>All at full H/W
Last time on HQ…
Flaming, Flow, Amy and KP explored more of the tower, beyond the room in which the skeleton researchers were cataloguing the various creatures and plants which they had found. About 60 meters up in the tower, they discovered an Anomaly, which was launching bolts of magic energy around the tower, causing a variety of effects, such as setting things on fire, turning Amy's mane curly and white, causing KP to float like a balloon, and turning objects into cake and confetti. Flaming dived into the Anomaly and managed to seal the doorway she found within, stopping the flow of magic energy which was being flung through by strange frog creatures on the other side.
Pryce, Shei, Vice and Trapper returned to King Lininas, who was inspecting a variety of stone icons and figurines which he and his team of geomancers recovered from the hidden vault far below Zha Arlakane's royal palace. Among the objects was a strange, moon-shaped stone discus, which had an uncomfortable aura. When touched, the discus gave pessimistic visions of the future about whatever subject the person touching it was thinking about. And, when someone touched it while thinking about themselves, the discus presented them with an avatar of themselves, representing the myriad dark futures that they might face. Upon confronting these figures, Shei, Pryce and the goo clones received a blessing of new, dark powers.
The visions fade as you accept the orbs, and they dissolve into mist, mingling with your souls. You are brought back to the room where the king is inspecting the stone artifacts.
>Choose one Aspect from the Sphere of Dark, and then choose 1 level 1 skill and 1 level 2 skill from that Aspect.>>703863
As you leap, you feel yourself coming up a bit short toward the railing, and just before the panic of falling can set in, LJ leans out and grabs you, princess style, and you see him straining with his back legs to hold onto the railing as they're pressed up against it. He strains and pulls himself back, slipping you out of the rope and back onto solid ground.>Amy>KP>>703865>>703863
You see that the Anomaly now lies dormant, but is still there, floating in the air. However, it's not doing anything. The bird in the nearby nest looks up as the coast is clear, then looks down at the nest, where you hear a very faint peeping.>Amy
Flaming catches the potion as LJ catches her, and the potion is so good that it can last and be used later as a free action.
"Aaaaaaaw," Amy swoons when she hears the baby birds peeping. "The babies are hatched!"
Zjetya starts to fly up, following along the stairways leading upward through the tower, and approaches the bird's nest, built atop an old, moss-coated bookshelf. The bird squawks and screeches at her as she draws near, though she leaves a wide breadth as she glances down at the nest.
"Huh… this could be trouble," she says, then starts floating downward.
As Flaming falls along the rope, swinging around the massive library, she sees the potion tossed at her by Amy, swiftly grabbing it in her teeth to use for later… or very soon, depending on how she lands.>>703866
Flaming's eyes open wide as she comes up short of the railing, her instinct to run already in full swing as she tries to reach for it… before she feels herself being caught in mid-air, her back and legs supported by a pair of hooves reaching out to catch her. "Journey…?!"
As he hoists her back up over the ledge successfully, she blushes at being carried in such a dainty fashion, but looks back at the straining calf as he manages to pull her safely back over the ledge, looking at him with a dumbfounded expression. "Y-you… you caught me…">>703868>>703866
Momentarily distracted by the sounds of the peeping, Flaming shakes her head to look up at the calm anomaly, then looks over to Amy. "Why is that a bad thing? I thought you'd like cute things like chicks. And look! The anomlememly isn't doing anything anymore."
LJ groans and falls onto his back, and you lay in his arms for a few seconds before he pushes you off to the side. "W-well yeah, what was I supposed to do? From that height, only Zjetya coulda caught you, and I – well it's not like she's not strong, but uh… I didn't want to risk the skeletons having buffalo pancakes for breakfast, just in case she wasn't fast enough."
Pryce stands, looking down at his hoof once they return back to reality. He reflects on what he felt and saw, the grim feeling that shook him deeply now invigorating an ember of hope to make sure it does not come to pass.>Aspect of Space: Elemental Current>Aspect of Space: Elemental Fusion
"We are ready, King Lininas.">>703866
KP looks down at the nest while he still floats in the air, held by his rope.>"Hey you're all safe now Mister Bird!"
KP says down to the nest.>"Your wife has been all upset back in the tower, you should go get her now!"
Both of the goo clones confusedly look around as they’re brought back to the room.>”That was… an experience”>>”Aye…”>Primordial Aspect of Space>This is How a Drill Works!>You Are (Not) Alone
Flow lowers his guard as the anomaly stops spitting out bolts.
“…huh. It worked!”
He steps closer to the nest once he hears peeping comig from inside.
“Oh, so it was just protecting its young after all.”
>>703870>>703868>>703869>Changing Flaming's response to Amy/Zjetya
As Amy coos at the chicks being hatched, Flaming looks over at Amy with a smile, somewhat in adoration herself of the cute sight of baby birds hatching. "I know you're tempted, but you probably shouldn't go hugging them yet, I don't know if they're ready for those yet."
As Zjetya mentions a problem, however, she looks up. "Huh? What's trouble?">>703872
As Flaming is pushed off to the side, she looks at Journey with a surprised, almost disappointed look at first… but then gets a devious smirk, picking herself up as she smiles at him. "Sooo, it was only because you thought you were the only one who could catch me? Not because of anything 'else'…?"
The king gives another glance at the moon-shaped discus. "By the looks on your faces, I can see that what you saw was far worse than what you had expected. My experience was the same, though I have reason to believe that what you saw was not entirely accurate… but that, we shall discuss later."
He gestures to the table, which has a number of small stone tablets and figurines, etched in an ancient, abstract style. Among them, you see figures of warriors, armed with shields and spears, of fierce goddesses, raising their hooves to the sky and of imposing emperors, dictating to some unseen crowd. Among them are tablets with scenes etched onto them depicting gardens, a cluster of meteors, and finally, a tremendous erupting volcano.
"The weapons of the past, disguised so innocently as no more than simple bits of pottery, like what one might leave at a loved one's grave," the king says.
"I can hug gently…" Amy objects sternly. "But… they're all the way up there…">>703869
Vice studies the figures and tablets with much intrigue. Trapper does the same, albeit with much less enthusiasm.>>”…I don’t follow.”>”Me neither. What are all these supposed to signify?”>>703869
“Cripe, what’s the problem?”
Pryce steps toward the table, looking over the tablets the King has laid out.
"Are they inscriptions for spells? Or just tales of what they could do?"
LJ turns his head up and away, giving you side-eye. "I just didn't think a great Climbing-Fire warrior would be so soft! Where's all that power you're supposed to have?">>703875>>703874>>703873>>703877>>703878
You ascend the vine and grass covered stairs, ascending multiple floors until you reach the floor where the nest is perched atop its bookcase (with the exception of KP who just has to float there, about five meters above that floor).
Zjetya pauses, looking up at the tower. "The silence – we haven't heard anything about this trial being over yet. But I don't see anything else around here that could be a threat to us, besides that bird."
The bird glares at you, hunched over its nest with wings spread wide.
Above you, you see that the stairs continue leading upward to platforms further above you. You're about halfway up the tower right now.
"Well then, I guess we gotta keep going!" Amy says before climbing up to the stairs.
“Seems like this was just a small inconvenience along the road… we should keep climbing to see what’s up the tower.”
He takes a step before turning back around.
“Wait, we can’t just leave KP here. How’re we gonna bring him with us?”
>>703880>"What if we get the other bird and bring her back here? That might calm him down to not be threatening."
KP suggests as he turn around, floating upside down as the others climb up closer to his level.
Amy stops. "Oh," she says, looking up at KP. "Is he still all floaty?"
Then, a look of horror crosses her face. "Wait! Does that mean my mane…" she trails off as she grabs some of it with her hoof.
"NO!" she shouts tragically. "Quick! We gotta go see if the skeletons have something to fix my mane!"
Amy quickly climbs back down to the skeletons' lab to see if they have any potion to fix her mane.
"After the geomancers finished examining them, they found that the magic imbued in these weapons is activated when they are broken. Most of these were designed so as to cause mass, wanton destruction in the area around them, regardless of who or what happened to be around.
"These in particular –" the King gestures at the figurines of the emperor and the goddess, as well as the tablets depicting a meteor shower and the volcano. "These were, according to previously undiscovered historical inscriptions found within the temple's vault, so terrible as to be outlawed from the kingdom's armory after their use in a war against an invading force from the south. Said battle was then erased from all public record, and its discussion forbidden to anyone but the royal family. Do you understand what I am getting at? The official history of Zha Arlakane maintains that this kingdom was never involved in any war on its own soil, its image is that of a peacebroker between nations. This is a fabrication, a lie likely invented to cover up our use of these very weapons against our enemies.
"For me to trust you with them, you will need to give me your absolute word, under penalty of death, that you will not use them except in the most absolutely dire of circumstances."
Flaming chuckles. "I'm sure you can… but then, their Papa might not be so happy about it. I'm sorry Amy, I think he'd prefer you not to hug his chicks. But we can probably look at 'em.">>703880
Flaming scoffs, "Me?! Soft? HAH! I'd like to see anyone who can't fly make that jump better. You would still be up there if the situation was reversed. I went into that fall like a warrior, you would have needed me shouting you encouragement the entire time." She reaches over to poke through his generous amount of fur. "Softy."
She smiles, "But, I'll admit… you were stronger than I thought, catching me like that.">>703880>>703883>>703882>>703884
Flaming looks over at the bird as Zjetya makes the problem known, looking at him curiously. "Hmmm… well, maybe it's still standing because we're in the room and it thinks we're a threat? Maybe we should try going back to the mom, and seeing if she's calmed down yet. Otherwise, Pryce might have the right idea and we need to bring her back here."
She turns towards Kid Pryce, chuckling at the floating colt as she grabs at the rope that they tied to him going up. "We'll pull him down with us, of course. I wonder how long this is supposed to last…"
As Amy flees for the skeletons, she can't help but start laughing again, though trying hard as she might to keep it quiet to avoid hurting her friends' feelings.
"It wouldn't be the first time I got someone's dad mad at me," Amy laughs.
Both of the goo clones keep quiet after hearing the King’s explanation, and look to Pryce for confirmation.>>703884
Flow rolls his eyes and follows Amy as she jets down the stairs.
“Oi oi! Wait up!”
>>703884>"Of course I am, can't you see I'm still floating up here?">>703886>"Hopefully not too long…">>703885
"So they're containers then," Pryce summarizes as the King explains, "Almost like a scroll. But do they say what they do? Some come across as obvious, but others appear more vague."
He says, pointing to the meteors and volcano as obvious, and the emperor and goddess as the more mysterious ones.
He looks up to the King, nodding.
"I swear, under execution, we will not use them unless the fate of this land depends on it."
"As am I" Shei-Sher rises from his crouch position, previously ruminating.>>703885
"I give you might your Highness. Only until Hell is an inch between our faces and all that surrounds us is chaos. We shall not use these items until the most dire circumstances."
Give you my word wew
Flaming looks at Amy, a bit innocent and not quite understanding the meaning. "You made someone's dad mad once? What'd ya do?">>703889
"Oh I'm sure it won't last TOO long, Pryce! Hold on," she says, grabbing the rope in her teeth and tugging him along like a child with her balloon, "There, this should work! Come along now."
The King gazes down at each of you with severe judgment, allowing the silence to linger.
The King then turns to the figurines and tablets, then begins to explain what each of them does when broken.
>Figure of the Loyal Hoplite: For the rest of combat, all actions allies take autocrit; normal failures are re-rolled once per turn; critfails incur no penalty>Figure of the Indomitable Emperor: 15d10 wave of terror, each success autocrits; all enemies in range are struck with awesome fear of the user and allies>Image of the Falling Stars: 10d10 meteor shower, each success dealing autocrit damage to all in range (allies get free action to flee)>Image of the Endless Garden: Party and all allies are fully healed; their Hits and Wounds are doubled; until the end of combat, they cannot go helpless, merely losing 1 wound if their Hits fall to 0, after which their Hits are restored to their full (doubled) amount.>Figure of the Mountain Goddess: 20d10 earthquake, each success dealing autocrit damage to all in range (allies get free action to flee)>Image of the Broken Earth: 25d10 volcanic eruption, each success dealing autocrit damage to all in range; failures are re-rolled once; Magma damage on all successes (allies get free action to flee)
There is one of each of these stone tablets and figures upon the table.>>703886
Surprisingly, beneath the very thick fur, you feel a powerful block of muscle. LJ smirks as you concede his strength, subtly flexing as he walks. "Yeah, and don't make me prove it again with all that big talk of yours.">>703884>>703888>>703886>>703889
You go along with Amy as she returns to the small room where the skeletons are researching the local flora and fauna. As you return, the red bird in the skeletons' captivity turns to you, raising its beak as if to smell the air. Then, with an angry squawk, it tries to fly at Amy, only to be caught by the skeletons, who try to restrain it despite its thrashing.
The other skeletons glance at you in confusion, especially at KP.
Both of the good stare at the table with wide eyes and pursed lips.
“Wow,” they say in unison.>”I can see why you’d keep these under such secrecy…”>>”Aye.”
Flow nods to the skeletons.
“Oi. Er…how do we explain that things have cooled down in the other room?”
Amy laughs. "Let's just say I… hugged them too much.">>703893
Amy cocks her head at the bird. "What'd I do?" she asks indignantly. Then, she looks up at her mane.
"Maybe it's my mane. It got all zapped by the amomany. Do you guys… girls? Things?" Amy shakes her head. "Do you have something to fix my mane?"
[1d10] for skeleton comradery!Roll #1 3 = 3
Zjetya glances at the bird as it squawks. "Oh… she smells the hatchling and the other bird on all of us! She probably thinks we've been messing with them. Uh… you're the persuasive one, what should I say?"
One of the skeletons hands you a comb, then clatters its teeth. You have a feeling that it may be laughing at you.
As Flaming feels the strong muscle stored underneath, she flushes red, surprised to feel such strength beneath such a fluffy exterior. She pulls it back, but maintains her swagger as he tries to act tough. "Well what if I WANT you to prove it? Last I checked, I beat you pretty hooves down the last combat we did. I think I can take you on, no problem.">>703895
Flaming chuckles, "Wow. You must have hugged them REALLY hard to get their papas mad at you. Did you hurt them or something?">>703895>>703894>>703893
As Flaming tugs the Pryce balloon on back into the captivity room, and then sees the red bird explode at Amy, she looks between the two, frowning. "Wow, she's mad… maybe she's picking up the scent of the other birds on Amy?" She shakes her head, and then approaches the skeleton.
"Excuse me sir: can you let THAT bird out?" She says, pointing at the cage. "I think it's worried about its babies in the next room over. It should calm down no problem once it sees they're all alright."
Roll #1 9 = 9
Flow eyes the skeleton as it clatters its teeth, and looks around at the other skeletons in the room. He puts a hoof on his chin as he thinks.
