Last Session: >Recovering from the attack from the dragons, you find that Lucent had disappeared after saving you from the fall and there was spots of blood on the ground around you >Lucent returns and you can see that she is wounded >She was looking for something to carry you around in, but seeing as how you're awake and she really shouldn't be moving in her condition, she asks that you do the same for her while she rests >You're reluctant because you really want to do something to help her clean up the wound, but the best thing you can do is as she says >you search the area nearby and find a slightly burnt bedroll to drag her on and notice a nearby manticore >You manage to evade him, tossing your shirt away in the process >Lucent directs you towards a mansion she saw as you were flying and it is there you meet up with Luna and Baron >They're with Starswirl the Bearded, who dismisses the rest of the group to have a conversation with you in private >Luna doesn't seem too happy to be separated from you >As soon as she leaves, Starswirl changes into a human and says he was known as Merlin on Earth >A Q & A between the two of you begins
Anon: "That was.. unexpected. I always thought the stories about you were just that, stories. I mean, we don't have any magic on earth - wait, are you a human disguised as a unicorn or a unicorn that has been to earth? And in either case, how did you switch between worlds?" >Merlin: "One question at at a time," he says your name, though you haven't introduced yourself. "We'll start with the less complicated ones first. What I am and how I got here are not important. Practice magic long enough and you start to transcend things like time, space, and remembering which physical form was your original one. You're a human in Equestria. The least I can do to make you more comfortable as a guest in my home is give you something familiar, but if you'd rather I go back to being 'Starswirl the Bearded' I'd be happy to oblige. I'm a pony here because they're more comfortable with me that way. Honestly, the less you know, the better for me. The last thing I need is someone mucking up the other dimensions…again. I'm surprised this one hasn't started acting up just from your mere presence."
A: "I am not so sure that the answer to how you got here is unimportant - right now I have no idea how _I_ ended up in Equestria and it might have been in the same way." >M: "Well how did you get here?"
A: "I don't know." >M: "You don't remember anything at all?"
A: "Only that I woke up in a cell in Canterlot and apparently was found in a huge crater I left behind in the front court." >M: "A crater you say? And do you know how this crater was made?"
A: "They told me I had 'collided into the castle courtyard'" >M: "That doesn't sound like any of my methods," he starts to stroke his beard for a moment, the waves his thoughts away with a gesture. "Clearly you didn't arrive by mirror or you would be a pony now and we could have sent you straight back. I will investigate the crater myself at some point." >"Now, back to your questions, as I'm sure you prosaic mind has accumulated many."
A: "Actually, yeah, I do. You mention something about me potentially upsetting this dimension earlier - what exactly did you mean by that?" >M: "There have been instances before of beings from this world or another, but the signs of disruption were recognizable almost instantly. Luna tells me you've been here at least a few days, but there hasn't been a hair out of place aside from Tiamat's escape, and I doubt you had anything to do with it. I can't sense an ounce of power in you."
A: "Speaking of Tiamat - it seems she made a habit of invading my dreams and made some remarks about already having dealt with humans. I assume she meant you?" >M: "You could say that, but I'm not exactly human. As a transdimensional being, I can be what I choose. At one point I may have been human, but not anymore. It is what allows me to stay here. Tiamat can also take human form, but she is a dragon to the core. Nothing about her was ever human. No one here is fully human, which is why your presence here perplexes me."
A: "Are you sure I am 'fully human' then? If humans shouldn't be able to be here without tipping the 'balance', the more logical explanation would be that I just haven't found out that I have some awesome magical superpowers, wouldn't it?" >M: "If you had any power, I would have noticed it the moment you came onto the premises."
A: "Eh, just as well. I'm used to being mundane." "So, is it like this often in Equestria? Ancient evil trying to take over the planet and what-not? I sort of figured a world full of talking pastel horses would be more peaceful than Earth." >M: "It's not always ancient, but we've done what we can to keep peace here in Equestria. It's all thanks to Celestia and Luna that we've come this far."
