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CFF541E9-0547-4B9D-A158-4F71F624E66F.png
Occupied Equestria - Back to the Forest
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.151000
151002
Virgin Flame arrives in Baltimare and makes her aqua intense with the staff of a Cathedral there. Spark goes back to Blackwood, helping a rebel and several wolves. Iron takes a train off to the mountains where there is said to be treasure. Silver is pleasantly surprised to wake up to the world-not-ending. Dark Star goes home for the night, disturbed by the forces corrupting the youth, and left to contemplate his role in stopping it.
1887 replies and 32 files omitted.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152613
152614
>>152612
Hearing nothing, the stallion soon ended its suffering with a hard stomp with both forelegs against its skull, hopefully finishing it off without much more suffering than it had to endure.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152614
152615
>>152613
There is a yelp from the creature that ends quickly. Iron can feel its skull fracture and brains come out. Iron can't really entirely crush its head, only break it.

"Ah! Celestia!" Cauldron calls out and turns away. It's White Sand's turn to stare blankly at it, mouth partly open.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152615
152616
>>152614
With a small sigh at the dirty act, the stallion simply decides to put on a stoic face and wordlessly continue on their journey ahead, deciding to let the mares process the event for themselves and ask questions if necessary.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152616
152617
>>152615
Iron has a bit of blood and cat brain on his hoof, and he may or may not be cut in the soft part of his hoof from the creature's bone fragments.

More importantly, much more importantly, Iron is badly injured in his upper thigh, to the degree it hurts to walk.

Black Cauldron seems somewhat nauseous, and she's in the same place, with her head down to the ground. White Sands blinks, and jumps forward, as if ready to move.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152617
152618
>>152616
Iron breathes in at the painful feeling, deciding it's best to get to the river in order to clean himself off the blood and properly see the damage. "I did not expect such a clean hit," he muttered softly as he looked at the water to see if it looked clean enough to treat himself.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152618
152619
>>152617
The river is murky from silt, with a brown tint. Anything else about the water quality, he can't really discern.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152619
152621
>>152618
With a careful gait, he soon sat down just next to the river and washed off the cat entrails and blood from his forelegs' hooves first to further inspect that damage. Something told him his hindleg injury may need some help from one of the two mares to properly clean up.
Amber Sunset
2502c61
?
No.152620
152621
Just want to say I love you all (no homo) and I'm looking forward to playing again soon.

Also cats try to take you down with a bite to the neck, making it impossible to respond in time even with a bite to the neck. But obviously this was a pretty bad hunter.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152621
152622 152623
>>152619
Fortunately, the only blood on the hoof is the cat's. The same cannot be said of his left flank and upper leg, which is still bleeding. Black Cauldron is only now looking up.

>>152620
D'aww. I'm looking forward to it too

Iron's ass was in the way of it getting to his neck, so it hit his ass instead
Amber Sunset
2502c61
?
No.152622
152625
AnonfillyRear.png
>>152621
>pic related
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152623
152624 152625
>>152621
Seeing Cauldron in distress right now, Iron soon turns his head towards Sands. "Could you help me clean up my leg injury, please?" the stallion politely and neutrally asked, hoping she wasn't as shocked from her admittedly brutal act.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152624
>>152623
*his act
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152625
152626
>>152622
Oh my...

>>152623
"Huh?" She looks up at him, almost as if awoken from a brief sleep.

"Oh, yeah. I brought bandages, and Iodine."
She sets her pack down, and starts to look through it. Iron hears a soft sound that it may take a moment to recognize is the voice of White Sands:

"Could anyone have heard the gunshot?"
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152626
152627
>>152625
"I think we could be close enough to town that somepony might have heard," Iron guessed as Sands looked at his leg.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152627
152628
>>152626
Sands, who has remained mostly to Iron's right, and thus has not had a great view of Iron's injury. Black Cauldron pulls out a set of bandages and looks up.

