The first thing you feel is a cold gush moving up the passageway towards you, sucking away the heat you felt earlier in the volcano. The walls start to shake and crack and suddenly burst away from you into the large entity rushing towards you. What you see resembles a dragon but it is like no other dragon you’ve ever seen. His head and body consists of multiple separate creatures. Floating Eyes, ravenous Mouths, all rotten and decayed but moving in unison to form the dreaded dragon Ner’Ghal. They swirl around a dark mass, swallowing all the rocks it drags towards it and comes for all of you fast.
“NOW, GIRLS!” shouts Twilight. The Elements shine brightly and the ponies rise up into the sky bonding together in a single rainbow firing towards the mass.
As you open your eyes you see everything seems frozen in place. The Elements, the Elemental Rainbow deathray, the dragon Spike, the miners, Ner’Ghal itself…no, the black mass within him still moves, ever so slowly. And Indy too! He looks down at all of you, as surprised as you are. In the middle of your group an orb of light appears, slowly growing into the form of a white winged pony.
>>603995 >>603994 >>603993 >>603991 >>603990 "Fear not. I am here to help you. I have stopped the flow of time to prevent great disaster. If you do nothing, not just Ner'Ghal will be destroyed, but the Elements of Harmony as well."
>>603997 >>603998 >>603999 "Ner'Ghal was a dragon long ago, but he was tempted and corrupted by the ultimate evil, Tirek. Within Ner'Ghal lays a small piece of that power, if it touches the ultimate good, the Elements of Harmony, they will destroy each other and it might take decades for the Elements to gain physical form again." She waves a hoof and slowly, as if unwilling, a tendril of the black mass comes forth and lays before you. "To prevent this, you must go into the mind of the dragon itself and destroy that piece, the Heart of Ner'Ghal. Only you can do this, if you are willing. If destroyed, the Elements will destroy whatever is left of Ner'Ghals power and the minions floating around him and in the caverns will be destroyed by the Fire Elementals." She looks at Mabel for a second and then looks at the tendril. "Touch this and you will be transported into his mind…"
>>604006 "I am a servant of the Sun, I believe you once saw one like me, in the Underworld." There are stories of spirits that serve the deities. Messengers and guardians, the opposite of demons. Your instinct tells you she is aligned with the Sun.
>>604007 "Your paladin friend would sense it, if I was aligned with evil."
>>604010 "You may choose to follow my advice or not. We do not interfere regularly directly in the affairs of mortals. "
>>604023 >>604020 >>604018 >>604017 >>604015 Everyone grabs the tendril including Indy. You feel a shock and get pulled in. You open your eyes in a dark wasteland. A cold wind is blowing hard, like a hurricane. A few dead trees are bent over from the wind. In the distance you see the eye of the hurricane and some kind of object in it. It doesn't take a genius to figure out you need to go there.
Near you, but not towards the eye of the storm you see a large group of diamond dogs in shackles, working and digging. They are overseen by an Eye.
You could make your way directly to the eye of the storm or go check out these Doges
>>604032 >>604033 >>604034 >>604035 Indy shields all of you from the hurricane and you go take a look. The Diamond Dogs are digging in the ground but you don't see anything they're digging up. They're just…digging. As the overseeing Eye turns to you, the other Dogs look up as well. They start waving their hands and shouting in a language you can't understand. One of them holds up his shackles and points at it.
>>604041 You and the eye lock eyes. Maybe it is the murderous intent in your eyes, maybe it sees a glimpse of madness in there, or maybe it is the huge dragon behind you, but it seems to think it's best to run and fight another time. It quickly floats towards the middle of the storm.
>>604045 >>604043 >>604039 >>604038 The Diamond Dogs cheer and run towards you, showing their shackles. One of them picks Light Heart up and gives her a very sloppy lick on the face.
>>604050 One of them steps towards you and puts a paw on your head.
You see a vision of Silverhaze forest, but hundreds of years ago. They lived there peacefully in a fort, until one day the dragon came. They were no match and the dragon quickly killed them. As their bodies rose again to serve their master, they were sent here. Trapped for eternity. Until you came! He gives you a hug!
>>604064 >>604065 >>604066 >>604067 The dogs smile happily and fade away… They flow into your weapons and they softly glow. You all gain +1 global bonus to combat rolls targeting Ner'Ghal or his servants.
>>604074 >>604073 >>604072 >>604071 >>604070 As you move to the center, the object in the middle slowly becomes larger. But you can't identify it visually yet. The feint sound of a heartbeat comes from it, even from this far.