"Tell them we got rid of the problem. The nest is safe now. She can go see for herself! We were just helping.">>703897
"Oh, I might have hurt them, but they definitely liked it," Amy laughs suggestively.
KP drifts along as Flaming takes the rope so he can remain with the group.>"Hey this is kinda fun, I'm like a balloon!">>703893>"We stopped that anomoly and made this birdie's eggs al safe again! Also it made me start floating."
KP says to the skeletons as they looked confused.>>703893
"I see why they were kept in secrecy and erased from records now."
Pryce says grimly at hearing the devastation these can bring.
"Am I safe to assume you're letting us choose which we will need? So I must ask. how many are we allowed to borrow?"
Shei-Sher sets down a seperate bag to hold these very dangerous items in and starts delicately stowing them away.
"Thank you King Lininias, these weapons will greatly alleviate our sorrows in the struggles to come soon."
Shei-Sher then addresses everyone (Pryce, River, Gaddz, Busta, Chroazin, etc..) as he stashes the stuff >>703893
"Well that concludes our business in Zha Arlakane, I believe. Who would like to go out for ice cream?"
"Tomorrow, right after breakfast," LJ says eagerly, bucking slightly. "This time I won't let you win.">>703897>>703894>>703899>>703900>>703901
You make your case to the skeleton researchers, and Zjetya relays Amy's message to the bird in a series of wing flaps and squawks. After some consideration, the skeleton that is holding back the red bird looks at his associates, who nod at him. He leans back and turns away, then lets the bird go. With a loud "Bu-gawk!" and a storm of feathers, the bird flies out of the room, and flies upward through the tower. You see the first bird land in the nest with the second bird, and the two crowd around it, looking down at the hatchling inside. "You have done well,"
the mysterious, sourceless voice says, only somewhat different than before. Though it is imposing and distant, the voice seems to have a light feminine intonation that it did not have when speaking to you before. "The tablet is at the top of this tower."
"It worked!" Amy says happily. "And we didn't have to sit."
Then, she takes the comb from the skeleton. "Thanks," she says sarcastically. She starts combing her mane, hoping something good will happen.
Flow looks up at the tower.
“Huh. So they were the only threat around here…”
He eyes one of the skeletons once more.
“Could we keep one of these guys? They look pretty useful… It doesn’t seem like there’s a necromancer controlling them, either. That, or we just haven’t met the bloke yet.”
The king nods as Shei takes all of the stone weapons. "All of them are for your use in Tartarus. My hope, unrealistic as it may be, is that they will prove superfluous. But, I cannot think of a more fitting representation for my kingdom's commitment to the success of your mission. We will not be able to send you troops or arms. All our forces will be tied up with defending Zha and Fantasia from the advances of the Treibheanna following the opening of the Great Seal of Tartarus. I am afraid that it will be you and your allies alongside Mudi, Vizsla and their lackeys, as well as many members of the Ecclesian Choir. Frightening company indeed… You can pay me back for my contribution by returning alive.">>703902
"Seems like kind of an odd thing to have on your mind after getting a bunch of forbidden weapons," Gaddz comments. "Not that I'm saying 'no'."
The others seem to be of the same opinion, nodding and assenting to the proposal.
Flaming chuckles, "He sounds weird, but, I guess I can kind of imagine liking getting hurt. I like fighting and that gets you hurt. Must have been a REALLY tight hug though, sometimes I can't breath but I don't think you've ever actually hurt me with one before.">>703901
Flaming chuckles as she tugs him along. "Yeah, and now both you AND big PRyce can fly. Maybe we should just keep you like this?">>703903
Flaming laughs, "*Let* me win? As if! You're going down, Journey." She pauses, "In fact, why don't we make it interesting. Wanna bet on it?">>703903
Flaming looks out as the bird flies away to rejoin its family, her heart melting at the sight of a mother and father reunited with its young, making her feel old pangs for home herself as a small tear comes to her eye, but swiftly wipes away before any can see. "Awwww… I'm happy for them. That baby sounds really happy to have its Mama back."
As the voice rings out, she smiles, looking up towards the grassy steps as she begins to make the ascension. "This was MUCH nicer than the last one! That just leaves one more, we're in the home stretch!"
>>703906>>”Aye, we ain’t gonna do anything dumb, like dying while we’re down there, eh?”>”That much, we can guarantee.”>>”And as for the afterparty, I think I ave’ a date to attend.”
Vice rolls his eyes.
Amy stares at Flaming with a straight-mouthed exasperated expression.
"I'm talking about sex," Amy says flatly.
Flaming's eyes open wide, and she turns away, her cheeks flaring red. "O-oh… ew."
She coughs, "I-I mean, I knew that! I was just, you know, pretending. OBVIOUSLY you were talking about sex, I mean, what kind of dummy do you take me for, hehe…?"
"Yeah, that didn't feel like it fit with the others," Spitshine says. "It felt like something was… not going the way it was intended, almost."
The skeletons all turn away to try to avoid your gaze as you talk about binging one of them along. It's unclear whether they're lazy, intimidated or both.>>703904
You comb out your mane, returning it to its original shape. You notice the color slowly returning to your mane; the magic must be wearing off.>>703907
"What could you possibly have to bet that'd be worth it?" LJ asks.
>For everyone ascending the tower, roll climbing/navigation for me, all relevant bonuses apply
"All of them?"
Pryce repeats, astounded. He bows his head.
"Thank you, truly."
Pryce rises up.
"We shall, and no longer will these demons be a threat once we are finished.">>703902
"Be careful with those Shei."
Pryce says with worry.
"Maybe we should find some proper containers for those."
"…I suppose. Are you sure we have nothing more to do?">>703907>"If I could control myself that'd be great. Maybe I should get an air tank or something.>>703903
KP looks up, straightening himself out in his float as the voice speaks.>"You're telling us where it is? Wow, thanks voice!"
KP says.>"You heard the voice, let's go!"
"Indeed, I always do hope that my good deeds for kingdom and for people may be repayed. It's rare that they ever are, but I am glad to be of service regardless. It's the only kind of attitude that might sew the hewns back together on this war torn continent. You have my deepest grattitudes King Lininias we will return to be of service again, I will see to it." Shei-Sher bids the King farewell and good wishes.
And Shei addresses the party "Well It's a fine thing to have a reprieve now and then. And beside that, I want to acquaint you with some of the pleasures of this world Gadriele so you might be steeled to defend it."
Leaving the castle for icecream?
Mocha's eyebrows launch upward as Trapper mentions the date, having apparently forgotten it since the skateboarding competition ended. "Oh yeah… where are we gonna go?"
KP notices that he's starting to descend slowly to the ground, as the magic is apparently wearing off.
"Well after our little excursion for frosted dairy I have business with Ecclessia. So I will get in contact, find the princesses and camp and hopefully Mocha will be able to provide me with a dark corridor."
Amy sighs with relief at her mane going back to normal. [1d10] for climbing>>703910
Amy giggles uncontrollably at Flaming's reaction. "Let this be a lesson to you," Amy says. "Make sure your mate's dad is okay with it."Roll #1 1 = 1
Flow slowly nods at Spitshine’s observation.
“Maybe the skeletons were supposed to be in on it?”
He squints at the skeletons, and points a hoof at one of them, before turning to ascend the tower once more.
Trapper shrugs.>>”I don’t know my way around here, lass. I’ve never even been on a date before.”>>703918>too much information Roll #1 5 = 5
"Can't you just use your magic to move yourself around? You know with the sparkly field thing?">>703918
Flaming blushes, sparing half a glance towards LJ before looking straight back at Amy. "Hehe… I-I'll keep that in mind. It's actually not too different in my clan, my dad had to earn my mom's family's blessing before having me.">>703912
Flaming starts to climb the stairs, looking over at LJ. "If you beat me, I'll go on another date with you. But if I win, you have to do what I say for the whole day. Is that fair?"
[1d10+1] Climbing!Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6
>>703912>>703916>"Aww… I was liking the floating now."
KP says as he starts to come back down, though he does enjoy not risking flying away anymore.>Climb [1d10]>>703922>"I could try, but since I was already floating away I don't know if I could push back against that."Roll #1 5 = 5
"What business do you have with Ecclessia?"
"Well I don't want to speak too much about it. I don't know where Mudi's eyes are but it's safe to assume she's watching us. There is something that can be done to possibly negate Mudi's magic or at least subdue her and I need Ecclessia's corroboration with my findings before we may step forward with putting it into motion."
LJ blurts out, nearly cutting off your question, then clears his throat. "Uh yeah, that doesn't sound too bad. Hope those words taste good, 'cause you'll be eating them when I win tomorrow!">>703922>>703919>>703918>>703923
One of the skeletons does decide to tag along as Flow convinces him to.
You and your allies ascend the tower's ancient stairs, feeling the sense of vivacity and overflowing life grow stronger as you climb up each floor, coated in plant life. The climbing is very tricky, as the denseness of the plants, combined with the relative ruin of the floors themselves, means there are many obstacles like overturned shelves and broken sections of wall and floor for you to overcome.
As you climb, you see several stone golem laying around, half broken and defeated, long since covered over in moss and plant life. "Maybe this is what we were supposed to fight?" Spitshine asks, and the tagalong skeleton nods in confirmation.
At many times you stumble and trip, and Amy even falls through a hole in one of the floors, landing on the floor below her with a heavy thud, losing 1 Wound.
At present, you are about 75% up through the tower, and see that the last remaining stretch above you is rather treacherous, being the most damaged by age and by weather from many years without maintenance.
>One more roll and you'll be at the top
After excusing yourself from the king's presence, you search around for an ice cream shop, having much more trouble finding one than in Fantasia. However, you eventually find a shop for sweets, run by some elderly sheep with the assistance of a few young Ecclesians, evidently members of the Laity.
>Assume that whatever ice cream you want is there, within reason
Amy drinks a potion to heal the wound she lost. [1d10+3]
Also, she keeps climbing. [1d10]Roll #1 1 + 3 = 4
/ Roll #2 8 = 8
Merryflower root. [1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
Let me use the right die. [1d3]Roll #1 3 = 3
"I see. …I wold also suggest, if you're visiting them, we should acquire supplies to do another cleansing ritual after what Gadriele said about the demon taint on us. Just to be safe.">>703927
With the offer of ice cream, Pryce does relax slightly after the trial they saw.
He orders a large cone of Cotton Candy ice cream.>>703926
KP slowly hovers along as they climb, until his hooves finally reach the floor again. He stays in place for a moment, appreciating gravity and the feeling of the ground.
>"Maybe. Those guardians back on the river said this place was around a long time ago. They might've been beat or just got old."
KP says to Spitshine.
KP looks up the last steps as they crumble and hang apart.>"This place is so cool, it's like those old temples in stories where treasure awaits!"
He says excitedly as he quickly goes across the last of the tower.>Climb [1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
“Oh hey, I didn’t expect one of you lot to tag along.”
He nods at the skeleton tagging along.
“I think I’ll call you…Rattle,” he nods, satisfied with the name.
He chuckles when they pass the golems.
“Guess you were right, son,” he tousles Spitshine’s mane.
The goo keeps a close eye on his footing when they reach the upper portion of the tower.
Both of the goos wait outside for the others.>”I don’t know, you can’t exactly wear formal attire.”>>”Aye, tis true lad. I still want to impress her, y’know? Take her somewhere fancy, eh?”>”I understand, it’s just that you’ll probably have to settle for something in the middle. Sure we have a lot of money from that scientist, but who knows when we’ll need it for other things?”>>”Ah, I see. Well, I’m not too picky anyways, I suppose I’ll let her decide, eh?”Roll #1 1 = 1
Shei-Sher looks up at the menu, squinting his eyes and making various hmm noises as he seems dissatisfied with the selection. So disatisfied infact, he's actually more absorbed in remembering the flavors from Mr'uthgar's ice cream shops than actually contemplating the menu's flavors.
"Do.. Do you have- Blood clots and peanut butter wheatgrass?" Griffons like blood, hopefully this shop is used to providing for demons. "With some barley crisps onto please?"
"Gaddz what do you want?"
"Hmm, I see what you mean. But it might be easier to control than some kind of air jet. If this thing lasts all the way home, maybe Shei can make you one!">>703926
Flaming chuckles, "Oooh, keep building up hope like that, Journey. It'll be all the more fun when I crush it into little tiny pieces tomorrow." She gives a fierce stomp of her fore-hooves, almost slipping on the mossy steps before catching herself and saving face. "Better not hold anything back.">>703926
Flaming lets out a gasp as Amy falls, sighing with 'slight' relief as she hits only stairs beneath her, but still shouts down at her, "You can't rush these steps, Amy, gotta take them more carefully!"
She looks around as they climb, commenting to Spitshine, "I don't know… if there was anything here to fight, it looks like someone beat us to it. You know, all those other guys trapped on the mural? Maybe they beat some of these challenges before failing, and took care of some of them for us?"
[1d10+1] Continuing the climbRoll #1 4 + 1 = 5
Shei sighs as if incredibly bored with the suggestion "baaaa-a-a that is going to take up a lot of tiii-i-ime, and I am already bothering them. You know I detest Ecclesians Pryce. Please do not oblige me to smoke a peace pipe with aged cactus as well."
"And why are you so concerned with cleansing. You truly wish to be cleansed, tear your wings off already for goodness sake!"
Amy restores her lost wound as you all climb the ancient structure, having to stop at multiple points to help one another edge across gaps, or go up single file across a particularly narrow stretch of solid ground surrounded by gaps. Eventually you reach the very top floor, and Flow unceremoniously trips and faceplants upon reaching it, losing 1 wound. On the top floor is a ladder leading up to the roof. After climbing through that, you reach a simple rooftop, like the lookout post of some ancient castle, displaying an impressive view of the entire, forest-coated countryside, an endless plain of green below, the blue, cloud-speckled sky above, and the purple and white of old, snow-peaked mountains far off in the distance to the north. At the end of the rooftop is a small stone podium, containing the fourth tablet.
Your allies are speechless as they survey the beautiful view.
"Needs more dinosaurs," Amy comments off-handedly as she looks around for the piece of the tablet.
>>703935>"It's already wearing off. But if it ever comes up again then we have some great ideas!">>703937>>703936
"A bit of time is nothing for this."
Pryce starts to retort, until Shei says to tear off his wings.
"Look who's talking!—"
Pryce starts, before pausing himself to take a breath.
"Shei, I just meant it purely for a precaution. Going to the heart of the underworld we should try to cleanse ourselves before going in. Who knows how that essence could affect everypony down there!"
KP peers over the edge of their small post, mouth agape at the view.>"Whoaaa…. Now I wish I was still floating. These skeletons have a great home out here."
Looking up along the rooftop, KP steps out onto it to go grab the fourth tablet.
