Dania, Flow, Shei, and Crow-ley woke up back in Crow-ley's tower after ejecting from the astral projection. They ate a bit of dinner with Wireframe and Hexapod, two of Buiwong's cultists out of the group of cultists who had been sent to the tower to guard their unconscious bodies. Shei used Pupil to build a new body for Renee, who had dissolved in capsule gel after being kidnapped by the seraph Providence.
While Flow helped the newly-reborn Renee recuperate, Dania told Shei about the deaths of Punish and Gabriele. Their moment was interrupted by five spiders who popped out of Shei's fur, apparently planted there by Buiwong for unknown purposes.
"Ya see, it seems I wasn't the only one to want the Firmament to fall." the spiders continue. "Demons. There's a high influx of demons 'n monsters comin' in through the hole now." the spiders stop and laugh for several seconds. "…Beautiful. Beautiful, beautiful." you can hear the smile in his voice.
"Flow?" Renee asks, experimenting with solidifying and un-solidifying parts of her gooey body. "Can you get me some water, please?"
Through a gap in the curtains, you can see the gap in the Firmament. Not surprising, given how large and high in the sky it is. However, around the edges, you can faintly make out some small patches of color gathering around the edge of the cracks.
You decided to stay here after stumbling upon a family of ponies beset upon by a low-level demon, some kind of equinoid made of rocks and lava. You made short work of the demon, saving the ponies. To thank you, they told you that they were going to seek shelter from the outside world, now a haven of fiends and beasts, in Zha Arlakane. Seeing as you were already pretty close to it, you decided to stay there.
It is a kingdom of sheep, nestled within a mountain range far to the north of Accorsia. Many members of different races have flocked here, taking shelter in the mountains. Its surrounding geography and status as a fucking mountain have made it very easily defensible.
You decided to come here after nearly being defeated by a demon during your attempt to pierce into the heart of the demon-infested heart of Accorsia. As you were recovering from your wounds, you met a family of ponies who told you of Zha Arlakane. After much thought, you decided to go there as your tribe fled southwest.
You two are currently stationed on the top of the entrance gate to Zha Arlakane, built into the side of the mountain. These towering metal doors were once nearly always open to friendly traders and delegates from other nations. But now, they have been sealed. Before you stretches the rocky badlands of the south.
While the army have certainly appreciated your skill in dispatching any demons and monsters who have wandered too close to the kingdom, it seems some talk of your past 'deeds' have followed you here. Not a day goes by that you don't catch someone looking at you in fear, revulsion, hatred, or some combination of the three. However, given your skill in battle, most ponies just stay out of your way entirely.
>>624404 "Yeah sure, no problem." He gets up to go refill his canteen with water, and glances at the Firmament. "…what in Tartarus is that?…" he mumbles to himself. As he comes back to Renee, he hands her the canteen. "Small sips, can't drink too much now, okay?"
>>624407 "Just stay by me Dania.. Please, don't leave my side." Shei's voice quivers like he's on the verge of crying again.
>>624404 Tears stream down Shei-Sher's face. He's simmered down a bit after wailing for his deceased Gabby. "You bastard God Buiwong.. I can't believe we sacrificed the world for nothing. Most of my friends have been given up to the beyond.. And for what? You didn't even claim your seat in heaven. I- I caAaAan't.." Shei lies on the lush carpet beside his bedroom door to wallow. He growls at one of the laughing spiders before squashing it with his hoof. "Why are you laughing?! What plans could you possibly devise after all thats happened."
[1d10] incase I need some sort of roll for killing one of the buiwong spiders
Amy watches the hilly landscape in front of her. Her time in the woods has taught her to watch for movement. Back then, it was a worrisome occurrence to find movement. But, now it's almost a good thing. Not many things are left alive in the world. Even if it is just another demon, there's always that brief moment when Amy is excited to see something else alive out there. It's that hope for life that keeps her watching, more than the desire to protect the fortress. Of course, she wants to protect everyone. It's the right thing to do. And, it means making many friends. But, she could fight them and save ponies without having to be the one on watch.
>>624411 She kept herself hugging Shei with her calming floofy wool, her perfume was pleasant in the air and her wool felt like hugging a cloud, she starts humming a calming tune for him '1d10' for calming sad goat/inspire
>>624412 Shorthorns halts her tapping of her hooves, glaring up at Amy with a proud snort. "If you haveta know, I'm from the Climbing-Fire Clan! We're fighters from the day we learn to walk. Just because I'm small doesn't mean it should be impressive, you know!" She grunts angrily before turning back to the badlands.
"And stop distracting me Amy, we're supposed to be on watch remember?! They could be behind that rock right there. Or that one. Or even that one!" She points at one within spitting distance of the gate. "Did you see it?"
Several cultists begin to gather by the windows, peeking through at whatever it was you pointed out.
Renee nods and mumbles a "thank you". She nearly starts to chug the water, then quickly pulls it back from her mouth. "Sorry… I'm just really thirsty." She raises it to her lips again and drinks more slowly.
Buiwong laughs for several long moments. Something in his voice sounds elated, unhinged. "BEAUTIFUL!" he cackles. >You hear Cer'rog's voice come through the spiders. "You dolt, how long are we going to stand here? We're running out of time!"
"Oh, shut up, you old crow. Just let me say my… goodbyes."
"The Devas may be still around. But the one thing keeping me landlocked in this fucking hellscape of a world is gone. My world is open to me once more, as well as the key to the restoration of my lost power. And now, the Earth will return to its rightful state. And the angels are nowhere to be seen."
The spiders all point upward with their front legs.
He cackles for several moments more. "I've sprinkled my disciples across the land, bearing the gospel of my usurpation of the wicked dome which smothered the Earth… oh, yes. Oh, YES. Oh, but don't think I'll forget my friends so easily."
"As per my agreement with your, uh… 'mother', as you called Gabby, I shall do no harm to you. Those dozen or so hooded horses I left at your tower? They're yours. Go wild." >Ba'drel bellows through the speaker-spiders. "There's going to be too many demons for us to warp past if we don't go soon!"
Buiwong's voice takes over again. "Ah, yes, yes… Dania? Shei? I'm afraid… well, I hate to say goodbyes. But, well… I DO have a place to be right now." he says, slowly chuckling with pride.
>>624415 She huffs, "I'm not a little calf anymore. I'm big enough and learned enough. You seen me fight, right, I'm just as strong as anyone else."
She shakes her head as she looks at the rock, "Ah, it was just some stupid shadow… wouldn't smell anything." She taps her hooves, extremely anxious once again.
"You ever think we should just go out there and LOOK for demons?"
>>624417 As the guard appears, Shorthorns turns and shouts, sanding on tippy-hooves to seem more imposing, "No, I'm not! I'm just sitting on top of a gate all afternoon. Not one demon all day! I'm just sitting here like a useless lump. Does that answer your question?!"
>>624420 "Because I thought the guard was supposed to protect the city from demons! And we're not really doing a lot about them just waiting here. They just keep coming and coming so if we don't go out and do something about it they're never gonna go away."
>>624417 Flow nods and pats Renee on the head. "I would be too, if I was reformed by alchemy," he chuckles. He too gravitates towards the window to look up at the Firmament. >Looking with his special eyes [1d10]
>>624423 "But no demons are showing up, see? That means the demon's we're supposed to be protecting them from are out there and we aren't getting them right this second. See what I mean? If we just go out and destroy them now they can't attack the gate later. It just makes sense right?"
>>624425 "But we'd be doing an even better job if we stomped some demon heads back out the Firmament before we stopped our shift, right?!" She stomps her forehooves more now, seemingly over eager to get out of this guard duty into something more proactive.
>>624417 "WAIT!" Shei jumps out from Dania's grasp "Don't!! Wait please.. Not yet. I want to make you another offer." shei bleats like an abandoned kid.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7KSHyF_X2M Shei-Sher props himself up with his staff "To you I offer all the prayer's of Mr'uthgar's goats. The faith of my people. I will rescue them from their stables. I fear for them, it is safe here no more. Perhaps? In the commotion of Mr'uthgar's triumphs neigh an eye would find me shepharding my feeble kind.." Shei-sher pauses, not liking what hes going to say next. "My stomach churns to even think of it..But, In the elation of their freedom I could preech to them the word of Buiwong they're savior, promoting you a considerable boost in power by proxy, I your prophet. And I will do this for you. If you could lend me your portals when I ask for them and If you would please stay in contact with us. We need allies on the other side." Shei-Sher beseeches Buiwong the desperate offer "Of course, I would prepare an offering before I ask you of anything. As the courtesy goes."
The little sheep recoils, nearly dropping the tea-cups in her flusteration. "Wh-whaaaatever. Don't stay up there too long, you'll hurt your eyes." she advises, before walking away towards the path which leads back deeper into the mountain.
A few clouds drift by on the horizon. A cold wind passes by. Nearby, you overhear a pair of guards talking. They're too far away for you to hear exactly what they're saying, but you do pick up snippets. The words "overpopulation" "food" and "space" frequently occur. >Welcome to the Bonus and Endurance Points system. Here is how it works. >Bonus Points are used to give positive modifiers to rolls. You can give BP to anything that requires a roll. >Here is how the investment tree works. >Say you start at no modifiers on a roll. To get a +1 modifier, you invest 1 BP. To raise that modifier to a +2, you need to invest 2 ADDITIONAL BP. To raise that modifier to +3, you need to invest 3 additional BP. Invest 4 to raise it to a +4, and so on. >So if you want to go from no modifier to a +3 modifier, you must invest 6 BP TOTAL. >Endurance Points are used to give bonuses to Hits and Wounds. >An extra Hit costs 1 EP. An extra Wound costs 2 EP. >You have earned 4 BP and 3 EP as a result in your experience in fending off the demonic forces flooding the world. >They do not have to be spent right now, and can be saved.
"Oh, oh-ho-ho-ho!" Buiwong laughs. "Oh, but don't you worry your little head none about me or my little fan club. My apostles will spread to the corners of the Earth, like my eight legs as they spin my web of–" >"BUIWONG!" Ba'drel and Cer'rog roar through the spiders, causing them to jump.
"Alright, alright!" Buiwong says. "Look, Shei, I'm running out of time. I'm leaving, but I ain't 'leaving'. Do what you want to your goat pals. But, I've hemorrhaged power all day yesterday and today. On Earth, it's so much harder to keep my form stable and strong than in the Beyond. I NEED to leave and return to my personal throne in the Beyond before anything else. I am but a fragment of my true self in this state. But, fear not. I will return!"
>>624435 She sighs ''Just…Just leave already'' She turns back to Shei >>624432 ''I don't understand what Gabrielle and Punishment saw on him to take his offers…'' She stood besides him ''Would you like to honor their memories sometime?'' she puts a hoof in his shoulder
>>624435 >applying 3 BP to All or Nothing to gain +2 bonus, saving 1 >Getting 1 Hit and 1 Wound from EP
As she sees the tea nearly dropped, Shorthorns calms down and looks away as she mumbles a small, somewhat sincere 'sorry' under her breath as she takes a look back out over the gates towards the badlands. She takes slow sips of her tea but winces as it burns her lips
"AH! Hot, hot!" She waves a hoof over her mouth, pouting as she looks back at the wastes. She sighs. "Great, now I'm hungry too…"
>>624437 Shei-sher turns back to you after his talk with Buiwong. He puts his hoof on Dania's hoof when it touches his shoulder "Yes, I would very much want that." He looks down pensively "But.. I can't be thinking of it. There is much work to be done." Shei takes your hoof and ambles back down stairs.
>>624435 Shei-Sher ambles back down stairs. He raises his staff high and clatters the rings to make a ruckus as he walks through the corridors. "Devoutees of Buiwong find me in the dining hall. I have spoken to your lord and he has given me news!" Shei-Sher repeats before seeing some gather and then leading them to the dining hall.
[1d10] Calling all Buiwong cucks to the dining hall.
>>624445 ''I know my little goat, I know, It's the complete opposite, I am very proud of you, being so responsible at such a young age…'' She sighs, feeling her heart ache ''Makes me feel…rather jealous…''
Renee yawns, her eyes drooping. She sinks to the floor, the lower half of her body melting into a puddle, with only her neck and head retaining their form. She sets the canteen aside. "Sleepy." she mumbles.
The clumps of discoloration linger at the edge of the hole. You hear Shei start to come back downstairs.
They peel themselves away from the windows and follow you into the dining room, cramming themselves eagerly into the tiny room to hear what you have to say. You hear them muttering to themselves about the Firmament.
"Well?" Wireframe asks, a small coil of wire circling around her hoof. "What's going on? Where is he, what's taking him so long to get back here?"
>>624447 >>624448 She spots the pink dot and raises to her hooves, holding the ancient relic of a crown tightly upon her head as she scrapes the top of the gate in an overeager stance. "This is it, they're coming. You ready? I'm going to blow them right back where those monsters came from… and them I am going to go get food and you are coming with me."
>>624446 Shei stops for a moment "Whatever it was Dania. I don't think it matters. For the time I've known you, all you've been for me is strong and caring. And I thank you for that."
>>624447 Once in the dining room Shei-Sher stands atop the dinning table to address the ten cultists "H-he won't be coming back. -uh umm" Shei-sher stammers a bit. Having a tad more stage fright than he thought he would "Buiwong is making voyage into the beyond as we speak." Shei ponders a bit for words. "But.. This was not the last time we will see him, no."
Shei walks about the long table for each pony to get a good look at him as he speaks "Our Lord travels with an army, vanquishing angels and demons alike. His mission is to conquer himself a lot in the Beyond and make it his own. Ours to spread faith in our Lord across the lands. Tell that a better world awaits. For when Buiwong finally establishes his sphere of influence we will need the combined power of all our followers to ascend to his world. That is our mission." Shei-Sher scans about the table for any followers that may be griffon, a similar species, or at least a species that is respected amongst griffons.
After a little while, the pink dot comes close enough that you can see that it's a parasol, held by a crystal pony mare with a white coat, a pink mane and tail with brown at the tips, and orange eyes, wearing a beige jacket as she reclines on a caravan. The caravan is pulled by a pair of buffalo. On the caravan sit several other ponies and griffons, each carrying and playing musical instruments, including a piano, a bass, and an accordion.
The cultists' faces, mostly the changelings', smile and start to glow with hope as you speak. A few of them, the ponies, wear looks of confusion and worry as the word that they've been abandoned starts to pass through.
Wireframe sighs and smiles. "We'll finally get to live in peace, won't we? The hives and the ponies… I knew it! This is awesome!" she says with uncharacteristic enthusiasm, her wings fluttering.
Hexapod raises his hoof. "Did he say WHEN he'd be coming back for us now?"
You see one fat griffon standing in the back, peeking over the others' heads.
>>624456 Shorthorns eases up, lowering her eyelids.
"Okay so it's not a demon. It COULD HAVE been one." She gets up to the top of the gate and shouts down at the mare, "Hey! Are you all more refugees?" She peers at the buffalo to tell by their accessories to see if she can pinpoint which tribe they're from.
>>624461 She backs up a few steps in confusion at how a pony can dance so well on only two legs. "Uh… the music isn't saying anything though. There's no lyrics. And you look really silly just dancing when we're supposed to be guarding."
