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File: 1568588653939.png (75.27 KB, 918x877, Amy.png)

 No.724032[Last 50 Posts]

Last time on HolyQuest…

With Regina delivering her confession to the Replicant Witches, whose lives she nearly ended for the sake of revenge against Mudi and Vizsla, the rest of the party was free to tend to various matters.

Flaming set off for the west, where she discovered a series of cottages at the base of a hill. Atop the hill was an enormous Witches' castle, woven together out of many colossal wisteria trees and mushrooms, surrounded by a wall. Based on the sheer size of the doorways, this was obviously Regina's main shelter. There, she met Chorazin, Tantra and LJ, newly freed from their various stories. They complained of a lack of treasure, but found it somewhat easy to believe that the party not only talked down but struck a kind of alliance with Regina, given the party's track record.

Meanwhile, Pryce met with Zjetya, Zjetyaca (A Replica made in Zjetya's image) and Yadala, Witch of Judgments, and fellow Replica. Zjetya had apparently told Yadala and Zjetyaca about the fallout between her and Pryce following his confession of love, and the two were not happy. They gave Pryce beef until they had to go hear what Regina had to say. From there, Zjetya and Pryce had a difficult talk, one that ended with Zjetya agreeing to speak with River later about their "situation."

Amy and Shei discovered that the unnamed gods whom Regina had built a shrine for were none other than Buiwong, god of spiders and fables, Ba'drel, god of promises and cattle, and Cer'rog, god of wealth and birds. The three gods praised the Saviors for their deeds, and promised great power to Amy, as they would complete her tattoo with their blessing. While Shei rounded up Pryce, Flaming and the others, the three gods baptized Amy in fire and water, hearkening back to the mythic origins of the mortal race. What Amy saw in her vision could not be fully understood by anyone but her. Her body, mind and soul broke down into their smallest pieces, and she even separated herself from Ego, her demonic half. It was there that she was struck by an epiphany, an enlightenment… and as she emerged from the waters…


>Pryce, Amy, Flaming, Shei

Chorazin, Tantra, Rus, Box and Volkama stand off at a distance after Amy comes up from the water, taking some time to process what may or may not have just happened to her. Wireframe, Vortigern and LJ, being adherents of Buiwong, all stand aside, bowing to the three gods as they stand beside the fountain.

Ba'drel and Cer'rog look on at their handiwork, the fully-fused Amy Thest, with gleaming grins of pride and intrigue. Buiwong, in contrast, pauses, floating there in front of the fountain in his murky, indistinct form. Amorphous, cloudy darkness surrounds him, his body crawls with ambiguous shapes, skittering to and fro like spiders. His movements are stiff and lifeless as he struggles to turn about, just to face the party.

"Hail, newly-born Messiah!" Ba'drel calls to Amy.
"Hail, newly-born Messiah," Cer'rog echoes.

The use of the term causes a stir among Vortigern, Tantra and LJ, LJ most of all. He raises his head to see Buiwong's reaction, but Buiwong says nothing as he turns about to observe Amy.


Meanwhile, in Fantasia, Flow continued his talk with Estuary's Memory. According to the Memory, Sir Estuary had survived Metatron's destruction of Vitral, and was still out there in the wilderness, hunting for Pryce. Sir Estuary, driven by vengeance and shame, would not rest until he had avenged the fall of Vadahara and the death of King Neo Advent. Though Flow, Renee and Shei were also involved with the death of the King and Queen, back during their hunt for the Ember of Jalandhara, Estuary's ire focused on Pryce because the King had passed his will onto Pryce.

Flow then decided to lure Estuary out in order to keep a surprise attack from befalling Pryce, a move which surprised Estuary's Memory. Now intrigued, Estuary's Memory pushed for them to meet Pryce in person as soon as possible, so they could formulate a plan.


Estuary's Memory nods. "Have you any way of contacting him now?"

"I figure they'd be quite busy right around this time," Renee says.

The Memory grunts. "I'd bet we don't have much time to waste."


>Kusarigama: Fire Element; Single + Great Tags; +3 Modifier
>Snakeskin Cloak: 4 Hits

Pryce turns his attention to the gods as they cheer, having overlooked them during his talk with Amy. While he doesn't recognize Ba'drel or Cer'rog, his gaze sets to Buiwong. For now he stands in silence, taking most of his concentration to not act against the god.


As Flaming keeps close to Amy, making sure the wolf-pony is well and seeing that she's unharmed, she takes a glance up towards the other gods who proclaim Amy as their 'messiah'

"I recognize Buiwong but, who are you two? And why are you calling her a messiah?"


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Shei-Sher simply looks on at Amy pouring out her feelings to Flaming, watching them both become so excited. Shei-Sher smiles warmly, looking fondly at the scene with nothing to remark.

"Because she is the Messiah of the new world born from darkness. The confluence of fate has guided this event into fruition. And no one can stop it now except Tartarus where the transmission of fates can be lost. But that will not happen." Shei-Sher knowingly looks at Buiwong, he takes this as Buiwong acknowledging his plan to elevate Amy to the ruler of demons on earth.


"You wouldn't recognize us, would you?" Ba'drel asks, his voice a high screech. "We were so busy managing the powder-keg of a political drama in Manyirongdi and Mr'uthgar that Buiwong hogged all the glory in his western endeavors. Cer'rog! Hoarder of Wealth, Anzu-Lord of all Avians, Voice of the Skies. I am the God of Birds and Wealth."

"Ba'drel," the golden minotaur booms, his voice a deep baritone rumble. His horns have extended to about six feet in length. "The Anamnesis, Keeper of Covenants, Retainer of Vows, Dread of Liars. I am the God of Promises and Cattle."

"And my partners in crime, much like that reluctant Vir-can," Buiwong says, not approaching you. He makes an attempt to recline in mid-air as his body wavers between a mass of writhing black spiders and an old, cloaked zebra with a shock of salt-and-pepper hair. "My fellow rebels against the tyranny of the Devas. Thrown out of the Beyond, just like me. Though, they seem to have fared much better than I have."

"No, you seem to have endured a far worse fate," Ba'drel sneers, smirking at Buiwong's faltering, murky state. "Serves you right for overextending to chase a defeated foe! Let that be a reminder that even the sweetest revenge will turn to bitterness and rot on your tongue."

Buiwong sneers, then turns to you. "You are too young for the First Tongue to even be a near-forgotten legend. The word 'Messiah' is of that ancient language. You are more familiar with its modern synonym, Savior. Hmph. The words might mean the same, but the new just ain't got the same atmosphere – so I'd like to call her Messiah instead. Feeling jealous? The rest of you might Ascend soon, at this rate."


Pryce looks to each god as they introduce themselves, with a lack of interest. The bickering they give, while speaking of how they acted against the Devas, despite Pryce's fallout, does not give a good first impression.

He looks to Buiwong as he speaks of ascension.
"I'm not interested in anything you would provide."


"I like messiah, it does sound nice. Pray tell, what business do thine rebel gods have with a shrine established in the great Mother of Illusions' lair."


"I… that doesn't really answer anything for me. You're saying she's destined to save the world?"

She looks up to the mighty gods before her, bowing her head in reverence. "It is an honor…" she says before looking straight ahead at Buiwong.

"I see. Fellow gods you have mislead in your schemes like the mighty Vir-can, who now dwells imprisoned in the Colosseum. I wonder how long it'll take before your other friends wind up wishing they'd never allied with you…" she says with an angry growl towards Buiwong, before taking a deep breath to calm herself.

"Savior I understand. But what about what's happened to Amy is going to let us save the world? Does this still involve our plan with Mudi?"


"In all likelihood"



"I-I'm not a Messiah," Amy objects not even sure of what she is objecting to.


Amy looks to Shei with a puzzled look for a moment, as if she's trying to decide something. "You haven't said anything," she points out.



"About that…" Amy says slowly, regarding the plan with Mudi. But, she seems to lost in thought, or perhaps unable to find the right way to approach it to say more.


"No, I'm just happy. You finally realized it. What you wanted all this time. Your great work. And now that you are new again there is another great work ahead of you."



"Well that's good," Amy says with a nod. "I was expecting you to be angry about all of this. Like I wouldn't be Amy enough for you."


"Then that's just too bad. Though, not a huge loss. You weren't, shall we say, going to have the biggest role in the Tartarus Expedition now, were you? I have my pick of so many more Saviors to crown with glory and adorn with riches, laurels, rings and robes."

Zjetya starts to tense up as Buiwong skirts close to the truth.

"The same as you," Buiwong answers. "Establishing connections, making friends, gaining followers, saving the world. The usual stuff for your crew! I got here thanks to Amy, and so much like your dear friend Zjetya, I entrenched myself with Regina by offering her the scoop on the lot of you. Abilities, powers, suggestions for scenarios and curveball twists, all that. In exchange, all we required was a home."

He gestures to the now-empty spot in the back of the temple where their stone bodies once stood. "Of course, ol' Regina took the easy way. Rather than build us a new shrine and altar, she offered us an existing one. These statues, these things that make up our present bodies? She didn't make them. They were already here. Other gods, small gods, forgotten gods, resided within them."

"They made for a nice pick-me-up," Ba'drel says, licking his teeth and smacking his lips.

"I'm still snacking on mine," Buiwong continues. "Having been split 13.8 billion ways has given me a bit of indigestion."

"You're a bit late to the party," Cer'rog says. "We have had centuries upon centuries to regret our alliance. But still, we are here. We sought to return to Heaven, yet now we stay behind on this Earth in order to save the shell of a dying, abandoned World."

"Of course it does!" Buiwong says. "I'm not one to throw out a good plotline. Mudi's plan is crude, simple, dumb, direct, straightforward. So was my plan to get back into the Beyond! She and I are a lot alike. I'm just here to offer a certain revision. As Regina said, Mudi's plan will succeed, but not Mudi herself."

"Are you certain?" Cer'rog asks. "Even without a godly patronage, you would still be seen as one, if you should prove victorious. The stories about you are piling up, and many more will be written over the years; some true, some apocryphal, some legendary – a blend of truth and myth. Most will be believed, and even after you are gone, they shall name you as one."

"Besides!" Buiwong interjects. "There's no reason for you to downplay your accomplishments! They're already calling you one of the proud, brave Saviors for what you accomplished in Mariposa! Think of how much more the common people will shower you with praise and riches after your victory in Tartarus!"


Pryce glares at Buiwong.
"I'm not going to let you corrupt my friends again, if that's what you're planning."
He says with contempt.


Flaming sighs, "I… I'm sorry for bursting out like that. I'm sure you both have regrets as well. We all do. Not really much more we can do besides keeping moving on in spite of them…"

As Amy and Buiwong both regard the plan with Mudi, Flaming's eyebrow perks up. "Revised…? How? Same plan as before but, instead of Mudi we go with Shei's first idea and have Amy do it now that she's… complete?"

She turns to look at Amy, frowning, "I-is that what you meant earlier by understanding something? I don't think I'm getting it all…"



"I don't even get why they call us saviors," Amy shrugs. "I only feel like I've made things worse. If they're going to tell stories, then I'll make sure they tell the truth about who I am and what I've done - including the time before being a 'savior'."

"Honestly, I think I'm more comfortable being feared than worshiped. And, I definitely don't like being showered with riches."


"Wait, what!? When was that ever the plan!?" Amy asks, looking to Shei


"No, not at all. This was something that needed to transpire." Shei says rather flaccidly. The things he says feel honest but lack passion.

"Ah, so that is how she knows so much about us. I only feel a little comforted by the fact. Before I thought Regina had a peeping tom pointed our way. Now I realize it was only our friendly neighborhood divinities selling our information. I could leave my credit score in the offertory basin if you wish. It's likely outdated with Hearthome being reduced to rubble but anything helps I suppose."

>Rather than build us a new shrine and altar, she offered us an existing one.

"I am surprised you let her get off with that. Seems she stiffed you my lord." Shei kicks over a piece of rubble beside his hooves. He reaches into his bag for the vial of dark matter and pours out the contents into a nonmagical vial. all except for a drop of course and steps over to place the vial on the basin.
"You have to share this one. I may as well add I would appreciate more vials if you could send a shipment to my P.O. box."


>"Wait, what!? When was that ever the plan!?" Amy asks, looking to Shei
"That was always your plans? To become one with the demon harbored within. You always spoke fondly about the beast and you were evidently taking steps towards the transformation."



"No, no, no!" Amy objects. "Don't do that classic Shei misdirection shit to me! I'm asking when it was ever the plan to make ME the ruler instead of Moody!"


>"We have had centuries upon centuries to regret our alliance.
Shei raises a toast with his mostly empty magic vial "cheers, holding 3 years as of now."


"What an accusation!" Buiwong exclaims, throwing up his hooves. His form rattles with spiders, and many drop to the ground and skitter all around under leaves or between vines. "I've done nothing of the sort. Not now, not ever. But if you don't believe me, go ahead and follow me down into Tartarus, the Home of Death."

Cer'rog scoffs. "Fool of a girl. You are far too kind."

Buiwong shrugs back. "Heroes usually do. So do gods. What do you think is the most common prayer we gods heard? What do you think we hear now? They ask us, why do we allow evil to abound and multiply? That's an easy one, of course!"

He smiles. "So that good may rise up and prevail against it. At least, that's the answer most gods cling to. Me, I just think it provides a better story."

"To be fair, Zjetya helped as well, though she was not aware of my presence at the time she informed Regina about you. I am not worshipped in her lands," Buiwong says. "It is only because of Ecclesia and your group that her soul has drawn near to mine. Because I am not one of her ancestral gods, my presence does little to move her heart."

"Boy, you need to LISTEN for a change," Buiwong says. "I let it slide because we got to devour the gods who occupied the statues before us!"
"You sound disappointed he didn't react to the news," Ba'drel notes.
"I AM!" Buiwong exclaims. "Ever since he convinced himself he was enlightened with all that dime-store occultism from his old teach, he's been no fun. Too detached. Always mouthing off some gibberish ain't nobody understand, not even him."

Buiwong smirks as talk turns to the plan for Tartarus. "I feel like I already know what Amy's bound to say, but I want to hear it from the rest of you. After all you've heard about Mudi – not just from Regina, but from herself, and Vizsla, too, not to mention that which you haven't heard – do you feel she's a fit to control the world? Do you REALLY think she's gonna be the one to save what's left of mortalkind as hybrid ruler over mortals and demons?"


"I thought that was the original plan…? I may not be remembering right though…"

Trying to ease the tension, Flaming coughs and tries to change subject. "A-Amy, how are you feeling? About, everything you're going through right now."

Flaming glares at Cer'rog, "I could be MEANER, if that's what you want. But I've been angry and mean plenty lately. It hasn't been getting me as far as I thought it would… I'm trying to act just a little more rationally."

"…no. I don't know if I can trust Mudi with that anymore. At the very least we need to hear her explain herself for what she did to Regina. I can't just let that go, she had an excuse with Blessings but I don't see one for this. Not yet at least."


"…" Shei scratches his head "I don't know. I thought it was a more natural course of events than what Mudi had in mind. I and Buiwong have seemed to be weaving plans along the same wavelength, that or his spiders are sending psychic suggestions toward me. Though I haven't noticed that among the feed suggestion he usually sends. Its my belief Buiwong likes to improvise and is working very well with the sort of material I throw his way."

"Ba-a-ah! What do you want from me! I've seen so much Buiwong do you really expect me to rave with shock an awe the spiritual equivalent of homeless people fighting over bread just occurred in Regina's backyard? You are going to have to make peace with the fact that the more time passes the harder it will be to impress me."



"Sounds like the attitude of a loser," Amy shrugs. "I'd rather just make things better than make excuses."


"What!? I never wanted to rule! That's why we're letting Moody do it!"

Amy shakes her head. "How would that even make sense. The whole reason everyone hates this plan is because Moody will be in charge."


"It's just going to be more lies," Amy says to Flaming bitterly. "Either Reggie's lying or Moody is. Either way, asking more questions won't solve anything. We need a better way to PROVE that Moody is what Reggie says she is."

"Honestly…" Amy speaks now to Buiwong directly. "I never saw Moody's plan as the final step - just something we had to do to get people to stop fighting. Then, we could figure out a better solution from there."

"I still wish we had a way to fix demons - just make 'em normal again. But, if we can't do that… I have another idea. It's stupid. No one's going to like hearing it. But… to me, it's beautiful."


"Oooooh! That's what you've been planning!"

Amy falls silent for a while. Until she says, "Wow. You must think really highly of me if your whole secret plan involves betraying the godlike witch and a bunch of powerful demons so you can put ME in charge…"


Pryce scoffs as Buiwong plays dramatics.
"I'm not going to fall for any more trickery."

"I don't think there's anypony who'd be fit to have a position like that."
Pryce states simply to the question.


Shei-Sher nods "I explained all of this to Ecclessia last we traded information and goods, and they explained their plans for the new world. I have to say my plan involves a lot less death. We all have very high hopes for you Amy."


"Moody… I mean Mudi's plan isn't exactly the kind of thing we can add on to after we do it though. If we go through with it, even if we find a better solution it sounds like she'll be pretty much unstoppable if we get her there in the first place. So we need to make sure now, before we even go through with it, we pick the right person for the job."

Flaming sighs, "Okay, fair enough… but then how do we prove it? None of the witches seem like the sort to try and deny they did this, should we just ask them straight up…?"


Cer'rog clicks his tongue. "Fool of a girl! …Actually, that's not the worst plan. Save that anger for Tartarus. You will need it to sustain you, strengthen you, protect you."

"Oh, Shei, Shei, Shei. You don't want me to try my hardest to impress you," Buiwong says, smiling a thin blade of a smile. "If you keep telling me how detached and above-it-all you are, I don't know what I'll do. You know how much I value your good opinion of me. If you tell me that you're just too cool and bored with my antics, I might get DESPERATE."

As he says those last words, he suddenly appears before you, leaning in an inch from your face, his face plain and without any semblance of trickery. It is one of the few moments you've seen him NOT weaving some illusion to make himself seem more grand or imposing. He nearly resembles a mortal like this.

He pulls back after a few seconds.

"Ouch!" Buiwong cries, recoiling back with a hoof over his heart. "A loser? Girl, you never hold back, do you?"

"What a divided room," Buiwong comments as you express conflicting opinions on what to do about Tartarus and Mudi's scheme. He flits his gaze over to the rest of your allies. "Oh, you're still here. Hmph. Might as well hear what you have to say, since you won't get lost and all."

"So long as Ecclesia can thrive, I care little for who sits on the throne," Rus says. "But whoever it may be, should they trod upon the weak, I shall rip them out of that chair before they can blink."
"I'm indifferent, if I'm telling the truth," Zjetya says. "What I want, I can find regardless of all this big-picture shit."
"I've confidence in Amy's capacity to rule," Chorazin says. "After all, she's looking PAST this plan toward the future. Mudi focuses on the plan itself."
Volkama glowers. "I leave all this politicking to the rest of you. My aim is for Vizsla."
"I'll support Amy too!" Box says. "She's nice!"
"Can I just echo Volkama?" Wireframe says. "Just pick someone to rule – I'm only in this to avenge my hive."

Buiwong then looks to Vortigern, LJ and Tantra. "And what about you, my sons and daughters?"
All three of them bow. "We follow you beyond every horizon, my lord," LJ says. "Direct our steps, and we shall carry out your true design."
Vortigern and Tantra nod.



Flow huffs.
"I figure I have enough of a grasp on my hooves to start practicin on some lowly grubs…"
He places a hoof on his chest.
"I 'ave enough backup to handle myself, you should focus on finding Pryce," he looks at Renee, a glimmer of resolve present in his eyes.


As Cer'rog calls her a fool a second time, Flaming's eye twitches, and she turns to glare at him angrily before he complements her reserving her anger. She lets her anger simmer down. "Thank you, honored Cer'rog… but don't call me a fool a third time or I may end up releasing that anger early."

Flaming gives a hard stare at LJ, Vortigern, and Tantra as he bows before Buiwong once again, shaking her head in disappointment before looking up.

"I think Amy would be the best choice but that isn't any of our decision to make. It's hers: if she doesn't want to, then we find someone else capable of doing it. Even though I have my reservations about Mudi, she hasn't been that bad since we met her."


Shei-Sher appears completely pale faced and stiff necked, though his expression only changes slightly. He seems humbled and can't manage to respond in any way.

Shei-Sher is late to bow with Vortigern, LJ, and Tantra.


Pryce looks around the party as they each give their reasoning, everypony either indifferent or supporting Amy as ruler, and all in agreement of not supporting Mudi. Though his gaze lingers on Zjetya longer than the rest, her statement on how everypony is focusing on the world, aiming for this lofty goal. It really is like the events before the Rapture all over again.

He looks back to Buiwong.
"What do you get out of this."


Shei-Sher says quietly mid bowing position "Nothing can change what will happen. Only the death's of Amy and Mudi could change the course of fate. We'll never allow that to happen inside Tartarus. My life and the lives of those that follow Buiwong are pledged to this."



"We need some sort of… thingy. Like a thingy that could let us see the past so we could actually see it happen for ourselves. Or a thingy that can take their essence and prove that betrayal is a part of it. Sounds like a Shei sort of thingy."


"How can people be inspired to do better if they don't know when they're not at their best?" Amy responds to the accusation of not holding back. "And, as much as I hate you and gods in general, even I can't deny that you can do better. You definitely have the power for it."


Amy looks around the room, in shock that there's even ANYONE who wants her in charge. "I… I didn't know that this many people were in support of ME… I don't know what to say…"


"If we prove Moody is a betrayal whatever, then she's out," Amy says flatly. "In fact, I'll kill her myself."


Shei-Sher looks up at you from his bow, a tired expression accompanied with a sigh.


Renee nods. "I'll be off then, see if I can get into contact with Flaming! Stay hydrated now, will you?"

Leaving her many water-satchels with you, she slithers off eastward through the city.

"Remarkable lady, isn't she?" Estuary's Memory says. "Maybe if things had been different in Vadahara… eh, well, no use contemplating that, is there?"

He looks at you. "A portion of your strength has returned – but even if I'm being generous, it's not going to be enough. I don't mean to put you down. But it's a matter of being real. When you fight me, you're going up against someone who channeled the Realms of Torture through his body in order to drive out all weakness. Do you remember the mantras I repeated during our battle? 'Mountain of Knives,' 'Body of Water?' Those are the powers I obtained as part of my training."

He adjusts his posture into a meditative position. "I can't come close to leveling the playing field… but I have a feeling you wouldn't want that, would you? Am I right to assume you like an uphill fight?"

Cer'rog smirks. "I will do my best to restrain my tongue."


"What do I have to gain?" Buiwong answers Pryce. "You misunderstand – I have everything to LOSE if the mortals I hold so dear are driven unto their deaths. Every god that remains in this World will be watching this battle, make no mistake.

"Not just the gods of the Accorsian Union church – no, even the forgotten pagan gods that the Accorsians thought defeated, even far-off gods worshiped in distant lands, even gods that have been forgotten and now lay dormant… As a punishment for our ancient sins, we gods have been bound to mortalkind. Your worship sustains us, shapes us, becomes us. Worship is not the correct term, precisely. The fact that we gods are in your hearts and minds is what gives us our being.

"Should we be forgotten in the hearts and minds of mortalkind, or if mortals themselves should perish, then we would be but mindless ghosts, wandering a World that has lost its light. Like the old gods of the pagans, we would lose everything – our form, our memories, even our very names, forced to cling to a world in which we are nothing but empty shadows.

"The Treibheanna are well aware of this, you know. That is why they gather far, far to the south, and make preparations even now to push northward toward Fantasia, once the Great Seal of Tartarus has been opened. Until then, the Treibheanna's gods gather mortals and demons under their banners, taking them as worship-slaves to sustain themselves. I shall lead Ecclesia into battle against them, and defend what is left of your people – no, OUR people."

Buiwong stops and looks at the cloud-ridden sky, stained red and orange by the dying sunlight. "The time is growing near," he says, almost as a whisper.


"A… thingy? That lets you see into the past?" She frowns, trying to think hard if they'd encountered anything remotely like that across all their journey. "That's… OH! What if we went back to Wineberry's?! Do you think her thingy that let us see the past of the Sons of God would also let us look into the past of Mudi and Regina to see who's telling the truth?"

Flaming looks over at Buiwong. "Right… I suppose you do have a lot to lose if your mortal worshippers all perish. I will never not blame you for this mess but I know full well you have every interest in helping us to survive… even if I don't doubt for a second it's to ensure you live to scheme another day."

"But hold on… this army that you say is going to push on Fantasia, why would they want to stop us from going in? You said mortals give the gods form, existence, why would they want to stop us from stopping the demons from slaying more of them?"


As Buiwong explains what is at stake, it only makes Pryce angry. Speaking of needing mortalkind to survive, calling them his people. And Buiwong was the one who instigated the Rapture, putting the world in it's current state.

Before he does anything brash, Pryce turns and walks away from the shrine, gesturing Zjetya along to follow, as he has no intention to leave her near that kind of influence.


"Do you understand now Pryce." Shei-Sher says with a type of severity that is uncommon from him "Everyone's survival is staked at what we do about this predicament with Mudi. The angels wish to dissolve everything. And return them to what they deem their rightful places in the cosmos. That means sinners and gods dead are to be dust. Those who do not submit to absolution, the obliteration of our homes, our family are sinners. This is it, anyone that should mean a damn to you Pryce is in this Shrine. And do you understand why I'm saying any of this? Because when my family threw our lives away to fight against the angels on the day of reckoning. You fought against us, I pray that is not the case again Sir Etac."



"See? Now THAT'S doing better," Amy says with an approving nod. "I mean, it's selfish, but it's a start…"


"Pryce," Amy says with shocking anger as Pryce starts to leave. "Stay here. We're having important talks. I agree with what you're feeling. But, leaving because of one idiot just makes you an idiot."


"Hey, that's a kind of good idea!"


Flow flashes a toothy grin.
"Aye lad. An uphill battle means I get to see if I can play me cards right…"
He also sits down, although in a slightly different fashion than Estuary is.

"So…what do you have in mind, lad?"
He leans in with a smirk.
"Any secrets to meditating, eh?"


"The fact that our powers are still mixed up at the moment gives us a unique opportunity," Estuary's Memory begins. "That technique, Anantarika, I'll transmit it to you, teach you to use it, without having to call the Realm of Torture onto you, like I had to go through. But be warned: It's not even a ghost of what Estuary will be able to use against you. His techniques… they'll have been perfected. I can't work a miracle on you, you know."

"It's not that they intend to stop you from going in!" Cer'rog adds. "Far from it! It matters little to them whether or not you have entered, or even whether you come back. They care only for entering after you. It was not just mortals, demons, monsters and places of magic that the Sons of God threw into Tartarus. No… according to the records we found in the Library of the Sacrosanct, those arrogant Sons of God tried their hooves at a little godslaying themselves."

"In other words," Ba'drel adds. "The Treibheanna are after the remains of their ancient gods, locked away in prison chains far below the surface of the Earth, trapped in Tartarus, the Home of Death."

"What will happen if they get them back?" Rus asks.

"Depends on who and what they bring back," Buiwong answers. "Could be any kind of god down there. The Anathema Scripture is a work of dense cryptography."

As Pryce goes, Zjetya follows after him without a word, but offers Amy an apologetic glance before she leaves. Box takes a few steps after him, but stops in his tracks, looking deeply conflicted.

"Now that he's gone…" Buiwong says, then looks to Amy. "My Messiah! I'm surprised you haven't reported much on your new power. I hope it worked right! It'd be quite the anticlimax if it was only a placebo that I worked on you."

Zjetya follows after you quietly as you walk back to the lake. She starts and stops speaking at several points, having difficulty speaking after all that you've heard. As you approach the lake, you hear quite a lot of chatter and talk. There, on the lake's northern bend, you see a very happy-looking Regina sitting beside several dozen Witches of various traditions, races and styles of dress. They seem to have set up a tea party of sorts, talking and snacking while small breezies in Witch hats play high, tinny music for them.



"Well let's find out," Amy growls to Buiwong angrily as Pryce tries to leave the room.

Her tattoos glow, and she transforms into a white wolf. "YOU'RE STAYING HERE!" Amy roars at Pryce as she runs out the door after him. Her barks launch a wave of holy flames at him.

>Mystic Animal Totem

>Wrath on Pryce [1d10+4]
>Using Prayer of Enlightenment to learn Magic Missiles

Roll #1 5 + 4 = 9


Pryce walks along the path, looking to the ground the entire way. He was already worried about this Tartarus expedition before, but now it's turning into a terrible nightmare. He looks back at Zjetya as he notices her trying to speak now and then, and he sighs, also unsure of how to handle this. When they start to come up on Regina and the others, Pryce goes to turn and head elsewhere, not too intent on seeing more witches at the moment, and not wanting to interrupt their talk either.


Shei-Sher stands and steps forward to Amy's side "She is still quite a long way from being a ruler of demonkind, but not to worry. I will ensure that Amy becomes the most powerful being on earth." Shei's jaunty tone takes a turn for concern "I fear for Pryce however. I rather he stay on the surface if he is still undecided on where he stands. Opposition from within, not only Ecclessia and Mudi, could mean more deaths than necessary."

The wind produced by Amy's mighty sprint out of shrine raises a gust blowing Shei's hair back as he remains behind with Buiwong.


Flow shows no sign of being shaken.
"Yeah, but I'll be more than ready for the ol' geezer when he shows up. No amount of 'is skill could come close to what I can do when under pressure."

He closes his eyes and takes a small breath.
"An' I mean real pressure, lad."


Flaming smirks, "Well of course it is. I came up with it, didn't I? What if we took a Corridor to the Temple right after we're through with Threecoin and see if Wineberry can help us?"

Flaming pauses as Cer'rog explains the situation. "Well, I can't say I agree with their goals… but, if we get more people going into Tartarus with us, that'll mess things up big time. I'm told all of Tartarus changes depending on the goals of those who enter it, sending an ARMY in after us will make it a confusing mess that'll be impossible to navigate! But… just how big are they? CAn Fantasia's defenses hope to hold them?"



Pryce walks along the path, looking to the ground the entire way. He was already worried about this Tartarus expedition before, but now it's turning into a terrible nightmare.
And then he's broken from his thoughts as he hears Amy shouting at him and running down the path after him. As she barks flames at him, his amulet glows as flames rise, a wall of feathers forming before him to block the attack in the shape of flaming wings.
>The Scroll of Seneh, the Wildfire Aegis [Auto]
"I'm not going to give that god any of my time that I don't have to."
Pryce states flatly.


"Not alone, they cannot," Cer'rog says. "Fear not! They gather hundreds of miles south of the kingdom of Fantasia. Ecclesia, for as fractured and strained as they are, boasts nearly one hundred small holdings across this region, and have managed, with our grace, to recruit Zha Arlakane and the remnants of the other nearby kingdoms unto their cause. We shall move them south and stop the Treibheanna far before Fantasia's walls are ever threatened."

In the very act of transforming into a wolf, you feel yourself exerting an incredible force that resounds all around in a wave of light, exuding from your body. It comes largely as a result of how EASY the transformation is. Whereas before, you had to concentrate and pull the power out, now it is as simple and natural as exhaling. The blast knocks away those standing closest to you, namely Volkama, Box and Rus Tea.

>The Glyph of Peace: Verse of the Mantis

>Gain an additional turn on Animal Totem Form. User takes half-damage while in Animal Totem Form,. All foes in close range are knocked back on activation and cannot attack the user next round. Regain 1 Wound per turn while in Animal Totem Form, after damage calculation for that turn.
>(Associated Lore is too long, will include in Pastebin)

The blast knocks back Pryce and nearly singes Zjetya too, given how close she is. After Pryce raises his shield, Volkama, Rus Tea and Vortigern spring into action, leaping between Amy and Pryce. Volkama casts a protective spell over Pryce, while Rus draws her gun, and Vortigern her spear.

[1d10+4] Bubble

Vortigern glowers at Amy, her gaze full of bloodlust and protectiveness. Rus, on the other hand, looks fearful and confused. "BUIWONG!!! What did you do to her?"

"I merely helped her to fuse with her demon," Buiwong answers. "That? That was aaaaaaaaaaaaaall her."
"And so history repeats itself…" Tantra mumbles, his voice full of fear and regret. "If River saw this…"

"You want real pressure then, eh?" Estuary's Memory scoffs. "Ha-haaaaah. I hope you won't rescind those words. Alright, let's be started then."

With your eyes shut, you hear him sitting across from you. "You've heard of weapon spirits, haven't you? Over time, with enough battles, a weapon develops a seed of a personality. It remembers how it is used, whether with skill, or with clumsiness. It remembers if it is cared for, or if it is abused. It remembers the hands and hooves that hold it, whether it is bestowed onto another, or taken through conquest.

"The way I learned it? I had to sit. Really had to sit and listen. Just listen and just be. Forget all that big-picture stuff, all the drama between the shoguns and the daimyo and the rumors of wars and peasant uprisings. Just sit. Listen. Be."

He breathes, making the breath last a full minute.

Roll #1 1 + 4 = 5



"You don't HAVE to listen to him!" Amy barks back angrily. "He's just one guy in the room! He's not even making the plans! He's just helping us!"

"I get that he's selfish and a jerk, but why does one guy - who just HELPED ME, by the way - make you just want to ditch all your friends? Is your hate really that much stronger than your love for your friends?"


Amy continues to grimace at Pryce as everyone gets in her way and points weapons at her. As she does, a portal opens from the ground and a Nail Beast (hopefully) climbs out.

>Animal Mastery [1d10+2]

Also, her eyes glow, and bits of magic begin to manifest around her.

>Homing Magic [1d10+2]

Roll #1 3 + 2 = 5 / Roll #2 7 + 2 = 9


>"If River saw this…"
"If River saw any of what happened today she would be repulsed with Pryce's behavior." Shei-Sher steps over more towards the steps so he can get a good view of whats happening below.

"Yes! Amy overreacted, she's a dog! More now than ever. This is hardly anything new. AMY will simply need to learn to keep the leash on herself because I'm not going to be around forever and the rest of you will have to decide on a damn side to pick! None of this wishy washy, 'I don't care about the bigger picture' because you will when the bloody demons and angels are knocking at your doorstep! History will repeat itself, that is maybe the best we can hope for as opposed to what? Dieing? With everything we know and love. If I can help it things will be different this time but buying the world another kalpa of survival is not a bad trade… And then, the heroes after us may try to set things right. This is the best we can do everyone.." Shei admits with much sorrow.
[1d10] for grabbing everyone's attention with his speech

Roll #1 9 = 9


Flow tilts his head slightly down and he does as Estuary says.
He focuses on nothing, filtering out all background thoughts in his head, and takes a deep breath, aiming to hold it in about as long as Estuary held his.
He clears his mind, and leaves his senses open.


"I think a step forward in the right direction is accepting that these things happen. And that yes, history may repeat itself. Fine- you can't have everything. What we do have is how we REACT to THESE situations AMY. How you control yourself so you don't react in a way that brittles" Shei's look turns to Pryce and Zjetya "-or dilutes- the thing you love."



"Thank you, Shei!" Amy nods in agreement. "I'm tired of Pryce just walking away from everything! He says he cares about us, but he doesn't show it!"


"He doesn't LISTEN?" Amy shouts back angrily. "I asked him nicely and he just IGNORED me. He IGNORED everyone. It's all he ever does. It's why he always walks away. Because he doesn't care about us!"


Flaming lets out a sigh of relief at hearing that Fantasia will not be at the forefront of an invasion. "That's one less problem then to worry about. We won't have any other threats to worry about outside of Tartarus coming in."

As Amy lets out a wave of holy flames that impedes Pryce and slightly singes Zjetya, Flaming's attention is immediately drawn to the ensuing tussle occurring right there in the chamber.

