You are returning to your room at the crystal palace, Just back from enjoying a diner with Frostmourn, the visiting diplomats from Ironfoe, and Rosefall, complete with petty passive aggressive actions, Frostmourn calling them out with a simple a quip and turning the discussion back on track with all the mastery of an experienced ruler. Frostmourn then retired to his room to rest, no immediate danger, you already checked there just in case, and everything seemed to be in order. Before you can open your door, you spot one of your recruits, an earth pony stallion, Dark Shot. You met him on a routine trip to eaglecrest, he was a mercenary looking for something more out of life, sitting around drunk and miserable. Since then Dark shot has clung to the purpose of serving the united northlands, becoming one of your better blades. His speciality is in ranged sneak attacks, but like all blades he’s been shown how to do a variety of skills necessary for the job. He’s dressed suitably for someone visiting the palace, the look in his blue green eyes, and prompt half bow when he sees you seeing him, tells you its not here for a social visit.
>>617955 He trots over to you with concern. "Lord Swansong, I have some disturbing news for you." He begins with a sigh. "Several promising squires and warriors have vanished from Eaglecrest without a trace."
>>617966 You go for a stroll in the cool night air, the palace looming over you and glimmering in the moonlight. "They vanished over the last month, and nothing useful so far, one of them did appear again, but doesn't seem to realize he was even gone."
>>617971 Frostmourn is occupied with entertaining all those diplomats, for the next few days while they try to smooth out laws and resource allocation. Typical business for running a nation really. You can leave a few of your blades, or just extra normal guards very easily. "That's correct Sir, but aside from actually seeing it happen I'm not sure how."
>>617976 Alright. With a flash of light you are disguised as a red pegasus of similar body type to yourself. Dark Shot smiles at you. "Ah of course, we can have you signed up for tomorrow morning's game if we hurry."
>>617978 You go off to the teleporters and are zapped to Eagle crest, you can hear the distant cheering of ponies partying. With a careful step you make your way past the tacky looking stands of foods, and to the the arena office. Here there is a cheerful old earth pony flipping through some posters.
>>617981 You came at a lucky time it seems. The gentlepony gets a spark of excitement and puts the posters aside to hoof at a stack of forms. "Oh certainly, I can help you fill out the form since no one is here. Would you like to enter the morning's tournament? Name and age? What level would say your skill is?"
>>617987 "Alright, that's all there was too it. Just show up at the staff area tomorrow at 6am to check in for the tourney at 7am. Ah, really as long as you get here by 6:30 its all fine. He's a slip that proves you signed up if anyone hassles you about it." He passes you a slip with the name 'Contestant Red Trace' and a stamp on it.
>>617989 You head over to the common area for contestants to rest, prepare, and talk to the staff. There are four ponies here all talking and laughing about the events of the evening game that ended recently. An orange earth pony of large build, a brown unicorn a thin build, a yellow earth pony of medium build, and a tan earth pony of medium build. The tan earth pony has a medal on his neck from overall victory.
>>617991 The large orange one has a lot of hits, but once you get him down he's just the same as any other pony. The brown unicorn has innovative skills, but can't take much of a hit and relies entirely on dodging. the yellow earth pony is pretty average at everything, but knows how to excite the crowd. The tan earth pony seems like he can take a lot hits and is even a little tougher than a normal earth pony, the way he seems a bit embarrassed tells you he is new to this. "Morning." "You're right on time, did you get something to eat?" "Nah, don't eat this soon to the game, at least not more than like an apple." "right right, don't want to get sick, that would be embarrassing." "Not as embarrassing as that throw last night!" "Yea, you did great Rings, really threw Sunny far." the large orange one grins "I was totally surprised!" The yellow earthie replies "It just came naturally really.." the tan pony smiles still not quite at ease.
>>617995 "Hopefully we'll be matched together then. You seem like a tough opponent."
And then a few more groups of ponies pile in, doing stretches or drinking water. And before long a pony comes and rings a bell asking for everyone to assemble as they explain the rules in a practiced but loud voice. You may only use the weapons provided, you may not leave the ring, each match is three rounds to determine the victor, anypony may forfeit the match at any time by throwing in the red flag or tapping out, attacking the eyes is grounds for a DQ, as is sneaking in weapons, using bards to help you, or using potions to enhance strength.
>>617997 You wait patiently for your turn, and then you hear the announcer call out. "We have The Orange Thunder, Bright Hooves here ..And the challenger, the new face sure to please and tantalize your senses, Red Trace!" The crowd cheers excitedly as the large orange pony waves at them.
