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 No.639819[Last 50 Posts]

Previous Thread: http://mlpg.co/arc/q/raw/groves/trotantium_fanasycraft/629461.html

Last time…

The party arrived in Thema Saddlonica and were granted asylum after a curt audience with the Doux of the province: lord Pontus. The Doux had warned them that the dromon they were using was reported to have been captured during a pirate raid urged to apply some 'modifications' to the vessel.

As Nolin set out to request Pomme de Mare's advice, Marcus and Flavia reunited with their mother and sister. Furthermore, Marcus shared some sensitive information with the Peneian Doux Hypatia and her brother Andronicus regarding the Agrian Crisis.


Notable NPC's: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Et2xW9JB943OTH9r4jrr7nsVreWMQQZEYQvkR0CQHKI/edit#heading=h.iehgyez2ir4e

Evening falls on the city of Saddlonica…

Nolin is sharing a meal with Pomme de Mare in a local eatery. Many of the dishes here use sea products, even the salads. Pomme has indulged him in some stories from her country of origin; the kingdom of Prancia and the surrounding western pony kingdoms.
"Equestria is young but already a strange bird. Word is they are being governed by an intimidating duo of winged unicorns. There's no real majority of a single pony race like earth ponies here or unicorns in Prancia either. Earth ponies, unicorns and pegasi are all equally represented."

Hypatia left Marcus for some time to ponder on his words. She's sent for him to return to her when he is able. She should be in the study lord Pontus has granted her during her stay.

Flavia and her twin sister have reunited, but it's become apparent that Livia seems to have started favoring the goddess Aqualia during her stay in Saddlonica.

Adrianos currently has no pressing appointments on his agenda, but could investigate further to see what's going on in the city and the area around it. Alternatively, Odyris Hippoi and Olivia Arravani have recovered enough that their daily drug dosages have ceased to be necessary. As such, they are becoming lucid again. Other than that, there are of course other people he may want to speak to if he so desires.


What a slut!
Switching gods like a girl changes her clothes!

Anyway, do tell my sister all that happened.


Hmmmm, too late to go out to the boat now.

Time to visit Hypatia I guess!


"Really, they must get a lot immigrants, with a set up like that."


Technically, her faith remains the same. Priests are allowed to change to different sects if they feel compelled to. Livia was never quite the wonderchild you were.

Either way, the overload of information seems almost too much to process.
"You really had to fight against a Discordian spirit? And you offered a dryad to keep her under your guard?"

As you were told, Hypatia Toxias is holed up in her personal study. This area of the ducal palace has quite a lot of Toxias guards running around in it. The prince and his personal guard retinue are nowhere to be seen though. From what you hear he is leading a naval reconnaissance mission with his squad of dromons.

As you enter, you see that Hypatia is staring out over the watergardens of the palace. Andronicus is here too although Nopo isn't. She glances back from the windows at you.
"You came very quickly. Afraid that you'll upset me?"

"Those who can make the trip across the Manesian sea, yes. Some ponies speculate that this Equestrian nation may get embargoed if it keeps up. The Western monarchs aren't big fans of these winged unicorns right now. Embargoes aren't so bad for me though, they only serve to make smuggling more profitable."


I chuckle at her enthusiasm. "You make these Winged Unicorns out to be prefect, I'm sure there are reasons for them to be disliked enough to consider an embargo."


But Livia was here for both of those events…


This was in Clopantinople, remember? She wasn't there.


I chuckle.
"I was close by already."


Right. I had honestly forgot!
"Eurydice is the very same dryad from my dreams!
The one you know about!"


"I've never had the pleasure of meeting them. They sound like a duo of clever mages to me though, fooling so many ponies like that. Either way, if this keeps up I might actually consider going there for a 'business trip'."
She smirks and accentuates the last two words with her hooves.

"It's good to have you nearby again, Marcus."
By the tone of her voice, you can tell she's smiling.
"I've been thinking about what you told me and I've chosen to trust in your theory of the situation."

"I think I remember, but that was a while ago… back when we first got sworn into service as acolytes. Y-You really think it's smart to trust a former Discordian spirit though? You're keeping a close eye on her right?"


Sit down and can't help but show a little smile of happiness.
"I'm glad. I knew you'd understand!"


"She's totally not a discordian anymore!
And you and her gotta meet!"


carefully nudge her to make her stop that jew-pony look "Another dream by the dreamy captain mare. Perhaps we should tend to your ship, so no one stops those dreams short.


"Of course, you have to understand that supporting the claim of this mare you dragged out of that cavern will be a costly deal for Peneia. If we actually were to put her on the throne, I'd want the Agrian-Peneian alliance to stay standing."

"I want to yes. D-Do you have a plan on how to deal with this though? I mean this all sounds like an awful lot of responsibility resting on your shoulder."

"We can leave that to the others. For you it's important that you these documents planted. I've started on them already."


"Yes! I do have a plan, just you wait! We will travel the empire, spreading the good word! We will fix the church one town at a time!"


"Of course. That means you want to seal this alliance…"


"I trust you'll do fine." glance out the window and back to her with a smile. "I've had the most lovely time eating with you, but I should get moving now too." pay for the meals, and linger a moment with her.


I am here now


Yes, I should investigate what's going on in the city. The people will know how the land feels. Perhaps those here on the land are less apathetic about politics than those at sea.

I suppose I'll go visit some news criers and wander the marketplaces and taverns, listening to the city live.