"Yes. We need to move."
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152628
152629
>>152627
"I agree," Iron answered, still waiting on either mare to finally apply medical treatment on his still hurting leg. "There is little time to waste now."
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152629
152630
>>152628
White Sands trots around getting closer, and sounding anxious. Black Cauldron fiddles around with bandages before going to Iron. She wipes something across his hind area, which hurts, and then applies a liquid, which hurts much more. She applies a second liquid, and then begins to bandage his flank. One set of bandages is actually on his upper leg, which can simply be wrapped around, but the other wounds, which is immediately below and possibly partly on his cutie mark, needs tape. Black Cauldron sits during this process.

"Come on" White Sands says, anxious

"Just a damn minute" Black Cauldron retorts, stressed
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152630
152631
>>152629
"We will pull through, Sands," Iron gently reassures Sands, hoping the reminder of his most recent combat encounter would allow her to calm down.
He soon relaxes a bit, hiding the pain coming from the patchup process and trusting Cauldron to finish up soon.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152631
152632
>>152630
"These might need stitches. I think we will have to revisit this wound later.' Black Cauldron says

White Sands is prancing in place. However, the ponies and zebra are ready to leave
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152632
152633
>>152631
Iron nods before carefully standing up and trying to continue their journey. "Let us go," he soon declared.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152633
152634
>>152632
White Sands needs no push. She moves forward. At first, seeing the small white unicorn walk along the dirt, grass and river stones between the brush and the river seems almost odd, like she doesn't belong. But if you squint long and hard enough, she almost looks like an alpaca. At least she would, except that she no longer hides the rifle, instead letting it rest on the sling along her back.

Black Cauldron quickly tries to put the bottles up, making a mistake in the process, and needing to move an object within her bag.
"Yes. We may want to move away from the river bank."
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152634
152635
>>152633
"We shall not, then," Iron agreed, deciding to follow Cauldron's advice to reduce the chance of these random natural encounters along with her two mares.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152635
152636
>>152634
"There ahead is a bridge. Should we cross it to get away from the site, or do you think it will expose us too much, and make us more vulnerable?" Black Cauldron asks
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152636
152637
>>152635
"Depends on how long is this bridge," Iron mused, now always watchful.
They definitely weren't in a pseudo camping trip now. It was time to get serious.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152637
152638
>>152636
The bridge is a stone arch bridge, with two spans in the water, and maybe a total length of 40 or so meters. The stone is dark grey and old, stained almost black up until almost the top, and with moss growing in areas. Portions lowest to the water look almost as if they have been physically eroded by the action of the water, and various parts are chipped by that same freezing of stone that weathers mountains. The area on top is a simple cart pathway paved in stone, yet covered in dirt. The road that leads up to it is dirt and unpaved, with deep ruts from the action of carts. The way the dirt is disturbed, it is obvious the road and bridge have been used relatively recently. Hoof prints likewise span the roadway, and not all of them belong to ponies
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152638
152639
>>152637
"Seems like many have passed before us," Iron mused, unsure of actually utilizing it before finally looking at Cauldron again. "Do you happen to know another way to the other side of this bridge?"
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152639
152640
>>152638
"Do you mean to cross the river? You'd have to wade the river, or find a different bridge or place to cross."
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152640
152641
>>152639
"I presume we will have to in order to get to the spot."
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152641
152642
>>152640
"The spot is located within the river itself. We may well be fine to get to it from this side. The question is really more about what we encounter on the way to it, and who knows we are here."
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152642
152643
>>152641
"If we do not need to pass through, then we are better off not exposing ourselves in a chokepoint," Iron firmly concluded at the answer. "I would rather not attract pony attention until we get to the spot."
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152643
152644
>>152642
The bridge still presents a small challenge, as it cuts through the river side, blocking it off. While it isn't really that difficult to go around it, it does mean that the ponies need to cross the road, potentially exposing themselves, if anycreature is on the road.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152644
152645
>>152643
Iron hums softly in thought for a bit. "Might be best for us to pass one at a time along the road," he figures with a couple of nods. "Better to let them see us separated than all grouped up."
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152645
152646
>>152644
White Sands simply nods. She's a reluctant to pass through the brush, but finds a narrow through-spot all the same. She pokes her head out of the bush line, looks around, and then lopes across the roadway.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152646
152647
>>152645
Iron remains vigilant, waiting to see if Sands is somehow intercepted or perhaps he could spot any potential watchmares that could snitch on them to other interested parties.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152647
152648
>>152646
Roll Spot
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152648
152649
>>152647
[1d20+2 = (12+2) = 14]<Spot
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152649
152650
>>152648
Oh shit it's a pony off in the distance. Wait. No. That's an alpaca. It's grazing near the road on the other side of the bridge.

