'The Equestrians are without a doubt the closest and most valued allies of the Crystal empire. The two nations enjoy good relations with each other and have extensive trading records. Some suggest that some day the two nations may merge into one big pony empire. If this is indeed the case, neither sides have shown any inclinations towards it. The logistics of such a merge would likely be very complicated and take many years. As it stands, most citizens are content with the current political situation. Patriotists fear such a merge would destroy many of the crystal empire's traditions.' - Excerpt from: 'Crystals and Ponies'.
>>513664 She nervously wipes her forehead with her hoof. "The research… it's… sensitive. I can't just spill my mouth about it to anypony who asks. I've been trying to reach the paladins in the capital by mail, but I've gotten no answers."
>>513665 You see her jumping from roof to roof with practiced ease and agility, clearly very experienced in parkour. She's quite far ahead, catching up wont be easy.
>>513666 You try to climb up the roof after him, but you lose your grip halfway up and fall back to the ground with a loud thump. That smarts.
>>514659 You move away from the town hall and look around the inner city district for weapon shops. Soon enough, you find a store to your liking. 'Gemstein's Emporium: For all your self defense needs'
>>514662 There is a long silver dagger you could probably use. As you remember from your training, silver weapons are extremely effective against certain undead creatures, but tend to get worn much more quickly than steel weaponry.
>>514663 Your talent doesn't apply to this, but you beat the DC8 anyway Using dramatic leaps, spectacular combat rolls and the occasional gravitydefying jump, you manage to plot a way to cut her off. She's no longer recognizable under the strange suit of armor she's wearing. The sleek black and white painted leather covers every inch of her body. If she were surprised by your catching up, you wouldn't be able to see her expression. Both standing on a roof, the only thing keeping you apart is a few meters of distance. She wastes no time and takes out a wooden tube out of her bag, moving it to the mouth hole in the mask and blowing on it. A dart is quickly flying towards you. Roll to dodge.
>>514664 "… Really? That's… a quite convenient. If you could prove this, I'd be happy to inform your paladin companion of the situation."
>>514669 Oh hey, there was a ladder right there! That sure makes things easier! You trail behind Ardent, who is trying to catch up to a shadowy figure jumping from roof to roof. He eventually catches up and cuts her off a few roofs ahead of you.
>>514673 You enter the fancy shop. Inside, there are plenty of weapon racks lined up in rows, each sporting their own type of weapon. You also see a few pony mannequins wearing armor placed around the shop. Behind the counter, a crystal stallion is counting his gems. "Shalom, esteemed customer! Welcome to my emporium!"
>>514676 No… it's a bit risky with the equipment you're wearing. Maybe you can create a bridge with something lying around?
>>514677 You narrowly dodge the unicorn's dart. Without hesitation, she charges at you, not even pulling out another weapon at all.
>>514678 "Which archives? Don't tell me more research was stolen in my absence!"
>>514684 You look around helplessly, not spotting her immediately. Maybe she went inside the city hall?
>>514686 "What do you mean, haver? Come, look at my wares! I have good prices for you!"
>>514688 You swing too slowly, allowing her to get into close quarters. She swats your hoof away, disarming you and sending your sword flying off of the roof, then swipes your hooves from under you, causing you to smack down on the roof.
You are helpless.
>>514690 You pick up a wooden board lying on the flat roof you're on and place it to fill the gap, allowing you to move over. Ardent was just disarmed by the unicorn mare.
>>514691 She shakes her head. "I'm sorry, I don't know where Winterheim even is. I'm practiced in biology, not geography or geology."
>>514698 There she is! She's talking to another crystal mare in the lobby.
>>514699 "I had no idea… Goddess be damned, I wish the guard would increase their efforts already. This city just isn't safe anymore."
>>514700 Seems like she didn't expect you to get here so quickly, you quickly beat her away from Ardent, forcing her to retreat to a safer distance. She doesn't make another move, opting to go defensive.
>>514701 You spring back to your hooves at the sight of your paladin companion. Your sword is lying down on the ground and out of your reach, but at least you're back to speed!
>>514714 Oh ancestors, they have a shekelpony infestation here. I need to be careful and not cause any suspicion. "OOOOH it is very late….perhaps we can do business tomorrow…." Start slowly trotting backwards to the exit, not looking away from the shekelpony. Try not to sweat '1d10'
>>514716 She frowns. "Why aren't they answering… ah, no matter. My name is Sapphire Flux, senior medical physician at the Brilliance medical research institute. There has been a theft of… very sensitive research from the institute."
>>514717 You jump her with the intent of tying you up. The mare proves to be much faster as she reacts quickly, dodging your attempt with ease. She quickly takes a few steps back, wanting to keep her distance.
>>514718 She looks at you. Or at least, you think she does. Her eyes are not visible through the armor suit. "There is nothing to discuss. You are at a major disadvantage."
>>514720 You manage to keep your cool somewhat. "Oy vey! Why are you leaving? You could do good business with me right now, goy! Many gems for you, yes?"
>>514721 She shakes her head. "We've not been made aware of this. Not that the guard would care anyway."
>>514727 She nods and looks around, leading you outside of the city hall and into a desolate spot in the garden. "I must stress again that this is confidential research that is not to be made public. Four years ago, I was assigned to a team of fellow physicians to work on a new project. I wont bore you with the details, but you no doubt are aware of the incident that happened here in Brilliance, over two decades ago, yes?" You both are. A clan of diamond dogs tried to annex a bunch of gem mines into their territory, which lead to a conflict that lasted several months. The clan of dogs were eventually defeated and driven away from the area. After that, all diamond dogs were banished from the empire and supposedly driven out once and for all.
>>514728 You bump into a few racks and a mannequin, but manage to flee this horrifying place without having your soul stolen.
>>514731 Well, the only thing she can do is make her escape via the roofs. Despite your earlier performance, there's no doubt this pony knows this area much better than you do.
>>514732 She doesn't answer, deciding the charge at you with surprising speed. However, instead of trying to attack you, she jumps on top of you and leaps onto the roof behind you, then starts running again.
>>514734 Look at Ardent and give a slight nod. "Alright. If you insist on this.. come here, At least you might pin her down until I catch up." '1d10' roll to launch Ardent towards the mare, provide he is willing.
>>514735 >>514736 "The nobility feared that if the dogs managed to rouse other clans into their cause, they could pose a serious threat to the crystal empire. The issue lies in the fact that they are excellent diggers and that they could pop up just about anywhere without us seeing them coming. So… we were told to develop something that could stop them dead in their tracks. We came up with… a disease. Or rather, we changed an existing dog disease called the Tunnel Fever into becoming extremely potent and dangerous. The idea was simple, take an iconic disease diamond dogs feared and make it ten times as deadly. It would serve as a diplomatic tool to scare off any possible dog invasions."
>>514737 >>514738 Ardent smacks into the roof like a sack of potatoes, completely missing his target. The mare glances back at this, then continues to jump from roof to roof, away from you both.
>>514750 You lower yourself back onto the street and grab Ardent's sword. He seems to have fallen down from the roof up ahead.
>>514753 "Like I said, the disease was stolen from the institute despite our best efforts to keep it safe and hidden until needed. I don't think I need to tell you how disastrous that is. If that disease falls into the wrong hooves…" She trails off.
>>514754 You try to tackle her but miss, falling down onto the street yourself. The unicorn just keeps jumping, really picking up the pace now.
>>514757 "Yes, I've informed the mayor and he promised he would have the guard help retrieve it. In the meantime… I've been working on an antidote just in case. Or trying to at least… the mayor wont give me the necessary funds for it because he considers it to be a waste."
>>514768 "Yes it is. It's much more potent and infectious now, but it's still a dog disease. Like the feather flu to pegasi or matte fever to crystal ponies. It doesn't affect our systems."
>>514770 "Please do. Your presence here is greatly appreciated, paladin Sonnet. You must retrieve this before something disastrous occurs. The consequences of this disease finding its way to the dog clans outside of the crystal empire would be… unimaginable."
>>514772 You find the others minus Gotti talking to a mare in the garden if front of the city hall.
>>514784 Was it something I said? Damn it. This must be why my sister says I'll never have a mare-friend. Not that I want one. Oh never mind, just shut up and look around in case its something else '1d10' >>514786 >>514785 "We might have something to discuss. I don't know how safe we are here"
>>514792 >>514796 "Nothing of immediate concern, but you should be aware." Nod and whisper to you both. "I'm fairly certain we are being followed by the magpies, we caught a mare stalking us, and tried to catch her but she fled."
>>514798 >>514800 "I was thinking something similar actually, I have an ally who knows the area, and is looking into a possible solution, places we could corner them that is." "I'm sorry to have startled your friend."
>>514803 >>514805 >>514806 Don't mind me, I'll just wait over here, beating myself up for not being good enough to beat a single rogue. Not like getting disarmed so easily was a blow to my confidence in skills I've worked hard to master or anything. You were doing fine without me, I'm just a third wheel.
>>514836 Back to the fancy hotel you go then. Edelweiss and Cassie are still there. Edelweiss seems to have taken the time to gather a near library's worth of books on law and economics to her room and is busily reading on her bed. Cassie is resting, no doubt tired after pulling that cart for hours on end. The strange crystal is located on her nightstand.
>>514845 Sit on the bed and stare at my sword. "You know why I chose vigilance as my blade? Because I can not rest knowing there is work to be done, I can not look away knowing there is darkness to move. More than just a few runes on a blade, they are who am I. Now, please, come out and tell me who you are."
>>514865 "What did you learn then?" make some room for him to sit as well. "They are scared of us already and are going to all leave town?" I ask with a sarcastic smile >>514858 "Don't worry Sonnet, Its just my friend. I meantioned him earlier."
