>>495047 You fly across the nearly empty board walk, finding the Sea Shell Retreat still open, its thematic to the beach, the only ones still here are heavily intoxicated sailors and tourists, the bar tender, a unicorn stallion wearing a silly beach themed uniform, takes one look at you and waves a hoof dismissively "Go home son. All the ladies did long ago."
>>495071 "Yea, a lot of cousins anyway." He sigh and refills your glass. You find the drink surprisingly strong, the fruits not doing enough to cut the alcoholic taste. You notice about six other ponies here, they all seem very drunk.
>>495110 Terribly so. This is the worst you've felt in years. You should probably just roll over and go back to sleep, or at least find a way to shut out that awful clanging sound, are they tap dancing up there?!
>>495126 After a pleasant and uneventful trip you arrive at a shore covered in ice, the Hellequin switching from simply melting the ice out of the way to springing legs and climbing onto the land as the ice is extremely thick now. Maddie is looking very snug in the blue coat and other winter gear you bought her. Morrigan has changed herself into a fluffy black gryphon. Hulking, wearing a thick brown coat is scanning the area with a telescope. "I think this is as close as we can get with out the gryphons seeing us." He declares.
>>495128 He rolls his eyes "There is a Gryphon run port Eagle's Rock just a few click north, around this mountain really, No one has said anything good about it, the only one who goes regularly is a tradeship called the Hanging Flagon, and their crew is massive enough that they can look out for themselves." He shows you the map.
>>495130 The two mares nod in return. Maddie a bit enthusiastically. "Of course we can." Hulking chuckles. "Well, with spirit like that, we might as well give it a try. Be ready for trouble." he goes back to the helm and adjusts the controls you start moving forward again. with in the hour you are upon the port, It smells like fish, the harbor is pretty much empty, the area is swarming with cat birds of all colors, they seem to swoop and dive toward you as if attempting to scare you. As hulking takes you to an empty dock a flock of six land on deck. "What are you doing this far north Ponies?" they scowl at you.
>>495133 >>495132 Facing the six gyphons you notice that they each have a scarf, colored white, yellow, orange, or red with a different symbol that seems to mark their rank and job. The apparent leader has a red scarf with a symbolic eye on it. At your sides Morrigan appears as a black gryphon, and Madison seems to be eyeing the gryphon's pockets.
You illuminate the area like a dim torch, your blue crystal face wearing a smirk a mile wide. The Gryphons seems taken back. The one on the far left seems troubled. "A shiny pony, well, there are still a few right?" "I think so." "Well, that means he really is a native?" They whisper between themselves. Eventually the speaker of this group of invasive cat-birds speaks to you. "You can go, if you pay the migration fee, seeing as you're one of those crystalline ponies its only.. 1000 bits." Maddie scoffs at this. Morrigan ruffles her feathers. "Right, for you two.." The gryphon points at Maddie "1500." and then Morrigan "500."
>>496735 He considers this a moment. "The pony wants to eat with us, well.. that's new.. I'll talk to the other eyes and see what they think.." The five gryphons backing him up ruffle their feathers at this but nod. "don't go anywhere." They all fly off of your ship and scatter around the port, likely collecting these other eyes.
>>496784 She judges your expression and sighs. "Look Uncle, this might make you sick, changing someone's insides is more complex than changing the whole thing, your body might not like it. I just wanted to be sure you knew that, before I do it."
>>496800 "Alright, brace yourself then." The silver pendant bearing the symbol for the united northlands and the underkingdom glows softly and you feel as if your stomach is being turned upside down. roll twice
>>496817 You feel a craving for fish, mice, anything meaty.. and then you feel your stomach recoiling in pain and are forced to vomit all the leafy things you have eaten lately. Morrigan prepared for this and has set a bucket down in front of you. She watches unflinching as you puke. roll once more.
>>496828 In five hundred years I'm sure she's helped clean you up once or twice at least.. Your body feel awful, as if there is a great, burning weight inside you. You feel hungry and a little sore but a least you are done puking. Morrigan watches you stoically. "How do you feel?"
>>496865 "Hello." "Greetings Crystal one." "Your proposal has been accepted, please follow us." The five of them spread their wings and lead you over the city, build against a cold cliff the buildings look to be quite old. They land in front of a building with a red roof, and step inside.
>>496869 No, Stormheart is actually on the other side of the continent. These buildings were build maybe a hundred years after the north vanished, they are fashioned similarly, but gryphons do love tradition. >>496870 You follow them inside down a hall way with a few guards in it, it opens up to a long table, the table is set for the six of you, old painting of gryphons line the walls, this room has no windows and two exits and timid looking pair of servants stand waiting with covered trays of food. "Please take a seat crystal one. " "Yes, please join us." The five of them all sit and watch you.
>>496876 She nods, the other looks surprised. "Yes, the Crystal Capital. The true home of crystal ponies, but you.. have seen it personally, haven't you Swansong?" you can roll here if you want
the servants begin to serve the various varieties of food, fish fillets, a fine beef stew, and a duck. Normally you should feel repulsed by this selection of food, but instead you feel hungry. You are offered you choice of the meats .
>>496878 You feel your mind being probed and block the intruder from seeing anything other than the fact you are being truthful. The fish is crispy and fresh, cooked to hold in the light flavor. "Most interesting.. I am known as Golden Flight," The female states. "These are Godric, Gerald, Goram, and Gaspi." "Indeed, this is curious." Godric ponders. The gryphons all sample their meals.
>>496881 "Yes, I am Godric Blackmane the third, second son of King Gallant and Queen Gene Blackmane. " Godric states clearly, you can sort of see a resemblance, something in the eyes. You find your food flavorful, its much more difficult to chew than leafy foods but breaks apart easily enough. A few of the gyphons stare at you as you eat. "Godric was a great king." Golden Flight states.
>>497016 Godric the third seems particularly unsettled by this statement. Golden flight smiles. "I assume you did not simply wish to chat about our old kings, Lord Swansong." The others glance suspiciously at you.
>>497028 The gyphons eat silently while waiting for you to continue. They all seem like capable warriors to you, and its suspicious to you that they did not ask you for your weapons, you mind races at the possibilities of what that means: do they actually use demons? are they strictly melee or do they have casting ability? what would their catalyst be? Why are their only five here? >>497033 You calm your senses, and chew slowly looking around at each of them. They are all armed as well. Godric is armed with a large sword, you estimate that he can take 6/6 before going down. Gerald has a sword and a shield, he seems like the type of fighter that looks out for his follow gryphon, he seem to be the most sturdy of the bunch at an estimate of 8/8, Goram has a pair of pistols, he is a smaller guy probably can only take 5/3 before going down. Gaspi has a very well crafted bracelet, you recognize this as a catalyst, and its brand with symbols of nature indicate shamanism, he could take 5/5. Golden Flight however takes a moment to glace at you concerned. She has a few pieces of jewelry on, you believe that the circlet with an eye on it is the most magical of the bunch and that removing it would upset her. she could last about 5/5 in a fight.
>>497050 "The stories of King Stormheart are many, but all agree that he was a prophet, and that he foretold our survival here, a promised land for gryphons. Our survival when the pony's crystal empire vanished is proof that he was right."
>>497089 Shake my head with a smirk. "Never did nopony any good. So can I have your word that you don't pursue demonology, right?" Throw the word away casually, as if it was nothing, and look them in the eyes with the same little smile. Stare, long and hard.
>>497090 Godric the third nearly climbs over the table in anger, Gaspi and Gerald stop Godric from coming over to you with hushed whispers and a forceful claw, Goram places a claw on his weapon, Golden does not blink or speak, but the other four are clear furious at you. "How dare you accuse us?" "You come here to make demands?" "We should throw you into the ocean!" "Would the Godric you knew have allowed such a thing?"
