Last Session: >You wake up to meet with Luna outside your tent as promised, but it turns out she's a no show >Walking into the camp to look for her, you meet up with Lucent >Lucent brings you over to the princesses' tent and tells you about the talk she had with Baron last night >You meet up with Luna and Celestia who have breakfast/dinner with you at the mess tent >While Luna gets your food, Celestia chats with you a bit about Luna's happiness and Equestria's safety >She doesn't want anything bad to happen to you after seeing how happy Luna has been lately, but she also doesn't want you to become a threat to that happiness or the country >She doesn't want to regret you, but she will remove you if either comes into jeopardy >You show her the cube you found in the cave and Celestia seems startled by it, but before she can answer, Luna returns >You eat, mostly in silence, and leave for the chariots when you are finished >Camp has been packed up while you've been eating, but before you leave, you want to check up on Gold Heart >Gold Heart would rather not talk about her emotional display last night, so you tell her about Tiamat invading your dream instead >She becomes very interested in why she can communicate with you if you aren't a dragon, seemingly implying that you may be involved with Tiamat somehow without actually accusing you >You assuage her worries by stating that she did in fact harm you in the dream >She tells you to climb aboard Thorn with her, but you inform her that you've already promised to ride with Luna >Gold Heart and Thorn are mildly surprised by this, but accept this fact and depart >Lucent comes to retrieve you and brings you to the chariots now that everything is ready to go >She teases you about Luna, then tells you that she'll be pulling the chariot you'll be riding in >Lucent is very proud of being able to lead Luna's chariot, and informs you that Baron will be riding in a different chariot nearby >As you approach the chariots, Luna is smiling at you and Lucent is standing proud >Celestia is eyeing you as you pass, the weight of the world pressing down on you with her eyes >Gold Heart is watching you too, but not with the same level of intensity >You talk with Luna about having a word with Celestia for a moment and she allows it >Celestia asks if you would mind giving her the cube you found and explaining everything about it when you arrive at the Dragon Empire's Capital City of Taloran >You agree and she thanks you for trusting her with the object >You make an intentionally cutting comment about hoping that she will have trust in you someday, to which Celestia takes offense >You leave back to Luna and head for the air >After a brief conversation with Luna, you are attacked by a group of dragons and knocked out of the sky >Luna and Lucent both go to save you, with Baron falling farther away >You reach for Lucent and Luna goes to save Baron >You and Lucent fall to the Forest of Leota below >When you land, Lucent is unconscious against your body and there's blood, but you can't tell whose >The pain from the fall takes you, and you black out
We should check if we can still conjure things with our mind to see if its a dream or something else. But in such a way that Tiamat doesn't realize it. Maybe letting a stone appear in our pockets or something like that?
"So what, you wanna shrink-wrap me and put me on your shelf?"
"Let's just say it's been a while since I've been with a human," she cackles. "I've been in a Tartarus a very long time. Every girl has needs, after all, and a human is just the right way to break the monotony of a thousand years of forced abstinence."
>>599530 Thanks. A bit of negativity's good, we want to be clear we're not on her side, but given the one thing we know about her is that she's the biggest pile of narcissism in all of Equestria, comparing her to a corpse seemed like it might piss her off.
"Still a bit sour after that nasty ringing in your ears, eh?" she cackles again. "Understandable. But seeing as I how I can do no more than put on a cheap light show at the moment, I guess we can go with your option."
There's another burst of light farther away from you and a door appears after the light has faded. It's a sturdy steel door made of deep, dark onyx, sealed by multiple locks and chains. On the top half of the door, dead in the center, is a crescent moon, glowing on the surface.
"Shame about those locks," Tiamat tuts again, "but there's nothing we can really do about them right now. Perhaps just a peek into the window. You're not that naughty, are you?"
>>599536 Well, I assumed it was something related to other humans, since the question was related to the "almost" part of her statement. If its something about Luna, we might wanna stay away (it's probably just something about what she did as NMM, but still)
You go over to the door and peek inside the crescent window, careful not to touch anything. The light that's shining on the surface is come from whatever is behind the door, but it's so bright you can't really see anything. There's a violent slam against the door that pushes you back. The chains rattle from the force of it, and the light shines brighter for a second, before it fades back to it's normal glow.
