The party continued their exploration of the tomb, focusing on inspecting the treasure room. Closer inspection of the floor and wall revealed a trap door and a loose rock. Ready for any surprises, Puff and Vernant opened the trap door. A blast of Dragon's Bane forced them back. Choking on the thick green smoke, Puff let the trapdoor close with a heavy thud as Vernant fell back in similar condition. The smoke's effect on the two of them proved to be a saving grace. A rapid series of heavy thuds caused the trapdoor to shake violently. When the door was eventually turned upright again, a myriad of arrows protruded from the sturdy wooden slab.
With Puff and Vernant rendered temporarily incapacitated, Cherry and Leafy descended below in their stead. Leafy relayed information back to Puff with their mental link, having him direct her to points of interest as he recovered. With the few traps sprung already, the pair of mares proceeded slowly and with caution. Two halls were found: One that led to a private chamber that contained a pair of books and the skeletal remains of a dragon bearing a necklace sported as a bracelet. Once rejoined with the pair of mares, Vernant let known his uneasiness about the dragon carcass. To him it was an omen of bad things to come, and the representation of a curse on this place.
Nevertheless, the party forged onward into the other hall. Time had worn the halls of the place to be sure, but when the sturdy stone walls gave way to dirt, they knew something was up. The ritual site at the end of the path only gave further credence to that notion.
The party's nerves on edge, Puff directed all but Leafy to head back to the upper floor. He desired to see the dragon bones for himself.
And see the rotten remains of her he did. The entire room gave off a feeling of dread, one that only increased as he inspected the ancient locket she held.
His inspection prompted a visit from the Green Stallion, who sat and began to elaborate on his own tale.
And yet, the visit only prompted further questions as their time was cut short and the Green Stallion faded back to the darkness from whence he entered as Cherry called from outside the room to ask what was taking the detective.
>>602451 The trapdoor bangs shut for the final time as Vernant closes it behind you.
The treasure room glows a subtle orange in the dwindling light of the burning candles. You were down there for longer than you thought; The candles are half melted away from what they were when Cherry lit them.
"Half tempted to bury the door back under that pile of stuff," Vernant grumbles, casting his eyes from the trapdoor to the large mound of gold and treasures that he moved earlier.
"Probably not worth the effort," Cherry replies with a sympathetic expression, no doubt understanding Vernant's uneasiness, "We explored it fully so I doubt anything will come crawling out of it."
"….I hope you're right," is all he says.
"So what do we do now, Puff?" Cobalt asks from the doorway, looking out into the stage-room occasionally, "I think there's still an area we haven't checked out. Something about the stage out here gives me a bad feeling, though." >What do?
>>602455 "Maybe?" Cobalt replies with a wince, "But…I don't know. Just something about this area is starting to give me the creeps. The air is heavier feeling, if that makes any sense."
>>602454 >>602456 "I think we should explore what's left. Make sure we don't leave any stones unturned so we don't have to come back here. Hopefully."
"I agree," Cherry says with a nod.
"Might as well," Vernant agrees.
Leafy and Cobalt don't reply, but both nod in confirmation.
The party leaves the treasure room behind, moving once again into the stage-room. The gate and statues upon the stage loom large ahead, an eerie reminder of the Green Stallion's tale.
"To think that's where they killed her…." Leafy whispers through the mental link.
Vernant and Cobalt move to the simple wooden door far to the right of the room quickly. Cobalt prods the door gently, testing its sturdiness as Vernant stands opposite the door in a ready stance. The door is plain wood with a single cross-plank in the middle. All the edges are rough and rotten with age, but the door doesn't do more than rattle gently in its frame as Cobalt taps it with his hooves. It seems small compared to the tunnel opposite it, from which you entered the room initially, and is far, far less ornate than the door to the treasure room.
"Wonder what's behind it," Cherry muses as you rejoin the pair of blue stallions near the door.
"Probably more of the same decrepit furniture and weapons," Vernant answers her rhetorical question.