"WAIT WAIT! What are you doing?!" She shouts, not expecting to see her friends fighting like this.
She snorts, "The next person to make a move deals with ME, I don't care who it is. Now why don't we just talk this out?"


Pryce falls back from the blast, quickly drawing to his hooves after seeing the force behind the attack. His eyes turn to Zjetya, almost caught in the reckless blast, and glares at Amy with an intense hatred.
"The last time he 'helped', the world was torn apart! You heard what he said, they need mortals to live, but he waged a war that killed countless ponies! He's the reason demons are ravaging the world!"
As Rus, Vortigern, and Volkama jump between them, and Amy preparing her own spells, Pryce closes his eyes, taking a deep breath.
"I'm not going to ditch anypony, and I'm not going to fight you either. I refuse to make that mistake again."


"Amy stop. I don't want to gang up on Pryce. Please" Shei-Sher pinches the skin on his forehead "just sit down."



"Why DON'T we talk it out?" Amy responds caustically. "Ask Pryce! He's the one who doesn't talk!"


Amy calms down a little bit, though her spells are still at the ready. "Like I said, I agree with you. He's a piece of shit. That doesn't mean you have to walk away. I get that you think he's controlling the conversation. I get that that makes you feel like we all agree with him. But, if you just stay put for five seconds and listen to your friends, you'll realize that no one in the room likes him. No one in the room agrees with him. So, there's no reason to leave."

"So, does that mean you'll stay? Will you actually listen to us? Talk with us?" Amy pleads.


Flaming looks at Amy, "Blasting him with fire isn't the best way to make him be in a talking mood, you know. No more magic blasts."

Flaming looks to Pryce next, "Thank you Pryce… I know you aren't planning to go in with us, but what we do in Tartarus still matters up here. We value your opinion… and like you said, I feel less comfortable in this room with *him*," she looks at Buiwong, "Without you in it too…"


The portal opens up just underneath Volkama's bubble, immediately disrupting and popping it. Volkama retaliates by reaching down as the Nail Beast pokes its head out, shoving it back into the portal. "Get! Go on, scram, pest!"

As four bolts appear around you, Rus raises her gun, while Vortigern her spear, ready to attack. Chorazin steps in with her saber, joining the those two and Volkama in forming a shield between you and Pryce. "Cut it out, or I'll cut you down!" she barks. "Get ahold of yourself!"

As Shei speaks out, Buiwong listens. Cer'rog and Ba'drel look to one another, as if contemplating intervening, but Buiwong raises a hoof, and they relent.

Shei's words seem to bring down the tension somewhat, and your allies all seem to reconsider their words for a moment.
"…I was wrong to say I was indifferent," Zjetya says, raising her hoof. "There's no room for indecision, no option to check out of what's to come."
"Fine, I must confess I was wrong too," Volkama says. "I shall support Amy, if she should desire the throne, but I would caution her to form a good alliance with Ecclesia, unless it proves impossible."
Wireframe remains silent.

The world starts to melt away as you breathe. With sight gone, sounds become distant, muted, as if you were traveling somewhere by a gentle, rambling traincar. The senses of smell and touch are next to go, drifting back into the corners of your mind.

As the physical senses diminish, the internal chaos at first fills the void. Memories of battles wash through your mind – Vitral, Circadia, Lilane, the Witchbone Forest, Fantasia… and then, those of Accorsia. Vadahara. The battles within St. Providence…

Memories of death. Death upon death. Echoing screams, stones falling, glass shattering, metal twisting, explosions and gunshots and splatters of blood…

Keep going, Estuary speaks from within. This… these always visit me. Just keep going.


"I will listen to you all, I will talk," Pryce starts, "But not with him around. I've lost enough friends to him already, I don't trust anything with him around, even if you all disagree with him."


Shei-Sher looks back to Buiwong, a bit desperate in expression like he's asking him for privacy.

Shei-Sher begins walking down the steps looking at wireframe "Where will you run to? What do you have left?" Shei-Sher asks her, coaxing an answer out of her.


While he doesn't show it physically, Flow has to steel himself as he's reminded of all the battles he's taken place in. He can feel his core turning into mush the more he concentrates on keeping it together, but steels himself for more.
While he leaves his senses behind, Flow takes another small breath, tasteless yet somehow bitter, and prepares to leave his sense of fear behind as he proceeds within this mental vortex.



"He already wasn't talking," Amy retorts. "Now he is. So, suck it," she sticks her tongue out.


"A-another vote for me!?" Amy responds with surprise. "Why change your mind NOW?"


"That's fine," Amy nods. "He's said everything useful he has to say anyway. He's gonna use an army to stop another army. Cool. Anything else could just be more manipulation."

Amy turns to Buiwong. "Sorry for being mean to you, Booeywong. But, even you have to admit you kinda suck. If you don't want people to think that, then prove us wrong. Thanks for helping me out, it was a good start," she waves happily to him.

She then turns back to Pryce. "I mean, I gotta point out that he's spying on us no matter where we are. So, it's not like it changes THAT much though. Anyway…"

Amy shifts back to her "regular" form. "Can we hug it out…?" she asks, stretching out a hoof-paw.


Pryce is silent.

As Amy mentions Buiwog spies on them, he shoots another glare at the god, but doesn't dwell on it too long.

"…I don't think that's the best thing. Let's keep it to a hoof shake."
He says after a moment of hesitation.


Flaming blushes, "T-that's so not the point! There's an old saying, 'the mends don't justify the beans!'"

She turns to Zjetya, "Zjetya, just making sure, are you okay? I saw some of Amy's fire get you just now."

She turns to look around at the others, "Okay so, clearly most of us trust Amy enough to go through with it. But what I want to make sure is if AMY wants to go through with it." She turns to Amy, "How do you feel about it?"



"You already KNOW that's not an option," Amy says with a grin as she hugs Pryce anyway.

[1d10] for hug!

Roll #1 1 = 1


"That's… that's just it," Wireframe says, her voice for once soft and quiet, not harsh or coarse. "…I don't have a hive, and I never will, again, after what the Union did to mine. I'm after Freischutz of the Choir. That's all. That's all I've been able to think about, ever since I heard she was alive, and that our paths would cross again. She's one of the ones who led the attack. Maybe I can't kill her, take revenge for what she did to my Hive, but I can at least cripple her. I can at least scar her. I can at least hurt her. Stop her. That's… that's all I can hope for. You people… you're so far beyond my power. I can't hope to manage much more than that."

"If you don't want me to vote for you, I'll vote for Ecclesia!" Volkama says. "All I want is a bed to sleep in and a cottage for my wife and the ten or so children we'd like to have. I'd get that under you or Ecclesia."

At Flaming's question, the rest of the party look to her for her answer. Buiwong simply floats there, disinterested in your jabs and insults.

Memories whirl by you in a tumultuous storm, memories of pain, of suffering, of despair, of defeat, of pain, of pain, of pain, of pain…

But in time, just as it threatens to reach a fever pitch, an incomprehensible storm in your mind, they start to fade, calming as they drift away, as if carried on the waves of a quiet sea.

Beneath them lie memories of a much different kind. Memories of camaraderie. Of meals both warm and in taverns or cold and in the field on a mission. Of games of dice and cards played for laughs and to unwind. Of friends and acquaintances, rivals and partners. Of soft grasses on hillsides, overlooking golden valleys and deep groves, hidden among high canyon walls. Of springs and waterfalls, the hiding-places of nymphs, satyrs and dryads. Of caves rife with ores and minerals, wonders to be discovered and decoded. Of dumb jokes, tall tales, limericks and campfires.

Memories of your party. Memories of Renee.

Nearly there… but don't let these go. You'll need these. Hold on to them.


Pryce's shield rises up keep Amy from making contact, blocking off the hug. He then reaches out and takes Amy's hoof for a friendly hoofshake.
"Trust me, it's better this way."


Flow holds on to those old memories tightly as he continues downward.
While doing so, he takes note of these positive memories, and quickly reflects on them, to bolster their strength in his mind.
He takes another small breath, and continues onward with gusto.



"Fine…" Amy huffs as she shakes his hoof.

Her paw is fluffy and nice to touch.


"Hey, if you wanna cripple someone, I'm all for that!" Amy says to Wireframe. "I can help you out if you want!"


"I really AM sorry though, Booeywong. I know you can do better. I know this isn't what you wanted. But… you DID cause it. So, do better this time."

[1d10+2] Mantra of Equality with Compassion on Buiwong to inspire him to be a good god


Amy lets out a long sigh as the question becomes unavoidable. "Can I tell you guys about what I just went through first? Can I tell you about what *I* want?"

Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7


"I used to believe in a story about power. The same one that everyone tells themselves -the mirage they see in future, to right every wrong. There was a time I wished to stab inside Buiwong's heart for so long. Wireframe, acquisition of things like these are pointless. Revenge doesn't keep you warm, revenge doesn't help you build a life, how does someone rely on a dead body and new enemies. The reward for slaughter isn't a hive. Who is your hive now Wireframe?"


As everything else fades into the dark, calm waters of your mind, you find yourself buoyed up on those memories, those relics of better times.

And finally, with all cleared from your mind, you can feel – it's a puzzling thing. Your physical senses have dimmed, yet you are aware of your body in a kind of totality, a spiritual sensation. It is unlike the extrasensory perception you had while overloaded with Magatushi. This sense, in contrast, is clear, coherent, not hyperactive or extreme. It's almost like looking into a mirror, if there existed a "mirror" for all your senses.

And among you, by where your weapons are in the physical world, you can feel a myriad of different presences. Each is small, each is primitive, simple, clear bits of emotion. You realize that these are the spirits of your weapons. They sit beside you much in the same way a trained hound sits by the houndmaster, ready to hunt rabbits or other vermin at the merest notice.

Alright… now reach out and take hold.

Buiwong gives you a smile dripping with honeyed, sugary sincerity. You can feel yourself growing hyper just from looking at it. He morphs his hooves, causing them to curl as if they were tentacles. Many spiders drop from them. With his hooves, he makes the shape of a heart on his chest. "Yep. Prooooooooooooomise I will, my Messiah."



"…I don't fuckin' know. Don't feel… don't feel like I belong anywhere, these days," Wireframe says.



"Well then, I haven't done a good job being your friend," Amy says apologetically.

Then, she gives her a hug.


"You think any of us belong anywhere? Just look at Volkama. Look at what I've become!" shei pinches his wings "What Amy is. Flaming is the last of her tribe probably, Pryce is too distrusting to find a place anywhere, the rest of our lot could have been picked up from a circus. Wireframe. You're home. you always have been."

Shei-Sher comes close enough to grab Wireframe by the wrist. To reaffirm their solidarity. "I've always been weak. I only ever studied the occult as a spiritual art not a weapon. Any power I do display are acts of the soul, intellect or a power I have found inside every friend I have made. And they are your friends too Wireframe."


Last time on HolyQuest…

After rising from the water, Amy was born anew, her two selves fully fused into one true Soul. Despite Ego's soul having control now, she still went by the name of Amy Thest. Buiwong, Cer'rog and Ba'drel, three of the four gods responsible for not only the fall of Vadahara, but the Rapture and the One Night War, had been the ones to facilitate this Soul Fusion. Now, they hailed her as Messiah, which was an older form of the word 'Savior,' from the First Tongue.

Though Messiah and Savior are synonyms, the gods mentioned that the term 'Messiah' implied having a godly patron. In fact, the three gods were very plain about the fact that they saw themselves as Amy's new patrons. They claimed that they wished to sponsor the party in their efforts in Tartarus. Much like Regina, they wished to hijack Mudi's plan for their own aims, putting Amy upon the throne, establishing her as a new lord over demons and mortals. As gods, their very existence hinged on mortalkind's existence. They depended on the worship of mortals for their very form and sustenance. If more and more mortals were to perish, or be subjugated under the Treibheanna, they and other gods would fade away, or even be transformed into a different incarnation. To prevent that ending, they would assist the party within Tartarus, and lend their armies to Ecclesia and Fantasia, bolstering their defenses to prevent the Treibheanna from conquering the lands they now occupied.

All of this talk thoroughly disgusted Pryce, who still bore much blame against himself for the events of the Rapture and One Night War, and especially for the deaths of Evil's Punishment and Gabriele. He planned to leave the gods with Zjetya, but this sparked an argument with Amy and the others, who wanted him to stay and talk things out. It nearly broke down into an all-out brawl, but Amy and Pryce were able to negotiate a terse peace for now. How long that might last with Buiwong there to mock Pryce, none could tell.

Meanwhile, Estuary's Memory began to train Flow in the use of a special technique. That technique, called Anantarika, would allow Flow to manipulate his body to sprout additional arms, allowing use of every single one of his weapons all at once. This, the Memory hoped, would even the odds a bit against the true Sir Estuary, who possessed numerous such techniques as a result of his training in the Realms of Torture, one of the many spiritual planes. Not only that, Sir Estuary had the edge over Pryce and Flow in the sheer number of years of battle experience, as well as the thirst of righteous vengeance. The two would need every second of preparation that they could muster before that final battle was upon them.


As everything else fades into the dark, calm waters of your mind, you find yourself buoyed up on those memories, those relics of better times.

And finally, with all cleared from your mind, you can feel – it's a puzzling thing. Your physical senses have dimmed, yet you are aware of your body in a kind of totality, a spiritual sensation. It is unlike the extrasensory perception you had while overloaded with Magatushi. This sense, in contrast, is clear, coherent, not hyperactive or extreme. It's almost like looking into a mirror, if there existed a "mirror" for all your senses.

And among you, by where your weapons are in the physical world, you can feel a myriad of different presences. Each is small, each is primitive, simple, clear bits of emotion. You realize that these are the spirits of your weapons. They sit beside you much in the same way a trained hound sits by the houndmaster, ready to hunt rabbits or other vermin at the merest notice.

Alright… now reach out and take hold.

>Amy, Shei

Wireframe appears quickly overwhelmed by the hug and by Shei's words. She bites her lips and snarls but accepts the hug, and in fact hugs Amy tighter than Amy hugs her. Amy feels a few vertebrae in her back pop, getting out a crick that she'd had ever since getting dunked into the fountain.
"Don' hid me wid dat sabby crab," she says through a snivel. "And don' get full of yerselves either! Don' treat me like I'm not fuckin' tough like you, alright?"
Her tough and prickly words are undermined by her snuggling into Amy's fur coat.

>Flaming, Amy, Shei, Pryce

The three gods remain by the fountain, looking quite pleased with themselves now that the attention is back on your party. Volkama and Chorazin eye them warily, while Vortigern, LJ and Tantra have begun speaking among themselves about something in a hushed tone.


Zjetya inspects your cloak and robes. "You're not hurt after that blast, right?"


>Kusarigama: Fire Element; Single + Great Tags; +3 Modifier
>Snakeskin Cloak: 4 Hits

"I'm fine, this new cloak helped shed some of the force off."
Pryce says, dismissing his fire shield. He looks to Zjetya with more attention over his own state.
"Are you alright? You were right next to me when she sent off that attack."


>Don' treat me like I'm not fuckin' tough like you, alright?"
Shei is quick to respond "You're a pathetic outcast like the rest of us Wireframe." Then his tone becomes warm "But that is why we are here now. Together. Everyone here has lost their home. But you know the old adage -home is where?" Shei looks at her insisting she finish the thought for him. "Even if there were a chance in hell you could best Freischutz, I would still be here begging you. Because you would be discarding all of this after you had first lost it."




"You don't have to be tough for me to like you," Amy says jovially as she enjoys the hug. "Though, it DOES make you a good hugger," she observes.




Flow can't help but gasp as his mind clears, but he doesn't realize it, nor does he have time to process it as he realizes where he is.

He looks around himself as his weapons' spirits present themselves, and he smiles.
アア.. 思ったとおりだ。..

Flow nods, and reaches out.


As Amy asks aloud if she's allowed to say her piece, Flaming turns towards the wolf pony, nodding her head affirmatively.

"Of course. I think you more than anyone else has final say on our plan if the others are going to put this much pressure on you, so I would really like to hear your side of things Amy."


"Your shield took the lot of it," Zjetya says. "I wasn't hurt."

She then looks over your new cloak. "Heh. When I saw you take the cloak, I made a remark to Regina about it being a good fit for you. She seemed like she got pretty annoyed, for some reason. Weird. By that point, she was already starting to enjoy herself."

"Home's where ya eat, sleep and fuck," Wireframe sneers, wiping off the tears from her cheeks. "So, what, you don't want me throwing away my life to fight a goddamn member of the Choir? Well, what else am I supposed to do? She's one of the only remaining Union dogs who massacred my tribe, back way before I joined Buiwong's cult."

She gestures to her glasgow smile, sewn all the way across her cheeks. "She blew my cheeks out with a pistol shot. But, that metal jaw she wears – I'm the one who cut off the lower half of her face. I can hurt her. I know I can beat her."

Wireframe eventually peels herself off of you, leaving a somewhat gross smear of tears on your shoulder. Thankfully there is no snot among it. "That's Changeling blood right there. Makes us much better at huggin', kissin' and lovin' than all of you lesser races of the world. You ever need bed advice, you should be thankful the Hive-Queen put me in your life."

The others turn toward you, falling silent as they await whatever it is Amy plans to say.

Within the calm void of your meditative trance, you perceive your body reaching out to the weapon-spirits taking their rightful place among you. As you do, your forelimbs seem to split – though not quite. Two more arms blossom from your right shoulder, and two more from your left shoulder, like the unfolding of a flower's petals.

It is not in the normal way that these additional arms spawn off from your body, like how they do when you recover from a bad wound. No, it is more simple. It is like you are reaching out to all six of your weapons all at once – all of the possible choices, to choose 'this' weapon or 'that' weapon, all of those possibilities overlap in this one moment. Every possible path you could have taken, you walk at once.


But as you lay hooves upon each weapon's handle, you feel a dreadful stirring from within. The meditative trance seems to deepen, grow heavier and more oppressive about you. It is a feeling like realizing one has plunged into a nightmare, a lucid dream from which you cannot escape. The void starts to fill with shape and sensations among you.

You sit on a hard stone ground, the air dry and stale, thick with the rancid stickiness of a battlefield. A dim, sourceless light seems to spread all around you, revealing dead trees, broken weaponry, armored corpses, and the remnants of a crushed village laying all about. The towering remains of chariots, war engines, watchtowers, storehouses and more are piled up nearby, towering above. You feel very small in comparison to the chaotic waste surrounding you.

You can tell you are not alone in the midst of this ancient battlefield. Directly ahead, a dim presence radiates, like the heat of a hungry fire.

>roll spiritual perception


The goo's tactile and fresh spirit revels as he grasps those six spirits, new, yet so familiar. Strong memories of training and care are reflected back to him as he grasps each of his newfound spirits' handles, breathing new life into them.

However, as his core's essence is briefly changed, he remains unfettered as the noticeable heat makes itself apparent.

Roll #1 9 = 9


Pryce says in relief.

"Did she not want me to have it?"
Pryce asks, looking at his cloak.
"I'm glad our fighting made for good entertainment."
Pryce complains mildly.



Amy looks between Wireframe and Shei awkwardly. "I… might take you up on that offer later…"


"Oh, right," Amy says, letting Wireframe go. "I forgot I was about to say something."

She takes a moment to collect her emotions and her thoughts. "I guess I should start by saying that I never saw Mudi's plan as the final solution. I know I've said that before. But, it's important to say again. Even if her plan succeeds, no matter who ends up ruling, I don't think it's going to be the change that saves the world. I've only ever wanted it to make everything a little more peaceful. The first thing we need to do is MAKE people stop killing each other. Then, we can take the time to figure out the real solution."

"I… think I know the real solution now. I'm not going to bother trying to describe to everyone what I just went through melding my souls. It was a beautiful experience. And, it made me realize something… This is what Princess Vinland wanted! She went into Tartarus and melded with a demon because she wanted this to be how everyone to be. Demons and mortals living together in perfect peace. The problem is that we don't understand each other. But, now I understand myself perfectly."

"I know… it's a ridiculous plan. But, I don't think she wanted to force it on everyone. She just wanted people to be able to rely on each other. No one is perfect. That's why we have friends. They're able to do things we can't. Like figure out how to fix demons. I don't understand how to do it. But, someone MUST have an idea, right? Maybe it's not the full idea. But, even just a part of it is enough. Then, someone else's part of the idea will be able to work with it. With everyone working together, we MUST be able to find a way to fix demons!"

"And, maybe there WILL be people who are willing to go through what I just did. I can't say it's an easy thing to do. Amy was scared before she went through it. And, I can't blame her. But, she's still here. I'm Amy now. And, what I went through was beautiful. At the very least, the best mortals would definitely be fine and SHOULD want to do it. Then, maybe they can have more good ideas to fix all of this."


> you should be thankful the Hive-Queen put me in your life."
Shei lingers a glance from wireframe to Amy. He doesn't like what she said but he'll overlook it considering her state.

"Dammit Wireframe!" Shei-Sher's bag and staff fall over. He thrusts his hooves onto Wireframe's shoulders pushing her over and he doesn't let go. Papers, books, an array of glasses spill over onto the ground.
"Would you do that! Will you sink our relations with Ecclessia to the brittle shores! When you arrive back at our hearth, steeped in Freischutz's blood and we look the other way because you're one of us!"

"Where is your hive Wireframe!"


Flaming pauses, listening to Amy's idea before a frown crosses her face.

"So… just so I make sure I'm understanding right, you think the long-term goal… the idea we should try for in the long-run to make peace between demon and mortal, is to try and get ponies to try becoming what you are? Some sort of fusion?"


"You want to… what?"
Pryce asks after Amy explains her plan, shaken that somepony is even suggesting an idea like that.
"Why would you ever think that's a good idea? Have you not seen the problems some have gone through? Even if the process could go without issue, not every demon is like yours!"



"That's… one idea…" Amy says slowly. "My favorite is still to find another way to fix demons. I mean, we turned Miracle back into Chorazin. Why can't we do that with a demon?"


"Sure, but not every mortal is like Amy either. It would only work for the best demons and the best mortals. But… really… we're kind of just down to those mortals anyway."


In this meditative trance, your internal senses are greatly amplified. You can feel a total clarity within, like the undisturbed surface of a lake. Directly ahead of you, you can perceive a trio of distinct energies, clashing, intermingling, struggling for dominance. Yet at the same time, there is something harmonious about their blending, a kind of beauty and nobility in their chaos.

The first, you recognize as the overpowering, unquenchable power of Magatushi, the energy of a demon's soul.
The second, you know not the name of, but it has a serenity, a calmness and a quietude that makes it sturdy and unshakable. It is the cessation of desire, a mastery over one's primal, bestial nature.
As for the third, you don't know its name either. However, it is positioned thoroughly between the first two. It feels quite familiar to you, and as you feel more of it, you recognize it as the sense you sometimes feel in battle, after executing a skillful move, a killing blow, a last-second reversal. It is that kind of inarticulate ecstacy – not a bloodlust, nor a joy of battle, but the culmination of skill, the apex of a mortal's beauty and excellence.


The sourceless light spreads out ahead of you, sprawling like a mist over the shattered ruins. It starts to illuminate three shapes ahead of you. On the left, radiating Magatushi, is a stone statue of an Asura, a bipedal figure with a demon's scowling head and a constellation of arms, bearing weapons of war. Those hands which are empty are positioned in various mudras, the gestures of prayers and blessings.
The motionless Asura stature is locked in battle with a statue of a Bodhisattva, who radiates the second energy. The Bodhisattva is almost like a mirror of the Asura, similarly armed and with thousands of arms at its back. Its body is covered with a stone representation of armor much like that of the angels, blocky and metallic, covered with monk's robes and many rings of prayer beads and godly icons. The two stone beings appear evenly matched in their frozen battle. They stand atop the ruin of a shattered dojo.

The third energy radiates from a relatively small figure, about your size, sitting in the shadows on top of the clasped hands of the Asura and Bodhisattva.

"Bwahahaha!" Wireframe laughs. "Good answer!"

Wireframe falls silent, pushing you back. "Are you so sure I'm gonna be the aggressor in that fight?"

"Mmm… my mare's intuition tells me she was more annoyed that I was admiring how it looked on you."
"Jealousy, then?" Volkama asks.
"Not of me specifically," Zjetya says.
"…You know, she did seem like she wasn't telling the truth when she turned down Shei's offer of a special somepony," Rus adds.

"Soul Fusion across the entire world…" Chorazin mumbles.
"How can you be so sure that would work?" Rus asks. "I can't imagine that being an easy sell for anyone, least of all zealots like Ecclesia. Giving up your old self, in order to taint your soul with a demon's? You'd have to force that on most people."
"And what if they end in imperfect Fusions, like yours and mine started?" Volkama asks.



"If we use the tattoo method, is that even possible?" Amy asks Volkama.

Then, she looks to Rus and Chorazin. "I'm not saying it's the solution for everyone. But, it could help us find a better solution. I mean, it helped me realize things. Eventually, I'm sure SOMEONE could come up with a way to turn demons back to normal! Or… some kind of normal…"


"Proposing the best of either kind? Do you understand what kind of risk that is? We're already outnumbered, and you want to let the best of us throw down their life for a chance at this fusion working out well?"

"She did sound lonely when we talked with her. She might've been tired of her isolation despite her efforts all this time."


"That's what I'd like to do too, is find a way to return demons to the way they were BEFORE they were demons, but…" Flaming sighs, "I-I don't know how. I don't think the Ember has that kind of power anymore and, doing it just with Miracle was… well a miracle."

"Your idea, fusing mortals and demons, do you know it can be done? I mean you 'found' you as a foal but, do you think you could just, say, find a demon to put in me just like that? How easy is it?"

"I don't think Amy wants to force it on ponies. They just want to make it an option for others to take so demons and mortals can learn to live in harmony, it'd be a choice. But, I just don't know how easy it is to make something like that happen. Amy was a really special case right, can it be replicated?"



"I mean… I think you're really overestimating me if you think I can do it but others can't."


"What if… it just sort of became a tradition? Like we just shove demons in babies? I know that sounds awful NOW, but that's only because there was no one around to help me figure out myself or the world. I don't think it would be that bad of a thing if we made it a normal thing."


Flaming cringes, "Yeah, that does sound pretty awful that way. I would still say you'd need to make it a choice, at least on the parents' part. Maybe even the DEMON'S part too, this might go a lot more smoothly if the demons being fused with are on board too, right? Like imagine how smooth things might have gone for you if both you… the demon you… knew what they were getting into."


"You've had your demon since you were a foal! Your life was tied to that demon, you basically a fusion the entire time! That's entirely different from asking a grown pony to combine with a demon, especially when the demons ruined our world!"


Shei-Sher steps off Wireframe. "Sometimes, You say frightening things Wireframe. In the three years we've traveled together I could never verily tell what you are thinking. If Freischutz came for you, then things would be different." Shei adjusts his head, and now looks into Wireframe's eyes with stoic seriousness "You do realize? We would fight at your side -right?"

The discussion with Wireframe comes to a close and Shei-Sher steps in to mitigate any fears the party may have with Amy.
"Amy, there likely will not be a single solution to the world's every ail. The same should be said about solving every problem there is. If you provide an avenue for people to follow their truest desires they will follow it. If you do that in a way which provides the least conflict then you have peace. Of course, if you do take the throne I can count on the lords of Vitral to be your advisors in the matter. You will have many advisors, Demons, angels, and mortals alike among your court. If you truly want peace, representing everyone's interests will be at the heart of your kingdom. On that note, When I see Crow-ley in his realm I want you to come with me. If you ask him for his wisdom in the matter of wills he may lend it to you."


Flow nods in understanding as he sees the three energies for what they are, and once again, catches a breath in his throat.

He bows in respect of the third figure, and looks up towards it.
Wordless, he waits for a signal to approach, yet makes his presence clear.


Box turns your way with a look of inspiration.

"So, we're just going to start turning ourselves into tatted-up tarts and harlots?" Volkama snarks.
"You know that's not… quite what she's suggesting," Tantra interjects.
"How are we supposed to convince others of that working?" Rus asks. "Don't get me wrong, but your solution seems to be more of a way of buying time until someone else figures it out… have you considered the possibility that it might not ever be solved? That demons, despite exceptions like you, Busta, and Volkama, will never be able to live at peace with our kind?"

"I'm just tryin' to keep others from gettin' killed for my sake, alright?" Wireframe growls.
Rus shakes her head. "You just don't get it."
"Get what?"

"I can answer that," Buiwong says. "As you may know, Amy and Volkama are special cases – Imperfect Fusions, made whole through the use of the Glyph. In ancient times, those Glyphs, the Glyph of Peace, the Glyph of Unity, the Glyph of Brotherhood, and so on – were devised initially as a desperate measure to counteract the effects of a forced Fusion. It was only after SOME of the cases were solved with the Glyph that people began to consider using the Glyph as an aid to Fusion, rather than as a triage solution."
Cer'rog steps forward. "Once that happened, it came to be that a select few mortals underwent that type of Fusion. Mind you, this was an incredibly unpopular method. This was back during the days of the Sons of God – millenia ago, back before even we were in our current incarnations. Relations between demons and mortals were so poor that this would have never been accepted in mainstream religions. Only fringe sects, cults and denominations practiced this, and only in secret."
Ba'drel joins them. "Furthermore, it was discovered that only exceptional mortals, those with strong souls, wills and minds, could possibly survive the application of the Glyph and function afterward. In the same way that ancient pagans chose only a select few to serve as their shamans, wiseponies and priests, so too only a few took on this role."

At the top of the statue, a robed monk pony awaits. His face is plain, unremarkable, without any noteworthy features. He could, in fact, be anyone. From the sense of the third energy softly covering him like a robe, you get the feeling he's disguising himself intentionally. At his side are a mendicant's ringed staff, prayer beads, and a straw hat.

He leaps from the statues, landing adroitly at their base without so much as a sound or impact. He looks up at you, sizing you up as he does. With a turn, he gestures for you to follow him into what remains of the shattered dojo beneath the feet of the monstrous statues.



Amy looks a little disappointed with Shei. "I'll be honest, I was kinda hoping you'd have something more useful to say here. I mean, you've already done so much! You really don't have even a piece of the puzzle on how to fix demons? It kinda sounds like you're not even trying with all that silly 'no single solution' talk."


"Well, that's why I called it a tradition," Amy says to Flaming. "That way, that means they're already on board with it. If everyone's born with a demon, then they'll never know another life. And, they'll have a companion with them for their entire life. So will the demon."


"I actually agree with you, Rusty," Amy says bluntly. "Demons are broken. They can't live peacefully with… anything. Which is why we need to fix them. Yeah, I guess it IS just buying more time. And, more help. But, that's not a bad thing. At some point, we MUST find a way to fix it better."


Flaming nods, "Right, when you put it like THAT, it almost sounds like it could work. They'd just, live their lives like normal only with another soul shared within. A demon who learns to live as a mortal and appreciates mortal life."

Flaming looks up to the gods, "Only exceptional mortals with strong souls could survive it?" Flaming asks. "Does that mean, using the Glyphs we'd only be able to convert a few souls?"

Flaming pauses, pacing, "Well… even if we can't actually make every mortal and demon share a body, a few might be enough to bridge the gap between the two. If a powerful demon and a powerful mortal fused, wouldn't the demons and mortals both listen and find a way to co-exist?" She frowns, "The only problem I can think of is, Amy just mentioned how… how most of 'her' felt swallowed up when she obtained the rest of her memories. What if the demon-part over powers the mortal and makes things just as bad for ponies?"



"If they're good like Amy, then there's no problem. I hate to admit it, but it's not like demons have many good qualities they feel particularly attached to. I am Amy because I'm proud to be Amy. As long as the mortal is someone they're proud to be, then they'll be that persona."


Flow follows instructions, and goes inside of the desolate dojo's ruins.
He looks up a the massive statues, but halts his questions for when the time feels right.


Shei sighs, tired at this point "Rus-Tea, would you please?" Shei beckons Rus to explain her point of view on the matter.

"If you want a cure-all solution to all your problem then leave your crown and worship a god. When you are messiah, everyone will look to you Amy. And if you solution for every unique individual, every unique wish for the world is to join bodies and become one. You will lose your kingdom. Do not follow in the footsteps of your predecessors. Their path led to their deaths, worse their names and wills are lost to history so is the Sons of God."

Shei-Sher turns to address everyone, including Amy, as he paces about "There is not a blueprint to success to be found, but if you want something then here is my Solution. It is Amy, she is the only one whose banners can fly over any denomination, demons, mortals, fallen angels. Champion of the forsaken, Earthly Queen of Demons, The half-demon Witch who brings with her the new world! The struggles for power will minimize to only Ecclessia and Angels if Amy can bring everyone into her kingdom. From then on, the solution to our problems will be a good, prosperous kingdom which provides a path for everyone to follow their truest wills. In this way you can rely on people to reach salvation on their own and is the only way to diminish the Angel's stake in our world."

"That! Is my solution. A very long, arduous journey that may take centuries, guided by the many seasoned advisors who've seen kingdom's rise and fall."
[1d10] social roll for captivation

Roll #1 9 = 9


Pryce looks to Box as the mimic looks up to him, tilting his head in question to why.

"So it's still a very risky method even in the best case scenario."
Pryce comments.

"That's not a tradition, that's genocide! Combining every mortal with a demon, there won't be any mortals anymore! And at birth too, you're taking away any of their say in the matter! I know that happened to you, but you shouldn't make everypony go through your experience!"



Amy cocks her head. "I'm confused. You think I'm the solution, but you think my solutions are bad? How does that work?"


"It wouldn't be my experience. It'd be like a hundred times better because they'd actually have parents helping them through it! And, that means they'd end up being like a hundred times better than me! That's pretty good in my book!"

Too bad Amy doesn't know how to read.


Flaming turns her head, "Is that how it works? Huh… so, in this case, demons being so bad actually work in our favor. Even if the demons' lives are so much longer, the human lives they attach to they end up liking a lot more to the point where they become that person."

She winces, "Uh, right? It's a little confusing to me but it sounds like there shouldn't be any problem so long as the mortal is a good pony."


>On demon cure
"I've spent countless hours these last nights working on a formula for such a thing. Cure for such a thing would be ideal, though realistically only possible for those fused to a demon within a small frame of their life. And even yet, such a formula eludes me. I have not given up on my research but confound it, I lack the insight and resources to make such a thing work."

"You have a good heart. Which is half of the solution Amy. I settled at that. The rest of will be found on our journey to the soul. And It must be you at the helm. Otherwise, not enough will follow."


"Your problems are our problems," Rus Tea says to Wireframe. "Your sake is our sake. Your fights are our fights. Your home is our home. Your enemies are our enemies. Your friends… are us. NOW do you understand or are you going to keep pushing us off?"
Wireframe gulps, her ears flattening. But, she sighs and relents. "…No, no. You're right. You're right. Sorry, I was being a blockhead earlier."
Rus hooks Wireframe under her arm like a football, giving her a full-body hug. Wireframe squeaks as she's squeezed. "All is forgiven," Rus says.

"I like Regina," Box whispers.

"That's what happened with Amy, isn't it? Her demon is in control now, but Amy's always at the center," LJ says. "And she's turned out alright, hasn't she?"

