• Published 12th Apr 2016
  • 14,858 Views, 12,522 Comments

Three More Things! - Tatsurou

Uncle Chan tries to balance running an antique shop, fighting demons, and being a Chi Wizard with being a loving Uncle to his nephew, his somewhat removed niece...and three little ponies who drive him straight up the wall.

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Even More Catty

It didn't take long for the now larger group to reach their destination, less Audrey III since he wouldn't have fit well inside the structure. A crumbling palace, its halls filled with rubble, fallen hangings, broken furniture, and other scattered detritus sat some distance beyond the edge of the city in the middle of the countryside. Sunlight shone freely through the high windows on the faded columns as the occasional mouse, rat, or roach scampered or skittered away from the approaching group. "Talk about a dump," Jade observed worriedly. "It looks like the entire place has been ransacked several times."

"We will have to hope that is not the case," Jackie pointed out firmly. "According to the translated text from the museum, this palace is the last known resting place of the Cat of Khartoum. If this place has been ransacked, then it might not be here anymore, and this entire trip will have been a waste."

"I wouldn't call it that," Viper pointed out as she lifted a fallen hanging out of the way, pausing long enough to examine it. "Even if we don't find the cat, with proper restoration some of these hangings or tables could be of archaeological interest...and if not, they could fetch a pretty penny."

"And either way, adventure!" Sonata declared excitedly as she bounced back and forth between the pillars, pausing to do a cartwheel for no apparent reason other than possibly having spotted half of a broken cart wheel in the wreckage. "That's gotta be worth something!"

"Well, either way, let's look for the Cat," Sweetie Belle suggested thoughtfully, closing her eyes to passively sweep the ruined palace for magic. After all, if they were seeking an artifact and Valmont was sending agents after it, it might well be magical.

A quiet "Meow" echoed faintly, barely reaching ears.

"I think I hear it!" Jade gasped out. "Hsi, did you?"

"I did, but I don't think that's the artifact," Hsi Wu observed as his human ears twitched and he pointed in the direction of the sound.

Following the sound, the group found a large, white, half-grown cat with bright pink eyes, struggling to get free of a rope that was caught in some of the wreckage. It looked up in surprise and a bit of fear as the group approached.

"Aww, what a cute kitty!" Sweetie Belle squealed excitedly.

"But she's caught..." Apple Bloom gasped worriedly.

Jade moved quickly, setting her backpack aside as she reached out confidently to pet the cat on its head. "Aww, kitty..." she cooed warmly, putting the cat immediately at its ease. "Got your little leg all caught in palace junk?" With the cat no longer struggling, Jade was easily able to untangle the rope from around its body. It meowed happily and nuzzled her hand before beckoning with one paw. "Hungry, girl?" Jade asked, having somehow deduced the feline's gender. Pulling a container of yogurt out of her backpack, she set it down for the kitten to eat up after removing the lid. "So what's your name, girl?"

The kitten meowed happily.

"...Ruby," Jade deduced somehow. The kitten eagerly leapt to her shoulders, purring and nuzzling her. "That tickles, Ruby!"

"When did you learn to speak cat?" Hsi Wu asked curiously.

"...huh?" Jade asked in confusion.

"She introduced herself, and you understood," Hsi Wu explained. "Where did you pick up that skill?"

Ruby suddenly hissed at Hsi Wu, a hiss ending in a grunt that somehow managed to sound scolding.

"Hey!" Jade complained. "Don't be rude to him! He's my familiar!"

Ruby glanced back and forth between Jade and Hsi Wu, took a sniff, then let out a teasing meow.

"He is not!" Jade snapped out defensively.

"And now the cat's in on it, and we only just met her," Jackie observed in resigned amusement. "But how did Jade learn to speak cat?"

"Oh, that probably has to do with the way her aura reached out and embraced Ruby the moment she saw her, calming her and welcoming her into loving care," Sonata observed idly. "Pretty powerful bonding magic, made the kitty right calm and opened mind and heart both ways." She then blinked as she saw everyone staring at her. "...oh, right! I forgot seeing aura was a siren special skill and not something humans, ponies, or demons could do without special spells. My bad! Should I have said something sooner?"

"But why would her aura do that?" Scootaloo asked in confusion.

"Hephalump if I know!" Sonata countered. "I can see what the aura's doing. If you want it read, you need to ask Dagi! I never got the hang of that."

Jackie chuckled. "Somehow I don't think I'd enjoy her 'negotiations'," he joked.

"Nah, you probably would, she's good at that," Sonata allowed. "Buuut ya might not like what your snake lady would do to you when she found out!"

"That's what I meant," Jackie groaned.

"Well, as long as you can talk to the kitty, maybe you could ask her if the Cat of Khartoum is here?" Viper asked curiously, subtly moving to position herself between Jackie and Sonata...and idly brushing her rear against his thigh in the process.

Ruby turned towards a spot on the floor with a hiss.

"She says there's something really bad under that trap door," Jade explained, pointing. "And-"

"Got it!" Sonata called out happily as she brushed aside the dirt, pulled apart the loose panels, and lifted out a closed box to hold high over her heads.

"...and that it's booby trapped," Jade groaned as Ruby face-pawed and the whole place started to shake.

"We gotta get out of here!" Sonata screamed out as she dashed back and forth in a panic as chunks of masonry started to fall.

Hsi Wu instantly shifted into his demon form and grabbed the entire group in his arms. Spreading his wings, he leapt to the air, flying straight for the door. "Ouch!" he hissed as he felt something scratch his chest. "Whose nails?"

"Well, you caught Ruby off guard!" Jade pointed out as they landed beyond the falling pillars as the dust settled. "I think she got me, too."

"Same here," Apple Bloom added, rubbing her foreleg.

"Me too," Sweetie added, rubbing a spot on her neck.

"Gack!" Scootaloo winced as she ruffled her feathers. "Too near the wing!"

"Is that what that was," Jackie grumbled as he rubbed his arm.

"Did it leave a mark?" Viper asked worriedly as she gingerly touched a spot near her spine on her bare midriff.

"Not on you," Sonata confirmed as she rubbed her wrist.

Ruby meowed, her tone somewhere between indignant and apologetic.

"Oh, we aren't blaming you," Jade spoke up quickly as Hsi Wu shifted back to human form. "It caught us all off guard."

"It's my fault," Sonata apologized, holding the box out to Jackie. "I should have waited and listened. That's my bad."

Jackie took the box. "Well, as long as you've learned..."

"I'ma go meet up with my sisters so we can try and swipe it!" Sonata offered cheerfully. "Later!" With that, she dashed off with her arms held wide making airplane noises, her hair bouncing back and forth heavily.

Sighing, Jackie started to open the box. "Well, at least we got-" He gasped as he saw the box was empty save for a velvet cushion that had - until recently - cradled some form of statuette. "WHA?"

As the others leaned in to look in confusion, Viper whistled as she saw Sonata seem to vanish. "Damn, underestimated her..."

"Wait, you mean she-?" Jackie began in shock. "But how?"

"It's like Ratso and the Box all over again!" Scootaloo groaned, putting her hoof to her forehead. "At least it wasn't my fault for missing it this time..."

Jackie groaned as he stared at the empty box. "Bad day..." Shaking his head, he stood up. "Well, looks like we need to track them down..."

"Which way, Ruby?" Jade asked curiously.

"Meow!" Ruby pointed confidently back towards town.

"Well, this shouldn't be too difficult," Viper observed. "Audrey's back that way."

As the group turned to go, no one noticed a cloaked figure shadowing them, an odd chuffing sound percolating in the air as it passed.

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