>>497093 Their feathers clearly ruffled the four glare at you and eat a bit aggressively. Golden flight remains perectly calm. "So, you are not here to tell us about a prophet, only to learn about us. That is unfortunate."
>>497102 "Prophet for the Gryphon race? I have one. Forever lost in time and space!" Chuckle a bit. "A savior is a savior for everyone. Ponies, griffons, zebras, donkeys… You name it. Finding one will be hard until you get out of that mindset."
>>497103 The glaring eyes of the room intensify. Golden continues to speak with you. "We have spread out, tried to find other places in the north that were suitable for us, Eagle's Rock is on of these places. Some have traveled south, wishing to integrate with the ponies. Time is slowly changing us Swansong, and the time for a new prophet draws closer. " At this the other four nod. "You are part of this too, a warrior pony hundreds of years old, wielding blades which never dulled, will appear in the halls of the gryphons, he will be both crystal and pegasus." She says as if quoting something. "You have such blades do not Lord Swansong?"
>>497115 She closes her eyes and nods. "It is written: The pony warrior shall be tasked with gathering the keys of magical essence, in order to prevent their use, for their use would mean the end. He shall be aided by a new prophet, an extension of god. " she opens them again. "Does this sound familiar to you?"
>>497148 Golden returns your stare, almost unreadable, but you do not believe that she is lying to you outright, perhaps she is leaving out a part of the story, but she is likely doing so because she believes you would not gain from knowing. "You and your comrades may enter our city Lord Swansong. As for what I have told you.." She pauses "Belief or disbelief rests with you."
>>497150 "No, this is why we wanted to speak with you." Golden says simply and motions for another course to be brought around. Some delicately prepared shrimp are presented. The gryphons all seem more relaxed now, they finish their meals making small remarks about you and the city. "You can really handle your meats Swansong." Gaspi remarks with surprise. "Maybe you will have time to show me your blades before you go." Gerald comments with a smirk. "Were you and King Blackmane close?" Godric asks. "Its been warm lately. Good for the fish." Goram add gruffly in an attempts to add to the conversation.
>>497188 Slight chuckles at that, and you are offered a choice of wines. The meal goes fairly smoothly, with only a hint of racism. When the meals ends Golden Flight addresses you once more. "If you find yourself in another gyphon city, look for the eyes, they will know to look out for you." You should probably head back to the ship, unless you had other plans.
>>497190 You get a few glares as you pass by, but no one makes any moves on you. Madison, Morrigan, and Hulking are all gathered at the helm chatting.Hulking is investigating the Goblin Sword. "Yea, I reforged that blade..over nineteen time before I was happy with it." Hulking nods toward the sword on the wall. "Is that so? And it was made from scraps your father left? How does that even work?" "Well, that was the easy part." Hulking smiles.
"Welcome back uncle." Morrigan greets you. Madison nods. Hulking smiles at you. "So, how were the gryphons?"
>>497192 "Will you be able to make your own way back when you need to, or should I have Hellequin haul me back up here later?" Hulking asks as he returns the goblin blade to Maddie. "Managed to sweet talk them after all?" Maddie smirks at you.
>>497194 You leave them to their conversations, and head below to the familiar and comfortable room. You open the scroll, there is an ornate picture of a gate with seven circles on it. You recognize them as symbols for various classes of magic: arcane, fire, ice, lightening, earth, life, and death. Outside of the gate are some simple scrying runes, and a small symbol of an eye. After a moment of looking at it, the symbol for arcane magic illuminates softly.
>>497196 The glow is steady, the arcane symbol burning a pink color. After about three minutes it blinks at you, rapidly blinks. The whole parchment glows purple and an arrow appears in the center of the gate pointed back at you.
>>497208 The scroll immediately reacts, it glows, the symbol for arcane turns into a steady light and the arrow changes to a black color, points toward the north west, the symbol for death blinking so slowly and dimly that its barely noticeable.
>>497210 You have had a long journey. You tuck both the scroll and the key into hidden pockets in preparation for rest. Perhaps you will have pleasant dreams to motivate you on your journey. #Pause Next time Find the keys be the hero http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFGY-PciwFU
>>497214 You go on deck, lean over the railing and stare into the water, you feel woozy and you stomach hurts a lot, but you manage to force yourself to vomit, I wonder if that helped or made things worse.
>>497217 She emerges, as her true self for what seems like the first time in ages, appearing a decade older than you, her brown fur dabbled with black stripes, the long floppy ears reminiscent of a rabbit, her mane long and messy, her legs having black and white stripes, almost as if she were wearing socks, her cutiemark is a black bird flying, those eyes are pure black and as always she wears her silver pendant. "Morning uncle."
>>497236 "Long as you're okay." she looks at you pondering your state. "If you insist on going today I should try to fix you." "Your little friend doesn't sleep well, she went up for some air, Strike is probably making coffee, he's not much of a morning pony."
>>497238 Hulking Strike is sitting in the helm slowing drinking some coffee, strong enough that you smell it far before you ever open the door, he stares up at the sword on his wall and then looks back at you, his green eyes heavy with leftover sleep. "Swansong, Morrigan." He nods at you.
>>497250 "You're always welcome back on Hellequin Swawnsong. Don't be afraid to say hello." He smiles softly at you. and to Morrigan he nods. "And your relatives too. Just as long as they don't try to stow away." Morrigan chuckles. "Alright Hulking." "Oh, and that sword Madison has, its possessed." Hulking adds.
>>497365 There is a bar, a few shops, a library, the Eyes of Stormheart building with the red roof and red eye, there is also a small mark on the door frame of one of the houses, a mark that indicates a contact for the equestrian lordblades.
>>497417 This is about a pair of brothers, assassins who are as interchangeable as the wind, known as cloak and dagger. They will one day work to save the realm and will sacrifice everything to ensure those capable of succeeding do not fail.
>>497432 This is a very poorly organized book, covered in dust, and it reads as if someone shoved in parts about gryphons to take up space. and while the gyphons stayed strong, the northcrown in its shining pride, the one he trusted most banishing his city The pony warrior, with his wings of crystal flying over the land, shall find nothing but death and death's children. For unlike the gryphons they did not take head and flirted openly with darkness. Flipping the pages you get to a more current place. There is a second title here: The Gate to Tartarus At the dawn of ages, all demons were sealed away into Tartarus, by the seven great guardians of magic, by each of them sacrificing a piece of themselves to make a key. Should the gate be opened, the land will be flooded with demons and darkness. The seven keys are magical essence so pure that any mage who makes use of them shall be like a god.
>>497483 You find a similar book, a much older translation, this one describes a scene where you meet with god, or a goddess anyway.. After the pony warrior met with the gryphons and received the scroll of location he convened with the master of the world, as it was so long ago, but she was different than he remembered. Appearing as a green pony with cyan eyes, she offered him– the pages have been ripped out here. The gyphons don't really notice you, but they don't seem to be anyone special either.
>>497505 you get a few odd looks as you charge out of the library. The sun is shining brightly now, the skies clear. Gryphons flying or walking about their business, a pair of large looking gryphons bump against you and you're sure it wasn't an accident, but they didn't steal anything from you.
>>497957 You clear your mind. Perhaps it was bad wording, and it won't happen. That was an old translation, and damaged at that! You have had your freedom all this time after all. Truth is what you make of it, so what will you make of this?
>>497992 You feel the same turning feeling inside of your stomach you felt before but it feels.. right somehow, like everything is being put back into place, you feel healthy and energetic instead of sick, you feel a craving for carrots, lettuce, anything leafy.
>>498008 She chuckles at you as you go off to the long table there is a decent spread, carrot soup, cabbage cake, a few small square daisy sandwiches, and a choice of either white whine or a dark ale called 'Red Raven' to go with it. Maddison is chatting with Hulking. "Yea, Gryphons are not any more skilled in cards than ponies, winning against them is easy, I could show you." "No Madison, I've played enough games with you to know that your winning is not my winning." Maddie rolls her eyes. "Fine."