>>617998 Smile happily as I move in, and seemingly ignoring the crowd address Orange specifically. "Oh man, it's great to be here, really! What a day, it's gonna be some real fun isn't it?" Circling around the guy in a slow, almost uncaring motion. Give me a proper read of his physique. '1d10' Appraise, and approach him with disarming calm, Sabotaging his weapon with Sentry.
>>617999 He picked the blunted axe from the rack. It can't do any slicing damage to you at least, and now it will just fall apart at your command. He has 9 hits and 5 wounds, The way he's standing he prefers to slam into opponents anyway. "That's some pretty scared walking you have there, are you sure your name isn't the Pimple?" He taunts you.
"Round one, START!!" The announcer encourages you with excitement that spreads to the crowd as they yell in return.
>>618001 You throw the big guy off balance with your swift moves and the crowd gasps in surprise. "Looks like an aerial advantage here folks, I wonder what he will do next! Can Bright get back to his hooves?"
>>618004 >>618005 He gets up with a huff as you drag the dagger against the other one. "Aha, That was a pretty good hit, but I don't think you're going to get another like that!" He looks ready to charge at you and pull you down. 8/4
>>618007 You abuse his momentum and the force the of the blunted weapon to push him out of the ring on where he lands on his back. 0/3 "WHOOOOA DID YOU SEE THAT! ROUND ONE GOES TO RED TRACE!" The announcer shouts to be heard over the ecstatic crowd. you get a chance to really look at the crowd while your opponent picks himself up and drinks some water. There is a small group of ponies chatting among themselves and looking back at you.
>>618009 You memorize the whole group of five while you're bowing, you'd know them anywhere now.
"After a stunning first round for Red Trace, it looks like Bright Hooves is ready for action again. This is gonna be a tense round two for everyone involved." The Orange pony flexes a bit and moves aggressively toward you. "Fighters take you places, and.. ready.. FIGHT"
>>618011 You dance around the orange pony and make a show of uncaringly knocking him down, and his axe falls apart on que, making it seems as thou his fall merely broke it. "And the bigger they are the harder they fall. Looks like the Orange Thunder is having a hard time getting ANYTHING rolling today." The crowd gasps and cheers for you. While Bright Hooves flinches and tries to get up again.
>>618013 The commentator shouts some more about how exciting this all is keeping the crowd excited with play by plays of every moment. But for this moment there is nothing but you and the large orange pony, you keep him under you watching his struggles and and panic turn into fustration as he realizes he's defeated and taps out. "OOOH AND IT LOOKS LIKE BRIGHT HOOVES HAS DECIDED TO TAP OUT, UNABLE TO ESCAPE THE PIN! RED TRACE WINS ROUND 2 MAKING HIM THE WINNER OF THIS MATCH!" The crowd roars with fervor at your victory.
>>618017 He laughs a bit patting your back. "Good luck out there Red." he says before leaving to the break room. The group of five ponies have spread out around the stands as if trying to collectively get a better angle of the arena, and are still staring at you excitedly.
>>618019 yep, okay. two of them are trained to be sneaky, they have 5/5, and are a white unicorn mare with a blue mane, and a yellow crystal pony stallion. The third is blue pegasus mare who seems to be a leader type, she's got 7/7 as her health. the fourth is a large earth pony mare in heavy armor, she has brown fur and a black mane. The fifth is a crystal stallion with white skin and red mane, he seems to be some kind of caster and has 5/4
Its almost noon now, and you moved up the brackets along side Titan Ring. The crowd is buzzing about your match and you earned a nickname of the 'Red Blitz' for your fast speed. The announcer has the band play music as you both enter. Announcing you separately for more of a reaction from the crowd. "THE NEW UPSTART PONY, THE GROUNDHOG OF FIGHTERS, THE CHAMP FROM LAST NIGHT HERE TO DOMINATE AGAIN, TITAN RING!!!" "AND HE WILL BE FIGHTING. THE GREATEST CHALLENGE YET. THE UNDEFEATED. THE UNBLOCKABLE. THE RED BLITZ THAT ROLLED AWAY THE ORANGE THUNDER!! RED TRACE!!" The crowd is chanting your names in excitement.
>>618021 A few crystal mares shout about how they are in love with you. One of them declares that that kiss was speficially for her. The tan earth pony Titan Ring waves to the crowd and gets a few kisses of his own blow to him. He has 8/6, being a little tired from fighting all day.
"Are the contestants ready… THEN LET THE FIGHT BEGIN! ROUND ONE START!"