"The empire's pretty big Flavia! We might need some help with a job like that. How do we even fix something like the church? I-I mean I've heard about corrupt priests and those heresies popping up, but we can't just magically fix that can we?"

She turns to you and nods.
"She has no sisters. The only other suitable match ready for marriage is one of her younger cousins and daughter of the ruling doux I wanted to betrothe Andronicus with."

You, your sister and Marcus are discussing what'll happen next in one of the palace's studies.

She reaches into one of her bags and pulls out some sealed documents.
"This one is ready already. It's for the local high priest's archive. Saddlonica is crazy about worshiping the sea, so the clergy have a lot of say when it comes to seafaring. This document shows that our new ship has come by this port to receive blessings from the High priest on multiple occasions during the last seven years."

Roll Investigate. You have a +6 modifier to that.


"I have a better idea.
My sister Anthe is unmarried."
Look at Andronicus.


Look at you.
"Well, she is not ten years old at least."
Look back at Hypatia.



And take my faithful follower, Sonja, too.

Roll #1 20 + 6 = 26


"Eurydice would have never given us this job if she didn't know we could do it!"
Grasp her hooves, forcing her to look at my radiant, smiling face.
"I believe in her. And in us. We can do this."


"Clever, and looks wonderful too." I take it and look at it of course.


She seems confused.
"But how does that create a political bond between house Toxias and house Arravani? You're not actually putting yourself on the throne, are you?"

"She was thirteen, Andronicus. Don't be so dramatic."

Sonja usually does not leave your side unless told to while you're out doing work.

You pick up on some conversations and stories, as listed in short below:

A group of ponies running a business by the name of 'Legitimate Builders' are causing quite the stir in Saddlonica City.

The Saddlonican youth sportsteam known as the 'Saddlonican Sirens' will be competing against the 'Agrian Dryads' soon. The 'Agrian Dryads' are a very popular team involved in many sports in Agria. The 'Saddlonican Sirens' are their fierce rivals, so the coming matches are sure to cause quite the upheaval.

Animated Shadows have been reportedly fleeting around the outskirts of the city. The Shadows are agents to the Mage Circle and are feared by many for good reasons.

Heretic symbols have been spotted in one of the citizen districts. The local clergy fear there's a heretic sect making moves among the city's citizenry.

Listen for more? Try to gain more details on one of these?

She gives you a pained expression, but relents after considering your words.
"Well… okay. I'm not sure how we'll do this but I trust in you and in the Mother."

It looks pretty official. The seal appears authentic as well.
"Forging a history is only a matter of craftmareship and subtlety. We'll need to get a few other traces planted elsewhere, but this is a good start."


"Same difference."
Listen to what Marcus has to add though.


"If three years means nothing to you, I don't quite see the problem here."


"No. But I will put my family on the throne. Her family has turned against her. They've proven themselves untrustworthy. It is only right that the next Doux in line should be one from a family who had Agria's best interests in mind, rather than creating a civil war."


"You wouldn't be the one married to a colt."


I'm interested in these Builders. Tell me more.


Squeeze-hug her and then let's go find Surprise.
Let the two of them chat. I need to go find Marcus.


"I'll make sure your work gets seen, my craftsmare" I give her a kiss on the cheek, put the documents away and then I'm ready to check out the temple.


"Do you mean to say you'll marry her yourself? On your family's name at that?"
She laughs.
"That's a gutsy move if so, Marcus."

A guard enters and approaches the doux, whispering something in her ear. She gives him a curt nod and he takes his leave. Shortly after, Flavia enters the study.

"Ignorance does not befit you, little brother. I wouldn't feign it if I were you."

A guard enters and approaches the doux, whispering something in her ear. She gives him a curt nod and he takes his leave. Shortly after, Flavia enters the study.

They seem to have gained quite a bit of popularity since they arrived. Through means unknown to anyone but the gods, these ponies are capable of building nearly anything in record time. Many suspect magic is involved, of course, but having a house built in less than an hour is impressive no matter how you may view these things.

Surprise seems happy enough to start babbling away to your wary sister as you bring them together on the ship.

You head to where you last saw Marcus head off to; the section where Doux Toxias and her retinue are staying in during their visit. The guard don't let you reach the doux, before asking her permission. You must have made a good impression on her, as they let you through.

Marcus, Andronicus and Doux Hypatia are conversing in the study.

The Saddlonican Main Temple is actually built into the water, with only half of the building sticking out of the sea. Heading to the shoreline, it's easy enough to spot even from afar. Several aquaducts supply the top part of the temple with copious amounts of water, allowing it to cascade over the walls into several impressive waterfalls. It's actually quite hard to see the building itself, as it's mostly covered in the watervapor and waterfalls surrounding it.

This is the seat of the local Aqualian High Priest. While this may not be the religious center of the Aqualian sect, it's still obvious that the ponies living here are absolutely devoted to the goddess.


Look as Flavia comes in and smile at her.


"What ever the case, maybe you can wait with the bethrotal letter now."


Hm, maybe not quite what I'm looking for. Maybe I should just see if there is a local imperial guard barracks. I might be able to learn more about the goings on in the neighboring province, or at least the capital from there.



"Dear sister, what news?"


Nod back.


'1d20+11' I'll disguise as a common pony then, they must come all the time to worship.

Roll #1 10 + 11 = 21


"Now that the moment is not as fleeting as when we first met, I thought I'd introduce myself to our hosts."