Chorazin nods. "I'm convinced, then."
"So easily?" LJ asks.
"I'd think you'd be the most opposed to it, along with Volkama," Wireframe adds.
"It may come as a surprise, considering who I was as Miracle," Chorazin says. "But, I don't see any point to getting caught up in resentment or other excessive emotions. Let me add on to what Amy and Shei have said. I learned as a general of Vitral's armies that most of the common people are looking for the comfort of a leader. Most of them cannot make those tough decisions that are necessary for surviving in a cold, loveless world such as this one. Even those who value their independence will, at least indirectly, fall back on the leadership of those who have come before them, be they fathers, legendary heroes, ancient kings, or Messiahs.
"Charlatan priests, corrupt royalty and snake-oil salesponies take advantage of this, it's true. But a true leader, one of noble character, honesty and stalwart resolution can take that trust that the common people will give him and make from it something of greatness and light – a prosperous kingdom, a holy church, an empire spanning nations, whatever it may be. It doesn't matter that only a few can undergo the ritual like Amy. Should we elect a few mortals and demons of noble character and strong souls, like Amy and Ego, and make them into leaders and intercessors between our race and those of demons, we shall have enough to lead the great masses."

The others fall silent, contemplating all that has been proposed. Chorazin turns to Amy and Shei. "So, would you agree?"

The silent monk leads you into the desolate ruins. Great pillars of wood and stone lay about, shattered into countless pieces by the battling of the stone immortals towering above you. Metal bells, chimes, statuettes and tapestries have been destroyed, their remnants a testament to the dojo's former beauty.

The monk takes you to the back of the dojo, where the destruction has revealed a hidden compartment. The fossilized remains of an old monk, dressed in flower-covered robes, sits in a meditate posture in the middle of the compartment. In his hooves, outstretched, are three treasures.

The first is a scroll, tied with a thread of gold.
The second is a set of prayer beads, large enough to be worn.
The third is a small elixer, contained in a glass vial no bigger than your eye. The liquid within is the same color as your goo.

The monk cocks a lackadaisical smirk, tossing his head toward the treasures with an informality that reminds you of the various hunters you've worked with.


"The child won't even have a chance to live on their own! You had a degree of separation, a fusion would skip past all of that!"

"…You do?"
Pryce asks.


Rus Tea guides Wireframe to reconcilliation and Shei smiles fondly at the moment.

Shei-Sher nods "Yes. That will be a good place to start Chorazin. In the spirit of interceding the divide among races, I should say you and Mirror too, will hold a seat in Amy's council. When the day comes. If that alleviates the bulwark of everyone's concerns for the future I think we should see Regina now. Buiwong says she has been waiting on us for some time now."


Flaming nods towards Journey, "Right, I think I get how it works. Or… at least I get enough to understand that if it works for Amy, it may be enough to work for everyone."

She turns to look up at Chorazin, nodding her head, "Right, I think I'm in agreement. Even if this can't be applied to all demons and mortals, having leaders like Amy that combine the two? Someone that both mortals and demons can look up to and respect and obey? Then we finally might get somewhere with creating a peace between the two sides. We could get demons to stop invading and destroying every city they come across and mortals could finally start to rebuild."

"The child wouldn't grow up on their own, but the child WOULD get to lead its own life, if I'm understanding how this fusion works correctly. It's less like the demon taking hard control of who the mortal is and, more like the demon agreeing to let the mortal take the wheel and enjoy 'being' the mortal. I think."



"Well, it sounds like a baby wouldn't live through the tattoo anyway. So, they'd get fused while they were babies, and then live that way until they're older. I'm convinced that I was strong enough to survive specifically because I've lived my life fused."


Amy considers Chorazin's words. Though, she flinches when Chorazin uses the name 'Ego'. "Please don't use that name. Amy came up with it. It was a nice placeholder, but nothing more. I'm Amy."

Then, she nods with a smile. "Your idea is a good start. That system can work until we can fix all demons."


Amy cocks her head again. "What about demons that aren't fused at all? Do you have any ideas on how to fix them?"


"If you ever learn the initial constructs for writing an apparatus to stimulate reincarnation please let me know and the million other grand wizards a yardstick short of enlightenment. To even devise such a work, it would only be a very long winded method for killing a demon. So sadly no."


"Either way you word it, you're forcing this on the foal. I don't know how Amy's situation came about, but I have no interest in supporting a route that takes a pony's life out of their hooves right as it starts."


Flow smiles at the monk, and chuckles in his mind.

He puts a goo up first to the monk's robes, then closes his eyes as if to remind himself of the feeling.



"Isn't that how parenting works?" Amy asks unironically.


"But, why did it work for Miracle!?" Amy asks in frustration.


"Entirely different. I removed a bit of hypnosis. You are asking me to turn wolves into sheep."


"A parent raises and guides their child. They don't make life changing decisions for them."



"Kinda sounds the same to me…"

"Besides, it's not like mortals have much control over their fate anyway. They're born under circumstances out of their control and those circumstances completely change the life they live."

"Only a few traits of who you are are a natural part of you. Like Amy's loving nature. Even as a mindless infant, she still spared me when I fused with her. So, I guess some parts of you are you no matter what. But, that still just means that everything about a mortal's life is decided at birth and out of their control. And, the parts of them that are naturally a part of them wouldn't even be lost anyway."


"Yeah. Do it," Amy simply insist.


Box nods. "I don't really wanna interrupt all this dramatic talking you guys have going on, but I *am* pretty anxious about it. I've never asked out a mare before. Shei and Amy weren't much help. But you, you've got two special someponies! Surely you can help me?"
Zjetya winces, hiding her face.

"My apologies," Chorazin says with a slight bow. "Having not been your ally until recently, the others have been catching me up at a breakneck pace on all the details I've missed. It reminds me of my days at the military academy, cramming in all my studying the night before the exams, since I was drinking and training every other day of the week."

"Assuming the angels still allied with Metatron don't dismiss us simply as traitors, I shall be happy to assist Amy in that capacity," Chorazin says. "And, once Mirror Image and I have come to an agreement, I've no doubt she will be of a similar mind."

"Well, mind you, don't give me all the credit," Chorazin says to Amy. "In fact, don't give me any credit! I'm just going by what you started. If and when things go wrong, you're taking the responsibility and blame, not me!"
"Is… that your idea of a joke?" Tantra asks.
"…Was it not funny?" Chorazin asks sincerely.

On Shei's suggestion, you start to move to the lakeside, where you last saw Regina. Buiwong, Ba'drel and Cer'rog remain behind at the fountain, talking among themselves.

You see that Regina and the Witches, including the Replicants, have now gathered in song and celebration. Food and drink, fit for a feast, have been brought out. Tables too, and various tree-stumps have been approrpriated to serve as chairs and tables for the countless Witches who now occupy the topmost level of the Library of the Sacrosanct. Many Witches perform cantrips, play harps and recite poetry, and a great many are now dancing and prancing about. Whatever Regina said during her confession to the Replicants, it seems like things have gone over alright.

At first, it feels like a soft cloth, made from fine silks and woven with great skill. But the monk makes a gesture, and gradually, the feeling starts to transform. The sleeve of his robe starts to feel like the slick rubber of your raincoat. And then, paradoxically, that changes too. It then starts to feel like the coarse, tough cloth of Sister Renee's habit… and then the armored leather of Hope's trenchcoat. For a time, the feel of the monk's robe cycles through those in your life who are closest to you. Allies, friends, rivals… just like in the river of memories that you felt whilst diving into this trance.

The monk holds your gaze, and nods.



"Drinking and training all the time?" Amy laughs. "Chorry, why have we not hung out more?"


Amy smiles when she sees the celebrations. She bounces up and down excitedly. She pulls out Lumpet and looks for the Musies.


Shei wears a stoic smile as he endures second hand embarassment "It's okay, I do that a lot too Chorazin."

Shei's head pans over the scene of celebrations as he approaches Regina he speaks "Stupendous, are public speaking skills inherent in being a master of illusions?"


"So just because how they're born is out of their control, you're saying it's okay to force a demon into them? That's outrageous! You're giving the same kind of logic that because a pony is sick it doesn't matter if they catch the plague too!"

Pryce is taken aback as Box says he has two special someponies, hearing it directly doesn't make it sound any less foreign to him.
"I, uh… Well… I don't think I'm the best to ask for this…"
Pryce stutters, seeing how Zjetya winces at the statement, and also aware of his own follies.
"…The best I can say is just tell her how you truthfully feel. And, not to do it when anything drastic is going on."

Pryce leaves with the group as the depart from the fountain, glad beyond relief they distance themselves from the gods.
As they come up to Regina and the witches, Pryce is surprised to see how many there are, and that they all gathered so quickly.


Flow can't help but smile as the robe's feeling changes to reflect his past, and sighs in relief.
He looks at each of the relics in stride, starting with the scroll, which he reaches out for, but doesn't touch quite yet.


Flaming decides to hold off on further discussion of the alternative plan, feeling that there are still many details to work out regardless, and tries to instead switch to a more jovial mood as the witches of Threecoin gather in celebration with Regina. Smiling widely with relief at the prospect of their talks having gone so well with their chats.

She decides to approach Regina first, looking for the massive sphynx among the crowd (assuming it shouldn't be too hard). "Wow, what a party… I'm guessing things went better than expected in there?"



"I think a better way to put it would be that I'm saying that if they already have the plague, they can't catch it again…" Amy muses.


Box trots in place with a nervous energy. "…Can you back me up when I do it?"
"…I think we can," Zjetya says.

"Oh, so I am in good company after all!" Chorazin laughs. "Let's not leave before we find the Wine Witch and shake her down for all she's got."

Regina turns and looks down at you from where she sits, across from the performing Musies. A few Witches are gathered near her, leaning against her very large side as it makes for a very nice cushion, it seems.

She smirks at Shei's comment. "As it turns out, I was a bigger fool than I had ever imagined. To have terrorized these Witches, my Coven, who gave their love and trust to me from the day i was initiated until now… to have threatened such a thing to the Replicants… to have used the Replicas as mere tools… to have deceived those closest to me, and myself along with them… As I spoke to the Replicants about the truth of their being, I began to fall apart. My mask slipped, and I let it fall. I confessed each and every wrongdoing I have visited upon my Coven, from then until now. I threw myself at their mercy, and offered them the chance to decline and simply leave."

She stops and smiles. "None took it. Though, many chastised me for having sequestered myself from the others for so long – as they should have."

Of your allies, it is Chorazin who smiles the most.
Vortigern begins to silently, stoically cry.

Regina then has a sip from a comically small mug clenched in her claws. "From the looks on your faces, you've had a talk of your own. What is next for you, Saviors of Mariposa?"

From the scroll, you can feel an incredible source of Magatushi. It is like a concentrated fire, invisible and potent. The second type of energy, that of the Bodhisattva, radiates from the prayer beads. And finally, from the elixer, you can feel the third energy, that of the silent monk.

The monk looks at you with eyebrows cocked. His face is funny – a combination of a monk's mature stoicness and a youthful hunter's impatience. Whoever he is, he is many.


"…I'll do my best."

As Regina begins to explain the confrontation, Pryce feels a bit more eased about this order at Threecoins. He still has a few small feelings of perturbation about the journey through the library, but nothing too terrible has happened. He smiles with the others, seeing the denizens of Threecoins all come together and put aside their disagreements.

"We'll be heading back to Fantasia to rejoin the rest of our friends."
Pryce answers.


Regina's pr success story is ideal, caught off guard Shei isn't so sure how to react "Oh- that's good.. Really quite the turn around, the least of my expectations- Congratulations Regina."

>What is next for you, Saviors of Mariposa?"

"I still need your answer, a genuine answer to the problem which Ecclessia poses. Now that your coven's faith in each other is renewed will you see them the opportunity to find husbands in Ecclessia and stand as an ally against the havoc Tartarus will unleash?"



Amy wipes some tears from her own eyes at the beautiful news. Then, she joins the musies to play a gentle, happy tune with her Lumpet.

[1d10] for good playing!

Roll #1 8 = 8


Flaming smiles as she looks up at Regina, extremely proud at seeing her having opened up not only to her subjects, but to herself as well. She bows her head, "I can't tell you how glad I am to hear that, Regina. These witches… they all care about you. The Replicants, and the Replicas too. And I know, in your own way, you cared about them deep down, even if you weren't willing to face it. I think no matter how long a road ahead you all have, you're prepared to walk it together."

She chuckles, "Sorry, I don't mean to keep spewing out lectures. Starting to sound like my old chief… well, I'll tell you what's next for THIS savior: food and a party. After that, well… we're probably going to give Threecoin one more look over if you don't mind. We came here for any sort of treasure we can find to help us in Tartarus but, I'm guessing you've given us everything we can ask for, huh?"


Flow can't help but chuckle as he senses the forces behind each of the monk's relics, and he sighs before taking each of them.

He looks back at the monk with a look of unerring will. Yet one of patience as well. He grins, and puts a hoof to his chin, as if to size the monk up.


Seamlessly jumping in with the dancing, joyous Musies, you add some lovely riffs and improvisations to the swinging jig they provide as background to the party. Along the way, someone sets an ale mug and some rabbit leg roast on a stump nearby for you.

"Before you do, I do intend to make good on what I said," Regina says. "I have treasures to bestow upon your party, equipment that shall even the odds between you and Mudi. And, Fairy Castle herself has another gift, one even greater than what I can give you."

Regina frowns. "Buiwong has told me a bit of this Ecclesia. I came to Threecoins to punish them for the zealots this city-state produced, to ensure that no Witch, of my Coven or another, would be harmed again by self-styled witch hunters and crusaders. I know of Ecclesia's reputation, but Buiwong has assured me of his influence… and of the underground role that demon tamers hold there. So long as not a one of them ever harms my Coven-sisters, I am not opposed to an… alliance."

"N-not taking a husband, though?" Box asks.

"N-no," Regina stammers, looking aside. "I have no plans to do that."

Box starts to deflate, falling for her obvious lie.

The monk catches on to what you're doing, and without a word, raises his hoof to take a swing at you. Nothing more than a direct, simple punch.


Roll #1 2 + 2 = 4


"I do remember the replica of Vortigern mentioning you having an assortment of stuff to give."
Pryce comments, then pausing at the mention of Fairy Castle.
"She does?"
He questions, surprised that she would have something greater than Regina after her showcase of power.

"If you are willing to help us, then I will give my aid in making sure that Ecclesia does not antagonize your Coven."
Pryce says, the witches he has met thus far proving to have been far more trusting, or at least neutral compared to his impressions on Ecclesia.

When Box loses steam, Pryce steps over and leans down to him.
("That's a very large step to be making when you barely know each other. Start with getting to know her.")
He whispers, a little surprised Box is jumping to marriage right off the bat.


"To always fight your battles becomes a drab undertaking. As Buiwong and I have, there is more to gain from allying with Ecclesia. To expedite things an Ecclesian convoy should have arrived in Threecoins at this time. They were dispatched to deliver dove incense to the western temple. If it's fine with you, they could serve as first contact."

Shei-Sher looks to Box with a frown. He wish he could help but he doesn't actually know how to get past that one.



Amy happily takes the Ale and meat and returns to where the rest of the party is. She devours the meat quickly enough, then begins to chug the ale.

"So, marry Box," Amy says bluntly, believing Regina's lie. "He's a nice guy, and he'll live a long time like you! Plus, he'll always treasure you," she says, giggling at her own pun.

[1d10+2] Mantra of Equality with Compassion to make marrying Box seem like a good idea

Roll #1 3 + 2 = 5


Flaming smiles, nodding her head towards Regina once more. "All the help you've given us so far will be of great use, thank you. I can't imagine how many more treasures you have to give us, you sure you don't mind us taking all this? Is there anything we can give in return?"

As you mention Fairy having an even greater gift, Flaming's eyebrows perk up. "Even greater than what YOU can give…? What on Earth is it?"

"I don't think you need to worry about Ecclessia Regina, they've got much bigger fish to fry than a city full of witches. And we'll put in a good word when we get back, I promise if they want to mess with you, they'll answer to me."

As Box brings up her search for a husband, Flaming looks between the two, getting an inkling of an idea in her head. "Why not? I was told all the witches in Threecoin would jump at a chance for grabbing a mate, don't you get lonely?"


"You have steered me toward fixing the damage I have done to my Coven with my heart clouded by hatred and vengeance," Regina says. "What more could you possibly give me? Just one thing: A victory in Tartarus. Come back alive and crowned in glory, and we'll call it even."

"I believe you know of the Aspects of Existence, yes? Those powers you have been using, which don't fall into the category of Magic, as you know it, nor even into Witchcraft. Those who have been blessed to wield all four are able to take a step even further beyond the awesome powers of Life, Death, Light and Dark. The road to true Mastery lies beyond that."

"I shall dispatch a few to meet them, and see if they can be trusted not to make a bad first impression. Give me the name of at least one of that convoy, if you know it, and my Witches shall be able to find them."

At first, Pryce's sound advice seems to give Box some heart. Regina, on the other hand, turns sunburn the moment Amy and Flaming suggest marriage.

"WE JUST MET A FEW HOURS AGO!" Regina says, trying to keep herself from yelping (and failing quite badly). She suddenly stands, and the Witches who were leaning against her scatter. She then starts to trot up the road. "C-c'mon, why don't we go see all the cool stuff I'm going to give you?"

Box groans. "Amy, why'd you do that?"
"Wait, wait, we ought to look at this as an opportunity!" Rus says. "Find a witch who can get him dressed up. Cologne too."
Vortigern spreads her wings. I'll find flowers, she mouths.
Zjetya takes Box aside. "C'mere. I'll give you the inside hoofball on what mares like."


Flow grunts and chuckles as the monk taps him.

He looks at each of the relics, and tries to see if nhe recalls them in any way.

Roll #1 2 = 2


The monk's hoof fully extends, but stops just short, barely even grazing you. You glance at his hoofwork, and realize he inched back mid-swing, just enough to make his punch a graze. Seems he's a tricky sort, playful and impatient.

You recall hearing stories of dojos with hidden treasures, left behind by ancient sages and immortals – immortals. For some reason, your focus settles on that word. Xian. Arhat. The fables of the legendary warriors and monks who went by that name, those who sought enlightenment not in mantras and mandalas, but in skill in battle and excellence – they come to mind. But these specific treasures, you know not what they do. You'd probably have to read the scroll, pray the beads, or drink that elixer, to find out.


"I'm aware of them, yes, but aren't those descended from the Elder Gods? How can anything be of a higher power than that?"
Pryce questions.

Pryce as well is shocked as everypony seems to jump on the option of marriage. As they all begin to scatter, Pryce looks up to Regina, who also seems to be avoidant.
"Yes, let's not jump or push anything too quickly now."



"What?" Amy shrugs at Box. "It's a good match."

Then she smiles. "She's just embarrassed by the feelings she has. She's not used to getting closed to anyone."

Then, she trots along with Regina.


Flaming chuckles, "Well, I guess we DID kind of help out like that. But, I don't know, felt more like us just becoming friends… but alright." She bows her head, "I swear in exchange for your help, we WILL go into Tartarus, and WILL emerge triumphant. You have my vow."

As she goes on to explain the Aspects, she nods in affirmative that she understands them. She raises her eyebrow, "I think I only know two so far, myself… but are you saying Fairy can use all four? She never mentioned THAT."

As Regina turns bright red and suddenly stands, Flaming backs off, the massive size of Regina giving her cause to step back in fear of being smooshed as she follows her in the direction of the treasures. "WOAH! Uhmm… sure thing, r-right behind you!" She says, passing a sympathetic look towards Box as she silently mouths a 'sorry' to him for making things worse.

Deciding to avoid messing things up to suddenly, she instead tries to break the ice. "Sorry about that, didn't mean to, you know… make a scene."


Flow looks down at the relics as this sudden realization comes to mind, and he sighs.

He gestures to the monk to follow him, and he tries to find a suitable place within the dojo's remains to see what the relics hold in store for him.


"Dr. Galton, should be leading the delivery. Thank you Regina." Shei bows

Shei-Sher is entertained by the commotion with box, if something happens he steps aside and watches idly, if not he follows Regina on the hook for free stuff.


(Before all the talk about marriage / Regina running off)

"Perhaps I wasn't all that clear. She isn't offering you a different power per se, but rather unlocking your capacity to go even further in your mastery of them. What you have now is but a fraction of what the heroes of old would know as power."

Regina then flags down a Witch who appears to have a great quantity of paper, parchment, papyrus and writing utensils upon her, as well as a dowsing pendulum. She passes along the information about Doctor Galton and the Ecclesians, and the Witch nods, departing with a few others to make arrangements to meet Galton.

Your allies remain behind with Box while you chase after Regina. Immediately, they take Box to the care of the Witches, seemingly to get him ready for the big moment.

Meanwhile, Regina starts heading west along the dirt path, which eventually turns northwest and then north through the gardens, and past the village of mannequins that Flaming passed by earlier when she went to look for LJ and the others. Given Regina's difference in size, her hurried strides put her at quite the distance ahead of you, even without her running. She nearly stumbles quite a few times as she flees the celebratory party, but she manages to get back a rushed, Queenly stride.

Eventually, she reaches the gates of the wall surrounding the massive castle she has made for herself. The castle is made of several trees, interwoven into one another. Many gigantic mushrooms growing along the tree's base and up along its trunk serve as smaller rooms of the castle. The trees are flowering wisterias.

She fishes around in her dress, producing a key, and unlocks the front gates, then turns to wait for you to catch up. Once you've gathered, she gestures to the tree-castle. "Here we are. Come in, and please wipe your hooves before you track any dirt into the castle."

The monk leads you to a back room, and unfolds a pair of prayer mats, one for him and one for you. He sets them across from one another, and sits down in a meditative posture, greatly resembling the way Estuary sat with you just now. Eagerly, the silent monk gestures for you to sit.


"I really must remember to commend Box, he moves with expert efficiency in courting women. Devilish dog had made it seem he was without a clue."

Shei-Sher comments as he finally catches up and begins wiping his hooves clean on a doormat. "Lovely treehouse you have Regina." Shei is in no rush, he seems to just be enjoying his time.


"There's even more power in these? I wasn't aware, I thought they were the most the relics gave."

As Regina trots off rather quickly from the sudden matchmaking, Pryce spreads his wings to fly after to keep some pace.

He lands down once they reach the gate, complying with her request and wiping his hooves before entering.
"I am curious. Where did you acquire these treasures?"


Flow can’t help but bow in thanks as the spirit lays out a mat for him.
He takes the same meditative stance that his living form presumably is, and lays out the items before himself and the spirit monk.
He takes the beads in his right hoof and wraps them around somewhat. The elixer, he makes a small prayer for before injesting. Lastly, he opens up the scroll to see what it contains.


As Regina clarifies the power being offered, Flaming nods her head, "I think I understand what she offers. More Aspects means more power, which increases our chances of besting Tartarus! Seems to make sense. I'm just surprised Fairy knows more of it than you do, given how powerful you are."

Flaming grants a smile in the direction of Box, chuckling to herself as she hopes things go well for his big moment. Meanwhile, she follows Regina behind as they make their way through the manequin, mushroom-housed village, looking around at the huge surroundings of this land and the castle she'd made for herself. AS they reach the front gates, Flaming looks up at Regina as she wipes her hooves of dirt outside, going the extra mile to clean her hooves by stomping and stampeding around in a circle on the cobblestone to make sure all dirt is loosened. "Dirt gone!" She shouts as she charges inside the castle, ready to get a look



"Really, Reggie?" Amy asks with amusement. "All the cool, reality-bending magic and you still just have a normal key to your home?"

Amy takes her request to wipe HOOVES as an indicator that she does not have to do so since she has something more akin to paws. She just bounces into the castle happily.


"Hey, I guess it IS kind of a treehouse, isn't it? I've never been in a treehouse before!"


Now that Regina has had a moment to calm down, she catches her breath and clears her throat. "What you must first understand is the difference between the preternatural and the supernatural. Most spells of the schools of magic, as well as the Aspect powers you have been using til now, fall into the preternatural. The preternatural is the gray area between the mundane and the supernatural. Something is considered preternatural if what it does is not impossible through other methods. One can light a fire with magic, but flint, twigs and lightning can do the same just as well. Powering a machine with a bolt of conjured lightning? Electricity can do the same. One can construct a perfectly good pair of wings with technology and a bit of know-how, so levitation isn't supernatural, either. Preternatural powers just take a shortcut that you can't take through mundane means.

"What Fairy Castle can bestow, upon those with access to all four Aspects of Existence, is the supernatural – that is, the methods and the means of the gods themselves. Miracles. Interventions. True dominion over the soul and reality itself – a far cry from the parlor tricks I get up to."

"Being a Witch, more often than not, is about finding ways of doing things WITHOUT magic than anything else," she says.


As Regina throws open the great front doors of her house, you find that it's in quite a state. There's a long front hallway that ends in a set of spiral stairs at its end, and along the walls are four doors that lead off into other halls, which have other rooms of their own within. Bookshelves line the walls, and excess books too large or numerous for the shelves are stacked in willowy, precarious towers on the floor. Many of the doors to side rooms have been lazily left open, allowing you a peek inside.

One room has tools and material for making mannequins and dolls, as well as fabrics, sewing equipment, and plenty of dye and paint.
Another has a plethora of maps, board games, figurines of various sizes, as well as dice of many different values and sizes. There's also a weird amount of trading cards… and manga.
A third just seems to be full of toys. Also, more board games.
A fourth seems to be full of small, indoor plants and tools for cultivating them. There seems to be a board game in progress there.

Regina clears her throat awkwardly. It's clear that she seems to have forgotten what an awful state her abode was in before she brought you in here. She turns and gawks at you, as if to suggest you shouldn't comment on it if you know what's good for you. "…So. Treasure. Uhhhh… that will be over…"

She paces about a bit, and starts to head in a random direction.


"Look around while you're here. Feel free to make yourselves at home, too," Regina adds.

As you prepare yourself to take on the three treasures, the scroll unfolds. It appears to be a diagram of sorts, a flow-chart of moves and techniques used by monks to record martial arts techniques. You've heard of these, of course. Popular legend has no end of tales of secretive scrolls, forbidden and consigned to flame, for holding evil prowess, taught by devils, within. And there always seems to be one monk who manages to hide the worst of it…


Roll #1 3 = 3


Shei-Sher goes straight for the manga and trading cards. Examining them with great care.

He also replicates with alchemy his own personally made trading cards bundle and slips it over a coffee table for Regina to find later.


File: 1569222267715.png (24.12 KB, 291x293, Flag 2.png)

Thank you to everyone who has joined us for this six-year anniversary of HolyQuest! For all of you who have played, watched, supported, critiqued, or otherwise contributed, you have made this game what it is, and it would not be half the game it is without your help.

Thank you.

As for your six-year present, that will be coming very, very soon. Stick around, Saviors.


File: 1569968072489.png (4.53 MB, 2400x2100, HolyQuest - the Saviors.png)

Last time on HolyQuest…

After Pryce and Amy reconciled their argument, the group discussed the dilemma before them. It was eventually decided that Mudi's plan would never be a complete and total solution, and that to focus on that plan was the wrong approach. Establishing a single intercessor – be it Amy, Mudi, or anyone else – between demons and mortals would be only the first step to mending the world. From there, successors and other intercessors would have to rise to bridge the gap between mortalkind and demonkind. These would be souls of good and noble character, born of fusions between mortals and demons with a genuine goodwill and desire for peace, aided by the Glyph of Peace. Like the heroes, god-kings and Messiahs of old, these intercessors would become the foundation of a new world, made whole after the terrible destruction and desolation that followed the Rapture. Undoubtedly, the plan will have to be fine-tuned as circumstances change, but for now, this was sufficient.

Afterward, they left the fountain-temple and returned to Regina, who caught them up on her talk with the Replicants. She confessed the truth of their existence, and confessed that she nearly used them as a weapon against Vizsla and Mudi. As penance, the offered them the freedom to leave and do as they pleased. Not a single one of them took her up on the offer. After that, Regina offered to set the party up with some treasure to aid them on their quest, before they left. During this talk, Regina mentioned that she would accept an allegiance between her Coven and Ecclesia, so long as the latter's zealotry would not ever result in harm against a single Witch.

And, just as Regina tried to bring up her offer of treasure, someone had to go and suggest that Regina marry Box, since Witches of all kinds would doubtlessly find stallions they fancied among Ecclesia's ranks. The thought embarrassed and flustered Regina so much that she ran all the way back to her tree-house on the other end of the Library's rooftop garden. The party followed her to get their treasures from her very messy and board game-filled house.

Meanwhile, as Flow trod upon the path to enlightenment with the assistance of Sir Estuary's Memory, his meditative vision changed. In the depths of his mind, he beheld a town, ravaged by an ancient battle, littered with the remnants of armies. Before him lay a shattered dojo, trampled by the rampaging of two statues, now frozen. The left statue was an Ashura, an enemy of the gods and a fallen god itself, and the right statue was a Bodhisattva, a being ascendant through prayer and meditation, and warrior-machine of the gods. Standing atop the inert supernatural beings was a silent monk, who through some magic or guile had disguised themselves so that they looked unremarkable, hidden and plain.

The monk ushered Flow into the shattered dojo, where from a hidden compartment, opened by the rampaging of the giants, they drew out three treasures: An elixer, a scroll and a rosary, and offered them to Flow. The monk then set up two woven prayer-mats, one across from the other, in a mirror of how Estuary's Memory positioned himself and Flow earlier. What three paths lay before Flow, and how they would converge, would prove to be the culmination of his journeys across Huoli, and particularly of the saga of Accorsia…


>Pryce, Flaming
Now that Regina has had a moment to calm down, she catches her breath and clears her throat. "What you must first understand is the difference between the preternatural and the supernatural. Most spells of the schools of magic, as well as the Aspect powers you have been using til now, fall into the preternatural. The preternatural is the gray area between the mundane and the supernatural. Something is considered preternatural if what it does is not impossible through other methods. One can light a fire with magic, but flint, twigs and lightning can do the same just as well. Powering a machine with a bolt of conjured lightning? Electricity can do the same. One can construct a perfectly good pair of wings with technology and a bit of know-how, so levitation isn't supernatural, either. Preternatural powers just take a shortcut that you can't take through mundane means.

"What Fairy Castle can bestow, upon those with access to all four Aspects of Existence, is the supernatural – that is, the methods and the means of the gods themselves. Miracles. Interventions. True dominion over the soul and reality itself – a far cry from the parlor tricks I get up to."


"Being a Witch, more often than not, is about finding ways of doing things WITHOUT magic than anything else," she says.

>Amy, Pryce, Flaming, Shei


As Regina throws open the great front doors of her house, you find that it's in quite a state. There's a long front hallway that ends in a set of spiral stairs at its end, and along the walls are four doors that lead off into other halls, which have other rooms of their own within. Bookshelves line the walls, and excess books too large or numerous for the shelves are stacked in willowy, precarious towers on the floor. Many of the doors to side rooms have been lazily left open, allowing you a peek inside.

One room has tools and material for making mannequins and dolls, as well as fabrics, sewing equipment, and plenty of dye and paint.
Another has a plethora of maps, board games, figurines of various sizes, as well as dice of many different values and sizes. There's also a weird amount of trading cards… and manga.
A third just seems to be full of toys. Also, more board games.
A fourth seems to be full of small, indoor plants and tools for cultivating them. There seems to be a board game in progress there.

Regina clears her throat awkwardly. It's clear that she seems to have forgotten what an awful state her abode was in before she brought you in here. She turns and gawks at you, as if to suggest you shouldn't comment on it if you know what's good for you. "…So. Treasure. Uhhhh… that will be over…"

She paces about a bit, and starts to head in a random direction.

[1d4: 3]

"Look around while you're here. Feel free to make yourselves at home, too," Regina adds.


As you prepare yourself to take on the three treasures, the scroll unfolds. It appears to be a diagram of sorts, a flow-chart of moves and techniques used by monks to record martial arts techniques. You've heard of these, of course. Popular legend has no end of tales of secretive scrolls, forbidden and consigned to flame, for holding evil prowess, taught by devils, within. And there always seems to be one monk who manages to hide the worst of it…

>Codex of the Rakshasa Style
>Description: A scroll that manifested without warning one night in a secluded monastery. The scribe who presented it to the monastery's patriarch madly raved, claiming that a rakshasa, a type of Ashura, appeared to him in a dreamlike vision and taught him all the techniques and stances depicted within so that they may spread to mortals seeking to discard their humanity. At first the other monks mocked the scribe, but after he demonstrated the scroll's efficacy, they lambasted him, expelling him from the community and consigning the codex to flame. But on the night of the immolation, the scribe returned in an incoherent fervor, snatching the scroll from the pyre by casting himself on the flame and dancing in the form of a rakshasa until it was extinguished.
>Effect: After nights of study, allows the user to channel the Rakshasa style of combat, whereby they draw Magatsuhi from nearby demons' souls and weaponize it in the form of empowered attacks and temporary transformations. With clever and creative application, may have unexpected uses.



>Garland of the 108 Kleshas
>Description: A rosary distributed by Bodhisattvas, ascendant beings who, through transferring the sufferings of the innocent onto their own bodies and souls, attain enlightenment and take on a place somewhere below the gods. Bodhisattvas were the precursor to angels, and an extremely rare form of demon. Prior to the Seven Holy Devas' invention of the Angels, mortals who attained enlightenment through pious suffering and perfected virtue would ascend into various categories of Bodhisattva, gaining patronage over any of the many aspects of reality and the title of "Saint." Bodhisattvas can freely create and distribute rosaries – prayer beads infused with blessings to purify the mind of distractions and enable the supplicant to cultivate virtue. This rosary was the creation of Saint Ardent, patron of those who seek to free themselves of the 108 temptations that tear at the soul of every mortal.
>Effect: After nights of prayer, allows the user to channel the Bodhisattva style of combat, whereby they draw Dhyana from nearby angels' souls and weaponize it in the form of empowered attacks and temporary transformations. With clever and creative application, may have unexpected uses.



>Tea of the Homebound Immortal
>Description: An elixer brewed by a mortal who, in a quest for power, sought to shed off all weakness and insufficiencies, training for endless ages without cessation to hone all of his skills in every field. He journeyed far and wide, fighting, exploring, crafting, meditating, practicing magic, uncovering history, making art, debating scholars, tasting the pleasures of the flesh and the mind and taking on every discipline possible. Eventually, he reached the limits of his potential, and stood above all mortalkind as an immortal, a xian – a perfected mortal being. But his soul could not be at rest. There were no more challenges for him to face. No peaks to climb, no caves to spleunk, no quests to finish. He abandoned his home and traversed the physical and spiritual realms to cast off his weakness. He had lost all of it – and he realized, then, that he would be left with only the interminable banality of immortality. It was then, in an act of divine mercy, the gods he had once fought to refine himself revealed one last thing he could journey after: A home.
>Effect: After it has been consumed and digested, allows the user to channel the Homebound Immortal style of combat, whereby they draw Qi from their own soul and weaponize it in the form of empowered attacks and temporary transformations. With clever and creative application, may have unexpected uses.



>Forgot you replied already

It seems that your trading cards and hers aren't so different. With some standardization, they could easily be combined into a single cohesive product for play. Her cards depict monsters of various kinds, as well as various tools of magic and broader occult pursuits, and even classic magical locations – enchanted springs and pools, ore-rich caves, primal forests, palaces of crystal and glass upon the moon… and so on. As for the manga, she's got quite a few genres. Most seem to be of the romantic comedy variety, and some – perhaps in another World they might be described as of the magical girl genre. These, you note, tend to focus on acts of heroism by young Witches, but not the traditional heroism of males. rather, these Witches and their struggles are decidedly feminine, instead of forcing the Witches into male roles.



"That's weird…" Amy says to Regina about finding ways to NOT use magic.

Amy looks around the house, eventually gravitating toward the room full of toys. She seeks out every ball in the room of whatever level of bounciness. She grabs them all in her mouth one at a time and throws them haphazardly around the room.

[1d10] to make a mess and have fun with it

Roll #1 4 = 4


Flow catches a gasp in his throat as he relises what he’s been gifted, and closes his eyes in bliss.

“Ahh… I see now.”
He grins and turns to the monk.
“Demon, angel, mortal… balance,” he almost whispers.

