HORSE-PLAY
Introduction
Art Gallery

Campaign 1:
The Nightmare Ritual


Character Sheets
Session 1
Session 2
Session 3
Session 4

Campaign 2:
Fatebreaker


Character Sheets
Session 1
Session 2

The Nightmare Ritual: Session 2

Word Count: ~4.5k

Content Warnings: Blood, Strangulation, Fire



***


"Which key are you going to use?" Worry Wart asks. "It's hard to tell what color these chains are with the, uh... green-ish glow. Maybe golden?" He kind of half shrugs.

Occam:
"I think this is, like, painted gold, though? Or plastic or something?" This all seems really weird. "I think the silver one is more likely for this, I dunno. Wait, why would you even ask that? If one doesn't work, I'll use the other one, silly!" It's a bit high, so she flies up and reaches out (thanks, talons) to deftly put the silver key in the lock.


Gloria gets a bad, bad feeling as the silver key gets closer to the lock. It just seems wrong somehow.

("Griffon Sense" Talent, Counter: 1/8)

Occam:
"Yikes! Uh...mayyybe not this one. Actually, guys?" Come to think of it, that was weird--both of the keys had been together after all. She dropped back down. "Don't ask me how I know this, but I don't think the keys are for this lock. At least, not when it's magicked up. But you're right, Mwezi, we shouldn't go over it all careless and stuff. I'm going to hold onto these...anyone else got ideas?"


Iris:
Sunsteel taps her chin thoughtfully. She really wants to make a good impression.

"Well," she says after a moment to ponder, "I tried throwing stuff. That just leaves ‘setting stuff on fire'. I'm not sure how that would help, but it's never failed me before!"


Dawn:
Mwezi springs forward, waving her hooves. "Let's not set things on fire yet, hmm? We still have the map and the entire perimeter of the fairgrounds we haven't explored." She cast a forlorn glance at the moon hanging in the sky, biting her lip. "We still have time. Should we split up, or stick together?"


"Stick together!" Worry Wart blurts.

"I.... I don't- I think it would be safer, for everypony, to stick together." He trembles a bit.

Occam:
"Yeah...bad things tend to happen to people who get separated after dark on spooky nights. In Griffonstone, at least...heh...kinda...got monsters nearby and all." Oh, that wasn't helping.

"UM ANYWAY, if we don't use the scaffolding, maybe there's a weak point around here somewhere?"


Iris:
"Yea, we gotta stick together 'cuz we're a team!" Sunsteel proudly declares, grabbing both her companions into what to her is meant to be a hug but to them is more of a headlock.

"So let's look around and find something flammable, huh?"


Dawn:
Mwezi had come to understand Kirin headlocks as a token of 'friendship' and 'admiration' but that wasn't going to stop her from wiggling out as soon as she could.

Brushing herself off, she considered the map at hoof. "It's... all covered in thornbale, isn't it. Gloria, do you think you could fly above the treeline and look around?"


"Maybe you could fly over the fence and unlock from the inside?" Worry Wart suggests.

Occam:
Gloria enjoyed it, it was nice attention from the only other person in town with her energy level! But she still separated, giggling just a bit, and trying to remind her self that they were in a Serious Situation. (With mixed results.)

"Huh, I guess it is. Never really came out here much! 'Cause...why would I? Well, tell you what, I'll fly up and give it a look and if I don't see anything too dangerous I'll land and try to give it an open! Roger roger!"


(Talent: Fly. Roll: 4 + 1)

(Talent: Fly, Roll: 2)

Gloria shoots up into the sky. From this view point, she can see a flock of strange, artificial birds resting on the top of the fence. One sees her, squawks, and flaps into action. The burlap-looking crow tries to dive-bomb Gloria, right in the face, but misses and crashes into the ground. The other crows jabber and chirp, hopping around excitedly.

Worry Wart jumps back as the fallen crow lands in the dirt. "What is that?!" He spits. "What's up there?!"

Occam:
"Gahhh! Birds!" Maybe an ironic thing for her to be freaked out by, but, ever the showboat, she does a loop around and comes back down.

"These things!" She points. "They're guarding the top of the fence. They're like...like scary-crows!"