>>624457 Flow shifts his head to look at Renee. "A Primordial Aspect? It's like…a piece of one of these like, 'Elder God' type dude's power. I guess you could say they're extra abilities, limited to us, since we got an old artifact, can't remember what it was called." He sits up. "My point is, they're kinda like, basic elements of life, yeah. Aspects were…Change, Balance, Creation, and Cycles. Something like that. I never pay attention anyways, so to me, it's just an extra boost of power."
>>624456 Things seem to be going well. Despite the gloomy ponies, the smiling changlings give Shei some confidence. >"Did he say WHEN he'd be coming back for us now?" "Er, well.. no." Shei-sher concocts a fib in his head. something believable. A little white lie to have faith in "Now do not falter when I say this but. Buiwong will not be coming back for us." Shei stamps his staff onto the table, shaking the plates. "Because we will come to him! However, we will require followers, much more followers to allow us to ascend to Buiwong. Our Lord has tasked us with freeing the pitiable goat slaves of Mr'uthgar. They're freedom will be the perfect trade for their faith in Buiwong." Shei-Sher walks up as close as he can get to the fat griffon without leaving the table "You there" shei points to him with the hoof he holds his staff in. "You may be our most important factor in this operation."
>>624465 "I thought guards were supposed to be intimidating and strike fear into the bad things that would attack us?" She watches her continue to dance bipedally. She tries to do so for a few seconds but hobbles back over to her forehooves in a heap. "Gah. How do you do that?"
>>624467 "I guess but I AAAAH" She cries as you lift her forehooves up, tapping her rear hooves frantically as you dance with her, "Wait, wait, I'm gonna fall I'm gonna fall!" She prances on her back hooves trying to keep her center of gravity in check and not land hard on her back [1d10] Buffalo dances in badlands ooo aaa
The crystal mare tilts her head up at you. "You're pretty trusting, aren't you?" she asks. She speaks at a normal volume, yet her voice seems to carry and project as if naturally amplified. "That's pretty rare in this day and age."
Renee sits up in excitement and confusion. "That… that sounds so… familiar." she grabs your forearms. "How did you know what? Where did you hear that, what's this thing you found?" she says with a burst of urgency.
Hexapod sighs and lays his head down on the table, discouraged. The rest of the cultists start to clap and cheer in enthusiasm. Many talk about with excitement of the prospect of finding a 'better life'.
The fat griffon looks around the room as you call him out. He points at himself. "Uh, m-me? What'd I do? Er, I mean, what do… uh."
Dania notices the hole in the Firmament through a gap in the curtains in the dining-room. She also sees that there is a strange, cone-like clump of something lowering down from the hole. It's so far away that you can't make out any details. But if you can see it from here, it must be pretty fuckin' big.
>>624469 >>624470 "Woaaaah!" She lets go of Amy and falls on her back, causing her to wince and blush her orange coat deep red as she hears the chuckling from the ponies below. She looms over the edge and, at the silence of the buffalo, she shouts
"Yeah, well, the demons could be here any second s-so do you want in or not?! We're busy up here."
>>624469 >>624464 ''Uh…Shei darling… I would like to suggest…There is…Somewhere we could go if we need a safe place…And I am certain it will be infinitely safer tha-woah…'' SHe looks out the window ''Uh, Shei, darling…could you please come take a look at this?''
>>624469 Flow reels back a bit from the bombardment of questions.
"Woah there, buddy, calm down. I know this cause that's basically what our little entourage was after, some assistance in defeating Buiwong. Actually, details are kind of sketchy to me, bue never mind that. Sure, some of us took a deviant path, and things went kinda haywire, but never mind that either. As for the thing, I don't remember where it is, the Ember of Jalandhara, that's what it was called…um, can you let go please?" he wiggles his forearms a bit.
>>624469 "Yes you! You are a proud and mighty griffon. If we are going to have a chance at this we will require your attitude. May I have your name sir?" After Shei-Sher is given his name turns away from the griffon to address the Changelings "Changling brethren, take the form of a griffon of your liking. And if you are not already familiar with our cult griffon I would like you to take the time to acquaint with him. Study him, learn his mannerism and imitate.
Shei-Sher turns to the cultists who aren't changelings "Now I will need you all to prepare a feast. We will require a great offering for Buiwong. If you are famished please help yourself to the pantry so you may'nt spoil the offering. And if there are any artisans. Find the basement, there is a trap door to it in the laboratory. you will find some blocks of marble. Take one and the necessary tools you'll find. And craft us an idol of our Lord."
It looks like a strange, fleshy tornado, clumpy and chunky in some parts, spiraling down from the hole in the Firmament. Every now and again, chunks break off from the tornado and fly off into the distance.
The griffon introduces himself as "Gaviono." he quickly starts to get flustered and nervous as the changelings swarm and begin to study him. The non-changeling cultists are not as quick to obey your orders, evidently not trusting you as a leader quite yet. However, they disperse and begin their assigned tasks. >Timeskip to Zha Arlakane with a TL;DR of the details in-betewen available now
>>624483 She sees Amy take off of the gate, Shorthorns stammers, "Hey! Wait, where are you going? You're not just leaving me alone up here!" She chases after her to follow the cart with her. "Do you like their music that much?"
A nearby sheep guard overhears you and shuffles over to you, tapping his spear on the ground in time with your hooves. "There's aaaaaa rumor that Zhaaaa Aaarlaaaaaaakaaane's taking in too maaany ponies. Baaaad news. Nobody knows what the King plans to do about it, or if it's even true."
Like a speeding pony, you speed down the tower which houses the lifts and staircases that lead up and down from the top of the gate to the ground.
The caravan has stopped just inside the gates. The buffalo pause and sighs, their heads hung low with the exhaustion of a long day's travel. The cart's occupants get off and give the buffalo some water. The crystal mare who introduced herself as Easy Doesit to Flaming lounges in her caravan. She closes her parasol and twirls it in the air absentmindedly, constantly tracing a heart shape with it.
Her face beams as you two approach. "Hello! Do I need to pass through customs or something?"
Shei realized that the fleshy, bizarre tornado of color descending from the hole in the Firmament was an influx of demons and monsters, come to take the Earth for themselves now that the Firmament was broken and the angels chased off. Dania told Shei and Flow about the existence of Zha Arlakane, a well-fortified and highly defensible kingdom of sheep far to the northwest of Accorsia. They decided it was best to ask Buiwong to take them, the cultists, and the goats there for safety.
The changelings' plan went off without a hitch. Aldreg, drunk on both his own power and real wine, was unaware as the cultists freed the goats from their prison and explained to them the direness of their situation. Countless goats were overjoyed at their release, including Shei's mother, Shei-perd. However, a small portion chose to stay in Mr'uthgar upon learning of the demons, and refused to leave, either due to stockholm syndrome or want of Aldreg's protection from the invading forces.
The other cultists erected a shrine to Buiwong, beseeching him to deliver them from Mr'uthgar…
But there was no answer. No matter how much or loudly they prayed, no matter how many goats joined in, no response came.
Fearing for their lives, they left on hoof.
Unsurprisingly, a large crowd of people, especially one such as theirs, weighed down with former slaves, many old and sick, moved slowly. Along the way, they endured countless assault from demon and fellow pony alike. As they fled Accorsia on hoof, they heard talk from other ponies who were journeying to other mortal strongholds, other bastions of safety. Several crazed ponies ranted to them about "the Garden on the dark side of the Moon", and how the Moon was coming to crush them all.
It's been six months, on the day. You've been walking along this barren patch of rocky badlands for as long as you can remember. Finally, in the distance, you see three great mountains, which Dania recognizes as the mountains of Zha Arlakane. Your entourage of weary goats and cultists, who have been complaining of hunger and thirst, gasp and whisper as they see the mountains.
Through the enormous metal gates, you see a group of travelers. Mostly goats, some ponies and changelings wearing red robes. They all look exhausted and hungry as they approach the gates. (The other half of the party).
>>624493 She fixes her tunic and crown as she's released, nodding her head with a slight scrunch to her face. "Uh, lucky me I guess." She makes a mental note not to mention her old friends too often around Amy.
>>624494 She trots over with Amy to Easy Doesit, shaking her head, "Uh, no. Just, my friend wanted to say hi or something. She likes meeting new people."
She looks to the buffalo, bounding up, "Hello brethren. Sunshine and rainfall." She smiles at seeing some more buffalo around. "What clan did you all come from?"
>>624495 As she sees the others come up, she snaps, "Oh, woah woah woah!" She bounds in front of the gates and blocks it with her tiny body. "Wait! Hold it, I'm the guard watching the gate. Are you all refuges or somethin'? You have to tell me your business here before I let you in!"
>>624435 >Putting 3 BP in inspire and 1 BP in Smooth Talker >Saving the EP for now
>>624496 >>624497 ''Greetings'' She saluted, walking ahead of the others. ''My name is Dania, I am native to this land, I brought refuges with me, yes.'' She motions to the party ''PLease allow us to go, we are all tired, and famished from our trek…''
>>624494 >>624495 Flow takes a sip of water from his canteen, invigorating him with more strength as he stays near the front of the crowd of refugees, handing the canteen over to Renee. "Down the rest, we'll restock soon enough." He sighs out of boredom from the long trek, silently relieved that the group has finally found some refuge.
>>624499 Shorthorns looks at the large collection of goats, pacing on her hooves as she nods. "Alright, no demons following you all? I guess you're alright." She moves ahead inside the gate motioning her head for you all to follow her. "C'mon inside, welcome home and everything." The young, short buffalo looks around at the large collection of refuges, remembering a time she was counted among their numbers as she allows entry.
"Just a warning: there's a hugger on the loose in there."
>>624478 >>624495 >>624478 "At long last" Shei-Sher utters from his parched breath. "We've made it!" Shei gets down on his knees to poftrate himself before the gates and kiss the ground "Thank those starry lights that watch us. Thank them all!"
Shei-sher rises to greet himself to the locals Lady Dania is talking to
>>624506 >>624504 "Ahoy! You must be the locals of this blessed city. Please, my people are parched and starved. Where may we barter for supplies beyond these gates."
>>624505 "No, she'll let you go when she's ready." She grumbles, "Trust me I know."
>>624506 Shorthorns yelps in pain, flattening her ears and putting her forehooves up to cover them as she winces in pain. "AMY! What's that noise you're making, it hurts my ears. A lot!"
>>624500 She holds her ears in pain as she darts her eyes to the goopey pony nearby. Her eyes slightly bug out and glares. "You look weird… why are you so drippy?"
>>624508 "Yeah, yeah, sure, whatever," the young buffalo, only a couple years older than Shei, nods in confirmation. "You're all free to go in. But can you make your friend stop making my friend make that noise?"
"Sunshine and rainfall." one buffalo answers, while the other just eats from an oat bag on his mouth. "We come from Wide-Plain. Pride of the flat-Earth. We've come from far to the west…" he trails off, eyes lowered.
Renee smiles and takes the canteen eagerly. She gulps it down and licks her lips. In the past six months, she hasn't had any 'episodes' in which her eyes changed into Pupil, like that one time. She hasn't recovered any of her old memories, but you've been recounting the details of your journey, and she says she feels the parts that are about her are familiar.
The green-and-black swirl of Seed-King's dimensional doorway fades away into utter blackness.
"We're here." says the voice of Jalandhara. "We've been sinking through Subspace for quite a while now. Of course, being a 'backstage' dimension, it does not follow conventional spacetime… well, that's a lecture for another time. While we were travelling, I made a few… 'changes' to your body and soul. Your soul has acclimated somewhat to my essence, it seems. However, I can only do so much so often, lest I end up causing some irreversible damage." >4 BP and 3 EP obtained.
A white door door opens up in the dense blackness with a creak. Through the doorway, you see a city with Greek architecture and infrastructure. Many sheep, as well as changelings, ponies, members of many different races, can be seen walking around the city.
Your eye is caught by three familiar shapes. You see Flow, Dania, and Shei standing just inside an enormous pair of metal gates, followed by about ten Buiwong cultists and a huge group of goats.
"Oh," Amy says quickly as she lets go of Dania and quickly backs up, her purple crystal face turning red a bit. "I-I'm sorry. I got carried away. I haven't even introduced myself yet! My name is Amy Thest. My friends just call me Amy. You can call me Amy since you're my friend now."
>>624512 >SweatingSheep.jpg She smiles and waves at them with a smile
>>624511 >>624508 ''Shei, Flow, come on we have to get out of here and into the city…let's not stall for too long…'' She said with a hint of nervousness in her voice
She sighs ''Ow my sides…'' She sighs and takes a few deep breaths ''it is…perfectly fine darling…I know it is hard to resist fine wool such as mine…And yes, My name is Lady Dania, it is a pleasure to see you Amy…'' She nods as she turns to the guard sheeps ''Gentlemen…we are travelers in need of supplies, I am a native to Zha Arlakane and I return to my home with allies, please…we are in dire need…''
>>624510 "I don't know how!" She explains as calmly as she can.
>>624511 She raises an eyebrow, "Uh, because you are? I don't think it's rude to tell the truth."
>>624512 "That's really far away, huh…" she speaks to the buffalo, looking down. "I'm from the Clan of Climbing-Fire. My tribe went way south of here."
>>624513 She pokes a hoof into Amy's side. "You get carried away a lot, Amy. Not everyone who comes through those gates want to be hugged like that you know."
>>624514 She growls, "So you all got kicked out by the demons too huh…?" She spits on the ground. "I've been there too. It's awful. I hope you're comfortable here and everything. I'm Flaming Shorthorns. I'm a guard here now."
>>624512 Flow sighs and pats Renee on the head. "I'm actually surprised you're remembering stuff. Anything new come up? Memory-wise, that is."
>>624515 "By all means, captain." He dutifully follows. "I wonder if they have any aged wine…"
>>624516 "Hey now. I was referring to calling my good friend here drippy, not be. But if you must know, we are beings made entirely of goo. And a hard core, check it." He opens his coat to show the small dark ball inside. "Yep, pretty nice if you ask me."
>>624518 She growls, "Yeah, well, beggers can't be choosers! This place could be swarmed by demons and monsters at any second and you have problems with a buffalo being on the guard trying to help, huh?!" She gets up close and personal as she puts her forehead to yours, eyes staring you down.
>>624519 "That's… really odd." She touches you and Renee a few times with her hooves, drawing it back quickly. "Are you guys like melted or something? I never met ponies that gooey before."
>>624521 "I still think you should ask them first at least. That seems kind of weird to just hug whoever you feel like. What if they don't like hugs?"
>>624522 "The best isn't very good but it's what we got." She murmurs, "Might actually get a little better if we didn't just sit on a wall all day long waiting for demons to come knocking…"
>>624512 "Changes? …I don't feel any different, but thank you. I'm probably going to need it."
Pryce holds a hoof up over his face to block the light as he steps out from the dark realm into the city, looking around in wit ha dazed confusion. All calm, if he wasn't told the land was infested with demons he wouldn't believe it. Glad he put on the ring to mask away his wings to not draw attention to himself, Pryce starts to walk through the city, until his gaze falls over to the familiar faces. He feels some slight relief at seeing them alright after he last saw them inside Providence, but he turns in the other direction to continue walking, not wanting to face them yet after what happened.
>>624524 Flow twists his head 270 degrees. "Did I hear, 'hug'?"
>>624525 He recenters his head, and shakes it in denial. "Nope, we were born this way." He tips his hat. "I'm sorry, I don't think I've introduced myself. I am Smooth Flow, and this is my friend, Sister Renee." He politely bows.