But you come across another obstacle, a dark swamp. In the waters, you see ponies, they are trying to escape but each time they come close a vine from beneath the waters pushes them down again.
Everyone who was in Silverhaze should roll for perception.
Silver looks it over. "I think if we watch our step we should be able to get through without attracting those plants."
>>604084 If I wasn't so dumb I'd say this is the corrupting magic chaining them there and that freeing them could help us give their spirits peace. If I wasn't so dumb, I'd also enter an argument with myself over whatever they deserve peace, because corruption ran deep within their souls. And then I could ask myself whatever they had evil intentions on their own or it was just a seed of temptation which sprung strong through ancient and evil magic. But I don't care for any of that. "Indy, think you can lift them without getting caught?"
>>604094 I'll shrug. "I'll freely admit I did not mix with them as much as everyone else seems to have, so I wouldn't mind leaving them to their just desserts. But… I'll help them if you all think that's the right thing to do."
>>604106 >>604108 >>604109 Before the vines wrap around all of you, Light Heart grabs her gun. And shoots the vine closest to her to pieces. She quickly reloads and fires a volley at all the vines attacking with unmatched speed and precision. Remembering how the vines earlier came from a central plant she looks around, while instinctively firing at every moving vine. Then she sees it, a fungi like plant in the middle of the swamp. She quickly takes aim and fires 5 bullets in succession at it, each a bullseye. The vines stop and drop to the ground as the central plant collapses full of holes.
You are all getting very close now and the storm increases. You can see it now in the distance, a beating heart partly burrowed into the ground. As you move forward a black mass appears behind the heart, growing larger. It is a huge black dragon taking flight and speeding towards you! Indy roars and takes to the air, ready to intercept the black dragon.
Two other figures speed towards you from the Heart. An Eye and a Mouth. Indy's rolls count towards making sure the dragon cannot attack you from the sky for now. You'll need to defeat the eye and the mouth to proceed to the Heart.
>>604181 So wait, are you telling me the choice is either to roll dodge with no modifiers or to roll attack with a +4 against the eye and suffer double damage if I fail? On a success of 6? Guess what I will go for.
Shoot the eye in the iris itself. '1d10+4' Blast my cannon.
And Indy, if he has to roll to dodge he does that. Otherwise, he fires fire point blank into the dragon. '1d10+2'
>>604232 You jump up and deliver another stab in the back while Inferni tries to get a clear shot.
>>604234 You shoot it point blank in the mouth, combined with some of your freezing power, the mouth is frozen in place.
>>604235 Soil grabs the frozen mouth and slams it into pieces on the ground.
Meanwhile in the air, Indy wins the battle and throws the black dragon back to the ground on the Heart. He wraps himself around the Heart, taking it in himself. He roars, you'll have to defeat him to reach it.
>>604254 Protect on Shortcake. "You and me big back of smell!"
Raise my shield at Ner'Ghal. Charge towards him. Running and running and running as fast as I can. And then, jump. Jump high and wide, arching my shield back for a mighty swing. Past Ner'Ghal. Straight for the Earth. '1d10+4'
Indy gives me all the support he can with this distracting and wrestling the dragon away from the heart. '1d10+2'
>>604271 You manage to get up again. Warren gives you a healing potion and tells you to drink it.
>>604273 You fire a cannonball right on the heart. There's a cacophony of sound as you hit it, and the dragon seems wounded. Indy does his best to push the dragon out of the way, and so far he is succeeding.
>>604277 Flying without wings? That's a new one. Anyway, you run as fast as you can and stab the heart.
>>604279 You claw his eyes to pieces before digging your claws in the heart.
Light Heart breaks out her secret weapon, her trumpet. A controversial choice given its track record, but this time it's a winner. The trumpet goes over the ominous beating of the heart, giving you all newfound inspiration and courage!
Indy grabs the black dragon and with a mighty swing twists his neck. He falls to the ground. This is when Shortcake takes her chance, running up the spine of the dragon, she stabs her dagger through his scales into his sensitive flesh. The dragon roars and Pico takes this opportunity to fire a large bolt right into his mouth. The dragon is writhing in pain, looking for the Heart to heal him.
But Soil has something else to say about that. Like a tornado he runs to the Heart shield first, slamming it right into the field. The Heart glows purple after contact with the shield, seeming to shrink.
With the heart open and undefended, Mabel, Inferni, Amber and Silver let loose their weapons. The Heart cracks and glows purple…………….
>>604342 The glow engulfs you again and you find yourself again in the volcano of Tireks Mouth at the moment you were frozen. Everything is moving again and Ner'Ghals minions scatter away from his black body as the power of #~HARMONY~ engulfs and annihilates it!