>>618022 Again, begin hovering, spreading my wings wide as if to challenge my enemy to come forth… And then Vanish. But don't backstab him immediately, no. Instead, use my Sentry to sabotage his weapon of choice.
>>618108 Titan looks a little confused when you don't show up at his side, and starts to look around the arena for you, who of course staying behind his back, an effect that is rather comically to crowd and they slowly start to giggle.
>>618110 You hit his exposed side, and he staggers and slides back but incredibly doesn't fall down. He breathes heavily and coughs at the dust clouding around him from the slide. he has 1/6 "Looks like Red Trace has taken the first strike, but Titan Ring takes it like the champ he is!"
>>618112 You step back and scrape the blunt blades together, but Rings has recovered enough energy to make a charge of his own. "Ha! Then I can't waste time letting you do it again." Before you can move his shield is slamming into your side, leaving you with a stinging feeling where he hit you. 3/5 red trace
>>618115 >>618114 You go into a frenzy attacking him every which way, making the earth pony panic and go into an equally fueled frenzy of dodging and blocking your attacks. Dust getting kicked up again, the crowd gasping and awing at you. You've done this dance before, it keeps going until one of you finds an opening, unfortunately you the dust colored earth pony was the one to find the opening this time and you find yourself on the ground, the sounds of hooves and voices ringing in your head.
"DID YOU SEE THAT FOLKS?! THE RED BLITZ WAS OUTLASTED BY THE TITAN! IF HE DOESN'T GET UP SOON.."
>>618119 The sword cracks and splinters falling apart, and knocking the tan earth pony over who then covers his face as your fury of blades comes after him. After a few hits he rolls on the ground and kicks your hooves away from you. He gets up looking pretty ragged, and his attacks won't do too much without that sword, but you're back on the ground.
>>618121 You roll to your side and make a dazzling display with your wings as they shine with crystal light. The tan pony smiles through his tired form, he tosses aside the shield making the crowd gasp, and looks ready to tackle you instead.
"There is a lot of back and forth with this match everyone. The champ looks tired but makes a bold move getting rid of the shield! This is it! The final throw down!"
>>618123 >>618124 >>618125 He sees you trying to sharpen the blades and decides to tackle you immediately bringing you down, but he also falls down with you, sending you both both tumbling across the arena. The announcer shouts something you can't understand, you're too focused on your training and rolling out before he can pin you taking your weapons with you.
>>618127 You hit him pretty hard with your blade to make sure he doesn't get up, but the blunted end makes it so it doesn't impact as much as normal. Still, you see the tan pony curl up in pain and slap the ground three times with his hoof.
There is silence for a moment as everypony takes in the scene and then the announcer cries out. "AND THE WINNER IS RED TRACE! WHAT AN OUTSTANDING FIGHTER!"
>>618129 The crowd goes wild for you and doesn't stop shouting for several minutes, many of the crystal ponies are glowing with excitement making the crowd seem to shimmer. Titan looks back at you and nods before dragging himself inside to the rest area. A few moment later a judge pony talks to the announcer, and a pony come to the area with a canteen of water for you. "THAT'S RIGHT EVERYPONY! TODAY THE NEW COMER, THE RED BLITZ THAT BLEW EVERYONE AWAY. REEEED TRAACE! SHOW HIM SOME LOVE!" The crowd roars again, Upbeat music plays, and another pony brings you a medallion for winning and whispers. "Hey, try to show it off a little before you put it on, the crowd loves that."
>>619288 You were already up, but you take a take a drink a water to refill your health bar and prance around the ring energetically, a few glowing crystal mares faint when you wave in their direction, and most of the crowd in the area shouts cheers even louder at you. Those five ponies have regrouped, clapping calmly when you get their area. Soon you've gone all the way around the arena ending up back at your exit into the common area, and the crowd finally starts to leave.
>>619290 Inside there are a few ponies roaming around, contestants, their main nurse, judges, coaches.. You spot the tan pony with the ring cutie mark resting on a bench. He smiles at you when you come over. "Hey there Red Blitz" He says with a chuckle under his words.
>>619299 He chuckles at you and glances around for a second, as if checking to see if his other bros were around, kind of shrugs and looks back at you. "Well, lets go find some then. I bet you even earned a few fan girls with that."