He looks over the artifacts once more. While he doesn’t have any demons or angels to try the other powers out, he looks into himself to channel his Qi, and visualize it around his front hooves.



Shei's eyebrows raise as he flips through the deck. He's captivated, there is a lot of subjects here he hadn't thought about fashioning cards for. He lays the cards out on the floor, trying to figure out the play system. He cross compares some of of them to his own, and ponders omissions and additions to integrate his deck.

Shei also checks the cards for any signature, or clue to a creator. He makes a lot of "huh"s and "hm" and little chuckles as he peruses the cards. At some point he flips through the manga, he didn't know they made things like this. Shei's ignorance to the reading material confounds him to contemplation. "Just how out of touch am I." Shei-Sher appreciates the author not projecting male roles onto the female characters.

>I Dream of Alchemy+2: Instant; Thrice per session; If this skill is used to make Bits or fake documents, they are obviously counterfeit upon close inspection. Keys made with this skill work just as well as their real counterparts, but break after being used.

Shei-Sher takes some parchment and begins making copies.
[1d10+3] copying manga and cards

Roll #1 6 + 3 = 9



Amy stops throwing balls around and notices Shei looking at cards. She bounces up to Shei and rests her head on his shoulder so she can look at the cards as he looks at them.

"Whatchya doin'?" she asks as she looks at the cards.


As Regina attempts to explain the difference, she unfortunately finds herself a little overwhelmed in the explanation, Flaming's ears flapping up and down in confusion as she tries to grasp what Regina is saying.

"R-right… so, it's more like… what the Angels themselves use?"

As they enter what is basically a massive play-room, Flaming looks around at the vast wonder-land of toys and games, spinning about in awe. "Woaah… t-these are all yours?! How do you have so many, I-I never even knew half of these toys existed."

She turns her attention towards some dolls, poking at them curiously before getting bored and looking over towards some of the trading cards. "What are these?"

As Amy starts throwing around the balls, Flaming smiles, running up to knock a few of them back at her with her horns, "Hey Amy, think fast!"
[1d10] Bouncing back!

Roll #1 8 = 8


"Mudi has a trading card deck of her own! And I thought I was arriving to market with a novelty. Look -she's made cards for demons, cantrips, rituals, locales. We should play a round."


not mudi


File: 1569980710197.png (275.49 KB, 576x432, example 4.png)

"Not necessarily – until I was crowned as Queen-Mother, the Coven was in a far more delicate place in Red Thunder's society. Every act of magic had to be carefully chosen, as excess or unnecessarily-dramatic feats of magic could spook the commoners and aristocracy both. Then, they would agitate to the Temple Elders to have them 'do something' about us. So, a Witch has to have practical skills beyond her Craft and her other disciplines of magic."

Upon further inspection, you realize that the toy room is perhaps more accurately described as a prop room. Many cabinets, chests and wardrobes abound, full of both real and counterfeit weapons, armor and heraldry that might serve as a good costume for a play or game – in addition to all the toys. There are many balls in the room – some bounce like normal when thrown, while others levitate or glow different colors or exude pleasant music when they're touched.

Just as you reach for some crystal balls that you see on a shelf, which are full of curious cloudy swirling and smoking, a skeleton butler enters the room with a very annoyed expression. He sprays you with a rubber bulb that's full of water to dissuade you from breaking the probably delicate crystal orbs.

"Beyond even that," Regina says before she departs.

From what you can surmise without a rulebook, it seems like the objective is to strengthen your monster and hero cards with various equipment cards, and then situate them in an area advantageous to them using the area cards. A lot of it is evocative of military strategy – defeating the opponent's monsters and heroes nets you rewards that can help you gain more resources and push your advantage, but some cards seem designed to trick an opponent by letting them defeat weak monsters and trapping them once they've pushed too far.

The cards all have a castle-shaped insignia on the bottom left corner – probably a magical glyph to show they were legitimately printed. Shei notices that his alchemized copies lack the castle insignia.


It takes you some time, but you are able to feel something humming in the back of your mind, almost like the low warmth of a small fire. By concentrating on that feeling, synchonizing it with your breathing, you are able to eventually coax it out; the feeling spreads out from the back of your mind, and in tune with your breath, it spreads down to your arms, filling them with a warm vitality and a simple energy. It takes the appearance of a cool radiance extending beyond your body no more than a few centimeters.


>Kusarigama: Fire Element; Single + Great Tags; +3 Modifier
>Snakeskin Cloak: 4 Hits

"Four aspects? I don't think we've gotten that far I'm afraid."

As Regina leads them to her home, and excuses herself to find her collection in her unique organization, Pryce looks around the hallway. The rooms all full of toys and such are curiosity pulling, a house almost like a child would make, contrasting starkly with what they've heard of Regina earlier.
Seeing one already in progress, Pryce steps into the plant room to take a look at what it is.


Out of all the many colorful and alien plants in the room, you note the board game is set up in front of a pot that is full of many long and snake-like vines, all sprouting from a common base. The snakes have many frills around their head, making them resemble budding sunflowers. It looks to be a game of chess. Regina and the snake-vines appear to be evenly matched, with both having taken many pieces from the other.


Flow grins as he feels his Qi forming where he desires, and sighs as he opens his eyes.
He takes the scroll next and begins to look over its many forms and styles.


"Beyond even the angels… the old gods? The Devas?!" She asks before Regina departs the room, left wandering with both fear and excitement at what sort of magic they may soon be given possession of… and how Fairy has this ability to wield it.

As Shei looks at the trading cards, Flaming hazardously grabs at a deck, flipping through the cards (unable to read the descriptions on them) as she tries to grasp how the game is played properly.

"These look cool, but… I don't get it, do you just put these numbers against each other, how do you win? How do you know when you beat your opponent?" She huffs, flipping through the cards in a frustrated tone. "Least the pictures are pretty."

She looks around the pile of games and toys, digging into a random pile, "Did she say she just left our gifts in all this stuff? I would believe it…"
[1d10] Pulling out a random board game!

Roll #1 1 = 1


Pryce looks over the chess board, and then the plant with fascination.
"A plant smart enough to play chess?"
He mutters to himself, stepping over to the plant for a closer look.
"Is it real, or another creation of hers?"



Amy playfully bounces balls around with Flaming until she is sprayed with the water. She defiantly chomps at the spraying water for a few seconds before backing off. Then, she goes to talk to Shei.


"How do you play?" Amy asks, wagging her tail excitedly.


Amy is amused by the balls that float. But, the skeleton spraying her dissuade her from playing with them more. Instead, she is now interested in Shei's game.


"S-stop stop stop! You're gonna bend the cards." Shei swipes the deck away from your hasty card flipping hooves. "You play until the opponent runs out of attack cards or their resources are depleted, you see.." Shei shows Flaming each card type and explains some play examples.
"I wanted to play but I only just remember you can't read."

"Regina. Where did you find these cards?"


The scroll's gruesomely intimate and detailed illustrations spare nothing, illustrating the stances of the Rakshasa style and the many moves that one can execute from those stances and their variants. The stances and postures are all loose and feral, evocative of the brutal power of apes, ogres, trolls and other beasts used in demonic imagery. You notice that Anantarika, the move that Estuary's Memory sought to bestow upon you, is one of the moves.
As you start to study the scroll, the monk sits up, rolling his shoulders. He folds his hooves over one another with a cocky grin.

As you take a grab through the pile, you take ahold of something buried under a pile of other props. you're not sure what it might be, but you give a tug to get it out. It quickly becomes apparent to you that this was quite possibly the worst move you could have made, as you hear a quick and sharp tearing sound.


Too late you try to let go, but the momentum remains. Out of the pile of stuff, you pull out a thick paperback book, the front cover and many pages inside now torn. The title is "Witches and Wargs," and appears to be some kind of compendium for a very strange game of pretend.

The skeleton butler turns and stares at you with unmasked malice.

The many heads of the snake-vines lean up and sniff at you, flicking the air with their tongues. A few of them yawn, losing interest with you rapidly. Though you have no doubt of Regina's illusory prowess, it wouldn't make much sense for her to make Replicas or Replicants that are only locked up in her house.

You feel a tugging at your side as Lockjaw softly takes a hold of your wing in his mouth. He tugs on it much like a kid who wants attention might tug at the arm of their mother or father – not hard enough to hurt, but hard enough to get annoying real quick. He's evidently still hungry.

Regina isn't around at the moment, but shortly after Flaming rips the cover and first few pages of "Witches and Wargs," you hear her footsteps somewhere up above you, evidently heading for the stairs back down to your level.


Shei huffs, after explaining how to play to flaming now Amy asks how to play. "We might bend a couple rules but I think it goes something like this.." Shei-Sher goes through another bout of examples for how to play the game and explains hero, monsters, locations, and resource cards. read autumdmn's posts for more details.

"I couldn't find a rulebook, but my guess is running out of resources or hero and monsters cards means defeat."



"Oh… so I have to read what's on the cards…" Amy says, sounding a little disappointed.


"Flaming!" Shei-Sher stares at Flaming, mouth ajar utter devastation for the torn paperback "go ask the nice butler if we may borrow one of his bones to make glue from."



"Oooooh, Shortyhorn's in trouuuuble!" Amy says like a child.


Pryce hums in thought as the vines examine then lose interest in him. His own interest fades as well when he feels Lockjaw tug at his wing, giving him a mild surprise.
"Oh! I'm sorry Lockjaw. I forgot in all the chaos that you be starving."
Pryce lifts a hoof to pet his deviljho, now ready to give him the attention he seeks. Though he still lacks any food onhoof. But now that they're at a home, Pryce heads back into the hall, and goes to look for the kitchen.
"…She won't mind, right?"
He asks, partially to Lockjaw but also to reassure himself.
>Kitchen Search [1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2


Shei-Sher seems to share equal amounts of dissapointment. "Why don't you know how to read!" Like a cry of desperation "All the goats in my tribe can read and they come from serfdom."


Flaming chuckles as she bounces the ball back and forth with Amy, before looking at Shei as he hurriedly warns her NOT to rip the cards. "WOAH! S-sorry, darn… I didn't know they were valuable or anything, couldn't she just make more?"

As he explains the rules, Flaming sticks out her tongue, squinting at it with interest. "Hmmm…. well, I'd play with you, but you would have to read me what my cards do. That's simple enough right, I'll just show you what I got."

Flaming grins as her hooves snag hold of something that feels valuable, but as the sharping, horrible ripping tear reverberates throughout the play room, Flaming looks down at the torn book with dismay and shame, before turning her attention towards the skeleton butler.

"I-I'm sorry! It was an accident, I wasn't trying to tear it!" She tries to stick the torn pages together, only for them to flutter uselessly apart to the floor as she gives a frown. "I'm sorry… Regina can fix it though, right?"


>read me what my cards do
"Yeah.. but then I would know what cards are in your hand."


Flaming turns her head, "Is that a problem?"



"Sorry!" Amy responds defensively. "I spent like 2000 years in literal hell! Not a lotta opportunity to learn smart stuff!"


"Well how much time did you have you spent above hell?"


[1d10] Attempting to fix the book as best she can, arranging it into the right order / all pages in binding

Roll #1 10 = 10


Flow looks at the monk with a fierce grin.

He rolls the scroll back up and stands, assuming a dueling stance after he holds a hoof up, and bows.

While eager, he resists the urge to utilize his Qi, and focuses on the monk, waiting for his move.



"Well, after I escaped a few hundred years ago, I spent most of that time sleeping and hiding from demon hunters," Amy says casually as she contemplates the answer herself. "Then, I eventually hid in Amy. Then, well, you know. A lot of time spent fucking around - literally and figuratively."

"Beeeeefore I got locked up in Tartarus…" Amy screws her face up in thought. "You know, I don't actually know. Even with all my memories back, it's all so vague. I remember running free on the fields. I remember when I escaped Tartarus, I already knew what the outside would be like. I knew what would be there, how it all would work. I just don't remember how…"

"Huh…" she mumbles as if she hasn't really thought about a lot of this. "A couple thousand years in Tartarus will really mess with your head. I don't remember… I mean, I guess I also must have been a mortal at some point. That's where demons come from, right? So, I guess I probably knew how to read at some point…"

Amy shakes her head. "Just blame Tartarus."


File: 1569984399690.png (235.06 KB, 500x470, 1563832177814.png)

In a stark contrast to the rather childishness and messiness of the other rooms stuffed full of toys and games, Regina's kitchen is quite large and well-maintained, consisting of a long and well-lit hall, colored by warm candles. There is a number of cabinets and drawers, and inside are labeled bags and earthenware pots and glass canisters full of various different foodstuffs. There are plenty of herbs, roots, shoots, leaves and seasonings. You can quickly surmise that sphinxes are meat-eaters, as there is a larder off the side of the kitchen where a number of different meats are stored, both dried and fresh. Most appear to be pigs, birds or fish, but there are a number of lizard meats available too. Lockjaw runs around in a frenzy, but the meats are hanging too far out of his reach for him to be able to grab and yank them down.

With almost no time to spare, Flaming quickly shuffles the pages and cover back into place, tucking them away neatly and lining them up so that only with a careful eye could one find that it's been torn. She then stuffs the book back under the pile of props and toys she had it. The skeleton butler, unable to speak, stares at Flaming with a look that could scold in its burning silence.

Regina pokes her head into the room, looking more than a little embarrassed. "…You know, I think I may not have thought this through very well. I had thought I'd get a lot more time to look for things to give you, but – well, I didn't think I'd be inviting you all back to my place of residence, exactly. I misjudged just how friendly you people were, even though Buiwong warned me."

She clears her throat. "All of this is to say that I don't exactly have treasures on hand for you. You're welcome to come upstairs and look for whatever it is that strikes your fancy. Actually that might be more appropriate – you DID say you came here on a treasure hunt, didn't you?"

The skeleton butler points an accusing hoof at Flaming. Regina looks at him, then at her with a raised eyebrow.


The monk bows back, then after he sees you take your stance, he only raises a single hoof. But then, as he does, a deep red Qi starts so spread over it. The Qi is dark, coagulating, darkened by patches of smoky ichor. It takes almost no knowledge of Qi to know that this is full of malice – no, by a lust for revenge.

With a hypnotically slow pace, the hoof starts to move, and as it moves through the numerous kata, an afterimage of each stance remains – some punching, some striking, some stabbing, some grabbing. You realize quickly it must be a variant on Anantarika. The monk repeats this with the other hoof, and soon, dozens of afterimages of strikes, blows and grabs linger in the air. A sense of extreme danger stabs into you, cold and frigid.

You realize you have maybe one shot at countering the hurricane of attacks he's about to unleash.



"Awww, you're the best, Reggie," Amy says as she bounces past her and up the stairs.


Pryce steps into the kitchen, the scent of the candles and herbs at first giving a welcome atmosphere, but as he follows Lockjaw in his frenzy for food, the aroma of meat quickly sours his stomach as he remembers the fish he tried in their last story.
He places his hooves onto Lockjaw, holding the deviljho still as best he can.
"Alright, you get one only, we're guests here, not raiders," He explains to Lockjaw, pointing up to the larder as he opens it to see what meats are inside, "Pick the one you want and I'll get it for you."
Pryce says, picking Lockjaw up a bit so he can see, and then uses his telekinesis to lift down the one piece he picks.


Shei comes in between the butler's finger pointing and Flaming "We're all so grateful you would share such a wonderful home with us Regina. I think we will take you on that offer. Coming Flaming, we shouldn't be bad guests." Taking the initiative Shei drags flaming with him upstairs cutting away from any semblance of guilt.

"I was perusing, you card collection by the way. And couldn't help but be curious if you have ever heard of any card decks being distributed by Buiwong. They have this little brand insignia, a spider with horns. If- if not I left a copy on your desk."


As you approach a massive bird's dried and seasoned carcass – labeled as an 'airship hawk' with a tag on its leg – Lockjaw scrambles up onto your arms, jumping up and latching onto the bird's side. The jump knocks you back down onto your tail. Lockjaw continues to dangle from the carcass, apparently realizing he can't chew without falling back down.


>That's where demons come from, right?
"In some ways yes."

"A little hard to gauge time inside a place like Tartarus I'd assume."

Shei chimes in through Amy's explanation.

"And so.. In all that time, you never once picked up a book."



"Where in any of that did you expect me to find someone to teach me?" Amy defends herself.

"In all the time YOU'VE known me, why haven't YOU taught me yet?" she turns the tables on him, getting close to his face with the accusation.


Flaming gasps for breath as she finally manages to put the page, quickly and orderly, back together and hiding it underneath the pile of toys where she took it from. She turns towards the butler as it continues to glare at her with an angry stare. She smiles, WIDE, trying to look as innocent as possible to the butler as Regina pokes her head within.

As Regina returns, she is grateful for a change of topic, but finds the news distressing. "W-wait, no treasures? I thought you said you had some stuff for us to brave Tartarus with."

As Regina notices the butler's behavior, Flaming frowns, guilt rippling through her. "I… may have… accidentally… t-torn one of your books. I didn't mean it, I-I was just wanting to look at it, I didn't think it'd rip that easily!"


Pryce stumbles back from Lockjaw's impatient and hurried leap, falling back harder than he thought. He stands up, slightly sore and noting ot not get between Lockjaw and food in the future. Seeing him dangle from the carcass, Pryce can't help but chuckle at the deviljho biting on to more than he can chew. He grabs onto Lockjaw and levitates the sickle end of his Kusarigama and cuts out a hefty (to Lockjaw's size) slab out of the hawk, setting down the deviljho with his claim after.
"That should hold you. Let's get back to the others now."


"-Well.." Shei shrinks back "I was sort of waiting for you to take the initiative.. A little late now that Tartarus is 2 nights away. We will take your illiteracy to the grave. And if we do not, I promise to find to some time to teach you the ABC's"


Lockjaw grunts contentedly, chewing the hefty chunk of meat now that he's back on the ground. He accompanies you out of the larder, not setting the meat down for even one second as he makes short work of it.

"No, I DO have things to give you – I just didn't really clean up before all of this, so I didn't really get it all organized. Still! If you find something you like, you can take it – provided I don't want it more."

The skeleton butler rattles his teeth triumphantly after Flaming confesses to ruining the book. He digs under the pile of toys and pulls it out, showing it to Regina. Regina hisses a little as she surveys the book's damage, and flips through the dictionary-sized game manual. "Hrmph… well, nothing has been ripped OUT, at least. Things are still in their proper place. Nothing a bit of paste and hard work can't undo, I guess. You'll be helping me with that later, Flaming. Now, if you had ripped up the 'Hags and Harpies' expansion, then I'd reduce you into buffalo sauce."

Regina gives a second glance at the furious skeleton butler, but seems to push the butler's concerns aside for now – you get the feeling that she doesn't want to ruin the new relationship growing between you. She beckons you to follow her up the stairs to the second level.

Along the way up, Pryce rejoins you with a well-fed Lockjaw. Regina snorts that you've helped yourself to her food, but simply settles things by looking Lockjaw in the eyes. Lockjaw looks back at her, and is the first to turn away, breaking off the eye contact. Regina snickers to herself. "At least he can recognize when another apex predator is in the room."

Surprisingly, you don't have any trouble with the stairs, as although most of the stairs are sized for Regina's massive stature, there are other, smaller stairs built into the sides, presumably for the skeleton butlers. After quite a bit of walking, you reach the second floor. Much like the first, it is quite messy, but while the first floor seemed more for entertainment and relaxation, this seems more suited for study and work.

The second floor consists of a hallway with five major rooms splitting off from the hall, and a number of other, smaller rooms which aren't as significant. Light filters in from above, colored by a number of translucent plants covering the windows like stained glass, which reflect patterns onto the ground.

The first room appears to be a personal library, full of books and scrolls of many kinds.
The second appears to be a laboratory room, stocked with crystal balls, pools of water for scrying, and dice – a mirror of her setup by the lake. There are a number of magitech machines in here too.
The third has a number of telescopes and star-charts, as well as tomes on astrological systems for divination.
The fourth has a massive magical circle in the middle, in addition to many jars of Dove Orchids and Dove Incense. There are a number of occult implements here, some looking dark and medieval, such as skulls, ritual swords, chains, ornamental fish helmets, and so on.
The fifth room is locked, flanked by two skeleton butlers.



"Yay!" Amy claps her hoof-paws. "Maybe after I'll teach you some stuff too, as a reward," she adds with a wink.

"Or I could just do it tonight," she adds with another quick wink. "Can we just do it tonight?" she asks with absolutely no finesse.


>Second floor:
Scrying and Astragalomancy Lab
Astrology Room
Replica Animation Circle

>First Floor:

Toy Room
Doll and Dress Room
Board Game Room
Herbology Room



"What in the world is this…?" Amy asks, finding the… ornamental… fish… helmets.


As Lockjaw ravenously works on his chunk of meat in short time, Pryce takes note to stock up on plenty of meat when they next find a merchant.

"I apologize for helping myself, Regina," Pryce says as he runs into the party on their way upstairs, "It's been quite some time since he's been fed, with all that was going on. I'll pay for what a piece of airship hawk that size would cost if needed."

When Lockjaw breaks the gaze first, Pryce is surprised.
"Just from a stare like that?"

Pryce looks up as they reach the second floor, the stained glass reminding him of a chapel.
"Regina, where did you find that plant downstairs that was playing chess?"
Pryce asks, while taking a peek into the library.


Flaming still looks somewhat disappointed in the news of no treasures to be given, only to be found. "I… see. Well, thank you, Regina. I guess I'll take a look around then and see what I can find."

As the butler rattles her teeth, Flaming can't help her temper, turning to look at the skeleton with her tongue raspberrying him. "Oh, what are YOU so happy about…" she says grumpily before looking up to Regina.

"I really am sorry that happened, I'll be more careful from now on… but, 'glue'? Can't you use your powers to just make it exactly the way it was?" As she comments how if she tore the expansion, she'd turn her into buffalo sauce, Flaming freezes up, shuddering with fear. "I-I said I was sorry! What's that book about anyway, that's so important?"

>After this, Flaming is going to explore the Doll and Dress room out of curiosity on the 1st floor


"You really do have a stunning home Regina. Crow-ley and I also had a mess in our lab." Shei-Sher goes straight for the telescopes, he peers out of a window if there is one or a scrying pool. Which ever the telescope seems needed for.

>"Can we just do it tonight?
"Teach me to roll over? Sure." Shei says intentionally oblivious.


[1d10] Also looking for treasure in the doll/dress room!

Roll #1 7 = 7


>Treasure [1d10]

Roll #1 9 = 9



Amy giggles. "Oh, I'd love to roll you over."



[1d10] ornamental fish helmet treasure!

Roll #1 1 = 1


"Oh, those are a vestige of numerous knightly occultist orders that – thanks to the Stormspeakers of the Temple of Thunder – are no longer around. The fish helmets, like many implements used by occultists, began as a parody of certain robes and laurels used by the Temple's knightly orders during their initiation rituals. Eventually, the occultists just kept it around since it grew on them."

Regina shakes her head. "Think nothing of it. I should have fed him earlier, but my focus was kept on tormenting your group."

She then smiles smugly at Lockjaw. "I couldn't be a Queen-Mother without an unbreakable stare. It's called the Eye of Divine Right – a technique you might come to learn if you ever become a royal yourself."

"Some years after I'd escaped from the slavemasters, a circus came to the local peasant village, built on the edge of the valley that the Coven overlooked. I went down there, disguised as a farmhand, to have my fun. There were troupes of singers, jugglers, oddity-sellers, storytellers, carnies, clowns, fortune-tellers and no end of other bizarre and disturbing sights you'd only believe if you saw it yourself. It was from a gypsy-woman, carrying a whole house of trinkets in her saddlebags, who sold me my first set of seeds. She saw right through my illusions, of course, but was kind, and understanding. I think I must have spent hours talking with her. It was the first time anyone from the outside world really seemed to be listening to me. Everyone else I'd spoken to up to that point – they were just caught up in their own little world. Anyway, after I grew the snake-vines from those first few seeds, I cultivated many more generations of them."

"A witch has to know practical skills too!" Regina admonishes. "Just because we CAN use magic to solve things doesn't mean we always should. As for the books – well, those were my unofficial grimoires. They weren't designed to be used as such – they're games where you pretend to be someone else – but when I read of the pretend adventures you could go on, I was inspired. The scenes of heroism and questing within helped me develop my illusions. Most of my first spectacles were taken directly from those books. Have you ever played?"

"I can't think of many occultists who don't," Regina notes.

The telescope seems to be for the sky above. As you peer through it, you can see a night sky full of stars, despite it being day out still. Interestingly, there seem to be lines between the stars, illustrating the constellations. It seems to be a property of the glass bulb on top of the telescope. Upon inspection, you can see that the glass bulb has been attached to the telescope and can be detached too.

Going back down into the doll room, you notice an odd key on one of the desks. It looks like it might fit the chest you got earlier.

Under a pile of ceremonial robes in the magical circle room, Pryce finds a skull that looks like one of the skeleton butler skulls. Something about it's shiny dome makes you want to rub it.

Amy inspects the ornamental fish head, and suddenly, about a dozen fish fall out of it, flopping around on the ground and getting her all slick with fish-slime. Regina holds in a snort, peering at Amy from around the door with an "I didn't do that" kind of look. The kind that a child that has put a fish on his mother's pillow wears.


[1d10] treasures

Roll #1 10 = 10


>Crow-ley and I also had a mess in our lab."
meant to say always not also, but whatever


You remove the bulb from the telescope, and inspect it with Pupil briefly. Interestingly, it seems your hunch was right.
>Night's Sky Tapestry:
>Description: An orb that always has an accurate illustration of all stars, planets, and constellations for your approximate geographic position, allowing you to consult them no matter the time or the weather. Can be willed to expand the star-map over your head so that you can get an idea of what things look like as though you were looking up at them from below.



"But how did YOU get these-" Amy begins to ask before she is covered with fish.

"Agh!" she groans and wretches as if she's in physical pain. Her nose scrunches up and she starts coughing. "The smell is so terrible!" she says through her coughing.

She uses the Jahna of Uprooting Poison to remove the fish slime from her body. [1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2


Regina snorts again, backing away from the door and down the hall. You can hear her laughs echo as she trots away. However, you quickly dispel the slime and stink with a simple incantation. Your body retains its freshness, thanks to the Jhana's passive effects. The fish dissipate after a few seconds of flopping about, being only illusions.


"I think that's far beyond me."
Pryce says to the techinque's explanation.

"So you had it for a long time then? No wonder it's so intelligent."
Pryce comments on the origin story of the plant.
"I'm glad you had a good time. Travelling entertainers have always been good folk when you need them."

Pryce gazes down at the skull, lifting it up from the robes. He gives the skull a rub with his hoof, the shine almost making it seem polished to him.



Amy grumbles as she continues to search the magic circle room for anything fancy.

[1d10] for something better than Ornamental Fish Helmet fish

Roll #1 7 = 7


"Hm.. Might have to ask Regina about this. Would be curious to use inside Tartarus."

Shei-Sher supposes if he's gonna keep this thing he should read a user manuel. His divination isn't the sharpest so Shei ambles over to the tomes on astrological divination and peruses them for helpful info

[1d10] Treasure?

Roll #1 9 = 9


As Regina asks her if she'd ever played, Flaming raises her eyebrow. "Pretend to be someone else…? Well, sure… when I was real small, me and the other calves would pretend to be ancient warriors from old stories all the time. But, that was us just playing pretend, I wasn't aware GROWN-UPS play it too. That's… interesting. How do you do it?"

As she goes back to the doll room, her eyes perk up as she spots the key, smiling as she nabs it off a desk with the intent to bring it back to the chest. Before going off though, she looks around the dress-room, extremely curious about what's in its confines. She tries to look through a few cabinets/closets first, interested in if this is the secret source of all Regina's outfits
[1d10] Searching

Roll #1 7 = 7


>For time's sake I'm going to allow all treasure rolls to auto-obtain an Appraise roll from Shei / Pupil. Please RP out as if you're going to him for studying the items.

"Not that one exactly – they live about twenty years at most, and this was well over a hundred years. However, each plant only spawns seeds when it is near death, and the seeds only grow when the old one is dead. Each successive plant bears the memories of the previous one. So, in a sense it both is and isn't the original one."

After you rub the skull, smoke trails out of the skull's eyes, nose and mouth, pooling up into a shape. The smoke turns into a skeleton butler. You notice his tailcoat, vest and undershirt are all of orange, red and white hues, causing him to resemble you greatly. The butler clacks his teeth, awaiting orders.
>Skelebutler's Bell
>Description: Conjures a simple skeleton butler who can execute a number of orders and is skilled in all the things a butler is skilled in.

After giving the room another once-over, you note an interesting ornamental sword. It is a thin epee, with a handle shaped like a bee. The moment that you touch it, you can sense a strong curse built into it. Your every sense and instinct tells you not to draw it forth from the scabbard.
>The Queen's Loyal Drone
>Description: A cursed lightweight sword that smells of honey and wild flowers. Whosoever draws the sword in combat is guaranteed at least one kill with it, but will unavoidably die when the battle is done. It can only be drawn in the presence of hostile forces.

There are a plethora of books available in the room, and you learn quickly that not all of them are for divination, per Regina's messy nature. You find some basic information on studying constellations and their portents – whether the signs are inverted or true, visible or obscure, bright or diminished. It seems that quite a bit of information can be gleaned from the constellations' movements, even in the midst of a heated battle or scene.
>Catalogue of the Heavenly Hosts
>Description: A quick-access catalogue of constellations. Consulting the book about the skies above you and their star-signs may provide hints and insights about the current situation's fortunes, and is an instant action.

"Well, I must warn you that you're going to need to do a lot of reading to play. I heard that's a difficulty for you."

Now alone in the dress-room, you find that it is far more spacious than you first saw. It seems that there are a number of walk-in closets here, as well as sub-closets within those walk-in closets. A number of frilly and plain dresses hang up, as well as shoes, stockings, trousers, skirts, shawls, corsets, socks, hats, and so forth. Just as you start to get deeper in, you notice that a number of scandalous outfits hang up – the kind of skimpy outfits that the ladies (except you) got to wear in the Illusory Realm. But before you can find one that fits you, you hear someone knocking at the front door of the castle.



Once Pupil is done appraising the sword, Amy looks at it with disgust. "I don't even like weapons, but this one SUPER sucks."

She passes it up and continues to look around. [1d10] for better treasure

Roll #1 7 = 7


Flow huffs, and closes his eyes.

He channels his briefly obtained knowedge of the Rakshasa style to mimic the monk’s moves. He also takes a wild guess at what the monk is using, and sees if he can absorb whatever energy he has.


Roll #1 10 = 10


Pryce takes a step back as a skeleton forms from the skull, glancing at it's robes that share his own colors.
"Are those natural colors?"
He asks, looking down at the pile of robes he picked up the skull from. Unsure of what to do with the skeleton, Pryce gives the skull another rub to see if that dismisses it, and then turns to the books and scrolls of the library, curious to what Regina would have collected over the years.
>Treasure [1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8


Flaming frowns, looking down. "Yes, it is… I can read my own scripts just fine but, I've never been good at reading Equish outside of a few basic words I've picked up. But, at the least i'll have to learn soon. Fairy Castle had a LOT of home-work for me, she said, so, I guess I might as well learn as soon as I can. Just how much do I need to learn?"

As Flaming opens up some of the closets, even coming upon the scandalous outfits that she had been so unjustly denied during her adventures in the Library, Flaming reaches up to rub her chin, looking at the very cool, VERY badass looking huntresses and kiminos with intrigue before she hears a knock at the door, taking her out of her imagination.

"Huh? Who could that be…" she says, wandering out of the closet (casting one last look back at the prizes within) before hurrying over to the door, opening it up for whoever's knocking.


Shei-Sher takes the tome and ambles over to the ceremonial occult room. Recognizing the orchids, shei looks for an occult fetish to implent the orchids potency in magic.


Roll #1 1 = 1


With only seconds to act, you begin to imitate the monk's moves, and afterimages of each of your positions and postures start to accumulate before you. The immense pressure of concentrated Magatsuhi spikes from the monk – and in a single instant, his attack begins.

What follows is an instantaneous trading of dozens of blows between you and the monk, countless attacks all built up at once, clashing and meeting and blocking one another in perfect mirrors of one another. In the midst of the flurry, you maintain a placid calmness, like a pond undisturbed by anything, even wind. Just when the monk's onslaught seems like it might overtake you, you breathe in, and the maelstrom of Magatsuhi breaks, absorbing into your soul. The loss of energy causes the monk to stumble, and breaks his attack.

He hops backward, and from the sleeves of his robe withdraws a rosary of his own – the Garland of 108 Kleshas. As the beads wrap around his hoof, he concentrates and begins to pray, becoming still and serene. A new energy starts to radiate from him – at first, your goo runs cold as you recognize it. It is that cold, calm stillness that you have felt coming from Miracle and Metatron and other angels of significant power. However, this energy, though still cold and deadly, is not as stiff and oppressive as theirs. This Dhyana is far more old and refined than the metallic inflexibility of the angels.


"Well, with someone sitting next to you who can read things out loud, you should be able to make it by, now that I think about it."

At the door, you find LJ and Tantra, still in costume. They look around for Regina first, but when it's clear that she's not nearby, they lean in conspiratorially. "We've gotten Box all ready to go by the lake. What's going on in here?" LJ whispers.

On the second rub, the butler dissipates into smoke, all of which returns to the skull.

Shei finds nothing that he can make sense of in the ceremonial occultist's room – despite the superficial similarities to Crowley's disciplines of ceremonial magic, the tomes and implements in Regina's room are written in another language, making it impossible for him to operate things.
Amy and Pryce stop briefly outside the fifth room, the one guarded by the skeleton butlers. But the butlers just shoo them off, and so they are forced to check inside the small personal library-within-a-library that Regina's got here. Inside, on a shelf, they find a grim-looking grimoire, and a small wand that has a handle shaped like a fish.

>Lexicon of the Moon's Dread

>Description: Contains illusory nightmares that can incapacitate a single target for Roll - 5 rounds. Can target up to ten targets as a Cleave roll, but increases Recharge by 1 with each additional target. Recharge 1 for 1 target. User determines the content of the Nightmare.

>Wand of Secrets

>Description: Summons a magical red herring that searches out for hidden traps, concealed treasure, hidden doors or passageways or other secrets. It will simply return to the Wand if it cannot find anything. Reduces DC for these searches by 3



"Oooh, I like this," Amy says as she takes the wand and starts waving it around.

"Can I keep it, Reggie?"


Regina comes back to the library room, having made a spot of tea for herself and snagged a few cookies on her way back. When she sees what you've got, she smiles and nods. "I'm tempted to snatch it from you and make you play fetch for it – but I think we've had enough games for today, right?"


Pryce heeds the butler's gesture, assuming the guarded room must be Regina's quarters. He looks through the library, and lifts the grimoire off the shelf. The cover already gives him a chill, so he opts not to open it right away.

Pryce steps out of the library, and tracks Shei into the occult room.
"Shei, can you examine these for me?"
He asks, holding out the skull and grimoire.


"Certainly" Shei dangles Pupil what you give him.

Shei-Sher continues piling through the contents of the room for anything cool
[1d10] occult stuff treasure

Roll #1 3 = 3



"I mean… we can play fetch once…" Amy says, awkwardly containing her enthusiasm.


The cover of the book is an unearthly silver, as is the binding and trim. The surface is very subtly lined with small bumps and divots, almost like craters and hills upon the moon.

Apart from what you've found already, there doesn't seem to be much of interest that you can take with you. Everything else seems to be mundane, or too large, or too old and personal. A lot of things have a nostalgic Qi about them – you get the feeling Regina wouldn't *really* be happy with parting with those items.