A: "You said you dealt with Tiamat before. Do you know any of her weaknesses then?" >M:"Weaknesses?" Starswirl laughs so hard that he coughs and has to take a minute to catch his breath. "I'm sorry, but no."
"Are there other transdimensional beings like you in Equestria?"
Merlin looks at you for a moment strokes his beard with a long "Hmm."
"I haven't met any," he says, "but it stands to reason that if I have become one, there would be others. Perhaps you are one, naturally made? Though it would be rather peculiar that you're natural power would be non-existent. A 'once and done' deal, maybe?"
Merlin turns towards a door and flings it open.
"We shall conduct a few tests to be sure," he shouts. "Come."
The door is left open and you watch him disappear down a long hallway illuminated by blue candlelight. He's mumbling something or another to himself as he walks, but you hear the words, "experiment", "rip", and "blood". Luna was worried about you when she was sent away. Maybe it would be good to check up on her, Lucent, and Baron. Going with Merlin might get you a few answers though. The mansion's pretty big. You might get lost if you're not careful. Who knows what else you might run into in the home of Starswirl the Bearded.
>>601074 I thought the point of the excursion was to not die in the woods. I'm fine with >>601070 We haven't told him about the whole craterportal thing and the key, have we? We should probably mention that. Also, I pre-emptively vote AGAINST mentioning the metal.
>>601076 >Also, I pre-emptively vote AGAINST mentioning the metal. Yeah, I don't trust him enough to mention something like that. We probably shouldn't mention that Thorn implied Tiamat was growing stronger because of us, either.
Going with Star Swirl could lead to answers though. And another session with zero Luna probably
Well, we follow him, I guess. Also, call out to him to wait for us, there's more about the crater we'd yet to tell him. Hopefully that'll catch his interest enough to take him out of his deep thought and let us catch up. Damnit, we were supposed to be at Luna's side today: we just keep getting pulled apart
You reluctantly follow Merlin and feel the door close behind you.
"Wait up," you shout as you run after him.
Whatever answers he has, you need to get them now. You're a little upset that your promise with Luna is already coming apart, but the sooner you get this over with, the sooner you can get back to her.
"Be careful not to fall behind," Merlin advises. "You don't want to go through one of these doors without me or one of my assistants. Trust me."
Merlin opens up another door to your right and steps aside to invite you in.
There's not much to the room. There are two very comfy-looking, very luxurious chairs in the center of a round, wooden room. A fireplace roars to your left and it's raining heavily outside. You're surprised the glass is holding with how hard the rain is coming down. There's nothing on the walls but the wood that makes them. Looking out of the window, you can see only darkness. Pitch black, never ending darkness.
"Now," Merlin calls out for your attention, "if you'll just have a sit opposite to me, we can begin."
"Yes," he says after taking a seip and setting the cup back down. "I'll just be taking a look inside of you is all. Poking around your brain, seeing if you have a soul, memories, personal experiences, etc. etc."
He summons two cubes of sugar into the tea cup and a long, thin silver spoon to stir it with.
>>601136 I don't know man, if he sees anything about Luna that could become awkward or nasty.. what does the rest think? If we insist even more on him not looking to close at them he'll probably know that we are trying to hide something.
>>601139 I don't see why he'd have cause to be upset about anything we've done with Luna, especially when both she and her sister are onboard, too. I'd be more worried about him spotting the metal cube and the secret getting out that way. Or him seeing US
>>601139 >>601142 Forgot to actually say, despite my reservations I'm for going ahead with it. Drat it, I keep wanting to ask about the possibilities there are that would make him want to check for this, but I can't come up with a way to phrase it.
"Checking for my soul, memories and so on sounds as if you guys had problems with possession or shapeshifters or something like that before?"
"Those ghosts outside aren't just for show," he smiles. "They were quite a problem years ago, but they've since taken up residence in the area. And as for shapeshifters… I doubt one of our changelings made it here."
A loud crash of thunder shakes the room and a flash of lightning shines from behind you.