"So have you been to the Lord Doux of Saddlonica yet?"


"I don't doubt Marcus' intentions, but he'll need to make sure his future bride actually supports this notion."

The guards in this city are all on the Doux' payroll. There is a imperial legion fortress outside of the city however.

"What brings you here, girl? You are not Anthe Hippoi, are you? Livia or… Flavia was it?"


The temple seems to be guarded by the church's own guards, all of them wielding dangerous looking tridents. They looks more ceremonial than anything though. An inconspicuous plebeian coming to pray is a common sight to them.


"I don't expect her to agree just like that. I'll need some time to warm her up. In the meantime I'll keep her close to me."


"And give you time to consider it in the meanwhile."


I'll go visit there, outside of town then. Best to get away from all the prying metropolitan eyes anyway.


Nod at them with a smile as I go in. What's this place like on the inside?


"Hmm. Well, let's say she agrees to this marriage. That would make her heirs part of House Hippoi. In that case I can see where you're coming from about marrying my little brother with your little sister. It's a risky plan nonetheless however, so I'll have to ask for some promises in return for me agreeing to help you."


The Legion fortress is one constructed of stone, a permanent stronghold defending the city from attacks from sea and land alike. This far away from foreign borders, the garrison is kept fairly minimal. You doubt there are more than 500 legionaries inside even with the whole corsair scare. The empress counts on her vassals to do most of the guarding in these territories, with Legion reinforcements never further than a few days of travel away.

Either way, you'll need to request entry at the gates first.

Quite humid, but it's actually nicely refreshing since the air is cooler than outside! Even inside there's water running down from the roof, snaking its way around the support pillars into pools that have formed on the ground. The decor is fairly weird, but has an eerie beauty to it. Mostly mosaics and statues of seacreatures here.

You notice some of the marble bases have no statues on them. Removed?

This place is hard to navigate around though, there's a lot of mist here and the torches aren't exactly kept bright!


"Correct mylady, Anthe is my older sister.
My name is Flavia."
"Not yet brother. Me and Livia had something to discuss with you before then."


"Dare I say I would like to meet her this time, too?"


"What seems to be the matter?"

Nod slowly.
"What did you have in mind?"


To the gates, then!

"Ave, brothers. I'm in from the capital. Here to rest my bones and hear the news of the Empire."


'1d20+1' Maybe search for important looking hallways?

Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6


"Never mind now. I haven't met mother yet! What about you?"


"I'm discussing family matters with the Lady Doux."


You two oughta forgive me for this, I wanted to talk to Marcus only once he was done, but since Groves introduced me directly, I thought I'd roll with it. Sadly, I don't feel too well right now. Let's skip this part, shall we?


"You would have met your other bride quite soon in any case, little brother."

"If you marry her and put her on that throne and my beloved little brother marries your little sister, I want him on the Agrian council for one."

The legionaries on watch are mostly standing at attention. It must get boring out here, this far from the borderlands. You can relate to it quite well, but you're sure even your post in the capital was more glorious than what these guys are going through. No doubt the Saddlonican guards handle everything on their own. Most Doux' prefer to handle their own business and not count on the legion to take care of local affairs. Short of an invasion or a large rebellion, these guys are stuck out here counting clouds.

A bored looking sergeant strolls up to you.
"Name, rank and unit?"

You get a little lost walking around in the mists of Aqualia. Eventually you realize you're just walking in circles. Perhaps you could approach a priest somewhere and figure things out from there. There ought to be some around here somewhere right…?


"Well…it would be an honor to have a member of such an honorable family on the council."



Smile a bit to myself.


Aqualia does have some nice servants, just go toward the wettest part of the temple, that's where they'll be.
'1d20' follow the water.

Roll #1 16 = 16


I need a chat in private. Can this happen after the current chat with Hapatia?



"Brother, the truth is, I am worried.
These charges of treason, they won't disappear into thin air."


"It doesn't matter to me what position you give him, even if it's just an honorary councilor. But I want him on there."

The water doesn't really flow anywhere but down some drains, but you do manage to find a priestess of Aqualia mopping up the water in a seemingly hilariously futile attempt.


"Sergeant Adrianos of the Scholae Palatine, under Captain Gordius."


Okay, then, lets give this a try.
"Hello! I'm a little lost. Can you give me a quick tour?"


"No, no, they won't. But we will disprove them in time or at the very least make them irrelevant compared to the treason of our enemies. Treason is a very shaky concept."

Look at Andronicus.
"I'm sure we can find something that he's good at. It shall be done. Did you have anything else in mind?"


The sergeant nods in acknowledgement.
"How is the captain? I'm afraid you won't be hearing much news here that you didn't hear in the capital first. The docks are probably a better place for that, given the amount of traffic coming in at the moment. We're not involved of course."
She says the last words with a slightly annoyed tone in her voice.


"The current doux will use all her power to press against us.
After long time in prayer, I came to a conclusion.
Eurydice can help us."


"When the time comes, I can help deciding what that shall be."


"The Captain is in good health, but tired. In the capital, there is the inverse problem of the provinces. While the imperial arm could stand to have more oversight without the meddling of these local Doux, in the capital, there is a never-ending flow of issues and attentions. In any case, I have been by the docks, but the opinions there are always polluted with the local fare – loyalty to the theme instead of the Empire. It is only in the bastions of the Guard that one is refreshed by the brotherhood of those who seek the good of the entire empire."