>>514866 "Paladins tend to be impossible to bribe, so they're sweating alright. As capable as they are as thieves, they're better at running and hiding than they are at fighting. Keep that in mind when you do corner them."
>>514867 He walks up to you and grabs your hoof, kissing it. "Herald Shadowforge at your service, my fairest lady. I am a friend of Gallant here, I assume you are as well? He always did choose the most lovely of company."
>>514869 "My lady, you hurt my feelings. I am no thief or burglar."
>>514873 As a diplomatic gesture, I will allow him to do that. "Lady Angelite. Indeed, I am a friend of his, and the diplomat of this travelling ensemble. May I ask you how you aim to provide help for Mister Gallant?"
>>514877 >>514878 "Gallant and I both have our own skills that fill each other in perfectly. I have some knowledge on the city and those who live here." He looks at Gallant. "I assume he came here to pass on some information I gave him earlier in private."
>>514882 Smile at the first part. "A working friendship I think." Then nod "I wanted everypony involved to be equally informed." >>514885 "Ardent, you remember Herald right? You met earlier tonight.. "
>>514885 He cocks a brow and carefully steps away.
>>514886 >>514889 >>514891 "They're the big boys in town. A group of skilled thieves led by a stallion called Shadow Play. Their connections allow them to roam relatively free in Brilliance without having to worry much about the guards. You wont like hearing this, but the mayor, the guards, the magpies… they're all in the same pocket."
>>514900 The guard seems flabbergasted. "… A what?" He blurts out.
>>514901 >>514903 He clears his throat. "Worse yet, the pocket I mentioned belongs to Obsidian Flow. He's the founder and owner of Gemco. He practically owns this city thanks to the vast wealth he possesses. With the mayor, guards and magpies under his control, he's practically untouchable."
>>514902 "I'm not surprised. This is why you have to catch them by surprise and corner them."
>>514907 I stomp my hoof. "A shekelpony. They come to towns and take everypony's money. And they never give it back! And they talk in tongues, saying shalom and they call everypony goy. One time, one came to my uncle's farm, and my uncle didn't know about shekelponies. And when the shekelpony left, my uncle only has two beans left and no farm and no home!"
>>514915 "Then we shall try and find proof against him to make him resign. However, your abilities to… how shall I put it lightly, force information out of uncooperating ponies might be useful for that cause."
>>514909 "Anypony who sticks around here long enough and gets to know the right people can figure this out. I'm very good at what I do."
>>514913 "I don't know that much about him, but he's a mean bastard. Ruthlessly managed to pilfer his way to the top by sabotaging, stealing and buying out rival companies." You've heard about him before, you think you may have seen him at a royal feast back in the capital a few years ago. He's a big deal.
>>514914 "Uh… Are you talking about Gemstein, sir?"
>>514919 "Resignation will not be enough. I will personally see to the arrest of every corrupted officer in this city. A confession alone will do us no good, not against this kind of ponies. You are a newcomer to the law game, miss Angelite. Take it from me. We need written proof. Contable books, records of all possible kinds."
>>514922 "Ah, yes. I remember now. His words do hold quite the sway. We alone might not be able to challenge him personally… no just yet."
>>514923 "Of course, Miss Sonnet. I also know that a resignation will not be sufficent, however, if the guards are on his side we will need to remove him from his seat of power before we can take further steps towards his trialing."
>>514954 The stallion reaches into his bags and pulls out a large rectangular envelope, giving it to you. He also presents a form to you. "Please sign here to confirm you have received this letter, sir."
>>515020 "Angelite, if you hide things from me I can't help." look mildly upset. "But now that I know, I'll certainly help you." >>515014 "I can manage to guard a file, they don't flee over roof tops."
>>515023 "Please, Mister Gallant, I was most certainly not hiding anything from you. Miss Sonnet and I were already on this case so I saw it best not to trouble you with it. I assure you, all the ponies are fine. Cassie was one of the captured, actually."
>>515024 >>515025 "Well, go over the file as much as you like, it will help you get to the bottom of things right?" Lay it down for the others to all see and sigh. "So about the Magpies. We still need to get more information, so.. we need to catch one. Any ideas?"
>>515027 You enter the workshop and step into another world. Blazing hot furnaces, roughed up anvils, plumes of scorching steam, the raunchy smell of coal and sweat… Four ripped stallions are hammering away in tune on their respective anvils with their bare hooves. Their muscles bulging and throbbing intensely.
>>515034 The eldest of the stallions stops and looks at you with a very intense gaze. He lifts up his anvil with a single hoof and tosses it into a furnace, then stomps his way over to you with a loud, thundering voice. "HELLO THERE, BROTHER. WELCOME TO ANVILHOOVES AND SONS!"
>>515031 "Right, we just need to be careful of the corrupt guards they might stop us.. and we'd need to know which place to hit.. and be able to stop them from destroying the evidence.." >>515036 "We could lure one into a corner, they were following us, or definitely me. So we could try to use that to ambush one."
>>515055 "THE ARENA OF FIRE AND STEEL, LITTLE GUY!" He looks at the silver weapons and lifts them all up. "THESE WEAPONS ARE NOT WORTHY ENOUGH FOR ANVILHOOVES, BUT ANVILHOOVES CAN RESHAPE METAL AS HE PLEASES." Sell the weapons you don't use? Your wealth level will increase to 4. Angelite to 6 Sonnet to 5 Gallant to 5 Helaine to 4 Ardent to 4
>>515058 "That's about the gist of it. But I'm a lot tougher than a worm, so I won't get beaten up or anything." >>515043 "Even after this we will still need some kind of proof, this is a tough situation.." >>515054 Stretch and yawn. "I need to stretch my legs for a bit. I'll be back soon." try to leave.
>>515076 "YOU WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO HANDLE THE BIGGEST OF MACES, LITTLE GUY. BUT I'VE GOT JUNIOR MACES TOO." He picks up a large and dangerous looking mace off of a rack. "THIS ONE WAS MINE WHEN I WAS 6 YEARS OLD. I CALLED IT 'FLUFFY'."
>>515077 "Not with certainty. I have a few suspicions, but no solid confirmation. Like I said though, why bother looking for them when you can let them come for us?"
>>515079 You take the many stairs leading up to the roof. You hear faint footsteps of someone following you. >>515084
>>515083 "Not to fear, my lady, I would not allow them to inflict any harm upon you."
>>515087 "Capturing one of them would allow us to acquire much needed information and lead us to actual evidence. We need the element of surprise to get to them."
>>515088 "MANY TIMES, BROTHER. DOGS, CHANGELINGS, DRAGONS… IT HAS A RICH HISTORY." You're not quite sure how a 6 year old could possibly lift something like that. Great unique weapon: Fluffy. Crits on 8 and higher, only critfails on 1. Buying this would lower your wealth by 1, because it's quite expensive.
>>515097 "No, too many ponies following you would attract too much attention. Besides, the Magpies are thieves, not assassins."
>>515099 "Keep it simple, just move as a group to someplace where they have little room to maneuver. They're likely waiting on you outside the hotel. I recommend going into the mines under the guise of looking for something. They'll have to follow."
>>515101 "BROTHER, I UNDERSTAND YOUR NEEDS. HIT ME."
>>515100 >>515102 The two of you arrive on the roof after climbing what feels like a million stairs. The sun has disappeared behind the horizon and a somewhat chilly wind blows here. The roof is flat and seemingly empty.
>>515108 You're right. He doesn't as much as flinch or budge. "YOU HIT LIKE A MARE, LITTLE GUY."
>>515109 "I'll be there when you do. Just give the word when."
>>515112 "Well… you could split off from the group and just stay in the city. They'd be forced to at least send one pony after you."
>>515111 >>515113 This roof is completely empty. Is this some kind of prank? An ambush? Was that letter just a figment of your imagination? A fib? Maybe you're just going crazy, maybe it's high time you lay down the sword and retire from this life, maybe- "Good evening."
>>515118 You hit him again, with little more result than before. >>515119 >>515120 "Your choice. Like I said, they're not fighters either from what I've seen. I've never seen or heard of them purposely attacking someone."
>>515121 >>515123 You both turn around and are surprised to see the same unicorn mare you were chasing down earlier to be standing there, a few meters away from you. She's wearing her armor suit again, but without the mask this time, allowing you to see her face. She's also carrying a saddle with some bags attached to it. "You are early. But no matter."
>>515132 Nothing. Not even the slightest reaction. "ARE YOU SURE YOU ARE CUT OUT FOR THIS, BROTHER? MAYBE YOU SHOULD GET BACK TO GARDENING OR WRITING POETRY, YEAAAAARGH!"
>>515134 "Sorry, but I've got very little insight on that stuff. I usually stick to the worker's district. You could try and mingle with the local nobility though. You can find them here in the inner city. Tea rooms, restaurants, theaters, brothels, masquarade balls…"
>>515135 Her posture is relaxed and non-threatening in response. "If you're going to try and kill me, this is not the place to do so." She looks behind you. "Only the two of you are here? I'm surprised."
>>515155 Very little effect once again. "NO BROTHER, YOU ARE WEAK. YOU MUST TRAIN MORE AND BUFF UP."
>>515157 She shakes her head slowly and deliberately. "That is not what I am offering. I am offering the aid of several of my comrades and I against Shadow Play, Lord Redwood and Obsidian Flow. Let that sink in for a moment."
>>515158 "We've got a plan then!" He stretches his hoof out to you and looks at you expectantly.