>>624524 She gigglesnorts ''Well that was certainly it…''
>>624525 She stared back with a cold glare ''Our Kingdom has an honor of being run only by sheeps, I don't know what made the king decide to break this law, but I hope to find out. now I ask of you to keep your distance… it is, unpolite to invade a lady's personal space like that'' From up so close, Flaming could notice something was amiss…
>>624528 ''Oh of all kinds of gems, precious minerals and all the like Shei, it is a rich country, very very rich''
>>624526 "…I… Amy I don't think that makes any sense. Just because demons don't like hugs means anything that doesn't like hugs is a demon."
>>624529 She looks between the two of you and nods her head, "I'm Flaming Shorthorns. I'm a guard here. I hope you two enjoy your stay. Just… don't get mad if I accidentally step in you okay? I have bad luck with that."
>>624530 She looks about trying to notice that something is off… [1d10]
But keeps her head to hers for just a few moments as she breaks off. "Okay fine, go ahead and ask him. But you're not making me leave the guard even if you get every sheep in the city to force me. I came here to kill demons and that's what I'm gonna do. I'm sorry I'm breaking some stupid sheep only rule…"
"Goddess?" Easy muses. Her mouth turns in thought. "Well, I wouldn't know about that. I'm just your average, ordinary hero. Just a little more famous than most. And this–" she extends her hoof to the other ponies and griffons on the caravan. "Is my band of merry mares!"
She boops your nose, turning transparent and shiny.
Renee shakes out her gooey mane after you pet it. "Nope. Not a thing. But, well… I've been having dreams. About you, about the people you've told me about… and I'm there, too. I'm there, and it's all happening just as you told me it did."
She gets a far-off-look in her eyes and smiles. "We're finally here." she says, content as she watches goats old and young cheer and bleat in joy.
You turn and head up the winding streets, the city's geography reminding you of Stonehill's. You come up to a central plaza in front of an enormous, regal-looking palace wrought from marble. There is a fountain with a statue of a sheep in a white toga pouring water out of a jar into the fountain-pool.
>>624531 Flow laughs. "It's fine, we won't feel it. Well, we might. Yeah, we're gonna feel it."
>>624534 He blinks and looks surprised. "Maybe your memories are coming back. Hopefully, the older stuff starts coming back eh?" He lets out a gentle sigh and stands beside her. "Well, it's good to think those six months weren't for nothing. As we can see, the fruits of out efforts." He playfully rustles Renee's mane.
>>624530 "Lady Dania, your words fill me like rich sugar. Alas we've found paradise. No longer will we hear another kid moan from hunger. It's all we could of hoped for." Shei says astonished and grateful.
>>624531 ''No need to apologize…As much as it bothers me to see an old tradition being broken…we are in times of dire need, and you have good intents…'' She wwent back to walking
>>624534 She glances at the statue and the many sheeps around, sighing with a bit of nostalgia
>>624536 >>624535 She nuzzles against him a bit ''You don't need to worry about anything more My dear Shei, come now, let us rest, dine and bathe, you deserve it for being so strong and brave…'' She kept leading the way
>>624539 He takes a deep breath to answer, then lets it out. "I could use a nice brew of tea. The boat can wait for later! Oh yeah, I've always wanted to go across a sea. But alas, I'd dissipate in mere seconds!"
>>624535 "…Oh. Uh, sorry, I'll be careful then. Just try to look out for me too, alright, we'll make it easier so I don't accidentally hurt anyone."
>>624537 >>624540 She backs off, looking at the sheep strangely as she looks at the ground. "Well, okay then, cause I really wasn't apologizing for nothing. I'm just happy to help."
She heads back inside the gates and looks at the collection of goats gathered. "I never seen so many goats. Listen, I should probably go ahead and let you all know that we're… kind of experiencing overpopulation problems. Food is going to get kind of rare if this many refugees come in."
>>624541 "I don't even know what a syllabus is but I am pretty sure it isn't that!"
She gasps as her nose is crystallized though. "AH! Amy, your nose! What happened? It turned into a rock. D-do I need to break it loose or-?"
>>624534 "Impressive… this place looks magnificent, like the outside hasn't touched it at all." Pryce thinks outloud to himself as he wanders the city. He looks up at the palace, the paladin in him telling him to go and offer his help. But, what help can he offer, he couldn't hold himself in a fight and he barely knows the affairs of this stronghold. He continues walking lost, looking for a place to rest, despite barely feeling fatigue of the past six months, but more for wanting a place to sit and take in the surroundings to get some direction.
>>624540 She pulls him into a hug ''It is…You made us all so proud too…We couldn't have done it without you Shei…'' She whispers ''Remember that thing I wanted to tell you before? Six months ago?…I think it's time I told you a secret…''
>>624543 She waves a hoof ''It is understandable, and yes, I thought this kind of problem would happen, yet I hoped if wouldnt… we have vast riches, but our food supplies ostly come from trades…'' She sighs
"I'm looking for something, and someone." she traces a heart, then a five-pointed star, then a circle in the air. "I guess you could say I'm looking for my SOUL. Oooooh!" she says in an over dramatic, spooky tone.
Dania leads the party (and Amy if she wants to tag along as well) to a large inn. The goats and cultists eagerly follow them. As they get inside, they see that several walls have been knocked out, and the inside of the room has been made into a common sleeping area. Many ponies, griffons, changelings, etc lounge and sleep here, on the floor, on cushions, on blankets.
>>624548 "This has been a really weird day… actually almost glad I didn't go off to go looking for demons." She pushes a hoof to your crystal muzzle, then hesitates. "Can… can I touch it?"
>>624546 "Oh, that's good. We have enough water at least…" he hooves tap along the ground. "Are YOU drinkable? I'm sorry but I need to know. Guard reasons."
>>624545 "Yeah… not so much of that going around any more." Shorthorns groans, looking at the badlands. "I don't even know how many other cities are still out there. We might even be the last one for all I know." Her brow furrows as she looks out. "But one day we're going to take it all back."
>>624553 She shakes her head, "Well, I mean, what do you expect? This is the safest place in the entire North-West! Of course everyone and their grandsires are going to come here after the demons took everything else from them. We have ponies, goats, griffons, buffalo, changelings, just about only half the city's population is sheep anymore. And without trade there's only so much food. I'm sorry."
While on guard duty at Zha Arlakane's southern-facing gate, Amy and Flaming met a crystal mare who introduced herself as Easy Doesit, the name of a legendary hero and mischief-maker. Easy said that she had come here to look for her Soul, whatever that meant.
After Easy came Shei-Sher, Dania, and Flow, leading a group of crimson-robed cultists and many, many exhausted-looking goats up from the southeast. They were let into the city, the goats cheering and bleating with joy as their hooves touched the cobblestone, overwhelmed with relief and joy. Dania led them to a large hostel which had been turned into a refugee common-area, densely populated with ponies, buffalo, griffons, etc. who did not have any other place to stay.
Pryce, after reentering the world from his Subspace travel, caught sight of the party from a great distance, hiding behind a building across the central plaza in front of the palace so as not to be seen.
———————————————————- >Dania, Flow, Flaming, and Shei-Sher
The goats, led by Shei-perd, begin to file into the hostel. The hotel's attendants, a group of female sheep, begin to tend to them, passing out small water and food rations and blankets.
Behind them, a sheep that Dania and Flaming recognize as Head Counselor Pausanias, adviser to King Lininas, stands watching the goats, his mouth twisted with scrutiny and displeasure. >Amy Thest
Easy hops off her caravan and follows you on hoof as you catch up to the others. You see Head Counselor Pausanias observing the goat entourage as they funnel into the hostel.
"Well, I'm getting ahead of myself with that Soul stuff." Easy says. "I'm here specifically to seek help from ponies. You see, I'm a delegate from Fantasia, and a demon has taken many of my people hostage. I've been sent here to gather fellow adventurers who might be willing to help." >Pryce
>>625208 Flaming turns around on her heels, stomping her hooves into the ground. "Mr. Pausanias, sir! How can I help you today? OH, oh, are you recruiting for an attack?!" She wiggles her stubby tail at the prospect, leaning into a crouched position to show how ready freddy she is.
She looks back at the goats then, then frowns, "Oh. Uh… the goats?"
>>625208 [Guess there's no avoiding them at this rate, at least I'll try to rest for a moment first.] Pryce heads into the hostel a time after the party, to not be noticed yet a he makes for a more secluded spot to sit and rest after his mental venture.
>>625208 Shei-Sher helps his mother Shei-perd with leading the herd in the hostel and getting situated.
Shei speaks to his mother just above a whisper so the others don't here. "Mother I am afraid our troubles are not at an end. I've gotten news that Zha Arlakane is experiencing a food shortage. Please watch after the tribe, I need to seek whoever is in charge."
>>625208 >>625210 "Ms. Shorthorns!" Shei calls to you. "Excuse me but I want to gain an audience the officials of Arlakane. Where may I go for such?"
"Hmm?" He looks down at you, and his look of wry displeasure melts into a smile. "Oh, oh-ho-ho-ho, no, not just yet, my dear. Currently I'm on my way to a meeting at the central palace." he says, his voice gravelly yet warm. "You know, you are far too eager to rush into danger Miss Shorthorns, especially as one as young as yourself. You have done much for us all, surely you ought to treat yourself to R&R every now and again."
He waves his hoof at the goats. "But, what is this? What is all this? An influx of new refugees?" he shakes his head, laughing. "Oh dear. Princess Solar Wind and Lord Kibble are sure to chew me out on this one. From where have they come?"
"I know, right!?" Easy exclaims, parasol twirling. "It's so BIZ-arre! Normally, demons never create, they merely destroy, but this one has…"
She shakes her head. "Oh, I'm getting ahead of myself again! Let me start from the beginning."
"He goes by the name of The Master. He's kidnapped a group of mortals, mostly buffalo but also some ponies too– and he's got them locked up in a magitech factory in Fantasia! I don't know what he plans, exactly; he attacked and chased me and the other fairies away before we could stop him. I've been sent here to gather help to drive him away!"
Shei-perd quietly nods to you. She's been speaking less and less often as the weeks turned to months, and the stresses of travel took their toll on her patience.
Pausanias looks down at you. "Ah, and just who are you?" he asks, looking you up and down. "Very quick to the point, aren't you, to come in here unannounced and demand to speak to the leader." he growls.
He sternly looks down at you for several moments, then smiles again. "Hahaha. I'm only joking, little colt. But first, why, might I ask? Do you wish to see the King, because he is quite ill, I'm afraid. But I promise I'm the next best thing if you have matters to discuss with the court."
Renee follows suit, slithering across the ground in a half-goo state. "It looks like the gods delivered us from evil safely, huh?" she half-jokes, looking at the ground with bitter confusion. "So many ponies here…"
>>624553 >continuing the previous conversation "I know Shei, I know… But first we'll need to find a private place… This is a serious matter and not a soul in this place can hear about this. Okay?" She says as her eyes set on Pausanias. "As soon as we are done here… "
>>625208 " Ah! The high counsellor of the King. Why if it isn't Pausanias himself! I heard that you were quite the dashing sheep, but goodness Oh my, they were not lying. You are quite the handsome fellow indeed. Even from up close." She giggles "oh but setting compliments aside. I bring you a group of refugees in desperate need. I am a native to the kingdom in the mountains and I knew there would be no place more secure than this." She speaks in a calm, friendly tone "Be sure to speak to our young leader, Shei… We would not have made it without his knowledge to guide us…" She brushes his head with a hoof
Pausanias arches his eyebrow, somewhat wary of all the flattery. Nonetheless, he smiles and chuckles. "You are… far too kind, my dear. Truly, your benevolence is to be commended. Their sheer number may raise eyebrows among the court, however…" he muses, as he looks up at the palace.
>>625222 Flaming Shorthorns blows a puff of air out her nostrils. "I'll rest and relaxation when I have my own bed back under my favorite tree in the forest and not a damned second before. And don't treat me like a little kid! The Climbing-Fire clan are warriors from the day we can walk so I can handle it!" She gets a little too up-close and personal to Pausanias.
As he waves at the goats, she turns back around, keeping her head down as she realizes the need for food is growing scarce. "OH. Um, mostly from the south, from the griffon lands?" She looks at them, a bit sad, "You're not gonna kick them out are you?"
>>625222 At the word of 'mostly buffalo', Shorthorns leaps at Easy's hooves. "ME! I can help! I'll drive him right into the ground! What tribes?!"
>>625224 Flaming looks confused, "Wha… because, he's a demon! You know, those monsters that stole everyone's homes away from them and are killing everything in sight! That enough reason for ya?" She headbutts your head with her iron skull, lightly. "Duh."
>>625226 "They were all survivors from the disaster With the angels and the demons that attacked Accorsia. I assume you have heard details of such events… I was there to experience it myself up close… Thousands of ponies had their lives and free will taken." her smile turns into a pitiful frown "And… Pardon me for my intrusion on the Royal family issues, but what is this about the king… Falling Ill?"
>>625223 Shei-Sher smiles to you with not another word. And continues with his work.
>>625222 Pausanias catches Shei-Sher off-guard. He stumbles for a modest bow and is made nervous by his first impression of her.
Shei sighs "Thank goodness, I wouldn't want to be in bad standing with our only sanctuary on the first day. I wanted to give the king our notice of course. I have just brought quite the number of goats in your city." He gestures to his herd. "I also wish to familiar myself with the statistics of Zha Arlakane. How much food there is, how many acres of farm you hold, the population, and simply the status of things."
>>625229 "No!" Flaming scratches the ground several times, digging up a little ditch with her hoof, "We don't ask! They didn't ask for our homes and families and friends, they just TOOK them from us. They get the same thing! We don't ask nicely we go in and pound them into little demon bits." She blows a little snort out her nostrils for emphasis.
>>625236 Flaming turns her horns towards Dania, "She thinks just cause I wanna kill demons like the soulless evil pits of unsympathetic home-stealing darkspawn they are that I'm just like them. DO I LOOK LIKE A DEMON TO YOU!?" She roars
>>625237 "NO I didn't! I said I want to kill the demons and rescue the ponies and buffalo, do demons do that?!"
Easy nods and opens up her parasol. "Fairies, short for Fairy-Tails. We're people, not really much any different from you ponies or griffons or dogs. We're slightly different, of course, but then again, so is everyone. And Fantasia is our home! …At least it WAS, before The Master moved in and took over."
Pausanias rubs his forehead with stress. "No, I had not planned on kicking them out. But, this will not help me combat the protestations and complaints of overpopulation from Solar Wind and Kibble." he grumbles. "No, not at all…"
"Will you really, really help us!?" she asks, coat glowing with hope. She spins her parasol like a tornado.
Easy shrugs. "No clue! But, most of them weren't from Wide-Plain. I didn't recognize all their markings, most of them looked pretty different from the ones around Fantasia. And a couple had paint a bit like yours." she says, booping your nose.
"We've heard scant tales from the southeast, uh… something about a Firmament and the 'Golden Being', who abducted many of our people." his eyes flash with inspiration. "If you've more detailed information on the exact events, might I trouble you to come and deliver a report before the other leaders and I? It would greatly help us decide what to do about this situation."
"As for the king himself…" his eyes narrow. "It was six months ago. Countless golden arrows flew into our proud kingdom through the open front gate. Most of the court were impaled by the arrows, as well as Queen Bania herself. When the King saw this, he took his sword and severed the golden arrow which pierced her side, saving her. Afterward, they say he roared at the front and back gates with enough force that they shut on their own, preventing the entry of more arrows."
