Last Session: >You and Baron continuing exploring the rest of the cave for Diamond Dogs, narrowly avoiding a couple of traps >The final area of the cave is empty, but there are gems everywhere >Baron, who hasn't been your friend for most of the patrol, finally looks like he's lightening up when you give him to go ahead to grab a few valuables >The two of you fight about your situation in Equestria, Baron going so far as to fight you when you ignore him >After resolving the fight, you pick up a tarnished metal cube half the size of your palm, made of some strange reflective and moving solid >You grab a few stones as well: a garnet, an emerald, and a pre-cut oval onyx >As you leave, Gold Heart meets you and tells you that Tiamat is getting closer >Thorn says something about hearing "her" and Gold Heart has to yell at him to get back into focus >You are currently on the flight back to camp
You and Baron climb onto Thorn and he takes off towards the camp. Gold Heart still seems a bit shaken by the news she relayed to you, and she idly strokes away at the smaller spines on the back of Thorn's head as she stares off into the horizon.
Baron's focus and surly demeanor have returned through his usual sour grimace, but he keeps looking at you every so often.
Thorn seems uneasy. Every so often during the flight, you see his claws clench and his eyes wince. It lasts only for a moment each time, but it doesn't seem to be bothering is ability to fly. The flight seems to be the only thing going smoothly right now.
Thorn bares his fangs at you in response and Gold Heart answers for him.
"There's a chance that the reason why dragons are disappearing is because Tiamat is making them," she explains. "Thorn can hear her, because she's projecting her voice into his thoughts. We're too far from the empire for it to be effective, but the closer we get, and the closer Tiamat comes to being free, the harder it will be for him to resist."
"The blackest of magic, I'd wager," Baron chimes in.
God Heart shakes her head and says, "Not exactly. While Tiamat's magic is powerful, this is more of a psychic link between her and the rest of the dragons, almost like that between a mother and child, but stronger. The sound of it is almost like they're being called home."
"The dragons are tough," Baron stomps a hoof against Thorn's back. "This should be nothing for a dragon like Thorn."
"Doesn't that mean that bringing dragons along with us will only increase Tiamat's strength? No offense, Thorn."
"None taken," he growls through his words.
"Tiamat's numbers might increase," Gold Heart says with a shrug, "but as Baron said, the dragons are tough. I believe with as many that have fallen to her side, there will be five times that who would stand against her."
Gold Heart stops stroking Thorn's spines, and turns to you, her green eyes dark with malice as they burn into your own.
"I'm going to pretend you didn't just say that," her words passing through clenched teeth before she takes a deep breath to calm herself. "Thorn and I have been together my entire life. Our bond is much greater than that any dragon sorceress could hold over him. You would be luck to form such a bond yourself in this lifetime."
Baron walks up behind you as Gold Heart's eyes turn back towards the horizon.
"Try to remember what I said about watching what you say and do," Baron whispers his advice. "Tartarus hath no fury like Gold Heart's wrath…or something like that."
"I apologize deeply for the poor choice of words, I'm quite unfamiliar with dragons and wondered what you felt the best course of action."
"I've already put a change of plans into effect, in case you've forgotten," Gold Heart reminds you. "Our forces will meet us at the coordinates I've given them and we'll take the straight flight to the empire once we've all rested. Your best course of action would be to trust my judgement, and Thorn. Or have you forgotten your little fall from yesterday?"
Gold Heart wanders off in Thorn's direction leaving you alone. There's still some curiosity about what had Baron so alert and Gold Heart doesn't seem like she's in the best state of mind herself. Maybe you could use a little rest too. There's a chance Luna might be waiting for you in your dreams.
>>594576 >There's still some curiosity about what had Baron so alert Can you quickly remind me of what you are referring to? The only thing I can remember is him acting strangely when he asked us to tag along to the caves
In an earlier session, Baron was looking around like something was about to happen during the time you watched Gold Heart train. He also seemed in a huge rush to leave camp. He's acting the same way now that you're back.
Whatever is going on with everyone else, you can deal with it later once you've gotten some rest. You look around and realize that you don't know where your tent is. No one actually pointed out where guests or other soldiers go to sleep. You could always chance it by peeking in, but you might also end up walking in on the wrong tent or waking up some other ponies.
