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
Session 3

The Nightmare Ritual: Session 3

Word Count: ~3.5k

Content Warnings: Cursing, Death Mention



***


The pegasus takes a deep breath, falling back into a sit. "Th-thank you, thank you. I thought I was going to die." She looks up at the three creatures. "Wh-who are you all?"

Occam:
"We're here to help! Soooo I'm Gloria, a singer -- if you can't tell, heehee!" She's feeling awfully pleased, but really as soon as everyone introduces themselves they should really show her the way out.


Iris:
"Pretty sure I'm Sunsteel..." her head's still spinning, but she's doing her best to put on a good face for her friends, and potential friends.


Dawn:
Mwezi steadied herself on her staff, the heat of the still-smoldering building washing over her as she caught her breath. "My name is Mwezi. Are you hurt? Can you fly?"


Worry Wart spoke before the pegasus had a chance. He flicks his head at the group. "I brought them here to help, when I found out about Death Rattle's plans. We're so glad you're okay."

The pegasus grits her teeth. "Death Rattle..." She groans. "He betrayed us. We didn't think he was planning on sacrificing ponies for the ritual! Heebie Jeebies, too, that tramp."

The pegasus shakes her head. "Sorry. My name is Goosebumps. I don't.... I don't feel hurt but I don't think I want to try flying right now."



Occam:
"Wait, you were with the group? Was this like, a cult kinda thing rather than just one of you?" Gloria's perceptive for once. When it's obvious. "Uh, we can walk with you though!"


Dawn:
Mwezi nodded, scratching her chin with her hoof. "It would be useful to have somepony with knowledge of this group by our side. Do you know how many of you there are?"


Iris:
"And if any of your other 'friends' can summon ghost monsters," Sunsteel added hesitantly, rubbing her aching head, "that'd be good information to have too."


"Why don't you ask Worry Wart about the group? He was part of it, too." Goosebumps glares at Worry Wart, who scowls back.

"I really....just want to go home. I want to check on my ma, let her know I'm okay," Goosebumps continues. "But I know Jumpscare got chained up somewhere here too. Death Rattle's book said the vessel for the Nightmare Energy needed to have performed an act of heroicism in their lifetime. So I guess it makes sense that Heebie Jeebies got chosen.... I guess." She seems sour.

"Jumpscare wasn't the one, so Death Ratttle knocked the poor kid out right before me."

Worry Wart coughs. "We'll save Jumpscare... and stop Death Rattle. I have faith in them," He says.

Occam:
"We definitely will! ...Who's Heebie Jeebies again?" She whispered it to Sunsteel, not wanting to seem totally clueless about people who lived here despite having only been here a year. Sounded like this Heebie was nice, though.


Iris:
"I have no clue," Sunsteel whispered back obliviously. She wasn't the best at memorizing names or faces. She tended to just categorize new people she met into "cute girls" and "other".

"Do you think you'll be able to make it back home on your own?" Sunsteel turned her attention to the pegasus. "I'm not sure we have the horsepower to give you an escort right now, but everypony's safety is our top priority so we'll figure something out if we need to."


Dawn:
Mwezi was trying her hardest to keep track of all these pony names and was trying even harder to ignore the animosity between Worry and Goosebumps. She wasn't here to fix anyponys emotional failings, just save them from death. "I understand. We might need your help for just a little longer" Mwezi pulled the map out and gave it to Goosebump. "Can you tell us where Jumpscare could be?"


"Heebie Jeebies is Goosebump's special somepony." Worry Wart says to Gloria with a shrug.

"He was," Goosebumps says sharply. "He's got different plans now, I guess... helping Death Rattle and that, that Nightmare." She stands up. "I'll be fine going home on my own. I'm wise to Death Rattle's tricks now. Thank you for saving me, but...I just want to be alone."

Goosebumps fans her wings out in a dramatic sigh, as Mwezi offers her the map. Goosebumps blinks and shrugs. "I was knocked out. I don't know. But I thought I heard something like a pony's voice coming from the north... where the uh..." She squints at that map.