"I could...probably get around them, but I'd need a distraction."


Iris:
"Hm, Plan A would definitely be setting all the birds, and probably also the fence on fire..." Sunsteel looked up at the fence; it felt much taller and more imposing than she'd have like.

Normally she wouldn't think twice about jumping right into ‘Plan A' but after two failures in a row she was a bit more hesitant.

"Okay, how about a modest fireworks display?" Sunsteel turned to her friends and asked. "Would that be distracting enough?"


Dawn:
Mwezi tried to connect 'modest' and 'fireworks display' and with Sunsteel involved she struggled to make the link. Still, her specialty was being as not distracting as possible so if somecreature else wanted to make a little noise, who was she to stop them?

"I'm all for it. While you keep the birds occupied and Gloria goes for the lock, I'll try and keep her hidden with my magic. Sound like a plan?"


Worry Wart is silent for a moment. His face seems like a mix of confusion and awe. "That... sounds like a great plan!!" He smiles, but a dark smugness comes to his face, "I can tell your the natural leader of this... group."

Occam:
"Aha, that sounds like it would work! Nothing freaks out people flying more than setting off fireworks near them. Learned that the hard way."

She thinks for a second. "Althouuugh...it might make Mr. Bad Guy there realize we're here..." Then shrugs. "But he probably already does when he hears the birds going nuts, so let's hurry!"


(Talent: Fly, Roll: 6 + 1)

(Talent: Dancing Shadows, Roll: 4)

(Talent: Fire Control, Roll: 4)


The sparks start to fly from Sunsteel's mane, snapping and crackling, hissing and popping. The scary-crows screech in horrific unison and seem to fall backward in side the fence with very little other movement. It's almost like they just... stopped being alive.

Gloria flies like a lightning bolt- up and over the fence and even past the falling crows. She is surrounded by darkness and so quick it'd be hard to see her anyways.

Worry Wart closes his eyes in fear.

On the other side, Gloria, the door is not chained shut at all. It looks like it's merely closed from your point, with a hinge that swings outward toward your friends.

Occam:
"Well...that was weird." Cautiously, Gloria pokes one of the crows with a toe, and assuming no further movement, she just shrugs and...opens the door wide, with a customary, almost unconscious dramatic flourish. "We're in!"


The locks seem to dissolve as the gates open, disappearing completely. They rattle and creek, but open fine.

Worry Wart's jaw drops. "You- you did it!" He cheers.

The un-moving stuffed crows litter the entrance. Beyond that are some ruins of game stalls, mostly with nothing inside, just empty stalls. There is a skipping carnival music track that plays, sometimes scratching with static. It's quiet enough not too be too much of a skin-crawl.

To your left, you can see a sign that says "Food Court." To you right, a sign points toward a musky building labeled "Petting Zoo." There is a third sign, pointing past the game stalls. "Big Tent."

Occaam:
Gloria strikes a proud pose. "It was nothing! ...uh, really." Then her attention is taken up by the mass of the dark carnival.

"Now if I were an evil mastermind, where would I hide..."


Iris:
"Big Tent sounds ominous," Sunsteel says with barely restrained glee as she hops through the open gate, "and ominous places are where evil people hang out! So..."


Dawn:
Mwezi follows them in, gritting her teeth. She didn't like this place, she didn't like the weird birds, and she was starting to not like Worry Wart. Still, they had got in due to Gloria and Sunsteel's help so...

"Good job, both of you. I forget what Kirin fire looks like sometimes."

Mwezi studied the map, checking it against the physical layout of the fairgrounds. "Maybe start at the perimeter and work our way around? If we place the fence on one of our sides, we've got less of a chance of getting surrounded."


"We need to find the sacrifices..." Worry Wart chimed in. "We have to make sure they're safe!"

Dawn:
Mwezi waved him off. "We can't find the sacrifices if we're dead. I'd rather not walk straight into an ambush."


Occam:
"That is a good point..." But the griffon was already drifting towards the game stalls.

Maybe that was where those crow-things came from. Plus it was as good a place as any to start searching, from there they go could go to the barn, right?