As you look around wondering what to do, you hear a bubbly rasp call out your name.
"Hey," Lucent trots up to you. "What are you doing up still? Camp's been set up for at least an hour now. When I couldn't find you I thought you'd just gone to bed."
"Uh.. couldn't sleep just yet. Thought I'd stretch my legs for a bit. What's up?"
Lucent's smile brightens as a fizzy giggle comes out.
"Not a big fan of sleep either, huh?" she knocks a hoof against your thigh. "I was just looking for Baron. He said he was going on patrol earlier and I thought that might have been him coming in with Thorn. Did you see where he went?"
>>594586 >"Not a big fan of sleep either, huh?" "At least not on the bare ground." >"Did you see where he went?" "He was wandering around the camp just a few moments ago, but no idea where he could be now"
"He was wandering around the camp just a few moments ago, but no idea where he could be now"
The little batpony's face falls a bit as she says, "Aww, he must have gone to bed already."
A small smirk flashes over her face not a moment after she stops talking.
"I can still show you where your tent is," she says as she takes your hand in her hooves and pulls you in the same direction that Baron ran off. "You're pretty big, so we had to make you a tent like the princesses'. Not as fancy, but you should have enough room."
You hold your head high as you strut into the tent with all the regality proper of a princess. Inside the tent is your own table with a bowl, plate,a single set of silverware and a large, shabby looking cot.
"Sorry about the bed," Lucent laughs. "Had to throw it together last minute. Lucky for you some of the medics have some sewing skills working with cloth as well as skin."
"Did I miss something? He looked fine to me when I saw him earlier, as grumpy as always."
"Well," Lucent taps her mouth with her hoof for a second. "He wouldn't like me saying this, but he doesn't really like me hanging out with other guys in general. We used to be a thing, but we had our problems and decided to just stay friends."
Her head droops a bit as she continues with, "Doesn't stop him from him from continuing to act like a jealous boyfriend though."
"That was one of the reasons it all went downhill," Lucent says as she trots over to your cot.
Hopping onto the makeshift bed, she jumps up and down on it to check if it's sturdy, then curls up to make herself comfy.
"He would act like a jealous boyfriend by beating up on the other guys who showed any sort of interest in me," she punches the air a bit before hanging her head over the edge of the cot, "then lie to me about it whenever it came up. He seems to be getting better, but that's just because I've pretty much had to cut myself off from stallions almost completely."
She looks up at you and her eyes narrow.
"He hasn't done anything to you has he?" she asks. "I know you're no stallion, but I'm telling you, his mohawk of a mane is green for a reason."
>>594601 Well shit, I guess we have to tell her now. I have the feeling that lying to her would have some severe consequences and we told Baron that we wouldn't lie if she explicitly asks about anything from our trip.
There's a long silence in the air as you think about what to say next. Lucent continues to stare at you and wait for an answer. You explain to her the events that led up to the exploration of the cave and what happened while you were there. Lucent takes the story well and enjoys the fight between you and the Diamond Dogs to the point of cheering at the end of it. The parts where you and Baron fought are the hardest for her to hear, but she nods quietly and doesn't say much until you're finished.
"We had some disagreements, but we've settled it and that's in the past now."
"Ya know," she flies off the cot and hovers before you, "I may not be afraid of the dark anymore, but I still hate being left alone in it. You and Baron shouldn't have to hide things from the ponies who are closest to you."
Lucent prods your bruised cheek rather hard with her hoof.
>Hopping onto the makeshift bed, she jumps up and down on it to check if it's sturdy, then curls up to make herself comfy. >she punches the air a bit before hanging her head over the edge of the cot That's a pretty adorable pony
"As for your thing with Gold Heart," she continues, "I want you to come clean with her. She's going through a rough time with Thorn and the dragon empire, but I think know would be the best time for her to deal with something like this. Hide it from her now and it'll only make it harder for her to deal with later."
She wraps her her forelegs around your neck and brings you into a tight hug. The faint fragrance of lilies dances into your nose for a moment.
"I'll take care of Baron," she says as she holds you. "Don't worry about him, and if you have any more problems, please talk to me about them. I'll even help out with Gold Heart, if you want. Just…please don't keep things from me anymore."
