• Published 18th Mar 2013
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Siren Song - TheDarkStarCzar

My name is Sea Swirl and I love swimming in the Ocean. That hardly tells you anything about a pony, though. My name is Sea Swirl and my Mother is a thief and a murderer. Maybe. Maybe that tells you too much.

  • ...

Actions at the Auction

Dear Princess Celestia,

Attached you will find both the Griffon and Ponyville guard's after action reports, the former describes how we came to be in such a fix as we found ourselves and the latter details the rather awkward, but somewhat less urgent one we find ourselves in now. I'm including my own account on the grounds that neither of them adequately capture the nuance of the situation and I require counsel on how to proceed with such unusual prisoners as we've taken and ambiguous leads we have to follow.

Your Faithful Student,

Twilight Sparkle

My awareness coalesced in the middle of a sentence. Was I speaking? I wasn't sure. There were crimson eyes bordered by a turquoise coat in my face so close that I saw the pores beneath her fur and felt her breath on my skin. A chlorophyll green mane came into view as Sea Breeze retreated to assess my appearance with a discerning eye and I realized it was her voice I was hearing.

"...the crown jewel all tarted up and ready to go." She smirked, "One last thing." She draped my Element around my neck. Rather than a glorious crown it was instead suspended by a crude leather strap crisscrossed about it's middle.

When she moved away I was able to take in the full vista, a cathedral of fairly moderate proportions, feverishly decorated with haphazard smatterings of disjointedly opulent luxury. The grey stone and timber underpinnings were of the ancient griffon style, artfully and humbly carved. Each embellishment organically placed in a logical manner. It spoke of dedication, humility and discipline. Overall it was a warm embracing of the griffon's cardinal virtues in carved stone.

More recent additions were gilt gold idols, strings of gaudy pearls and swags of silk all held in place by hard cut nails driven carelessly into the ancient masonry. Gold candelabras stood head high on Corinthian marble columns illuminating the space with a flickering, overbearing light. Absurdly delicate rugs from the far East were arrayed on the floor, though mismatched they provided a red carpet to the silk cushioned benches that stood where the pews ought to be. Sideboards that would have looked at home in a mansion but were woefully underscaled for a cathedral were heaped with all manner of exotic fruits and delicacies.

A roast pig, apple in his mouth, stood atop one of these and I'll say little more about that.

Along the walls were lined up the Ponyville reserves all in brand new dress uniforms with a touch of gleaming plate armor to play up their martial attributes. They were armed with matching halberds, pole arms not well suited to use in modern warfare but very pleasing to the eye. They stood at attention with inequine rigidity, a score along each wall. Several more were dressed as officers, though the distribution seemed to be at random based on who would look most picturesque in their striking raiment rather than by merit of rank. It was just as well. The mock officers seemed to be poised for duty as butlers more than anything, arrayed around the buffets as they were.

Four griffons stood nakedly unarmed at the head of the room and a further eight at the rear. Even without armament it was clear that they, and not the tin soldiers along the walls, were the true deterrent force present here.

All this I took in in a moment. The donkey behind Sea Breeze hadn't escaped my notice either. It was the same miserable creature who'd overseen us disassembling our own ship days before. Somehow he'd been given wings between then and now, their feathers were set askew and, on the whole, poorly formed.

"Sacred Song, I'm not one for playing dress up," The donkey wheezed, struggling with an uncooperative gilt edged garment, "Help me into this thing!"

Sea Breeze rolled her eyes and turned to him, "Ass! Sort it out for yourself. I wouldn't touch you with somepony else's magic!"

That proved to be untrue because she told me to help him and I levitated the heavy velvet garment, draped it over him and tied it's gold cord at his throat. It was then that I realized that my mind and body were not working in tandem. I tried to move and found it impossible, but Sacred Song ('til but a moment ago, Sea Breeze to me) turned me right around, marched me over to the other Element Bearers and stood me in line with them, which I took to placidly and obediently.

The girls, like the cathedral itself, had been dolled up with fine frocks and golden brocades in their manes. Their hooves were polished and trimmed with silver shoes and around each neck hung the Elemental gems from incongruously shoddy looking strings. As if cued by me the donkey, now clad in gold trimmed velvet himself, shabby wings and coat concealed, thought to comment on the poor state of the Elements.