You get your various ice cream flavors, despite their strangeness, but the shopkeepers just glare at Mocha and Busta, and the two quickly step back outside, joining Trapper and Vice. Gadriele and Miracle don't get any kind of weird glance, despite looking abnormal themselves with their metallic bodies.
River gets some strawberry ice cream. "I am a very basic pony," she offers as justification.
"Just some water for me, thank you," Miracle says.
Gadriele looks at all the different flavors with uncertainty. "Never had any of this before, or any food for that matt–" Then, his gaze locks onto the tray containing chocolate. "That one, please!" he says eagerly.
This reminds the lot of you of a certain pony.
As they reach the top of the structure, Flaming looks out from the top of the mighty labyrinth they found themselves in, peering out at the forest and impressive view beyond. She stops moving, equally speechless by the breathtaking sight of the green fields, purple mountains, and clear blue skies. She sits down for a moment, looking out at the world before them with a moment of tranquility.
She looks up at the podium with the tablet as KP and Amy got to retrieve, and she takes another moment to stare at the expanse. "…I wish the whole world could look like this. Back in Accorsia."
"Riiiight- precautions. Fair enough, you do have a point Etac. Begs the question why you personally would like a cleansing ritual done. I hadn't thought you were verily going through with passing through Tartarus' gates with us Etac."
Flow grumbles as his face splatters all over the floor. He pulls himself up and scoops up the goo he left stuck on the floor.
The old goo stares out into the distance, eyeing the vast forest with narrow eyes. He is reminded of home, and continues to stare out into the ocean of green.>>703941
Trapper nervously scoots close to Mocha.>>”S-so uh…any idea of where you want to go? I aven’t an idea meself, y’know?”
Vice looks on from a distance, and approaches Busta.>”I take it you caught some stares?” he asks discreetly.
"Yeah, but I understand it," Busta says. "People like me make mortals nervous, even when we're with heroes like you guys. I really don't mind it." However, he cannot hide the hurt in his voice.
Mocha glances around the city's shops. "Honestly, given the past few weeks we've all had, a quiet walk around the city would be just perfect. No fights, no missions. How's about it?"
Shei-Sher has a hearty chuckle seeing the flavor Gadriele chose "Hah. of course you would."
Shei looks back at the shopkeepers "Yes and a double scoop of chocolate for my brother here. With chocolate chips, and flakes, and sticks and a side of hot fudge."
"Hm yess and a sunday- For the two of my friends you stared out of your establishment." Shei-Sher puts the bits on the counter "Keep the change please. You don't have much time to spend it. The World is ending!"
Shei-Sher says lethargically although with drama as he plops down a seat in the lounging area beside his friends.
"So, was that all one building?" Amy thinks out loud. She hangs her head over the side to try to get a look at the fucking bizarre building they were just in.
"You are plenty more than basic."
Pryce says to River.
As Gadriele quickly jumps to ordering chocolate, Pryce can't help but give a short chuckle at the imposing demonic fusion acting like a child.>>703943
"I am, but after you mentioned the ember shielding from that corruption. I've been holding onto it after what we gave to get it all those months ago… but think it might be better to have it protect you all down there."
Vice sighs.>”Yeah…It’s unfortunate, but it happens. Even before demons came, mortals have always been like that. Flow doesn’t pay it any mind, however, I think he knows he can silence anyone who gives him lip,” he says with a chuckle.
Trapper blinks, and sheepishly smiles.>>”Uh…that sounds lovely.”
You see indeed that it was all one long and elaborate temple complex, sprawling and half-covered by the thick forest far below you.>>703938>>703940>>703942>>703944
"Dino-what?" Spitshine asks.
Zjetya scoffs. "Dinosaurs are just a myth; everyone knows that those are dragon bones, which should not be disturbed from their slumber. That's a sin."
Spitshine scrunches his eyebrows, as confusion piles onto confusion, but the voice returns again."The fourth rule is void,"
the voice says, growing more feminine and less abstract and distant with each word. "The fifth rule is this:
Remember your mission. Deny every false temptation.
"Return to the mural," the voice continues. "There, the final trial awaits."
with a smile Shei-Sher nudges Pryce when seeing Gadriele's ice cream pick "Evil's Punishment loved ice cream.">>703948>but think it might be better to have it protect you all down there."
"Is that really it?" Shei says dubiously "Or you could, say, simply hand it over to one of us. Save yourself a few more days on the surface. You will not see me crying about it. Who wants to go to hell?" Shei says rhetorically "A lot of people have told me to go to hell in my life time and I can't say I once thought that would be at all very nice."
Busta nods. "That guy… I really do admire him. Can you ask him to help train me?">>703948
River shuts you up by pressing a scoop of her ice cream to your lip, then steals a bite of yours as compensation.>>703948>>703946>>703949
You all get your ice cream, and sit outside to enjoy it, with Busta and Mocha attempting to ignore the weird glances from passerby.
"What should we toast to?" Busta asks.
"You don't toast with ice cream," Gadriele says, already eating his.
"How would you know if you've never eaten it?" River protests.
"Screw it, we're toasting!" Mocha says. "Just not sure what it should be to…"
Flaming looks out at on the horizon, lost in its beauty, as she turns her head to Amy. "I guess so… I mean, remember when we came up on it? It WAS pretty huge, remember? Massive.">>703950
Her enjoyment of the scene is disrupted as the voice makes its presence known again, and delivers their instructions. She blinks, raising her ears as she tries to consider its meaning.
"We… just go back to the mural? And ignore every temptation on the way back? Temptations like *what*, I don't think there's much of anything that distracting on the way up here, 'cept maybe the library…"
She shrugs, "Well, if it's that easy, I say we've earned the break! Everyone move on ahead… and don't stop for ANYTHING. Not matter what."
She turns and takes a long, HARD look at Amy Thest.
"I have a toast!" Shei proclaims, he taps his porcelain ice cream bowl with his spoon "To another good day. A day where I may sit in a library, drink tea and provoke useless arguments about scripture with apostles. Yes, those were good days when I had them."
“Remember the mission…seems like this’ll be good practice.”
He starts making his way down the tower.>>703952
Vice scratches his head.
“I don’t see why not. He’s training Spitshine and Sugar already, so I suppose you can listen in on his erm…lessons.”
>>”To a job well done!”
Trapper proposes, even though he has no ice cream.
>>703950>"Remember our mission?"
KP questions when the voice echoes again.>"Oh, right. We're here for that treasure. …What was it again?">>703951
"She did? I guess they really shine through Gadriele then."
Pryce looks down at Shei.
"I meant that I would give it to one of you," Pryce corrects, "It's just, after everything to get it, it feels strange to part with. And an old soldier from that kingdom is after me for it. I wouldn't want ot send him after you all if he's following the ember.">>703952
Pryce pauses in surprise as River shuts him up with the cone. He licks the ice cream off his muzzle when it's pulled away.
"You chose a good flavor.">>703952
"Let's toast to a successful mission and a pleasant day."
Pryce says as he holds up his cone, taking a bite.
"Oh, come on! There's gotta be a faster way to get back!">>703953
"Why are you looking at ME?" Amy says, sounding insulted.
Flaming coughs, "Uh… well… you 'do' kind of get distracted, here and there…">>703956>>703955
Flaming looks towards Pryce as he asks what the treasure is, "We're not sure, but if the Sons of God were willing to make anyone go through all this work for it, it HAS to be worth it."
"Ba-a-ah Why are you so incapable of saying you wish to see the end together with your friends Pryce. That's not very hard is it? This is quite a big venture we are taking is it not?"
"And again I was not jesting about your wings. Tear off your wings, have the younger Pryce retract his prayers to Buiwong and repent to the Daeva's."
>>703956>>703951>"Evil's Punishment loved ice cream."
Evil's Punishment loved Chocolate.
Busta beams, a rather odd thing to see out of someone usually so pensive. "Thanks! I can't wait!">>703954>>703955>>703956
"To peace between demons and mortals," Busta says.
"To coming home safely," River says.
"To redemption," Chorazin says.
"To victory," Mocha says.
"To… to…" Gadds says, struggling to think of something good. "…our family."
The others pause, as the meaning of Gadds' words hit each of them hard. They clink their bowls, and with that, they start eating and idly chatting over this and that (or resume, in Gadd's case).>>703955>>703956>>703957>>703953
"A sun shaped–" the disembodied female voice interjects, but then stops. "You're supposed to remember this yourself. It's your mission, trainee!"
As Amy starts to complain, the female voice sighs. "It's… not that far away, is it? If you're keeping up on your cardio drills it shouldn't be that
"Trainee…?" LJ wonders aloud.
>>703958>"Yea, though I hope that means we can also fix Blessings too.">>703961
KP looks up as the voice speaks more directly and not all fancy either.>"Oh hey you're talking all normal now! Does that mean we'll see you after all this? What's your name?"
KP starts to ask as they all begin to climb down the tower.>>703959
Pryce grows flustered by Shei's accusations.
"It's not that I'm incapable! There's a lot of complications going on here!"
"I don't think that's how it'll work, and I'd rather not risk mutilation."
"As long as we don't have to go back through those caves…" Amy grumbles in response to the sourceless voice.
"Wait, who is talking?" she says, suddenly realizing the oddness of it and looking around.
As Flaming heads down the stairs in the direction of the mural they first came across, far, far back whence they came, she points her ears up as the voice, that had been leading them this far, actually begins to hold a conversation.
"Wait… wait… you can talk? You can HEAR us?!"
Vice can’t help but smirk, and quickly steels his gaze.>”Be prepared for a rigorous training routine! Sir Flow believes not only in training of the body, but training of the mind as well!”
Flow’s head snaps up.
“Trainee? Hey, wait a minute, since when did you get all chatty?”
He slows his descent down the stairs as the others question the voice as well.
Pryce looks over at Gadriele as he says his toast.
"Gadriele… How much do you remember of that final day of the Rapture?"
"You can hear it too!?" Amy says, surprised. "I'm used to being the only one able to hear the mysterious voices in my head."
"Wait…" the female voice says. "Did I say that out lo– Oh shit, did they hear me say that?"
"Nope, we didn't hear a thing," Spitshine responds.
"Oh, shit they heard me," the voice says back, and you hear a clattering as something gets knocked to the floor, and a stumbling of awkward hooves. "Uh…"
The air starts to swirl around you, distorting space just like you saw around the Anomaly. In a moment, the scene around you vanishes, and you find yourself back at the stone mural at the fore of the temple. Only this time, there is another stone podium in front of the mural, containing the fifth tablet.
Zophie is in front of the mural, studying its hieroglyphs with a torch. She hasn't seen you yet.
"I'm not going to have to do math, am I?" Busta asks with trepidation.>>703966
Gadds gazes sharply at you over the rim of his bowl. "Enough."
He looks around to see if Rattle was transported with them.
“Who and or what was that?”
Indeed, Rattle was teleported alongside you, and you have a feeling that, if he had a face, he would appear just as confused as you are. He clatters his teeth.>>703971
"Oh, thank goodness," Busta says between bites of ice cream. "I've gone through more than a few scrolls and codices on philosophy when I was just a wandering demon."
>>703968>"Have you been watching us the whole time?"
KP asks before the voice start to changed tone in confusion.>"Oh, do you have stage fright? I can help with that!"
KP looks around as everything vanishes and they're back in the main room.>"Was that whole tower fake? Wait we're not trapped are we, was that voice part of the 'no distractions' rule?!"
KP says in a panic, before seeing Zophie and the fifth tablet. He quickly runs over to grab onto it to get that last rule out of the way.>"Hey Zophie, how'd it go getting through that torch tunnel?">>703969
Pryce meets the gaze, not looking away or staring back with any negativity.
"I'm sorry. For everything I did then. I should've been stronger and tried to talk with you. I should've tried anything else but fighting two friends. I know we're far past having any of what happened then fixed, but if there's anything I can do, please do not hesitate to ask."
Shei-Sher feels a flutter in his heart at Gaddz's toast and eats his icecream.
"mmf" Shei napkins his lips "Gadriele allow me to tell you the tale of how I've fallen into this brigand. You see it all began when I saw Pryce, Gabriele, and Evil's Punishment on a ferry to Manyirongdi. Now, I did not join the party until I spent a day stalking them. I was quite shy and bit curious about the zebra friend they were chasing about. A few more days in their company. For the couple of days spent I face many a dillema with kings and demons. I and a friend I made in their company decided it was unwise to carry on like this with these strangers who magnets for calamity. It wasn't our quest. Eventually My friend Golden had to leave to his family and I was left to deliver a letter in Hearthome which was the beauteous capital of my Homeland. I fell in love with the pony cities, they had buildings that reached up into the clouds, architecture you could spend an afternoon looking at, their parks, their culture, the food. It was all great. So I found it upon myself to give my services to church and earn a cot as a squire. And well it was to my surprise during the examinations that did not take too kindly to the sort of magic I was familiar with. So I was lashed, strung up and choked by a wet noose while left in the summer heat to swell for a day. They let me have my cot and after confirming my credentials Hearthome's church realized I was a famous Occultist's protege. Well now I could not stay at the church and they did not want to risk angering Crow-ley by simply throwing me out to the curb. So arrangements were made for me to stay in Etherward. And it was very comfortable living. I had my own room, full access to their libraries, free meals, free tea. Croe-ley's name bought quite a lot for me. A month had passed and the library for the university I was studying saw a large number of assasinations. By the month's end I was the only one alive so I was put to court trial. For week I spent in a cell await execution. but my allubi passed Thank the gods. It was a very poor one in retrospect. I reasoned with the judge that I did not need to sleep. I could god days even a month simply studying and seeing how the people who were assasinated, perished in their sleep it was obvious to me how I survived. The library clerks and some ornery scholars thankfully gave my story credit. They would see me in the library every day and evening. There was already a public outcry for my head however. The jury and press made a big noise about Crow-ley's protege carrying assasinations. So instead my Friend Rising Tide found it honorable instead to put me in the service to Pryce and his friends in their mission to stop Buiwong from breaking the firmament. And NOW I'm here."
"Well you tell me Pryce. You still carry the gift Buiwong bequeathed you. You use them regularly. Your inner child has made prayers to Buiwong, you have renounced your gods and you are constantly within the companion of followers of Buiwong. What do you think happens to your soul after you die?"
Shei offers the food for thought. "In the best case scenario Buiwong will take the angels to court and split your soul in half. Do not take the risk Pryce."
At the sound of things being knocked over, Amy can't help but laugh at the absurdity of it all. "How can we even hear that!?" she voices her own confusion.>>703973
"Yay! KP did it! Good job!" Amy cheers KP on as if he did some amazing thing.
"Now, let's put it all together."
Flow shrugs at Rattle, and goes up to Zophie.
Vice practically beams.>”Oh, perfect! So you’re somewhat familiar with what I’ll be teaching, then! That’s perfect!”
He pulls Busta in close.>”Sometimes I have to put it in simple terms, due to Sugar and Spitshine being children.”