"Who should take point, Puff?" Cobalt asks, "I haven't done much yet myself. I volunteer for this time."
"You do realize it could be booby trapped, right?" Cherry asks, causing Cobalt to swallow nervously.
He seems serious. Perhaps you should let him? >Let Cobalt open the door >[Insert party member here] should instead >I'll do it
>>602458 "There aren't any plants close enough to the door that I can sense," Leafy replies apologetically, "Otherwise I would. I know there's a lot of vines around the place, but they can only go so far. Even with my help. I'm sorry, Puff."
>>602459 "Can we make a decision today, please?" Vernant says impatiently.
"Let Puff think," Cherry reprimands, "Unless you'd like to just waltz in there yourself?"
"If it means we get out of here faster." >Decision?
>>602464 The door opens with a creak. When nothing further happens, Cobalt takes a step inside.
"There's a room ahead," he calls out, voice fading as he heads further into the tunnel that connects the rooms, "I think it's safe. So far, at least."
"Coming up behind you," Vernant calls back. He turns and nods to the group before stepping into the tunnel himself.
"It's weird," Cobalt calls back, voice even fainter this time, "The room is already lit."
"The light is moving!" He calls back, "I think it's getting closer. Really fast, too!"
"Cobalt, move!" Vernant yells
A pair of grunts echo through the hall moments before a flaming ball of….something rockets from the door. The fireball scorches the air, making a sharp whizzing sound as it flies past your party. Leafy and Cherry jump back in surprise, pushing you out of the way in the process. The fireball flies into the opposing tunnel, the three of you no worse for the wear.
"Cobalt! Vernant!" Leafy gasps.
The three of you run to the tunnel, you leading the way with the flashlight held firmly in your mouth. You find Vernant and Cobalt lying down in the tunnel, Vernant on top…you think, the pair groaning as Cherry helps them up.
"Are you both alright?" Leafy asks nervously.
"My back hurts a bit thanks to this guy," Cobalt says with a light laugh, "But I'm good."
"Damn thing singed my hair," Vernant whines, patting his mane. It seems a tad shorter and a few strands still glow as he pats out the embers.
"Better than having gotten hit by that thing," Leafy laughs before breathing a sigh of relief, "I'm just glad you're both alright."
"Right, right," Cobalt says from the front, "C'mon, lets go find out whats in that room."
No other traps are sprung as the party finds a new room. Cherry lights the smattering of candles and torches in the room, until the darkness is banished with the dull orange glow of low flames.
The room is bigger than the treasure room, stretching to the left and right a good distance before ending in solid, stone walls. Across from the tunnel is another stone wall. Perhaps this is the last room after all. Inside the room are a number of broken wooden frames and tattered bedding. Most of it toward the left, and some arranged in ways to suggest they were once bunk beds. A pair of desks stand against the far wall, and a few chests lie to the right. The room is almost empty, otherwise.
"Beds, desks, and chests," Cobalt muses, "More living areas, it would seem."
"The number of beds suggest it was temporary lodging, or a barracks of some sort," Cherry murmurs as she prods an old wooden bed frame, "A servants quarters, perhaps?"
"Might get some clues from the chests," Vernant says, pointing toward the trio of them against the wall, "I'll fiddle with them, see if they're locked."
The party spreads out, looking for clues and anything of value.
Cherry and Cobalt checking the beds and area around them, Leafy checking the desks, and Vernant checking the chests. >What do?
You plod over to the wall across from the entrance, a bare space between the desks to the left, and the chests to the right. The only thing that lies on the wall is a single lit torch resting within its stand.
You poke, prod, tap, and investigate the squares of stone that make up the wall.
The only thing it accomplishes is annoying Vernant, who barks at you to "Cut it out!" when you tap on a stone for a pensive half minute. >What do?
>>602484 You and Leafy search the remaining desks and check the floor for any markings that could indicate something was moved. Anything out of the unusual as well.
Unfortunately, all that surfaces is a small chain that survived the weathering of time. You found it behind the second desk you searched. The wall bore no signs of anchoring, so it had to have come from somewhere else. It has no clasps on either end. Perhaps they broke off?