"Those gems look stupid." He said flatly, "We may as well just have them rubberbanded onto their forehooves or something. It just looks unprofessional. You wanted all this hoity toity business so the clients would take you seriously, but then the main attraction, the whole point of the thing and you cop out and act like it doesn't even matter."

Sacred Song shrugged. I'd expected a violent outburst as a petulant villain usually acts towards a lackey, but she seemed to agree, "According to the papers they turned into gems and made their own mountings the first time these mares used them. I was hoping they'd do it again. It's kind of why I tested them out, but whatever. They'll still buy them whether they're hung from gold or kite string."

"What is it you expected them to do to me anyway?" The donkey demanded, "I'm pretty sure you didn't expect these bloody wings?"

"I don't know exactly, since they're the epitome of harmony I was hoping they'd make you less of an ass or something, who cares? It's not like there was any chance they'd kill you." She said.

"Just turn me to stone or banish me to the moon?" He replied angrily.

"Oh, quit whining, you got wings out of the deal, you should be happy." She grinned. He snorted and turned away. She looked us all over and finally drew a veil curtain in front of us. We could see out clearly, but we would only be shadows unless one was right up against the curtain looking in, "It's almost time, but I think everything's ready."


A Brief footnote regarding the donkey's wings if you will indulge me. When we were at liberty to speak again I brought up the matter to the girls in an off handed way and they all just passed it off as an oddity of the Elements of Harmony's workings except for Pinkie Pie. It seems to be the case that she was somewhat more aware during that little episode and she takes responsibility for the wings saying that the donkey, Bray by name, was a former slave from a long line of slaves and lackeys stretching back through history. She wanted him to come out of this happier and freer if such a thing were possible, "What says freedom more than a pair of wings?" She asked and so she apparently influenced the Elements in this way. How she knew his history and how precisely she managed that, when I and the others report a lack of awareness when they have been brought to bear previously, merits some study. As to their grotesque and deformed appearance, Pinkie Pie explained that I should "Cut me some slack, I've never made wings before. I'll try to practice up before the next time, I swear." I tried to get her to expand on that somewhat, but it just resulted in a headache and more questions. Rainbow Dash seems to think they'll look better once the donkey molts and new feathers grow in.

I find the whole matter to be astounding.


When I had seen them, the girls had all been dull eyed with the same stiff posture with which I seemed afflicted. We stood on a raised platform, a stage where a pulpit had once been set, but walled off with a filmy curtain. Beyond it the sun had just begun to stream through the stained glass windows, casting their shafts through the physically depicted tenets of the griffon faith. Mixed with the candlelight, the dawning morning through colored glass gave an oddly hopeful effect considering how obvious it had become that we were to be sold off to some presumably horrible fate.

As soon as the morning light was fully evident through the windows the doors were thrown open wide and various agents of evil began to trickle in. I do quite literally mean agents of evil, too. First there was a tall, sleek, undisguised changeling, a shrewd look behind the blue orbs of his eyes. Behind him came a dappled grey Saddlearabian wearing simple but expensive looking linens, a jewel encrusted ceremonial dagger winked wickedly from where it hung on his sash. It was eyed disgustedly by a camel who pushed by him, sharing heated words for a moment. That's to be expected, one must suppose, as they are on opposite sides of a centuries old conflict and set to be bidding against each other. The wary eye might detect some anomalies beneath the camel's own brightly colored silks which were indicative of light weaponry.

A grey feathered griffon, coat and plumage adorned with crisscrossed battle scars and nothing else stepped in, obviously feeling out of place in the gathering crowd he went straight to the buffet and started grazing nervously and picking bits of meat from the roast pig.

With a broad brimmed, snakeskin banded hat the zebra was easy to pick out as a prospective buyer himself. Some small time warlord, it was unrealistic of him to expect to be on par with the rest of the crowd, but the butt of a combat knife peeking from under his tooled leather saddlebags and his nervous demeanor labeled him as someone to watch out for.

The balance of the crowd were a bland mix of creatures, but the kind of bland that was clearly intentional. They all milled around the buffet and even mingled to a degree. Just before the doors were shut a rather unique personage winged his way in. At first I thought it was kin to Discord himself, some sort of dragoneques, but that wasn't the case. It was a lithe, green, snakelike dragon, the size of a teenager but with a look of ageless wisdom behind his azure eyes. If a dragon's horde were financing this bidder then the sky was the limit.

