>To keep Tiamat away from your dreams, L:una says that the best way would be for her to be with you >Thankfully, she won't be stuck forging the chains forever, but you should try to remain as Glaurumat while you sleep >You leave and explain to Tiamat what happened with Lucent >He knows it wasn't that Glaurumat was resurrected because you're still alive. >"Glaurumat doesn't care who you are. It'll all burn with him around." >He asks what you want him to do about the situation >Saving Lucent is foolish to him, he thinks Tiamat is an idiot for believing you're Glaurumat, and that Tiamat won't hurt Lucent if she thinks it'll anger Glaurumat >With your request for help dismissed by Starswirl, you're parting words leave him more than a little agitated as he strangles you >"Allow me to make things clear for you," Star Swirl's voice whispers into your ear, his words calm and precise. "Equestria is not in need of m,y protection. Tiamat is still in Tartarus for the time being, Glaurumat is still dead, and the princesses are alive and well. Your selfishness sickens me and you're willingness to endanger the many around you in order to save one friend is laughable. Friendship is important, but are these the lengths you're willing to go through to put Equestria at risk. Are you willing to risk her life and the safety of Equestria for one simple guard?" >As the smoke takes your breath, the cloud displays your memories of Luna. >"Think carefully before you act," Star Swirl says, releasing you from the cloud. "Make the right sacrifices." >He tells you yoiu've managed to get yourself too involved in this mess and you decide that if he won't help you, you'll save Lucent yourself >Wondering what's so important that he can't help you, Starswirl tells you that he's been busy restructuring the maze that contains Tiamat in order to prevent her escape >Lucent being taken was due to Tiamat slipping by him >The best Starswirl can do for you is keep Tiamat away from you and the portal while you search for Lucent >He can not move the maze for you and her at the same time >Starswirl also says that the light spell will help you while you're down there >You return to Glaurumat's Skull and ask Celestia couple of questions about Tiamat and Luna ?She tells you that Tiamat's cell was nothing more than an aesthetic while she was bound by the chains and that the maze was her cell >Tiamat may have reshaped the actual cell to imprison Lucent >Luna did not recognize the Harmonyllium when you first showed it to her, because she had never seen it in it's pure natural state >The forged chains just look like ordinary steel upon inspection
>>641287 On your way out to make something of your own piece of Harmonyllium, you meet up with Pierce >Pierce helps you gather some materials you asked for: a backpack, some food, and medical equipment for any wounds >He sends out a scroll to have the materials prepped and says that he will be joining you, basically acting as the King's eyes and ears in order to obtain more information >Pierce assures you he can fight if he needs to >"My talents go far beyond words of wisdom" >You ask if he knows a craftsman you can turn the Harmonyllium into a compass >Pierce swipes it and flames it away, apparently sending it to a dragon who's quick and precise with his claws >Baron meets you on your way out to collect your things, enraged that Lucent is missing >Once you've explained that she was captured and is now in Tartarus, he no longer questions you and insists on going with you >There's no stopping him from coming, he tells you as much, but with or without you, he's going to save Lucent >You allow him to come with you and the three of you set off into Taloran
"Everything we'll be ready for us when we return," Pierce tells you as he leads you through the streets. "For now, we only need to focus on the compass."
"The quicker the better," Baron says. "The longer we spend out here, the less of a chance that Lucent's still alive in Tartarus."
Baron's eyes falter towards the ground as he walks for a moment, then dart straight ahead towards Pierce. The scowl on his face is tighter than ever.
>>641288 "I don't think we have to worry about Lucent's well-being too much for now, Baron. I made sure that Tiamat will think twice before she hurts her."
Like Anon mentioned in the thread last week, we might want to keep an eye on Pierce. That change of mind came rather abruptly and we know that Tiamat can influence dragons. Maybe he is using this as an excuse to defect over to her side.
You attempt to wear your Glaurumat disguise, but only manage to make your skin seem a little grayer.
"I suppose lying to her could work," Pierce says, "if she didn't have her own eyes and ears outside of Tartarus. Her subordinates are probably feeding her information from all over right now. Quite the useful skill."
>>641294 "Speaking about spies, are her followers all dragons? Or do I have to worry around others, too?"