>>498043 Morrigan joins you at the table with a smirk. "Haven't you heard that if you do something enough times you're going to get caught?" Maddie brushes her mane out of her eyes and replies with a smirk. "I'd be fine, and I would last seven hooves at least."
>>498060 Maddison grins at you "Oh, really? What are we waiting for then? The night is young." Hulking chuckles. "I'll be watching for the flying tail feathers." Morrigan laughs as well. "This I have got to see."
>>498075 The four of you arrive at a bar, there is a long table set up with some gryphons playing cards on the east side. Hulking and Morrigan find seats nearby and order a few drinks to help them blend in. Madison approaches the table and smiles sweetly. "Got room for two more boys?" "Ponies want to play with us? Ha!" "What's the matter, you aren't scared are you?" "No, not of ponies." "Good then deal us in." She says sitting down. The luck at the table goes noticeably sour when you both join. "Hey, what's going on dealer? These hooves are unplayable!" The gryphon dealing clearly has his feather's ruffled by this. "You think you can do better pony." She smirks "I know I could." Now with Madison at the helm everyone enjoys a round of great luck, the gryphons get a bit excited and confident, and their luck seems to be better and better, until suddenly when they place a larger bet, their luck changes. They look down cast by the turn around and but leave with enough of what they came with they don't suspect anything. You came out pretty well in this game as well, maddie dealing you enough well timed aces that you made more than you spent without raising suspicion. The game lasts 12 rounds and after it is over Madison walks to you a smug smirk on her face, the other two rejoining you as well "So? Did you have fun pretty boy?" Morrigan chuckles. "You are as good as you claimed girl." Hulking remains silent trying to cover up a grin.
After a joyous evening out. You return to the ship for a night's rest. Hulking gives you a scroll with a copy of the symbol on all his father's work, just in case you should see it. Its a stylized anvil, with a sword and a rose crossed in background, all surrounded by stylized flames. When you wake it is still dark, Hulking lies asleep in bed, Madison is awake and on deck next to Morrigan, who has taken on the form of a black gryphon for this trip. The air is cold, and the moon is just barely visible in the sky, The sun should rise soon.
>>499115 "Just waiting on you." Morrigan tells you in Norse and grins, ..is that the same thing you said to her all those years ago? When you were going to take her to Valerianna? That kid.. Maddison nods. "I don't want to stay here any longer than I have to."
>>499117 And so you marched into the snowy terrain together, the sunlight peaking over the mountains. Once you leave the port behind you don't see much out here, a few tracks of animals here and there, an occasional cave. Where will you go first?
>>499119 You head over to the northern part of wintergrasp, the forests here still grow strong, particularly with nopony living out here to cut them anymore, well one pony. You approach an old mansion, more of a small castle, a couple of crows fly past you staring down you note these are undead, as they pass you and fly into an open window. The garden here is well kept, having a variety of winter-hardy vegetables and fruits. You may approach the large door, which you have a key for, you go in the open window.
>>499133 You go in the large door, a nice hall is laid before you, at the end is a set of large steps a pair of skeletal ponies wielding great swords, they eye you curiously, and greet Morrigan instantly. Welcome Home Princess. Morrigan rolls her eyes at this. "I return safely, as always." Maddison looks uneasy. You can hear movement upstairs.
>>499158 She is expecting you. One of them turns to go up stairs. Please come this way. He leads you past about a dozen similar guards. Until you reach the study. A large undead with three dog-like heads, dragon-like teeth and claws, It has spikes and horns on it and a long tail, coiled around a zebra. You recognize the zebra as Kilana, she is at a table, covered with books and papers, strange symbols written on them. A few extra chairs are laid out. She smiles up at you Morrigan coming to her side and embracing her. "Mom!" Kilana smiles as she hugs her daughter. "Oh, its good to see you again. Now why are you naked, didn't you pack any clothes?" "Mother please, not in front of the new girl" Madison stands very close to you.
>>499171 Greetings Master Swansong. We are pleased you made it here alive. Kilana slowly lets go of Morrigan and meets your eyes. "Pumpkin, and your new friend.. Madison? Is that right?" Maddie slowly nods. "Yes." "Well Madison, you have been traveling a while haven't you, are you hungry?" "..not really."
>>499186 "You too" She whispers back. Kilana looks at Madison who is clearly uneasy and then declares. "So, Maddison, you need a tour, Morrigan why don't you give her one, show here around the garden, that will get her appetite up. But first stop but your old room and pick up some clothes, at least a scarf, its cold outside." "Mother!" "Morrigan." "Fine.." "By the time you are done, we'll have lunch ready." Kilana smiles and waits for them to leave. Which Madison does a bit more quickly than Morrigan who lingers long enough to spare a glance to Kilana who glares darting her eyes to the shadow that kid is trying to leave behind and then back to Morrigan.
>>499192 "Yes. They have stopped by every entrance to the underkingdom, traveling across the land. Each time they cast a spell that tracks dark magic in the area. A few of my undead were found and destroyed. I haven't found a good way to block their spell, but I know its range is about 20 miles. " She twitches slightly at the memory. "Its a very good spell."
>>499206 "I obtained one of their books." She slides a small book to you. "It says they are Childern of Tartarus, and that their mission is to collect artifacts of power so they can summon demons." The book seems current, written no more than a year ago.
>>499216 She looks over your scroll and narrows her eyes at it. "I feel like I've seen this gate before.." after a moment the symbol for arcane lights up purple, the symbol for death begins to blink and the black arrow points to the right. Kilana looks surprised. "Well then.."
>>499226 "Oh, really?" She stands up and walks around the desk to confirm, the arrow does not follow her, and continues to point northwest, the blinking of the symbol is fairly strong. "Maybe this is what those Childern of Tartarus are after, if they don't have it already." Kilana picks up your scroll turning it a few times. "It must have been enchanted long ago, there is no way those simple runes on the front could track like this.."
>>499235 She smiles at you a bit relieved. "I'll keep working on a way to counter their spell. I'm not the best inventor, but somewhere there must be a way." As you take the scroll back she asks curious "..,what will you do with these keys once you find them?"
>>499254 Kilana sighs. "Of course. But what good does power do us?" She looks distant. "But if these are really all that strong, its better that you keep them out of the hooves of crazy ponies." and then looks back to you. "Be careful out there bro."
>>499258 You follow the arrow outside and through the snow. You see a few tents up ahead a couple ponies are wandering near here, they all wear similar coats, gray with black runes as decoration. Madison catches up to you, seems like she is learning how not to be left behind. Morrigan is not here, not even a shadow, Kilana probably made her stay.
>>499281 You slip into the shadows, stalking behind piles of snow and the tents themselves. Madison stays close to you. There are a few ponies going back and forth between the tents as patrols. There is one tent in the center that is particularly well patrolled. You can overhear their conversations as they pass you. "So, the exploration team found nothing again?" "Just another undead blip, a stray perhaps." "I dunno, this all seems kind of odd doesn't it? What are we even looking for?"
>>499287 They seem capable fighters, each having a blade and a gun. The don't carry themselves like casters, but they have each a catalyst, a sort of summoning rune cast in iron, and you can see some armor shining under their coats. You lurk nearby and listen to the pair as the move around. "Been up here how long, and we just keep seeing undead? Are we even sure this is a good lead?" "Be quiet Idiot, someone could hear you." "Come on, no one is out here, the undead have only shown themselves at night, its the middle of the day!" "You don't know that." "Fine, but at least tell me we don't have to help do that spell again. Its such a waste of time" "No. That's Mike's job this time."