The churchbell chimed and the doors were sealed shut. From a side entrance entered Sacred Song, Bray in tow close behind her. Even with all the shady deals he'd done in his life he appeared nervous before this crowd. It made little difference, he was just the auctioneer, Sacred Song would do all the talking.

"Mares, gentlecolts, esteemed and reviled creatures of various dark enclaves, welcome to what is certain to be the auction of a lifetime." She began, having hopped up on a low bench placed for just such a purpose. She had put on a patterned skirt and loose blouse which were surprisingly inelegant, but it hid her cutie mark, tail and enough of her back that she could have had wings for all you could tell. Her mane was contained under a stylish scarf and she was wearing glasses which seemed to shift her eye color to a purple shade. There was even a poof in her scarf that disguised her horn. It was all subtle, but should be effective camouflage should someone choose to track her down later. "I'm sure you all want to get to the main event, but I would hate to have you miss an opportunity to own your very own slave army. Take a look around. These guards aren't just for your protection, they're for sale too. Each and every one ready to follow any command, march against insurmountable odds, put their very lives on the line without so much as a second thought. Buy one and they'll be released to you, to follow only your command, totally compliant, after the main event's concluded."

"Who'll start the bidding for this fine, fit Ponyvillian mare, all fitted out for battle? Which discriminating connoisseur of military might will add this fine specimen to their battalion today?" Bray started and the whole crowd collectively groaned. This wasn't what they came for, they were set to bid on the Elements of Harmony, not these peons. Regardless there were a quick smattering of bids and the donkey eventually proclaimed her sold for a mere eight thousand bits. Money changed hooves, Sacred Song spoke to the auctioned soldier who nodded once in understanding and they moved on to the next one.

In just a short while all the soldiers had been accounted for, most of them going to the zebra warlord. The griffons were likewise sold off. Then even the Griffons not present, numbering another dozen, were sold as a lot. They were described as the elite of the group who'd been set to guarding the perimeter, not being present for inspection their price was considerably discounted in the bidding, but Sacred Song didn't seem one to leave any bits on the table, even though it was obvious that the Elements would draw a fortune to put the sale of the small army to shame. Towards that end she announced one final lot before the star attraction.

"We have an odd lot to settle the disposition of before we move on to the last item of the day." Sacred Song announced and gestured towards a nearby passage. From it emerged a lavender and green dragon, "He might be a baby, but if you know anything about dragonfire you'll find him useful for communication. He's been a slave all his life even before my unique conditioning so he's quite obedient. Lastly it's a fact that he's currently magically anchored to Princess Celestia herself, so if you ever wanted to send a little something her way, this is a fine opportunity. Mind you it's a two way link so it might do well to sever it quickly thereafter. Your dragon, your lookout."

"Who'll start the bidding at a paltry hundred thousand?" Bray asked, but had to drop it to fifty before anyone spoke up but then it skyrocket to well over two hundred thousand before the bidding plateaued. The current high bidder was the grey griffon, the second highest being the green dragon.

"What do you even want him for?" The dragon hissed and rose, pointing a hostile claw at the griffon.

"Maybe I want to make boots out of his hide, what's it to you?" The griffon replied with a snarl.

"I want to bring him back to the dragonlands, back to his people where he belongs. It's most shameful to treat a noble creature this way!" The dragon spit on the ground, flicked his tongue and paced in nervous agitation. His large stature didn't seem to bother the griffon overmuch.

"The bid for two thirty five, going once..." Started the donkey, but the dragon wheeled around to face him and stuck a claw in his face.

"Your two high bidders are talking. Do not interrupt." Bray gulped and waited as they argued the merits of dragon ownership with each other in vehement mutterings which involved considerable scowling and chest poking. The gallery of eligible bidders grumbled, but given the stature of the dragon in particular they let the delay slide. I did, however, hear several mumbles about how auctions generally did not work in just this manner.

Then I felt a taloned hand on my flank which startled me considerably, but there was little enough I could do to express it, "Relax," Captain Grizelda's voice said from behind me, "We intend to free you, but it's taking longer than we'd initially planned and we've only got eleven griffons...and one mad mare. We've sent for reinforcements but the closest real garrison is many miles distant. Just hold on a moment..."