It's not very heavy, nor robust. It's long enough to be a necklace, if a little thicker than what you'd expect for any jewelry. Perhaps it wasn't made for that purpose?
You stow the chain in your bag, still wondering what it goes to.
Leafy sighs from beside you. The desks didn't have anything else useful in them, unfortunately. Her brief disappointment is quickly replaced with her usual enthusiasm as she asks who the two of you should help. >Go help Vernant >Check with Cobalt and Cherry
"Well, the chests are made of wood and lined with metal. I could try to do something to the wood, but its been dead for so long it'd probably take a great deal of effort. And I'm not so sure I could open all three like that. Maybe two, but that depends how hard it is to manipulate the dead wood. I've not tried that before, so…."
"Wait, you can control dead plant things?" Vernant cocks an eyebrow in Leafy's direction.
"Maybe? For a short time? I dunno."
"What if you had a vine and tried to pick the locks, if it really is a lock and not a magic seal?"
"I could try that. But I've never picked a lock before either…."
Vernant sighs. >Manipulate wood in chests >Vine lockpicking idea >Lets search the room first
>>602501 You lean in close and check the chest in front of you.
The edges are lined with metal, and sport a healthy amount of rust from age. It doesn't seem like it's welded or rusted shut, however, as you can still see the two separate lips of the chest lid and body.
Its either magic or a standard key lock. If it was a standard key lock, you could probably break the lock with enough force. Maybe more than one pony can bring to bear on his own, though.
>>602504 "How's the bed searching going?" you call to the other end of the room.
"Found an old metal spring or something," Cobalt says, "Though it's shaped kinda weird."
"I found one too," Cherry chimes in, "corkscrew-like in shape and kind of small. Not really sure what it was for. Maybe holding the frames together, at one point?"
>>602500 "Leafy, can you figure out if you can get the wood to react to your powers without actually wrecking the chests yet?"
"Sure, I think."
Leafy closes her eyes and focuses on the chest in front of her, no doubt reaching out with her powers to see if she can manipulate the chest.
>>602512 A loud CRACK echoes in the room, making everyone jump, as Vernant kicks the nearest chest. He jumps forward with the force of his kick, subsequently dancing in place as he hisses between his teeth.
"Dammit, dammit, dammit," he curses, "Numb legs, numb legs."
The chest he kicked bears a large crack across the wood just above the lips of the chest. With some effort, some of the broken wood can be pulled away, and you can at least get a look into the chest. >What do?
>>602517 >>602518 You grab a torch from the wall and hold it over Vernant as he begins to pry the now broken wood from the front of the chest. He occasionally gives it another smack to loosen the frame some more.
Leafy wanders over and watches with interest.
"Finally got it, I think," Vernant says, sweat rolling down his face from his efforts. "Lemme just…."
He sticks a hoof inside the chest, until he sighs and pulls it back out.
"No inside latch or anything like that. Guess I keep peeling this crap away."
"How about we look inside, first?" you suggest.
Vernant moves aside, letting the light get inside as you two try to peer in.
You spot something twinkling near the back of the chest, but can't quite make out what it is or how big it is.
"Well at least it's not empty."
Vernant picks up the chest, turning it over with a grunt and lightly shaking the thing.
Something falls out, clattering gently on the floor.
Picking it up, you inspect the item.
It's a….hoof guard? Hoof band?
The metallic band shines dully in the light, age having tarnished the metal slightly, but the protection of the chest seemingly keeping the worst of weathering at bay. The edges are curved outward, as though to catch or ward away objects striking at it. It's large enough that if you put it on, it'd cover either the top or bottom half of one of your hooves. On the sides and back of the band are a trio of different colored gems, embedded within the metal. They rise out of the band slightly, small spheres of color against the metallic silver band itself.
"Aaaah, I've seen its like before," Vernant says with a wry grin as he wipes his brow, "Ponies in my time wore those as part of their armor. If you could call such sparse coverage armor, anyway. Always thought they were meant for fighting other ponies and not my kind." >What do with the band?