>>619301 "I did see a few looking at you. Mostly shiny ones, lucky, those are the cutest." You walk out of the arena together and back into the city streets. The assorted mixture of ponies seems to be unusually full of prench speaking tourists with the usual mix of northlanders. The scent of eaglecrest's unique brand of food doused in oils and broths wafts over the area, reminding you both of your empty stomach. But before you can wander over toward any food, you see them, the fans from the arena, a whole group of at least a dozen about to swarm you, you can already hear their shouts too. "Titan! Titan wait!" "Will you sign my bag?" "Red Blitz! Its Really You!" "Wow!" "Can I have a feather?"
>>619303 You dodge the crazy fans by going down a side road you hear their distressed cries of "What? Where did they go?" "Must be this way, they can't be far!" And the trotting of a dozen hooves away from you. Titan looks back at you patting you on the back and laughs. "Nice move Red, we would have been trapped until past diner if those ponies caught up to us."
>>619310 "Sure, I'll lead the way even. Ah, this place has amazing hay fries, you've just got to try them before you leave.." Titan says and starts ranting on about food like a starving pony would, leading you over to a decent looking tavern called the 'Stone's River.'. Out of the corner of your eyes you notice the white unicorn following you.
>>619316 "Yea! Lets make it a party." He laughs and trots inside grabbing a waiter pony that wasn't doing anything. "Hey, my friend's visiting us, bring us the sample platter and extra hay fries, and the baley ale for me, and uh.." he glances around for a moment. "ooh, that table looks fine." He chooses one kind of near the middle, probably so you can see more girls from your seat. "Right right, just sit down there Titan and I'll get it right out.. Oh, you brought another contestant here?" "Yep! This is Red Trace, toughest pony of the arena today, even better than me." He gestures a fake punch toward you to try and make you flinch. There is a good mix of mares and stallions here and even several are are socializing by moving from table to table. The white mare slips over to a table behind your chosen table, with the same crystal stallion you saw her with before. "So, Red, what would you like to drink?"
>>619325 "Right away.." The waiter pony vanishes and just as Titan and yourself are starting to get comfortable your drinks arrive along with a platter of various steaming foods, cabbage wrapped carrots, hay fries, veggie rolls, wheat chips, fried apple slices, in the center of the tray: a thick white dip with bits of green in it, a red salsa dip, and a creamy cheese dip. He also sets down a water for each of you. "Anything else for the moment?" "Not for me Blue, but you know me, I'll be needing a sandwich after a few more rounds." Titan grins. The blue pegasus mare trots in and sits down next to the white unicorn mare, the yellow crystal stallion leaves them alone at the table and walks outside.
>>619333 Eventually Titan gets drunk and starts dragging you around the inn and hitting on mares with you, including those two you had an eye on this whole time. This leads the unicorn to smile and reply. "Well, Mr. Champ, I think I'd like to get to know you and your friend better.. at my place.." The blue pegasus 'friend' of hers smiling and putting her own drink down to get up with a giggle. "You're so bad snowy, but okay, I like them too." "I know right skies." the white unicorn replies and giggles as well. Titan follows them blushing a bit and on his way out slaps a few coins on the table to pay out the tab.
>>619340 Get Titan in a tight hug and whisper to him. "Okay, you take the blue, I take the white. It's decided." Turn around and nonchalantly hug that very dangerous mare. "And I'm very interested in seeing this place of yours. Just for how interesting it could be!"
>>619343 The drunken tan pony pats you on the back, and 'quietly' whispers "Give her a bedroom blitz" with a stupid grin at his pun. The white mare just giggles and hugs you back gently leading your group into the narrower streets "Oh, Its just up this way, I'm sure you're going to love it.." It get a little darker this way, and harder to see if someone is there waiting. thief pumpkin sense roll?
>>619350 You notice the sound of hooves ahead, but it could be an echo.. This white pony is really trying to distract you by rubbing your wings and neck with a hoof.. You hear a definite thump and Titan is on the ground struggling with the yellow crystal stallion, and the blue mare is suddenly behind a large brownish earth pony mare and a white crystal stallion. "What?!" titan says in confusion.
white mare: 5/5 yellow stallion: 5/5 brown mare: knight 6/6 blue mare: leader 7/7 white stallion: caster 5/4
>>619358 You quickly knock down each target, catching them completely off guard when they thought you were just a drunken stallion. Two of them, the unicorn mare and the yellow crystal stallion, spring back up and look as if they want to help their teammates up.
Titan gets back up and rubs his head as if confused. Titan rings: 8/7
white unicorn mare: 4/4 yellow stallion: 4/4
brown mare: knight 0/5 blue mare: leader 0/6 white stallion: caster 0/3
>>619366 You hit the blue pegasus making her scream in pain and hold her head where you hit her. Titan struggles with yellow stallion, holding his ground for the moment. The white mare winces at the sight of you attacking the blue mare but can't find a way to get to the others around you and titan this turn.