"Captain!" Another griffon harshly whispered, "That donkey's coming up here!"

With a curse and an assurance that she'd return for us shortly Captain Grizelda retreated before the donkey surmounted the platform. The argument on the floor just then reached it's final conclusion.

"Look, if you buy the dragon I'm just going to hunt you down, kill you, and take him from you so it's in your best interest not to." The dragon concluded dispassionately, "Two thirty five and one bit." he bid and his opposition ceded Spike to him.

"Sold." Bray said with his hoof on the curtain, ready to let it fall away at a moments notice.

"Our last item of the day," Sacred Song said brightly, "are the Elements of Harmony themselves. The complete set in all their glory. You've read about them, quaked in fear of them, now you can own them for whatever great or ignoble purpose you see fit to put them to."

Bray dropped the curtain and we were all exposed to the leering eyes of that hateful crowd. One of them spoke up from the back, voicing the concerns they all must have been feeling, "How do we know they're the real deal?"

Sacred Song sighed theatrically, "If you win the bidding you may test them on premises before you hand over your bits. It's troublesome in that using the Elements negates the control they're under, but I can recast it for you. You'll have to come up with your own spell for future uses, however."

"What if one of these other fools ambushes us once we leave with them?" The same stallion asked. The dragon's method of winning the bidding on Spike rather begged the question.

"I will take precautions to ensure your safety from your immediate company. Beyond that it's your own lookout. You're playing with the big colts now, so you're just going to have to cowpony up and deal with it. If you can't then you shouldn't be bidding." She said.

"What sort of precautions?"

"Since you'll all want to leave under the cover of darkness anyway, just as you arrived, and it's quite a wait, I'll let the winning bidder depart an hour before and detain everyone else..." Sacred Song started.

"What makes you think you can keep any of us here?"

"I'd rather not play the part of an impolite hostess, but the fact is that I have in my hooves the Elements of Harmony who defeated Nightmare Moon, Discord and Chrysalis. You'll have to take that as emblematic of my power. If you force me to start making threats I will make good on them." She rolled her eyes, clacked her right hoof against her left and widened her stance aggressively, "Let's be honest. There are six of you who are serious bidders, three more who think they are and a few dilettantes. With the power I posses it would be the simplest thing in the world to rob you all and force you to fight each other to the death." She paused for effect, letting the audacity of her threat sink in, "But then your bosses would get word and I'd have to kill literally everyone involved in even the remotest way when all I want to do is have a fun little auction so I can buck off and retire, alright? So let's just take it as read that I'm as badflank as rumored and y'all are going to be polite and do as I ask because I just don't have the patience for anything else. If you really need me to prove it, how 'bout I off someone?" She scanned the crowd, "You!" She pointed to a nondescript tan coated stallion. The assembled bidders moved away, stumbling over benches and backpedaling. Sacred Song screwed up her face in concentration and held a hoof to her temple. The stallion shut his eyes tight and trembled. She dropped her hoof, relaxed and laughed, "Naw, I'm just bucking with you, seriously, you're great!" There was a murmur of nervous laughter that evolved into stamping applause as the crowd filled back in.

Satisfied and more than a little cowed, the crowd settled down and got back to creepily staring at us with lustful looks. I'm less than convinced that they were lusting after only the power we represented. I was desperately hoping for a griffon army to burst through the door and free us, but it didn't happen and the bidding just went on and on. I admit I'd never given any thought to the value of the elements, given the impracticality of cashing them in, but when they got to five hundred million bits even I started to feel a tinge of greed. I'll write it again so you don't think I miswrote it. Five. Hundred. Million.

The six high rollers seemed prepared for it, all the way up to two fifty, but after that half of them dropped out. Then after four fifty there were only two left to maintain the spectacle. One was the Saddlearabian who must have had an endless supply of bits. He didn't flinch or hesitate before raising his bid. In fact he seemed fairly bored by the whole thing. The opposing bidder was a charcoal grey unicorn stallion and it was clearly evident that he'd reached his bidding limit at five fifty.

He jokingly asked, "Could I perhaps have a discount as my employer only requires the crystals and has little enough interest in the mares themselves? Slaves are pretty easy to come by, after all."