>>499299 you slip an explosive piece of paper on the chatty guard's catalyst without him noticing. "Poor guy, we should go seem him after they finish." "You do that. I plan on seeing Miss Dennie after I'm done here, I have this bottle of wine saved for the occasion."
>>499307 You blow the chatty guard's catalyst, his coat catches fire and he falls to the ground he rolls a few times in the snow an attempt to put himself out. He is pretty loud about this. "Help!" he shouts. This is sufficent distraction to let you catch the other on off-guard, your blade meeting his armor you pin him to the ground with a thud. "This would happen on my shift" he groans at as he looks up at you.
>>499336 "We aren't looking for the key.. but something to help us use the key." He keeps his eyes on your blade, feeling around to his own weapon. You doubt he will actually draw it, he's pretty cowardly for a guard.
>>499390 You slice his neck the coward's blood running down your blade, as his body falls limply to the ground. The blood pooling in the snow, a grim red spot in the pure white. You can see the hill he was talking about from here.
>>499395 You find a copy of the guard's schedule. It lists names and times ponies are suppose to be on duty. The location column is filled with symbols that mean nothing to you, at least you can tell who was supposed to work with who by matching up these symbols. Otherwise there isn't anything of value here.
>>499424 "Alright." She follows you stealthily, and you soon spot the smoke rising from a fire, there are a five ponies gathered here eating lunch, beyond that there is a massive rune being etched into the ground by 14 ponies, most of them unicorns, all of them extremely focused on getting this right. One guard over looks the area his eyes looks sharp, unnaturally so, like a cat's. that leaves only two cultists here unaccounted for.
>>499448 The rune is 18 feet wide, and getting wider as the various ponies making it continue their progress. Its actually made up of several intricate symbols, meaning things such as "death" "locate" "seek" "show" "bring here"
>>499467 The guard with the cat like eyes paces around the area, he walks literally right by you, and then turns back and stares for a whole minute before moving on. After a few hours they finish the massive rune and look to be getting into position to activate the thing. A pony at each other point, 16 total. three guards fan out and watch the area around the casters. The cat eye'd guard nods. "Alright we can go ahead." counting the two you killed two are still missing
>>499480 Three are similarly equipped to the ones you met earlier. 8/5 health. They each have a long sword, a small gun, and a summoning rune catalyst. The cat eye'd guard has something about him that give you the impression he's a lot more reflexive, but if you could get him down he would probably die like anyone else. 20/3, he carries a knife, a summoning rune catalyst, and a sort of whip like blade weapon that you can't figure out how to mess up.
>>499494 You trigger the steel-cast rune to break on your command. The Cultist begin to activate the rune, the casters all glowing and chanting together, the dark glowing aura of death extending to the massive rune circle, A map begins to form above the rune.
>>499507 >>499505 He truly is fast. Cat-eyes sets upon you in an instant, tripping you by lashing his whip-blade toward you, luckily he is too distracted by his necklace exploding to do any further damage to you.
Cat eyes glares lashing his sword-whip towards toward you, the other two guards looks ready to attack you as well, if you ever give them the chance.
Behind you, the cultist's spell is beginning to send off dark sparks, slowly extending a dome-like dark aura. Out of the 16 cultists you note that 6 have stopped casting, and look terribly confused, and spaced out, these 6 are all the non-unicorns, and they are missing their catalysts. 10 unicorn casters: deep in focus, casting 6 non-unicorn casters: spacing out, not casting
>>499534 You move fast, deadly fast, cat-eyes does not have time to blink before the swiftness of your blades of justice are upon him. Your slice catches his left eye as you bring my down. Another cultist falls down but the spell is still moving. Caster Forecast: 8 casting, 6 not casting, 2 unconscious?.
You go for the kill, swiftly and end his struggling. The blood flowing slowly from the wounds on his neck. The other guards are still between you and the rest of the cultists. The sparks are flying more rapidly from the spell now, and the map seems to be more complete. Another caster falls down, but this does not end the spell. Caster Forecast: 7 casting, 6 not casting, 3 unconscious?.
>>499538 You feel the urgency of your mission calling you into swift action, you leap into the air using your wings to help you, and swoop down landing on the fallen guard with your blades first, ending his life. You feel burning justice inside of you. +1 for crystal emotions
>>499543 The ones casting do not turn to look at you, nor do they stop, seems like they can't actually hear you. The out of the six that are lacking their catalysts one is aware enough to respond, a pegasus stallion, in a distant helpless tone he answers "Once we start casting it, its impossible for us to stop casting it.." The two guards get back up while you are talking about this, and your blades are no sharper than they were this morning.
2 Guards 5/4
Caster Forecast: 6 casting, 6 not casting, 4 unconscious
>>499545 Madison replies by downing another caster for you. But these two guards are the same ones you were fighting, you just didn't kill them yet, you should probably get on that, since they aren't really scared of your glare. The spell finally begins to slow down, but is it in time?
2 Guards 5/4
Caster Forecast: 5 casting, 6 not casting, 5 unconscious
>>499551 >>499550 No sir, this is the same battle. You raise you blades to finish the injured guard but the other guard shoots you to get you off of his friend, he's a decent shot it turns out, you fall helpless. You note that another caster is down, but the spell has progressed far enough that it has located a large source of dark energy. The catalyst-less casters stare up at it in amazement. The air smells heavy with magic, as if something else is going to happen.
1 guard: 0/2 missing a leg 1 Guards 5/4 Caster Forecast: 3 casting, 6 not casting, 7 unconscious
>>499554 >>499553 You get up swiftly, But can she stop it in time? You see her take down two at once. Only one is still casting a sort of magical ball forms above the circle, almost painfully slow, and the last unicorn still casting trembles his color fading away.
1 guard: 0/2 missing a leg 1 Guards 5/4 Caster Forecast: 1 casting, 6 not casting, 9 unconscious
>>499556 You use your wing power to boost yourself aloft and slam your blades down into the helpless pony finishing him off. Maddison attacks the last unicorn caster, his body completely pale by the time she does this. The spell stops, the sparks and dark aura seizing suddenly. An odd black piece of paper falls to the ground from where the sphere was.
1 guard: 0/2 missing a leg 1 Guards 5/4 Caster Forecast: 0 casting, 6 not casting, 9 unconscious, 1 dead.
>>499558 It has a single line of white writing on it, it looks as if it was stopped half-way throu.
The last guard attempts to shoot at you but with a swift movement you are already behind him, cutting off his legs, to his credit he manages not to scream, he is clearly in a lot of pain thou. 1 Guards 0/2 leg-less Caster Forecast: 0 casting, 6 not casting, 9 unconscious, 1 dead.
>>499560 You finish him off with a swift stab, he departs from this world now.
Madison stands nearby you. The six catalyst-less mages stay still, only the same pegasus stallion that answers you before seems to be fully aware and looking at you, the other 5 are spacing out or staring at the runes.
>>499589 "The key right? Its an old legend. Ten years ago our organization got a tip that it was real from a demon, took us five years to hunt the thing down." He looks even sadder. "Only to find out we can't use it."
>>499619 He nods. "Its fine. I don't have anywhere I'd go. Using that spell.. it takes part of you, you are less yourself each time your cast it.. I don't remember if I had any family, or why I joined this place. Somewhere, I think I was wrong."
>>499626 "Thanks. I'll try to remember that." he turns and nudges the five spacing out mages "Hey, help me pick the others up, we're moving out." They nod absently, or reply with a short "okay" and carry or drag the ones still alive away. Pretty soon they are all but gone. looks like they are headed south.
>>499630 The paper has part of the map that was displayed above, and part of a sentence It reads "The location of the control-" The snow around the paper is melted and the exposed ground is devoid of life and color, unnaturally so. Clearly its trying to complete its writing by absorbing life energy but can't get anywhere.