Flaming snickers. "I can believe it. But no, this time we're ALL a little crazy I think.">>703968
Flaming looks at Spitshine, "What? Of course we heard her Spitshine, she was just talking."
She turns up towards the voice, raising an eyebrow as she hears all the noise cluttering about, turning towards the others to pass a bewildered look before all the air around them starts to swirl. Flaming is put off guard, pacing away from the swirling warp until they find themselves back at the stone mural, looking ahead at the stone podium with the final piece of the tablet on it.
"Wait, what?! You sent us back? Why are you helping us?"
She looks at Zophie, about to shout towards her, but stops short, remembeing the final rule>"No distractions…"
She follows Pryce in going directly for the last piece, intent on fulfilling the rule and getting confirmation before ANYTHING else is done.
"…I do not know. But I do not intend to leave my fate to Buiwong."
Pryce says simply.>>703976>"Yea! Let's get Blessing back out of this stone!"
"Oh I wouldn't mind a slower pace to training, I'd hate to disrupt it for the kids.">>703978>>703977>>703976>>703973
There is no response, either to your question or to KP taking the fifth tablet. You see that the stone mural has five spots for the tablets to be inserted in order to complete the mural's designs.
Zophie jumps at the sound of your voices, then swings around in surprise. She then pouts at the sight of you. "I can't believe you all just left me there.">>703974
"Right, right… I remember… part of that," Gadds says, though none too confidently. "Mostly from my own end. A lot of memories jumble up together around that point. All the adventures, all the people we ran into, monster summoners, gods, demons, angels… I lose track of whose memories I'm reading at times. I used to be those demons that went into my fusion just as much as I used to be Punishment, or Gabriele, or even Wrath… it's all like a mixed up stained glass mural. Even I don't know what it's supposed to be… does that make any sense?">>703973
Gadds spends a long time studying his bowl, swirling his spoon through the contents. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZXQ4LoQBbc
"'I'm sorry'… what am I supposed to say to something like that? You didn't land the finishing blow, but if it weren't for that fight, then… those people I used to be, wouldn't have died. If they weren't dead, then I, born from their souls, wouldn't be alive. So, what are you apologizing for – who are you even apologizing to? To me? Or to them? Those people… aren't here anymore. I remember them as if I was them, but still, you're talking to ghosts.
"I've been alive, I've been 'me' for all of about what, an hour? I don't even know what this 'me' really is yet, and you – the you in my memories is far different than the you that's right there. And you're coming to me as if we're at the end of a long and old feud. Am I just supposed to – I don't know, forgive you? To say you were 'just doing what you had to' or that I – or we – or that they had it coming? What am I supposed to feel? What were you hoping to get out of me for apologizing for what you did to… to them?"
He looks at you in earnest confusion.
"I can't believe you made it back," Amy says to Zophie conversationally as (presumably) KP puts together the tablets.
Vice smiles.>”I suppose. If anything you can assist me by being an instructional aid during lessons! Oh what fun we will have,” he says, giddy with excitement.
“Ah, sorry love. We had a couple hiccups along the way, and couldn’t come back. We’ve got all the tablets though, so we’ll be out soon enough. Even picked up a new friend along the way,” he gestures to Rattle.
Flaming looks at the five tablet slots and the five tablets, looking up at them one more time to make sure there isn't any more tricky business about the order they're supposed to be inserted in before they get to work.
[1d10] Investigate the mural looking for any over-looked clues about how to put in the tablets before just putting them in the order we found them.
She turns to Zophie, and frowns. "I'm sorry about that Zophie, by the time we got all the way through the third trial, it was so far ahead of you we couldn't turn back! WEre you able to hear our echoes? We tried shouting to you to let you know we were moving on ahead."Roll #1 4 = 4
"No, that makes fine sense to me. Sorry, I know this is still all likely bewildering to you. I am just so happy to see you again. But, you're more than the sum of your parts. You are someone of your own making, maybe think of those memories as your heritage, your ancestors -family, you said it yourself that is what we are.">>703980>>703979
Shei-Sher is suddenly caught between the discussion Pryce and Gadriele are having. He silently watches.
>>703980>"Sorry. We thought you would find your way through fine since we cleared everything. And that lady tossed the next rule at us so quick we just had to keep going!"
KP explains, then looks up at the mural.>"So we just put these all back and then we get Blessings back, and everypony else on these. Get ready everypony!"
KP says as he staets to slowly levitate the pieces back into place.>>703980
Pryce looks down to the ground, unsure of how to respond.
"I don't know. After that happened, after I came to, I beat myself up over that for weeks. I felt horrible for betraying friends that I traveled for so long with."
He looks up as his cone starts to melt.
"I guess I might just be talking to ghosts. I know you weren't there, but if you remembered… If the memories were there, then a part of them in whatever afterlife may hear it as well."
The pink cream starts to drip to the ground.
"I must be sounding selfish, to ask for closure from you."
Gadds is silent.>>703982
"That doesn't mean 'punching bag,' does it?" Busta asks hesitantly.>>703981>>703985>>703982>>703983
Zophie gives you all the evil eye. "If I had heard you, I would have gone over to… oh whatever, just complete the trial.">>703985>>703983
KP cannot seem to figure out what order the pieces should go back in. There are a variety of pictograms on them, in the same style as on the mural.
Upon inspection of the mural, Flaming realizes that the pictograms seem to be a retelling of the story that was on the stone cube in the center of the temple, based on a few recurring stretches of the mural that look very similar to what she saw on the stone cube. However, there are many key differences between the story as it's told on the cube vs as it's on the mural. With the pieces out of order, you cannot immediately tell what the differences are, but with a review of the story, perhaps you will find the answer.>>703985
River takes your ice cream to prevent it from dripping.
"I can't tell you what you're being right now," Gadds says. "I've only been 'me' for about an hour. I need time to acclimate to walking around, blinking, moving my mouth, eating – Hell, I've been breathing manually for this whole time because I forgot to do it for the first few seconds of living."
He forces out an awkward laugh, and you can't tell for whose comfort it's supposed to be. "Uh… so… what I'm getting at, is… why don't we discuss this once we've figured out what the hell the two of us even are?"
Poost sheets and reply to >>703986
, no waiting for recap or repost
"So," Amy thinks out loud. "If we can all hear it, maybe it's not in our heads at all. Maybe there's just someone really far away talking to us really loud."
"So they have a really big horn or an instrument or something?" Spitshine asks. "I could see that happening. What if they've just been sneaking up on us each time we go to another room?"
https://pastebin.com/RaZG8KLM>>703986>"Uhhh…. Does anypony know how these fit together?"
KP asks the others, as he tries to look between the mural to see if the pictograms line up to maybe give a solution.>Examine [1d10]>>703986
"Yea. I… guess that's best for now."
Pryce says, feeling a bit awkward about this all now.
"Sorry, for bringing this all up now."Roll #1 6 = 6
Flaming bows her head to Zophie, "I'm really, really sorry about that again… we promise we won't do it again, it just was way too hard to go back."
As she looks ahead at the puzzle pieces they've collected, along with the five slots to put them in, Flaming analyzes the mural as she recalls the story read earlier when they were collecting their first piece, the story of the god, the hero, and the demons he fought in rescuing someone precious. She looks over the pieces again as she recounts the story in her head, re-arranging each of them into the right order, before she notices the issue.
"I think I have an idea… there was a story on one of the murals I read earlier that line up with pictures on these pieces, but something's… off. I can't tell exactly what, but I'm pretty sure we have to arrange these in the same order of the story." She picks up the pieces, "Follow me, I'm taking these back to where I originally saw it. Maybe if we compare them directly, we can find what's different!"
Vice chuckles and shakes his head.>”No no no, you’ll just be helping me teach the young ones. Trapper is the punching bag!”
“Y-yeah, we’ll get to solving it.”
He looks at the pieces from afar, and thinks very hard about which pieces go where. Really hard.
"Maybe they're invisible!"
It occurs to KP and Flow that the designs on the mural and on each tablet seem to be telling some kind of story, involving someone with a sword, a large bird-like god, a labyrinth, and a prince. It's a matter now of finding the logic of the story and the order in which this writing system flows.>>704356>>704357>>704356>>704353
Flaming takes the pieces from KP and return to the mural inscribed on the massive stone cube in the large central room.
>Reposting previous descriptions from portion deciphered so far:
Running from right to left and from the bottom up, the inscriptions are telling a story about a stallion, armed only with a sword, tasked with the protection of a kingdom by the voice of some kind of god, represented by some kind of great, dark bird descending from a cloud. The hero journeys forth into a dark wood, bearing only a sword, only to be confronted by a dark clump of golden-eyed monsters with many hands.
he hero perserveres against many kinds of monsters in his path, but not without suffering great injury. In time, he rescues a princess, who joins his quest, but the two are stopped by a great pit that zig-zags its way through the earth.
As Flaming cross-checks between the mural and the pieces she's acquired, she starts to notice some differences more clearly, particularly in the characters… (roll at DC 3 to examine differences and figure out more of the story).
"What if it's one of those bats that kept flying into everyone's hair!?" Spitshine asks, crouching down with a suspicious look at the ceiling.
"Now that I can get behind," Busta says, subtly flexing at Trapper.>>704355
"Yeah, at least let me finish my ice cream before you hit me with something so heavy, heheheh," Gadds tries to joke, clearly also feeling awkward.
River hands you back your ice cream. "So, eh… anywhere else that you lot want to travel to once we're done here?"
"It sure does sound like it's coming from my head though. I have pretty good ears, if it was coming from a certain direction, I thought I'd know where.">>704359
Flaming looks at the mural and then to the pieces after they return to the large central room, darting back and forth as she gauges them for similarities and departures. "Let's see… what did they change…"
[1d10] ObservationRoll #1 3 = 3
Evidently, this notion is too silly, even for Amy. She giggles a little bit and says, "What?">>704362
"Not if it was likes… SUPER loud. So it came from EVERY direction!"
Shei-Sher continues eating his ice-cream, ignoring the awkwardness of Pryce's conversation with Gadd's
"Mm.. This is really good ice-cream."
So Shei-Sher spends some time eating before he asks everyone at the table what their plans are.
He taps dings on his ice cream bowl to get everyone's attention "Yes, so Pryce, my brother, Chorazin and I are going to need a dark corridor to Lilane to speak with Ecclessia about our plans for Tartarus. What you all do is your own business of course but I will be needing some of mocha's time. Does anyone wish to leave to the ship? Are you staying in the city? Perhaps we should set a curfew maybe in case Mocha doesn't wish to spend her day with the Ecclessian lot."
Flaming pauses, "Hmm… I guess that's possible… at any rate, we definitely agree on one thing: whoever's speaking is IN this place somewhere. I just have no idea how we would go about finding them."
She pauses to think. "You don't think it could be that bird, do you?"
"As long as they don't attack me, which they didn't seem like they'd do in Fantasia, I'm alright with staying there all day," Mocha says.
"Ecclesia? Sounds like a wonderful time," Gadds says in earnest. "They're the… good guys right?"
"No, that birs is TOTALLY a guy!"
"J-just throwing out possibilities!" Spitshine says in embarrassment.
Flaming turns her head, "Really? How do you know, I never heard it talk."
"Because it's big and ugly, obviously!">>704369
"You're silly," is all Amy has to say in response.
>>704356>>704359>"Heeey I almost had it figured out! …Maybe."
KP whines as Flaming picks up the pieces and carries them off.
>"Oh, there's another story?"
He questions as they look at the other mural. He sits down to look it over.>"Are they the same thing? Or is it like a different version?">>704361
"Heh, sorry about that, again."
Pryce looks to River as she hands back his cone, grabbing it in his magic and licking some of it back up after all the melting.
"Shei mentioned visiting the Ecclesians, but aside from that I have no focuses unless you'd want to sightsee."
Flow squints more and more at the mural as it’s completed, nodding his head as if he understands.>>704361
Vice chuckles, and Trapper gulps.>”Why yes, it’ll be easier to have a demonstrator for once…” he mumbles>>704364>”Wait, we’re going to Ecclessia?”
Both of the goos look at each other, then to Shei.>”Right now?”
>>704366>"They're the… good guys right?"
"nyeeeeaa-a-ah" Shei-Sher parses his hooves together as some gesture of indecision "It is complicated… -They're good enough. And their core members are Accorsian migrants, among them the King of Hearthome."
"Right well, when you are done with your sunday, no hurry."
"No, I'm Spitshine.">>704371>>704373>>704372>>704363>>704362https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3zle1ZfxQc
It eventually clicks for you after holding up the stone tablets to the cube's version of the mural to see where they would fit within the story. The mural in the front hallway seems to fundamentally be telling the same story, but with switched characters, and in more detail:
A princess, armed with a sword, is tasked with the protection of a kingdom by the voice of some kind of god, represented by a great, dark bird descending from a cloud. The princess travels into a dark wood like the stallion in the original, but in the new story, she meets kind of many-jointed, insect-like demon. Together, the princess and the insect face a slew of horrific demons; at first, the demons are fierce, but in successive panels, she breaks and routs them. In later panels, the demons appear frightened and surrendering, but the princess does not stop, and leaves only corpses in her wake. Among the corpses appear to be people.
In time, a stallion, armed with a sword of his own, faces her, and the two fight, but she spares him just as he is at the brink of death. For some reason, he joins up with her and the insect, and the two prepare to enter a great pit that zig-zags its way through the earth. The final panel has the great dark bird-god from earlier, only now it is depicted at the bottom of the labyrinth, with many gnarled evils spewing forth from its mouth.
You now know where to put each of the tablets in the mural in the front hallway.
"Pay a little more attention little familiars. You may stay in Fantasia if you wish, or come along. It's your choice."
The awkwardness parts only a little as Gadds turns away from Pryce and everyone goes back to their ice cream.
"I don't have any objections to that plan," River says.
"Right, just don't let me out of your sight," Busta says. "They were friendly enough in Fantasia, but something tells me that's cause it's not their territory… in one of their camps, we'd better all stick together."
Among the corpses of demons are those of people.*
"Of course, but we are all fighting for the same cause. The core of Ecclessia will recognize us, surely."
Flow hums as the story clicks together.
“Quite the tale…seems familiar somehow…”>>704376
Vice looks down in thought.>”Then perhaps you could help us,” he says as his face lights up.
He pulls the sword he recieved from the demons from his hip and displays it to Shei.>”We were planning to consult Observer as to what exactly this weapon we found can do. However, we might as well ask you,” he says as he hands it over.>”We got this from a couple demons, and we’re not entirely certain as to it’s full potential yet.”>>704377
Both of the goos shrug.>>”We aven’t a good reason t’ stay either, eh?”
Amy giggles at Spitshine's response.
"Hey, maybe the voice is that princess lady!"