>>601103 >>601162 >It's raining heavily outside. You're surprised the glass is holding with how hard the rain is coming down. Oh jeez, I missed the rain thing earlier. Good thing we didn't get here any later, then. Was going to make a comment about it making flying out miserable, but with us and Baron here I guess we'll be waiting for them to bring another chariot or something.
You take a seat in the chair and the room instantly becomes the sea of stars from your dreams. The walls around you are gone and the rain has stopped. It's just you, Merlin, the chairs, and the door that Tiamat showed you earlier.
"Well," Merlin sighs, "that wasn't as entertaining as I thought it would be, and it won't let me go any further than this."
Merlin gestures to the chained black door with Luna's cutie mark serving as the window into whatever lies behind it.
"Would you mind letting me in on what this is?" Merlin frowns, and you feel the force of a great power exuding from his form. You don't see anything, but the feeling of an immense pressure is being forced down on you. Your body feels heavy. You can move, but it's a struggle.
>>601175 "Can you tune down that magic assault a little bit? I'm not sure if it could open the door, and I don't know what's behind it - but Tiamat showed it to me while she was mocking me in one of my dreams so I fairly sure neither of us wants those chains damaged."
>>601175 Just as with so much else, I don't know! Tiamat brought it up whilst I was unconscious in the forest earlier, but I don't know what it is and she never explained. She wanted me to look inside for some reason, but the dream ended before I did.
"Can you tune down that magic assault a little bit? I'm not sure if it could open the door, and I don't know what's behind it - but Tiamat showed it to me while she was mocking me in one of my dreams so I fairly sure neither of us wants those chains damaged."
"…What would be stopping you from going further?"
"The feeling you're having right now is a side effect from the spell," Merlin explains. "I apologize. As for what's stopping me, I'm certain it's this door."
Merlin gets up from his seat and walks towards the door. The light you remember from it fades away as Merlin gets closer.
"The memories you have are genuine," he continues, "but before your arrival in Equestria, there's nothing but this damned door. Seeing how I found it in your mind, I can only assume you're keeping something hidden from me or yourself."
The chair is turned towards Merlin and dragged closer to him by the unseen force on you.
"Now are you going to let me in or am I going to have to force my way in?" Merlin's voice comes across as cold and stern.
>>601188 "Look, I don't know what's behind that door, so I can't tell you. But do you think I'd have agreed to let you run experiments on me if I had something dark to hide? Maybe we can figure out what it is together, but I really feel that breaking it open with force would be a bad idea."
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?"
This was the first time we encountered the door. It seemed to be related to Luna somehow, though I guess the crescent moon fits also with the thing we observed in the crater when we played around with the key
"Look, I don't know what's behind that door, so I can't tell you. But do you think I'd have agreed to let you run experiments on me if I had something dark to hide? Maybe we can figure out what it is together, but I really feel that breaking it open with force would be a bad idea."
"If it's something your subconscious doesn't want open, then it won't open it without the key," Merlin informs you. "There are locks on it, which means it can be opened, but you have to want to open it. If Tiamat showed this to you, I want to know why. Whatever is behind that door could be dangerous, but it might also be the only way of really defeating her. Don't you want to stop her once and for all?"
For minute there there I was doubting whether Starswirl was actually on the level and that this might just be an inception scenario to get us to open this thing when we shouldn't be, but there's no way Tiamat or anyone else would know about Merlin, is there?
You seem to be taking a while to answer Merlin and he's growing impatient. You need to be sure this is really Merlin though and not Tiamat in disguise.
Believing that if you dreamwield something you must actually be asleep and not under a spell, Tiamat must be behind the image of Merlin. If you can't, the you must be under the influence of Merlin's spell.
"If you won't cooperate then I'll have to take matters into my own hands," Merlin says as he turns to the door and rolls up the sleeves on his robes.
The door erupts into blue flame and Merlin is reaching out to it. The steel chains on the door start to bend and the door itself starts to crack. The light from before is now flashing rapidly.
You attempt to make something, anything that comes to mind, but find you are unable to.
>>601207 "Stop it Tiamat. You just told me yourself that it won't open unless I want to a few minutes ago."