The priestess ceases her mopping and looks at you. She's an older mare, probably middle aged.
"Aren't we all lost, my child? I'm afraid there is no such thing as a quick tour of this complex, but I'd be happy to aid you in the search for yourself nonetheless."

"I'll need to consider this further, Marcus. I'm sorry, but I'm pretty occupied with our campaign against those Arab corsairs for the moment. Tomorrow I will take my leave, but that will give me time to organize some things behind the scenes."

She nods.
"The further away from the barbarians we are, the less the people seem to care about Legion presence. I suppose it only makes sense if you consider the difference of our presence here and on the borders of Pursia and Grevyi. Lord Pontus is content letting us sit on our flanks outside of his city all day while his own troops do all the lifting."


"Eurydice…the Dryad?
How could she help us? Or better question, would she want to help us? My seapony friend wouldn't want to interfere in pony politics."

"Of course, you'll be free to tell me your preference."

"Yes, we can further discuss this at another time. I wish I could help with the corsair problem somehow."


"When can we await your return?"


"That, would be a whole other question.
But if I can get an audience with the empress, having Eurydice testify in Nature's stead to the truth regarding the treason, we'd have a strong case!"


Hypatia interjects with a waving hoof.
"I'm sorry, I know that was important, but what is all this talk of dryads and seaponies? Do you mean the sports teams?"

"When we've managed to cut the head off of the snake. I will likely not stay for the entire campaign, only for the opening phases. I do have a foal on the way after all."


Sylt kinda asked to make the talk private and after seeing Hypatiaa….


I thought we were having this talk after that?


Whoops, ignore that.


"Take care of yourself out there."


"If it's all the same to you, what have you heard of Agria?"


Wait a minute, Hypatia doesn't know about the seapony?!?

Scratch my chin.
"Hmmmmm, yes that could be quite a game changer.
If nothing else, it would lend some credence to our claim…"


"It could be a witness to our case, if nothing else!
I will reach out to her now, see if she would agree to this.
Afterwards, we only need gather more proof and…"
Gulp down, in slight worry.
"Have a talk with the empress."


"I might have a way to arrange something like that….but it would take time and we should have more proof and a better understanding of our enemies first. We can't play this card until the time is right.
If she wants to help that is."


Nod slowly. "I'd like that. A little guidance. You know I saw a seapony on my journey here, she was.. stunning, the way she swam was as if she were one with the water.. Clarity of purpose. That was the feeling I got from her. "


"Of course."
Trot to leave the room, but turn my head back to Marcus at the last moment.
"And, brother?"




"Thanks for trusting us."
Smile and rush off, like a kid.


"Any time, sis."

Has Hypatia left?


I don't recall Marcus ever telling her he knew one personally because they rarely hang out with landrats.

She smiles at you.
"It's sweet of you to worry about me, Andy. I appreciate it."

"Grevyian-Agrian borders are thankfully quiet. That whole political mess in that place put a scare into us, because we figured those Grevyian savages would use the opportunity to do something. So far there hasn't been much of a change in activity, so I guess they're not organized enough to take advantage of the situation. I'm guessing none of the tribal leaders is strong enough to take charge."

She nods sagely.
"We oft are touched by Aqualia's beauty. Seaponies are among the purest and most beautiful of her creations out there, my child. You were lucky to witness such a blessed creature."


[praising it intensifies]
Paging Euclydice!




"I will stop if you keep calling me that."


Next time.



But Lady Anathasia was with him when he met Ceyle. I assume they tell everything to Hypatia?

Look at both of them.


Before you and the others leave, Hypatia tells you to stay for a moment.

She settles down in a comfortable chair behind her work desk and regards you for a moment.


Sit down as well.


She speaks up after a moment of silence.
"I'd like to make a deal Marcus. An official one this time."


"Speak your mind."


"I love my little brother Andronicus dearly, but I don't want him engaged to your current heiress. I feel like tying him to one of your little twin sisters would be the safer choice for both of us."


"To Livia or Flavia? That could work. I'm sure Livia would approve. But they're both priestesses. Andronicus doesn't seem like the type to care much about that."


"Do you have any other options aside from your younger brother? Andy will do it if I tell him to."


"Hmmm, well Nolin still has an unmarried sister. But that's quite a stretch. She does love sports, like Andronicus does."


"It does not matter to me as long as she's closely related to you. I only want our houses to be tied together in wedlock."


"I'll send for Nolin's sister in that case. I believe they'll get along nicely."


"Good. That should work splendidly. I still stand by my other terms. I want Andy on that council to act as a Peneian ambassador."


"Of course, I'll find a spot for him…"


"I'm sure you will, else he'll never forgive me for slighting him."
She snickers.


"You're so close together. Don't you ever think you should just lay off the pranks just a little?"


Her mood seems to swing in an instant.
"Pranking him? I haven't done anything like that. He just has a streak of envy in him which has made him a true cynic over the years. I arranged him to be betrothed to the current heiress to the crown of Agria and all he could focus on was the age gap between him and her."


"I don't think he's that cynical, maybe just a tad…proud?"


"How old is Nolin's little sister, Marcus? 15? 16? Mere years older than his previous match. And not even nearly the same noble rank as her either. I'm sorry, but he has a duty to his family to perform regardless of what his cynicism or pride tells him to do."
She lays a hoof on her belly.
"I've done my part without a complaint."