Iris:
"Oh yea, I guess I got a wee bit ahead of myself," Sunsteel chuckled, her hooves stamping excitedly against the ground. She was chomping at the bit to get her hooves bloody on some Evil faces, but Mwezi had a good point. Safety first and all that.

"Let's start with the barn, make a quick loop around, and if we don't run into anyone, then we roll into the Big Tent and knock some heads around!"


"Lead the way, then." Worry Wart gestures at Sunsteel.

"I'll... I'll stay in the back of the group." He kind of sputter-coughs. "By the fence."

Iris:
Sunsteel looks back at him, her hackles raised and she's not sure why. Paranoia maybe? Didn't matter.

"You super sure about that?" she asks him. "You'd definitely be safer sticking with us, I think."


"No, I'll travel with you!" He seems offended.

"Of course, no I just mean... I'll be in the back of the group. With the group, in the back."

Occam:
"Yeah. Could be monsters, remember? Or--you know, just evil bad guy. ...Oh! Right. I mean, I guess just whistle if you need saving?" Her wings helpfully flapped.


"I will... and that evil bad guy... he was my best friend once." Worry Wart kind of kicks at the dirt and mutters.

Occam:
Oh right. She was still new here. Gloria pats him on the shoulder.


Dawn:
"You should get better friends, like us. We don't kidnap ponies and plan to kill them."

Mwezi looked around conspiratorially, drawing her hood over her face as she leaned in close to Worry. "Not yet at least."


Iris:
"You should definitely stick to the center of our little group though, just to be safe!" Sunsteel insists, pushing Worry Wart with her hooves. She really didn't want to lose sight of him; it was bad manners not to make absolutely sure that non-combatants were kept safe.

"Ooh! Or better yet!" Sunsteel's horn glows with magic that wraps around Worry Wart's body.


(Talent: Telekinesis, Roll: 2)

(Talent: Telekinesis, Roll: 5)

Worry Wart uses his own unicorn magic to block Sunsteel's telekinetic grip. "Woah! Hey!" He hisses. "I'll... I'll just walk, you don't need to grab me!"

He glares at Mwezi, guessing (and hoping) she is joking in a cruel way. "I'm trying to do the right thing. I didn't think Death Rattle would- go this far. Look, lets just try to find the ponies and help them, okay?"

Worry Wart walks to the center of the group. "Come on. Barn is this way."

(1 Body Chip in the Communal Pile)

Occam:
Having done her bit to be sympathetic, Gloria was currently scanning the various prizes hanging on display from the game stalls, assuming there were any left--hopefully a few undestroyed, she'd like to have "we saved you" souvenirs to hand out afterwards.

She glanced up, though, and got back to it. "Oh--yeah, right, we're on it!"


Dawn:
Mwezi draws her staff close to her, falling to the rear of the group. She was handy in a scarp, that much was certain, but she wanted to get as far as she could without having to smack anycreature with a stick. Just cus she was good at violence didn't mean she had to like it.

"Keep an ear out and keep the chatter to a minimum."


Iris:
"My ears are OUT! And my chatters are MINIMUM!" Sunsteel grins brightly, walking alongside Mwezi, and understanding the letter of her words, if not quite the spirit.


As the group gets closer to the barn, you can see that there is a little bit of a gap between the musty, damp wooden barn and the small, knee-high fence that runs around it. There were definitely some kind of animals here once... it stinks like fur, sweat, and dung.

Probably the most catching thing is a voice, calling from the far side of the barn you can't see- "Somebody help me! Owch! HELP! Anybody! Help!! Owch!"

There is a rattling and clacking noise the accompanies the screaming.

Occam:
"Ohhh, that can't be good. I think we just found a hostage...who wants to go first and take a look? Sounds like they're tied up..."


Dawn:
"I've got it." Mwezi was admittedly loathe to leave the side of Sunsteel. Her circulation was bad and the warmth of the Kirin helped.

Dropping low to the ground, she slunk forward. Her ears were on high alert, flicking in the cool autumn air. She approached the gap in the barn as quiet as she could, hoping to get a look inside.


Mwezi, as you get closer, you see the back side of those glowing chains again. They're wrapped around the barn, and nearly strangling a female pegasus in their grip.

