Midnight Beacon - Welcome to Ponyville

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The calm of falling snow on the road between Ponyville and Canterlot is briefly interrupted by a harsh gust of wind, blowing drifting wisps of white across the ground, easily missed in the evening moonlight were it not for the occasional road lamp to light the way. Despite the clearing crew's best efforts, winter's last gasp has already managed to build itself half-way up a pony's forelegs.

Off in the general direction of Canterlot, a robed figure trudges towards the much smaller town she hopes lies at the end of this cursed path. All but the tip of a nose, a brief billow of a dark-coloured mane, and the teal of lower forelegs are concealed beneath a roomy robe, hood drawn over the figure's head, no doubt to try and protect themselves from the onslaught.

  . o O ( That mountain city must be absolutely frigid! These lamps have to lead *somewhere*, before all is lost! )
Freestyles similarly trudges through the snow, dressed a bit more lightly, a long grey scarf around his neck, with matching earmuffs and leg-warmers. He trots along, horn glowing to pitch a bit of snow aside, enough to be only a few inches deep, trotting in place to keep warm. He's a busy pony, but he'll make time to help everypone else out. Even if this should really be the weather team's job. Or an earth pony. Or somepony. He blinks, stopping short as he finds himself approaching a stranger. "Oh! Hello, there!"
ShadowedSong discreetly trots along in the path made by Freestyle, a thick blanket obscuring the majority of her smaller frame. She squeaks as Free calls out, diving into a snowpile, and watching the two from the relative safety of her hiding spot.
Event Horizon trots a short distance behind Shadowed Song, covered in a thin cloak. When she hears Free's call, she trots ahead, raising an eyebrow as she watches Song dive.
The robed figure perks, her thoughts interrupted as she lifts her gaze from the next few hoofsteps in front of her to the purplish unicorn. Life! She swears she heard something crunch in the snow, but dismisses it once she sees that the unicorn is actively working to clear the path. Must have been his work.

"Hello!" she calls back, her voice distinctly high-pitched. A soprano, if she weren't choking on frigid air - instead, it comes out harsh and squeaky.

Her pace falters slightly as she spots a second, cloaked pony approaching. "Is the n-next town nearby?" It's been so long since she used her voice, at least for speech proper.

"I'm searching for an inn!" she clarifies. Anything to get out of the cold, at this rate. She's already losing sensation in her hindlegs and wings, despite the latter being hidden away under her clothes for protection.
Freestyles flicks an ear back toward the sound behind him. That was weird. But there's a pony in front of him so his attention is there. He nods with the question, smiling. "Oh, sure. It's not too far back to Ponyville. In fact.." He finally looks around. He gives Event a friendly nod before looking to the robed pony again. "In fact this looks like a bad day for me to be visiting family in Hoofington, so how about we just head back there now, hm?"
ShadowedSong blushes and hops out of the pile, catching up with Event, "Old habits die hard," she whispers. She looks around and shivers, "Yes, the weather is quite terrible today. I have no idea why I decided to head out in these miserable conditions." She giggles and bumps into Event.
Event Horizon grins at Shadowed, stifling a laugh. "It's pretty bad, yeah." As she reaches Freestyles and Midnight, she returns the former's nod, giving the latter a nod as well. "Hello," she says to the new arrival, meekly.
"I w-would be grateful if you led the way," the mysterious pony acknowledges, preparing to follow the pair along, presumably continuing on her path westward. She stumbles in surprise at the sudden addition of a third pony, instinctively reaching with a forehoof to tug the hood of her robe forward, keeping it securely in place against the harsh temperatures. She's totally not trying to hide her identity or anything, honest.

"The eld-, er... I was informed t-that we were out of Winter's grip before I d-departed. Apparently, I was misinformed," she deadpans.