'- The goddess is without a doubt the most popular deity in the Crystal Empire. Her paladins and priests are spread far and wide, upholding her teachings on Love, Compassion and Mercy. To harm an innocent or to showcase cruelty to others are often seen as the severest of offenses towards the Lover. Love itself is a sacred thing, not to be corrupted by demons like Changelings.' Excerpt from 'The Goddess of Love'
>>515162 He looks surprised at you, then chuckles. "Not a fan of hoofbumps, are you? That's fine."
>>515774 She walks over to the edge of the roof as you remain quiet, looking out over the city. It's dark now, dusk has come and gone, replaced by a curtain of blackness. You notice there are no stars out, not even a sign of the moon. The magical shield around the city blocks it all. "Yes. But not without a price."
>>515776 She turns her head to look back at you. "You look skeptical. How could you not be? I am a thief, you are a guard of the roads… our goals conflict with one another."
>>515777 You see her smile for the first time since you were in the bar talking with Herald. "I am skilled, but Shadow Play is better. That is why he is in charge and not me. We will help you and I will explain you why, if you agree to my conditions. If my comrades and I aid you, you will promise not to turn us in or attempt to arrest us, as would normally be your job."
>>515778 Smile back at first, and then look concerned with a firm nod. "For my part, I won't take you in if you really help us as much as you promise. The others might take some convincing" look toward Ardent as well. "So, give me something to work with, why do you want to betray your boss?"
>>515778 In other words, they want amnesty in exchange for their cooperation. It is… not unheard of for such arrangements to be made when dealing with particularly nasty organizations - strange bedfellows, and all that - but I am curious as to why. This assignment has certainly taken an interesting turn.
>>515785 "And now you decided to get mixed up in Brilliance politics and corruption…"
>>515786 "I was assigned to shadowing you, it will seem as if I am doing my job. There are others too, but they are on our side as well. Do you accept these conditions?" She looks equally ready to hear either acceptance or rejection.
>>515790 "Yeah… let's hope that works out. Gallant may be an old friend of mine, but I'm not keen on dying for him just yet."
>>515789 >>515791 "Go inform your friends. If they do not agree to our conditions, there can be no deal. If they accept, you will all visit a bar called the Rusty Stool tomorrow. I will be there, watching you. You will get the goods that were stolen back from us if you accept. Consider the papers you received an early gift, more is to come."
>>515796 "Should we act fast and smooth, we may be able to restore order in the city before he gets to know. Once the city is safe, so to say, we will be able to deal with him properly, but not without help."
>>515804 >>515807 "I am fine, and it was a productive walk." I pause trying to find the right way to approach this. "I have some news, we've been given a unique offer. I have met with the pony that gave us that information. She wants to help us with our current issue." >>515809 Give you a small smile.
>>515808 And a mace. Unique Weapon: Fluffy Great Mace Crits on 8 and above Only critfails on 1 The handle is made of silver colored wood while the head is solid steel, sharp and heavy. Cracking heads has never been so child friendly!
>>515816 >>515813 serious face again. "She is a Lieutenant of the Magpie group, she and her allies would help, and they would return more things like that file. She would wish to travel with us." direct this part toward Sonnet particularly. "And we can not arrest them."
"We all have to agree on this, or it won't work. So What do you think?" >>515819 "Her name is Leadlight."
>>515820 You head back to the hotel. You notice it's gotten dark outside but… there are no stars, no moon. Creepy… The others have gathered in Gallant's room. There's a stallion there you haven't seen before. Cassie and Edelweiss are both in their own rooms, both of them reading books of their own interests.
>>515821 "That's… odd. I didn't know there was so much dissent inside their organization."
>>515833 "Towns are worse than most enemies." >>515834 Look at it and put it away. "Those cases still begin with a regular arrest. It is not our place to handle out pardons." >>515836 "Of course, I am no fool."
>>515847 >>515845 Sigh. "The message has been passed on, its up to you to come to an agreement, if we all agree to her help and conditions, I know where to meet her.. She also mentioned that she could do more things, like how she returned that file to us." Turn away a moment, go stand in a section of the room slightly away from the others to indicate they should talk. >>515848 "I feel the same way, thank you Ardent."
>>515851 "Actually, the new mayor of the city could give her amnesty. Provided that we can arrest the current mayor and elect a new one, not touched by corruption, I think it would be reasonable to ask for this favor in light of the help she would provide in making it possible."
>>515855 "Law might be a strict, written set of rules, however each case must be also overviewed seperately so the best judgement would come to pass. If you weight up this situation I think it is quite clear that the arrest should be postponed until further notice, which is until it becomes null once the amnesty has been issued."
>>515863 "I am not as well versed on the law as you are, however, I definitely know that during the investigation of embezzlement, if a pony provides written proof, documents which would be illegal to hand over otherwise, the pony is pardoned in the name of discovering the bigger crime. I am sure that there must be a clause for this case as well."
>>515864 Groan. "It is about the reach of our hooves, mister Gotti. Whatever it is in our right to decide the fate of a pony, or if this decision should be left to those appointed by our laws at that role." >>515865 "And then why would arresting her be a problem, if she can, and I will testify this, provide help much needed to solve the case? Arresting her is merely a required passage to then have her cleared of charges."
>>515867 "You seem to have misinterpreted Mister Gallant. To provide full help to us, that mare will need to be free so she could get items that are necessary to the investigation, such as those documents. She could not do that while under arrest."
>>515872 Smile. "Grand! For this matter is not dealt with until after there is a new mayor and as soon as the new mayor is in office the amnesty can be issued and thus you will not have time to arrest her!"
>>515871 "I am afraid I do not understand what you mean, Mister Gotti."
You all enjoy a full night's rest, well-deserved after the long hike to here today. The beds are very comfortable to sleep in and you feel fully rejuvenated as you wake up in the morning. After taking a hot bath and sharing a lovely breakfast in the hotel, you are all set for today. Cassie has decided to find a smithy to work at today, hoping to earn some money. Edelweiss will continue devouring books on law and economics in her room.
>>515888 Spend a while cleaning my sword and armor, then put them on and my Order tunic over them. Feeling the extra weight of the bits Gotti distributed to the group on my sides, I make a mental note to keep an eye open for any shops as I rejoin the group.
>>515914 >>515913 >>515911 >>515910 "Try to stay out of trouble, as I will not accompany you in your search. As I have mentioned I will do my best to scout out the nobility of this city, and possibly try and find a suitable candidate for the next mayor."
>>515918 You leave the fancy hotel lobby behind you and strike out into the city. The sun is shining outside, seemingly the only thing strong enough to pierce the magical shield. The temperatures are nice and temperate, not too hot or cold to comfortably.
>>515929 Whisper to him. "We are being followed, so it's not safe to talk. But to make it quick, we will meet with Ardet's informer, raid the Magpies' safehouses and find proof of their crimes." Then, after a second, add. "Anypony could be our enemy."
>>515930 >>515923 >>515933 You arrive at the Rust Stool. Gallant and Ardent recognize the place, it's where they met Herald the day before. "Funny how it was apparently right under our nose the whole time…" The place isn't as busy as the day before as it's quite early. Signs of yesterday's binge drinking are still somewhat visible. A few lone ponies are nursing a drink at the bar.
The unicorn mare is nowhere to be seen.
>>515931 You strike out on your own! It's 10 AM and the streets are flourishing with activity. The inner city really does make you feel at home, the grandness of it all reminds you of the palace back at the capital. You still remember visiting it when you were a mere filly, a day you wont soon forget. You look around for a while and find a tea room which is located on the top of a large building, overlooking the city. The sight is absolutely breath taking! Several groups of ponies are sitting around their respective table, clearly forming small groups to boast about their latest purchases and laugh at the peasants on the ground.
>>515936 You sit at the counter, the barkeep eyeing you with some curiosity.
>>515937 Two stallions and a mare are having a relaxed conversation about their planned travels. "Indeed, I specifically hired the Manehatten weather pegasi to ensure only the best of weather during my stay there. It would be dreadful to have my vacation ruined by bad weather."
>>515953 >>515955 >>515956 She removes her helmet and looks around. "Nopony is around. Good." She walks up to one of the toilet stalls and opens it up. She pulls the flushing lever, which triggers some kind of mechanism, flipping the wall behind the toilet around. She carefully moves one of her hooves over the wall. "If you are wondering where I got this armor from… take a guess. It works well as a disguise, so sorry for taking it." She finishes touching the wall and takes step back as a magical portal materializes into the wall. "Now follow." She steps through the portal, disappearing from sight as she does.
>>515954 "How wonderful to have you here in our lovely city, lady Angelite. I am certain you are finding it quite to your liking, yes?"
A waiter pony approaches the table. "Does madame wish for a refreshment?"
'Sunstone island, once the royal family's favorite holiday spot, is a mere shell of what it once was. Located to the west of the Crystal Empire and Equestria, the former mining colony was abandoned during the reign of Discord. It became easy prey for ambitious individuals wishing to get away from the pony kingdoms and the law.' Excerpt from 'The ten most dangerous places in the world!'
>>515958 "This year's Chineighse black tea is rather excellent madame. I believe you will find it quite pleasant to your tastes. It also comes with a pair of authentic biscuit rolls."
>>515959 >>515960 >>515961 As you step through the portal, the world around you goes black. Opening your eyes, you see you are no longer present inside the mare's restrooms. The portal has led you to a large circular room with only one visible exit, a large wooden door on the opposite side of the room. The walls look weathered and grey, lit up by a row torches. A dusty old chandelier hangs from the ceiling, lighting up the area even further. Spread around the ground are several bedrolls, some of them in a better state than the others. Old barrels and crates are stacked to the ceiling to the left of you, while a large dusty carpet covers the floor of the middle of the room. A few tables with candles, empty mugs and plates on top of them are scattered around, as well as a few burning braziers.