"As you can imagine, such an effort took quite the toll on his body. I'm afraid the King's health has been on the steady decline ever since that incident. He's been bedridden for the past week, a flu or a fever, they say."
He smiles with pride. "Truly, a ruler worthy of our kingdom."
"Well, I'm afraid the King himself will not be taking any visitors. You may deliver your report to me, if you are so inclined… however, I'm afraid I cannot disclose the more intimate details of our kingdom's current status to the public. There are silly rumors flittering about that we will become 'overpopulated' soon. But, those are nothing but silly rumors. We've the resources to take on another double of our number." he says, spreading his arms wide.
He fixes you with a firm stare, but smiles at you in a fatherly way. "And for the good of the kingdom, I cannot allow anything which would make those rumors anything more than rumors."
They're salty as heck. You see a tall female goat who looks somewhat like Shei-Sher guiding the goats as they try to find places to settle. From where you are behind the column, you see and recognize Flow and Sister Renee sitting outside the entrance, just talking.
>>625242 "They started it! Just because we have to kill them like they kill us doesn't make us one of them. It's just what we have to do to win. When somebody pushes, you push back harder! That's how we do things in Climbing-Fire, that's why we're the strongest clan."
>>625245 She grinds her teeth, closing her eyes, "What if they are?! You going to laugh some more? Cause I'm serious, I HATE being laughed at!"
>>625243 As her nose gets booped, she shakes her head and backs off a few feet, a bit surprised by the personal bubble violation, but she wiggles the awkward out of her nose as she mentions, "Paint like mine… so they got some of Climbing Fire?! When do you leave, I'm ready to go now! I need to help my brothers!"
>>625243 "I know, it's gotta be hard, but we can't just turn away refugees. This is what I'm saying though: we can't stay holed up in here forever, we need to go out and take back some farms or something! Fight for our livelihood. And Easy is the first step!"
She pays a special amount of attention to the part where Pausanias mentions the golden being, keeping her ears low but staring at the newcomers warily.
"Blasphemy, she says!" he sighs, "No, it's not. To be honest, I'd say we just leave all that religious stuff behind us. We need to worry about ourselves, not about whether or not some gods will show us mercy or anything like that."
He reforms himself and sits next to Renee.
"I know it might be hard to come to terms with, but we're gonna have to if we want to live through this. But then again, that's just my opinion."
>>625238 Dania couldn't help but giggle herself as well "Well… Now that you mention it… You are quite the short tempered little young Buffalo…" She flicks one of her horns before getting to a more serious, friendly tone >>625241 >>625242 "Aaah… That seems like a fair choice.. But Amy has a good point there… I am not aware if all demons are sentient in a level of having emotions and as far as having families… But you must remember that revenge for the sake of revenge leads to a path you don't want to… Oh excuse me?" She arches an eyebrow at her threat to Shei "First of Darling, you are not raising a hoof towards Shei, I must warn you I have many contacts in this city, and if I speak a few words, I can make sure you will be quickly kicked out of your post, and even kicked off the city… That if I convince them to be generous… Or else you might get thrown in a dirty jail cell… And then we'll see who will be after Demons…" She speaks in a low, polite, yet bone chilling cold tone
>>625243 Her eyes widened a bit. "oh goodness… That.. That is quite the…" She coughs as she tried to hold back something "How… How is the Queen's health then? And do not worry… I will gladly write all the details of what I have witnessed that day… " her lips tremble a bit
>>625251 As her little horn gets flicked, Shorthorns keeps up her anger streak. "I'm not little and I'm not young! I'm 14 years old, that's a warrior's age."
>>625251 "It's not revenge for revenge! It's revenge for getting my home back, there's a good reason to just kill 'em all. They had no right taking it."
As she threatens to jail her up, Shorthorns growls low and steps a few hooves towards her direction. "You wouldn't dare. You need every guard you can get in this city, don't ya? And I wouldn't be threatening your goatfriend if he just stopped making fun of me."
>>625243 Shei can't help but feel intimidated. "Ah. w-well that is good to know. We have come a long way. These goats are ex-slaves from Mr'uthgar. You could understand how devastating it would be if we weren't welcome."
"Pray tell? What ails the king. I am an alchemist, if I could be of any use I would be glad."
>>625243 Pryce cotinues to munch the crackers, ignoring the saltines as he gazes over at the party. [Should I rejoin them, after how I acted last we were together?They'd probably be better suited to get those lance pieces, but I doubt they'd want anything to do with me after I turned against all of them…]
>>625253 "You were! You should be ashamed!" Shorthorns snaps, but takes a moment to gather herself, not wanting to hurt her friend's feelings too bad. "But, it's okay I forgive you, I'm not mad or anything."
>>625248 "Please Please, don't be angry at me." he says still trying to calm his giggling fit. He talks with a less humorous expression "I do share your sentiment though. Towards the demons. They've haunted my tribe since the beginning of our venture."
>>625252 She looks down at her, mouth shut "… You might be right… My father always told me about how one soldier can make the difference… Very well… You have made your point clear… Just…" She comes closer and whispers to Flaming "Don't threaten Shei like that… Thankfully, he took it nicely, but he can be a tad sensitive at times, remember, he is as young as you are… And speaking of which." She pulls her head back, speaking loud and clear again "14 is indeed a very, very young age to get yourself integrated into armed forces… What would your parents think of this? A young lady like yourself subjecting to fight in a war, risking her life, which has not yet even started…" She keeps her polite tone… But a hint of worry was clear in the Female sheep's voice
>>625253 "there is no problem in this that, darling. You simply spoke your mind, it's not a sin"
She chuckles as you tug her tail. "Not necessarily, but I'm sure some of us do. That's 'tales' with an -les, not an -ils, silly. Tales as in, stories. Though I suppose there are a lot of stories about us… some more true than others."
"Well, I'm fit to go if you are, I suppose…" she stretches and cracks her neck. "My envoy might not be so quick to want to get back on the road, though. Mortals tire so easily. Oop!" she puts her hoof over her mouth. "Sorry, was that speciesist?"
"The Queen is quite fine… physically, at least. Her Majesty has not left the King's side since the incident. As you can imagine, he puts on quite a display of bravado to keep her worries at bay. However, I'm afraid her fears cannot be dissuaded so easily. Especially not with the recent decline of his health."
"The King has at his side a collection of Zha Arlakane's finest physicians and doctors. However, they are not quite aware of what may be the source. The symptoms are like that of flu and fever, yet not one of the remedies, magical or mundane, seem to combat the symptoms…"
He frowns. "Now, I beg your forgiveness, but that is the extent of what I may legally disclose about His Majesty. Quite honestly, I've told you too much." he laughs. "Oh, don't worry, I don't need to kill you or anything. His condition is quite common knowledge, these days."
He clears his throat. "With regards to your envoy of ex-slaves, you may rest easy: by my word, they will not be driven out from here. As per the King's orders, all refugees who ask asylum of us will receive it. Princess Solar Wind and Lord Kibble may harass them, and me, but I will not go against what my King has decreed." he smiles.
Renee rubs the side of her head. "I don't know… I just can't accept that, right now. My faith has gotten me through so much. I know the gods want us to be able to stand up on our own. I just don't think that they'd all abandon us wholesale. They do test us… but this is a long test if that's the case."
>>625257 She scratches the ground, looking away, "Yeah, whatever… just don't laugh at me, I really don't like being the butt of a joke." She looks down.
"I hate the demons with every ounce of my spirit. They took my home away from me, forced my family to run away… I lost all my friends because I dared to try and fight back and now I'm stuck here until we do SOMETHING about them."
>>625258 She blinks a few times. "Well, that was quick…"
As she stares at the tail, she pokes Amy in the side with her hoof. "What are you looking at that pony's tail for? Is this a pony thing?"
>>625260 As she concedes to her point, Shorthorns looks down at the ground, now a little regretful for losing her cool. "Oh alright. Sorry, just, I don't like being made fun of."
As she mentions her age again, she grumbles under her breath at the mention of her parents. "It's NOT that young. And you're right, my parents didn't want me doing it but that's just because they're too scared to do anything about it! I wanted to inspire my tribe to fight back but instead they just kept running away like cowards. That's fine, if I have to win back our home on my own I'll do it."
>>625263 As he agrees to put it under consideration, she takes this as big a victory as she's gotten. "Thank you! Spirits protect you, Pausanias sir, you won't regret that decision. We'll make you proud."
>>625263 As Easy engages in mild racism, she shakes her head. "I don't know, but I don't care. We'll let your gang rest up, maybe pick up a few more hardasses, and boom! We'll be out there saving my buffaloes and your ponies by sundown! How many we got?!"
>>625263 "Ah I see… Goodness I do pray for the well being of both… This is a very dire time for our people, and we need the King of guide us even more than we had before… Say… And what about the Prince? Was he harmed during this? I have not heard of him during my whole stay here…"
>>625264 "Hold on a moment…" She raises a hoof "Buffaloes.. Running away? From a fight to protect their territory!?" She asks in surprise and doubt "Honestly my dear Flaming, I find that VERY hard to believe… There are few races as proud as the massive, unstoppable force that is the Buffalo kind… Honestly, your story is turning to be rather dubious…Annd where are your parents and family right now? Since you have all lost your home?
>>625267 "That's what I said!" She shouts at the top of her lungs. "They said we didn't have a choice and that we had no hopes of competing, that we had to run, well I wasn't having any of that, and I…"
She blinks a few times. "Wait a sec. Do you think I'm lying?"
>>625268 She nods, "Yeah, yeah… don't want them catching us with our tunics off while we're gone. You're in right?" She looks at you with wide eyes. "You have to come with me, please?"
>>625263 >>625272 Pryce considers getting up to face the others, until Shei gives him the triple take, freezing at his stare. Seeing him face away to continue on, Pryce sits back down. [Guess they don't want anything to do with me…]
>>625273 She kneels down as you rub her short curly hair, eyes glazed underneath. "Really!? Aw, thank you Amy!" She reaches up to bonk her with another headbutt, this one just as rough but meant much more endearingly. "You're the best pony in the world right now."
>>625269 She looks at her, her face drawing awfully, awfully close until Flaming can feel her breath "hmnn… You are not, I am sure… It is just… I find this very hard to believe… Simply… Wow… Buffaloes running away… I have never imagined I would see those words in the same sentence…" She stared the he ceiling for a few seconds before looking back at Flaming, a smile on her face "But I must say… You are the one that truly represents the fight spirit and the will of your kind. You should be proud of yourself for your bravery, and so should be your parents…" She pats her head gently. "Allow me to say I can feel you will be a powerful ally to us… " She says With a legit friendly smile
>>625271 "You have food, and shelter, and friends. There is a whole world of demons out there. Too many to rid of. We'll have to grow comfortable with staking our land and living together in cold hostility."
Easy slightly blushes and giggles as you declare yourself to be her new friend. "Gosh, that was easy! Thank you! It took the caravan quite a while to get here, so we'll have to wait a little bit while they resupply here. But, on behalf of all of Fantasia, seriously, really, honestly, thank you." she reaches out and shakes your hoof.
"I'm afraid nobody has seen or heard of Prince Novelus, since around one month before the attack from the Golden Being. Some have suggested, quite rudely if I might add, that tension and disharmony in the royal family drove him away from the kingdom." he grunts disdainfully. "Her Majesty's health certainly did not benefit from his disappearance, either. Many have given the Prince up for dead. However, without the presence of a body, the Queen maintains that he is still alive… a sentiment which I believe may only worsen matters."
Pausanias involuntarily takes three steps back from Pupil, his face contorted with confusion, disgust, and something like recognition, but not quite. "I will not, under any circumstances, allow you to bring that heinous piece of witchcraft near the King, young colt." he states firmly.
You see several goat kids playing with a couple of foals in the center of the makeshift hostel, while several older goats and ponies, presumably their guardians of some sort, watch, their weary faces slowly turning into smiles.
>>625276 Flaming growls, pushing back up against Dania with her own face. "Yeah, well, don't go rubbing it in. I'm not exactly proud to repeat it either. Why do you think I was so eager to go back and fight?"
As she mentions how brave and spirituous she is, Flaming backs off and looks confused as her head is patted. "Thank you… I guess. I'm just doing what any buffalo's supposed to do: butt heads back." She looks out at the wall, slightly frowning.
"I don't even know where they are right now…"
>>625277 "…okay, I have a few friends I like and the food and the housing isn't too bad but it's not MY land. These demons didn't stomp around the great plains for generations making it their birthright, we did. I'm not giving up anything to anydemon."
>>625278 She looks around at the crowd, tapping her hooves. "I don't know if that's enough…"
She gets up back to Pausanias' face, and asks, "Quick, sir, d-do you think you could arrange for some of the guard to come with us on a mission to rescue more of us?! It could really be that great first step we need!"
>>625281 "I don't but it doesn't matter, you beat all of them."
As she hears her stomach gurgle and one more protest against eating, Flaming growls, "Oh no you don't! You're not gonna starve yourself right before our big first battle!" She grabs Amy's tail in her teeth and starts to drag her to the closest source of food available, "C'mon!"
>>625278 Shei-sher forgets that not too many people are comfortable with such items. Although hurt by Pausanias's reaction, he understands and puts it away into his coat "I am sorry. Different cultures." he says trying to pass it off as a cultural difference and not a wackjob wizard "I -uh just mean to help."
"Well I have a final request. I couldn't help over hearing our new acquaintances Amy Thest and Flaming Shorthorns have been tasked with hunting a demon. My trek has made me quite familiar with their kind and I would like to provide them my assistance. Under your permission of course. I know I appear young but telling from the looks of your two tenacious guards I assume there are flexible child labor laws within the walls of Zha Arlakane."
>>625278 She purses her lips "That… Certainly does not bode well for the Royal family… I have been out of the city for quite a while, so I had not heard of such tragic news… Pardon me for saying this, but it is simply a hypothesis… If our king… Passes away… Who you be the successor of the great throne if our prince is… Well let us say not present?… "
>>625279 " You have a bravery few would expect for one of your age…" She stares at the same wall. Until she reaches to pat her shoulder "Do not worry, I can be sure they are fine. However it IS rather dangerous out there… With demons roaming the land… It would be better if they had come to Zha Arlakane as well… Not only they would be welcome, but their force would be a good addition to our forces… Hmn… That is… If they had the will to fight along with us…" She turns to Flaming "How have you find your way to Zha, Flaming?"
>>625278 Pryce feels better at seeing the happy children, reminding him of his magician days. He stands, and walks through the hostel, he may be feeling down about his actions and what he should do, but at least he can try to lift the spirit's of the others there.
>>625284 She sighs, "I'm sure they would love to come here but for all I know they're on the other side of Accorsia by now."
"See, after we got attacked my tribe eventually decided to flee to the south. At first I thought we were just joining up with the other tribes to fight back but, then we didn't turn around. I… I grabbed whatever I could and went back to try and beat up the demons back home on my own if no one would help me."
She looks away, blushing. "I… I lost. Bad. I ended up having to run away like a coward too, but, I was cut off from my tribe. The only way for me to flee was Northwest, to here. I didn't want to stop fighting so I joined the guard. They let me on pretty quick."
>>625285 As she drags the stubborn pony through the dirt towards the close-by barracks to not stray too far, going in to grab a big ol' pear in her teeth and reach over to Amy. "Don't give me that, your stomach is louder than I am! Now open up."