"Greetings," she offers, returning Event's nod. The glare from a nearby street lamp, filtered through the rising steam of her own breath reflects on part of her face: cat-like, slitted irises flash briefly, followed by the glistening of tiny, pointed fangs.
Freestyles starts, looking back at Shadowed emerges. "..weird. Okay." He shakes his head and looks back to the newcomer, stepping in for a quick hug. "Right. It's soon. Winter Wrap Up is in another day or two. It's tough to miss when it comes. I'm sorry you didn't pick the best day for your trip, but now you're here, and it will be okay." He turns back, trotting back toward the west, back toward Ponyville. If he notices the vesper features, he doesn't comment on it.
[OOC] Midnight Beacon wait, hug is aimed at her?
[OOC] Freestyles says, "Yes. New pony means a hug."
[OOC] Midnight Beacon okay. Hmm. Let's see if she dodges. ;p
Midnight_Beacon rolls 1 20-sided die and gets:
        1
[OOC] Midnight Beacon welp.
[OOC] Event Horizon snerk.
[OOC] ShadowedSong says, "hahahahhaha!"
[OOC] ShadowedSong says, "lets see if I notice features!"
ShadowedSong rolls 1 20-sided die and gets:
        10
[OOC] Midnight Beacon says, "Considering that's like a crit-fail on my part anyway, I'm gonna have Styles' hug knock the hood down. XD"
[OOC] ShadowedSong says, "wow. Highest roll I've gotten in a while"
ShadowedSong snickers, "Weird's an understatement, i think," She whispers to Event, then blinks as Free knocks back the strangers hood. She grins, chirping and squeaking excitedly at Midnight, sounding like mostly gibberish and random words to the Vesper. She turns back to Event and Whispers again, "Wait, what's winter wrap up?"
Event Horizon catches a glimpse of Moonlight's features, not commenting on it. She whispers back to Shadowed, "I've never taken part in it. Just... getting things ready ready for springtime, I would guess."
Wait, what does this foreign pony want with her, approaching like that?! The robed pony tries to step back at the last moment, only to find her hindlegs frozen and unwilling to heed her command. Many miles of walking *forward* incessantly, and now they're expected go to backwards? Not a chance.

"What're you-?!" Her forelegs manage to follow orders, but with her rear ones planted, she instead rears back in place - right into the sudden, unwelcome impact, causing her to squeak, high-pitched, like a toy. Somewhere off in the distance, a dog starts barking.

To add insult to apparent 'injury', the hood of her robe falls back, shirking its duty in the commotion. The rest of the pony, indeed, a Vesper's long, wavy mane erupts from its woolen prison, a navy blue with purple highlights - if a dark purple can be called that.

Her ears, folded back in surprise, still show tufts of extra fur near their tips, and her eyes are a bright, golden-amber, complete with those slitted irises. She grumps slightly once she's released, those tiny pointed fangs plainly visible, even when the rest of her muzzle is scrunched up in annoyance.

Looking to ShadowedSong, she simply quirks an eyebrow. Something sounds vaguely familiar, but she simply shakes her head, shrugging uselessly as she obviously doesn't understand. Instead, she reaches back for that hood of hers and draws it over her head once more - it's still cold. "I hope that spring comes soon - I have much further to travel," she grumbles, following along westward.
Freestyles blinks at the pony rearing back from him, pouting after the quick hug. "Um, I'm sorry if that was too sudden. I just make a habit of hugging new friends. I'm Freestyles, by the way." He takes his time moving back toward Ponyville. "It won't be too long until we bring spring in. I'll probably be carving up lakes in the next day or two."
ShadowedSong winces at the loud squeak, then blinks and tilts her head at the vespers headshake, "You can't understand me?" she asks, confused. She looks at Free, "Carving up a lake?" She trots along with the group, shivering slightly
Event Horizon folds her ears back at the squeak, wincing. She momentarily raises an eyebrow at Midnight, lowering it when she spots the Vesper's eyes and fangs. The unicorn silently trots onward, taking a quick glance at the sky and squinting. The clouds are still too thick.
"I'm not yet... familiar with all Equestrian... customs," the vesper notes to Freestyles, "Many things in my t-travels have wanted to harm; forgive me for being... wary."

She's puzzled at the mention of carving lakes, and 'we'? Must be referring to some celebration of the vernal equinox, though she swears that's come and gone. The elders' tracking of the stars is extremely accurate... isn't it? "A day or two? No matter - I have... s-some currency to last." Hopefully enough. She's so set on finding an Inn, she has no idea what to do if it turns out she's being ripped off, let alone if she can't afford the night.