"I can't disagree with that. But when the Doux's claim to the throne goes through, you'll be happy he struggled a bit."


"Don't defend him with 'what if's Marcus. I don't ask much of my siblings and I've always let him do his own thing, but this is something else entirely."


"I'm sorry. I shouldn't comment on family matters."


She gives you an uncharacteristically pointed look.
"You're not wrong."


Marcus, you're an idiot. When will you learn?

"Can I instead ask you for some advice? I've been meaning to build some military force. But I have not the faintest clue where to begin. All I have for now is the Varangian Guard of the Doux."


"Disregarding the obvious mercenary route, you could try seeking out loyalists to your future wife. There's always going to be families who want the old regime back after a violent switch like the one in Agria. If you have some religious authority on your side there's something to be said about rallying together zealots against an impure foe. Not that Agria is known for its necromancers or warlocks. If you somehow managed to get the empress to recognize the claim on Agria, finding allies would be easier."


"I see. Thank you, I think I know where to go from here."


"Peneia will support you to the best of our ability… once these corsairs are dealt with."


"Thank you. I should go see Nolin now about this arrangement."


She smirks.
"Eager to get away, are you?"


"As much as I'd like to talk with a goblet of wine, I have a family to look over now."


"Of course you do."
She winks at you.
"Good luck."


Take my leave.


Where to?

You sit down on the floor and mumble a prayer to Natura, grasping your runic cube with a hoof while you close your eyes.

After a minute of meditation, you find yourself in Eurydice's domain again. The dryad is close by her tree, as usual.

She shrugs, seemingly not very concerned.

"In any case, could you find Ardiadne for me? Tell her to take her ponies to the Hippoi vessel in port."

Nolin see >>639913


Slowly head for her, taking in the sights of her garden with that same ever present smile I have in here.
Then, do a proper bow before her.


"I know.. I feel blessed. And it really made me want to learn about Aqualia. That's why I'd really love to see as much of the temple as I can."
I look at the old priestess with hopeful eyes.


I gotta talk to Nolin and tell him to get his sister ready.


"If you wish."
Go find her.


She nods at you pleasantly, obviously used to these sudden meetings by now.
"Flavia. What sort of guidance can I provide to you today?"

She chuckles.
"Very well, youngling. Most ponies are content to simply wander these halls and discover them themselves, but I can guide you throughout the temple if you are so eager.

Please, follow me."
She places her mop aside and motions you to follow.

You're not sure where he could be. Pomme may know, since she and Nolin were working on changing the ship.

Ardiadne is one of the senior maids working for your sister. She oversees one of several groups of servants loyal to your House.

You find her quite quickly. Giving orders to some of the servants that came along to Saddlonica when your sister left Peneia.


I should go to the ship anyway.
Go see her.


Follow that old mare around the lovely temple.


Let her finish and notice me.


You find Pomme along with two of her crew organizing cans of paint by color. Looks like the dromon is going to get a paint job under the cover of night!

She shows you around the massive structure for what feels like hours. You feel like all the mist surrounding the place made it look way smaller than it actually was from the outside! You've walked through massive atriums, ducked into old cellars and snaked your way past hundreds of pillars and columns until you finally arrive in what looks to be a library. On second thought you wager this is some sort of archive instead. This may be the first room you encountered where the air hasn't been humid and dank!

"Please do not touch the shelves while you pass, my child. Some of the documents in here date from the founding of the city of Saddlonica and are invaluable."

The servants bow as they notice your approach, prompting Ardiadne to look behind her and mimic their motion.
"My lord. Is there something you require?"


Look at it.
"That's looking good."


"Yes. You and some of your ponies are requested at the ship of the Hippoi in the port. You know what to do. I suggest you handle this matter with urgency."


"Eurydice, it saddens me to be here for most mundane concerns…
But my family needs your help."


"Oh. Don't worry about that. I can't read too well anyway." I rub the back of my neck with a hoof. "So. These are only old books?"


Pomme glances back at you.
"Oui monsieur. Your ship vill be unrecognizable soon. Monsieur Nolin is vorking on ze administration needed for it."

She bows deeply. Adriadne always was the one most subservient ponies among your sister's palace staff. You used to think of her as an asslicker and suspected her of manipulating her way to her position, but since then you've come to realize that her overly polite and groveling behavior is simply a strange personality trait of hers.
"At once, my lord. Anything else?"

She nods.
"I am aware of their troubles, though politics are not within my domain of expertise."

"Not only old books, but other documents as well. Ancient treaties, agreements, shipping logs, catalogs of blessings, religious manifestos…"


"That's good. Where is he exactly?"


"I sent him to ze local Basilica dedicated to your fish goddess. Zere he must tamper vith some of ze records to make it appear zat zis ship has received blessings from ze clergy before."


"I'd better leave him for now then.
Has the Lady Doux woken up yet?"


"Neither are they in mine…"
"But there is one thing I am accustomed to. Truth. Bringing the truth before the sages who will have to judge, that is how we can prove our honor."


"Gosh. That sounds important. I bet you have ponies just to watch these sacred tomes."


Look her over.
"No, I believe that will be all."


"Oui monsieur, I believe so."

"Then proof of your right is what you seek, yes? I'm afraid I do not possess any material evidence to share with you."

She chuckles.
"We watch over the temple as a whole but… it watches over all of us as well."

