"- the last of the diamond dog packs were eventually driven away two decades ago, following the incident at the city of Brilliance a brief conflict between the Crystal Empire and the remaining dogs sparked. When they were defeated and driven away, the emperor officially banished their kind from the North and declared any dogs that dared enter their borders outlaws to be hunted down and executed. -" - Excerpt from 'The Brilliance incident'
The party is about to advance deeper into the cavernous dungeon. They've captured a necromancer after destroying his catalyst.
>>501518 Yes, she's just a bit dazed from the poison still. Outside everything looks deserted. The only evidence of recent pony activity are the tracks on the snow ground.
>>501522 You head back up onto the overpass using the stairs and advance deeper into the cave. Torches are lined up on the wall to light the way through the narrow passage you're venturing through. Before long, the cave starts to expand again. There's water dripping down from above and as you look up, you notice there are a lot of stalactites hanging from the ceiling. The walls are covered with moss as well, no doubt thanks to the water.
Up ahead, there is a brick wall and a door blocking your way further into the cave. It looks like some kind of tomb…
>>501531 You try again, this time you wreck the hinges keeping it in place. The door falls over onto the ground. Beyond it, you see the inside of this part of the tomb. A long hallway lit with torches, with columbarium walls on either side, no doubt filled with urns.
>>501537 Looks like these urns are untouched. Not much use in them for necromancers after all. You make your way towards the end of the hallway and peek through the door. This room is much more spacious than the hallway, several opened up tombs are lined up in rows throughout the room. At the end, there is another door leading deeper into this crypt.
Several skeletons are roaming around aimlessly, but you don't see any necromancers. The only living ponies you can see in here appear to be locked up in cages hanging from the ceiling in the air. There's two of them in total, each holding a pony.
>>501540 "Do you think I fear death? Grogar may take me. He may take all of us for all I care."
>>501541 Skeletons are not exactly perceptive, so you can roll to try and sneak in there. To reach the cages you would need to lower them. You can see the chains they are attached to leading towards a lever. Pulling that would surely bring them down… but make enough noise to attract the skeletons' attention as well.
>>501521 "You two stay here and keep the door baricaded, I'll double check outside to see if those bastards are still skulking around, got it?" I look at the two. Teleport outside with my weapons in hand. '1d10'
>>501566 You charge into the room and take a swing at a skeleton with your big mace. Unfortunately, you came in too slow and end up being intercepted by another skeleton, who slashes at you with a sword.
>>501567 "We've scared them alright, but we must keep our guard up in case those buffoons come back. Its obvious we are easy picking." I frown. "Come to think of it… I hope they dont know who you are Edelweiss because they might come back if they have any idea of your value."
I then look at Cassie and help her. "How are you feeling?"
>>501571 The cages are suspended in the air with chains, as explained before. The chains lead to a lever, which if pulled will lower the cages. You manage to dodge a skeleton charging at you and pull the lever, lowering the cages. They are still closed, but now easily reachable. Roll for perception in addition to whatever action you take this turn.
>>501572 You take revenge on the skeleton that slashed at you as you charged in. Your heavy mace is an excellent weapon to combat skeletons and the blow sends bones flying in all directions, immediately neutralizing said skeleton.
>>501573 Edelweiss scrunches. "I'm not that valuable…"
Cassie rubs her head and gives you a tired look. "I'm still feeling a bit woozy. Must be the aftereffects."
>>501574 I frown at Edelweis "Valuable? You dont know how valuable a pony is Edelweis, specially that of made of crystals. There are many out there who will pay a pretty penny for someone like you, or anyone of us for that matter." I gulp. I started to grow hysterical. "Who knows perhaps enemies send them here to kidnap you, or or a dragon let them scout here so he can take you as his bride and the remaining one's given to his cohorts!!"
"Or.. or … worse…. uhmmm… something sinister…" I look at Cassie. "Come on Cassie, help me here!"
>>501575 Your voice is drowned out by the clattering of bones. You notice the two ponies inside their cages look somewhat… off. You can't really put your hoof on what it is, but there's definitely something strange going on with them. Still, they both look fairly surprised at what is transpiring around them.
>>501578 "You… you really think so?" Edelweiss looks scared again.
Cassie holds up a hoof. "I don't know who those two jokers were, but they were probably just bandits or something. Your magic must have scared them off, otherwise they would have followed us here."
>>501579 You follow up your attack with another swing at the skeleton you were originally charging at, destroying that one as well. Two more remain. You've captured their attention.
>>501593 The mare shakes her head. "Forgive my companion, he has a penchant for the dramatic you see." Those sure are some sharp fangs she has… Still, there is something about those eyes that draw you in. She's very… alluring for some reason.
>>501595 The stallion places a hoof on top of the skull of one of the fallen skeletons and puffs his chest proudly. "These… necromancers disturbed our resting place here. Several of our brethren and sisters were slain in valiant combat as they assaulted our home. The cravens used undead armed with silver weaponry, you see. Most unfortunate for us."
>>501599 She stares deep into your eyes for a moment, then gazes at your lower body. "That is a strange coat you bear on your body, sir Gotti. My name is Evening Star."
The stallion bows. "And I am sir Rubinstein."
>>501600 The stallion gives you a grave look. "Peacefully… there is no peace in this world. We are vampires, dearest lady. We require blood to feed ourselves. Before you begin panicking, I must add that we acquire our meals from wildlife around here, not mere ponies such as yourself. We wish to avoid being actively hunted down, you see."
>>503489 The party ventured further into the cave and took that old necromancer as a prisoner. They discovered a crypt hidden within the cave and entered it, encountering some skeletons guarding two vampires imprisoned by the necromancers. They claim to be peaceful and that this used to be their home before the necromancers came in with silver weaponry and defeated them. They've agreed to help the party take on the rest of this crypt.
>>501601 I nod. "Ah, I see. That does bring me ease, and I admire it. Since I doubt anypony ever did, I would also like to thank you, as I am grateful in the name of everypony that you, aside from your condition, swore to not harm ponies."
>>503491 He holds up a hoof. "Madame, I believe our gift should not be a curse for other ponies. These necromancers however, have defiled our home and deprived us of any sources of food. We are hungry. So very hungry."
>>503492 You pull out a bottle of absinthe out of the hat. Cassie eyes the bottle for a moment, then floats it over and takes a large swig. "… Thanks. A little pick-me-up." [1d10-1]
>>503493 He bows his head slightly. "As my lady wishes."
>>503506 >>503508 "Of course!" He glances over to the mare for a moment and nods at her. The mare then looks at the two of you, shrugs and starts walking out of the room, deeper into the crypt. The stallion follows suit.
>>503507 You help her back to her hooves. She seems better now. More alert. "Speaking of them, they're sure taking their sweet time aren't they?"
>>503510 You head deeper inside the crypt. The flickering torches cast strange shadows on the walls of the passageway. The faint sound of voices talking can be heard from up ahead, behind a set of stone doors. The mare and stallion takes positions on either side of the doorway and look at you.
>>503511 The mare speaks in a pretty monotonous voice. "Not much different from being locked up in a coffin."
>>503516 She remains silent, not wanting to give away her presence to the necromancers.
>>503517 You line yourself up to the door and prepare for a powerful charge to shatter them to bits. As you take off and prepare to hit the door however, it suddenly opens up before you. You barrel inside the room, past a confused necromancer stallion, and smash into a stone table, tipping it over and making the contents on top fall onto the ground as well. Glass bottles of all shapes filled with various kind of fluids shatter as they hit the ground. "Intruders!" "My experiments! She ruined my experiments!"
>>503522 The room you're in is fairly simple, but still rather large. Several tables are set up here, some with food on them, others have more bottles filled with strange fluids. There are also some bedrolls spread out along the sides. Looks like this is their 'living room'.