You made a deal with Baron that if you didn't tell Lucent about you coming with him, he wouldn't tell Gold Heart about killing the Diamond Dog. That's what Lucent told you to talk to her about and what she would help you with if you wanted.
"No idea, I hoped you could tell me. Metal doesn't really look like that were I come from. Whatever it was, the diamond dogs thought it was important enough to keep hidden away. Maybe it's magic."
"Could be," Lucent says, "but I wouldn't know anything about it. You'd probably have a better chance asking one of the princesses or looking through the Canterlot library. They might have something about it in the dragon empire, but we won't really know until we get there."
Gold Heart lets out a loud yawn and lands back on the ground.
As she makes her way out of the tent, she says, "I'm pretty beat, so I'm going back to my tent. G'night…or Good morning. Whichever."
She gives you a sleepy smile with the sunlight shining over her pink mane from behind.
>>594628 I was under the impression that she either had important things to do or went to bed. Either way it should be enough if we tell her when a good chance comes up, rushing over to her and telling her how we decapitated a DD seems kinda weird.
You could go to sleep now, but you might have a hard time of it if you don't tell Gold Heart about what happened in the caves. Best thing to do would be to take Lucent's advice and come clean about killing the Diamond Dog. You're just having a hard time of figuring out how to tell her.
Heading out of the tent, you make way for the edge of the camp where Gold Heart and Thorn are supposed to be. Most of the day guard are running around, keeping order and talking amongst themselves. There's a lot of excited chatter about the dragon empire. Apparently this is the first time a large group of outsiders has visited in a long time. There aren't a lot of ponies who make their home in the dragon empire because of how rambunctious the non-royals can be. All of it is a nice distraction from what you're actually out here to do, but it all comes flooding back when you see Gold Heart.
Thorn is sleeping beside her while she watches over him. There are tears staining the rust of her coat near the small bags beneath her eyes. She seems to be whispering something, but you can't make out what it is.
"Hey Gold Heart, is everything okay? Should I come back later?"
"No," Gold Heart sniffles as she wipes some tears away. "I know you were probably looking forward to our training session this morning, but at least you were able to go on patrol, so that's acceptable enough for me."
"There's nothing physically wrong with him," Gold Heart tells you. "He's just fighting against Tiamat's control. Was there something you wanted to talk about, or did you just come to check up on us? I apologize if we've worried you."
>>594641 >"I know you were probably looking forward to our training session this morning" "Who doesn't look forward to being beaten up. I wanted to talk about something that happened during the patrol…"
Someone else who is better with words write the explanation please
"You remember how you talked about valuing everyone's life, even that of your enemies? When we found the Diamond Dogs resting room they immediately charged us and one of them more or less stumbled into my sword…"
"Well, it's about the patrol, actually. When we encountered the diamond dogs in the tunnels, we…well we had to fight them and…one of them ended up dead."
"That," she pauses. "That is unfortunate, but I don't-"
"When we found the Diamond Dogs resting room they immediately charged us and one of them more or less stumbled into my sword…"
Gold Heart is silent. Her brow knots on her face and her mouth is set into a deep frown. She gets up and walks towards you, mouth open as if to say something. It closes again and you hear a frustrated growl from her. Tears are starting to form in her eyes again, but she just takes a deep breath, and locks eyes with you.
"Say that again," she tells you, the anger crackling against the volume of her voice. "Tell me exactly how it happened, and this time, say it like a proper soldier, not like some hesitant recruit who made a mistake."
>>594648 >want to check the old thread to refresh my memory on what exactly happened >its gone well, shit
"We found their resting room and it looked like they were all asleep, but before we could even decide what to do we were spotted and attacked. It came to a melee and one of them charged me - he ran straight into my blade and ended up dead."
"We found their resting room and it looked like they were all asleep, but before we could even decide what to do we were spotted and attacked. It came to a melee and one of them charged me - he ran straight into my blade and ended up dead."
"Was it an accident?" she commands the answer from you. "Or was it a purposeful strike to end his life?"
>>594653 You may recall that we were given a choice for what type of roll to make. We chose to attack, and now we have to live with the consequences. There's nothing to be gained by trying to evade responsibility.