Titan rings: 6/7
white unicorn mare: 4/4 yellow stallion: 2/4
brown mare: knight 0/5 blue mare: leader 0/1 white stallion: caster 0/3
>>619375 You note that she doesn't seem to be using any spells, and mostly is seeking to run around you. The way she holds he her weapon so carefully tells you they're toxic. She also seems a little intimidated by your sheer speed, but shows it through anger instead of anything else.
You hit the blue pegasus making her scream in pain and hold her head where you hit her. Titan struggles with yellow stallion, holding his ground for the moment. The white mare winces at the sight of you attacking the blue mare but can't find a way to get to the others around you and titan this turn. Titan Rings is not doing very in this fight, but being drunk might be hindering him.
Titan rings: 3/7
white unicorn mare: using poisons: no magic: 4/4 yellow stallion: 1/4
brown mare: knight 0/5 blue mare: leader 0/1 white stallion: caster 0/3
>>619387 She looks really scared when you disappear, and that fear spreads to her friend who decides to stop playing around so much and pushes titan over with a strong kick. You rig her weapon to explode on your command while she's panicking.
Titan rings: 0/6
white unicorn mare: using poisons: no magic: 4/4 yellow stallion: 1/4
brown mare: knight 0/5 blue mare: leader 0/1 white stallion: caster 0/3
>>619393 You strike several blows to each of your targets bringing them down further, until you're sure at least a few won't get back up. The white mare panics trying to apply a potion to herself as tiny cuts assault her from her exploding weapon but its no use she quickly hit the ground unconscious. Now you are the only pony standing.
Titan rings: 0/6
white unicorn mare: using poisons: no magic: 0/3 KO yellow stallion: 0/2
brown mare: knight 0/1 blue mare: leader 0/1 white stallion: caster 0/1
>>619403 "…Wow, its a good thing you were here." Titan looks around the ground and spots some rope from a fallen ladder turning to give it to you and then blinks a few times. "Uh, when did you change colors?" And of course, the pair of blades you had following you drop out the shadows and startle the poor stallion beside you.
>>619431 They double check the knots and everyone's vitals before leaving you alone in this alley with the five helpless ponies, and the one rather scared earth pony. The pair of their eyes are watching you from just out of sight, since you never said to stop following you.
>>619438 You go to the deep roads, and pop back up into a small in-between base, where you can resupply, rest, and even hold prisoners for a time. Your blades help you get the captives into a cell. Titan refuses to leave your side looking a little freaked out by the whole thing.
>>619464 You head to the room with your captives, the blue pegasus mare leader pony, the yellow crystal stallion sneaky pony, the white unicorn mare sneaky pone, the brown earth pony mare knight, and the white crystal stallion caster. Which pony do you want to interrogate first?
>>620812 After years of very close research sharing a magical lab with Kila, he discovered a spell that guards against mind magic of all kinds. They declared the research a failure for some silly reason and never released the spell into the public, so its basically a secret spell. It lasts for twelve hours. What kind of team members, how many, and will you send some to other bases too?
>>620829 You assemble the teams, and brief them on the details of the targets. Would you like them to kill everyone, blow up the bases?
Your own team consists of a well balanced group of crystal stallions, a clerical focused caster, a mage who can cast from even the smallest shadows, the magic of a bard can't be underestimated, and of course a trusted sniper as back up. You sneaked over to the Bell mansion before most ponies were awake and started casing the place. It has 10 windows, one large door, 2 floors, a chimney, a fence with two gates, a sizable yard with thick bushes and lush green trees. There are 6 guards in the yard but they seem to be mostly asleep and chatting happily among themselves.
Would you like to say a few words to your team before approaching?
>>620844 "Let's not cause too much mayhem. The ponies in there might have been brainwashed or worse. Don't let this… Diamond Wells talk if you can help it. That's all." In we go, I will try entering from the ceiling.
>>620852 "Stupid mages.. being so cocky." your own mage comments with a slight smirk. The others simply nod or agree with a "yes sir." sliding onto the roof after you, would you like to go down the chimney, or are you going to cut a hole?
>>620862 Alright, this window has thick curtains which are closed making it impossible to tell what's on the other side, but they can't tell you're there either at least. You tug on the window just once and makes a soft snap as the latch breaks and allows you to slide it up, allowing you to hear ponies trotting around inside. still go onto the ceiling?