That just leaves the last room…

Regina stops and tilts her head silently, then with a swift grin plucks the wand from your grasp and flicks it down the hall to the other side, where it rolls to a stop right in front of the skeleton butlers.


Flaming smiles, "Oh! Then, yeah, most of my friends can read just fine! It sounds kind of interesting, exactly how do you play? Do we just, go outside and play pretend like we were kids but… with books?"

As LJ and Tantra enter, Flaming smiles widely at being re-united with her fellow buffalo. "Oh, good work! Regina was showing us around here to let us have some treasure… but, as it turns out she doesn't have any treasure prepared." She says with her ears deflating. "But, she did say we can have whatever we can find she doesn't need. I found a key that MIGHT fit that chest we found in the last world we were in."

Flaming snickers, "AND I found her wardrobe. Lots of silly clothes in there, but some of the cool kind too. Anyways, how ready is Box to make his move?"


Shei-Sher follows where Flaming went to and ends up looking for treasure in the wardrobe room

[1d10] something functional and snazzy, treasure

Roll #1 9 = 9



Amy excitedly bounds across the hallway after the wand. She picks it up in her mouth and brings it back to Regina.

She then straightens up her composure and takes the wand out of her mouth. "Thanks," she says with a smile. "That was fun!"



Amy then proceeds to flick the wand to see if the Red Herring will reveal anything hidden.

[1d10] for Reggie's dirty secrets! Or treasures. Or dirty treasures. Or secret treasures!

Roll #1 8 = 8


"A butler… that might be useful for the ship I suppose."
Pryce looks the the grimoire with a bit of a grimace.
"And this might be where Regina learned some of her illusions. Thank you for your help Shei."

Pryce tucks the skull and grimoire into his robe, feeling content. He looks down to Lockjaw, gesturing him to follow as Pryce goes to rejoin the others. But then Pryce recalls the toy room from earlier, and thinks of Spitshine and Sugar.
"Regina, can you spare any of the games downstairs? We have a few kids waiting on us back in Fantasia, and they could use something to help lighten up their free time."
>Game [1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3


"Most players prefer to play inside, but outdoor games aren't unheard of," Regina says. "It's easiest to explain it through an example game, actually. If you don't mind staying overnight or coming back tomorrow, that is."

The butlers leap with surprise as you barrel toward them, and are relived when you don't reify the stereotypes about dogs by taking their bones.

Afterward, you flick the wand, and a red herring appears, swimming around in the air for a moment. It starts swimming toward the locked room, guarded by the butlers. The butlers shoo it away, but the herring swims right past them and passes through the door, as if the door were intangible.

Regina clears her throat and blinks rapidly. She gives you a look that practically screams "Don't even think about it."

"Box is just about bursting at the seams over there," Tantra says. "I coached him, the Musies are gonna provide music, and they were even able to tailor a suit for him. There's also a Witch over there who wants to give us all haircuts."
"He just might about explode if we delay too long," LJ says. "He's not just shaking or pacing. The guy's vibrating."

They follow Flaming to the dress room, where they meet with Shei. Tantra and LJ, immediately awed, give little thought to decorum or good manners, and immediately start checking out the clothing, awed by the many styles, accessories and fashions totally foreign to the Climbing-Fire lifestyle.

Meanwhile, among the stranger items in the wardrobe, Shei finds a rather dingy-looking cloth bag.

>Sackcloth of Exiles

>Description: A sackcloth bag to be worn over the head, indicated by the eye and mouth holes cut into its surface. Counts as an Automatic use of the Disguise skill, but can only change the head.

"Something for children?" Regina wonders, heading downstairs into the toy room. She looks through the games and books she has on hand, clicking her tongue as she flips through them. "Actually, since Flaming seems to have taken an interest in the 'Witches and Wargs', why don't I give you that book she tore earlier? You can use it to teach her some basic Equish."


Flaming looks up to Regina, nodding her head enthused. "Yeah, I learn best by doing anyhow. That sounds great, I don't think I'd mind staying over-night to learn."

Flaming lets out a whistle, "He's THAT ready, huh? Well, in that case, I guess we shouldn't keep him waiting too long. How should we do this, we don't want to just tell Regina what he's planning, right? How should we get her to go out there?"

Flaming, after introducing them to the closet, starts picking between the various attire, off-hoofedly looking fore treasure as she eyes some of the more risque options. "I am *NOT* getting my hair cut, though. I like my hair the way it is, it hasn't been cut since I left the tribe."
[1d10] Searching for treasure

Roll #1 10 = 10



Amy's eyes narrow as she returns Regina's glare. A wide, ominous grin spreads across Amy's face.

"You knoooooow," Amy points out playfully. "You HAVE been spying on us all day. Don't you think it's only fair we get to see a secret or two?"

>[1d10+2] Mantra of Equality with Compassion

Roll #1 9 + 2 = 11


As Shei-Sher passes by Amy on his way to the wardrobe he points at her "Don't think for a slight I didn't catch your meaning. 'Roll Over' Those are for Pooping Amy! Pooping!"

"Oi, A fine way to find everyone. An extravagant wardrobe Regina has."

Shei-Sher eyes the sackcloth "hm?" he puts it on and disguises himself as Amy, for fun! "Well now.. I will be taking more of Regina's things."

Shei-Sher leaves as soon as he arrives and heads to the library
[1d10] finding something good in the library, treasure.

Roll #1 9 = 9



"Actually, did you know that you can absorb things into your body way faster back there? Remember those potions I gave you last time to keep your… stamina up…?" Amy asks with a grin.


Shei-Sher taps your head with the hammer of his staff "Bad. Bad Amy."



"Oh the things I could make you feel if you'd just let me…" Amy says longingly, rubbing her head.


Flow recognizes the monk for his talents, and bows in respect as he displays his aged and foreign Dhyana.

Flow recalls what he learned from his short but clear prayer with the rosary, and pulls out his own, aiming to absorb the monk’s Dhyana should he strike.


"Witches and Wargs? What kind of game is it?"
Pryce asks.



Roll #1 7 = 7


Flaming pops her head out of the closet to yell at Pryce, "It's a board game where you pretend to be someone else! Regina said it's like, using papers and pens to keep track of what your pretend self is like and it involves a lot of reading… and I'm not EXACTLY sure how it's different than regular playing pretend yet but it sounds interesting. We're gonna play it later tonight, you want in?"


"A board game for playing pretend? Seems unnecessary to add a board to that, but it sounds interesting enough. Do you think this would be something Spitshine and Sugar would like?"


"ba-ah begone with you! Little minx." Shei playfully bats at Amy's bum with his staff as he ambles on his way.



"Save it for later, Shei," Amy says with a wink as she's hit on the flank.


"There's plenty of secrets to find elsewhere!" Regina sputters, folding her arms. "Besides, a magician never reveals her tricks, and I've revealed plenty as it is. Replicas, Replicants, illusions, and now treasure! What more do you want from me?"

And, just as you had seen earlier, you return to the walk-in closet. But as you peruse the skimpy outfits, something else commands your attention. You find a loose dress, made from massive leaves sewn together with roots and the vines of flowers. It reminds you quite a bit of forest druid's garb, and of the makeshift plant-dresses of the Breezie tribes of the Highlands. It's far more modest than the skimpy outfits you had wanted all this time, but something about this one calls to you in a rather new way.

In addition, a nearby blank cloak that feels rather magical catches your eye.

>Cloak of Beasts

>Description: A blank cloak. The user can store minions within the cloak, enabling them to be summoned later without having to use a roll. Can store up to three minions. When worn, grants a point of Pet Mastery. Design changes based on the minions stored inside the cloak.

Inside the library, you find one last book that seems like something you could take without incurring any wrath.

>Book of Beasts

>A small book full of blank pages. When the user draws a picture of a creature on a page and tears it out, the creature comes to life as a loyal minion with full 4/4 H/W and a single skill from any class. There are 30 pages within the book.

"Just tell her something like, the Witches want to give her something to represent this new stage in her life," Tantra says. "Chicks dig stuff like that."

>This seems to be all the treasure you can take.

Behind the monk, a mandala appears, radiant and depicting a diamond array of lotuses, each side unfolding into many more lotuses. Within each lotus appears a bodhisattva, serene and calm. And from the Bodhisattvas' eyes, a multitude of lights begin to glow. A rapidfire storm of burning light manifests, firing at you like fireballs from the sun. But, instead of dodging or fighting like a demon, you hold fast, taking on the posture and calm of a Bodhisattva. Your prayers keep you steadfast as the lights and fire take shots at you. The fire burns and blasts your goo, yet you feel yourself taking no damage, as your utter calm prevents there from being any injury or wound.

Seeing the attack thwarted again, the monk smirks, putting away his rosary. Instead of taking another attack of his own, he stands there cockily. He has demonstrated the Rakshasa and Bodhisattva style. Now, with only one style remaining, he takes a step toward you, and spreads out an arm to the side in a challenging display, as if to say – "Well, what is it?"


"Yeah, I'm not quite sure what the board is used for yet… oh, figurines!" Flaming blurts out, "When I was putting the book back together, I saw some pictures: the pretend-you is a little figurine you move around the board. Oooh, so that's why ponies play it in-doors. I just thought they hated sunshine."


"Oh, so it's like a board game that you act out. That does sound fun."
Pryce comments, looking to the book to check how many players this game can handle.
"Well, if you're using a board, you wouldn't want it to blow away, or get rained on. It's easier to play inside to keep those games safe from the elements."



"You're right…" Amy contemplates. "But, I still feel like you know more about us than we do about you. How can we get to be better friends without getting to know you?"

"Besides, the Red Herring went through that door," Amy adds for pragmatism.

[1d10+2] Mantra of Equality with Compassion

Roll #1 2 + 2 = 4


Flaming finds herself looking back and forth between a metal-bikini and one of the ninja kiminos from earlier, struggling to think if either would really look so good on her as they do the 'older' mares or if it'd look just plain silly given her somewhat smaller stature, but before long her eyes catch the druid's dress, her eyes widening as she gets a glimpse of it. "Woah…"

She leans forward, grabbing at the grassy dress and, while a little short in the skirt and the top, is much more 'cute' than scandalous and Flaming takes an immediately drawing to it, the earthy scent of the leaves very reminiscent of her plains. She smiles, taking it onto her back as she spots the cloak besides it, reaching out to carry it as well.
"These are great… I think this cloak even has some magic power to it. Lemme ask Regina if she'll mind if I take these off her hooves."

She nods to Journey and Tantra, "Alright, I think that'll work! I'll go find Regina now and tell her that's what's waiting for her, you make sure everyone else is good to go… and tell the hair-cut witch to stay away from me!"

[1d10]Finding Regina

Roll #1 10 = 10


"Right, now that makes sense. Still… it's probably nicer to play it outside if it's a nice day. Can you read me the rules while we play, Pryce? Regina said there's lots of rules and, you know… I'm still not that good at Equish."


Shei-Sher ambles over to Regina and Amy, while wearing the sackcloth and disguised as Amy.

"Pretty please, let us peruse your personables and fondle your undergarments, its the only way we can truly be friends after you've been peeping on us." Shei tries for the best Amy impression he possible can to amuse Regina.


"With Regina's powers, we could probably have a nice night outside tonight to play outside," He comments, "Of course. I can't imagine there'd be too many rules if it's mostly pretend."


Looks like the game is best played with four to seven ponies, including an extra player known as the 'Queen-Mother' who serves as narrator and judge of all dice rolls.

Regina puffs out her cheeks as you all regroup around her. "I'll allow Amy to look about, and no more. If any of you should even ATTEMPT it – including you and your astral projection, Shei, I'll show you firsthand just how high above the ground the Library's tower is."

>Paused, continue posting if desired



"W-wait, did you make another clone of me, Reggie?" Amy asks, looking confused. "You still think that's what I'm like!?"


"Don't you understand Amy, I am you, and you are me. But me, I am totally the real Amy."


Last time on HolyQuest…

Regina realized that she had spoken far too soon regarding the treasures she had supposedly planned to offer the party – her house was in such a messy state, since she had no reason to expect guests, so she never got around to organizing a formal bestowal of treasure. She quickly spun this, telling the party to essentially do it themselves, and search her house for things that they might like to take. And, in spite of Regina's lack of preparation, there were quite a few treasures to be had:

>Skelebutler's Bell

>Description: Conjures a simple skeleton butler who can execute a number of orders and is skilled in all the things a butler is skilled in.

>The Queen's Loyal Drone

>Description: A cursed lightweight sword that smells of honey and wild flowers. Whosoever draws the sword in combat is guaranteed at least one kill with it, but will unavoidably die when the battle is done. It can only be drawn in the presence of hostile forces.

>Catalogue of the Heavenly Hosts

>Description: A quick-access catalogue of constellations. Consulting the book about the skies above you and their star-signs may provide hints and insights about the current situation's fortunes, and is an instant action.

>Night's Sky Tapestry:

>Description: An orb that always has an accurate illustration of all stars, planets, and constellations for your approximate geographic position, allowing you to consult them no matter the time or the weather. Can be willed to expand the star-map over your head so that you can get an idea of what things look like as though you were looking up at them from below.

>Lexicon of the Moon's Dread

>Description: Contains illusory nightmares that can incapacitate a single target for Roll - 5 rounds. Can target up to ten targets as a Cleave roll, but increases Recharge by 1 with each additional target. Recharge 1 for 1 target. User determines the content of the Nightmare.

>Wand of Secrets

>Description: Summons a magical red herring that searches out for hidden traps, concealed treasure, hidden doors or passageways or other secrets. It will simply return to the Wand if it cannot find anything. Reduces DC for these searches by 3

>Sackcloth of Exiles

>Description: A sackcloth bag to be worn over the head, indicated by the eye and mouth holes cut into its surface. Counts as an Automatic use of the Disguise skill, but can only change the head.

>Cloak of Beasts

>Description: A blank cloak. The user can store minions within the cloak, enabling them to be summoned later without having to use a roll. Can store up to three minions. When worn, grants a point of Pet Mastery. Design changes based on the minions stored inside the cloak.

>Book of Beasts

>A small book full of blank pages. When the user draws a picture of a creature on a page and tears it out, the creature comes to life as a loyal minion with full 4/4 H/W and a single skill from any class. There are 30 pages within the book.

Toward the end of their hunt, Tantra and LJ arrived at the castle, informing Flaming that Box was ready to pop the question to Regina, prepared by both the party and the Witches.


Flow, meanwhile, continued his meditations with the faceless monk, deep within the eye of his soul. The monk's three treasures, discovered within the shattered dojo, consisted of the Codex of the Rakshasa Style, the Garland of 108 Kleshas, and the Tea of the Homebound Immortal. These three artifacts were relics of ascendant mortals, who through one method or another, transcended their base mortality and achieved power and excellence higher than most might ever dream. In a quick test, the monk demonstrated the Rakshasa and Bodhisattva styles of combat, prompting Flow to learn on the fly in order to counter his attacks. Now that the monk demonstrated the first two styles, he paused, seemingly looking for Flow to demonstrate the third.


Looks like the game is best played with four to seven ponies, including an extra player known as the 'Queen-Mother' who serves as narrator and judge of all dice rolls.

>Flaming, Amy, Shei, Pryce

Regina puffs out her cheeks as you all regroup around her. "I'll allow Amy to look about, and no more. If any of you should even ATTEMPT it – including you and your astral projection, Shei, I'll show you firsthand just how high above the ground the Library's tower is."


Behind the monk, a mandala appears, radiant and depicting a diamond array of lotuses, each side unfolding into many more lotuses. Within each lotus appears a bodhisattva, serene and calm. And from the Bodhisattvas' eyes, a multitude of lights begin to glow. A rapidfire storm of burning light manifests, firing at you like fireballs from the sun. But, instead of dodging or fighting like a demon, you hold fast, taking on the posture and calm of a Bodhisattva. Your prayers keep you steadfast as the lights and fire take shots at you. The fire burns and blasts your goo, yet you feel yourself taking no damage, as your utter calm prevents there from being any injury or wound.

Seeing the attack thwarted again, the monk smirks, putting away his rosary. Instead of taking another attack of his own, he stands there cockily. He has demonstrated the Rakshasa and Bodhisattva style. Now, with only one style remaining, he takes a step toward you, and spreads out an arm to the side in a challenging display, as if to say – "Well, what is it?"


As they all gather around the door leading into Regina's personal bed-room to relay the news, Flaming looks up at the imposing, mysterious door with her interest piqued. Belaying the message she promised to pass on for LJ/Tantra for a few more moments, she asks:

"Why can't I come in too? I bet you have some REALLY cool stuff in there, I want to see it."



"Thanks, Reggie," Amy says with a big smile. "You're still the best."

Assuming Amy is allowed and capable of entering her bedroom, Amy does so.


Shei-Sher takes off the Sackcloth of Exiles "No need to watch me, I know what boundaries are."

Shei-Sher turns to Flaming "How would you like to trade for your Cloak of beasts?"


Regina tilts her head at Flaming. "…Fine, it's not like you'll find anything improper for a lady to see, anyway."

LJ just shakes his head, suppressing a laugh at the rules of decorum for ponies and sphinxes alike.

Regina leads the way to the massive doors at the end of the hall, and the skeleton butlers part ways, though not without fixing Amy and Flaming with a cautious look. Regina waves her paw dismissively, and the two butlers reluctantly stand off to the side.

She then pushes the doors open, revealing what is easily the biggest room in the castle – she just as quickly closes them from the prying eyes of the stallions in the hall. A very plush, very long and very tall bed takes up the majority of the space, full of pillows both large and small, and with a set of red and black curtains surrounding it. A few drawers and cabinets are present, as well as windows, mirrors, and another tall closet. Unlike the other rooms, everything in this room is decidedly Regina-sized, clearly not meant to be visited by anyone who isn't Regina, not even the skeleton butlers – there are no easy ways of accessing things for smaller folks like you two. To get anywhere, you may have to improvise using furniture as stepstools.

Interestingly, the room seems almost devoid of magical implements. Upon some inspection, it is rather decidedly mundane and simple. Probably some kind of choice for ease of sleep. Regina, after making sure the doors are shut and sealed, leans down, her paws tucked self-consciously underneath you. It seems that she has little experience with the universal female ritual of the sleepover.


tucked self-consciously underneath her*



"Ooooh!" Amy gasps excitedly upon seeing the oversized fluffy bed. She starts trying to climb it.


Roll #1 9 = 9


Shei-Sher turns to LJ for small talk to pass time while the girls have their fun "So do you plan on keeping the prince outfit?"


Flaming turns to look at Shei as he asks for the Cloak of Beasts, "Well, sure, I don't think I'd mind a trade. You have something in mind, Shei?"

Flaming smiles up at Regina, doing a little dance of joy before following them inside. She turns to look at the skeleton butlers warily, still not on the best of terms after one outted her earlier with the game-book, but moves on to the interior of the room.

Flaming looks around the massive chamber, chuckling to herself as Amy gets up on the massive bed, "Amy, you're not thinking of bouncing on that are you?"

She turns to look towards the closet, curious if she has yet MORE clothes within. "Can I look inside your closet, Regina? I hope you don't mind but I wanted to take one from the one downstairs."



"Looks like this game could handle all of them, this should be perfect."
Pryce comments as he reads over the rules. When he scans over the 'Queen-Mother' title in the book, he looks up at Regina, after her own given title.
"…Is this what we were going through this whole time?"



"Of course I am!" Amy says excitedly as she scales the bed.


"Well the sackcloth of Exiles is failing to captivate me. hmm Say I'll throw in my Catalogue of heavenly hosts, the Night's Sky Apestry, along with the Sackcloth of Exiles for your cloak."


>Before they enter the bedroom

Regina kneads the ground with her paws a little, probably some kind of sphinx nervous tic, if you had to guess – "I might have taken some cues from it. But! My magic is my own. I am not content with simply imitate those who have come before me… but if I were to QM a game of W&W, I would have no equal."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11nvu0vBYNE Bedroom music

Scrambling up the side of a bedskirt with your newly-sharpened wolf claws, you make your way up onto the bed. At your size, it is very easy for you to sink into the plush and fluffy surface. It's soft and fun at first, but walking is actually quite a hassle when you sink up to your snout with each step. You do notice, however, that they're quite bouncy. Perhaps with some ingenuity, that can work to your advantage. The sheets are lightly perfumed and immaculately clean.

Regina frowns, scratching the side of her cheek as she looks off to the side. "I don't make any promises about what you'll find in there. Certainly nothing that's going to fit you, of course. But… I did agree to it."

She opens up the closet, which at your size might as well be a towering cathedral. Like the one downstairs, this one is a walk-in, and all the dresses and gowns and pajamas are all Regina-sized. Still, if you have a careful eye out, you might find something of use.

LJ nods, and in fact you can see he's still wearing it. "At first I wasn't keen on it, since I quite honestly have too many of the things. We did quite a bit of looting during the initial trek to the northwest – it was amazing what the nobility of the abandoned countries left behind, to speak nothing of the gold and jewels we got by the bucketful too. But, I think I will. Now that my Clan and kin have taken shelter in Amlapura, I am hard-pressed to find anyone who can tailor clothing to my proportions. Thankfully, Regina seems to have already taken care of that as this fits me perfectly."

"Same here!" Tantra echoes, tapping the coat of arms of his guard's coat.


Flow smirks, and retaliates with an opening of his arms, as if to say, “Welcome.”
He figures the monk can figure out what he’s welcoming him to, as he closes his eyes, focuses his Qi, and prepares to strike.
Holding his hoof on his hip, he whips his hoof around.
“Deadly Fury.”

Roll #1 8 = 8


Flaming shakes her head, "Well, not without me you're not! I'll be up behind you in a minute!"

"Woah! That's THREE magic items for my one. I mean, I wouldn't oppose but, are you sure you want to give up that many? If you do, I accept but, I'd be happy with just one."

Flaming takes a look around the massive closet, snickering to herself at her newfound fascination with clothes today: NOT something she'd thought she'd find interest in before.

"These are all pretty too, Regina, did you make all these?"
[1d10] Searching
"OH! By the way, I had something I needed to tell you."

Roll #1 5 = 5


"If you do run one, let's not go with all that danger again."
Pryce says simply before Regina departs into the bedroom. In wait, Pryce idly flips though the book to get a grasp of the game.


In the arc of your swing, a brilliant blade of dazzling green light forms – in an instant, the energy collects in your chest, spreads down to your arms, and then forms a claymore of condensed Qi. The monk makes no attempt to dodge, allowing the strike to cut straight through him with a glee for battle. He falls to the ground in two clean puddles, bisected across the top, but quickly gathers himself together, forming a coherent body once more. After your Qi blade dissipates, you feel slightly drained, as if you'd spent a great deal of energy in that attack. The flame within you has diminished, but you sense that you can build it up again if you can just get a breather.

After restoring himself, the monk's red Qi builds around him again, this time gathering around his head. It takes the form of a storm cloud, sparking and growling with streaks of lightning-like energy as his body darkens. The light circles around his right eye, accumulating into a small, bullet-like nexus of brilliant light…!


Roll #1 9 + 4 = 13



"Well, it's too fluffy to bounce on, but this is sooooo nice!" Amy says happily as she rolls around on the bed, enjoying the feel of it.

As she rolls, she uses the wand to let out another Red Herring. [1d10] to find bedroom secrets

Roll #1 7 = 7


"She's done an excellent job with the tailoring. It perplexes me to think how she got our dimensions so finely. My robes were singed and torn from the last story I played. Ba-ah I am a mite bit envious. I'm awful fond of midland royal aesthetic, and unless you are looting abandoned castles it's a difficult comfort to come. Like wearing cotton pillows wrapped in velvet." Shei gives LJ a good look "Well- now you have clothes to match the wealth. All you would need is a crest and some paperwork you could very well pass yourself for nobility. Have you given any thought to settling down?"

"No, that's fine with me. The astrology items could only go as far as a hobby for me, I have more personal ways of making contact with the gods. The magical world has only just opened up to you however, you would put it to better use than me."


The heavy book is quite the encyclopedia, containing a guide for character building and development, entries for items, armor, spells, and other equipment, monsters to fight, locations to explore, prompts and plotlines for adventures, and advice for novice Queen-Mothers who find difficulty running a game. Overall, there seems to be a very positive and encouraging atmosphere to the book. It seems geared more toward a younger crowd, making it strange that someone as old as Regina would be so interested in it. Though, on second thought – perhaps not.

"I have decided against letting the future get to me," LJ says. "I'm focused entirely upon the Tartarus expedition. I aim to clear my mind before we enter of any and all attachments to this world. Our victory, taken at any cost, will be the sole factor on my mind."

As LJ says this, he is unaware of Tantra staring at the back of his head. Tantra's expression is extremely disapproving, but greatly conflicted, too.

"Most of them, but not all," Regina comments. "A great many are inherited from previous Queen-Mothers – hand-me-downs, if you will. A few were made for me at my coronation. And, what is it?"

As you search, you notice a strange mirror tucked away behind a shoebox. The mirror is practically your size, and is surrounded by an array of lattices and interweaving metalwork that makes it quite unruly to hold. However, as you gaze into it, you are struck not by a vision of yourself reflected, but a vision of your self seen from above, a bird's eye view. You can see everything inside the closet and a little distance outside of it, too. The hanging dresses above you are slightly translucent so that you can see through them.

The Red Herring swims up to one of the smaller pillows, one that, strangely enough, might fit someone of your size. The pillow has rather odd swirls and circles upon it, and is of a dark and dreamy series of colors, with clusters of light and waves of green and yellow and red and orange, quite like an aurora. It reminds you of the art and architecture of Circadia, and in particular of the Hypnagogium. There is a prominent zipper on one side.

Underneath the pillow, you see a stuffed pony with button eyes and a witch's gown and hat sewn on. Unlike the other dolls and toys you've faced so far, this one is inert. It looks very, very old, but is incredibly well kept, showing signs of great care and repair.



Amy observes the pillow curiously. She unzips it.

[1d10] if you want

Roll #1 6 = 6


Strangely, the zipper doesn't budge. It doesn't seem to be locked, and you can't sense any sort of magic upon the zipper itself – though, the whole pillow feels magical to you, thanks to your heightened senses as a demon.



"Hmm…" Amy mumbles with fascination. She picks up the pillow and shows it to Regina. "Hey, Reggie, what's this?" she asks curiously.


The game might take a bit of reading, but it looks like it'd be something the kids might enjoy. Pryce sets the book back on the shelf, and then heads back to the main hall where the other stallions are while they wait.


Regina clacks her claws with intrigue and surprise. "An interesting choice. That one's the Lunette Pillow. As for what it does – it might be easier to show you. Here, get Flaming to lay her head on it, and then try unzipping it again."



"Oooh! Sounds fun!" Amy says excitedly. She (slightly) carefully climbs down from the bed and tosses the pillow at Flaming.

"There you go Shortyhorns! Try it out!"


"Awwww. It looked liked it was PERFECT for bouncing," she shouts from below. "Well, try not to fall asleep on it either! We got lots ahead of us after all."

"I… I appreciate that Shei, thank you. Given I'm trying to learn a lot about magic as is, stuff like this would help. And the Fire-Climbing Clan *did* have a few star-readers among our shamans, maybe this will make me feel more like a proper Chieftain. Okay, it's a deal." She says, taking off the cloak she found to trade with Shei

"Impressive collection… wait, inherited? Were all Queen Mothers as big as you are?"
"OH! And, sorry, the thing I was going to tell you was… uh, I heard the other witches were preparing for you something out at the Lake, they wanted you to come out and see it. Think you got some time?"

As her attention is drawn to the mirror in the over-sized shoebox, Flaming feels herself pulled to it, pulling out the ornate mirror as she looks into it and see herself… but from a top side view!

"Woah… it's like a map! Only, a map with you at the center." She moves the mirror around, getting a full view of the closet. "This could be useful… hey, Regina! It's okay if I take this out of here?" She says presenting the mirror."


Flow grins, and does a backstep, aiming to let his shadow, wherever it is, take his immediate place.
>You Are Not Alone
>Qi element


"Ahhh ri-i-igt, I did not mean to lump you in with those who've declined the mission, though after today I feel some minds have changed. Better of me to just assume anyone devoted to Buiwong will be present for the Tartarus Expedition." Shei-Sher glances over to Tantra, his glare holding just a while too long and then back to LJ again "That said, I'm fairly well connected. Should you decide not to enter Tartarus arrangements can always be made."

"I'll be check the wardrobe one last time. I need to find where Regina put my clothes." With that Shei leaves the two for the wardrobe.


After Amy throws her the pillow, Flaming turns in surprise, catching it on her head as she plops it down on the floor. "Huh? Uh… okay. I'm not really THAT tired though."

She lays down on the floor, lowering her head ontop of the soft, fluffy pillow, nuzzling herself comfortably into it. "Like this?"


"Not in the slightest!" Regina laughs. "Some were proportioned quite differently from me, too. Some were Vellus, others Krikral or even Vola, or Di, so the tailors had quite a lot of trouble putting it all together."

Regina nods. "Yes, I was going to see you off anyway. What's awaiting for me down there?"

She then looks at the mirror. "Oh, the Monstrance Mirror. Here, let me show you a bit of what it can do."

Trailing her finger along the mirror's surface, she pushes the image about, moving it to the left and to the right to let you see more of the closet and even of the bedroom. She then makes a pinching motion, which pulls the image out until you can see all of the second floor, all its numerous major and minor rooms and halls. The then reverses the motion, zooming it back in to its normal size.

>Monstrance Mirror

>Description: A mirror that allows one a bird's eye view of up to 50 meters around one's self. By default, shows 20 meters, but can be expanded outwards. Cannot reveal things that are hidden by magic or other powers, but can allow one to see around corners and get directions.

"So long as Flaming is entering Tartarus, then I am," LJ says resolutely. But both Shei and Pryce can notice the fear in his eyes as he says it – fear muted and controlled, but fear nonetheless. Tantra just grumbles and shakes his head indecisively.

Back in the downstairs wardrobe, Shei and Pryce find the rest of their clothes, which had been swapped out during One Last Job, folded neatly near the door for them to take. Lockjaw, upon finding Pryce's robe and cloak, immediately climbs on top of them like a dog finding their favorite bed. Having finished the meat, he looks quite tired.

As you make a copy of yourself with the Qi, you note that your shadow immediately takes upon a far more tangible, real presence, with weight and form far stronger and more solid than that of your normal clones. More of the flame within you dwindles, and you can feel that you are getting down to your last reserves of it.

But the Qi you have commanded is strong, and though your clone is destroyed, it completely blocks the beam of light that rockets out of the monk's eye like a rifle's blast. The monk hops back and forth from one hoof to another, impressed and amused that you blocked his bolt. Almost sensing that you're on your last reserves of cultivated Qi, he starts to run forward, a hoof moving toward his hip. As a red beam of light starts to grow from his hoof, you realize he's about to use a copy of your own Deadly Fury for the final blow.


Roll #1 8 + 4 = 12



"Wait, that's what you really look like?" Amy asks Regina, slightly surprised. "I kind of figured you were using some fancy illusion magic to make yourself look like that."


Flow closes his eyes and grins.
Since he recognizes the sound, he waits for it to draw close, and he holds his hoof to his hip as if he were going to use the same move.

However, Flow opens his eyes and whips his hoof upwards to parry the monk’s attack.

Roll #1 4 = 4


Regina growls slightly, looking even more self-conscious than before by the way she curls her lip. "Why would my castle be this STATURE if this appearance was only an illusion? What am I supposed to do if members of my race are proportioned the way we are? Frankly, you're the ones who are the wrong size. Being as small as you are must be very impractical."


Pryce steps out to catch the end of their talk, deciding to not put in his opinion.

He steps over to Lockjaw, who quickly turns his old clothes into a bed. He smiles, and telekinetically lifts the deviljho in the cloak, letting him keep that while he takes his robe and drapes it over his current costume for now.



"Well, when you're literally called 'The Mother of Illusions', can you really blame me for thinking that there's illusions involved in everything you do?" Amy responds, shrugging.


Shei-Sher changes into his coat and silver anklet "Imagine the grief, were I to lose my mother's anklet."

Shei hoists his bag over his shoulder feeling like himself again. Shei-Sher leans on a rack of clothes, enjoying the luxurious feel of hanging fabrics. Shei-Sher looks at Pryce's pet fondly "Is he coming along to Tartarus too?"


Pryce looks down to Lockjaw, and shakes his head.
"No, he isn't."


You and the monk clash blades, coming face to face for a brief second. Then you break apart, swords of Qi catching on one another again, and again, parrying and matching the other's strikes until–

With a feeling like losing the breath within you, the inner flame dwindles until it becomes a tiny speck of light, and the Qi-blade dissolves. The monk's blade then passes cleanly through your chest, passing in an instant all the way through your body, cutting you cleanly in two. As you fall to pieces before him, the blade in his hoof vanishes. Of course, you aren't actually hurt. The monk turns, offering you a hoof up with his characteristic sly grin.


Flaming looks at the mirror as she demonstrates its use, looking down at the room and closet from on high as she uses her hoof to 'trail' along the mirror's surface, letting her see in all corners and directions from here.

"Woah, this is so cool!" She looks up, half-expecting to see some sort of eye above her looking down. "It can just see us from up there? This may REALLY come in handy, wecan use this to scout the way ahead and play it as safe as possible in Tartarus!"

As she asks what they have planned, Flaming blushes, not keen on lying but not wanting to spoil the surprise either. "OH. Uh…. something big, I think they said? Y-you should just go out there and see for yourself."



Once Flaming is sufficiently resting on the pillow, Amy unzips it.


"That's good. I only thought otherwise since you discovered he's been shrunk this entire time."


Lockjaw quickly gets comfortable, tossing and turning a bit until he gets curled up in the cloak. And, in what might be record time, he starts snoring just a few seconds afterward.

"Think he might have a condition?" Tantra asks.
"I've heard it said that the deviljho have inverted roles in child-reading," LJ says. "The males carry the hatchlings on their backs, instead of the females. Given how much energy they consume at their size, they can probably sleep quickly to conserve energy all the more efficiently."

"If I wanted to disguise myself, I'd go with the opposite," Regina scoffs. "But I refuse to hide who I am."

Regina starts to look skeptical. "Seems very impromptu for them to have something 'big' whipped up for me. But, I won't impose. They've demonstrated a forgiveness and patience far beyond what I deserved. Very well, I'll wait. Should I blindfold myself, too?"

Amy finds that the zipper is very hard to move, but eventually she pries it open. Inside, she can see an amazing sight – it is a tribal village, located somewhere upon a rocky mountain, fresh and lush with grasses and bushes, and towering firs and pine trees. Huts and teepees are built in a series of concentric circles, marked with buffalo tribal markings and paint. Smoke rises from within some of the larger huts, likely belonging to sorcerers and shamans. A massive stone wall can be seen in the distance, circling about the village on the farthest reaches to protect it from intruders. Further in, past the wall, is a high castle, from which a mighty plume of smoke rises.

>Lunette Pillow

>Description: A pillow that allows one to enter the mindscape of whoever lays their head upon it, allowing them to directly interact with their thoughts, memories, dreams, ideas, motivations, desires, and so forth. Starts at DC 10 to use, and this DC can decrease or increase based on a number of factors. These factors all stack.
>-2 DC if the target is asleep; -2 if they are willing to let you into their mind; -2 if you know them well, for better or worse; -2 if they are weak to Mind; -2 if they are weak to Magic
>+2 DC if the target is resistant to Magic; +2 DC if they are resistant to Mind

Regina peeks in, and offers Amy a brief explanation of the details of the pillow's powers. "…In short, it lets you walk into someone's mind," she eventually concludes. "But it's not easy to use on anyone who doesn't want it used on them."