"The roller coaster is? A roller coaster does sounds like Jumpscare's kind of ride, though I doubt he's having a good time. ...Anyways, good luck. I'll let Haybale Hollow know how brave you all are." As if in a hurry, she starts to scamper back toward the south entrance.

Occam:
"Ohhhh." Gloria nods, trying to be understanding. Granted, she can't say she's ever had someone like that turn out to be evil or something, but still. "Uh, okay! Take care of yourself, and watch out for any more of the nasty bird things around here! We've got this!"

They got this, right?

"Uh, the roller coaster seems like a good idea."


Iris:
"Roller coaster does seem like prime hostage territory," Sunsteel hummed. She arched her back with a groan and then hopped in place. "Okay! So that's where we gotta go! We'll jump in dramatically, save any resident damsels in distress, and then bounce out just like we did with the barn! Only with less potentially lethal danger, hopefully. And less collapsing buildings definitely."


Dawn:
Mwezi watches as Goosebumps leaves. She didn't trust that pony one bit. "Yes, please. I can heal you but I can't raise you from the dead. Yet."

She stretched, shaking her head clear as she looked the group over. Sunsteel was still hurt. "Sunsteel, hold still."


(Talent: Healing Hoof. Roll: 3)

(Sunsteel returns to Max Stamina!)


Dawn:
Mwezi grabbed Sunteel and pulled her close, running her hooves over the charred fur across her sides. The burns were bad but not horrible, definitely fixable. Mwezi steadied her breathing and pooled healing magic into Sunsteel, willing the hurt to wash away. The Kirin, held still by Mwezis efforts, looked... shockingly beautiful in the pale glow of the moon. Mwezi shook her head as the spell finished.


Occam:
Gloria's head turned...ooh. They were getting along pretty well, it was adorably tender! Even she could tell that, she thought, hiding a little smile.


Iris:
"Th-thanks," Sunsteel stammered. Back in her grove she was used to getting banged up during her various adventures, and even more used to others scoffing at her injuries or even cheering for them. She always just took care of herself, so the sensation of being cared for by someone else, especially someone as.... Mwezi as Mwezi.... Sunsteel wasn't prepared to have her blood running this hot.

"Thank you very much, Mwezi," Sunsteel said graciously with a wee bow. Being flustered was no excuse for being impolite.


Worry Wart scoffs as Goosebumps gallops out of sight. He looks back at the flirtatious scene, and then up at the moon. A small edge of the moon was beggining to glow an orange-red. "Uh, we better hurry!" He frets. "Look!"

Iris:
"Oh awesome, the moon's on fire!"


Occam:
The griffon was just considering maybe finding somepony here after all, she already had some...really good friends, but ahhhh the moon was burning!

"Okaythat'snotgoodwebettergo!" She regretfully hurried off in that direction ahead of them, tail swaying fretfully behind her!


Iris:
It was finally time to leap into action, and Sunsteel couldn't have been more excited, so she wasted no time in grabbing Mwezi in her magic and galloping off behind Gloria with a levitating zebra in tow, in search of some bad guys to beat up!


Dawn:
Mwezi hardly had time to let the grim portent sink in before she was hoisted unceremoniously in Sunsteel's magic and hauled off in the direction of danger. This was her life. She just had to accept it.


"Ah!" Worry Wart followed. "Be careful-- we don't know what might be waiting there!"

As the group heads closer to the north-west, you can see the large wooden roller coaster tracks rising above you. At the highest point of the coaster, there three-section cart is balanced precariously, right at the edge of the peak. It's held back by a frayed rope.

"Is somepony there?" A voice calls as you get closer. It comes from the bottom of the tracks, beyond the groups site at the moment.

Occam:
"Yeah! We're here to help! Where are you?" Heroics mode engaged, but since it was from the bottom of the tracks, Gloria didn't bother to fly up just yet, besides it could be unsafe! Wait...the rope...the cart...


Iris:
Sunsteel didn't like the look of this situation one bit; especially since the easy solution of setting the cart on fire would probably just cause more problems than it solved right now. Keeping a steady eye on the cart at the top of the tracks, Sunsteel canters toward the sound of the voice to gather more information before jumping into the fray (Mwezi hovering behind her, of course).