There's only a handful of ponies here, a stallion and a mare are sitting at one of the tables, engaged in a quiet conversation, another stallion is digging around in one of the crates, while yet another stallion is sweeping the floor with a broom. Finally a colt and a filly running around the room playing tag. Sonnet recognizes the colt as the same one she asked to fetch paper and a quill for her the day before.
Leadlight glances around the room, then turns to you. "Welcome to our home."
>>516486 The stallion sweeping the floor is giving you the eye… Leadlight reaches to open up the door, but is interrupted as Ardent reaches over.
>>516487 She tenses up at your touch and grabs your hoof in one swift motion, ready to counter your move. When she sees what you're gesturing at, she relaxes. "Mining accidents sometimes leaves Brilliance with nothing but orphans. We sometimes offer them a home and a full belly for their services. None ever decline."
>>516488 As I said in meta, Angelite is not with the party. Also, the unicorn mare you are following looks very similar to the one who shot Cassie with a dart way back.
>>516489 "Splendid! I cannot wait to get back there and enjoy my holiday estate."
>>516490 "I am not showing you around. This is a safe place for you to be without any spying eyes around, which is why we are here. We have what you desire stored deeper inside this place. You are here because you accepted my offer, which required a certain amount of trust from you. I will show you we can and will back up our own end of the bargain."
>>516501 "There is no sense in rushing our target. Paladin or no, you must practice restraint."
>>516502 "Lord Meadow Star. A name I am sure you know well." You have heard of the Star family for sure, but not him in particular.
>>516505 "It is one of our temporary homes, shifting and changing as time passes." She opens the door, revealing a hallway behind it. The walls are lit by torches. More doors are present ahead. "Please stay close to me."
>>516509 It's definitely her. I linked a summary in meta by the way, it's best you read it.
'Please do not touch the Crystal Heart.' - Writing on the plaque marking the Crystal Heart
>>516526 He gestures to the mare sitting next to him. "My sister, Tranquil Star."
She gives you a polite nod. "Charmed, miss Angelite."
The waiter comes back with your Chineighse black tea on a neat little plate. "Your refreshment, my lady." It smells rather nice, if a bit foreign. There's a strange cookie lying next to the cup.
>>516528 "I am not wasting time, paladin. Merely…" She stops at one of the doors. It looks very sturdy and has a strange looking lock on it. "… keeping my end on the bargain." Taking out a set of keys, she begins to unlock the door, which appears to take quite a bit of hassle.
>>516530 "Absolutely not. This dimension will eventually destabilize and become too dangerous to enter."
>>516542 This is the first time you've seen her again since the incident. Ardent and Gallant have met her before though, but they don't know it's the same mare that you encountered because they never saw her back then.
She no doubt recognized you as well, but hasn't cared to comment on it.
>>517837 The lock is probably enchanted, similar to the shackles back in the old mines in Winterheim. In a place full of thieves… only the best locks will keep something shut to the wrong ponies.
As she nimbly manipulates the keys with her telekinesis to move from lock to lock, you suddenly sense an intense feeling of dread washing over you. Something horrible is about to come!
>>517840 She's too busy concentrating on the lock to pay attention to you. You too feel a powerful emotion surge through you. Your paladin sense is tingling and it's detecting something horrible.
>>517839 This hallway is long and dusty, there's not much to see here in the dim light of the torches along the walls. There are several doors up ahead which are all closed as well. Further ahead, the hallway takes a sharp turn to the left.
>>517838 "A fortune cookie, my lady. A traditional treat from the orient containing a special message." He bows his head a little and walks off.
>>517842 >>517844 >>517845 The mare reacts in an instant, dropping the keys and unsheathing a long dagger, ready to attack you. "And they say us thieves have no honor. You have made a mistake coming here just to attack us in our own homes."
Nothing else seems to be happening… Though the feeling of dread is still strong inside the minds of the paladins.
>>517843 Meadow nods in agreement. "The Neighpons certainly are quite creative when it comes to these things. It is a shame they are so… different in regards of manners."
Tranquil. "It is quite exotic. Only befitting for the higher class and not the peasantry."
>>517847 "Miss Angelite please spare me those kind of thoughts. We are the elite. The peasantry work for us while we rule them. They would be lost if it weren't for us."
>>517848 You lack the special training they received on detecting anomalies, so no.
>>517850 >>517851 She opens her mouth to answer, but is interrupted as a deafening screech sounds through the hallway, making her cringe. The sound is completely unponylike and seemingly pierces your very soul. Even more worrying is the fact that you can't even tell where it exactly came from. Leadlight looks around in complete surprise. "… Not good. That sounded like invading spirits again. A rift must have opened into this dimension… come!" She gathers the keys and pockets them, then starts sprinting further down the hallway with impressive speed.
>>517852 Sip my tea in a refined manner as she talks. "We work for the lower classes as much as they work for us. Without their continued efforts and contributions, we would starve without food. There would be nopony to provide us with fabric. We would have no furniture to speak of and we would have no roof above our heads. I strongly believe that society is built on relying on each other, and I implore you to consider this yourself." '1d10' Good Word.
>>517853 >>517855 >>517858 >>517859 You all run down the hallway after her. "As time goes on, these pocket dimensions destabilize… which sometimes results in small rifts opening up. Most of the time these can be closed without much issue but…" She stops in front of a set of large wooden doors at the end of the hallway. "… other times they bring in beings that cause trouble. Be on your guard." She looks back at the two paladins of the group. "Although it seems you sensed them long before we did."
>>517857 She waves a hoof dismissively. "I will not hear any more of this nonsense. I suggest you learn how the world truly works, miss Angelite. Your childish views on these things are hardly fact."
>>517861 "On the contrary, views such as yours are the exact reason why many ponies think that nobility has an incurable superiority complex, which can severly damage the public image of Houses, as you might imagine."
>>519373 Well I will enjoy my tea as well before answering, calm as ever! "Our money is only worth the price that it is worth as long as the country is in stability and peace. Should this, by your words, 'powerless' mass rise against their current state, the worth of gold would plummet, not to mention what other damage an uprising may create. Therefore, it is my opinion that it is for the sake of everypony to keep the working class happy."
>>519374 "We keep them happy enough, they are locked up in their own little world. Give the masses bread and circuses and they will stay happy. Our fair city is the perfect example of that. The peasants are happy enough to toil in the mines while we give them rewards for doing so. They should be grateful for this!"
>>519376 "We are simply more than just that. Perhaps your youthfulness is to blame for your naivety, miss Angelite. In time you will learn that peasants and nobility are two separate entities, pieces of a pyramid where we stand on top while they stand at the bottom."
>>519378 She lets out an undignified snort. "I believe the time has come to excuse myself and return to my estate." She gets up and walks away from the table, head held high. Meadow Star excuses himself as well and takes his leave after her, leaving you alone with the stallion whose name you haven't asked.
>>519380 "Silver Lining, from Crystalport." Your trained ears catch the hint of an Equestrian accent in his speech. He looks like a crystal pony though. You don't recognize his family name. "Lady Tranquils views are extreme, but sadly not all that unique."
>>519395 "You seemed very set on defending your ideals in regards to those of common lineage and I wondered how much sincerity there was in your words. The fact that you surround yourself with commoner ponies shows that you do believe what you say."
>>519427 "If anypony thinks that would damage my image then, pardon me, but I can safely disregard their opinion in the matter. I was lucky enough to be born in a wealthy family, however that does not mean I am better than anypony else."
>>519433 "Yet even they must understand, that as a diplomat and negotiatior I not only move within noble circles. Ponies from other social classes have problems that need to be solved as well. I would rather that these problems are solved peacefully, which is why I help everypony equally."
>>519437 "That does not befit a diplomat, my lady. You must be flexible and willing to twist the truth a little. Do not waste your breath on fighting lost battles like against lady Tranquil. Instead take a different approach and keep your opinions to yourself."
You crack open the fortune cookie. Inside you find a rolled up small piece of paper.
>>519438 "I do not like to lie, true. Yet if I see a chance to make a pony change his or her mind I try to take it. Thank you for concern, however, this was merely a chat. As much as it pains me on occasions, I do have to remain neutral on more serious matters." Let's roll it out and read it!
>>519456 "That it is." Raise my head proudly. "However, I will not let myself be threatened. Some ponies obviously do not like my presence here, which tells me I am doing something good. I might be a diplomat, but as my father used to say, you will not accomplish anything without making a few enemies."
>>519467 "Yes… they are somewhat troublesome. Our family owns a trading company, you see. We ferry goods mostly from Equestria and the Crystal empire. The Magpies have not been shy about stealing items from our shipments passing through Brilliance and elsewhere."
>>519477 "Hm… well, if they feel threatened by your presence then I can only applaud you. They have no taken the time to address me, which raises some questions about my methods. Indeed, perhaps I am being too lax. Do be careful, my lady. They are still crooks."
>>519486 "I have been attempting to persuade the lord mayor into taking stricter action. Our family also lends monetary support to the Hospitallion knights to help increase the safety of the road network. The paladins… something else has recently enthralled them completely."
>>517862 You are here with the party, Herald (A friend of Gallant) and Leadlight (The unicorn thief). "This place… it's not part of the world we live in. It's a separate dimension we can enter through the use of magic rifts and portals. These pocket dimension are very useful but also unstable at times. Rifts to dangerous places will sometimes form, allowing these spirits to enter and wreak havoc."
>>517863 "Don't worry about them. All we need to do is get these restless spirits out of this place and close the rift. You are a paladin, you should be able to do that." You theorize you could indeed use spellbreaker to break these portals. You hear Herald whisper in your ear, having already taken to the shadows to hide. "I hope you put on your paladin pants today, Gallant. This isn't my field of expertise."