The vesper glances curiously at Event after she turns away, then shakes her head to Shadowed, the tip of her muzzle visible from underneath her hood, "I'm afraid not - at least, I don't think so. Apologies." Oh, and right - that custom she *does* know. "My name is Midnight Beacon - you may use Midnight for... b-brevity. If it's not too much to ask... I'm... becoming concerned about potential frostbite," she notes, trying to quicken her pace through the snow.
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*                              [River's Edge Inn]                              *
*                                 ~* Lobby *~                                  *
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*                                                                              *
* This is the entryway into the River's Edge Inn near Ponyville. The walls     *
* are made of heavy wooden beams with whitewashed walls between them. Small    *
* paintings hang here and there from various times in the history of the Inn.  *
* A smiling pony welcomes visitors from behind a richly finished counter.      *
* Signs above doorways indicate such places as a common room, a restaurant,    *
* and a pub are on the bottom floor while stairs leading up to a second story  *
* can be found beside the counter.                                             *
*                                                                              *
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* River's Edge        <N> | Tavern             <SE> | Restaurant          <SW> *
* Common Room         <W> | Rooms               <U> |                          *
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Freestyles trots inside, leading a curious little band of ponies and the like. He steps aside and shakes himself a moment, a bit of snow sent flying from his coat, hopefully not onto any of his current companions. The scarf and earmuffs stay on for the moment. "Here we are, everypony. The River's Edge Inn. I stayed here for...a lot longer than I probably should've after I moved to Ponyville. It's a nice place. It's also the only one we've got here."
ShadowedSong prances in after Free, wriggling excitedly, "This is my favourite place in town! Good food, friends and beds," she says the last with a wink at Event. She trots towards the tavern portion, then stops and looks back at the group, "Um, were y'all wanting to go to the restaurant, or the bar?" She chuckles and glaces quick at Event, then away, blushing fiercely
Event Horizon trots into the lobby, sighing softly as the chill fades away. Her ears fold slightly at Shadowed's glance, and she gives a nervous chuckle. "Either's fine with me, so long as-" Nothing explodes? "-things don't get too hectic."
"The only one?" Midnight asks, pushing the hood of her robe away, a couple clumps of snow falling from it. Already, the bits stuck to her mane start to melt and glisten. That means this place has a monopoly... no competition, which means high prices. And no alternatives if she can't afford it. She swears she sees something familiar glint on the black unicorn's neck, but something distracts her before she can ponder it. The vesper's ears perk, and her eyes widen slightly, alert. Is that..?! She pushes past the group, heading towards the source of the sound, "Whatever one this is," she says, restrained excitement edging through her voice as she heads into the tavern.
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*                              [River's Edge Inn]                              *
*               ~* River's Edge Tavern <AGE RESTRICTED> <OOC> *~               *
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*                                                                              *
* Hearty laughter and overlapping stories fill the air in the tavern, along    *
* with the sharp smell of wood smoke and the sweet smells of fruit punch,      *
* wine, and cider. Benches and tables stand around the edges of the room,      *
* leaving the middle of the floor open. A small stage is tucked away in one    *
* corner. The several small windows are shuttered, leaving the lanterns on     *
* the walls and the fireplace to cast the only light.                          *
*                                                                              *
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* Restaurant          <W> | Lobby              <NW> |                          *
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Freestyles blinks after the vesper, but trots along afterward, looking around curiously. "I usually just go to the restaurant part, myself. I do pop over here every now and then for a glass of wine, I guess. But what caught your eye, Midnight?"
ShadowedSong winces at Event's comment, and trots in after the other two, looking around for whatever caught Midnight's attention, "what is what?"
Event Horizon tilts her head as Midnight rushes past and into the tavern, following her in. "What's the hurry?"
It wasn't her eyes that led her here - in fact, they're not too happy with her current location. Midnight's sensitive ears heard the distinctive crackle of a roaring fireplace - A fireplace that the vesper has wasted no time parking herself right in front of. She's tugged the hem of her robe up ever so slightly as she sat, exposing enough of her rear hooves to the flame to warm them. Similarly, she's hunched forward, forelegs outstretched. Were she any closer, she'd be touching the fire itself.

Only now does her body realise just how cold she is, and she shivers violently, nerves screaming at the sudden change in temperature. She winces, but reminds herself the pain is good - it's necessary, and temporary, and it means she can still feel.