>>602526 If the gems are similar to the ones in the doors, they differ only in size. The ones in the doors are about as large as your hoof, these are minuscule in comparison. You'd probably need a magnifying glass to inspect them further.
The three colors are: Red, Green, and Yellow.
>>602524 You look the band over, noting it's all metal. Might be a tad uncomfortable as it is.
You blow through the armband a couple times to knock off any inside dust.
Cautiously, you put the armband on as Vernant and Leafy watch.
It slides on fairly easily, being slightly larger than your forehooves are thick. In this way, you have to wear it closer to your shoulder than the end of your hoof. Otherwise it risks falling off. You adjust it a few times to keep the gems from poking your chest or armpit. When it's situated properly it feels….natural. It's lighter than you thought.
"Hey uh, Puff," Vernant says slowly, "What's it mean if the gems change colors, you think?"
"Yeah, uh….the red one turned green."
You look down, noting that the two gems you can see are both green now. >Take it off >Leave it >Other
>>602538 We don't have access to any door mechanisms or anything we could stick them in to let us break them open easier, do we? Alternatively, >If it was a standard key lock, you could probably break the lock with enough force. Maybe more than one pony can bring to bear on his own, though. We could get something big and have a few of us work together to crack the others.
>>602546 >>602545 The two metal pieces are of different shapes. One looks much like a corckscrew, complete with handle at the end. The difference in it form a real corkscrew is scale. This thing is far smaller.
The other metal piece is a straight beam that hooks at a ninety degree angle about 3/4 the way down, forming a bit of a square hook.
They're both made of metal similar to the bracer. Or at least that's what you'd guess, at first glance.
>>602570 The chain and corkscrew are probably the keys to the two other chests: if it's going to take too much out of her, I say we take another look for a key mechanism on this one before we get her to go all out: I mainly let us go ahead with letting her try because we wanted to know how her manipulating dead matter wood work.
>>602573 >>602572 >>602571 You tell Leafy to take a break, and wander to the side of the chest to look at the hole in the side.
It looks like a hole similar to the other chest you opened.
Upon trying the L shaped key, you find it stops at the entrance. It isn't the right shape. The dim lighting in the room does no favors in identifying the right shape required, so you try the corkscrew one instead.
This one fits, though it takes some time to wind the key in far enough that it pops the chest open.
The party gathers around as you pull the only thing from the chest: A metal hoop of sorts, wrought into an ellipse, with a short chain hanging from one end of it. Halfway down the chain, one of the links is replaced with a gem holder. The chain continues on the other side, and just kind of…ends.
The gem inside the holder is red.
"What is it?" Vernant asks, a frustrated, puzzled look on his face.
"Probably not a necklace," Cherry replies, "Too small."
"Would it fit on a leg?" Leafy asks after regaining her breath.
"Still too small, I think," Cherry says, "Perhaps it's for a mane or tail?" >What do?
>>602580 You look at the chain attached to the hoop.
The end of it appears smooth and unbroken. If something was broken off, it was on a separate link. As far as you can tell, though, it's as it should be. Which is odd considering how it looks. Was it intentionally left like this? Was it still being made?
>Oval hoop of metal with a chain, with red gem halfway down it when not worn >"Necklace" with yellow gem on it, which turns red when worn with bracelet >Bracelet with Red, Yellow and Green gems, that changes to Green, Yellow and Green when worn Is the thing on our leg still GYG now that we've got the necklace on?
>>602574 >>602581 >>602583 You put the hoop on your head, with the chain doing down your neck a bit. It's rather uncomfortable, the hoop being too small to do more than rest on your head or be very annoyingly tight on the tip top of your head. It doesn't seem right.
"Gem is still red," Vernant says, "So's the one on the chain."
So it isn't right.
>>602586 "Uh….looks like green, green, red," Vernant says. "And the necklace gem is green."
