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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.
1722 replies and 32 files omitted.
Anonymous
43f4ff2
?
No.151518
151519
>>151517
Silence for a moment, but then
“Can we… how much is expected?”
Anonymous
75dbda1
?
No.151519
151520
>>151518
Iron shakes his head, causing her coat to split from side to side.
Anonymous
43f4ff2
?
No.151520
151521
>>151519
The hairs are a few inches long in a few places.

“Alright…”
She says, making an expression between a wince and a smile.
Anonymous
75dbda1
?
No.151521
151523 151530
>>151520
Iron, unable to really cheer her up until he knows as well, simply continues hugging Sands for a while as the train continues humming along.
Anonymous
43f4ff2
?
No.151523
151530
>>151521
The little pony is hugged. After some time, she lays her head on Iron, pressing into his fur.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.151525
151526
>>151205
The pony takes a moment, slightly rocking back and forth, looking at Spark. After continued silence, he says
"Let me talk to the other attendant."

And walks away.
Shimmering Spark
3046ecd
?
No.151526
151668 151669
>>151525
Whew.
Spark looks back over to the others.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.151530
151531
>>151521
>>151523
The train keeps moving, and the the scenery outside moves in kind. Sometimes the trees are so tall, and so close to the tracks, that they block out the sky and dim the room. Sometimes the train rises high above them, riding the edge of a rising hill. The terrain becomes increasingly uneven as time progresses, with tree covered hills and ravines between, and tall rock formations that stick out like jagged teeth.

Though wild landscape of green, broadleaf trees with occasional rivers and naked rock predominates, civilization seeps through. Roads that cut through the forest are sometimes visible directly, and sometimes through the gaps in the canopy. High tension powerlines follow the ridge of a hill. The flow of trees are sometimes interrupted by great fields of maze, or of monotonous rows of trees surely belonging to plantations. Houses and mills are scarce, but neither are they non-existent, and it is at a cluster of these houses that the train comes to a stop, and Black Cauldron awakes, observing her surroundings.

"This isn't it. This isn't Estruendo. They would notify us otherwise." She looks over to White Sands, still sitting in the chair. She blinks, and opens the door to the small lavatory. She does not go in, but pulls out the sleeping bag, and unrolls it to reveal the lever-gun.

"Have you ever used one of these?"

White Sands blinks, and seems to take a moment to realize that Black Cauldron is speaking to her.

"No. No, I haven't."

Black Cauldron tells her,
"Then let me show you how to handle one."

She replies,
"Do I really need to though? Is it really going to be that dangerous?"

Almost irritated,
"If it is, then I promise you the danger will respect you more if you are holding this than if you are just standing there looking pretty. We're not committing armed robbery, at least I don't expect we will need, but neither are we going to the opera. This isn't exactly a trip to the boutique, and I have no intention of being robbed myself. You chose to come along. Now listen as I tell you how this thing works."

"Uh... okay." Sands says, blinking

Black Cauldron goes over the mechanics of the firearm with White Sands, who seems to understand what she is told. Black Cauldron closes the curtain, and White Sands operates the lever, aims, and dryfires the gun at the wall.
Anonymous
e744617
?
No.151531
151532
>>151530
Iron simply lets Sands and Cauldron go over the basics of firearm functions as he stares at the frankly nostalgic feeling of being back in his natural habitat. He wonders if he would be able to find a fellow native to spar with during their journey just to relive the times of his foalhood.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.151532
151533
>>151531
Black Cauldron does not end it there. She tells White Sands some of the basics of where they are going, and what they are doing.

Whether the land outside is inhabited by ponies much like Iron, by Equestrian colonials, or belongs wholly to nature, Iron can only guess. Forest is the norm, though occasionally there are clearings with either naked mud, or the more common groupings of young trees. In one area, saplings stretch as far as the eye can see, until the train moves on. Maize and other food crops, like those planted by Iron's kin, are far from uncommon, but neither are the larger plantations of fruit trees.