She's chained against the barn doors, which seem to be shaking and breaking from a force on the inside.

The pegasus hasn't noticed you yet, however, and keeps shouting. "HELP ME!"

Dawn:
Mwezi whips her head back to the group, ears plastered against the side of her head. Hearing about ponies in danger was one thing, but actually seeing it? That was something else entirely.

"Chains. Wrapped around the barn. There's a pegasus in there, she's caught in the chains. I don't have many ideas. Is the roof accessible?"


Occam:
"What? That's crazy! I'll take a look!" That seemed to have put Gloria in a state of at least.

Attempting to be Competent, too, seeing that it was an actual threat. She made for the roof in a relatively quick flight-hop, not actually landing on it in case it collapsed.


(Talent: Fly. Roll: 1 + 1)

(1 Body Chip, 1 Charm Chip in the Communal Pile)

Gloria spreads her wings and takes flight, but the outstretched wing seems to have a feather nipped at. A Scary-Crow has flown up beside her, biting at the griffon's wings. Gloria crashes into the roof of the barn, falling through with a loud clatter.

As the dust and particles settle, Gloria... you see three phantasmic lions on the inside of the barn. They are semi-transparent, a cool green-blue color, and staring directly at you with snarling faces .

On the outside, the pegasus tries to shift with fright from the noise of the crash but gets latched tighter into the chain. "What was th-HHCK!" The chain rides into her neck with frightening force.

Worry Wart, who watched Gloria crash, curls into a little ball and flops on the ground. "I can't look!" He whimpers.

Dawn:
Mwezi was in shock. This wasn't how this was supposed to go! Everything was going so well and now this!

Thinkthinkthinkthinkthink- "Worry! Sunsteel! How strong is your telekinesis? At least one of us needs to get in there, if not Sunsteel and I."


"What?! It's just okay, I guess! I'm not.... I'm not great at magic!" Worry Wart whimpers loudly.

"We don't know what's in there... it sounds like growling though....Oh no oh no...."

Iris:
Sunsteel takes in a deep breath, her anxiety fading in favor of resolve when actual danger was present. She had some terrible ideas she could work with, and no time to think better of them, so she grabs Mwezi in her magic and attempts to lift her.


(Talent: Telekinesis, Roll: 2)

2 Body Chips, 1 Charm Chips in the Communal Pile)

Mwezi kind of floats a few inches off the ground, but not very high...

Iris:
Sunsteel looks at her pitiful attempts at magic and huffs, smoke pouring out of her nostrils. This wasn't good enough, so she redoubles her efforts.


(Talent: Telekinesis, Roll: 4)

The magic works! In a jumpy jolt, Mwezi is flung up and falls into the barn alongside Gloria.

Mwezi can now see the three ghostly lions, who have their backs turned to the barn door.

Occam:
While all this was going on, Gloria didn't think anything was wrong with her wings or legs, so she could try to get out on her own, out of the way of the lions and hopefully get up there to loosen those chains! Or at least latch onto a beam or something!

She tried to fly again...


(Talent: Fly, Roll: 3 + 1)

(Body, Roll: 5)


Gloria can fly... but unfortunately, the lions can swat.

The one closet toward her, on the left, reaches out a great ghostly paw and slashes at the griffon with unusually physical force.

Gloria falls back the ground, and is hurt.

(Gloria looses 1 Stamina.)

The lion in the center roars, and the lion to the right pounces at Mwezi.

(Body, Roll: 7)

(Dawn spends 1 Token of Friendship to re-roll!)

(Body, Roll: 2)


Dawn:
Stealing her resolve, Mwezi braced herself and tucked her staff into her forearm. As the lion leapt she swung, hoping to connect with... whatever it was that passed for a skull on this thing.

Gloria was in trouble but there wasn't much she could do until the lions were dealt with.


(Talent: Brawl, Roll: 3)

The lion's paw is knocked back by Mwezi's hoof, making an upsetting crackling noise from the lion's form, but it doesn't seem any less.... transparenty-solid.

The right-lion growls.

The left lion, the one closest to Gloria, and the center lion all turn to look at Mwezi.