>>499636 you touch the paper, it glows softly and you feel sick as if your very essence is being drained, after a moment it is enough, the map is complete, the writing says "the location of the control artifacts.eighty one dark energies nearby location." The map leads back to Kilana's mansion. Were you to touch it again the black paper would not harm you.
>>499648 After getting directions from some undead who are a bit wary of you, you find that Kilana is locked up in the basement. You can hear soft music coming throu the door, but will either have to get her to open it or unlock it.
>>499879 "First, I'm gonna gather the control items they are looking for. This should stall them for time. And then go meet their leader." Pull out the other paper. "I've an arrow pointing straight at his heart." Grin.
>>499882 "..I'm pretty sure they want the sycthe and crown. There is a magical orb I have that allows control of stronger dark energies, I used it once about a hundred years ago to try a strong spell.." She looks sad "It didn't help.. but the orb is not part of a set, and the vernacular is specifically objects.."
>>499888 You look around for her tracks, it takes you a while since she leaves very little trail, but eventually you discover her sitting inside a small cave. Her yellow coat is terribly pale, and she is shivering holding her coat tightly around her.
>>499894 She grins "Heh' someone had to get things done while you were showing off." There she seems to stop shaking at least, but she still looks weaker than she should, she wasn't even hit once in that whole fight.
>>499905 Kilana follows you back to Madison, who looks very warm under the blanket. "Madison, I see you are alive." "Yea, I'm fine." Kilana shakes her head and turns her eyes onto madison intently, as if staring directly at her soul, and then smiles. "Yea, just hold still then." "…" Maddie nervously smiles as kilana places her right hoof on madison. Kilana grasps the paper in her left hoof, the runic tattoo lighting up, and with a flash of dark flames the maps slowly start to fade, a few blue streaks come off it and traveling away, but most of it changes into pure white energy which Kilana moves to madison, whose fur returns to its normal pleasant yellow, her blue eyes widened in surprise. "Oh, wow.." Kilana smiles, putting her hooves back on the floor, the paper completely gone and looks between the two of you. "There."
>>499913 You follow the arrow for an hour, you arrive at a very basic building, outside are a few guards, moving in groups of three. They all have the same winter coats, grey with black runes as decoration. They are almost exclusively pegasi.
>>499915 You duck around the corner and find a suitable shadow to hide in. There are nine guards, moving in three groups of three. Each group is similarly capable with a 5/1 cleric, 5/3 necro/warrior, and a 8/1 undead warrior.
>>499958 You stealthily glide up the second story window, and pop it open quietly. Inside you can see an open chest full of coats, armor and robes. There is a locked chest next to it. A round rug is thrown onto the floor. The building seems kind of new. The support beams are showing.
>>499960 Using your expert skills you pop open the lock and look inside. At a surface glance, there are some of those summoning rune-catalysts here, a few scrolls, and a few books with demonic runes scrawled over them.
>>499967 Written in prench you find the scroll barely legible.
Dear northern correspondents We are unable to send aid as we have encountered a minor mishap with Lilith's summoning. We require more of that norse-weed, when you get a chance. Please be aware that another sign of the chosen guardian has appeared, the blue phoenix. Take caution and remember that Tartarus will reward all her childern. Southern Branch
>>499975 You are still hidden, you unlock the door, disarming another trip-wire and can hear voices on the inside as soon as you pop the door open enough to look. an earth pony stallion, a male diamond dog and a female donkey are chatting inside, sitting on a sofa.
>>499977 You try to appraise them, but beyond the fact that they are apparently friends you can't feel them out. "So, we should get another shipment of goods this week." the jenny says cheerfuly. "Ah, then we should make even more progress." The earth pony says with a greedy tone. "Speaking of progress, the scrying team is late reporting back. Should I go see to them?" The Diamond dog says. "I think we're needed here." The Jenny says.
>>499983 Your blades are sharpened. There is not a candeliere, but instead the room has lights attached to the wall, the shelves are pretty sturdy you would be able to perch on top of them.
The diamond dog seems a bit tense and draws a blade for no apparent reason. The jenny looks around cautiously. "Did you say something about diner tonight?" She asks. "Ah, yes. We'll have that wine from Almond-valley, stubborn mules to negotiate with that lot but damn if they don't have the best goods. And Hopefully we'll have something to celebrate too." The earth pony says excitedly.
>>499985 >9 to stealth yes, you are still hidden, but at least the Jenny and the Diamond Dog they seem alert. They both move around the room and the diamond dog quickly discovers the paper you stepped on earlier. "Hmm.." while he is distracted looking at this parchment you attached a small explosive to his blade. "Guys come on, you already checked this room." The earth pony groans. "Can't we just relax." "No." The diamond dog says flatly.
>>499991 >>499990 With practiced swiftness you take you swords and run the jagged edges on the helpless earth pony's body, you strike all of his vital organ, and then to be sure you slice his neck as well. His body goes limp and blood seeps onto the floor. You feel kind of proud of your skill, this ability to deliver justice. +1 crystal emotions
>>499993 You wait patiently for them to come to you and then poof you throw a smoke pellet down and jump above the Jenny forcing your blades down on her as you land. She falls to the ground but gets away from you quickly.
>>499995 "as are you" The jenny replies. and indeed you are impressive, your blades clash against theirs your years of practice and skill making you the victory in this and you land good hits on both of them
>>499998 She can't parry fast enough to stop you with the momentum you gained by jumping and force her to the ground. "The dead are rarely busy friend." She replies quietly in an old equestrian accent.
>>500003 Time to get some answers. But first, clean my blade. And pat down both the jenny and the dog. '1d10' Also, place an explosive rune on the jenny's forehead. I know her tricks, rope would do nothing.
>>500004 You find their weapons, a few poisons and antidotes for those poisons, a bit of money, each has a copy of that book We are the Children of Tartarus, the Jenny's copy looks basically untouched, and the dog's copy is in prench. They don't have anything identifying on them. You carefully stick an explosive rune on the Jenny's forehead.
>>500022 She has a face made of stone, nothing to been seen here. "The side that solves problems." she nods toward the book. "But he is not on that side, he is only on his own side." >>500023 Instead of focusing on her face alone you look at her ears, her hooves, even her tail, watching for even a twitch, she seems at ease, but is breathing a little heavily thanks to the damage from that battle. You will notice if this changes.
>>500025 "If I am wrong you will kill me. Even if I am right you will probably kill me. Lose-lose, I'd rather die believing that you actually want to stop him rather than have him replaced by someone who favors you."
>>500027 "The hydra is this Children of Tartarus, they have many roots across the land. Many casters, all seeking power, not caring what gets in their way." She pauses briefly "You know that right now, there is no necromancer strong enough to wield the key, not how they want anyway, they can't use it to pull demons out, but.. it can amply a caster's power, ten-fold or more, just by being held."
>>500216 This darkness is a magical sort of darkness, created by dark magic. It masks the sound and sight of whatever is kept inside here, some of this darkness leaks out as you keep the door open, eventually it would dissipate if you kept doing this.
>>500221 You look into the key hole and surprisingly get a good look at what's going on. There are five cultists sitting in a circle and writing on pieces of paper, copying from a book. Seems like they are practicing those runes needed to make the scrying spell. Overseeing them is a grey unicorn with purple eyes and black bat wings that look like something from an abomination. The magelings practicing looks really frail, you can probably take them out all at once. The one over seeing them seems tough enough to make up for this. Behind them is a spiral staircase made of black marble. # 1 dark caster: 5/8 5 apprentice mages: 5/1
>>500223 With a swift kick you break down the door and dash into the center of the circle blades draw, the stunned magelings have barely a chance to see you much less move and slice them each in turn, when you are finished all five of them lie dead a single cut on their neck, and the unicorn just barely managed to block you with his out-of place bat wings.