>>625287 "There is a difference between running away from a fight, and running away to survive one. One is called cowardice, the other is doing the logical thing. Do not think of yourself as a Coward, considering you were the one who went head on into the fight, the way a Buffalo does… Now go on and enjoy a meal. I could hear Amy's stomach as well.." She waves off to them "I would like to talk more later, over a nice cup of tea if you'd like" She says as the two head off with a smile
>>625279 Shei-Sher smiles "The buffalo are a proud race. I've not met many, but one them was an intimidating specimen named Falling Star. I watched him fight for his land against windegoes sent from a very nasty god named Buiwong. He was stubborn and resilent, fighting for what belonged to his people. Even if the odds were against him. I suppose, that is simply the buffalo plight, and theres no helping it. Or perhaps thats just bullcocky, what do I know I'm just a goat."
Pausanias takes another look at Easy's parasol, and rubs his chin in thought. "Such an action would necessitate the approval of the court, and given that I'm already going to be in hot water with the Princess and Lord Kibble already, I think I'd be lucky to escape with all my wool without asking if I may send away a portion of the nation's security."
He gives you a fatherly smile. "But as the King's right hoof, I've a whole nation to look after. Could anyone REALLY blame me if, say… one or two… of our sheep guards happened to wander off with a buffalo with good intentions?"
He dusts off his toga. "Ah. I understand fully, my dear colt. Do not take my overreaction as a personal slight."
"As for the matter of this 'Master' I've heard them speak of… you've no need to seek my permission to go, but are you sure you wish to leave so soon after arriving? I commend your spirit, yet you have only just arrived with your entourage."
"In the event that the King dies without a successor, the Court would meet and vote on the next most worthy candidate. In times such as these, such a process would need to be done quickly before the power vacuum shakes fear into the hearts of the refugees who have come here."
You walk over to a nearby table where a lanky deer with poisonous purple leaves growing from his antlers and a changeling nymph with a stitched-up glasgow smile, wearing the robes of Buiwong cultists, play a card game. They look at you as you approach, but choose to ignore you, apparently not recognizing you, or not caring either way.
>>625292 >>625290 "Shei… I know I couldn't stop you if you really wanted to, but I have to ask of you to please stay here… It is dangerous out there, very very dangerous. And look at them…" She motions to all the Accorsians that were brought along. "They need someone to represent them in the court, hmmn?…"
>>625289 She bows her head, "Thank you, Dania. I appreciate that. Feels like the first person I've heard appreciate what I'm doing out here. And yeah, tea actually sounds pretty good. I like it hot!"
>>625290 She looks up, eyes perking, "You knew Falling Star of the Living Wind?" She smiles, chuckling. "We always thought he was a bit of a soft-skull twinkle-hoof, but good to hear he gave that damned pretender what he had coming." She growls, "We won't make that mistake again. If I ever see Buiwong again I'm going to split him into the shape of a new headpiece."
>>625291 She nods as she starts to nibble on it, approving. "Alright alright, that's good." She grabs a hoof full more of bread and fruit. "Could use like 11 or 12 more though."
>>625292 She bonks her head against Pausanias'. "Thank you sir! We won't let you down… but we need more than just us. We'll assemble the strongest army we can."
Shorthorns returns to the cart with Easy and her caravan, "Hold on easy, we got permission to go but we're gonna need all the help we can muster. One sec, I'm gonna go ask if any of the refugees want a piece of the action since we won't be getting any more guard."
Approaching the inn that had been expanded, she walks among the tables and makes a loud whistling noise to get attention. [1d10] Whistle
>>625295 "Hah! I imagine you would want me to set it on fire and it still wouldn't be hot enough for someone with a heated spirit such as yours."
>>625297 >>625298 "I must Agree with Amy here… Risking the life of more soldiers would be terrible, simply terrible… I recommend a small group, yes. After all, a big group would easily call the attention of stay demons running around, but a small group is easier for traveling, and is easier to hide."
>>625295 "Haha I've met Vir-can too. And he's even scarier a foe than that spider Buiwong. But if I ever caught sight of that Buiwong again, I might give him a piece of my mind too."
Shei-Sher leaves to get his ration. "Lets continue this later. I plan on accompanying you both on visit with that demon."
>>625292 "I admit, I don't do this solely for our safety, but also for the pursuit of knowledge. I want to examine the demons closer in nature. To better understand their kind." Shei can feel the rumbling in his stomach threaten to eat his insides.
"But first, I should eat my ration. If you'll excuse." shei bows his head to Pausanias before leaving to grab a ration and glass of water. He walks over to the table with the Buiwong cultists. His pheonix flies along with to the table.
>>625301 She chuckles, reaching up to bonk your head with her rock-hard forehead. "Probably not! I knew I like Zha for a reason, sheep have more guts than fluff."
She sighs, "Okay, yeah, we'll keep it small, but so far it's just like half a dozen of us. We could use one or two right?"
>>625302 She pauses, looking at Shei deeply. "You… you met Vir-can? Really?!" She puts her hooves on Shei's shoulders, "Where?! Is he fighting the demons now? He's our most venerated spirit and a proud, noble warrior, every buffalo his name."
Pryce's attention is drawn to Flaming as she bursts into the hostel. Its occupants nearly all lower their heads or look away as she brings up demons. Even some grizzled, tough-looking customers avoid your gaze entirely.
Renee nods and starts to follow you. When she sees you walking quietly, she shrinks herself down to a miniature state to better sneak up behind this weird unicorn guy. Eventually you get close enough that you can see that he looks pretty much exactly like Pryce did, only slightly shorter and without the wings.
Then, you notice his cape. It bears the Emblem of the King, which the spirit of King Neo Advent emblazoned upon Pryce's cape after you defeated his demonic body in Vadahara.
Pausanias bows his head to you. "Then go with my blessing. Our doors shall ever be open to you." he smiles and pats your head.
You enter the hostel and sit down beside Wireframe and Hexapod as they play their card game. They ignore Flaming's shouting.
Hexapod lays his cards down on the table. "Five aces." he yawns. Wireframe slaps the table and tosses her hoof of cards. "You cheating son of a bitch, this is the third time!" "I guess I'm just real lucky." he says thoughtfully. Wireframe grunts and snacks on another cracker.
"So what's up, what'd the old fart say, we gettin' thrown out or what?" she asks you absentmindedly.
>>625304 Shei looks at you with mild amusement "I would think you brush me off a lier.. But yes I've met Vir-can. Although our last conversation was not on the best of terms. He tried to kill me. And nearly did. Drove his axe at me, it skimmed my back. And now I've got this sacr along my spine." Shei-Sher lifts his cloak to show you the rugged scar running from his neck to flank.
"Verily I've naught a hint of his whereabouts, but I'd assume he'd be residing in your homeland. Engaging turf wars with demons."
>>625303 "I mean, not the court… Curses…" She rubs her head "I should have worded myself better but bah… It is just the hunger getting into me… I'll be fine, would you mind of I joined you for a meal?"
>>625304 >>625305 She puts a hoof to her chin "hmnn… I suppose I could accompany you… If that is fine with you both?" there was a moment where her eyes shifted towards Amy, but she seemed to simply shrug off her little offensive comment. Of course she was she, how rude of her to say that!
>>625310 She looks at the battle-scar with awe, getting in really close to observe it. "Ooooooh, cool! I wish I had one like that, I got my underside pretty scratched up when I fought the demons the first time."
She backs up, "Wait… why was Vir-can trying to kill you?" She scratches the ground.
>>625311 She tugs her in to whisper, "Yeah I noticed to but she's probably just kinda ugly. You don't want to hurt her feelings by insinuating she's not even a ewe."
>>625314 "Ohoho I certainly could, but that would be quite messy. Although I am more proficient in the art of dagger throwing…" She pulls her dress, revealing a pair of daggers hidden under the front part before putting it back and adjusting it
>>625306 >>625308 Pryce turns over to the shout as Flaming bursts in, but is distracted away as he feels the gooey hoof on his shoulder. Pryce turns his head back towards Flow. He is silent a moment before speaking up. "Yes, its me. Hello Flow." He says lowly. You can see a ring on his horn, black urns marks just barely visible underneath it,
>>625312 "Please, its silly to ask if I'd mind. Come join me." shei motions you to follow as he ambles to the table with our Buiwong Cultists.
>>625313 Shei backs up waving his hooves frantically "It wasn't like that. Purely a misunderstanding.. kind of, Vir-can simply no longer wanted us on his land. And killing us was the fastest way to rid of us. He assured me and my friend that it was nothing personal." Shei says this before squeezing his way out of the conversation to go eat.
>>625315 "Knives? Nice, we used a few of those back on the plains. Alright Dania you're in! How about that goat guy? Shei is with you right? Think any of the other goats might come along?"
>>625317 "I-I know that! I just mean, you know, up close? I mean we wouldn't be unsure of things otherwise. And, no, I haven't hugged her, you know I'm not huggy."
>>625318 She nods, "Hmph. Well if he said it wasn't personal I won't treat it as such if you got off the land quick enough. Goes to show you though, he's not someone you go up against lightly. That's why he's the strongest god! I'm gonna be just like him one day."
"Oh, bugger off." a nearby scar-covered griffon drinking at a table grunts at Flaming. "We all know that, don't need your ilk remindin' us. We're quite fine right here, thank you very much, miss." he snorts as she presses the hostel's occupants.
Renee gasps and grows back to normal size. "P-Pryce!? It is you!" she gasps. "Oh, thank the… thank goodness." she says. "But, how is that possible? I thought, Flow told me you had disappeared…" a glimmer of hope flashes across her face. "If you're here… is True Colors with you?"
>>625306 Shei-Sher sits beside unwraps his ration Hexapod. He unwraps his ration. Feeding some to Pheo and some to himself. Shei lays Pupil on the table facing the cards, curious if Hexapod really was cheating. Appraise:instant;[1d10+1]
Shei takes his time eating before answering Wireframe, use to her crude nature hes never really eager to talk to her. "Pausanias said all refugees are welcome. Eat, rest and try not to tear eachother's head off."
Shei finishes only half of his ration. He pushes the rest to the center of the table. "Come now, lets join hooves. We should try contacting Buiwong again."
>>625317 She smiles "Lovely. And do not worry, I can defend myself and I'll make sure to not be a burden to either of you." She yawns "Although the situation of my Kingdom worries me…" She sighs, looking a tad sad as she rests her head in her hooves
>>625320 "Indeed he is. So Is or dear Friend Flow… I never quite understood his nature.. But he is quite enticing" that gets a small smile of her
>>625318 She chuckles "Yes it was a bit silly to ask… Still, politeness is essential of a lady." She sits besides him, staring at the deer and the changeling with an uninterested look She sighed, she sure seemed troubled With something!
>>625324 She puts a hoof to her chin "I don't remember seeing either way them demonstrate notable feats in a fight… But then again, I might just have not been paying attention, with my life in risk as well after all…"
>>625325 "Well I-uuugh…" She groans at the tightness of the hug. She could definitely feel it as her Wool was no match for Amy's embrace "Amy… Please… Personal space…" She says patting her back. There's that feeling of hugging a fluffy talking cloud again, with that Same, delightful smell in the perfume she uses
Pupil sits dormant in his vial. You notice Hexapod's sleeves are short for his arms, leaving a couple inches of space between the sleeve and his hoof. If he's cheating, he's damn good at hiding it.
"I don't know, should we, in a place like this?" Hexapod asks. "It seems kind of… loud." "Not like he answered the last ten times any of us tried to contact him." Wireframe bitterly adds. "I'm sure he's just busy." Hexapod suggests. "He always did tell us to keep up our hopes in dark times. Hope always gets us through the worst of it, he said." Wireframe sighs and lays her hooves on the table. "…Yeah, I guess that's right."
>>625330 "I don't know, its been so long since… you know what happened, and I only made it worse no doubt with what I did." Pryce sits down in the nearest seat as the guilt weighs on him again. "I'm not sure how the others would recept me either…"
>>625332 "Sorry I can't help with True. But thank you, hearing that makes me fell a bit better."
>>625331 She groans, slowly hugging back "Not one second more then…" She pants… Flaming could see a faint smile in her lips as she hugged Amy
>>625332 She was about to say something to the duo, even tempted to join in the game, but she had a sight that called her attention. "One moment Shei… I saw… Something… I'll be back in a moment…" She said walking towards Flow and Renne and this stallion… >>625333 "No need to bother, I can call them…excuse me.." She looks down at Amy >>625334 "Alright, your time is up… Now come on…"
>>625332 >>625332 >"I don't know, should we, in a place like this?" "traditionally.. no. But I think it would look odd if a cloaked goat leading a group of fringe-monger races in crimson robes walked out of the Hostel. Not everyone here's fond of Buiwong."
Shei stretches his arms out to begin the prayer "In here it'll just look like we're giving thanks for the meal. Come now join hooves."
Once everyone is joined, Shei-sher lowers his head and begin the prayer, not talking above a whisper. "Buiwong.. If you can hear us, send word. This is Shei-Sher. My people and your faithful cultists have reached sanctuary in the great city of Zha Arlakane. We are safe. Are you safe Buiwong? Please give your followers news of your exploits.." They wait silently for an answer. [1d10+1]
You hear a loud crash. To your left, you see that a small pot has fallen over, a nearby sheep raises her hoof to her lips. "Oh, I'm so sorry! I'll, I'll clean that up right awaaaaay…" she mumbles. She gets a broom and a dust pan and goes to sweep up the pieces. She shrieks and jumps back when three large spiders crawl out of the pot. The spiders quickly scamper away beneath a table.
Easy Doesit enters the hostel behind you. You see that Shei is at a table with a red-robed changeling and deer. You see Dania talking with a couple of goo ponies and a unicorn in a cape you don't recognize.
Easy munches on a cookie as she walks into the hostel. "How's everything going, you two?" she asks.
>>625344 "Well we got four extra, counting a sheep, a goat, and two puddle ponies. So… maybe that should do it if we keep it small to infiltrate, right? Will that let us beat up enough demons?"
She decides to approach Shei with his pair to see if he's gathered along extra. "Uh, hey? Shei? I was wondering if you were also looking for ponies to go with us on the mission? We could use all the hooves we can get!"
>>625348 >>625349 "No… Oh… My goodness Pryce… Hehe…" for the first time, Pryce can see her stuttering her words out before she decides to just straight up give him a hug. "Where in the hell have you been?… " She cussed in her embrace
>>625352 Seeing him dart underneath the table, Shorthorns twerks her head and moves closer, "Uh, hey, Shei? Sorry to bug you or whatever but were you able to find anyone else to go with us? Dania got your two water ponies and some unicorn I think."
Easy leans on her parasol, frowning in thought. "Well… I don't know. The thought of what The Master's been doing to the fairies and mortals under his control makes me want to go there right this instant. Buuut… it is quite a long trip. And The Master's been in Fantasia for about a month now. I mean, I suppose it wouldn't exactly make much of a difference for one more day to pass, but…"
She stamps the tip of the parasol on the ground in frustration.
"Wait, I'm confused. Does that count as an answer?" Hexapod asks. "Could be. It's the most we've gotten in forever. Maybe it's like a divination thing, and we have to interpret the symbologyism?" Wireframe offers. "I don't think that's a word…"
You catch the three spiders beneath the cup, then deftly flip it right-side-up without letting the spiders free. The three of them sit still at the bottom of the cup. They seem smaller now– not just that they look smaller, you can definitely tell they shrunk.