Lets just bluff. His behavior is really weird, I hope that if we are wrong and its really Merlin he will stop for a few seconds and give us time to show him the key before he breaks our subconsciousness.
"Stop it Tiamat. You just told me yourself that it won't open unless I want to a few minutes ago."
Merlin, or Tiamat, they don't seem to be listening. The light behind the door has stopped flashing and has become a glaring shine. The sounds or cracking and rattled chains are echoing through the space around you until a violent boom sounds off nearby.
Luna has appeared in an explosion of light from further away, and is flying towards Merlin with eyes glowing brightly. She tackles him aside and the door instantly darkens and reforms. The weight of Merlin's magic fades from your body and you find that you can move again.
You look over to Luna, but it's not Luna standing there. It's a darker, taller alicorn wearing similar armor to Luna's. Her eyes are still glowing as she looks back at you. This new form flickers back to the Luna you know a few times, before finally settling on the princess.
Her eyes return to normal and she starts to fall towards the floor.
You run forward to catch her, attempting to create a cushion of some sort in case you don't make it, but nothing comes. You reach out and Luna falls into your arms. Her eyes open slowly and she blinks up at you.
She calls out to you and asks, "What am I doing here?"
Just for reference, we have seen that name at least once before. >"Another admirable quality you possess is the one to make difficult decisions," Luna chimes in again. "It is my belief that anyone who is willing to take the life of another in order to protect others has a very strong heart as well. Though you are not obligated to anyone but yourself, I know that you would do what is right for the sake of others. Celestia shares this trait with you. When I became Nightmare Moon, I was only thinking of myself."
>>601215 Ah, and way back before the break we did hear a bit more. >"There was a time when I nearly brought about the end of Equestria and destroyed my sister on two separate occasions," she tells you. "I was not myself then, though it is who I was before that allowed me to transform into such a menace. I feel they fear me now, more than ever." >"You are one of the few who know me as Princess Luna first, and not the abomination by the name of Nightmare Moon," she says as she approaches you. "I am thankful to you for that. Perhaps, my subjects do cherish me, but I have done little to earn such adoration. It is my hope that I may be able to change this by assisting in restraining Tiamat once more."
You wipe her tears away and ask "Everything okay?"
"I do not know what has happened," Luna says, stepping back from you, "but that 'battle form' you saw was none other than Nightmare Moon. I do not understand why she has returned, or why I am still present, but this does not bode well."
>>601218 "Star Swirl wanted to test my memories to see if I really am who I seem to be. When he started everything from before my arrival in Equestria was hidden for him and he was stopped by a door that Tiamat had shown me earlier when I lay unconscious after the fall. He tried to open the door by force and then was when you arrived - I guess that is why 'she returned'. You charged into Star Swirl and stopped him from breaking the chains."
>>601218 comfort her, but let's not try speculating about why NM is back. There's just not enough information at the moment and we'll needlessly stress her. We should be concerned with 1) Merlin's motives (he seems a little too gung-ho to get behind that door), 2) if Lucent is alright, 3) where Celestia is.
"Star Swirl wanted to test my memories to see if I really am who I seem to be. When he started everything from before my arrival in Equestria was hidden for him and he was stopped by a door that Tiamat had shown me earlier when I lay unconscious after the fall. He tried to open the door by force and then was when you arrived - I guess that is why 'she returned'. You charged into Star Swirl and stopped him from breaking the chains."
"But I do not have any memory of this," Luna shakes her head. "One moment I was with Lucent and Baron, and the next, I…"
She pauses for a moment, then looks at you.
"Why would Starswirl need to test you?" Luna asks. "He has no reason to believe you are someone you are not."
On the plus side >"I will find out what is behind that door," he says going through one of the many other doors in the lobby. "Until then, I'll be traveling with you to take care of Tiamat." "Until then" implies that he's leaving when he finds out, and in turn that he wouldn't have been coming with us if he didn't have a bone to pick with our brain: We just scored a powerful ally against Tiamat!
>>601222 >Why would Starswirl need to test you Damnit, after the ghosts and the changelings we never actually did get an answer to that question, did we?