Flaming chuckles, "That's it? Girls can be ugly and big too, you know.">>704372
Flaming reaches up to rub Pryce's head, "I know that, that's why I took them away so I could figure it out BEFORE you."
As she leads the way back to the mural, she nods. "Yep yep, the was another story I was reading during that first challenge, right before Blessings got sucked up. I think it's a slightly different story.">>704375
Flaming looks over the mural as she compares notes, her eyes squinting in confusion as she re-reads the altered tale. "This is odd… on the tablets, it looks like the PRINCESS is the hero instead who later meets the stallion after being given the mission by the dark god. She meets a friendly demon along the way in this version too, and they join her on her journey… and it's not just demons she's slaying, but people."
"The dark god… looks more like the bad guy in this version." She shakes her head. "That isn't good, I was almost sure the bird was the god in the tale, and if he's bad…" she sighs. "Well… let's just get these tablets back then. We can sort out things as they come, but I think I have a good idea of where these fit now!"
Shei is taken a little aback by the inquiry. A little left field outside an ice cream parlor "Uh- well, it certainly looks ominous. I can tell you rightly." Shei takes Pupil out from his coat pocket and dangles it over the sword for it to Apraise it.>Apraise
[1d10+1] appraising Vice's demon swordRoll #1 8 + 1 = 9
Trapper smirks.>>”Th’ two of us /are/ from left field, mate.”
"You take that back!" Amy says, only half-joking.
Flaming giggles. "Why. It's true, isn't it? You're telling me you've NEVER met a big woman or an ugly woman ever, not once?"
As you head back to the mural in the front hall, a sense of trepidation and hesitance comes over you, giving you a certain impression of danger to come; an instinct honed over your many adventures. You feel that something is bound to happen once you set up the tablets in their proper order, something you should be ready for. From the grim, steeled looks on their faces, Zjetya, Spitshine and Zophie can sense it as well.
Shei examines the sword, finding that it can transform between a bow and a broken katana, with the broken part being replaced by a sinister spectral energy. >The End of the Hunt>Great/Ranged (as katana/bow)>A magic sword, once part of a great hunter's proud and prized collection, the reward of many successful hunts on behalf of his warrior-king father, until it was tainted by the lingering resentment of its countless victims, and banished. >When a katana, the use of Cleave has no increase of critfail range, up to a maximum of 4 targets. >When a bow, the attacks do not do any damage, but a successful hit causes the target to be unable to use any magic or other supernatural skills until they land a hit on the weapon's wielder.
To clarify: Critfail range on Cleave with this weapon ONLY starts to increase once you target more than 4. So targeting 5 increases critfail range by 1, targeting 6 increases the range by 2, and so on.
Flaming tenses up as they approach the mural, looking around at all the others as she gauges the looks on the others' faces.
"Right… I guess I'm not the only one feeling it. Something's about to happen when we put this in. Is everyone ready? Spitshine, stick close to someone, I think if something dangerous starts you're not the quickest to get out of the way."
"Pshh," Amy says with a dismissive wave of her hoof. "We'll be fine. Probably just another friend to make."
Flow’s eyes narrow, and he brandishes the spear as the others and him approach.
“Hmm…” he grits his teeth as they get closer.
>>704384>"Well I can't be mad at that. It must be a good story if it's been hidden all the way out here in this place. Hey maybe you could do a show about this one too!">>704384>>704375>"Oh, so it's all swapped around in this one."
KP comments as the new story is interpreted.>"That's neat, it's like two stories in one."
KP hops up now that they know the right order.>"Come on let's go save Blessings now!">>704377
"I'm sure you travelling with us would show you're good enough. Or, at least make them not attack you."
Pryce assures Busta.>Good to travel
Now knowing the strength of the sword/bow combo weapon, the goos eye the sword in awe.>”I uh…think we got a good deal.”>>”Boy did we…”
KP looks up to the mural, worried. He hides behind Zjetya at the ominous feeling.>"It's just other ponies and Blessing trapped in there, right? No big monsters or anything?"
Once your party finishes their chit-chat and ice cream break, Mocha leads you to a somewhat reclusive little alley between two buildings, and opens the Dark Corridor, safely hidden from public eye. Once the other end opens up, you find yourself upon a hill just on the outskirts from Lilane's border, on the northern side, judging by the distant sight of the perpetual night sky over Circadia behind you. "Just wanted to be safe about where we exited," Mocha says.
After a brief walk, you find that Lilane is far more fortified and more populated than before. Where last time, it was a somewhat sleepy relaxation spot for Ecclesians wanting to sample the hot springs, it is now a serious garrison, full of armed soldiers and refugees relocated from Zha Arlakane as part of Ecclesia's hegemony over the region. While the place is more heavily fortified, a sense of good morale hovers in the air. Various people, especially the more grizzled fighters, eye Busta and Mocha, but upon seeing Flow, Pryce and Shei, leave you be.
Flaming smirks. "With you, there's ALWAYS some new friend to be made.">>704395
"Kind of confusing though. How could the same story be told so differently, unless two different people worked on both this totem and the mural pieces we've been collecting. and which one is true?">>704394>>704397
Flaming turns to Pryce, shaking her head. "As far as we know… but I'm getting a bad feeling about this all the same."
The two goos follow uncomfortably behind Pryce.>”It seems as if the populace is still wary, not that I’d blame them.”
Trapper keeps close to Mocha, returning any glances the group gets with squints.
Shei-Sher explains to Vice and Trapper the what he has learned about the sword.>>704398
Once within Lilane's walls Shei-Sher mention's "We should speak with a griffon named Gegenschein first, he would be most amendable to helping us."
Shei-Sher, with his friends scour the camp asking for Gengenschein's Whereabouts.
Flaming arranges the five missing tablets into the empty spots on the mural in the front hall, and as she places the fifth and final one into its spot, a pulse of energy swells in your bodies. You briefly feel light-headed, and then you full-on begin to float in an odd out of body experience. Your vision swirls and churns, and you suddenly feel yourself falling in a windless expanse, and everything rushes up inside you in a few hair-raising moments.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kW45TLcY00
Eventually, your vision clears, and the sensations fade. Only, your present situation is far more odd than what it seemed. Each of you has now become a hieroglyphic representation of yourself. You find yourself in an unfamiliar town, which is also hieroglyphic, appearing to be some kind of lesser medieval city, perhaps that of a client state of a great kingdom. A dark wood surrounds the city to the north, just outside its walls.
The most odd difference is this: You are not seeing yourself and the world through your own eyes. It is as though you were taking the persepctive of an audience member in a theater, where your body is the 'actor' on a stage. Despite this out-of-body perspective forced upon you, you retain control over your body, and also have all of its senses.
Your companions look around, mouths agape for want of words as they awkwardly move around in their new bodies.
[sp]For a more OOC explanation, picture your characters as being in a 2D side-scroller, where your vision is that of the player. Specifically, Paper Mario, in a hierogrlyphic visual style.[/sp]
Flow blinks to get his bearings, until he realizes his bearings are out of his body.
“Wait…what is this?”
He looks around at the scenery around himself and the rest of the party in pure confusion.
“…are we part of the story now or something?” he ponders aloud.
Pryce quickly chomps down on the rest of his cone as they prepare to depart, no worse for wear from the cold treat.
As they overlook Lilane and have Circadia in the distance, Pryce looks on with grim fondness.
"It's feels like it's been an eternity since we were last here. I wonder how the city looks now…"
Pryce glances around as they see the newly fortified garrison.
"They must've heard the news then. I know they're a fighting force, but it's such a contrast from last time that I wish didn't need to be.">>704399>"I remember hearing of some old stories were you could look at it different ways and completely change it up. Maybe this is one of those?">>704402
KP peers up at the mural, still as they finally place the last piece in. He waits for Blessings to tumble on out and be saved, but when they begin to float, he starts to panic.>"Wh-Whoa! What's happening, we did this right right?"
He shouts as he flails his legs.
When his vision returns, he blinks, looking around only to see he's already staring at "all around" already. He tries to step forward, very clumsily and all turned around.>"This is weird…"
He says slowly, trying to get his bearings poorly and falling over.
As you head further within the town, you are beset with a greater sense of serenity and calm, as though there were something in the air. You get directions from a few soldiers, who indicate that Gegenschein can be found, as usual, in the longhouse-like building at the top of Lilane's hill. As you head up there, the sense of calm grows strong, and you feel the inklings of something 'else' just behind that sense of calm.
You reach the longhouse, bustling and busy as always. Inside, you see Gegenschein overseeing a team of new recruits as they practice cleaning and repairing various guns. Other prominent members of the Choir are nearby, namely Doctor Galton and Ichimonji. The two are teaching a large group of foals about herbs for cleaning and treating wounds and common ailments. You feel immense power radiating from the three Choir members; they seem to be the source of the serenity.
"Woooooah!" Amy says as she laughs and jumps around. "Look at me! I'm jumping! This is so cool!">>704403>>704399>>704404
Amy faces toward the "screen" and starts waving. "So, am I waving at you guys right now?"
Both of the goos eye each other in slight confusion.>”Not just a natural aura, eh? Seems like it’s a real one.”>>”Aye mate…”>>704407
Flow’s confusion is written all over his face as he looks from the “screen” to Amy.
"I wonder what would be the most polite place to look while you're talking to someone like this," Amy contemplates while looking from Flow to the 'screen'. "Do I look at your body or where you're seeing me from?"
After putting in the last piece of the puzzle, Flaming looks up at the mural, waiting for something to happen before she sees the energy beginning to well around their hooves. "Here we go…!"
After the light finishes enveloping them, and the swirling, rushing sensation finally subsides, the hieroglyphic representing Shorty staggers up, trying to reorient itself in the hieroglyphic representation of the village. "Wo-woah… that felt really weird…"
She stands up straight, looking straight ahead at where her (and the others') out of body perspective 'camera' would be, and exclaims, "No, wait this is STILL really feeling weird! A-are you all seeing the same thing I am?! It's like we're… looking at ourselves. As characters on the mural!"
As Amy waves, Flaming nods her head (which all the others also see from the audience), and starts waving her hooves. "Yeah yeah, I can see! Can you see me do this!?"
"I CAN!" Amy says as her self starts bouncing with excitement. "I can see you do everything!"
Then, she stops and starts scratching her own head. "I wonder how anyone is supposed to get privacy like this…"
It definitely looks as though Amy and Flaming are waving at everyone, since their waves are at the 'screen' or the 'outside' or… whatever it is.
Spitshine walks around with his eyes shut until he bumps into KP. "This is really disorienting, can I check out of this already?"
"I think you may be onto it," Zjetya says to Flow. "At least, it looks like it could be that… so what do we do now?"
"We came here for Blessings… so is she already here?" LJ asks, then gasps. "My allies could be here, too! But… where are they?"
Around you, in the town, are various hieroglyphic townsfolk of no particular renown, mostly looking like merchants, guildsponies, and other types you'd find in a small city. They don't seem to have noticed your odd and sudden injection into their world, and go about their business as normal.
"Wait wait wait," Amy says with a the sort of amusement a scientist gets as they discover the extents of a new concept.
"What happens when I close my eyes?" she asks as she closes her eyes.
"I think regardless of the news, Lilane would have turned this way in the end. Ecclessia is making themselves a nation, a nation needs garrisons, an army, and everything else that follows.">>704405
The subdueing calm is only a little eerie, but Shei-Sher thinks it to be the alicorn Yahreak's doing, of whom he knows so little. This is good, perhaps those alicorn sisters are here after all.
Shei-Sher hates doing this, but he feels a loud greeting and show of presence is in order to grab everyone's attention. Shei speaks loud and clearly, letting his voice carry across the longhouse "Hello everyone, and good tidings! The delinquents of Ecclessia have returned. I believe it's time we speak about the goings in Tartarus, I have no doubt you've heard." His wings flourish outward spontaneously in Shei's greeting.
Flow lets out a sigh.
“I was hoping I’d be wrong…” he groans.
He looks from side-to-side at the other townsfolk.
“No one noticed we just popped out of nowhere?”
>>704407>"It looks like it, I think?">>704412
KP tries to turn as Spitshine bumps into him, but he can't quite figure out the right direction. He's looking at Spits and himself, but turning his body is very disorienting. He ends up reaching out with his hooves until he gets a hold of Spitshine's shoulder, turning to face him and also use him as support to move steady.>"How are we supposed to move like this?!"
>"Wait, so we're in the thing that Blessings went when she turned into letters?" KP asks in shock at LJ and Flow's comment. "HOw do we get out of here then?">>704405
"This calmness, it almost feels eerie. Was it like this last time?"
Pryce asks the others.>>704414
"A nation? I don't like the sound of that."
Your "screen" goes black for the duration that you have your eyes closed. It doesn't seem like anyone is affected besides you.
"I don't think delinquents is the best way to introduce yourself, or all of us, Shei."
Pryce comments to Shei's "grand" entrance.
Flaming gasps as she sees herself and Amy wave to their out of body selves. "W-wow… okay, this is REALLY weird… but, kind of neat all at the same time. This is so hard to describe… it's like we're actors in a play we're seeing play out right before our eyes."
As Flaming shakes herself free of distractions from the unusual situation, she watches as Amy closes her eyes shut and shakes her head, "No time to play around with everything, Amy. Journey's right, we're here to find Blessings! So, let's start asking around…"
She approaches the nearest villager she can see, trotting along in a cute hieroglyphic fashion as her figure approaches one. "Hello! We're looking for a zebra who should have passed through here not too long ago. Can you help us?"
Most of the recruits are shocked as Shei makes his announcement, but Gegenschein, after a brief wave to Shei, flags down another senior Ecclesian to carry on the lesson on gun maintenance for him. He approaches your group. "Please try not to interrupt the daily business of our soldiers," he says. "A simple 'hello' will do. What was it you wished to discuss?"
"Pryce what you're looking at is Accorsia. These are its people. In a way, we're back home here in Lilane.. Still.. I don't entirely approve of Ecclesia's operations, however they are our people in the end, just as we are their's -or once were. Our fight is everyone's fight in any case.">>704418
"I think it's just the right way to introduce ourselves seeing how last we were here we landed in jail cells -This is fine. We're in good company."
"My apologies, our business here is of grave import and unfortunately we do not have the time for pleasantries and such. Our mission to Tartarus is just a few days from now, there are more preparations to be done but I need to know if Ecclessia is backing us, how many soldiers, plans for dealing with Mudi, our provisions, and to be discussed in a place where the witch's eyes could not possibly see us."
As you 'turn', your body briefly appears to get thin, vanish, and then reverse, as though you were a page that was being flipped. In one sense, it is totally foreign, but in another, it feels like basic movement. >>704415
"Guess not," Zophie says. "It seems like we're just ordinary folk to their perspective.">>704419
When the villager begins to reply, there is no 'voice,' per se. Their response comes in the form of a text bubble above their heads, upon which the words of their reply are written, with the sound of an ink quill scribbling across papyrus.
