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File: 1557111677940.jpg (766.09 KB, 1680x1050, 1552670385441.jpg)

 No.717203[View All]

Last time on HolyQuest…

Threecoins' abandoned northeastern district had become a haven to a small and eclectic group of witches. No two witches were of the same race or kingdom, evidenced by the wide variety of clothing styles, skin tones and body types; they were a cross-section of witches from all regions of the known world. One of the few things they had in common was their immediate distrust of the party. All regarded our heroes with suspicion, and few would talk to them. As the party would learn, this was not without reason. The last outsider who had entered their territory had stolen the special white powder, called Dove's Incense, that the witches were using in a ritual in the city's temples to ward off the remaining demons. That outsider, as Shei learned, was almost assuredly a member of Ecclesia, as he wore an Ecclesian jacket, with a black septagram badge attached to the lapel. The Ecclesian Choir distinguished themselves with septagram necklaces, so this badge surely indicated that this thief was someone of high rank, and its black color meant that he was a member of the Morte Legionem prior to his allegiance with Ecclesia.

As all this unfolded, Flow met with three members of the Choir: Sir Ichimonji, former Governer of Merec, Metalweave, and former Accorsian Emperor, Direnus Tibault. After delivering his report on the battle with the Lich, they looked over the items that he recovered from the laboratory: a bag of white powder that caused minor hallucinations when inhaled, research notes entitled On the Construction of a Perfect Egregore, a mysterious scroll sealed by a magic binding, and a letter that accompanied all of it, reading only "Look into this," and signed by "E.I.K." The scroll contained an illustration of a monk sitting in meditation before a tree. Its seven branches each ended in a great flower's bloom, and its eight roots each ended in a serpentine dragon's head, adorned with a crown. A single word, in an ancient script, accompanied each of these seven flowers and eight dragons. Another inscription, written below the monk, was also in this script, but it could be read: Begin in Death.

Puzzled by this cryptic diagram, Ichimonji, Metalweave and Direnus advised Flow to subtly inquire about this to Sir Einmal ist Keinmal, another member of the Choir whose initials matched those upon the letter.
306 posts omitted. Click reply to view.

 No.718212

>>718197
Shei steps back to let them do the rest of the work. Shei is too busy entertaining a conversation about clones.

 No.718213

>>718209
Pryce takes a deep breath, trying to clear his mind of his worries for Zjetya and the loss to Lockjaw as he feels the magic of the seal start to unwind. He continues to concentrate on the door, encompassing his magic around the seal's to undo it so they can continue on.
>[1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.718214

>>718209
Flaming looks at Volkama curiously, "Oooookay. I'm not entirely sure what you mean by that though…"

>>718200
"I don't know! This was weird enough when Pryce had his little him, I didn't know we'd have to be dealing with this situation again so soon!"

Flaming sighs, "I… I am Flaming Shorthorns. That's me. I was never anyone else. Okay, I'm not a clone, I am sure of it. One hundred percent."

>>718206
"Yeah, all the clones are getting a little weird… but then, you're no stranger to that, are you? Was it weird with little Pryce?"

>>718206
>>718209
>>718199
As Shei describes the shape of the seal, Flaming moves her concentration down to one of the four points he mentions. "Four weakpoints… got it… focusing…!"

Flaming opens her eyes as she looks at the book Fairy had offered her, looking at a few sections about strengthening her will as she re-focuses on manipulating the Spirit of the lock, tearing it apart slowly bit by bit.

"Just… thinking… about the seal… coming undone…" she strains, keeping her focus clear as water.
[1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.718215

[1d10] One more!

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.718216

>>718214
"I saw KP formed before me, and Calque mentioned it was a spell that creates a younger version of yourself. So there was nothing to worry about there, aside from his attempt to use it for blackmail when we first met."

 No.718217

>>718213
>[1d10]

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.718218

>>718210

Amy slowly blinks trying to process the situation. She puts her hoof-paw to her head repeatedly like Winnie the Pooh.

"If you're also a clone, then I guess we'd just be imitating what the real versions of us do. But, if clone you and clone me fall in love and have babies, will they be clone babies? What if the real us don't have babies? Then, what would they be clones of? You can't have a clone if there's no original. So, does that mean we can't have kids?"

Then, Amy nods. "I think I'm okay with that."

>>718214

"Isn't that what a clone would say?"

>>718209

If asking politely failed, then Amy is out of ideas. This is a job best left to the professionals at not asking politely.

