The Maretian

by Kris Overstreet

Chapter 185: Sol 328

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“Well, look at the bright side,” Cherry Berry said. “No one’s died yet.”

“Death would be a relief,” Fireball rumbled, but quietly.

The four of them- Cherry, Fireball, Mark and Spitfire- sat or leaned by The Stump, watching from a distance as Starlight Glimmer focused her full concentration on enchanting the seven remaining jumbo mana batteries. Dragonfly, as usual, stayed as close as she could to the battery projecting the magic field required for the operation, soaking up all the magic her still-weakened system could absorb.

Spitfire growled softly and said, “Don’t know how long I can take this.”

“I don’t know about you,” Mark said, “but I’m enjoying myself. I’m learning so much about your home world with every game session.”

“But it so stupid!” Spitfire protested. “Go to pirate town, there Rainbow… I mean Mo-No-Chrome. Stupid name. Go to sea-ponies, there Pinkie. Go to griffons, there Rarity. Go to big city, give up quest, get regular job, and Zoe the Great and Powerful, not Tricky oh no of course not, shows up and burns city down. No escape!!”

“Like I said,” Mark said, “I’m learning so much about your world.”

“Death would be better,” Fireball said. “So she never lets us die. She embarrass us all every session until we do what she wants. Remember the changeling pirate ship? How many things broke?”

“Dragonfly and I were winning that one until the canopy ropes snapped,” Mark said. “Starlight couldn’t break things fast enough.”

“The sea-pony synchronized swimming initiation thing?”

Mark blinked. “You remembered how to say synchronized swimming?”

“The shame is burned on my soul forever,” the dragon replied darkly. “And the day of work she put us all through?”

Mark and Cherry Berry both looked blankly at Fireball. “What about it?” Cherry asked.

Fireball looked a little confused. “All the stupid customers… the bad, horrible, rude ponies… the boss abuse…”

“Hate to break it to you, Fireball,” Mark said, “but low-end day jobs are all like that.”

“The job in the game was better than several I really had before the space race,” Cherry said. “Let’s just say Ponyville isn’t always the bright, shiny, smiling friendly face the tourist board makes it out to be.”

“Oh,” Fireball muttered. “I’m so glad I’m dragon. No day job.”

“That game put my retire off five years,” Spitfire struggled to say.

“But she’s just not getting the message,” Cherry said. “I’m not going to order her to make a new campaign, but you’d think she’d get the idea that we don’t want to do a campaign with ponies we know as the bad guys!”

“All right,” Mark said. “I admit she’s building plot rails faster than a bullet-train company. But she’s not bad enough to justify going Old Man Henderson on her.”

Four ears and a pair of scaly eye-ridges popped up. “Old Man Henderson?” Cherry asked. “Who’s he?”

“Ooooooh, no no no,” Mark said. “I am not giving you Old Man Henderson to use as a weapon against Starlight. Old Man Henderson drove the DM he was used on out of the game, it was that bad. We have to live together for the next two hundred and twenty sols. No Old Man Henderson for you!”

Spitfire and Cherry Berry slumped in disappointment, but Fireball grinned. “Old Man Henderson character who wreck game?” he rumbled. “That gives me idea.”

“Oh, no,” Mark muttered. “Oh, no, no, no. Don’t do this, guys, whatever it is.”

“Dawn Light stands between you and the statue,” Starlight Glimmer said, unconsciously wiping sweat off her forehead. "‘I shall not let you unleash the demon of the past,’ she says. ‘My queen shall reign FOREVER!’ And she surprises you all with a magic blast. Roll to dodge, everyone.”



“HA!” Fireball bellowed. “Natural 20! I duck past Dawn Light and stand next to the statue!”

“Wha-bu-but you can’t!” Starlight gasped. “Dodge doesn’t work like that!”

“Also tell me,” Fireball said, grinning a most draconic grin, “how much chaos does it take to let Entropy out of statue?” He leaned forward and added, “What die roll?”