As all of you, including the Elements watch as the unholy dragon disappears into nothingness forever, the ground cracks open and lava flows out. "QUICK, WE HAVE TO GET OUT!" shouts Twilight. She and the Elements quickly climb and float the miners onto Spike. Indy crouches down so all of you can get up!
>>604346 >>604347 >>604348 >>604349 >>604352 >>604353 >>604355 >>604356 >>604357 As you all board the dragon and Indy tries to fly up, the minions of Ner'ghal, hundreds of Eyes and Mouths that were floating around his body try to make a run for it as well. But from the ground burst the Fire Elementals, creating a net of flames around the minions. The minions quickly form together firing a purple energy at the prison. The Fire Elementals visibly have trouble keeping them contained. "HOLD FAST BRETHREN, IT IS NOT MUCH LONGER, THE VOLCANO WILL TAKE BACK WHAT IS HERS."
Yet, the prison seems to be rapidly weakening at the combined onslaught of the hundreds of Eyes and Mouths working together. Inferni flies up and unleashes his fire energy to help. It helps, but will it be enough….
>>604366 All the things Lord Pyrrus said start to make an awful lot of sense right now… "I want you to know that you are the best friends I ever had." Hop off of Indy's back and jump on whatever rocks aren't submerged in the lava to get closer to the elementals. Give a smile to everyone. "You guys go ahead." Look at the phoenix shaped brand on my hoof. It's now or never. Stand up on my hindlegs and raise it in the air, at Inferni. I'll let the fire that burns in my heart help him.
>>604367 >>604371 As the ground shakes and the smell of sulfur becomes overwhelming, the flame prison weakens, a hole appears and the minions rush towards their freedom.
But Mabel jumps off Indy and raises her hoofs in the air. Touching the burning threads of the prison, she herself turns into flames, but it doesn't seem to hurt her. The flames from her spread all over the prison sealing it again, holding the minions in place.
Indy hesitates as he sees Mabel, but the roaring coming from the depths makes him spread his wings and fly through the hole in the mountain towards the sky, as lava and rocks fly out behind you and the mountain explodes!
>>604407 "Clerics can call on favors." >>604408 I'll shrug. "Even so, the Lord of Fire isn't much in the business of bringing back the dead. It's not like he'll just magically rekindle her life, or however he phrases it, just because we ask nicely."
>>604410 "That's like, your opinion pon! You haven't even tried asking him yet! And you know he hates me and stuff so for the good of his flaming butt I can't go ask myself! Otherwise, I'd have to make him taste the shield!"
>>604798 I frown and stomp my hooves. I failed to keep my friends safe again. "She jumped into the lava! I couldn't even stop her or anything! I'm not even sure if she can survive that. She's not a dragon!"
>>604799 >>604800 >>604801 "She did what?" Twilight looks shocked. "I should have stayed longer. Maybe my magic could have helped the Fire Elementals." Fluttershy flutters closer. "It's alright. You're a wise pony, Soil. This was all part of Nature's plan."
>>604803 >>604804 >>604805 Twilight looks intrigued as well. "Followers of Fire have to take the Purification as they call it. It is a journey through the flames to learn the essence of the Element. I believe your friend just did it." "How dreadful" butts in Rarity "Going through a fire must do awful things for your coiffure."
>>604817 "It's alright, Soil." >>604818 "Well, a stage performer doesn't like revealing all their tricks, I suppose." I'll shrug. "But, it is a relief to know that she isn't dead. This way, I can give her such a smack to the head for scaring us like that."
>>604821 Fluttershy shakes her head. "If she's in the Fire Plane, she would have to stay there to learn from the Fire Elementals. Some fire priests come back on their own from there. I don't know how it is with Mabel, but even if you found a way into the Fire Planes I doubt you could get her back, she's not a prisoner, she's there to learn."
>>604820 "Oh." She fiddles a bit with her hooves. "They respect ponies that are very assertive and willful and I don't know if you noticed, but I'm a bit shy."
>>604827 "Very different, but there's one thing the same. That we're friends, just like all of you."
>>604828 "I'm waiting for a report from the captain but it's better than we thought. The enemies main attack was their poison but our soldiers were immune against it. And when Spike and Indy flew to their aid the battle turned into our favor."
>>604832 "Spike taught me how to roar like a dragon! And I ate one of those big giant zombie ponies." He pokes out his tongue. "He didn't taste good, so I spit him out." He points towards the volcano and even from here you see a big green spot on the mountainside.