>>500225 "A demon? No no, he doesn't have that certain touch.. That glimmer of joy when he kills" The unicorn forms claws on his hooves and motions for you to come. and so you do using practiced speed you slash against him and he does in turn, you get the first blows in, but his newly formed claws return the favor and draw your blood. He falls to the ground first, but you follow a moment after.
>>500229 "Lust for battle.. Perhaps a demon after all then." You throw down a smoke pellet and jump behind him stabbing your blade into his heart. He goes limp and his claws shrink back into his hooves.
>>500231 The bodies to not stir or move, the initiates look like young adults, all five are unicorns. On the dark caster you find; a well worn copy of We are the Childern of Tartarus, a few pages are bookmarked and some things underlined; A journal with names and tally marks next to the names, looks like some kind of progress tracker for the initiates, a couple of the names have a star next to them which is annotated at the bottom as Shows Potential, Introduce to Torrac ; a couple of vials of blood, and a small ceremonial dagger. …is his heart still beating?
>>500233 You jump back in time to watch his body transform, his hooves fully changing into black claws, his eyes completely black, and his bat-wings gaining spikey ends. the caster rises up staring at you as you sharpen your blades.
>>500235 The caster stretches flexing his new muscles and joints. He is still here, do his blades hunger? I think they do. the caster replies in a dark tone. Its clear that he gained a great deal of strength by undergoing this process, and that whatever demon he is holding inside him does not wish him to die.
>>500239 He blocks too high and then foolishly attempts to stop you with his wings, you slice through them leaving the leathery parts a horrible mess, as the caster flails away from this he cuts you with a spike. I see, such greedy blades, taking all the blood for themselves.. Pumpkin: 4/4
>>500241 You trick him into dodging too soon and plunge your blade into his dark twisted heart. He falls to the ground, dark energy swirling around the wound where you blades are still lodged in. YEs..finish it then. Feed your lust demon. Pumpkin: 4/4
>>500247 He wants to know about the key. We know much about keys, ponies like keys, keys are pretty. Goats too, Torrac is the one he means? Must be. Torrac is weak of the mind, will be easy to take over.
>>500249 You finish the demon off slicing its head off and cutting out its heart to be sure. Its sickening blackness making you feel a bit uneasy but after a moment of observing you determine he is actually dead.
>>500251 Objects in this room: dead unicorn initiates: X5 possessed caster body: X1 Black Marble steps. papers with poorly draw runes on them X100 a few steel catalysts on the floor, in the shape of summoning runes. A window: closed and the curtain drawn books X'8d3'
>>500255 You burst open the door, letting light pour inside the room, the darkness recedes recoiling like smoke. You sharpen your long curved blades in the direction of the inky black room, your suit slick and dark, your mask hiding your face. After a moment you hear a simple reply from inside "No"
>>500295 You believe it is some form of pony, and a tentative and pale hoof reaching into the light briefly in an attempt to close the door again confirms this. It doesn't look big but it can probably dodge, and definitely doesn't like the light.
>>500303 Your blades can strike through masterwork armor like butter, what are a couple of mere hinges going to? They break and the door falls down with a thud. The pony-figure screeches at this and you can hear its hooves staggers backwards. you can't help but smirk to yourself. +1 crystal emotion
>>500312 You do a sideways flip to get in front of the doorway, you see it clearly, a pony its eyes red, its skin a pale indistinguishable color, it has large fangs, and parts of its skin appear to stripped, you rush toward it getting a hit in and it hisses at you covering itself in the remaining shadows backing into a corner of the room as far from the light of the door as it can get.
>>500324 *You surprise the pony enough with your last attack that his shadows move away. >>500325 Now that you can see your target you can not miss. The panicked pony takes a small hit, and is forced to step into the light which also seems to hurt him.
>>500369 You move down the black marble steps and find that they move you to a short hallway which ends in a ramp. You step on a switch and the tiles above you move, revealing an opening with a large door with a combination lock on it. The light from the window behind you shines dimly.
>>500380 The door is tall and wide, decorated with golden symbols. The lock it built into the door itself, it requires three numbers, you simply have to spin the dials to the right numbers and press the button, then the door will open.
>>500395 You hear a satisfying click and rumble with in the door and it begins to retract. You get a nice look at the room as the smell of burning herbs assaults your nose. There are six stone pillars, in front of each is a bowl resting on a stand, black and purple fire rising and giving the whole room a dark glow to it. The floor has a long rug on it, leading to the top of steps, where you see an old goat staring toward you. He is brown in color, his hairs grey in some areas, his eyes an unnatural yellow color. He wears a long black robe, his curled horns have a few small skulls and crystals dangling from them, he has a long staff with a black crystal on top, and around his neck hangs a slightly glowing black scarab amulet. "What do you want?" The goat snaps toward you.
>>501456 The goats points his staff toward you. "You can not hope to win. Stop now and I'll promise your body will stay whole, as opposed to split up for various uses." You look around the room you can see just the place, that right row of pillars is weak, if you were to cause an explosion to the middle one.. it would cause the room to fall in on itself what a terrible oversight!
>>501462 >>501463 >>501464 You quickly mark the pillar with a large explosive rune. Then you take your time and look the goat over, this Torrac, that caused so much trouble. He is brown, with touches of grey, unnaturally yellow eyes. He is decidedly a necromancer, he has that certain air about him, that air of death. But, to be able to summon demons, you know he has studied a lot, he likely knows some other forms of magic, a bit of arcane. He seem kind of tough for an old goat, you also note that the flames are occasionally flickering sending a purple spark toward the goat which he seem to absorb.
>>501466 You take your sword and utterly destroy the delicate braziers briefly noting how nicely sculpted they were, such detail on the skulls.. the hot coals spills to the floor. "..What are you doing?! You can't just come in here and break all my stuff! I'm never going to let you die"
>>501468 >>501469 "Let me fix that for you then." He says with a snarl and casts a a dark ball of energy in your direction, you flip backwards and sharpen your blades against each other midair, when you land they shine like the day when they were first forged.
>>501471 You toss another smoke pellet down, Torrac squints looking around for you and you stab into side dragging the two blades as one to cause a large wound, thick black blood runs from the wound. "You have a strong hoof, but that won't save you."
>>501473 He winces in pain as you turn the blade inside him, and then gasps collapsing onto the floor as your blade lifts through his chest, his eyes seem tired. You feel like you are capable of great justice, +1
>>501475 And you end it with a single thrust to the heart, the goat's eyes still staring at your blade as it enters him. The thick black blood pooling around him, the ashes on the floor seeming to want to go to him but are unable.
>>501479 You head upstairs collapsing the room with a loud rumble. The room you came in at also collapses. Madison appears next to you silently. She has a cultist robe on, and there is blood splattered on it.
>>501481 You looks closely at her, you can spot a silver locket in her pocket, and you see the fan like-hilt of her blades. She seems to have taken a few hits. 3/4 She smirks "Nothing too bad, there were some ponies held down there, they are free now."
>>501491 Keep hovering around here, start talking to the air in front of me. "I never liked hunting, when I was young. Never had time for it, really. Had to train. To watch over an emperor first and an empire later. Not my kind of thing. But still, this is my home. And there is no way you can hide from me in my. Home." As I say the last few words, turn around with an expression of rage and hatred looking at the snow pile, and open the faceplate.
>>501492 Madison stares at you. you hear snow crunching softly from behind the pile of snow and the jenny slowly comes out her ears bent back. you can see she bandaged her wounds and there is a bandage on her forehead. "Why did you come after me.."
>>501498 Grunt and look at the side. "For once in a lifetime even the impossible can come true. Now stop being such a cliché spy and start walking." The black crystal atop the staff or the black scarab amulet around his neck?
>>501501 "Huh, I guess its because you're so handsome, the ladies just line up for you." Madison says teasingly.