I had thought it was just more precautionary stuff at first: there's so much mystery about why I'm here, anything that could be looked into might be worth it. A shrug Then he started getting weirdly pushy about that door and doing that whole psychic pressure thing, I started getting paranoid that this was another trick of Tiamat's, he got impatient and started tearing into it and they you came flying like a blue bolt to save me.
"I had thought it was just more precautionary stuff at first: there's so much mystery about why I'm here, anything that could be looked into might be worth it," you shrug. "Then he started getting weirdly pushy about that door and doing that whole psychic pressure thing, I started getting paranoid that this was another trick of Tiamat's, he got impatient and started tearing into it and they you came flying like a blue bolt to save me."
"What matters to me is that you are safe now," Luna says and kisses your cheek. "After almost losing you once, I could not bear for another occurrence so soon."
"Don't worry, humans are stubborn folk. I'm not going anywhere."
Luna's eyes brighten and she gives you a smile, but there's still a tinge of sadness in it.
"This is my greatest hope," she says. "We should be returning to Lucent's room. Baron and Lucent will be wondering what happened as well. If there is a chance that Nightmare Moon may return, I do not wish to worry anyone. Will you please keep this a secret between us?"
"I think it would be best for now," she starts to say, placing a hoof on your hand. "But if I start to become her again, if I become dangerous, please tell Celestia and the Elements of Harmony. They'll know what to do."
Luna looks towards the assistant and nods. The robotic pony nods back and opens one of the doors for you to enter through. In the room ahead, Lucent and Baron are looking at you with very scared and worried eyes. Lucent is standing up again with Baron at her side, neither of them have their armor or weapons. It's a bit strange seeing them both like this, but they seem more concerned that you're back.
"Princess," the two of them say in unison.
"You've returned," Baron bows instantly.
"Where'd you go, anyway?" Lucent asks as she steps nonchalantly into the lobby.
>>601240 Starswirl was working on some mind stuff with me, to try to work how I got here, among other things. As part of it she was brought over to help out. How are you both? The weird bots haven't tried to upgrade you or anything yet?
"The weird bots haven't tried to upgrade you or anything yet?"
"Nah," Lucent laughs again. "Some rocket wings would be pretty cool though, don't ya think?"
"No," Baron glares at her, turns back to you and Luna, and says "I'm glad to see everyone is alright, but we need to get going. The others are waiting for us outside Taloran and we have no way of getting there without Gold Heart. We need to regroup and head out as soon as possible."
"We are awaiting Starswirl's return," Luna informs them. "Perhaps we should find something to do until he arrives. He has left us with one of his assistants. Surely it can provide us with something to do."
"Well, I'm not really sure that's the best thing to do right now," Lucent says, "but if we've got nothing better to do until the old stallion gets back, I say why not?"
"We could always just look for them now and Merlin could meet up with us later," Baron suggests. "I'm not too comfortable with lazing about when we were attacked hours ago and you're fresh from recovery."
Luna leans in and whispers to you, "I understand that our situation is dire, but to be perfectly honest, some entertainment would be beneficial for easing the burdens on my mind."
With everything that's been going on, you haven't really had a chance to have any real fun since you've been here, but Baron makes a good point. Is now really the time to be goofing around?
>>601248 They said that they need both Alicorns to shackle Tiamat again, right? Then they will wait for us anyway. >"I'm not too comfortable with lazing about when we were attacked hours ago and you're fresh from recovery." Star Swirl's magic was what stopped the dragons from turning us into toast.
>>601248 I feel like Luna is getting a little too lax around us. Like she's not taking things quite as seriously as she should. It's good to help her relax and be her friend, but if there's any time to be serious, it's now.
That said, maybe it couldn't hurt to ease the tension a bit. Just don't take it too far.
>>601248 Coming fresh from recovery sounds to me like more of a reason to not immediately head back into the field. At any rate, this place is safe for now, and so long as he's not too long I'd rather we stuck together to travel out there. Can we get this assistant to get a message to him so we know how long he's going to be?