stay the same, I suppose. If you want some serious high class, go visit the high class district in Marishville Prime." He looks at the operator. "Speaking of which, these folks are out of town, and would like a demonstration of how a gate works." The operator pony smiles and nods. "Of course." He taps on a heavily crystaled round structure on the gateway, and a holographic shows up in front of it. A very simplified map of Equestria is shown. He adjusts a crystal, picks the city, then picks what appears to be a highlighted dot on the 'map'. He activates it. The center of the gate is suddenly awash with white energies, and a flat funnel develops within moments, like watching just the surface of a water wirlpoo )
water wirlpool, and the wirlpool rushes to the side of the gate, leaving open a doorway to somewhere quite different. A busy, bustling city lays beyond. There's many ponies, and other gates. There's no 'tunnel effect' like there was with Programmer Pony's teleportation gates. It's like a door opened in the gate, and you could just step through to the place on the other side. This stays open a couple seconds, then collapses, the 'gateway' dissapearing, leaving the gate archway empty and bare again, the grasses and castle seen on the other side. The holographic display is gone as well.
Dusk looks around with Mirage as we check things out.  Though mention of a high class area of Marishville is interesting, as he hadn't really thought on that.  But then with as much time that has passed, and as much as it seems to have growned, it shouldn't be unexpected.  He watches closely too as the gate is operated for them.  "Quite a fantastic piece of work.  I expect Mr. Pony would have loved to get to see this," he says, smiling over to Mirage.
Mirage gives a glance to Dusk.  "That means the finances and seat of power aren't here in Canterlot anymore," she says softly.  She can see the portal is far more advanced than anything she's seen before.  She'd expected it to be more like ProgrammerPony's tunnel like gateway, but this seems to be a much more sophisticated version.  And it must use quite a bit of magic, but the operator makes it seem as if it only uses a casual amount of energy at best.
( Greether nods to the operator. "Thank you for the demonstration. These two will be back in a while. They'll be heading to Marishville Prime." The operator smiles. "I'll be looking forward to your return." he tells Dusk and Mirage. Spitfire looks up to the others. "Are we going to the mayor's now?" she asks. Greether nods. "Yes, but the appointment isn't for a little while." He looks to Dusk and Mirage. "We could either go look around the city if you like, or we could go to the mayor's office, and see if you two get lucky enough to get an earlier meeting." he offers. )
Dusk was expecting something along the same lines, but then wasn't entirely sure what to expect either.  It is nice to see how far the family's magic has come along.  And there was talk about their magic-only forms having advanced too.  But that's for another time.  "I wonder if it still uses some form of flood gate for power.  And yes, thank you, sir.  It is an excellent demonstration.  I look forward to our return as well."  At least being a single hop should make crossing simpler than before.  Dusk considers at Greether's question, "Oh I thought the appointment was less than an hour away.  Well getting things started sooner wouldn't be bad, but I don't want to feel we are rushing the Mayor either.  What do you think, Dear Mirage?" he asks, looking over to her.
Mirage tilts an ear thoughtfully.  "Well, it normally wouldn't be good form to try to see the mayor early unless it was an emergency.  But Greether would know about the protocol visitor arriving early.  I suppose we can walk around the city a little more if you'd like."
( Greether listens to the two, to see what it is that they want, then smiles. "Allow me to show you the edge of New Canterlot then." he tells them. He takes the over to the very edge, where telescopes and a railing are set up for ponies to use to view. The telescopes are a fair bit stronger then what was used in the past. It's a bit different view then it is in Mirage and Dusk's time. The Everfree is definitely larger. No ponyville. There's a rather large tree near one of the lakes that used to sit above Ponyville. Some of the mountains in the distance look.. different. Worn down a bit. Maybe new canyons. There's a new volcano to the northwest (or perhaps it's now old). Rivers and landscapes have been changed enough to be noticable, but it's still definitely their Equestria. )
Dusk nods to Mirage and smiles, "You do have excellent advice, my love."  He looks back to Greether, "The Edge?"  Then he realizes, "Oh yes, as we are up on the mountain, of course.  One can get caught up in so much detail."  He grins, and follows along with Mirage and the others.  He lets her go first as he just looks out from here, then takes his turn at one of the new style telescope.  "I had hoped one of mine was still at the Center," he says, indicating the telescope.  "But still wouldn't have had the view like we do here."  He looks in on the big tree, "Does that look familiar at all, my love?"
Mirage blinks a little as she first views through the telescope.  "That's quite a view through this," she remarks to Greether and Spitfire.  Then she looks in the direction of Ponyville. "The town used to be there.  And orchards filled that area.  And Princess Twilight Sparkles' castle was about there, on the edge of town.  It was taller than the trees so you could see it if it still stood."  She looks at the large tree Dusk indicates.  "No, not really," she replies as she tries to remember.  "None of those trees were there in our time.  We had regular trees."
( The tree is more a golden color then the surrounding greener trees. Greether looks at the area as well with another telescope. "I see. It would have been nice to see that from here. Though I found a few pictures that suggested what you say. However, I'm afraid any structures down there, castle or not, would have long since fallen into disarray. Perhaps it's still there, but the smaller, taller areas would have long fallen." he tells Mirage. "And that tree? That thing's been around since I was little, and my grandfather was little, and as he tells me, when his grandfather was little. It has something to do with the nature ponies, but beyond that, I don't have a clue. It's just a neat old big tree as far as I'm concerned." Spitfire keeps trying to snag a peek through Greether's telescope, and he chuckles and finally lets her, pointing out the old Ponyville areas. At least, that he understands from his limited intel. )
Dusk nods to Mirage as we look out over the area.  "But it does look similar to a tree we saw when we found the earth magic ponies in the alternate timeline.  That's what it reminds me off.  They did give us a plant, to take back with us."  He nods about Twilight's castle, "That was created by something quite powerful.  But then if the Princesses have vanished as well, perhaps it did too."  He wonders about the Tree of Harmony, but doesn't bring it up.  It was his conclusion it had directed much of the course of history.  It would be hard to imagine it not being around still.
Mirage is also wondering at what might have happened.  But she's really more concerned with more immediate problems.  "Maybe it's best to leave some mysteries unsolved," she says to Dusk in a soft voice.  "Was there anything we needed to do before our appointment?
( Spitfire has fun looking through the telescope as Greether tells her a few things what she's seeing. Ponies trot by, some stop to look out over the extensive valley and plains, and otherwise the day is starting out nice in general. Greether glances over to Mirage. "I'll take you whenever you wish." he tells her. )
Dusk chuckles to Mirage and nods, "Indeed, I don't believe we need to solve /everything/ right off.  Though having some idea of what has changed and is going on now isn't too bad a thing either."  He smiles and nuzzles Mirage affectionately, and smiles watching Spitfire enjoy the view as well.  He gets in a pretty good look of all the surrounding areas he can see too, to have a good idea of the lay of the land.  Never know when might need more than a map.  But as Mirage asks about the appointment, he nods as well, "And I am good to go anytime as well, if we wish to."
Mirage doesn't quite seem convinced but gives Dusk an affectionate nuzzle in return before wating patiently as Spitfire and Dusk study the landscape.  "Well, the appointment isn't until one. What should we do until then?" she asks Mr. Greether and Dusk.
( "Well, we can trot by the Mayor's Hall and see if they'll take you early, or we can do something like.. take a tour of the castle or something." he suggests. "We also have shopping for the ladies." he says, more directed at Mirage. )
Dusk smiles as Mirage nuzzles in return.  He doesn't take overly long to get a look about and is pretty much set to go.  He nods to Greether and looks over to Mirage, "I leave it up to what you would like to do, my dear," he says with a smile.
Mirage looks a little surprised by Dusk, but thinks for a moment.  "A tour of the castle would be nice.  And maybe the tour will help satisfy Dusk's curiousity," she chuckles softly to Greether and Spitfire.
( Spitfire perks up. "Yay! The castle!" Apparently that's what she was hoping for. Greether chuckles a bit at Spitfire, then nods to Mirage and Dusk. "Very well." He takes them back to the castle. Inside, the main structure is largely the same. There's been a large amount of effort on the part of someone to preserve this place. But there's also stalls in the main halls, selling food and information, and there's tours going on, and currently there's a dance going on in the dance hall. Apparently in dress and style that these ponies think the past ponies danced to. They're .. a bit off. But still somewhat recognizable. History could have been far more unkind to the memory then it was. Greether shows them around the main areas. "And we have the hall of history." he was saying. "It has stained glass windows full of different important events." )
Dusk smiles back to Mirage.  Dusk does want to find Chance and our way back to our own time indeed.  Though seeing as we seem to be on track, and have a given time for our next meeting, he doesn't mind taking our time and looking around and talking with ponies here.  So really there are no bad choices to make right now.  He chuckles back to Mirage, "Perhaps it might, my love."  He walks with her as we go over to the castle and get a good showing of the place.  He hadn't actually been in the castle in quite some time in his own time, other than when Bluefeather and he tried going for an audience, but Celestia was busy.  And then they only saw a couple of rooms while they waited.  But he had seen it sometime before then, and still looks close.  He chuckles a little at the 'historical' costumes and smiles to Mirage about it.  "The place is kept well in tact it seems, yes."
Mirage smiles at Spitfire's reaction.  Somehow, Mirage didn't think shopping would really appeal to the tomcoltish filly.  But a tour of the old castle wasn't something that she thought Spitfore would be jumping up and down for, either.  She does see the changes in the castle.  "It's remarkable that it hasn't changed much more," she notes aloud.  And she peers at the dancing and the tours.  "It's only a tourist attraction now?" she asks Spitfire and Greether.  I've been here a couple of times on business.  Most of the ponies were a little... elitest," she says to Spitfire and Greether.
( Greether nods to Mirage. "It's a tourist attraction, because the powers-to-be won't let it become converted to a hotel. They want the place preserved, but not closed off." He perks his ears. "Elitist? I suppose with the princesses in rule here, some probably were. That seems reasonable. But there's none of that here. And we haven't thought of incorporating it into the reenactments." He muses over the thought. "That would add a bit of interesting flair to them..' he mutters to himself. Spitfire is going around to the stalls, peeking at what they have to offer. She comes back with a carmel-cream apple, on a stick, munching on it. She peeks at the dancing, but seems rather uninterested in that. She appears more interested in the structures. The cool stairs. The railing. The throne! Which she's happy to learn ponies are allowed to sit in it. She flops down and swings her legs carefreely. "I'm Princess Spitfire!" she says with a giggle. )
Dusk nods to Mirage, who has had more recent experience at the castles than he has.  "I suppose of the options, this is better.  It is almost like a historical museum, but with much more interaction allowed.  If it doesn't have much of a governmental function to perform, this is perhaps as good a way as any to preserve it.  So is it just the mayor that rules New Canterlot now?"  He chuckles and smiles, seeing Spitfire enjoying herself looking around.  As she takes the throne and declares herself Princess, Dusk steps over and gives a nice formal bow, "Your Highness.  It is an honor!" he says with a smile.
Mirage actually has been in the throne room precisely twice.  She's not sure if this is the same throne or a copy.  But she's blinks and looks very surprised as Spitfire happily jumps onto the throne.  "I was at court twice," she says to Spitfore and Greether as she hides her suprise.  "Of course, only the Squire to the Princesses was holding court."  She manages a smile as Dusk plays with Spitfire.
( Spitfire blinks and looks down at Dusk, and says in her best (bad) impression of a princess, "It is an honor, Sir Dusk of Ponyville.. um.. Past! I need a brave knight to go and smite our enemies! At... Spirit Ball!" she says, giving a practiced tomboyish cackle and rub of her forehooves, then she gives a disarmingly sweet smile. "And fetch me a cookie." she adds. Greether listens to Mirage as she tells her own tale. "You were actually at the court here? How was it? I mean, to actually be there? Did you get to meet the Princess?" )
( Greether then glances over to Dusk. "Technically, the Ponygale family rules New Canterlot. The Mayor is the current representative for the family." )
Dusk grins and nods, "Thank you, Your Highness.  At once!"  He 'fetches' some cookies from a nearby vendor for all of us, magicing one over to Spitfire.  He listens and nods over to Mirage and Greether, listening to what Mirage has to say about her visits to the Palace.
Mirage shakes her head lightly at Greether's question.  "No, the courts I attended were being held by the Princess' assistant.  And it was only minor business at that.  But the princesses had a reputation for wisdom and fairness.  It was the Canterlot citizens who tended to be self important since Canterlot was the ancestral home of the unicorns.  And so I came to Canterlot when only absolutely necessary."
( Spitfire smiles as she gets the cookie. "Thank you Sir Dusk!" and she munches on it. Greether seems rather interested in Mirage's story. "Sounds a bit like the opposite of other stories I hear. Stuck up princesses with a population that wants to be fair. Though not everypony thinks that. There are some though that have that mental image." he tells Mirage. )
Dusk nods as Mirage tells about her visit at the count and of the Princesses reputations, which were all true.  Though he doesn't add in their reputation for drinking and parties he has heard of, and keeping the construction ponies in business there.  He smiles to Spitfire and gives her another bow.  He nods to Greether, "I would have to agree, as far as I could know, the Princesses in Equestria of our day had the interest of ponies at heart."
Mirage tilts her ear thoughtfully as she listens to Greether.  "Well, I never actually met any of the princesses, so I can't say.  And I'm sure things changed over the years that Dusk and I have missed," she replies, carefully hiding her reacton to that thought before tilting her ears up.  "For me, the royalty was something one would gaze at from afar while you pursued your career.  So I'm probably not the best source of information for you," she adds with a little laugh and a knowing glance to Dusk.  "On the whole, I'd say your castle is very representative and quite remarkable, Mr. Greether."
( Greether nods slowly to Dusk and Mirage. "That's rather interesting. It would be nice to add a bit extra correct information to my tours." He smiles. "Our meeting together has turned out to be toward both of our advantage. I thank you." He looks around. "You really think so?" He grins. "It's nice to hear that. Especially from you two." After showing a bit more off, he finally mentions, "Well, we should get going. Time flies when you're having fun. Perhaps we could meet sometime again. I'd like to hear more of your stories." )
Dusk smiles back to Mirage as she glances his way.  He rubs shoulders softly and nods as we note the time.  "Yes, perhaps we should move along.  But it is good to get to see the castle and what it is like these days."  He sees once we're all set and follows along.
Mirage nods politely to Greether and smiles.  "Yes, I really do think so," she replies with a soft laugh.  "I wouldn't say so otherwise."  Mirage feels a bit of regret that she didn't go to Canterlot more often or even show up for the audiences for some of the events, like the raising of the sun or Princess Twilight's coronation, just for Mr. Greether's sake.  His obvious enthusiasm is quite charming.  She smiles to Dusk as he leans against her.  "And thank you for the royal cookies, Your Duskness," she teases him while she winks to Spitfire.
( Spitfire perks up at the wink, and giggles. "Sir Duskiness! Bringer of cookies!" She trots on after Greether as the greeter pony leads them all out. Down the main street, and finally to a large building. Apparently their version of City Hall, but simple in decoration. At least, externally. We trot up and Greether rings the bell. A pony, with a neatly pressed vest, steps out. The vest is a royal blue, with light blue trim, and a symbol on the right chest pocket. The symbol might look familiar to Dusk and Mirage, for it's a simplified outline of Programmer Pony's floodgate magic artifact. "Good day sir.. ma'am.." He pauses as he actually looks at Dusk and Mirage, then looks over at Greether quizically. Greether nods. The doorpony looks back at the couple. "Perhaps they should see the Elder.." he mutters, leaning in toward Greether as he does. "If you think that'll help them more." Greether answers, though looks a bit confused. "I'm just trying to get them help." The doorpony gives a smile, then turns to )
The doorpony gives a smile, then turns to trot back into the building. "Follow me, please." Inside is modern, with comfertable chairs for waiting, and a reception desk, and a shelf for information pamphlets. But over the mantel of the decorative fireplace, sits a coat-of-arms. On it is the floodgate symbol, two hooves holding each other (the symbol of unity), and a simplified model of a pony, with its spirit rising in a triumphant pose. The doorpony moves past the waiting area and heads deeper into the building. Greether and Spitfire head in as well, but wait in the lobby.
Dusk chuckles and smiles to Mirage, giving her a nice formal bow as well, "My pleasure, My Lady."  And he chuckles to Spitfire with a smile as well.  He enjoys the little walk and looks over the building as we arrived.  He finds it curious to have a doorbell and to be greeted outdoors.  Perhaps the building is closer to a home than an office.  He gives the pony that steps out a polite bow of his head as well, "Greettings."  Dusk may note the symbol, but doesn't comment on it.  Dusk does look just a touch quizzical at the suggestion of seeing some elder instead of the mayor.  He wants to ask Greether, but since he isn't bringing it up, perhaps he should wait until they have a moment more alone.  But doesn't appear that they will, as Greether and Spitfire stay behind we Mirage and he are lead off.
Mirage wonders a bit at the conversation between Greether and the doorpony but waits patiently until we're ushered in.  And she mananges not to do a double take at the coat of arms, though she gives Dusk a significant look.  Mirage is a little surprised that Greether and Spitfire are waiting in the lobby.  But the doorpony and Greether seemed friendly enough to on another earlier, so it seemed like the two would be invited along as well.  She tilts her ears a little but walks along with Dusk as the door pony shows the way.
( The doorpony shows them the way to a room way back in the building, one of the last offices back here. He opens the door and steps inside. Along the walls are bookcases filled with books, a desk at the other end of the room, facing two back windows. Between the windows, on the seperator wall, is a miniature coat-of-arms. The window faces a nice yard in back, with the mountain in the background as a backdrop. A chair currently faces the window. "Sir.. we have.." He pauses, then takes a breath, "some unexpected guests." The chair swivels around. In it sits an old stallion, a pair of small glasses on his face, dressed in the same kind of vest as the doorpony. He looks over to Dusk and Mirage, then nods to the doorpony. "They've come a long ways. I shall speak with them." "Very well, Elder." the doorpony says, giving a respectful nod, then heads out, closing the door. "Please, have a seat." the elder pony says, gesturing toward two seats in front of the desk. He waits until they're seated, and leans foward )
( He waits until they're seated, and leans foward a bit to look at them both. "Dusk. Mirage. It is a pleasure to see you again. Though I did not expect a meeting of this nature." )
Dusk nods to Mirage as we see the more obvious coat of arms with the symbol and other markings too.  Greether did mention something about not being able to join us for the meeting, but Dusk wasn't sure if that was just about Spitfire or both of them.  It would appear now to mean both.  As we arrive at the office and Dusk looks around, he's also curious about the "unexpected" part.  They had an appointment, yes?  Then the mention of the Elder.  So not the mayor?  Dusk walks with Mirage and lets her have a seat first and takes one himself.  "Good morning.  Again?"  Dusk looks more closely.  The figure appears he could be familiar, but it may be nothing more than a family resemblance.  "Though thank you for seeing us.  I had thought we were meant to see the Mayor."  He lets the pony fill in the blanks, should he choose.
Mirage dips her head to the Elder before taking the seat he offers.  "Thank you, sir," she says before looking more closely at him.  Of course, Greether already indicated ProgrammerPony's family has not only prospered but also ushered in some remarkable achievements with the telegats.  And the floodgate on the heraldry would seem to confirm that.  So there would be a family resemblance among Programmer's decendents here.  She nods as Dusk greets him.  "You know us?" she asks the Elder.
The Elder first answers the more general question. "You were meant to see the Mayor, but your current, shall we say, appearance, caused the change of plans. I shall talk to the Mayor on your behalf." He leans back in his chair, resting his hooves in his lap. He gives a wizened smile. "Our association goes far back, dear Mirage. Back for me, as well as for you. Though I wore a younger pony's face at that time. Ten thousand years is a long ways to travel." He considers something. "You're looking for Chance. He's most likely involved in your little sidetrip to the future." He looks at both of them. "I know you, not through reputation, but by more personal means. Here and now, I am known as the Ponygale Elder. But at one time, I was known as Terrance Ponygale. My friends, welcome." he says, answering the more personal questions.
Dusk sits with Mirage and listens and nods.  "Ah thank you so much," he replies about the Mayor.  But when he finally confirms his name Dusk raises a brow, "Mr. Programmer Pony?  This is hard to believe!  But wonderful news."  He gets up to greet our old friend propper and gives a hug!  "10,000 years?  Amazing."
Mirage was hoping that she was simply jumping to conclusions from the way the Elder greeted them. Her nerves a rattled enough as it is. But Dusk confirms that he recognizes the Elder.  "Programmer?" she asks, looking wide eyed and quite confused.  "Please don't take this the wrong way, but how can you still be alive?"
Mirage was hoping that she was simply jumping to conclusions from the way the Elder greeted them. Her nerves are rattled enough as it is. But Dusk confirms that he recognizes the Elder.  "Programmer?" she asks, looking wide eyed and quite confused.  "Please don't take this the wrong way, but how can you still be alive?"
The Elder gives a light grin. "Ah yes, Programmer Pony. That quaint nickname I used to be known as." He stands to return Dusk's hug, and offers one to Mirage as well. "It is hard to believe. Normally, one would expect that only of our mutual friend, Chance. However, my past was not so normal. Do you recal when I was given djinn powers? They got sealed away. I became a normal pony again. I later learned that the lamp could be unsealed, but despite that, I chose to live the pony way. I lived a good life. But my link to the lamp had consequences. I died as a pony, and came back as a djinn." he explains. "I have a fate I can not escape. My power though is largely limited to wishes. So I convinced my family to make three wishes, which linked my future and fate to the family. When they end, so will I. Until then, I can watch over them, using my power as long as it assists the family. I exist now as the Ponygale Elder. To others I'm simply an old pony of unknown age. To the family, I'm the grandfather oversee
overseer. To be a pony and watch my family grow, as a family, and where it took my ancestor's legacy, was my own wish. I was able to get it. I live now as a content elder stallion, helping to manage things behind the scenes."
Dusk gives the old PP a pat and shakes his head.  This is certainly a bit awkward for him as well.  He considers and nods, "Yes, the connection to the lamp does make sense.  It is still.. amazing.  So no wonder your family has done so well in this time.  A lot of your work we've seen here is familiar, but far beyond what we knew from our day."  He looks over to Mirage, to offer her some support as well.  It is certainly some unusual times to deal with.
Mirage was hoping for a simpler explanation, such as Programmer jumping ahead in time as she and Dusk did.  "Oh, Programmer.  I'm sorry," she says as she hugs him back.  Then she sits back down and lets Dusk and Programmer decide what best to do about their problem.
PP smiles to both of them. "Please don't feel bad for me. I've had a good life. I've seen so much, and I've been surrounded by family since I was young. I shall never be alone. I've also had friends I've known for a good deal of time. It's not a fate I hoped for, but it's not one I've come to regret." He settles back in his seat. "Now, as for you two, my friends. You're here from the past, looking for Chance. You're planning on heading to Marishville Prime. That's your best starting place." He considers the two for a few long moments. "There is something you two need to know, however. One should not know too much about one's future, but this you'll find out soon, in some way or another. I wish for you two to find it out from an old friend. City Hall in Marishville Prime will help you. They'll do so however, because they already know you."
Dusk nods in agreement with Mirage's concerns for PP, but he seems to be handling things well.  He listens and nods too as PP talks about our next intended steps, "Yes those were our plans..  And 'Already know of us?'  As in from 10,000 years ago?" he asks carefully.  With Chance involved and him keeping the memory of the Princesses around, he doesn't make any assumptions.  But he suspects it may be otherwise.
Mirage still feels terrible about the whole djinn episode.  And to find out Programmer was never really rid of it makes her quite sad.  "Well, the danger of us learning too much of the future is sort of why I've been trying to not advertise ourselves too much," she finally admits to Dusk and Programmer.  "And we just need to get back to our own place and time.  Meeting with Chance and reversing the accident seemed to be the most reasonable thing to do."
PP shakes his head lightly to Dusk. "Not exactly. They're .. familiar with you. Let me say that they'll recognize you. That should be sufficient to prepare you for the eventuality." He then nods gently to Mirage. "That is the best plan. Though.. I'm not certain it's an accident. My family is partially involved with Chance, but not to the extent that I have detailed information on any of this. Still, it doesn't feel like an accident. I will say this though. You should have a good likelihood of finding Chance somewhat quickly if you head to the Marishville Prime's City Hall. This I'm fairly certain of."
Dusk raises a brow at the somewhat cryptic, but not really so, warning.  Then that raises some other questions for him as he looks over to Mirage, then back to PP, "I believe I know what you mean, Mr. Pony.  Though I hadn't really known what to expect."  Now he has some things to consider too.  Mirage had specifically asked him not to tell her some things of his past.  But now here with the issues of the future he may need to do so, even so.
Mirage fidgets slightly as she becomes nervous about where all this is going.  "We're not that important that anypony would know us," she says under her breath as she sighs.  "And this is getting much too complex, and we're learning things Dusk and I weren't meant to know.  You still have djinn powers, Programmer?  Why can't we simply wish ourselves back to a moment after the accident?"
Programmer looks appologetically at Mirage. "For one, I bound my power up to my family. That's what's allowed me to live the life of a normal pony, as far as I am able. And if Chance had a hoof in this somehow, he'd just find a way to reverse the wish and pull you back." He stands and moves around the desk to the two. "My friends, I wish to help, so allow me to come with you. It'll be nice to have another adventure again. It's better this all this paperwork." he says with a grin. He lays a hoof gently on Mirage's shoulder. "Please don't fret. Let us focus on finding Chance. I can take care of that for you, even without magic. Let me do that, for a friend. I have a fair idea where Chance might be. Will that help put your mind at ease? Finding Chance will mean finding answers."
Dusk's mind also carries back to the other statement, that it may not be an accident, "So.. we might be here for a purpose?  From 10,000 years ago?"  He wonders what that could possibly be, if so.  He sees Mirage's concern though and does his best to comfort her too, putting a hoof around her.  "It's okay, my love.  How time travel often works, what there is of it, if we learn something here, we probably were already meant to.  And even trying not to will probably still result in the same thing.  But yes, we should still use care and caution."  He doesn't want things meant to be a big mess, either.  He smiles reassuringly too, as best he can.  And PP brings up the subject again of perhaps not being an accident, "And Mr. Chance might have something to do with us being here now?  Hmmm.  He would be one of those that would know us best to think of bringing us here.  Well, and now you as well, Mr. Pony."  He thinks using the old name still fits, as is what he's comfortable with, and still does not disclose anything
( ... of his identity to others, if he wasn't wanting to.  He smiles as PP comes around to reassure Mirage as well, giving some space.  He nods, "I certainly would not have a problem with a familiar friend joining us.  If it is okay with Lady Mirage," to which he glances her way. )
Mirage sighs and give Programmer a little smile as he comforts her.  "I apologize.  But if we don't get back to our normal time, our families only know we went missing and never know what happened."  Then she smiles to Dusk and composes herself.  "You're right.  I may not like this but getting upset isn't going to help.  You and Programmer are the experts on this sort of thing anyway."
Programmer looks appologetically at Mirage. "For one, I bound my power up to my family. That's what's allowed me to live the life of a normal pony, as far as I am able. And if Chance had a hoof in this somehow, he'd just find a way to reverse the wish and pull you back." He stands and moves around the desk to the two. "My friends, I wish to help, so allow me to come with you. It'll be nice to have another adventure again. It's better this all this paperwork." he says with a grin. He lays a hoof gently on Mirage's shoulder. "Please don't fret. Let us focus on finding Chance. I can take care of that for you, even without magic. Let me do that, for a friend. I have a fair idea where Chance might be. Will that help put your mind at ease? Finding Chance will mean finding answers."
Dusk's mind also carries back to the other statement, that it may not be an accident, "So.. we might be here for a purpose?  From 10,000 years ago?"  He wonders what that could possibly be, if so.  He sees Mirage's concern though and does his best to comfort her too, putting a hoof around her.  "It's okay, my love.  How time travel often works, what there is of it, if we learn something here, we probably were already meant to.  And even trying not to will probably still result in the same thing.  But yes, we should still use care and caution."  He doesn't want things meant to be a big mess, either.  He smiles reassuringly too, as best he can.  And PP brings up the subject again of perhaps not being an accident, "And Mr. Chance might have something to do with us being here now?  Hmmm.  He would be one of those that would know us best to think of bringing us here.  Well, and now you as well, Mr. Pony."  He thinks using the old name still fits, as is what he's comfortable with, and still does not disclose
( ... of his identity to others, if he wasn't wanting to.  He smiles as PP comes around to reassure Mirage as well, giving some space.  He nods, "I certainly would not have a problem with a familiar friend joining us.  If it is okay with Lady Mirage," to which he glances her way. )
( Mirage sighs and give Programmer a little smile as he comforts her.  "I apologize.  But if we don't get back to our normal time, our families only know we went missing and never know what happened."  Then she smiles to Dusk and composes herself.  "You're right.  I may not like this but getting upset isn't going to help.  You and Programmer are the experts on this sort of thing anyway." )
PP nods lightly to Mirage. "I understand your concern. However, I already know there's a good chance you'll make it back home, because it's already happened that way. Unless you go out of your way to make sure the past has been changed, it typically won't be. What happens here in the future, however, is another question. I shall return in a few minutes. Please, make yourself at home in the lobby." He heads out the door to another office, leaving Mirage and Dusk to head back to the lobby.
Dusk isn't as certain about being an expert on it.  But between his talent and some study on the subject, it's is better than nothing by a shot.  He smiles and gives Mirage a soft nuzzling.  He nods and listens to PP.  Well so much for not finding out if we make it back or not until we do.  But then we still don't know how or what we need to do.  He nods to PP and smiles, "Of course.  And thank you for any and all help, as usual."  After PP leaves Dusk gets up and waits for Mirage before we head back to the lobby and presumably the other two waiting there.
Mirage tries to follow Programmer's reasoning but the idea that events have happened before they happen just leaves her puzzled and confused.  "Well, if you say so, Programmer.  I mean, Elder," she replies with a tilt of her head and a light fronw.  "It's not as if I'm Doctor Whooves."  Then she smiles a goodbye to Programmer and gives Dusk a nuzzle as she follows him back to the lobby.  "So, now what?" she asks him before they get back to Greether and Spitfire.
( Spitfire is looking through the pamphlets, finding all the cool sports pictures in them, and Greether is sitting reading a book he found on the reading table. He glances up and smiles to Dusk and Mirage. "Well, how did it go? Did you get the information you needed?" )
Dusk nods to Mirage, with a little grin at the mention of Doctor Hooves, "The pony that presumably travels around time freely.  If such a thing is possible, there would be your expert."  But then most ponies seem to laugh at the idea of time travel.  He looks to Mirage, "I guess we continue with finding Mr. Chance, as we planned, now with Mr. Pony's help."  As we get back Dusk smiles to the other two, "We got to speak with the Elder.  He said he would provide us with some assistance."
Mirage hmmms softly.  "Well, you're the one who told me about this literary character Dr. Whooves," she says with a light smile back to Dusk before nodding to him.  "I hope that he can help us," she replies softly.  Then she listens to Dusk speak to Greether and Spitfire.
Greether's smile brightens. "Ah, that's wonderful news. Is he providing you with somepony to take you to City Hall, or..?" Spitfire looks up and heads on over to the others. "Does that mean you're leaving now?" she asks, though with slight dissapointment.
Dusk is glad to see Mirage smiling some more and he smiles back to her with a nod, "That I did," he says, his smile turning more to a bit of a grin.  "He is an interesting and fun character to read about.  If we figure out what happened, how about we start our own time traveling adventures, and you can be my traveling companion," he says teasingly and a bit of a wink.  He nods to Greether, "He seems to want to help us directly, himself."  He turns to Spitfire and gives her a pat, "And I don't know yet.  He asked us to wait here for now.  Did you find anything good here?"
Mirage smiles but gives Dusk a little shake of her head.  "Only if I get royalties from the book sales," she teases back.  "Next you'll be wanting me to read Daring Do."  Then she nods as Dusk explains to the others.
( Spitfire peers up at Dusk from under a pat. "I found pictures of last season's Spirit Ball players! I'm gunna be on one of those pictures someday!" she claims. Greether nods lightly to Dusk. "I wonder who he'll send." But he looks up as PP wanders into the room. "Hello Elder. It's a pleasure to see you." Spitfire also peeks at PP. "Hi Elder!" she says with some enthusiasm, giving her hoof a wave. PP gives an old smile and nods to them both, then looks over to Mirage and Dusk. "I've taken care of things for now. I'll show you to Marishville Prime." Greether looks a bit surprised. "The Elder himself is leading you there?" he asks of Dusk and Mirage. "How did you two manage to get his favor?" he inquires curiously. )
Dusk chuckles and shakes his head back to Mirage, "Always a catch in there somewhere.."  He grins and gives her head another kiss.  "Oh," he says to Spitfire and smiles, "I have no doubt you will, Miss Spitfire!"  He looks up and gives a smile and nod of his head as PP arrives, "Greetings.  Ah thank you again.  I suppose we are ready then whenever you are."  He smiles to Greether, "Well, we struck it off quite well," he says, and a little grin towards PP and Mirage.
Mirage looks over at the picture Spitfire found, wondering if she'll see one set of spirit pony players or two sets of each player.  She smiles and gives Spitfire a nod.  "I'm sure you'll be a wonder player," she says to Spitfire, echoing Dusk's comment.  She blushes lightly at Dusk's kiss, feeling a little shy with other ponies in the room.  Then she tilts her head at Greether's question and lets Dusk provide the answer before looking to Elder to see what's going to happen now.
( Spitfire's picture has each pony with both physical and spirit manifests. In a group picture, the spirit manifests are making silly gestures behind the physical manifests' backs. Making fun of themselves. PP goes to head out, and Greether chuckles lightly to Dusk. "I'll say you did. Good luck you two. If you're in the neighborhood again, drop by!" "Bye!" Spitfire says, waving her hoof! PP then leads Dusk and Mirage to the teleporation archway. )
Dusk smiles as she blushes, but Dusk makes the kiss fairly short and sweet still.  He doesn't see why Greether and Spitfire couldn't tag along to telegate, but then perhaps PP wants to talk about some things without others around, so leaves that up to the others.  When they do depart he shakes Greether's hoof, and gives Spitfire a hug too.  "You both have been quite a help.  Thank you so much.  Indeed if we should be around, we will look you up.  Though I hope you won't mind if we hope to end up back home first."  At the gate he looks the structure over again, "They've come quite a ways," he comments.
Mirage still isn't used to seeing two ponies that are the same pony.  But at least the team picture is consistant with what Spitfire and Greether have told her.  And she does have to smile at the silliness of the players.  She blinks as Spitfire and Greether say their goodbyes.  "Thank you for all your help," she says to them, giving them each a hug after Dusk makes his goodbyes to them.  Then she walks along as Programmer leads them, noting Programmer hasn't quite said what we're going to do next.
Spitfire hands Mirage a little envelope when she gets hugged. "Open it later." she says quietly to Mirage before final goodbyes. PP nods lightly to the telegate operator. "Elder." he says respectfully. "Where would you like to go?" "We three would like to go to Marishville Prime." The operator nods, turns to the gate, and opens it. Beyond is a park-like setting with other gates and ponies in sight. "We'll go to City Hall, get some information there, and then decide where we want to go after that." he tells Dusk and Mirage. "If Chance was expecting you, he may have told someone there to keep an eye out. It is the main hub for ponies, after all. Just go through the gate."
Dusk finds it certainly unusual as too.  But then perhaps he's seen a bit more unusual stuff in his time.  He smiles as Spitfire gives Mirage an envelope.  Oh how nice.  He waits and then nods as we are set to go.  He looks to Mirage to confirm she's ready to go, then steps through first to the other side, seeing what the gate feels like now, if anything.  He then steps a little bit further to wait for her in sight from her side of the gate.
Mirage looks puzzled at Spitfire but tucks the envelope into a pocket in her saddleskirt.  Then at the gate she watches as the device is turned on.  It seems odd for the pathway not to be a tunnel of sorts.  At least the tunnel gave a feeling of transisition to the teleport.  Mirage has had a teleport spell cast on her precisely once, and it turned out she's not a good traveller.  She takes a breath to compose herself, and nods to Dusk before following him through.  Although it doesn't seem to be really anything more than stepping through a doorway from one room of a house to another.  No flashes or 'poofs'.  A few simple steps, and you're elsewhere.  And no feeling of disorientation since you can look back and see where you where.
Mirage looks puzzled at Spitfire but tucks the envelope into a pocket in her saddleskirt.  Then at the gate she watches as the device is turned on.  It seems odd for the pathway not to be a tunnel of sorts.  At least the tunnel gave a feeling of transisition to the teleport.  Mirage has had a teleport spell cast on her precisely once, and it turned out she's not a good traveller.  She takes a breath to compose herself, and nods to Dusk before following him through.  Although it doesn't seem to be really anything more than stepping through a doorway from one room of a house to another.  No flashes or 'poofs'.  A few simple steps, and you're elsewhere.  And no feeling of disorientation since you can look back and see where you were.
The teleport doesn't produce any noticable effects, except for perhaps a slight 'tingling' some magic-sensitive ponies feel, a bit like static. Other then that, there's no sense of travel. You're simply in one place, then another, like stepping outside from a house. Pegasii on the other hoof have occassionally been known to have some issue the first few teleports, since they're more sensitive to location and orientation. PP is the last to step out, and the gate closes. The scene of Marishville Prime spreads out before us...
_
The ponies step into Marishville Prime, a place of striking difference from the prior. A dozen or more different telegates surround the area, and ponies from all walks wander in and out of the gates. Ponies wait on the benches, or get up to meet them. There's trees all around, shading the place somewhat, but still letting enough sun in to be warm and inviting, and the gate ring looks to be in the middle of a natural park. The ground here is cobblestone, kept clean and new by the look of it. In the center of the gate ring, there's a white circle of stones, and stones are lined up in ever-increasing circles, some white, some bleached natural colors of greens and blues and browns, softening the artificial visual impact of the ground. The edges lead into soft greens which blend into the grass, so from a distance, one is hard pressed to tell where grass ends, and cobblestone starts.
_
This area leads to the next major area, the town square, a large multi-acre grassy park, where families relax and young play. A river, with a number of foot bridges, and lined nicely with trees, also runs through the middle of the large grassy area. Here and there can even be seen a rare griffon or two mingling in with the rest of the pony population. In the middle of the square stands a large white obelisk with a number of embedded magic artifacts on it, and runes inscribed in artistic fashion around the entire thing. Surrounding the obelisk are three columns made of power-siphon crystal (which as anyone in Marishville Prime knows, absorbs and stores ambient excess magics) and silver crystal, also enscribed with runes. Every so often they pulse a soft white, brightening the obelisk a little for a few moments. A number of tourists (obvious in attire), takes pictures of the structure, and a group of young ponies with an adult (apparently a class of some sort) looks on it curiously while something about
_
Pegasii and griffons fly in the air. And an earth pony floats overhead. Which might cause one new to the city to do a double take. The pony is wearing a harness (appears to be light-weight) which is producing transluscent energy-wings, which he's using to fly with. In fact, after a few moments, one might realize that ponies of all types are flying, those without wings using these contraptions. Further observation will show some spirit ponies among the park's population. One of them, in a physical/spirit pair, suddenly join, and only the physical 'half' is seen wandering off. There's also one trio of nature ponies and a few crystal ponies as well. It's quite the popular park.