She opens her muzzle to try and reply, but gives up when her teeth start to chatter, offering a forced, slightly pitiful smile that she hopes tells it all.
Freestyles doesn't look to still expect an answer once he sees where Midnight has gone, nodding and trotting over near her, giving her a little space as he settles in as well. He gives the other two a sheepish smile. "Sorry. Well, you're here now, and it will be okay."
ShadowedSong squeaks as Midnight rushes towards the fireplace and looks away, trotting to a table nearby, facing the direction. She waves down a waiter, and asks for some warm blankets to be brought to The mare shivering in front of the fire
Event Horizon nods in understanding, sitting a comfortable distance away from the fire. "Ah." She gives the vesper a sympathetic smile, then looks over at Shadowed.
Midnight Beacon nods slowly, glancing over her shoulder - expecting an angry owner to come scold her for not having checked in first. She turns her attention to warming herself, the snow having melted into her robe, soaking it almost completely through. Even as it clings to her fur, she stubbornly refuses to take it off, instead twisting this way and that to try and expose each portion in turn to the fire, in an attempt at drying it out.

The shivering starts to subside, just as somepony drapes a warm blanket across her, and she finds her voice again. "Thank you - for your a-assistance," she murmurs meekly, not used to such hospitality. Even if she was on the right path, she wouldn't have immediately known which building was which, and freezing to death in the middle of a town square or worse, hidden, lost in some back alley would've been an... unfitting end.

The vesper mare heaves a sigh, closing her eyes a moment and feeling for the charm dangling from the collar around her neck, offering a silent, thankful prayer. Wait, wasn't that...? She shifts in her seat, turning to face Event with a curious eye.
Freestyles keeps an eye on Midnight. He doesn't argue when he's given a blanket of his own, nodding to the pony delivering it. "Thank you." He looks back to Midnight, curious. "So what brought you through Ponyville? You said you had a while to go yet, didn't you? Where're you headed?"
ShadowedSong chuckles, "I think everypony ends up in ponyville at one point or another." She relaxes and purrs under a second blanket, sipping an ordered hot cocoa
Event Horizon is given a blanket, and drapes it over her shoulders. She shifts slightly in her seat as Midnight turns toward her, one ear flicking as she returns the vesper's look. "Yes?"
"I'm hoping to make my way to the most... central town in Equestria," Midnight explains, breaking her gaze from the unicorn. She'll ask later. "Some place where I can properly... invest myself. Canterlot is on that mountain I rounded, of course, but I daren't make that journey in this weather. I also worry I'd get a, let's say, biased lesson in Equestrian culture there." She relaxes a little under the warmth of the blanket and nearby fire. "As you've probably noticed, I'm not... like you. Not exactly. The fact that you haven't recoiled in horror with cries of 'vampire, vampire!' - and I assure you, I'm just as much of a vegetarian as anypony else - tells me that my town's stories are a little outdated." Hopefully not so outdated that that comment is misconstrued... surely the other pony races haven't resorted to meat-eating? "I fear even here, I may not be getting a... representative sample. Surely not everypony in Equestria is so hospitable to newcomers wandering into their towns," she states, matter-of-factly. "If you'd be so kind, though - tell me, when you think of 'typical' Equestria, where would you say fits best? That should be my next destination."
Freestyles keeps his ears up, attentive to every word from Midnight. He frowns and nods along. "Heading to Canterlot tonight wouldn't be a good idea, I'm pretty sure. I'm..not entirely sure what you mean about Equestrian culture, in all. There's vesper ponies around here and there. It's not a lot, but there's others in town. They..mostly tend to dress like you are tonight, from what I've seen." He tilts his head to one side as he thinks. "I guess a bigger city you might not always get a response like this? I mean, it was just chance I was taking the same road you were. I'm..still not sure why those two were following me." He nods toward Shadowed and Event. "But, 'typical Equestria'? Really, I'd say right here in Ponyville. We've got plenty of earth ponies, pegasi and unicorns living and working together, a vesper here and there. I've seen seaponies once or twice. A few donkeys around. Even a couple of breezies."
ShadowedSong snickers at the vampire comment, "Even more vegetarian ponies. Equestia is so backwards." She listens to Midnight's question and Free's answer, nodding here and there, "the smaller towns are usually friendlier, I've found. And Ponyville especially so. So many good friends and food, and lots of money making opportunities." She pointedly ignores the comment about her and Event following him, and sips
Event Horizon nods along with the question and Free's answer. "I'd have to agree. From what I've seen, this is the best example of 'typical' Equestria there is. This town has some of the friendliest ponies I've ever met."
Midnight Beacon perks, sitting up straight, "Others? In this town?" Her jaw hangs a moment. Of course she'd have to introduce herself at some point. "W-wait, *seaponies*? Aren't they just a m-" She coughs into a forehoof. "Nevermind. I'm sure somepony said the same about us at one point or another. I'm liable to believe anything you tell me - I'm entrusting you, here, but don't take me for a fool."