 No.718221

>>718218
"I suppose children to an effect are clones of their parents. Why the fixation with our real selves Amy. Is my love not reall enough for you? Is this about the real Shei-Sher, Clone Amy. DO YOU LOVE HIM!" Shei grabs Amy by the shoulders, shaking her, feigning hysteria.

 No.718222

>>718209
Flow closes his eyes and takes a deep, saddened breath.
“I know. To be honest, I was hoping you’d stay here, for your own safety.”
Flow opens his eyes to absent-mindedly gaze at the ocean of green, bustling trees. For a moment, he too wishes to be as free as one, without a care in the world.
“And…if something were to happen to you…”
He shudders at the thought.

Vice and Trapper both nod with a smile.
>”We’ll accompany you for the time being as well.”

 No.718224

>>718221

"But, if we are clones of people who love each other, doesn't that mean we were made to love each other? Then, that means that our love isn't real by design," Amy reasons slowly in a calm manner. Apparently, someone else panicking calms her down.

 No.718226

>>718221
>>718218
Replica Amy shakes her head with a bit of a sad expression. "Replicas can't reproduce. We're just knockoffs, mostly made of illusions – in the Coven, they called her the Mother of Illusions, after all. A copy isn't always as good as the original."

>>718218
>>718217
>>718215
It takes quite a bit of concentration, but Flaming and Pryce manage to weaken the magical seal, and it vanishes, apart from a very faint but impotent outline now that it has been dispelled. The effort leaves the both of you tired, but Pryce less so, as he's more used to using magic.

Fairy Castle hums her approval, stomping her forehooves in applause. She then takes the staff and raises it. Suddenly, the seal returns to normal, fully restored. "Okay, now do it again!" she cackles.

Volkama, Chorazin, Box, Tantra and Wireframe gasp and shout and curse with disapproval.

Fairy Castle turns and clicks her tongue at them. "Oh, I was just kidding! You won't fit in around witches if you're not prepared for jests like that!"

She raises her staff again, and the seal vanishes once more. "No more tricks, I promise! It should be open now. Go on in."

They still glare at her for that little 'prank.'

>>718222
"…I could stay up here, watch over the children," Renee mutters. "But then you'd be down a healer. That's not something you can afford. Only water can heal you, so that's just whoever has a canteen on hand. Who knows if you'll even be able to refill that in Tartarus? You… I can't leave you to die, either."

>>718222
Eligos gets up and stretches out. "…Where's the iron? Think I'll do a little lifting before I put the yoke back on."
"They're in the yard, just make sure you share with the trainees," Gjenganger says. "Oh, and Eligos… it's really good to have you back with us. Don't disappear again, alright?"
"Wouldn't dream of it, sir," Eligos says with a laugh. "C'mon, boys. Wanna lift?"

 No.718228

>>718224
"Amy.. I wanted to avoid this, but there is no skirted the truth behind our malignant design. I am leaving you Amy. Forever, it is the only way." faux resolution in the matter reflects off of Shei like a fun house mirror.

 No.718229

>>718226
>>718228

"W-well then," Amy says as tears fill her eyes. "I guess I just have to find the real me so I can stop existing…"

Amy goes through the door.

 No.718232

>>718216
"Can you imagine if she cloned you… again? That's like, THREE Pryces running around by that point."

"I mean, what would you even do with three Pryces?"
Obvious answer is obvious

>>718218
"….no. No of course it isn't. Because I'M saying it. And I'm not a clone."

>>718226
Flaming slumps over after the seal is dispelled, feeling drained of energy from concentrating that hard. "Ooo… ooof… t-that wasn't SO bad, I-I guess I really am a natural."

As Fairy puts the seal back, Flaming's eyes open wide with shock, little tears forming at the edges of her eyes before Fairy reveals it was all just a prank.
"Hah. Hah. Hah. REAAALLY funny, Fairy." She coughs, pulling herself up the ground.
"I knew you were joking the whole time, of course, a silly little prank like THAT wouldn't get me. Now, that's enough games: time to meet Regina, and find Zjetya!"

 No.718233

>>718226
>>718229
Shei-Sher takes clone Amy's paws in his hooves. "Clone Amy I love you, it was always about becoming closer to you. I merely went along with your imposter's design to become closer to you." Shei-Sher is relentless in torturing the real Amy.

 No.718234

>>718232

"Unless you're a clone!"