She trots off to collect her fellow servants. You're certain that she'll manage this task.


"Thank you."
Let's go inside.


"Whoa, really? How does that work?" I ask in an amazed tone.


Does anything else need to be done then?


"That's not exactly what I was after…
Eurydice, you are a spirit of the Mother. Ponies will believe your words!
Manifesting before the empress' assembly and talking about how it truly went will bring weight to our cause!"


You leave Pomme' ship and walk over to the dromon. Your travel companions are mostly still here. You see your siblings standing on deck near the bow of the ship, supporting your father as he talks to your mother, who also managed to make her way here.

Olivia must be downstairs still.

Your sister seems to have relented bothering you with yet more tasks, so it seems you have some time to yourself now. Perhaps it would be wise to acquaint yourself with the family you'll be allying yourself with.

"These walls, they are alive." She says in a cryptic tone as she moves on past the archives.


I'll let them talk.
Go downstairs to meet Olivia.


Let's see, I met Marcus and Nolin, the sisters, who else arrived with them?


'1d20+10' notice anything about the walls?
'1d20+1' search and '1d20+8' sense motive too if those would help.

Roll #1 6 + 10 = 16 / Roll #2 3 + 1 = 4 / Roll #3 6 + 8 = 14


You head down to the room which Flavia used as a temporary medical bay.

Her Varangian guards are all down here as well, watching her as hawks. They don't bother you of course. You see her standing in the middle of the room, facing away from the door you came in through. One of the Varangians is holding a candle right in front of her face.
"This is the clösest it gets withöut burning your face."
There's a moment of silence before she pushes the lit candle away and puts her blindfold back on, sagging her shoulders slightly.

You know Marcus has another sister and brother you hadn't met. There is of course that pony they busted out of prison as well who is supposedly the true heir to the Agrian throne. No doubt they had other help as well, taking on a penal island like that.

You're not entirely sure in which way she means it. You've noticed a lot of the walls have stuff growing on them due to the humidity around here, so perhaps they are alive. But is that what she means here or is there more to it? How could simple moss and molds watch over you?


Hmmmm, how will I do this?
Uhm…wave to one of the Varangian guards, maybe he'll get to say I'm here.


I suppose they are all coming here, so let's see who I meet first.


I'm not sure if I can sneak away from mold.. but I know where the document should go now.. so I'll just remember this and follow along for the rest of the tour.. keep an eye out for more of the same kind of mold.. '1d20+1'

Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5


You actually think they may be laying low for a while until the armada leaves for its anti-corsair naval campaign, which means the Hippois are bound to 'their' ship until tomorrow.

The Varangian holding the candle whispers something in her ear as you wave. You see her ears perking up and she reflexively glances behind her. Realizing there's no point in looking at you, she turns around 90 degrees and sits down, facing the wrong way still.

"You're Marcus? Marcus Hippoi?"

You follow the mare along for another 20 minutes as she wraps up the tour. As you remember, the walls are indeed covered with life pretty much everywhere. If this weren't a temple dedicated to water and life among other things, it'd be pretty disgusting.


I bow my head even if there's no point.
"Yes, my Lady."



They still have to come around here, don't they?


Well. I guess I need to talk to my cat about this.


You see her snap her attention to where your voice is coming from, clearly confused about your positioning for a moment.
"Ahem, I think I owe you a word of gratitude for extracting me from the dungeons."

For a moment, Eurydice seems genuinely shocked by your suggestion.

"I'm sorry Flavia, I… cannot… do that. Us dryads are not supposed to mingle with mortal politics."

You doubt Odyris Hippoi will be showing his face here in the palace for the time being. Perhaps you can catch someone belonging to the Hippoi entourage though.

You return to the entry hall where you first met the old priestess.
"I believe you've seen everything now. I hope you found your visit enlightening, my child."


"It'd not be politics, just a retelling of the truth!"


Let's linger outside then, see if I can spot one of them


"My Lady, I was merely doing my duty."


"I did. My thanks to you Priestess." What is the proper way to treat a priestess now? A bow? I'll go for a bow. Then I need to find chester, I think.


The thought seems to make her nervous.
"I've not done anything of the likes before. I do not feel it would be quite appropriate."

You notice a white pegasus walking by who seemed to be together with the Hippoi twins earlier. You also see an older mare arriving at the palace under Marcus' grace, her clothing betraying a past career in the imperial legion.

"Do you still swear fealty to my house and not the sham my usurper cousin has set up?"

She nods back at you respectfully.

Chester may still be at the ships, but he could have gone exploring as well for all you know. Perhaps one of your companions knows about his whereabouts.


"O-oh. You think so? Even for the empress?"
Look slightly saddened.


One of my companions.. my guess is they are still hanging around the other nobles, being nostalgic for their old lives or something.
I'll check there.


"My Lady, our Houses have both been attacked by this usurper. I feel the destinies of House Hippoi and the true House Arravani are intertwined.


Let's approach the white pegasus



"Perhaps I could do it as long as it remains a private matter."

You check back at the ship. Your uncle and aunt have reunited at last and are together with Anthe and Niphon on deck. Pomme is mixing paints, probably preparing to give the dromon a makeover. You don't see Chester anywhere, though he could be belowdecks.

"I don't think you would go through these kind of lengths just to set up a ruse. Your father remained loyal to me, so I will assume you have the same noble intentions."
She turns herself further so that's she's properly facing you. The only thing meeting your gaze is her white blindfold, which is sort of strange to get used to. Eyes are so often the best places to detect a pony's true emotions regardless of their words.