>>503522 >>503523 The necromancers, four of them in total, look at the two of you. Their eyes dart to the vampires, then to the other necromancer you took prisoner, then back to you. Two of them gallop away and go cowering in a corner. "W-We surrender!" "I don't want to die!"
The other two are less inclined to surrender and stand defiantly, but do not attack.
>>503524 Cassie shrugs. "I think we should just wait a little while longer. Maybe they're on their way back."
Edelweiss scrunches. "I'm not that frail, you don't need to be so worried about my safety."
>>503528 Smooth Talker '1d10+2' "You would be wise to follow the example of your fellow companions. We do not want bloodshed, we do not want any battle or strife that could be avoided. Please, be reasonable."
>>503528 I scrunch too. "My vote is to wait not only for Edelweis safety but also that I have confidence in them, the way they handle themselves last time is proof enough that if danger comes they can fight back." "They are still stupid if you ask me." I scrucnh.
>>503554 "By all means I do not want to sound threatening, but should you pick up these dark arts again, the next group of ponies who happen across you might not tolerate your misdeed as we have. So for the sake of all of you, as long as you swear on your lives that you will follow the Light in your Hearts from now on, you can leave."
>>503554 I giggled "I always confuse anything north to be equestria." "As for laws and what nots, that all sounds complicated specially with laws, forgive me but I am not much a fanatic of it." "As for macroeconomical, that sounds like merchant talk. Dont tell me you plan to be a grocer." I giggled.
>>503580 "You do not." Turn around. "Those are murderers, and there are things such as courts to pass judgement on them! And it is my duty to apprehend those who commit crimes, for them to be judged!" >>503581 Damnit! Any track? '1d10'
>>503593 "You did not object at the time, Miss Sonnet. And should you catch up to them what would you do? Kill them in the name of eye for an eye? Would you betray my words to them so you can have your justice? Justice, in time, will come to them. Do you not have Faith in the Lover?"
>>503584 >>503592 You return to the entrance of the cave, leaving the vampires to their crypt and any loot behind. There are many tracks in the snow, some of them belonging to you. They go in all kinds of directions. It's hard to judge which belonged to who because pony tracks are… all circular.
>>503594 I was afk. "I will bring them with us to the capital for them to be judged by our law!" >>503595 "DAMNIT!" Stomp angrily, but don't give up. Take a wild guess based on their number and the directions we have already traced. Start walking. '1d10'
>>503606 He jumps in surprise and turns to look at you. His eyes widen as he sees you running after him, he immediately starts galloping away from you as you give chase. "No!"
>>503607 "This was our home. It's nice and quiet. Normally nobody bothers us here." First of all, there's a rack with silver swords hanging from it. Those must be worth quite a bit! Aside from that, the vampires implied silver weaponry is a very dangerous weapon for them. There's also a few locked chests located around the room. You can break the locks or pick them. You assume one of the necromancers had the keys.
>>503608 Gotti is down here too. The vampire mares looks at you. "You've returned."
>>503615 Your improvised lockpick easily smashes the lock open. The chest can be opened now. Inside are several bags of coins. Taking these for yourself would raise your wealth by a level! You can also divide the wealth across the party, which will bring them all closer to their next level. Two chests remain.
>>503616 He struggles. "Please no! They might execute me! Please!"
>>503617 "I was a paladin once." She still speaks in a very monotonous voice.
>>503619 He's struggling too much! "I didn't do anything wrong! Let me go!"
>>503620 "No, I was bitten by a monstrous vampire I was hunting down. After that I was the one being hunted. No questions asked." It's damaged, but doesn't quite want to open yet. Another hit should do it.
>>503623 "No! Just resurrected them from the dead! They're dead already, it's not like they can still feel!"
>>503624 "Most ponies go by the 'better safe than sorry' mentality. It's hard to resist the call for blood when the hunger strikes."
>>503625 "Hunt. Find blood." The lock breaks and the chest is free to be opened up. Inside you find… a strange looking crystal. It's red and pulsing periodically. It seems to be emitting some kind of… energy. You're unsure what it's supposed to be.
>>503627 "Vampires aren't ponies! They're dead!" You finally tie him down.
>>503628 "If the vampire wills it. Some vampires simply mind control ponies to act as minions without those ponies ever becoming full vampires." Oh whatever. You bash the last lock and open the chest. Inside you find three (3) health potions consumable; automatic, restores all hits and a bottle of whiskey.
>>503629 "I came close once… but my training as a paladin allowed me to resist in the end. You mortals cannot understand the sheer power behind the hunger." She starts walking away. "I shall go hunt now."
>>503643 "They don't. And what you did was terrible, not just wrong." Open his shakles. "Go. We do not have the strength to prosecute fairly all of you. But if you ever meet the others again… Tell them the Lover doesn't forget."
ARDENT You are a knight of the Hospitallion order. Your creed dictates you to be and do many things. Today your duty has brought you to the Amber Road, one of the most important roads for trade in the Crystal Empire. It connects many of the bigger cities with one another, allowing for quicker travel for those brave enough to venture out of the cities and towns. As a response to the deteriorating safety of these roads, you along with many others have been tasked to turn the tide and ensure that trade can continue to flow freely and without interruption.
Specifically, you are in this area to investigate sightings of thieves. Thieves believed to belong to an organized crime group known to the public as 'The Magpies'. Intel was rather sketchy, so you don't know much aside from the fact that they are believed to have a hub set up in the city of Brilliance, to the west of here.
The sun is high in the sky and a thin layer of fresh snow covers the road. Spring has arrived, yet the landscape itself remains covered in snow and the temperatures remain below zero. Just another day in the high north, right?
EVERYONE ELSE You all leave the crypt behind you and venture back through the cave, walking over the overpass towards the exit. The sun has just about past its highest point, which indicates that it's past 1 in the afternoon already. The sky is relatively clear now, the weather having improved tremendously since this morning.
Aside from your own tracks in the snow, there are several others present as well. Most likely belonging to the necromancers, the deceased mare and perhaps even those two vampires. The hut is only a fifteen minute hike from here, to the north.
>>505656 >>505658 You knock on the door a few times and hear some stumbling going on inside. To the side, you see Cassie peek past the curtains behind the window. She quickly disappears again and more stumbling can be heard. Eventually the door swings open, revealing Cassie completely. "… You're back. Took you long enough."
>>505673 "I saw some movement outside, so Helaine went to check it out while we stayed inside. Some guy in a strange set of armor sneaked up on her from behind and put a knife to her throat. I decided to try and help and surprised him by jamming my sword into his leg. He didn't like that." She grimaces. "Unfortunately he had back-up, who shot me with some kind of poison dart. A mare wearing the same type of armor came in and saved her pal. Helaine teleported herself and I back to into the hut. We barricaded ourselves in and… well that's about it. I was paralyzed for a while, but that's about it. I'm better now."
>>505677 "Okay. Thank the Goddess… I was worried!"
>>505683 Aside from your own tracks, there are none here. The snow only fell a few hours ago, so any tracks from before that were likely erased from existence. You do see some kind of lodge in the distance though. You recognize it as one of the many traveler's lodges along this road. These buildings are often used by travelers to rest and warm themselves up in. They were built for this very purpose, to act as temporary shelters. They differ from inns in that there's nopony tending to them aside from the travelers themselves.
That said, this lodge seems to be in use. There's smoke coming out of the chimney!
>>505685 "What? Didn't you… listen to what I just said? I tried to help, okay?"
>>505686 "I think they're long gone… but I sure wouldn't mind getting out of here right now."
>>505698 You don't notice anything in particular. The snow is very pretty to look at though! You hear the faint sound of conversation coming from the other side of the building.
>>505702 "I'm not an expert on hunting and stuff, but those two jokers moved like shadows. The only tracks that I could see when I went outside came from myself and Helaine. Maybe I just didn't look hard enough, but that's what it seemed like to me."