"Her control is only over other dragons," Pierce informs you, "and thank goodness for that. I could hardly imagine how much power she would have if the whole world were under her influence of thought."
>>641296 "I think I would still prefer it if she was the mother of all rabbits or something similar. Have many dragons left the city to heed her call?"
"By now," Pierce answers. "At least fifty or more, and that's in Taloran alone. Tiamat has global influence over dragons."
Turning down a few alleyways from the main thoroughfare of Taloran, you come across an open square of the city with a few shops tucked away into the corners. It's large enough to fit a small crowd of people and not much else. There seem to be a handful of ponies and dragons scouring each of the shops, but in a place that's drawn from the main roads like this, it seems like the kind of area that's only visited by those who already know where it is.
Most of the ponies and dragons shy away from Pierce. Mutters of "King's dog" and "slimy lizard" can be heard in whispers from a few patrons. Only one, a voice from the northwest corner store, is loud and friendly enough among the rest.
"I thought I smelled royalty," says an old woman followed up by a wheezing cackle. "You've come a long way from the hooligans I usually see around here, Pierce."
>>641297 A jagged old dragon with some broken scales here and there hobbles out of the shop using her cane as support. One of her wings is missing and the other is tattered from age and lack of use. This dragon is much smaller than even some of the ponies you've seen. Pierce kneels down and wraps her up in a large hug.
"I see you've brought some friends," she says, patting Pierce on the back. "Business or pleasure?"
>>641299 You curtsy to introduce yourself and claim that you're here for business.
"Very well then," the old dragon says as she waves you in. "Please come in and don't touch anything."
Pierce leans in to whisper, "Please don't. Some of the pieces here are worth more than some of the museum artifacts and she hates smudges on the glass."
You head inside and find a dimly lit shop filled with countless gadgets and gizmos all ticking away with the tiniest of gears in their systems. Clocks, compasses, music boxes, watches, and all of it housed in valuable looking, but never guady materials. Gold, silver, and platinum metals sparkle against the sunlight as you enter.
"I suppose it was you who sent me that strange cube eariler," Pierce's Grandmother says, rummaging through a few drawers behind her counter."
>>641303 "It was Pierce. I asked him if he knew anyone skilled enough to make a compass out of it and he swiftly sent it away."
"It didn't explode when I smelted it," she says with a smile, "so you're fine by me."
"My grandmother may be in her twilight years," Pierce says, "but she's still the best crafter in all of Taloran. If you need anything, she can make it."
"Small things," she corrects him. "I can't do much with anything big or bulky anymore."
Pierce's grandmother closes all of the drawers and places a box on the counter before you. When she opens it, the compass is resting comfortably inside. The platinum casing of the compass itself was etched with a sharp, floral design to match the rose in the center. It was shaped like an actual rose with the needle representing a thorn. Rather than the needle moving to represent North, the rose beneath it would move, petals parting aside for the needle as it turned. Taking the compass into your hand, it feels as cool and smooth as the harmonyllium always had, but it had lost it's reflective property and whatever movement in the metal was there before had gone still.
"Since this was a base job for my grandson," she says, "I'll have to charge you extra for any color or addition and it will take some extra time.
>>641307 Agreed. Looking forward to finding out where it points us though - if its not North it probably works like we hoped. I don't think I fully understand > Rather than the needle moving to represent North, the rose beneath it would move, petals parting aside for the needle as it turned though
>>641306 "It looks wondeful," you say as you inspect the compass. "Say, can anyone tell me where North lies."
"The needle always points North," says the old dragon, pointing to the needle. "The directions are written on each of the petals as they unfold. Though your compass needle is pointing on the petal for East as labeled on the petal, it's north, and the next direction clockwise would be east."
"Then why isn't it pointing north?" Pierce notes. "Facing you, Grandmother, is north. But the rose has moved to say east. East is the castle."
"So we wasted our time for nothing?" Baron says through gritted teeth.
>>641310 Not at all. It's made from harmonyllium, which changes it's properties based on what its made into. You use a compass to find your way, so I'm hoping this will show us the way we need to go to get where we want. We're headed to the castle next, so that's where it's pointing, if I've got it right.