There is a definite shift in scenery as rolling hills give way to sharper, taller, and more common mountains in definite formations, with the railroad winding its way through the valleys. Many of these extend far up the field of view, with high, naked rock crests and shorter trees higher up. Some seem terraced with coffee plantations, while most remain in their natural form. The train stops along one line on a split in the track, evidently for water, and then once more in a mountain town. The train rolls on.
Anonymous
e744617
?
No.151533
151534
>>151532
Iron was partly glad Cauldron took the moment to explain Sands the mission he wasn't overly sure about aside getting that quiksilver thing. However, he hopes the unicorn didn't try to back out after hearing the terms.

For now, however, he stares at the changing scenery in awe, his exploratory self starting to worm out to the surface in excitement. Who would've guessed mountains have so much life?
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.151534
151535
>>151533
White Sands seems apprehensive at some details, and accepting of others. From what she relates back to Black Cauldron, it seems she's convinced herself that the operation is simply about pulling containers out of a river bed, and bringing them back. It is, after all, not an armed robbery.

The train passes through small forests between mountains, and under cloud and mist that extends halfway up the mountain slopes. The elevation is much higher here, and the mountains are snowcapped at their peaks, with the great ranges extending in every direction as far as the eye can see. Trees become sparse, and localized to breaks in the mountains, streams and lower areas. Grass and shrubs become more common. Sections of mountainside are terraced with potato fields and small huts; there can be no question as to whether these farms belong to the original pony inhabitants of the region.

Ponies are not, however, alone, as at one point Iron can definitely see an adult dragon in flight somewhere above the train. The large creature appears greenish-brown, though its hard to tell in the light, and even harder to gauge the creature's surely colossal size. Several more admittedly smaller, but surely enormous creatures pass likewise. One must be a smaller dragon - "small" being a relative term" - and an eagle of surely immense size. What seems to be a pony - batwinged, it appears - glides low down a cliffside in one area, while pony farmers can be spotted on occasion in fields or along dirt roads. What seems to be a pair of diamond dogs collect water from a small rocky river parallel to the train. Wild animals and livestock don't tend to linger in the open close enough to be discerned, though goats and sheep roam in herds, and a boar and several guanacos are spotted.

Gradually the trees recede, then the shrubs, giving way to Alpine tundra as the train climbs higher. Grass, cut by occasional shrubs and trees.

The train stops.

Black Cauldron says,
"We're here. Estruendo."
Anonymous
e744617
?
No.151535
151536
>>151534
Iron, previously mesmerized by all the life in such high places he hadn't gone before, blinked out of it when Cauldron says her words before turning back to the two mares. "What?" he uttered out, a little breathless from the journey.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.151536
151537
>>151535
Black Cauldron picks up a saddlebag.

"We're here. This is our stop. Come on."
Anonymous
e744617
?
No.151537
151538 151539
>>151536
"R-right!" Iron exclaimed in realization before trotting over to pick up the rest of the stuff.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.151538
151539 151540
>>151537
The view outside the window is boxcars on a train on an opposite track, though Iron could see buildings before the train came to a stop.

Black Cauldron grabs as much as she can as quickly as she can, while White Sands grabs a few items at least, including the "sleeping bag."
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.151539
151540
>>151538
>>151537
And the two mares exit the room, go down the narrow corridor, and exit onto the wooden platform outside.
Anonymous
e744617
?
No.151540
151542
>>151539
>>151538
Iron was quick to follow them, excitement, anxiousness and awe all mixed into one little expression as they ventured forth towards the new yet old sights he grew to miss thanks to days in the comfortable yet boring concrete jungle.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.151542
151543
>>151540
Stepping out of the train, Iron finds himself on a wooden platform with a wooden roof, but otherwise open to the air, and a view of high hills to the far left and far right. Some ponies, though not many, exit the train with the trio. Most by far are continuing on to a different destination. There is only the one platform, at least for passengers, and mail is seen loaded onto a far car, as well as coal onto the tender. Entering into the station, Iron can see it is made of wood, with a large lobby. The station is large compared to most buildings Iron has ever stepped hoof in, approximately the equal of Hoebuck. But the station is far smaller than Union Station of Baltimare, lacking both the size and ostentation. Inside there is an area for tickets, a coffee shop, a map of the area with a rack of smaller maps, and several rocks in a display case.
Anonymous
e744617
?
No.151543
151544
>>151542
Iron's eyes dart around enthusiastically, ready to traverse Cauldron's presumed path towards their real destination they stopped here for.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.151544
151545
>>151543
About one, two, three rocks. They are rather pretty, colored with minerals. Black Cauldron takes a map, and continues towards the door. Near the entrance the group passes blue tile artwork depicting what appear to be industrial processes, mining, and other scenes in life.