_
In the distance, skyscrapers reach toward the heavens, producing the broken skyline, though near here are mostly buildings of a shorter statue. Between the city buildings, many of the probably offices or city-official buildings of some sort, there's walkways. Transluscent walkways, lined on either side with small metal rails, which ponies take to cross the bigger streets and rooftops. However, ponies still like scenery and skyline, so even the tallest buildings arn't too terribly tall. Instead, above the city, are more sections of city, floating on islands of rock and dirt, held aloft by cloud and large magic 'wings' (simular to those holding individual ponies in flight) spreading out in multiple directions, making each look like the torso of some huge multi-winged dragonfly. These are far enough up that they don't obscure the sky much, and they slowly float around so no part of the sky is hidden for long. On one of the closer, smaller floating islands, there sits what appears to be a large observatory
_
Flying vehicles of a number of sorts are seen floating around in the distance, though in the immediate area, it looks like most keep to vehicles that stay on the ground, many of them streamlined versions of stagecoaches and such, pulled along by transluscent ponies. Are those a new species of pony? Each has what appears to be a glowing orb in the center of them. They must be well trained at what they do, because they have perfect gait. There's a chance to see as one parks nearby. A small private buggy, carrying a small elder mare. The elderly mare gets out, unhooks the buggy, and puts a glove, covered with a number of crystals and complex, unknown runes, on. She touches the pulling horse, and it suddenly, but fluidly, collaspes down into a transluscent sphere, about 3 feet across, with the glowing orb still inside it. The surface fluctuates light the surface of water. She takes out a long crystal from her pack and replaces a simular one in a slot in the glove, then touches the sphere. It now morphs int
_ (done)
Dusk smiles as he waits and Mirage follows right through with virtually no noticable hesitation.  Though doing something different like this will always have some initial concern.  However once Mirage is through he finally gets a chance to really look around and taking it in.  "Such an impressive town!  Quite a number of gates.. And what appears to be even artifacts."  Not that the gates wouldn't qualify as such on their own.  But mostly it seems to be quite vibrant and active town.  He may notice the different clothing styles, but would not know the difference from local style or tourist, just yet.  He notices the 'flying' earth pony and takes a moment to realize the harness.  He leans into Mirage, looking that way, "Not unlike the belt we gave to Lady Screenplay, perhaps?"  Well with magic wings.  But there's plenty more here that isn't so familiar either as he looks around.
Mirage is an experienced city dweller.  She's used to impressive skylines, large amounts of activity everywhere, and the latest in technology being used to make the city more efficient. And she's skilled at appearing to be a local by not gaping at strange sights in new places.  But all of what we can see in this metropolis is quite astounding.  There are surprises everywhere!  Right now, Mirage doesn't worry too much about the how or why.  But at least she's seeing something along the lines of what she expected:  ten thousand years of advancement has radically changed the lives of the ponies here.  New Canterlot seems quaint next to Marishville Prime.  She nods lightly to Dusk as he points out the flying harness some ponies are wearing.  "They make the wings we made for Nimble Hooves look like tinker toys."
( PP comes up behind and glances around, taking in a deep breath. Fresh air meets his nostrils. "Welcome my friends, to the pony and magitech capital of the world, Marishville Prime!" He perks his ears to the conversation between Dusk and Mirage and gives a old chuckle to himself. "We can go over some of the more interesting things later. For now, I'll take you to City Hall." He turns in the direction of the buildings on the far end of the park and starts off at a relaxed canter. "I can't allow you to buy any new gadgets from here though. Magitech doesn't belong in your time." he mentions to the two. "Come to think of it, where exactly did you two wind up when you came to this time?" )
Dusk tries not to be a gawker either, as he has traveled to many towns big and small.  But still, there is way too much to just try and pretend he doesn't see.  He does have to chuckle to Mirage and nods, "Yes by comparison, quite so."  He nods in agreement with PP though, "Yes, I think any 'tour' can wait until we take care of business."  He smiles to Mirage and then keeps up with PP as we head off.  "We wound up right where we started.  In the MRC.  But it wasn't the same, obviously.  It's almost all that's left of our Ponyville there."
Mirage smiles to Programmer.  She's surprised to see that he can canter easily despite his advanced age.  "No, we won't be buying anything.  And really, we should see as little as possible and perhaps you shouldn't explain anything to us.  After all, Dusk and I don't belong here.  We're only here to find a way home."  She hides her reservation about the earlier comments regarding Chance and what he may already know of the situation.  She canters along next to Dusk and nods.  "And what's left of the Center is slowly collapsing on itself."
Programmer Pony perks his ears to listen to Dusk and Mirage. Each time they pass a spirit pony, he gets a nod from them, and a polite "Elder." "Yes, perhaps it's best to leave things at a minimum, but that will be difficult to do if Chance is involved. If he's not, well.. there's other safe ways of returning you two to your time." he tells them, then nods his head slightly at comments about Ponyville from them both. "Yes, it's a bit sad, actually. After the princesses dissapeared, the Tree of Harmony started getting strangled by the Everfree forest. We're not sure why it stopped protecting itself, but the leading theory is that the princesses took a portion of its power with them. And that is definitely another story until later, perhaps. We managed to relocate the tree to the Forgotton Forest, but the Everfree kept spreading. It eventually took over Ponyville, running all the other ponies out. We weren't sure how to stop it, until Chance, I, and a number of other representatives went to talk to the na
( representatives went to talk to the nature ponies about it. We noticed that the forest wasn't coming near the nature pony tree planted near one of the lakes in that region, so we thought they could help. They set up a number of small villages around the edge of the forest, and somehow have managed to hold it back since then." he explains. "As for the Center, with no pony to take care of it, it fell apart. But it has held up quite remarkably despite that. You.. didn't happen to try to use the telescope, did you?" He directs the last question to Dusk. )
Dusk grins nods about buying stuff.  Though with his talent, once he encounters a path, he can find it again.  But then he's always been able to look forward and is pretty good at not messing the timeline up.  Not that he's tried looking out for 10,000 years off future tech and magic.  While he can't help having ideas from what we see here, fortunately the magic-tech is more PP's thing in our day, not Dusk's.  Like the look of those wings.  If Snow needs replacements, maybe can use some of Mirage's magic to give them an illusionary look.  But enough random mental thoughts rolling around through his head, as PP starts telling us about what happened with Ponyville and all.  "Ah so that was one of the nature pony trees.  I thought it might be."  He is a little surprised about the Tree of Harmony.  He had a pretty solid theory that it was only able to be attacked by the forest even without the Elements because it allowed it, to give rise to the return of the Elements.  But PP did mention something about stopping pro
... But PP did mention something about stopping protecting itself.  Perhaps something else it chose to do for now.  He looks curious at the question, "None of the telescopes remained at the Center.  I had tried to look, yes."
Mirage listens attentively though she does wonder about the nature ponies and their trees.  "It was an odd little tree but it never seemed particularly special," she replies.  "Oh, the telescope at the Center?  It wasn't there, so no, we didn't use it."
( PP nods lightly. "It took a while to grow completely, but that tree has its purpose. Beyond that, I should not say." He glances between Dusk and Mirage. "So you noticed. The old telescope is gone, but it was replaced by a magitech version. I assume you didn't attempt to use it." )
Dusk nods to Mirage, "It was a curious one, and small.  We were trying to figure out how to get it to grow.",.
( Dusk grins nods about buying stuff.  Though with his talent, once he encounters a path, he can find it again.  But then he's always been able to look forward and is pretty good at not messing the timeline up.  Not that he's tried looking out for 10,000 years off future tech and magic.  While he can't help having ideas from what we see here, fortunately the magic-tech is more PP's thing in our day, not Dusk's.  Like the look of those wings.  If Snow needs replacements, maybe can use some of Mirage's magic to give them an illusionary look.  But enough random mental thoughts rolling around through his head, as PP starts telling us about what happened with Ponyville and all.  "Ah so that was one of the nature pony trees.  I thought it might be."  He is a little surprised about the Tree of Harmony.  He had a pretty solid theory that it was only able to be attacked by the forest even without the Elements because it allowed it, to give rise to the return of the Elements.  But PP did mention something about st )
...But PP did mention something about stopping protecting itself.  Perhaps something else it chose to do for now.  He looks curious at the question, "None of the telescopes remained at the Center.  I had tried to look, yes."
( Mirage listens attentively though she does wonder about the nature ponies and their trees.  "It was an odd little tree but it never seemed particularly special," she replies.  "Oh, the telescope at the Center?  It wasn't there, so no, we didn't use it." )
( PP nods lightly. "It took a while to grow completely, but that tree has its purpose. Beyond that, I should not say." He glances between Dusk and Mirage. "So you noticed. The old telescope is gone, but it was replaced by a magitech version. I assume you didn't attempt to use it." )
Dusk nods to Mirage, "It was a curious one, and small.  We were trying to figure out how to get it to grow."  He nods about the telescope as well.  "Yes, I figured the nature ponies gave it to us for a reason.  That seems pretty clear.  I suspect to make a new connection between them and this world."  He shakes his head now, "Magictech one?  No, I didn't try anything like that."
Mirage frowns for a moment as Elder and Dusk discuss.  "I don't recall seeing anything that was like your magictech at the center."
( PP nods a bit to Dusk, and turns his head to Mirage. "It was most likely inactive." They travel to the end of the park, then down a few blocks. "I was simply curious if it was still functional." We finally come up to City Hall. "Here we are." )
Dusk nods in agreement with Mirage, "I suppose we could check next time we're in the neighborhood," he jokes.  "Though considering the timespan, the place was in remarkable shape all considering.  There really wasn't much sign of anything else of the town other than remnants of the fountain."
Mirage tilts her head slightly as she thinks.  "And it looked like anything of use had been carried away some time ago," she replies to Elder.
"That's understandable. It hasn't been used for quite some time. And everything else has either been replaced or is being used elsewhere." PP mentions. "As for how well the place has held up.. well, let's say it was designed to hold up well." He heads into City Hall. It looks like a normal Hall building, with ponies sitting at desks, doing paperwork or helping other ponies. Except there's holographic screens here and there that deskponies are working with. One looks up. "Greetings, Elder Ponygale. How may I help you?" the mare asks.
Dusk nods again, "Yes, it was pretty well cleared out indeed."  He nods, and follows along as we head off to the Town Hall.  He does note the magic images showing here.  But he takes a glance around the place as a whole when we arrive as well, letting PP lead the way.  He's not sure who we're to see here, or what, but having the mare speak up seems to be a start.  Dusk glances over to PP as the mare addresses him.
Mirage follows along as well, trying not to be distracted by all the different sights.  She does wonder at the magical visual aid the staff at the City Hall is using, but decides it's probably some more of the magictech.  It seems the Ponygale family's inventions are incredibly wide spread.  She stands and smiles politely as Elder Ponygale makes arrangements.
PP nods politely to the mare. "I'm looking for Chance. It's important. Has he been by here recently?" The mare smiles. "Yes, in fact he was here just a few days ago. He told me he was expecting these two." she says, glancing over to Dusk and Mirage. "He gave me the descriptions. He thought it would be a surprise. He was right." she says with a light grin. "I have a message for you." She reaches down to a crystal control panel and adjusts a crystal. The holographic screen pops up for her. She navigates around a few areas on the screen, then .. "Ah, here it is." She brings something up, which appears to be some kind of fuzzy document on-screen, and taps a crystal. There's a large box beside her, the lid lined with crystals along its edges, and runes written on the sides and top. Simular in design to the telegates, in fact, except the runes are in a more complex configuration, and it's a large white box instead of a gate. A number of crystals glow for a few moments, then fade. She opens the lid. Inside is
Inside is a single envelope, which she hooves over to Mirage. "Dusk, Mirage, this was for your eyes only. Chance requested that I ask you to open it here. It may contain something useful for you." She looks over at PP. "As for Chance's location, he said he was going to be searching for someone. I'm uncertain as to his current location." PP furrows his brow. "I see. Thank you."
Dusk waits there with Mirage as PP talks, taking things in without looking like a tourist.  Though his attention is brought back full as he hears Mirage and him were expected.  Well it certainly was about as much of a surprise as could manage.  He nods to the Mare, "Thank you," and looks over to Mirage as she gets the letter.
Mirage's eyes widen in surprise, too.  She gives Dusk a look of disbelief and then tilts her ears back in a shrug before accepting the envelope.  "Mr. Chance specifically requested that, did he?" she asks the mare, gaining a little time to consider by turning the mare's statement into a rhetorical question.  Mirage glances at the envelope and then gives Dusk another meaningful look before offering him the envelope.
PP asks about Chance's last known whereabouts. "He's been spending much of his time around the Forgotton Forest, the deep badlands and the San Palmonio Desert." The mare also looks over to Mirage and nods politely. "That's right, ma'am." She goes over some other things with PP as Dusk gets Mirage to open the envelope. Inside is a letter and two small crystals. Each is multifaceted, one black, the other gray. They'll glow slightly on contact with a specific pony (black for Dusk, gray for Mirage). The letter reads as follows: "Dusk, Mirage, let those at Marishville Prime's City Hall that you require a pass to The Northern City of Ancients in the Forgotton Forest. I've included two info crystals imprinted with both of your aura signatures for use with the passes. I shall return to the City of Ancients within four days. Chance."
Dusk looks over to Mirage as she asks the mare about the instructions.  When Mirage offers the envelope to him in turn, he gestures for her to go ahead and read it.  He does note the crystals and their colors matching Mirage and himself even before they have a reaction, which just confirms the connection.  He reads over the letter with Mirage, "In the Forgotten Forest."  It sounds like our princess is at another castle.  He looks to Mirage and then back to PP and the mare, "So it looks like we'll need some passes.  And any idea what these 'info crystals' do?"
Mirage narrows her almond-shaped eyes slightly and her ears fold back a little.  "It would appear everything's been prearranged for us," she says softly to Dusk.  She folds up the letter and returns it to it's envelope which she then slips into her saddleskirt's pocket.  "Does Mr. Chance have some passes waiting for us?" she asks in a polite business tone, looking from Elder Ponygale to the mare.
PP looks over to Mirage. "Well, it seems that answers where Chance will be." The mare looks over to Dusk. "Which area of the Forgotton Forest, sir?" She glances between Dusk and Mirage. "There are some telegates which have limited access. Those in the Forgotton Forest are amoung those. Let me see the crystals." She looks at Dusk as he asks what info crystals are like he has two horns, but she composes herself a moment later and entertains his query. "They store complex information. What's done with them depends on the information." She notes the reaction as they're handled by Dusk and Mirage, and holds out her hoof for them. "The crystals, if you please. I have an idea they'll be used to make passes for you. Though I'm surprised you don't have any old passes." PP allows Dusk and Mirage to get whatever information they need from the deskmare, waiting patiently.
Dusk can't help but nod to Mirage, "So it would certainly appear.  It looks like we have another trip on our hooves.  And we barely got here."  But then we're not here for the tourist visit.  Dusk looks curiously himself at the mare's reaction and comments, but hands his crystal over, "To the Northern City of the Ancients, per our instructions from Mr. Chance."
Mirage tilts her ears as she shrugs again to Dusk.  Then she looks to the mare.  "There was an accident and we lost some of our possessions.  So we'll need new passes, m'am," she replies with a little smile.
( "Oh, I am sorry to hear that." the mare says sympathetically. She brings up what looks like a card on the holoscreen, looks up the Ancients city information, and places Dusk's info crystal in an empty slot on the control panel. After a few moments, a vague image of a unicorn shows up. "Ah, your aura signatures. Remember, the passes will only work for you." She presses a crystal and sits back and looks to PP. "It's a pleasure to see you in town, Elder. I hope you're enjoying your stay?" "I am, as long as I'm here. Though today I'm assisting my friends." "I hope they can keep up with you." she teases, then finally the box lights up for a few moments. She opens it and brings out a long blue crystal. She hooves it to Dusk, then does the same for Mirage, using Mirage's info crystal. "There you go, sir, ma'am. May I help you with anything today?" she then asks. )
Dusk smiles and accepts the new crystal along with their original ones if they get those back.  "Thank you very much, my lady."  He examines the new crystal just briefly.  He imagines PP will explain it further, to whom he turns, "Is there anything more you believe we shall need?"
Mirage tilts her ears again.  "Not that I can think of," she replies before nodding to the mare.  "No, you've been more than helpful.  Thank you."  Then Mirage looks to Elder Ponygale and Dusk to see what's next.
After making the two passes, the mare hooves back the aura crystals to Dusk and Mirage. PP considers. "It would have been useful to know how long Chance would be, but I suppose we could just stay in the Ancients City until then. The ponies there are nice, and it's safe inside the city."
Dusk nods to Mirage and to PP, "Well his note says within four days.  Though from today, or from when he wrote it?  But yes, here or there, whichever you feel is best, it seems we will have to wait for him either way.  Unless we find where he is at more currently."
Mirage slips her two crystals into her skirt's pocket while Programmer and Dusk discuss what to do. "You're the expert, Elder Ponygale," she says with a little smile to Programmer.  "We bow to your wisdom."
( PP tilts his head in Dusk's direction. "Four days? That would have been from when he wrote it, a few days ago. Which means.. he'll probably be there by tomorrow." He smiles to Mirage. "My wisdom says, we should get lunch. I know this great little salad and wheatcake restaurant in the downtown district." )
Dusk nods about the timing for the note, and means much less of wait as well, "That sounds good, assuming we don't have any troubles getting there."  He doesn't expect so with the gates.  Then he has to chuckle, "Well then," he says with an actual bow, "I can not argue with that."  He smiles.
Mirage hmmms softly.  "Alright then," she says with a soft smile.  As long as we don't need to hurry."
PP nods to the deskmare. "Good day, and thank you." She smiles sweetly to him. "It was my pleasure, Elder. All of you have a nice day!" PP trots out and answers questions. "We won't have any trouble getting there. The main telegates will get us there, with the use of the pass crystals. If you two stay here for too long, we'll have to get some universal passes for you two. Those are harder, but you two can get them. As for today, we have all day if you wish. No hurry." He heads down to the sidewalk and starts off further into town. "Don't lose the info crystals. Getting an aura imprint is expensive. But quite useful."
Dusk nods to both the deskmare, thanking her again, and to PP, "We'll make sure to keep them safe, yes."  He doesn't want to cause them any unneeded expenses, or trouble.  "And I'm not sure about all day, but we can certainly do lunch.  I would not want to wait for the last minute, in case something comes up and Mr. Chance shows up early."  He looks over to what Mirage feels, as we head out for food.
Mirage offers to pocket Dusk's crystals if he'd like.  And she listens to Programmer as we step out of City Hall and back outside.  She catches Dusk's glance and gives her head a little shake.  "I'm sure we'll get some answers soon enough."
PP takes them a few blocks to a busy foot intersection. There at the corner is a smaller version of the telegate. It's a limited version. He waits for those using it, and presses a crystal. The interface is greatly simplified, and no operator is there. It appears to be able to select from a hoof-full of places. He selects a place of the city off a predetermined map, and opens the gate. It opens up to another part Marishville Prime. "This will take us to the downtown district." he tells them.
Dusk nods to Mirage and smiles, "I'm sure we will.  We're learning more as we go already.  And thank you, my love.  Though I suspect we'll be using them, so don't mind holding on for now."  He smiles and nuzzles her though, gratefully.  He nods and follows PP as we take the mini-porter across town.  "Things are very convenient for ponies these days."  He looks around as we arrive at the new location.
Mirage returns Dusk's nuzzling and then follows along with him and Programmer.  "I take it taxi's are obsolete now?" she asks Programmer as we arrive in the downtown area destination he set for the gate.
PP gives a wizened chuckle. "There's still taxies. But we're on the other side of the city. That's at least an hour ride." He looks around and gets his bearings. There's stores and restaurants around here, mostly. He picks a direction and trots off for a couple more blocks, then up for a few blocks, and we come to a large open-street mall. Everything is in stalls, all seats and such are outside, and there's a glass roof that covers the main shop areas. "Here we are." he says.
Dusk smiles at the nuzszling, then grins at Mirage's comment about taxis and PP's reply, "An hour's ride?  The city must be quite sizable!"  He had looked over the map, but it doesn't always give you a full sense of the size when it's simplified.  He looks around and gets a bit of his bearings, then follows PP along.
Mirage'ohs' and nods as Programmer explains.  "I thought your gates would have put them completely out of business," she replies as she follows along.  Mirage nods with Dusk's comment about the size of the city.  "There must be more ponies nowadays," she notes.
( Dusk smiles at the nuzszling, then grins at Mirage's comment about taxis and PP's reply, "An hour's ride?  The city must be quite sizable!"  He had looked over the map, but it doesn't always give you a full sense of the size when it's simplified.  He looks around and gets a bit of his bearings, then follows PP along. )
( Mirage'ohs' and nods as Programmer explains.  "I thought your gates would have put them completely out of business," she replies as she follows along.  Mirage nods with Dusk's comment about the size of the city.  "There must be more ponies nowadays," she notes. )
( ... I don't think I have that pose.. )
( PP nods to Dusk at his comment about the city. "It's the largest pony-based city around." He then smiles to Mirage. "The gates are placed in main traffic areas of the seperate districts, too far to use solely, on a practical basis. The city is structured to encourage ponies to wander and explore, not just to teleport from place to place. Also, the gates are the only way, besides flying, that one can get to the floating areas of the city. And it's true that we have a fair number of ponies. They've been able to flourish after the last few millenia." )
Dusk nods to Mirage, "I would imagine so, with such a sizable city."  Dusk glances up at the mention of the floating parts of the city and nods, "Well could make good business for renting some of those wings too.  But yes, it does make some sense, having small gates to cover large areas, then local transport for each area as needed."
Mirage listens as she walks along, though she doesn't seem to be looking around very much.  "And what are the passes for, Programmer?  And does everypony have them?"
( PP agrees with Dusk. "Renting wings is profitable, yes. As for the passes, they're for cities that don't particularly want every pony around teleporting into. The passes are how they keep their privacy, while still remaining on the telegate network. The passes can only be used by the pony they're assigned to." he then answers Mirage. )
Dusk nods to PP and grins, "Well I'm glad to hear it's going for business too."  He is a little curious about the details of the passes too, and nods as PP explains them.  "Ah.  I take it such places do see themselves as tourist meccas then."
Mirage walks along quietly.  "And what are the aura crystals for, Programmer?"
( "Well, perhaps the opposite. They're towns that want to remain secretive for some reason, or simply want to keep to themselves. They don't want tourists, regular or not." He tilts his head to Mirage. "They encode your unique aura in a way that it can be used like a key for other magitech devices, like the city passes. That way they know they should work for you, and only you. Some ponies use simular devices to lock their houses or stores. Are you alright, my friend?" he asks, noticing the quietness. )
Dusk nods, "Well can't be entirely secret I imagine, if have a big telegate connection.  But can certainly limit the traffic.  Unless ponies don't know that's an option.."  Dusk considers, seeing as the telegates can connect to multiple locations by selection.  Could be ones that don't show as a selection.  Where as if you had one gate to one location, it would be harder to discrete about it.  He walks along as PP leads us to the diner.  He looks over at his concern for Mirage.
Mirage tilts her ears slightly at Programmer's question.  "I'm fine.  It's that I don't recall having my aura copied to any crystal.  So, where did Chance get the ones he sent to Dusk and me?"
PP shakes his head lightly at Dusk for a moment. "Most ponies don't know about the option. They don't have access to it. Technically, neither will you, but the city pass will give the gate that option, unseen by the user, for that trip only." He looks over to Mirage, goes to answer, pauses in mid-open-mouth, then decides against it. "Since Chance is the one that obtained those, I believe it would be best to ask Chance that. You'll have an opportunity tomorrow. He's typically punctual." he decides the answer should be. He stops as we pass the diner. It's a quaint little diner, with outside tables, and a friendly older couple at the counter. The smell of sandwhiches and soups fill the air from the surrounding diners, and salad and wheatcake line the shelves of this one.
Dusk nods about the options for the gates.  So that's how they keep them more secretive.  He listens to the conversation about the aura crystals, and the curious non-answer answer.  But he leaves it up to Mirage if she wants to push for more of an answer or not.
Mirage replies "Alright then," to Programmer and then stands patiently when we arrive at the diner Programmer's led us to.  "One of your favorites?" she asks.
( PP gives a warm smile and nod to Mirage. "It is. They serve their salads fresh, just how you want them. They have a dozen different dressings they make themselves. And their wheatcakes.. those arn't meant to be eaten. They're meant to be experienced. They melt in your mouth, like sweet wheat, right off the stalk. Together, they make the salad taste more crisp, and the cake even more moist." )
Dusk ohs as we get there, and nearly pass it up.  He stops and looks and listens to PP with a smile.  "That sounds delicious.  Looks go get a seat."  If we're going inside, he opens and holds the door.  Unless we're going right to one of the outside seats.
Mirage lets one or both of you stallions decide at which table we're going to sit.  Then she takes a seat and listens as you two talk.  She noses into a pocket and retrieves one of the brochures she and Dusk aquired earlier and begins to read.
( The bustling movement of ponies around here keeps the place active. Talking and laughter and giggling and young playing in the street, largely used as a walkway, making it safe in this area for that sort of thing. The older gentlepony comes out, offering each of us a menu, and a drink. "We have water and berry juices and coffee. What would you like to drink?" PP orders a blueberry juice. He glances over to Mirage as she reads the brochure, and his horn glows. On the table a magic construct takes shape, but in moments. It's a small desk, with a placeholder for a cup and bowl, and a little tiny inkwell and quill-pen. He gives a light grin to Dusk, then pushes the little holder over to Mirage, hoping to cheer her up a bit with it. )
Dusk smiles at the waiter and accepts the menu, "I'll have some juice to start as well, thank you."  He glances over to see which one Mirage is looking over.  Perhaps the Marishville map one?  He looks back though as PP magics up a construct desk of some sort for Mirage, "Getting fancy and quick there, Mr. Pony."  He chuckles and smiles.  Dusk guesses we're sitting outside and shows Mirage to her seat, and desk now too, then sits as well.
Mirage lightly shakes her head to the waiter and sets the menu on the table.  "I'm fine, thank you," she replies to him before she goes back to reading.  And Dusk notices it's indeed the brochure about Marishville Prime.  She doesn't notice the little desk Programmer creates until Dusk mentions it.  "Doll furniture?" she asks after glancing at it before going back to the brouchure and its map.
( PP deflates slightly as Mirage passes the desk over. "A cup and bowl holder, for your lunch." The brochure tells about the main attractions around Marishville Prime, the stores, the shops, the museums, the theater, the floating park, the floating observatory. Though it's largely quiet on places like the area we're at. The waiter brings out the drinks and PP takes a sip, settling down himself. )
Dusk hmmms and does notice Mirage seems rather disinterested in other things going on around her.  He gives her a little nuzzle, "Anything particularly interesting you've noticed, my love?  And thank you, Mr. Pony."
Mirage gives a little nod to Elder.  "Oh, I see.  Thank you," she says before she shakes her head again to Dusk.  "No, not really.  Just a listing of the tourist places Elder Ponygale mentioned earlier and a short listing of hotels.  It's only a brochure so it's limited."
PP perks up, and is about to suggest something when the older pony comes back over to take our order. He orders a vegi salad, with walnut dressing, and a wheatcake for desert.
Dusk smiles to Mirage and nods, "Quite true.  It seemed to have your interest."  He gives her head a little peck of a kiss, "So what would you like to eat, my dear?"  He checks what PP gets, and Dusk goes with whatever the house specialty is, to give it a try.
Mirage tilts her ears in a shrug.  "It's just something to read," she replies.  Then she smiles politely to the waiter.  "I'm fine, thank you," she says as she hoofs her menu back to him. Then she goes back to the brochure.
( The house special today is a cucumber & lettuce salad with a creamy dandilion dressing. The waiter smiles. "Very good." he says, and heads in to make our orders. PP glances to Mirage. "If you want to learn more about Marishville Prime, we could stop at the museum." he offers. )
Dusk nods to Mirage, and to PP.  "Speaking of which, anything we should do to prepare for our trip?  Anything we need to know about this 'City of the Ancients' before we get there?  Seeing as they're not fond of tourists, I don't want to cause any troubles."
Mirage folds the brochure and lays it on the table.  "No thank you, Elder."  Then she listens as Dusk asks some questions.
PP shakes his head lightly. "Not particularly. The City of Ancients is home to some of the original occupants of the Forgotton Forest, when it really was still forgotton. I'll be coming with you, so there won't be any problems."
Dusk smiles softly to Mirage, and nods to PP, "Very well then.  I wouldn't want us to go there, and find out walking on the law is a capital offense or anything."  He grins.
Mirage says "You mentioned that outside that city is dangerous, Elder.  What's dangerous about it?"  Mirage wonders a bit at PP's answer to Dusk."
PP chuckles lightly to Dusk. "No, nothing quite like that. They're a group that relies heavily on respect and trust. Remember that, and you'll do fine." He glances to Mirage. "Many things used to be hidden in that forest. Some still are. Chance's dream-wraith, Urbados, was found there. It also borders the Blasted Plains. Some of the creatures which come from that chaos-infested wasteland are.. they're quite dangerous. The Tree of Harmony is located near the center of a number of cities, and they don't go near those areas, but other areas of the forest arn't so free from their wanderings."
Dusk smiles at th chuckle.  Dusk nods as PP gives some explanation about the city and the forest there.  "That does sound like a very serious area.  I can see the low tourist value..  Hmmm.  The Tree of Harmony?  I had thought it was near the older castle of the Princesses, in our time.  In the Everfree Forest."
Mirage'ohs'.  "Similar to the Everfree Forest," she says with a nod as Dusk continues.
( PP chuckles lightly to Dusk. "No, nothing quite like that. They're a group that relies heavily on respect and trust. Remember that, and you'll do fine." He glances to Mirage. "Many things used to be hidden in that forest. Some still are. Chance's dream-wraith, Urbados, was found there. It also borders the Blasted Plains. Some of the creatures which come from that chaos-infested wasteland are.. they're quite dangerous. The Tree of Harmony is located near the center of a number of cities, and they don't go near those areas, but other areas of the forest arn't so free from their wanderings." )
( Dusk smiles at th chuckle.  Dusk nods as PP gives some explanation about the city and the forest there.  "That does sound like a very serious area.  I can see the low tourist value..  Hmmm.  The Tree of Harmony?  I had thought it was near the older castle of the Princesses, in our time.  In the Everfree Forest." )
( "It was, but for some reason the Everfree was overrunning it. We found it near Princess Twilight's old palace. Still not sure why it was doing that, but that was after we lost the princesses, so that might have had something to do with it. We replanted it in a few areas, until it finally took in the Forgotton Forest. It thrives there today." PP nods to Mirage. "A bit like it, yeah, except there are things there that even the Everfree creatures would shy away from. Fortunately, there's also less of those dangerous creatures there." )
Dusk nods as PP tells him about the Tree and some of the things that have happened.  "I'm sure there are ages of things to learn eventually."  Dusk sees the tree as an entity or being of its own.  And has great influence on the course of history.  But Dusk seems more concerned with Mirage and how quiet she has been.  "So how are you holding up, my dear?  Are you feeling okay?"
Mirage tilts her ears back slightly.  "So that's why they gave it to us," she replies as she goes back to looking idley at the brochure.  She looks up at Dusk's question.  "I'm fine.  But I'd rather be doing something about our situation instead of sitting around."  Then she goes back to the brochure.
PP looks over to Mirage. "There's nothing you can do, until you meet up with Chance. A pony has to eat. We're not just sitting around, we're doing something necessary, in a relaxing way." he tells her. "I picked out a place that I thought you two would enjoy. No sense rushing something that can't be rushed."
Dusk nods to Mirage, brushing his shoulder to hers for a moment.  "And if ever feel we should be doing something else, do just say so, my love.  Yes, it seems we're to meet Mr. Chance by tomorrow.  Were you wanting to leave early for the forest?  Or something more particular here?"
Mirage looks over to Elder Ponygale.  "You said earlier there were other ways for us to return to where we belong.  Or was I mistaken?  And as to sitting...  when I have a problem I work to resolve it.  Waiting for somepony to solve it for me isn't how I was raised."  She looks at Dusk with mild surprise.  "It's more like the feeling that everypony except you and I seems to know just what's going to happen.  And if Programmer and Chance weren't our friends, I'd say we were marks in some sort of scam."  Then she shakes her head.  "But you know much more than I do about these sort of things, dear.  Whatever you say is fine with me."
PP nods to Mirage. "Yes, there are other ways to send you back. But if Chance wants you here, you'll just be brought back anyways. It'll be a waste of time. As for the problem, even I'm not sure what it is. There could be a number of reasons for Chance to pull you two here, though.." He looks confused at Mirage. "Would you not expect that from being pulled into the future? Assuming this isn't an accident, which it doesn't appear it is? I know you have a good work ethic, but getting ahead of oneself isn't good either."
Dusk nods to Mirage, "It is possible Mr. Pony was told some of what is to happen here, assuming we do return and talk to him in the past."  And if he still remembers it 10,000 years later.  "And I can assure you I haven't had anything quite like this, my love.  And you always have good suggestions."  He nods to PP as well, "Presuming he does have anything to do with it.  And if he knows something about how to get us back."  Dusk imagines it probably involves more of Chance's artifacts.  He always did like collecting and using those.  But perhaps not!  "Well the letter and stuff left behind suggests it might not be an accident.  Or again Mr. Chance might just have prepared for this event, having heard something in the past, should we successfully return."  He looks back to Mirage and smiles, "What might you like to do right now, my love?"  Dusk does work on his soup, since we did take the time to order it, until we decide what else to do.
Mirage frowns at Elder.  "No, I wouldn't expect that from being pulled into the future.  Unless everypony in the future knows what their future is going to be?  But I'd rather hear what Chance told you about all this."  Then she listens to Dusk.  "Alright then," she replies as her ears tilt back up and she turns to gaze down the avenue.
PP listens to Dusk and Mirage, and gradually gets a confused look on his face. He rubs his forehead with a hoof. "Mirage, my friend, would you please explain to me what's bothering you? What's this about knowing your own future?" he asks. "And I haven't heard anything from Chance concerning this. I wish I had, because then I could tell you. Perhaps he never expected you to meet me first. Again.. assuming Chance is directly involved. I'm having to kind of go off that assumption at the moment."
Dusk makes some good headway on is salad.  Must be made with head lettuce.  He glances down the avenue that Mirage looks to, and he nods back and forth between both of you, "I feel there is some confusion all around.  As I understand it, the next major thing we need to do is get in contact with Mr. Chance at the Ancient City in the Forgotten Forest sometime tomorrow.  And we currently have everything we need to travel there whenever we wish to do so.  Though if my Dear Mirage wishes to be on the move, then perhaps we should finish up and head off.  Any reason we can not go there sooner?  Or if there is something we can do here, before we go."
Mirage gives an incredulious look but before she can say anything, Dusk calmly goes over the situation.  "Nevermind, Elder Ponygale," she replies with slight dip of her head.  "I'm letting inpatience get the better of me."  Then she waits and listens as Dusk converses with Programmer.
PP nods lightly to Dusk. "That's right. And no, we can go there at any time. Typically though when Chance says he'll be somewhere at sometime, he usually does just that. The City of the Ancients is more secluded, and doesn't have what New Canterlot has, not to mention what Marishville Prime has. I thought, since you two were waiting anyways, it'd be nicer to show you around this city first before going on. Besides, it's my treat, and I'm fairly certain you two arn't exactly prepared for a trip around here. Especially where money is concerned." He looks over to Mirage. "It's alright." he says gently. "I just wish to answer anything I can. Unfortunately, I don't have most answers myself at the moment. What would you two like to do?" he asks, trying to finish up his own salad and cake. "If you want a stay in a plush hotel, I'll take you there. Want to explore other places? I'll be happy to help. Want to go to the Forgotton Forest? We can definitely do that too." He considers for a few moments. "There... i
"There... is one possibility, though I can't promise anything with just a day before Chance's arrival. I can have a message sent via the telegate network, and if Chance crosses any of the major gateways, he'll get it. If we're really lucky, he'll get it before coming back tomorrow. How does that sound?" he offers.
Dusk nods to Mirage, touching his hoof to hers.  "You're not along, my love.  We do all want to figure out what is happening and what we need to do.  And what you feel we need to do is no less right or less important than either of us, my dear.  I may occasionally deal with some unusual things perhaps more often, but I find you have just as excellent instincts and ideas."  He smiles softly to Mirage, then looks back over to PP, "So you suspect that nothing much more productive can be done prior to the time Mr. Chance said he would arrive.  So figure to spend the time in the most comfortable of options until that time comes."  He nods and hmmms, and can see where that is logical, but also where it might feel like we're wasting time we could be doing something.  He turns back to Mirage, "Well I am fine with anything that has us at the City of the Ancients by tomorrow.  Though Mr. Chance saying he'll be there by then, doesn't exclude that he may arrive earlier.  If so, we could go there sooner too, just in case he
( ... does.  Now that we have our options, what would you feel would be best, my dear?" he inquires to Mirage, giving her time to consider if she needs it. )
Mirage shakes her head.  "No, you two are right.  We're doing what Chance has already planned and trying to make any changes would just confuse things.  And I don't have any preferences.  Whatever you two would like to do is fine with me."
PP nods lighty as Dusk and Mirage speaks. Alright. I propose then we head to City Hall. I'll send a telegate network message for Chance. If we're lucky and he gets it, great. If not, it's only tomorrow. We'll then head to the City of the Ancients, and find a place to stay there until Chance comes by. Perhaps Mirage can learn more about whatever she wants to learn about there."
Dusk finishes up his own meal while the two of you talk as well.  He nods and stands, "And thank you, Mr. Pony, for your helping us with any accommodations and such that we may need.  It is appreciated."  He gets up and waits for Mirage as well.  "And I don't imagine it hurting anything, my love.  Tell us what you feel is best and we can make it work."
Mirage stands after Programmer and Dusk make it clear they're finished with their lunches and are ready to go.  "Elder Ponygale's made his point, and I said I don't have any preferences and whatever you two decide is fine with me," she replies to Dusk.  "So whatever you two want to do is what we'll do," she says gently.
PP finishes his lunch, and then leads the two back to City Hall. There he sends his message to Chance, to let Chance know we'll be in the City of the Ancients, and to come right away if he can. Next PP leads Dusk and Mirage out and toward the gate park.
[Dice] Dusk rolls 1d6:
[Dice] 3 = 3
Dusk nods to Mirage and smiles, "I just want to be sure, as did seem you wanted to do something more than we were doing.  And I was by no means opposed to doing more if you wanted.  I want you to be as happy as we can, in the situation."  He smiles and kisses her head.  "We at least have friends to help us."  He nods over to PP, and lets him lead the way once we're all set to go, "Whichever way, as long as Mr. Chance makes it."
Mirage follows along as Elder Ponygale sends a message and then takes us to the gateway park.  She gives Dusk a little kiss in return but focuses on what Elder's decided to do.  "Yes, at least we have friends," she agrees with Dusk.  Then, once we're at the magictech gate, she waits to see what Elder needs us to do.
( PP looks over to Dusk and Mirage. "Using the passes is easy." He takes out a pass himself from his side-pouch. It looks a bit different then Dusk and Mirage's. "Your passes only allow for one city. So just give those to the operator. He'll program the gate with them, then give them back to you. But first, mine." He takes out a small crystal holder in his pouch, and places his pass in it. He selects a location using a simplified list interface, and then hooves the crystal back to the operator. The operator uses it to program the gate. "Since we're all going to the same place, just give him your crystals, and we'll be all set to go." PP tells Dusk and Mirage. )
Dusk smiles at Mirage's kiss and walks along with her, glad that we could at least clear up the confusion.  He nods and listens to PP as well along with Mirage.  "Easy enough."  He let's PP do his first, then magics his crystal up and over to the operator at the gate PP has brought us too.  He waits for him to finish with it then takes the crystal back.  He then waits for Mirage to do likewise, and then turns back to PP and the gate.
Mirage listens carefully to Elder and then does the same with her pass crystal when the operator is ready.
The operator opens the gate, and we step through.
Mirage tilts her ears back slightly as Elder and Dusk both ask her what she wants to do.  She already explained she'd like to get back home as quickly as possible.  She taps her hoof lightly as she fidgets a little.  "Well, much as I'd like otherwise, you and Dusk have the right idea since there's nothing to be done about our situation until tomorrow," she says to Elder as her worried frown slowly turns into a light smile and her ears perk up.  "So, you enjoyed showing us some of Marisville Prime.  Would you mind showing us more of the city?"
PP finishes his cake (again. Hmm, deja vu). He nods gently to Mirage with a smile. "For friends, it'd be a pleasure." He glances between them. "I know what Dusk would like to see. What about.." He gives a light grin. "If you're going to be here, Mirage, would you be so kind as to record what you and Dusk do, for record sake? I'll pick you up something to let you do that easier." His eyes flash a bit with more youthful energy. "We'll also stop by City Hall and leave Chance a message via the telegate network. If we're really lucky, we'll see him tonight. If not, we only have a day to wait."