"It was a purposeful strike. I could have dodged. I could have blocked, or parried.
…but I didn't."
There's a nod from Gold Heart. She comes up and slaps you across the face against your unblemished cheek with her hoof.
"If you were in this army I would have you demoted for disobeying a direct order," Gold Heart yells at you. "I understand that you were ambushed, but it is in times of crisis like that when our wits are our most valuable asset. I've told you before to think about what you do before you do it. Relying on your base instinct will save your life, but rising above it is what will make you better than your enemies."
Gold Heart points at Thorn.
"He's struggling with that very thing right now," she says with tears in her eyes. "He's fighting as hard as he can against everything in his body telling him to leave and join Tiamat. He doesn't do it for himself either. Thorn does it for himself, the dragon empire, and for me."
Gold Heart clenches her teeth and stomps the ground with her hoof. Tears are falling down her face, and her anger melts away with them. She trots forward and rests her head against your leg. Wrapping a foreleg around it, she cries into you.
"I…I understand," she manages to say through choked sobs. "You were only defending yourself and I forgive you. I'm sorry and I forgive you."
There's another few moments of silence from here before she finally says "I'm sorry" once more.
You take her into your arm for a hug and tell her, "It's okay, it was my fault. I should have listened to you".
"He didn't have to die," she whipsers, her cries getting weaker. "He didn't have to die."
Thorn awakens and watches you comfort her for a moment. He calls out to Gold Heart who lifts her head to acknowledge him. She leaves you and curls back up next to Thorn.
"Sleep now, young one," Thorn says to her, placing a wing over her body. "Your dreams await."
Gold Heart nuzzles into Thorn's side, and in moments, she's fast asleep.
The bronze dragon looks at you and says, "Know that you have done nothing wrong here, human. Confessing your sins to the ones you've wronged and asking for their forgiveness is something you should not be afraid of or ashamed of. You have my deepest respect, and hers as well, I'm sure."
Thorn nuzzles the end of his nose against Gold Heart's head, and rests his body with a great sigh.
"Go now," he tells you with a smile. "From what I understand, dreams are not the only thing awaiting you."
Leaving Gold Heart and Thorn, you return to your tent and fall back onto your cot. It's rather comfortable, and there's just enough room for you to stretch out. Your eyelids grow heavier with each passing second and sleep takes you within less than a minute.
You're back at the castle again. You've gotten familiar with this recurring dream and find your way to the courtyard with no trouble at all. It's exactly as you left it before. The castle itself is charred and broken, but the night sky surrounding you is filled with rivers of beautiful stars and the remnants of a broken moon rest within them. Sitting in the small patch of flowers you made is Luna. She's plucking off flower petals with her teeth and blowing them away into the air. Each one breaks into two smaller ones, then those two into four, and so on until the petals become microscopic dust that floats away into the passing breeze.
>>594664 "It's been a really busy day and I had to set a bunch of things righ- wait, what do you mean, you have been waiting for quite a while? How could you have entered my dream before I'm even asleep?"
>>594666 "Baron took me out on patrol. We found a cave network that some diamond dogs had been living in. We fought them, and…I killed one. Dunno how else to say it…"
"When we were done clearing the place out, Baron and I, we uh…got into a bit of a fight. He didn't like how friendly I was with Lucent. Once we'd both calmed down a bit, he offered me a deal. I don't mention the fight to Lucent, and he doesn't mention my kill to Golden Heart."
"I…didn't take that deal. Lucent asked me how I'd gotten hurt, and I couldn't bring myself to lie to her face. Baron's probably going to hate me, but…I guess I just can't please everyone."
"And just before I came here, I paid Gold Heart a visit…to confess. Baron was sure to tell her about what happened in the tunnels, so I decided to let her hear it from me first."
"She took it about as well as could be expected, I guess. This whole situation's taking its toll on her. At least she seemed grateful that I'd been up-front with her…once she was done decorating the other half of my face." Touch the spot where she hit you.
"You have been in Equestria no more than two days and already you have seen and done more than I have in one thousand years and counting," Luna pouts. "I can not say I am pleased by this. My morning consisted of a message from the Dragon Empire about Tiamat closing the distance between herself and the entrance to Tartarus."