"I wouldn't say that," you tell Baron. "It's made from harmonyllium, which changes it's properties based on what its made into. You use a compass to find your way, so I'm hoping this will show us the way we need to go to save Lucent. We're headed to the castle next, so that's where it's pointing, if I've got it right."
"If it works for you," Pierce's grandmother says as she hands it back to you. "It works for me."
The rose rotates and has the needle pointing east again.
"As long as it works," Baron says and leaves the shop.
>>641315 Something we should probably try to find out at some point - directing us towards where we want to be and where we need to be are two significantly different things, if we assume the wrong property by accident that could backfire. Right now it shouldn't be too bad, I think we want to save Lucent badly enough that it points towards her and not Luna if the "want to be" case is the one the compass works with.
>>641318 > if it's pointed at the portal or Luna, and if so, we give it to Baron. If that's the case we should use some excuse like needing both hands to carry sword and magical light, Baron would be pretty upset if our "where we want to be" isn't Lucent
>>641319 If that's at Granny Pierce, she's already getting paid. If that's at Pierce, he's benefiting from it anyway, and it's government money, not his. And heck, the bill might wind up at the princesses feet hooves anyway.
>>641319 "I hope I can repay you one day for the favor."
"Thank you, Grandmother," Pierce says as he guides you out of the store, then turns to you. "I'd rather you owe me than her. As it stands, we can worry about debt once we make it out of Tartarus alive."
>>641324 "Owing a nice old lady sounds less risky than owing a king's advisor."
You catch up with Baron and Pierce follows along. Following the compass, you arrive back at the Mind and stand before the portal to Tartarus. One of the palace servants gave Pierce all of your reuqested items so you're all geared up and ready to go. You just need to ask the Princesses to open up the portal and you can go save Lucent. >Current Inventory: - A strange key - A proper sword - Harmonyllium Compass - Luna's Gift - 10,300 bits - Large backpack - Medical Kit - 3 days worth of meals for three people >Physical Ability - +10 to all combat rolls, and preception rolls while in combat >Magical Ability - Current spells: Light, Shield (Average), Double (Poor), Disguise (Poor) >Current Affection Levels: Luna - Lovers[LOCKED] Lucent - Best Friends[LOCKED] Gold Heart - Close Friends [LOCKED] Celestia - Good Friends
>>641329 "Yes. I think I found a good way to solve this problem."
Withdrawing the compass, you present it to Luna. The forging spell wavers a bit as she lifts it up to inspect with some of her magic. The compass rose spins wildly, pointing at you between revolutions.
"I am not quite sure how it works," Luna says as she returns it to you, "but if you believe this will help you, then I wish you the best of luck. How I wish I could join you."
Her smile fades to a frown as she looks towards the gate to Tartarus, then Celestia. Another pulse in the flow of magic catches her attention and Celestia nods to Luna.
"Give us word of your departure," Luna says, "and we shall open the portal."
>>641330 And there's no-one I'd wish to have by my side more than than you. We're pulled apart by duty right now, but I promise as soon as this is all over I'll be taking every opportunity to make it up to you. (Give gift here) Kick Tiamat's ass for me if she comes through before I'm back.
>>641335 >>641336 "There's no-one I'd wish to have by my side more than you. We're pulled apart by duty right now, but I promise as soon as this is all over I'll be taking every opportunity to make it up to you. I have something to remind you of me til I'm back."
Taking the hair bangle from your bag, you carefully place Luna's mane into a ponytail with it. The cool feeling of her mane makes your hands tingle as you work through the cosmic strands. When you're finished, you step back and her mane falls to one side. Luna's cheeks flush as she lifts up her mane to inspect the bangle. When she looks back at you, there's a smile on her face and her eyes are closed.
"I will always cherish it," she says.
Stepping up onto the platform again, you kiss Luna, her soft lips opening and eager for you to take her deeper. Another stronger fluctuation of the forging spell shakes the Skull and all of Taloran. Realizing now is not the time or the place, and she moves to kiss you once more before nudging you off the platform.
"Kick Tiamat's ass for me if she comes through before I'm back," you tell her.
"Of course," Luna raises her head proudly.