Meanwhile, on the outside, the pegasus tries to struggle with the chains. They have cut into her skin a bit, and small bits of blood are trailing off her neck. "Ggrggl!" She chokes out in tears.

("Pegasus?" loses 1 Stamina.)

Occam:
Okay, so it was hard to concentrate when you were being clawed at by scary monsters, and your friend too--not to mention the sacrifice! Okay, this was going to sound crazy, but she had an idea. There was only one way she knew to get a mood across that everything was alright. And that, in all seriousness, was by song.

Taking a deep breath, she began to a cappella let the pegasus know that they were there, everything was going to be alright, to stay calm and try to keep relaxed!


(Talent: Creative Flair (Music), Roll: 6)

The pegasus hears the reassuring song and stops struggling for now. She seems confused and stressed, but at least isn't writhing.

Worry Wart, who is still behind the barn on the ground in a fetal position, growls. "Of course singing will help!"

The lions also take note of the singing, turning back to face Gloria on the left.

Iris:
Sunsteel gallops to the chained pegasus, coming to a screeching halt in front of her. Sunsteel's friends were in trouble, sure, but they were more than capable of taking care of themselves, and rescuing non-combatants always took priority.

"Hey, everything's gonna be alright," Sunsteel tries to reassure the pegasus, talking in a soft, controlled tone. "Just try to stay as calm as you can, and I'll have you outta here in no time."

Sunsteel took in a deep breath. She wouldn't fail like last time, or the time before that, or... okay this wasn't helping. The point was, she let her horn glow with magic and attempted to create a thin barrier between the pegasus and her chains, giving her some measure of freedom and safety.


(Talent: Force-Field, Roll: 3 + 1)

The force-field lifts the little bit of slack off of the pegasus's neck.

She takes a deep, wheezing breath. "Th-thank you!!" She gasps out. "I think there's something in the barn, with the beasts..."

Iris:
Sunsteel huffs and scrapes a hoof across the ground. There weren't any windows on the barn that she could heroically leap through to save her friends, but that wouldn't stop her from trying to make one.

She throws a modest fireball at the wall of the barn in an attempt to break through.


(Talent: Fire Control, Roll: 3)

The fire sprays against the side of the barn, crashing through and searing the edges of the wood. The lions roar and jump away in a frenzy, cowering in the corners away from the embers and the door.

Occam:
"Mwezi! Can you walk? I mean--FIRE! We gotta get out of here!"


Iris:
Sunsteel hops through her newly created window into the barn, and she's not terribly impressed by the ghostly lions that greet her.

They could wait until the pegasus was freed, and Sunsteel didn't have alot of time until her concentration lapsed and her shield disappeared, so better find a way to free her as quick as possible.


Dawn:
Mwezi rushed to help Gloria up, looking over the gash the lions left. The wounds could wait, but they needed to get that pegasus free.

Sunsteel was doing a great job buying them some time.

"I'm fine, Gloria." Mwezi looked around, taking stock of the situation. "Sunsteel! Any ideas on how to free our pegasus friend?"


Occam:
"Thanks...ooh, that stings." She instinctively had her wings up, shielding slightly from the heat at the cost of being slightly "sunburned" later.


"ITS ON FIRE! Sweet Celestia, now its on FIRE!!" The pegasus screams. She starts to shake against the chains again, as the flames begin to spread across the wooden barn.

The lions seem to be paralyzed by the flames, even almost shrinking away.

Worry Wart, still outside and still on the ground, squeaks. "Can't you use the key?!"

Occam:
"On what?! I don't see any lock!"


Dawn:
"The lock on the outside of the door. We just need to... jump through the fire, I guess. Any last words?"


Iris:
"What're you guys so afraid of? It's just fire!"


Dawn:
"Gloria, gimmie the keys. I'm gonna go for it."


Occam:
"Got it!" Gloria passed them to her, "and Boreas-speed!"


Dawn:
Holding the keys close to her, Mwezi took a couple of deep breaths before sprinting full-tilt for the fiery hole Sunsteel had created.

She closed her eyes and jumped as the heat crashed against her.