Exiting the station, Iron can see a large town spanning much of his field of view with buildings of one or two stories, with walls of either beige stone or whitewash, all topped with sloping roofs of red ceramic tile. The rectangular towers of a church, and the higher floors of a hotel in the fore, and what surely must be a government building further away, stand higher above the roofline than most. The roadway before the group is stone, very old and with distinct ruts worn and eroded into the stone, with small pools of water in some locations, and an uneven pattern of various colors, mostly beige or grey, but sometimes red. To the far left and far right of the group are the brown tops of hills that rise over the town.

But above all, dominating the town and looming over it is a large, tall, cone-shaped mountain behind the town. The mountain stands apart from the other mountains of the range, so that no part of its base touches another. Its peak is decidedly snow covered. The slope is somewhat gentle, as it has a wide base. White on the top, beige in color in the main, brown in areas, the mountain has distinct black strips that run down the side of the mountain between folds on the surface, evidently following streams and rivulets. Though it is hard to see from a distance, the mountain is studded with rail lines and small structures, and peppered with holes. Much of the mountain is bare rock, more so than the hills surrounding it.

Black Cauldron runs purposefully down the steps into the city. White Sands stops after exiting the structure, taking a moment to stop and look around. Black Cauldron does not progress far before she too, stops and looks around. Of in the distance is the sound of metal pounding against rock.
Anonymous
e744617
?
No.151545
151546
>>151544
Iron stops inbetween both mares, glancing at them in mild puzzlement: They seemed to be looking for something in particular. It would seem we need to acclimatize ourselves to this mountanous tribe before we can proceed, he mused to himself.
Thus, he starts looking around, wondering what exactly he should find.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.151546
151547
>>151545
Black Cauldron looks up, and at the mountain.

"There it is. The Cerro Llorando. In a river on the other side. That's where we'll find it." She starts forward. White Sands looks around disinterestedly, then starts to follow Cauldron.

A few ponies walk on the streets. Not many, but a few. Black Cauldron, White Sands, and Iron stand out. Mostly this is because of the gear they carry, but even then they stand out. White Sands, with all her fur, is unusual looking for a unicorn, and there are no unicorns. There are certainly no zebras. Iron would fit in, save for his massive size and muscles that make him distinct in any crowd.

Some buildings seem abandoned, either deteriorated or with boarded up windows. The population of the town seems lower than its structures would imply.
Anonymous
e744617
?
No.151547
151550
>>151546
Iron didn't mind standing out at the moment, although he was a little bummed out to discover the denizens here weren't exactly built like him. He wondered if all the ripped ponies were at the top of the mountain or something.
Regardless, he followed Cauldron so long as Sands was in front of him, always keeping an eye on both mares so as to step in for any thugs and the like.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.151550
151552
>>151547
White Sands walks somewhat slowly, and cautiously. Walking behind her requires very deliberate steps.

Further along , ponies walk wearing brightly colored woven clothing, or water proof coats in some instances. These are a bit more like Iron, with greater muscle, sturdier build, and more seasoned faces. A few take notice of the interlopers. Most continue about their business.

Black Cauldron walks with haste
Anonymous
e744617
?
No.151552
151556
>>151550
Iron raises an eyebrow slightly at Sands' slow movements, wondering what made her coat hairs stand on end.
He nonetheless tried to both keep Cauldron's pace while also staying behind Sands.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.151556
151557
>>151552
Black Cauldron proceeds at a fast pace. White Sands follows.