>>505705 Your racial makes that a 6. You notice a lone pony approaching the lodge, coming in from the east.
>>505718 Continue to walk towards them at a walk; if they're not hostile, then there's no need to hide, and if they're hostile they'll come after me. All the same, I prepare myself to draw my sword should they attack. >>505723 Pft. I've seen bigger. Not that that's saying much…
>>505733 Come to a stop. No need to antagonize them. However, now I need to figure out how to let them know I'm not hostile. I could say so… but I'd rather avoid that intense burning sensation in my throat if at all possible. >>505736 That confirms it: these aren't bandits. I take a seat and consider my options. >>505734 I didn't draw my sword, I preparedto draw my sword.
>>505743 "I asked for your name, wanderer. We have recently been attacked and as a paladin of Her Love I won't let any more harm come to the group I'm traveling with." >>505744 No you are not! You let go murderers and vampires!
>>505754 >>505753 Well, the situation seems defused, I guess- >>505767 -that I should probably cover it back up, and pull my tunic back up. >>505770 *Sigh* That's always the first thing ponies ask when they find out I can't run my mouth constantly like they can. Do they even realize how slow it would be trying to communicate like that? Still, I nod my head.
>>505806 Then we're headed in the same direction! What good fortu- Wait. There's too much lining up perfectly for it to all be a coincidence; but why would they set up such a complex deception? …There's no evidence that they're malicious, but at the same time, there's no evidence that they aren't just putting on an act. If it is an act, then that paladin was being overly aggressive to draw my attention. …I keep a close eye on the crystal mare. She seemed the most trustworthy; if this was a deception, she was the best actor, and thus the place to look for a tell.
>>505847 "Necromancers? And killers?" I began to look wary of the area. "This is bad new…. why let them go? I mean why interact with those bastards if there is no plan to take them down?" I frown in cocncern.
>>505851 I look glumly at Angelite. "Really? If that is true then none of your killers should have gone to our cottage and attack me, Edelwies and Cassie while you guys are going on some kind of 'adventure' or something."
>>505861 Well, I guess I don't want them calling me 'hey, you.' I press a hoof against the base of my neck and mentally brace myself. "Ardent." Try not to react too badly to the sudden blast of pain. [1d10]
>>505883 >>505885 I huff, a bit sad. "I really dont know the technicalities of law and order in these lands but I'll let you two sort out your problems. You guys have gone to that cave and I am not taking part on it." I then trot off following Gotti.
After a lenghty hike, the party has at last reached Brilliance. The massive blue dome of magical energy covering the city is visible from far away and impossible to miss. All you need to do now is approach it and venture through the barrier that shields everything inside from the harsh weather outside.
>>507207 The most dangerous parts of a journey are the beginning, and the end. You are never closer to death than when safety is in sight. Recalling my father's words, I immediately go on alert and scan the area for any hostile movement. [1d10+2]
>>507208 >>507209 The barrier ripples as your physical form passes through it. You immediately notice a difference in temperature, as if you just entered a heated room after being outside for a long time.
Before you, lush green grasslands cover the entire area, the stone road you walk on clear of any signs of snow. In the distance you see the towering jagged buildings made out of giant crystals that make for a vibrant skyline of brilliant colors. The road that leads there snakes its way through a natural barrier of hills. Massive stone slabs covered with dirt and crops are lined up perfectly on these hills, creating what looks like several giant stairways with plants on top of them.
Before all this however, there is a guard post set up besides the road to check incoming and outgoing traffic into the city.
>>507211 You think you see some movement in a bush alongside the road and dive into it to apprehend the culprit. You are happy to report that this is not the case however. Unfortunately, this bush is filled with prickly thistles.
>>507213 >>507214 Several guards are present here, keeping a watchful eye on the road. One of them blocks the way as he sees you approach while the others keep watch. "Halt! State your business in Brilliance, travelers."
>>507215 You safely head through after the rest of the party.
>>507219 Edelweiss giggles at your reaction. "Magic!"
>>507227 I turn to look at her. "Miss Sonnet, you are still mistaken, as were you earlier. You were there by my side when I let them go, and only complained once they were gone. I assure you, they have been reformed and they are under the Lover's watch now."
>>507233 "I've never met one… I mean I've met herbalists and stuff, but never an actual shaman. They sound so… mystical!"
>>507234 He snorts and shakes his head. "Paladin." He motions towards the city with a hoof. "Move along then. All of you are holding up traffic on the road. On the double!" There's no one waiting in line behind you at all.
>>507242 "I said move it, paladin! Brilliance is the city of progress and you do not want to stand in the way of progress!"
>>507244 >>507245 You pass the checkpoint and start making your way through the terraced hills. These hills were obviously too steep to use them to farm on. These large slabs of stone allow for horizontal farming. You see all kinds of fruits and crops being grown. Some farmer ponies are inspecting their 'fields' and getting rid of weeds.
>>507246 Give me the stink eye all you want, you're coming with me. Not being able to speak full sentences removes a lot of the natural inhibitions to man-handling other ponies to get your point across.
>>507248 Glower at him, but move along, catch up with the others. >>507249 I'd suggest not trying to push the heavily armored, heavily armed, kinda pissed paladin while she's talking with someone else. >>507251 "Consider yourself still under arrest."
>>507252 I'm an armored Crusader with a big sword and a thorough knowledge of how to use it; plus, you've been pissed pretty much the whole time I've known you. Ardent is not impressed. Since the confrontation seems to have been averted, I continue with the rest of the group.
>>507251 You make your way past the terrace farms and finally reach the suburbs of the city. These houses are also made out of large colorful crystals, but are far smaller than the ones in the inner city.
You pass a large sign depicting a crystal mare that looks absolutely ecstatic about a hooffull of gems she's holding. Below her, in large capital letters, reads:
>>507264 "It's not a very original name, is it though?"
>>507265 It's a really large sign located between two normal houses. You spot another one of these just up ahead. This one depicts some kind of… strange contraption shaped as an L on its side. At the tip of this large… machine, a big glowing crystal is present. Below it, in the same font as before, it reads: - GEMCO - THE FUTURE OF TOMORROW, TODAY!
>>507267 You've never seen so many shiny things in one place. The building, the road, the ponies, the plants… everything sparkles and shines brilliantly!
>>507270 Looks like this part of town is purely residential. You'll need to head deeper!
>>507274 There is a very wide palette of different colored butts available, all of them very nice and shiny.
>>507275 Determined to find some kind of place to stay, you continue on down the road of this residential area until… … You arrive back at the guard post you were at earlier. Looks like you walked in a circle!
>>507279 Whatever its purpose may be, it's not in your field of expertise. Judging by the name of the company, it must have something to do with gems though.
>>507276 Yup, you're in the residential suburbs. The taller buildings of the inner city are deeper in the city.
>>507278 You head deeper into the city, leaving the suburbian residences behind you and entering the heart of the city. These buildings are absolutely massive! Even taller than those in the capital! Well, not as tall as the palace perhaps, but that's an exception. You see several more of those Gemco signs along the way, must be a pretty important company around here! There's stores, banks, hotels, administrative buildings and all kinds of other stuff in this part of town!
>>507282 The guard from earlier looks back as you speak up and frowns. "We don't do charity, paladin. Where do you need to get to?"
>>507283 You head after Angelite and enter the inner city. Doesn't take you long at all to spot the tall postal building!
>>507285 You are currently in the suburbian part of the city! This entire area is residential, so there are a lot of ponies walking around here. Further up ahead you can see the inner city with it's tall, crystal buildings scraping the sky.
Huh… scraping the sky… skycrapers… Hehe.
>>507287 The library is in fact a large spiraling tower on the edge of the inner city. Its walls are made of brilliant orange crystal which shimmers in the light. Needless to say, the building is awe-inspiring.