(Body Roll, Roll: 3)

Mwezi has some flaps lap against her, searing her fur, but she ultimately makes it onto the other side of the barn.

(Mwezi looses 1 Stamina.)

Dawn:
Mwezi connects with the ground and rolls, putting the fire out as she went. Galloping full tilt to the door, she rushes to the pegasus' aide.

"I'm here, I'm here. Sorry for the uh, for the Kirin. She gets excited." Mwezi held up the two keys and tried to force a smile. "Any idea which one would work?"


"The chains were, like, gray before they started to glow!" The Pegasus shrieks.

Sunsteel's force-field is fading, and the fire and chains are getting closer to the both of them.

Dawn:
"Grey! Grey is good. We can work with that." Mwezi jammed the silver key into the lock, turned it, and prayed to the Mother for fortune.


The lock clicks open. The chains stop glowing, start to fall off the barn, but disappear completely before they even hit the ground. As soon as the chains are off her wings, the pegasus tries to fly up.

(Talent: Fly, Roll: 1)

However, her wings were cramped and sore. She falls onto the ground, and pitifully starts tries to scoot away from the flaming barn. "No! No! No! No!"

Occam:
"Okay, now I'm out of here! Please please please let me get through this..." she mumbles to herself, and since she's not very physical, relies on her wings to "fly" or fling herself through the hole (in the wall, not the roof)!


(Talent: Fly, Roll: 5 + 1)

Gloria makes it to the outside of the barn safely, landing pretty far away- over the small fence even! She's close to the cowering Worry Wart than to the pegasus and Mwezi.

Occam:
"See? Everyone's going to be alright! Even if we get a little hurt in the process...and uh...a few things burn down, but how likely was this to open up again anyway?" Gloria beams at Worry Wart.

Now...Sunsteel had to get out of this one...


Iris:
Sunsteel casts an aside glare at the ghost lions, or at least the smoke and burning piles of hay covering up where she'd last seen them. She hated to leave an enemy un-incinerated, but priorities and all that, so she moved to jump out her makeshift window and leave this mess behind her.


(Body Roll, Roll: 1)

Sunsteel jumps into the wall, and the fire-weakened building collapses on top of her.

Luckily, as a kirin, she is not burned... just crushed and pinned under some boards in a big smoldering heap.

(Sunsteel looses 3 Stamina.)

(Talent: Telekinesis, Roll: 5)


The boards lift off of Sunsteel.

Worry Wart is using his telekinesis to lift them up. "RUN!" He screams, struggling to keep hold of the fiery boards.

Iris:
Sunsteel is woozy as she's ever been, but this isn't the first time she's been knocked for a loop, and she's able to compose herself well enough to get clear at the very least.

"Is everypony okay??" Sunsteel asked in a daze, head spinning and not entirely sure where she was anymore.


Occam:
Gloria hurries over, awkwardly steadying Sunsteel. "I'm fine! Where's, uh, where's our new friend?"


Dawn:
Mwezi could feel the flames getting closer, the heat from the fire baking her poor little brain. She had to get them both out of here, and fast.

"Stand still." Mwezi laid her hooves on the pegasus, channeling her healing magic. "Can you fly? Just head for the others, you should be able to hear their voices. Stick with us, okay?"


(Talent: Healing Hoof, Roll: 8)

("Pegasus?" regains Max Stamina!)

(Talent: Fly, Roll: 1)


She tries to fly, but collapses again.

She can still walk though, and gallops past Mwezi and toward the others, huffing and breathing hard. From the other side of the fence, the pegasus yells, "Thank you!"

Occam:
"Just doing our job!!"


Dawn:
Mwezi is fast on her heels, glad to finally be free from the raging inferno behind her. She tears her cloak off and sits down, panting heavily.

"I'm just glad everycreature is- SUNSTEEL WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?"


Iris:
Sunsteel tackles Mwezi into an intense hug, dragging Gloria with her telekinesis into the group hug as well. "HEROICS happened!! Now let's never get separated again ever."


Occam:
"You said it!!!" If there was a camera watching somewhere, Gloria would be staring into it with a huge grin on her beak.


The fire of the boards begins to fade, having only dirt and soil to feed off of... it's flickering out of fuel.