"He is shrunken, that may have an effect on him too."
Pryce comments on the talk of deviljho habits. Pryce looks over to Tanta and LJ.
"So what has everypony been up to while we've been here?"



"That's pretty nifty!" Amy says excitedly. "That way, we don't have to do all the complicated Astral Projection stuff to get a bunch of people in! Just boop, we're in now!"

"Can I have it?" Amy asks with big puppy-dog eyes. "I promise I won't ask for anything else!"


Flow chuckles and accepts the old monk’s hoof to help himself up.
He bows his head out of respect, and takes a sigh of relief, sure that he’s experiencing euphoria as he slowly gets down to close his eyes, and meditate. Meditate on what he’s learned.
But most importantly, why.


"Well, mind you – heh – to get at someone's soul, you'll still need to use Astral Projection. This only allows you to touch their mind directly," Regina says. "And yes, if you can be satisfied with that, that would be best. We must be off from here posthaste; Flaming tells me I'm expected by the lakeside."


"The others have gotten Box ready for Regina," Tantra whispers. "He's gonna ask The Question."


"Carrying hatchlings the size of buildings at that" Shei remarks. Shei leans in more into the clothing rack, slowly slipping beneath the folds. "They certainly are taking their time. I had not planned on a sleepover but the more we stay.. "


As Amy takes a peek inside the pillow, Flaming's eyes open WIDE at Regina's explanation. "W-wait, WHAT?! It lets you look into my mind?"

She looks at Amy, "Uh… you don't see anything… EMBARRASSING in there, do you? Cause if you do, you can't tell ANYONE about it, a-and you have to let ME see inside your head to let me get even?"

"OH! A blindfold might actually be a good idea, I think it's definitely supposed to be a surprise. Can you walk down to the lake wearing one?"



"Don't worry, it looks really nice in there," Amy says as she closes the pillow. "It's just a really pretty and peaceful village in a big field. It looks like the kind of place I'd like."

"And, Shortyhorns," Amy says with a grin, putting her hoof-paw on Flaming's shoulder and looking her dead in the eyes. "You do NOT want to see in my mind."


("He's not seriously going to jump to that already, is he?")
Pryce asks in disbelief.


"Oh… it does?" Flaming tries to twist her head to look through the zipper on the side of the pillow, but is unable to twist around enough to look through it without coming 'off' the pillow and cutting off the passage. "Huh… I thought my head would be a little crazier, honestly. Like a battlefield instead of a village… guess I'm more homesick than I thought."

Flaming looks up at Amy, smirking, "Oh? Why not, I think I've met literally EVERY demon you have in there. Literally said hi to them. How bad can it be?"


As you meditate again, the monk sits down across from you, and assumes the same posture. As unnecessary thoughts and disitractions drift away from your mind, so too do your senses, and in time, you find sleep calling to you. Only, the feeling is like floating upward from below the surface of the water, up toward a certain light…

Eventually, you come to, finding yourself back in Fantasia's training yard. The yard is strangely empty – those others who were training and exercising have, for some reason, vanished. And then, you see the cause laying before you –

A puddle of water, half-dissolved goo. Cut apart, laying in pieces. A straw hat cast off to the side, and seven weapons laying scattered on the ground.

Estuary's Memory is dead.

"Yep, he's asking her on a date," Tantra says. "A bold move for such a small mimic."
"Think he might get crushed?" LJ asks.

Regina fishes about in her closet, taking out a blindfold. "If one of you could hold my claw so I don't bump my head upon any trees, that would be best," she says to Amy and Flaming. Then, once they are done playing with the Lunette Pillow, she leads the way out of her room, heading down the hall and down the stairs, to where the others await them. She offers a nod to LJ and Tantra, who take up positions on either side of her.

"The Sisters of the Coven sent us to let you know–" Tantra begins, but Regina raises a claw.
"I've heard a surprise is waiting for me," she says. "Rest assured, Flaming hasn't spoiled the surprise. Someone do get the door for me, will you?"

Regina then raises the blindfold and ties it over her eyes. Her claws tap along the ground with apprehension and excitement.



"Imagine Tartarus… but backwards."



Amy guides Regina by her claw. "I'm so happy you're making friends," Amy says like a proud parent.


Flaming frowns, "I can't even imagine Tartarus FORWARDS! How can I imagine it backwards"

Flaming chuckles as Regina ties off her blind-fold, reaching up to grab her claw with her tiny hoof and try to lead her down the hall-way. "I don't know if you can even FEEL my hoof with how big you are compared to me, but I'll do my best. And keep that blind-fold on, got it!?"

She looks to Tantra and Little Journey, motioning for them to open the door


"Oh, I thought he was going for the bigger question some ponies were shouting out."
Pryce says, glad that Box has a good lid on his chest.

"Why would he get crushed?"

As the party regroups to head to this surprise, Pryce opens the door with his telekinesis and walks along with the group.



"Exactly," Amy says enigmatically.


Shei-Sher follows quietly along with some anticipation.


"I have spent my years as Queen-Mother very distant from them," Regina says. "I know well that many of them followed me only out of fear and duty, and that many would leave if I were to ever return to my old coldness. I have a very long way to go before I can call any of them friends – even those who may be willing to call ME that. Friendship isn't so easily built, and it takes all participants to help it to grow."

"Pryce, I thought you were the brains of this group," LJ scoffs, jumping up to knock one of his horns on yours. "I'm sure you know what I mean."

Together, with LJ and Tantra on door and front gate duty, you help Regina find her way down from the tree-castle upon the hilltop. It's quite a lot of effort to get someone of her size and stature down the hillside road while she's blindfolded. The mushroom village and myriad plants and bushes present quite a bit of trouble at first as you acclimate to walking alongside her massive strides. But, with a little teamwork, you are able to clear the way, pushing aside branches and vines to keep her path clear.


Eventually, with quite a bit of effort, you guide Regina to the lake once more, just as it turns a brilliant rosy crimson from the light of the setting sun. Though the feasting tables, goblets and plates are still out, a much different mood has taken over the scene. The Musies play a slow and thoughtful song, a little on the somber side, perhaps. The other Witches are gathered on the other side of the lake, among the trees and flowers. Your party stands in front of them, with Box standing in front of them. In one hoof he clutches a bundle of flowers. Interesting clothes have been draped around him. His unorthodox proportions as a mimic clearly made him hard to dress, because he's wearing what appears to be a gentlecolt's coat and trousers that have been manipulated with no small amount of magic to help them squeeze onto him.

Box, seeing Regina blindfolded before him, steps forward, but immediately freezes – clearly struck by a deadly case of last-minute stage fright.

Regina, unaware of what's going on but hearing the music, flicks her ears. "We – I hear something. What's going on? Are we there? What now? Hello?"


Flow takes a deep breath, and lets it out slowly, an elated tamber to his voice as he hangs his head low.

“…pretty… good…”


Suddenly, though… two things happen.

In a flash, the goo puddles coagulate together, all grouping up and forming the shape of a pony. With a shit-eating smirk, Estuary's Memory leaps back up, springing to his hooves, ready to clothesline you into the ground in a surprise attack!

But, in the same moment, a Dark Corridor opens between you and Estuary's Memory. The Memory goes flying into the darkness with hardly enough time to even say "Woah!"

Out of the Dark Corridor steps Vortigern, out of breath. Upon seeing you, she gestures for you to follow her into the darkness. URGENT! she mouths, gesturing you onward.



Amy just makes a spitting sound in response to Regina's comment about friendships not being easily built.

"You're thinking too much. If both sides need to do their part to make a friendship, then you gotta do your part and call it a friendship. Otherwise, you're not really a friend and that means there's no friendship."

"In other words, just call everyone your friend and it'll be true," Amy says with a smile.


Amy grins at the scene. She gives box an encouraging wink.

[1d10] for encouragement! With compassion if that can apply here!

Roll #1 10 = 10


Flaming slows her approach as she hears the music starting to play, still leading Regina onwards by her massive claw as she tries to restrain her giggling, feeling Box's anxiety coming from him in waves as she holds Regina up.

"We're right by the lake. Alright Regina, I think it's okay to take off your blind-fold…" she says, figuring the only thing left they can do for Box now is to let him sink or swim!
"Shei, Pryce, could one of you fly up there and get her blind fold for her?"


Shei-Sher is a bit dumbfounded. This is all really sudden and kinda dumb. He has to admire all the effort put in for a total stranger though. Really makes one think if it's obvious to everyone that Regina needs a boyfriend. Shei-Sher quietly watches, he doesn't even think about spoiling the mood with something snarky to say. Although he is absolutely trembling with anticipation and wants to explode with embarassment for Box.


"H-Hey, careful."
Pryce takes a half step as LJ knocks his horn.
"Regina hasn't crushed any of us, I'm sure she'd know how to watch her step with Box."

As they come out to the scene set upfor Box's big question, Pryce is taken aback by just how much detail they put into a simple date proposal. He can't be sure if this is because of how the witches compose themselves, or everypony making this a massive affair.

Pryce is about to give Box some advice, but as Flaming asks one of them to remove the blindfold, Pryce's horn lights as he undoes it and lifts it from Regina's face, letting this moment be decided by them two alone.


As you look over the party, you realize that it's not just those who have been with you on this treasure-hunt who are in attendance, but the rest of the Saviors as well. River Spring, Mocha, Deriva, Blessings, Mirror Image, Busta, Onion, _____, Gadriel, Renee, Observer, Hafaza and her piglet are all in attendance, standing next to those who were here from the start. The only ones who aren't are Zophie, Gjenganger, Spitshine, Sugar and KP. They all look a bit lost and disoriented, but whoever brought them here must have brought them up to speed enough, as they're focused on Box.

Onion has joined the Musies, helping them to play the romantic background tune. Vortigern stands nearby, panting and clutching her side, evidently winded. It was likely her who brought much of the party here. Buiwong and the other gods are also notably absent.

Box steadies himself, offering you a brief nod in appreciation. He steps forward to face Regina as she lets the blindfold drop from her eyes. She takes a moment to process all that she sees, including the massive assembly of strangers gathered in the Library's rooftop, next to your allies. It isn't until her gaze floats down to Box, his garb and his flowers, that she pieces together a bit of what's going on. She gasps, and her expression becomes unreadable.

Box steps forward. "Hey, th-this is awful sudden, I know. But, if you'd be free tomorrow, I'd like to take you out for the day and – and see the sights with you," he says, voice a little shaky.

"Are you serious?" Regina asks flatly.

Box seems a little taken aback.

"Why are you showing me such excessive kindness?" Regina asks, her question genuine. She puts her face into one paw. "I already agreed to relent in my methods. I've already accepted that the Witches were willing to overlook my transgressions. You don't need to keep showering me with more. It's– it's too much. Too much kindness. Too much sappiness. I don't need to be persuaded any further, I don't need to be fawned over any fur–"

A few of your party step forward, but Box straightens himself up. "Your Queenliness! If I could get a word in edgewise, thank you!"

Regina falls silent, still looking annoyed.

"If I could just say, this has nothing to do with all of that!" Box says. "Let's put all that melodrama past us, alright? Frankly, I'd be doing this even if you were trying to torment and kill us, still! I'm tryin' to ask you if you'd like to have a nice relaxing time around town 'cause I like ya and I fancy ya! And if you can't see that, then I'll put it to ya this way! You're the biggest treasure I've run into all my life, and I'd like to treat ya like the diamond ya are!"

Regina stands up suddenly. "BIGGEST!?"

A collective "Oh shit," rises from the Witches.
And a collective "Oh shit," rises from your party.
Somewhere in the Temple of Slipper, Princess Wineberry mumbles "Oh shit," to herself, though she can't figure out why.



"'Biggest' as in most valuable, you silly sphinx," Amy says, stiffing a giggle.


In all the heartfelt schmaultz Shei-Sher wraps an arm around Amy, as they step back and just watch the scene unfold.

Shei-Sher whispers to Flaming "Is that the good big or the bad big?"



Amy smiles and rests her head on Shei's shoulder.


Pryce is surprised to see everypony else brought in to attendance, wondering how until he spots Vortigern exhausted to the side. Even still he is surprised at how much they're building this up.

Pryce stays with the others around Regina, not wanting to intrude the moment by crossing the field. He listens on as Box spills his feelings, how they almost seem to be connecting, until she shouts out his misspoken word. He isn't sure if he should help correct or not, or how Regina is even taking it, though it must be bad from the witches to speak in alarm.
"He means that as importance."
He says to hopefully clarify simply.


Flaming looks on at the massive audience they had gathered, her eyes widening in surprise. "Woah, they really got EVERYONE out for this…? I can hardly believe they did it with so little time…"

As the blind-fold goes off, Flaming takes Regina's claw on towards Box, letting the two do as they will as she moves off to the side, looking on as she tries to give Box an encouraging look to press him onwards.

She nods in approval at his approach, making it evident this isn't about the things Regina's done in the past, but as Regina stands up at the 'big' comment, Flaming's ears go flat and her mouth goes agape.

She stammers, trying to think of if she should try to help or let Box handle it, before she sees the others start to try and cover for him. "Exactly! Biggest as in… uh, treasure-ness! Like how gold is 'bigger' than silver, right?"

She whispers back, "REALLY really really hope good…"


Regina, glowering at Box, steps forward until she towers over him. Box doesn't move, and simply holds up his flowers as he looks back up at her. A few of your allies reach apprehensively for their weapons and equipment, watching Regina's every move. Rogue magical energy and malevolence radiate from her, filling the air with a palpable danger that makes your skin crawl.

"Nobody's ever made light of my size like that," Regina hisses, baring her teeth. She leans back onto her haunches, folding her arms over one another. "Not anyone alive, at least."

"Well, it's true; you're a big, beautiful jewel deserving to be called Queen," Box says. "Whaddya gonna do about it?"

Regina and Box have a staredown for a full minute. Until…

Regina suddenly breaks eye-contact, blushing as red as ruby. "…What time should I be ready?" she mumbles.

"Let's say seven in the morning," Box says. He holds up the flowers. "May I?"

Regina extends her paw, and Box climbs atop it. At his direction, Regina raises her paw up to her ear, and Box sticks the flowers just behind her ears as a touch of color and beauty.

Everyone looking on is struck by the sheer unbelievability of it all. But, eventually – and it's not clear who starts it – someone starts to clap. The applause spreads quickly, even though those in attendance are dumbstruck by it all. Whistles, whoops and cheers start to add into the cacophony.

"What the hell just happened?" Gadriel asks.



Amy seems to innately understand everything that just happened. "Oh, come on, Reggie! Don't just-" Amy blurts out in annoyance. However, she stops herself. Even if it's not for the reasons she thinks are right, it's still the conclusion she wanted.

"What a stupid reason to say yes…" she grumbles.


As Regina steps forward, looking ready to attack, or worse, Pryce's horn starts to glow in preparation. It isn't until he sees Regina break away from the stare that he stops in shock. After what she said earlier to him when she did the same to Lockjaw, to see her back away first is an impressive feat on Box.

When the crowd starts to build into applause, Pryce can't help but give a few stomps himself to cheer on the success.


Flaming lets out a sigh of relief, looking over to Amy, "Reasons, schmeasons. Least things came out alright!" Flaming chuckles, "I think that was a nice play on Box's move, anyhow. He didn't double back or retreat off his words like a coward: he stuck by what he said even when she misunderstood them. I know it's not a battlefield but, it's a warrior's approach to not back down. No wonder she accepted."

She chuckles, "And you have to admit, it's pretty cute seeing REGINA speak so quiet after, huh? Never thought I'd see Box be the one to make her so shy, hehehe."


Shei-Sher is clapping and crying, god he can't help himself. He's read so many novelas as a child, it's like somebody transported him into the climax of a romance novel he's overcome with tears and elation as he cheers "Congratulations! Box! Bravo! Bravo!"

Shei-Sher lands a big ole smooch on Amy's face "I'm sorry Amy, but I need to go see my brother. Oh lord! Love is in the air!" Shei is evidently overcome with emotions.

Shei-Sher sprints over to Gadriel, trapping him in a hug at the stands "Gadds!" which becomes just an arm hanging over his shoulder "Isn't it grand! I mean, it's really stupid, Really Stupid! Believe me you have just as much context as I do, but good god the sweltering emotion, the anticipation. My heart sank! And then the bloody lad did it, he stared grim death in the eyes and asked her for a spot of tea, what a bang up job!"


Regina sets Box gently down on the grass, then turns back to you, whispering into your ear.

"They say we Witches fancy those who are extremely stubborn, those who don't back down even when they should, those who charge in sword-first and don't give up even when we sandbag them. I thought that was just a stereotype, but…"

She gulps.

"I think my heartrate started running doubletime just now. Nobody's ever stood up to me like that. Besides – isn't he honestly handsome?"

Lockjaw snores on top of your back, but as you start stomping, he roars even in the throes of his dream. From across the grassy lawn, you notice River and Zjetya both looking at you, though the two stand on opposite sides of the group of Saviors.

Gadds shrugs. "All I know is that things have worked out well for your half of things, alright. Buiwong didn't say much when he brought me over here, just sort of told me I'd get an explanation once it was all done. But, if I had to guess… there's another civilization we've made contact with, right? And now things are more or less on track for peace with 'em?"



"Reggie shouldn't get all shy just because of some silly mind games…" Amy grumbles in response.


Amy goes with Shei to see Gadriel. "And, don't you dare think you could ever pull that off with me."



At Regina's whisper, Amy can't help but laugh. "I definitely think you two would be good together," Amy nods, sidestepping the actual question.

"I mean, that's why I brought it up in the first place."


"Hey, it's been a while, Weirdo!" Amy says with a vigorous wave to Gadriel. "Still hate the nickname?"


Gadriel shrugs. You notice he's dressed in the coarse, heavy cloth shirt and trousers of workers and laborers, and his clothes and claws are thick with dirt and signs of wear and tear from a hard day's labor. "Eh, I think I've come to accept that a lot of weird things come out of your mouth. Speaking of which, it occurred to me. Are you like my mom, or my brother's weirdo girlfriend? What's our relationship exactly?"


Pryce stops as Lockjaw begins to roar, forgetting about the sleeping lizard in the moment. Turning his head back forward, he notices River and Zjetya both looking to him, and neither near each other. His eyes jump from one to the other. He didn't think they'd all gather back until they flew back to Fantasia, and now the situation he's put himself into starts to swarm his mind. While it should matter who he approaches, he starts to worry about how it'd affect the other. He told Zjetya he'd spend the day at Threecoins with her, but River is likely confused to what's going on and would want him to fill in.
He perhaps may be standing there for too long, but finally walks forward towards Zjetya.
"You all really did a good job setting up here."


Flaming smirks towards Amy, "SEE? She gets it!" She looks up towards the sphinx. "Buffalo are the same way. No one wants to be paired with someone who will back down the first second they sense a little conflict. I don't blame the witches at all." She coughs, "Uh, not that *I'D* know anything about that, personally, you know just… speaking from what I've heard, I've never known the feeling myself, heh…"

She clears her throat, "And… I guess? I mean, yeah, he's totally handsome but, you know… different species here." She reddens again as she remembers Amy dating a goat. "N-no offense meant towards Shei though, at all."


Shei is taken aback "Oh Amy! Don't tell me you felt nothing for the show."

Shei-Sher produces a hankercheif from his coat pocket to dab the tears from his eyes. "Yes, that about summarizes things. And Buiwong tells me you've been tiling roofs. Gadriel you realize, it is fine to call our conch if you need to? If I had known earlier I would have made a dark corridor first thing to rescue you from such drab work. I really think you would have had a ball here."

"Oh! speaking of, I got you a little something." Shei-Sher produces some chocolate and the scrying orb he bought at the witches' shop "Some exotic chocolate and a scrying orb! This way you can see the world whenever you like."


"Explicitly weirdo girlfriend. We're brothers, and in all sincerity were I implicated into a fatherly role I'm not sure I could fill in such responsibility. I love you, is simply that I'm not sure I'm ready for such."


You can feel River's eyes follow you as you head over toward Zjetya. Even as he other Saviors disperse to get their food and drinks from the feasting-tables and catch up with the others, she keeps her eyes on you. Zjetya is very clearly aware of this, as she stands at a distance from you. "Did I? Nah, I think most of that was old Box there. He went way off the rails of the script I gave him. That whole exchange was pretty ad-libbed as far as I can tell, heh."

Gadds shrugs, rolling his arms. "Well, it really wasn't as bad as I thought it was gonna be. The other workers were pretty patient with me, even though I wasn't half as fast as them. All in all, they'd have been better off getting someone else, but they were cool. Learned a lot of new words to use when I'm mad, and descriptors for mare parts, though!"

He looks on at the gifts with awe. The chocolate is halfway gone within seconds of it reaching his claws, and he turns over the scrying orb with fascination. "How do I use it?"

LJ glances over your way, ears pricked with intrigue. You see Tantra shove him your way from behind, and he falls toward you, catching himself by knocking his horns on yours.

As he gets his balance, he comes dangerously close to rubbing his nose against yours.



"DEFINITELY NOT your mom," Amy says immediately, having trouble controlling the volume of her voice. "What's that thing they call the wife of someone's brother?" Amy asks, putting her hoof to her chin trying to think of the word.

"I don't think that's all our relationship is, though," she adds thoughtfully. "We have a lot more in common than just Shei. We're both fused soul weirdos."


"I get it too!" Amy retorts. "I just think it's dumb."

In response to the different species comment, Amy shrugs. "When you're a half-demon crystal wolf pony, you kind just take what you can get."

"Which has really changed meaning for me over the years…" she adds contemplatively.


"I'm really happy for them!" Amy objects. "I've been rooting for them to get together since Box met her! I just didn't like the REASON it worked out."


"Still, I'm surprised so much was done for this."
He responds, part of him starting to worry about River. He is silent for a moment.
"Come on."
He says to Zjetya, turning and heading towards River.

"I'm guessing the kids are all asleep?"
He says when he approaches her, unsure of what to say first.


Shei manages a smile through disatisfaction "I'm happy you had a good time then."

"Well firstly, practicing meditation is a must but being part angel that should come naturally. Best to close your eyes and feel for the sensation of seeing through your eyelids, then doing this with your eyes open and grabbing onto which ever first image sensory come to you. It'll all become intuitive from there."

>We're both fused soul weirdos."
"Today was the day Amy and her inner demon sublimated into one being." Shei mentions

"What could be a foul reason for love! She fell for his character, isn't that as bright and true as the morning sun?"

Shei-Sher sees out in the crowd onion is present too "I see Onion is present. And it's getting late. Depends, depends, I may be performing a very special ritual this evening. How would the both you like to see godfather Aliester Crow-ley."


"It's not dumb! It's cool."

She snickers, "And, yeah, good point… still, for a goat, I have to admit Shei's not bad looking. Just a little on the shrimpy side for me, though."

As Tantra shoves Journey towards her, she looks on in surprise as their horns knock against each other. "Wo-woah! HEY, watch where you're…"

She pauses, speech stopping short as their noses come within extremely dangerous rubbing distance of one another, and Flaming backs off, looking a bit stunned. Her heart-rate starts mimicking what Regina just described, and she looks at Journey with a mixture of fear and excitement.

She pauses for a few moments, trying to think of what to say, before her ears flatten, fear starting to grip her. "I-I'm sorry, I just remembered got to go see someone!" She says, running off from Journey as the banquet begins. She looks for Vortigern and Rus Tea in the crowd

Roll #1 4 = 4



"Did she fall for his character, though? Seems to me like he just used her Queen's Stair thing against her. And, that's not cool… That's just silly mind games."


"A ritual, eh?" Amy says, giving Shei a wink before he finishes his thought.

"Oh… that's what you mean," she says, sounding a little disappointed once Shei finishes what he's saying. "Yeah, sure, that sounds fun too," she says in a noncommittal tone.


"He's MY handsome goat," Amy says as she possessively hangs onto Shei in response to Flaming giving him a compliment.


"Oh, that's what that was!" Gadds exclaims. "I could sense right away that there was something off about you. You– you're a full demon now, aren't you? Yeah, there's no doubt. Your soul's energy – it's clear Magatushi, it's not all clouded and conflicted like before. But, does that mean that… Amy's not with us anymore?"

Now that you're in front of Gadds, you can sense something of what he's talking about. But it's his soul, not yours, that seems to radiate a cloudy, conflicted energy. Something about his soul nags at a new sense of yours, a spiritual sense that you can clearly perceive now that your Fusion is complete.

>Roll Perception (Spiritual)

Now that the drama is done, you can feel a lingering sense on your cheek, something you must have missed earlier in all the excitement – a feeling of a kiss, of River's kiss upon your cheek, yet ghostly and incorporeal. You recall Calque's words about the connections between you and KP. She must have kissed him just recently while your attention was elsewhere.

River nods. "I put them to bed just a while ago. They even got a story out of me toward the end there. How'd everything go on your end, then?"

Zjetya accompanies you, not daring to look away from you or River, but clearly feeling guilty all the same. River glances her way every so often.

"Can this Crowley guy explain that any better? I don't think I was really all that spiritual in any of my previous lives," Gadds says.

Just as LJ and Tantra start butting heads and wrestling in the grass (much to Tantra's amusement), you run off toward where you see Vortigern and Rus Tea sitting on a stump, chatting with Blessings, Observer and Hafaza about the day's events (listening, in Vortigern's case). Seeing you distraught, Rus serves you a glass of water. "What is it? Fear is written on your face even though you were happy for Box not a moment ago!"

>Pause, continue posting if desired



"Used her 'Queen's Stair'…? I don't know what you mean, Box was just saying what his heart was trying to say and stood his ground when it almost looked like it was gonna blow up in his face. He turned it around by staying brave and looking his love in the eye, if that's not cool I don't know what is."

Flaming smirks, "Hey, you never know: I might just try to take him from you one day if you don't hold on to him tighter!"



Amy's face straightens up at Gadriel's question. "Oh, are you not… fully fused?" she asks awkwardly as if she's asking about someone's virginity or something.

"If you were, I don't think you'd ask that question. Not just because you'd understand better, but because of how… uncomfortable it is. In the most literal sense, Amy is now a small fraction of who I am. But, that doesn't do her or me justice. I am Amy because she is everything I want to be."

She eyes Gadriel, trying to figure him out. [1d10] Spiritual Perception


"It's that silly dominating glare she was talking about how only a true leader can use, and if anyone can beat her, then they should be a leader too or whatever. She just told us about it a little while ago. When they stared each other down and Box didn't back down, that's what they were doing. That's why she got all quiet, because she didn't feel in charge anymore. So, she had to do what he said because he was he one in charge."

"It's a stupid and creepy mind game."

Roll #1 4 = 4


"Hmmm… I don't know. I get what you're saying, I think, but, I think that's kind of what Regina wants in someone she'd like to date. For years she's only had people doing whatever she said, whenever she said it, finding someone who will push back against them and be the one in charge instead? I don't know, I…" she coughs, whispering very quietly. "I think I kinda get it."



"I thought she would want someone who would treasure her," Amy comments. "Which is why I want them to be together."

"Kinda feels weird for the one treasuring her to also be bossing her around. But, I guess relationships are just weird like that…"


Last time on HolyQuest…

After finishing up their sanctioned treasure-hunt through Regina's tree-house, the party heard from LJ and Tantra that Box was finally ready to ask Regina out on a date for tomorrow! When told that something was awaiting her at the lakeside, Regina blindfolded herself in the spirit of keeping it a surprise. The party then escorted her down to the waters, where the rest of the Saviors, including those who had been out on other missions, waited alongside the Witches to provide their support for Box.

Box, nearly collapsing under the pressure and anxiety, made his proposal, but Regina was initially reluctant, thinking at first that he was only saying it to win her over to your side, and not out of genuine affection. But Box, animated by a sudden reserve of chivalry and masculinity, insisted otherwise, asserting that his question was authentic and that she was the "biggest" treasure he'd ever seen. Of course, his use of the term biggest set Regina off, as she's demonstrated herself to be sensitive about her size. But, after Box refused to back down from her Eye of Divine Right, Regina was convinced, and in fact became a little lovesick herself, as she was as inexperienced in love as Box was.

The party was rejoined by Flow, whose meditations had reached their conclusion. Just moments before Regina arrived at the lake, Vortigern appeared before Flow via Dark Corridor, telling him that it was urgent and that he should come quickly. Flow arrived in the background, just in time to witness Box ask Regina on a date.


Now that the drama is done, you can feel a lingering sense on your cheek, something you must have missed earlier in all the excitement – a feeling of a kiss, of River's kiss upon your cheek, yet ghostly and incorporeal. You recall Calque's words about the connections between you and KP. She must have kissed him just recently while your attention was elsewhere.

River nods. "I put them to bed just a while ago. They even got a story out of me toward the end there. How'd everything go on your end, then?"

Zjetya accompanies you, not daring to look away from you or River, but clearly feeling guilty all the same. River glances her way every so often.

>Amy, Shei

"Can this Crowley guy explain that any better? I don't think I was really all that spiritual in any of my previous lives," Gadds says.


Just as LJ and Tantra start butting heads and wrestling in the grass (much to Tantra's amusement), you run off toward where you see Vortigern and Rus Tea sitting on a stump, chatting with Blessings, Observer and Hafaza about the day's events (listening, in Vortigern's case). Seeing you distraught, Rus serves you a glass of water. "What is it? Fear is written on your face even though you were happy for Box not a moment ago!"

>Amy (new)

At your merest whim, as easy as concentrating, you begin to see three distinct, yet intermingling mists coming from Gadriel's body, centered about his chest. The first of them is a murky red, thick like smoke. It bears a kind of primal, animal, carnal ferocity to it. You recognize it instantly as Magatsuhi. The second, weaker than the first, is a cool, silvery blue, and is serene and calm, slow to move and relaxing to look at. You don't recognize it, but you also notice that Mirror Image and Chorazin exude the same blue mist about themselves.

The third mist, the strongest of the three around Gadriel, is an even gray, poised on the boundary between white and black. This mist is most puzzling to you. You cannot seem to wrap your head about it. It's like being confronted with writing from a language you cannot read – it is full of meaning, yet it is obscure to you.


With Box's big moment done, Renee slithers over to you, while Estuary's Memory, grumpily folding his arms, leans against a nearby tree in what can only be described as a young pony's attempt to look cool after a snafu. Renee examines you from tip to tail. "I take it your studies were fruitful. Something about you looks different now. Stronger, I'd say. More… matured. Not to say that you were immature before, mind you! But more like something within you is honing to a fine point."



Pryce feels his cheek as he senses the lingering kiss. Knowing how much she cared for KP leaves him in an uncomfortable position now, his mind starting to overthink.
"Oh, that's good. I hope you weren't too overwhelmed with them. It… went alright here. We found the city has become a home to a coven of witches, and then got caught up in some trials at the library here… It's a long story."


One look at River can tell you she can sense something amiss. The way that she and Zjetya avoid one another's gaze is particularly telling. Zjetya doesn't back down, however.
"Surprised you came here when Vortigern called. I don't see anyone else missing from the lineup except the kids," Zjetya says.
"Mocha left behind the guards that her grandfather personally assigned to her," River answers. "I wasn't completely eased by her assurances, but Deriva also put a spell of protection over the three. I wouldn't be careless with them."
"Wasn't suggesting you would be…"


Flaming lets out a few gasps of breath as she manages to race down to Vortigern and Rus, falling down besides their stump as she shakes her head, laying down prone.

"I… I don't really know, I was just celebrating same as everyone else, when Little Journey came over and we… almost…" she lets out a shudder, reaching down to her chest with her hoof. "My heart felt like it was about to explode right then and there, I-I don't know what to do. Should I keep waiting for him to say something, should I tell him how I feel? I don't want to mess anything up with him but I…" she starts hyperventilating, feeling more unsure about this than almost anything else she's felt in the past.


Rus stands up suddenly, fist clenched, and you realize now that your phrasing was… perhaps not entirely best for avoiding misunderstandings about what exactly LJ did. But Vortigern quickly taps her arm, shaking her head. Tantra. I saw.
Piecing it together, Rus sits back down with a look of relief. "Oh, I see now. That old lunkhead… heh. Quiet down, Flaming. Breathe! You've faced down much stronger and more terrifying foes than a calf your age."
"Me, for example," Chorazin says, floating over with a stein of ale. "So, what might the stumbling-block be? Are you afraid of what he might say if you went to him?"
Vortigern shakes her head. Let him confess.
"A traditional approach, but he hasn't taken it," Rus says. "And it's affecting our sister here."


>"Can this Crowley guy explain that any better?
"No, not at all. He's likely well versed in the phenomenon maybe even practiced Corw-ley is just a stickler for teasing a straightforward answer. Still! The wisest man I know, highly recommend a visit.

Shei draws out an "Ii-i-i-i, believe we should wait on the ceremonies for the hour. Seems there may be some more business to attend. No matter, the ritual is best to perform at the wink of evening."


Gadriel scoffs. "Any more big confessions? I see some of the Witches eyeing the guys of our party pretty eagerly."

And true to his observation, you see that a good many of the Witches are examining your party, exchanging interested whispers and gossip, hidden in the lips of teacups and behind their hats and hooves. Though, it seems that the gentlecolts of the party aren't all that interested.

"Are there really any single guys in our group, though?" Wireframe asks. "There's, what, Busta… Tantra… maybe Onion?"



Amy cocks her head as she looks at Gadriel. "What's all that?" Amy asks as she gestures in the general vicinity of him.


"My… body?" Gadriel asks in confusion. "What? Something wrong with me? Besides the obvious, of course."


"As long as they're safe, that's all that matters."
Pryce says on the subject, eyes going between River and Zjetya as they avoid meeting gazes and go back and forth.
"River, Zjetya," He says, looking to each of them as he says their name, hesitation and worry heavy in his voice, "We need to talk."




"There's like all those colors mists around you…" Amy says, still gesturing in Gadrielle's general direction.


"Oh no! That's something else entirely. By all means, feel free to bat an eyelash and one or two vixens. The Lord knows their brooms are sweeping them off their hooves.. Buiwong -The Lord Buiwong knows." Shei just felt the need to be specific there.

>"There's, what, Busta… Tantra… maybe Onion?"

"Well I suppose all the good ones are taken." Shei says casually, taking a full pause for a second thought to come in "Except Gadriel." Shei-Sher smiles innocently as he is chummy.
"So Wireframe you decide who your lucky warlock will be?"

"What is what?"



"Oh no! That is something else entirely. By all means, feel free to bat an eyelash at one or two vixens. The Lord knows their brooms aren't sweeping them off their hooves.. Buiwong -The Lord Buiwong knows." Shei just felt the need to be specific there.

>"There's, what, Busta… Tantra… maybe Onion?"

"Well I suppose all the good ones are taken." Shei says casually, taking a full pause for a second thought to come in "Except Gadriel." Shei-Sher smiles innocently as he is chummy.
"So Wireframe you decide who your lucky warlock will be?"

"What is what?"


As Rus stands up suddenly, Flaming's eyes shrink, "Oh. OH! Oh, no no Rus it wasn't like THAT! I-it was just an accident, he didn't do anything bad."

As she's instructed to breathe, Flaming takes in a deep breath, calming herself as she lays there on the soft ground besides them. "I-I know, Rus, it's stupid, it's so stupid, but my stupid heart doesn't seem to get it! I don't *want*… I mean I DO want but, GRAH!"

She looks over at Chorazin as she comes over, ears flopping down. "I… yes. I think I am afraid of what he might say. I-I think he likes me like that too but, what if he doesn't and I just make things really weird between us? What if I hurt his pride? I was just talking about how I like a buffalo who can stand up for himself, would he take me making the first move as a me thinking he's not bull enough?"
She bites her lip, "I just… don't know what I should say, if I should say anything."


"His.. aura? I could never refine a good reading on it. Always so." there's a pause for thought "-staticky, I imagine because he is half angel, half demon -mostly."