>>604833 "It is. Did you ever read my book on the magical mechanics of friendship? It's 4 volumes!"
>>604834 "Seeing Mabel burn like that was rather hard. I hope she's okay…"
>>604838 My eyes will shine. "Or imagine the things we could make out of his bones!" >>604839 Look at the green spot, then at him. Then smirk as wide as wide can be. "Bet you'd have a tummy-ache now if you had gulped him down!"
>>604870 "I've seen a lot of healers that claim to be touched by one deity or another. I'm telling you, nothings better than good old fashioned medicine. There. That's fixed. You'll need to take it slow for the next week however. This needs to heal."
>>604867 It's Vilina! "Hey, I heard you got back."
>>604871 "That is the odd thing, I expected more of it on you. You hardly seem any more fit than I am. Perhaps your Equestrian diet is not as good as it should be. You should try eating heartier meals."
>>604885 "I don't know pal. But there's a thing I know. Out there are some of the bestest and biggest and meanest monsters alive!" Trot ahead of him, excited, looking up at the 'kid'. "And they are all just waiting for us to show up and slay them all in name of good and heroism!"
>>604894 "Oh darling, you simply must come to my boutique in Manehattan. I have a new fashion line I call Outdoor Fashions. It is made especially for the adventurous mare who likes to live dangerous and in style."
>>604896 "I'd like to, but I was wondering if you'd like to come with me…"
>>604898 "Well, I did say that I'd support you financially, as per our agreement…" I'll rub my chin with a wing tip for a moment. "But something tells me you're asking that for a different reason." With a small grin, I'll nod slightly. "And if that reason is the one I think it is, then I'll be glad to go with you. Though I'm a bit useless in a laboratory."
>>604903 You are ready to sneak up on her, but you're so focused on her, you don't notice the waiter carrying a giant birthday cake. You bump right into him, sending the cake flying into the air. You manage to catch it but the the 5 layered cake wobbles dangerously. You run side to side keeping it on the tray, bumping into pony after pony, causing their lunch to drop on the ground. The cake now leans forward and you run quickly forward right into Iris, dropping the whole cake and her onto the ground. As you are both covered in cake she looks at you. She licks a part of the cake of her snout. "Hey Soil."
>>604905 "I'll make a special deal, just for you."
>>604903 "They taste a bit like crystal frizzers, but waaay different." The restaurant is not too far away. There's a table outside in the sun with a candle and an accordion pony playing in the street.
>>604911 I'll flap my wings a bit. "Well, considering the nurse ran out of the room screaming when these came back, I think I should be mostly alright. Though I wouldn't mind the downtime. We've been going rather breakneck to get to this point."
A week has passed… For your bravery and courage all of you have been awarded the medal in the order of saint Radiance. The highest distinguished a civilian can have in Equestria. But time flows ever forward. From Hyperborea a messenger arrives, calling Pico back to his hometown. Amber and Silver are recalled to the Crystal Empire to continue their paladin duties. Warren will soon leave for Manehattan. Tulip is going back to Tall Tale.
It seems the time of the fellowship is at an end.
You all gather in a tavern in Canterlot. Tomorrow you'll each go your own path. Perhaps you'll not see each other again.
>>604920 >>604921 "Will you be sending letters from over there? I want to know if there's trouble in the empire!" >>604922 "We should get some shirts to show off that it happened! Then everypony would know it!"
>>604933 "Keeping Vilina company, mostly. I figure I might try my hand at legitimate business, after I take care of a few personal projects. Research, for the most part. How about you, Soil? Planning on taking Iris home?"
>>604935 "Probably. In time, maybe. At the moment, we're somewhere between friends and… something more." >>604936 "I'll probably just be holding down the fort, so to speak, while she's at work. She's going to show me the basics of chemistry, but I can only assume I'll be of marginal assistance in her work."
>>604940 >>604941 "Pssh." I'll flap a bit. "Yes, my wings have been fine. As if I'd never given them away. You don't know how much of a relief it is to not have to fetch a ladder for things out of reach anymore."
>>604958 >>604956 Share a desperate look with Silver. "Are we gonna let them say that about us!?" >>604957 "I will be sure to bring some really large monster over to manehatten one of these days! Just so we can take it on together!"
>>604959 "Maybe if you need it processed, but if you come riding it down out of the sky, the guards might arrest you for being a menace to public safety." I'll chuckle a little. "And they can say it, Soil, because it's true. Though Silver's likely going to be the one keeping Amber from wandering off, much for the same reason Iris keeps an eye on you."