Dusk stands after finishing his meal as well and nods to the other two.  "As long as we can be there to catch Chance at the correct time, I would be more than glad to do some activities."  He's curious what PP has in mind when he says he knows what Dusk would like, but he is sure he'll find out soon enough then.  He smiles to Mirage and nuzzles her head softly.
Mirage gets up when she sees Dusk stand, and she smiles back to him and blushes lightly as his nuzzling.  "I'm sure Elder won't let us be late, dear," she says to Dusk.  Then she looks to Elder.  "And where did you have in mind?"
PP stands and pays the owners for the food, then smiles to Mirage. "I want to surprise you two." he says. He first leads them back to City Hall to send Chance the message, then heads back out to one of the smaller gates. "First, let's do a little shopping." he says. He brings up an area, and opens the gate. On the other side are stores. Malls. With pretty much anything that a pony of this age could hope for.
Dusk grins seems he was right about finding out later.  He nods to PP, "That sounds fine to me."  He follows along with Mirage as we go by the City Hall, then head off to the shopping center of Marishville.  He looks around, "This is more sizable than even the Manehattan shopping centers."  And surely sells things a pony would never find 10,000 years ago.
Mirage wonders when Elder mentions shopping.  "Why shopping?" she asks and then she peers as Elder opens the magictech gate.  "That's -one- store?" she asks, not sure if she's seeing things correctly.  And Dusk is quite right.  Manehattan has large stores but nothing to even begin rivalling what Elder is showing them.
PP chuckles. "Well, it's a chain of stores. There's others around the area as well. I think you'd call it a supermall, or something like that." He leads them into the main area. It's ten stories, and there's lots of ponies here. All sorts of smells too. There's a food court somewhere above, and a place for young ponies to play. There's all sorts of magitech down here for decoration. Floating fountains, and holographic games, and map displays showing the many areas and different connected buildings here. "We'll want mobile office supplies.." he decides.
Dusk glances about some and smiles, looking back to Mirage and PP with a nod, "I imagine we can find just about anything here, I wouldn't be surprised.  And quite a lot of magictech stuff it looks like.  Your family must be rather proud with all the advancements they've provided for other ponies.  It's rather amazing, really."  But then it has been 10,000 years to get here too.
Mirage hmms softly.  "Oh, so this is a collection of merchants and not one merchant?  Because it almost seems like a titanic version of Barnyard Bargains.  And it does seem to try to appeal to all needs.  Since it has everything, is this the only shopping in the city?"  Then she looks to Elder.  "Office supplies?  What for?  If you don't mind my asking?"
( PP chuckles lightly. "That would be a rather large store to manage. We do have something like that. MegaPA. It's further downtown. It's one of our free-standing buildings. Very expensive stuff. And no, there's others. This carries all basic stuff, but you'll always find an endless variety of needs that are never suited to one single place. That'd just be cluttery. This is medium to higher end stuff." He tilts his head to Mirage. "I have something in mind to help you record your journey." He trots over to the elevator and opens it, holding it open for the other two. There's a mini-map on the inner wall, telling what floors for what stuff. )
Dusk hmmms and nods, "I can see the comparison to Barnyard's, yes, on a much greater scale, of course."  He grins.  He hmms and nods to Mirage as we head into the elevator, "Perhaps Mr. Pony recalls what a great job you've done at the Center, he wants to get you to organize Marishville while you're here and before we go back."  He chuckles.  Though really, he imagines Mirage could do so.  "So there are more local stores, perhaps selling more local needs and lower end products."  Dusk nods as he considers it.  It does make sense.  Even with the portals about town, it can be more convenient having local shop for your common needs.  Especially food and other daily needs.
Mirage looks puzzled by Elder's comment.  "Record our journey?  Why would need to do that?" she asks.  "And you might think this 'mall' is uncluttered, but it seems that there's more here than any pony could ever want or need."  She gives a little sigh to Dusk.  "Oh, I'm sure the magictech machines they use here, like at the City Hall, make things far easier and more efficient than anything I know."
( PP nods lightly to Dusk. "That's right. There's actually alot of small shops. That makes up a large part of the pony workforce. There's always been need for the smaller, convinient shops." He then smiles to Mirage. "You want to get home soon. I'd like to have a little something to remember my friends by. Besides, if I recal, you do like to keep things organized, as Dusk stated." He chuckles lightly. "It makes things easier yes, but it doesn't replace ponies. That's... actually been tried. It didn't work out too well." He brings the elevator up to the 7th floor and gets out, then decides on a shop, heading toward it. )
Dusk smiles to Mirage, "Yet I imagine they are still just devices.  No more smart than a pile of scrolls.  It still needs a smart and well organized pony to put them all to good use, I'm sure," he says with a playful smile.  But suspects it's true all the same.  Then he nods as PP comments about it too, and confirms what he was thinking, on both counts it seems.  "And well, that would be nice for you to have something to remember us with.  But I think we need to ask Dear Mirage what she'd like before assuming she wants to, of course."
Mirage is relieved that at least the elevator is still familiar.  "I half expected some gateway device to just send us up," she chuckles to both of you.  Then she blinks at Elder.  "Replacements for ponies?" she wonders aloud.  Then she smiles to Dusk.  "I think he means something like a camera," she chuckles softly.
( PP stops abruptly. He glances back to Mirage opologetically. "Yes, perhaps I'm assuming too much. Would you like to at least see what the shops have to offer?" he suggests, then answers the other question. "The magitech technology is capable of fully replacing ponies for most tasks. But ponies are naturally driven to do things. The existance of the cutie mark is a testement to that, and that's something that hasn't changed in all the years. Even those ponies different from us, such as the nature ponies, still have the drive and cutie marks of their own. Asking a society of ponies to let machines do all the work, turned out to have simular results if we asked our dear Mirage here to sit around and watch someplace getting dirty for the next year straight." )
Dusk does find the elevator at least normal in concept, if looks of much newer age construct and mechanics he's sure.  He nods at Mirage's comment and smiles back to her as well, "Oh some pictures I think would be quite nice, yes.  Even if just for Mr. Pony."  He steps out as we reach our floor and looks back to the others, nodding about replacing all the work of ponies, "I agree, the needs of the ponies would have to come before simple conveniences."
Mirage is glancing at all the sights and almost walks into Elder when he suddenly stops.  "I'm not sure what you mean by 'assuming too much' of me, Elder.  Why don't you show me what it is you have in mind?"  Then she gives a little shake of her head.  "Look at what?  I probably wouldn't recognize half the things these merchants are selling."
PP leads them into the mobile office supply shop. There's rows of little tiny desks, quills, inkless quills, different color inks, and small gadgets that have some descriptive purpose. This one has audio, hi-def, broad-range. This one can be 'tuned' to a specific pony. This one does 3D visual. Over here is an expensive transluscent sphere, with a water-like surface, with a smaller glowing sphere inside. 'Flexible DynaShape recording device' it's called. Then there's fairly normal supplies over on another row. Paper is over there, drawing materials here, and then there's a row full of architectural supplies. Though the biggest thing are the 'Space Compactors' they sell up front as small cases.
Dusk mostly follows along, admiring quite the size and breadth of the shopping area. He loves exploring new areas and finding what they have to offer, and what's the same and what's different.  He nods to PP as he shows us around.  Some of the things at least appear to be obvious, but others are complete mysteries as to what they do.
Mirage is familiar with shopping in Manehattan, of course.  There you can just about anything.  But this store has things that fulfill needs Mirage hasn't even imagined.  Or so it seems to her.  She blinks at the quills.  "Still using these?" she says with a confused look to Elder and Dusk.  "I remember once being asked if I'd take notes at the Canterlot Court with quill pen and scroll.  I asked if that was because they were out of styluses and clay tablets.  Oddly, they didn't ask me again," she chuckles.  Then Mirage tilts her head at the glowing sphere.  "That's a little like the crystal spheres Lady Clockwork and I developed together.  At least in appearance, anyway."
PP chuckles a bit. "Yes, many ponies still write with those. After all this time, we still haven't got rid of the basics. At least we're not still chipping letters into stone." he teases. He glances at the sphere. "Ah. Um.." He thinks for a few moments. "I don't recal that. Was a good while ago though. These are DynaModules. They have a number of different uses. Some small, some large. Some are programmed with creature basics. You can develope pets from them. Others can be used for farming tools, or for, as in the case here, for recording stuff. This one can be loaded with visual, audio, olfactory, basic tactile, and energy field, incuding magic, recordings. There's one that can tuned to a pony, and eventually learn to read that pony's emotional state and other things related to experience, and record that. The trick with these, is they have to be programmed. There's other shops for that, and you pay for each thing you want to add to these. And some, like the ones able to get tuned to ponies, take time
take time and some dedication to use, and they can typically only be used by one pony at a time."
Dusk chuckles a little as Mirage describes calling the royal court outdated and behind the times even back in our time.  He looks curiously though as she mentions Clockwork, "You know I never really got to meet Lady Clockwork, or learn too much of her works.  Well there was the torch."  He chuckles.  He ohs about the device, "Magical recordings too?  That could be quite useful.  That's one of the things Lady Mirage does for me," he says and smiles.
Mirage smiles at Elder.  "Well, the spheres needed more developement.  And then Clockwork had to concentrate on projects for another customer and I went on to other things, too.  So the joint project was never really finished."  She nods to Dusk.  "Oh, you would like her.  She's quite remarkable with mechanical designs.  Though I have to wonder at why somepony would need such a specialized but complete recording device."
( PP listens in about the spheres. "Sounds like you had something interesting in the works there." He chuckles a bit. "And some ponies find use for them." he tells Mirage. "They're useful for explorers that discover new places. They can record just about everything, and review it later for possible dangers and such." )
Dusk nods. "Not everypony has a helpful talent to help back up their memories of such details.  Or a wonderful assistant to record them for history."  He grins.  He glances around at more of the products in the shop, just being an office place.  He can only start to imagine some of the other shops that sell more unique and advanced items.  He nods back to Mirage, "Yes I had hoped to see Lady Clockwork, but she never seemed available.  Now I haven't even heard about her being around, in a while at least."
Mirage gives a wry smile to Dusk.  "I'm not perfect with total recall," she says with a flick of her ears.  "And thank you for the praise, but you know that.  And yes, I haven't seen Lady Clockwork in some time.  I believe she's still working for the royals so she may be living in Canterlot now."  Thens she looks to Elder.  "Are these what you had in mind for the recording you wanted?"
( PP nods to Mirage. "The small things can be stored in the compact case, and expanded out to regular size later on for use. Like the quills and such. This.." he says, showing a smaller sphere, "can simply be worn. It records basic audio and video of the surrounding area. Though it's a bit less personal, unless you want to take voice-notes." he mentions. "That is, if you want to. Might come in handy, depending on why you're here." he suggests. )
Dusk nods to Mirage, "I figured she must be off on some work or project for the time being.  I hadn't heard of anything bad at least.  If you haven't heard either, that's probably the case."  He smiles and nuzzles Mirage, then nods to PP, looking over the various devices.  "Quite a selection, yes."
Mirage looks at the magictech devices as Elder explains them to her.  "And what are they used for?  Do ponies buy them just for office work?" she asks about the recording spheres.  Then she looks over to Dusk.  "What to you think, dear?  Would we need anything like this?"
"Well, mostly field work, though a number are useful for office work. Aot of this is a bit overkill for office stuff though. Taking different notes in the field can be useful."
Dusk smiles to Mirage and glances back over the items, "Well I believe Mr. Pony would like to have some documenting of our stay.  I guess he's showing you a few items here that you could do so with.  If you wish to write a log, or if you want to take some photos or whatever the recording devices do.  Myself, I might suggest something that could photos or 'moving' photos, and make some verbal comments to it too, might seem a nice, more personal touch.  Beyond Mr. Pony's and my ideas, it's also a matter of your personal taste, my love, and if you care to do so at all."  He smiles.
Mirage frowns a little as her ear tilts to the side.  "I wouldn't know what to use it for," she replies to both of you, looking unsure about this idea.  "But if Programmer says we should have one...  I mean, it's his bits after all.  What little money we have won't buy it, I'm sure."
PP considers. "Well.. you know what's avaliable. Would you rather meet up with Chance first, then see what, or if, anything is needed?" he asks Mirage. "If you wanted to do anything with it.." he adds. "We could go see the floating park and floating observatory if you wish."
Dusk nods to Mirage, "Well think something simple like a camera then.  I'm sure Mr. Pony can show us how to use it.  But yes, if you don't feel like it either, I suspect we can go out without it, unless there's a more important reason Mr. Pony hasn't said."
Mirage says "Well, it's just that I can't think of any use we'd have for a recording device.  But the other places to visit sound nice." Then, nodding to Dusk's comment, she looks to Programmer and waits for his answer."
PP smiles and nods to both of them. "Alright, I'll show you to the floating areas." He trots back out, and takes them to the elevator. Floor 3 has the food court. He stops there temporarily, and comes back with a small bag of candied flowers for them to try (naturally grown, the flower petals produce sugars that later allow them to be cooked directly into candy, PP explains). He them leads them back out to the street.
Dusk nods and rubs shoulders with Mirage.  He completely understands.  Taking photos would be a rather touristy thing to do, and that not really her style, even if it is for PP, as he assumes we'd leave any pictures here with him.  He waits with Mirage and then ohs and smiles as he checks out the interesting treat, "I'm not too surprised.  There are so many forms of plants out there.  Something like this surely was to be found at some point.  He tries a couple of bits and smiles, looking over to Mirage, "Pretty tasty."
Mirage tries one of the candies, and then slowly nods.  "Yes, they're nice.  What sort of flower are they?" she asks Programmer as she and Dusk walk along with him.  She gives Dusk a rub of her shoulder in return as we walk.
PP trots on toward the nearest small gate. "Oh, a number of different types. There's daisy and marygolds and daffodil and orchid. Each produces their own sweetness flavors when they're grown that way." he answers. He punches up a new place to teleport to. "I got a variety for you two. Though the store selection is fairly large."
Dusk smiles as Mirage enjoys them as well and he nods to PP, "I'm sure it'll give us something nice to snack on until our next meal time."  He watches where we go through the mall, and also where once we reach the portal.  He smiles warmly as Mirage rubs shoulders with him.
Mirage nods lightly.  "Yes, all the stores seem to have selections that are fairly large," she replies with a little smile.  "And thank you."  She doesn't have more than the one to taste since were moving along now.  "So where to next?"
PP smiles. "First, the floating park." He steps through the gate and waits for the other two. We're looking out over a fair sized piece of land, and beyond that, sky and other floating pieces of land. This one is largely grassy, with a number of groups of trees around, and a large lake in the middle. There's also some wildlife here. Bunnies and birds and deer. And some food vendors selling picknick supplies. PP points out the edge. "This is a nice place to relax, but we'll get the best view over there."
Dusk hmms and nods.  Indeed he hasn't seen nearly as much of the small wildlife around as one might around Ponyville.  But then it is a much busier town here as well.  You didn't see a lot of wildlife in places like Manehattan either.  He steps through and walks onto the grass and looks around.  The air is nice and fresh and the place is very pleasant, "So very nice!"
Mirage steps through as well, though she looks around carefully as PP talks.  "And why does this park float?  Did somepony enchant it?" she asks as she walks along with Dusk.
PP points out the large dragonfly-like 'wings'. Magic structures simular to the flying wings that non-pegasii ponies use around here. "The park uses Flitter Flight magitech. It's capable of levitating the park on it's own, but the wings help stabilize and move it around, without it tipping over. The middle of the park is filled with a power absorption crystal core, which absorbed ambient magics in the area, inside a silver crystal chamber, which amplifies the magics for levitation purposes." He trots out toward the edge as he talks. "The floating islands have to be floated down to the ground every few years though to be fully recharged and maintained."
Dusk smiles as Mirage walks close with him.  He does look over towards the edges of the park, but doesn't go too close, knowing Mirage isn't particularly fond of heights and all.  Dusk hmmms as PP explains how the island works, "Quite a magnificent work.  Though isn't there any risk such islands might fall?  And does it eventually 'use up' the ambient magic in an area?" he wonders curiously.
Mirage hmms? and looks surprised at what PP is saying.  "If it absorbs ambient magic in the area, doesn't it absorb our magic too?" she asks with some concern.  And she tries not to think of the large wings suddenly stopping and the park falling down to the ground.  Dusk has no problem knowing where Mirage draws the line on getting close to the edge, since she stops as soon as the edge is evident and nods for him and Programmer to go and look if they'd like.
( PP smiles a bit. "There's no risk of falling. Even if the floating islands come under attack. There's redundant failsafes that'll lower them to the ground safely, even if the main magitech completely fails. As for your magics, no, it won't, because your magics are already absorbed and stored by you. However, unicorn magics don't cast with 100 percent efficiency, so it does use left-over magics from unicorn spells. There's no danger to ponies. These things have been around for a long time now, and are maintained and studied by the best magitech ponies around." He glances to Mirage. "It's alright if you stay here. I'll take Dusk to look." He trots over to the edge with Dusk. There's a magic barrier that keeps ponies from falling off, as well as a short physical wall. "Look at the city." he tells Dusk. The city sprawls out for miles. But the structures arn't arranged in the standard city way. The whole thing is arranged as a very large-scale rune artifact. "The city generates raw magics from surrounding c )
surrounding crystal caves and such. That's where the telegate network gets its power. Where the city artifact itself gets its power from, is living. There's a massive amount of ponies living here, and it's cemented into the timeline by the Time Anchor's long existance here. The city is organic. Take a look as you know how. The entire region is filled with time-based energy, and all those ponies, living their lives, creates large waves in it, producing entropy patterns that can be assorbed by the city itself and used to transform extensive crystal caves around here into magics."
Dusk keeps well away from the edge indeed, and nods to Mirage's questions as well as his own, listening as PP explains some of it, but feels it doesn't answer it all.  "But unicorn magic makes use of the ambient magic around us too.  Focusing it with our own magic into something functional, not unlike a magnifying glass can focus sunlight into a usable power.  Ambient magic is quite plentiful, but not replenished quite as fast as sunlight.  But if you have been using it for sometime now, I suppose it is working."  Dusk might make note to compare the ambient magic here to how it is back in Ponyville, assuming once we get back.  It looks like he's heading over to the edge though, and nuzzles Mirage before leaving her behind but in sight.  He looks out where PP shows him, with the stucture of the city and all, "That does explain the source of it some.  The crystal caves may be focusing magic from a larger area into this area, and further more by the city design."  He does pick up on the different magics here and th
( ... their interactions.  He has had concerns about the Time Anchor since we set it in place, but he's glad to see it withstood all this time without being undone.  "It's a complex network of magic that's almost unbelievable.  It's amazing you all have worked this out.  Just the level of understanding needed, much less actually implimenting it."  He doesn't spend too long there though, once having seen what he can, heads back over to where Mirage is to talk about the city. )
Mirage gives Dusk a nuzzling in return and then waits patiently as you both go to look out over the incredibly large city.  She listens to the conversation, and while she understands the gist of what's being said, the finer details are a bit over her head.
( PP nods gently to Dusk. "You've got the general idea, yes. Because of the interdependency between pony and city magics, and that the Time Anchor has secured this city in this timeline, the griffons understand they can't just take the city over. It wouldn't work." he tells Dusk on their way back to Mirage. "So they've been trying to influence things in other ways. Mostly political. But that has backfired some, as more griffons are learning to live with the ponies, instead of in opposition with them. I find this promising. Now, if only the dragons would do that.." he says with a light chuckle. "What do you think of the park, Mirage?" )
Dusk smiles to Mirage as we return and she listens in on the chat.  He nods to PP, though not up on any conflict with the griffons.  "I suppose they could take over the land.  But keeping the magic working would be another issue, yes.  I still have a little concern about so much being based around the Time Anchor here.  But then there are risks to just about any situation, really."  He nods about the various conflicts, "The relations seem worse than they were in our day.  Back then the griffons seemed quite fine with ponies.  Dragons just didn't really care either way."  He glances back to Mirage as PP asks her about the park too.
Mirage is waiting patiently as you both return.  "Oh, I think the park is quite nice.  I would think the pegasi and griffons would love having a large park high above the ground."  Like Dusk, she also wonders at why griffons and especially dragons would be causing problems.  "Don't dragons just want to be left alone?"
PP nods to them both. "Well, the griffon conflict began nearly, four or five millenia now. Between the two great wars. And as for the dragons.. well, they pretty much don't care either way, even to this day." he answers with a light grin. "Though not for lack of trying to get them to share city life with ponies."
Dusk nods as well to Mirage's questions too.  "Hmmm, that's too bad, seeing how reasonably well they had gotten along before.  But I'm glad to hear they are starting to get along once again as well."  He's also glad to see Mirage is enjoying the park as well.  "So are there any nice sights to see here, Mr. Pony?"  Especially ones not involving looking down from great heights.
Mirage blinks and then sigh sadly at the mention of two great wars though she doesn't pursue the subject.  "So the flying park is a luxury feature," she notes as Dusk asks about other parts of the park.
( PP nods lightly. "Partly. Though there's many pegasii living here, so the flying islands cater to their skyfairing needs as well." he tells Mirage. He glances to Dusk. "There is. The observatory. Would you two like to see that?" )
Dusk rubs his shoulder to Mirage's as she sighs.  He leaves the subject of wars alone as well though.  "Yes, as Dear Mrage was saying, this would be rather convenient for the pegasi.  And indeed, the observatory sounds interesting as well."
Mirage smiles back to Dusk before nodding to Programmer.  "Yes, we would," she says, echoing Dusk's answer.  "After all, Dusk will want to see how the telescopes have changed compared to what he had back at the center."
( PP leans in toward Mirage. "Oh, I think he'll enjoy seeing that." he notes with a grin, then heads over to the gate. Through it to another floating island.. but this time they don't go to the edge. In fact, they appear near the observatory itself. This island is littered with small buildings and walkways, giving the impression of a miniture town. He leads them up to the observatory, and inside. It's spacious, with plenty of shelves for books, and ponies working on a variety of things. In the center is a large, complex control panel, with 5 spiral shaped artifacts arranged in a large circle around it. No telescope is seen though. However, the observatory roof is open. )
Dusk gives Mirage a little grin.  She knows him quite well too.  And he chuckles at PP's comment to Mirage.  But Dusk just miles and follows along as we head off.  He thought it might be on the same island, but makes sense that it would have its own.  And rather elaborate seeming too, and inside is special too.  "It is both familiar, and unfamiliar.  I don't see the telescope, first off, Mr. Pony."  He's sure he's about to find out soon.  The special artifacts and controls do draw some attention.
Mirage walks along, avoiding any heights as we go into the observatory itself.  "Books?" she wonders softly to Programmer.  "Why not the magictech document device such as the City Hall was using?  And I hope we're not interrupting here?"
( PP nods lightly to Dusk. "You'll see the telescope in a moment. What was at the old Ponyville Magic Research Center was a prototype for this one. Limited, but still functional. And it still had the night-time only limitation. As for the books, they're for quick reference and for notes." He points out that one of the tables in fact does have a magitech storage box. "That's where all documents are kept. But many find them convenient to be at hoof's length when doing studies and checking others' works." he then answers Mirage. "The magitech library contains tens of thousands of papers. Even with proper use, sometimes it's nice just to have it already handy." He trots up to the main console, and the operator there. The operator looks up, then smiles pleasently. "Ah, good day Elder. Is there anything I can do for you today?" PP nods gently. "There is. I'm in town for a short visit, and I would like to show my friends here what this Observatory can do." The operator glances at Mirage and Dusk, looks confused )
confused for a moment, then looks over his schedule. "We're free for now. I'll be happy to show you whatever you need." he says with a smile again. He adjusts some controls, and the spiral artifacts start to light up. After a few moments, there's a light hum in the air, and a small ring of light 3 feet in diameter appears over the console at about 10 feet. Then another appears about 10 feet about that, a bit larger. In all, 5 rings, the last one being fairly large, light up. Then a continuous beam of light shoots out from a central crystal on the control panel up through the rings. "Adjusting for day.." the operator mutters. He adjusts a few controls. The sun in the small, lowest ring begins to move. But it's moving backwards. It continues until the sun is gone, and the moon and stars are coming out, but in the wrong direction, until the moon is high. Nothing is magnified yet. "Midnight, last night. Will this be sufficient, Elder?" PP nods. "It will be, yes."
Dusk smiles as Mirage makes a good point about using much more mundane means of storing information here.  But PP quickly answers that.  Though might think the magic devices would be even quicker, then sees they have those too.  "Oh so that is what the device there was.  I thought perhaps somepony had set up a story telling circle or something there," he chuckles quietly.  He does try to keep a low voice, so as not to interrupt as Mirage had noted.  As we get over by the main controls, Dusk watches curiously as the device is started up.  He raises a brow as the device changes from day to night.  "A.. recording of the night before?" he asks PP.  "Like the devices we saw at the shop?"
Mirage listens quietly, giving a polite nod to the operator and then watching as Programmer sets the telescope.  No, it's not really a telescope.  Those use glass magnifying lens.  This seems to be all magical in nature.
PP shake his head to Dusk. "Not a recording. A localized temporal shift. Chance set up that part of the magitech telescope. We're seeing last night." He looks over at the operator, who's waiting patiently. "One of the valleys on the moon. Um.. how about the Zebra Valley?" The operator nods, and adjusts other controls. The rings all light up, and the view positions on the moon.. then zooms in. Very close, showing a canyon of alternating light and dark areas down the length of it. "It works on the same basis as glass lens telescopes," he explains, "except we can get far more manification power out of the magic lenses."
Dusk would agree with Mirage on the definition of a telescope.  But then wouldn't be sure what to call this device.  He nods as he listens to PP, "So you're locally shifting time so that you can view something in the past?  Is there a limit on the time you can do so?  And could you communicate with that time, such as sending some signal through?"  It seems a rather significant thing to do for device like this.
Mirage does her best not to look surprised as Programmer details what the magictech scope can do.  Then she starts wondering just what else could be done with this device as the lunar features are displayed.  She tilts an ear as Dusk asks some technical questions.
( PP nods lightly to Dusk. "In a sense, yes. Time is shifted so we're seeing the actual past. However, it's like looking at an image in a mirror. We're seeing the reflection of the past in the ring. There's no way to interact with it, and due to the nature of it, we can't view the future. The futher back in the past you go, the harder it is to make out any details. Go back about a week or so, and things start getting a bit fuzzy. It takes longer to view to get a clear image. You would have to view something for a few moments to get a clear image for a week back, or a few hours if you were to go back a year. He glances to the operator. "Find a nice rock in that canyon." The operator nods, and zooms in futher in one region. He finds a nice rock with pretty white and grey stripes and focuses on it. We're now seeing a single rock, on the moon. )
Dusk nods to PP as he now has a better understanding of the working and limitations of the device.  "Ahh okay.  Still that is quite impressive.  Though I guess no looking back to when we got drawn into this time, and seeing what happened or signaling us to avoid it."  He grins, though is checking out the image in the smallest of the 'telescope' rings, as well as looking into the magic used for it.  "A very nice piece of work indeed."
Mirage resists the urge to face-hoof as Dusk casually talks about our situation with the telescope operater standing right there.  "Oh well, what not a few more in the know," she whispers to herself.  Then she watches, wondering what Programmer is going to demontrate.
Mirage resists the urge to face-hoof as Dusk casually talks about our situation with the telescope operater standing right there.  "Oh well, why not a few more in the know," she whispers to herself.  Then she watches, wondering what Programmer is going to demontrate.
( PP shakes his head to Dusk. "No, we couldn't." The operator looks even more confused. PP looks over to the operator. "Thank you very much sir. I appreciate it." The operator smiles. "It's no problem, Elder. You three have a pleasent day." )
Dusk sees Mirage's explression and gives a little grin.  He didn't bring up anything about 10,000 years or that.  Maybe we just got lost when we went out this morning and wasted our day.  Signal back at the right time to tell us to take that left we missed.  He nods to PP, "Well then I guess we just handle things as we planned so far.  But yes, it is quite an amazing piece of work."
Mirage gives a polite nod and a gentle smile to the operater as he leaves.  Then she gives another smile to Dusk and watches to see what Programmer wants to show us.
PP leads them out of the observatory. "What did you two think? And is there anyplace else either of you would like to see?" he offers.
PP leads them out of the observatory. "What did you two think? And is there anyplace else either of you would like to see?" he offers.
Dusk nods to PP, "As I mentioned, I think it's a great work.  Very nicely done.  As fpr where..  Hmmm."  He looks over to Mirage, "What might you like to do, my love?  Perhaps see what they have as a show here, compared to back in Manehattan?"  He grins.  "Or other ideas, of course."
Mirage was half expecting Programmer to do something with the moon rock he showed us.  But she thinks a moment and realizes it was only an image after all.  "Well, that machine is quite incredible," she replies with a little smile.  Then she tilts her ears at Dusk's question.  "Oh, I don't know.  We've seen the merchants and the park and now this.  Maybe Programmer has a favorite place he'd like to show us next?"
PP gives a small grin. "I might have a place like that. MagiPet. It's a pet store. Would you like to go see?"
Dusk nods with Mirage and smiles, "Yes quite a lot already in such a short time."  He hmmms and nods to PP, "That sounds interesting.  I do recall the 'bird' your grandfather had you care for," he says, following along as we follow outside.
Mirage chuckles.  "Yes, the bird that Snow Bolt was afraid of," she adds as she follows along.
PP chuckles. "Oh, that was a long time ago. And he had me care for many other construct creatures as well." He punches up the next location and heads through the gate. There he waves down a horse-drawn cab. "It's about eight blocks from here, if I remember right." he tells the others.
Dusk chuckles to Mirage, "Was Mr. Bolt really afraid of it?"  Dusk watches as we take another portal hop to a new part of town.  He could offer to quick walk us the distances, but seeing as we're here and the cab is available.. do as the Marishvillians do.  Do they dislike being called that?  "Not too far then, hopefully."  He assists Mirage into the cab and then gets in after PP.
Mirage tilts her ear and gives Programmer a sidelong glance.  "Of course it was a long time ago.  A very long time ago," she says with a soft smile.  Then she shakes her head, tossing her mane a little at Dusk's question.  "Snow thought they were unnatural and avoided the bird.  So maybe 'afraid' isn't quite the right word," she says just before the cab stops.  She smiles to Dusk as he helps her in and she gets seated, making sure you two have pleny of room.
( PP grins a bit to Mirage. "Alright, to me it was a long time ago. To you two, it wasn't that long ago." he says softly. He rides in the cab with the others, and pays the driver before getting off. This is a long group of smaller stores, of mostly animal care things, with the equivalent of a small zoo at the next block. More of a garden and wildlife park, but still. He leads them to the MagiPet store, and heads inside. There's a bunch of different animals here, each having a nice little home appropriate to them. There's also some rather unusual creatures one wouldn't expect to actually find in the wild, as well as some of those DyanShape spheres that can change into different things. )
Dusk nods to Mirage as the cab pulls up.  "Ahh okay.  Still, an amusing idea."  He gets in and sits besides Mirage and facing PP.  He chuckles along with the others about how long ago it was or not.  Soon we're at the magipet store and inside.  Dusk is impressed with quite the selection compared to what we had seen PP with in the past.  Dusk particularly likes the more unique creatures you wouldn't normally find.  "I imagine their behaviors have improved even from what we saw in the past."  Saying 'in the past' doesn't give anything away either, to a casual listener, so he uses the expression knowingly.
Mirage thanks the driver as we leave the cab and pauses to look at the variety of stores. "Everything is relative," she smiles back to Programmer.  Upon entering the store, she's surprised the animals have little habitats.  She's about to ask a question, but Dusk asks the same question first about the magitech animals.
( PP follows them in, and nods to Dusk and Mirage. "Greatly. They all have active conciousnesses now, along with sentience and sapience. Many are actually tuned to real animals, so they have the same personalities as you would expect from true live animals." he tells them. There's 8-legged lizards, and gilled birds, and even little dogs with pegasii-like wings. All active, and looking curiously at the newcomers. )
Dusk hmmms and nods, "That is certainly very impressive.  Though doesn't it open up more issues, such as ponane(pony:humane) treatment of them?  Psychological well being, and all that?"  Dusk is curious about the even more fanciful 'pets.'  No reason reason a pony couldn't have a miniature dragon or mantacore or such.
Mirage keeps in mind that these aren't real animals but magical machines, so she insulates herself from the animals' behaviors which are designed to be emotionally appealing.
Mirage keeps in mind that these aren't real animals but magical machines, so she insulates herself from the animals' behaviors which are designed to be emotionally appealing.  "I suppose," she replies to Dusk, "but you'd have those problems anyway, wouldn't you?"
( PP glances to Dusk. "I'm not sure why that'd be a problem. Ponies have had pets since I can remember, and the only ones allowed in shops like this are those that actually are looking for owners. Well, the real ones anyways. The magitech ones are programmed to want owners and to be happy with them. Sometimes we get the odd magitech creature that isn't, but those are supposed to be treated like any real animal. We find a different purpose for them." )
Dusk replies to Mirage, "Well if they are sentient, it means they have their own will and desires as a real animal or pony would.  They they worry for their own existance and have fear and suffer when harmed.  Where as if a simple machine, it simply reacts as programmed, not from any concern of its own."  He looks to PP and nods, "Then it is expected that they need to be treated and cared for as real animals would, including the magitech ones.  That's what I meant.  That for example, you can't just have a sentient magitech animal and say have it plow and work your fields until it ceases to work."
Mirage tilts her head a little at Dusk's comment.  "For pets, I agree with you?  But isn't that what happens to ponies on farms?  They pull the plow until they can't anymore?"  Then she winks at Dusk and quickly steps behind a habitat.
( PP nods to Dusk. "Then you are correct. Yes, even the magitech animals need to be treated like real animals. There are ways to encode certain wills into magitech creatures. Say you program a magitech ox to want to work in fields, and actually be happy there. But there's laws to how far one can go with that sort of thing." He glances over to the hiding Mirage curiously. A little tiny panda, the size of a small cat, comes up and tugs on Mirage's tail, peeking up at her with those big panda eyes. )
Dusk nods to Mirage, then smirks with a shake of his head, "I guess we'll just hook you up to a plow, my dear Mirage, and see how that works."  He chuckles as she ducks away from him.  Before he can go after her though, PP gets his attention again and confirms what he was thinking, "Then that's good then, yes.  And I am sure there are various benefits, such as easier care and health and such."  He turns back and smiles to see the little panda, and some others of note to him.
Mirage hmmms? as her tail is tugged, and she turns to see the little panda.  "Sorry, I'm not in the market," she says to it before stepping back to Dusk and Programmer.  "Not too many ponies walk out with empty saddle bags, do they?" she asks, referring to the pet's behavior and general cuteness.
( PP chuckles a bit and nods to Dusk. "You could say that." The panda gives a downtrodden expression at Mirage, but follows her out anyways. It gives her leg a hug. )
Dusk smiles and nods to Mirage, "Indeed, looks like you have a new friend.  I'm sure he'll find somepony who is looking to give him a home with little trouble."  He nuzzles Mirage, and gives the little panda a pat.  "Shouldn't you be in your home area, little fellow?"
Mirage nods as she listens to Programmer, and gives Dusk a grateful smile as he comes to her rescue and reasons with the little pet.
( The little panda looks between the two, then up at the bamboo home, then back at Dusk. He then hugs Dusk's leg. PP grins a little. "Perhaps we should go before someone gets too attached." he says softly to Dusk and Mirage. )
Dusk smiles back to Mirage and picks up the little fellow.  He gives his head a ruffling pet, "That's a good boy."  And he puts him over with his bamboo home.  He chuckles and nods to both of you, "Yes perhaps that would be best."
Mirage doesn't say anything, but she knew something like that was going to happen.  The pets are designed to make an emotional appeal to the customer.  At least it was just one and not several.  "Where to now?" she asks Programmer as we begin to walk along.
The panda rubs up against the petting, enjoying the attention, but then looks forlornly at Dusk and Mirage as he gets put back in his home. As PP leads Mirage and Dusk out, he's heard giving sad little squeaks. "He'll find a good home soon enough. The cute ones like that always do." PP says. When they're out of earshot and eyesight of the panda, PP considers. "Well, there's alot to see around here, but we've burned up a fair amount of time now, and I've shown you some of the major things. Perhaps if you wish, we can come back later and see other sights. But the message I sent Chance told him to meet us in the City of Ancients, so perhaps we should get going there. Unless one of you wants to see the museum?"
Dusk is pretty sure the panda will be fine as well, and smiles as we head off.  Besides, he already has Squirrelly, a real squirrel.  "The museum sounds interesting.  Though for Dear Mirage and myself, it will be 'of the future' I imagine."  He grins.  "Though indeed, I am not sure timewise.  What do you think, my dear?" he asks, rubbing shoulders with Mirage.  He's kind of ready to go check on Chance himself.
Mirage hmms? and looks puzzled.  "I thought the meeting wasn't until tomorrow?"  She noses into her skirt's pocket and pulls out her pocket watch.  "We still have what's left of the afternoon and tonight, don't we?"  Then she winds the watch and makes an adjustment to it before nosing it back into the pocket.
PP nods lightly to Dusk, then looks to Mirage. "It is tomorrow. Though there's a small chance we might see him tonight. We do have time to go look at other things, or get settled in the next town. I'd show you the Blasted Plains, but I don't want to hazard it without Chance. It's dangerous there, and even for Dusk, he's inexperienced with that much chaos in one spot. Would interfer with his pathing abilities. How about we see the museum? Or possibly a show at the theater? We have the Reality Theater that has some good shows."
Dusk nods to Mirage, and to PP, "And if Mr. Chance was going to be early, would he not send a message to let us know?  I suppose there's no problem checking out some other things today."
Mirage looks a little surprised at Programmer!  "Um, do we -really- want a casual tour of someplace dangerous?" she asks before shaking her head.  "Maybe we should pass on that offer," she says to Dusk.  "So, what do you think we should do?"
( PP shakes his head to Mirage. "No, we sholdn't. Which is why I'm not recommending it. One doesn't go out into the Blasted Plains without an experienced guide of some sort, and I can't protect you directly since my djinn powers only work with my family, and my unicorn powers were never all the strong anyways. Now, if one of my family were here, it'd be different, but.." He trails off, then looks to Dusk. "Yes, he would. He'd leave a message with City Hall. I don't know why I didn't bring my communicator.." he mutters to himself. "We can check in at a gate though." )
Dusk chuckles to Mirage and figured we were passing on the Blasted Planes tour right off, yes.  "I agree, my dear, yes.  As for what to do, sure let's go check out the Museum (of the Future)!  Though what is 'Reality' Theater?"  He nods to Chance, "And checking in sounds like a good option then, so we can know either way."
Mirage hmms? at Programmer.  "You're communicator?  What is that?" she asks before nodding at Dusk's suggustions before she begins walking along on our way to City hall.
( PP trots along with the others, until he can get a horse-drawn cab again. He grins to Dusk. "That.. I think should be a surprise for you two." He then turns to Mirage. "It's a device used to send messages or communicate with others. It uses the gate network by transmitting your voice using tiny teleportation packages. Ponies like to communicate face to face, mostly, but they do come in handy at times. Especially if you live in seperate cities and want to send a message to another pony." )
Dusk hmmms and nods as PP explains by not explaining.  "I suppose we will have to find out sometime then.  And the communicator device sounds rather complex, and perhaps pretty interesting too."  He smiles and rubs shoulders with Mirage while we waited for the cab, and then we're off once again.
Mirage looks thoughtful.  "So you have a device that lets you talk to others with a device of their own even if they're in other cities?  That's very remarkable.  So I suppose that mail is hardly ever used now?"  She smiles to Dusk as his shoulder rubs to hers.
PP grins lightly. "Yes, ponies still have mail for many things. There's always something to send by mail. But most direct communications are done via communicator. Most ponies don't like the hassle of carrying one around, so most are at home. There's always the gates if you want to leave a message." When they're let off at the gate, PP heads over to it, and selects a 'Communications' menu, then 'Marishville Prime City Hall', and 'Open Communcation'. After a few moments a voice comes across. "City Hall. May I help you?" "Elder Ponygale, checking to see if Chance has left me a message." After a few moments, "No, he hasn't." "Thank you." PP pulls up the map again to select the entertainment sector of the city.
