Iga Your most recent task was to deliver some art supplies to somepony by the name of Guerpone Weiss. However, you have been warned that while he has not been seen for years now, requests for more supplies have still been issued to his abandoned estate, where more and more of his abstract 'art' pop up, while the deliveryponies never return…
You and your unicat has just managed to escape from a strange painting-pony, The Lady in Red, who seemed to ignore any damage dealt to it. You just opened a door to an L-shaped room. Beside the door was a plaque for The Lady in Blue, with the painting itself absent.
This room seems to be adorned by small pictures of instects on the wall. There are two doors from here, aside from the one you just entered from, one to your right, at the bottom of the L shape, and one at the end of the long corridor.
>>641463 'Psst, hey, come back here!' The tiny, thin voice fades as you make for the other door. It is open. There is nothing but utter darkness inside, but your cat starts glowing her horn as you enter. This room looks almost like a storage of some sorts, full of assorted painting and statues on the ground. It stretches for a bit, but there is no apparent exit.
>>641469 You pass the small, framed pictures of butterflies, moths, flies, wasps and so on. Eventually you come to an empty stretch of wall, with a nail to hang a frame on. You see no one here though, only a small dot on the ground. 'Down here! It's me!'
>>641471 Your cat hisses at the idea, but you see it's a tiny… ant. The ant waves one of his tiny legs. 'You're just the pony to help me! My picture was taken off this wall! Will you help me put it back up? You do me a favor, and I'll help you too!'
>>641473 'And you are a talking pony with wings, so what? The others said I was being too friendly with visitors, so they took my picture and threw it off into the cold, ugly storage where all the useless ones go! I want it back on the wall! I loved looking at myself!'
>>641479 As you enter again, your cat lights it up once more. You do find the picture, but a heavy statue that looks like a pony made out of wax is in your way. The Candlepony statue even has a wick on its head!
>>641481 As you try to move past it, you hear a loud, scraping noise from behind you! Since you are a jumpy mare from a criminal background, you and your cat turn your head instinctually, but nothing is behind you, it must have been another statue… But the Candlepony has moved as well, blocking you from reaching the Ant picture.
>>641501 "Meooow." She rides on your back as you make for the door. As you enter, you hear it click shut behind you. This small room has two doors, one in front of you called 'Way Forward' and another to the right with the title 'Liar's Room'.
>>641505 You enter a narrow room. It has six paintings, each one of a stallion in a different pose, each one of a different color - Green, Brown, Yellow, Blue, White and Red. Between the Yellow and Blue Paintings, there is another room. You can make out different writing under each of the paintings.
>>641507 The Green says "Stand in front of the Statue, go west three tiles, then south 1 tile. That is where the key is!" The Brown says "Stand in front of the Statue, go east 4 tiles then north 2 tiles. That is where the key is!" The Yellow says "The one in White speaks the truth!" The Blue says "The only truth-speaker is Green!" The White says "Stand in front of the Statue, go east 2 tiles, then south 2 tiles. That is where the key is!" The Red says "I agree with the one in Yellow!"
>>641510 You keep in mind what the Brown stallion painting has to say and enter the room that is after this one. It is full of large tiles on the floor, with the large, marble statue of a dashingly handsome earth pony stallion in the middle. You can see the directions North, West, South and East on the walls. By that, you can figure out which tile you should lift to get that key, if you follow the Brown instructions of east 4 and 2 north.
>>641512 You lift it up to reveal that there is a hidden compartment with a key under it! You also see that the other tiles around it were booby trapped. The moment you grab the key, you hear a loud scream from the room where you came from, the one with the paintings.
>>641514 You go back inside, and the room is a mess. Red 'paint' is splattered everywhere, and the canvas of the Brown stallion has been torn to pieces. The other stallions now all hold different bladed weapons, covered in the same red substance, glaring at the spot where the Brown stallion used to be, and keep chanting "LIAR!" over and over and over again. Your cat hisses in a frightened manner.
>>641518 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qa0o7azRRQ8 You enter a colorful room. It seems as if the walls, the ceiling, and even the floor have been drawn with crayons of all kinds. The room itself has a door in the far end, but aside from that it's just full of toys. Toys of all kinds littering the floor, with no arrangement whatsoever. Well, maybe aside from the fact that all the dolls are hanging from the ceiling by ropes, all of the tied differently - on one of the legs, on the body, on the neck - all of them staring at the ground with lifeless eyes.
Your cat is even more freaked out as usual, hissing at one of the far corners.
>>641522 It is a yellow earth pony mare, ready to throw a toy ponywagon at you. "GET AWAY FROM ME YOU FR-" She drops it and her eyes go wide. "D-Delivery? You're not one of them? Ohmygosh, you are a real pony too?"