>>507288 It is. Ponies are walking the streets going about their daily lives. Talking to each other about work, life and various other things no doubt. You pass restaurants, office buildings, banks, workshops and various other buildings you don't even know the purpose of!
>>507293 You stop a small colt on the street. "Uh…. sure thing ma'am!" He disappears and returns after a while carrying some parchment and ink. "Ifs dif good?"
>>507295 Hmmm. Nothing special, just go along your business~ You pass by the city hall, another bank and a building called 'Brilliance department of Geological survey'.
>>507297 He points at the large towering buildings in the distance. You best bet is the inner city. Plenty of hotels to stay at there. No need for shoddy little inns around here.
>>507299 They've both followed Angelite and the others into the Inner city.
>>507301 You make a mental note of the library's location. It also dawns on you that your order must have some kind of outpost in a city like this. The amount of trade flowing through here must be phenomenal.
>>507306 Then follow Angelite into the inner city!! Ask the Crystal ponies in town where I can find a pony who likes dresses, another one who looks like a mechanic and… well another crystal pony! '1d10'
>>507307 Using the large crystal buildings as landmarks, you eventually make your way into the inner city and rejoin the others. Banks, a library, postal office, restaurants, hotels, shops, administrative buildings… this place is a hub of activity!
>>507309 He runs off with a big grin after you pay him.
>>507310 She's just entered a bank. The ponies on the streets mostly ignore your questions as they are far too busy to be bothered by tourists. This city moves fast! It reminds you of some kind of ants nest.
>>507312 You head inside the bank you just saw. The interior does not disappoint. This place breathes fancy! The floor is so neatly polished that you can see your reflection in it! There are a few ponies waiting in lines in front of you though.
>>507315 You look around but don't find anything in this part of the city. You conclude that it must be located somewhere outside the inner city.
>>507319 This place is posh as heck. Be sure to mind your manners!
>>507320 You politely wait your turn. After about ten minutes, you finally reach the counter. The stallion behind it is wearing a set of fancy glasses and inspects you for a moment before nodding. "How may I help you, miss?"
>>507321 Of course. It probably wont be terrible comfortable though. Limited budget and all that!
>>507325 These hotels sure look expensive… Probably best to keep looking if you don't want to strain your budget.
>>507328 The stallion clerk startles at your sudden behavior. "Miss, wait for your turn!"
>>507330 It sure is! Just think how much we can earn solid crystal dosh if we put up a magic show in the city square once a month, or even a week! "Ah yes! I just have to talk to my friend here see?! We are talking now!"
>>507329 "Oh no no, Ms. Angelite! You're too kind, you dont have to be all formal to me. You're my friend!" I then grab her ears and whisper. "This place is brilliant! Say we make a magic show here?! It will rake in the big bucks!"
>>507318 While Angelite waits in line, find a place to sit and write.
To Paladin Accademy. Weekly Report for Paladin Sonnet Glory. During our travels, shortly after apprehending a group of bandits and rescuing a few hostages from a nearby town, we stumbled upon the hideout of necromancers guilty of the charge of murder and desacration. After finding them, one of my temporary companions took the initiative and allowed them to leave without any permission. Outnumbered five to one, we opted for keeping quiet, trying to hunt down the runaways once they split up, but the harsh weather didn't allow us to catch all of them. We have taken into custody the pony responsible for their escape and are currently leading her towards the capital. Upon reaching the city of Brilliance we had hoped to leave her in the local guards' custody, but they seem reluctant to even aknowledge our existance. Something is wrong with this city. If a root of crime truly nests into its heart, we shall remove it. of Her Love, Sonnet Glory.
>>507332 Aha! 'The Emerald Star Hotel' looks like a low budget hotel! That should be doable!
>>507333 You leave the packed streets of the inner city behind you and arrive in what seems to be the low wealth district. The buildings here aren't even near as tall as the ones in the inner city, but it looks like they're still tall enough to fit several households. They don't look as well kept and shiny either. There are bars and shops present here as well, but they don't look even near as flashy as the ones before. Some of them look quite shady, in fact.
Still, you spot a familiar sign on one of the buildings. It's your order's insignia! The sign also reads: 'Hospitallion Knights: Brilliance outpost' The building looks a little weathered, but otherwise fine.
>>507334 "I see. One moment." He walks away from the counter and opens up a cabinet, looking through some papers.
>>507337 He looks back from his work at you with a very annoyed expression.
>>507340 Noted. And yes, she's currently being tended to. Helaine is causing a scene though.
>>507344 The ponies in here seem to be growing annoyed by her shouting. This place is very posh after all.
>>507347 He eventually returns holding a piece of parchment. "Miss Angelite, you will need to sign some things." He presents a few papers. "Sign here, here and there. I must check your signature and compare it to the originals."
>>507357 >>507358 You both arrive back at the building and enter. The door isn't locked, which means there must be someone inside already. You enter the building. Inside there are a few tables set up along with some closets and various other pieces of furniture. It's all very simple and basic, it seems. There are candles burning that light up the room and there's light shining through the window. It's a bit dusty in here, but nothing too awful. There's also a set pf stairs leading to the second floor.
>>507363 "That depends, miss. There are a lot of hotels in this city and their rates vary from season to season."
>>507366 No one on the main floor. You head upstairs and the first door you pass. Inside is some kind of small office. There's a desk stacked with papers on top of it. The crystal mare sitting behind it looks up from her work and cocks her brow. You think you've seen here before, but you don't recall ever talking to her. "Yes? Ah, a fellow member of our order. What a nice surprise to see you here, brother." She gets up and walks around her desk to face you. "I think we've fought alongside each other before… but I don't recall your name."
>>507367 You fill in the amount and hand the paper back to the stallion. After running some checks on the signatures, he nods and exchanges the requested amount of money with you.
>>507372 Edelweiss and Cassie are waiting for you. Edelweiss seems very excited about this city. "This place looks amazing, Angelite! I love it!"
>>507373 She blinks and looks puzzled for a moment, before a look of realization dawns upon her. "Oh, I've heard of you. You are brother Ardent." She gives her a chest a beat with her hoof. "I am sister Snowberry. It is good to see another knight here in Brilliance."
>>507376 He went upstairs! He's 'talking' to a crystal mare inside a small office. She eyes you as you enter. "I don't recall ever seeing you."
>>507388 "Huh? Uncomfortable? I mean it was nice and dandy with the rowdy crowd and cold hard floor and all but uncomfortable? Hardly." "Try sleeping in a ditch on a rainy night, now thats uncomfortable…." "Also its… uncomfortable to sleep… with someone snoring…"
…. "Ah! Excuse me, just drifted there. You saying about a generous tavern yes? Well with a town this big, there aint no chance we are not going to stumble to something like that, but are you sure about all this? I mean it might cost you a fortune Angelite?"
The bulk of the party is currently standing outside one of the inner city banks. The city hall is close by, as is the department of geological survey. Ponies are walking all around you, busy with their daily lives and not even giving each other the time of day.
Gallant and Ardent are elsewhere.
>>507395 "Ah, paladin. That makes sense." She shakes your hoof. A strong and firm shake.
>>507562 "Safety! If something happens to your money while the bank is 'guarding' it, they have to pay it all back no matter what! Also, the bank gives you money if you allow them to look after your money."
>>507563 She looks at you as you try to catch her attention. "… Magnets? Wait here, write down what you want to say."
>>507565 "To… save up your money? You don't spend every single bit on buying things the moment you receive it, do you?"
Cassie gives you a wry look. "Or less hypothetical speaking, to make sure you don't lose it after your house burns down."
>>507566 She reads it and her eyes light up. "Right. They're a group of thieves that took root here in Brilliance. The locals call them magpies because their armor has the same colors as a magpie. I'll be honest with you, I've not looked into it at all. I only arrived here a few days ago and I'm leaving soon again. I don't know if they're really dangerous or not, but it seemed stupid to go chasing after them on my own."