>>620869 >>620870 It appears to a be a small living room connected to a hallway, most of the ponies are just walking in the hall, you count 4 in transit, and 3 standing around inside of the room yawning and stretching, the crumb filled plates of a just finished breakfast on the table.
>>620874 The four passing by in the hall take no notice of you, but the three turn around to pick up their plates and spot your sneaky self, blinking in surprise. "whoa, wait." "I'm not still dreaming am I?" "Where are you going?"
>>620882 All three of them get seriously injured from your sudden attack and lay on the floor in pain, if they do get back up you're pretty sure they will just run away, and they certainly will be noticed if you leave them in the open.
>>620888 You pile their corpses into the corner of the next room where they probably won't be seen. You team has caught up to you without incident and is checking around the corners. "the stairs are over there." one of them informs the group gesturing to the west door.
>>620893 The follow you down, carefully moving past the ponies as you descend, entering toward the basement area, you feel a breeze move past you and then suddenly hear extra breathing nearby. The basement itself is kind of plain looking, stocks of alcohol, hay bales, a few shelves of other supplies, still you have a strange feeling about this area..
>>620898 They carefully step over it, and help you look around. There is a suspiciously worn down bottle of whiskey on the shelf, with dust around it and not on it. The furthermost haybale is very fresh looking, but there is a thin layer of ashes under it. The north wall has slightly different bricking than the others. you feel movement near you again.
>>620900 Yes, the displacement of air from a pony. As if someone who was also sneaking was sneaking near you. And its not one of your ponies. observing closely, you hear and feel the pony and could aim your trusty bag of flour at the source.
>>620915 You feel his heart pounding hard, he winces as he answers you squirming and struggling against you even thou it makes the wound even worse. "You.. you're from the Empire.. I.. Can't let you hurt her.."
>>620925 You tug the bottle and the shelf quivers and shakes moving aside to reveal a whole other hallway. There isn't anyone apparently there, but you feel as if there is something wrong with the hall's rightmost wall.
Here you stand, supported by four of your hoof-picked recruits, sneaking in the basement of Diamond Well's mansion. You quickly discovered a secret switch disguised as a dusty bottle of wine, and revealed a new path. Something feels just wrong about this path, the scent is clean, the tiles even octagons, and the wall smooth and flat.
>>621135 You careful look and notice the middle the tiles are very well defined, much like a line of pressure plates. The vague scent of poison on wood tells you that it is some kind of wooden weapon, perhaps arrows, hidden in the walls ready to spring out if you misstep.
>>621139 …The central path of tiles, the well defined ones. Press down on them with a hoof, as if to test their stability. To see if stepping on them springs the trap or not. Keeping most of my body out of the new hallway itself like a skittish cat would.
>>621140 As soon as you step there you hear a click and a whirling from the wall. The scent of treated wood, feathers, and a faint poisonous aroma hit your senses as a 3 foot wide space in the wall reveals several small holes and many many darts fly towards you.
>>621152 >+1 for pegasus and +1 circumstance for only the hoof A dart grazes your hoof before you can withdraw it, landing on the ground. The crystal teammates look concerned about you, and your eyes feel a little watery. You could try to shake it off, or take one of your antidotes.
>>621158 Being a tough pony you pull out a significant amount of your own blood and the toxin spitting it out into the corner. With a sigh you feel better enough to continue. You can only go to the west from here.
>>621165 the whole middle of the path is lined with similar tiles. A few are miscolored, as if stained with blood and then cleaned away. when you press down those tiles with your sword, you hear the clink and whirling sound, and darts fly out of the wall in a 3-feet wide path with the tile as the center, leaving toxic darts scattered all over the floor.. However, the part of the wall that already fired does not have more darts inside of it and reveals simply the holes where the darts should be. At the end of these tiles you notice a thick iron door on the wall, and after that a wooden door, the hall goes further still but its hard to see from here.
red-middle tiles, green-edge tiles, blue iron door, black- wooden door
>>621184 "Stupid things snap after a few years of hard use." The bard spy decides to do it, using his 'lucky' pick and being careful in a way that he can't do anything extraordinary, but gets consistent results. In a moment the lock is open and he steps back to let you open it.
>>621190 You slip inside the iron door, its a sort of large room, decorated like a one room apartment, with tables, chairs, sofas, shelves of books and board games, some dice in a bowl, a pen cup, and pads of paper. Inside of here are fourteen, young adult ponies, seven of them are involved in a poker game at the table, four are playing neighponese checkers, one is reading a book, one is asleep, and the last one is furiously writing things down on a notepad.