>>641524 You appear normal to yourself, at least. "Wide Palette, I-I used to have an art shop, but it's been so long I don't even remember where… I was told to get supplies here and I've been stuck in this dumb room ever since!"
>>641528 "Oh, right! You have wings! You can finally get the key so we can leave!" She points up, to the hanging dolls. One of the dolls is an ugly purple one with weird blue hair. It is clutching a key. "I can't reach up that high, and if I tried to throw it with something it just grumbled at me and grasped the key tighter…"
>>641540 They seem like they are trying not to snicker at the conversation even as the two of you are having it. All the other dolls, no matter how they are hung from the wall, have colorful books, carts, stuffed animals and other pleasant toys.
>>641544 You fly down to the ground level and collect a few toys to offer for the purple doll. It seems happy at first, but they all fall to the ground, as if they were trying to worm their way out of your grasp, and rather take a nasty fall than to be hugged by it. The doll frowns. "other toys mean others hate me im ugly but i cant help it key never judge key my only friend please dont take"
It has been three days since you arrived in Pontugal. You were not held back from free movement, but with all the bodily and mental trauma, you couldn't leave your quarters even if you wanted to. Still, with a lot of sleep, drink, food, and even more medical attendence (Felfire occasionally given mild amounts of drugs so she won't get the shakes again) you feel well enough to explore, or pay your friends a visit to see how they are doing.
>>641820 We should probably visit our friends, see how they're holding up. Tides could probably use the company while she's on the mend. And the native pony Buangan is probably feeling like a fish out of water.
>>641823 Well, Tides is either asleep or itching to do something other than sleep. Buangan will more likely be awake, so I suppose she's our first stop, then the captain and Angler. It'll do Felfire some good to get a bit of a walk as well.
>>641842 "Perhaps. But the hardest part of the journey is over. For the most of it, Equestria is peaceful, and travel is fairly easy especially if you follow the roads." I'll make certain Felfire's okay, and then continue. "Besides, just think of the stories and songs you'll have by the end of the trip."
>>641854 "Well, I've nothing against it. And it is safer to travel in groups. Our next stop is intended to be Cloudsdale, the home of Pegasus ponies in Equestria. That's where I hope to get the little one's wings fixed. I figure that if anyone knows how to help her, they do."
>>641856 "For the most part. At the very least, much happier than that island. Ponies like those raiders are punished for harming ponies by those that enforce the law, and there are heroes who take care of the ones that slip through the cracks."
>>641860 "And that is a comfort. I only survived by the skin of my teeth, and I'd like never to find myself in such a situation ever again." I'll sigh a bit. "Not that I regret the decision to get involved. Something had to be done. I just wish I could have done it better."
>>641862 "There's no offense to your people, but how many could use magic? That helped even the field a lot." I'll frown a bit. "But that's over and done with, and the less we dwell on that particular ghost, the better. What matters is that future generations of your people will be free to do what they wish, as you've done."
>>641864 "Well, there are those out there who lust for power the same way, but he was the worst I'd ever encountered. Most on the mainland get taken care of by law enforcement or those aforementioned heroes." I'll be silent a moment. "At any rate, I believe I've bothered you enough, so I'll leave you to your thoughts. It was a pleasure speaking with you."
But… not if you keep living like this. No offense, but you need to look after yourself better. I'm not saying you need to spend every waking moment training and eating healthy, but you still need to adjust. It's a choice really, to sacrifice part of your lifestyle for your dreams."
>>641871 She snorts and stands up. "Yeah, I bet." She walks to a nearby shelf, and grabs something. She returns with a lit cigarette in her mouth… Which is weird, since she quit two years ago! She plops back down on the couch. "I might as well just focus on the living part."
>>641873 She inhales some smoke in your direction. "Not as good as you, apparently…" She chuckles and shakes her head. "Listen… I am going to try again. Next year. Maybe. But I've got some… shit to deal with, first, okay? It's been a rough few weeks, but I want you to know, until then, I'm going to cheer for you every time you're around with a show."
>>641874 "You're right, you're not as good as me because of stuff like that." Wave the smoke away. "You don't need to excuse yourself to me, you know. It's a big sacrifice, and not one everypony would want to make. I still have to get through bootcamp first and there's no guarantees I'll be able to do it. But this is the closest I've gotten so far, so I'll do anything to get there. Things haven't been easy lately, but that's not the point. As long as I can keep the dream alive, I'm going straight through it all."
>>641875 She takes a long breath from her cigarette, then puts it out on the table. Jeez, that's not very clean. "If you want to practice some more before that, I'm still up for it." She looks around. "Well… in the afternoons. Mornings I'm usually busy."