>>625354 "I don't think we should have to wait a day!" Shorthorns props her self up on all four of her limbs, adapting a battle stance, "We should go today, that way they don't get tired of traveling. I mean it will be harder for them to get going if they stay another night right?"
>>625353 Shei's back is too you. He is fumbling with something underneath the table. "I -uh no. no thats fine. The goats are happy, the ponies in robes aren't being annoying. We are aaaaaaaall -CAPTURED!!"
He seems excited about something, he turns his head to you "Sorry about that, could you give me a moment. I will catch up shortly."
>>625358 Shorthorns backs of as he suddenly screeches, looking at him with a confused and perplexed expression. "Alright alright! Spirits' breath, don't be all weird. I'll go get you when we're ready to go then."
>>625357 "just… Oh sorry…" She pulls back from the hug "that was… Rude of me… I just… Thought you were gone… Like forever…just like how Gabrielle and Punishment… " She looks down, not finishing the sentence
>>625361 "Like…" Pryce reflects on the statement, head hanging down as he figures out what she meant. "So they… I'm sorry, if I didn't get all caught up…" Pryce sighs. "I'm just one mess up after another."
>>625362 Shorthorns scrunches up her face, "I'm sorry! What's the difference between goo and gunk anyhow, huh? And I'm not pre-chewed food or a dude either!" She scratches the ground, but then leans in to look at you turning the head 180 degrees.
"How… does that hurt?"
>>625363 She looks at Dania's eyes watering up, growing concerned by the moment. "Huh? What's wrong? What happened?" She looks around, unsure how to comfort, "Are you hungry?"
The spiders turn their heads and look at you curiously. None of them say anything. The sheep that knocked over the pot looks at you curiously. "Are you okaaaaaay?" she bleats. "You're taaaalking to spiders."
"A bit. Much more than I apparently had before my new body was made."
She sticks out her right arm. It thins out, extends, and wraps around a chair leg across the room. "I don't know what was in whatever it was that Shei used to give me this body, but manipulating my form's come way easier to me. Whatever I touch, I can heal, but it dehydrates me pretty quick… still gotta work on that."
Easy paces in place, grumbling in indecisiveness. "Gah! I'm gonna go check on 'em again. If the buffalo get worn-out, we can start taking turns pulling the cart. I just can't wait any longer, the fairies need us! Tell the others we'll be waiting by the gate."
Without waiting for an answer, Easy rushes out the hostel door.
>>625370 "Gunk! Goo! Gack, what's the difference? You don't see me get mad if you called me a bison do you?"
>>625370 As she rushes off, she shouts, "W-wait! We'll be right there easy, just wait for us we're coming to help."
"We can't miss this opportunity…" she starts bouncing in place, tapping her hooves nervously, "We have everyone right?!"
>>625369 "Oh, wait, it's offensive?" She looks perplexed, poking his goopey neck with her hoof, "Well, I didn't know, I thought goo and gunk were the same thing. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt anyone's feelings or anything."
>>625370 Shei-Sher looks up to the sheep "S-sorry." He blushes embarassed. He looks to the spiders, lifting the cup to let them go. "I'm just a little light headed. Thats all. Thank you for your concern."
Shei rises out from under the table and leaves to find his party before she can ask him questions.
>>625382 "Couldn't do what the Devas said after I got them, let the world get demon infested, turned on my friends, went against the reasons why I became a paladin, lost sight of my own views to follow what those gods kept telling me…" Pryce lists with a dull tone, a subject that he has dwelled on for sometime.
You all emerge from the hostel. Easy Doesit stands before her caravan, twirling her parasol energetically as her companions climb back aboard and the buffalo start to put their yokes back on.
"Is this everyone?" she asks. "If so, and if you haven't already heard, my name is Easy Doesit. Very nice to meet you all. We're on our way back to Fantasia, home of my people, the fairy-tales, or fairies, for short, to deal with The Master, a demon who has kidnapped many fairies and mortals and is using them as slave-labor in a factory… yeah, I think that about sums it up."
>>625386 She cocks her head, genuinely confused. "You… never fought for family or home before?" She scratches the ground, looking away, "I mean, you HAVE those though right? Just, never had to fight for them before? Come to think of it I don't think you ever told me about your family. Or, at least, I don't think I ever asked."
>>625390 She nods, "Well, okay, if you say so. Tell him to say hello or something."
>>625387 She gets out in front. "No problem, ma'am!" She looks up to her brethren buffalo, "My brothers, you must be exhausted from the journey here. I can take the cart myself until we get there, you two relax." The tiny buffalo tries to fit into the massive yoke to draw the carriage. "Is there a smaller harness?"
"Nah, I've sort of just been on my own all my life. It's been much easier than you might think. I don't really know where I came from…"
"So, I didn't really lose anything when the Firmament broke. I've always been traveling all over anyway. So, my friends don't stay with me very long. And, I don't really have a home to speak of. I guess that's why I don't HATE the demons like most ponies seem to. I mean, I get it. They're bad. They do bad things and ponies need to be saved from bad things. But… I just don't see why we can't defend ourselves when something happens and just leave them alone otherwise."
>>625397 "I can kind of get that. Lots of tribes like to roam a lot and don't really stick to a single place. Still, you got to have that one place you always know you can go back to, don't you think?"
>>625395 Before everyone gets onto the caravan Shei runs to for a hug "Sir Etac! You're alive. I'm so happy!" Shei pulls out of the hug. "I can't wait for you to regail me on all you've done these past 6 months. And I have much to tell you friend. So much has happened!"
Shei gestures to the party "Look Etac, traveling to distant lands, with good friends, off to brave the unknown. It'll be like old times."
>>625387 "I will be back safe mother. Don't worry too much" Shei whistles for Pheo to follow him. And waves good bye to his mother. "I trust you to look after everyone, bye!"
Shei-Sher smiles contently looking at everyone in the carvan
>>625392 "Your make up is running." Shei brushes your mane and rests on your shoulder.
>>625395 "simple. Think about my mistakes and learn with them. It is what my father taught me to do. I mean what will you gain from taking your own wings? Will it make you feel better? Will it really?"
>>625399 "It is… I'll need to buy some new eyeliner…" She idly brushes against him. "Shei… Tonight… Is Tonight good?… I feel like I can't… Keep this from you anymore…"
>>625405 She smilies back, giving her forehead the lightest of headbumps. "Why would I not want to be friends with the one friend I've made since I lost my family? You act really weird sometimes you know?"
Head Counselor Pausanias, adviser to King Lininas of Zha Arlakane, welcomed Shei, Dania, Flow, and their entourage to the kingdom, saying that they would be welcome to stay here, despite there being rumors that Zha Arlakane was quickly becoming overpopulated due to the King's open-door policy for welcoming refugees.
Flaming and Amy met the party when trying to round up others who would be willing to help them with driving a demon called The Master away from Fantasia as per Easy Doesit's request. There was much conversing, reminiscing, and introducing as the party members got acquainted with one another. During this time, Sir Pryce Etac, whom Flow saw vanish into thin air aboard Providence, made his reentry.
Now all together, they made their final preparations to help Easy Doesit and the other Fairies deal with The Master.
A porky sheep with dark red wool and a white toga, whom Dania recognizes as the Royal Scribe Darius, bumbles up to you, running as fast as his tiny legs can go. "Wait, wait! Don't go just yet!"
He stops to catch his breath, wheezing from his run over here. "Phew! Ah… oof, that was a bad idea…" he clears his throat. "You three, Head Counselor Pausanias sent me here. If there's anything about your journey you would like the Royal Court to be informed about, I will make a note of it for reference.
Hexapod and Wireframe, followed by a small collection of goats, walk up to you. "You guys on your way out?" Wireframe asks. "Alright. You want us to come with or what?"
"Missus Shei's Mom might have some difficulty keeping the herd in line if we go. I think we should stay." Hexapod dreamily suggests, nodding slowly. "Plus, I think I've had quite enough of demon-fighting for one life."
>>626268 Flow adjusts his scarf and runs a gooey hoof through his gooey mane, stretching his limbs as he prepares to fight some demon things. He leaves the explanation of the group's adventure to the others.
"We can handle ourselves, not like we haven't before," he chuckles, addressing Hexapod and Wireframe.
>>626268 She chuckles and gently pushes him away "Oh please sir, give a lady some space, I don't believe we have ever met before, no. You are most likely mistaking me for someone else! But nevermind that, you were sent here to take notes, not chitchat, now please pay attention, the king might find use of this information" She clears her throat and proceeds to tell Darius of all she has witnessed inside Providence, what she knew about the flame, and the odd nature of Buiwong, but not about his plans.
>>626268 Flaming sits atop the cart, pouting at her buffalo brethren could not let go of their pride to allow her to pull the cart by her self as she nervously tip-taps on the wooden over-carriage. She turns back to Easy, then shakes her head, "No, I do not believe I can say I have. Is it important?"
>>626268 Shei turns to the red sheep "Well that was considerate of Pausanias. We have never kept a scribe before. We'll be like heroes in the stories." Shei says quite fond of the idea. "What is your name friend?"
Shei maintains a more bitter attitude with Hexapod and Wireframe. "Yes, please just stay here and help my mother, make sure the herd is being fed, and the kids don't get into trouble. To be honest, I've grown tired of hearing you two harass each other and me. So we could both use this. But also, try to contact Buiwong on a consistent basis and investigate on what the attitudes on our Lord may be. If there's anyone we can convert, we should. We need all the faith we can gather."
"Important?" she laughs bitterly. "Yeah, that doesn't even begin to describe it." she says, looking up at the ceiling of the mountain.
She shakes her head. "Sorry to kill the mood like that. Anyway, first of all, we need to cross through the Everfree Forest, southwest of here. It's a magical forest; they say the trees and land all rearrange themselves every time someone passes through them, since the spirits of the trees like to snack on unwary travelers, now–"
>>626278 "A respectable Profession, You may call me Shei-Sher" Shei responds to Darius. >Take care out there, I guess." Shei is impressed "Why Wireframe, what a humane thing to say. You must of rehearsed that."
Shei-Sher waves them goodbye as he boards the carriage. "Farewell, I will miss you both. And play nice Hexapod."
>>626283 "Don't ask me" She shrugs "I have a half of a key but it opens a different lock…and speaking of which…"
>>626282 "Pryce, darling. I know this is an unpleasant subject to talk about but…after what happened in Providence… Punishment had one like this" She pulls from under her dress a green Magatama, but keeps it hidden enough, so only Pryce could see it "Have you seen anything similar?"
She inhales deeply. "Okay, well, it's a long, long story."
"You know how I said that us fairies are 'different' from you mortals? That's because we aren't… uh, how do I say this? We're not 'real'. All us fairies were born into this world six months ago. Fantasia, too. It just sort of… appeared, with all of us fairies there. At first, it was strange. We all knew that we were heroes of folklore and legend, and that we couldn't possibly be real, and yet, there we were."
"Eventually, we learned that, because we were figments of legend and mythology, we did not possess souls; we were artificially created, but not one of us knew why we were born. Anyway, we also learned that, because we didn't have souls, when we died, our bodies would reincarnate, but as empty husks, which could be used by demons, for, well, very, very, very awful things. Evil, grotesque, vile things."
"Oh, and I should mention: we were told all of this by an angel called Metatron. We were horrified when he told us this; we didn't want to die, let alone be used like that. We were scared. But then, he told us about the Garden on the far side of the Moon."
"Inside, he said, at the core, is a huge apple, called the Fruit of Life. He said that whoever eats the Fruit will be granted Eternal Life. However, the Fruit of Life was guarded by the Lunar Ponies, who sealed off the path to the inside of the Moon. The Lance of the Source, he told us, is a legendary artifact which can break any barrier, so we could use that to get the Fruit inside."
She laughs. "I'm jealous of you mortals, sometimes. You guys have an afterlife to look forward to. Us… well, eternal life is the next best thing, right?"
Darius shakes his head. "No, ma'am, I've got quite a lot here." he says, shaking the scroll he wrote your story onto. "Thank you very much! Counselor Pausanias says he greatly appreciates it, and wishes you well, in the name of our gods."
"That doesn't make any sense!" Amy objects. "That would be… knowledge-y… Or something. When you put 'able' at the end of something, it means you're able to do that word! You can't knowledge, Shortyhorns!"
>>626290 Shorthorns sits down, listening to the tale of eternal life hidden within the moon's core. She growls at the end, "It doesn't FEEL so lucky to be mortal right now."
"Huh. Yeah that was kind of a long story but I get the gist of it. Okay, so," she puts up a hoof, "Let me get this straight. You want this lance so you can get eternal life so you don't have to worry about being destroyed?" She nods, "So… if you got this eternal life, what would you do with it? Just, live forever? Or would you use it to help us mere mortals get rid of the demons? A-and these ponies they have captured, you're not just using them as a means to get this stupid lance, right, you REALLY aim to help them, right?"
>>626290 "I already had knowledge that you had half the lance, I just wanted to make sure." Pryce is silent as Easy tells her story of the fairies. "…I'm sorry, but you can't have the lance. Not yet at least." He says flatly.
>>626289 "We are a mysterious lot, ooooOOOOooOOooh"
>>626290 "Thank you, send him my farewell. That the stars guide you and that the mountains be your ward, Darius"
She turns to Wireframe and holds her by the shoulders "DON'T say that out loud you Imbecile" She whispers screams at her before turning to smile at Darius like it was just a normal discussion "If you are in the look of it, don't mention it near anyone that is native to here, and don't say I am in the search for it as well. It could be off with your head if this becomes known, understand?" She whispers, face close to Wireframe as she glares at her with pink eyes
>>626293 "I understand, this is of extreme importance. So please refrain from talking about the subject with anyone but me"
>>626290 Shei-Sher listens to her exposition with a tilted head. Unsure of how this was prompted "Please.. Excuse me but I can't help but be a little skeptic. Why should we believe such an extraordinary claim? Some evidence would be nice."
>>626293 Shei turns to you promptly "And what exactly is this Lance. Sorry, I am just confused at the sudden topic."
"I… I don't know. And that's what scared us. Metatron explained that, without a soul, our 'being', everything that makes us us, our memories, personality, everything about us, would just… vanish, as he put it."
Her ears flatten. "Mmm, well, maybe 'lucky' was the wrong choice of words."
"Well, I know most of the other fairies wouldn't want to get involved with demons ever again, especially now that The Master is in control of Fantasia, but as for me? Well, if you were willing to see it through to the end with me, I'd do everything in my power to find a way to drive out the demons. I hate them. Hate, hate, hate, hate. They'd be just as much of a problem for us fairies as they are for you guys, even with eternal life. I swear, if you help me with this, then I'll help you guys out, too."
She furrows her eyebrows, face losing her usual cheer. "And I can just leave you behind if you're gonna have that attitude. Just who are you? Why do you think you know better what to do with the Lance than me?"
Amy nods grimly. "Then I'll help you. I don't want you to be scared. You're so nice. And you bring nice music with you. The world would definitely be more sad without you. So, I'll make sure you're not scared. No matter what. You don't need to do anything for me in return."
>>626299 "Buffalos are the best at ramming their heads into things." She puts her face right up against yours, eyes glaring at you, "Ha! See? Knowledged you hard."
>>626300 "But I got ENOUGH questions, when do I get answers?"