Celestia smiles, rolling her eyes, and another stream of magic branches off towards the portal. White light cracks through the solid black of the portal to Tartarus until it falls away completely. The darkness remains, but now you feel as though you can move into it, without anything physical getting in your way.
>>641345 All that's left for you to do now is step through the portal. Before you do, you decide to give the compass that was made for you one last look. The needle has parted the petals and is pointing towards the portal. It may take a while to figure out how this thing works properly. You'll have to experiment with it a little more. The compass clearly changes with whoever is holding it, but you're not sure how it changes or why. As it is, it's probably your best bet for finding Lucent right now, and if it's pointing to the portal, you'll just have to hope that's where it's leading you.
>>643197 As you step through the portal, you enveloped by darkness. You can't see anything, but you can feel something pressing against your skin. Baron and Pierce follow in behind you and Pierce sparks up a bit of flame from his mouth. The fire illuminates a small area around you but doesn't seem to show anything more than the black reflective floor beneath your feet, a perfect mirror of you and your present company. Once the flame fades, so does your vision, and you are lost in the darkness once again.
"Lucent doesn't like the dark," Baron reminds you. "We need to find her as soon as possible."
"We won't find anything in this darkness," Pierce says and gives a heavy sigh as he sets down your requested equipment. "Should have thought to bring torches for the both of you. I can see just fine with my breath, but Baron doesn't have a light spell and I'm not sure if there's a limit to your magic."
You haven't had much time to test those limits yourself, or even find out if you have any.
>>643199 "Star Swirl warned me to not go overboard with the light, otherwise we might attract unwanted attention."
You open up your palm and a ball of light appears above it. It produces more light the brighter you want it to be, but at it's current, there's enough to show that Baron and Pierce are near you. The light isn't spreading out far enough to actually show you a path, so you're light spell looks more like a glowing bubble against the darkness, acting as a barrier to keep that same darkness from washing over you.
>>643200 Actually, maybe we should try something now. Maybe we can limit the light to only this bubble, so that it doesn't go any further outside and is not visible unless you enter the bubble. Attempt it and then ask Pierce to step outside of it for a second and check if its visible from there.
With Baron and Pierce standing within the light bubble, you check to the left and right of you only to have the bubble shrink against walls on either side. Following the needle leads you onto a straight path, but you don't see anything else ahead of you.
"Have you been down here before, Pierce?"
"This is my first venture into Tartarus," Pierce answers, withdrawing a notebook from his bag. "It's quite underwhelming, though from what I understand, Tartarus is much larger than what you see. Why do you ask?"
>>643208 "I was just wondering if maybe you know your way around down here - after all you wanted to tag along so I thought you might be well prepared."
"And prepared I was," Pierce notes, giving your bags a shake. "However, I was prepared for a journey and not a journey into Tartarus. We are in unknowable territory."
A violent quake rocks the ground where you're standing and there's a shifting of what sounds like screeching metal through the air. Tiamat's roar is soon followed by it. Star Swirl must have changed the maze again to keep Tiamat away from you and the exit. You haven't traveled far from the portal, so she really is getting closer.
The compass directs you to the right at a fork in the maze.
"I want to at least yell her name," Baron whispers. "Let her know we're here. But if we do that then it'll give away our position. I don't want her to start thinking we've forgotten her."
Baron leans in even closer.
"I've heard stories," he continues. " This place does stuff to ponies. Messes with their heads. No pony who's ever gone to Tartarus, good or evil, has ever come out unchanged."
>>643209 "Lets not waste any more time then and find her before Tartarus can do its work - I would advise against shouting her name though. If we can hear Tiamat, its not out of question that Tiamat might be able to hear us, too. And I don't know if Star Swirl will still be able to keep her occupied if she knows that prey is so close."
>>643210 >>643211 "Well, let's hope those stories were a load of bull," you say. "Lets not waste any more time then and find her before Tartarus can do its work - I would advise against shouting her name though. If we can hear Tiamat, its not out of question that Tiamat might be able to hear us, too. And I don't know if Star Swirl will still be able to keep her occupied if she knows that prey is so close."