More interesting, however, is movement higher on the mountain. It looks like two, relatively tall creatures moving in an open area near the mouth of what seems to be a mine entrance, or perhaps a natural cave.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152650
152651
>>152649
Feeling the coast is clear, Iron decides to cross the road after Sands, making sure not to entangle himself with the shrubbery, and hope for the best. Cauldron should be able to make it after him as long as nothing out of the ordinary happens.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152651
152652
>>152650
Iron makes it, and Cauldron makes it last.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152652
152653
>>152651
With a small sigh of relief, Iron soon looks at the two mares. "Alright, let us keep moving," he requested. "Focus on concealment over speed for now."
With that established, he allowed Cauldron to take point since she is way sneakier than him, and took the middle spot somewhat behind her.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152653
152654
>>152652
They go along. It's difficult to make progress, as there are trees and bushes, and open grass, but not much in between. Areas right by water are overgrown with plant life. Everywhere else is open grass. Most locations are either impassible, or open and exposed. They are, however, able to ride the line on the edge of the growth, and mostly hidden by it.

The group comes to an impediment, however, when they come up to a riverlet.

The actual stream itself is not very deep, nor does it have much volume of water. The riverlet, however, is five or so times the width of the actual stream of water, and vastly deeper, as it is made up of a black colored clay that has eroded away almost like a giant black trench that requires a decent downwards, across, and back up. Though most of the clay is dry, it looks very muddy.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152654
152655
>>152653
"Does this means we have to cross the bridge either way?" Iron muttered, somewhat displeased at having this new obstacle in their path.
Despite his words, he figured they could just follow the riverlet until they found a solid spot to walk across... if they need to, that is.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152655
152656
>>152654
"This is a different river" Black Cauldron says

"We could probably just cross it." And she blinks

"But there might be some kind of bridge somewhere."
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152656
152657
>>152655
"We should check for a bridge first," Iron concluded. "Riverlets are deceptively dangerous."
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152657
152658
>>152656
The water is not wide, and while it seems shallow, the opacity of the water makes it impossible to judge the actual depth. The mud, however, extends further than the water, and there is nowhere solid to cross. Iron can, however, look elsewhere
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152658
152659
>>152657
Iron takes the chance to keep looking for a more stable way across. After all, he would have to go back, and if what Cauldron said was true, he'd rather have a safe passage back through here.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152659
152661
>>152658
To do so, Iron has to move away from the tree line, and along the riverlet up to a bridge. The sides of the riverlet itself provide some cover, but the actual bridge itself is located in an open plain. The bridge is smaller than the last one, being perhaps 10 meters in length, and probably less than that. There is no center span, and the bridge is made of both iron, rusted to a red color, and wood, which looks a bit aged.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152661
152662
>>152659
Iron grimaces at the revelation. Perhaps it would be best to try out crossing the riverlet section closest to the treeline when going in and then go back out through the bridge.
He first needed to check if he could plausibly swim and free himself from the mud with the stuff he was currently carrying just in case things turned to the worst outcome possible.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152662
152663
>>152661
The stream is not that large, and Iron could probably simply stand upright in the water, at least if he doesn't sink in the mud. As for the mud, it's impossible to say, but his hooves will almost certainly sink at least a couple inches
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152663
152664
>>152662
With a heavy sigh, Iron opts to try to cross the riverlet first, making sure neither mare follow him too closely just in case everypony accidentally sinks into the mud at the same time.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152664
152665
>>152663
A step into mud, another step into mud - the mud begins to part - and a step into the water itself. It's perhaps surprisingly warm, and has a decent amount of strength. Iron goes in deeper, finding the water pushing against him, and stretching almost - but not quite - to the bottom of his barrel. His hooves sink a couple inches into the mud, and he finds there is a suction effect, which tugs on his hooves.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152665
152666
>>152664
Iron doesn't try struggling too hard, calmly trying to continue taking hoofsteps towards the other side while signalling the mares behind him to hold position for the time being.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152666
152667
>>152665
Step, step... slip