“Um… er… let me check my notes…” Starlight scrolled frantically through the document on her own computer, finally finding the notes she’d made on the strange statue in the abandoned garden of the former Royal Palace of Skykeep. “Um… critical success for those trying to revive him, critical fail for those trying to keep him sealed. Nothing else.”

“Grm.” Fireball looked at the others. “Don’t think I get another natural tonight. You?”

“What about bonuses?” Cherry Berry asked. “Isn’t there some kind of ritual we could perform to improve our chances?”

“What? No! No, no ritual!”

“But this is Entropy! Chaos! Disorder!” Cherry insisted. “If we make more chaos, he must get stronger, right? He has to!”

“But he’s held in place by the Elements of Harmony!”

“You mean the piles of dust we carry in our saddlebags?” Dragonfly asked. “I don’t think they’re holding anything anymore.”

“Quick, we need a ritual!” Cherry Berry said. “Something, anything, so wacky, so stupid, so nonsense that it can’t help but break the seal!”

Mark had been mostly silent up until now, having been outvoted three to one (and then four to one when Dragonfly had been brought up to date) on the whole plan. But, as the other players looked to each other in vain hope of inspiration, he began to smile, as an old, old song popped into his head. Without warning he slapped the table four times- whap whap whap whap!- and begin singing on the fifth beat:

I told the unicorn we had to defeat you (whap whap whap whap!)
I told the unicorn your evil days are through (whap whap whap whap!)
And with this simple spell we’re gonna make you blue

And his voice jumped two octaves into a horribly strained and pinched falsetto as he sang:

Ooo, eee, ooh ah ah
Ting, tang, walla walla bing bang
Ooo, eee, ooh ah ah
Ting tang walla walla bang bang

The others pitched in at once, singing the “Ooo-eee” chant through again as Starlight’s jaw threatened to knock a hole in the tabletop. Then, with four more sharp beats to the table, Mark delivered another lyric:

I told the unicorn it’s time for Entropy
I told the unicorn we’d wake him, wait and see
To beat the unicorn everybody sing with me (here we go)

The players jumped up from the table and began dancing around, stepping lightly through the Hab’s potato plants and chanting the silly, squeaky witch-doctor chant twice more, before Mark shouted, “Now the bridge!”

You know that you’re railroading us just like you were a choo-choo
And I admit we are not very brave
But if you keep on going then we’ll have to make it silly
Because we have another world to save

I told the unicorn the world is at an end
I told the unicorn she’ll need a new campaign
But because it feels like fun let’s sing the chant again

The players didn’t need to go through the sixth repeat of “Ooo, eee,” and so forth before Starlight’s magic made a tiny holographic white flag appear over her head, but they did it anyway, because it was fun.

And then, after a bit of laughter and some words about how a D&D campaign had to be fun for everyone involved, Mark told them the legend of the sixth force of nature: gravity, electromagnetism, the strong force, the weak force, magic, and Old Man Henderson.

Starlight listened, and took the lesson to heart…

… but she also took notes.

Author's Notes:

Starlight is making ALL the newbie DM mistakes, right down to Giving Your Players Ammo to Use Against You and Admitting You Have Notes of a Thing You Suddenly Don't Wish to Have In Your Notes.

Re: the pirate airship: so many things spontaneously broke that it could have been the ride for an airborne version of Barrett's Privateers. And it still wasn't enough for two engineers who have spent three hundred plus days marooned on Mars. Better luck next time, Starlight.

All in all, I think Starlight Glimmer needs some parchment so she can write a letter that begins Dear Princess Celestia, Today I learned...

I had to do some inventory today, and the tendons in my right arm kept flaring up, so no writing got done today. I'm glad I got the buffer in when I had a chance. I should be able to rebuild it tomorrow, since I now have nothing to do but clear away things in the house, load up the van, and head out Thursday to Kansas City for Sausomecon.

Next Chapter: Sol 330 Estimated time remaining: 10 Hours, 54 Minutes
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