Though there were chuckles there was also, disturbingly, an answer as the zebra warlord spoke up, "I could put twenty five million in on those terms."

The Saddlearabian, scoffed and upped the bid to six hundred. Now I had the debatable distinction of saying that my friends and I were worth a hundred million each. I started making plans. When we used the Elements as a test we'd be free for a second at least. Sacred Song, having lived along side us in Ponyville, knew of my magic, but since I rarely used it in public she likely underestimated the raw speed at which I could teleport. My very first move would be to snatch up Spike and send him to safety, I'm not likely to let some random dragon take him away from me. It would take too long to teleport all of the girls, though, so I'd have to work up a tactic to contain Sacred Song before we could be rehypnotized.

My friends were behind me, the soldiers were around the perimeter. Though it went against absolutely everything I believed in I quickly decided that I would cast a fire spell and burn everyone in the center of the room, including Sacred Song and Bray in an infernal blaze of magic. I'm not proud of that decision but I almost certainly would have gone through with it had the opportunity arisen, and that's a thing I'll have to reconcile with myself at some point. It wasn't to be, however, so we are fortunate in that.

To my right a deafening crash erupted from the stained glass window exploding inward under the weight of gargoyle swung from a length of stout cord. Bright jewels of shattered glass peppered the ground at my hooves as the midday light shone in effectively blinding everyone who'd turned to look. Had I been able to turn my head I would have looked too and so not seen the griffon emerge from the shadows and wrap a pair of strong talons around Sacred Song's muzzle. She bucked that griffon off but he was immediately replaced by three more of his compatriots, one of which was Georgia who screamed towards us, "Sing damn it, sing now!"

Behind me and to my left a voice was risen bright an clear, a lilting snippet of song in an ancient tongue and I turned my head to find Sea Swirl there beside me, anguish plain on her face. Behind her Rarity looked at me and blinked while Rainbow Dash's snarled and coiled to spring into a fight that hadn't even properly broken out yet. It registered that I had turned my head and thus was free so I turned back to face the advancing mob who seemed intent on retaking us. I tilted my head down and made ready to let loose a torrent of raw, reckless magic.

None came. It turns out I was wearing an inhibitor ring and couldn't see it perched on the base of my horn. Without a removal spell panic overtook me for a moment before I charged horn first into the fray anyway. Rainbow Dash beat me to it and even though the hundred or so bidders consisted of desperate criminals, scarred veterans and vicious killers they fell back from her numerous fast, brutal charges. The reservists had recovered themselves, though they were quite slow for my liking in actually taking up the fight.

They quickly realized the weapons they'd been holding were for show only and so they invariably chose to break off the heads and use their hafts as truncheons, beating the chaotic but largely unarmed mob into cowering submission. For my part I spun and bucked and lashed out with my horn goring several combatants. In my zeal I may have accidentally gelded a certain zebra warlord, though I don't feel overly sympathetic about my mistake.

The press of bodies soon became too much and were it not for Applejack having joined by my side I would have been overwhelmed. The element of surprise had worn off and the crowd, having little stake in the battle, was attempting to make for the exits, trampling anyone in their way.

I looked back. Rainbow Dash was holding her own or better, Pinkie Pie had acquired some sort of large headed wooden hammer of the sort used to drive tent stakes and she was bopping combatants on the head seemingly at random. Rarity stood by Fluttershy's side and between her dressing down any that approached her and using a military grade version of the stare and Rarity's intermittent physical attacks they seemed to be relatively safe.

I couldn't find Spike in the crowd, it's half to be expected, he's short. But I also noticed that the green dragon's tail was just visible as he slipped through the shattered window and realized the obvious, that he'd stolen away with Spike. No matter what the reason it wouldn't stand and I took off after him at a gallop, bursting through the window frame with a heedless leap.

Outside the sky was swarming with griffons, a couple hundred at least, who were picking off those who escaped the fracas inside. The dragon hovered in midair with Spike squirming and shouting in his grasp, surrounded by a sphere of well armed griffons. Even an old and wily dragon wouldn't make it out of that unscathed, at least not with his captive, so he threw Spike in the air flailing and hollering while he bolted. He flew fast and low to the ground and quickly outpaced the griffons, packing on one final burst of speed as he broke over the open ocean.