Roll Balance (Dexterity)
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152667
152668
>>152666
[1d20+2 = (9+2) = 11]<Balance Roll
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152668
152669
>>152667
One of Iron's hooves steps on a rock under the water. That would not be an issue, except that the rock is at a higher level than his other hoof in the mud, and Iron, who could not see the rock, was not prepared for the difference in height. His leg slips off of the rock and into the mud, causing the front portion of his body to dip down low enough that his chest touches the water and makes a splash. He catches himself though, and rights himself without serious consequence.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152669
152670
>>152668
Iron admittedly was mildly embarrassed by the affair, blushing lightly at his little slip up, but nonetheless makes sure to correct his posture and keeps moving forward with his plan. He is glad he will be going to be using the bridges on the way back thanks to this small mishap that right now has zero consequence to the mission at large.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152670
152671
>>152669
Iron makes it through the water, finding it to be about two feet deep at its deepest. However, the mud on the other side is sticky, and his hooves sink deep. There is intense suction.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152671
152672
>>152670
The lewd part of him cannot help but giggle at this high emphasis on the mud's powerful suction power, specially considering the mud would almost reach the lower portion of her torso at this point. Regardless, his dutiful self continues to smartly fight against the suction, feeling mildly worried over the mares' wellbeing trying to cross here due to the high level of environmental danger in this section. Perhaps it might actually be best to cross the bridge for them?
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152672
152673
>>152671
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RKOdyw3HkY

The mud does not extend up to his knee, but it does go as far as his fetlock at its worst, and removing the hoof from the mud requires pressing down on other mud, possibly causing those hooves to sink.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152673
152674
>>152672
Feeling he's got nothing to lose, Iron continues along with the dangerous task of crossing this long riverlet while checking if he had any sort of rope to throw at some sort of solid object on the other side and pull him towards the safe area once again.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152674
152675
>>152673
Iron isn't able to rope himself out, but fortunately that is not necessary. Iron makes it to the other side, albeit with a lot of mud on his hooves, and a wet and muddy chest.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152675
152676
>>152674
Breathing a small sigh of relief at his success, he soon goes to hide in the foliage once again before staring back at the two mares, wondering if they'll try their luck like he did or go for the bridge instead.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152676
152677
>>152675
The mares simply stare at him
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152677
152678
>>152676
Iron hums softly before once again checking if he had any rope on him or his mares at the moment. That way, they could guarantee their safety by pulling them out if they can't move.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152678
152679
>>152677
Iron does indeed have rope, carried in the pack
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152679
152680
>>152678
With that firmly established, Iron soon beckons Sands to start her own trek while he prepares the rope for a throw in case she needs a good tug. If nothing comes of it, the process will repeat with Cauldron as well.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152680
152681
>>152679
Sand’s eyes go wide. She places her mouth on the rope, and moves into the water.