She notices your approach and waves at you. There's something strange about this pony. You felt a similar subtle feeling when you saw the other twin Flavia earlier on.


Right. I'll check below deck right away.


Well that's gonna take a while to read her.
"My Lady, may I address you as Olivia?"


Wave back.
"Good day. I am Andronicus of house Toxias. I assume you are here for the castle, Lady…"
Wait for her to finish that.


Can I sense motive her?

Roll #1 16 + 12 = 28


You head down into the belly of the dromon. You notice a lot of the Varangians are still down here, probably protecting their 'Doux'. It doesn't look like Chester is here right now.

She rubs her cheek.
"… Is that appropriate?"

She flutters over to you.
"You can call me Surprise! How's it going Andy?"

It's clear she doesn't want to be at the center of attention, especially not in a large crowd. Getting her to endorse you will probably require some more coaxing, unless you can somehow arrange the judges to be brought into Eurydice's domain, where she's at peace.


Give her a flat look.
"That is Andronicus for you."


"That is for you to decide, my Lady. But we will be talking a lot in the future and I feel it would be more pleasant for us both if we don't have to bother too much with such formalities, at least in private."


Well. I'll go over to Anthe and Niphon.
"Hey. Cousins. You seen our favorite cat around?"


Slowly approach her.
"Eurydice what if…
We had the judges brought here instead?"


She giggles.
"Sorry, I forgot you don't like it when people call you that! How's it going?"

"… Maybe so. We are in Saddlonica aren't we? Are we secure in our current location?"

You head back up to the deck of the ship and ask them. Your aunt nods at you as a way of greeting you.
Anthe shakes her head. "I have no idea, but with some luck he won't come back here!"
"He said he was hungry and disappeared…" offers Niphon. "Cats are usually opportunistic thieves, he's probably looking around the fisheries looking for tasty catches." He nods towards a set of warehouses further down the docks.

"Well… that's also unusual, but I think it would be the safer and more conservative approach."


"It might be harder to do…
What would it take to allow a few ponies here?"


Raise an eyebrow.
"Home just got a lot more busy."


I smile at my aunt. "I'm sorry I don't have time to stay and chat just now, but It is wonderful to see you again."

"Ah I see.. is Seeker anywhere around then?"


"As safe as we can be right now. Nopony knows of your presence here and I intend to keep it that way for the moment.
You have your Varangian guard here, as well as my own small retinue.
I'm currently trying to gain some support for our cause here."


Sometime later..
I see Nolin on the boat and wave to him!


I slide next to you on the boat. "Hey there Marcus, what's on your mind?"


"I heard you've been altering the port logs or something? Were you succesful?"


"Ah, you heard that? Don't worry. It will be done by morning. There is some kind of magic going on protecting things or I'd already be done."
I reply a little sting of bitterness in my tone. "How did your day go?"


"I trust you'll get it done. I've been talking to Lady Hypatia and that's why I wanted to speak to you. Mind getting a drink below deck?"


I smile softly.
"Ah, for you cousin, I can wait just a moment." and begin walking down with you.


Get a glass of wine for you and myself.
"Let's get straight to the point. Hypatia believes us and would like to help us. However, such an alliance can only properly be sealed by a marriage."


"Hmm I see.." I swirl my glass a bit and sip on the wine to give myself a moment.
"And you already picked out who's getting married off then?"


"There are few options. At first I thought Anthe, but I'm not sure she's a good match for Andronicus. Andronicus is the groom" I add. "And then I remembered that your sister is still unmarried, am I correct?"


I nod slowly.
"Hmmhm, and, she's only seventeen yet, a prefect age for a bride.. I'm sure she'll have been expecting it.."


"Yes, this will be a very important marriage for our family. Very important. What do you think? Will she and Andronicus make a good match?"


"I don't know Andronicus very well, but my sister has always been adventurous. She wants to be a star athlete like our mom."


"Well, Andronicus is athletic as well. Perhaps they'll get along. Do you rather want to see her or should I tell her?"


"Is she actually in the city now? I do miss her.." Sip on my glass some more. "I guess she'd take it better from me, if she has a bad reaction. But tell me a little more about Andronicia-Andronicus.. He seem like a nice normal guy to you?"


"He's a bit unusual for a Toxias. Tends to follow his heart more than his head. Which clashes a bit with his sister. But I do not sense any real weirdness about him. I believe if he likes her he'd take good care of her. And let's not forget House Toxias is one of the most wealthy families of the land, so your sister would be in good company." I grin. "Anthe will be mad at me for not giving it to her."


I chuckle. "Sounds like an innocent soul anthe would abuse alright. He'll be happier with Helia.. And I hope she'll be happy.. as long as he doesn't kill her dreams I think she will.."
Finish off the rest of the glass with my ramblings.
"She's not a dumb mare, she has to be expecting that we need this."


"We really need this marriage to happen one way or another or we might as well become merchants." Shudder.


"I'll make sure she understands."
I frown worriedly at your shutter, putting a hoof on your shoulder.
"Hey, we're gonna have a mansion again, a bigger one than before, maybe with some of those exotic batpony decorations, I really admired the statues and wide tall halls with decorative posts. It had real class."


"Yes, I'm sure we will, in time. Let's take it one step at a time.
I've been thinking of properly outfitting this boat, what do you think?"