Leadlight slowly unlocks the wooden doors and swing them open, revealing a large room ahead, similar to the one you arrived in. There are no living ponies in here though. You count eight spirits rampaging around the room. They look vaguely ponylike except more spectral, though their exact shapes are actually quite hard to see. The paladins know that these entities are more resilient to physical attacks, but also weaker to magical spells. There is a large glowing tear in one of the walls, glowing with the same kind of intensity as the portal you entered through to get here. "There it is, the rift they got through. We have to close at soon as possible." Leadlight pulls out six daggers with her telekinesis. The spirits have spotted you and are howling as they move in to attack. They are blocking the path to the rift, so you'll need to at least fend them off first.
>>519643 …So, ghosts. Those are ghosts. Ghosts are real. …Well alright then. Okay, whatever they are, they're hostile. Right. I can deal with hostile. I ready my sword and eye the hostiles up. Are there any apparent weaknesses or patterns of behavior? [1d10+2]
>>519644 Surprisingly so, you manage to shout at least one of them down, freezing it in place. It wont be able to move or attack next turn.
>>519645 This was mentioned before in one of those quotes I put when starting a new session and Angelite must definitely know this, but Sunstone is not actually part of the Crystal Empire. It is an old mining colony settled on an island to the west of Equestria and the Crystal empire. It was also a popular destination for crystal nobles to visit during those times. This was ages ago, however, the island was abandoned by the crystal empire, causing all kinds of outlaws, pirates, thieves, bandits and other rogues to use it as their own little resort. It's independent, but obviously not considered a state of its own. Still, a pegasus mare called Storm Cloud has managed to exercise some control over the island, keeping it from tearing itself apart. The island is inhabited by all kinds of species, diamond dogs, crystal ponies, gryphons, normal ponies, donkeys… it's a melting pot.
"I imagine not. Some of them seem to have gotten out in time however. Including Storm Cloud who is currently taking shelter in Crystalport. She is exceedingly angry about losing her turf to changelings, as you may imagine."
>>519646 They don't really seem like ghosts. Ghosts are completely immaterial and non-solid. These spirits are at least somewhat solid, meaning physical attacks do actually work on them, but aren't as effective as say magic. They seem intelligent, not like mindless animals.
>>519649 >They are blocking the path to the rift, so you'll need to at least fend them off first. You can't reach it, there's a spirit in the way! It attacks you, but you hit it with your spellbreaker, which does seem to have a very damaging effect on these spirits.
>>519652 You shoot a bolt at one of the spirits, but it easily dodges it. It smacks your crossbow out of your grip and onto the ground.
>>519655 You channel the power of LAW and ORDER into your teeny weeny silver dagger and slash at the spirit you just incapacitated. It's a good thing it can't move because you somehow manage to completely miss it and leave yourself open for a potential counterattack… which never comes.
>>519656 "That is what is keeping the paladins so busy at the moment. They are worried that Sunstone will be used as a staging ground to invade Equestria or the empire. Now, they likely don't have the numbers to perform a full scale invasion, but they could still hit one of the towns along the coast… like Crystalport."
>>519657 You swing your runed longsword at the spirit, fueled with holy power… but miss! The spirit moves in to attack, only to be beaten back by a magic bolt from Herald, saving you from retaliation. … When did he learn how to use magic anyway?
>>519658 The spirit's agility catches you off guard and it dodges your strikes completely, allowing it to attack your flank with ease. You are helpless.
>>519660 You successfully roll out of the way and get back up. You receive a +1 to getting back up yourself or helping someone get back up for the remainder of combat.
>>519661 You pull out a small spray can of Spiritonidazolepidogrelasteride. And use it to spray the spirit. Well… It doesn't seem to like it, at least!
>>519662 This time you make contact, although it is a mere physical contact. Some ectoplasm bleeds out of it, a strange liquid often associated with spiritual things. Still, it doesn't seem too hurt by this!
>>519663 "I do hope the same, lady Angelite. Changelings are horrible creatures, believe me."
>>519665 "Then you know the dangers they pose." He clears his throat and gets up. "It was lovely talking to you, miss Angelite, but I must get going now. If you do ever find yourself in Crystalport, you are very welcome to look me up."
>>519666 Your mind blanks out as the spell backfires. You lose consciousness for a second and when you wake back up again, you're down on the ground. Helpless.
>>519667 It dodges your bolt but doesn't come in for an attack after it got sprayed by you.
>>519668 You actually manage to hit it! Unfortunately, you are rewarded by a counterattack from the spirit in the form of a magical blastwave which knocks you to the ground. Helpless.
Ardent Helpless/3 Gallant Helpless/4 Helaine 4/5
Leadlight destroys one of the spirits by sending a volley of daggers with her telekinesis at it, leaving her exhausted. 7 remain.
>>519675 The spirit once again dodges the holy blow, giving it a chance to deliver a blow of its own to your head.
>>519676 You hit the spirit with your sword, wounding it further. These blows aren't as effective, but they still have an effect! The spirit seems to fade slightly, obviously hurt.
>>519677 "Of course." He bows and walks off again. As you are sitting there waiting, you suddenly hear a female voice whispering uncomfortably close to your ear from behind you. "You are not safe here."
>>519678 Your magic bolt narrowly misses the spirit as it moves out of the way to dodge.
>>519679 '1d10' spell breaker then. Get them out of the way. "You're stubborn aren't you?" >>519680 "They are unholy spirits, they are simply angry, and irrational." "Don't let up!" >>519682 I nod to you. "I know, but the spirits are blocking it."
>>519680 Before you can shoot, your are knocked aside again by another spirit.
>>519681 You feel something sharp slightly press into your back, but then disappear again. "No. Lucky you. Why aren't you with your friends? Didn't mommy and daddy tell you it's unsafe to play on your own? I had to come aaaall the way up here and lie to my colleague to get him away from you."
>>519682 You slash away at the wounded spirit, finally finishing it off. Another one slams into you in retaliation, however.
>>519683 Your attack misses once again, these spirits sure are quick! It howls at you.
Herald launches another pair of magic bolts at one of the spirits, destroying it. 4 remain.
>>519685 "I'm here to look after you. You me and every dirty little secret~" You hear a soft giggle. "Seriously though, I'm watching you. Leadlight says whatever business you have in mind should be dealt with as quick as you can. The longer you're out here… the more danger you're in. We wouldn't want that pretty face of yours to be ruined, now would we?"
>>519686 You slash back at the spirit, wounding it slightly and causing it to back off slightly.
>>519687 You perform a calculated charge and swing your sword with some divine help at one of the spirits, damaging it severely. The strike is so strong that the resulting blast hurts several other spirits as well!
>>519688 You are hit by a very powerful magical blast from one of the spirits, sending you flying through the air and smashing helpless into the ground. Helaine Helpless/4
>>519696 "The mayor isn't the biggest fish in the pond, you silly filly. I'm talking about Obsidian Flow. He's got a lot of money too, you know… and he's kinda cute looking~"
>>519695 You destroy one of the wounded spirits with your strike, but the last one retaliates by tackling you.
>>519697 You charge forward, speeding towards the portal to close it before more of these beings flood in. As you close in, two more of them pop out in front of you, but are torn apart by a volley of daggers and magic bolts in mere seconds. You hit the magical rift with your spell, causing it to collapse into itself as the tear mends itself and closes.
>>519698 Finally, Helaine destroys the last spirit using a pair of magic bolts to shoot it out of the sky.
It is done. The rift has been closed and all the invading spirits have been destroyed. Leadlight pockets her daggers while Herald smirks triumphantly. "Well done… it seems we have succeeded."
>>519700 Leadlight stares at you for a moment, then softly shakes her head and starts walking out of the room. Herald laughs and shakes his head. "No, I just happened to dabble a little bit into magic."
>>519701 "And you're not rotten, aren't you? No… you're a perfect little egg. A perfect noble egg with such a brittle shell."
The waiter returns with your tea, which makes your new friend go silent. "Your Chineighse black tea, my lady."
>>519702 Some of your companions look a bit weary, but nothing too serious.
>>519703 Leadlight nods as she walks out of the room back to the door she was unlocking earlier. "I agree. Just a moment."
>>519706 >>519708 After dealing with the intricate lock for another minute, she finally manages to unlock the door. She pushes the heavy steel doors open, causing them to creak. The vault is open to you. Inside there are rows upon rows of boxes and bags spread around the room. All of them have tags on them. "A large portion of items that have been recently stolen by order of either the mayor or Obisidian Flow are stored here, they have the tags GCOF and LMBR." She walks over to a bag. "… This was stolen from the medical institute. You've no doubt heard about it from doctor Sapphire Flux."
>>519709 "This place may have its issues, but it also has a lot of merits. That said, it changes and shifts as time goes on anyway. It could be somewhere completely different by tomorrow."
>>519710 He nods. "I decided to hide in the shadows and stay there in case you-" Leadlight interrupts him. "I saw you hiding, but decided not to comment on it."
>>519713 She looks at your hoof and shakes her head. "You don't want to carry these around just yet. We have work to do first. As I said, these items were stolen by their orders. They gave us a target and we retrieved whatever it was. The collection of goods we've stolen range from old maps of the empire to…" She kicks the bag softly. "Biological weapons. A bit odd, do you not agree?"
>>519712 You finish your lovely Chineighse tea. The fortune cookie still sits on your plate.
>>519715 There's all sorts of folders filled with papers and vials filled with strange liquids inside. "This is my part of the bargain. You still have yours to fulfill."
>>519716 There are a lot of other bags tagged with different codes. These guys sure have been busy.