[1d20 = 13]

[1d20+3 = (4+3) = 7]
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152681
152682
>>152680
White Sands moves into the water, finding it goes up to her chest (she is much smaller than Iron). She slips at one point, and falls into the water, getting fairly covered in mud. She fairs well in crossing the deep mud on the other side, perhaps because of her lower mass. She comes to the other side, her white coat half covered in mud.

Her eyes are wide, and she looks disturbed and frustrated.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152682
152683 152684 152685
>>152681
Iron chuckles lightly at her frustration. "Do not worry," he reassures Sands with a gentle pat on her head "I will make it up to you with a luxorious bath later."
With that established, he soon turns her attention towards Cauldron and proceeded to help her out the same way.
Anonymous
360d924
?
No.152683
152684 152685 152687
>>152682
White Sands closes her eyes and lowers her ears, as the petting brings mud to the top of her previously-mud-free mane and head. She scrunches.

Black Cauldron glares at Iron for some reason
Anonymous
360d924
?
No.152684
152685 152687
>>152682
>>152683
Though still glaring, she attempts a crossing, her mouth on the rope.

[1d20 = 18]
[1d20+1 = (4+1) = 5]
Anonymous
360d924
?
No.152685
152686 152687
>>152684
>>152683
>>152682
Black Cauldron wades through the water, pretty successfully st first, though it comes up to her belly. However, right at the end of the water, a hoof gets caught in the mud. She attempts to free herself, and succeeds. But this pushes another hoof into the mud, which in terms gets stuck. She pulls on the leg using the rope, and gets it out, but loses balance and falls

[1d20 = 11]
[1d10 = 10]
Anonymous
360d924
?
No.152686
152687
>>152685
Her pack falls onto the mud, though it looks like nothing falls out. She does, however, get mud all over her belly, and on the bottom of her pack… which in turn is placed in her back and side, and spreads more mud. Iron now has both mares muddy, but across.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152687
152688
>>152686
>>152685
>>152684
>>152683
The stallion breathes out a sigh of relief, glad to see nothing was seemingly lost aside from muddy coats that can be thoroughly washed off in the future before giving Cauldron a small peck on the cheek as she finally reached her destination. "Let us move," he commanded before allowing the zebra mare to take lead once again. Hopefully they should be close by.
Anonymous
360d924
?
No.152688
152689
>>152687
The ponies and zebra move once again, walking that thin line between the forest by the water, and the low grass that covers the mountainside. A path moves along a hillside above the waterside forest, with a few trees around it
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152689
152690
>>152688
If they are still travelling, Iron figures it would be a good time for a cursory cargo inspection.
"Cauldron," he whispers to the lead mare "check your pack to see if anything is missing. I will take point for the time being."
Anonymous
360d924
?
No.152690
152691
>>152689
“Uh, alright.” Black Cauldron says, stopping and sitting down, setting the pack to the side. Even now, her hooves are fairly caked in mud, and she spends a moment to wipe them off on the grass. She takes her hooves through the pack, and starts taking things out one at a time.

“Okay, canteen, iodine, clamp, metal stake… did one of the flaps go missing? And 30-30, that’s in there. But where did the 7 millimeter go? Now that I think about it, I’m not sure I brought any to begin with… here’s the chloroquine. Scalpel. And I thought we had more rubbing alcohol? Did it leak? No. I must have just used that much of it earlier…” she moves more items out, including a roll of several squares brown squares linked together, next to a small rectangular green box. This wouldn’t be of note, except that White Sands raises an eyebrow at it. Black Cauldron picks up the box and says “There’s the seven millimeter!”

White Sands says “Why did you bring that?
For s moment, Black Cauldron tilts her head, and points to the green box in her hoof. White Sands lowers head, and looks down to the roll of squares, and then back up to Black Cauldron. Black Cauldron’s mouth hangs open, and she’s silent for several seconds. Then she moves and leans forward

“You know what? I’ll show you. Give me that.”
She moves in, and physically picks the rifle off of Sand’s side. As the sling is still over her shoulder, it has to come over her head, and hits her ear and dishevels her mane in the process, prompting her to use magic to remove her mane from in front of her eyes.