Baron nods. You know that as much as he wants to help Lucent, he has to keep calm about this, something he's been known to have trouble with.
The compass continues to lead you through the maze unhindered. Tiamat is probably the only enemy here you need to worry about thankfully.
"What is our escape plan once we've recovered your friend?" Pierce asks. "Use the compass the same way to find our path back to the portal?"
>>643215 >>643216 "Lets not act to hasty," you whisper. "This feels a bit too easy, it might as well be a trap."
From the sound of it, Lucent's cries are coming from the other side of a wall to your left. The compass, however, is pointing dead ahead. Another earthquake shakes the ground and you hear the sound of moving metal again. Nothing from Tiamat.
>>643217 Check if there are any seams in the wall - maybe there's a hidden door. If not, we should probably just keep following the compass. If its really Lucent, it will send us around a corner and lead us back to her at some point. If not, we avoided a trap. Telling Lucent that we are here to get her doesn't change anything for now anyway.
>>643224 "Maybe there is some other way out of the cell or you can unlock it from inside. Tiamat was able to escape it, too. Be careful though and only push a claw tip through the barrier at first, to check if you can pass it in both directions."
>>643225 "Maybe there is some other way out of the cell or you can unlock it from inside. Tiamat was able to escape it, too. Be careful though and only push a claw tip through the barrier at first, to check if you can pass it in both directions."
Pierce nods in agreement and Baron leads you both towards the door. It looks like the door to any other prison cell, but Baron is right. Pierce is the only one in your party who could squeeze through that door.
Placing a claw against the barrier, Pierce pushes further through the bars, inhaling his body until he becomes more snake than dragon. Sidling his way through the bars, he exhales and flexes himself for a moment.
"I will search for Lucent," Pierce says. "Wait here for a moment."
Pierce travels deeper into the cell and out of sight. Baron's eyes never leave the cell, though another earthquake, this one longer and more pronounced, catches your attention.
When it subsides, Pierce approaches you with Lucent hanging over his shoulders. Baron calls out to Lucent, standing himself against the bars. As she comes closer into the light, you see that her eyes seem dull and faded.
"Baron," she says. "You came for me."
"Of course I did," Baron tells hear, tears forming in his eyes. "We're going to get you out of hear Lucent. Tiamat won't ever hurt you again.
"Tiamat!" Lucent raises her head and struggles to free herself from Pierce. "You have to go. Now. It's a trap."
From behind you, Tiamat's laughter echoes, sending chills through your spine and goosebumps across your skin.
>>643230 Either teleport and duplicate or try to throw her back with a wind gust. That would be just indirect magic and she shouldn't be immune to it, but I guess dodging is safer. She's also not the smartest if she still thinks we are Glauramat, even though we are down there to save Lucent. Star Swirl will also have to explain a lot when we come back.
>>643233 I was also thinking about just stepping close to her and bitchslap her before she can hit us. Calling her an insolent whelp or something. But I don't want to end up gutted on the ground so teleporting might be better.
>>643242 "Oh Tiamat. Did you really think it was going to be that easy? That wouldn't be very fun, now would it?"
You make at least one duplicate of yourself and Baron makes three of his own. None of this seems to bother Tiamat.
"Enough tricks," she says, smoke billowing from her mouth.
With a deep breath, Tiamat readies a deadly plume of fire to engulf you all. If she believes you are Glaurumat, this won't kill you, but even if you were, there's no way Baron and Lucent would make it out alive. You have to stop her somehow, or at least get Baron and Lucent out of harm's way. Pierce should be fine being another dragon.
>>643249 Oh, and obviously let our copy say the same - so she can't tell who is the real me. And have the copy and us walk a bit around her though not too far away from the prison, so she can only attack one at a time.
>>643249 "Really? Fire? I thought you said enough of the tricks?" say you and your copy.
You summon a sphere of granite into her mouth to stop the flames, but instead turn her mouth into a cannon. The fire turns the granite into a molten bullet that splats against the bars of the cell.
Some of it almost hits Lucent, but Pierce protects her and continues doing what he can with the door.
Blue smoke begins to cloud up around you, Baron, Pierce, and Lucent. Tiamat's eyes focus on you alone and she roars. The deafening sound aches against your ears. As Tiamat charges at you, the blue smoke flies up to block her and you feel a force push you back.