>>519719 "You might think that at a first glance, but it runs deeper than that. You were looking for those mining documents on Winterheim alone at first. Why? Did you witness something there?"
>>519720 You crack open the cookie and unfurl the paper. It reads: 'U You have a hot flank' The waiter comes over and receives your payment.
>>519721 "You seem to be confused. In this bag lie the biological blueprints of a certain disease that has been modified by the good ponies of the medical institute. It only affects diamond dogs and is extremely deadly and contagious."
>>519724 "They are looking for something. Something old and hidden underground. The old mining reports on various places in the empire, the old maps of the empire, the history books… I think they are attempting to dig around in various places to pinpoint the location of whatever it is they are looking for. I don't know what and I don't know why, but I believe you are all involved in it. The other things that were stolen… I am not sure which purpose they serve to them, but it cannot be good."
>>519730 >>519733 "They are stolen goods with their names on it, I gave you what you wanted. Now I require your help back with something you will no doubt want to do anyway."
>>519731 There is some jewelry in some of the bags as well, but the thief lady will probably be very angry at you if you steal their stolen goods.
>>519732 You head to one of the parks in the inner city. It's one of the few places where you aren't completely surrounded by towering buildings! You sit down on a bench looking over a small pond with koi fish in it.
After a few minutes of silence, you hear the voice from behind you again. "Are you going to just sit there?"
>>519736 "What do you think? I once had to hide under a bed for a whole night so I wouldn't get caught." There's a few seconds of silence. "Awww, are you mad because of that cookie? Can't take a joke, miss fancy lady?"
>>519737 >>519738 "I want your help taking down Shadow Play, our current leader. He is firmly inside Obsidian Flow's pocket and is secretly plotting to kill me. Once he and his closest allies are gone, the Magpies can move on."
>>519758 "Yes it is. There should be no worries there."
>>519759 Leadlight is keeping an eye on you as you rummage through some of the bags and boxes belonging to the mayor and Obsidian Flow, you can feel it. There's a blueprint of some sort of machine, old tomes filled with spells, runes, books on history of the empire and several… empty bags inside a bag?
>>519772 You do, they are fairly important and not just in Brilliance. The Flux family is not very powerful and is limited to Brilliance. The Stars are quite spread out over the crystal empire and certainly not unimportant! "Why not? I brush my teeth every day, I promise!"
>>519774 Nod at the evidence. "Hopefully this will be enough to convict the real villains. And I think Sonnet is right, we should at least attempt a live capture.. And killing someone is more harsh than breaking their bones."
'No trespassing allowed, dogs will be prosecuted.' - The most commonly sign found inside gem mines
>>519777 "The big name is Prim Rose. A bit of an uptight cunt, but he doesn't take shit from anybody, not even Obsidian Flow. His sister Lavender Rose left a while back and went for the capital. She's just as uptight as he is, but she likes it rough in bed from what I hear. The Roses own a lot of the farms around here. That's kinda their thing, y'know?"
>>519778 There is only blackness. You have no idea. Magic maybe?
>>519735 >>521114 I sat next to the paladins a bit ill tempered of the situation. "How is it that all of you are acting like there is nothing happening? There are ghosts in this… vault, hideout… thing. We should get out of here!"
I then look at Leadlight "I assume this pony is the one who lead you guys here,:
>>521127 "They have always been here. We've taken care of them for now so there is no reason to leave. And I am. My name is Leadlight and I am Shadow Play's right hoof."
>>521128 You hear some soft curses before she answers. "… Fucking south. There's those weird farms placed on those hills you passed by when you arrived, those are the Rose's."
>>521130 You leave the vault and head back into the main room on your own. Not much has changed there. The stallion from earlier is still sweeping the floor while the others are doing their own thing. Those kids seem to be fumbling around with a locked chest. The stallion who was digging inside one of the crates earlier has settled down to sharpen a set of daggers. The couple of crystal ponies are still engaged in a conversation with one another.
>>521132 I frown as I flare my wings in readiness. "And? What if you are someone's shadow, or right hoof? You and that stallion friend of yours treathened me and my friend. Why are you with these paladins? As a hostage?"
>>521138 "Maybe there's some profit to be had out of it for us." "You wish, stealing from paladins would just draw a shitload of attention towards us. I don't want to have to face down one of those warhammers." "Don't you think they have bigger worries?" "Maybe, but once they've dealt with those they'll still remember. Besides, they deserve better than being targeted by us, they'll need those supplies." "I guess you're right…"
>>521139 You leave the towering spires of the inner city behind you and soon leave the city altogether. Heading down the same road as before, you are once again surrounded by hills covered with large stone slabs used as farming surfaces. Terrace farms as you recall them being called. "Take the path left, sweetcheeks.."
>>521141 She stares you down. "I did no such thing. Neither am I a hostage."
>>521144 Fly higher than her stare and cross my hooves "Really? So you are not only a thief but a liar too. I've met ponies like you on the road and all they do is attract trouble. Come to think of it we are in trouble right now and I blame it all to you."
I then look at the other paladins. "Why are you not arresting her? Do something!"
>>521146 "Hey." "What?" "You look kinda worried there, what's wrong?" "Just hoping we're making the right choice here. I… don't want to die." "Don't you trust 'Light?" "I do but… shit. There's a lot on the line." "I hear you. But if there's one pony who can help us get to the other side, it's her."
>>521147 "I shot your friend so she and you wouldn't die. I threatened no one, I only took action."
>>521145 "I'm complimenting you, that's all. You could learn something from that you cold cunt."
>>521151 "Y-Yeah, I guess." "Just keep your head clear. You'll be fine." "I think I'll need another drink for that…"
>>521152 "You have nice soft looking cheeks, how is that not a good thing?" You see a large mansion up ahead, nestled between two hills. A fence surrounds the estate, as well as a rather large garden. The mansion itself is quite big and made out of red crystal.
>>521156 "It was likely that the stallion you attacked would have hurt you. I interfered to prevent that. Taking down your friend was necessary."
>>521157 "Impossible, it is clear both of you have ill intent on the three of us. If not then why the hell are you two skulking near that winter cabin in the first place?" I snarl at her being just 'too cool' about the situation, something is fishy. Is she lying? What do my guts tell? '1d10'
>>521160 "That's fucking stupid." You feel someone tug your tail, stopping you in your tracks. As you turn around to look, you are surprised to see a crystal mare standing behind you. She's wearing a nice dress and has a simple, yet proper manestyle. She grabs your hoof and gently leads you along towards the gate of the estate. "Come on, my cousin."
>>521163 Several times. Seems like they're practicing their skills. In time, they'll no doubt be skilled thieves. The same thieves you'll be on the lookout for while on the job.
>>521164 It's hard to say, she's keeping a pokerface on and has a relaxed posture. "I was shadowing him and he took the initiative. When I saw where things were going, I stepped in to intervene."
>>521173 "No choice there, I'm afraid. Unless you want to introduce me as your marefriend?" She bites her lower lip and gives you a suggestive look. "… Or just your friend, that works too. I wanted to feel like a pretty little noble pony though."
>>521209 You enter the garden surrounding the mansion and follow the the path that leads to the main entrance. "I thought you were going to have to start unbuttoning your dress to persuade him. Shame."
>>521211 He gives you a incredulous look as you walk away.
>>521218 "I wouldn't mind if you did, that's all." After a nice walk in the garden, surrounded by delicious looking and smelling flowers and plants, you arrive at the main entrance. A servant pony is there waiting on you.
>>521228 "I believe he may. Please follow me to the sitting room, you may need to wait a moment for him to arrive." He opens the door and leads you inside the red mansion. Inside everything is as polished and neat as the outside. Works of art decorate the glistening walls while a beautiful carpet brings some warmth to the cold floor.
>>521229 They've gotten themselves a fresh drink and have moved a bit closer to each other, their bodies nearly touching now.
>>521240 You arrive in the sitting room. It is quite open and has a fair amount of windows looking into the garden. The servant directs you to some comfortable seats to sit on and takes his leave with a bow. 'Clementina' fidgets uncomfortably. "… There's a lot of shit in here I've seen so far that I'd love to get my hooves on."
>>521241 You'll have to roll to not be noticed eavesdropping.
>>521248 She shrugs ever so slightly. "One is more negative than the other."
>>521253 Take a seat. Keep my voice low. "I will have to ask you to keep your hooves to yourself, unless you wish me to hoof you over to the guard on the way out. Or worse for you, my good friend Sonnet Glory."
>>521253 "Then gang it is you brigand, if you view yourself that low then better give your group the appropriate title." I then look around anyone else who are with this group that I can converse other than this thief.
>>521278 "Like?" "Recon, espionage, maybe some sabotage." "Fuck me, if we get caught-" "We wont." "But-" "We. Wont." "How can you be so sure?" "Because we're the best at what we do. Once that bastard Shadow Play is gone, we'll have the best leader we could ask for."
>>521281 She frowns and backs off again, grumbling to herself.
Before long you hear the sound of hoofsteps coming from behind you. As you turn around, you see a crystal stallion has entered the room. His shiny coat is a pale yellow while his mane is light red. He's wearing pristine looking garment as well as a monocle. "Good day ladies. I am Prim Rose, the owner of this wonderful estate and the lands surrounding it. To what do I have the honor of having you here to thank for?"
>>521287 Smile at him. "Good day to you as well, Mister Prim! I am Angelite, a diplomat from the Crystal Capital. This is my friend Clementina. I am here to discuss a serious matter which requires some level of discretion."