" I think you should get comfortable with this boat, since I'm going through all the trouble of making it 'real'." I say with a raised eyebrow.


"Hmmm, I suppose you're right. Can't do too much at once…"


"We don't have enough ponypower to do too much yet."


"I'll refrain from doing too much with the ship then, for now."


Shrug. "I'm fine with it if you change up things, the ship is a little crowded with all those Varangians trotting about. Long as I don't have to redo the paper trail so soon.."


"I wouldn't do that to you!"


"Wouldn't create more work for me? But then I'd be out of a job."
I nudge your with a smirk.


"Trust me, once this gets underway, you'll have enough work.
That reminds me, I'm not sure but I seem to remember Andronicus has some knowledge of spying as well, or at least how to get information."


I seem alarmed by this.
"I see.. I might have to investigate him then.."


"Yes, mind you I might be mistaken and I do not believe he's with us to spy on us, I trust Lady Hypatia. But it wouldn't be too careful to keep an eye on him for a little while.
Who knows? Maybe you'll become friends?"


"Hmmhmm Its fine if I take this guy out for drinks right?"


"Of course, you'll be brothers-in-law after all."


"Great. I'll need to make my own judgement call about this.. but we can't be too careful.. if this is some kind of ruse.. it would be one to gather us all in one place for the wedding.."


"Please Nolin, plenty of bad things have happened in the Empire. But betrayal during a wedding. That's a sure way to get cursed by the gods."


"It would be a good plan to get a scattered wanted family back together for a single night then, no?"
I scrape the table with a hoof tip, a sign of anger or anxiousness that I rarely show even you. Perhaps a reminder that I'm still a pony, even if only for a moment around those close enough to tell.


I swirl my wine and speak calmly.
"Nolin, I know Hypatia. She took good care of us in Peneia. Now I don't think she'd be above stabbing us in the back if she had to. But I do know how she thinks. Raising us in her home was an investment to her, in hopes of gaining in the future, this marriage is in investment for her as well. As long as she knows that what she'll gain in the future is going to be more than what she invested or will invest in us, she'll be on our side. And let's not forget, Peneians are merchants. Killing during a wedding, that's bad for her reputation, she's not some backwater stuck up noble."


I stare intently at you and sigh.
"I trust you Marcus. And I want to trust Hypatia too…" Then I rub my head with a hoof and smile softly. "I'm still going to double check the wedding location. Like a good brother would."


"I wouldn't want it any other way."


And then Nolin would have to be on his ways I bet.
good faff!


"Aside from your court, who else knows of our presence here? Will the doux of Saddlonica support my claim??"


"The Doux of Saddlonica is not yet aware of your presence here.
I have told the Doux of Peneia and she would support us. Just not openly yet."


"What are her terms?"


"She wants to seal our alliance with a marriage to a member of my family.
Secondly she wants her brother to get a position in the future Agrian council."


She raises an eyebrow in a very skeptical manner.
"She didn't consider a marriage match to me?"



You see a very subtle scrunch form on her face.
"Hmph. Well, I'd like to meet with her as soon as possible. If she'll support me I'd at least like to speak with her in person."


"I'm afraid that will not be possible quickly.
Lady Hypatia is leaving to lead a campaign against the growing corsair threat.
A threat that has grown ever since Agria has been in chaos."


"So what you're saying is that we're without allies until that ends…"
She wipes her brow.
"Why does everything always have to be so inconveniently timed? Is the empire in a state of war right now? I feel as if I missed something."


"It is not, my Lady. But the threats on our borders are growing and we cannot afford to have Agria in dispute much longer. Or the Empress might accept your family's claim just to return order."


Her eyebrows shoot upwards.
"She wouldn't! Not if we can prove my right to the Agrian crown!"


"Your cousin has claimed that you and my father have plotted to kill your father and brother in order to claim the Agrian throne.
I know that's sillyness, but outside of this ship there are a great many ponies that believe it.
You are a wanted mare, Olivia."


"I know what the false accusations are. If we were to find proof of my framing, I'm confident the empress would dispense imperial justice to my wicked cousins."


How genius.
"I'm certain she would. But I believe it would be wise either way to ensure we have to capability to oust him ourselves. I've taken a few steps in that direction already."


"Of course, but how much can we even trust Doux Toxias? She could be planning to turncoat on us both and deliver us to my cousins. It would explain why she… did not… offer a…"
She trails off and you can see the cogs working in her head.


Smart girl.
Let's see what she comes up with.


Her facial expression turns to one of distrust.
"How can I even trust you? You've been ousted yourself, for all I know you grabbed me as a bargaining chip."


"Very simple.
If you don't trust me, you're free to leave this ship. With your guard retinue, of course."


She seems to consider her options for a moment.
"Your father remained loyal to us… that's not complete guarantee but it's better than a lot of our other vassals."


"Speaking of, are there any former allies you can think of who might still be loyal to you?"


She throws her hooves in the air.
"I'm not a politician. I know who our vassal houses are, but I don't know what their allegiances have turned into. Saddlonica is supposedly an Agrian ally, though I don't think that's factual anymore."


"I'll try to probe if there's any good will on that end. Is there anything else I can provide for you here?"


"I have my own ponies to provide for me. The sooner I can get home and back to my work, the better."


"I shall take my leave then."


"We shall speak more this evening, when I've had time to ponder on the situation."

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