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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.
1937 replies and 33 files omitted.
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
?
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
?
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
?
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
?
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
?
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
?
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
?
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
?
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
?
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
?
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
?
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
?
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
?
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
?
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
?
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
?
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
?
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
?
No.152714
152715
>>152713
"How long until we get there?" Iron whispered Cauldron as they continue to travel along the path.