>>641877 She chuckles, then as if a predator, pounces you to give you a tight hug. "Oh come on, cheer up you dumbass, you're actually doing it! If my head wasn't killing me right now, I'd tell you we should celebrate!"
>>641885 Her eyes light up. "I can organize a little something… but hey, you're not going to hog the good news all to yourself, right? Go tell the others too!" She falls back onto the couch, lying onto her back with her wings limp and her legs sticking in the air. "I still got some… you know.. stuff, to do. Totally not napping."
>>641893 You can only smell lemon… As you approach, you see she is highly enthralled by the act of washing dishes with some sort of squeezed lemon thing! Clever! She is humming a happy tone and shaking her flanks to and fro as she goes from one plate to the next.
>>641895 You definitely should ask her! She jumps in fright and turns around, dropping a plate which shatters on the hardened cloud floor. "AAAh, CLOUDFARTS!" She takes a few deep breaths, hovering nervously above the ground. "Skimmer, what the hay?!"
>>641897 She blushes with hear ears flapped back, then quickly darts for a broom. "Y-You know I'm in a whooooole other world when I'm cleaning stuff! And I was just thinking about this new song I could play at a concert… I'm not nervous, you just surprised me! What would you say if I snuck up on you like this?"
>>641899 With some nifty teamwork, the mess is gone in less than a minute. "Thanks… but you're one to talk, you almost broke the ceiling over at Milky's house when Orange crept up on you and bit your tail, back when we had that party for Milky's promotion!"
>>641903 "Oh?" Her ears perk. She leads you inside the living room, sitting down on her hoofchair while motioning you to the sofa. As shiny and tidy this place is, she doesn't likes her own chair more, since no one else sits in it. Cleanest spot, as she says.
>>641908 "Uh… I just thought I'd come tell you in person. You guys have been such great moral support through it all and I haven't been able to connect with the crew the last few weeks with everything that's been happening."
>>641916 "No… Corvette didn't get any letter. Maybe it's late in the mail or maybe she just didn't get selected. I've spoke to her about it, she tried to play cool but I know it hurt her. It sure hurt me…"
>>641921 "I'll do everything I can, I promise! So, when are you leaving, exactly? I think I have a cookbook, if you're going to live alone there, you should take it with you, they are easy to make and healthy!"
You are on top of a water tower over the town of Fairbank. The Sun is slowly being raised by the Princess. There is an eerie calm surrounding everything. There are no ponies on the streets. There is no sounds aside from the creaking of the signs hanging in front of the vendors shops in the gentle breeze.
You see an armored cart being pushed towards the town, surrounded by ponies dressed in mismatched armor, some in brown, some in black, all of them wearing a small emerald badge.
>>642353 You should have thought of that earlier. The convoy reaches deeper inside the town, when a shot rings off from the belltower of the church, grounding a pony on the streets. A moment later the sign of the Saloon is kicked over, revealing one of those machine guns you saw back at Ponyville in a bandit cart. Other rifles and magical bolts start raining down, but they return fire shortly after, and a spire of magical energy shoots out of the cart, deflecting all the magical attacks.
The regular bullets, bolts and arrows still kill those who are unfortunate enough to be out of cover. Many of them run for the houses.
>>642377 You manage to slip inside unnoticed. There are about a dozen ponies here, most of them older mares. They are praying quite zealously with the lead of the stallion priest who looks ancient judging by the number of wrinkles on his face
>>642387 >>642388 The mares all start to wait by the door. The whole building shakes, and one of the big wooden beams falls near the front door, followed by stone rubble from the tower.
The priest speaks in a solemn tone. "Unfortunately, it was right under renovation, it is not safe. You take my flock to safety, but I must stay with my church. I have been here since I was a colt. Princess willing, I might die here too."
>>642395 It's pretty chaotic. And yes, there are bandits near the building, taking cover from the advances of the mercs. As you peek out, you see a Talon launch a grenade at the carapace armored mare who is flying by. She goes down crashing inside a house with a spiralling descent.
>>642400 The wine cellar of the store seems to be a seperate entity from the building itself, it could be safe! There is a scream from behind you after a large thud, the mares starting to panic as a dead gryphon impaled on a giant bolt from what seems to be an anti-air ballista crashed near them.
>>642415 As you walk through the ashes, sand and dust, you come face to face with her. Her helmet is gone, and you see burn marks on her neck and armor. Her eyes go wide when she sees you in front of her, and you hear a loud BANG and see the muzzle of her rifle flare…
Then hear a thud from behind you, and the clatter of a sword.
>>645050 You remember the way to the hideout underground at the edge of the city with the freaky lights and everything. However, the chamber is completely barren now, aside from a table, on which lays a stragely shaped, blue-ish opaque gem. Next to it is a note saying. "For Kelani Rush. Just Touch."