You keep walking east for a couple of miles and the jenny turns up a mountain tapping a few times on wall until she locates a stone that sinks in. The wall recedes into the mountain and soon appears as if it was never there in the first place. The jenny walks forwards and motion activated magical floating light appear as she does. You feel the wind move behind you in an unnatural way.
>>501506 >>501507 Nothing is wrong, this place is totally secure from outsiders, and there isn't anypony walking around here but you, madison, and the jenny. The jenny open the door and greets a tan unicorn behind a large desk, there are a few chairs set on this side of the office, there is a book shelf and some paintings. "Wisest brother, I bring an old cousin with me." "Yes, I can see that, now tell me anything urgent and then get yourself to a nurse girl."
>>501509 The unicorn shakes his head at you. "Do you know how far your gift has taken us back?"
The Jenny says "The package we sent Lilith was a success, but her forces may be suspicious, their last contact indicated hesitation to help. The rest can wait." "I'll speak to you later then." The jenny leaves you are now alone with the unicorn and maddie.
>>501515 "Habit is a poor excuse for action. I'd like to think you had more reason than reflexively killing demonologists." The stallion stares at you a moment and sighs as he levitates a tray from above his bookshelf, a cloth from his desk drawer, and moves the necromancer's head on to the tray, its black blood dripping slightly, the unicorn then carefully wipes the black blood off his desk as he speaks. "But, that might be asking too much from a 535 year old killer." It is at this moment you notice how otherwise neat his desk is, a pair of empty baskets on the right, five quills perfectly evenly spaced next to three different colors of ink well, a few neatly stacked stamps.. a small floating ball for decoration is the only wasted space, and it sits on the left side of the desk balancing out the number of objects.
>>501546 It looks like its just decoration, the little pad its hoovering on seems to be the cause of its levitated state. With a sharp inhale the unicorn turns his eyes to you "Well, perhaps you would like to stop wasting your precious time and enlighten me as to what brings the mighty Northblade here?"
>>501551 >>501552 You watch as he sets the now stained cloth onto the tray and with a quiet thud levitates the tray with the head and cloth onto the floor. He also adjusts the quills again as if making sure they are actually perfectly spaced. "And the reason you are here, in my office?"
>>501569 He shakes his head "Have a seat then, perhaps it is time we talked." he moves a chair closer to you. and looks toward madison. "Miss Ironstalker right? Your sister Lily is doing fine if you were wondering." Madison glares at him."don't talk to me about lily." "Fine, I'll just give you fair warning, this pony you've decided to follow, he's dangerous. If you want to survive, I would suggest finding a safer option." "No thanks." Madison continues glaring at him and takes a seat.
>>501577 "I should introduce myself, I am Crisp Evergrasp" He says distantly and pulls out a folder, flipping through it with magic. "If half the things we have on your are accurate, there is not talking you out of this hunt. " He glances at you. "You know, your crusading around the nation, its caused me quite the head ache. But, Tome, he insists that you're doing the best things, I swear you must have to record for most face time with that stallion." He sets a picture down on the table with an image of a gate with symbols for each class of magic on it.
>>501602 You blink a few times and feel dizzy, the writing looks strange foreign, the marked locations.. over 200.. seems to outnumber the places a single pony could hope to visit in a reasonable time. "That's only the ones we have confirmed locations for, and, they would relocate as soon as they figured out they were being hunted." he continues in an even tone. "What we have done instead is position ponies in places of power in their organization, inhibiting them, and attempting to locate the gate, and how precisely it can be accessed. if we can prevent them from accessing that gate we win. Of course, securing the keys is a viable option, if a bit risky to gather them in one place. I thought it better to leave them scattered."
>>501617 You walk calmly out of the room Madison follows you. The door closes firmly behind you. The hall way seems a little more lively than when you came in, ponies and a few gryphons moving about their business.
>>501621 You can feel eyes on you as you move into the room. It feels very clean, sterile, the air is pure or full of the scent of medicine. A few doctors and nurses move about doing their job. You pass by a few beds with curtains drawn around them, a waiting room with sofas, and few more doors, and then spot the jenny you are looking for. She is laying down in bed staring angrily at her pillow.
>>501635 >>501636 Now that she stopped hiding her emotions, which is very off putting to you, her face says she is frustrated, but you suspect her of faking her emotions and look at her carefully, listening to her calm breathes and fast heart beat. Nervous? "I should have told you earlier. Somehow. Done something different, been faster."
>>501656 Madison smiles at you nudging your side. before you can knock the door opens with a glow of magic, Crisp Evergrasp sits behind his desk his hooves folded on top of each other, and his horn lit with a slight magic aura. He stares flatly at you.
>>501658 He continues to stare flatly at you and speaks calmly and evenly. "Of course, we always welcome our allies as guests." He picks up a key from his draw with telekinesis and launches it toward you. "Sleep well."
>>501664 You turn the lock and open the door, inside is about everything you could need, two beds, a small kitchen with a mini fridge, a bathroom, a few night stands a table with a few popular entertainment novels. The room looks very nice over all the wall paper is a tasteful checkered pattern, Maddie slides onto the fluffier looking bed. "Dibs!" she calls.
>>501666 "This bed is so soft! I didn't even know beds came in this level of softness!" Madison lays down enjoying the soft bed. Listening devices, why would there be listening devices.. oh, you mean the one on the ceiling behind the light, or the one in that crack between the fridge.. or maybe the one behind the sink? You find a total of eight.
>>501700 You take care of yourself, washing off the demon blood before it has a chance to really set in, a warm bath feels nice, if a bit stinging because of the scratches from that pony with the demonic claws. You certainly saw a lot of interesting things today.
>>501709 "Report back t-" Wait. Stand up. "Wait here." Draw the map of the north I've memorized before. "Check these places. They should be demonologists' hideouts. Maybe ask your mother to put a few dead birds outside…"
>>501713 "Some kind of location spell to track dark items in the area. But there is someone who might know more. The ponies who casted it, they are still alive. And they too, lost parts of themselves."
>>501720 The beds are high quality, fluffy, clean, warm, they smell vaguely of mints. You have a pleasant dream about going home, drinking mage wine with your old friends again, Bearing is reading a story to Fall Harvest.. When you wake up you feel refreshed, calm and alert. There aren't any windows but the clock next to your bed says its 8:30
>>501726 Well, the sugar does improve the flavor quite a bit. Crisp Evergrasp, was the name. You wander the halls, they are all identical aside from certain hall ends that have a color or number, and door letters and numbers. A few ponies and gryphons pass you some eyeing you suspiciously. You do remember where Crisp's office is, and when you arrive the door is open, Crisp is sitting down at his very orderly desk drinking coffee of his own, his eyes are baggy. "Morning" Crisp greets you.
>>501740 "Here." he sets a file on the table. "This is for you. Don't mistake this as a kindness, Its merely efficiency. It has information about the dragon, its location, and the location and nature of the other dangerous targets in the north."
>>501742 You flip through and its as he said, all the information you require is there. The place the dragon is located is near some old ruins, they have it chained down and plan to make it into a perfect demon host. Its noted that their watch doesn't go very far wast because of a very steep drop.
>>501756 She nods as you get ready and stretches a bit, before downing the coffee and getting herself ready, she does her hair in a neat bun as usual. Soon you are both ready to go. "So, who are we killing?"
>>501763 When you arrive back at Kilana's mansion the undead are hidden but she is sitting eating some brunch with Morriagn, tomato soup with a side of broccoli. Kilana looks clearly relieved to see you. "Welcome back Pumpkin."
>>501767 And so you do, the by-now familiar table of maple wood, the soup perfectly spiced, warm and filling, the broccoli a nice meaty touch to meal. Madison actually eats two servings and chats with Morrigan about flowers. When you finish the meal Kilana moves the dishes herself instead of asking for an undead to help. You could follow her into the kitchen.