You're inside Glaurumat's Skull along with everyone else. A blue cloud floats before you and Starswirl's voice booms out of it.
"You're welcome," Starswirl says, and the cloud disappears.
Luna is at your side, embracing you, while Pierce and Baron are caring for Lucent.
"You have returned unharmed," Luna smiles at you, her smile as bright as ever.
>>643252 "Holy crap we actually did." you hug Luna back, then go over to check on Lucent with Luna following alongside you. "I guess you made up for letting Tiamat surprise me like that, Star Swirl."
Starswirl's mouth is clenched shut. He only nods in agreement and stares at the portal to Tartarus."
Lucent is standing with Baron as her crutch when she calls out your name. Her hoof finds your face and caresses it.
"I knew you wouldn't leave me behind," she says. "None of you ever would, but the things Tiamat would whisper to me and the things she made me think were real. Any longer and I don't know how I could have survived."
"She's been tortured," Starswirl explains. "A favorite method of Tiamat's. She'll be blind for a while, but it'll fade eventually."
Taking a look at the compass, flower has closed over the needle. It might come in handy in the future, so you'd better hold onto it for now.
"A few weeks," he says. "A few months maybe. None of it will matter unless we can finish the chains in a few minutes, however. Tiamat is coming and I can't stop her this time."
"How is this possible?" Pierce asks. "You created her prison. Isn't there anything you can do to stop her from coming out of it again?"
"Not anymore," Star swirl says, shaking his head. "She already knows where the exit is and I had to stop maintaining the maze in order to make sure everyone survived."
Starswirl looks at Luna and then to you.
"Luna can't fight with a broken heart," he says. "She can't forge or rule as she would be required to should you die. It would take too long for her to recover."
"And we only have enough to chains to restrain one of her limbs at best," Celestia says. "Is there anything we can do to buy more time?"
"There are certain spells that would allow me to travel through time and attempt to avoid this disaster at the risk of creating new ones," Starswirl informs you, "and many others that might change the situation in our favor, but only for the moment."
Starswirl turns back to the portal and sits.
"Tiamat will come despite all of that," he continues. "And my only solution is to genuinely resurrect Glaurumat."
>>643258 >>643259 "Genuinely resurrect? Won't that just create more problems? I mean what happens once he's defeated Tiamat? What's stopping him from coming after us next?"
"True," Starswirl says. "Glaurumat can not be defeated without Tiamat's assistance, "but if it will buy us more time, we may be able to imprison her once again. The only other option I can think of is to run. Move our current base of operations somewhere else, and warn as many as we can to take shelter in Taloran. She won't harm this place."
"Is there not another way?" Luna asks.
"If you can provide one with decent results," Starswirl says, chuckles, and summons a bottle of wine. "I'm all ears."
>>643261 I'm not sure - if we resurrect Glauramat, how are we going to forge the chains? His mind will be gone. Otherwise, maybe all the Harmony they pumped into his mind will change his behavior when we resurrect him. We could ask Star Swirl about that
>>643265 "Speaking of Harmonyllium - how would we keep forging the chains if Glauramat was resurrected and his mind gone?"
"The Elements of Harmony draw out the Harmonyllium from objects and can be used in whatever manner its user sees fit," Starswirl explains. "The Mind was a giant container for the Harmonyllium. We just have to find another container big enough and stable enough to contain the Harmonyllium required, then extracting it using the elements of Harmony for processing."
>>643269 "Are you certain that this won't make the whole situation even worse?"
Starswirl takes a long drink from the bottle before he answers, "Oh it'll absolutely make things worse. But like I said, there aren't a lot of decent options right now."
You look over to Luna and Celestia to see what they think.
"I will not resurrect Glaurumat if it comes at such a risk," Celestia says, towering over Starswirl. "I will do whatever I can to protect Equestria from any threat, but I will not gamble with it's safety in such a reckless manner."
"I agree, sister," Luna says. "In this dire hour, we need only look to our friends for solutions and make the best out of what little we have."
There has to be a better way, you just need time to think it through and look at all the pieces.