>>645052 Once again you let your dick heart think for you instead of your brain. The moment your hoof connects with the gem, you feel the world falling away, as if you were diving through a thick, dark fog….
A moment later your concioussness returns to you. You are in a much different place… There is a small slot for the gem you are holding behind you, and a door in front of you.
There is a bright flash next to you. Out of nothing, a zebra stallion appears! He has some weird beard and a labcoat on. "Wow, okay, so you get a one of a kind, magical teleportation stone created by a powerful witch, but leave without hearing how it works right after you arrive! I was considering putting up signs for the doors, but I didn't think they would be necessary for anyone."
>>645062 "No it is not. I'll run it down by you… first, it was rigged to get us to our secure base. 'Gee, how can it be secure from all the assassins and people trying to kill us if a gem could just teleport them- shut up, it's tailored for you. Do NOT let anyone else touch it, ever. Not even with their magic. It will shatter into pieces then. As long as you have it, you can use it to travel from these hideouts back to our hub. Makes transportation between Equestrian cities a lot, easier, believe me. You just have to take the gem and focus on the word 'Revenge' very intently. Here, I'll demonstrate." He pulls a similar gem from his labcoat, closes his eyes, and disappears in a swirling flash of lights.
>>645063 "So.. All I have to do is think about revenge?" I close my eyes and think about brown bark, and my village, how much they need my help and how unfair it was that Bark died to some mob boss. "…Revenge."
>>645064 You don't know which feeling gets to you faster. The anger from the thoughts, or the twisting of time and space as you are zapped to the room again. This time, the door is open, revealing a circular room with other doors, most of them labeled after larger or more important Equestrian cities. The zebra is standing in the middle of the room. "Good, you got the concept!"
>>645066 He blinks. "Um… uh, Hub? I don't know, no one really asked before. We all just sort of rolled with it." He turns around, and starts leading you down the one corridor that is not probably another portal-place.
>>645068 "Nope, I'm just the… Head Scientist? I do monitor incoming and outgoing traffic when I'm here, and saw that you were having a problem." The corridor ends to a double door. "Oh, this one? Enchanted to look like a dead end wall to anyone without a crystal." He opens it up…. the dirt tunnels give way to a properly furnished… mansion! It has stairs and corridors and everything! It's much larger than you anticipated!
>>645072 He laughs. "My daughter… ooh, good one. No, she is just really good at it… Well, for the most part. But what unicorn filly doesn't explode things every now and then, right?" He starts taking the stairs upwards that to the left of the corridor you just came out of. "I'm guessing Mirage will want to talk to you, so I'll just show you to her. You're lucky she's in."
>>645074 "Yes. Oh, but don't worry, we are very cautious. Even if you were a traitor you couldn't get anyone else in here, and well…" He looks you over. "We might have taken a bit more time if you looked like a better fighter."
>>645076 "Oh, I am not a wizard, but if it can be built and it hurts ponies, look no further." He arrives at a very plain, white door. "If you want to chat some more, I'm at the labs." He turns to take his leave.
>>645078 Your sleek up your mane and make yourself look presentable. As you knock, the door opens on its own. The pale white earth pony mare, the beauty you cannot forget, is standing in front of some… workbench? For magical stuff? Or is it alchemy? You're not quite sure. "Just get in already. I don't have time for your misguided attempts at flirting with me."
>>645084 "What if I told you that those ponies were manufacturing ammunition to the Emerald Mercenary Company, one that kills any of us if they see us, working for the Saddle Arabian who is responsible for getting your friend killed?"
>>645085 "I'd just say that it sounds like I'm neck deep in a war, without knowing who exactly our enemy is." Slide a wing over her smooth like '1d10' for smooth "But knowing exactly who I want on my side."
>>645086 You do so, but immediately feel a sharp pain in the base of your wing. Her eyes are glowing too. "I told you not to do that. If you sit down, I can tell you what the sides are, just to be clear that you chose right."
>>645100 "He claims it is to make Equestria better. For that purpose, he manipulated and pressured the court of Canterlot, who then pressured Princess Celestia, into singing some laws, that benefit him. Namely, even the guards can hardly do anything against the contract killers of his mercenary groups."
>>645104 "Yes, but the truth is… she hasn't made many public appearances recently. Some say that it has to do with her sister. You know how the legend goes. But some ponies who know the divine better than I do, say that Nightmare Moon is up to something, and she can sense it. She has her hooves full as it is. And while we are all equal, we are not her sister."
>>645105 I blink at her statement. "Oh, yes. I hadn't heard anything about the Nightmare returning. I have heard some odd rumors about areas of land being affected by something, but you know how unreliable those can be.."