"Oooh," Tiamat giggles. "Feisty, but I think we've had our fun for now. I've still got a lot more work to do, and it's time for you to wake up now."
"Oh, don't be in such a rush," the sarcasm drips from Tiamat's words. "We'll be seeing each other again eventually. Maybe next time… in the flesh."
There's another burst of light in front of your eyes before everything fades to black again. Your eyes shoot open and your body is sitting up on the ground. Looking around you, your in the thick, dark Forest of Leota. There's blood on your shirt, but Lucent is nowhere to be seen.
You get up and move around, but other than some soreness, you feel fine. There's no part of your body that seems damaged in any way, which means that this isn't your blood. You check the ground for blood droplets and find a small trail leading into the forest.
"H-h-hey," she stutters through your name as she comes out of a nearby bush. "What are you doing falling out of the sky again, ya big goof?"
She's staggering as she walks and one of her forelegs are raised. She's being careful not to step on it. There's a stick pierced into her side, but it's shallow. It caught under the armor, broke the skin, and is poking out through the other side.
>>599546 >but it's shallow >is poking out through the other side That sounds more as if she was impaled.
"Oh shit" See if we can do anything for her if she's really impaled we probably better leave the stick in there for now. If we can't do anything, ask her if she has any idea where we are and where the rest of the party is located. Maybe a unicorn can fix it if we carry her there
>>599549 If it is shallow, maybe it'd be OK to remove it, if we had a bandage (torn shirt or whatever) to apply pressure? I have no idea what I'm talking about. We could always ask her what to do, since she'd have training as part of being soldier.
There's a soft blush across Lucent's cheek as her smile brightens.
"I'm not dead yet," she says. "Now, stop worrying and find some way to drag me outta here. I'd ask you to carry me, but I shouldn't be moving around too much right now. Shouldn't have even walked away like I did trying to find something myself. Don't know why I did that."
You go over and lean down to check on the injury. The stick is indeed caught under the flesh, but it's broken in two. You can't tell which piece went further in or whether it would be safe to pull one of them out, but it's not bleeding at least.
"Man, from those wounds it looks more like it was you plunging to your death and not me."
Lucent starts to laugh but winces again in pain and lets out a long groan.
"Please don't make me laugh right now," she says through a teary grin.
You describe to Lucent what the wound looks like and if she would know anything about removing something like this. Does she have any first aid? Maybe a sleeping bag or mat for her to be placed on?
"No," her head slumps to the ground and she pouts. "All my stuff was in the chariot, and unless you're a unicorn, I wouldn't mess with those sticks. It helps if you can actually see how far in they are before you go messing around with them. We need to find Baron or one of the other guards or the princess-"
Lucent shuts her eyes tight and thumps her head against the ground again.
"First time leading the chariot and I get blown out of the sky," she says. "Baron'll never let me live this down."
>>599558 "Baron got blown out of the sky just as easily as you. Did you find out where we are and where the rest of the party might have headed during your short trip? If they are close enough I might be able to go and get help without having to move you."
"He damn well better. Baron got blown out of the sky just as easily as you. Did you find out where we are and where the rest of the party might have headed during your short trip? If they are close enough I might be able to go and get help without having to move you."
"I got a good look at a mansion as we were going down," she tells you. "There's a chance somebody else might have seen it too and gone there. Normally we'd send up a flare in this situation, but there's no telling where the dragons might be, or if they're even still here."
"Hey, at least you saved the important cargo," you tap chest twice. "But seriously, you saved my life up there. Thanks."
"Yeah, well…" her face flushes as she talks.
Her eyes seem to be darting around, looking for the right words to say. When she can't seem to find them, she closes them and goes with "You're welcome."
In the immediate area is nothing but broken twigs, leaves, and branches from where you fell. The bush Lucent come out of is disturbed enough that you can make out the path she took. It's still night in the sky, but the moon is a little farther along. You guess that it's about midnight. If the dragons are still here, they've been waiting at least a few hours.
"I have a stick in me that could poke into something it shouldn't if I move around," she grits her teeth through the pain. "I'm sorry for being so upset, but I would really appreciate it if you could try to find something, anything to drag me along."
She thumps her head against the ground again.
"Please," she says your name. "This is super embarrassing. Just find something and bring it back."
The faint tinge of a blush returns as she waits for your response.