Dusk smiles back to Mirage and listens about the communicator as we travel.  He nods as PP explains, "And I guess less use for communications via dragon magic then as well."  He gives a light grin.  After we find there's no message from Chance yet, Dusk follows along to yet another new part of this rather large city.  And he's enjoying seeing more of it.
Mirage seems puzzled.  "Depending on how large your communicator is, I would think most ponies would always have one with them.  When you're away from home is when it would be -most- convienent to be able to quickly talk to somepony."  She watches Programmer talk to City Hall from the gate device and this quick conversation, despite the distance, makes her tilt an ear and glance to Dusk before she chuckles softly.  "Maybe magictech never perfected the magical baby dragon," she replies as Programmer looks at the device's map.
( PP smiles a bit to Dusk. "Not really, no. Only the dragons make use of that nowdays." He glances to Mirage and chuckles. "You do have a valid point, but society has gone through, shall we say, trends over the centuries. They used to be into that, everypony having a communicator, talking endlessly on it, anypony, anywhere. Society gets tired of it overall and it diminishes, then over time it starts up again. You're seeing a 'low' period at the moment. Which personally I find refreshing." He steps out into the next part of the city. As we trot along the streets, there's pony rides and entertainment shows and zoos (which are actually animal-based entertainment shows, of animals from all over the place), and museums of a number of different types, showing off the history of places, the world, the Aligarchy (alicorn rule), of food, of art.. And then there's the large museums which try to generalize history in the broad sense. )
Dusk chuckles and smiles to Mirage, "Perhaps they haven't.  But perhaps they could use the teleport tech to teleport  printed messages around."  Then he nods to PP's comment and considers it on a more serious note, wondering if dragons really send letters around to each other.  He smiles as we walk through the new part of town.  "Very.. entertaining looking, indeed.  I guess it just as well we ate recently, so as not compelled go stare at food in the food museum."  Though he does eye all the different places with various curiosity.
Mirage nods lightly as she listens to Programmer.  "It still seems to defeat the purpose of having the communicators if you have to go out of your way to use one," she replies with a little shake of her head.  Mirage finds the trotting to be rather refreshing, since the activity takes her mind off of all the generally weirdly different things we're seeing that make up daily life in this huge metropolis.  She blinks in surprise as we arrive.  "The museums are part of the carnivals?" she asks, seeing the amusement rides grouped around.  She half expects to see magictech copies of Flim and Flam barking in front of the museums:  "Come and see the incredible princesses!  Each an almagamation of unicorn, pegasi and earth pony and each with their own unbelievable powers!  See the incredible Elements of Harmony!  Experience what Real Friendship (tm) feels like!  Watch in awe as Kindness tames pure Chaos!  Hurry, hurry hurry!"  Mirage nods to Dusk but tilts her ears.  "Wouldn't mail just go through the magictech devices we
"Wouldn't mail just go through the magictech devices we saw in City Hall.  You know, the floating display that created our passes and aura crystals out of nothing for us?  It should to the same for letters and other small objects, wouldn't it?"
I really should put the museum somewhere else sometime.. :P
( PP chuckles to Dusk. "You don't want to see the last thousand years of agricultural advancements?" he humors. He tilts his head to Mirage. "Those are compression and storage devices. They work differently then the teleport devices, and one shouldn't store live things in them. But the mail carriers do use the gate system to carry things around." He points down the street with a hoof. "A few blocks or so that way are the different shows and such one can go see." )
Dusk nods to Mirage, and would find her imagery very appropriately entertaining indeed.  Perhaps they'll be a part of the museum itself, as a historical note.  "And that's basically what I meant," he tells Mirage, "about a magitech dragon able to send messages, using that teleport magic.  Just wrap it up with effects to look like it's done with magic dragon fire breath."  He chuckles to PP, "Perhaps there is a better use of the time we have to see the area, yes.  Though I'm surprised, if the communicators are portable, and can use teleport magitech to transmit the sound and such, that perhaps could find a way to send materials too.  But then maybe that's something yet to be developed," Dusk muses aloud, as he considers ideas of his own.
Mirage blinks at Programmer.  "You mean you mail -living- things?  Not just letters and pictures?" she asks, quite sure that she's misunderstanding something here.  She walks along, nodding to Dusk as he explains about using effects to disguise the magictech devices and then ventures a hypothesis of his own to Programmer about the magictechnology.
( PP nods slowly to Dusk. "I see what you're getting at. However, for the various sizes of things that can come through the mail, one would effectively have to carry around a portable teleporter, or have one installed in each house. However, that would clog up the teleport gate network, which we keep fairly simple and clear for safety reasons. Also, it would put all the mail carries out of business." he grins. "Things work well with the communicators because the size of each thing to teleport is tiny. That's not true with the main mail system." He muses for a moment. "We could set up a different network just for the mail, but with the sheer number of houses and places in larger cities, that'd take alot of majic power overall, and in smaller cities it's really not needed. There's a reason why the number of large telegates are limited in cities." He nods to Mirage. "Yes, many ponies mail living things as well, such as pets for their aunt or friend or somepony to look after. Using the gates, things can be m )
Using the gates, things can be mailed through quite quickly, so for many ponies, mailing living creatures isn't a problem. They just take priority over other mail."
Dusk wasn't sure mailing living things is what PP meant, more than shouldn't 'compress' living things, which apparently was what was done with the objects we received, rather than teleported.  But seems from PP that things are mailed too.  "And I know things such as livestock such as chicks sometimes get mailed to or from farms even for us."  He hmmms about the workings of the telegate and some limitations, "Ah very good.  And I was mainly only imagining letters, such as Dragon Spike might have done.  But yes, I could see the demand growing for larger items too.  And of course we don't want to put the mail ponies out of business."  He grins and follows along towards one of the amuseums with the others.
Mirage says "Oh, I see," as Programmer gives an idea about how complex the system actually is and how it's managed to keep things simple and maintain some control over who and what is going where.  The subject is too much to take in all at one time, so Mirage just listens now as she follows Programmer and Dusk."
PP smiles. "Yes, the mail ponies would revolt." We pause around the museum areas. "How about the Marishville Prime museum?" he suggests.
Dusk nods as well and chuckles, "And nopony wants revolting mail carries."  He considers about which to go to and nods also, "That would seem fine to me, if the one you suggest we start at, Mr. Pony."  He smiles, glancing over to Mirage.
Mirage gives you both a side glance as her ears tilt back slightly.  "I wouldn't know which one to choose," she says to Dusk before nodding to Programmer.  "Whichever you would enjoy showing," she says.
( Dusk nods as well and chuckles, "And nopony wants revolting mail carries."  He considers about which to go to and nods also, "That would seem fine to me, if the one you suggest we start at, Mr. Pony."  He smiles, glancing over to Mirage. )
( Mirage gives you both a side glance as her ears tilt back slightly.  "I wouldn't know which one to choose," she says to Dusk before nodding to Programmer.  "Whichever you would enjoy showing," she says. )
( PP leads the two into the museum. It has a number of rooms, ajoined by hallways, in a single path, going from older times to younger times (or future times for Dusk and Mirage). The first one is about the city as it was in the really young days. There's still some very old drawings of the town as it first started, and some historical artifacts there. Some jars, a (restored) horse wagon, some old paintings, old work tools, and the like. )
Dusk walks along with Mirage and PP as we're shown into the museum.  Dusk nods and smiles, seeing the much more familiar form of Marishville.  "Kind of like when we first encountered it, when Mr. Chance was trying to save it," he comments to Mirage.  He looks over some of the older objects too, a little curious of their own history.
Mirage nods to Dusk as we begin to look at the exhibit on Marishville.  "Are these recreations or the actual things?  It doesn't seem like wood or paper would last so long."
PP wanders along with the two. "Some of the wood is calcified wood. Not completely petrified, but the outside is generally preserved. As for the other stuff, Chance was kind enough to lend us a number of things from his Book of Memories and his own personal collection. Where we didn't have those, we have recreations." he explains. The next room contains the town, built and bustling (or as bustling as a small town can be). It's a period a bit before Chance arrived. Anywhere between thirty to a hundred years. There's a number of photos, and more artifacts from that time period. "We recreated some of this stuff from the memories Chance has from his own personal time in Marishville."
Dusk nods as PP explains some of the background of this, and of the next room, that seems to have the actual town, or at least some appearance of it.  "The apperance is very good, for sure.  Of course having Mr. Chance to help you verify and supply items I am sure helped a lot."
Mirage tilts her ears slightly.  "What did you contribute, Programmer?  After all..." she trails off as a couple of other ponies go by us and continues after they've passed.  "You have some knowledge of this too, don't you?"
PP nods a bit. "I do, but only after we got there at the end of Chance's stay there." As we move further toward the end of Chance's stay (in terms of year), there's more and more reports of fires, and things falling apart easily, and other such oddities.
Dusk smiles, listening to Mirage and PP.  He hmmms then nods, "I imagine because of the alterations to the time line with the time anchor, and time wanting to try and revert?
Mirage touches her shoulder to Dusk.  "I think he's talking about when Chance was in Marishville before the time anchor existed.  Remember what happened?  The town was wrecked and abandoned."
PP nods lightly to the two. "As everyone in this timeline remembers it, it was a town that was never abandoned, but had a streak of bad luck that got worse until the Time Anchor was put in place. We arrived shortly before Chance started the Time Anchor."
Dusk glances to Mirage at the brush of her shoulder, "Ahh yes.  Though that was still after Mr. Chance went back to change the past of the town.  And normally you can not change the past in any significant way.  Things will turn out the way they were meant to be.  Only the anchor helped secure that."
Mirage says "I was just asking if you remembered what happened, Dusk.  I don't have the academic knowledge of the subject to explain it."  Then she nods to Programmer.  "Oh, I see."
PP takes them into the next room. It starts with the Time Anchor. And goes forward. A pretty normal town life. It skips generations as the town begins to grow. Curiously, there's no mention of Chance in any form.
Dusk chuckles and smiles, rubbing back against Mirage, "Yes, indeed.  And I do see what you were meaning.  And I don't believe anypony knows for sure how all of something like this works, other than what we have seen."  He follows along as we move on to the next room with the Anchor.  He hmmms and looks to Mirage and back to PP, "So why is there no mention of Mr. Chance?  Did he wish to be left out?"
Dusk also notes no mention of the rest of our parts as well.
Mirage watches the display as Dusk goes over details and then asks about Chance.
PP trots over to a picture of the Time Anchor and shows them the plague: The Time Anchor. <brief explination of what it is and does>. Creation by Dapple Double and an unknown friend. Dapple Double's picture is up there as well. "It was Chance's idea. Chance wished to be left out of history so as not to take credit for the town. He also wished the memory of Dapple Double to be a good one that would survive history. It's not entirely untrue, as Dapple helped him gather the artifacts and crystals he needed." he tells them, speaking in soft tones when everypony else leaves the room, giving us a moment of privacy.
Dusk nuzzles Mirage softly as we pause for a bit to look at the current display.  He nods, listening to PP about what Chance and the display here.  "Ahh yes.  And actually can make sense, if you're around that long and don't want it to be obvious about it."  He grins.  "And yes, I think Mr. Double did deserve a good history."
Mirage smiles back to Dusk before asking Programmer, "So what caused Chance to become publicly known?"
( PP lets Dusk and Mirage look as they want, then answers Mirage. "He gets around. He visits towns frequently, especially Marishville Prime since it's the main pony hub. Many ponies have seen him a number of times since he was young, an almost annually in some of the smaller cities. He shows up in New Canterlot a couple times per year to help out with palace restorations and to enjoy the Spirit Ball games. You tend to get to recognize a pony who does that. Not to mention he has quite a bit of extended family around." )
Dusk is curious as well as Mirage asks, and nods as PP explains.  "Ah yes, if he does stay in one area for an extended time, or keeps showing up regularly, I can see that happening.  But it doesn't seem to have been bad for him, that I can tell so far.  Hopefully he has much better control with his talent these days."
Mirage hmmms softly.  "I was curious, since Chance took care to remain unknown earlier.  Now it seems as if he has a reputation he's know by."
PP nods to Dusk. "Yes, it can certainally happen that way. And as for his talent, he does direct it better these days." He tilts his head to Mirage. "It's the type of reputation Chance wanted. He didn't want to be known as a famous pony, and has never pushed for that. He's never settled for the rich life, and finds ways to keep himself busy with honest jobs. That's just Chance for you. If he's known, it's as a friend or a pony that will gladly lend you a hoof. He gave Dapple Double the reputation as a type of hero."
Dusk smiles and nods, "Well that's certainly a good thing to be known for, yes.  And indeed that's the Chance we know is too.  So seems he hasn't changed that much, at least in that regard."  He also notes the rest of us there are not particularly mentioned either, and Dusk is just fine with that too.
Mirage listens intently as we pause at the display.  "Well, so far we haven't met a pony that hasn't heard of him, so I was wondering," she replies with a little smile as she remembers that last encounter.  "So what's next, Elder?"
( PP leads them into the next room. It's mostly about the alicorn princesses, with a number not recognized by Dusk and Mirage. But even though that's the main subject, it's not the main theme. The theme is about a threat that emerged, and how the princesses, in protecting all ponies, dissapeared. And how about eight stars in the sky appeared a bit of time after they did. This is about Marishville Prime's history, however, so the room chronicles how many ponies came to Marishville Prime for sanctuary, and how they used the Time Anchor to keep themselves slightly out of sync with normal time to help protect those here. )
Dusk grins and nods to Mirage.  It does indeed seem Chance is fairly familiar, yes.  But then again we have been talking mostly with those that might be regularly run into by a pony, such as town hall staff, gate operators, and such.  He might not be as well known among your average pony around town.  Dusk follows to the new display about the Princesses and the time of one of their wars.  "Some unfamiliar faces, I see.  And.. Marishville was out of sync with normal time?  Did that risk their keeping anchored in the normal timeline?"
Mirage looks thoughtfully at the display.  "It seems like it's telling more of a legend than a historical event," she notes.  "As if there aren't any reliable records as to exactly what happened.  Or perhaps the ponies in charge decided detailed information was better left out of the story."
PP nods lightly. "Since the princesses did all of the work during the battle, and then dissapeared, we don't have all that much information. Also, this is mostly focused on Marishville Prime." he points out. "But yes, after about seven thousand years, it is viewed by many as almost legend." He then looks to Dusk. "There was some concern, yes. It was kept just slightly out of sync, and constantly monitored. There was some issues, but nothing that got out of control." He then takes them to the next room. Another time of relative peace for a few thousand years, with many advancements and the continued growth of the city. Relative peace due to smaller skirmishes from the dragons, a couple serioues parasprite infestations, some issues with griffons from time to time (though nothing serious), and a rather nasty spiderbat problem which led to the discovery of a number of extensive crystal caverns under and near the city. Here we see Chance in a couple of pictures. Aside from his clothes (he's changed to a mor
to a more functional set. Pocketed wraps for legs, asthetic wrap for his horn, and a pocketed chest-pack. He also wears a number of artifacts as well, either tied to his legs and secured by wraps, or secured around his neck by chain. Otherwise, he looks the same as he does in the past, but with an older, deeper look in his eyes.
One of the artifacts looks like the personal teleport artifacts Chance has.
Dusk nods about the Princesses and their own story in regards to that time.  "So sounds like there isn't a clear answer to be found really."  He is curious, what he might be able to find if he used his talent.  But certainly wouldn't have the time to do that now.  And being that long ago, it might be hard to even do.  He focuses back on the issue of the town, and nods to PP, "Well, it seems to have worked out, from what we see now, yes.  I'm glad."  Then we're on to the next part of the museum, Dusk keeping close with Mirage as we look around.  "Hmm, another large group of the spiderbats.  Good to see there are still more around."  He looks more closely at some photos and isn't sure at first, but then notices a clearer shot in another showing Chance, and the familiar artifacts.  "Ah, there's our friend too.  With new 'duds,' but still with his toys."
Mirage listens as you both converse, and looks at the picture of Chance and wonders about the look in his eyes.
( PP chuckles lightly as he sees who Dusk is talking about. "Yeah, he does like those things. However, the 'porting artifact is used by him if he needs to get back to the Forgotton Forest quickly. Back then though it was still largely forgotton, but he chose to help the ponies in it guard what secrets were found there. Also, he's officially Urbados' guardian. The other half of the porting artifact is permanently placed in the northern City of Ancients." he explains. )
Dusk assumes the look in Chance's eyes is perhaps just from being that much older now.  He nods to PP and grins, "Yes he does seem to, I see.  And oh, did he need to go to them quickly on a regular basis like that?  Was there much trouble there?  Hmmm, official guardian."
Mirage continue to listen, though she's not looking at the displays any more.  "You seem to know quite a bit about what Chance does," she says to Programmer.  "You and Chance have remained friends over all the years?"
PP shakes his head to Dusk. "Not regularly. It was there in case he was needed. The curse of the Forgotton Forest was starting to break down, so Chance did that to help. In the earlier days, they weren't sure what would happen when the curse lost strength." He glances to Mirage and shrugs a bit. "I suppose we're friends. I'm the head of the family in New Canterlot, so it's my job to keep up with things. We're more friendly aquaintenancs then actual friends."
Dusk wonders at Mirage's question too and nods, listening.  "Well would seem they weren't able to keep it hidden, for sure.  Sounds nice that Mr. Chance offered to help, what he could.  I do recall he had been there before, but wasn't able to tell anything about where it was or such."  He hmms and furrows his brow a little, "That's too bad you two aren't closer, knowing each other for so long and all."
Mirage dips her head lightly to Elder.  "I see.  I'm sorry for reading more into things than there are," she replies before listening to Dusk.
( PP smiles gently to Mirage. "Not at all. I'm glad you asked that question. As for friends, that's waned and waxed over the years. But certainally not on unfriendly terms. It's just that I have my responsabilities, and he has his, and don't typically leave any time for personal occupation together. It's not a friendship like you two have with him." He glances to Dusk. "Yes, when the curse finally wore off, it was remembered by all who had been there, or had found out another way. And it was that same curse that kept him from telling you much about it." )
Dusk nods with a glance to Mirage as well, "Yes I suppose you did mainly live off in Canterlot, Mr. Pony, and didn't get over to Ponyville with us nearly as much.  And oh, I thought Mr. Chance was unaffected by the curse, and simply didn't tell out of respect for the desires of those that guarded it."
Mirage nods back to Dusk and continues to listen, though she's slowly becoming more involved with her own thoughts than the subject at hoof.
Mirage tilts her ears and wears a confused look as you two converse.  But she decides if she keeps listening then she'll understand.
( PP tilts his head to Dusk. "No, he couldn't tell you because of the curse. Perhaps you should ask him about it. He has better information on it then I do, and I believe you a basic misunderstanding about it. He can fill you in." He trots off to the next room. This details another war. Between djinn and creatures of old, and pony-kind. Dragons were split (what little number got involved), griffons were mainly on pony-side, and windigos kept out of it completely. Wraiths, shadows, dream-spirits and other evils where on the djinn side. The odd-ball of the group, Discord, was on the pony's side. )
Dusk nods to PP. "Well I have very little understanding of it really, so that would not be surprising.  I will certainly inquire when appropriate."  Dusk does notice Mirage being kind of quiet and a little more detached now.  He looks with a little more concern, leaning his head closer to hers to not have to speak more gently, "How are you doing, my dear?" he asks her.  "Anything bothering you?"  He follows along with the two of you though as we move onward also.
Mirage gives a little shake of her head to Dusk.  "It's alright.  Everything's just getting...  complicated," she says softly to Dusk as we enter the next display.  Seeing that it's about a large war, Mirage frowns and only briefly looks over it before waiting quietly as Programmer and Dusk continue to talk.
PP glances over to Mirage. He quickly explains before moving on. Big war, most creatures were involved in one way or another. Nature Ponies came out of hiding to help protect areas and ponies. Ancient ponies from the Forgotton Forest went on strong guard, to keep the djinn from finding some of the more dangeorus creatures there. Tarturus also remained guarded, bringing in all sorts of beings, including the Ursas, to help there. Large advancements in magitech and a restructuring of Marishville Prime to help protect ponies. An attack on Marishville Prime showed that a large-scale attack is quite ineffective. Marishville Prime had been 'cemented' into the timeline. Where once it had to be held down, now it couldn't be torn out. The last battle was on the place now known as the Blasted Plains. Chance helped, though no real details about it. Discord finished the war with a wave of all his chaos energy, wiping everything out ont the battlefield, removing the djinn, evil creatures, and everything else that wa
everything else that was there. It cost him his life. PP trots to the last room. A time of peace, and fast upgrades and advacements, made possible by discoveries from the djinn-pony war.
Dusk nods to Mirage understandingly, "It is quite complicated.  I'm trying not to worry too much about the parts I don't understand fully and follow what I do."  He's not all that excited about war either, but he's at least glad to see it is something in the past and no longer a part of ponies' lives, directly.  He notices the nature ponies, "So that is when they came out into our timeline, to protect places against the war?  I had imagined they would have come out sooner."  He also notes with curiosity about Marishville and the timeline too.  "That was certainly something Draconequus Discord had done for the ponies as well."  He listens, but doesn't linger extra long either.
Mirage wonders at bit at the two stallions.  "Oh, neither of you need to rush on my account.  It's just that I'm not interested in fighting or wars.  Those are unponylike things," she replies with a little dip of her head.  "Please spend as much time here as you like."
( PP smiles to Mirage. "We thank you." He then answers Dusk. "They came out sooner, but after a while, they found their magics were weakening. They require a pure-to-nature society to wield their magics to full effectiveness. But when some started to join other pony societies here, they started losing touch with nature. Their voices became more and more quiet to the ears of Mother Nature, and she responded in kind. Most Nature ponies today either live in small communities away from other ponies, such as the earlier groups in the Forgotton Forest, or they've given up a certain amount of power for living with others. For those that marry other types of ponies, their offsprimg loses that link, taking up strong magics or talents instead. That usually lasts one generation, until the Nature Pony lineage is burried. Most living in Marishville Prime have little magics, and have had to learn standard unicorn magics to get by for most things. We keep places like New Canterlot fairly clear of magitech, and other th )
and other things that can affect the purity of Nature Ponies, and the outer city structure helps them stay closer to nature. The Appleloosa is one of the better places for Nature Ponies, and they tend to live out on the ranges and work in the fields and orchards." One thing to note about the war room, was there was no pictures of Chance. Here there are a couple, but.. he's different. There's black markings all over, curving around his horn, across his chest, belly and sides, and down his legs. The mark of power magics.
The mark of powerful magics.
Dusk nods to Mirage, "Thank you, my dear.  Though I agree, it's not something I take a deep desire in either."  But he certainly does listen to PP about the nature ponies, which we had had that encounter with in the past.  "That is quite interesting.  I would have hoped they would keep their natural ways.  It is good to know there are some who have."  He nods, and moves along to the next room, taking a look around.  He does spot the photos and the changes in Chance's appearance.  "Hmmm."
Mirage lightly nods as she listens and we go into the next display room.  "At least you were able to discover the source of the problems and find some solutions," she replies to Programmer.
Calbee goes home.
( PP finishes up the tour. "The war lasted for a number of years, but the peace lasted for nearly three thousand years. We're happy at the outcome." He nods to Mirage. "It is good we found solutions. As much as I loath such things, battles and war can help ponies grow stronger and advance. All that lead to what we have today." )
Dusk nods in agreement about finding solutions and how the ponies got there.  And he sees that we appear to be coming to the end of the rooms, bringing us up to the present-future, as it were.  "That is a long time of peace, and very good to hear.  And hopefully for at least that much more still."  He looks to see if they still have gift shops and what they might sell.
Mirage arches an eyebrow at Elder Ponygale but Dusk's reply address her sentiments as well.  She follows along as we reach the end of the museum's exhibits and notices Dusk looking around.  "Needing something?" she asks him.
( PP guesses what Dusk is looking for, and takes them out near the exit, where all the souvenirs and pamphlets about the place. It's a fair sized shop, priced fairly, even for tourists. There's even tickets to the local theather for re-enactments. There's even miniture Time Anchors (non-functional, of course). )
Dusk grins with a little chuckle to Mirage, "Oh just seeing where they might keep the snow globes and plush figures in such an establishment theses days,"  He gives her an even bigger grin.  Then turns out PP is already proceeding to lead us in that direction and Dusk chuckles again, "Ahhh and seems we have found it.  Hmmmm awwww..  Doesn't look like any Mr. Chance action figures so far," he says with a grin.  "Maybe they're on the other side of the shop."
Mirage nods lightly to Dusk.  "For purposes of research, of course," she says with a little smile. She pauses at the size of the shop as we get close.  "Reinactments?" she asks Programmer.  "Of what?"
( PP chuckles lightly to Dusk. "He probably wouldn't be very happy if they made him into an action figure. However.." He leads them to a different part of the shop, where there's little statues of Dapple Double standing beside the Time Anchor. He looks to Mirage. "Of the town itself. How it was thought to be settled, how it grew, and of the wars. The war parts are watered-down and generalized. 'Play-war'. The younger generation likes those. The older generation tends to like the more general story." )
Dusk nods to PP about Mr. Chance and follows along.  "Perhaps he wouldn't."  Dusk grins to Mirage as well, "Of course, entirely for research, my love.  Oh look, a shiny little time anchor!"  He chuckles, showing it to Mirage, besides the Dapple figures.  As for history reenactments, those can be useful, and more interesting than reading about it for many ponies.  Though depends on how accurate it is too.
Mirage smiles as Dusk gets excited by the little gifts.  She does wonder why somepony would want to buy a time anchor statuette, but then merchants in Manehattan sell quite a few Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building statuettes, too.  She smiles again as Dusk shows her the Dapple Double and Anchor gifts, although she can't seem to be as thrilled as Dusk is about all the knick knacks to be found here.
Mirage smiles as Dusk gets excited by the little gifts.  She does wonder why somepony would want to buy a time anchor statuette, but then merchants in Manehattan sell quite a few Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building statuettes, too.  She smiles again as Dusk shows her the Dapple Double and Anchor gifts, although she can't seem to be as thrilled as Dusk is about all the knick knacks to be found here.  She nods lightly to Elder.  "Oh, I see.  Yes, some live actors would make it more interesting."
( PP grins as he watches Dusk look around like a little colt. "Some things never change." he muses softly. He nods to Mirage. "Yes, and romanticizing it helps teach the younger ones, while keeping things more at their level." He glances between the two, and stands back to let them look to their heart's content before we head out. )
Dusk chuckles and is mostly having fun more than really wanting to buy any.  Especially since Mirage joked about it being all serious and for research too.  He smiles and rubs against her, nuzzling her head.  But then in part he does really enjoy it too, looking around with Mirage until we're set to go.  "So anything next on the plan for today?"
Mirage walks along with Dusk, pointing out what's interesting or what's odd about all the various things in the shop.  When Dusk has finally satisfied his curiousity, she walks with him to Elder and waits to see what else Elder has planned.
PP considers. "You've seen some of the more interesting places around here. And that took a little bit of time. I've been thinking, now that you've seen some of the sights here, do you wish to do something else, like perhaps watch a play and have some dinner, or would you like me to take you to the City of Ancients, and show you around there? We can have dinner there. There's a place which makes an assortment of delicious root stews and flower pastries. And some of the plants are unqiue to the place. Would give you something to taste you've never tasted before. Not that the food here isn't good. If there's one thing I've never grown tired of, it's good food." he says, giving a wizened grin.
Dusk smiles as we head back over to PP, and chuckles at his comments about good food, "Yes that's certainly a good thing almost anytime."  He nods and considers about the other ideas, "They all sound good in their way."  Seeing as we haven't been doing as much that Mirage was interested in, and they all sound fine to him, he looks over to her, "I'm good with most any of them, my dear.  What sounds the best to you?"
Mirage hmmms? and glances from Dusk to Elder and back.  "Oh, I have no idea," she replies with a little wave of her hoof.  "Whatever Elder thinks is best is fine with me.  Although from what he's said, I don't see The City of the Ancients being much of a tourist place."
( PP shakes his head to Mirage. "It's not. But you two might find it interesting all the same." He considers for a few moments. "Let's go to the City of Ancients. If you find you wish to come back here later, we can. I'll get a list of plays for you if you like later. That way you can catch what you want." )
Dusk grins and nods to Mirage, "Perphaps not, I would agree."  He looks over to PP, "Well I think Dear Mirage was just saying the Ancient City might be the least entertaining, no?  But if you think it would be more interesting, then I am fine with it."
Mirage smiles and everypony seems to agree on a decision.  "Alright then, Elder.  We still have an evening, a night, and perhaps a morning to go through."
PP nods gently. "Very well. Let's get you to the City of Ancients, and get you settled. After all, Marishville is only a telegate away. He leads us out, to the nearest small gate, and from there to the park district. He waves down a horse-taxi, and has them drive us to the gates. Once at the gate, he adjusts his pass crystal with some type of device he carries, and gives it to the operator of the gate. The operator puts the crystal in, then hoofs it back once the gate is programmed. "Alright, just hoof him your passes, and we'll go on through."
Dusk grins and nods, "It seems perhaps just about everywhere is but a hop away, these days.  It must make the world a much more traveled and explored place now."  Or at least he hopes ponies are taking advantage of such an opportunity now.  As we reach the big gates, he lets PP and Mirage take care of theirs, then gives his crystal over as well and takes it back afterwards.
Mirage tilts her ears to Dusk.  "Well, it's more convienent and saves time.  Although I have to admit the anticipation of arriving somewhere is a little...  lacking?" she asks, looking for Elder and Dusk's thoughts.  She does wonder about the device he uses on his own crystal.  And following Elder's instructions, she gives her pass to the operator but not her crystal.
Derpy flutters by in the distant upper reaches.
Derpy goes home.
Mirage tilts her ears to Dusk.  "Well, it's more convienent and saves time.  Although I have to admit the anticipation of arriving somewhere is a little...  lacking?" she asks, looking for Elder and Dusk's thoughts.  She does wonder about the device he uses on his own crystal.  And following Elder's instructions, she gives her pass crystal to the operator but not her aura crystal.
( PP grins a bit to Mirage. "Well, perhaps it is missing, but one doesn't have to plan a month in advance for a trip to another town, either." he grins. The operator opens the gate (which takes a few long moments for some reason), and we all step through. We step into a world unlike the one before, a common theme today it seems. There's a large square wall, tall and stone, surrounding the area. A magic field, in the shape of a dome, resides above it, but is only barely visible as tiny flashes of light now and then from random areas. The entire area is a rectangular grassy field inside the walls, about a quarter of an acre in size, with a number of trees lining just inside the walls in regular fashion. There's flowered areas here and there. The place is kept clean and nice, and arranged in a pleasing manner. Whoever keeps it, cares for it, and it shows. We're on one far side of the field, and there's one large telegate here. There's also other gates around here as well, but not like the telegates. There's )
There's a open small 'house' in which a pool of water lay, with rune-stones around it a bit further down. A Nature Pony teleportation pool. That's about half-way down the area. On the other side of the area sits other things. There's a tree, a very old tree, large enough that a pony could easily fit inside it's trunk. One side is open (it looks natural by the shape of the tree around the opening), and though you should probably be able to see inside, you can't. It's as if the tree itself swallows the light. There's a large stone gate, round and imposing, the rock face carved like a donut, jagged edges sticking out, with elder-runes carved all over its surface. At the very end is a thing of a different nature entirely. One thing to note is that there's guards at each gate. One per gate, two for the stone donut gate. But for this last one, there's four guards. First, it's surrounded by rocks with protection and sealing runes carved into them. The gate hangs in mid-air, a couple feet from the ground. It's
It's not solid though, but rather is an amalgamation of floating stone and crystal, perhaps up to 20 or more individual pieces, floating together in roughly a sphere, but none ever touching. There's an energy between them, that gives of a constant eletrical effect, and a bright blue glow inside, though there doesn't appear to be any boundries or true shape to the glow. Then there's the guards. Each carry spears, and wear faux-leather armors with protection magics bound to them. Some are grey, others silver, others an almost bronze color, with eyes that match with deep color. Their cutie marks are all runes.. but not the usual kind, even used by the Nature Ponies. These are markings of forbidden magics. These are curse-runes. "Welcome, my friends, to the northern City of Ancients, and to the Cloister of Gates." He makes a respectful nod of his head to the guard, and the guard stands aside. He looks to the other two. "They're with me." He nods and gestures toward the two (rather large) stone open double-
open double-doors at our own end, at which a guard stands at either side.
Dusk smiles as Mirage and himself are ready to go as well.  He looks over to Mirage and nods, "There was something to have to spend some time to get to a distant place, making it something of a special effort to go there, yes."  Even with his quick travel, it was certainly not instantly.  Soon the gate is open though and we're heading through.  It is well cared for, but the walled box certainly wasn't what he was expecting.  Seeing the pool, he does recall seeing one of those from before, giving him an idea of what it probably does.  And he starts taking in the other things here, particularly the guard ponies, and what they appear to guard, if that's what they're here for.  He nods to the guard as we step over towards one of the various gates and then back to PP, "This is certainly different than expected."  Though he doesn't go into too much more, figuring there may be a better time for it.
Mirage gives a nod to Elder.  "Yes, it's all very effortless now," she replies.  Once through the gate, she stops and needs a little time to take in the very weird courtyard.  It looks more like some wizards couldn't decide on what to have, so they included one of everything.  She does wonder about the guards, since the gates don't allow just anypony through.  But after a couple of seconds she sets all these thoughts aside and stands by Dusk, who'll understand all that's here much more easily than she will.
( PP grins lightly to Dusk. "This place has that affect on ponies." He then nods gently to Mirage. "I suppose in some ways it's rushed. There are still some ponies that like to take the longer way around things. That's why there's still long-distance carriages and trains, if those better suits one's purpose or want." )
Dusk smiles as Mirage stands near to him.  He nods and grins back to PP too, "I can imagine that it does.  Is the point of this to keep the telegate separated from the rest of the city and the forest?"  He nods in agreement about the different means of travel, and their qualities.  "I do agree.  I enjoy taking a train or coach at times as well.  As they say, it's the journey more than the destination."
Mirage imagines there are quite a few less trains and coaches these days, though, since only a small minority of the ponies would use them.  She listens as Dusk asks a few questions and keeps her attention on Elder instead of the guards.
Chance nods to Dusk. "That is the point. A few of these gates lead to more dangerous areas, or areas that most shouldn't wander to." He leads them out of the building.
( PP nods to Dusk. "That is the point. A few of these gates lead to more dangerous areas, or areas that most shouldn't wander to." He leads them out of the building. )
Dusk might suspect the same.  Or there may be more areas that don't have teleportals, or the traveling to places inbetween them, that might use coaches and trains more like we were used to them.  Surely not everywhere is like Marishville Prime.  He nods to PP, "Ah.  So the guards are to protect the potential travelers, I suspect."  He looks around, seeing just where we perhaps are headed to.
-=- Northern City of the Ancients -=-
_____________________________
You step out of the Cloister, and into a town. Where one could see tree-tops arching against the sky above the walls of the cloister, here one can see dense trees all around. We're in the middle of a forest, is the first obvious conclusion. The town itself is fairly basic, and large enough to be a good sized vilage. The cloister appears to be on one of the outer edges of town. Whereas guards frequent the walled gate courtyard, here ponies roam freely, with the occassional guard at the treeline here and there. A gentle breeze runs through the area, carrying the scents of pine and a multitude of flowers.
___
( The village itself appears to be constructed as a somehow melded mishmash of varying architectures, and to the discerning eye (and likely the less discerning eye as well), there's at least three here. The oldest buildings carry an ancient (even by Dusk and Mirage's standards) flowing architecture, with natural curves and peaks, giving them a bit of a craggy aesthetic, though easy to look at, as if the buildings were carved from some nonexistant rock or land, mimicking nature around it, instead of creating the new. The second type are housing that's attached to trees. Or more specifically, grown out of trees, with unusual curves resembling runes. The third is a more modern approach, blockish in nature, but with curved corners and roofs instead of sharp, so as not to contrast harshly with the rest of the buildings around here. )
___
The buildings are scattered, leaving large open areas to wander through, instead of having the more strict city structuring. One aspect of this, is that it allows more of the village to be view from any one location. Near the cloister is another large building of the ancient style, with high spires that, from their perch, one could view the village whole. Besides this single distinction, most buildings appear to be houses, or at least places of public gatherings.
___
And then there's the ponies themselves. The main population consists of the grey and silver ponies, all which seem to have those curse-runes upon their flanks; the same variety as the guards. The others are split somewhat evenly between Nature Ponies, which keep to their trio groupings. Then there's Spirit Ponies, of bit different nature. Instead of being permanently seperated, each has a spirit manifest which seems somehow 'connected' to the physical manifest, and neither are seperated too far from each other. The connection is a barely made-out shimmer, a hair-thin thread flowing brokenly between the two manifests. Further, manifests are seen to merge, leaving only the physical pony, and seen to split from the one being back into two; seemingly at will.
___
( Off in a small grassy area, a number of colts and fillies are playing kick-ball. Or rather Spirit Ball, as their spirit manifests are involved in the game as well, constantly splitting and merging with the physical pony during the game, depending apparently on their current tasks at hoof. The last group of ponies, and the smallest group of all the different types, are what Mirage and Dusk would consider the 'normal' ponies: earth ponies, unicorns and pegasii, each with their own unique cutie mark. )
___
( The overall feeling of the place is peaceful. There's laughter of the younger ones, and the older ones eat or talk amongst themselves. Birds chirp in the distance, or on whatever rooftop they happen to alight, and the sun shines down in leaf-shattered brilliance across the area, giving warmth to the whole, and pleasant heat to sunbathers of practically any species. Ponies nod respectfully to Elder PP, and also nod to Mirage and Dusk. They have gentle smiles upon their faces, and greet in kindness. )
___
( A couple younger fillies run up to Mirage. "We made you somethings!" one of the claims with youthful enthusiasm, and offers her a modest flower bouquet. A colt runs over to Dusk, and appears to want to ask something, but just gets a bit of a confused look on his face, and looks to PP. PP chuckles lightly. "Later." The colt backs up a bit, nods, smiles and waves to Dusk, then takes off to play with his friends again. Meanwhile one of the young fillies is trying to figure out the best way to place a few flowers in Mirage's hair with her unicorn magic.. and only partially succeeding at it. )
-=-=-=-
Mirage is quietly taking all this in, although she expected something very different from a place called City of the Ancients.  She gives polite greetings to the ponies that greet her, and she does a good job of imitating their manner of greeting.  She's surprised by the sudden welcoming committee, though she smiles gently to the fillies and dips her head a little as they put some flowers in her mane. "Why, thank you, young mares," she says to them and finds herself looking to see if they're nature ponies.  She wonders a little at Dusk's welcomers but focuses on the fillies trying to decorate her.
The fillies (both silver in color.. one of the 'different' ponies) giggles at Mirage's polite thanks, and the one trying to do the hair-flowers tries her best, and ends up doing a half-decent job. PP is asking one of the ponies if Chance has shown up. "No. He'll be back tomorrow afternoon." is the answer. "Your usual housing is only in use by Chance." is added. PP nods lightly, and glances to Dusk and Mirage. "We have a place to stay." The pony, a light silver one, offers a nod to Dusk and Mirage as well before heading off. PP starts to trot off toward one end of the village, and takes the time to answer Dusk. "Yes, they're there to protect travelers."
Dusk isn't quite as surprised as Mirage, having also figured it being a part of the Forgotten Forest and all.  But it is hard to know what to expect really.  But now that we're here he looks around and takes it in too.  "Quite a wonderful looking town.  And more sorts of ponies here than I expected."  He smiles as the filly comes up to Mirage, but then has a colt of his own, "Well hello there, little fell'r."  But the young pony just runs off after a bit, leaving Dusk to shurg and grin, turning back to watching Mirage being fitted with the flowers.  "Such a nice reception."  He smiles, then turns and nods to PP, "That sounds good."  And sounds like the place is shared as well.  He thought so, about the guards, which makes sense then.