Dawn:
Mwezi had plenty of time to consider a course of action, given she didn't have to worry about walking. There was a cart, a fraying rope, and a pony in the path of the cart. Fun!


"I'm down here!" It was a small earth-pony colt pre-teen. He was chained to the bottom of the tracks, below the carts, by a glowing chain. The large lock is at his chest. He coughs a bit before crying out, "Please get me out!"

As the party gets closer, a wretched.... dairy-like... scent becomes more and more noticable. "Do you smell that?" Worry Wart gags.

At the tippy top of the coaster's drop off, where the carts hang over the edge by a gentle swaying rope. There isn't any wind and nothing else is shaking or jittering like the rope is.

Iris:
"Okay so our first priority is freeing the kid," Sunsteel said, trying to breathe calmly to soothe her frayed nerves. "Mwezi, you're a lot smarter than either of us, so you can take the keys and unlock him, right?"


Occam:
"Yeah, I could try to fly up there and stop the rope from breaking, and if worst comes to worst...uh, do something to it, push it or something!"


Dawn:
Mwezi landed on her hooves and shook out her coat. She didn't know what being smart had to do with stick a key in a lock but hey, she'd take compliment.

"That's a good idea. Sunsteel, get ready to activate a barrier if you have to. Let's go see if one of these keys works."


Iris:
"Good idea," Sunsteel nods excitedly. "Gloria, while Mwezi's on key duty you should fly up top. At the very least, we gotta know what's going on up there. I'll get on the tracks and try to climb up so I can cover both of y'all, how hard could it be, right?"


Occam:
"Good plan!"


(Talent: Fly. Roll: 2 + 1)

(Talent: Fly, Roll: 1)


Gloria takes to the air, and this time, no stuffed crows bother her flight. They seem to have vanished from the edges of the fence.... how strange.

From in the air, you can tell that that wretched cheesy smell is coming from the rope. A sickly and thin looking rat is chewing at the rope behind the carts rapidly, entranced by the odor.

The rope, already frayed, doesn't look like it'll have the force to hold back the carts much longer.

Occam:
Oh, what the heck, how did a rat even get up here? Well...maybe it climbed, but it seems like that's too much work for an ordinary rat! Being sure to keep her distance, she tries to shoo it away. Through, uh, through song of course!


(Talent, Creative Flair (Music). Roll: 1)

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


Gloria starts to sing, and the rat panics. It hisses at Gloria, and then chews faster at the rope, tugging with its fangs and clawing with its sharp little toes. You hear a startling snap, and one corner of the cart lunges forward. The other side is still hanging on...for now.

Occam:
"Uhhh, maybe hurry it up? J-just a suggestion! It might not hold!"


Iris:
Sunsteel climbs the tracks right up the front.


(Body. Roll: 4)

Sunsteel jumps onto the front of the tracks, between the chained colt and the cart, and starts climbing.

The climb is going pretty well, but the effort is shaking the rickety wooden scaffolding and tracks. The entire structure bobbles and bounces. The rat feels the vibrations, and jumps down to a lower rung of support.... but it's too late.

The rustling of the cart pulls on the remaining thread of rope, and it snaps. While Sunsteel is about half-way up the incline, the three-sectioned cart starts rolling down to meet her with incredible force.

Iris:
"Well fuck." Sunsteel channels her magic into a barrier like she had planned, and hopes REALLY HARD that fate hasn't decided to play a cruel joke on her this time.


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

Dawn:
With all of this happening, Mwezi is trying frantically to get the pony free from the tracks. She fumbles with the key before jamming it into the lock and turning. Please please please...


The force-field is strong enough to shield Sunsteel!!

The cart hits the force-field and fish-tails- the back end keeps going and eventually causes the front end to up turn, launching the three-cart unit over the edge of the tracks.

Now, the cart seems to be flying in track to hit Gloria instead of Sunsteel and Jumpscare.

Meanwhile, Mwezi's efforts are also successful!! The golden key unlocks the chains, which loose their glow and the key and chains all disappear slowly into the void. Jumpscare, the small earth pony colt, had started into a coughing fit when the cart started to move and has now passed out completely.