 No.718235

>>718226
>>718232
Pryce exhales after the door is undone, looking over to Flaming.
"Good job with that Flaming. You might have a good chance at learning this magic before me."

>>718232
"I hope she hasn't… That'd be a bit much to see another pony exactly like me walking around."
Pryce pauses a moment.
"Though, it could make for a good magic act."

>>718226
Pryce nods as Fairy says the door is all fine now.
"Good. Let's get trough here already."
He says, scooping up Lockjaw as he stomps around and steps forward, opening hte door to head on into the dome and find Zjetya.

 No.718237

>>718233

"M-my imposter…?" Amy asks slowly. "I'm so lost…"

 No.718240

>>718226
Flow wryly grins.
“Don’t think I’ve ignored that,” he mutters to himself more than anything.
Flow tentatively puts a hoof on Renee’s back.
“I’ll be okay, trust me. Your safety comes above all else to me, okay?”


Vice and Trapper both nod,
>”Aye, and thank you.”
They both follow the hulking undead outside of the tent for some much needed fresh air.

 No.718244

>>718237
"I am sorry Amy. You were always a clone of a clone. Far more irrelevant to anyone's lives than a real clone would be. The only thing right for you to do now, is to simply walk away, exit our lives and bring a cessation to the inconvenience your presence introduces into our lives, the real clones." Shei stands there holding Clone Amy's paws in his hooves "Well go on now.. You can leave."

Shei waits for Amy to walk away.

 No.718245


 No.718246

>>718234
"But I'm NOT a clone!" Flaming persists, trying to make her case heard. "If I were a clone, I would know! Other Amy knew she was a clone."

>>718235
Flaming grins up at Pryce, still panting in exhaustion. "Thanks, Pryce. I'm glad it's starting to come to me, this magic stuff I think will be REALLY useful for us in the future."

"And, yeah, clones actually 'would' make for a good magic act: you could do some fun switching around stuff, couldn't you?"

 No.718247

>>718229
>>718233
Replica Amy looks fairly lost as all this goes on, but seems to have followed along well enough to get the gist of it. "Ah… but I have a confession of my own!" she says in a tragic voice. "It was all to get at Replica Pryce! I simply used you as a pawn to get into the group of replicas!"

>>718235
Lockjaw grumbles as you pick him up, but despite his rebellious attitude, he holds still in your grasp now that you're not flying around.

>>718232
>>718233
>>718229
>>718235
https://youtu.be/NkYxsnWj8Ds

You enter the dome, your eyes taking a moment to adjust to the deep darkness within. The dome blocks almost all light from the outside, except that which enters from the many openings around its exterior, which resemble landing strips for fliers. A compound consisting of four massive and connected marble buildings lies in the center of the dome's environment, surrounded by a landscape of red, orange and brown trees, as well as the occasional bush of white dove's orchids among the fall-colored landscape. The southern building is a guild hall, a cathedral to the east, a small palace in the north, and the library to the west.

Unlike Amy's meeting earlier, no voice greets you upon your entry. There is only the sound of the leaves and grasses rustling in the air. Your allies are on alert, forming a perimeter around you and watching out for anything that might jump out.

>>718240
"But I can't sacrifice your own," Renee says. "…I can't just separate myself from you. How are you going to come back to me unharmed?"

>>718240
Eligos heads outside, to where many weights and training equipment are stacked up in neat rows upon several sets of racks. He takes a few, experimentally testing them, checking their weight and balance.

 No.718250

>>718226
Shei-Sher simply watches Amy actually walk away. "My girlfriend is tremendously daft" Shei confesses to the clone of Amy while still holding her paws "I am honestly a little hurt she did not fight harder than that."

 No.718252

>>718232
Fairy Castle, perhaps noticing the little tears in your eyes, pauses and, making sure nobody else sees for the sake of your reputation, gives you a little hug. "You did quite a wonderful job for your first time using a serious spell. You've got more of a knack for it than you know."

 No.718253

>>718247
using this >>718250 as my reply to Clone Amy.

>but also

"Are you harboring a crush for Sir Etac?"

 No.718255

>>718247

"Hiii, Regina! I'm back," Amy says with a sort of forced happiness, the fact that she's a clone still in the back of her mind. She looks up at nothing in particular - an odd sight for those who are new here, surely.

"Or maybe I never left. I'm getting confused. Where's the real me?"

 No.718257

>>718247
Shei-Sher can't help but feel a little excited about his surroundings, also he loves autumn.