"Oh, yeah I see the demon," Amy nods as she looks at him. "And, I guess that explains why it also looks kinda like angels. But there's a third thing in there too…"


Shei-Sher shrugs, "I can't see anything, it is all blotches of gray and white noise."

"Amy was there not one more thing on our to do list? both Regina and Buiwong mentioned it. Maybe we should go see her to be sure, before I start with the ceremony for visiting Crow-ley."


File: 1571019904391.jpg (55.58 KB, 457x640, example 5.jpg)

The two look askance at you. By now, there is no more pretending, no more polite ignorance. River and Zjetya look at one another again, and their gazes are like crossing swords. Zjetya grunts and jerks her head to a cluster of trees and bushes to the south, and River sternly follows.

"No, I'm not interested," Gadriel says, scoffing and waving a hand. This was one of the few things he's said with genuine certainty.

Wireframe, on the other hand, frowns, casting her gaze down at the ground, but not with shame or fear, only a stern calculation. "…Am I going into Tartarus with you?"

"Oh!" Gadriel laughs. "Well, that's… that's uh… you mean you don't know? C'mon, isn't it common knowledge?"
"What the hell are you talking about?" Wireframe scoffs.
"I think I can answer that one," Mirror Image says. She hobbles over, and you notice that her rebuilt tin-can body has gotten numerous upgrades. For one, she has longer, jointed legs, and a segmented body that allows her to bend down at the waist. Longer arms, too, and a proper neck for her head, which is no longer a featureless circle, but a pony's head now. There's also a cool black sheen across her body, with a purplish tint, the same color of Observer's coat. Folding wings lay across her back. (See pic)
"Magatsuhi, Dhyana, and Qi," Mirror says, pointing to the red mist, the blue mist and the grey mist respectively. "The energies of demons' souls, angels' souls, and mortals'. Normally, our souls exude only one, but Amy, yours used to produce both Magatsuhi and Qi, owing to your imperfect Fusion. Your soul would be very interesting to study, Gadriel!"
"Well, it's not going into a lab anytime soon," Gadds says, backing away. "I'm kind of using it!"

The three ladies can't help but laugh, Vortigern most of all in spite of her silence. She leans forward and pats your head. Just like me.
"Could you make him confess any quicker by agonizing about it and panicking?" Chorazin asks. "If not, why are you bothering?"
"Have a little faith in him," Rus says. "He's probably going through the same things as you right now. But, unless I had the wrong impression of him all this time, he's going to make the right decision. It's just a matter of WHEN he'll work up the gumption to do it. That's out of your hooves."
"Part of what makes a good wife is the quiet, calm faith she has in her husband," Chorazin says. "Well, marriage is far, far, far off in the distance for you… but the point stands. If he's right, you need not worry about a thing. Keep your faith in him, otherwise when times are tough for you, you will be shaken to the core."


"That's for you to decide wireframe." Shei starts to cackle at the mad thought of forcing her to go "Nobody is taking you in there -Kehaha."


Shei is taken only a little aback from Gadriel's response "Oi, a decisive blow. I would say you're too young but you have an old soul. How did you make your mind so fast?"


"Dammit, Shei!" Wireframe gripes in her usual hyperbolic fashion. "Make a decision for me! I'm not a leader! Even changeling nymphs are just as big of sheep as the drones until we evolve into Queens! I couldn't even get up in the morning if it weren't for one of the group members knocking on my door in the ship."

"Wouldn't really feel… respectful, I think the word is," Gadriel says. "The two mortals whose souls I was born from are still with me. Every now and again, I see one of their memories floating up in my mind, almost like a daydream. Now that they're together, don't you think I should let them have a little peace and quiet?"



"I USED TO have Qi, but I don't anymore?" Amy asks with a tinge of sadness like something has been taken away.


"Was there something else?" Amy asks, cocking her head.


Shei-Sher puts a hoof on wireframe's shoulder "It wouldn't be meet of me as a Leader to always make your decisions. Any one I do need to, I do not wish to be their leader. You will find your way, and when you do it will be your own. Do not take 2 days to decide, let it be years, and enjoy every moment." Shei-Sher is soft in his pitch, he hopes that this little wisdom he has might console her.

Shei nods and smiles, he puts a hoof to Gadriel's head and tossles his hair like he really was his little brother "I'm glad you're such a good person. It makes less work for me."

"……." Shei snaps his hoof "Acension. She said we were meant to ascend tonight. How about we ask."

Shei-Sher nudges Amy to come follow him in finding his way through the party goers to find Regina, and hopefully they don't interrupt anything.


Flaming snorts as they all start laughing, turning her head away in a slightly hurt fashion. "'snot funny…"

As the others off their advice to let herself relax more, and place faith in Journey, she looks up with a much less sour demeanor, sniffling once as she rubs her nose. "Well, I don't plan on EVER being 'quiet', but, I do think I can have faith in Journey." She blushes hotly, "T-though, yeah, I think regardless of anything, MARRIAGE is a long ways off, hehe… I mean, I think I should make sure he'd be worthy of being my husband first and foremost."

She starts to stand up, letting out a few more calming breaths. "Okay… I'll try to stop worrying so much about it. I just… I really like Journey, and I don't want to mess anything up, whether he feels that way or not. But I can believe in him to do it when he's ready… I WANT him to be the one to say something first, to be the brave one." She looks at the three, and lowers her head, knocking it into Chorazin very lightly. "Thank you… all of you. I-I wasn't really sure who else to turn to but, you all help so much."


Pryce walks to the secluded cluster for their privacy, silent until they reach it.
"If I realized how I felt before, we wouldn't have to be going through this. This is all my fault, for being to dense that it took nearly losing each of you for me to figure it out."
Pryce starts.



"Oh yeah! Reggie said something about firewood!" Amy says as she perks up and goes with Shei.


"Well, that's technically not the case," Mirror goes on to say. "I can tell just at a glance that your mortal self has diminished. But she can never be erased. Her Qi might only be faint embers now, but it is still here. Just like her. Now me, I lost my Qi entirely, as I became an angel through what might be considered the 'proper' process."

"…As usual, I understood maybe a quarter of that. Fine. Fuck you. I'm going to go find a warlock," Wireframe says. Tossing you a rude gesture that she probably doesn't mean, she wanders off into the crowd of Witches.

Colts have feelings, Vortigern mouths.
"Indeed," Chorazin says, rubbing her metal forehead against yours, holding her own. "Let him have the time he needs. You don't think he'd be such a fool as to make NO decision, do you? He'll come around sooner or later. And knowing what awaits us, I wager he'll come around soon."
"Tantra and Onion are probably in the middle of a talk right now with him," Rus says.

River sits on a nearby rock, while Zjetya leans against a tree. Both are silent a while after you speak, not moving their positions.

River is the first to act, slowly mouthing in incredulous exasperation. "Figure… what out, exactly?"

Zjetya holds her silence and position.

When you bounce over to Regina again, a myriad of Witches are gathered around her, chittering, laughing, and pestering her with no end of ideas about what she and Box should do tomorrow. Regina hides behind her paws, muttering over and over something to the effect that she has no idea what she's doing.

By her side, Fairy Castle, Prickly Pear and Yadala wait. Prickly Pear appears to be in the middle of homework, while Yadala appears to be weighing various objects in a set of scales against a feather and consulting a divination book with each result. Fairy Castle, turning your way with a wizened smile, hails you with her staff. "What? You're still here? Treasure not enough for you?"


"uhmm, I remember hearing something about acension and Amy heard something about.. firewood? And also in an hour or so I would like to borrow the venue for a ceremony if that is all fine."


Fairy Castle sizes you up, looking you up and down. "Mmmm… nah."


"To both… or……?"


"Let me be clear. You heard right about an ascension. But I won't do it for you. As for the ceremony you mentioned, that's for Regina to decide."


Flaming nods her head, taking turns to push her head into Rus and Vortigern as well to offer a show of thanks. "Okay. I'm sure he'll say something sooner or later, a-and I know I can stop freaking out about every single time I get close to him if I just keep that in mind."

She smiles up at the three of them, "Thank you all again. It really helps to talk to other girls about this sort of thing… I'd talk to Amy too but, I think she has a lot going on with her transformation. I… I hope you don't mind if I come back to talk to you more."

She sighs. "I guess I should go apologize for just suddenly running off on him, huh?"


"Well I was not asking YOU to do it for me." Shei says rather crudely "A little quick to flatter yourself aren't you Fairy Castle. I don't even know you."


"Just make sure he's not in the middle of his pep talk!" Rus says. "Give him a minute to get himself ready. After all, you're a pretty terrifying figure to run into unexpectedly! Grahahahaha!"



"Why do you need to know what you're doing?" Amy asks Regina in a bubbly tone. "I never know what I'm doing!"

"I think the best and most fun things in life are at their most fun when you don't know what to expect. Just being there at all, not having any clue what's about to happen is the best. Don't think, just have fun!"

"I mean, I guess think a little bit. Don't jump down any infinite staircases or anything stupid like that…"

[1d10] to encourage Regina with compassion

Roll #1 7 = 7


"Ooooooh, you're lucky you're not my student, kid, or I'd thwack you good!" Fairy Castle retorts, waving her staff. "And so who else are you going to have do it for you? Regina? Hah! I was the one who did it for her, and the Queen-Mother before her!"
"It's true," Regina interjects.

Regina groans, rubbing her cheeks a little bit. Eventually she puts down her paws and turns your way. "I'd joke, but you're obviously the expert when it comes to not thinking at all before you act, hmm? It's not so easy for me, alright? I'm the Queen-Mother. I HAVE to have tabs on everything. I HAVE to always be running at full power for my Coven. Letting control slip out from under me, by a male, no less… you should understand that that's just not how things are done in Witch society."

She smiles. "But… it does seem I'm in good hooves here."


Flaming snorts at Rus, "You bet your minotaur butt I am! Journey would need to think twice before upsetting THIS buffalo, won't he?"

She snorts one more time, but it evolves into a chuckle, Flaming laughing along-side Rus Tea as she shakes her head. "I-I'll give him a little bit. In the meanwhile, want to grab a snack? They DID prepare snacks for this big event, right?"


"To figure out how I felt."
Pryce answers.
"River, you know how I feel about you. Every since we met again back at Fantasia, I've seen this whole new side of you, the caring pony you are. But it took nearly losing you to the glass dust for me to realize it."
He then turns to Zjetya.
"Zjetya, our first meeting might have just been from your singing, but you've showed how selfless you are since you joined us. You've thrown yourself into certain danger to help others. All day today, I've only thought how I could make up for the pain I caused you, and it's only when I thought I lost you forever did it get through my head."

Pryce takes a breath, looking to them both now.
"I don't want either of you to have to hurt like that, you both deserve far more than that."


"Incredible. only a minute into this ordeal and I've already sabotaged myself." Shei scratches his, thought his expression is muted he is clearly feeling the fuck up right now. "Fine then, I will let you have that thwack. But sate my curiosity. What made you adverse to the idea of having an ascension for me?"



"Oh, you can make whatever joke you want," Amy says, waving a dismissive hoof. "I can take it!"


"You never WERE very good at asking for things, Shei," Amy says, rubbing his head where it was whacked consolingly. Though, her tone is more one of mockery.


River's frustration and confusion comes plain to her face as she hears her praises spoken by the one who is hurting her heart most now. Zjetya, though she looks away, shifts in place, holding a frown to keep herself from giving in to tears. River glances over, and her anger is tempered for a moment by empathy; her gaze softens as her mind turns to reflection. Though you haven't seen much of it yourself, it is obvious now that River has had her suspicions about Zjetya's feelings for a long time.
Then, looking back at you, River stands up. "So? It's fine and all to say that, but in a situation like this, someone has to lose. You know me, Pryce. You know I can be as blunt as a brick to the head. I don't see a way for everyone to be happy, but for a lot of people to be miserable afterward."

Zjetya winces.

"I only thwack my students," Fairy Castle says with ten tablespoons of pride. "And… mmm, I just don't like the look of you."

Sitting behind her, Yadala, Regina and Prickly Pear roll their eyes. Without even looking back, Fairy Castle reverses her grip on the staff and thwacks Prickly Pear, much to Regina's amusement. Fairy Castle leaps backward, thwacks Regina, and uses the momentum from the thwack to land in her original position.

Eagerly, Rus and the other ladies trot over with you to the feasting tables, which is also where Regina and her entourage of wingladies happen to be sitting. Near them are Fairy Castle, Yadala, Prickly Pear, Shei and Amy.


Shei-Sher jumps inbetween Fairy Castle and Regina to have himself thwacked instead.

>(RACIAL)Goatcraft: passive; Min -1 for all climbing and agility rolls, and can use anything as food, including non-food items

>agility rolls

Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5



Amy claps her hooves at Fairy Castle's cool moves.

"You're awesome!" she says excitedly. "Where'd you learn those moves!?"


>Update to the post

Regina and Fairy Castle gasp as Shei leaps in to try to intercept Regina's thwacking. But Fairy Castle is faster, humming a quick spell. A cloud of alpaca wool appears beneath her, and she bounces off of it and somersaults in mid-air, giving her the height she needs to get over Shei and thwack Regina good, before flipping again and landing on her hooves. Shei lands nearby, unthwacked, but Fairy Castle can't help but look a little impressed at him.

"From my own master, of course," Fairy Castle says to Amy. "I was the bad one of her students. Those thwackings pissed me off more than anything, but I was no match for her. So, I had to get swift and light on my hooves to avoid 'em."

"I think we're getting off topic, aren't we?" Regina says, rubbing her head.


By a hair, Shei-Sher lands on his chest and turns his head back "To think, if there was anything I learned in my lifetime it was how to take abuse."


Flaming quickly follows the girls over to the feasting tables, quickly eying the soups and breads (while also looking for some spicy treats to give to Spark), before noticing Fairy, Regina, and Shei's sudden confrontation.

When Fairy expertly avoids Shei's noble sacrifice and manages to successfully thwack not only Regina, but others all in one sequence, Flaming looks on in amazement. "Woah… that was pretty cool!" She shouts, running over, before wincing at Regina, "Er… hope it didn't hurt. I just got here for some food, why are so many witches getting whacked here?"

She turns to Shei, smiling, "And, that was pretty cool of you too, Shei, throwing yourself out for Regina like that."


Pryce's head moves ever so slightly, looking as if it would turn away. but he can't, and he doesn't. To turn from either of them would betray his feelings for either of them, it would be the same as turning his back to them in this moment.
"I know, and I know how horribly this can go."
He answers.
"But I can't leave this in the air now. I've… been dwelling on this for most of the day. The only thing I know for certain, is that I care deeply for both of you. This isn't a simple rescue or protection, and neither of you are just some pony, or even just a friend."
Pryce looks at both of them, and bows his head for a moment, as he would before a king.
"You both deserve to be happy, and I will devote myself to the both of you."


"I see…" Amy says in response to Fairy Castle's explanation. Though, she clearly has something else on her mind that she wants to ask.


"That's why he's my boyfriend," Amy comments happily as she puts her hoof around his shoulders.



The first thing is a response to: >>725670


Shei-Sher gets up from the ground and ambles over to Amy and Flaming. "I think you have the wrong idea about what I was trying to accomplish." Shei-Sher pats flaming's back, his face is turned so only his profile shows and he winks at Flaming with the turned away eye.

>Can I Borrow This?: Instant; Recharge 3(minus 1); Ranged; On success, you steal 1 of the target's chances to act next turn, completely stunning them if they can only take 1 action per turn. Next turn, you can use this stolen action in addition to your normal ones.


Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7


Enticed by the smell of spiced ale and various soups, chillis, casseroles, and so on, Spark leaps out of your bag, snorting little puffs of fire. A nearby Witch, herself carrying some small reptiles on her shoulders, sets aside a plate, and starts serving him whatever dishes he points his nose toward.

Fairy Castle props her staff back onto her shoulder. "Enough of these shenanigans. You're referring to the Kindling… and I won't give it to you precisely because I do not believe you're ready for such a burden."
"A burden?" Rus asks.
"Precisely!" Fairy Castle says. "Let me state it clearly for those of you who weren't here earlier. You all have dipped your hooves into powers that do not fit neatly into the categories of magic. In fact, they are not 'magic' as we know it. They are deeper, and older than that. They are the Aspects of Existence, pieces of reality that those whose lives have been touched by the gods and the heroes of old have been known to hold and manipulate. Life, Death, Light and Dark… the Worlds are made up of balances of these essences. Life and Death govern all that is born into the world, the extent of their years, and how long it takes those lives to burn out, to return to the fire and water from which they were born. Light and Dark govern the balance of magic and the natural elements, the fanciful preternatural and the cold, bland mundane.

"Some, such as you, have been known to be able to take hold of these essences, not needing any formal training or tutoring. Without even noticing them slipping into your mind, without even trying to develop them, you can call them to your command. Am I right? Is that how those powers came to your control?"
"Well… yes," Blessings says. "It was spontaneous, like a moment of inspiration. Though, only one such ability has come to me like that."
"…That is how it happened for me too," Mirror Image says. "Though, mine came as a result of my training in the Church. Many more appeared to me after I became an angel."
"They appeared to you because of your Faith," says Fairy Castle. "Those of great Faith have been able to harness more than those of little Faith.

"But Faith, and its fruits," she continues, "Are for mortals. There is indeed something that lies beyond these Aspects – the powers of the gods – but they're not for you mortals."


A cold wind passes through the thicket as you voice your grand idea.
"…What?" Zjetya asks, shaking her head.
"You can't be serious," River says. "What– what year is it? What KALPA is it? Where do you think we are? Just because the world's ended, doesn't mean–"
River starts holding her head, looking like she's not even sure she's got it right and where she'd even begin to answer even if she did.
Zjetya looks a little more pensive, coming out from her tree. "So, lemme get this straight. You can't decide between us. You can't let us go. So your plan to reconcile all this… this big announcement you've been hinting at since earlier… it's just to not choose? To just have it both ways?"



Amy's eyes suddenly go wide. "OH SHIT!" she blurts out suddenly and loudly enough to perhaps make some people jump. "SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!"

"Am I mortal now!?"


Pryce doesn't show any reaction to both of their shock at his announcement, as if expecting it to not work.
"The others have been giving their advice all throughout the day, saying how I should go about this, how these situations should be dealt. But when I thought about it for myself, for what was right to me, this was the only choice that felt so."
Pryce says , taking one step forward towards them both.
"It goes against everything I know about relationships, what the Church taught, what everything I've seen would reinforce, but the only thing I care about is you two. Seeing you both happy, both smiling, that is something I will fight for to protect. You two, are what can keep me going in this world."


"Yes so they have, but my ambition has not stopped at the reception of gifts. Because I do not sleep" owed to the dark bags underneath Shei's eyes

>Restless: passive; The founders of coffee drinks and rumored to never sleep, goats always seem to have much more energy for a creature of their size. While you and your kin neither confirm nor deny the rumors, you do have an unnatural tolerance to sleep magic and effects. You are completely immune from skills such as Sleep Serum or Knockout as well as magic meant to put you to sleep and are no longer required to rest for the night on long journeys (although your companions will probably keep you)

"Every night, I make time for my daily rituals, a portion for a silly project to decompress, and then nothing but grinding, to master these supernatural insights. I have longed for the burden, labored for it. What kind of burden could be greater than knowing you are going to hell for the greater kind. I wish I could know it." Anyone in the party can attest that other than the night Shei-Sher was afflicted with Joy and beared the agony until midnight, there was never a time they have seen Shei-Sher go to sleep even despite having previously been a devoutee of Sabuul.


Shei-Sher just stares at you stone faced, just Really.. Really. Is what you would hear if you were a mind reader.


Flaming looks at Shei as he winks, raising an eyebrow in confusion. "Huh…? Then, what WERE you trying to accomplish then?"

Shorthorns looks down at Spark as he is enticed by the smells of the feast, reaching down to gently scratch his scales on his head. "Hey Spark, you hungry? Got some stuff out here for you, but don't eat too many noodles or else you'll turn into a noodle-dragon again, huh?"

As Fairy begins her explanation, Flaming turns her attention to her. "Yes, I remember Regina telling me something like that! That you had some sort of greater ability to pass on to us, something that's above what you'd call magic?"

As she seems to decline showing them, Flaming frowns, "Wait, what? But Regina PROMISED us you would! Fairy you have to teach us what these Aspects of Existence are all about, we won't stand a chance in Tartarus if we don't!"



"Don't look at me like that!" Amy shouts indignantly. "This is a HUGE deal!"


"You're fine Amy, Fairy Castle is very politely calling us wimps

"I suppose you could say I was testing Fairy Castle in a way."



"AM I fine!? Are you sure!? How do you know!?" Amy asks in a panic.


"Testing her? Okay, testing her for 'what', to see if she could whack you?"


River and Zjetya both look at you, a storm of emotions brewing in their eyes, even as they try to keep their bodies calm and civil.

"What you're proposing is part fantasy and part barbarism," River says. "The Church stamped out the practice centuries ago because it created all kinds of unrest. Kingdoms and empires where mares are collected as prizes were sick to the core. Abuse, kidnapping, slavery, and worse… that's not even getting into the consequences of leaving stallions among the plebian caste with no mares to choose from, nobody to live for themselves."
Zjetya scoffs. "You really think Pryce would treat us like that?"
"Of course not!" River retorts. "Don't imply things you know I don't mean. I'm saying there's no reason for that practice to ever come back. I didn't even talk about the infighting and abuse between concubines, and from firstwives to concubines. Not to mention the problems with offspring."
"Well, Pryce?" Zjetya asks. "Did you figure all of that into your plan when you thought about this?"

"You and the one who molded you into this are exactly the kind of people that this would backfire against," Fairy Castle says.

"No, but unlike most demons, you still have the remnants of a mortal's soul within your being. Can you still use the Aspects you held when you were still in a state of imperfect Fusion? You have your answer there."

Spark affectionately nips at your hoof, not enough to hurt, but just enough to entice you to play with him.


Fairy Castle clears her throat after her interruptions. "As I was saying… these aren't for you mortals. It was reckless of Regina to even say the name, let alone offer it, Flaming. What lies beyond the Kindling is power unlike what you know now. Your Faith gives you power, manifest in the capacity to play with pieces of reality, the leftover energies of creation. But as mortals, half-mortals, and so on, there are certain limits on how much of the Aspects you can hold and harness.

"If you were to go beyond what you would normally be able to use, you would be stepping into the realm of the gods themselves. You would become like gods yourselves… not all at once, mind you. Piece by piece, step by step. To bring the Kindling upon yourselves would be like stepping through a doorway… a doorway you cannot exit once you have stepped through it. A step toward godhood. Gods are shaped by Faith. The Faith placed upon them defines their form, their will, their power, their influence. If you were to take a step toward godhood in this way, through the Kindling… you would be taking that burden upon yourselves."

Your allies fall silent, contemplating this possibility.



"Oh thank goodness…" Amy breathes a sigh of relief.

Then, when Fairy Castle goes on to talk about becoming Gods, Amy frowns. She doesn't say anything for a while (which is unusual for her).

She looks to the others. "I hate gods," she says blatantly. "I know that probably sounds bad to a lot of you, but I just do. They don't do anything good for anyone. They're selfish and cruel. I would hate to be one of them. I'd hate that I'd have to be anything like them."

"But… I know a lot of people have built their plans around me. A lot of people are relying on me to be able to do a lot of things. And, I know I've gotten stronger, but I'm still not confident it's enough. I don't know how Shei thinks I could possibly do what Moody plans to do. If I did this Kindling thing… I could maybe be strong enough. I hate it, but…"

Amy shrugs. "Well, I guess… What do you guys think?"


"I… I didn't," Pryce says, a little shocked at how much River spills of the horrible practice, "But, it's because none of that came to mind. I would never think of mistreating either of you, and I didn't think of you two fighting…"
Pryce's body drops somewhat, the troubles starting to sink in. But his voice hasn't fallen in tone.
"This practice was horrible before, I'll agree. But I don't intent to act as they did. I would treat you both equally, with the respect you both deserve."


Zjetya steps forward, slapping you on the bicep to get your attention. Her eyes are locked on yours, and her gaze is stark and intense, unblinking and interrogating.

"Do you swear it?"

River looks at Zjetya with astonishment.


"That's good! I do not expect anything else than the worst possible outcomes. I'm well prepared for failure. But I know as sure as fate this ascension will not kill me, because my death is meant for something else. In any case these distinctions you make between mortals and gods are silly. I understand you witches do not play sorting hats with divinity, but don't belittle our intelligence. What is a person, who nobody believes in. You can feed and water a baby, but without love they perish. When nobody knows your name, or knows your face, naught a word, where are you. So as in life, so are we in death, we are in a dream that we all play an important role same as the gods. That is why what the Angels are doing to this world is so despicable, because they gave up any right to earthly matters but observation of our beautiful home. Their agents craved heaven so much that they escaped it and became saints."

"I am not arguing whether I am ready or not. But we are running out of time, so what can be done if a few steps are executed prematurely, I always find a way to work around it regardless."

[1d10] persuasion

Roll #1 9 = 9


>this better worded
Their agents craved heaven so much that they escaped the troubles of earth to become saints."


As he nips at her hoof, she snickers, patting his head as she says, "In a little bit, Spark, I promise I'll play. I need to take care of a few things first then we can go play in the garden."

She looks to Fairy Castle as she gives her the explanation, frownign as she seems all the more adamant in refusing to share the secrets of creation with them.

"I… I understand why it's such a big deal, Fairy. I think: magic is like playing with reality but, this stuff you're talking about here sounds more like MAKING it. Messing around with life and death, it's probably more than we can handle. But we're running out of options."

She stomps her hoof, "This world… if it goes as it is for now, it isn't going to last for long. SOMETHING needs to change, and while we're not sure what it is yet, we KNOW it has to happen in Tartarus. But we'll never make it far without every single advantage we can ask for. We're no where close to where the Sons of God were yet!"

She lowers her head, "I don't care if it's a burden to become a god or whatever, if it means saving this world and my clan, and everyone I love within it, I'll take that burden! So please, Fairy Castle, won't you consider it…?"


Pryce looks to Zjetya as she approaches and slaps him, staring into her eyes.
"I do."
He says, with full dedication. He takes Zjetya's hoof, and walks her to River, having the mares stand side by side. He takes River's hoof as well, holding both of them in his one hoof, all three of them together as one.
"You both will have my all in equal, if you would both have me."


Let me try to clarify this
And put an addendum
>That is why what the Angels are doing to this world is so despicable, because they gave up any right to earthly matters but observation of our beautiful home. Their agents craved heaven so much that they escaped it and became saints."

"That is what I find so despicable of the angel's mission. As if they are the authors of the script. They have ascended purely to escape our world of mortality and cycles. How can they have any prerogative to write it's fate when they have already discarded being an actor. And now for all us actors, in their eyes everything we are is forsaken, redemption for ourselves is unholy. So do something truly cursed, our last song to the angels I will sing it even if it's my deathcry. Perform my acension."


Fairy Castle looks over each of you. Although you speak up, the vast majority of the other Saviors remain completely silent. With a studious breath, Fairy Castle taps Shei on the head with her staff.

"Those of you who are ready, I shall meet tomorrow evening, around this time. Only those who have touched all four Aspects of Existence, and who are ready to bring this curse upon themselves, shall come with me. That is all I have to say about that."

Regina stands up, and with soft foot-falls, starts to head toward the fountain where Amy became a Messiah. "Come. One final thing awaits you, according to that spider-god you brought in with you."

River is struck silent, and shivers as her hoof touches against Zjetya's. Disbelief and confusion are worn across her gaze. It is a long time before she speaks or moves, but she doesn't retract her hoof at any point.

…Finally, she turns your way. "…I will give this one month. If what I feel and see during that month makes me decide I don't want to be part of it anymore, I will say my farewell right then and there."

"Guess we better impress, huh?" Zjetya jokes softly.

River pokes her with the tip of her wing. "Yes, you better."


Shei-Sher follows along solemnly, although he hides a smile under his nose.


A smile comes to Pryce's face as River agrees, the weight of what might happen finally lifting from his back, both his mood and body feeling lighter. Pryce let's go of their hooves, and pulls them both into a hug, their heads on either side of his.
"If I ever mistreat either of you, or show preference, then let every force in this world strike me down."


Flaming lets out a breath as she relents, and offers to show them how to master them, Flaming looks up.

"Touched all four? But… I've only touched two of the four, I think. I'm willing to take on this burden but where can I acquire the other two Aspects first, can you at least show me where before tomorrow?"

She asks as she follows Fairy and Regina to the fountain. "What was the final thing, isn't the ceremony done with?"



"Oh," Amy states simply with a shrug. "I guess that answers that problem. If I can't be a god, then I won't be one. That made things easy," she says happily. She then proceeds to follow Regina with a peppy bounce.


Lightly, gingerly, Zjetya and River ease their way into the hug. Their touch starts off as fragile, gentle, but not for lack of commitment. From their very touch, you can feel a sheer terror that either of them might hurt the other, or hurt you. But, the strength of your embrace, silently assuaging those fears, causes their own hug to tighten and solidify.
"Can we go see the kids?" Zjetya whispers.
"Erm… let's save that for later," River says. "Best we not leave without the others, lest something else of note happens."

"Patience and dilligence, young Flaming. And a whole lot of communication. Oh, and here."
Fairy Castle turns to the Monstrance Mirror, and waves her staff over it with a hum. It shrinks greatly, and a chain appears around it, allowing you to wear it as a necklace. It also gains a lid and a mechanism whereby it can close and lock, like a pocket mirror.

"I mean, I'd probably worship you if you want," Wireframe says, coming back out of the Witch group with a Witch around her arm and one around her tail. "You seem like you'd be chill as a goddess."
"Perhaps, if I could get you named among the Ecclesian pantheon, I could be one of your angels," Mirror Image says.
"Well, what's in it for us if we worship you?" Rus asks.

Regina takes you back to the fountainhead temple, the waters stained red and orange by the light of the setting sun. Although you've now had multiple times to stop and eat and recharge after your many travails, the exhaustion of the day's work is catching up, in the form of a light exhaustion that settles all through your muscles and bones. Yet, you still feel a little energy, a result of the many packed days of tribulation that you've all had in these past months.

There, within the shadow of the temple, Buiwong floats, a murky, shadowy presence, a cloud of darkness, within which lounges a hazy, half-formed image of a zebra, who simultaneously looks real and tangible and yet also like a clump of spiders, writhing and crawling over one another. He smiles at your approach, and signals behind him. Out of the darkness of the temple, Ba'drel and Cer'rog appear, bearing an ancient tome the size of an easel. The book is incredibly worn and ancient, the cover once illuminated, but now faded, with only remnants of trimming and embossing remaining upon it. They set the codex upon a nearby stone table.

"Yo! I hate to keep interrupting you," Buiwong says. "So, how are you feeling about everything today? Gotten a lot done? Feeling confident for the next big event?"



"Ew," Amy says reflexively at the thought of people worshiping her. "I don't want to be worshiped. I don't want angels. I just want friends."

Then, Amy looks to Rus directly. "Is my friendship not good enough for you?" she asks in a false-hurt voice.


"I'm less confident by the minute," Amy says in a cheery tone that doesn't at all match what she just said.

Then, she blinks and turns to Shei. "How long is a minute?"


"Well that's funny becuase I feel as though every I fill in the breeches of cool, undisturbed confidence by another inch. Personally, I think it is the rounded diet and regular meditation. Can never go wrong with fasting now and again either."


Every day



"Yeah, I did the whole hungry thing for years. It was… kinda crappy. I'm happy less of a stick in the mud now."

"Speaking of sticks in the mud and filling things up by inches…" Amy trails off, giving Shei a wink.


As their embrace solidifies, Pryce feels his spirit rise, all the chaos they've been through feeling worth it.
"We should probably let them sleep for a bit."
He adds in. Once their embrace parts, Pryce looks lost.
"I don't know if there is anything else they were planning. My mind was a bit, focused on other things."
He says. Then he starts to think, looking a bit hesitant.
"To make sure things start off even… I have given you both a day together so far, but I think Zjetya s still owed a kiss."


Flaming nods her head to Fairy Castle, "Okay… I will TRY to be patient then. And I promise, if you need me to touch all four Aspects before showing me more, I will."

As she forms the mirror into a necklace for her, Flaming smiles, reaching down to look at the top-view of herself and Fairy from the mirror's perspective. "Woah, thank you, Teacher! This will make it a lot easier to pull around."

As they return to the fountain, Flaming looks up with disdain at Buiwong, a narrow glare making it clear she's still warry of the spider god as they all approach. "I feel like we've gotten a lot done today, sure. Why do you ask? You don't have something else in mind, do you?"


"You really ought to get your eye checked, you've been having that tick all day." Shei is intentionally be oblivious again.



"Okay fine, not in front of the gods," Amy mumbles.


Zjetya looks over to River, but River shuts her eyes and shakes her head. "Don't look to me for permission. Take what you're owed."
"Oh, I wasn't going to ask permission. I was gonna see if you wanted to join in," Zjetya says, winking.
River blinks rapidly, then darts in. Zjetya barely has enough time to turn her head toward her.
Your lips all meet in the center in a three-pronged kiss.

"Don't say daft things," Rus says, flicking your ear. "Whatever you call it, we shall all be friends. Whatever you look like, we shall all be friends. Whether we live or die, ascend or descend, change or stay the same, we shall all be friends."

"Well, I have two things to offer you," Buiwong says. "The first – well, an introduction is in order. Blessings' beloved Apostles of White, whatever she may think of them now with the gruesome experiments they conduct on captive demons, own one of the largest repositories of information about Tartarus that still exists… and their collection of books and scrolls, vague translations, burned manuscripts, torn fragments of ancient papyrus… it's all nothing in comparison to this."

He gestures to the massive codex at his side. "The Anathema Scripture. The only extant work written by one of the Sons of God, penned after their dissolution following Princess Vinland's untimely disappearance, and the assumed deaths of Lady Athena and Sir Osmium. Written in a single night, in a bout of madness, after which the lone author died of exhaustion. It contains an entire library of library's worth of information about what you will face in there, whether living, dead or otherwise."

"What price will you exact from us in exchange for it?" Mirror Image asks, stepping forward, sword drawn.

"Nothing, nothing!" Buiwong says, raising his hooves in a show of surrender. "This is absolutely free. It's the second treasure I offer that has the price."

"That being…?" Chorazin asks.

Buiwong smiles.

"The secret that will keep three quarters of those who enter Tartarus from dying in the final battle.

"The secret that will allow Amy to bring peace to this little slice of the world.

"The secret to defeating Mudi the Young."



Flow remains in a catatonic state for a mere few seconds, but it seems like hours in his mind.
As his senses come to him, and he processes that what he had seen, had stuck. He can’t help but smirk as this idea sticks like glue.

“Yeah, I’d put it like that,” he says with an elated sigh.
As he thinks on it, he begins to ponder why, but shakes the thought. He’s certain he’ll figure out why soon enough.
He looks at Renee, his eyes still not quite open, as always, and pulls her into an embrace.


Renee returns your hug, snuggling her cheek into yours with a watery giggle. The laugh makes her body jiggle, mingling with yours for a few seconds.

After a while, you feel a very awkward pair of… eyes? upon you. Just behind you stands Box, his legs looking a little wobbly. He's incredibly well-dressed as you saw earlier.

You don't recognize all the Witch-looking mares, griffons, dragons, minotauresses, and other races that hang about in the garden-like area about you. However, one of them stands out, as she is a very tall sphinx, clothed in a black robe, wearing all assortments of jewelry and magical sigils and signs. She frequently casts glances at Box from behind, and a youthful admiration fills her eyes. Small flowers have been tucked into her hair behind her ears.