Luna stands up from her position and begins to pace before you.
"A fight with Diamond Dogs," she begins to list, "deals between yourself and Baron, lies, confessions, and you are physically wounded?"
She pauses her pacing to take a deep breath and nods, looking into your eyes.
"I have decided," she says in a booming voice, and then clears her throat. "My apologies, but from now on, I shall accompany you wherever you go. It is clear to me now that you are a source of interesting events and occurrences and I refuse to be left out of them anymore."
>>594682 Ok, this is better than what I was going to write. I second this.
Ask her if she doesn't have duties she needs to attend to, though. Will we need to stick nearby her for those? It'd be nice to see what she does get up to during the day, since we usually only see her here or when there's something we need to work on together.
"Treasure?" Luna's eyes start to sparkle. "What need do we have of treasure when adventure will be that which we treasure most? Should you desire that which glitters greater than gold, you need only look towards my stars."
Luna's horn glows with magic and an explosion of stars booms within the sky above in rainbows of color.
Luna nods and says, "That is a possibility. In the few short years since my return, there has been much for me to learn. However, my royal duties prevent me from investigating mysteries of this nature firsthand."
You look around to hear where the voice came from and look towards Luna.
"Was that you…?"
"I could never conjure up such vile laughter up within myself," Luna frowns and readies a spell from her horn. "Who are you that speaks to us now?"
"Princess Luna," the voice clicks its disembodied tongue. "I am disappointed that you don't remember me. Though I suppose I can't blame you. It has been over one thousand years. Are you sure you don't have that a laughter that resonates with my own, deep, deep down within you?"
The laughter rings out again.
"Oh, human," the voice calls to you. "You seem intelligent enough, despite your looks. How about a guess, hm? Who do you think I am?"
"Very good," the mother of dragons applauds you. "Though I suppose it wasn't a very difficult question. I bet you're wondering how I'm talking to you right now. 'Oh, she can only speak to dragons' you must be thinking. 'How can she be talking to us now?'"
"Enough of your games, Tiamat," Luna shouts. "Show yourself, so that we may send you back to your rightful place in Tartarus."
"I must say Luna," Tiamat yawns, "you're much more entertaining as your darker counterpart. Now that mare had class and took such pleasure in toying with other ponies. A shame her goals were too simple. Eternal night? Absolutely laughable!"
Tiamat's laughter rises to an almost ear splitting scream that makes the both of you wince in pain. Wait a minute? You felt pain. In a dream.
"What do you want, Tiamat? We're kind of busy here."
"Please, human," Tiamat scoffs. "This is your dream, is it not? The least you can do it be more hospitable to your guests. My purpose here is to show you the extent of my power. The closer I get to escaping this prison, the more powerful I will become. Do you think a little mind games and invincibility are the limits of my capabilities?"
"We know very well what you are capable of, Tiamat," Luna remarks. "You are also capable of leaving us be. You have made your statement. Depart at once."
There's a moment of silence before Tiamat's voice speaks, "Very well. No sense in going where I'm not wanted. All of you already belong to me anyway. Tartarus has just been house arrest for me. Rather cozy, aside from the chains."
"Leave," Luna booms. "Now."
A few stars begin to supernova across the cosmos in a brilliant display of explosive power. The stars freeze in the middle of their destruction, and Tiamat's voice is not heard for some time. Luna shakes her head and rests back down in the field.
"What was that about? Since she knew that I exist I assume that it was her who brought me here, but for what purpose?"
"I doubt that Tiamat would have the power to bring you here," Luna says. "Her level of omniscience comes from a spell of her own crafting. There many things a pony can do if you have the proper spell."
>>594706 "It just seems weird to me that she would take the time to invade my dreams and talk to me. I am neither as strong as a dragon, nor do I have magic like you and your sister. You would think she had better things to do."
"It just seems weird to me that she would take the time to invade my dreams and talk to me. I am neither as strong as a dragon, nor do I have magic like you and your sister. You would think she had better things to do."
"She does it for the attention," Luna explains. "As I have said, she is a narcissist of the highest caliber. If she has taken interest in you, it is probable that her reason would be the same as anypony else. You are unique to this world. As intriguing and rare as that metallic cube."