>>604962 I'll give a small laugh and nod. "Plus, they probably think you have nice butts." >>604963 "I know you can, Amber, but it never hurts to have an extra pair of eyes watching your back. Villains rarely play fair, so being in a duo with someone who has a vested interest in your survival is a good thing."
Amber Stone Amber and Silver left again for the long train ride back to the Empire. Within the tall crystal towers they started their paladin duties in earnest as members of the Order of the Crystal Heart. They travelled the Empire ensuring no demon would threaten the good ponies of the Empire. In time they learned how to use the friendship for each other to enhance their powers and became a formidable pair. From the Crystal Palace, Princess Cadance looked with pride as she saw another pair of her ponies become stalwart defenders of the Empire.
Light Heart Light Heart, ever the wanderer, continued her quest to see as much of the world as she could. A few years later, after she went to the city of Stonebriar the party ceased to hear news from the charismatic bounty hunter. And any trace of her disappeared in the ruins as shortly after Stonebriar was sacked by pirates.
Mabel As she fused with the flames, she opened her eyes to find herself in the hot wasteland of the Fire Planes. Not alone, for Inferni was here as well. Rid of his material bonds he appeared as a majestic burning bird. Together they wandered the wasteland, meeting many extraordinary creatures. For the Fire Plane encompasses all forms of fire, not just the standard orange flame. After what seemed like ages, she returned back to the Palace of Pyrrus. "You have learned a great many things here, Mabel. Now is the time to return to the physical world and become a true agent of fire. Many things you have learned here, but as you go back you will not remember all at once. The physical body needs time to integrate your new knowledge, therefore you shall have a teacher to guide your path." It was then that she woke up on the ashy foothills of Tirek's Mouth, 6 months after the eruption. On a dead tree was Inferni and next to her a zebra, his mane and tail red, as was part of Mabels mane and tail now. It was time to walk a new path….
Poor Soil Soil knew it was too early to root down yet, but that didn't mean he could forget his roots. Before seeking new adventures far and wide, he and Iris decided to visit their families. It was on a sunny day that they left Canterlot, Soil riding his dragon with Iris on his lap, into the sunset.
Queren Pico Queren enjoyed newfound popularity in Hyperborea. The tales of his defeat of the Dragon and his capture of a demon spread far and wide until even his family could no longer ignore it. When he came home he was invited to a family moot, something normally only the head of the family and his first clutch were allowed in. Pico proved himself a capable leader and fighter but his interest went foremost to training new griffons in the family. It was they who couldn't get enough of his stories about Equestria and so he would plant the seed for adventuring and glory into all Picos.
Shortcake After a short break Shortcake travelled on her own to Neighpon and became the first and only foreign chef amongst the many chefs employed by the Neighponese lord Yonaguni. As his chef, she lived a life of luxury and plenty and her own style of Equestrian cooking became well known in Neighpon. Though she occasionally missed the old days with Melody and Mwandishi, she knew that this was a good life.
Snack Snack and Star traveled for years, studying the ancient dog fortresses and the many hidden secrets within. Their discoveries were followed with interest by the mechanical society of Canterlot and many new pony inventions were made because of their hard work. Altough the Dogs in many remote fortresses were unwilling to follow them, there was usually one or two intrigued enough to listen. In time Snack founded the first Dog Academy in the foothills of Mt. Laurenia. It was small but the handful of students that came every year brought the wisdom back to their fort. The Academy of Snacks and Star had planted a seed in many dog forts, ones that would one day bring the light of the Diamond Empire back to the Diamond Dogs.
Warren Warren traveled and settled within Manehattan together with Vilina. While Vilina spent her time researching new cures, he studied and researched what he could about Anarchy's Bag of Holding. It was unknown why Anarchy simply left his Bag of Holding there, especially considering the treasures it held within, until much later. It would be many years before Warren with the help of the Academy unlocked the secret of how to restore Greenfields back to the world. And Warren became a hero for the town and Equestria itself all over again. Yet in this moment of triumph, Anarchy's last trick became clear. For as they returned home, the Bag had been stolen. After that the stories of the Bag of Holding became whispers. Criminal organizations fighting over the treasures in the bag, killings and betrayal.
Producer, writer, special effects, all kinds of stuff: Sion
Andelia as Leon Campfire as Shortcake Dsty as [Deleted] Fidget as Warren Groves as Zona, Light Heart Knight as Queren Pico Lemon as Snack Nopony as Mabel Sol as Melody Maker Sylt as Poor Soil Tela as Amber Stone Zulu as Mwandishi
Special thanks to: Booze Cola
No animals were harmed during the making of this quest, only monsters