>>522134 "Let me give you some context first, Mister Prim. My friends and I have been travelling towards the Capital from a small town. Said smalltown was recently attacked by some ruffians, who took some of the ponies as captives to the nearby mines. We managed to deal with these bandits and free the hostages, who have been made to work in a seemingly abandoned mine. Once we have arrived in this city we tried to get some geological information on the surrounding area, which lead to a small investigation of… quite interesting results."
>>522556 "My findings are much more troubling than any of us was expecting it. Altough we did not manage to find solid evidence, it might be plausible that the one who was behind that assault was none other than the company Gemco."
>>522557 He frowns. "Obsidian… How certain are you of this? What purpose would that have? I know enough that Winterheim has run dry on minerals. Not to mention that he has enough employees to not have to rely on bandits to do the digging."
>>522567 "Of course I do. Our family swore fealty to the empire. But Lord Redwood currently holds the office and as I said before, he is backed by powerful benefactors." A servant arrives with tea, pausing the conversation. 'Clementina' takes a very refined sip from the cup, staying in character quite well.
>>522568 I sip my tea as well after thanking the servant. "That is why I am the lookout for allies myself. Should we find solid evidence of his corruption and a suitable replacement, I believe that we could make a change with the power of the people."
>>522570 "I am not quite sure.." Glance at 'Clementina'. "Unless we can get our hooves on some documents they are hiding, I only have a single idea. We need to try and lure them into a fake investment."
>>522579 "You'll have to discuss it with them, I think."
Prim Rose speaks up again. "My family has quite a bit of funds ready. The problem has been finding anypony who was willing to accept it so far. If you two can help the city of Brilliance… we would be grateful and happy to extend a reward."
>>522585 He gets up. "Good. We shall see each other soon again then. Let us hope we are successful. If you do find evidence… I suggest you bring it to the capital rather than here. You never know, after all."
>>522586 I nod and stand up as well. "One more thing. I expect that you know the local political circle better than I do. Should we find the evidence and bring it to the capital for justice to be served, do you know anypony who can take the position?"
>>522595 She swallows, leaving behind a petal at the corner of her mouth. "You really need to loosen up a bit. After acting like an uptight noble for that long, I need some winding down." You reach and pass by the gates.
>>522601 You easily find one once you arrive back in the Inner city. The building is quite tall and has a lot of floor, so the selection is sure to be varied! "What the fuck are you doing? Are you going shopping now?"
>>522603 You head inside the book-filled store. There are many rows of racks here, all of them categorized. You spot an employee busy with unpacking books out a box. It's not too busy in here at the moment, it seems.
>>522617 "Seriously? It looks nice and squishy! Probably from sitting around all the time. Yours is squishy too though, so don't get jealous again." She goes quiet again as the mare returns with two books.
"I believe these two will be to your liking. They both cover the subject extensively."
>>522638 "Whatever. Keep walking straight." You follow her directions and find yourself in the less reputable parts of town before long, eventually being lead to a bar called 'The Rusty Stool'. It seems… rather dirty and unfit for a high class lady such as yourself.
>>522654 You enter the bar. It's not very busy inside as it is still early on in the day. It doesn't smell too hygienic in here, but it's bearable… as long as you don't have to stick around for longer than 10 minutes. The bartender gives you a weird look. "To the mare bathrooms."
>>522661 "Leadlight would kill me if I did. And that mare is dangerous. I gave her a nice compliment once and she smacked me with her tail!" The bathrooms are not all too clean. There are several stalls in here, all of them open. You hear the door close behind you. As you turn around, you see 'Clementina' standing there. For the first time without a disguise at that. She's wearing a sleek looking black and white armor which covers every inch of her body. Even most of her face is obstructed by a plain mask, leaving only her eyes unobstructed.
>>522695 "Of course not, just have some damn patience." She brushes past you and walks over to the third stall, opening it up. After fiddling around with the toilet inside some, the wall suddenly flips over revealing… an empty wall. She begins to move her hooves over the bare wall for some reason you cannot fathom. You notice the outfit she's wearing doesn't leave room for a tail to come out, leaving her with a tailless flank.
>>522744 You hear some chuckling from her before the world around you goes dark. Opening your eyes, you see you are no longer present inside the mare's restrooms. The portal has led you to a large circular room with only one visible exit, a large wooden door on the opposite side of the room. The walls look weathered and grey, lit up by a row torches. A dusty old chandelier hangs from the ceiling, lighting up the area even further. Spread around the ground are several bedrolls, some of them in a better state than the others. Old barrels and crates are stacked to the ceiling to the left of you, while a large dusty carpet covers the floor of the middle of the room. A few tables with candles, empty mugs and plates on top of them are scattered around, as well as a few burning braziers.
There's only a handful of ponies here, a stallion and a mare are sitting at one of the tables, engaged in a quiet conversation, another stallion is sitting near the wall and sharpening his daggers, while yet another stallion is sweeping the floor with a broom. Ardent is standing around as well but isn't here. Finally a colt and a filly are busy fiddling around with a locked chest. They both turn to look at you as you arrive and start whispering to each other, casting you the occasional glance. 'Clementina' steps in from behind you. "Welcome to our crib."
>>522786 "I know you so well~" She looks back at you and winks. "Stay put in here, okay? I'll go tell Leadlight our little princess has finally arrived." She walks away and through the door, disappearing from sight. The colt and filly carefully walk over to you when she's gone. "Spare some change, miss?" "We're soooo hungry!"
>>522787 Take out a bit of money, worth of a few good meals, and hoof it over to them. "Here you go. I trust that you will be honest with this money, as I give it to you to get food from it. I would be terribly sad if you were to cheat me on this, even though I may never know if you did."
>>522788 "Bless you!" They seem very pleased by this and run off again.
Moments later, 'Clementina' returns with a unicorn mare you've not seen before. She's not wearing a mask, allowing you to see her face. She seems to be in her early thirties and appears to be quite calm and relaxed. If you were to spot her walking on the street, you'd never suspect her of being a scoundrel!
"Good day, miss Angelite. My name is Leadlight and I am the watcher of this place. Your friends are all here as well, we have been discussing some things regarding this whole situation."
>>522797 She looks back at Clementina for a moment, before returning her gaze to you. "So I have heard. I hope Shimmermist hasn't caused you any grief, she can be quite the hooffull." "Hey! We're good friends already!"
>>522807 "She was there for your protection. I'm sorry it has to be this way, but there are ponies who do not like you digging around in Brilliance. You may not believe me, but she's one of my best ponies. She was there to keep you safe from harm and it appears she has done so successfully."
>>522811 "Good. Soon, we will begin setting things in motion. You and your friends will join me and take down Shadow Play. In return, I will grant you all the items that were stolen on request by mayor Redwood and Obsidian Flow by the Magpies."
>>522815 "As was agreed in the deal we made." Shimmermist pokes Leadlight's flank. "Hey Lead, we should talk in private for a sec." Leadlight nods and walks off with Shimmermist, leaving you alone once again.
>>524623 Smile a bit cheekily. "First I had some lovely tea at a tea house. Afterwards, I had a countryside walk, then I paid visit to a noble estate. Before coming here, I also went to do a bit of shopping."
>>524625 Cover my mouth and chuckle softly. "Jesting aside, I visited the teahouse to look for potential allies. It was not what I would call a success, however, afterwards I did visit the Rose mansion. I had a conversation about Mister Prim Rose, who is against Mayor Redwood just as much as we are. Provided we can get any proof of his corruption that we can take to the Capital, Prim Rose will take control of Brilliance until a proper election is held."
>>524632 "I have got one for myself as well! I hope you do not mind, but I was thinking that as the diplomat of the group, it is my obligation to assure that everyone in the party can communicate their desires or objections about matters. I need to learn it myself, so it will definitely a learning experience!"
>>524637 :"Are they?" I stretched and lie down again before resting my head near your hoof "Naaahh… let them talk, well if Ardent can convey his message at all that is." "As for me, all those ghost plaguing this place took a drain on me and I just want to have my beauty rest. Thats all."
"Say why dont you greet them?" I raise an eyebrow.
>>524641 "I just don't want to interrupt. But I remembered you being a little distraught earlier. I hope you know you're safe with us, but Angelite is a nice pony to talk to if you're still feeling upset." Smile softly. "Look how happy Ardent is."
>>524646 Stare directly at your eyes, bowing slightly. "I will use my light to protect you from harm, and will never lift my blade nor my words toward you in malice." After a moment I will offer you my sword slowly. "If you believe I speak falsely in this. Then take my blade, Vigilance, before I can harm you."
>>524651 With that I wipe away the tears that welled up "Thank you Ma'm Striker, that really helped." I then put a hoof on Vigilance and push it slowly aside as I lift my head and smile "There is no need for that, the offer is proof enough and I thank you for that."
>>524677 Man this book is hard to navigate. one more try before I hoof it back '1d10' >>524676 "Its a wonderful gift. Anything that helps Ardent be heard is something I support. Very thoughtful." Smile.
>>524679 "Oh, I'll just borrow it from ardent sometime after he's done. I will probably be too busy to attend a full study session anyway. Work is never done for a paladin after all." >>524678 >>524680 Well, show you those words parkdinerflowers and let you have fun.
>>524715 "Right.." >>524714 "We helped the thieves clear out ghosts caused by being in such an unnatural space, looked at some evidence, and discussed a plan to corner the leader in a portal with no exit."
>>524715 >>524730 "I see. As I have mentioned previously to Mister Ardent, I have made an ally with Prim Rose, one of the more influental lords around here. He is a supporter of our cause against Mayor Redwood."
Silk Orchid Look at you now, trudging along the snowy road through a roaring blizzard. Just a few months ago you still had it all, money, family, a place to call home, friends… where did it all go wrong? Was it really worth it to run away? Well, you know the answer to that question thoroughly and it wont help you now that your hooves are freezing off.