>>626301 Flaming Shorthorns nods her head and pounds on Easy's forehead with her own with a clonk. "Then we have a deal. Let's go save those ponies you talked about from him, then we'll get you your never-ending life, then you get the demons out of Accorsia starting with the Clan of Climbing-Fire's stampede grounds. Fair deal?"
>>626301 Shei crosses his arms and digresses into a comfy corner in the cart, hugging his staff "Well if you are what you say you are I wouldn't be so envious of the soul. The Afterlife is pandemonious, I imagine fate would be any less cruel would become a demon or not."
>>626301 "I'm no one, just a magician who got too caught up in playing paladin." Pryce says somberly. "But I do know the lance can only be used every few years, and there's more important things that getting eternal life."
>>626296 "It a weapon that can break any barrier."
>>626304 "They will come, and if they don't, too bad. The world is like that, sadly… " " Well, if you don't enjoy mysteries, how about charades? My mother loved giving me one and I would spend all day thinking of the answer"
>>626312 She shrugs, "I think you know a lot about hugs but I haven't really been keeping track of everything you know Amy, I don't know."
>>626313 Shorthorns looks at Lady Dania like she just gave her an impossible math question that her grade is riding on. "What falls… standing up? And runs laying down?" She paces back and forth. "Falls standing up… runs laying down… falls standing up…" she lays flat on her belly as though to simulate. "…give me a minute. What's the point of this?"
Easy smiles, rubbing her forehead after Flaming bonked it. "Thank you. Really, really, thank you. Seriously, I could go on all day thanking you, you really don't know how much this means to all of us fairies. I'll probably end up helping you guys anyway; the demons are just as big a problem for the Fairy-Tales as they are for you guys."
As you mention music, the band in the cart start to play travelling music again.
With a grunt of effort from the extra new weight, the buffalo start to pull the cart out. Hexapod, Wireframe, Darius, and the goats start to wave goodbye to you.
A sheep with stubby legs and blue wool, wearing iron armor, a shield, and a spear, quickly runs down to the cart from the palace, and hops in.
"Ah… phew…" he pants. "Muh– muh, the…" he coughs. "C-Counselor Paus… he said Miss Short wanted extra help? S-sorry I'm late, I'm here, I'm here… Name's Hoplite."
The cart heads down southwest through a trail in the badlands, the rough, hilly land speckled occasionally by sparse grass. You see wild cockatrices pecking around in the grass. When the cart passes by them, they quickly disperse, too afraid of your sheer number to attack.
>>626311 "It was made by the god Ezren, a mirror of a Sword made by Br'veldus with the same ability, his goal to break through the limits of this universe. After seeing what lied 'below', he broke it out of fear."
>>626317 "Knowing more, I don't know. But I know what its primary need is, and I'm not leaving while you have half of it."
>>626314 >>626315 >>626315 "AAAAWW AMY!" the Sheep groans "you ruined it! She has to figure it out! Okay okay another one… More difficult this time… I have a crown, but I am not a king, I look tough, but I am sweet inside, who am I?"
>>626317 "Oh, Hello, we will certainly appreciate the extra help, indeed." She smiles at him Additionally , Dania is so awesome that just her presence makes others cooler '1d10' inspire
>>626317 She nods with the deal being closed, hops up near the front of the cart as she encourages her brethren to move on with her hooves eagerly tapping along the sides in baited anticipation to get moving.
As he hops in the cart, Shorthorns turns to Hoplite, nodding. "Yes, yes I did! Thank you for accompanying us, Hoplite. This is going to be a worthwhile journey and the first of many victories against the Demon scourge."
She watches the cockatrice roam about the fields as they make their way through the badlands, sighing as she looks over the cart.
"I can't remember the last time I had a good stampede like they did. These lands are too rocky and crackly. I miss my plains."
>>626318 She looks up. "Why do you care how much you know? I don't think I know much either but I don't care if I do or not."
>>626322 >>626320 Shorthorns is about to answer again, but is suddenly cut off by Amy a second time. She grabs Amy's hoof and points it away
"AMMMMMMMMYYYYYY!" She moos in response, "I had that too!" She stares at Lady Dania, "But I am not SWEET on the inside, that part was wrong. I'm tough on the inside too."
>>626324 >>626322 "W-wait, I changed my answer then." She paces back and forth, trying to think. "Has a crown but not a king, tough on the outside but sweet… crown… tough… sweet…" she pounds her head on the floorboard, making a few dents. "GAAH! This is impossible! OH, wait…" she looks at Dania,
"A… a PRINCESS of walnuts! She wears a crown but she's not a king, and walnuts are tough outside but they taste good once you get them open."
>>626317 Shei is too engaged in conversation to notice Hoplite.
>>626319 "The mention of these gods gives some credit. But is this lance acknowledged to exist by the Union. I find it strange that this is the first I am hearing of such a remarkable device when during a time our greatest peril was the firmament breaking. Where did you come across such information?"
>>626325 She laughs in a very unlady like manner, even snorting a bit "Okay that was a creative one, but princesses of walnuts don't exist silly Buffalo. The answer is, a Pineapple! They have a crown and are sweet inside, but tough and spiky on the outside!"
"Preach it, sister." one of the buffalo wearily says.
"Yeah, yeah." Hoplite says, looking nervously out at the cockatrices.
"While we're out here," Easy says to you all, "I should probably mention something about Fantasia."
A couple of the band members groan and exhanged worried glances.
"Metatron told me that Fantasia manifested on top of a place called Tartarus. In ancient times, it was a cursed land, a place where an order of paladins called the Sons of God sealed away a great number of wicked beasts and evil beings for the good of the world, lest they run amok on the surface."
"The good news is, Tartarus was entirely underground, and kept under lock and key by a door called the Great Seal, so us up in Fantasia were safe from whatever was kept inside. But, now that The Master is in control there, well…" she drifts off.
>>626321 Shorthorns nods in Flow's direction. "Took the words RIGHT out of my mouth, gooey. My horns have been aching to spill their putrid demon hearts."
>>626328 "AAUGH!" Shorthorns reels back, covering her face with her hooves, "Who on earth would guess a pineapple?! These charades are just impossible. You're rigging them, it's not fair!"
>>626329 She growls as she shakes her head and pushes her hoof away. "I AM NOT a little sweetie. I'm a warrior of the most feared and respect clan of Buffalo in Accorsia, and stop talking to me like I'm a little calf. You're not THAT much older than me… are you?"
She lookos away, "And, I got educated by my tribesmen, but really you fight very well, and you're very nice to me and other ponies. I don't see why you have anything to be sensitive about, who cares how much you know about pineapples or water or walnut princesses so long as you know what's important, right?"
>>626330 "Here here, brothers! Take pride in we'll be taking back our home someday very soon."
As she explains, Shorthorns shakes her head, "So he is now in control and now those evil beings are amok? Who cares? We'll destroy them and send them crawling back to the pits of the underground from where they came the same as the demons! The Master had best prepare for my clan's unstoppable headbutt to cave in his skull."
>>626333 >>626331 "…you're bluffing again. If you ate a cobra you would get poisoned and die."
>>626336 She chuckles "You look adorable flushing like that sweetie… You really have to set your mind to it… Hmn… I will try to think of one you might know… But let us try something simple like… Ehe… What has buck legs, buck eyes and a buck tail, but is not a buck?"
"All the time!" Amy says happily, her tail wagging a bit. "Well, not COBRA that often - it's hard to find cobras. But snakes in general are actually a really nice combination of sweet and savory. Most ponies think it's strange to eat meat, but it's sooooo goooood," she drools a bit as she elongates her words. She wipes her mouth.
"Snakes are like little tubes of delicious creaminess. You just have to avoid the poison gland in the poisonous ones. For most snakes, that means just taking off the head. Then, you just slurp it all down! No worries!"
"You can cook them too, but most reptiles don't NEED to be cooked. You need to cook warm blooded animal meat so you don't get diseases. But, that doesn't happen with lizards and stuff. And really, if you cook a snake, it gets all rough and gamey."
>>626337 She smiles wide, "And I yours! I don't exceed with weapons but I will look forward to seeing if your claymore can fell as many as my horns today."
She looks at the claymore, inspecting it close up, "It's been so long since i actively HUNTED for demons. You are good at it?"
>>626338 She glows brighter red. "NOT. A. Sweetie."
She sighs, rubbing her horns against the wood in agitation as she crumples up her tunic with worry. "What has buck legs, a buck tail, buck eyes, but is not a buck? That just doesn't make any sense! How can it NOT be a buck?"
She closes her eyes, leaning back to think. "Hmmmmmm….. it's…" She sighs. "Can I have a hint?"
>>626339 Shorthorns face contorts at the sounds of the joys of eating 'meat' from a vegetarian's perspective.
"That's….. that sounds disgusting, Amy, that doesn't sound good at all. Especially something just, long, goopey and sliming and…" she shutters visibly.
"Well, I'm just not sure. The Sons of God haven't been active in centuries, either they disbanded, or something wiped them out, Metatron didn't say. I guess they knew how to open the Great Seal, if they were the ones who opened it to throw creatures inside, but I don't know if The Master would have that same knowledge."
"Metatron's the one that told me about Tartarus, the Lance, the Garden on the Moon and the Fruit of Life, all of that."
"He showed up in Fantasia one day, a little while after the Lance did. Well, the bottom part of it, anyway. One day, a rock appeared in Fantasia Palace, just– poof! Right there in the middle of the floor! In the middle of the rock was this golden staff. So, I pulled it out, and then I had this broken, gold staff."
"A week later or so, this golden pegasus, wearing this weird, blocky armor, showed up, asking for the pony who had 'it'. So, I told him I wasn't a pony, but a fairy, and then, well, he told me all that I just repeated."
>>626346 She sits and stews for several precious minutes, trying to piece it together in her mind.
She finally sighs, and gives up. "There's nothing else it could be but a buck!"
>>626349 "Then I'll try that but no no no no no, eating snakes is just… ugh" she bleches, "I bet DEMONS eat snakes."
>>626347 "So then there might not even be anything to worry about." Shorthorns nods, looking out over the rocky fields with her hooves tapping the cart. "We'll make sure he can't."
As she explains more of how she found the lance, she asks, "So this golden pegasus then, he's the 'Metatron'? Do you think he wants you going after the staff for him? If I knew all that I wouldn't share it so easily."
>>626352 She jumps up, "Oh, me too! It's always on the wall for me, I never went out and slew them on their own turf. I'm so excited…"
>>626354 "HEY!" She gets huffy, getting up to Dania's fluffy face again, "That's cheating! You said it had to have buck legs and a buck tail and a buck's eyes. She can't have any of that if she's a doe!"
>>626356 She still looks very disgusted with the thought, but she calms down a bit. "I mean… it is, it is pretty gross. But you don't have to apologize, I guess it's just what you do. Don't be sorry for it."
"He didn't seem like he had any interest in the Lance; I asked him why he was telling me all of this, but all he said was that a powerful artifact like it needs to be handled delicately, and said he didn't have any use for it himself."
"If they're still around, and the Master knows it, then I wouldn't rule that out."
Several hours pass as many games of charades are played. The sun creeps lower and lower into the western horizon, tinging the world in a rosy orange. You see a long trail of green across the ground on the horizon.
Eventually, you reach the edge of a large forest, covered densely in trees, foliage, and mushrooms. The rough terrain of the badlands abruptly becomes verdant, soft grass, where the badlands end and the Everfree Forest begins. There's no transition between the two kinds of ground; it's as though some force just dropped the Everfree into the badlands.
"Well… here we are." Easy says, gulping nervously. "We didn't get particularly lost our last time through here, though I'm pretty sure the legends about the land rearranging itself is true. However, if we get lost, we can just look for Denial River, because that river always stays put, or so they say."
"You know…" Amy ponders aloud as they cross into the forest. "I've done a lot of traveling. I've never heard of the Everfree Forest. And I've definitely never seen a forest just come out of nowhere like that. What's going on?"
>>626361 She huffs. "Okay, well, then, FINE. I won't. I'm sorry I tried and you can't stop me from that either."
>>626360 Many hours pass and Shorthorns continuously fails at charades along the entire journey, dampening her spirits as she lays down atop the cart as the sun goes down, stifling a yawn as darkness comes.
Her ears perk up and her nostrils flare as she takes in the smell of the forest. "That smell…" She perks up, taking a look at the soft green grass, eyes filled with glee as she leaps out of the cart and falls to the grass below, rolling around in it for minutes as she laughs.
"Oh, fresh grass, the smell of woods! I almost forgot what it felt like." She rubs her face in the grass a bit longer before collecting herself, slightly embarrassed at having made such a show as she clears her throat.
"Oh, um… Right. Alright then, lead on. Let's stick close together and I'm sure we'll make it through just fine." She moves alongside the buffalo, moving inch by inch into the forest as she refuses to ride in preference of stretching her legs.
>>626360 "Ah. Well if you do contact your patron angel I'd appreciate if you didn't mention any of our names."
Shei-sher puts his hood back up and gets up from resting to leer at the new terrain "Uhh.. y-you said the terrain changes? Do these legends tell of predators that prey on travelers?"
Shei-Sher extends his fiery white aura to sense any threats. >PHASE AURA: Your body sheds light in a small radius of 5 meters, in a color you choose when you learn this skill. All creatures in this range cannot turn invisible or become hidden, creatures already hidden or invisible are made clear, and incorporeal beings and lingering magical effects and wards manifest a visible shape. Effect persists roll minus five turns (six lasts one, seven lasts two, etc.) >talent >[1d10+1]
Shei's aura expands and envelops the whole party, giving light to the darkening forest. On the branches, on tree trunks, and all around you on the forest bed, everyone can now see miniature earth ponies, each no bigger tennis ball, observing the party and walking with them. Their skin appears to be made out of wood. Their faces are each covered with a big leaf. They whisper and chant indistinctly as they look at you, but none approach you.
>>626367 As she feels the buffalo pat her back, she straightens out, trying to put on a strong show for her fellow buffalo as a representative of their strongest clan, nodding in respect to her elders that she won't let them down.
She looks around at the collection of pony spirits among them, respecting their presence as this being their home and her merely a humble visitor. She keeps to the path and avoid stepping on anything she shouldn't step on: she'll rage against demons all the live long day but spirits are not to be trifled with.
As they march on, she suddenly hears the voice call out, raising a hoof to stop the cart. She hushes, "Wait! Someone's up a head… let's sneak up, see who it is before we do anything next."
>>626367 >>626369 Before moving forward to investigate, she suddenly turns her head, looking up at Pryce as she feels the instinctual need to approach him, her hooves disobeying her commands as she comes closer. "Huh… you feel… weird?"
>>626373 She peers over at the box, drawn by the warmth of the ember as she smiles looking at it. "It's… it's pretty. And warm. I think I felt it, somehow. Have you had this on you all this time, warrior?"
>>626367 >>626365 >>626368 "Hold that thought." Shei puts his arm over Flow around the coat and gathers him close by as Shei looks on at the strange figures. "Wonderous.."
Shei-Sher grabs out one of his journals, to check if he has any notes on the things. If he doesn't he makes a new entry. >[1d10+1] knowledge check At the same time Shei dangles Pupil over the little figures. "Hi cute little buggers. How are you doing?" Shei says like hes talking to a baby. >[1d10+1] Appraise
>>626376 As she's distracted by the flame, she looks over at Shei and his phoenix pecking the spirits. She jumps, "What?! Shei, what are you doing? Call back your bird, you don't want to agitate the spirits here."