>>507571 She nods. "That would probably for the best. I'm fairly certain they must be holed up somewhere in this part of the city. I'd recommend asking some of the locals for their whereabouts. Maybe the lord mayor could tell you more. Or maybe all it would take to find out more is venturing into one of the shadier taverns…"
>>507572 "Didn't you say you found some stuff in that cave? What if you sold that? What did you even find there?"
>>507573 You could ask the hotel you'll be staying at for the night to post it for you.
>>507572 >>507570 Clear my throat. "My dearest companions, does anyone have any idea where Sir Gallant' or Mister Ardent' current whereabouts? I have a small announcement to make which I am sure will make all of you glad."
>>507575 Various pieces of silver weaponry, including the mace you're keeping on you. Three health potions in total. A bottle of 30 year old whiskey. Some coins. Finally, a strange crystal faintly pulsing with some sort of magical power. You have no idea what it exactly is.
>>507574 We should probably assemble with the rest of the group first, then decide on the best tactic for finding them. Maybe they have a lead we don't; a contact or name perhaps. Gallant's being very quiet. Give him a nudge to see if he's still awake.
>>507580 Andelia is unfortunately absent. "Very well. I would join you, but I need to finish these reports and meet with some other ponies before my departure from this district. Good luck on your mission, brother." She salutes you.
>>507581 "Wow… I bet you could sell those silver weapons for a nice sum of money."
Cassie does a double take as she spots the crystal and gallops over to inspect it. "… You found this?"
>>507578 Give her a look. "For the last time, Miss Sonnet, I commited no crime whatsoever, you, on the other hoof, seem to be not only insulting me and besmirch my good name but commit the crime of defamation with your slander, which if I might remind you a much obvious and very real crime against your made up hoofpointing. Now, I believe neither you or I want the legal action and hassle that would come with me hiring a lawyer and taking this to court against you, as the evidence clearly tips the balance of the scale in my favor. Therefore, I will ask you once again to cease with your false accusations. Was that clear enough, Miss Sonnet?"
>>507588 "As you lack the proper evidence of any misconduct restricting my freedom would violate one of my most basic rights. The only pony who would be in trouble after such a travesty of law and order would be not me, I can assure you, Miss Sonnet."
>>507592 "In truth, I do not consider you an innocent at all by our laws, by the laws I've been appointed to enforce. It'd be a crime under the Lover for me to not report your conduct and bring you to justice."
>>508685 She gives you a scornful look. "This 'pretty crystal' is one of the most vital and expensive components of a golem; a core crystal. The brain, soul and heart of any mechanical construct. Without it, it's just a heap of mindless metal."
>>508683 >>508684 Okay got it! >>508693 >>508678 In an attempt to change topic I'll cough and speak loudly "Say, if we have time this evening we should go to check out a couple of taverns, learn more about this city."
>>508709 …Yup, figured something like that might happen. Still, I've made my point. I climb to my feet and take a moment to regain my bearings. >>508712 Arc an eyebrow at her. Seriously? I'm not convinced.
>>508727 Assault!? Sure, their heads'll be sore for a few hours, but it couldn't have done any real damage! If that's assault, then what's punching a pony across the street? …If thiese abuses are typical of lawkeepers in the empire, then small wonder the roads are so dangerous.
>>508733 "He bashed our heads in without a warning! Like the worst branch of scum would!" >>508735 Stare at her, clenched jaw. "You do not intend to press charges?" >>508736 Well, too late for forgivness. Point at Ardent. "We are paladin of Her Love Sonnet Glory, and this stallion assaulted us with no provocation whatsoever."
>>508738 "A string of misunderstandings? That is no reason to attempt harm upon innocent pedestrians!"
>>508739 >>508741 >>508743 >>508745 >>508749 The guard in charge facehoofs. "I was warned there were likely going to be paladins causing trouble again in our fair city, yet the speed at which you manage to do so still surprises me." He looks at Sonnet and Gallant. "I don't care about your endless mewling about your so called authority. If you want to cause trouble, do it elsewhere, not in this city. I'll let this little incident slip this time. But if I catch any of you causing trouble here again, I'll have you locked up in the dungeons before you can say 'paladin of her Love'. Leave the lawkeeping up to the guards."
He turns around and motions his ponies to move out, fixing you all with one last glare before departing as well.
>>508765 Sigh "Now they won't listen to us even if we do find something.. Great.." >>508762 >>508769 "Would you two care to join me for drinks? I think we should get to know this city a little better."
>>508765 Well, that encounter with the local guard could have gone better, but it could have gone worse. It's always awkward when there's a body-count to explain… Eh, I'm getting off track. >>508772 Shrug at the first statement; I'd prefer to deal with these bandits personally anyway. I hesitate when Gallant asks us to join him for drinks, then nod. I don't have to actually drink, and bars are good places for information.
>>508783 Clear my throat. "As a sign of friendship, I would like to pay the fees of a room for one of the more elegant hotels in the city for each of you. After the last few days we all had troubled rest, so I supposed that everypony would like to relax properly."
>>508785 Smile and nod to her. Accept generosity when offered, after all. >>508786 Okay, now she's just being contrary. I roll my eyes and snort at her bull-headedness. Maybe she's actually a jenny. …I examine her for any sign that she might actually be a jenny. [1d10]
>>508807 "In my country, when 2 stallions have dispute they challenge each other and fight to the death barehoofed in big arena. Do crystal ponies not have duels and instead fight in the streets?" I look at the crystal. "…..I do not know, maybe sell it for huge money, like 10 bits."
Edelweiss pops up. "We normally don't! We do like jousting though! Like… a lot!"
Cassie looks at her a little annoyed. "Yeah yeah, thanks for the information. Now don't sell that crystal for 10 bits. It's worth a fortune. I only had a few of these back home because of how expensive they are."
>>508807 My ears perk up. Crystal? Out of curiosity, I listen in on their conversation. >>508811 To the death? That's a waste. They should do like the Fathers and Mothers of the Hospitallions and have the arguing ponies hoof the line.
>>508822 I never liked jousting. The rules are too restrictive; if you tried to joust in a real combat situation, you'd die. Apparently the crystal is valuable. It might make good bandit bait. After all, Magpies love shiny things…
>>508824 Seems like they're discussing the strange crystal the zebra is holding. It's pulsing with power! The mare talking to him is a smaller unicorn who had one of her hindlegs replaced by some kind of metal construct that simulates a leg. Perhaps the result of an accident of sorts.
>>508823 There are a lot of choices here in the inner city. The fanciest hotels are still out of your price range, however. Still, you spot a very fancy hotel that you could afford with your budget just down the street. The building is yet another one of these crystal skyscrapers that reaches into the skies and glitters brilliantly. A large sign hanging above the door informs you that this hotel is called the Jade Palace.
>>508827 "It's a type of duel where two ponies uses lances to charge at each other and see who goes down! I've never seen one, but I heard all about them."
Cassie gives you a blank look. "Try a few hundred bits."
>>508832 Yup. The blood is starting to dry, but you're a sore sight for eyes right now.
>>508842 "Yeah… sure." Cassie looks a bit annoyed.
>>508843 You enter the lobby of the grand hotel. The insides are just as shiny and fancy as that bank was. It almost puts the buildings back home to shame! There are reception desks lined up on one end of the room.
>>508853 >>508854 "… I could do. Realistically, if I had the other materials and the tools for it, putting together a golem and then selling it would be far more profitable."
>>508855 She runs a hoof over it. "Each one of these core crystals have their own properties. They're all enchanted with different types of magic. What kind of golem you can make with it depends on the enchantment. Some are capable of casting healing spells, others for offensive magic and others for various other tasks…"
>>508856 You manage to make yourself look somewhat presentable by wiping away the blood. Lovely!