Black Cauldron takes the rifle, which Iron can see has a small amount of mud on it, and sets it down in front of her. She picks up the roll, tears off one square, and with her mouth, tears into the square. The squares are revealed to be made of aluminum, with rubber circles within. She takes a circle, and carefully places it over the the end of the barrel of the gun, rolling it over the front site, barrel, and magazine tube, until the front portion of the gun is covered by the translucent rubber barrier.

“I really should have done this earlier. Before you went into the river. Could have gotten dirt inside of it. And…” she picks up the back end of the gun. “And why is the hammer cocked? This could have gone off if you fell.”

White Sands retorts.
“If it were cocked earlier, then Iron might not have been clawed by a, a big cat thing.”

And Black Cauldron
“Why didn’t you make sure it was cocked?!”

And White Sands,
Because I was watching a giant cat.”
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152691
152693
>>152690
Iron, who had mostly stayed on guard duty up until now, steps in with a smile. "I am pretty sure I was going to get clawed either way," he optimistically guesses with an understanding nod before patting Sands on the shoulder. "You can trust Cauldron's advice. She knows what she is talking about. Simply keep it in mind for next time, alright?"
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152693
152694
>>152691
White Sands lights up her horn, and green magic forms around Iron's hoof, pushing it off of her shoulder. It's a strange feeling, most like magnetism moving his hoof away. White Sands lowers her head and her ears, with a look of obvious displeasure, and then closes both eyes.

Iron's intervention, it seems, stops the argument, and Black Cauldron does not retort. She lowers the hammer on the rifle, and starts to place the pill container, the bottles, the sheathed scalpel, the boxes, and other items back within her pack.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152694
152695
>>152693
Iron really needed to make it up to Sands later when they get back. Hopefully she doesn't throw all of her money at her maternal figure when she gets back, because the unicorn required some mayor pampering and reassurance to bolster her spirits back up again.
Despite this, he waited for Cauldron to take the lead again while he hung back to stick next to White in case she needed to vent a little more.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.152695
152696
>>152694
White Sands remains physically lower, while Black Cauldron picks up the pack, and then the rifle, and is ready to move.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
?
No.152696
152697
>>152695
"Alright," Iron calls out to both mares "return to previous formation and let us continue moving."
After this, he hung back with Sands next to him rather than the usual line they were going, wondering what sort of instant action he could make to cheer her up.
Anonymous
c77989a
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No.152697
152698
>>152696
White Sands remains siting there, head lowered and eyes closed, for some moments. When it is obvious that the group is moving, and she can sit no longer, she stands, opening her eyes, and hanging in the back as best she can. White Sands has the whole time carried the least baggage of the three. This is true now more than ever as she does not have the cloth cover or the rifle, leaving her almost naked save for a simple tote bag. Her mane is wet and tangled, and her tail is much more so. She looks ahead, briefly looking to the side to confirm Iron's presence, and then looking down at the road some feet in front of her. Black Cauldron has firmly taken the lead.

As the ponies go further along the path, they come to what seems to be a collection of ruined buildings. Stone and mortar walls with no roofs, windows, or doors stand to the side of the path, sometimes collapsed in or out.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
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No.152698
152699
>>152697
Iron couldn't help but feel a sense of dread at the collection of ruins, reminded of that awful dream he had once, yet he still remains firmly on Sands' side with an understanding look that she's indeed having possibly one of the worst moments of her life at the moment. He hopes that the payout is enought to offset this, but he knows at this precise moment that future pampering was not a suggestion: It was a requirement to cheer her up when they get back home.