"Straight away to the tower? oooor.. shall we dilly dally?"

 No.718258

>>718246
"Huh, I didn't think of it that way. I was picturing having the clones on stage with me."

>>718247
Pryce looks around as they enter the dark dome, four choices of buildings around them to pick between. Pryce flies up into the air for a better view of the land they're now in, as well as to spot any trace of Zjetya that came through here.
>Scan [1d10]

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.718265

>>718252
Shorthorns gives out a small gasp of surprise as she's hugged, looking up at the alpaca with a blush as she returns the embrace (briefly, to avoid being noticed), before letting go. "T-thank you, Fairy. I really am pretty surprised myself, I never thought I'd have a talent for magic. It always seemed like something you had to be really smart to do and, well… I'm not all that smart, if I'm being honest."

>>718247
>>718255
As Flaming and the others all move into the interior of the darkened chamber, Flaming takes a look around at the many openings above, getting a feel for her surrounding area. She looks towards the Library to the west, imagining 'that' must be where Regina is as she looks to Amy.

"Amy, when you came here before, where did you find Regina? In the Library, right?"

 No.718267

>>718258
Flaming nods her head. "That'd be good too but, think about it: one of you could be on one side, and then appear on the other side? It'd be a great vanishing trick, right?"

 No.718270

>>718265

"I never actually saw her. She talked to me here."

 No.718271

>>718267
"It would, yea. And it'd get around needing to learn teleportation magic too."

 No.718272

>>718265
Fairy Castle whaps you with her staff again. "Ah-ah-ah-ah. No putting yourself down like that! There's far more kinds of smarts than just book smarts. You'd be surprised how many ponies have book smarts by the barrel-ful and not a whit of any other kinds of smarts. Strengthen the smarts you have and don't worry so much about what you don't."

>>718253
>>718250
Replica Amy shrugs. "Regina saw you and Amy together and thought it'd be amusing to see me throw that into disarray. I'm mostly just curious as to what will happen."

>>718258
>>718257
>>718255
>>718265
Regina offers no response to Amy, even when she's directly called out. Replica Amy also looks quite confused at the silence. "Hey! Heeeeeyyyyy! I brought them here like you asked!" she calls out.

Pryce gets a view of the groves surrounding the four buildings, as well as a light stream that runs through the grove, keeping the plants nice and watered.

"Is this whole compound the Library of the Sancrosanct?" Chorazin asks. "That's where those other witches said she'd be, no?"
"Mmmmmaybe she's busy?" Wireframe asks. "I mean… nothing's actively trying to kill us now that we're here… contrary to expectations. Could we just go up and have a look around?"
"That one on the west is the only one that looks library-ish," Rus Tea adds. "I'm a bit of an expert; it's got the vibe of books."

 No.718273

>>718272

"I'm sorry for barging in, but you didn't answer when we knocked!" Amy apologizes, hoping that gets Regina out of hiding.

She looks to the others. "Like I said, she's kind of shy and moody. Be nice, everyone!"

[1d10] for sincere apology to draw her out

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.718275

>>718272
Pryce looks around, only seeing grooves and the stream, but no sign of anypony else. He flies on ahead of the others, continuing in his search for Zjetya as he scans the dome's terrain.
>Search [1d10]

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.718279

>>718273
Again, there is no response. Replica Amy shrugs with a grunt. "If she won't come out, she's probably expecting us to come to her. Wouldn't make sense to send me out to collect the rest of you and then just pretend like nobody's home once you all get here."

 No.718281

>>718279

"Alright then, everyone, let's head to the library!"

 No.718288

>>718272
"Ah well I do hope Regina enjoyed herself as much as I did. And sorry for being presumptious, your pining for Pryce's attention made me assume you fancied him, like all the other mares. A bit relieving, if you did harbor such feelings and Pryce were to become familiar with the design of Amy's body.. well I would take pre-emptive action to say the least."

>>718272
Shei raises his hoof "I am a little curious about the guild. If no one minds."

 No.718289

>>718272
Flaming grunts as she's whapped on the head with the staff. "Ow!" Flaming grunts, reaching up to rub at her head. "Okay, okay, I got it! You don't gotta hit so hard." Flaming snorts air out of her nostrils, "…thanks. I picked up a bad habit somewhere along the way of making a bunch of mistakes but, you're right. I'm just still surprised, magic never occurred to me as something I could do."