>>599567 All right, I'll be back, then. Don't go anywhere~ Is that a bit too mean?
Also, do we need to worry about warmth for her? It is the middle of the night: if she were moving around she'd be fine, it's what she's used to, but just laying there… Also, what about critters? Are there things that might be attracted by the blood at all?
"Alright, I'll find something. Just try to stay out of trouble and if anything happens, call for me and I'll come running."
Lucent nods and lets out a weak, "Okay."
You leave the area where Lucent is resting and search for anything that could help bring her along with you. You walk for a few minutes, making your way through the forest. Aside from the occasional sounds of bugs and small creatures moving through the woods, there's nothing too threatening for the moment. You stumble across some of the debris from a chariot. It's not one of the princess' chariots, but there's still some supplies left in the chunk that remains.
You find a partially burnt sleeping roll, but that's about it. Picking it up, you start to head back towards Lucent and spot a Manticore passing through the forest. He hasn't noticed you, but he seems to be sniffing around for something. If you run for it, you might be able to get away without him noticing you, but he's moving pretty fast himself. There's a chance that if you sneak, he'll catch up to you.
>>599573 I'd say we sneak. We have only been walking for a few minutes, so we can't be too far away from Lucent - if we run he will surely hear and follow us and then we need a longer distance than just the short way back to leave him behind.
You carefully sneak away from the Manticore, careful not to step on anything you shouldn't or bring too much attention to yourself. You're getting closer to where Lucent is, but the Manticore is still following you. You'll need to lead him away from Lucent before you can return to her.
You remove your shirt and toss it aside. It's a bit difficult to do since you have to take your armor off as well, but you manage not to attract the Manticore to your position. After tossing the shirt aside, you reach down and find a nice, sizable stone to throw and distract the manticore.
>>599596 Maybe it would have turned out better, but who knows. At any rate, it was clearly the right decision to make at the time, and there's no point wondering what we would have done if we'd had the ability to see the future back then, especially not when we've got the gal who saved us relying on us to get her to someone who can give her some competent medical help.
You drag Lucent along on the bedroll for a while, but when nothing in the scenery changes, you ask if this is the way she suspects the others to be.
"I don't know where they are," she says, "but the mansion should be coming up. This was the direction I remember seeing it in."
Sure enough, as soon as she's finished with her sentence, the mansion comes into view. It looks exactly like the mansion from your dream, but you don't understand how. You've never been to it while you were awake before. How could it have come out of your dreams?
"Come on in," an older male voice greets you. "We've been waiting for you."
You and Lucent look around for where the voice could be coming from and start to notice faint wisps of white floating through the air. The wisps become more tangible and form different ghosts of ponies you've never seen.
>>599599 Is it the mansion from the dream where Luna played hide and seek with us?
"What do you mean, you've been waiting for us?"
Look back to Lucent and see what she has to say about this. Even with the ghosts, its probably the best idea to enter - otherwise we'd just randomly run around in the forest till we either starve or the manticore finds us.
"You're friends are already here," the voice answers. "Baron and Luna."
The eyes of the ghosts glow and their mouths open. Luna calls your name.
"Everything is alright," she says. "The stallion who lives here is an old friend of ours, Starswirl the Bearded. I know his home may not appear habitable or hospitable, but the inside is much more luxurious."
"Is Baron alright?" Lucent sounds from the bedroll.
"He is doing well," Luna responds. "Stoic, but I suppose that is to be expected of a guard."
Lucent has to restrain her laughter when she hears this by gritting her teeth through a painful "ha".
As instructed, you head through the decrepit front doors of the mansion and into a well lit, deep blue foyer.
The ghosts around you have disappeared, and as the doors close, you notice that the rotting wood has been replaced by a rich, deep mahogany. There are speckles of stars lining the fabrics of the carpet, small vases filled with exotic flowers, and the smell of dust and cinnamon fills the air.
"I'm a little hurt, so if you guys wouldn't mind giving us a hoof," Lucent says.
"Yes, yes, very well," the older voice sounds through the wide open room ahead of you.
It's a large circular room with doors spread evenly against the walls. A silver chandelier hangs from the white ceiling to provide light and there are candles lining the walls. Smoke billows out of each of the doors and gathers into a giant cloud at the center of the blue carpet floor. A gray-blue stallion with a long white mane and beard floats up out of the cloud, wearing an over-sized dark blue hat and robe, speckled with stars and constellations. Behind him are Luna to his left, and Baron to his right.