Occam:
"Ahhhh shoot, gosh, so sorry guys!" First of all, she's getting the HECK out of the way!


(Talent: Fly. Roll: 2 + 1)

Gloria just barely manages to get to the side of the cart, only her right wing is clipped by the cart as it careens by.

(Gloria looses 1 Stamina.)

The cart crashes into the back end of the Big Tent, ripping it a little. Its a horrible, loud and rumbling sound. As the noise of the crash passes, some spooky, slow and chanting music filters through out of the tent...

Iris:
"Well that could've gone a lot worse," Sunsteel breathes a sigh of mild relief. "You okay, Gloria?"


Occam:
"I'm a little banged up, but not too bad," she chuckles, embarrassed. "I...uh, guess music doesn't solve everything." She lands.

"Wait, what am I saying? It totally does, I just need to be better at it! Oh...I hope nobody was in that big tent that needed rescuing."


Iris:
"I'm sure there's still plenty of rescuing to be done," Sunsteel said, sticking out her chest fluff proudly.

For now though, she needed to focus on immediate concerns, so she trots back down the coaster tracks to check on Mwezi and the pony child.


Dawn:
The pony child - Jumpscare? Who cares - was unconscious. She set him off to the side while she collected her thoughts. The ominous music wasn't helping either.


Worry Wart, shivering all over with wide and vacant eyes, looks from the collapsed coaster toward Mwezi and the colt. "Ah... ah...." He puts his hoof on Jumpscare's chest. "He's breathing, probably just.... scared. Breathing though. Alive. That's good...."

He takes a deep swallow and shakes. "I can take him back to Haybale Hollow.... if you want to face Death Rattle..."

Occam:
"Was that everyone else?" Gloria asks, hopping back down to check on the hostage and make sure he's okay. "I mean--if it's just him, we could manage it, right? Because if you're sure he's beyond talking out of it, it might be more dangerous for you to be there than not, yeah."


Dawn:
Mwezi nodded. If they had cleared out the at-risk civilians, they had done well. The last step to this was beating the shit out of Death Rattle and Worry wasn't much help there.


Iris:
"Yeah that sounds like it'd be best," Sunsteel nodded contemplatively. She cricked her neck for a sec and trotted right up to Worry Wart, bumping noses with him. "But you better make absolutely sure he gets back to his family okay. Otherwise I'll be pretty peeved."


Worry Wart sweats visibly. He averts his eyes. "Ye-yes, ma'am. Of course I will." He mutters, before quickly lifting up the passed-out body of Jumpscare with his unicorn magic and galloping toward the south exit, around the back of the big-tent and away from the ripped hole in the thick tarp covering.

The reddish-hue of the moon has almost completely covered the pale face of the full moon....

Occam:
"That moon is looking not good, guys. We'd...probably get ourselves all settled for the big confrontation pretty quick." She sounds almost as excited as worried, can't be helped!


Iris:
"Oh, Gloria, let me patch you up real quick," Sunsteel said worriedly. In all the commotion she almost didn't notice that her friend had been hurt; shameful of her honestly.


(Talent: Healing Hoof. Roll: 7)

(Gloria returns to Max Stamina!)


Occam:
"Phew, that feels MUCH better! Thanks!"


Iris:
"My pleasure!" Sunsteel chirped, a faint blush tinting her cheeks. It always felt really wonderful to take care of someone else, and plus it was hard not to think of how pleasant Mwezi's healing had been to her earlier.

She wondered if Gloria had any healing magic to speak of?? She'd be happy to rough Mwezi up a bit so Gloria could feel the magic of healing friendship for herself.


Dawn:
Mwezi looked around the immediate area, scanning for any threats. Besides the looming blood moon and the scary music, the night was pretty calm. Spending time with Sunsteel and Gloria was... nice. She liked them. "We should get going."


Iris:
"Yea, we don't wanna keep our 'friends' waiting," Sunsteel grins mischievously and points at the tear in the big tent. "I mean look, they left the doors open just for us!"