>>621202 Okay, you leave this room behind and head down the hall, the wooden door is unlocked and seems well worn, down the hall further you note stone steps going up, and you hear the echo of hoof steps clopping.
>>621205 Trotting towards you is a group of four crystal ponies, two crystal pegasi, and two crystal unicorns, traveling in a two by two square and chatting rather happily. "Oh, do you think that today I'll get to sit with her?" "I did her mane yesterday, I bet you're jealous." "Nah, I'm just happy that we get to stay here, its much more peaceful." "Well, aside from the traps." "The traps are pretty quiet too." "Ha, well lets just get the thing and carry it up so we can find out what else we need to do." They are headed over to the wooden door.
>>621217 They open it and trot inside their inner light illuminating the area, revealing a kind of large storage room. The four of them work together to pick up a heavy looking orb, and place it into a chest with poles sticking out of the ends to make it easier to lift.
>>621239 You sneak ahead of them, your team lagging slightly behind the group. They seem pretty focused on their task of moving this thing up the stairs and don't even notice you move past them. Any moment now they'll try to turn the corner..
>>621246 Oh, I see, you just want to follow them. They head up and over to a hallway filled with ponies, nodding to each of them, the hall itself is scented like perfume, decorated with fine wood tables, vases and sculptures lie around at regular intervals. The four are heading into a rather plain looking door, actually passing by the more decoratively carved ones. You hear a delighted giggle come from the room, and the collective sighs of fours ponies as the finally set down a heavy load.
>>621277 The stopped at the door momentarily and then one of the unicorns opened it with their telekinesis and they walked in together. Inside the door you first glance plush carpet, and smell the scent of fresh red wine.
>>621279 You climb onto the ceiling and your team managed to keep up with you hiding around the room. The room is round, it has one window of lightly stained blue glass, reflecting bluish light over the room. The walls are covered with a simple wallpaper, a few paintings hang here and there, there is a study where there is a crystal unicorn mare smiling at the four ponies. "That was so fast, you are really the strongest. Well, let me open it.." "Of course Lady Wells." "We didn't drop it or anything." She trots careful and opens the chest to examine the over sized sphere, her coat getting shinier as she rubs it. "Its simply perfect. I can't believe we didn't think of it sooner. You're all the brilliant stars behind my night skies." One of the stallion's blush at that. "Its not a big deal, I mean, we saw it there the other day." She waves a hoof "No need to be so modest, Its a huge help to me." One of the crystal pegasi's wings flutter. "Did you need something else Miss Diamond?" She pauses to consider her answer.
>>622302 The crystal unicorn smiles. "No, this is perfect. You can just relax.. except for you." She points out one of the crystal pegasi stallion. "I need you tell Starshine she can come up here." "Right, that would the.. the library.." He happily flies off, leaving Wells and three other ponies here.
>>622308 You wait.. and they start lounging around the room, Diamond paying them little mind as she goes over to her desk and starts to write something. A few moments later the stallion comes back accompanied by not one but two other ponies, they are earth ponies, one mare with a twirling staff of stars, and one stallion with books mysteriously floating around him. "Oh, Dusk is with you? Well, that's fine. Anyway. Go ahead and look at that." Wells points at the giant orb. "It should be big enough." The pair of casters circle the chest like sharks and they nod in approval. "Indeed, this will make a prefect core, where did you find it?" "Hmm I think that one was made actually, some kind of smithing trick.."
>>622312 She stops writing and comes closer to the casters. "So.. casting this won't hurt you right? And you'll be able to counter any spells used against us?" "Of course, we researched this plenty." "Alright. I'll hold onto this here until the cart is prepared for it." after a few kind smiles and light conversation they collectively decide they are hungry and leave Diamond alone in her office.
You sneak from above her at the same time three of you spies surround her and leave her no where to go. She looks really scared and teleports both you and her to the other side of the room in panic,making the first round of actions miss, but leaving her helpless for the second round where she becomes silenced by a toxic arrow and her body is shaking under you.
>>622317 Turn to the blade on guard. "How does it look out of that door?" Start securing Diamond, tying her up before giving her the antidote and muzzling her. "Now, I will ask a series of binary questions and you will nod for yes, and shake your head for no. Understand?"
>>622319 "Its locked sir." Your blade reports back to you. And the other two move her chair against the door nob so it even harder to open. Diamond is still shaking in fear, but you see a spark of anger in her eyes. Still she nods at you to confirm.