Iron tentatively looks over at the gloomy unicorn with a small pout on his face, avoiding any more physical contact since he was mostly muddy, before deciding to instead act out the part of a loyal bodyguard keeping her safe with a hawk-like eye to at least give her some comfort in that way.
Anonymous
c77989a
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No.152699
152700
>>152698
Sometimes the walls form a rectangle. Sometimes its a square. Most of the time, at least one wall is collapsed down to waste height, with grey bricks scattered along the ground. Often, even the bricks are gone, with a single stone and mortar wall standing three meters tall alone. There are no wooden doors, no roof tops, no glass windows, no iron and no tar - even if rarely stone floors, broken glass, clay roof tiles, and the termite eaten remains of wood can be seen littering the ground. There is, really, only lonely walls, holes in the ground that were once basements, and piles of bricks.

The ground is not even, as there are occasional dips in the ground, sometimes even sharply, with some dips forming holes. These changes in the elevation, would be nothing abnormal, as Iron and company are travelling along the side of a tall mountain, and the terrain slopes with their right tending to be higher than the left. These changes in elevation would be nothing of note, except that the brick walls sometimes collapse into them, with the sudden dips corresponding to collapsed walls, and the dirt pathway itself dipping sharply at one point, and then rising at another.

Two goats are seen grazing along the ruins near the pathway. Sometimes, empty glass bottles, or empty tin cans, or even a fish skeleton can be seen along this gallery of lonely walls.

Black Cauldron continues forward, looking backwards only once. White Sands seems to make an active effort to fall behind, with the distance between Cauldron and herself steadily growing.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
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No.152700
152701
>>152699
While a part of Iron is starting to get actively worried at Sands' continuous attempts to lag behind further and further, another was dead set on getting that money now. If she really wanted to dip out and go back to her comfortable zone, she would most likely lose the chance to claim the money for herself as well, so he was not too worried about her abandoning the operation.
Thus, with a heavy heart, Iron slowly but surely starts picking up the pace a little to pressure her into keeping up instead. If she ditches him, too, then it might actually be for the best.

Granted, he was still being careful not to accidentally slip and fall these confusing elevation changes thanks to concrete jungle inhabitants' interventions to this place, but he had to urge Sands to take the chance to impress her mother a lot more seriously.
Anonymous
c77989a
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No.152701
152702
>>152700
Can White Sands sense when her absence is desired by those around her as much or more than is her presence? Hard to say, but with Iron's increase in pace, he moves ahead of her, and loses line of sight.

The pathway takes a turn right, and up the mountain. Moving directly forward is open grass with many trees, mostly dead, and the ruins of what looks to be a former Equestrian church and a graveyard.

Black Cauldron looks back to speak
"We should cut through here. Keep as close as possible to the river."
Anonymous
2b54ef2
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No.152702
152703
>>152701
Perhaps this is what Sands needs right now: A moment to prove herself to at least him and Cauldron, where she can proudly say she accomplished something without either of their help. Granted, it was possible she would just simply not try to do so, but at this point in time, it's not like he can cheer her up without showing the goods.

"Got it," Iron agreed with Cauldron and ready to keep moving.
Anonymous
c77989a
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No.152703
152704
>>152702
In front of the church are a number of ruined sun-shaped stone grave markers, interspersed with stone markers, and traditional headstones. Many, probably about half, are knocked down, broken, or severely chipped. All are weathered, but some have markings on them still legible. The grave markers are ancient, numerous, and lumped fairly close together. There are no statues of alicorns, no grand mausoleums, and no ostentatious markers. All interred here must have been poor. Yet still, a surprising amount is left after the centuries, though it can hardly be known how many graves with decayed and lost markers exist, or those that never had markers.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
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No.152704
152705
>>152703
Iron briefly looked about in mild curiosity at this particular building, wondering who made this, but the fear of Sands getting lost and killed is somewhat on his mind to really appreciate all the interesting architecture. Deep down, however, he knew the unicorn mare really needed an achievement to be proud of so she could feel better about herself, and just being there to console her isn't going to cut it.