The capital can't be far now… but it's getting darker and this snow storm isn't making it any easier on you to navigate. You're still following the road as far as you are aware, but even that is hard to tell as it's been covered under a blanket of snow. Your hooves can't even feel the surface your walking on and the harsh icy wind is making you squint your eyes, lest you go blind.
Fortunately for you, it seems Lady luck is smiling upon you as you spot faint signs of light up ahead. Could it be the capital city? Could this icy torment finally be over?
>>525128 You press on, pushing away those submissive thoughts, and trudge your way through the snow towards the sources of light. You've been regretting not just taking a comfortable carriage for some time, but now that you finally have your goal in sights you're happy to have succeeded nonetheless. As you close in on the lights, you notice some of them are actually quite high up. Soon enough, you see the faint silhouette of a tall building where the lights are emanating from. Not long after you see two more silhouettes of tall buildings surrounding the tower in the center, though these two don't seem to reach as high.
As you get close, you finally can make out some details. The towers seem to be made out of some kind of greenish crystal and are connected with each other through bridges in the sky. The weather is making it hard to discern too many other details, unfortunately, but these buildings are definitely inhabited by people. You push through an opened iron gate in the fencing surrounding the area and see the entrance to the largest of the three towers up ahead, a large wooden set of doors lit up by a set of heavy torches. The pathway leading up to it seems to be illuminated in some other way, as the snow lights up in various colors. Perhaps more crystals that give off light?
>>525129 Carriages are the easiest way to get caught. They can be stopped. At least on hoof they don't know your route. I try to go up the pathway and knock on the door. Put on my most sad puppy face. Should be easy, I'm pretty miserable.
>>525130 It takes a solid minute before the door finally opens, revealing a young crystal stallion wearing some simple brown robes. His eyebrow arches as he sees you. "Equestrian?" He glances at your forehead and frowns. "Not a unicorn… darn. Uh… good evening miss?"
>>525132 "The capital? Oh my, um… about an hour or three on hoof from here I think." He glances at the outside behind you. "Through that weather though? You'll want to add a few hours to that. Not like you can fly in that."
>>525133 I look at the storm sadly. "Oh…I think I might make it…If it's not too much of a bother, you seem like a generous stallion, could I ask for a tiny cup of tea? I haven't eaten anything today and my wings are nearly frozen…" Unwrap my beautiful wings slowly, and shake them a bit as if I have trouble moving them.
>>525136 His seems a little flustered by the gesture and you move past him inside. He closes the doors behind you, stopping the cold from coming in any further. The inside of the tower is just as shiny as the outside. The floor is nicely polished and the walls give of a warm magical glow, lighting up the area quite nicely. Up ahead there are stairs which lead up to an elevated level, which in turn seems to lead up to the next floor. To the left and right are two doorways, both of them flanked by a set of statues of ponies. It's nice and warm in here, making your hooves kind of hurt. Still, you're grateful to be out of that wretched cold. "… Miss? I don't think I caught your name…"
>>525137 I take a second to enjoy the warmth. A bit of pain is a lot better than freezing. "Silk…Silk Orchid. What a beautiful place you have. I've never seen anything like it." Reminds me a bit of home.
>>525143 He opens his mouth to answer but is interrupted as another crystal stallion materializes out of thin air between the two of you. He appears to be a few years older than the other stallion, probably in his late twenties, and is wearing a white cloak. "Why hello there miss Orchid, welcome to the Jade Towers." He grabs your hoof and shakes it. "My name is Golden Flux the enchanter, owner of this here estate. You've found us during some very exciting times."
>>525150 "Progress of course! In truth, times are always exciting around here because we're always pushing the boundaries of magical research. My apprentices have their own personal projects while I have mine as well." The other stallion scrunches and walks off to get you some tea. Golden Flux leads you up the stairs to the second level. "We don't usually see pegasi up here, so I'm afraid the towers aren't too flight friendly."
>>525153 "Oh that's quite allright. My wings are not in good condition right now anyway. All the cold, you understand. I should really preen them…" I look around. "And I've always been fascinated by the magical arts even if they've been beyond my reach. What are you working on, mister Flux?"
>>525156 "Magical shield spells, ones that are powerful enough to protect this entire facility from the roughest of attacks! If fact, they are so strong that they could cut a pony in half should they stand in its way." You reach the second level, there's a large rack of books on one end of the wall, as well as several iron cauldrons on top of what you assume to be furnaces. A mare is stirring a large wooden stick in one of them and looks back at the two of you as you pass by. Smells like… chocolate. Mmmm.
>>525166 She ignores you. He takes your hoof and raises it in the air with his own. "Reckless magic!" Moving onward, you take the stairs to the next level, filled with chests and closets of various sizes. This appears to be some kind of storage space. What's more eyecatching however are the ponylike constructs walking around here, seemingly cleaning the place. "Can't forget about our golems helping us out a ton as well. These guys are responsible for keeping everything clean and organized. Never do we have to pick up a broom ourselves!"
>>525177 "Magical constructs of metal and enchanted crystals! These particular models are simple and only have a single function, but we have other types as well to fulfill other tasks. Cooking, spellcasting, gardening, defense, everything that's useful!" You continue up again. This time the room is filled to the brim with racks of books, looks like some kind of library. "Tomes, books, scrolls, everything literate goes here. One of our three grand libraries!" There's another mare and stallion busy here. The former sifting through one of the racks in search of something while the latter is taking his time to read through an old tome.
>>525180 "The Jade towers are something special, you haven't-" He trails off as the younger stallion you saw earlier runs over. He stops and bows his head respectfully, then moves over to whisper something in Golden Flux's ear. "Mmm?… Oh… right-… yeah no-… I see… Yes… of course…" Both turn to look at you. "I'm sorry, it seems my attention is needed elsewhere with an urgent matter. Nothing to worry about of course. It's not like the entire building could blow up or anything." He chuckles and whistles the mare who was sifting through the books over. "Take over from me for a minute, would you? Make sure to make our guest feel welcome." She looks at you, then back to him with a nod. "Alright, sure. Uh… is the western tower safe today?" Golden Flux nods in reply. "Yes, don't worry. It'll be fine. There's just some leftover energies floating about." With that finished, he turns around and fastwalks away with the younger stallion, out of sight.
>>525191 "… Alright. Nice. Follow me then." She walks up the next set of stairs which leads you to the next floor. Just like the previous one this is filled with racks of books. Instead of head up the next set of stairs however, she leads you through the maze of books until you come face to face with a tunnel. Or rather, one of the bridges you saw earlier, spanning between the towers. Luckily, they aren't opened and exposed, being just as warm and shiny as the rest of the tower. "I'm taking you to the western tower. Uh… if you see a small ball of light flying around, don't freak out okay?"
>>525194 She nods. "I'm his third cousin thrice removed." You walk through the tunnel, seeing the storm still raging outside through the windows. Arriving at the western tower safely, you now find yourself in a room filled with glass bottles and vials, carefully placed inside glass cupboards. There are also several tables set up here with equipment placed on top of them. This looks like some kind of alchemical room… The mare starts digging around inside one of the cupboards. "Try not to wreck any of these vials, some of them are pretty potent."
>>525203 As she keeps digging around, a small ball of blueish light flies past you, landing on the tip of your nose and making it tingle slightly. It looks… like it's made out of pure energy. It's certainly not solid… it doesn't feel solid.
>>525221 You feel your belly swelling up for a moment and feel a sudden need to burp. Which you do. One mighty burp accompanied with a ball of floating energy later, you're back to normal. Olivina smiles. "That works, are you okay?"
>>525230 You down the green liquid from the vial and feel something stir deep inside you… but nothing else. Olivina's grin widens as she looks at you. "That's amazing!" Confused, you look yourself over to see if something changed and are quick to spot that your wings are no longer their feathery selves! Instead, they now look like colorful pretty butterfly wings. "I was sure the potion would just grow you another set of wings, but instead it morphed your current ones."
>>525237 She nods and moves in to inspect them more closely. "I don't think you'd be able to fly as well with these as with your actual wings though… they're pretty, but not practical when you already have a set of existing wings." You do feel lighter… more fluttery. "The potion will wear out after a few hours… but if you want I could just turn them back to normal right now."
>>525244 "Alright… I'm sorry to use you like a test subject like this, but pegasi aren't exactly common around here. My curiosity is sated though, please follow me." She seems friendlier and more open now and leads you out of the room to the upstairs. This level has a large dining table in the middle of the room. Once again some of those pony statues are standing along the walls. Smaller tables surrounded by fluffy couches are set up in the corners and she leads you over to one. "Go ahead and sit down, I'll make sure you'll get your tea." She walks over to one of the statues and says something to it, prompting it to start moving! Looks like that's another golem and not just an ordinary statue. The golems lumbers out of the room as Olivine joins you. "Wont take long, don't worry. I don't know how much longer you're stuck with me, but if you're tired I could make sure you have a room to rest in. We have several unoccupied ones."
>>525253 "It's a crazy place we have here, I know. But it's our home. We don't always succeed in reaching our goals, but when we do we find out amazing stuff about the world of magic. We're not… really your average noble family."
>>525267 She nods. "Everything their owners ask them to. … Everything they're equipped to do, at least." She gives you a sly wink. The golem returns with a tray of tea, setting it down onto the table without a word. Smells like…rose hip. The construct returns to his position alongside the wall.
>>525296 "Well there's always the potion testing… or if you're not into that, you could ask one of the other apprentices if they need help. There's several others in this tower alone." Another one of those energy orbs flies by, prompting Olivine to swat it away with a hoof. "Stupid wisps."