>>508868 She rubs her head. "If I had the money, I'd just buy them. This isn't exactly the case, so… either somepony could invest in some for me, in which case I could share some of the profits as repayment or… I try to acquire them on my own somehow."
>>508871 Having acquired your key, you take the stairs up a few levels and locate your room. Inside, everything is as shiny and glittery as ever! A king-sized bed to sleep in, a marble bath tub to bathe in, a balcony to sit on, closets to store your gear in, large shiny mirrors to admire yourself in… this is really classy!
>>508876 Smile back. >>508878 For some reason, I just now realized that she's available, if her reaction to the zebra's questions about a husband are anything to go by. Why is that thought stuck in my head. As she turns her back to me to continue distributing keys, I eye her over. Am I interested? '1d10+2'
>>508878 "Thanks Angelite! This is great!" Edelweiss rushes off to inspect her own room. You hear the sound of squeeing through the hallway not long after.
>>508879 "Look, what I'm trying to say is that we need to either buy them or find them somewhere. I can't magically make them appear."
>>508881 The tub is very clean and pristine looking. There are all kinds of different types of soaps and shampoos lined up next to it. Various scents fill your nose. Lavender, cherry, rosemary… it all smells great!
>>508883 Careful, being too interested as a stallion would be visible for the others.
>>508886 "Yes. Or we find money to buy these things with."
>>508887 She's all over the place, trying to look at everything at once. "It's so shiiiiiinyyyy!"
>>508889 She's a very classy mare, at least. Very prim and proper.
>>508890 You just can't bring yourself to enjoy your bath. You just feel… guilty over spending time here enjoying yourself while there's work to be done. And there's always work to be done for a paladin. Such is the burden you carry.
>>508899 Your room is pretty much the same as the one Gallant got. You check to see if you didn't accidentally entered the imperial palace or something, but that's certainly not the case. This is your room for the time being. Living like a king for a single night…
>>508906 Well.. there is work to be done.. once I'm clean just get dried off and dressed in normal clothes, I'll carry my sword Vigilance and enough coin to buy a few drinks and place a couple bets, I don't need anything much else where I'm going. I'll need to track down Ardent.
>>508917 You're pretty sure these are the same kind of rooms nobles rent when they don't feel like buying yet another vacation castle. It's classy, shiny, spacious and very comfortable. An entire household could live here in luxury!
>>508920 She keeps prancing in place and looking around. "Why aren't you more excited about this!?"
>>508917 Wow, she's determined to not enjoy herself, isn't she? I'm still not sure she doesn't have a bit of donkey in her family, especially with the kind of kick she's packing. She certainly has the legs for it… Definitely puts a lot of effort into keeping her body in top shape… Not to mention a pair of sturdy hi- …Oh F@*$. This… could be bad. >>508918 Oh thank goodness! Hunting bandits should be just the thing to chase these thoughts off! I smile and nod in greeting to Gallant. He seems to have finished whatever he was doing quickly… but… something seems off. I look him over to see if there's anything wrong with him, including his facial expressions. [1d10+2]
>>508929 off? I smell like cherries and probably look super serious. Also I don't have my armor on, just my sword and my clothes. "Do you want to collect angelite or leave her here? I don't want to endanger her, but she is good with words, and I certainly don't want to bring sonnet on this kind task."
>>508934 >>508936 Of course, I've seen this being used by Trotantine colonist, but usually there were 2 female zebras inside too…. I mumble with the levers and throw a generous amount of soap from all the bottles. '1d10'
>>508934 …Ah, probably just the fact that he's out of his armor. …and crap. I kinda want to bring them both with us; Angelite's good with words, and if everything goes south, Sonnet's strength would be greatly appreciated. What do I do What do I dooooooooooooooooo >>508940 Yes And that's a problem because I'm checking out Angelite too You're both strong women Ardent likes strong women he doesn't know what to do
>>508948 Oh my. Jump in and start scrubbing myself all over for a long time, singing the songs of my people. Then once it's over clean myself with a towel. And go back to the main room… but wait if I'm a king now, where are my slaves? Trotantine colonists had slaves to bring them the food. Where are the food slaves?
>>508952 >>508954 At Sonnet's approach I smile and attempt to urge Ardent forward by walking a pace. "Tonight my next move is to go with Ardent to get a meal and a drink. Unless you want to discuss it now?"
>>508961 >>508962 Ugh. Fine. Guess it's just me and Gallant against an entire criminal organization. …Hope there are enough bandits to make this a challenge. I jerk my head towards the door and start walking towards it.
>>508969 Wait, WHAT? Was that… concern for my well-being? She's acting like a normal pony now! What the- …Faust is laughing her flank off at me, isn't she? I'm the victim of some kind of divine practical joke. >>508978 A saddle arabian named Gold Desert, eh? Now that's a lead I can follow up on.
…Well, since she's being nice, I should at least try and dignify her with a response. I mime talking and point at Gallant.
>>508981 He gives you a blank stare for a moment. "… Food slaves? No sir, we do not deal with slaves. If you wish to dine this evening, may I recommend our excellent restaurant? Our chef is a true artisan of food and cooking."
>>508986 Isn't basically the same thing? Sonnet Glory, Glory Sonnet! >>508982 Look over to Gallant waiting for an answer. >>508983 "Very well. I take you remember the reason we are looking for her, right?"
>>508996 No. We are not turning down extra ponypower when facing an enemy we know so little about. I grab your front leg and drag you over to the rest of the group, then make a broad sweeping gesture to include everypony.
>>508996 "I'm not sure it'd be wise to interject any longer in the affairs of this city, not after what the guards said. They don't seem to want our help." >>508998 "It was something in the gems of the cave. Gold Desert is supposed to know more." >>508999 Look at the scene. "Why the urgency?"
>>509001 Uh, because bandits organized enough to base themselves in a populated city, make raids on the roads, and still remain undetected are probably very dangerous? Unfortunately, it is difficult to convey such a complex though through a single deadpan look, but I try anyway. >>509005 Smile and nod. Alright! Now we're starting to work as a group!
>>509012 >>509014 Dangit, she's got a better deadpan than me! I nod absentmindedly; the plan seems sound. I guess all that's left to do is… And I realize that we are staring into each other's eyes. Quickly breaking eye contact, I turn my head to hide a slight blush. What is up with my hormones? Next thing I know, I'll be checking out the zebra… Oh Faust DON'T LOOK AT THE ZEBRA '1d10'
>>509017 You start eating the salad straight from the bowls on the salad bar. There aren't many ponies around at this hour to witness this, but some still do. One of the waiters walks over. "… Sir, please don't do that. You are free to eat from the salad bar by picking what you wish to eat and carrying it on a plate."
>>509021 He's not here! He's wandered off to the restaurant.
>>509022 "That heavily armored and properly dressed ponies will stand out in a crowd of paesants." >>509021 >>509016 Keep the deadpan look up for a second more as he turns around, then go for the door.
>>509034 I give you a sympathetic look and a shrug. "We don't really want Sonnet there anyway, with how she is being, she's frighten away anyone before they spoke to us." >>509044 Alright lets go then.
>>509057 You leave the hotel and head back out onto the busy streets. After a short walk, you pass a building marked as the department of geological survey. Head inside?
>>509058 >>509060 You two leave the inner city and head back to the seedy part of town. Shininess makes way for shadiness, even the atmosphere feels different around here. It's not as busy as the inner city, but still fairly bustling with activity. There are plenty of bars and shops around… as well as dark alleyways for suspicious activity to hide in.
>>509059 It's very tasty salad! You see the rest of the party outside the window, leaving the hotel behind.
>>509063 You head inside yet another fancy lobby room. How many of those have you been in today already? You like it though, makes you feel like you're back in the capital! This floor is bustling with activity as well, ponies waiting around, sitting on benches going over some of their papers, talking to each other… There's a large advertisement sign on one of the walls, depicting a globe with a large pile of gems on top of it. It reads: GEMCO Can't spell it without the word 'Gem'!