Up 201 days, 14 hours, 47 minutes since 12:43 02/26/14
Mirage is relieved the fillies are the silver and grey ones with the odd cutie marks.  "There's no telling what might happen if nature ponies were doing this," she thinks to herself.  She smiles to the fillies and thanks them again before they run off.  She's puzzled by the reaction Dusk receives.  "Maybe there aren't too many ebony-coated ponies, dear," she says softly to Dusk.  She smiles at Elder.  Of course, he'd have residences in whatever towns and cities he wished.  The Ponygale family has certainly amassed quite a bit of money from their inventions over the last ten millennia with plenty of opportunities to buy real estate in all that time.  "Thank you," she replies to Elder when he announces a place to stay.  "Of course, we don't want to intrude if you normally share the place only with Chance."
( The fillies waves to Mirage and head off, apparently happy with the results (or perhaps with Mirage's reaction). "Black isn't a common color, no." he mentions to Mirage. He then smiles gently. "No intrusion at all." He leads them to a nice little house in the 'normal' style, and leads them inside. There's a cozy living room, kitchen, and he shows them the three bedrooms. He then shows them the study (with books. No fancy compression magitech here), and the research room. The research room has cabinets of papers, neatly organized, a few tables with different magic experiements set up, and a meditation pad in one corner. Beside the meditation pad is a number of different balls and objects in various boxes. Beyond that, is the exercise room. There's weights (one of them measured in tons), and odd metal tight-'ropes' (metal rods running around the room in various places and orientations), making one area of the room look like a metal rod factory exploded. )
Dusk would wonder if Mirage would think the flowers would be a nature magic, and teleport her off to another timeline or something perhaps.  He does smile and nods to Mirage, "That might well be.  You do fit in nicely with your coat, my love."  He nods with a smile to PP as he confirms the color popularity.  Which he is fine with that.  It's been that way as long as he's known.  As we head off Dusk looks around and picks up on a deep and powerful type of magic.. everywhere around.  But it seems more a background magic, and oddly weak.  "Oh, that must be the curse," he absently comments aloud, as if everypony was considering the same thing.  And there's more to it too.  But he changes his focus as we arrive at the house, looking at the outside of it, seeing the newer style.  Inside he looks around as PP takes us through it, "Oh very nice," he comments about the research room.  So well organized too.  Dusk recognizes the meditation tools, glad to see Chance has kept up with it all this time.  Though the rods and s
... such have his curiosity just a touch.  "Yes, this is a very nice home you have here, Mr. Pony."
Mirage gives Dusk a warm smile and an affectionate kiss to his muzzle.  "And I think you're very handsome, love," she says to him softly.  She's pleased that the little house looks normal.  That is, until we go inside.  It seems like the house is larger on the inside than it is on the outside:  three bedrooms plus three additional rooms in addition to the living room and kitchen?  And the exercise room looks very odd and even a little dangerous!  "This is quite a...  residence, Elder," she says softly as he gives Dusk and her the tour.
PP smiles to both of them. "I'm glad you approve. Chance and I had a hoof in setting this up. We had to build the exercise room on a solid hard rock base though. The wooden floors kept getting damaged." He shows them the rooms. Two have single beds, one has a double bed. They're small, but big enough to be comfertable with basic personal effects. It isn't set up to live in all the time. "This bedroom is mine, this is Chance's." he says of the single bed rooms. In fact, there's already some stuff in each. In Chance's room, there's a number of artifacts, and a tall, worn book in the corner. In PP's room, there's pictures of different ponies (which PP explains are his currently closest family), pictures of his grandfather, father, and others (his grandfather and aunt, which Mirage and Dusk have met, are there). There's also a picture of Dusk, Mirage, Chance, PP and Snow Bolt. It might be an older picture, because Snow looks a bit older, but it's likely it's a memory-based recreation, as Dusk and Mirage ar
and Mirage arn't. Chance of course, never changes. PP doesn't elaborate further on his photos. Chance has the same photo in his room as well. The only other thing in Chance's room is a faux-leather patch set, and a few different back packs, for different applications.
Dusk ooos and smiles at the kiss, and is almost the one to blush, if one could tell with a black coat.  He happily rubs muzzles back with a smile, and a light little kiss back as well.  "Aww, thank you so much, my beautiful love."  He tries not to leave PP feeling awkward, giving Mirage another flash of a smile before turning back to the matter of the home, chuckling about the floor, "Yes, I had seen the weights there, so I might imagine."  Then we get shown around where the bedrooms are and notices a few of the photos there.  He's glad to see one with Snow and the rest of us too, though notes some of the odd appearances.  "And where would Dear Mirage and myself stay?" he inquires.
Mirage makes a mental note to stay out research room and expecially the exercise room.  She glances over the pictures, and blinks at the picture of Dusk and herself.  Then she listens as Dusk asks about the arrangements.
( "You can have the guest room." he says, showing them the room with the double bed. "We have some stuff here you might find useful." There's a few chests in one corner, full of different crystals, and a file cabinet with a fair amount of notes about the current region and the different magics here, as well as an assortment of other magics, and a drawer of different experiments. He hoofs Dusk the key to the chests and file cabinet. There's yet a third copy of that same group photo. PP takes it nonchalantly. "If you two need anything, just let me know." he says. "Make yourself at home." He sticks around though. )
Dusk smiles and rubs shoulders with Mirage and ahs with a nod to PP, "That will work then."  Then PP shows all the crystals and experiments and magic stuff in the room.  Hopefully Mirage won't want to decide to avoid this room too.  He looks over to PP as he takes the keys, "What are all the crystals and that for, Mr. Pony?"
Mirage was thinking all the magic stuff was just an overflow from the research room.  She rubs her shoulder back to Dusk and then makes her way to the kitchen to see if there's enough to dinner.
"They're for whatever you need. Chance and others store them her. There's some rare crystals in there. And the chests are magic-shielded, so the crystals can't affect anything." PP answers. He wanders along with Dusk (if Dusk decides to follow Mirage). "You mentioned something about the curse earlier.." he tells Dusk. There's a number of ingredients, some common, some exotic, for Mirage to use. "The village has a nightly get-together after evening every day. Don't get too full, as ponies always bring desert-snacks." he tells Mirage.
Calbee goes home.
There are no sleepers here.
Dusk ahs and nods to PP.  Though Dusk wonders a bit what he expects Mirage and himself to be doing in here.  But then decides not to bring that issue up and just nods.  Dusk does note Mirage moving off after rubbing shoulders back, and he does indeed head along with her as she follows her nose to the kitchen.  Well that and PP showed it earlier.  It seems to be a rather reasonably well stocked one as well.  "Curse?.."  Dusk's line of thought is temporarily sidetracked, then he nods, "Oh yes, as we were walking here.  There is a deep but weakened magic all around that was curious.  Then I realized that it is likely the broken curse on the forest."  And he's curious about desert treats too.  Hmmm.
Mirage doesn't poke around in the kitchen too much.  Just enough to see there's some basics for a couple of good meals.  "A nightly get together?" she asks Elder as she makes her way to the living room and sits down on a cushion as you two talk of magic and curses.
( PP ahs, nodding lightly to Dusk. "Yes, that would most likely be the curse. Though it's not actually broken. Just weakened beyond it's ability to affect ponykind anymore. Or much of anything else, really." He smiles over to Mirage. "Yes, all the villagers get together, build a bonfire, and exchange stories, snacks and warm drinks. It's a tradition." )
Dusk nods, and grins to PP, "Well broken in the sense it is not causing ponies to forget it anymore.  But yes still there it seems.  And.."  He tries to consider how to word it, "Well, it seems 'connected' with some of the ponies with the curse ruins."  He wanders over to Mirage and takes a seat near her too with a smile.  He looks back to PP, "Ah that sounds fun.  And tasty."
Mirage listens as you both discuss the curse.  Then she gives a small nod to Elder as he talks about the nightly meeting.  "Then I suppose I need to start making some snacks to take," she replies as she stands to go to the kitchen.
PP chuckles a bit to Dusk and nods. "I suppose you can put it that way. And the curse is connected to those ponies. Those ponies are the ancients. They come from a long non-broken line from before the princesses ever even ruled. Have Chance explained the details though. He's better then I." He glances to Mirage. "That's very thoughtful of you, Mirage, however you don't have to. If you'd like to though, there's a cookbook in the cabinet." he says, pointing it out for her.
Dusk grins as he just came from the kitchen area and got settled, and Mirage is already heading back that way.  He decides to stay put for the moment then, but will go offer to help in a few.  In the meantime he nods to PP about the 'ancient' ponies.  "Ah yes, I will ask him if we get to do so, thank you."  He ponders some of that over, as he looks back to the kitchen, "Anything in mind, my love?"
Mirage gives Elder a shake of her head.  "If it's a get together where everypony brings something, then we can't very well show up with empty saddlebags," she replies as she thinks about something that would be quick to make and still be tasty.  "How about honey and oat bars?" she asks Dusk.  "It shouldn't take more than a couple of hours to make a few batches.  Or do you have an idea?"
PP settles back in his seat, watching the two chat about normal stuff now on this rather non-normal day for them. He smiles lightly to himself.
Dusk nods to Mirage's comment about not showing up without anything.  He considers her question with what we have here and he nods with a smile, "I think that sounds quite delicious, my love.  I'll be glad to help if I can as well, of course."  He looks over to PP and sees him looking happy, and Dusk gives a little smile of his own looking back to Mirage.
Mirage nods to Dusk.  "Alright, love.  Does the stove need wood?  Or is it some magical thing?" she asks with a glance to Elder.  Then, after a little nosing around, she gets some oats, honey, a couple of mixing bowls and two pots.  She fills the two pots with water and sets them on the stove.  "We need to boil the water.  And we'll need the oven on too."
( PP glances to Mirage. "It needs wood. The flint and steel are in the covered flint-catch." he says, trotting over. There's a small flap on the stove's top, on the side, and he opens it, showing a small hole where the flint and steel are. )
Dusk is at first surprised as well, then recalls, "Ah we're here with the ancients, and they do things the more natural way, yes?"  And certainly no shortage of firewood to use, he's sure.  Dusk goes over and helps her with putting the heavier pots of water on the stove, and loading up the wood.
Mirage tilts an ear back and arches her eyebrow.  "Ten thousand years and you're using a stove that's obsolete by -our- standards?" she asks Elder before looking to Dusk as he comments.  "I suppose wood smoke from the City of Ancients doesn't hang like a haze?" she asks with a wry smile.
PP chuckles. "These are ponies that have lived pretty much the same way since antiquity. The curse only started to weaken about four thousand years ago, and it took nearly thirty five hundred years to completely weaken to the point where it no longer affected them. They're still wary of the outside world, and try to keep things to their standards here. Which means no magitech. It works ideally for the Nature Ponies as well." He grins at the smoke question. "Usually, no."
The wood rack sits next to the fireplace. It was nice and full. No shortage of cut firewood here, either.
Dusk grins to Mirage, "Hopefully not.  And that's what I expected, once I considered," he replys to PP.  "One may have noticed the small separation between the magitech teleportal and the rest of the place here."  He grins, getting what should be a good amount of wood for what's needed loaded up, and lets Mirage light it if she wishes while he readies the water.
Mirage sighs softly.  "If they revere nature then they should be using something besides burning wood," she says with shake of her head.  "You mean the wall and all the guards?  Yes, I noticed that," she replies to Dusk as he adds wood to the stove.  "I thought it was just for protection from anyone coming through the portals uninvited."  After the wood is loaded, Mirage gets some kindling and then uses the steel and flint with her teeth and hooves to start the kindling on fire, which slowly spreads to the smaller pieces of wood.  She closes the door on the firebox and gets ingredients and baking sheets ready.  "Once the water's boiling we can start."
( PP nods lightly to Mirage, with a small shrug. "Certain habits are harder to break." He glances to Dusk. "As for this place, it's the only building where magic tests are performed. That's why we're on the edge of the village. We have shielding around the entire building. As long as you do anything in here, it won't get outside." )
Dusk smiles to Mirage, "I imagine it's some of both, my love.  And well revering nature doesn't mean not using it.  If all you did is live in the woods for many generations, I imagine you made use of what you had.  And they don't appear to be looking to change those methods too quickly."  He nods to PP, "Well we are certainly familiar with that indeed."  He smiles, then proceeds to watch the pot, as he's happy to disprove things too.
Mirage'ohs' softly as Elder explains a bit more.  "Well, as long as they're happy," she replies with a little smile.  It takes a while but finally the stove heats up and the water slowly comes to a boil.  Mirage adds oats to both the large and small pots and then picks up a large spoon and stirs the oats as they cook.  Once the oats are cooked, she puts the oats from the large pot over to the side and pours the oats from the small pot into three bowls.  "There, we have dinner," she says with a smile.  "And once the other oats cool, I'll make the bars."
( PP grins to Dusk and nods. "Yes, you are, arn't you?" He takes in a deep breath as the food cooks. "Mmm, smells good." )
Dusk is watching away, seeing things getting pretty heated.  He considers Mirage's comment, not having thought of that before.  "Hmmm, I wonder if they /are/ happy," he wonders, looking over to PP.  What with all the long standing curse weakening, and outside ponies coming now.  By the time he looks back, the pot is boiling.  He rolls his eyes and shakes his head, and proceeds to help with stirring and the like.
Mirage chuckles to Dusk.  "Oldest trick in the city," she says.  "Made you look!  So you'll have to try your experiment again next time."  Mirage sets the bowls out on the dining table and lets everypony get what they want to drink.
( PP chuckles lightly at Dusk's and Mirage's little thing over the boiling pot, then he answers Dusk. "At first they weren't happy. They were rather resistant to outside interference. Few were allowed inside. But then they were introduced to the Nature Ponies, who have simular values as they do, at least when it comes to nature. Though they found their social structures to be rather odd. However, the Nature Ponies were eventually able to become the bridge between the ancients, and the other ponies. Those living today are happy with their current arrangements." )
Dusk smirks and has to chuckle back to Mirage and PP too, with another shake of his head.  "So it would appear.  I will get it though!" he says with a playful grin.  With that experiment out of the way he focuses more readily on the others, nodding to PP.  "I guess it was lucky to have the nature ponies then.  I could imagine ponies living in such a situation being very resistant to outside intrusion."
Dusk is glad to hear they are happy currently at least then.
Mirage sits at the table and proceeds to eat rather quickly until her bowl is clean.  Then she goes over and starts making a batch of oat and honey bars as she listens to you two discuss the curse ponies and the nature ponies.
( PP decides to get his fill of oats as well. He's not surprised that Mirage gobbled her's down, as she didn't eat earlier. And she still has that sack of candied flower petals he got her as well. He nods lightly to Dusk. "Yes. And before the curse started weakening, it was pretty much the only way they could live. They had little choice but to follow their age-old traditions." )
Dusk takes a seat with the others and smiles, "Thanks for dinner, my dear."  He eats and enjoys the nice bowl of hot oats, nodding to PP.  "It can be very interesting and educational to encounter ponies who have not had contact with modern society.  I would have loved to have been here a little before they made any outside contact."
Mirage gives Dusk a warm smile as she works on baking the oat bars.  It's slow going with the old stove but soon the aroma of baked oats and honey fills the air.
PP smiles to Dusk. "It would have been interesting, yes. At the time few, if any, could get back here. Chance is the only one I've heard of that could, thanks to that talent of his. But he could never tell anyone about it. A nice thing about the isolation, is that they kept history much further back then any of the other pony races."
Dusk smiles back to Mirage.  As the treats cook he takes a nice whiff, "Mmmm smelling good."  He nods about the ancient ponies living here, "Though of coruse I imagine much of that history is restricted to living here in the woods.  But there can certainly be some very interesting things to learn all the same."
Mirage listens as she works as quickly as the old fashioned oven will let her.  She places the finished oat bars on a plate and sets them on a windowsill to cool as she bakes more.
( PP nods to Dusk. "Yes, most of the history here is mostly about the forest life, but it's what came before that's really interesting. Due to the curse though, they had to develop a strong oral tradition to pass on history until they could finally put it in more permanent form. That oral tradition has survived through the ages." He glances to the windowsill and smiles. "I don't know about you, but I love watching somepony cook the simple way. It somehow makes the food look more appetizing." )
Dusk nods to PP, "Hmmm yes, with whatever placed the curse and all, and why.  That would have to be an interesting story to hear."  He offers to help if Mirage needs it, keeping the stove running hot and all, adding any wood if needed.  As they eventually come out he smiles and gets a much stronger scent of them too.  "Looking delicious, my love.  If need any taste testing to make sure they came out okay..."
Mirage gives Dusk a grateful smile since the fire does need tending to keep the right temperature in the oven.  She brings over a couple of the cooled bars for the two stallions.  "Try them and see what you think," she says with a smile.  The baked oats are crunchy, and the honey is baked to a dark glaze covering the bar.
( PP picks up a bar, and munches into it. He looks thoughtful. "Rather tasty and crunchy, Mirage. I love them." he tells her. )
Dusk smiles and is glad to help Mirage.  Especially when the payoff is a tasty treat.  He take one first, then takes one himself, "Thank you, my dear."  He tries his, taking one, then a second bite, chewing it slowly.  "Mmmm the honey really brings out the flavor.  And just the right texture."  He licks his lips and smiles.  "I expect they'll be well received!"
Mirage smiles to Elder.  "Thank you.  They're just something simple and healthy with a touch of sweetness.  It's an old earth pony receipe," she says as the puts the last batch into the oven.  "Like I said, they're nothing fancy.  I'm sure Sugar Rush or Hefty Nibble could make something much nicer in less time than I did."
PP smiles lightly. "Just because they could, doesn't mean these arn't good." He gets down from his seat. "Shall we see what the others are up to? It's getting near evening."
Dusk nods about Rush and Hefty, "They are of course experts in their field.  These are still delicious, and special, being hoof made by my dear Mirage."  He grins and gives her head a nuzzling.  "Yes, once the last batch is done, that sounds like a good plan.  And sampled for quality control, of course," he says with a wink.
Mirage gets the last batch out of the oven an on to the window sill to cool.  "I'm glad you both like them.  Have some more if you'd like.  I made a few just for both of you," she smiles before taking a little breath.  "Well, let me get cleaned up and cooled off a bit.  And Elder?  How do you turn the stove off?" she asks with a chuckle as the faint sounds of the crackling fire are heard from the oven's firebox.
( PP takes another one of Mirage's snacks, then shows her how to close the intake and flue on the fireplace. "The fire will burn through it's oxygen quickly." he explains. "After the fire goes out, reopen the flue to let the rest of the smoke out, then reopen the intake." )
Dusk ohs and smiles, "How very nice of you, my love, thank you."  He nods to PP and seems to handle quenching the fire, letting Mirage get tidied up.  He leaves it closed off long enough that it won't restart from the hot embers, before opening it back up.  He rinses off a bit from all the hot work too and smiles, feeling refreshed, and then eats his second oat bar.
Mirage blinks as Elder shows her how the stove operates.  "It's a good thing those were open when I started the fire," she chuckles.  "I could have smoked us out."  She gives Dusk a quick nuzzle as he shuts the stove off.  She trots into the bathroom and quickly washes up and combs out her mane and tail.  Then she's back with the two of you.  "I guess we're ready?" she asks as looks for something to carry the bars in.
( PP chuckles a bit to Mirage. "Yes, that wouldn't have been good." He brings out a basket from one of the floor cupboards, and offers it to Mirage. "This should do." )
Mirage looks surprised as Elder brings out a basket.  "I
Dusk is pretty much set to go as well, when Mirage asks for something to carry them in.  Of course it's PP who knows where everything is and Dusk smiles as a basket is found.  "Ah excellent."  Dusk offers to help with carrying it for Mirage.
Mirage looks surprised as Elder brings out a basket.  "I've never seen a tupperware basket before," she says as she loads the basket up.  She's about to set the basket on her back, but then she smiles and gives Dusk a ladylike dip of her head as he offers to be a gentlecolt and carry the basket.  "Why, thank you, kind sir."
( PP opens the door for Dusk and Mirage, and trots out with them. He shows them the center of town. It's a large open, grassy area, with the housing built in a rough circle around it, serving as the town square. There's a ring of trees which seperate the ring of houses, from the grassy area, giving it a more isolated feeling. There's a small pony-made pond here as well. Currently ponies of all types and ages are gathering, and the males are bringing in firewood to a large firepit in the center. PP indicates for Dusk and himself to follow and help with the firewood. Even the colts are helping with small pieces. "Go ahead and mingle for the while. This doesn't take long to get the wood." he tells Mirage. The wood comes from the edge of town, where other ponies are bringing in freshly chopped wood. "Everypony takes one piece." he tells Dusk. )
Dusk gives a fancy and formal bow in return, "It would be my pleasure, My Lady."  He smiles and accepts the basket, and sets it upon his own back.  We're soon out and at the gathering of ponies.  Dusk nods and smiles in greeting to those in passing as we go.  He nods to PP about getting wood, though doesn't like leaving Mirage along for our first time meeting the locals.  He gives her the basket though, and a little kiss, "Yes, we shall be right back, love."  He follows to go help with contributing his piece of wood for the fire to be.
Mirage nods to Elder, and she gvies Dusk a gentle kiss as he gives her the basket.  Then she goes over to the side where she can watch and be out of the way of the stallions and colts bringing the wood for the bonfire.  She still has the flowers in her mane the fillies gave her, although she's rearranged them so they adorn her right ear now.  She looks around for where the snacks are being set up, and take the basket there when she finds it.
( There's a group of fillies setting up the tables for the snacks, and helping unload them. A filly for each pony race. They smile and thank Mirage for the snacks, and arrange them neatly on the table. There's also a hot cider bowl here as well, and (as they explain to Mirage), it's made from maple wood, and the cider is allowed to sit for a few days in it to get the flavor of the bowl, while being kept warm. PP and Dusk arrive back soon, supplying the so-far-nonlit fire with a couple more logs. )
Dusk smiles at the soft kiss, then follows along with PP.  We each collect a piece of the firewood and bring it back to where the fire will be.  Dusk follows after PP, letting him show where to go and what specifically we're doing, but turns out simple enough.  Dusk then finds where Mirage went and heads back over to her with PP.
Mirage smiles to the fillies as they take her hastily made snacks, and then wonders about apples continuing to be so popular even in the far future as they show her the cider and how they serve it.  She looks for a place where she can sit and be out of the way, just in time for Dusk as he and Elder bring their share of the logs for the fire.  "That didn't take long," she says to Dusk and Elder.
( PP trots up to Mirage with Dusk. "Not when everypony helps." he grins. He finds us a place to sit. A group of elder ancients are seated together near the fire at one spot, and others give them respectful distance when seating. A filly comes by, and it turns out to be the one that put the flowers in Mirage's hair. She pauses, looks at Mirage, and gets a big smile. She runs off, calling for her mom. "Mom, she liked the flowers!" she says in a bubbly happy voice. )
Dusk smiles as we meet back up with Mirage and he sees she no longer has the treats, "You ate them all already?" he quietly teases as he gives her a retuning little nuzzle.  He takes the seats we find and Dusk does look around, seeing how the different ponies gather, and if PP has any sort of special seating at the event.  He chuckles and smiles as the familiar little filly runs off happily, and he looks back to Mirage, "They do look quite pretty on you," he agrees, smiling.
Mirage hmms? and then smiles at the filly who runs off to her mother.  No, Mirage wasn't going to lose the nice gift that quickly.  "Yes, I did eat them all, " she replies to Dusk with a little smile, although she tilts her head to the snack table and the cider.  "And thank you, love."
( PP finds a spot somewhat close to the ancient elders (but not overly noticably close). When the others settle, and the wood is done, he speaks to Mirage and Dusk. "Next comes the lighting of the fire." he says. The elders toss lots. Everypony waits in anticipation. )
The elders come to a decision. "Spirit ponies!" they call out. A number of ponies talk amongst themselves, and four ponies are picked out, all unicorns (naturally). The make their way to the four 'corners' of the fire, then sit down. Their spirit manifests seperate and move in close to the fire. There's a minute of focus from the ponies, and the spirit horns slowly light up, until they're a brilliant white. A spell, shared amoung the four, builds up, hovering above the center of the will-be fire. It's like a ball of white fire. The spirits walk toward it, then connect the tips of their horns in the spell, and their bodies burst into a white blaze, each like a living fire. The turn, and wander in a spiral around the wood, trotting slowly out from the center until they meet their physical bodies again, leaving flame behind to light the wood, and returning their spirits to normal. Once they've combined spirit and body, everypony gives a polite hoof-clomp.
Dusk sagenods to Mirage as she confirms she ate the entire two batches in the span we took to fetch a piece of wood each.  The he glances over to the snack table, "Oh, or that, yes."  He grins and nuzzles Mirage, "You're welcome, my love."  He's certainly still quite fascinated with everything going on here.  For a daily snacking event, it seems to really involve the whole village.  And now we find ourselves waiting for something that involves the elders, apparently to light the fire.  Then the spirit ponies are summoned up, and produce the flame in there special way.  Maybe they don't have matches he muses playfully to himself internally, smiling to Mirage and PP as he too joins in the applause with the other ponies.
Mirage still isn't really comfortable with watching the spirit ponies release their spirit selves from their regular body and then take it back in, but she does her best not to stare during the ceremony.  She does wonder about the ceremony itself but waits and watches for now.  "And this is done every night?" she whispers to Dusk as she hoof clomps along with the rest of the herd.
( PP hears Mirage's question. "Yes, every night. This is more then just snacks. It's a way to bring the village together." he says softly to Mirage. "Everypony participates. If not this night, then one another." After the lighting of the fire, and when the fire is well underway, one of the elders, an old mare, speak up. "This night is kind to us. The stars grace us, the breeze teases the young, and the elders are one day older." That gets a couple chuckles. "What story shall we weave this night?" she asks to one and all. )
Dusk rubs shoulders with Mirage just a little as she tries not too look too closely at times.  As she asks him about it, he believes that to be the case from what he's heard from PP, but PP slips in to answer as Dusk is considering his own response.  "Ahh," he replies to PP, and nods.  "It does seem to have done that yes," he comments quietly before the elder mare speaks.  Dusk wonders what sort of stories they tell here.
Mirage nods lightly to Elder Ponygale and then to Dusk, giving him a soft smile as he rubs his shoulder to hers.  Then she listens attentively as the meeting continues.
A colt calls out from somewhere, "The Dragon and the Pony!" That gets a number of young ones excited, colts and fillies alike. The adults seem to go along with that. "Then The Dragon and the Pony shall we tell!" the elder mare says. Everypony grows quiet. "Fireweaver!" An elder unicorn stands. "Once upon the time, before life was new and death was old, the first gem shattered at the birth-cry of the world, and with that the first Dragon was born." The fireweaver lights his horn with a spell, then speaks as the storyteller mare elder does. However, he makes not a sound. One doesn't hear the words of the fireweaver. One feels it, like a tug at the soul calling for everypony to be a part of this. The fire stirs, and the flames take on a life of their own. It explodes into the air, causing some ponies to jump, and there forms a world, and on that world now forms a gem, and a fire-crackle the volume of a roar is heard, and the gem shatters, and a dragon, fierce and terrible rises amongst black billowing smo
billowing smoke. These images keep time with the storyteller's story, and her voice grows in the midst of the fire's images, giving the dance of flame the illusion of a voice of its own.
Dusk smiles back to Mirage and listens as well too.  He keeps close to her as the story is chosen and starts, and looks up with the burst of flames.  It's quite a way to tell a story.
Mirage watches curiously as the story begins, but she flinches back as the Fireweaver's magic feels like a palpable tug deep inside her.  She's not comfortable at all with this feeling, but she forces herself to settle back down and she sits closer to Dusk as she continues to watch the story unfold.
"The dragon, strong and proud, the first of its kind, looks around, and sees that he is lone. Life springs up, plant and animal and bird alike, and the thunder of the dragon's birth turns into the birth-song of all else. His heart burns ever hotter with each life-filled spasm of the world-birth, and eyes of smoke and flame watch the world explode into a symphony of color!" The images in the fire follow suit, plants and animals sprouting from the flames (each flame itself), and the 'view' changes so it's like we're looking out at the world through the dragon's eyes. "And the first cry of anguish is heard amoung the lands, as the dragon cries in flame and power at being the only, his heart bursting for others to bathe in flame and fury!" The storyteller's voice booms out, the fireweaver's silent magics grow stronger. Now we see the dragon look over the new world, and out beyond at all the ponies here. It opens its mouth, smoke rolling out, obscuring all but its shining eyes, and it lets out a roar, flame
flame blasting out around the entire area, past the fire, past the ponies, into the village and woods, turning everything into cinder in seconds. The power of the fireweaver's silent words allows one to feel the power, the fire, and the dragon's force, as if one was there, without harm of any kind. This gets squeals out of fillies, and excited yelps out of colts. The fire is now gone, and all the ponies sit in the middle of a fire-shattered wasteland, a dragon, large as life, wrapped in black flame, peering over the area.
Dusk finds it a bit odd and unexpected too, but tries not to cause any disruption either.  He slips his forehoof nearest to Mirage over her, and gently holds her near to him as we listen to the story.  And quite an active and visual story it is, with the aid of the fireweaver making it seen and felt.  Dusk imagines the weaver and Mirage could have some things to talk about, being able to help ponies see images and stories that the want to.  One using more fire than the other.  Dusk looks about at the area and at the dragon, resisting any temptation to see how the magic is done, and just enjoying the story too.
Mirage cringes back as the dragon seems to incinerate all the new life around him, experience seeming like a very intense movie in Screenplay's theater but with the new three dimensional images and deep bass sounds trying to bring you into the movie itself.  She flattens her ears and scoots to sit very close to Dusk when he puts his leg around her.
The storyteller's voice softens now, as we sit on a field of charred earth. "The world smolders until the first attack, silent, burning, green life turn into silent ember." Slowly something falls from the air, and another, and another. Like snow, embers fall from the sky, the area silent, the dragon's form dissipating in an unknown gentle breeze, fading from the scene. This continues for a few long moments, slowly covering the land in greyish white. And somewhat the ponies listening as well. Eerie is the sound of nothing. The storyteller's voice comes like a whisper. "The first tear is shed, from a world which gained and lost in a moment's breath, by the fury of its first life." A raindrop touches upon the nose of a random pony. Then another, and another, until the entire area is filled with solumn rain, light as mist, slowly washing ember away from the skin of the world, cleansing it in tenderness and sadness.
Dusk smiles softly and glances over to Mirage as she presses in closed against him.  Dusk looks back up and around as the scorched scene around us, and curiously as the falling ash and embers turns to rain.  He gives Mirage a little cover as he holds her and puts his head over hers.
Mirage decides to take her que from the villagers, and she watches them instead of the show during the next part.  She leans close to Dusk but watches with interest as the other spectators are doing.
"The first tears bring forth the first shimmer of hope. A hope longing to wipe the fury and sorrow from the new world. It springs forth, strong and tall, to quell that which rages in the heart of the firstborn." A tree sprout starts in the middle of all the ponies watching, and it grows, and grows, blossoming into softened hues of blues and white, five symbols created by the leaves, each one liken to a tiny star, surrounding the middle heart which burns brightly with life's light, branches wrapped around this like a mother's loving embrace. It resembles the Tree of Harmony, but in many ways it's different, too.
Dusk keeps close with Mirage, but also keeps a close eye on the story and the ponies.  While really not looking for it, he still doesn't pick up any sort of illusion at least, making it fairly curious as the story carries on.
Mirage seems to be doing quite fine now, watching the show just as the rest of the villagers are.  She has the same look of wonder as they do when the Tree sprouts and spreads its limbs.
The trees branches slowly fold open after a pregnant moment, and a creature steps out. One bathed in pure white feathers, across long, slender wings, spreading out in angelic pose, their length almost dwarfing the creature. A slender form, a long tail, coated with white fire that springs forth a dance of color and life, flowers and grasses filling in the land where it touches. White hooves, bright with a light of their own, and a finely spiralled horn of golden-ivory, arching slightly out and up, adding four feet to the silver-maned head and neck. A pony unlike any other. Eyes blue as the sky open, peering out into the empty world, and toward a spot in the distance. A blackened cloud of smoke forms, and it condenses into the dragon, staring back through red eyes. The audience shifts foward a bit, watching closely.
Dusk is glad to see Mirage getting to enjoy the special telling of a story.  It is certainly quite a unique sort of experience here with the Ancient and other ponies, watching it literally unfold, following the gazes of the creatures.
Mirage leans against Dusk and watches the show without really analyzing it.  Instead, she lets the story unfold just as the others do, with a sense of anticipation as it flows along.
Chance says "The tree, born of hope, gives birth to the Living Harmony, the first creature of tenderness to contrast the first dragon's furry." the storyteller's voice leaks through softly as the scene unfolds. Then the Living Harmony speaks, and it comes out like a collection of ponies singing, each voice meshing seemlessly with the others, creating a lovely harmony of its own. "Firstborn, I wish happiness." The dragon snorts in disqust and anger, flame and smoke rolling from its nostrils. "I offer you hope, and a pact. A heart's want, lonely no more, and I shall call this pact 'friendship'." Anger boils the heart of the dragon, fury flamed from false promise, so he believes. He roars with the might of thunder and the fury of a stormy sea, and blasts the Living Harmony with fire and hate. "The dragon, sure of deceit from this one offering pact wrapped up in false form, not dragon, but something alien, attempts to rid the earth of this new life, this new spark, grown and cherished by the very tree that rose in the midst"
midst of hope." the narrative from the storyteller heard unseen.
"The tree, born of hope, gives birth to the Living Harmony, the first creature of tenderness to contrast the first dragon's furry." the storyteller's voice leaks through softly as the scene unfolds. Then the Living Harmony speaks, and it comes out like a collection of ponies singing, each voice meshing seemlessly with the others, creating a lovely harmony of its own. "Firstborn, I wish happiness." The dragon snorts in disqust and anger, flame and smoke rolling from its nostrils. "I offer you hope, and a pact. A heart's want, lonely no more, and I shall call this pact 'friendship'." Anger boils the heart of the dragon, fury flamed from false promise, so he believes. He roars with the might of thunder and the fury of a stormy sea, and blasts the Living Harmony with fire and hate. "The dragon, sure of deceit from this one offering pact wrapped up in false form, not dragon, but something alien, attempts to rid the earth of this new life, this new spark, grown and cherished by the very tree that rose in the
rose in the midst of hope." the narrative from the storyteller heard unseen.
Mirage watches the story attentively.
Dusk gives Mirage just a light squeeze as we both watch closely.  He is watching quite curious of the story as well.  He glances a moment over the other ponies that are watching raptly too.
The other ponies are also watching curiously, and the younger ones peek out from behind their parents. They watch the scene, but especially the Living Harmony. That is, until the dragon attacks. Fire and smoke roll out like water in a storm, washing over the area. It slowly clears, and some of the life leaves the Living Harmony, and she diminishes in stature, and that lost life becomes the first earth ponies. The earth ponies step foward. "We too shall offer the pact." This only fuels the dragon's need to rid itself of the Living Harmony, and blasts her again in heat. More of her life leaves, dimishing her horn, and this life becomes the first unicorns. "Our hope is also yours." they tell the dragon. The dragon roars and sends such a violent blast out that it fills the entire area in flame. The Living Harmony's life protects her new ponies, and her wings diminish, that life becoming the pegasii, who offer also their pact. The Living Harmony has now been reduce to something less, feathers and mane and t
tail dimmed and dulled from its former brillance. She has become the first alicorn. Flame boils against the muzzle of the dragon as he breathes and watches this most stubborn of creature, with the most stubborn of hope. But like a fire burning too hot, his anger burns itself out, and he slowly loses the will to fight, drooping his great head. "The anger of the dragon only serves to create more hope for the Living Harmony, until the races of ponies have been born. And yet, the dragon is still alone." the narration continues.
Mirage doesn't recall this story ever being told to her before, so she continues to listen quietly.
Dusk has heard many different variations of stories of how ponies came to be.  Though admittedly has not heard this particular one either, and finds it quite interesting.  Not to mention the wonderful telling of it too.
"Hope. It's the breath of life. The song of a contented heart. Friendship. It binds those hearts together." the storyteller speaks through the story. The Living Harmony, life stripped to a shadow of what once was, steps up to the dragon, fearlessly, with tenderness wetting her expression. "You have great power, and great fire, firstborn. With a heart of rage you can wipe everything clean, and return the world to once was, empty and barren." The dragon slowly looks up to her, his eyes confused. After all he did, she still speaks with him in this manner? "I wish to see it again, your wonderful breath." she says, giving warmth and care to those words. "Breath it once more for me, with a heart of hope, and accept my pact, with a want of friendship, and I promise you shall be lone no more." The dragon opens his great maw, weakened fury still in his face, and he takes in a deep breath. But those eyes of the Living Harmony, piercing his shell of anger, cracks it, ever so slightly. His eyes soften, smoke slowl
slowly rising from the sides of his mouth, curling up against his teeth. The Living Harmony looks at him, unafraid. The dragon, unable to contain perpetual rage in the sight of this compassion, lets hope fill his heart, his eyes reflecting it. He blows his last flame, a gentle flame of blue fire. It washes across the Living Harmony. She closes her eyes and lets the flame take her life, leaving only a spark of friendship behind. Her life rises and forms into the race of dragons. The spark slowly retreats back to its tree, and a whisper, coming from nowhere and everywhere, speaks softly to the heart. "Thank you, friend." The dragon looks around, at the new grass and flowers the Living Harmony left behind, the ponies who are now there with him, and others of his kind. "And so the dragon, accepting the pact of the Living Harmony, found his sorrow and anguish washed away in the light of friendship. Never to be alone again. And as the sun rose that first morning, the first dragon smiles." The dragon, seeing
seeing hope for its life, feeling the warmth of sun upon his face, smiles into the sky. The scene slowly fades, until only the face of the dragon is left, and that too melts away. There's silence for a few long moments, and after, murrmurrings. And then, only soft ones.
Mirage murmers softly to Dusk.  "That was quite... different," she whispers to him.
Dusk is watching raptly by this time, finding the story grand and touching too.  He blinks as it comes to a seeming end.  He leans to Mirage and nods as she whispers, "Very much so, my love," he says quietly as well.  He wants to give applause as he takes in all of the story, and its presentation, but follows suit with the others, keeping respectfully quiet.
It's a filly that starts the hoof-clomping, and finally all other ponies follow, some expressing themselves more verbally. A few ponies decide to get up and start handing out snacks.
Dusk certainly joins in with the applause once it starts, and smiles.  "That was quite a show!"
Mirage joins in the hoof clopping, too, while giving a soft smile to Dusk and a nod to Elder Ponygale.
( After the applause, the storyteller and fireweaver sit down, letting the others to get to their nightly activities. These include trading snacks, talking about various things, there's some exchange of gifts, and there's games for the young to play. A spirit ball is brought out, and many of the young, even non-spirit ponies, join in. The game is modified a bit to allow other ponies to play as well. The storyteller glances over to Elder, Dusk and Mirage, giving them each a polite nod, then goes back to watching the others. PP leans in close. "They have many stories they tell. That's one of their better ones, in my opinion." )
Dusk smiles and relaxes more once the story has come to and end and ponies get back to what they were doing.  He looks over to Mirage and back over to PP, "Yes that was a very impressive story, and the telling of it even more so."  With the nod from the storyteller, Dusk does wonder if we should be meeting or talking to anypony particular here.  He suspects the arrival of outside strangers isn't a regular activity here.  But he's sure PP is taking care of protocol as it should be, so doesn't question it directly.
Mirage gives a small but respectful notd in return to the Storyteller.  Then she nods to Dusk and Elder.  "Yes, it was a rather intense telling, wasn't it?" she says with a little smile.  Then she watches as the villagers go about their evening.
( PP decides to get some snacks, and sits there munching on them as he watches the others. "It's nice to watch everypony else doing things, and be able to relax." He brings back snacks for Dusk and Mirage. They're a variety of different candies and such. A colt comes trotting up, looking between Dusk and PP. It's the same colt that first came up to Dusk earlier. )
Dusk grins with a nod to Mirage, "That it was, my love."  He was about to ask if Mirage was interested in any of the snacks, seeing others getting some, but PP already has it taken care of.  Dusk smiles, "Thank you, Mr. Pony."  He ohs, then smiles again as the colt comes over, "Greetings, little fellow."
Mirage smiles to Elder as he unexpectedly returns with a selection of snacks.  "Why thank you," she says to him.  "One of their better ones?" she asks Elder, and she's about to ask something else when the colt that came up to Dusk earlier comes back.  Mirage wonders if the colt will speak this time.  Or perhaps Elder will translate.