She shifts, turning a different part of her body to the fire. "So, 'Ponyville' here is the crossroads? If you have representation of most every pony race here, I suppose this could work. Learning how everypony works together is... valid."

"Besides," she adds, offering a fanged smirk, "If everypony here is this... 'open', I suppose it works to my advantage. I didn't put much stock into concerning myself with a town's disposition, but you're right - larger cities are easier to get... lost in."

"One pony's 'backwards' is simply another pony's culture," the vesper points out to Shadowed, "But you make a good point - I'm going to need to make myself useful if I'm going to earn enough to survive."

Midnight stifles a yawn, realising it's well beyond her namesake, and re-checks her clothing. Almost dry, now. "Before I can do that, though, I should get some rest. I can inquire at the front counter in the lobby, correct?"
Freestyles gives one firm nod at the question of seaponies. "When I saw I've seen them once or twice, I mean ever, not per year or something. If you never see one, don't be too surprised. I don't remember myths abou vespers before I started seeing them around, but when two of them showed up with Princess Luna a few years ago, it was enough of a surprise that I think everypony assumed it was jsut a costume." He nods along with the question of lodging. "Yeah, there'll be somepony there to help you out."
ShadowedSong giggles, "That is true. I guess all of us come from different cultures. Ponyville, the melting pot of Equestria!" She yawns and finishes her drink, "the rates here are great, especially if you're with me. I'm a regular." She turns to look at the three, smiling.
Event Horizon nods. "Yes, you can get a room up front."
Midnight Beacon goes wide-eyed, "P-Princess Luna? Visits here?" Well, that settles it, even if it was only a few years ago - whether that's Luna's last visit or when Freestyles saw another vesper, she's not sure. "Crossroads, indeed - I may have selfish reasons for wanting to try my luck at seeing her next one, if you think it's likely."

The mare tilts her head to one side, inquisitively, at Shadowed, "Ah, so you're from elsewhere and visit regularly - interesting." She rummages through one of the inside pockets of her robe, the muffled clatter of bits apparent. "You get... a discount?" She clambers to her hooves, setting the blanket somepony draped over her neatly to one side on a chair, looking to make her way back out to the lobby. "Forgive me - I packed light, and I haven't got much coin."

Whatever subtleties were insinuated have gone right over the mare's head.
Freestyles nods again. "She comes through now and then. Plus there's Princess Twilight who lives here in town. In the morning you'd be able to see her castle-thing from here." He glances between Midnight and Shadowed. He seems about to say something before thinking better of it. "I'm sure it'll get worked out. It's been nice meeting you, Midnight." He gives the mares a warm smile. "It's been nice seeing all of you. Have a good night." He sets his blanket aside, folded in his magic and draped over a chair, before he starts trotting back toward the entrance.
ShadowedSong smiles, "That's fine. A stranger offered me a place to stay the first week I was here, the least I can do is pass on the favour." She gets up and trots over to Midnight, then licks her nose, "I'm Shadowed Song by the way, Song for short. Shall we get going?" She wink at Event, "Care to join us?"
Event Horizon shakes her head, laughing into a hoof. "I think I'll pass." She turns to Midnight, giving her a small nod. "I'm Event Horizon. It was nice meeting you." With that, she turns and exits the tavern.
Midnight Beacon almost stumbles, catching herself, "A Princess lives in town? Of course- it's... so close to Canterlot. I think I'm beginning to understand."

Oh, how wrong she is on that one. The vesper squeaks and recoils at the sudden invasion of her personal space, managing to control her wings from flaring and taking her robe with them. "What in the name of-?!" She rubs the tip of her nose with a forehoof, "Wait, what do you mean 'us'? I'm not sharing a room with- ... your discount. It's a group discount. No, no - I appreciate the offer to split lodgings, but I'll pay for my own room. We've only just met, and while you've been extremely helpful, I... value my privacy."

Certainly this mare wasn't...? No, that's silly. The vesper, regaining her composure, nods at Event, "It was nice to meet you, too - hopefully I'll see you some more in town. I believe we may have something in common," she adds, gesturing to the charm dangling from her own neck.

A quick nod to the trio once more, and she's off to the lobby to secure her own - private - lodgings for the night.