>>626378 "Dania said you were a great one." She says, looking at the flame, "And what is this? It feels so comforting… almost like magic."
>>626375 "Amy be careful," She moves in a hoof to grab yours back, "You'll burn yourself."
The buffalo stop in place. Up ahead, the trail curves to the left. Through a clearing in some bushes along the side of the trail, you can see a small purple dragon with rounded green spines and a pale stomach wandering around in a clearing. He clutches a rolled-up scroll in his claw. "Twiiiii-liiiight! Raaaaain-boooooow! Helll-ooooooo? Guys, seriously, this isn't funny anymore!"
The crate opens up, revealing a very small ember, with rings of blue and green in its center. >The Ember of Jalandhara is attempting to make contact with your heart. Will you allow it? http://pastebin.com/EDFGjXaE
You cannot find any notes on these little creatures. One of them hops onto your arm as you lower Pupil at them. He/she looks up at you, its head turned at an angle. Pupil transfers a vision to you: Leaf Ponies, mischievous spirits of the Everfree Forest of Equestria. Similar to the Breezies of Accorsia, they play tricks and pranks on those who enter the Forest unknowingly. They keep the Forest safe from those who would abuse that which is contained within.
Pupil also communicates that the Leaf Ponies and the Everfree Forest are composed of matter which is foreign to this world.
>>626382 "But what if he upsets the spirits, Shei?"
>>626383 She huffs. "She also said you were a bit depressing at the moment. I was hoping a warrior like you would be a bit more invigorating Sir."
"And you didn't answer my question: what is this?"
>>626385 "You'll be sorry and then you'll say how right I was about not poking a fire when your hoof turns black."
>>626381 >Aspect of Balance taken, chosen the Mantra of Recovery
She backs off as the flames make contact with her heart, feeling a light glow within as she feels her strength increase.
She blinks and stares at the flames. "That… was unusual. But, I have more pressing matters."
She leaps off back the cart to go back around the corner, staring at the little dragon as he wanders around the forest all on his own. "A dragon… but there aren't supposed to be any more dragons, least of all with the demons destroying everything."
She looks around, convinced he's alone, then, with a spring in her step, leaps from the shade of the bush to pin the dragon down to the ground >Charge: Passive; At the beginning of combat declare a charge against one enemy. You get a +2 bonus on that target at the cost of increasing critical failure range by 1 [1d10+2] pinning him
"Do NOT make another sound! What are you doing here?"
You receive a vision of yourself meditating under a waterfall, and your wounds mending from your sheer willpower.
You tackle the little dragon, and the scroll flies from his claw. "Gaaaaah!" he cries as he tumbles to the ground. "Applejack, what the… hay?"
He looks up at you in confusion. "Oh. Well, you're not Applejack." He rubs his chin. "Hey… I know you! You're Little Strongheart, right? It's me, Spike, remember me? From way back in Appleoosa! But, what are you doing out here in the Everfree? Me and Twilight and the gang are looking for something called the Archetypal Data Pillars, you know where they are?"
>>626390 She growls as intimidating a growl as she is able, glaring at Spike through narrow slitted eyes, "Little… no, that is not my name, you've confused me for some other buffalo. Do you know what clan she might have been from?"
She keeps him pinned down, looking over at the scroll. "DON'T move." She finally steps off, moving over to the scroll to lift it up with her mouth and open it, taking a look inside. "No, I don't know what those are, and I suggest you go back to wherever it is you came form, it's not safe out here. The spirits protect this place but the demons could attack at any time."
She calls back to the wagon, "It's safe! It's just one little drake, he's harmless." >Reading the scroll.
>>626390 Pryce shut the box and tuck it back away in his cloak as the pulling sensation ends.
Pryce takes hold of the flower with his telekinesis. "Thank you little one. Here, let me give you something n return. You remind me of some other forest sprites I met, so maybe something in their image would be fitting." Pryce pulls off his bracelet, a glow round it as he tries to pull out a small wooden breezie figurine. >Hat Magic [1d10]
>>626394 "What? I wasn't being mean to him! I was being rough, he could have been dangerous. And he's a dragon, buffalo calves half my age in Clan Climbing-Fire can take much more than just that so he's fine, see?"
As she squeezes him tight, she puts up a hoof, concerned, "Uh, Amy? Remember how we talked before about not everyone wanting to be hugged so quickly…"
Spike squints at you in confusion. "You sure? Huh, you could probably pass for her– er, uh… not to say that you guys all look alike! Uh… you just sorta look similar, is all. She's a buffalo from around Appleoosa, so… she's from the Appleoosa tribe, I guess?"
He sits up. "Spirits? Demons? Yeah, I only got about half of what you said."
You unfurl the scroll. Inside is an annotated map of the Everfree Forest, marked with such locations as "Bogg", "Old Castle Ruins" and "Zecora's House". In purple ink, you see a note reading "Rearranging self???"
What catches your eye is a drawing in the center of the map of twelve pillars, marked as the "Archetypal Data Pillars". According to the map, they are just north of here.
As you rush over, you see the map which Shorthorns took from Spike. "Hey, have any of you guys seen six ponies, two unicorns, two earth ponies, and two pegasi around here recently? One's purple, one pink, one orange, one blue, one yellow…" his voice gets dreamy. "And one really beautiful white one?"
Amy chuckles apologetically and gently puts Spike down. "I'm sorry. You're just too cute to not hug. My name's Amy Thest, by the way. What's yours? Are you lost? Do you want us to help you find your friend? Do you want to be friends? Ooh, do you think your friends want to be friends? I mean, with us, not with each other. That would be silly, they're already friends with each other. That's why their friends. Your friends, I mean, not us. Not that we're much different but… What's your name again?"
>>626399 >>626399 "No, sorry, I have not seen them." Shei remarks Spike dialogue with Shorthorns "I'm afraid none of our party has ever heard of appleoosa. We are wayward travelers from another world." Pheo swoop down to perch on Shei's shoulder. She tilts her head at Spike curiously.
Shei leans in for a look at the map "Ooh, Those sound interesting. What do you know of the 'Archetypal Data Pillars?'"
>>626406 Flow's beady little eyes squint at Pryce as the pile of goo looks up at him, still poking Pryce all around his torso.
"I'm being a nuisance. We've been traveling for six plodding months, and the only action we've been getting is from protecting the herd of individuals all the way to uh…that one place…yeah…point is, I'm bored out of my non-existent skull. Have a good story to tell?"
>>626405 She pokes her head back up, smiling again. "Really?"
>>626407 Shorthorns jumps up from her position and backs off, the terrifying glare the fiercest she's seen from Amy. "But, but what about the ponies and buffalo we're supposed to be helping? We can't keep them waiting while we get all friendly with new ponies, there's no time."
He shrugs. "Well, there are some monsters in Equestria, but I wouldn't say we're OVERRUN with them. They only come out if you're really looking for them. What's got you all paranoid, huh?" he snickers.
He looks at the map and scratches his head. "Huh, that's weird, when I was with the others, I could've sworn they were south of…"
He takes the map and turns it upside down. "O-oh. I had it wrong. W-well, that explains why Twilight's writing looked worse than usual…" he says, face reddening. "Y-yeah, I'll let you use the map. But only if we get to go to the Pillars first, Twilight said something about needing it for a project, and she'll be up all night pestering me to help her if I don't find them tonight."
"'Travelers from another world'? Ooh-kay, I can tell you're all a very… unique group of ponies, huh?"
"From what Twilight told me about them, they're magical pillars, old as the Everfree itself, maybe even older, which contain the shared memories and experiences of twelve 'Archetypes' of heroes. She called it a 'Collective Unconsciousness' type of thing… whatever THAT means. Though, she also said that there could be more than these twelve somewhere out in Equestria."
>>626410 "What's got me all…" she growls, about ready to bonk Spike a new one as she calms her senses. "Consider yourself lucky then you didn't lose your entire home to them then!" She stops off in the direction of the pillars, shouting back at Spike,
"Fine, it's a deal. Since we know how to read a map you just follow us and we'll take you to your pillars so we can just leave ourselves!" She shouts in an angry hurry.
"If you're friends want to help us good, we'll just ask when we get up there but if they don't care then so be it!"
She stomps off north, calling Easy's cart forth to follow her towards the direction of the pillars. "THIS WAY!"
>>626410 >>626403 "'Another world'?" Shorthorns repeats, staring at Shei. "What are you talking about?"
>>626410 Shei's face scrunches at Spikes incredulous remarks. But he's practically beaming when he gives detail on the pillars. "Excuse me a moment."
>>626411 >>626410 Shei turns toward the cart but sees Pryce and Easy have already hopped out "Pryce, Easy. I think we may just be able to confirm Easy's fairy claims. There are pillars to the north that we should investigate."
Shei asks the driver of the cart to go north whenever the path allows it.
"Uh… could you tell her that I'm sorry for me? I didn't really mean to make her that mad, I didn't– I seriously had no idea what she was talking about."
On the topic of the Pillars, he says, "Yeah, mostly Twilight, though. She's a student of Princess Celestia of Equestria herself, and she told Twilight," he imitates Princess Celestia's voice, "My dearest Twilight Sparkle, go study these creepy old magic ruins out in the dangerous forest, to learn about the magic of friendship!"
He laughs. "Ah, Celestia. Sometimes I think she just makes up these 'friendship lessons' on the spot."
"Well, I suppose we could go out and look for something to fight to pass the time," she says, still prodding you back, "or we could go see what's keeping the others. I mean, they HAVE been gone a while."
You see Shei come back and tell the buffalo in the front something. Then, the buffalo start to head north, trampling down any foliage in their way with ease.
You eventually reach a clearing in the forest. You see twelve marble pillars forming a semi-circle around a medium-sized lake of crystal-clear water. Fireflies dance in the clearing, conglomerating around the pillars.
On each of the pillars, you see an image of a pony. On the first, the pony is pink and plays a flugelhorn. The second, the pony is yellow and wears a white cape with a red cross on it. The third, the pony is orange and wears a suit of armor. The fourth, the pony wears a blue wizard's hat and cape.
On the fifth pillar, there is no pony, but a carving of a shapely griffon that reminds Pryce, Shei, and Flow of Gabriele.
Sixth, the pony is white and has a golden sword. Seventh, the pony holds a knife. Eighth, the pony is covered in leaves and vines.
On the ninth pillar, the pony looks strikingly similar to Evil's Punishment.
Tenth, the pony is making a kick in midair. Eleventh, the pony works at an anvil with a hammer. Twelfth, the pony is followed by a dragon. >Touching a Pillar will add its class to your own. >When taking a new class, you will gain a skillpoint and one of the MC skills for free. >Ex: If you are a paladin + bard and take rogue, you can take either of the Paladin+Rogue skills, or either of the Bard+Rogue skills >You may only take one new class.
>>626419 "N-No thats how it works. Usually theres rolling plains before a forest." He's flustered, trying to convince you "Think about it. If this forest was in the middle of a desert where would it get the rain."
>>626420 "Hmmph. Sure, whatever." Shorthorns gives no reaction to the apology from the dragon, upset and pressing onwards North as the map directs.
After appearing in the clearing, Shorthorns pauses, taking in the sight of the pillars with awe as she makes into the clearing.
She looks around the pillars, mystified. "By the spirits…" she looks around at them all. "What are these? They feel so powerful."
She approaches that of the organe pony wearing a heavy suit of armor. She wills herself to be like this pony she sees before her: a protector of her home, one who wouldn't allow these monsters to take it from her again as she and her clan failed to do once already. she leans up, and touches it… >Knight class >MC: Earthbound: passive; while in natural environs, regenerate 1 wound every 2 turns >1 skill point: Martial Defender
>>626420 "Nah…I'm too laaazy…" Flow mumbles as he keeps on prodding at Renee.
As the cart moves through the forest, he lets out a bored sigh, until the clearing is reached. As the pillars come into view, he reforms himself and stands upright.
"What in Tartarus are these things?…"
He looks around at each of the pillars as he hops out of the cart, observing the images carved into each picture, studying each one carefully. He feels intrigued by the tenth pillar, and reaches a slimy hoof to carefully touch the pony kicking in midair, imagining how much strength could be in his hooves, and how it can be used to suppress and hold something. >Monk >MC: Impale >Skillpoint: Tackle
>>626420 "A dragon? Never seen one of those for real before." Pryce says with surprise, and a tiny bit of awe.
>>626420 Pryce follows along to the open area, the clearing of pillars and crystal lake putting pause as he looks it over. The still beauty of the environment giving him a momentary cleanse out of his down feelings. He steps over towards the pillars, moving around the lake not wanting to disturb the crystal surface. He looks over each pillar, feeling a sense of drawing to them, but none reaching out.
The first pillar reminds him of his traveling days, but he's unsure if he can go back to that. The second fails too, not confident in holding the care of others in his hooves. He's no warrior, moving past the third. The fourth resonates, but in a familiar sense, not a new one. He stops at the fifth, a feeling of regret and remorse over his actions makes him move quickly. The sixth resonates like the fourth but leaves him feeling unable to uphold the oath he swore. The training from the last leaves him ignoring the seventh, not even considering. While having made friends with nature spirits twice now, he feels no calling at the eighth The ninth gives the same feelings as the fifth. He never was one to fight with his hooves, passing the tenth. He conjures his own needs with ease, the eleventh giving nothing.
He stops in front of the last crystal pillar, his yes settling on the pony-backed dragon. The pillar takes his sole focus, washing out his surroundings. The pillars doesn't call to him directly, but the aura of having another's power to support your own, something that while others say he might not need, he feels he needs, lacking confidence in himself after that even six months ago. He places his hoof on the pillar, feeling himself open up to its energy. >Summoner, multiclassing with Paladin >Taking Smite as the free MC >With the new skillpoint and the two saved, taking Orbital Strike
Your vision momentarily turns blank. A chorus of voices cries, "Our hero!" as you feel strength coursing through your veins. You feel yourself gain experience beyond your years in during intense combat without buckling. Memories of battles fought and won blink before your eyes.
Your vision momentarily turns blank. A chorus of voices cries, "Our hero!" as you feel strength coursing through your veins. You feel yourself gain experience beyond your years in subduing and tossing opponents to the ground. Memories of feats of unnarmed skill blink before your eyes.
Your vision momentarily turns blank. A chorus of voices cries, "Our hero!" as you feel strength coursing through your veins. You feel yourself gain experience beyond your years in calling upon the strengths of otherworldly beings. Memories of great accomplishments in the field of conjuring blink before your eyes.
Your vision momentarily turns blank. A chorus of voices cries, "Our hero!" as you feel strength coursing through your veins. You feel yourself gain experience beyond your years in dissolving the barriers between life and death. Memories of great accomplishments in the dark arts blink before your eyes.
You all hear the clinking and clacking of metal armor. As you turn around, you see some kind of angel. It is a pony's skeleton, with unnaturally long limbs. It is covered in white, metal armor around its legs, chest, and arms, with bones slightly visible between plates. Its wings are unnaturally huge and made of clockwork technology. Its head is shaped like a jet. A metal halo is connected to its head by four antennae. The halo has a pentagram inside of it, made out of wire. As a hole, it glows silver, and its eyes burn orange with fire.
"I have found the source of the Anomaly." it says to itself in a metallic voice. >Paused