>>602584 "So it's probably a tail hoop," Cherry says, "Though I don't get why there's just a chain hanging off. Feels like that'd be annoying, smacking your rear if it's close to the base of your tail or just hanging slash dragging on the floor."
"That, and you wearing a tail hoop…." she grins widely, barely able to stifle the laughter the mental image is causing her. "I'd have to get a picture."
"Can we hurry up and decide what to do so we can LEAVE?" Vernant asks. "I wanna know what it does too, but this place is cursed, remember?" >Put the tail hoop on >Let's head back to town before we do anything
"Wait, seriously?" she asks, grin growing wider, "I mean yeah, sure, if you want. But I totally get to take a picture of this back at the office."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever. Come on."
Cherry helps you put the tail hoop on. The feeling of the relatively cool metal sliding along your tail sends a shiver up your spine.
"How close to your….uh, backside, do you want it?"
Before you can reply, the hoop moves rapidly across your tail until it's only a few inches from your butt. Cherry yelps and backs away, eyes wide.
"That wasn't me! It did it on its own, I swear!"
"The other gem is green now," Vernant's voice has a nervous edge to it, "I think they're all green. On all of them."
The room is quiet save for the flickering of torch flames as the party waits pensively for something to happen.
Minutes pass, and nothing does.
"…Maybe it doesn't do anything?" Leafy asks.
"It moved on its own. It does something, we just don't know what." Cherry says.
"Well, whatever. Let's get out of here," Vernant says, pointing at the tunnel. "Come on, let's go."
You sigh and move to take the necklace off. You get it about halfway up your neck before it stops, suddenly tugging back downward until it rests on your shoulders again. The heck?
"I uh….can't take it off," you tell the party, "I think there might be magic keeping these attached now."
"Well that's just great," Vernant says, putting a hoof across his face, "And we don't know what they do. Well, either way, we should leave. We can figure it out later."
The party agrees, though Cherry still laughs a bit when she looks at you.
"You want to take lead again, Puff?" Vernant asks, "I mean, we're leaving, but you're the leader more or less. What's it gonna be?" >Lead the party on the way out >Gimme a sec, I think we missed something >[Insert pony here] can take point
Cherry and Cobalt kind of sigh, no doubt tired of the exploring and wishing they could leave. Cherry shows a resolve afterward though that says she's with you. Cobalt does as well, but it's weaker. He must be pretty tired.
Vernant, on the other hand, is pissed.
"We need to LEAVE, Puff," he insists, "We can always come back, right?"
"Do you really want to come back? You already said the place was cursed," you rebutt.
He growls incoherently for a minute, before finally looking you in the eyes.
"Fine. Check it out. But afterward, I'm leaving whether you are or not. Got it?"
"Of course," you reply, "It'll just take a minute."
"Be careful, Puff," Leafy says, looking worried, "I'll be right here if you need me."
You stride forward, onto the stage, the green mist creeping around your hooves as you do your best to inspect the gate. Strangely enough, the mist has no temperature difference to it. It barely registers as even being there if you aren't looking at it. The statues remain immobile as you pass them and move toward the gate. Not everything has gone sideways here, at least. Statues are still statues. So you approach the gate that looms from stage to high ceiling. The glow intensifies as you draw closer, but nothing else seems to change. When it's within hoof reach, you inspect the gate itself.
It's made of metal, but bears no tarnishing. It's as though it's avoided aging with time somehow. It gives off no heat, or any coolness, with the glow. It just….is. There's something about it that seems to draw you closer, but you can't quite put a mental hoof on it. >Touch the gate >Touch the statues >Done inspecting
The metal is….room temperature. It's smooth, polished to a sheen, and slightly reflective. A faint sound draws you to place your ear against the gate, straining to listen.
"You bear a gift not meant for you."
You recoil from the feminine voice, but as she continues speaking you realize it no longer matters if your ear is pressed to the gate or not.
"It grants you a power you don't know how to wield."
Looking around, you don't notice anything different from before you touched the gate. The statues are still sitting there, the mist still coils around everything…..
It's only when you turn back to the gate that you see the shape in the mist.