"A zebra? I've not seen one in these parts in an age," the villager says. "But 'tis an odd timing that you'd ask me that. I heard of strange folk in yonder woods just recently – the first bit of disturbance in these parts since the princess o'erthrew the demon lord. Mayhaps there?"
"This is weeeeird… Let's go to those woods!" she says excitedly, immediately getting over it.
"When you put it that way, I can't help but agree with them rebuilding. But I don't like it under the Ecclesian name.">>704421
"We were imprisoned but that doesn't mark our entire presence! Especially if we're here for help.">>704420>>704422
"I would also like to add if supplies could be spared for another of those cleansing rituals before the journey as well.">>704423
KP shudders as his body nearly disappears, the visuals not meshing with the feeling putting him at unease.>"So the woods? Ok, that shouldn't be too hard since we can see everything around us now."
KP decides to keep with Spitshine, helping lead him along to if he decides to keep his eyes shut.>"This is working out a little better I think. I feel like I can align myself better."
Flaming looks up at the word bubbles appearing above the villager's head, raising her eyebrow as she speaks and trying to look for a 'text bubble' of her own. "You guys don't talk? Or… maybe you don't really know the difference…"
She shakes her head, looking towards the babbling villager as he answers her through his text bubble. "Strange folks appeared before you in the woods? Just how recently, like just an hour ago or so? And, I'm sorry, my friends and I are all sort of from far away… what princess? Did this 'demon lord' look like some kind of big bird?"
Gegenschein scoffs and claps you on the back, double-taking at your new wings. "Yes, yes, you've a point. Come then, and tell us of those new miracles you have with you."
Chorazin raises an eyebrow.
"I mean you, the wings and the new soul," Gegenschein clarifies. "A triple entente!"
Gadds snorts at the atrocious pun.>>704425>>704422
Gegenschein gestures to Galton and Ichimonji, and with a nod, the two find substitutes for the lesson, and head with your group to a back room, a mid-sized scribe's office. Galton produces a small scroll from her bag, and with a snap of her fingers, the scroll burns up. A bubble forms in the room, large enough for you all to enter.
"A brief answer for your initial questions," Gegenschein says. "We have decided that the majority of our Congregation and all of our Laity will remain on the surface to support Fantasia's and Zha's defense against the Treibheanna, who will surely seek to capture both territories and to use Tartarus for their own means. The Tartarus assault and expedition team shall consist of myself, Doctor Galton, Ichimonji, Freischutz and Holy Hours. As sparse as our numbers may seem, we believe, based on our current intel, that this is all we can risk… as well as all that we will need. Our equipment shall consist of the last of the Church's extant relics, as well as a copious amount of magically-protected food and water supplies, demon warding talismans and material for purification rites."
"As for Mudi… first I wish to hear what you have in mind, since I have revealed so much already."
"Why, the Princess –"
As the villager is about to say the Princess's name, the speech bubble violently shakes and resets itself without warning.
"Why, the Princess GO AWAY
of course," the villager 'says'. The black portion of his text bubble appears to have been scribbled out at first glance, but as you focus on it, you see the words hidden underneath it. The villager doesn't seem to notice that the 'name' of the Princess has been scribbled out with in the text bubble. "A bird?" he continues. "No, not that I know of. This one was a vile squid-like thing, dredged up probably from some briny old ship. Not that I can keep track; we were ruled by one demon lord or another all the time; power changed hooves each week until the princess came!">>704424>>704425
To go to the woods, you head for the town's gate. As you pass through it, the scene transitions from right to left, once scene to the next, with the screen having a 'page turn' visual effect upon it.
>Very early Pause, keep RPing
Flaming shakes her head as she looks up at the speech bubble resetting itself, pondering what the meaning behind that before she sees the blacked out message appear before her, causing Shorthorns to buckle slightly with slight loss of nerve at the cryptic warning hidden with in it. As the villager clarifies both the princess and the demon, she lets out a sigh. "So the demon wasn't a bird? That's good, at least. Some kind of squid thing…"
She takes notice as the party begins heading into the woods, before turning and watching herself bow to the villager. "My friend are going, thank you for your help stranger!" she says before darting after them, not eager on getting left behind in this strange place.
"Hey guys wait up! We shouldn't split up in a weird place like this!" She says as she follows them through the 'page turn'.
"Did… did you all just see that?"
"That's a much needed relief, knowing our defenses will be helped."
Pryce comments to the news.
"Just the five of you? Are you truly sure that's enough for delving into Tartarus?"
When Gegenschein asks about the plan for Mudi, Pryce is silent as Shei speaks.>>704428
KP pauses in place after the page turns, looking back (really only tilting his head to the side given their overview perspective).>"Whoa, ok now that was pretty neat."
He comments as they venture into the woods.
>"You doing alright Spitshine?"
Shei-Sher smiles although tries to not to at the pun, he can't help but find it humorous.>>704427
"I believe you will frown upon this but I have arranged a game with the lords of Vitral for their help in subdueing Mudi. I would like to preface this by saying I think it is in the interests of all those in Huoli that we try to get along with the demons that at least seem interested in being cohesive elements of our societies and that includes entertaining the lords of Vitral who to my knowledge were once mortal lords of Mariposa." Shei-Sher presents onto the table the Idol Throne, Pravda had provided him.
"This Was given to me by Pravda, to summon the lords of Vitral once we have reached the Momentary Lake. If we encounter truly dire circumstances before we even reach there I am prepared to summon them earlier. It was agreed upon, with my powers of control over the will, the Lords will allow me to take some reign of them, one at a time is as much as my power allows, to empower them to walk along the soltaire fields. If Mudi can actually withstand it's effects this will be necessary. Once she enters that field our method for dealing with her will become limited to say the least. I am ruminating tactics, other strategies but this is the bulwark of my plan. The lords wish for a race to the lake to determine the Rulers of Demonkind, but that is not an outcome I am looking forward to. Call it nepotism but I believe our companion Amy Thest would be a far more suitable candidate. She is of demonkin, She has enjoyed some renown after a victory in Vitral's arena, and she is a member of Ecclessia, and perhaps one of the most compassionate and well meaning I know. Now The lord's needn't die. I have made preparations that upon incapacitation their body and soul may be sent back to the surface via a portal in my lantern. In the event they all were to fall that would leave us one candidate soverignty over the demons of Huoli. It will require great sacrifice to raise her power to such a degree however."
"Second item of import:" Shei-Sher takes the bag of relics from Pryce and lays it on the table opening them to reveal the contents. "Ancient relics of ultimate catastrophe, retrieved from the fabled King's vault of Zha Arlakane. They break upon usage. We were sworn under oath by King Lininias to only use them under the most grevious and dismal of circumstances."
Shei-Sher then places an Unending Flask of dark matter onto the table "Believe it or not this is a piece of the firmament. The eye Y'dryth gave me recurringly calls it by the name Dark Matter. The most I know of it's applications is that Deities find it an absolutely decadent offering. Contained within this enchanted flask its quantities are unlimited. I proposed to our comrade Volkama if he could work this dark matter into a weatherball. My notion is if it is a piece of the firmament maybe we can project bubbles in the landscape of Tartarus to protect us from the shifting chaos. Doctor Galton your expertise would be greatly appreciated."
"And finally a theory." Shei-Sher presents Pupil onto the table "Examine it if you must, I use this eyeball to appraise everything in my travels. It is made from ancient fuels stoked in the ember of Jhalandhara once seated in Vadahara. It is practically an organ of Y'dryth though non-sapient it relays the truth and only the truth of all things it sees to it's possessor. I used it to examine the quill Mudi uses to write her hexes and time and time again Y'dryth has told me it is a piece of Princess Laciela's data, her soul maybe. I do not know. I do know that this 'data' has a will of its own and when Mudi uses it, the data is fighting against her writing. The two wills struggle with another but Mudi's obviously wins out. I believe if Princess Laciela were to agree to allow me to place a seal upon her then there is a chance I can use my power for control to allow the feather to override Mudi's will, effectively disarming her."
Last time on HQ…
KP, Amy, Flow, Flaming and their allies completed the stone mural in the temple's central hallway by fitting all five stone tablets into their proper places, as determined by the story told by the mural. Once it was done, however, they found themselves drawn into a strange space, one rendered in a 2.5D fashion. They viewed this world as if they were the audience members in a play, watching a story unfold on stage, yet they still had control over their bodies, which were now stylized like hieroglyphs in appearance.
After an awkward conversation between Pryce and Gadriel, their group went to Lilane in order to discuss the Tartarus expedition and war plans with Gegenschein, Ichimonji and Doctor Galton of the Choir. Ecclesia's intelligence indicated that the forces of the Treibheanna, a large and roaming alliance of demons, would attack Fantasia and Zha Arlakane once the Great Seal of Tartarus had been unlocked, as those demons most like intended to harness Tartarus' power for their own.
>As a reminder, review your posts from last week, as it's these that I will be responding to in this post.>>705328
"In truth, we are considering bringing along a few more members," Ichimonji answers Pryce. "That is, the Spooks: the top assassins of Ecclesia, second only to the Choir in their accomplishments and our most holy of terrors… despite their ridiculous title."
"Oh, so you can make a children's rhyme our Caller Conch Code, but I can't give my students a cool nickname?" Gegenschein asks. "You are a stick-in-the-mud and a hypocrite, Ichimonji."
"And you're too old to be back-talking me like a brat," Ichimonji retorts.
Doctor Galton laughs. "Ahuhuhuhu. As you can plainly see, there is much disagreement in the Choir over whether to bring along the Spooks, and if so, how many. It all depends on whether we determine that they will be of greater necessity on the surface or in Tartarus. They are not just assassins, but physicians, explorers, botanists, trappers, strategists, exorcists – invaluable weapons of conquest wherever they go. We cannot risk misplacing them."
As Shei brings up his contributions and plans for Tartarus, the three Choir members share a weighted glance. Galton is the one to break the silence.
"Yes, all of those will be quite useful before and after the expedition – particularly the demon lords' support, which I would love to probe more of later – and I commend your careful acquisition of these tools. But, an honest question: Why do you believe that Amy Thest is the best candidate suited to lead the new world? How will she rule over demonkind, and what does she plan to do about mortals? And the rest of you… do you agree with Shei's assessment?"
Ichimonji snorts and looks off to the side; her frown and pinched eyebrows indicate trouble brewing in her thoughts and heart. >>705327>>705328>>705329
You head "off-screen" and see the page turn, and the next scene opens to your group exiting the town through the central gates, leaving behind the wall that surrounds the city in the direction of a thick forest some distance away. Something seems off about the presentation, and you can make a logic roll to find out more.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvZfSXVnHtQ
As you travel toward the woods, you soon come to the treeline. The road "diverges" in a fork, but because of your perspective, one branch of the fork appears as a road going upward, and the other is a road going downward, toward different "platforms" – that is, different layers of the forest, separated laterally.
"Okay, I can sort of handle moving now, but this…?" Spitshine asks. "What's going on here?"
Hey guys wait up! We shouldn't split up in a weird place like this!" She says as she follows them through the 'page turn'.
"Did… did you all just see that?"
She turns back to look at it, but does not take too much time to dwell on the oddity before moving herself through the gates leading out into the road. Feeling concerned about the presentation, she gives it another look over
[1d10] Logic roll
Moving up towards the diverging fork in the road, she looks between the upper and lower paths. "It looks like the road goes of in two different directions," she says to answer the obvious to Spitshine. "Not a whole lot to worry about I think, we'll just all pick one. I say 'Down'!"Roll #1 4 = 4
Amy laughs and giggles as she hops back and forth between "screens", potentially causing the page to turn over and over.
In fact, this does happen! The others can act accordingly (not your reply for the round, just a quick note for the purposes of the others' responses).
"The only thing Amy plans to do is hug every demon visiting Huoli. But her wisdom comes from knowing that she lacks it. She will look to us for our opinions, our wisdom and troubles. That is, Ecclessia, Zha, The Demon Lords, Buiwong, the angels, and anyone else contributing to our cause. She's the only candidate you have that not only qualifies's but will listen to her advisors rather than play ruler for the sake of it."
Shei-Sher's sights land on Ichimoji, curling at that vehement face she is making.
"Don't you make that face Ichimonji. Wars have been started over mean looks and reticent opinions. If you have something to share, speak. There won't be time for conversation later."
Pryce looks between the bickering of Ichimonji and Gengenschein, trying to keep a straight face and not show worry with the disagreement.
"If they cover as many fields as you claim, I would highly suggest sending at least one or two down in to Tartarus. Fighters are useful but when we don't know what's down there, the more information and skills each pony brings, the better.">>705330
KP walks down the path, starting to enjoy the scenery more as they adjust to it.>"I think we gotta go though the story to get Blessings back?">>705332
As Flaming takes the lead and heads down, KP follows with.
Flaming turns back as the pages keeps going back and forth, back and forth, her 'character's face growing frustrated.
"Amy would you cut that out!? You're giving me a headache looking at all these pages. I can't even read that well to begin with!"
"It's really funny, though," Amy laughs as she stops doing it and comes back with the rest of the group.
"Indeed, we are in agreement," Galton says. "I'm planning to, at minimum, pick a few based on wilderness survival, herblore and scavenging skills. We have no idea how long we will be in Tartarus.">>705337>>705335
"That may be well and good for dealing with demonkind, but as for mortals? It is a far different story," Galton says.
"I have participated in a few wars in my time, mostly border skirmishes in defense of Accorsia's outer territories, and I have studied many more in our country's history," Gegenschein begins. "When a war is conducted according to strict ethical guidelines – that is, when attacks on civilians are forbidden, weapons of unjustifiable cruelty and mayhem go unused, and when prisoners are treated fairly – a certain dignity is preserved even as soldiers are ordered to maim and kill their enemies and die for the sake of their country. When an armistice is signed and a peace reached, they throw down their weapons with a cheer, and may even run across a battlefield to embrace the one who was an enemy a moment ago.
"But what happens if a war is conducted with nothing but brutality in mind? When towns and cities are razed and burned, when captives are beaten, used as target practice, or abused for the pleasure of their captors, and when it is not a tactical victory, but mayhem, even genocide, that the opposing sides fight toward – will soldiers embrace peace when it is declared? No, far from it. The war will continue in their hearts and minds, even when officials offer hollow promises of peace. They will attack their enemies in their own homes, they will stalk them in the streets, they will even kidnap them and carry out the sick fantasies of revenge that had been brewing in their hearts since the supposed 'end' of the war, when they were no longer given license to kill those they had come to hate.