( PP nods o Mirage. "It's one my favorite stories from the ancients." PP smiles to the colt and nods to him. The colt looks over at Dusk, and pulls out a clockwork owl. He hooves it to Dusk. It's run down in condition, and looks rather old and cracked in places. "Can you fix it?" he asks. He tilts his head, looking at Dusk curiously, with a little confusion. )
Dusk nods, "We haven't heard the others, but I agree that was a very good one.  Oh.."  He reaches out his hooves and accepts the little clockwork owl and looks at it curiously.  Rather curiously even.  "I would be glad to help, if I can.  My name is Dusk.  What is your name?  And is this your owl?"  He's seen Nimble Hooves clockwork creatures.  But this one seems.. unnaturally aged.
Mirage smiles to Elder.  "And I take it you've heard quite a few?" she asks.  It's obvious to her how much Elder seems to enjoy the story and the village itself.  Then she looks curiosly as the colt produces some sort of clockwork owl, and listens as Dusk investigates it.
( The colt looks at Dusk a bit weird. "Um.. Fulcrum." he says. There's a scale with a gear on one plate and a ruler on the other, for a cutie mark. He then nods. "That's the owl I made. But.. it got broke." he says, glancing down at the ground and shuffling a hoof. PP nods to Mirage as the colt and Dusk talks. "Yes, I've seen many. This is one of my favored vacation towns." )
Dusk smiles to Fulcrum and nods, "A very nice job.  So when did it get broken?  What happened to it?  Did you bring it anywhere unusual?"  Dusk looks at it more closely, looking into its path and if any unusual forces affected it.
Mirage nods to Elder again.  "Maybe when you retire you can stay in a nice village like this," she smiles gently.  She tilts an ear to listen to Dusk and Fulcrum talk.
PP grins a bit. Fulcrum looks back up to Dusk. "I dunno." he says quietly. "Was in the forest, in the treehouse. Chance said a creature from the Blasted Plains attacked the forest. The treehouse.. it's all broken. Chance saved my owl for me." he says, looking at Dusk hopeful that he can fix it.
Dusk glances over and smiles to Mirage as she talks about PP retiring, "How many years does a pony have to work before retirement?" he teases with a grin.  He looks back to Fulcrum and nods.. "Hmm I had wondered, yes."  He had seen it was in a woods, and something to do with Chance, but didn't get the connection to the Blasted Plains.  "A creature, ay?  That does make some sense.  I wonder what Mr. Chance is getting into."  Dusk looks the owl over, and uses a mixture of his talent and magic to make alterations, trying to repair the damage, and clean it out.  He starts to get a little movement out of it.  "I /think/ we might be able to get him going again, at least, Young Mister Fulcrum."  He pauses and looks up with a light smile, "Does your owl have a name as well?"
Mirage gives a little wink to Elder and smiles to let him know she's only teasing.  Then she watches as Dusk tries to repair the mechanical toy.
( Fulcrum nods a bit. "Uh huh. It's Bubo. I had a weird dream before and someone said that name. I told my owl about it, and he liked that name, so I gave it to him!" He perks up as the owl gets a bit of movement out of it. "Bubo? Buuuubo?" He looks up at Dusk. "Can you fix the communication gearbox too? So, you know, he can talk again?" He looks down at the owl, then back up at Dusk. "He.. he still has his lifespark, right?" he asks, looking a bit worried, rotating his ears back. )
Dusk holds the owl so that Mirage look it over as he works on it.  He's actually finding it a fascinating little bit of work to do.  "Bubo you say?  How nice.  When was he last able to speak, Mr. Fulcrum?"  While the unusual effects of what happen leave it a bit scattered to follow, he can track back when the colt had it before the problem, which comes in handy, as he seems to get it working, but then it keeps stopping.  "Hmmm..  We're not quite there yet."  Dusk compares it more closely to its past self, and realizes there is a completely missing little gear.  He ponders this much more closely, "Lifespark?"  The missing gear does seem much more unusual.  Ruins, and some strong magic aura.  He doesn't think he can just magic up a simple replacement.
Mirage looks a bit surprised.  She'd thought the owl was something the colt made.  But when he asks about a 'lifespark', she wonders if it's really one of the magitech contructions Elder and his family have made over the many long years.  She looks to Elder to see if he seems to recognize the mechanical owl.
( PP glances to the colt, then looks at Dusk and Mirage. He holds out a hoof to Dusk. "I'll look at it." he says. Once Dusk has given him the owl, he also looks it over. "Ah, looks like you've done a fine job repairing it, Dusk." He furrows his brow as he looks it over further. Fulcrum watches with anticipation. "I see.. it's missing one of the lifespark gears. The lifespark.." The poor colt looks like he's going to cry at this news. PP choses his words carefully. "The lifespark is.. weak. You used your own, didn't you?" Fulcrum bites his lower lip and nods. "That's good. Keep him close to you, and that'll help save him. He's missing.." He checks again carefully, "The learning gear is there.. ah. The distribution gear isn't. That's why it's not even really working. Do you remember how to make those?" Again he gets a nod from the colt. "I'm going to increase the lifespark.. but you'll have to make that gear and fit it properly for your owl soon. He might have forgotton some stuff, but you should he able t )
( able to get him back after a month or so if you're careful about taking care of him. Do you understand?" The colt nods, looking a little more hopeful. PP focuses on the owl. Now PP didn't come with a spirit manifest, and he hasn't talked about it. But now? He raises a hoof, holding it still. It starts to shift into his spirit manifest, but instead of having a seperate spirit, his hoof and leg becomes the spirit. The end result of their experiements with pony spirits. The ability to exist without a physical body. He carefully pushes his spirit manifested hoof into the owl. There's a small increase of unicorn magic, and after a few moments, the owl stirs more, and finally opens his eyes, though they remain unfocused. PP pulls his hoof out and changes it back into a physical hoof. He hands the owl to Fulcrum. "There, the spark is strong enough again." Fulcrum takes the owl and holds the beloved clockwork against his chest. He looks between PP and Dusk and Mirage, his lower lip quivering. Then tears run fr )
run from his eyes. But his expression is of joy. He might be a smart colt, but he's still a colt. Unable to form the words right now, he just gives a smile, then takes off.
Dusk wonders if something that might be resolved with some sort of magitech too, though the part seems very special.  Ask PP asks to look at it, Dusk hooves it over to him.  Dusk smiles, "Thank you."  He did most of his work just copying what it was before though, rather than having the skills to make such a thing new.  Sort of magicing in the lines, as it were.  He listens and watches as PP explains about the life spark and talks to the colt too.  Dusk raises a brow but doesn't interrupt as PP shifts partly into spirit form.  Dusk looks like he was about to say something to Fulcrum, but the colt is running off already, "Oh, was go offer to fix up the casing for him too..  Well perhaps another time."  He looks over to PP again, "Very interesting."  And leaves it at that.
Mirage starts to look wide-eyed as she slowly understands what Programmer has meant all this time about 'lifespark'.  She thought it was simply some specialized magic.  But the sight of Elder suddenly changing part of his own body from flesh and bone into spiritual energy is very unnerving to her!  She'd expected changes as soon as it was apparent she and Dusk had travelled so far through time, but to find Programmer now so fundamentally changed is far more than she ever imagined.  She doesn't notice the happy colt running off with his partially restored pet.  Instead, she wonders now just how much every pony besides Dusk and her are different now.
( PP glances to Dusk as the colt runs off. "Um, sorry about that. Guess he was extra happy. You can ask whatever it was later. I'm sure he'll be coming back. Can't make one of those gears in one night. And thank you for repairing most of the owl. You're better at it then I. Living clockworks are difficult enough to make and raise for an adult, much less a colt. )
( ..colt." He looks over at Mirage, noticing her unnerved expression. "Is.. something wrong, Mirage?" he asks, giving a concerned look. )
Dusk nods about the owl, though is looking more concerned with the same issue as Mirage, if not quite so unnerved about it.  "Thank you.  I was mostly copying what was already done."  He glances over to Mirage, giving her a small comforting rub of his shoulder to hers.  He still leaves it up to PP to offer more.
Mirage calms herself, her eyes going back to their normal almond shape.  "You just caught me by surprise, Elder," she says softly.  "I expected some changes but I didn't realize you'd changed so much besides your longevity."
PP blinks a bit. "Oh.. the hoof thing. Right. Sorry. Didn't mean to startle you. It's the ability those closest to the core Ponygale lineage have picked up. Though it was harder for me since I'm technically of the part of the line that existed ten thousand years ago. We can manifest our spirits directly, essentially hiding our physical selves. Or.. replacing it. Depends how you look at it." he muses. "It's hard to go ten thousand years without any changes." he notes. "Please let me know if I'm making you feel uncomfertable."
Dusk nods as PP finally realizes what had concerned them.  "Well you have probably been doing this for hundreds of years or more, so perhaps don't think about it.  But it is certainly a change from when we knew you before, yes."  He smiles, seeing Mirage looking much more at ease too.
Mirage still finds this unsettling but she maintains her composure.  "You're fine," she says to Elder with a little wave of her hoof to dismiss the problem.  "You didn't say this 'spirit' ability could be learned.  It seemed only the spirit ponies could do that.  And I thought your magictech animals were powered by magic, not parts of ponies' spirits."  She gives Dusk a little smile to reassure him.
( PP nods to Dusk, then smiles and chuckles a bit to Mirage. "It can't really be learned. Remember, I'm a Ponygale myself. We started out just being able to move our pony aura outside our body. I don't know if you've found out about that yet or not." <footnote: Dusk and Mirage saw PP's grandfather demonstrate that at his aunt's house>. "I had to develop it further as my family developed it over the generations, by use of the floodgate. It would most likely kill a pony not from the family." he explains to Mirage. "The spirit ponies that you met in New Canterlot are part of the Ponygale family, though removed by a number of generations. The ones you see here, with the ability to pull their spirits back in, are the furthest removed from the Ponygale family, though still technically a part of it, somewhere down the line. The spirit manifest is the end result of developing our ability to move our essence outside our body." He grins at the magitech statement. "Fulcrum's owl isn't magitech. It's something more )
more advanced. Since it uses only basic mechnical tech, and life energy to learn and function as a pet, it's considered 'natural tech' by the ancients. The Nature Ponies arn't quite as convinced it's natural, but they accept it at the very least."
Dusk nods as Mirage comments, and smiles back to her too.  He nods to PP and does recall the time his grandfather demonstrated their family talent, and how Dusk felt about it at the time.  "Well that and you obviously have the endurance effects of the time with the Djinn.  Whatever added effect that has for you."  He makes sure we're not talking clearly in earshot of other ponies too, as we discuss this.  He nods as well about how the owl is considered, "It is certainly something unique.  The 'lifespark' part seems outside my altering with my talent, as would a pony."
Mirage'ohs' softly as Elder explains, although his explanation just brings up more questions.  She gives a little shake of her head.  "Well, obviously things have changed a great deal.  And I was surprised Dusk and I recognized anything when we arrived," she replies softly.  Then she nibbles on a snack and lets Dusk discuss details with Elder.
( PP smiles lightly to Mirage. "Well, I'm glad you recognized me at least." He nods to Dusk. "That's not surprising. The lifespark of a living clockwork is unique. It can't even be duplicated, like magitech can. That's why Fulcrum was so worried about his owl. The living clockworks effectively die once they lose all their lifespark. His owl was very fortunate." )
Dusk chuckles to Mirage and nods, "Well when we first arrived, we thought something happened to the Center, not us."  He nods to PP about the owl, "Yes, there was some of that energy on the other gears that connected with it.  I'm guessing that's how you were able to help with recovering it.  Well, and with Mr. Fulcrum making a replacement gear.  I may have been able to do that part, without making the old spark.  But I didn't know enough of how that would work.  I'm glad to hear it will be enough to let it recover for him."
Mirage tilts an ear as she listens to the discussion, but it's over her head as the two stallions discuss technical details.
PP nods lightly. "What I did was use some of my life energy from my spirit manifest to strengthen what was left. I'm afraid Fulcrum needs to do the rest. As for the replacement gear, it has to be made compatible with the owl, and the lifespark put in it. Since Fulcrum is the one who put the lifespark there, he really needs to be the one to create a new part. Usually young ones arn't taught living clockwork tech. It's difficult to learn, and easy to get wrong. Losing a pet you've been working on can be hard. But Fulcrum's a special case. He's one smart colt."
Dusk hmms and nods.  It's pretty high up there for him, and a lot of parts he just has the rough basics.  But sounds like even making the basic part is not something he could have done in this particular case.  Perhaps if he were to learn all about making such a thing he would make his own, but that would be much more to learn.  "Thank you, Mr. Pony.  Yes Mr. Fulcrum did look to be a bright lad.  It sounds like he is fairly impressive."
Mirage nods along with Dusk.  "So, Fulcrum found the owl?  And he's been trying to repair it?"
( PP smiles a bit to Dusk. "He's not very good at sports though, and other colts make fun of him for that, so he spends his time studying." He shakes his head lightly to Mirage. "No, he created the owl. As far as trying to fix it, that I don't know." )
Dusk nods to PP, "Well one day he will out perform them all and they will look to him.  So I wouldn't worry too much."  He's about to comment about the owl, but sees PP has it well covered.
Mirage'ohs' softly and nods as Elder explains.  And Dusk seems confident the colt will be able to repair his project, so she lets the subject go and returns to watching the villagers enjoy their nightly meeting.
( PP grins a bit to Dusk. "Perhaps you're right." The night goes on, and finally ponies start to head home, happy, filled with snacks, and the young ones are beat. He's a bit late, but Fulcrum does come back. He hurries over to get some of the snacks that are left before he's left with nothing. )
Dusk enjoys one of the snacks as we hang around.  He chats with both of you and watches what all goes on with the other ponies here.  He smiles seeing Fulcrum making it back for snacks before the event is over for the night.
Mirage only nibbles at a snack or two during the evening.  She's not one for idle eating.  She notices Fulcrum coming back towards the end of the meeting.  Nudging Dusk, she gets the flower candies he got in Marishville Prime and goes over to Fulcrum and offers him the little bag.  "Here you are," she says.  "Just in case most of the best snacks are already gone."
( Fulcrum is looking for some of the better snacks, when Mirage comes up to him. He looks up at her, then at the bag, and takes it with a smile. "Thank you!" He tries one. "These are yummy! You make the best candies!" he tells Mirage. )
Dusk ahs and nods, and hoofs over the candies for her.  He smiles seeing Fulcrum happy now.  Though Dusk has to grin as Fulcrum makes the assumption that Mirage had made the flower candies.
Mirage shakes her head lightly at Fulcrum's question.  "No, I didn't make these.  I hope that doesn't matter?" she says with a soft smile to the colt.
( Fulcrum ohs softly, looking in the bag. He still smiles though. "You pick out the best candies!" he changes his former statement. He looks over to Dusk. "Dusk is nice." he says. "I started on my owl's gear!" )
Dusk has to chuckle again and smiles, "Yes they are great candies.  Elder here helped us pick them out too."  He smiles too and nods, "That is great to hear, Mr. Fulcrum.  If you get a chance I can try helping fix the casing too, unless you want to do it yourself, which is fine too."
Mirage smiles to Fulcrum.  "You're welcome," she says before walking back over to Elder, leaving Dusk to 'talk shop' with the talented colt.
( Fulcrum perks up, and follows Mirage to Dusk and Elder. "You can?" he asks hopefully. "That'd be the greatest!" He turns and hurries off a few steps, then slows and looks back. "My workshop is this way!" he says, apparenty thinking Dusk meant, like, now. )
Dusk gives Fulcrum a nod and smile, "I would be glad to."  Then he watches as the lad hurries off and expects us to follow.  Dusk figured he'd just bring the owl to us again like before, but Dusk grins and looks over to Mirage and PP, "Well?"
Mirage sits back down and waves a hoof to Dusk, indicating he should follow Fulcrum.  "Go on, love.  You know you want to," she chuckles.
( Fulcrum waits, shifting on his hooves, looking a bit impatient to get going. PP grins. "Yes, go on. I'll keep Mirage company." he says. )
There are no sleepers here.
Dusk ohs and thought we would all go, but shrugs and nods, "Very well then.  I should be back soon then."  He turns and follows Fulcrum off to his workshop.
Mirage will wait patiently for Dusk to return.  She doesn't know anything about Fulcrum's magic clockwork owl anyway and wouldn't be much help.
( Fulcrum leads Dusk to his shop, a small shed behind his family's house. In it are all sorts of gears, tools to make gears, and an assortment of tiny crystals (for decoration, apparently). The owl is on the workbench, and a gear, partially started, lays beside it. There's parchments on the walls listing different types of gears, and one parchment outlining the method for infusing a gear with one's life-force (including runes), which is called the 'lifespark'. There's illustrations and magic formulas which describe the process. The curious thing is, some of the magic formula doesn't make sense. There's symbols that don't exist in magic formulas in Dusk's time. A lizard-like creature lays curled up on the bench, but as the ponies approach, it lifts its head to look at them. "That's Frong, the first living clockwork I made." Fulcrum says, lifting it up. It hangs for a moment in Fulcrum's hand, then rights itself, sitting on his arm. "He's not smart like Bubo, and doesn't talk, but he knows how to fetch stu )
stuff!"
( PP looks over to Mirage. "I hope you can sleep well tonight." )
Dusk follows along and smiles.  "You could have stayed for the rest of the festivities if you had wanted, Young Mr. Fulcrum."  He looks around through as we walk into the small workshop, checking out the various instructions and such too.  Dusk refrains from commenting 'Nothing. What's Frong with you?'  "A very nice little shop you have.  And greetings, Mr. Frong.  Sounds like perhaps he may be helpful when you work?"  Dusk heads over to where the owl is, and partial gear.
( "I don't think you met Frong before." Fulcrum says. "Yeah! He fetches my tools and gears and stuff." He hops up on the chair next to the workbench, and looks between Dusk and his owl. "Can you make him look better?" )
Dusk smiles, "Very helpful then!  And yes, I think so."  In fact, before PP stepped in to help with what was needed for the missing gear, Dusk was going to suggest coming back here, as it was far more probable there would be an instance of the undamaged owl here than where we were.  Before he realized that would not help due to the nature of the gear.  He smiles to Fulcrum, "So do show your works to the other young ponies too?"
Fulcrum shakes his head. "I did, but they thought they were weird." he says quietly, tapping forehooves against his table. "So I don't anymore."
Dusk nods to Fulcrum, "Well that can happen, yes.  But as they get older they will like them more.  It's good to try having some friends."  Dusk can fix the simple casing in short order, but spends a little time chatting with the colt as he works on it, turning it over, examining the damage.  "So you said he had problems with his voice too?"
Fulcrum looks at his owl. "Bubo's my best friend." he claims. "I guess I have other friends. They let me come to the treehouse." He then nods at the question. "Uh huh! His voice gearbox wasn't working right."
Dusk smiles, nodding, "Well that's good.  Though it sounds like the tree house may have been a little dangerous, from what happened to Mr. Bubo at least.  Did his voice ever work right?"
Fulcrum nods. "Uh huh. It did. He talked and hooted!"
Dusk nods to the colt, "And about how long ago was this?"  Dusk focuses on getting the casing now into increasingly good looking shape, trasforming its parts into unaged, undamaged versions of itself, removing the cracks and wear.
Fulcrum watches intriqued. "Last week, before Chance found it!" he answers.
Dusk smiles and nods to Fulcrum, "Ah that wasn't that long ago then."  Indeed, Dusk was already looking back to a version before that point when fixing it earlier.  But he checks and goes through some work, making sure the voice box parts appear to match what they were before.  "As best I can tell, without him running yet, I think his voice may work.  You'll have to check once you have him back up to full health though!"
Fulcrum picks up the owl and looks it over. "Wow! It's like almost brand new!" he says, clearly impressed. "Cool! Thanks!" He hugs the owl. Frong moves out of the way to sit on his shoulder.
Dusk can't help giving a happy little chuckle to see how pleased Fulcrum is with the little repairs.  "You are more than welcome!  And thank you for showing me your workshop.  You have done a very good job.  Though I should head back to my waiting friends too."
Fulcrum puts up his owl, and puts down Frong. "Alright! I wanna see if there's anymore hot cider left." and he trots out as well.
Dusk chuckles and nods, "Sounds good to me!"  He trots along with Fulcrum as we head back to the festivities and look around for Mirage and PP, if they're still where he left them or not.
Mirage is indeed where she was when Dusk left.  "Oh, that didn't take too long," she says, tilting her head to the dwindling number of ponies still at the meeting.  "Did everything go alright?"
( Fulcrum runs over to the tables when he spots a bit more hot cider, getting himself a cup, and a bit more snacks too. PP glances up as they return. "I take it things went well." he says, restating Mirage's question. )
Dusk grins, watching Fulcrum make a beeline for the goodies he wanted.  And best he do so before they're out, yes.  He turns back as he comes up on PP and Mirage, "Hello again!  Yes, we gave Mr. Bubo is looking nice, and we belieave as fixed as he's going to be until Mr. Fulcrum finishes his own work with him."  He gives Mirage a little nuzzling, and notices the fewer ponies now too.
Mirage nuzzles Dusk in return, and chuckles as she sees Fulcrum looking happy.  "I'm glad you were able to help, love," she says to Dusk.
Fulcrum looks around at the others, and decides to try to mingle with whoever happens to be left. "Glad to hear it. Shall we retire for the night?" he asks the two. "Quite the busy day."
Dusk enjoys the return nuzzling and smiles, "As was I, my dear, thank you."  Dusk takes one of the snacks we already had picked up and nibbles on it.  He turns and nods to PP as he asks about heading out, "Yes, if there isn't much else of note here, that sounds good to me.  Unless anything else to see."
Mirage stands as Dusk and Elder seem to be ready to go.  "I have no objections," she replies to both of you.  It has been a busy and stressful day.  So was the day before.
PP shakes his head. "Everypony else is going to head out soon. Nothing more to do." He heads toward the house.
Dusk nods, acknowledging Mirage with another loving nuzzle.  "Indeed it has been."  He nods to PP and smiles, "Then heading back sounds good."  He gives Fulcrum a wave from a distance before we start heading back.
Mirage nods to Elder and gives Fulcrum a little wave before walking back with you two to Elder and Chance's house.  "I take it you're pleased with everything so far?" she asks Elder.  "And hopefully tomorrow Chance will be here sooner than later.  And then we can either recreate the accident that sent Dusk and I here, or you can send us back to our proper place."
Fulcrum spots them, and waves as they head off. "I'm pleased if you're happy. I've been trying to make you comfertable here." He then nods. "Yes, then we can get you back. That would be best." He heads into the house. "Well, goodnight you two." he says.
Dusk nods about meeting Chance, "Yes, that will be good to get taken care of.  And to learn more about what's happened, either way."  He walks along, enjoying what we can of the evening, and still a few ponies about as we head back towards the edge of town.  Inside Dusk gets comfortable and cleans up a little before readying for bed.
Mirage nods to Elder.  "Good night.  And thank you for your help," she says.  She checks the kitchen to make sure the stove is 'turned off', and then she goes to the guest bedroom Elder indicated earlier to wait while Dusk cleans up.  She'll clean up once he's done.
PP heads to his bedroom to get some sleep. The night now is nice and quiet, especially at the edge of town.
Dusk gets done cleaning up and lets Mirage get in there.  He sits on the bed and relaxes, thinking about the last couple of days past.
Mirage arrives back in the bedroom with her long mane bundled up in a towel.  A second towel bundles up her long tail.  "A bit for your thoughts, dear," she says with a gentle smile to Dusk.
PP snoozes quietly in the other room. Zzzz. Zzzzz. *snore* Zzzz.
Dusk smiles as Mirage comes back to the room.  He raises a brow, and holds out a hoof for the bit.  Though after waiting just a short while, he breaks into a bit of a grin and put his hoof down.  "Oh, just considering what all has happened since the other day" (millennium? decllenium?) "at the Center and where it may all go."
PP holds his stuffed plush squirrel close as he snoozes. (Where'd he get that? O.o)
Mirage nods as she ruffles the towel to dry her mane.  "After seeing the ponies here up close, my feeling is that we -really- don't belong here.  Ponies like you and I are far between."
Dusk nods to Mirage, "And we're certainly out of our time period, even if ponies were still the same.  Though.. there must be some reason we're here in particular.  Even if an accident.  A time anomaly from something like what Mr. Chance did, from what I know, if happens noticeably at all, tends to occur in the shortest timeframe it can.  The quickest path of least resistance to loop back to the start.  This doesn't fit much with anything I've heard about, outside something powerful like a Djinn."
PP rides around on his bike, taking his pet squirrel for a ride. Zzzz.
Mirage finishes drying her mane and then starts towling her long and full tail.  It does take effort to maintain all that long and full hair.  "Well, I don't understand all that.  But I was hoping that if we find Chance, we can at least recreate the accident and maybe get back to our own place.  But why would anypony actually bring us here?  From what I've seen, there's no shortage of technology and talented ponies.  Why would anypony need us?"
Dusk smiles as he admires how Mirage looks, even with her mane and tail ruffled from towel drying.  He offers to help brush her mane as she starts drying her tail.  He nods, "Reaching Mr. Chance will be good with getting back, and maybe finding out what happened.  Why?  Yes, there doesn't seem to be any particular strife, or major problem we've seen.  Perhaps there's something we know or have that's needed?  Or something particular Mr. Chance needs help with.  With him leaving the crystals and ids for us, it seems he expected us.  But no information left for us."
Mirage dips her ears back in a shrug.  "Well, the stove here is in desperate need of help," she smiles back to Dusk as he helps her get her mane under control.  "I suppose we'll know by tomorrow."
Gah! Squirrel's got my face! *runs around in circles* Zzzzz..
Dusk chuckles, "I hope the stove isn't why we're here, at the very least, my love."  He smiles as he helps her out and have some more casual conversation, eventually getting off to sleep as well.  Tomorrow indeed.
The morning comes, and birds chirp, and the sun rises. The usual nice foresty morning. A smell drifts into Dusk and Mirage's room before they get a chance to get up. Breakfast.
Dusk sleeps pretty well, giving a little stretch as he stirs, no opening his eyes at first, though hearing the sounds and feeling the light and fresh air of morning, and.. "Mmmm something smells good."  He opens his eyes to look around, and over to Mirage.
Mirage has slept later than usual, too.  Yesterday was more exhausting that it should have been.  But seeing so many new and weird things take its toll on one's mental stamina.  Mirage sleeps her usual dreamless sleep and wakes when Dusk says something.  "Is NightRaven making her tea again?" she asks sleepily before blinking awake.  "Oh.  We're still here," she says to Dusk with weak smile.  "I was hoping we'd be back at the apartment."
Sizzling and a teapot are heard from the kitchen area, as well as someone moving some pots around. As well as voices.
Dusk leans over to Mirage and gives her a little kiss, and a nod as well.  "If only it was Lady NightRaven, indeed."  He gets up and shakes his head, his mane settled into place.  He gets up and offers a hoof to Mirage, "But it does seem there is food to be had.  Shall we go meet Mr. Pony?"
Mirage takes Dusk's hoof and nods, though she yawns before kissing him back.  "I feel like I could have slept much longer," she says before quickly brushing out her mane and tail.  "Yes, I'm ready," she smiles and follows Dusk out.
PP's out in the kitchen, cooking up breakfast. Pancakes, and buttery corn muffins, and hashbrowns and french toast (or something close). At the counter sits a black unicorn, with black stripes in odd shapes across his white horn, along his white rump, a couple dice as his cutie mark, and some across his white 'socks'. He turns as Mirage and Dusk enter the room. It's Chance, wearing a utility pack and vest, with pockets and hooks for different things. He's wearing a number of artifacts. Each artifact is in a faux-leather wrap, placed on parts, such as inner legs or around the neck where they're out of the way and not dangling. He smiles lightly to the two. There's a different look in his eyes. Deeper, older, more distant somehow. But his smile is the same. And it shines through his eyes. "Good morning my friends. I'm glad you made it."
Dusk smiles at the kiss and waits for Mirage before we head off towards the smells of breakfast, and the sounds.. of somepony.  Dusk looks over to Mirage, "Hmm, perhaps we have company?"  Or PP is talking to himself this morning.  Once we join PP we find it's not just company, but Chance himself.  "Oh, Mr. Chance!  You do look different."  He goes and gives his friend a hug.  "Made it?  Were you expecting us?"  He looks over to Mirage.
Mirage nods to Elder as she and Dusk come into the living room, but she blinks and doesn't recognize Chance until Dusk calls him by name.  It's Chance's eyes and smile that convince her it's really him.  "It's good to see you, too.  Elder's been kind enough to help us find you."
Chance hugs Dusk back, then offers Mirage one as well. "I'm sure I've changed since the last you saw me." he says with a small grin. "And yes, Terrance was telling me how you ended up in New Canterlot." PP glances over and smiles, and continues making breakfast. "I'll be done shortly." he says. Chance nods to him, then looks at the others once more. "As for expecting you, I'm the one who sent for you. Though, I'm still uncertain where you ended up. Where did you find yourselves when you got to this time?"
Dusk smiles, "Yes, Mr. Pony has been very helpful indeed, and we're grateful."  He hmmms and nods to Chance, "We arrived right where we left, at the MRC.  At first we thought the incident had caused the damage, until we realized it was much more than that."
Mirage smiles back to Elder.  "Would you like some help with that?" she asks as he comments about breakfast.  Then she returns Chance's hug before settling next to Dusk to listen to some long needed answers.
PP shakes his head. "Nah. I've got it." Chance raises his brow at Dusk's answer, then chuckles lightly. "That figures. I used chaos magic to bring you so far in time. The side affect is a largely random entrance point. I figured the old MRC building would be the last place to find you. Leave it to chaos magic to decide to put you there, the last place I expected. I'm sorry for my delay. I activated the time tunnel a few days ago. Been searching for you since. Thanks to Terrance, I got your message early this morning, and came straight away."
Dusk hmmmms, one que4stion answered, more proposed.  He nods to Chance, "Chaos magic.."  He glances over as Mirage takes a seat with him and he smiles softly as she does.  He considers, "That is quite a feat.  What could be so important to do something like that?"
Mirage is a little disappointed but evidently Elder's almost finished with breakfast and doesn't need her help.  She tilts an ear as Chance talks, remembering the incident as an accident.  But she continues to listen as Dusk as the questions.
PP finishes up, and passes around the plates of breakfast. He also pours some juice for everypony as they talk. Chance looks to Dusk at the question. "You are." he says. "Your future, as well as potentially others, are at stake here."
Dusk rubs shoulders with Mirage a little, and smiles at the food, "MMmmm, thank you, Mr. Pony.  That's been smelling delicious since we woke up.."  But then he's caught a bit off guard by Chance's answer.  "My future?"  He considers some things, and how far we are removed from our time.  He thinks of one of those movies Screenplay has had where the ponies had to travel in a magic coach to help their own family.  But he suspects that's not what Chance is talking about, "Hmmm.  I hadn't considered that was likely.."  Dusk looks thoughtful, though obviously there are more questions too.
Mirage thanks Elder as well, and begins nibbling at her breakfast as she listens to the conversation.  She gives Dusk a quick smile as he rubs shoulders with her.
( PP has a seat as well, and munches on his breakfast. "You get better at it. And learn how to effectively apply it to others." he tells Dusk, glancing briefly at Mirage. He takes a bite. "Who wants to go through life alone?" )
PP has a seat as well, and munches on his breakfast. "You get better at it. And learn how to effectively apply it to others." Chance tells Dusk, glancing briefly at Mirage. He takes a bite. "Who wants to go through life alone?"
Dusk is quite thoughtful on it, then looks up at Chance's comments.  So it is what he thinks.  He nods agreeably but somewhat solemnly to Chance, "Yes, though it isn't something I have any control over."  He reaches a hoof over and touches Mirage's, "I had a.. well I guess an accident, with some magic, my love.  It has affected my aging.  It's not really something I tell anypony really.  It's still something I'm trying to figure out what, and how it happened."  Though from what Chance says, seems he may have figured at least something of it out by now.  "I never imagined the effect would be.. this far reaching."
Mirage glances at Chance when he looks at her, but she doesn't really stop eating until Dusk reaches over.  "Go on," she replies evenly, looking into Dusk's eyes.
PP and Chance exchange glances, and eat quietly for the moment, letting the other two talk for the moment.
Dusk looks back into her eyes and nods.  This is probably as good a time to explain as can. "I had thought for sure it would have come up when we encountered Princess Celestia that time.  And I tried to say something a couple of other times, but seemed it was still destined not to happen."  Mirage even literally told him not to tell her one time he tried, even if she meant it as a joke.  "It was sometime after I left Hollow Shades, that I told you about before.  Left Equestria all together, in fact."  Another thing he had hoped to do, to go there with Mirage sometime and see the place now.. we'll now 10,000 years ago, and see if the moment would be right.  "In my travel and exploration, I came across a tribe of ponies that I stayed with, and learned they were rather long lived."
Mirage listens quietly.  "And?" she asks, prompting Dusk to continue.
Dusk nods to Mirage, "So I stayed with them longer, to learn more about them.  Theirs was a form of Earth Magic too.  Though different from the nature ponies here," he adds, glancing to Chance and PP too, then looks back.  "If I could find a magic that might help other ponies live a little longer and healthier, that would be good.  It was a was a couple of more years and I had much more of an understanding, but my attempts to invoke the magic they had naturally didn't have any real effect.  But one of the elders offered to help assist, along with some others of the tribe."
Mirage continues listening quietly.
Dusk thinks back on it, "We all went out, and I sat in a special circle they had of rocks, with inscriptions.. Or ruins Mr. Pony might describe them." Dusk would have liked to have Mirage's help with her talent to show this, but he doesn't want to put too much on her at once, so he goes on.  "Something I had done quite a number of times.  The other ponies sat around it, with the elder too.  We worked on magics for hours actually, as I still learned more in the process.  But eventually the dark clouds started to encroach, and I figured he would have to head back in soon.  But without warning there was a flash and a crack, and everything went white for a moment.  The next moment I was indoors, but sitting exactly as I had been, as if the flash had changed the outdoors to the indoors."
Mirage listens patiently.
Dusk continues, "There was a pony there, and I could see out a window as well.  Then I realized something wasn't right.  The pony would vanish or suddenly move about as well as others, including the elder.  And outside there was no storm, but a strange pulsing of light.  It turned out to be day and night coming and going with each second.  In the few moments for me to get up and go to the window the trees had lost their leaves and I could literally look and see the seasons changing in the on-off light of day and night as I watched."
Mirage nods lightly for Dusk to continue his story.
Dusk still holds his hoof to Mirage's, giving a gentle smile.  He's actually glad to get to tell her.  "But at the same time I could realize the ponies of the tribe were working to help me too.  They must have brought me indoors, and they had now made a new circle inside, and wrote me messages, and magics to do.  Quite a number of years to them passed, but eventually together we were able to change my perception of time.  Even that took some work, but at least the days were not flying by.  Honestly, for a while I thought I might sit there and watch the end of the world come and go or some such.  Eventually I honed the time magics to adjust the speed of my interaction with the world.  And I thought that was all that was needed.  But seems while I now interact normally, I am actually still aging much differently than the world around me, and I have been unable to alter that.  Nor recreate it.  That is also why I have been partly torn to tell you, my love.  Once I knew I wanted to be with you forever, I wanted you
( ... to know.  But I also didn't want you to worry that you'd grow old without me.  If I could find a way to at recreate it, you would then have a choice as well.  Much of my research, outside of studying the things of Ponyville, and wanderings at night, are looking into what I can find out as well."  He looks to Mirage, into her eyes. )
Mirage doesn't look surprised by Dusk's story.  "And now it's ten millennia later, thanks to Chance and Elder.  What happens now?"
Dusk is surprised himself that Mirage isn't more surprised.  But then she does understand other ponies rather well.  Perhaps she already knew or felt it without having to actually tell her.  "I hope it is something you can understand, my love.  As for now.."  He looks over to Chance as well.
Mirage looks over to Chance expectantly.  "You said you deliberately brought us here.  And Elder wasn't very forthcoming on the reason."
Chance nods lightly to Mirage. "Yes, I did. And he wasn't forthcoming, because I haven't had the chance to tell him yet. The reason why is because Dusk is missing. Well, this present's Dusk. I believe it had something to do with the Blasted Plains, and possibly with Marishville Prime. The threat is of a nature that Dusk himself was the best choice for helping himself. And I know how well you two work together, Mirage, so I brought you as well."
Dusk hmmmms as the tale of his past goes over rather insignificantly it would seem.  Though Chance is providing much needed information now at least.  Dusk nods, with a bit of a furrowed brow, "So you brought us here, to rescue me?  Why am I missing, do you know?"
Mirage's eyes widen as Chance explains, but she regains her composure as Dusk asks about what happened.  She catches Dusk's reaction and taps his hoof with hers.  "We'll talk later, dear," she says softly to him with a gentle nod.
PP frowns lightly and perks his ears to listen to the conversation as well. Chance looks to Dusk. "I'm not completely certain. It may have been deliberate on your part, or it may have not. However, this is not the best place to talk about it. We'll have more time at my home. It's further in the woods, and I can take you two to the Blasted Plains, and do some explaining."
Dusk looks over to Mirage as he feels the tap of her hoof, and he nods to her.  Then Chance comments to him and he looks back with a thoughtful nod, "Then perhaps need me to track what has actually happened?  And of course, we can go where you need us too.  Though why isn't this a good place?"  Dusk figures perhaps should work on his breakfast then, if going to be leaving soon, and takes another couple of bites.
Mirage is wondering at Elder's frown and why there isn't time here, but she decides not to press the issue yet.  "Then we should be going as soon as possible?" she asks Elder and Chance.
Chance finishes up his breakfast, and nods once more to Dusk. "Yes, though doing so might prove a bit difficult. I'd like you to know as much as you can first. The best place for that to start is at home." He then smiles lightly to Mirage. "We should, yes. Go ahead and finish your breakfast, and we'll leave."
Dusk nods, already working on his own breakfast, "Yes, I am sure we both will want to know as much as we can."  He smiles to PP, "And thank you for the breakfast, Mr. Pony.  It is quite good."  And nothing too 'future' weird at least either.
Mirage is finished with hers as well.  "Yes, thank you Elder," she says with a nod to him.  "Shall we go now?"
PP smiles to Dusk and Mirage. "You're welcome. And please call me PP, Mirage." he requests of her. "It'd be nice to hear that from you again." Once the others are finished and ready to leave, Chance shows them the way out. Out of the village into the woods. In some parts, the trees look unusually old and whithered. Here and there a hoofful of trees look like they were broken, their trunks smashed and the tap felled. Otherwise, it's a peaceful walk. Chance keeps his eyes and ears perked, however, as does PP.
Dusk also finishes up and helps with some dishes, then heads out with the others.  "I guess at least we don't have much packing to do," he asides lightly to Mirage with a soft grin.  He watches rather intently as we travel too, taking in the new sights.  Though he notes the other stallion's alertness and changes his perspective some.  He stays close to Mirage, "So what has happened here?  Is the damage related to the Blasted Plains?"  He makes sure to keep up with the others too.
Mirage nod her head and offers Elder a smile.  "Alright, PP," she says with a little dip of her head.  After so much time, I wasn't sure if you even used the old name anymore."  She smiles back to Dusk.  "No, we're travelling rather light," she chuckles back to him.  She's about to comment that some of the damaged trees look like Chance has done something to them but Dusk's question seems more appropriate.
PP grins a bit. "I don't, but it's nice to hear it again from a friend." he admits. As we wander along, Chance looks over to Dusk to answer his question. "Yes, it's related to the Blasted Plains. Or rather, the threats from it, of which there's a varity. Some damage was from fighting them. And some leave their stain on life. We don't fully understand the deadly sickness they leave behind, but we know how to remove it. I keep vials of the 'antidote' with me at all times."
Name set.
Dusk nods and smiles to Mirage, seeing her chuckle.  As Chance explains it seems a bit more serious and Dusk nods, "I didn't realize, or expect something of that nature.  I am glad there is a cure for whatever the issue is then."
Mirage smiles warmly to PP.  "You're welcome.  I guess Dusk and I bring back a little nostalgia for you?" she asks ProgrammerPony.  "And these monsters from the Blasted Plains attack here often?" she asks Chance.  She keeps up with Programmer and Chance, of course.  And Dusk is close by her, too.