Beyond the gate.
"But without your interference, the Hall will forever be sealed."
The shape is huge, and growing. Some large form rising in the mist, reaching closer to the ceiling as it takes full shape. A massive thing that sits on large limbs, with a body bigger than a tree trunk, and a large, angular head at the end of a slender neck.
"I grant you the power you need to defeat him. The power to bring both to where they truly belong."
The glow from the gate intensifies, the brightness threatening to blind you if you keep looking. The necklace and bracer seem to react to the glowing light, suddenly feeling hot on your coat. You can feel the tail hoop heat up similarly on your tail. Trying to remove them is once again futile, they cling to your coat more fiercely than ever now. And still the temperature increases! You're certain they're burning you now.
Grunting, you keep trying to remove the equipment, but can't. The heat reaches a new, intense height. Searing pain rips through your shoulder and chest, while your tail feels like it's on fire. You look down at the necklace, and nearly wretch at the sight.
The necklace is embedded in your chest, slowly burying itself into you.
Screaming you look at the bracer, and see it too has begun to weave itself with your flesh.
You panic, dropping to the floor, desperately clawing at the equipment searing your skin.
But there's no respite.
Squirming away from the gate, you look to your party. Why aren't they helping? Why are they just standing there? Why won't anyone DO SOMETHING?!
They all stand locked in place with unblinking eyes, their eyes nothing but white voids. Their expressions seem tense instead of frightened; Horribly unfitting to the extreme pain wracking your body.
No longer able to move and all sensations succumbing to the incredible agony coursing through your very veins now, you can only cry as you turn your gaze back to the gate.
The draconic form in the mist leans against the gate, lacking any expression. No remorse, no pity, just a faceless mist figure.
"Open the Hall again, Puff," it whispers.
You can fight the pain no longer, and shut your eyes.
>>602636 You wake with a start, sweat coursing down your face as you look around the dark room while patting your body reflexively.
The equipment is gone.
You swallow hard. Is it…..
Looking about the dark room you realize where you are: At home. Your home. Your bed on the upper floor of your office.
It…was a dream?
Hopping out of bed, you head down the darkened stairs. Walking into the kitchen you spot Leafy sleeping in a pillow fort not unlike the one Sweetie made for you before.
Swallowing hard, you realize you're parched. A glass of water would be super right now.
Deciding you'll grab a drink before waking Leafy up and asking what the hell happened, you walk over to your glasses cabinet and open the door.
Reaching up to grab a glass, you slip on part of the pillow fort's blankets that stretch over near the sink, and smack a glass from the cabinet right out into thin air.
You gasp as it begins to fall, and instinctively reach out to grab it.
It suddenly stops in mid air, before you've even touched it. It hovers without motion. Looking around you notice you can't hear Leafy's light snoring, or the usual sound of the wind and night critters that sit outside your walls. Everything is silent and unmoving.
Cautiously, you reach out and grab the glass, sighing with relief as you place it on the counter.
And just like that, all the sounds come back. Leafy's snoring, the crickets outside, the light pit pat of water leaking from your faucet into the sink.
>>602643 >Shhhhhh. Oh god I have to know We went through a rough patch? It seemed incredible to me, I'm loving all these flavor descriptions and crazy things happening, and the party members all have just enough character to themselves in the writing- I think you're doing fabulously. I just feel kind of dumb plodding along.
>>602648 Oh, no. The rough patch was on my end. Attitude wise. You may have noticed I slowed down rather badly at one point, and I was literally sitting here with my face on my desk wondering if I should even continue.
Emotions are weird.
I apologize if it adversely affected the session for you all.
>>602648 Oh and thank you for the compliment! I am trying to keep the characters individualized in their reactions, but I know sometimes it all just blends together. Hopefully more distinct differences will become apparent in future sessions.
And I think you all are doing just fine. Just fine.
>>602651 Unfortunately, no. It's a problem with me and my perception on other things. I'm the only one who can really do anything about it and I need to just stop thinking about it. Thanks for the concern, though.