Luna calls out your name, runs past Starswirl, and leaps toward you.
Luna spreads open her wings as she glides into you, wrapping her forelegs around you and scooping you up into the air. She rests her head on your shoulder and holds you in the air for a minute before setting you back down on the ground again.
"I had feared the worst until your return," she says, checking you for any signs of injury. "Are you alright? When I saw you and Lucent fall into the forest, I-"
"It's good to see you too."
"Princess," Baron calls for her attention.
Luna stops poking and prodding your bare upper body with her hooves and looks over to see Lucent, broken and lying on the bedroll. Luna walks over with all the manner of proper royal etiquette and looks at Luna.
"You have rescued someone very dear to me at risk to yourself," Luna says to her. "I will ensure you are properly rewarded when we have returned to Canterlot."
"Nothing at all, Princess Luna," Lucent smiles. "It is my honor to serve you, and you have already repaid me by rescuing my friend here."
Baron bows at the princess' side.
"All the same," Luna insists, "some expression of my gratitude will be given to you."
"I had hoped one of you could help her. She has a stick in her side and one of her legs seems to be broken, but I'm not sure. Maybe your magic could fix it?"
"Of course," Starswirl replies and stomps a hoof against the floor twice.
Two completely mechanical ponies rise from the cloud and stand at Starswirl's side with a gurney. Starswirl instructs the both of them to carry Lucent and Baron to the medical wing and the two mechanical ponies get to work, gently lifting Lucent on to the gurney.
While Lucent is being cared for, you turn to Luna and ask what happened to her and Baron after the fall.
"I saved Baron and used my magic to shield our impact," she says. "The dragons tried to set the forest on fire at first, but it's being shielded by a spell of Starswirl's. He found us and brought us here until the dragons left. We were just about to look for you when-"
"When you showed up exactly as expected," Starswirl approaches you. "I can't have my friends and home being burnt to a crisp now, can I?"
Starswirl chuckles to himself for a moment.
"Now, Luna," he turns to her. "If you would be so kind as to accompany Baron and Lucent, just to make sure my little contraptions don't malfunction on them."
Lucent's eyes go wide in terror.
"What do you mean 'just to make sure they don't malfunction'?" she asks as the gurney is wheeled by.
"Just a precaution," Starswirl assures her. "Everything will be fine."
Starswirl continues speaking to Luna as he leads her behind them, "I will have a little chat with our friend here."
Lucent refers you by name and says, "He means a lot to me and he has only just returned. Perhaps, I could stay for your conversation."
"Luna," Starswirl hushes her. "This is a matter between myself and the human, not of Equestria's safety. There's nothing that will concern you, I promise."
Luna's eyes narrow at Starswirl and a frown appears on her face as she disappears into a doorway with the rest of the ponies.
"Yes," Luna says, "I recall, you do tend to ramble on during your conversations."
"Snarky as, ever," he waves her away, and as the door closes, the cloud goes with them. You can see Luna sticking out her tongue at Starswirl as she leaves.
Starswirl turns to you and the moment the door clicks closed, his expression tightens into expressionless stone.
"What are you doing here?" he approaches you. "Why are you not back on Earth with the rest of humanity?"
>>599614 That's something I'd like to know, too. I woke up in the Canterlot dungeons a few days ago; supposedly I'd crashed into the castle courtyard like a meteor or something. There's even a great big crater there. Then fill him in on the lunar portal shenanigans in the crater if he doesn't cut in somehow.
>Lucent refers you by name and says, "He means a lot to me and he has only just returned. Perhaps, I could stay for your conversation." I'm guessing that's Luna
"I have no idea why or how I have come here - but why do you even know where I come from? None of the others seemed to recognize humans."
"As far as humanity has come," Starswirl sighs, "it amazes me how people never manage to develop common sense."
Starswirl stomps his hoof once more and a cloud of blue smoke envelops his body. It rises upwards, overtaking him until it now stands taller than you. When the smoke begins to fall away, an older caucasian man with a long beard who looks just like Starswirl stands before you, wearing identical robes and hat.
"They call me Starswirl here," he greets you, dusting off the smoke from his form, "but in your world, I went by Merlin."