The native needed that money, and he needed it as soon as possible.
Anonymous
c77989a
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No.152705
152706
>>152704
The church and churchyard exist on a hill over the riverside and its forest. Though the group now travels outside, more exposed to the air, they have not moved far from travelling by water. Black Cauldron seems to ponder for a moment whether to go to the left of, or inside the church, but for some reason seems to decide to travel inside of the ruined structure.

This is the largest structure they have seen since they left Estruendo, quite longer than any rectangle Iron has seen thus far, and by a massive margin. Its walls are made of actual stone, and the exterior includes the ribs of loadbearing arches for the former vaulted roof. The church clearly had a gothic, or neogothic design. The arched door front still remains. Going through the front door, Iron - and Black Cauldron, who slows down to look at her surroundings - can see that while the center of the roof has collapsed in, portions of the vaulted ceiling remain, still held by stone. The ground is not quite even, entirely littered with roof tiles, loose stones, and other debris. To each side are large gaps where stained glass panels once stood, and in a very few places, fragments of glass still remain in the window frames, tinted a strange, dark purple color either by design or by decay. Also littered along the floor are a few more modern glass bottles, and a cat of tuna with a weathered label.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
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No.152706
152707
>>152705
Iron hums in pensive wonder, trying to continue thinking about what sort of history this place had in order to distract himself from his worry. However, he soon starts to ponder if Cauldron had gone in here just to sate her own curiosity of what this place held, yet he keeps quiet for the time being. She might as well do a little sightseeing while they were there.
Anonymous
c77989a
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No.152707
152708
>>152706
The creatures go along, past piles of debris where pews once stood, and towards the former place of the altar. Even now, the rising stone floor remains, and the two go up it, and to the back. The back of the church is more complex in its construction, with multiple stone walls still standing. Black Cauldron slows down, and even stops, taking a peak into the backrooms that remain, if only for a moment. Then she continues onward, out a door in the back, and past a collapsed spire, with one spire still standing.

Behind the church is a much larger churchyard. There are again stone suns with weathered names, and numerous small stone memorials closely spaced together, with but a name and a single year marked on them. There is again another dip in the ground, and multiple stone sun markers fallen into it.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
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No.152708
152709
>>152707
Iron cautiously looks about, unsure of what to say or do at the moment, simply wanting to get to the goods at this point in order to potentially lure Sands back with the promise of riches.
Anonymous
c77989a
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No.152709
152710
>>152708
There is a sound of talking. Sounds like it's coming from the right, and maybe slightly behind them. Iron is out in the open right now, as is Cauldron
Anonymous
2b54ef2
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No.152710
152711
>>152709
First and foremost, they would not hear chatter coming from behind them if they wanted to ambush them, so it was unlikely that was going to happen unless these were the worst banditos ever. Thus, he tries to focus on finding some cover on the other side of wherever Cauldron is currently going rather than retreat back to the church.
Anonymous
c77989a
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No.152711
152712
>>152710
Iron and Cauldron are out in the open, and in a very large open area. The dip and the headstones provide potential limited cover if strictly necessary. Black Cauldron seems to be heading towards a line of trees, which in turn go down a slope and evidently to some structure by the river.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
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No.152712
152713
>>152711
Iron wholeheartedly agrees with Cauldron's direction, going right alongside her in order to get to this suppose quiksilver that would give him some good money.
Anonymous
c77989a
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No.152713
152714
>>152712
The two dive into the tree line quickly, past stumpy and dead trees, and live trees with obnoxious branches. In front of them is another large building by the river front, made of brick. This building differs from those that came before in that portions of its roof, tar coated and sloped, still exist. It appears to be several stories tall, and is immediately adjacent to the river, with a few square holes that were once windows.
Anonymous
2b54ef2
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No.152714
152715
>>152713
"How long until we get there?" Iron whispered Cauldron as they continue to travel along the path.