"After defeating Mudi and absorbing the power that Mudi seeks for herself, Amy may be able to exert her willpower to force demons into submission. But do you truly think that mortalkind will just stop fighting demons after what they have seen and suffered at the hands of demons, that they will listen to what Amy, who is fused with a demon, will command? You have seen the atrocities that the Apostles of White commit in their bunker, those sick experiments and cruel weapons… do you really think they are the only ones who have, or who will act in that way? When demons are cowed into submission, those mortals who have survived to see the worst of what demons can do will only see an opportunity to strike, and no half-demon leader will change that.">>705335
Ichimonji motions for silence, watching Gegenschein as he monologues..
To Flaming, something just doesn't add up between the written speech bubble dialogue of the townsperson she spoke with, and the 'page turn' style of scene transition. When taken in the context of the stone mural and the hieroglyphic visual style, it seems to clash quite a bit.
As you take the path downward, the forest continues onward. A spooky darkness settles in, and a circle of light forms around you, a representation of whatever light sources may be on you. Ahead, you see a collection of shadowy forms moving around in the darkness, indeterminate and hard to number, perhaps as many as ten or fifteen. LJ tenses and struts in front of Flaming, and Zjetya quickly positions herself behind Amy with a gulp.
"I know there was a time before the firmament where demons and mortalkind co-existed, perhaps not in the same cities but the same states and continents at least. I don't expect our work to be done after Tartarus, nor do I expect it to be done within our lifespans. It will take generations. But what's your alternative to that? Waging genocide against the demons. Letting rouge agents like Mudi prop up in the never ending chaos to take advantage for their own personal vanity. We at the very least have a common enemy, which is the dissolution of our world, The Daevas who have forsaken us. Our world ends if we cannot get along with demonkind, it was our troubles getting along that beseeched the Daevas to prop the firmament and that is no longer an option. The only thing that ensures the survival of this world is proving to the Daeva's our competency as a culture as mortal beings. Our grace and serenity because for all these eons they so believed we lacked it."
"Hey, don't worry!" Amy says Zjetya. "They could be friends!"
"Hello?" she calls out to the figures around them. "I'm Amy. Who are you?"
[1d10] for diplomacy!Roll #1 3 = 3
Flaming grunts, "I'm sure it is Amy, but we're not here to have fun! We're here to save Blessings. Maybe we can do it later.">>705341
Flaming looks back towards the 'edge' of the page as they pass through into the woods, trying to piece together what doesn't sit right with her contrasting the murals she saw and the very story-book like feel of the current setting. However, failing to exactly piece together the issue, she shakes her head, putting it towards the back of her mind as she presses onwards throught he forest.
As they push on into the darkness, and the 'spotlight' forms around them, Flaming huffs, "This place is REALLY weird… but, I guess it's nice of them to give us a little light like this. Still pretty dark though… everyone stay on guard, we're clearly not alone in here. I sure hope we can still fight, looking how we do, I don't know if we're anything close to as strong as we are in the real world. Stick together."
As LJ tenses and takes charge, she smiles and takes up the rear behind them. "LJ, if they attack, I'll just use you as my buffalo shield while I bash them with my horns, sound good? Probably would make a better shield than me, given all that fluff."
"I do not know how much scavenging will be possible there, but those sound like useful qualities to take. I would also suggest anypony with good knowledge on history or stories of demons. If this place is a prison, there might be things in there that spawned the myths we tell.">>705340
"I do not see an issue with our kind continuing the fighting once the demons are pacified," Pryce adds once Galton finishes his rant, "Demons follow power, but I doubt they will be willing to pacify completely. Some I have seen can change their ways and work wit hus, but the majority I doubt can. They will reluctantly follow Amy out of their natural instinct, but anything too far from her reach or any demon closer to her power will likely not fall in line. We will still need to defend and fight if we try to return to further lands such as Accorsia. We will still need to show us mortals are strong in this reprieve to keep the demons off our back and show that trying to change the new rule won't be wise.">>705341>"Here, let me get a light. I didn't expect a book would get this dark."
KP says, horn lighting as they see shadowy forms approaching.>Light [1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
"You, Pryce, clearly see the dilemma that we face," Gegenschein says. "The alternative, Shei, is to turn power over to Ecclesia and to our candidates for leadership of the new world. The ones who should rule the new world we create must not have any loyalties or preferences to demonkind or even appear to. Mortals, for all our power, have suffered far greater losses than the demons and will be snuffed out by demons if we don't establish peace soon. Those few who survive the coming war will need to be assuaged of their fears about a peaceful existence alongside the demons who outnumber them, and this can only be accomplished if the balance of power is shifted in favor of mortalkind.
"In short, though Amy's accomplishments and agreeable nature are undeniable, the fact of her demonic fusion with Ego means that mortals will never see her as truly on their side… not after all that we have done to demons and what they have done to us. But we cannot allow this to continue unless we want all of mortalkind to throw itself against the innumerable demons in suicidal acts of vengeance! After the Tartarus expedition, Ecclesia's purpose will be to rebuild and rehabilitate mortalkind so that they can live alongside demons. That is how the world once was, and how the world will have to be in the absence of the Firmament. The bad blood between mortals and demons means that true harmony will not exist for generations, even hundreds of years, but that is all the more reason that we have the loyalty of all mortals on our side, so that our work can begin as soon as possible!"
Gegenschein pauses after this, and laughs grimly. "It is funny that you brought up Laciela. By all means, if she can help you seal Mudi's power, give it a try. In fact, she and Yareakh are our candidates for the leaders of the new world. And for this end, they will have to enter Tartarus alongside us."
"And there it is
," Ichimonji seethes.
Roll #1 8 = 8
Roll #1 8 = 8
[1d10] perceptionRoll #1 10 = 10
LJ keeps his stern, battle-ready look on, but tilts his head to the side to knock his horns against yours. "Yeah, wouldn't want them to break anyone too fragile for the front line.">>705346>>705345>>705344
"I am the demon lord of these woods," a deep feminine voice says, and a figure approaches, equine in shape, though her face and body are obscured by a white cloak which covers her entire upper half. But, you can all clearly see that her legs are white with black stripes… or perhaps black with white stripes. You can see that she wears a familiar
sword handle with no blade at her waist too. "Foolish mortals who tread upon my land! Pay your tribute, or begone from this place, lest I draggeth thee and thy ilk to the bottommost layers of Tartarus for this trespass!"
A few other figures approach behind this mysterious figure, also wearing cloaks over their heads.
Your entourage exchange looks, unsure what to make of this.
"Those children are your proposal?"
Pryce questions to the absurd offer.
"You cannot ask that kind of responsibility placed on them. I know any sort of unity between us and demons is very unlikely, but I will agree with Shei that Amy is our best option. Her half demon nature will at least guarantee that the lesser demons will
follow her. We do not have that same guarantee if any normal mortal takes that position.">>705351>"Hey this is just like the story! So we are playing it out!"
KP says joyfully as he looks on at the mystery mare. As she calls them out with a threat, KP doesn't look quite as excited. He looks at the sword handle, then down to her legs. KP steps forward a bit to see if he can spot under the cloak's hood.>"Blessings? Is that you?"
"I agree with the intent, but it feels as though we are trading tyrants for tyrants. Excuse the language, I have nothing but love and patriotism for Accorsia and her Union. But in the end the demons will submit to someone, in this case you aren't even demons. In the other case We have Amy who's half her council will comprise of Demon Lords. Not just that but there are too many actors vying for power. Your plans hang on the idea that Ecclessia will be triumphant in culling the demon population. But what if it doesn't, what if it is a battle of attrition, and desolace is all we have to look forward to? Your empire is far too steeped in subversion and Buiwong's web for the world to proceed honestly and peaceably. Ecclessia may still have it's nation, but concede Demonkind some sovereignty and rule by a Committee of nations, that includes Buiwong sitting in a committee chair. There will be no shadow governments in our new world."
"Yareakh would be a fine idea to have accompany us, but I'm afraid Laciela must stay above ground. I can use her to seal Mudi's power indeed, but if Mudi can reach her in Tartarus she will be the first person in her mind to slaughter."
"Hello, new friend," Amy says, stepping forward and giving the demonic figure a wave with a genuine smile on her face.
>Not sure if this is related, but Amy is wearing the Garment of the Founder right now
"You haven't said your name. Who are you?" she asks again. "Anyway, we're looking for our friend. She may have come this way. Have you seen her?"
>Prayer of Enligtenment for Compassion>[1d10] for diplomacy with a DC-3Roll #1 3 = 3
Flaming grunts as he knocks her horns, and she snorts and gives him a growl. "Please, they hit me with a hundred arrows and I wouldn't feel a tickle. You just happen to have a very thick coat. Not to mention a thick head."
As the voice speaks out of the woods, Flaming sudden tenses up even more, putting herself into a fighting position (VERY unthreatening, however, she's displeased to see as she does it given the story-book aesthetic she's been turned into). She looks out as the figure steps out of the woods, cloaked in white, but Flaming turns to look down at her legs, and then at her familiar looking sword. She starts to toon out the being's threat and demand for tribute as she puts the pieces together, and when Pryce says it…>>705352>>705351
Flaming joins in. "Yeah… YEAH! Blessings, that *is* you, isn't it? What are you doing?"
"NO," the mysterious figure quickly answers Flaming and KP. "Uh, my name… I-I… my name is Curses, the feared Duke of Tartarus! Only the Princes and the Accuser have authority before me, so what are thee but a worm, mortal? Kneel before me, and address me by my proper designation!">>705354
"Oh, do you mean that dreadful demon hunter Blessings? Yes, I fought with her for a hundred days straight before your arrival interrupted our fight; she is a mighty foe indeed, and has even saved many souls who became lost in this world after failing the temple's trials. Of course, I recaptured them after I drove off that dreaded hunter, and they are now back under my control! Mwahahaha."
One of the other hooded figures steps forward, and you see that he is a buffalo with the black and white mark of Buiwong's cult on his forehead. "Yeah, we've been following Blessings here ever since she saved us from those real demons back deeper in the–"
"Shhh!" 'Curses' says.
"But didn't you say–"
"I said shh, that's what I said."
KP looks up at her as she states her true name. After a moment his eyes light up, and he gives a wink.>"I will never kneel before you Curses! And we will not pay your tribute either! We're on a grand quest to save our friends, and we won't stop for the likes of you!"
KP declares, puffing up his chest in a false bravado, playing along.
As 'Curses' swiftly denies the allegations, Flaming turns her head and stares at the cloaked figure, squinting. "Really…? Cause," she points to the buffalo, "That guy right there just called you Blessings. Is this some sort of game? Because I don't know if I like it."
As she comments on her being here for a hundred days, Flaming's eyes open up, "Wait, WHAT!? But Blessings only disappeared a few hours ago! How could she be here for a hundred days?!">>705357
She turns to Pryce, confused. "Uh… what are you doing, Pryce?"
"They will largely be figureheads; survivors of the old world, they will act as symbols of mortalkind's resilience, and its potential to survive the worst of evils that lies in wait in this cruel world. True power shall lay with Ecclesia, who will guide them and take control of mortalkind at each level.">>705353>>705352
"We can throw around 'what if' questions until we are all old and gray. Amy's tattoo is currently causing her to meld closer with her demon. What will happen when she and Ego completely integrate thanks to the tattoo? Will they still be 'Amy Thest,' or something else? Will they be more mortal, or more demon at the end? If she becomes more like a demon, will she be subject to the innate respect for power that all full demons feel? What if she does not survive to the end of Tartarus… or what if she feels the power of a greater demon inside Tartarus, and it imposes its will upon her? Your plan is as full of variables and chance for failure as ours is, no matter what they are, yet I fail to see how you will take command of mortals without the Church as the sole unifying authority that mortals will be able to trust."
He shakes his head. "How do you know your seal will hold purchase if it is too far from Mudi? If you are to use her as a seal, the fillies will have to come with us. If they are to remain on the surface, other means will have to be used to take them into Tartarus at the moment that we reach our destination and slay Mudi."
>>705358>("We gotta play through the story I think, so I'm just playing along! Think of it like that show you did.")
"Flaming, what are you doing!?" Amy says angrily. "Don't ruin the game!">>705356
Amy looks to 'Curses' and smiles. "What tribute do you demand of us?"
"You don't even know what she wants yet," Amy admonishes KP. "Don't be rude to the new friend!"
Flaming quickly looks between the two of them, seeming VERY confused about the current situation. But, not wanting to look the fool, she swiftly turns her attention towards 'Curses'. "Y-yeah! You don't scare us, what tribute do you even want?"
"Are they ok with that decision, to be a figurehead for the rest of their days? Even if we went with that route, they cannot be mere idols. The demons would need to see real power in either of them in order to be pacified, not power from your large assorted group.">>705359
"Whether she is more of one or the other does not matter. She will still be mortal in some capacity and that will keep her from giving in to the demonic instinct to follow power. She has not forgotten herself to follow power with any demon in the past during our travels, so I believe we do not have any worries on her there."
Pryce says to Shei's defense.
"And I would agree that we can be here all day throwing around worries and what-ifs until the world ends again. We should worry more on getting through Tartarus, rather than jumping to assuming we'll reach the end without issue.">>705361>"She came at us and demanded tribute or to leave!
"The tribute is one million bits! But, as is customary in demonic law, I will offer thee an alternative to payment, as thou lookest as though thou have trouble paying your tab at the bar, much less throwing around millions! Mwahahaha! The alternative is to help me with a little issue. I used most of my power fighting that hunter, and so other demons… ones I don't quite recognize, have moved in on my territory. I have to protect my subjects, and thus I need your assistance in defeating those monsters… particularly a pair of characters who are also in the midst of a fierce battle of their own!"
LJ digs his hooves through the ground. "No objections from me, Duke Curses!"
>>705366>"Very well," KP says with a heavy sigh, "I shall aid you in this task Curses. Who are these other demons we must deal with?"
He asks, trying his best to hide his excitement over being in the story, to act more reluctant in working for the dark Duke.
"Well I would say a quarter of those 'what ifs' are void after we submerge from Tartarus-" The sound of Shei-Sher's voice becomes tender and fonding "Maybe it is my own preference for Amy speaking. But she loves me, She loves a mortal. And I love her too. We have grown to be a couple during our travels together. I do not believe she will ever forget that. Amy Thest has walked a long arduous path in self-control and learning what is right. The tattoo she has is intentional, everything she does is so she will be in more control of herself. Your point is fair, I will concede my share of variables. The church has failed us once before however. The highest order of the church were not even whisked off unto Nirvana when the angels came, I wonder why. I was there beside Rising Tide when he had gone mad with desolation. And yet you preach their righteousness as if it is absolute, as if the angels will recognize it."
Shei sighs shortly, Shei-Sher learns forward and speaks in a softer more beseeching tone "I'm asking you to look in your heart. Ask yourself if we are repeating history again. Ask yourself if we walk this path Ecclessia walks will it be honest."
>"How do you know your seal will hold purchase if it is too far from Mudi?