Occam:
"Ha, that's the spirit!" Gloria's wings fluttered dramatically. "So let's head on in and give them a show!"


The red overtakes the moon. A loud, splintering creak...like a hushed broom sweep.... and the music is gone. It's all silent.

As you all step through the ripped tent, you can see that another opening in the tent must have been made near the top. Red moonlight, pale and dreadful, filters in in a thin beam.

At the center of the large, and mostly empty space, is a stone altar. On top of the altar, posed as if dead in a wake, is a adult male earth pony. His eyes are closed peacefully. He is not chained down, but appears asleep or unconscious.

The altar is circled tightly on the ground by a glowing series of runes and occult shapes.

All around the edge of the big tent, near the other walls, is shadows you can't see through. The red beam of moonlight is creeping across the floor, heading away from your party (dew north) and toward the encircled altar and earth pony (center-south).

A raspy, pained voice calls from the shadows behind the altar. "Heroes..." It whispers. "Heroes, come closer."

Iris:
"I'm heroes!" Sunsteel says obliviously as she trots closer to the altar.


Gloria, as Sunsteel gets closer to the red moonlight and the altar, your griffon sense gives you such a horribly strong feeling of BAD , it's almost like a whole migraine packed into a single split-second punch.

(Talent: Griffon Sense. Counter: 2/8)

Occam:
"SUNSTEEL, NO!" It comes out as a yelp, and she reaches to pull her back.


Iris:
Sunsteel stops in her tracks. She may be dense but not so much to ignore an obviously distressed warning from a friend.


Occam:
"This is...this is messed up...and I don't just mean what it looks like, it feels wrong."


Dawn:
Mwezi frantically beckons her back, speaking in a hushed hiss. "Worry said they needed heroes, or ponies who had done heroic deeds. That could be any of us. We need a plan." Mwezi looks around, summoning her control of the shadows as she tries to dispel the darkness.


(Talent: Dancing Shadows. Roll: 1.)

(2 Body Chips, 1 Mind Chip, 2 Charm Chips in the Communal Pile.)


As Mwezi tries to pull at the shadows, they twitch but hang on tight to their location.

"Save him, heroes..." A different, more feminine voice echoes. "Before the moonlight..."

The red beam is getting very close to the altar, it will touch in a few seconds.

Iris:
"Okay if you insist!" Sunsteel chirps worriedly. All these close encounters with potentially catastrophic failure were starting to really put her on edge. She wrapped her magic around the sleeping pony's body and tried to budge him.


(Talent: Telekinesis. Roll: 3)

The earth pony rolls off the altar, landing on the ground outside the circle unceremoniously with a thump.

"Owch!" He grunts, rubbing his head. "Since when can creatures use telekinesis?!"

Iris:
"Wake up, pony pal!" Sunsteel shouts and stomps her hooves. "There's evil afoot!"


Occam:
"We know you're here somewhere, Death Rattle! Show yourself!" She also tries to surreptitiously gesture with her wings to get Heebie Jeebies out of there!


Dawn:
Mwezi grabs Heebie and hauls him back to the group. She didn't know if he could be trusted; it sounded like he was in on all of this and Mwezi was ready to fight if it came to it.


The red moonlight passes behind Heebie Jeebies, and onto the empty altar.

Nothing happens.

The red light continues, and then vanishes quickly after it leaves the south side of the circle.

Heebie tugs his hoof out of Mwezi's grasp. "Let go of me!" Heebie Jeebie huffs.

A unicorn steps forth from behind the altar. "Idiots! All of you!" He looks to his left and right.

"You missed your chance to be useful to me!" The unicorn shouts at Mwezi, Gloria, and Sunsteel.

The shadows around the edges begin to fade.... Goosebumps and Worry Wart stand beside the unicorn who must be Death Rattle.

Worry Wart jabbers nervously, "They... they were so heroic! And stupid! I didn't think they'd-"

The tall leader unicorn cuts him off. "You didn't think! Now my Nightmare is gone again!!" Death Rattle stomps his front hooves.

"Idiots! Just... just kill them! We'll have to try again next Nightmare Night!"