PP smiles and nods to Mirage. "Yes, and it's nice for a change." Chance looks to Mirage as well. "They do so occassionally. Fortunately, their numbers arn't large. But the Blasted Plains keeps producing them, so we have to keep their numbers down. If we're lucky, we won't see any. Dusk, I know you can just 'skip' by them, but if we come across one, we can't let it escape. Focus on protecting Mirage, and Urbados and I will take care of them."
Dusk smiles to the others too, "We're glad we can provide some nice memories and that."  He's listening carefully to Chance though and gives him a nod as he explains.  He's familiar with Urbados.  "Of course."  Not like he'd leave Mirage to fend on her own, having any choice.  Dusk reaches out his awareness for possible threats as well.
Mirage smiles to PP.  "Remember how weirded out Snow Bolt would get when you'd bring in one of your little animal constructs?" she chuckles softly.  But Chance becomes more serious about possible danger, so Mirage doesn't distract from the others for the time being.
PP chuckles a bit. "Yes, he would. I have to admit I found that kind of odd, but funny. He always thought they were unnatural or somesuch." He pauses for a moment thoughtfully. "I suppose they were." he grins. "I wonder what he'd think of the living clockworks some have today." We come out into a fair sized clearing. Some southern mountains are in the backdrop, there's a lake over yonder, and a house sitting in the middle of it all. This house is built in the middle of a triangle of good sized trees, connecting up with each tree. It's not a fancy house, and a basic layout, but there are lots of rooms. Or at least windows. Big and quaint. A hard combination to pull off correctly, but it somehow succeeds.
Dusk chuckles as she talks about Snow, and he is personally glad for Mirage's upbeat mood keeping the trip from feeling too uptight.  "A rather impressive forest," he comments to her, and in general.  And we seem to make it along just fine, and come across a house.  Dusk is curious about the connections with the trees.  "Mr. Chance's home, I presume," he says with a smile.
Mirage smiles back to Programmer.  "Yes, they were.  And he'd think the living clockworks are even worse.  A living machine is probably as unnatural as Snow can imagine.  And no offense, but I have to say I find the idea rather odd."  She notices Programmer and Chance seem to relax a little as we reach Chance's house, so she gives Dusk a little smile to reassure him as we walk along.
PP grins a bit to Mirage. "To tell the truth, I thought they were a bit odd when I came across them, too." Chance smiles to Dusk. "Yes, welcome to my home." He leads the others up to the house. Parts of the house intersect with the trees, and the trees themselves have windows, and some balconies as well. Chance trots up to the door, then runs one of his artifacts down the edge of the doorframe. Runes start showing up on the door, and he opens it. "Alright, everypony inside." he says with a light grin. Inside is a fair size living room, with fireplace. Cozy and comfy. There's a kitchen in back, a dining room, and a number of stairs and doors leading to other parts of the house.
Dusk smiles to Mirage too, giving a little shoulder rub.  He follows right up with the others as we head to Chance's house.  Though nearer to the home Dusk looks around the place curiously, and raises a brow at the appearance of the ruins.  He steps right in though, after Mirage.  "Quite the security you have here.  Living in a bad part of town?" he inquires with a grin.
Mirage nods to Programmer.  "Oh, then I don't feel so awkward about that, PP," she replies as we get to the house.  She smiles to Dusk as the shoulder rub, and notices Chance doesn't waste any time in getting all of us indoors.  She stays in the living room and waits for everypony to settle in.
Birds chirp and some butterflies flitter around the trees and flowers around the house. Chance chuckles a bit to Dusk. "Not really. It's fairly safe here. I just wanted to give us some more time." He closes the door. There's a wave of magic that moves through the house, rippling across the room. Outside, the butterflies slow in their flittering flight, and stop, frozen in time. "There, that should give us some time." he tells the others. "Please, make yourselves at home."
Dusk looks around at the effects of the magic.  A magic he's quite familiar with, though quite a scale for the entire house.  He decides to take a seat, sitting with Mirage once she picks a spot.  "You know using this sort of magic for an extended time can really put a pony out of sync with their natural day/night cycle."  Mirage knows he's about at all hours, though it's more to it than just that.  "Certainly a nice place, and.. quite interesting."
Mirage tilts her ears and arches an eyebrow as Chance activates a spell that seems to affect everything inside the house.  But since Chance and Programmer seem finally ready to give some details, she doesn't ask about the spell, though she sees Dusk recognizes its nature as he sits by her.
PP settles down in a comfy chair, and Chance does as well. "Thank you Dusk. And yes, I'm aware of the effects of altering one's local time." he says with a light grin. "Though for a pony that never ages, time isn't really as important to me anymore, at least personally. I could sit here for years and watch the world go by at a snail's pace. Before we start, I would like to let someone out. He hasn't been out for a while, and I'm sure you'd like to meet him now, instead of being surprised later. It's Urbados, my constant companion."
Dusk does find the seats nice and comfy at least.  He grins back to Chance, "That certainly gives you quite a bit of time to think on something, yes."  He nods about Urbados and glances over to Mirage, "Are you even familiar with him, my dear?"  She was home, not feeling well, that Nightmare Night in particular, so not with us to encounter him.
Mirage listens quietly, noticing how much Chance has changed.  And not just his physical appearance.  "No, I'm not," she answers Dusk.  "Unless it's the 'dream shadow' Chance mentioned from time to time?"
Chance nods lightly to Mirage. "Yes, it's my dream wraith. I encountered him in the Forgotton Forest. At the time he got bound to me, and after that I was his keeper, and he my prisoner. But now, he's my companion, and I'm his." He raises a hoof and touches an artifact that sits near the base of his horn. After a moment a black smoke seeps from his horn, and slowly fills part of the room. With it comes cold mental air, like one's dreams are freezing just by him being there. "These are friends." Chance tells the shadow. It coalesces into a large beast, with the head of a large bird and the body of a large four-legged beast. It takes up most of the room to the side of Chance, it's large body filling the living room and dining area. It lays down, looking over the others, blackness rising from its mouth and eyes like smoke.
Dusk nods at Mirage's statement, that is the one indeed.  Then Chance summons the creature whom Dusk has only seen 'normally' once before, in a dreamscape on a past Nightmare Night, when it was coming for the ponies.  Dusk watches and goes his head to Urbados, "Greetings."  He looks to Chance, "And does he still live within your mind then?"
Mirage flattens her ears and her eyes go wide as Chance summons up a frightening monster that nearly fills the common area!  She stands and backs away down the hall, and goes through the first door she finds, slamming it shut behind her.
Urbados shifts its shadowy wings, watching Mirage head out. It looks back over to Dusk, letting out a bird-like cry. It doesn't attack though. Chance sighs. "Perhaps I should have done that outside.."
Dusk was worried this was going to be a bit much, in addition to everything else going on as well.  "I am not sure 'outside' would have made a large difference."  Dusk is already getting up, looking over to Chance and Urbados, and follows after Mirage.  Inside the room where Mirage went Dusk now stands quietly, "I'm sorry, my love.  I had tried to raise some concern about it, but not quickly enough."  He goes over to comfort her.
Mirage is shaking and not just from the fright.  "You could have said, "Oh, Mr. Chance's friend is the size of a middling sized dragon and rather monsterous."  So I think I'll stay here, and you and Chance and Programmer can talk and see what they expect us to do that they can't about your missing present day self.  I'll be fine here."
Up 211 days, 14 hours, 39 minutes since 12:43 02/26/14
Dusk nods to Mirage, "I was hoping to have Mr. Chance hold off on calling him up, at least until you understood, and either were prepared, or if didn't wish to see him."  Dusk didn't need his talent to figure such an appearance, if she wasn't familiar with him, would be harsh.  Dusk looks about the hallway utility room and back to Mirage, "Of course, my love.  Or we could ask Mr. Chance to not have him about in the house?"
Mirage sighs.  "I'll get used to his 'friend' after a while.  But this certainly isn't the Chance I know."
Dusk nods to Mirage, giving her a brief nuzzle as he stands close.  "I am sure ten millennium can make some changes, I agree.  And 'getting used to him' is what I figured Mr. Chance wanted, since he mentioned not wanting it to be a surprise later on.  But yes, a little more preparedness would have been good too."
Mirage tilts her ears.  "Well, thank you at least for finally deciding to tell me the truth about yourself, dear.  After meeting Chance, I did have my suspicions about you."
Dusk nods to Mirage with a soft smile, "Well I know you wanted to keep some mystery about my past.  But I still wanted you to know sometime, and to know it from me.  With what Mr. Chance was saying, I figured it wasn't going to be a mystery much longer.  Though.. 10,000 years.  I'm a bit surprised too."  He gives a little grin.
Mirage frowns and sighs.  "Yes, that hurt very much to hear Chance just casually announce he brought us here to find you.  But as I said, it was something I suspected but didn't want to really know.  At least you know that whatever happens, you go back to Ponyville and you have a nice life until now."
Dusk nods again, "Yes, why was it after meeting Mr. Chance that you suspected that of myself, my dear?"  He's a bit curious of it now too.  "And well, Mr. Chance suggested that there was more too.  Which raises another question."
Mirage looks into your eyes.  "A lot of little things.  You know too many spells for a pony your age.  And you never talk about your family; not parents or siblings or even extended members. And you have enough wealth that you're never worried about doing expensive things but you have no visible income."  Then she tilts her head.  "and what do you think he meant by that?"
Dusk looks back into Mirage's eyes as she explains.  He nods, and can't help a bit of a grin, "I guess perhaps I'm not as elusive as I try to imagine about such things."  Then again, Mirage is rather highly perceptive, and much in sync with him.  "And I guess just learning the possibility of such a thing with Mr. Chance, gave you the idea.  And well, the question, and what Mr. Chance may mean, is if I do discover some means to do so, would you spend the ages with me?  It may be something for you to have to think about, regardless of what the future here may say that choice was."  He rubs shoulders (either out of compassion or the size limitation of the room) and looks into those sea green eyes again.
Mirage nods lightly.  "Oh, you don't have to worry about being found out.  Only somepony paying very close attention would ever notice.  Such as you not having a home of your own but only rooming with others.  If you put down roots, then after a while other ponies would notice you not aging.  But you don't stay in one place long enough for that to happen."  Then she shakes her head.  "No, love.  That's not going to happen.  We'll have the time together that we can. But when others start thinking I'm your mother then I'll set you free and you can continue on your way to this time and place.  Besides, it doesn't happen because I'm not here, am I?"
Dusk smiles, "Yes, there are things you have to keep in mind.  And I'm glad you had some idea then already, to make it easier to tell you then.  And well, Mr. Chance seems to suggest that you may be, or so was the impression I got from what he said.  And if I can find the means, we would hopefully age the same together, and not have to worry about looking like my mother, as you say."  He looks down and sighs, then looks up with a more serious demeanor.  "I have lost too many close to me.  I eventually saw ponies as something seprate from me.  Detatched.  Like a river flowing by as I watched from the banks.  I could walk in the waters, but not really a part of it.  But when.."  He looks into Mirage's eyes and smiles.. "when I kissed you that Hearts and Hooves Day, it was like I woke up again."
Mirage tilts her muzzle up and kisses you.  "I understand, love.  Loss is very difficult to bear.  I understand that Princess Twilight sends pictures of herself and her friends to Princess Celestia.  And I'm sure the Princess must have a collection similar photos of her students and her friends going back centuries.  The detachment you feel is what Chance is suffering from now.  He's so lonely he even became friends with the wraith he imprisoned in himself because it will always be with him.  You and Programmer may be his only other friends."
Dusk smiles, and gives a brief but fairly warm kiss in return.  He considers and nods, "Quite so.  Perhaps worse for Mr. Chance, as not only did others age around him, but his talent was a risk to others also.  But since I have you, my love, everything seems normal again.  I certainly don't want to ever lose you."  He smiles and gives her a soft squeeze.
Mirage leans close, tucking her head over your shoulder to hug you.  "I promised you wouldn't have to be alone again, love.  And I'll keep that promise as long as I can."
Dusk smiles as Mirage hugs in close and nods, "Thank you, my love.  It means a lot to me."  He grins and nuzzles her pretty white mane.  "Perhaps we should go check on Mr. Pony and the others?  Would you like me to check first on Mr. Chance's little friend?"
Mirage mmms at your hug, and feels much better now.  "Yes, that's a good idea.  And no, I'll come out with you.  After thinking about it all, I feel sad for Chance more than fear over the wraith."  Then she gives you a little smile.  "That doesn't mean the wraith and I will be picking out curtains or anything.  And I'm not getting too near it," she chuckles softly.
Dusk smiles and feels better too.  He's glad to have gotten to talk some about things that we hadn't been able to yet.  He nods, "Very good, my love.  And indeed," he replies about the curtains, "you wouldn't want to be getting me jealous, now would you?"  He grins, "I wouldn't want to have to hurt one of Mr. Chances few friends now.." he says and teasingly winks, before opening the door just ajar at first.
Mirage smiles gently and shakes her head.  "You know I don't play games like that, dear," she reassures before nodding.  "Go ahead and lead the way," she says as you carefully open the door just a little.
Dusk chuckles a little and smiles, "I certainly know, my love."  He gives her a playful little nuzzle and a kiss again before opening the door the rest of the way and stepping out with her.  "Sorry for the little delay there, my friends," he comments to the others, taking the seat closer to Chance, though still not quite near, letting Mirage sit to the other side of him if she like.
Mirage follows Dusk in, carefully ignoring the huge creature that almost fills two rooms of the house.  She sits beside Dusk so he's between her and Chance and the wraith's head.  Then she waits to see what Programmer and Chance have to say.
Dusk smiles as he gets settled and looks around to the others, then over to Mirage.  "Yes, he is pretty frightening.  I suppose he is literally a creature of one's nightmares."
Mirage glances around, and thinks the creature must be about forty feet long to take up most of two large rooms.  "So why aren't you frightened by him?" she asks Dusk.
Dusk leans a little against Mirage, on his side away from Chance.  "Hmmm?  Oh, I do have a respectful fear for him.  He could certainly be extremely dangerous.  But one, I had seen him previously, and had an expectation of what to see, to start.  Two, I am certain Mr. Chance would not have called him out if he was going to be a danger to us.  Three, I can see from his paths that indeed he is not likely to attack us anytime shortly.  Four, I wouldn't be without my own defenses, should a threat arise.  And five, should that be needed, remaining calm and thinking would lead to the best results over any rash activity.  And.. it's good not to tip your hoof even if you're not in a winning situation," he adds with a grin.
Mirage'ohs' softly, feeling a little crushed by Dusk's detailed analysis.  "And I suppose it's going to help us find your present day self?" she wonders, her ear tilting slightly.  "What can it do that would help?"
Dusk has had his various encounters in the past and developed various techniques and plans of action.  Probably could add that in the list somewhere, along with a few others.  But the basics are enough for the moment he figures.  "Hmmm, some good questions.  Seeing as I do not know yet what has happened, am I not sure.  And well, as you can tell, it is a fearsome creature.  He could surely help protect us, at the least.  It can enter one's mind and dreams, if there was some benefit to that.  I assume Mr. Chance wants us to get to meet Urbados first, at least."
Mirage nods lightly.  "Well, that is what Chance said."
Chance listens as Dusk and Mirage chat back and forth about Urbados and himself, seeing that it's at least helping Mirage a bit. "He's still a mind wraith, reguardless of his personality currently. However, being in a mind that was able to survive him for so long, he's learned from it." The Urbados creature is 'teathered' to Chance's horn base by a mostly imperceptable 'string' of shadow. Urbados shifts his wings a bit, and it turns it's bird-of-prey like head toward Mirage. Shade and shadow lick across it's features like a dark flame. "Say hello to Mirage, Urbados. She's a friend. I ask you to give her trust. I do." Urbados looks at Chance. It's hard to read its features, not to mention its eyes, which are barely seen as glowing orbs beneath the sea of shadow. They somehow glow dark, though that seems to defy all sense for 'glow'. It opens its beak, and gives a soft screech (soft, for it). It's like having a blast of dream hit you upside the head. It produces fleeting 'dream concepts' of a peaceful field, like a
like a field of flowers under the warm welcoming sun. Chance smiles a bit. "Interesting. That's quite the nice welcome from Urbados. He must be realizing my memories of you as friend." he tells Mirage.
Dusk nods to Mirage and then over to Chance as he talks to Urbados.  The creature's response is quite an effect, and braces against it at first, then relaxes as the "nice dream" washes over with it.  Dusk nods, and looks over to Mirage as well.
Mirage watches Chance as he talks about his companion, and beneath the distance in his gaze she can still see a glimmer of the pony she knows.  So when Urbados manages a greeting that seems to surprise Chance and Dusk, Mirage remains quite calm and a bit casual before dipping her head politely to the wraith.  "Hello," she replies with a little smile.
Urbados 'speaks' again, its screech coming out warbled and muted, giving it an odd echo effect. A dream-concept of a field of rough woody plants, followed by a brief shift of plants, melting into calm waters.
Dusk raises a brow and cracks a smile at Mirage's response to the creature's fiercely pleasant greeting.  Dusk is rather impressed as Mirage seems to either have taken his earlier explanation of his reaction rather well to heart, or has gotten a whole lot more comfortable around Urbados.  Then there's another response, and a curious mix of dreams.  Dusk looks over to Chacne for what it means.
Urbados 'speaks' again, its screech coming out warbled and muted, giving it an odd echo effect. A dream-concept of a field of rough woody plants, followed by a brief shift of plants, melting into calm waters. <repose>
Dusk raises a brow and cracks a smile at Mirage's response to the creature's fiercely pleasant greeting.  Dusk is rather impressed as Mirage seems to either have taken his earlier explanation of his reaction rather well to heart, or has gotten a whole lot more comfortable around Urbados.  Then there's another response, and a curious mix of dreams.  Dusk looks over to Chacne for what it means.  (repose)
Mirage nods to Urbados.  "Yes, it is pleasant," she replies with a soft smile, her ears flicking lightly at the warbling.  Then she looks to Dusk and Chance, as she wonders what to do next.
Chance glances to Urbados, then back to Dusk and Mirage. "I think he finds you pleasant, Mirage. Though I think it felt something about your response was a bit.. rough? That one's hard to put into words. But there's still respect in the way you're talking to him, and he likes that. Well, he gives mutal respect." He muses for a moment. "He's not easy to put into words sometimes." he admits, giving a awkward smile to Mirage.
Dusk nods to Urbados and Chance, giving the stallion a grin as well, "I might imagine it being hard to translate into Pony, yes.  It is an interesting means of communication too."  As for what's next, he's not quite sure himself either, if anything just yet.  Chance seemed to want to come here to have more time to think or something.
Mirage tilts her head slightly.  "Rough?  In what way?" she asks Chance while giving a puzzled expression to Urbados.  "Did I say something wrong?"  She glances to Dusk to see his expression but he seems to be thinking of -something- else right now.
Chance shakes his head a bit. "I'm.. uncertain. Perhaps it was Mirage's initial reaction?" he suggests. "Or maybe you didn't come across with enough respect?" He lets out a light breath. "Well, Urbados accepts you, reguardless." He leans foward a bit. "The reason you're here. The present Dusk dissapeared along with a time wraith. It showed up a bit over a week ago. It may have something to do with Marishville Prime, but I'm not certain of that."
Dusk's thoughts of something else come back from the echoy distance and he notices Mirage's glance, just as she's looking back away.  Though he heard what she said, and he thought she had addressed Urbados quite well, all considered for sure.  He looks over to Mirage and smiles, "I wouldn't worry too much over it, my love.  I think we're both handling the strange conditions quite well."  He listens to Chance's information about what happened as well and nods, "A time wraith?  I have heard of such, but not knowingly encountered one."  He considers about possible connections to Marishville..  Well there is the time anchor.  "And.. you believe bringing Lady Mirage and myself from the past here.. will assist the situation?"
Mirage tilts her ears slightly.  "Oh.  Well then, please accept my apologies," she replies sincerely.  Then she listens as Dusk and Chance begin to discuss the details of the problem.
Chance nods a bit to Dusk. "You can follow timelines, and I figured you'd be best suited to follow your own. The time wraith doesn't follow the timeline in the normal way, and other ponies with simular talents haven't succeeded. So I sent for you. A temporal anomaly showed up in your time, for a brief moment, so I used that as an anchor for the time tunnel. With there being so much time, there's little chance of it alterting time to any significant degree." Urbados turns his head to look at Mirage, and he speaks. A field of grasses and flowers, a lake, and the moonlight shimmering gently from the lake. It's a peaceful scene.
Dusk smiles and thinks that's a pretty good reply from Urbados.  He hmmms, and nods to Chance, "Temporal anomaly..  That must be what happened with your work with the artifacts and my own work had resulted in."  He considers and nods, "And yes, if we can find a recent place and time I was known to be before this, I should be able to follow it from there.  Or so I would expect."
Mirage listens carefully as Chance explains, and while she doesn't have the academic knowledge she does try to see the logical progression of what's happened.  Urbados gets her attention with his next dreamlike projection.  She 'ohs' softly before looking at him and giving him a gentle smile.  "Thank you.  That's very nice."
Chance says "The Blasted Plains was were I believe your present self met the wraith. Terrance and I shall take you there. Mirage may come as well. Her mirage talents might come in useful for seeing what transpired there." Urbados looks out at the 'frozen' birds outside."
Dusk smiles, feeling Mirage nearby, and seeing her and Urbados seeming to get along.  Circumstances can make for curious friendships.  If can call it that.  He nods though, considering what Chance has to say, "And as I hear, the Blasted Plains are fairly dangerous.  Would we be safe there?  And you believe?  We might want to start where one of you saw me last for certain."
Mirage sees Urbados seems satisfied for now, and she's pleased she was able to make him feel at ease, too.  She glances over to Dusk and almost chuckles.  "Is it safe? is a very complex question, dear," she says softly before looking to Chance for his reply.
Chance says "It's safe with me and Terrance there, along with Urbados. We'll keep Mirage safe. As for when I last saw you, it was on the timescape. The Blasted Plains I believe holds the answer to where exactly on the timescape you went. I was unable to follow after that."
Dusk chuckles a little to Mirage and nods, "I suppose it is!  Hopefully the answer isn't, so much."  He smiles to her, then nods to Chance.  He glances to PP and Urbados, then back to Chance.  "Very well.  As long as we can be assured of that safety."  He doesn't want to put Mirage into needlessly dangerous situations either.  "And.. Timescape?  Just what do you mean by that, Mr. Chance?"
Mirage puts her forehoof on Dusk's forehoof.  "It's alright, love.  I'd rather we focus on helping your present self.  Keeping me safe isn't as important if it means we fail."
Chance looks to Dusk. "The timescape is where all of time comes together." He considers for a few moments about how to explain it. "Think of each timeline like a river, flowing over the land. It can split here and there, but for the most part, it moves in one direction, and fairly straight. But where all those timelines come together, you get a lake. Where all time flows to and from. Where time doesn't really go in one direction. That lake is the timescape. The source and destination for all time. It's a rough comparison."
Dusk looks over to Mirage and give a soft nod and smile, "Well helping me and hurting you or my past self here is just a much of a failure, my love."  He grins and leans in to give her a little kiss on the nose.  He listens to Chance and nods, "I believe I know what you are getting at, Mr. Chance.  What the different paths I see move through and exist in."  He considers for a moment.  "Being within it directly.. would be.. an interesting feat.  Like trying to be in my own mind."  He grins.  Though he supposes over 10,000 years he may have picked up a few more tricks, surely.
Mirage smiles at Dusk's kiss.  "And you don't know how much has changed for you," she replies to Dusk after Chance explains more.  "You may not recognize your present self right away."
Chance grins lightly to Dusk. "You always did like a challenge though. And yes, it's simular. I used it, in part, when getting you here from ten thousand years ago. Of course, that's oversimplying the process.. alot. But it's what one needs to use to follow time wraiths, too."
Dusk smiles too, and nods to Mirage, "Quite true.  Though, seeing as I am currently missing, I hope I get that opportunity," he says with a grin.  "And a good point, and all the better to be sure we have a solid starting point."  He grins to Chance, "A challenge, yes.  This will certainly be one of those.  Well musing about it probably won't change much.  Did you have a plan in mind, Mr. Chance?  Anything we should prepare for?"
Mirage gives a smile back to Dusk before listening as we speak.
Chance says "That's the hard part." he admits to Dusk. "I'm not sure what to do once we've accessed the timescape. If your present self is even there. I'm hoping Urbados will come in handy to help against the time wraith. Somehow."
Dusk brushes shoulders lightly to Mirage and nods to Chance, "I see.  And I certainly hope so as well," he says, looking over and giving a nod to Urbados as well.  "Well do you have knowledge on how to access the timescape, Mr. Chance?  Perhaps we can work on that."  Dusk supposes, knowing that it's something possible, perhaps he can figure a way too.  But not like knowing would make it easy.
Mirage looks thoughtful.  "If you're not sure if Dusk is in the timescape, can Dusk use his talent to determine the probabilities of where his present self is from here?" she asks hopefully, looking to the rest of you.
Chance nods lightly to Dusk. "As I understand it, it's a bit like time travel, only.. you only go mid way. I know all standard teleport spells never do that. So it needs to be done in a different manner. I'm hoping you can get some answers at the Blasted Plains. It may even require the use of chaos." He then glances to Mirage. "That's a possiblity, though once you're in the timescape, things are different. It's like trying to follow a single river when it passes through a lake, which itself has many different rivers going from it."
Dusk nods to Mirage and smiles, "Good thinking, and yes.  Though in part why I was wanting a good definite place to start with.  We can go where we think I may have been, but then have to search for the path, and separate it from the other 'possible' paths that aren't actually where I went.  I tend to have a lot of those."  Dusk intentionally considers and often takes almost randomly different paths whenever he can, so that it greatly increases alternate possibilities.  But in a case of trying to search for him, the result would less than helpful.  He nods to Chance as well, "Then I suppose we'll have to cross that dimensional plane when we get to it, as it were.  But even with your own example, Mr. Chance, Dear Mirage's idea may still work.  One can follow the mix of waters by following what's in it, and where it goes.  Add an readily spotted marker, and that much easier.  Timelines can be tagged in some various ways as well."
Mirage nods to Chance and then listens carefully as you both discuss details of how the search can be carried out.
Chance nods lightly to Dusk. "Exactly. What I'm hoping is that you'll be able to recognize your own marker in the timescape. Be able to follow your own trail. You'd be the best one who could do that."
Dusk looks around to Mirage and his friends and gives a nod, "Then it sounds like we're agreed on a path to start with at least, and see where it takes us.  That seems like a good sign to start with."
Mirage nods, although she only understands the general nature of what we're going to do.  "Then we should begin as quickly as possible?" she asks the three of you.
Chance nods to both of you. "Yes, we should get ready and head out. I've given us some time, but as soon as we're sure we're ready, let's go."
Dusk nods to Mirage, "Barring needing anything else first, I would agree as well, my dear."  And the general nature seems to be about all that we have to start with.  He nods to Chance, "Then sounds like we are set then."
Mirage nods and stands to show she's ready to go now.
Chance and PP rise. Chance places his hoof on the artifact at his horn base and concentrates. Urbados shifts a bit, looking up to Chance, then dissapates into dark 'smoke', getting pulled back to Chance's horn before dissapearing once more. Chance trots over to an oddly shaped chest (shaped more like a disc then a box, with runes all over it) and opens it. There's a number of different items there. He places some basic food reserves and water canteens in it, as well as an assortment of crystals. He closes it (though it's too big to carry with him), then nods to the others. "Let's go." He heads to the door, runs one of his artifacts against the doorframe, and with a magic ripple, time 'starts' up normally again outside.
Dusk smiles and gets up along with Mirage.  He watches Chance a bit curiously as he prepares and has some ideas about the 'chest's' functioning, but decides to stay more focused on the task as Chance disables the time altering magic.  "So are the Blasted Plains our first stop?"
Mirage doesn't have anything to prepare, so she's ready to go as well.  She watches curiously as Chance summons Urbados back into himself, and it's nice to see time in the house isn't accelerated faster than time outside anymore.
Chance nods to Dusk. "They are. They arn't too far away." He leads them all out and back into the woods. As we trot through the woods in the new direction he's taking everypony, there's more and more trees and araes of grass and brush that are damaged. Partially recovering, but some of the damage is somewhat recent. As usual, Chance keeps his ears and eyes open, and checks a couple trees.
Dusk keeps near with Mirage as we had out and keeps an eye out and about too.  But he also pays attention to the woods around us and what seems to have happened, the various dmage obvious to see, and some not so obvious, as well as magic residuals.  But Chance and PP seem to know where to go and what to avoid, making the trip fairly event free.
Mirage trots along with the group, trying not to distract the others as the forest changes and shows signs of trying to recouperate from the earlier damage.
Soon the breeze turns a bit toward the chilly side, and shortly after that we start hearing grunts and the scraping of claws against something in the distance. Chance slows and stops, exchanging glances with PP. "Trolls?" "Trolls." PP agrees. Chance gives a small frown. "That's what I get for being out of the forest for almost a week." he mutters softly to himself.
Dusk hmms a little as he looks more closely at some of the damage, but just keeps up as well.  Dusk pauses as Chance stops and he and PP talk about trolls.  Dusk glances over to Mirage, then back to the other two.
Mirage glances to Dusk. "Oh, I hate trolls.  They annoy everyone on the forums."
Chance glances curiously at Mirage's remark, then looks back to the forest. The sounds stop. Not even a bird chirps. "Must have smelled us." A moment later a creature pokes is seen wandering toward us amongst the trees. It's a large creature, walking upright with leathery, wrinkled skin, a grotesque face with red-black eyes and fangs that don't seem to quite fit its maw. The arms are long, and the claws on its fingers are liken to slightly curved talons. It has a rather strong build, despite looking like its wearing its skin instead of simply having it. Chance shifts near Dusk and Mirage. "Keep Mirage safe." he says softly. "These things are physical tough, and rather resistant against many magics. I'll have to make this quick."
Dusk watches as the creature shows up.  He nods as Chance comes over and has us take caution.  He rubs shoulders with Mirage and comments to her and Chance, "I only pick up this one nearby."  He smiles to Mirage, "I'm sure with Mr. Chance here there won't be much issue."  He keeps close with Mirage though, and sees what Chance has in mind.
Mirage gasps as the troll moves into view!  That it doesn't seem to be cautious even when approaching four ponies scares her even more.  She stays close to Dusk and out of Programmer and Chance's way.
The creature, with matted fur-covered body, long legs, and longer, thick arms, stops and sniffs the air, though it more snorts then sniffs. It looks straight at the ponies and opens its mouth, letting out a mix between a growl and a feral howl, with a quality simular to that of hooves on a chalkboard. The look in its eyes is wild, unafraid, and hungry. It charges the group without another thought, picking up speed at a rate faster then its size and mass seems to suggest. As it passes a small tree, it collides into it with a shoulder. But it's not the troll that's harmed, its the tree. It cracks under the force of impact, and the troll only stumbles for a moment. It didn't even phase the beast, and it keeps coming. PP tosses up a construct shield-wall in front of Dusk and Mirage, and Chance readies himself.
Dusk certainly takes the creature seriously too, as much as he tries to be reassuring about it.  But he does have confidence in Chance and PP as well.  Dusk's ears twich and makes a displeased expression at the 'growling' it makes.  Dusk stands so that he can easily come between the creature and Mirage as needed, standing his ground as the troll crashes pretty much right through a sizable tree.  Though Dusk isn't entirely surprised, watching the troll's possible paths.
Mirage makes Dusk's task a little easier and mostly hides behind him as the monster charges!  Her eyes are wide and beady but she doesn't panic despite how dangerous this has become!
Chance takes in a good breath and yells "HEY!" That gets the trolls meager attention, and it turns toward Chance at the last minute. Chance looks down at the ground, relaxing for a moment, then suddenly spins on his forehooves, bringing his back legs up and in. A second later the troll reaches him, and his legs snap out, hooves connecting into solid troll flesh. It's like hitting a solid brick wall. Chance's forehooves get shoved forward in the dirt a bit, and the impact is clearing heard. A howl is emited from the troll at the moment of impact, and doesn't stop as the troll flies into a nearby tree. The tree explodes apart on impact, the top falling, and the troll continues on, smashing into a second tree, its body getting partially embedded in crushed trunk. The howl stops at that moment, and the troll goes limp, hanging there.
Dusk does wonder what Chance has in mind, giving PP a nod of thanks as he puts up a construct shield for Mirage and him.  Dusk uses himself to shield Mirage as well, should there be any flying debris or such.  And so she doesn't have to see the destructive beast as clearly.  Dusk is impressed with the force of the hit Chance lands.  Dusk raises a brow, looking at the silent and unmoving troll.
Mirage is almost stunned by what she's just seen.  She expected Programmer and Chance to use spells or some sort of magic device.  Programmer did make a protective wall, but seeing Chance use apparently nothing but brute force completely surprises her!
Chance looks back at the troll after a moment, ears swiveling back as he watches it cautiously. "Don't approach it until I'm done cleansing the area, if it's even dead." he says to the others. PP keeps the shield up for the moment, watching everything closely. After a few long moments, stuff like smoldering smoke and ash start rising where the creature hit the tree. "It's dead." he says, running toward it. The troll is literally starting to, for lack of a better term, melt into some sort of black .. goo. And whatever the stuff touches is starting to die off at a visible rate. PP drops the shield. "Better watch from a distance. The fumes from the dying troll can be toxic."
Dusk wasn't assuming it was dead either.  But now he sees the effect it's having on the tree.  He nods to both Chance and PP.  He gives Mirage a soft little reassuring nuzzle and then walks a few steps off along with her.  "Well handled, thank you.  So just why are such creatures around here?"
Mirage glances over to Chance.  "Absolutely we're not going anywhere near it," she replies in a tone of disbelief that he'd even think we'd go rushing up.  She returns Dusk nuzzle and motions with her head he and she should walk to where the wind won't blow the fumes in our direction.  She listens as Dusk was going to ask her next question.
Chance pulls out a vial from a pocket, and starts to sprinkle whatever's in the vial over the deadly goo. The goo starts to evaporate. He continues this until all the goo is gone. It doesn't reverse the damage, but it does keep it from spreading further. PP answers Dusk as he walks along with him and Mirage. "The Blasted Plains. Those things, along with others, come forth from the plains. Life sprung forth from the earth, warped by the chaos that seeps into every pore of the ground. Creatures that seem to have one goal in mind, and that's destruction, particularly of other life. Even in death they're dangerous. Fortunately, we've found ways to clean up the aftermath. Unfortunately, such things tend to do alot of damage, both themselves, and trying to remove them." He glances at the damaged trees. "The poor trees take the major part of the damage."
Dusk smiles at Mirage's nuzzle and nods in agreement with her, following over to a safe spot.  He chuckles a little as Mirage quite clearly agrees with not running over and messing with the dead troll.  He watches Chance clean up the good with some substance and nods once Chance comes over and explains.  "So they aren't natural trolls, but created unnaturally by the chaos and magic there.  That would explain the differences then, yes."
Mirage listens carefully as she calms down.  "So we should be on our way again?" she asks hopefully.
Chance heads on over to the others, and nods to Dusk. "Yes, they're quite the unatural creatures." He smiles a bit. "I should thank you for starting my training on how to steer my talent to take care of problems in safer ways for others. Kicking a troll might not be as interesting as other possible methods, but it works, and it's safer then trying to skewer or blow up the thing. Keeps the damage more contained." He nods softly to Mirage. "Yes, it's safe to go on, now." he tells her, and leads the way.
Dusk nods to Chance, "I thought something was off, with it and the others that have attacked here.  Then there could be almost any number of harmful creatures about."  He smiles to Chance and nods, "I'm glad it was of help.  You certainly have made some excellent strides in your talent.  And that was quite efficient as well."  He smiles to Mirage as she helps keep us on track and moving once again.
Mirage frowns.  "Are the creatures from the Blasted Plains all large like that troll?  Or can they be small creatures, too, like mice or insects?" she asks Chance as we start to trot along again.  Then she looks to Dusk.  "So Chance is using magic to enhance his strength?"
Mirage frowns.  "Are the creatures from the Blasted Plains all large like that troll?  Or can they be small creatures, too, like mice or insects?" she asks Chance as we start to trot along again.  Then she looks to Dusk.  "So Chance is using magic to enhance his strength since magic may not work directly on the troll?"
Chance glances to Mirage at her question. "That was a medium creature. A few are larger. One is much larger. A good number are smaller, but rarely smaller then, say, a large dog." he tells Mirage. "If they get too small, they seem to be poisoned by the life of the forest, oddly enough. There's alot about them we don't understand." Since Mirage asked Dusk her last question, he lets Dusk answer it.
Dusk listens as Mirage has some very good questions about the creatures and wonders as well.  "Well Mr. Chance's talent as you know can protect him in any means needed to do so.  So it wouldn't be an issue that his talent couldn't work on the troll.  It's more an issue of how, and what the result is.  I'm sure Mr. Chance can tell you how much talent he is using and how much is keeping focus and dealing with it without having to have his talent take effect."
Mirage'ohs' softly as you both answer her questions.  "No, that's alright," she says with a little smile as we travel along.  "I just wanted to make sure what to look for with these blighted monsters."
Chance nods softly to Mirage. "They're pretty easy to spot. They're unlike any other life around." He trots on, and a few minutes later we come to the edge of the forest, and what lies beyond. Plains flowing out to distant mountains and waters lay before us. The first thing one may notice is the black swells that roll over the area, a dense mist constantly churning against the ground. The other thing one might notice is that this place is utterly desolate. No grass, no trees, no birds. No life. Even the sky rolls with clouds that randomly form and unform at visible pace. "The Blasted Plains." Chance says softly. "Covered in chaos. This is where the trolls and other creatures come from. Though, fortunately for all ponies, they don't rise often." He's come to a complete stop. We're on the top of a hill, and there's a trail that leads down it to the plains below. The air is cool here, and sterile. Smell and taste seems to die when breathed in. The trees lining the area are withered, as if it takes too much effort to
grow properly.
Dusk smiles a little as the issue with the troll is over and we're on our way again.  At the edge of the forest, Dusk looks out over the Blasted Plains and shakes his head.  "This is awful.  It's too bad something like this had to happen."  He looks off into the plains, taking in what details there are from here.
Mirage doesn't like the looks of this place at all.  "And we have to go in there to fine the timescape?" she asks no one in particular.  "Won't we be affected by the black mist?"
Chance nods softly to Dusk, not really having anything to add. What more could one add? He then glances to Mirage. "Usually that'd be true. Most are eventually overcome by it. Few can enter the Blasted Plains." He takes out a small box from one of his pockets, and opens it. It's empty. He reaches in anyways, and after rumaging around for a few moments (in an empty box?), he pulls out a bag of crystals. The same crystals he set aside at home. He looks through the bag, then produces a pure white crystal, with perfect symmetry, each crystal facet showing a different color as the crystal splits light into its natural parts, like a perfect prism. "Terrance will protect you using this." he says, holding the crystal up.
Dusk nods in agreement with Mirage as he looks over what is out there.  And Dusk had thought he had an idea about the working of that container back at Chance's house.  Dusk smiles a little to himself but nods about the crystals, "How are the crystals going to help?"
Mirage glances at the crystal.  She had something like protective suits in mind, but it seems like everything around here relies almost exclusively on magic.  Except the wood burning stoves.  She listens as Dusk asks the question she was going to ask.
Chance says "This is a crystal of order. It's one of the few things that can counter chaos magics for extended periods of time." He hooves it over to Terrance (aka: Programmer Pony, or PP as he's known to friends). PP takes the crystal, and builds a magic construct around it, like a wireframe ball-like container. He activates the thing with his magic, and a shield of order magic forms around the group. "This will nullify the chaos inside the shield." PP explains."
Dusk will surely have to come up with a crystal based magic stove for Mirage once we get back to our own time.  He hmmms and nods as Chance explains about the order-based crystals, watching PP do his work.  "And presumably already tested," he says with a grin.
Mirage tilts her ears as she listens.  "Does it also nullify your chaos magic, Chance?" she wonders.