The town is rather large. It is not the equal of Baltimare, but it is surely the equal of one of Baltimare's east-side neighborhoods. The ponies pass an old stone church with great mission bells and an arched entrance. They pass a fountain with the figure of who must surely be a historical personage. They pass a large, white walled three story building with Doric columns and iron-barred balconies labeled as a National Mint; they pass all of these, besides many shops, and an open air market with many stalls. Black Cauldron continues forward, not wishing to stop.

She says to Iron,
"Do you know what this place is?"
Anonymous
e744617
?
No.151557
151558
>>151556
Iron simply shakes his head, simply following Cauldron while behind Sands.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.151558
151559
>>151557
"Well, I only read a little from the material, but this place is the largest single source of silver in all of Equestria. Perhps the world. It comes from that mountain. The Kunti Amaru, or the 'Cerro Llorando' it is called, 'weeping hill,' supposedly after some native legend about a mare who sacrificed her own daughter on the hill. Another source says it is so called for all the ponies to die in the mines and mills, while another says the name is more modern, named after the black scars on the surface left over from mining, which look like tear trails. Anyways, this place was claimed by dragons, by diamond dogs, and by more than one group of native ponies, before Equestria got a hold of it a few centuries ago. They began mass mining and made this town. The mountain has never been mined out, but many individual mines into the mountain have exhausted seams. Mining has gone down with lower prices in recent decades, and was curtailed during the war. The town has declined since then.

Anyways, extracting the silver from the ore requires mercury. Large amounts of mercury. There's a mill for a set of mines over on the other side of the mountain. A little less than a century ago, a cart carrying several large iron flasks of mercury was being pulled across a tailings dump, when the pile collapsed and sent the cart into the river. Maybe a year ago, there was a flash flood that apparently moved much of the dirt that was burying the flasks, and with the low water level now they are apparently visible in the river at times. Mercury is apparently used in explosive primers for things like bombs and mortars, so the price has more than doubled in the last few years. Just recovering one of those flasks would yield a nice profit, but I hope to recover two, if we can."
Anonymous
e744617
?
No.151559
151560
>>151558
"Quite the tragic town," Iron mused softly, nodding softly. "I am betting the ghost of that mare is somehow haunting the place to make it miserable."
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.151560
151561
>>151559
"No need for ghosts and curses. Mining is dangerous enough, with falls and hard labor, as well as breathing in rock dust. Mercury poisoning from the milling probably killed more than anything else. Lets hope those flasks aren't damaged or overly rusted."

White Sands has her own comment:
"Tragic? Quite fortunate for us, for money to be laying out in the open. What I want to know is who else knows, and why have they not already recovered it?"

"Uh, well, our source told us promptly. We should be the first ponies outside of the area to know..." Black Cauldron answers, not persuaded of her own words

White Sands turns to her, and raises an eyebrow.
Anonymous
e744617
?
No.151561
151562
>>151560
Iron nods, not really grasping such drastic effects in his head yet understanding the fatality rate here is still quite high due to the mine business.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.151562
151563
>>151561
Black Cauldron recovers:
"Well, you see, it's not enough to have the flasks. You need the contact to sell them to. That's where we have our advantage."

White Sands pushes back, still skeptical
"Is it really that hard to find someone who wants to buy mercury?"

"Only large factories and chemical plants have enough demand."

"But are they really so selective they will only buy it from a very specific set of criminals? It's supposed to be a rare and essential material after all."

"Well..." Black Cauldron turns her head forward, lowers her ears, and briefly glances her eyes (but not her head) to White Sands, whipping her tail

"Just be sure to get the flasks first. It's this way. Once we get through the town, we are going to follow a small valley around the mountain. That area is comparatively wild, and should avoid us being seen by other ponies. It'll take us to the river, ultimately."
Anonymous
e744617
?
No.151563
151564
>>151562
Iron couldn't help but break into a smile, happy to hear they would scamper around in the wild like he used to do in his foalhood. "Do you think we will get to meet the Wirraway here?" the stallion asked out loud in his excitement.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.151564
151565
>>151563
It’s not Black Cauldron, but White Sands who responds:

“What?”