>>622324 Her coat remains dull colored the whole time you ask her questions, she looks a little bit angry at you, and eventually she starts replying with decent speed, only hesitating a little bit, shuttering and tugging at her binds, before confirming with a slow nod.
>>622328 Well then. At this time I am before a conundrum. Since she is the one who cast this spell, her death will be enough for these ponies, in time, to lose their allegiance. And she is right before my blade. And carrying her out of here would be a very arduous task.
>>622338 You have one knocked out and securely bound pony. Two of your team are tapping silently on the out of the window, and looking out of it. "Seems solid and all, never can get used to this much magic.. in eaglecrest of all places." "There's one patrol in the yard, with a little timing we can slip past before they come back. "
>>622342 You press the switch, and accidentally select a old stallion disguise. "Easy." "Sure, then you're gonna be happy to carry her most of the way right?" "can I carry her with my voice?" The four of them are surely smiling under their masks, and make their way down the side of the building with the aid of ropes.
>>622344 Well they can't fly- oh wait, golem wings are thing. They suddenly remember to use them, or maybe they were messing with you, the four of them fly off over the gate, while you attract the attention of the patrol just by being there. The walk toward you, not drawing any weapons on you. "Excuse me sir are you lost?" "Do you have some kind of business here?" "Can we help you?"
>>622349 "T'was da dawg!" Wave my arms around like crazy, trying to explain how this little dawg led me here. "'to o' da hi'!" Wait a few more moments, looking at them expectingly… Then just wave them away as useless and head for the gate, grumbling.
>>622354 You head back to the base, going past the secret door and relaxing as the familiar secure walls surround you. This is the eaglecrest base, where you left Titan in bed, and secured those captives from last night. Wells should be isolated in a cell by now.
>>622357 That won't do. First of all, drop disguise if I haven't already. Then, sit her on a chair, and have one brought in for myself, right across her. Then order everyone to leave earshot range of this place, and tie her to said chair. Undo her gag and wake her up.
>>622362 "…." Her fur become incredibly dull, and she gives you a sad look. "I thought.. I was being so careful.. that I.. we.. could.. change the way things were, but.. they didn't understand, they didn't care.. I was only trying to help them.." "But.. here am I.. a failure before anything could even start."
>>622364 "You.." She shakes her head as if further confused. "All those ponies were being taken advantage of, at this very moment the tension between the kings of the land is very high, having to bribe rulers so they won't try to attack their neighbors is not going to work forever.." She sighs "I wanted to influence these ponies to choose better, the spell.. my voice.. it.. was only for a while, I was going to stop using it."
The first order of business is resting. You earned a nice rest after staying up so long solving this, and your muscles are still a little sore from the arena matches. Next you strictly tell Titan Rings not to talk about this, or you'll track him down. To which he eagerly agrees, and says if you ever want to drink for real to come find him. He seems rather relieved to hear no one will try attack him anymore. The next order of business of course is your new prisoner. Not trusting anyone else to care to her without falling to her charms, you personally look after her. At first she hates and fears you, hinting that you're the very evil thing she feared all this time. An unseen enforcer for the kings and queens. Never does she become so bold as to outright accuse you of this after the very initial outburst, and overtime you change her mind. It may only have been two days, but for Diamond Wells, it was a very, very, long weekend: partly because she hardly slept, and partly because she was so lonely without her followers constantly swarming her. At the end of the two days you give her an interesting choice, to join you. Believing by now that she could actually prevent more bloodshed with you than against you, she accepts. It isn't until much later that you tell her of the poorly formed rescue attempts made during her imprisonment; hardly their fault that it was poorly organized, after all between you and your teams, all the ponies capable of leading were missing, and no one really knew where to look, really in the end they kids broke into the wrong cell blocks and embarrassed themselves. Diamond herself disbanded anyone left in her movement, about a dozen truly loyal ponies, freeing them to do whatever they choose, Cottonhoof choose to follow Diamond and join her in the blades, insisted really but: on the condition that curtain call would never be allowed in. Lilia swore never to forgive Diamond, and fled to southborder the next day, taking her faithful hench pony Claytonia along. Dr. Dust decided to stay in eaglecrest, continuing as a healer.
Frostmourn appeared very intrigued by the resulting report that you hoof'd him. Perhaps simply bored from the long week of politics, or because he was excited by the idea of more spies, or because he was actually concerned that somepony thought that badly of him in the first place.. Maybe you'll ask him over drinks.. after you spend some quality days off with your two waifus and small pony daughter.