Chance chuckles lighty and nods to Dusk. "Yes, it's been tested." He smiles a bit to Mirage. "No, it doesn't. I think it's because of the order part of my talent. That would have nullified the chaos part, and my entire talent, long ago if it did that."
Dusk highly doubts the crystals could outright stop Chance's talent and its use of Chaos.  But they might afford a pony wearing it some protection from the talent's direct effects.  But not so much for indirect ones, such as something exploding nearby.  He listens and nods in agreement with Chance, "Then I guess once Mr. Pony is set, we're set to head in.  Are we going anyplace specific to start?"
Mirage nods lightly, waiting for Chance and Programmer to lead the way.
Chance nods lightly to Dusk. "It's roughly on the far side of the plains. A bit of a walk still. That's the best estimate I have at the moment."
Dusk hmmms and nods to Chance, "That sounds like it would be yes.  Could we not come from the other direction then, or go around to the other side?"  He thinks back to the map and what area the Blasted Plains cover.
Mirage is wary of going into the rolling mist since our only protection seems to be the order magic crystal Programmer's suspended in the little censer.  "Or what if Dusk did his 'fast walking' spell?" she offers shyly.
Chance looks between Dusk and Mirage, and smiles gently. "Not too worry. I figured we could approach it from the side before heading into the chaos zone itself. It'll be a longer trip, but safer, and shouldn't take long with Dusk's fast-walk."
Dusk smiles and nods to Mirage's suggestion, and as Chance agrees as well.  "Then it sounds like a good plan."  He looks over to see if PP has the crystals ready for us, and back to Chance.  "And anything particular I should be looking out for on the way, or heading towards?  Or just skirt the area of the Plains for now?"
Mirage nods and gives a hopeful little smile as she waits for the stallions to get their magic ready and make our way across the plain.
PP has the order-shield up, ready to protect the group. Chance nods to Dusk. "Just walk the outskirts for now. It's.." He glances across the plains. "Those hills over there." he points out. The plains are quite large, and the areas surrounding it make for a long walk.
Dusk nods to the others and sees that we're all set then.  We start walking staying out outside of the Blasted Plains.  "So have the Plains been getting any better, or worse, over time?" he inquires to Chance and PP.  The conversation also helping distract the others attention from the trip, which actually helps speed up the travel.  Dusk takes extra care to make sure there isn't any stray interference with the magic as well.
Mirage stays close to Dusk and the others was we move along.  She glances around occasionally but concentrates more on not having a misstep or stumble as we travel.
Chance points out general points of interest. There's actually a few forest areas around here, as well as a nearby jungle area, which he explains is where some of the more dangerous elder beasts are kept. He also points out some sort of post to Dusk. It stands at the edge of the Blasted Plains, and has runes and crystals. "I have these along the entire length of the plains. They send a spell into the chaos, and the others see if that chaos was interrupted in some way. If there is, they activate one of my artifacts." he says, showing Dusk one of the artifacts he keeps in wrap on his leg. "It glows when.." He trails off, as the artifact is glowing now.
Dusk keeps us progressing at a pretty good pace, though fortunately for Mirage and the others it's a very easy walk.  He smiles and rubs shoulders some with Mirage as Chance gives us the grand tour of the Blasted Plains perimeter.  However before he can answer Dusk's question about the Plains improving or getting worse, the artifact alarm goes off.  "When what?"  Dusk hopes it means something great, like there's a rainbow about to appear.  Sadly such things rarely do.  Dusk comes to a stop for the moment.
Mirage stops when Dusk stops, having been paying more attention to the walking that anything else. "I suppose we're going to find out," she replies softly to Dusk as she looks to Chance and Programmer for thier reactions.
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(10/4/2014 log follows)
Chance looks up to Dusk. "It glows when there's a loss of chaos in the Blasted Plains." he answers, looking over the chaotic plains. "As for the plains, they've stayed pretty much the same. Haven't gotton better, but haven't spread, either. I think though that it kind of spreads using the creatures that rise from it. Trolls and such. Or it tries to." He looks slowly over the plains. "A bit of a loss in chaos occurs when there's order in the plains. And that happens if life is there. It usually means something's about to rise in them. Somewhere. It's how I keep track of what comes out of this place."
Dusk gives Mirage a little smirk with her quite astute aside.  He turns and looks to Chance, "A *loss*?  That would seem like a good thing."  Then Chance explains what it indicates.  So he was right, nopony has alarms for good things.  "Well at least you've been able to keep that from spreading too much then.  Long term there will need to be a way to diminish it.  Or contain it... Hmmm.."  But with Chance being focused on something showing up, Dusk's attention is taken back to that.  He glances over, checking on Mirage too.
Mirage stands quietly, waiting to see what Chance does since there doesn't seem to be anything moving around the little group of ponies.  "Maybe we should move along more quickly?" she asks Dusk softly so as not to distract Chance or Programmer.
Chance takes off the artifact that's glowing and holds it up. There's a transparent white crystal on one side, and he looks through this, showing Dusk and Mirage. Everything beyond is dark where the chaos is. He sweeps the crystal's viewing path over the plains slowly, until one spot shows up unusually bright in the midst of the chaotic darkness. "There." he tells the others, pointing it out. "I'll take point." PP says. "Everypony stay in my shield."
Dusk looks across the plains, turning his head back to Mirage with a soft nod, "I would agree, avoiding a conflict would be good.  Though I suppose we do want to be sure it doesn't leave the Plains and harm any other ponies."  He glances back to Chance as he shows the artifact in use.  Dusk nods, "Should we go in after it, or wait to see if it comes out?"  But seems Chance and PP are already arranging to go in after it.  Dusk keeps close to Mirage, and makes sure to keep up with the others.
Lying perfectly still a young lavender, blue and silver filly lies unconcious in the swirly mist, gentle gusts of wind thinning the mist so she may be seen. Her cute dress is torn and ragged, looks as if it should be tossed away and not brand new at all. What's left of the immobile filly's clothes look to have a few singed areas, as does her mane and tail.
SilverWing [Female Pegasus]
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A lavender pegasus filly with a cobalt blue mane and tail. The young diva-filly is the picture of health, and fashion. Never a hair out of place, and her hooves gleam in a pretty shade when she trots by. Wings rest gently along her back, the light purple feathers fading into silvery tips.
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Mirage nods almost imperceptively to PP.  "Oh, no problem," she replies too casually to his warning.  Then she stays close to Dusk as the others start searching.
Chance heads in the general direction where they saw the life. "Keep yourself and Mirage safe." he says softly to Dusk as we walk through the mist of chaos. The shield sparkles heavily where shield meets chaos, but keeps it out. "Might need you to take everypony out of here if it's another troll. Leave me though, and I'll deal with it." He takes out the artifact and looks through it again, finding the lifesign once more. After about ten minutes walk (the plains are massive), we finally come across what's rose in this place. It's a disheveled filly. Chance speeds up once it's recognized to be a young pony. "Sometimes I've found ponies that have come back here, that were in the war when it ended." he's telling Dusk as PP brings the shield up around the filly to help protect her. Chance looks from Dusk to the filly. "It seems the chaos.." He trails off, looking oddly down at the filly. Confusion, then recognition, then shock covers his expression. He stands there, eyes wide and jaw slack a bit. "By Celestia's mane.."
he mutters. "It can't be." his voice barely a whisper.
Dusk grins at Mirage's reply to PP, but he keeps more serious as we move into the actual plains.  He doesn't use his quick-walk, so that we don't come across anything too quickly.  But he nods to Chance and will do so, if we need to get back out quickly.  "Understood, Mr. Chance."  Dusk starts to notice the figure too and Chance and the others pick up the pace.  He makes sure Mirage keeps up, and then looks down as we come upon the unmoving filly.  "It is a pony.."  But by Chance's reaction, it seems it's something more than that.
SilverWing is mostly undamaged. Mostly. From how she's laying one of her wings may be out of action for a little while, she still out cold and her clothes are pretty much done for, but she's overall intact. Unaware of those that surround her, the filly continues to lie as she fell. A moment passes and a few twitches flutter her free wing and Silverwing groans softly as one leg begins to move.
Mirage is careful to keep up with Dusk, since this place is obviously too dangerous for just any pony to be wandering about.  She perks her ears at Chance's shocked voice and then finally sees the little filly as she and Dusk catch up.  Mirage is tempted to move to the filly's side but after all the warnings things may not be as they seem, so she stays close to Dusk.
Chance slowly lowers himself next to the filly. He brushes a hoof tenderly against her neck. "Silverwing.." he mutters softly, then blinks a bit as she stirs. He glances back at Dusk and Mirage with a mixture of shock and happiness, then looks back to the filly. "Silverwing?" he calls to her cautiously. "Silver?" He checks her clothes and mane. "Silver, it's dad." he says softly. Perhaps it's a false hope, but it's a hope all the same. It couldn't be any other filly.
Dusk watches the filly stir and Chance go over to her.  It seems to be okay.  In fact Chance says he's her dad?  He looks over to Mirage curiously and moves with her close over to the fallen filly.  He makes sure to keep an eye out around us though too.  "SilverWing?" he inquires simply to Chance.
Maybe it's the voice, calling insistantly that begins tugging Silverwing from the darkness. Or it could be the growing aches from a awkward and rough fall. Either way, the filly begins to stir a bit more, then legs move as if suddenly startled "Wha....?" Eyes slowly unpeel and blink a time or two and she lifts her head sowly, trying to get her bearings. "Where am...dad?" Several legs come into view as her eyes begin to focus.
Mirage looks back to Dusk and tilts her ears back in a shrug.  "Why would she be here?" she whispers back to Dusk before glancing around to see if there's anything else moving nearby.
Chance is a bit too focused on Silverwing to hear the other two for the moment. PP however answers. "She was one of Chance's daughters, from long ago. She dissapeared near the end of the last war. He never knew what happened to her, though he spent a great deal of time looking for her." PP glances to Mirage. "That I don't know." Chance smiles softly to Silverwing. "Hey there, sweet daughter mine." he says softly. "What do you remember?"
Dusk watches and listens, and nods to Mirage, "Yes, something very unusual for sure, to me at least."  Then he looks over to PP who helps fill some of it in, "From long ago?"  Chance running across a daughter of his at all out in a place like this seems highly unlikely as it is.  Much less from some remote time ago.  Or perhaps PP just means a couple of years or something.
SilverWing blinks slowly when her dad's face unblurs in the receding darkness and everything becomes a bit brighter. Other voices have her head canting to the strangers and she tries pushing herself up and away from them( since obviously whatever has happened has to be THERE fault), but only succeeds and nudging herself closer to Chance. One wing fluters some, the other merely twitches awkwardly. "I was..going to pick out a cake...then there was...I can't remember.. Dad? What happen?" All the while, casting wary glances towards the strangers and everything around.
Mirage listens to PP and gives a little shake of her head to Dusk.  "Remember the museum in Marishville Prime?  Their last war was many years ago, love.  A few generations at least."  She watches as the filly wakes and she and Chance recognize each other.
Chance looks confused. "You went to pick out a cake? There.. has to be more. How did you end up the Forgotton Forest?" He glances over to Mirage. "More like a few thousand years ago." he tells her. He looks back to Silverwing. "I don't know. We'll figure it out." He nudges her gently to try to help her up. "These are my friends. I think you met Terrance once." he says, indicating PP. "And Mirage, and do you remember Dusk?" he asks. Dusk is one she would have met.. but this Dusk is a good deal younger.
Dusk tries not to crowd the filly too much as she shies away from the rest of us, and lets Chance handle it as she is clearly more comfortable with him.  He nods to Mirage, "Yes, though still find that harder to imagine, of course, my love."  But then what all isn't strange of late?  He listens curiously to Chance and hmmms.  He nods to Silver as he's introduced, giving a very gentle "Hello."  He still gives her some space for now.  Dusk may have thought he was older before, but he's certainly not 10,000 years old, no.
SilverWing dips her head gently "Yes." and gets up with Chance's assistance. "It was going to be a surprise for mom." Managing to get all four hooves under her and get them to hold her up as well, the filly carefully test her wings, wincing when her left is tender. "I was making little hops.." meaning she was alternating between flying and running. "..when suddenly there was crazy wind, wierd looking." Silverwing seems to shrug as if not recalling anything else. Half side-stepping closer to her dad, the filly looks from to another as Chance guides her attention from one to another. She nods at what he says, but the odd light must be playing with her eyes. Or she took a really good bump to the head. "He..hello." is murmured to Mirage Dusk and Terrance.
Mirage nods lightly to Dusk.  "Yes.  I'm starting to lose track of anything that's normal," she says with a flick of her ears.  Then she steps back as well as the filly becomes distressed, though nodding to Silverwing's hello.  "Hello," Mirage replies softly, trying to make the filly feel more at ease.
Chance furrows his brow a bit. "Well, keep trying to remember. There must be more then that." He sighs a bit and glances to Dusk and Mirage. "I never recalled our life being normal before." he says with a small smile. "We.. should get Silverwing back to my home."
Dusk grins to Mirage and nods, "Indeed, my love."  She's always good at picking up on what he's thinking, too.  He gives Silver a gentle smile too, and a nod.  He grins to Chance, "Well there are.. levels of normal too.  This trip is certainly on a new one."  He chuckles softly, rubbing shoulders with Mirage a bit too.
SilverWing seems to become more focused and steady on her hooves with each passing minute and continues to cast uncertain glances around the strange place she woke up in. Head dips towards Chance "I'll try." to remember as he requested, but it may take a while. Everyone speaking as if this is just any normal day doesn't seem to help the filly calm down very much. Home?! Now that's a fine idea. Home, with mom and dad all her favorite things. Silverwing seems to perk up just a little, then wilts again "But home is no where near here." She's not sure where here is exactly, but she's pretty sure this strange place isn't it. "Nothing looks right." Peering back to Dusk, she eyes him again. Then she gives Terrance or PP the same treatment. Nope, nothing seems as it should. Silverwing paces slowly by Chance and listens to Mirage and the others.
Mirage tilts her head at Chance's comment.  "Actually, most of it was normal," she replies to him. "It's just that the normal parts aren't the parts one remembers."  She rubs back lightly to Dusk.  "Um, no.  This isn't any level of normal," she says with a brief smile.  "This is all extraordinary and not really in a good way."  Mirage feels less apprehensive as she sees the filly getting up and moving around.  But she looks puzzled at Chance.  "Back home?" she asks, sounding disappointed.  But she knows there's not much of a choice now with Silverwing's safety to consider.
Chance says "Home isn't too far from here. Well.. it's one of my other places I have." he tells Silverwing. He has places to stay all over. Back then, and now. He pauses and glances to Mirage. "Oh." he says softly, folding his ears back a bit. "I'm sorry. I got caught up in seeing Silverwing. We do need to find Dusk, I know." He noses Silverwing lightly. "But I need to take care of Silverwing, too." He looks torn over what to do."
Dusk was about to comment, asking what about our mission.  But he answers his own question as he realizes we can't really expect to take Silver along with us either.  He nods to Mirage, sensing she had the same question, and realization as well.  We need to get Silver someplace relatively safe first, then we can continue our initial mission.  He keeps a gentle smile for Silver though, and does try to keep acting fairly normal, even if that is strange for her.  Running around in a panic surely wouldn't help her either.  He nods in agreement with the others, "Then we had back, then try again, yes."  This all beats having to deal with another troll or something at least.
SilverWing watches the older ponies and is certainly more than a little spooked. Ponies not looking quite right, even her dad is differant. But her dad is here so she's gonna be okay. That she knows. While they discuss the mission that brought them here, Silverwing's head tilts to follow the conversation. Glancing down and giving her legs a few testing stretches and stomps, the filly nods determinedly and peers up to her dad. "I don't I'm hurt bad dad. I can run." She even gives a one wing fluttter, the other just twitches a bit "My wing hurts, but I can run, and help." The filly nods around to the mare and other ponies to back up her words but she'll mainly just be keeping up and watching everything that moves, and doesn't move.
Mirage sighs.  "Well, it shouldn't take too long to get back to the house," she says to the others, with a quick nod to Silverwing.  "Then Chance can make sure his daughter's alright."
Chance nods lightly to the others. "Alright, let's get you home." he tells Silverwing. "And I'm sure you'd do a good job helping, but let's get that wing fixed up." He looks over to Dusk and Mirage. "We can use my house's time magic to give us more time. So it won't take too long at all. Dusk, could you get us back there quickly?" He starts heading off, as does PP, but Chance makes sure Silverwing can keep up.
Dusk nods to each of the others in turn as we talk and decide what to do.  It does seem the best course of action for the moment.  "I imagine you're quite the helper, yes, going out to get a cake and all on your own, Miss SilverWing."  He nods to Chance, "As long as you're not going to be in a panic, Mr. Chance," he says teasingly with a grin.  The last time we quick-walked when Chance was worried over somepony didn't go so well.  But then that was ages ago for Chance.  He may not even remember.  Either way Dusk is already helping pick up the pace, though still being a little extra careful out here in the chaos fields.  Once we're out he helps move things faster, though letting everypony including Silver take a nice easy walking pace.
SilverWing does her best to stay glued to Chance's side when he starts off, looking frequently to the Mirage and the others. Head dips to Dusk, but there is a sad lilt to her response "It was gonna be a surprise." Wings droop slightly, but her steps keep up with the older and larger ponies for the moment. Occasionally she looks about as if something startled her and hurries her hooves, nudging closer to her dad's side.
Mirage is disappointed the first attempt to find present day Dusk is a failure, but at least Chance found Silverwing before something else found her.  She does wonder, though, about the chaos magic of the Blasted Plains and what if can do.  But Chance is obviously knowledgable about the area as he seems to be the one containing the creatures that come from it.  "Are all the creatures from the plain rather obvious about being from the chaos magic?" she asks Chance and Programmer as we walk along within Dusk's travelling spell.
Mirage is disappointed the first attempt to find present day Dusk is a failure, but at least Chance found Silverwing before something else found her.  She does wonder, though, about the chaos magic of the Blasted Plains and what it can do.  But Chance is obviously knowledgable about the area as he seems to be the one containing the creatures that come from it.  "Are all the creatures from the plain rather obvious about being from the chaos magic?" she asks Chance and Programmer as we walk along within Dusk's travelling spell.
Dusk nods to Silver, "Well still very helpful of you."  He smiles and listens curiously to the questioning about creatures from the chaos here,
Chance nudges Silverwing gently as she presses against him. "I'm sure she would have loved the cake." he says softly to her. He looks up to Dusk first. "In a panic?" he asks, confused. He doesn't recall that off the top of his head. He shakes his head to Mirage. "No, they're not. Some are of a more curious, beautiful nature. Chaotic, and not chaotic, all at once."
SilverWing takes comfort in her dad's words and keeps her pace at his side, never straying more than a pace or two behind before scuttering forward again. Her smaller legs having to work doubletime to keep up, but she doesn't wine, much. Once her ripped dresss catches on a thorny branch and the young filly stumbles. With a automatic fluttering of her wings, even the sore one a bit awkwardly, she catches herself from falling completely.
Mirage tilts an ear as Chance explains.  "Do they ever look like ponies?  I mean, close enough that they could be mistaken for one?" she asks gently as we walk along so quickly back to the house.  She sees Silverwing stumble, but the filly stops herself from falling before Mirage can react.
Chance pauses for just a moment to make sure Silverwing is alright, then nods a bit to Mirage. "They can. Sort of. But you wouldn't recognize them as pony except for their general shape, and even then, just moderately. The closest ones I've seen had their form imprinted from a pony that got.. trapped in the chaos when one of the creatures was rising from it. Though no one would mistaken it for the original pony." He thinks for a few moments. "That's only happened once, as far as I personally know."
SilverWing resumes her spot in the group with a couple of springy hopping steps and works to keep a better eye out for things that could reach out and grab her from the swirly mist. All sorts of things could be out there. Mirage's comments drawing the little filly's attention, then she looks between her and Chance several times as she starts to catch on. Or thinks she does. Her steps begin to slow the further they go, but the little filly refuses to lag behind. Pace going in little surges to keep up.
Mirage'ohs' softly as she listens to Chance.  "I was just curious," she replies gently.  "I wouldn't want to find Dusk only to discover he's not really Dusk."  The glances as the filly seems to slow a little and then gives a questioning look to Chance.
Chance wanders along with the rest. We're out of the chaos before we know it, and then we're traveling through woods. It might seem to go faster for Silverwing then she expects. That would be Dusk's doing. He nods softly to Mirage. "I doubt there'd be a problem with that. I've never met a creature from the chaos that had a.. normal personality. You'd know." Soon we're coming out into a large clearing. There's a large lake over in one area, and in the middle there's a grove of three large trees, and a house built not in the middle of the trees, but with extensions into each tree. A three-tree treehouse. Once we're at the house, Chance gets everyone inside, and using a magic artifact, closes the door and causes time to get 'frozen' outside. He shows Silverwing a bird in mid-flight, frozen (apparently). "See? We have time now to get you fixed up."
SilverWing little little trail veers closer to Chance's at time, and others swerving slightly away, as if something may have caught her attention and hooves tried to follow. The misted landscape begins to recede and things begin to look more normal, sorta. She's still a filly well out of her proper time. She's either handling that very well, or it hasn't really sunk in yet. Once everyone is hustled into the triad treehouse, Chance points out the still bird suspended in place outside the window and Silverwing sends a wondrous look from him to Mirage, Dusk and PP. Eyes wide "Come look at this!" Nevermind the fact they are probably well used to it. But she should know her dad can do awesome things. Giving a happy little hop, the filly nods about now having some 'extra' time. "Okay dad." She stays still while him and maybe the others look at and see to her wing, moving only as requested.
Mirage gives a gentle smile to Silverwing as the excited filly sees the magic her father can do.  Inwardly, Mirage is less than enthused.  Seeing the world outside seemingly frozen in time only means that time inside the house is passing that much faster.  Not that it matters to ageless ponies like Chance and Programmer Pony, or Elder Ponygale as he's called now.  Mirage finds a place to sit where she's out of the way and waits for Chance to sort things out with his long missing filly.
Dusk helps keep the magic going along until we reach the house.  He walks in with the rest of you and smiles as Silverwing checks out the place as well.  "So with the magic, we going to wait here for a while then I take it?"
Chance smiles a bit at Silverwing's enthusiasm. "Yes, it's neat. Now.. about that wing of yours." He carefully checks out her wing, and glances to Dusk. "I just want to make sure Silverwing is doing alright."
SilverWing cants her head to peer out the window one more time before moving away and letting her dad look at her wing, stretching it out slowly if/when asked. It's a little stiff the awkward way she fell, but not broken and no serious muscle damage. Just won't do much flying for a few days. Sensing that Mirage and Dusk are eager to get back out, she head sinks a bit, as if in appology from disrupting thier mission. "Sorry." she murmurs out softly and swings her gaze back up to Chance. "It doesn't hurt that bad dad. Really." Silverwing tries to demonstrate with a gentle wing flutter, but it only half works out. "My hooves still work. I can keep uuuupppppp." her last words stretches out as a yawn sneaks up on the young filly.
Dusk nods to Chance about taking care of Silver, "Absolutely.  Especially with time outside suspended."  But then again, Dusk is indeed concerned that the timestream itself is not affected by such things as this.  Just as years of time could go by in here without noticed by the outside, so might his future self be doing.  But then he doesn't want Silver being upset either, "Don't you worry, Miss SilverWing.  Yes we have some important things to do.  But you are just as important and need some proper care, okay?"  He grins as she gives a yawn.
Mirage gives Silverwing a reassuring smile as Dusk echoes her thoughts.
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(10/10/2014 log follows)
Chance gives Silverwing a tender nose-nuzzle and chuckles lightly. "What you need is to rest that wing of yours, and get some sleep. That way you're not worrying your old dad." he adds with a light grin.
SilverWing finishes her yawn with a lip *pop*, opening her eyes a bit wider to show that she's not tired. Nuzzling her dad back, she swings her attention to her tender wing and giving it a slow partial stretch before it slacks against her side. "I didn't mean to worry anypony." Looking back to Dusk and Mirage, her shoulder twitches "Sorry."
Dusk takes a seat besides Mirage and smiles watching Silver and Chance.  It's nice to see them together.  When Silver looks back to them Dusk shakes his head, "Nothing to worry about, Miss SilverWing.  We'll get you all taken care of in no time."
Mirage nods with Dusk and waits to see what Chance decides to do next.  She's ready to get back to the search.
Chance smiles softly to Silverwing. "It's alright. I'm just happy to have you back." He looks over to Dusk and Mirage. "Dusk, would you take us to the city of ancients? I'd like to drop Silverwing off there. Terrance, would you accompany us?" PP nods to Chance. "Of course."
SilverWing gives Chance's cheek a nuzzle when he turns his attention to the others. Pushing back up to all four hooves, her tail gives a little flick and she perks up a bit peering from one large pony to another, settling her gaze back on Chance "I'll wait with mom?" Head droops a bit when she recalls not getting the surprise cake but shakes it off quick enough.
Dusk rubs shoulders a little with Mirage and is good to go as well when Chance requests some assistance.  "Of course, I'll be glad to assist."  He waits to others are ready then stands back up and heads for the door.  Once we get out, as he now knows the route, it's fairly short walk back to the City of the Ancients, without running into any real troubles along the way.
Mirage guesses Chance is going to get Silverwing some medical attention, and she nods and gives a little smile to Dusk before he casts his spell and gets us back to the 'city' rather quickly. Then she waits to see where Chance leads us.
Chance just gives a little smile to Silverwing. "No dear. We're going to see some friends." When we get there, he shows Silverwing around. There's a number of different ponies here. A little city. And fillies and colts to play with. He then shows her the way to his house there.
SilverWing isn't scampering ahead of the group as they travel, but after the rest in suspended time, there is a little more energy in her hooves. The little filly seems to orbit Chance while they walk, more alert to things they pass now. Not going to see mom yet? Tidbit to work on later. When they arrive at the Acient City, many of the young ponies are spotted, and given a little head hip or wave of her hoof as the group moves towards one of Chance's houses.
Dusk smiles, watching Silver along the way back.  Once to the city, Dusk hangs with Mirage, giving her a smile as Chance and PP show Silver the city along the way to Chance's home here.  "Is somepony going to watch over Miss SilverWing while here?"
Mirage is pleased to see Silverwing doesn't seem too badly injured, even if her wing is sagging a bit.  "I'm sure Chance has somepony here that can help," she says softly to Dusk.
Chance nods lightly to Dusk. "I'll have one of the families watch her." His home has a few rooms. He shows Silverwing his personal room. "You can have this room." he tells her. It's a smallish room, nothing fancy.
SilverWing peeks around the house as she's shown to her dad's room, sometimes nosing some curiosity before moving on. Uncertain about staying behind, she shows a brave face to her dad and the other ponies. "I'll just take a little nap while you are gone." Hopefully their mission will be a quick success. "Maybe I can whip up a cake for when everypony gets back." Silverwing gives Chance's shoulder a cheek nuzzle "Be safe everypony."
Dusk nods to Mirage in agreement, "Yes, I'm sure you're right, my dear."  He smiles, then turns his attention to Chance as he explains about one of the local families.  Dusk lets Chance take care of things, but Dusk does nod to Silver, "We hope so as well.  And that sounds like a delicious idea.  All the more reason to get back sooner!"
Mirage nods to Silverwing.  "That sounds very nice.  We shouldn't be gone too long."  And if nothing else, Silverwing has a safe place to stay now.
Chance gives Silverwing a light smile. "Yes, that sounds like a great idea. But just in case, I'll have someone come over and help. Everypony wait a moment, I'll be back." He heads out, then comes back with a mare and filly. "My friends, this is Treerunner, and her daughter, Flora." They're nature ponies. "She's agreed to stay here and watch Silverwing. Silverwing, you and Flora have fun now." Flora is around Silver's age. She gives a big smile and hoofwaves to Silver.
SilverWing smiles to Mirage, Dusk and PP when they seem to look forward to a cake on their return. But dad seems to remember her her cake making skills and wrangles up some kitchen assistants. Dipping her muzzle to Treerunner and her filly when they trot into view, Silverwing smiles to her soon to be new friend and hoofwaves. "Hello Ms Treerunner. Flora." Smiling to Chance and the others. See, she'll not get into too much trouble while everypony is away. Peering between the ponies, Silverwing smiles and waves as the group prepares to continue on. Rushing forward to give her dad another nuzzlehug "Hurry back." before skittering back to Flora and Treerunner again.
Dusk smiles too and is indeed looking forward to it.  He nods to the newly arriving mare and filly, "Greetings and nice to meet you.  Thank you for assisting us."  While we have some moments to wait, Dusk does spend them trying to contemplate ways of accessing the timescape.  He has a few concepts, which he tries running them through in his head, seeing which might work or might not.
Mirage gives a polite greeting and smile to Treerunner and her filly.  At least Silverwing will be in good company while Chance is away.  She notices Dusk looking thoughtful, so she doesn't distract him.
Chance nuzzles Silverwing and tells her goodbye. "Don't wander out of the town, dear." He glances to Dusk, Mirage and PP. "Alright, let's go." he says in a more serious tone, heading out. Once out, he looks to Dusk. "Back to the Blasted Plains. Have any ideas how to search for yourself?"
SilverWing grins a bit sheepishly and dips her head "I won't dad." Swinging her attention back to Treerunner and Flora. "There's cake to be made. Won't be any time to leave the house." Silverwing lifts her head, a slight wing flutter as she follows everypony to the door. Murmuring another caution of 'stay safe' as her dad and the rest of the group continue on.
Dusk looks back up once it appears we are going to head off again.  He smiles to SilverWing and gives her a little nuzzle as we head for the door as well.  "We'll see you soon, Miss SilverWing.  You take care as well."  Once the good byes are taken care of and we're outside, Dusk nods to Chance, "To the Blasted Plains.  And well.. some ideas.  Getting us all there safely will be another part of the trick."  And soon we're heading off again.
Mirage waves goodbye to Silverwing, Treerunner and Flora before going with Chance, Programmer and Dusk with Dusk's familar walking spell.  She nods lightly as Chance and Dusk discuss how to find his present day self.
Chance slows and stops when we're in the middle of the forest. He looks quietly to the ground. He hasn't shown too much emotion since they ran across Silverwing, but now..
Dusk talks some with the others as we all walk along, but he notices Chance's growing distraction, and slows to stop along with his friend.  "Mr. Chance?" he asks in a gentle manner, his tone implying some understanding and inquiring as to how he is.
Mirage stops when the others do.  She's never tried walkiing after Dusk stops during his spell, and here's not a good place to experiment on what exactly would happen if you leave the spell's area of effect.  She also sees Chance's change in demeanor, and she looks to Programmer and Dusk with a light frown and a shake of her head.
Chance looks up to the others after a few moments, his eyes sad. "How do I tell her, that her mother is long gone?" he asks quietly. "That no one she knew, aside from a few, even still exist?"
Dusk nods to Mirage, rubbing shoulders with her as she comes to a stop with him.  Perhaps someday she'll just have to find out.  Dusk nods sadly to Chance, "It's not something that ever becomes easy to accept.  Much less for a young filly.  But you can tell her of the wonderful and full lives they went on to live.  At least it's not as if they had just died at least.  And perhaps if she goes back to her own time at some point, she'll see them again as well."
Mirage tilts her ears thoughtfully as she listens to Dusk.  "Sending Silverwing back to her own time would be the best thing for her," she says softly.  "But then, Chance already said Silverwing disappeared and never came back, so we know sending her back never happens.  So," she continues, looking to Chance, "you'll have to tell her when we get back.  And you're her father, so while she'll mourn her mother and friends she will still have you.  And that's important."
Chance perks up a bit as Dusk and Mirage mention to sending her back. "Yes, you're right. She wasn't there." Perhaps. He lets out a heavy breath and nods softly to Mirage. "Yes, she'll have me. That's important." He steels himself once more. "I'm sorry. Just.. haven't had a daughter in a while. We can continue on."
Dusk nods softly to Mirage.  The sharp and practical one of our group.  As opposed to Chance, to whom what history says doesn't hold much weight.  As the mere existence of Marishville Prime shows.  Dusk gives a little smile at Mirage's words about Silver having Chance still, at least.  "Quite true, my dear."  He nods to Chance as well, "And you have your friends here to talk to whenever you need."  He nods as we pick up the walk again.
Mirage offers Chance a little smile.  "At least you have her back now," she says before following along after the stallions as we resume making our way to the plains.
Chance smiles lightly to Mirage and nods, then continues on with them until we reach the plains. He directs them back to the nearest spot, and PP once again creates his order shield for the group. "Alright, what should we do now?" he asks Dusk.
Chance smiles lightly to Mirage and nods, then continues on with them until we reach the plains. He directs them to the nearest spot just outside the chaos-laden plains where he believes the time-wraith was (though the actual location is somewhere out in the chaos), and PP once again creates his order shield for the group. "Alright, what should we do now?" he asks Dusk.
Dusk travels around the edge of the Blasted Plains a little more carefully.  Though PP's shield helps keep out any stray chaos magics all the same.  He stops where Chance shows us is the near point.  He looks out towards the deeper chaos, but his eyes are closed.  After a bit he opens them again and looks over to Chance, then Mirage and PP.  "I believe we're going to have to find the actual spot."  He looks back the way he was just earlier, "On the Plains."
Mirage doesn't like being out here, but remains calm and observant as we go along.  She listens to Dusk and wonders how we're going to find this spot.  There's not too many unique features on the plain with all the mists swirling about.
Chance nods softly to Dusk. "That's what I thought." PP glances out across the plains. "Don't worry. Stay inside the shield and you'll be fine. Though.. I'm not sure how the chaos will affect anything else, like what Dusk is trying to find."
Dusk can tell how Mirage is feeling about it with hardly having to glance her way.  But he's going to need her help too, he's quite sure, if going to get us all there together.  Dusk nods to PP, "Thank you, Mr. Pony.  Do keep it strong for us, of course."  He looks over to Mirage and smiles, and rubs his shoulder to hers, "Might you assist, My Love?  We need to see the way there.."  Dusk focuses, thinking on the paths and lines through and around this area.
Mirage is happy to help, although Dusk could simply guide the group along without her.  But it is safer to be able to show the path we need to take.  She uses her magic, her horn glowing with pretty sea-green light.  And in a moment, all who wish to can see the image that Dusk is concentrating on.
Chance glances around with PP to see what it is Dusk actually sees. The point is a fair ways into the chaos plains. "This time's Dusk went to check out what was causing the time wraith to come here in the first place. They usually don't bother comming to this plain. We thought at the time it had something to do with Marishville Prime."
Dusk agrees it is better for everypony to have an idea where we're going out here, and what we're looking for.  And he wants to start with this, as he will need her help more directly later.  As Mirage's magic takes hold, the view before us actually becomes much clearer.  The mists become faint, the details of the plains more clear.  Then the paths become visible.  Lines across the plains.  Over the ground, in the air, even our own behind us, and even a short distance out ahead of us before growing faint.  Along most of the lines somewhere can be seen a still image of what presumably made it.  "We need to look for either my path, or that of the wraith's.  It should be noticeable."  He nods to Chance, "That seems pretty reasonable to me as well.  But we'll have to find out."  He starts to move out into the Plains with everypony else.
Mirage concentrates on her magic as the paths that Dusk sees becomes visible to all.  "And what does a time wraith do?" she asks Chance as Dusk begins to move out.
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(10/12/2014 log follows)
Chance trots along with the others as we follow the lines out into the chaos-blasted plains. He looks over to Mirage. "They feed on irregularities in time. Marishville Prime has been a target for a number of different problems and creatures like these time wraiths. Usually they don't pay attention to places like this. Marishville Prime is a smaller detail compared to other forms of time paradoxes and such. Beneath their notice. Like a dragon ignoring ants that crawl along its treasures. But this one has noticed us. Marishville Prime has had the Time Anchor for so long, it's 'cemented' into time itself now. It can't be undone. Though.. that still doesn't seem to be a big enough reason to catch the attention of this time wraith. Present-Dusk and I were wondering if it could be something else as well.."
Dusk nods and listens to Chance as well.  Past-Dusk doesn't have quite the amount of information he's sure that an extra 10,000 years provides his present-day self.  "Well, cemented or not, Marishville, and Marishville Prime now.. actually presents a huge difference from what the timeline would have been.  It should be easy to imagine how significantly different history would be today if Marishville hadn't been brought back.  Though what was the other idea in mind?"  Out here in the wasteland of the Plains, there are surprisingly more paths than one might have expected, even ignoring the fainter, much more distant past lines.  The activity even grows as we move closer towards the center, though we're still quite a ways out from that.
Mirage tilts her ears as she thinks about what Chance is saying.  "So if I understand what you're saying, would having two Dusks in the same time at the same place be an irregularity that would attract a time wraith?  Or even just two Dusks in the same time?" She asks as she follows along and keeps the images of Dusk's pathways visible.
Chance says "It might, as a small chance, attract something. But probably not a time wraith. Where Marishville Prime is a large wave in the ocean, Dusk is a ripple in the pond." he answers Mirage. "Now if Dusk removed himself from the timeline, then went through it and started changing things, then that might attract a time wraith."
Chance then turns to Dusk. "As for the other idea, I'm uncertain. Present-Dusk was going to research something out and see if he couldn't come up with a theory, but.. that's when he didn't return."
Dusk is looking around carefully as we search for the point present-Dusk or the time wraith may have vanished.  PP's shielding pushes away the chaos clouds around us, made faint my Mirage's vision.  "Well in this case, my dear, perhaps attracting the time wraith would help us in finding it," he teases.  "But I'd just as well not, of course."  He nods to Chance as well, "Hmm, then I guess we shall find out."  There's a curious thing, a path of a small goblin-like creature moving across the plain, as we move more towards its past, reaches a strange, almost radiant point, the splits off into more and more smaller and smaller lines in most all directions, until they cover a larger area and fade out into little points as in the cloudy material about us.
Mirage ohs and nods to Chance.  "So something like that has attracted this time wraith?" she asks before looking to Dusk.  "Important safety tip: don't remove yourself from the timeline."  She gives a little shake of her head to Dusk.  "No, let's not do that.  When we find your present day self, we may be finding the time wraith he was looking for, too."
Chance peers at the goblin-like thing and furrows his brow. He watches as it splinters off into the chaos. "Another creature of the mist.." he mutters. They're coming toward the end (start?) of the path we're following. It starts to veer off as we near the area, then bends away in an impossible direction, which is roughly away from a pony no matter how one looks at it.
Dusk chuckles to Mirage and nods, "Duly noted, my love," he says with a smile.  "And should we do so, I suppose not to go mucking around making major changes, like making us the prince and princess of Equestria."  Dusk looks curiously at the creature's path, and nods to Chance, "I do believe you are correct.  So this is how they start."  The unusual bend strikes him, "I.. that's familiar."  It's actually along the lines he was considering.  "But we're not looking for the chaos origins."
Mirage frowns lightly, not liking any of this but also seeing no other way of finding Dusk's present day self.  "It's a shame those pocket communication devices couldn't be used out here," she remarks as she keeps Dusk's images focused and clear as he takes an interest in a particular part of them.
Chance smiles lightly to Mirage. "If only they could. Even magitech tends to not work properly out here. The only things that do work out here are the living clockworks.. and they get confused half the time." He glances about. "Where to now, Dusk?"
Dusk knows Mirage doesn't care for this sort of thing.  But he's glad she's able to make some jokes about it.  And indeed, it is what we need to do.  Dusk would certainly rather not have any sort of problem like this as well.  He'd much rather be off exploring some tropical island with Mirage for new magics, if he had a choice.  Curiosity aside, Dusk nods to Mirage and Chance, "I believe we're on the right path."  He keeps heading forward, deeper into the Blasted Plains.  As we do we do spot a couple of more 'creation points' for some chaos creatures, a little larger in size, but not by much.  But another something new.. A path with a jagged end, a brief line, and another jagged end.  If one looks it appears a few different places, of different lengths further ahead as well.
Mirage at least feels a little better now that she is able to help.  She nods to Chance, having expected Programmer's magictech might not work too well here amid all the chaos magic.  Then she blinks as we seem to come to some breaks in the path Dusk's been following.  She looks to Dusk and Chance for an explanation.
(To be updated as the story continues.  Remember where you left off!)

Log date: 

Sunday, August 17, 2014