The group takes a left turn through more buildings, some abandoned, some still occupied by earth ponies, pegasi and Diamond dogs who occasionally turn to watch the ponies pass through. The rough stone roads are now as often unpaved dirt, and the group descend, as if down a hillside.
Anonymous
e744617
?
No.151565
151566
>>151564
Iron giggles in anticipation, walking at a gingerly pace along the sketchier part of town. "I saw it in the jungle once," he explained. "A metallic shaped deity ruling over a lake."
He soon turned to Cauldron. "You remember that, right?" he asked, hoping she recalled such an event.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.151566
151567
>>151565
White Sands blinks.
“What.”

Black Cauldron tilts her head, and looks to the left, her right ear flopping down. She gives Iron a sort of smile.
Anonymous
e744617
?
No.151567
151568
>>151566
Iron chuckled further at her reaction before shaking his head. "It is nothing, really," he admits softly, patting Sands on the head and standing next to her as a consequence. "Just something I recalled."
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.151568
151569
>>151567
White Sands is pat, with both ears falling down as she mumbled something about “cargo cults.”

The buildings thin out, and enclosed lots with small houses and goats become a new norm, before the dirt trail continues past the rows of houses, giving way to open fields. Going further down, there are bushes, higher grass, and trees. Though it is no jungle, it is a sharp change from the urban landscape before, snd both mares show signs of discomfort at the change.
Anonymous
e744617
?
No.151569
151571
>>151568
Iron, meanwhile, could not help but gain a spring on his step, actually hopping faster to instead be next to Cauldron. "I cannot wait to see all the different kinds of things this natural forest holds," he enthusiastically declared, giddy with excitement.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.151571
151572
>>151569
Black Cauldron looks to Iron with turned ears and wide eyes,
"huh?"

The group continues until they come to the side of a small river. The location is far from a jungle; the trees are thin, short, few in number, and of a subtropical broadleaf variation m0re akin to the trees seen before than to a rainforest. The water of the small river is thick with silt, unsuited for drinking, and farm houses at higher elevations can still be seen through breaks in the trees.

Still, the group is comparatively alone, and Sands especially looks uneasy.
Anonymous
e744617
?
No.151572
151575
>>151571
Iron darts his eyes about, letting out a soft 'wow' as they walked the trail, soaking all these visuals with his eyes. "Is it weird of me to think this place looks so similar to my home yet different?" he uttered out loud to nopony in particular, enjoying their little trip towards the river.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.151575
152563
>>151572
Almost blankly, Black Cauldron replies
“I can’t say it looks similar to my home at all…”

White Sands remarks
“It’s cooler than I was expecting.”

The patch of woods is small, entirely clustered around the water, but still very much present with smaller trees, and a few older, taller, dead ones. The town, higher on the hill, starts to recede behind them. Signs of artifice never fully vanish in this valley between the hills, with the mountainside still filling the right horizon. Yet it does, however, become far enough away that all detail vanishes, and individual creatures appear only as dots in the distance. Movement in the tall grass suggests a rodent, one of the first signs of wildlife.
Silver "The Floof" Sword
212df33
?
No.151580
151582
Everyone in this thread is an adorable little pony.
Silver "The Floof" Sword
212df33
?
No.151582
>>151580
Everyone in this thread is still an adorable little pony.
Anonymous
c77989a
?
No.151584
151586
>>151502
Silver sees Jubilosa standing by the bar-top, holding a cup of coffee.
Silver "The Floof" Sword
212df33
?
No.151586
151587
>>151584
Silver trots over to his lovely dove, and givers her a big ol' hug from behind.

"Do not think I have forgotten about you, Jubee."
Anonymous
18911b7
?
No.151587
151588
>>151586
Big, and feathery.
Griffin is hugged

There is no reply. She attemptsanother sip
Silver "The Floof" Sword
212df33
?
No.151588
151589
>>151587
He looks up at his feather griffon.

"Are you okay? You are rather silent."
Anonymous
18911b7
?
No.151589
151590
>>151588
“It’s okay.” She slurs these words, as if grating. She places a claw up to her temple.