>>509064 >>509065 The two of you head inside 'The Rusty Stool', a seemingly very popular bar at the moment. It's pretty packed inside! There's a long bar lined with barstools, all of which are occupied. There are plenty of tables to sit at as well though and some of them are empty!
>>509066 You manage to catch up with them as they enter a building.
>>509592 The main desk is actually a series of reception desks put into a circle in the middle of the room. Having multiple desks set up like that means more ponies can be helped at a time!
>>509593 You approach one of the desks that isn't busy helping somebody else already. The mare behind the desk looks up from her paperwork. "Doctor Gold? I believe she is currently in her office on the second floor. Do you have an appointment?"
>>509595 >>509598 "I see. Miss Gold is currently not expecting any other visitors, so I believe she could receive you in her office. Take the main stairs up to the second level, her office is the first door on the right, number 21."
>>509596 They're mostly throwing out card game terms. It sounds like they're playing poker.
>>509597 You wade your way through the bar over to the card table. The patrons seem surprisingly calm despite the fact that two heavily armored ponies are walking around here.
As you approach, you recognize one of the players as being your old friend Herald Shadowforge! He has his back turned to you, so he hasn't spotted you yet. You briefly wonder what brings him to this city. Of course, Brilliance is one of the most important cities in this region and a place like this seems like the ideal home for someone like him. The other players don't seem to take notice to you either, there are a lot of ponies here after all.
>>509600 You nearly slip and fall down onto the neatly polished crystal floor. It's clean enough to mirror your image!
>>509602 >>509603 You leave the lobby behind and take the large set of stairs up to the second floor. The long hallway here isn't as crowded as the main floor, but there are still ponies walking around carrying their work papers and suitcases. The hallway is nicely lit up by the enchanted crystals on the ceiling.
>>509609 I figured as much, but it never hurts to check. Now, with Gallant- -Well. that was… wow. I try to cover my amused amused grin. Looks like that player and him know each other. I hang back a little and keep watching.
>>509609 Laugh a bit as he helps me up. "Just passing through the city, I didn't know you were here, but it is a pleasure to see a friendly face." Grin at him, and look him over a moment, he doesn't have anything noticably bird-like on him does he? '1d10'
>>509611 Only crystal ponies and more shiny floors in this hallway!
>>509612 His friend is a crystal pony as well, it seems. Not too surprising. However, he doesn't look very paladinlike!
>>509613 Your vision is still a bit blurry after that hit on the head and you momentarily black out. Herald helps you stand up and not fall over again. "Are you alright? You look a little… woozy. And not in the good sense."
>>509616 Stand still lean on him for support if needed "Maybe I should just sit down. We could catch up over a bite to eat and some drinks." Seeing Ardent's concern I'll nod to him and introduce them. >>509617 "And, this is my newest friend, Ardent. Ardent is Herald, he's from my town, we grew up together." I smile.
>>509622 Road patrol… one of the… less respectful labels attached to the Hospitallions, but hardly the worst. I nod to the stallion and discreetly eye him over. Is he armed; how is he dressed; is his posture relaxed or tensed? [1d10+2]
>>509623 >>509626 You open up the door and enter into… what looks like a warzone. Or at least a warzone where the weaponry that was used were sheets of paper. It's a complete and disorganized mess! Stacks of paper on desks, tables and the ground, paper wads on the ground and next to a tipped over paper bin, books lying open and strewn around, a blackboard written full of terms you can't even begin to theorize what they mean, various types of gems and rocks strewn around the room in no particular order… and in the middle of all this, behind the desk, Desert Gold wearing some kind of strange glasses that look like microscopes. She's a Saddle Arabian pony, so a bit taller than the average crystal pony with a longer snout. "Who are you? I don't remember ordering pizza." The scent of incense fills your nose.
>>509625 "Don't worry, I was counting my bits anyway." He turns to other ponies at the table. "See you, lads. Better luck next time."
>>509624 He's wearing a simple and neutral cloak and seems quite relaxed. "Come, let's get out of here." He leaves the bustling bar and starts walking across the street.
>>509631 >>509628 "Im surprised to see you here in Brilliance, Gallant. Or maybe I shouldn't be surprised at all, given the situation." You enter the tavern across the street from the bar. It's much calmer and cozier in here! He waves at the bartender and settles down at a table in one of the corners. "So tell me… what brings you here? Sorry about rushing you out of there, but the walls have ears in that place."
>>509629 She scratches her head. "Angelite? I was looking at one of those just earlier. Nice coloring and texture."
>>509630 "If you're here to talk about the healing properties of Angelite, I'm not interested. Exposing it to water will just turn it into gypsum anyway." She turns her attention to one of the rocks and inspects it using her strange headgear.
>>509632 "Well if you do see someone trying to deliver me pizza, tell him I didn't order any."
>>509634 >>509635 She looks up from the rock and puts it down on the table, then takes off the strange piece of headgear. "Lord mayor Redwood sent you? I can only work so fast, but the plans are underway." She motions at a pile of paper wads lying next to the paper bin.
>>509636 "Paladins aren't very welcome around here for a reason. The fact that you're here means you must have business of sorts."
>>509637 There's only a few ponies here, minding their own business and enjoying their meals.
>>509642 smile softly. "I'd not imagined it would be a pleasant topic." order a bit of a food and drinks while we are here. "But I am also curious about you, you haven't gotten yourself into anything too serious I hope?"
>>509643 There are a lot of rocks and gems lying around here! They all look pretty special and valuable. You spot some incense burning on one of the tables, as well as various kind of equipment you've never seen before. You have no idea what their purpose is.
>>509644 "Those paper wads have nothing to do with that, they're reports I had to throw away because I accidentally studied the wrong rocks." She motions at a small stack of papers on a nearby table. "Those are the plans for the mayor. I'm confident that I didn't make any mistakes in them."
>>509645 She looks inconspicuous… almost too inconspicuous sitting there all on her own looking relaxed. Non-crystal ponies aren't a rarity up north, but they're not very common either.
>>509647 "We don't talk much, he's a busy stallion. I mean he's not busy at all, but just doesn't bother with me. He says my sense of over-organization gives him headaches for some reason… or was it my scatterbrainedness?"
>>509646 "I've steered clear of trouble for a while now, don't worry. How do you like the guards in this city?"
>>509649 She squints. "Cooking utensils. No wait, those are microscopes and thermoscopes to inspect those rock samples with. I forgot I had those, maybe they would have helped me with those reports I messed up…" She glances at the paper wads on the floor.
>>509650 "Geomapping the surrounding areas for future excavation. It requires a lot of consecration. Uh… concentration rather."
>>509651 "That's because they aren't. Most of them aren't. Almost all of them are in Obsidian Flow's pocket. You heard of him? The director of Gemco?"
>>509652 "Winterheim?" She gets up from her chair. "Uh… give me a moment to gain some bearings here… from what I remember there haven't been any excavations there for the last two decades. Why?"
>>509653 She glances at you as you move over, but doesn't pay much more attention otherwise.
>>509655 She nods in agreement. "I concur. I've been losing some of my equipment and reports lately. Just this morning my headmounted microscopes went missing." … Isn't she wearing those on her head right now?
>>509656 She's not looking in your direction… so maybe she's use her hearing instead? She appears to be waiting on someone.
>>509657 "The last of them were closed almost twenty years ago, so not much about their current state." She looks between you and Sonnet. "Why do you keep asking? What do you need to know about them? I could dig up some old reports."
>>509658 She shakes her head. "No, I think they should abolish slavery already. Maybe I'll send a note to the lord mayor about it. You're not a slave are you? I don't want any slaves slaving up my office, you hear me?"
>>509659 He nods. "So there's more of you. Well, these magpies of yours? They're in his pocket too. And the lord mayor. And most of the nobles around here. Brilliance belongs to Gemco at this point."