>>718270
"You didn't actually meet her? Huh… but she spoke to you last time? What did she say, did you say anything to get her to come out?"

>>718272
As Regina offers no response to Amy, Flaming frowns, looking around the big empty space in confusion. "Huh… maybe she wants us to come to her?"

As Amy says she brought everyone, Flaming turns to the clone. "Wait, Regina told you to bring us all here? You never said that before! Did she want to speak with us?"

Flaming looks to the group, "If Regina won't come to us, we go to her. I say we check out the library first"

 No.718292

>>718289

"No, I just came in and she started talking. Maybe it's because I'm just a clone this time."

 No.718293

>>718275
Again, there are no other living beings in the compound's exterior – at first glance. As you get a closer look at the forested groves surrounding the four buildings, you discover trails of tracks, small, long and thin, looping around through the muddier parts of the groves. They appear to be those of some kind of vermin species, but what kind, you don't know.

>>718288
"Rest assured I'm only after my own amusement," Replica Amy says, rolling her eyes.

>>718289
"Toughen up! Buffalos have to have strong heads! You know why? To hold all their big brains!" Fairy Castle chastises, with a wink.

>>718288
"Do we have to split up again?" Wireframe asks. "We just managed to wrangle Pryce in, and if we see hide or hair of Zjetya, he's going to fly off just like last time."
"We'll want to stay together if at all possible," Rus Tea adds.
"…but if you're really set on it, take at least one or two people," Chorazin says.

>>718281
>>718275
>>718289
At the party's suggestion, the rest of your group starts to gather at the Library's steps. It is only two stories tall, of modest width, and with a quaint little watchtower on the side. Rus tries the front door, and it appears to be unlocked. She stops before it can open at all. "Alright… shall we? Shei, are you certain about the guild hall?"

 No.718295

>>718293

"Hellooooo?" Amy continues to call out as she climbs the stairs. "Reggie? Where are youuuu?"

[1d10] to get a friendly response

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.718296

>>718293
"Nmmm, yes okay, on second thought I wouldn't want to you all see Regina without me."

 No.718299

>>718293
Pryce flies down to the tracks, hovering over to examine them closer for any possible clues, before flying back to the others to check the buildings.
>Examine Tracks [1d10]

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.718303

>>718292
"You're NOT the clone!" Flaming shouts, "You HAVE your clone right there, she even admitted to being a clone. If anyone's a clone, it's the ones who don't have their clones here right now."

Flaming sighs. "At any rate, that's weird she's not talking to you again. I wonder if she's shy with this many ponies around…"

>>718293
Flaming smirks up towards Fairy Castle. "Right, I knew THAT. When I was saying 'ow', it wasn't my head that hurt," she lies, "I-it was just my pride. But now that's all better. I'll be fine!"

>>718293
Flaming takes up the steps of the library, reaching up to knock on the front of the door before letting herself inside. "If anyone's NOT coming out in the library, let's all meet up at the entrance after we're done."

 No.718307

>>718299
They appear to belong to some kind of rodent species. There is a kind of messy gray mush among some of the trails, but it's unclear what it is or where it's from. They head toward the library, and end in a small hole at the base of the library's western wall.

 No.718311

>>718307
Pryce looks at the trail as they lead up to the library. With the rest of the party heading there, that makes things easier. And while they may not be hoofprints, it's the first sign of other life he's seen in this whole area. He thinks a moment, and tries to test how well Lockjaw can track by holding him down towards the tracks.
"Alright Lockjaw, let's see if you can pick up a scent from these and find whatever made them inside."

 No.718314

>>718303

"But, what if we're both clones!?"

 No.718316

>>718311
Lockjaw sniffs the tracks, then grunts, showing a sign of repulsion when he sniffs the gray goop surrounding some of them. He lifts his head and moves in toward the front door with the rest of the party.

>>718311
>>718303
>>718296
>>718295
You open the library door and step inside, at first finding a long hallway with a few doors on either side. There's a simple rug on the floor, floral print, and nice wooden floors beneath that. There is a pleasant smell in the air that reminds you of home. The doors are quite big, designed seemingly for a species larger than yourselves.

The front door clicks as Rus Tea closes it behind you, and she gulps. When you look back at the door, there is no longer a handle or lock upon it.

>Rus Tea touches her throat. "I didn't gulp just no–"


Yes, she did, and she shouldn't be believed if she says otherwise.

>Paused



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