Spike was easily caught and brought back down to me and he explained to me that the dragon was just trying to keep him safe. He was quite conflicted by the idea that he'd been there to buy my friends and I as slaves but I think he was still grateful that he was one of the few who escaped. The only one of the bidders who did, in fact.

By the time I made my way back inside it was all over. The griffons had stormed in and violently detained everyone involved, including several of the scruffier looking reservists, but that was soon sorted out. There were numerous injuries, including a matching pair of black eyes for both Rainbow Dash and Applejack, but no one was killed, which is a minor miracle. As they were binding and hauling the captives away I noticed ones conspicuous absence.

"Where's Sacred Song?" I demanded, but no one knew.

"Sea Swirl's missing too." A worried griffon, I believe it was Georgia, told me.

The interrogations that went on throughout the afternoon yielded underworld connections, criminal cartels, age old conspiracies, account numbers and directions to stashes of bits that would have made a king of dragons blush. What they did not provide was any knowledge on the whereabouts of Sacred Song or her daughter.

Bray, the hundred and third in his family line to bear that same name, according to him, was our most interesting find, even disregarding the wings. He had known Sacred Song for more than a decade and had not been under any sort of mind control, though he was deathly afraid of her. Beyond deathly. I think he would have gladly accepted death rather than face her ire again.

Given the sheer number of arrestees and the difficulty in temporarily housing them we'd had to relocate to an unused naval barracks nearby. Containment was provided by shields created by high level unicorn spell casters who were brought in for the purpose. It's a little mentioned fact that there are just as many ponies as griffons in Eagleland, and though they're not likely to ascend into the royalty too awfully soon, they are pretty heavily represented in all levels of government and the public service sector (Excepting the armed forces, which are still about ninety percent griffon.). Because of this there's a higher reliance on unicorn magic than one might guess. It's just as well as it took an expert to get the inhibitor off of my and Rarity's horns.

The barracks were even equipped with an interview room that was the classic interrogation room with it's bolted down furniture and one way mirror. Ostensibly they were for debriefings and training exercises. I was allowed in to talk to Bray and managed to take over the whole interview myself, the griffon officer sitting off to himself with a disinterested look. Captain Grizelda joined me a short while in, but likewise stayed mostly silent.

It quickly became obvious that this had elements that were well planned and others that were last second additions. Notably, Bray and his salvage operation had been scouted more than fifteen years ago. Sacred Song, as she's long been known on this side of the ocean, is a brigand. That much is clear by now and she wanted to use Bray to get rid of the purloined vessels she intended to possess in the future. She wanted his yard to warehouse her stolen goods while she shopped them around to fence. How precisely she intended to waylay these unfortunate vessels and crews in number and avoid scrutiny he was not clear on, but supposed she already had something worked out. She had intended to use the monastery as a residence, it's tall tower being a long disused lighthouse she'd simply have to install herself as the keeper and thus have cover for her presence and a cohort of brainwashed monks as well, one suspects.

Clearly she had things arranged for this to be her next stop after Ponyville. Bray says that the theft of the Elements of Harmony was a spur of the moment thing, even though she said to him that it wasn't and that kidnapping the Element Bearers was very much an afterthought as well. Having her own private army, as the Ponyville reserves had become, had long been a dream of hers and he concedes that she may have planned to install them in the monk's place since the very beginning.

He hadn't heard from her in as much as five years before he was informed by letter of her expected arrival. It arrived only a day before she did.

A lot of what he knew was pieced together from assumptions but he said that, yes, Pinkie Pie was brainwashed to sabotage the ship and do her best to get us here. She apologized loudly from the next room, largely dispelling the illusion that the one way mirror provided. He also verified that the coordinates on the painting were a trap made to look like she was trying to entice Sea Swirl to come find her but that it was really meant for us. She apparently thought it was quite clever and I suppose it was at that.

She was indifferent to Sea Swirl's involvement, but in the end, her daughter was all she came out of this debacle with. When news of what she's done hits the papers tomorrow it's going to be a national tragedy. Neither of them will be able to walk the streets of Eagleland undisguised for years after this, which leads me to believe she will have skipped the country.

Each one of the prisoners represents some villainous plot against you, excluding the Saddlearabian and the camel who are only plotting against each other. I'm not sure how serious to take any of these because I'm sure that every year of your long life has been filled with petty, failed plots and yet you're still around, strong as ever. I would be interested in knowing what methods they intended to use to weaponize the magic of friendship, but I find I have little taste for the interview process itself. It's best left to the experts and I can read the reports later, I suppose.