>>501771 Kilana sighs. "I'm sorry I couldn't fix this properly for you the first time, her soul is better than new but living like that must be…" She shakes her head "Morrigan tracked down the mages, and they are trying something later tonight to fix themselves, the ones who want to be repaired anyway, if it works, we can use it on her."
>>501772 "Keep an eye out on them. If they regain too much of themselves they might even think again about their allegiance in this." Pull out the map. "Now, onto more pressing matters. See this crack? Do the roads pass by it?"
>>501773 She stares at it with her green eyes, "yes, there was a collapse a few years back, but its since been cleared. The tunnel surfaces here." she points a little south of where the dragon would be. "Hidden in one of the valleys."
>>501781 You crack open your handy intel-file and see that indicates there is a set of watch towers, on the north and south side, the east side has only ground patrols, and the west side is where the gorge is.
>>501815 You carefully climb down to the bottom of the fissure, near the top the rocks are slippery and coated with a layer of snow and ice, but as you continue down, you find the ice is only present on some of the rocks. The light is dimmer down here, the sunlight but a thin column running along the ground, and the sky seems a world away.
>>501821 You carefully ascend toward the top of the fissure, the air pressure here is strong enough that you and maddie both struggle with it. You stop near the top and rest tentatively on a ledge. You can smell smoke on the wind.
>>501823 Maddie nods, some kind of recognition in her eyes at seeing you speak like this. "Got it." The wisps of smoke on the wind irritating your eyes a little. You hear nothing but silence for the moment.
>>501825 The mask quickly climbs the rest of the distance, sneaking into the snow, quick, quiet, a rabbit hopping by glances towards where the mask just was seeing nothing it calmly hops along. The path ahead of you seems clear, the guards really don't like going near the edge, and instead stick very close to the building on this side, the ruins surrounding the building also would provide decent cover.
>>501827 Sneaking across the snow you get to the ruins of an old building, time having taken its toll on these things, from here you get a better look at the structure that was built on the inside of the area, its a stone building, only one floor. there is smoke coming from the window and chimney. There are five guards together on this side. If you get a little closer you could hear what they are saying.
>>501829 You get a little closer, you can't make out how capable they are, but you at least you can hear them now. "Yea, I'm pretty sure those chains are gonna hold, at least until they put the demon it in." "Man, why does a dragon get a demon? How is that fair?" "What about any of this is fair, and you can't even cast so why would you get one?" A few of them laugh.
>>501831 >>501832 "After this, I'm going to ask to go south, somewhere with a beach. I miss the sand." "I bet you miss that hot little mare, what was her name? Heart break?" "Too soon man."
The first one: A blue and green earth pony stallion with the air of shamanism and a the arm of a blade master, he seems to be comfortable as if being actively nourished.. perhaps if you pushed him on to somewhere unnatural he'd lose that connection 6/9 The second: He seems like a perfectly ordinary knight, red earth pony stallion, reliant on his gear, he's pretty weighted down, and likely knows how to protect his comrades. 11/6 the third: a white unicorn, he seems like the type to be able to summon things with magic such as, weapons or creatures. 5/5 the fourth: this earth pony stallion is carrying two pistols, an axe, and a summoning rune catalyst. A mixed fighter then. You note that he has a recent burn on his right side. 6/4 The fifth: a dark colored unicorn stallion with sharp eyes, he carries a pistol and a dark gem. Necromancy then, he looks to be kind of out of shape. 4/4
>>501834 When you sneak over behind the knight, he decides to change positions moving toward the other side of the group. There is awkward silence before you hear a roar from inside the structure. Then the five turn to look toward the building exchanging glances.
>>501836 You sneak past them and get closer to the stone structure, the smell of smoke is stronger here, and you can see it billowing from an open window and the chimney. The door is locked by a chain.
>>501845 You still can't make much out, but you note the chanting is getting lower, less voices in the mix. You think you can hear something being said, but the roar of the beast suffering makes it impossible, at least you know where he is.
>>501847 You dash toward the dragon, its thrashing claws and tail swiping you on the way, you use your wings to land on top of it.. wait.. you have wings! you use them to thin out this smoke. That's much better. The dragon you are on top of is red scaled, some of the scales on the back of its neck are missing, and you can see a scar where something was placed into the creature. Its claws are cowered in some kind of black ooze. The thick chains keeping it this room seem to be sturdy still, even like this it would still take a good effort to bring it down. 55/20 You see 7 dead mages, and 6 still attempting to cast some dark magic. You note that the room's floor has a massive rune circle painted on it.
>>501850 >>501851 you have sentry, but were not hidden, they just think the spell is more important than you. You make cuts on all the mages still casting. You see madison stabbing one of them making him fall down. The six of them look terrified, but mostly of the dragon which has fire forming in his mouth. roll to dodge in edition to your actions.
>>501853 After he burns the mages, the dragon looks up at you squinting his eyes, smoke coming out of is nostrils. "Then do so quickly." he speaks with a gruff tone, his voice large and in pain. Maddie kills one of the mages in the background.
>>501857 The dragon looks down at you with your blade drawn, and blows a bit of smoke toward you. "They put their foul things into me. I am not familiar with this ritual, but it burns, like acid." Why would he be lying, and what kind of tells does a dragon even have?
>>501865 no You stab the bundle of leaves and hear a soft hissing more black fluid leaks out and after a moment a small creature jumps out of the wound and onto the back of the dragon, it looks like some kind of monkey made of black ooze.
>>501869 Your blades are sharpened, ready to kill. Madison nods to you and quickly gets the locks on the chains removed. The dragon pushes past her as soon as it is freed taking down a wall to get outside.
>>501872 >>501871 You trick the little shit into jumping and it spreads its oozy body as if to swallow you, and at the last second you roll away behind him. Slicing him with you blades and watching as his black ooze form splatters onto the ground and begins to reform. You feel a deep satisfaction at seeing the troublesome thing so helpless and weak. +1
>>501875 You look down on the pathetic creature, its squirming form, and tear it to shreds with your blades. Its ooze quivers on last time before falling completely flat, a useless pile of vile matter now.
>>501878 "This place will soon blow up. You better go back to base now. Go to the Equestrians. And hide the wings somewhere before reaching them." Right… Anything I can burn the bundle with? Or just even safely carry it. '1d10'
>>501879 "Understood." Madison disappears. As for the leaves, well, if you want to burn them you could ask the dragon, who is outside, getting revenge on the remaining cultists. If you want to carry it, you could wrap it in one of the cultists robes.
>>501881 You find the dragon engaged in battle with what seems to be the last two cultists, the red earth pony knight, and a pony with two pistols drawn firing icy blasts at the dragon. These are two of the guards you passed before. They all seem to have taken a few hits.
>>501884 >>501883 The knight charges with fury and leaves a deep cut on the dragon's claw. The earth pony with pistols falls down before he can get a shot off and the dragon slashes him to finish him off personally.
>>501890 With a powerful thrust you push your blade into the knight's back. You feel your light shining at your prefect form, such a wonderful fluid motion the stallion falling to the ground, and you remove your blade allowing the dragon to satisfy his lust for revenge by crushing the pony under his claw.
After this the dragon settles down and looks at you curiously. "Hello pony."
>>501906 You go back to talk to Kilana, inside her mansion you see the undead are once again roaming the halls. You find her resting on a pillow, in the living room Codar protectively circled around her. "Oh, you're back already?" She smiles at you appearing friendly, but her eyes search you intently.
>>501909 Kilana smiles back and then shakes her hoof at you mocking a stern voice. "A dragon is a big responsibility, you have to take good care of it, I don't want to see any scales on my floor." She is eyeing the bundle you are carrying closely.