"My seal, is a brand on the soul. To my knowledge, data is maybe like the script of a soul's memory. Laciela's Data is what Mudi holds when she writes her hexes. Though the Data is seperate from Laciela's body that does not truly mean it is Seperate. My Pupil has never told me such, only that it is a part of Laciela's Data. As long as I am close to that, and Laciela has my seal placed on her it is like the seal is on Mudi's quill as well."Roll #1 7 = 7
"One million bits?!" Flaming repeats angrily, shaking her head. "That's outrageous! I doubt that much money even exists!"
As Curses gives her their alternatives, she snorts, shaking her head, "I am not one to deal with evil such as you, uh… Demon Lord Curses…" she groans, "Curses, *really*?" She shakes her head, "B-but no matter! Point us in the direction of these you need dealt with, and I…"
Flaming pauses, looking to the side. "Uhhh. I, Chief… Inferno Stampede, will see it done, if you are too weak to do it yourself. Now tell us where we need to go!"
"Of course they will have real power: all the pure magical energy which Mudi drained from the witchbone and that she seeks to absorb into herself with the help of the Momentary Lake… her own magical power, accumulated by stealing the talents of countless ponies… the magatsuhi of the Shades that she so cruelly drags along, keeping them from their eternal rest… everything that Mudi has gathered for herself shall be offered instead to the Princesses, combined with the boons of Ecclesia's gods – those who have not abandoned the Church. You needn't worry about their power before demonkind; it's fair to say they'll be quite set.">>705368https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDKnY9CK6vg
"Repeating history?" Gegenschein asks. "But of course we are. It is simply mortal nature. They rise, they fall, and rise once again. Each time the cycle begins anew, they say to themselves, 'This time we've got it, this time we'll do it right, this time will be the right one…' They put far too much stock in their power as individuals, not realizing that they are stumbling along, pushed by the momentum of those who came before them."
Suddenly, with a chill, the night of the Rapture comes back to you. Gadds in particular shudders and clutches his arm, as Gegenschein repeats some of the final words of the Archbishops before Agape fell.
"But what else can we do? Even to suggest that we can break this cycle, to recognize the spiral nature of history, is in itself a repetition. Piece by piece, the great machine of mortalkind falls apart. Individual pieces lose themselves in hubris, and lead others astray with their dreams of the future, of what they can shape reality to be. And piece by piece, the collective good falls apart once again. The Church is to blame for each crack in the machine if it does not repair itself every time that peace begins to break down again. Go on and establish Amy as the monarch over demons and mortals! Establish Mudi as the monarch! Establish anyone as the monarch! It shall happen again and again and again… unless the church's control is utterly and truly absolute, whoever the monarch may be. Only when all hearts are turned toward it, when the Union is complete in all places and in all hearts, guided by the gods, can we expect to finally break this cycle."
"And I… Amy… will help her!" Amy says with lackluster drama.
Flaming looks at her, whispering, "Hey, Amy, what was that about not breaking the rules?! Blessings chose a new name!"
"I still disagree with giving that power to children. And if it's to be split between the two of them, we can't be certain two halves of this power will draw the same effect of the demons as one whole."
Pryce listens to Gengenschein's grim warning, and almost threat. He holds his tongue. While his face shows his distrust from that, he waits for Shei to respond.
"I couldn't think of anything!" Amy whispers in a panic.
"I am not insisting that Amy rule Mortal kind. Everyone to the nation they belong respect their ruler. To each their family, to each their nation, to each their gods, segregated but united against Dissolution! What I am proposing is that we know nothing and the only way forward is to for an embassy to represent the interests of all creatures"
"Lo, your hearts lay bare. The same as I saw within Accorssia's Church. Heed my words, you will never control a person's heart. You may never have a person's heart, if it is all you desire."
"Chorazin- You're an Angel. Enlighten us, what would Metatron think of this new Union Church? What did he think of the previous one?"
With that, Curses gives a flourish, nearly revealing her face from how the gesture moves her cloak, but quickly pulls it back into place. "Come, they're fighting over in the woods a bit up from here."
Curses leads you along through the 2.5D landscape, occasionally stopping and checking behind trees and bushes, protectively holding out her hoof before the others to make sure they are safe. Eventually, after a little while of travel, you hear the clashing of swords and the breaking of trees. The scene shakes as trees are felled and rocks are knocked around, some even whizzing just overhead.
Up ahead, in a destroyed clearing, you see a knight, identical in appearance to the stallion you saw in the mural on the cube. However, whenever you look at his face directly, it is blotted out by black scribbles. When you look at him from your peripherals, his face can be seen, though only in that half-blurry way that things in your peripheral vision appear. He is fighting another figure, a mare wearing the same dress as Amy, only hers is of a higher quality. Her face is similarly obscured, only revealed when not looked at directly.
The two don't acknowledge you at any point, and continue fighting, leaping and clashing at one another, with nobody having an advantage over the other.
"I tried to intervene, but no matter what I tried, I couldn't find an opening while still protecting my servants," Curses says. "But thou lookest like you can hold your own in a fight, even for puny mortals, and there's a lot of you! See if you can solve this matter!"
KP trails along, looking around and wondering where they will be next in the story. When they come out to see the Knight and Princess fighting each other, KP pauses with hesitation.>>705377>>705373>>705375>"Uhhh… which one do we help?"
Amy sees the dress, and steps forward without thinking. A mystified look sits upon her face.
"Princess Vinland?" Amy calls out above the noise of the combat.
[1d10] for diplomacy with CompassionRoll #1 7 = 7
Shorthorns lowers her head deep in thought, "Well okay, okay, lemme think… maybe… let's see, what's purple and sparkly like you…">>705377
"This had better not be a waste of Chief Inferno Stampede's time, Lord Curses!" Flaming bellows, stomping her hooves as hard as she can to feel more intimidating as she tries to get into her role.
She follows behind the disguised Blessings, felling VERY relieved that she is safe after all, as they travel through the woods to the sounds of clashing swords.
She looks at the knight, trying and failing to catch a glimpse at his face, and then to the princess, whom she can't help but feel is eerily familiar regarding the dress she wears… and remembering where they found the one Amy now wears. She opens her eyes, "It's her… the Princess of this story, s-she was that mare from the tower!"
She turns towards Pryce as he asks who to stop, and she snorts. "BOTH. Let's let Amy try and talk them both down first. I'll hang back behind her ready to jump in if either of them make a move."
"Metatron did not exist prior to the Rapture," Chorazin answers. "In fact, as an angel, he is hardly older than I am. As for this new union Ecclesia seeks to build from the ruins of the old…"
She looks up at the ceiling with reticence. "He shall make his opinion clear tonight."
"Ah, good, we shall look forward to hearing his thoughts," Gegenschein says. "As for hearts? I am afraid your perspective is too small, Shei. Hearts are truly easy to guide when a higher truth is on your side. Fear not: is our alliance with Zha not an indication that we do not seek blind power and instead work well with others? You might claim that we took Zha over with cruel politics. Far from it; Zha had already lost its sovereignty when King Lininas took on the leaders of the nearby kingdoms into his council. Each squabbling ruler only fought for his own interests and the interests of his people, and the other kingdoms' refugees be damned. Our allegiance is not to power, but to the higher wills of the gods. Even foreign gods can be added to our union. We are not the inquisitors and exterminators of old – we are a unifying force. I mean, listen to us! We are all on the same side except for who we are putting at the top!"
"Amethyst," Amy says flatly.
Flaming's eyes open wide, "OH! That's good, Amy! Use 'Amethyst', that's really pretty." She says, apparently lost on the pun.
"See, that's what I was thinking. But, then I realized that that's where my name came from in the first place. So, I was like, 'Hey, maybe I can make some pun out of it'. Then, I just came up with Amy…"
"An angel is going to come down tonight?"
Pryce says in shock to Chorazin.
"'An' angel?" Chorazin asks with irony. "You don't know the half of it."
Pryce looks on grimly.
"…And he's coming down for Ecclesia specifically?"
"…I don't even know how to describe it."
The two combatants stop their fight and look at you, and they both back away from one another and from you, with the Princess hopping up to a higher platform, holding her sword at your group in a cautious stance. The knight does the same, and clutches at some injuries around his side, though he looks like he's got some fight still in him. It is only now that you start to notice a blurry, indistinct aura around them, rippling out like heatwaves, seemingly concentrated around their shoulders.
Curses stands back, protectively guarding her entourage, and Zophie stands beside her.
>>705381>We are all on the same side except for who we are putting at the top!
Shei-Sher sighs "That we are.. I- I just can't help but feel terrible about this. As though we are digging our graves this very night… I do not think the Gods want us to rely on them. At least not the good ones.. No, no.." Shei-Sher turns his head left and right telling himself it won't work. "Union is a lie, the creatures that are different are truly distinct even in heart, it is something one must accept. Only Y'dryth is truly united, we are not Y'dryth. We were born in the waters of Sheol.. It doesn't matter. I came here to know if you will fight with me in Tartarus and now I do. Doctor Galton I shall prepare another vial of dark matter from my source vial, for your examination. We will rendezvous at Fantasia on the morning after two days from now. If that settles everything would you care to call Laciela for me? So I may place my seal upon her."
"And one more thing, has Ecclessia happen to take in a number of Goats from Zha Arlakane?"
KP holds up a hoof in defense as the Knight and Princess lead away and aim their weapons at them.>"W-We mean no harm. We're here to help."
He says to try and defuse the situation.>"Why is it that you two are fighting?"
He asks. As he sees the aura, he looks up inquisitively as he tries to see if there's anything causing it.>Perception [1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
"Oh…" Flaming comments, "Well… I think it still works even if it's where your name comes from, it sounds a little different from how your full name does, and it's pretty.">>705389>>705379
Flaming smiles as she looks to Amy, "I knew you could get their attention. Yeah, I think that lady there is the one we learned about in that Tower, when we first learned about the Sons of God. I wonder if she realizes what you're wearing."
She looks towards their shoulders, noticing the odd waves coming off of them, and asks, "Why are the two of you fighting?! Can't you see what you're doing to the land around you? What you're doing to yourselves?"
"Princess Vinland…" Amy says slowly, looking a combination of worried and awestruck. "Why do you fight your own knight?"
[1d10] for Compassionate DiplomacyRoll #1 9 = 9
Gegenschein seems to calm down somewhat, and settles some feathers back into place. "So long as you don't raise your arms against us, we will fight alongside you to the last bullet, the last blade, the last soul. We may disagree with you over who should rule, but…" he scoffs. "Well, I suspect Tartarus itself will gauge our wills and do the sorting for us so we don't have to squabble over the crown at the last moment. We are not enemies; let neither you nor I forget that.
"We have taken in some who are stationed here. Others have surprisingly opted to be resettled in other locations; conventional wisdom suggested they'd all want to be together, but it seems they've fractured some. Do you wish to speak with the ones here?"
Galton steps out, then comes back with Laciela after a little while. She greets you with a wave. "Well, if it isn't the Saviors! Some of you anyway. What's going on?"
"Right, we should focus on our unity first and foremost. This needs to be done, regardless of how we feel on the end result."
"We're discussing the details of the Tartarus mission."
Pryce responds as Laciela is brought in.
You can see a monstrous, insect-like shape crouching upon their shoulders. At times it looks like there's one on each of their shoulders, and at others, it looks as though it is a single creature, a lanky and thin mass of limbs and chitin. As you speak to Vinland, she leaps backward, leaning to the side as if attempting to dodge an attack. As she lands, she leaps forward and tries to strike at Amy with the flat of her blade.
[2d10+6]Roll #1 8, 7 + 6 = 21
KP shudders at the large besial insects possessing the Knight and Princess.>"Hold on, you guys are being co—"
KP stops as the Princess jumps and charges at them. His horn lights, trying to see if he can maybe pull off the bug before it reaches Amy.>Telekinesis [1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
>>705394>We are not enemies; let neither you nor I forget that.
"Of course, you have our trust."
>Do you wish to speak with the ones here?"
"I was their Shepherd, but they lost faith in me. I want to tell them farewell formally. Do all the goats in Ecclessia share a lodge? Is there perhaps somewhere they all convene for supper?"
Shei-Sher steps forward to Laciela "Laciela? Can you open your mouth? Say Awwww."
then if Laciela turns her eyes up to show her mah Shei-Sher slaps a paper seal onto her shoulder.
[1d10] Cursed seal
"There, we will need that on you to defeat Mudi. She is using a piece of your data to write her hexes."Roll #1 1 = 1
Flaming catches glimpses of the strange creature shifting in and out of sight on the two's shoulders, leering at it carefully as she tries to gauge what's going on witht he princess and the knight. "Does anyone else see anything…"
As the Princess leaps at Amy, Flaming lets out a gasp, turning towards Amy as she bows her head, white light appearing around her horns as she lets out a scream, "AMY! MOVE!">Prayer for Salvation on Amy
The moment you put your seal on Laciela, it is as though the world itself blinks. You are now standing ten feet away, about to put the seal on the wall instead. "You want to try explaining yourself before sticking weird things on fillies? I feel like you weren't bullied enough."
Galton waggles her finger at Laciela. "Now Laciela, what did I tell you? You need to state your opinion as if it was a fact, you're a princess, you can't be wishy washy."
"Right, you definitely weren't bullied enough," Laciela says.
Ichimonji shakes her head and walks out. "I'll summon the goats."
"I don't know what's happening, but it has something to do with those bugs," Amy says angrily as she is attacked by the princess.
>Wrath on the insect thing [1d10+3]Roll #1 10 + 3 = 13
Amy is knocked backward into a tree, nearly felling it from the force of the impact and the deep gash it puts into the trunk, but she retaliates with a blast of fire, causing the bug perched on Vinland's shoulder to fly off, skittering about for a few moments before leaping onto the knight. He doesn't seem to notice the bug as it melds with the one on his shoulder, morphing into a much larger shape, which coats the knight in a dark and malicious aura.
Vinland stumbles forward and shakes her head, and you can now see her face plainly, without any blurring or scratching out. She looks around in confusion, before turning to face the knight, as he grows in size, with shadows gathering around him.
Curses curses, drawing her sword in anticipation as the knight now towers above you, empowered by the insect that seems to be controlling him.
Shei-Sher is sincerely impressed, he's only heard of the little alicorn sister's abilities.
He peels the seal off the wall.
"I will have you know, There has been no shortage of bullies my entire life. In fact, some of my closest friends bully me." Shei-Sher says proudly, half joking, half not "Simply ask Sir Etac."
"Now hold still, we need to administer my seal onto you. The Choir and I have agreed to help mute Mudi's power we will need this seal on your body. Mudi uses a piece of your data to write her hexes, this is the only way to subdue it.">cursed seal again, roll required?
Pryce blinks as Shei is suddenly jutted forward after attempting to place a seal on Laciela. He feels a sense of deja vu, like this sort of effect happened before.
"Shei what are you doing?"
"I am not a bully," Pryce defends himself, "I have only scolded you for doing things like this with your seal."