>>509674 They're chatting about seemingly innocent things like work and their daily lives.
>>509675 "Maybe they accidentally mined in the wrong place, like what happened to me last month." She gets up from her seat and walks over to one of her cabinets. She opens it up and starts looking through some folders, until eventually picking one out. "Winterheim…" She pauses as she notices she picked a folder on the town of Fillygree by accident. "Uh…" A quick return to the cabinet yields her the correct folder labeled Winterheim. She places it on her desk and opens it up, only to find it empty. "… Huh."
>>509676 She looks up at you and stares right back. "…"
>>509677 He sighs and drinks as well. "In that case… I'll help you out. You'll need it for sure, Gallant. I've spent some time in this city, so I know a few ponies and the layout of the place… including some hiding places."
>>509691 >>509693 She leads you outside her office and heads up the stairs to the third floor. A set of heavy iron doors are unlocked through the help of a key, granting you entrance to the archives. Large racks filled with dusty boxes are lined up in rows here. "Don't touch anything please, the dust might fill your nose up and make you sneeze."
>>509692 Nope, nothing at all. They look like your average worker ponies.
>>509694 "I do, but it's not much to look at. You know I don't stick to one place for too long, so I haven't been looking for anything permanent."
>>509699 Chuckle a bit "I guess that means you don't have a mare to fancy up the place then." Tentatively ask "I don't suppose there happen to be any dangerous elementalists running around in Brilliance?"
>>509699 Rrrr… Everything I've seen so far suggests that they're just normal ponies without any malicious intent. So why can't I shake this feeling that a hammer's about to fall? Leaving them be for now, I take a seat close to the door.
>>509701 "Sure, it's all labeled and categorized." She walks down a few rows, before stopping at one of the boxes and pulling it out. She quickly opens it up and starts going through the folders inside. "W… W… W… Winterheim. Here." She takes out a folder labeled as Winterheim and opens it up. … It's empty. "… Huh. Maybe I'm mistaken and Winterheim doesn't actually exist…"
>>509703 "No… just a whole lot of thieves. They're not actually that dangerous either, they're just thieves after all. These aren't dangerous assassins or anything."
>>509714 He smirks and leans in closer to a whisper. "We beat them at their own game. Why search for the magpies when we can let them come at us? They're no doubt following you… so luring them into a trap would be a sound strategy. Then we can interrogate in peace and find out some behind the scenes stuff."
>>509716 "Winterheim itself? Two decades is a long time though, they've probably gone with the wind already. I do know one thing though! I've heard ponies complain about a band of thieves in the city before, they're called the fruitpies or something. Maybe they stole it?"
>>513452 "None of this matters if we don't recover those informations one way or the other. Angelite, I suggest we make our way to the mute, he seemed to have the most informations about this group of forsakens."
>>513456 They're not books, they're crates filled with files! Mining reports, planned excavations, past excavations, profit charts and other boring stuff.
>>513458 "If that's true, he probably used those files to navigate himself to the right mine!" She looks at the empty folder. "If what you're saying is true, maybe finding those files would be the most helpful to you. Perhaps he was digging for something specific."
>>513466 "The ponies at the research facility are very clever, they could give you some pointers on what was stolen from then. But then again, they might be clueless on the whole thing. Still, would be an interesting visit. They have changelings locked up in there! Otherwise… I don't know. I'm not a detective. I'm into rocks, not crimes."
>>513469 The archives of the department of geological survey with Sonnet, Angelite and Gotti. Conversing with a saddle arabian mare called Desert Gold.
>>513481 Ponies strolling around going about their day. The mare that was sitting at the table before leaves the bar a few seconds after you do, she glances at you momentarily but walks away normally otherwise.
>>513484 That's a rather passive stance to take on things! You're loaded with silver weaponry that you still haven't sold.
>>513487 Nothing you can see here in this busy street. Shady stuff probably happens in dark alleyways. The mare rounds a corner and disappears from sight.
>>513494 "At the institute itself, probably! I don't work there, so I have no insight on the workings. Maybe check the city hall next door? Could be that some of their employees are there to file reports."
>>513523 No shortage of stores around here! Those weapons are very pretty, they could even be sold as decorations.
>>513524 >>513526 "That's problematic. I will get back to my rocks then." She leads you out of the archives and remembers to lock the doors leading to them.
>>513526 You only barely spot her crouched down in the shadows with some equipment lying next to her, probably in the process of changing her gear.
>>513532 "There's a few abandoned warehouses around this part of town… there's also the old steelmill outside of the city. I'll run some checks and get back to you tonight, alright? Where are you staying?"
>>513565 Keeping one hoof on my sword, I pull my hood back and watch her, ready to react if she tries to do anything. Flick an ear back and listen for anything that might be sneaking up on me. [1d10+2]
>>513570 You leave the department of geological survey through the lobby and head back outside. Feels good to breathe in clean air again after all that time spent in those dust filled rooms! The City hall is right nextdoors. It's not very tall, but still bigger than the building you were just in. There is a garden in front of the building which is accessible by going through the gates. Security seems pretty tight.
>>513571 Nobody else is sneaking up on you. It's just you and the mare, lying in the shadows, staring each other down wordlessly and equally ready for a fight.
>>513593 "don't worry about, let them follow." look out of the corner of my eye '1d10' try to see what he's staring at. "We should head home for the night buddy. I don't know about you but I'm drunk." I say a bit obnoxiously.
>>513591 Once again, you find yourself in a lobby. Just as shiny and fancy as before, decorated with exquisite paintings along the walls and beautiful crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. There are a few reception desks positioned in the back of the room. Two mares are loudly arguing with each other off to the side of the room. "We need the extra budget! How are we supposed to get results if we don't have any resources to work with?" "You've received your yearly budget already, miss Sapphire. If you've run out of money this swiftly, that's your problem." "We've had a big setback! The mayor knows this!"
>>513590 >>513593 >>513598 A male voice sounds from behind you as a small orb gets thrown at your hooves. "Check!" The orb bursts and a cloud of thick smoke spreads into the entire alleyway, blocking your view.
>>513601 The guard barracks are located outside of town. The city hall likely hosts its own guard station though.
>>513603 >>513608 You approach one of the gate guards at the city hall. He gives you both a bored look. "Entertain me then, strangers."
>>513604 "And the mayor has declined your request. You may fill in another inquiry if you wish, just don't waste my time with this." She turns around and leaves the other mare behind, who glares at her angrily.
>>513611 You back out of the smoked up alleyway back into the street. Whoever threw that orb has already run off.
>>513612 She's very agile and quick, jumping over you as you strike her last known location. You vaguely see her form in the smoke behind you.
No more games. My mind is Clear. Leap forward; plant hooves. Low swipe; below the chest, above the knees; a hamstringing blow [1d10]. Rotate grip, loop the sword back around. Breathe. Step forward, let gravity do the work; guide the blade's descent into another slash across the legs. [1d10] Follow through. Breathe.
>>513624 "Sapphire Flux." She rubs the bridge of her nose with an annoyed expression. "I'm sorry, do I know you?"
>>513627 Not Gemco. The department of geological survey. He perks up. "Don't worry ma'am, we have it all under control. Whatever rumors you may have heard are likely false. The guard is working hard on tracking down the thieves."
>>513628 Your hooves and sword don't connect with anything but ground and air. She's moved again. This smoke makes it really hard to see.
>>513633 >>513634 He looks at the bits incredulously. "Uh… sure. Happy to help."
>>513638 You don't hear any movement for several agonizing seconds. Then suddenly, you hear some creaking coming from above you.
>>513639 "Yes, you could say that. I'm a scientist working for the medical institute. Recent setbacks have left us with very little resources and a dire need for an increased budget. The mayor does not seem to care one bit about this." She huffs in annoyance.