Rainbow Dash is flying acrobatic drills with the griffons, moments ago she did a sonic rainboom for them, the first that Eagleland's ever seen, so I'm sure they're impressed.

Fluttershy was invited for a walk in a nearby woods by a sweet young griffon. She's thrilled at the chance to see the indigenous animals. I'm not sure she realizes that he's trying to flirt with her, but then maybe I give her too little credit in such matters.

Applejack's touring a local apple orchard, no surprise. What is a surprise is that it is indeed a long lost branch of the Apple family tree, though they are tenant farmers for a griffon landlord.

Pinkie Pie and Rarity have put together a shopping trip into town for tomorrow and mean to drag me along. One wants to see the fashions, the other the pastries, I'll send some of that jasmine tea I know you like if I happen across it, but really I'll go along because I have things to think about and I know stewing over them while sitting here won't bring me any closer to any kind of solution.

These things I have to think about fall quite squarely into the 'Friendship Studies' category when I come to think of it. You know I'd gladly cross the globe to help my friends, but what about friends of friends? Acquaintances? Ponies I want to like but secretly annoy me? How far do I go for them? I'm not Pinkie Pie and I can't just make a blanket pronouncement that everyone is my friend. According to your mindset it's either a foalish idea on it's face or I've just not achieved an enlightenment sufficient to see the world that way yet.

Barring some unanticipated break in this case we've lost Sacred Song's trail and that may render the argument moot. Since we've gotten the Elements back and my closest friends are safe I could well see us cutting our losses and heading home. This is a murder investigation now and I'm not sure we can even help in it.

But then there's Sea Swirl. I'm the one who dragged her into this mess. At the time I think I wanted her as a proxy to revenge me against Sacred Song né Sea Breeze's betrayal. After the fiasco with the griffon airships and now her disappearing with Sacred Song, I have a hard time divorcing her from the sins of her mother, even though, intellectually I know that's not even fair. It's safe to say that if we don't go out of our way to try and save her, nobody else is libel to either. In short I feel obligated but I'm not sure, philosophically where a pony draws the line and just says it's not something I can help with this time.

Anyway, even though I sent a letter earlier so you'd know we were alright I'm sure you've been wondering precisely what happened so I'll conclude my report with that so I can send it off before it gets too late. You'll have to excuse any errors, for time savings I've only double checked this so there's bound to be a few.

My Faithful Student,

I'm relieved to hear that you came through this ordeal none the worse for wear and I'm proud of how you've acquitted yourself in dealing with this tragic mystery. Now that the facts have been brought out into the light it should be a much simpler matter to locate Sea Swirl and her mother. It happens that the information you've uncovered reveals to me her true identity, but more on that in a moment.

First I would like to address the question you've posed, though I think you already know the answer. You can't do everything yourself, nor is it healthy to try. If you've done your best and still cannot help Sea Swirl then there's no shame in leaving it to the professional soldiers.

I understand it's often hard to know how far to go, because in any matter there's always more you could have done and it's nigh impossible to find the demarcation between earnestly reasonable actions and obsessing.

My advice? Discuss it with your friends openly and honestly. You're never going to feel good about leaving somepony behind, but the harsh reality is that these things do happen and you can't blame yourself. I love all my little ponies and I particularly wish no harm to come to Sea Swirl as she is, presumably, an innocent. To this end my forces will leave no stone unturned in pursuit of those two.

Her mother is particularly troublesome. The whole family has been for several centuries back. Though much diluted with time her bloodline on the maternal side is descended from the pairing of a changeling queen and Star Swirl the Bearded himself, or so the rumor has it. It's more difficult than one might suspect to prove such a thing, but it's resulted in a unique bloodline trait, the hypnotic singing that's caused so much havoc. It's for just that reason that the eldest mare of their line is invariably dubbed with the name....

Author's Note:

From Twilight Sparkle's perspective.

Back to Sea Swirl, normal mode, in the next one and we get to actually know something about Siren Song.
Turns out she didn't want to be a mean mare, she wanted to be a Broadneigh dancer.
Or was that Mr. T?
Eh, whichever.