"…I take it we missed a lot," Renee says.
"Much!" Box says. Although he's wobbly-looking, he seems a lot more confident. Much like what Renee said about you, he seems to have matured.


Flow gives Renee an open kiss on the lips.
“Aye lad, we lot have been busy…”

He keeps a leg around Renee but scans the area, making sure that his precence is felt, but not intimidating.
“I take it we’re all almost ready, eh?”


"Yep!" Box says. "Ready for my date tomorrow."
"That's not quite what he meant, I think… but this is far too interesting to pass up," Renee says. "Go on!"
Tantra, LJ and _____ come over to where you are gathered.
"Well," LJ begins. "Long story short? The 'abandoned city' Ecclesia wanted explored was actually populated by Witches, who were living in fear of the Queen Witch, Regina. We faced a bunch of trials, and – in her usual style – Amy made friends with Regina."
"And then Box wanted to go on a date with her, so while the others distracted Regina, we got Box all prepared!" Tantra laughs, clapping Box on the back.
_____ scoffs. "Nothing that the Lord Buiwong could have told me about your group could ever prepare me for the surreal stories you people leave in your wake."
"So what were you guys up to?" Box asks.


Flow blinks, and ponders deeply, just for a second.

“Training,” he doesn’t elaborate, but smirks.
He keeps his eyes unfocused, and starts focusing his Qi around his core.


"Yeah, that sounds like something you'd be doing!" Box says cheerily. The others just roll their eyes, amused by your lack of elaboration.
But as you start to focus your Qi, there's one pony you can't slip it past. "What are you doing there?" Renee asks, poking your side.
"Don't bother him, not when he's got something new to play with," Estuary's Memory says.
"And who's this?" LJ asks. "Another one of your old allies?"
"Just a wanderer, passing by," Estuary's Memory says. "Don't mind me."


Flow grins.
“He’s one of my teachers.”
He manifests his Qi around one of his hooves, to display just a fragment of what he’s capable of.


Roll #1 5 = 5


A misty green atmosphere appears around your hoof, much to the interest of the onlookers. "Isn't that what Shei has been going on about the past few days?" Renee asks.
"Something new to fight with, I hope," Tantra says.
"Oh, don't worry– he'll make that abundantly clear soon," Estuary's Memory says.
"You know about the expedition, I take it?" LJ asks. "Will you be joining us?"
"Only… indirectly," the Memory responds. "I have other business, but I'm not letting this guy go down there 'til I'm sure he's ready."


Flow dispells the Qi back into his body, and closes his eyes, trying to sense if there’s Magatsushi or Dhyana to display his other abilities.
While he doesn’t answer any questions, he simply smiles, as if to tell them to be patient.


Roll #1 5 = 5


Indeed there is a large quantity of Magatsuhi nearby, visible in your mind's eye as clouds of red smoke clinging to the party members. But those who radiate it most strongly are Busta and Amy, while the others seem to only be coated with the dregs of it, like a lingering aftereffect. As for Dhyana, there is far less of it, coming only off of Mirror Image and Chorazin.

Interestingly, a solitary figure among your allies appears to be radiating all three energies.


Flow’s face becomes visibly intrigued, and he tries focusing on that energy, already assuming who it can be.


While he’s focusing, and while there’s plenty of Magatushi for the taking, he tries to see if he can absorb some lingering essence.


Roll #1 4 = 4 / Roll #2 9 = 9


You hear a surprised gasp from that direction as you focus upon that soul and drain some of its lingering energy in order to restore your reserves. Busta too looks over, being the stronger source of Magatushi as he is far closer to you.

>1 charge of Dhyana gained, 3 charges of Magatushi gained

You hear some impatient shufflings from those around you, and quiet, awkward throat clearings while your onlookers wait for the demonstration.

"What DID you teach him?" LJ asks. "Mindfulness?"

"Break his concentration and find out," Estuary's Memory jokes.


Flow doesn’t quite snap, but flicks his hooves to manifest both Magatsushi,
and Dhyana
in each of his hooves.

For the final act, he focuses on surrounding his core with Qi.

Roll #1 5 = 5 / Roll #2 9 = 9 / Roll #3 2 = 2


The act of manifesting two contradictory energy types takes far more out of you than you had anticipated, and you're left a little lightheaded from the act, failing to produce any Qi about your core. Still, the visual manifestation of the red and blue mists, stormy and serene, murky and clear, is more than enough to startle and impress the onlookers.

"Interesting…" LJ says. "It's like being trapped between a flame and a frigid-cold river. So, are you a demon now?"
"Nope," Tantra says. "Can't you tell just by looking? Flow's still Flow."
_____ scoffs. "Even that isn't accurate. He bears the demeanor and mark of a Xian. The Dharma."


Once the light-headedness sets in, Flow can’t help but grin once the energy he stached manifests.
“Even still, I need to keep these auras balanced… I’m still not entirely sure how these energies work, or even what they are exactly…”

He dispells the auras with a quick breath to regain some clarity in his head.
“But I know for sure that these are no ordinary tools… they’re something else. Something more,” while he doesn’t elaborate, he’s sure the more magically trained members about can tell what he’s alluding to, even if he himself doesn’t.


_____ smirks. "Allow me, then. The energies of the soul: Magatushi for demons, Dhyana for angels, Qi for mortals. Flow here, attaining Dharma by violence, can now touch the intangible, and even exert dominion over it. Perhaps a would-be Xian he is already closer to the gods than we."
"I don't know how much I like the idea of you turning into a god," Renee mutters.
"Don't get carried away," the Memory says. "The Xian are no gods. Godhood isn't their curse to be branded with."
"Curse?" Tantra asks.
The Memory shakes his head. "It's not for me to explain. Ask your gods, if you dare to know. In any case, we're getting sidetracked."
He turns to the rest of the group. "I'm looking for someone else in your group, actually. Sir Pryce Etac, his name is."
"…You're not that samurai who was hunting him down, are you?" Busta asks, putting his fists up in a defensive stance.
The Memory pauses. "…Different guy. Can't believe you got us mixed up! We look nothing alike. Flow, you can vouch for me, right?"


Flow crosses his front hooves and ruminates on the explaination of what he’s harnessing, and puts a hoof on his chin.
“How funny. The power of an immortal… gifted to us…”

As Pryce’s name comes up, Flow’s head snaps up.
“The spellsword. Where is he?”
He points at the Memory.
“An’ trust me, this one still has his wits about him…” his gaze is cast downwards, both out of worry and pity for Estuary.


"Oh, about that…" Busta begins with a grimace.
"There was quite a scene between him and Zjetya earlier today, even after we left Lilane this morning," LJ says. "And that wasn't the end of it, either. He's been trying to reconcile with Zjetya for a while. River clearly caught on soon after she got here."
"The three of them went over to that cluster of the grove in order to talk about it," Box says, gesturing southward into the trees and bushes. "They all looked pretty worried. I think they're still busy. Want me to go find them with my invisibility?"


Flow puts a hoof on his chin.
“Aye, I need to let the lad know, personally.”

He puts a hoof on his head and lets out a deep sigh.
“So, even he has his hooves full… and Estuary ain’t gonna help.”
He shakes his head.
“I suppose I might have no other choice than to lure the ol’ coot out.”

He turns to Busta and Box.
“If you lot can keep a close eye on Pryce, I can deal with Estuary… “


Box and Busta salute you. Without needing any verbal coordination, Box opens his lid, and Busta climbs inside, disappearing completely into Box's storage space despite being much larger than him. Box then turns invisible, completely translucent. Even the indentations in the grass, where his hooves once stood, start to fade. If he's moving at all, you can't tell. Box's power extends beyond mere invisibility, it seems.

"You're planning to bring him to you, then?" _____ asks. "What a bold thing to try, and two days before the expedition, no less. Have you a plan?"

"Don't need much of one, do we?" the Memory asks. "Call him out. Tell him where we are. And finally, challenge him. Stallions like him can't handle the thought of a challenge unanswered."

"Brutes after my own heart, then," _____ says. "Well, I just got here, so I'm still catching up, but it's my understanding that the Witches here command a vaster mastery over magic than most other sorcerers you'd be able to find these days. Why not enlist one of them to get the word out?"


Flow raises an eyebrow in interest as Box leaves, taling note of his near-perfect invisibility. He doesn’t put it to the test by sensing his energy, however.

Flow grins.
“Ah… a swordsman calling out an old samurai via witches. Seems funny,” he says with a chuckle.
“As much as I don’t trust them, I suppose we might as well get some use out of them…”

He puts a hoof on his chin.
“Now…where would I wait for him? I doubt the bloke won’t show up unless it’s somewhere secluded…”


"Where else but a desolate battlefield?" _____ asks. "There are no end of such places after the One Night War. Or, if you think you will need the advantage, perhaps the ruins of a city, or a labyrinthine dungeon or forest. Our group has visited many such areas during our quest to evangelize in Buiwong's name before we met your group in Vitral. Should you need help to get there, we are more than happy to transport you there."


Last time, on HolyQuest…

Everyone had a brief moment to catch up with the other groups of the Saviors, who had been out on various other missions while our heroes were exploring Threecoins, and had been gathered by Buiwong and Vortigern just in time to see Box ask out Regina. When that was done, Shei and Amy recalled something about the ritual called "Kindling," which Regina had mentioned to the party earlier at her treehouse.

When they asked about Kindling, Fairy Castle, who had presided over the ritual when Regina underwent it, initially refused to bestow it upon them. In her words, the Kindling was a ritual that allowed those who had been touched by all four Aspects of Existence – Life, Death, Light and Dark – to ascend even further and reach powers beyond those limited to those with enough Faith. She described it as taking a step through a doorway onto a path that would bring them closer to being "like gods." But, instead of treating it as a glorious power-up, as some seemed to view it, she described it as a "curse" (a term that Estuary's Memory also used when talking to Flow about godhood). Although these warnings gave your allies pause, enough of the Saviors persisted, and Fairy Castle eventually relented, agreeing to meet those who were ready around this time tomorrow evening.

Meanwhile, Pryce, Zjetya and River met in a secluded clearing of the grove, where they had the privacy to discuss their situation. Pryce, confessing that he couldn't choose between either of them, proposed that none of them have to choose; instead, they would reconcile their relationship by dating as a trio – a small harem, in other words. River was aghast at first, but Zjetya less so. River brought up several objections about the barbarity of the practice, but Zjetya vouched for Pryce's character, asserting that he wouldn't inflict such cruelty against them. River, although still harboring reservations, agreed to give the arrangement a month's time before she decided to stay or leave.

Although this ended on a better note than Pryce expected, Flow and Estuary's Memory had much worse news for Pryce. Pryce was still being hunted by Sir Estuary, who would not stop until he had avenged King Neo Advent of Vadahara. In an effort to even the odds, Flow and Estuary's Memory decided to lure him out to a battlefield of their choosing, but they would need Pryce's cooperation and the help of some Witches to get the word out in time, if they were to fight Estuary before the Tartarus Expedition began.

Finally, when the party was all gathered again, Regina told them that Buiwong, Ba'drel and Cer'rog had two more gifts for them at the fountainhead temple. Indeed, he did: The first was a massive codex, terribly ancient and worn, known as the Anathema Scripture. It was the only extant book of its sort left behind by one of the Sons of God themselves, and its wealth of information completely dwarfed all other writings on Tartarus. The second, which came with a certain price, was the secret to defeating Mudi the Young.


Zjetya looks over to River, but River shuts her eyes and shakes her head. "Don't look to me for permission. Take what you're owed."
"Oh, I wasn't going to ask permission. I was gonna see if you wanted to join in," Zjetya says, winking.
River blinks rapidly, then darts in. Zjetya barely has enough time to turn her head toward her.
Your lips all meet in the center in a three-pronged kiss.


"Don't say daft things," Rus says, flicking your ear. "Whatever you call it, we shall all be friends. Whatever you look like, we shall all be friends. Whether we live or die, ascend or descend, change or stay the same, we shall all be friends."


"Where else but a desolate battlefield?" _____ asks. "There are no end of such places after the One Night War. Or, if you think you will need the advantage, perhaps the ruins of a city, or a labyrinthine dungeon or forest. Our group has visited many such areas during our quest to evangelize in Buiwong's name before we met your group in Vitral. Should you need help to get there, we are more than happy to transport you."

>Amy, Flaming, Shei

"Well, I have two things to offer you," Buiwong says. "The first – well, an introduction is in order. Blessings' beloved Apostles of White, whatever she may think of them now with the gruesome experiments they conduct on captive demons, own one of the largest repositories of information about Tartarus that still exists… and their collection of books and scrolls, vague translations, burned manuscripts, torn fragments of ancient papyrus… it's all nothing in comparison to this."

He gestures to the massive codex at his side. "The Anathema Scripture. The only extant work written by one of the Sons of God, penned after their dissolution following Princess Vinland's untimely disappearance, and the assumed deaths of Lady Athena and Sir Osmium. Written in a single night, in a bout of madness, after which the lone author died of exhaustion. It contains an entire library of library's worth of information about what you will face in there, whether living, dead or otherwise."

"What price will you exact from us in exchange for it?" Mirror Image asks, stepping forward, sword drawn.

"Nothing, nothing!" Buiwong says, raising his hooves in a show of surrender. "This is absolutely free. It's the second treasure I offer that has the price."

"That being…?" Chorazin asks.

Buiwong smiles.

"The secret that will keep three quarters of those who enter Tartarus from dying in the final battle.

"The secret that will allow Amy to bring peace to this little slice of the world.

"The secret to defeating Mudi the Young."



Amy glares at Buiwong with a hateful stare. She continues to stare at him as she weighs her options. After a while, she finally speaks.

"What are you asking for?" she asks slowly.



Pryce is caught off-guard as Zjetya asks if River wanted to be a part of it. He barely has time to process it before their lips all meet together. His wings spring up, and he looks a little shocked. But he doesn't pull back. Despite the surprise, this feels right to him, the only proper way for this relationship to start.


Flow crosses his front hooves with a sigh.
“I’ll have to confront him on my own, at the end of the day… I just need some time to train and get used to these new tools.”

He chuckles.
“Now… how to issue out the challenge.”


Flaming looks up at Buiwong in contemplation as he offers them his gifts, raising her eyebrow curiously at the offer of the Anathema Scripture.

"Something written by someone who actually WENT into Tartarus?! I have to admit, that's a pretty good gift, we could really use all the info we could get."

After his next promise, Flaming opens her eyes widely. "Okay… assuming any of that is 'true', what will you ask for it? And how will we know this 'secret' of yours is any good before we give it to you?"


Shei-Sher stands by, waiting for Buiwong to name his price.


"You just worry about the words," the Memory says. "I'll ensure that it gets to him. Witches? Don't need 'em, but it couldn't help to put in a lot more flash and pizzazz onto it. What better way to get an arse like him to heed the call than to sting at his ego? Be the gadfly you probably were in a previous reincarnation."

He then gestures over to the party, seeing them gathered by the fountainhead palace. "We should hurry up, though. Looks like something big's going down over there."

The kiss is long, and warm and silent, lasting, it seems, for a momentary eternity.

But, you feel an intense sparking and a zephyr of warmth erupt before you, as if a fire had sparked to life right in your face, breaking the moment. You open your eyes to see River and Zjetya both backing away, but Zjetya–

Her disguise has vanished. Where she once stood now stands a phoenix-like figure. Her body is golden, and the fur around her neck, auburn on its base, is like a bush of flame, rife with glimmering sparks. Her wings are a kaleidoscope of flaming hues, preserved in thin gossamer like shards of a stained glass window, making curling waves and crests that almost look like the heads of three ponies, interwoven with one another in a vertical spire. Her eyes are now an amber hue with golden scllera, and her mane and tail flow like fire. Her hair is a gradiant much like fire, ever-moving and changing, and at the gradient's core, you see the smallest hints of blue and green and white; the colors of a fire burning at its hottest.

Zjetya stares at the sky, mouth agape as if in shock, and speechless. River's eyes are wide with awe as she takes this all in. "Zjetya… what happened…?"

"In exchange…?" Buiwong begins, rolling his head side to side as if he really didn't even think of it until just now. "What more could you give me…? What more couldn't I simply just take…?"

He smiles. A chill passes through your allies at the mere sight of it.

"All I want is your word that you will follow through and defeat her. Your word that 'this will not end with Mudi alive.' I could make you swear by the Oath-Words, if you wanted. That would give you an opportunity to make ME swear to something, by forming a Covenant with me. All I'd want then is for everyone who's going into Tartarus to abide by such a Covenant."

Your allies look to one another, and contemplative whispers start to waft between them, except among LJ, Vortigern, Mocha and Tantra, who all resolutely look forward. It's clear they've already made their decision.


except along LJ, Vortigern, Mocha, _____ and Tantra, who all…*



Amy groans with dissatisfaction. "I'm still not even sure that Reggie is right about Moody. If she's lying or just wrong, then I don't want to kill Moody. Shei, I never really got an answer from you before. Is there any way we can verify what Reggie said? If so, I can't make any promises to Booeywong until after we figure that out."


As Buiwong makes this request, Flaming freezes up. They were wary of Mudi, sure, now more than ever after what the did to Regina. But promise to kill her?

She looks to Amy, knowing how she in particular feels, and looks to Buiwong. "I dont know if I can agree to that. Mudi may be trouble but, if Regina has taught us anything, isn't it to give the benefit of the doubt? Maybe she can be reasoned with, at least we could try before killing her."



"No," Amy says forcefully. "If Reggie is right, then Moody dies. I agree with giving people a chance, but her chance is figuring out if Reggie is right. It's not trying to reason with her."


Pryce stands in place, familiar with the heat of flames and at first assuming it's just his face running hot. But when he sees Zjetya, his mouth hangs in stunned silence, eyes wide at the golden blaze of a changeling standing there.
"Zjetya.. You're… What happened?"
He echoes River.


"Just if it isn't abvious for those considering. The trade off is the sort of afterlife you are comfortable with. Buiwong will own your soul, That the deal is not a bad one -rather fair when taken into consideration."

Shei-Sher steps forward to Buiwong "I could beat it however. For me, I only want for the secret to keep us alive AND." Shei caresses his collerbone with a hoof "Just enough spiders to fill in the part of me that was stolen by Metatron, to be digested by my spirit. In exchange I will not give you undieing loyalty and our previous contract stands but I will give you something better."

Shei-Sher touches his chest, where his heart is. Pointing to it "I'll give you my gate." He says soberly and innocently, like a child allowing to share a keepsake or a teddy bear. "For a god in your predicament this should be a most attractive offer. Split 6 billion ways, an extra portal for transversing through the firmament and the inbetween worlds. Not only that but this power is close to my heart -in a way I am sure you can understand why. Though.. I am only trading the portal, the bells and whistles for sustaining the gate will remain with me."

Shei-Sher is trading his aspect
>A Vision of Thralls: Twice per combat; Instant; Summon either 1 monster from the “Medium” tier, or 2 from the “Small” tier of the Compendium of Monsters. If “I Dream of Monsters” has already been chosen, this skill’s rolls get +1. Grants one Pet Mastery point. All summoning weakens the Firmament.
But keeping the Pet mastery point, in exchange for the knowledge to keep us alive and 2 skill points, equal to the 2 wounds Metatron stole form Shei.

"As an added bonus, for all your spiders chip away more at the firmament is exactly the sort of thing to get under the angel's skin. So what do you say?"

Bargaining roll

Roll #1 3 = 3 / Roll #2 2 = 2


Not a changeling, not a mothpony, but someone in-between; neither and both, contradictory and coherent. She looks down at herself, and her eyes alight with recognition and epiphany.
"Is this what you truly look like…?" River asks.
"N-no… at least, not quite," Zjetya says. "I… I didn't look anything like this, before. I used to look almost entirely like Wireframe, back before I left Ornifex.
"A new transformation, then?"
"It's… I know what this is," Zjetya says. Small streams of tears start to fall from her eyes. "Sometime after my friend was taken to Yongning-si, to sing to the dragons for all eternity, I saw it… I saw a phoenix dragon, flying away from Yongning-si. Lots of dragons chased after it, and so did the dragon knights. They said it abandoned the Pure Land, the land of the gods… It was a terrible act of blasphemy. But, at least in my thoughts, even though I loved the gods as all of us did, I wanted that phoenix to escape. I prayed for it to escape."

She blinks. "…And it did."

"I know it's a strange thing to be hearing from me, the god of fables," Buiwong says. "I get your hesitation. I don't usually put my seal upon anything. You might be able to tell I prefer to leave things open-ended, to be able to say 'I'll get back to you on that' and then make up my mind later, on the spot. And, as I understand it, the idea of 'show, don't tell' is pretty popular nowadays."

He leans back, kicking his leg languidly. "But if you can't trust me, then perhaps you could trust Vizsla. Not on her merits as Vizsla, but on her status as Mudi's sister. I heard this directly from her. Perhaps you could try to track her down – wherever she might be – and hear it from her yourselves, but that increases the chances that Mudi will eventually find out when the two sit down for the Shades' little tea party tomorrow."

Regina turns her gaze down to Amy and Flaming. Her demeanor is much more even and controlled, but you can tell it's a conscious effort on her part. "I was telling you the truth, Amy."

"So you believe! But I offer a correction: You told an incomplete truth," Buiwong says. "Not incomplete as in a partial lie, but incomplete because of your own limited information. Of course, you're innocent of any charge of lying here. You didn't know it was incomplete. You couldn't know. You never had the full story. But you might say stories are my specialty. I know the full tale… if you don't mind hearing the ending."

Regina grits her teeth, but Box places his hoof on her massive paw, which gives her a modicum of calm.



Buiwong scoffs. "You're underestimating me, dear Shei. Do you think Metatron would be resorting to the Dissolution if he thought the World was worth saving? The Firmament is in ruins. The World is dying. What does he care if a shattered wall loses a few more cracks? He's trying to burn the whole damn house down. I've already named my terms. Besides, don't you think, after all this time, that I don't have ways of getting under YOUR skin, and getting out, too?"

As he speaks, a spider drops out of your mouth, and crawls away into the undergrowth nearby.



"It's like I said," Amy responds to Regina after Buiwong begins correcting her. "You could be wrong."

"Besides…" Amy adds, looking down. "I don't trust myself anymore. I meet people and I trust them completely. Then, they turn out to be betrayal monsters. I might trust you, but I don't trust that my trust is trustworthy. At least, I don't trust me enough to make a decision like killing someone without better proof."


"…in that case, okay. If that's what you're thinking, I'm for it. Now, as to prove it, like I said before: maybe Wineberry could help us see?"

"Shei…" Flaming frowns. "Havent you given up enough to him?"

"We don't doubt what happened to to you, Regina, I swear. I just want to hear what Mudi has to say for herself first before I commit to putting her down"

Turning back to Buiwong, she says, "I assume you will keep this promised secret of how to beat her until we swear an oath to you to kill her?"



"You didn't get back your soul bits when you got back mine?" Amy asks, sounding a little guilty.


"I'm afraid I'm not a lie detector. And entering ones dreams to find there past is not as credible when dealing with a Mother of illusions. I would take her word however."
>tfw Pryce needs to hurry up and get speak ye in the light skill

Shei grimaces as he watches the spider crawl away, highly unnerved though not too surprised

Shei-Sher rethinks his offer, giving careful consideration to it. "An extra gate would still enhance your dark corridors for you and your followers. I think you are brushing over just how much this sacrifice means to me. I have always craved for belonging and family, for a family that could never reject me, a place I was always welcomed was what I traveled all this way for. Why I have brought the goats to the other side of the continent and wrestled for control over them for so long. This aspect is the last vestige of my ways. No longer will I be able to summon creatures of comfort, beasts that will never reject me. All of my nostalgia escapes with knowing I will not see another pheonix. now that I have already given that one to you."

Shei-Sher then points to his belly, along his sea of chi "But I will sweeten the deal further, as respect for my Master Buiwong. I will also sacrifice a portion of my transmutive spirit."

Shei-Sher will also sacrifice
>sulphureous Brume: Recharge 2(minus 1); Ranged; Pick two targets; This effect spreads a mist around those targets which will either increase their damage received by 2 for 2 turns, or reduce their damage dealt by 2 for 2 turns. Effect is chosen when cast.

Bargaining roll

Roll #1 3 = 3 / Roll #2 10 = 10


"There is no end to the sacrifices. Not only to him.." Shei says cryptically.

"No.. Metatron would not return it. But he was moved by how I pleaded for yours."



"I… I'm sorry… Thank you."


"Unless you give me a better offer, my terms are as they have been stated," Buiwong says. "Isn't that a bit pointless, to give you my advice and then for you to not take it? Why would you want to bother leaving it open, when you're just going to come back to me eventually, whether tomorrow or in the final battle, asking for my help?"

Regina grimaces. "…Not that I'm telling you what to do, but now I want to know, myself. If I was wrong, then… even if it doesn't change how I view her, or view this mission, then I NEED to know. The truth of what happened to me belongs to me. Even if I have to treat with a god, or crush his skull, I'll get what I am owed."

She merely flexes the smallest claw of her paw, and all of the landscape nearby changes. Trees, grasses, even the stones and statues of the palace, all take on a life of their own, becoming monstrous and rising up as devilish faces manifest in their surfaces. The animated creatures all look at Buiwong, staring down at him like how a wolf eyes a lame rabbit, with no tolerance for his mischief.

"Truly terrifying, but I assure you, violence will have its place in due time, sweet Queen-Mother," Buiwong answers. "Save it for when our little army here reaches the precipice of victory."

"Are you someone who tends to flip to the back of the book for the answers before the questions are even proposed?" Buiwong asks. "Because you certainly seem to get what I LOVE to hear. The will, the dreams, the ambitions, the drives! Oh! Nothing says dedication like putting all of it on the table to be bartered away.

"Very well. I'll accept your terms, but remember that I asked for ALL of you who are entering Tartarus to agree to it. You can have a special clause for you only. And, I'll even throw in the stipulation that it won't be binding until the moment that your group enters Tartarus. That way, those who want to back out at the last second to cling to their scraps of life on the surface won't be obligated to fulfill a Covenant that they won't be able to fulfill."


"I saw what she looked like before, it was nothing like this."
Pryce comments as River questions the new look.

After Zjetya tells of the day her friend was taken, Pryce steps forward, bringing up his hoof to dry her tears.
"You're… a phoenix?"



"What? You think the god of stories DOESN'T want to tell you a story that you want to hear?" Amy asks with a smirk. "He's probably dying to tell you already. He's just stringing you along. He's a tease. Trust me. I know teases."

[1d10] with compassion to get Buiwong to tell Regina the full story about what happened with the other witches

Roll #1 5 = 5


>"Are you someone who tends to flip to the back of the book for the answers before the questions are even proposed?"
> Oh! Nothing says dedication like putting all of it on the table to be bartered away.
Shei smiles, his head hung low with only one eye slyly open he compliments Buiwong "I learned from the best."

>"Very well. I'll accept your terms, but remember that I asked for ALL of you who are entering Tartarus to agree to it. You can have a special clause for you only.

"That works perfectly, I am saving the option to not speak the details of your secret to everyone else regardless. An independant clause works swimmingly. The offer for them should be reiterated however. I think you will agree when made aware of my plans for Mudi. Our success with empowering Amy to be guaranteed, Mudi cannot die. There will be a much worse fate than a death in tartarus in store for her. She will carry a hundred thousand burdens and be compelled to labor her sins when we are done. But she WILL not die."

Shei-Sher turns back to the rest of the party as he walks forward to join Buiwong somewhere private if he is going to give him the secret now. "You should all keep that in mind before entering an agreement with Buiwong."


Flaming looks up at Buiwong, trying to consider this bargain. "I understand your terms, but how long would this deal be on the table? I can't commit to this Covenant of yours until I'm sure Mudi deserves death, I need to learn for myself what her true nature is."

"So, tell me this: are you going to be offering your secret up until we head into Tartarus, or do you want an answer right at this very moment? I'd also make a few requests on behalf of the buffalo, were we to go through with it, but I would need to talk with Journey and Tantra about those."



"Why bother torturing her?" Amy asks with disgust evident in her tone. "Just kill her. Punishment is stupid."


"I wanted to be one," Zjetya says. "Because I saw that one get away, all those years ago… I always thought that that was the kind of bird that could go anywhere it wanted, be anything it wanted, live how it wanted, without harming anyone or being harmed."
"The phoenix is known for dying and being reborn," River says. "Its stories are not about freedom, explicitly."
"So, I guess this form is just another disguise? Another fiction, another lie–" Zjetya begins, smirking in her usual ironic way, but River takes her arm and looks at her gravely.
"No. If it is what you want to strive toward, then that is what you'll become. After all, the phoenix has its own kind of freedom. To try one thing, die, and then rise again and try something else. That's the kind of freedom that we all have, if we live with authenticity. What you look like now is just as true as what I look like. I don't think this is a disguise at all. If you don't believe me, have someone try to dispel it."
Zjetya turns your way. "Pryce, would you? I want to know."


"I do not plan on torturing her. You may think it is a scheme born out of spite but you would be wrong. I will give her a new life. And her new life in our new world will be absolutely necessary to securing it's peace. You'll see, it'll all be fine." Shei shoots Amy an innocent smile.


"I don't think this is a lie," Pryce says as Zjetya starts to demean this new creation, "This formed from us, when all three of us came together. I wasn't lying about how I felt, and I don't think you'd lie in that moment either."
When Zjetya asks for him to try dispelling, Pryce nods. His horn glows, and he puts all the knowledge he gained from the trials through Regina's library to grant Zjetya her request.
>Unweave [1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8



"Unless you give me a good and specific reason, I'm not agreeing to dooming anyone to millenia of torture for the sake of making peace," Amy states flatly.


"This is not doom or torture. In a way you could say she will be compelled to right her wrongs of her own accord. What compels her condition is not force but by her own volition. There will be no pain, nor will she wish death on herself. I do take some pleasure in knowing that the experience will be humiliating however, but that is most harm I am doing."


And nothing happens.
"What did I say?" River asks with a small smile.
Zjetya takes a mirror from her bag, looking over her new form, as if she still doesn't believe it. But her disbelief is quickly burned away. It is at this moment that you see something that you have only seen once before, when she performed on stage for the refugees of Vitral.
A smile.
A genuine smile, without any hint of irony, snark, insincerity, or cynicism.
And then she begins to weep softly, crying a quiet, dignified outpouring of joy. She hugs you and River, holding you so tightly that you cannot imagine anything pulling you away.

"Not even until then," Buiwong answers. "What kind of Covenant would it be if I offered it to you with strings attached, like a time limit? Hahahaha, no! We could form the Covenant up until the moment of your death as Mudi annihilates you and the rest of your party in a peal of magical fire, if you are so inclined. I will always be willing to share secrets with my friends, anytime, anyplace."

"Ah-ah-ah-ah-aaaaaahhhhh… don't tempt me, miss Amy Thest. I'm the one who does the tempting around here. You're more of a tempted type, aren't you? You're just trying to turn it around on me because YOU want to know. But it's going to take more than that to seduce me. I'm a faithful zebra-spider-god-egregore… thing."

"I can tell this is going to be a hurdle for you," Buiwong sighs. "If you don't want to make a decision now, then you can wait. And the secret can wait. But, I will warn you…"

His grin spreads from ear to ear. "The longer you wait, the less effective my secret will be. I'm not putting a time limit on your decision. It already has a time limit by the very nature of the secret. If you act now, it can still work, you know."
"What good will it do to let her kill us all, if this secret is so damn vital?" Chorazin scoffs. "Stop this bantering and relinquish the secret!"
"Do you think I'd play this game with you if I didn't have backups?" Buiwong asks. "You have the honor of being Plan A, people! What more could you want? If you don't want to swear a Covenant, then just lie to me! Tell me a lie, like you think I'm going to lie to you, if I'm not made to swear to a Covenant."


"The feeling is mutual. Time is of the essence here! Take me somewhere private so we can commit our exchange. This will be a good time speak with you about my solution for Mudi where she cannot hear us."


"I told you already, I'm waiting for a unanimous decision," Buiwong says. "You're not beholden to give up anything until they all agree, and if they decline, you are free to keep what you offered."


"I see… so the longer we wait to accept your deal, the less effective it will be. I understand, but the price at the moment is still not something I'm sure I can pay."

She glares. "And, if I can be blunt Buiwong… my clan has made a Covenant with you before. And I think we paid a very, VERY hefty price for it. Vir-can imprisoned, our lands destroyed, our herds scattered? I'm willing to believe you're telling the truth but you would understand if I'm hesitant to trust ANYTHING you have to offer!"


"If they promise kill mudi, that will complicate things dreadfully. Would making the promise to 'succeed against Mudi' instead be acceptable?"


When a genuine smile comes to Zjetya's face, Pryce can't help but smile himself. He welcomes the hug, putting his hooves around both of them in Zjetya's tight embrace, resting his head against hers as she is overtaken by joy.
"You should smile more often. It looks good on you."
He says softly.


"That's far too vague," Buiwong responds. "Do you have a specific alternative in mind? I might accept that."



Amy thinks for a moment. "If you think she'd actually do that and Booeywong would be okay with, I don't see why not."


"Oh, puh-lease," Amy says with a smirk and wave of her hoof at Buiwong. "If you've really been spying on me, you KNOW that I'm just as tempting as I am tempted."

Then, she frowns when Buiwong tells her to lie. "I don't lie," Amy says. "Even to gods. But, if this is acceptable to you, I WILL say this. If I don't find anything to disprove that Moody is the traitor that Reggie says she is, then Moody is dead, guaranteed. Or whatever deathlike thing that Shei has planned. I'd do it myself regardless of this deal."

"So, if you're so certain that Reggie is right, then you shouldn't have a problem with what I just said, right? It's the same thing as saying that I will kill her. In that case, I'd say I've done what you asked so you should tell me the secret."

[1d10] Mantra of Equality with compassion

Roll #1 5 = 5


"We will pacify Mudi." Shei-Sher double takes to Buiwong and everyone else "Is that acceptable?"



"As long as Booeywong is okay with it, I am too," Amy nods.


Flaming looks on, "Actually… YEAH, would that work? Why do we have to 'kill' her in any regard? Even if she really is our enemy, couldn't it work just as well to just capture her or otherwise make her powerless?"

She looks up to Buiwong, "How about, would the deal stand if we promised to pacify her instead?"


"I think I'll be doing a lot more of that now," Zjetya answers, finding relief and gladness in her tears, welcoming them even as she blinks them away. She and River look to one another, and although there is still the faintest hint of tension between them over this unorthodox romance, there is nothing but happiness on River's face too, happiness for Zjetya's breakthrough.
But as she does that… Zjetya smirks.
"You slipped up," she says to the bushes behind you.
"Shit," you hear Busta mumble. You look behind you just in time to see him scoot behind a tree.
"Nope, nope, too late. How long were you there?" River demands.
"…Just came in at the tail end of the phoenix story," Busta says, scooting back out. "Box was with me earlier, making me invisible, but he bailed when he saw Regina going with the others to talk to Buiwong again. Do you want me to leave, or–"
"No," Zjetya says. "You're not the type to peep for pleasure. If you're here, something must be the matter. I can tell just by your expression."
"…You got that right," Busta says.

Hearing your assent, the rest of your allies start to talk to one another, even those whom you've heard and seen expressing doubts about going into Tartarus themselves. Mocha, Deriva, Blessings, Mirror Image, Onion, _____, Gadriel, Sister Renee, Observer, Hafaza, Vortigern, Rus Tea, Volkama, Box, LJ, Tantra, Chorazin, Regina and Wireframe all stop, speaking to one another, listening, and assuaging doubts.

Then, as one, they turn back to Buiwong, Ba'drel and Cer'rog, all three of whom are gathered before the fountain, smugly, arrogantly regarding you as lords of the land regard the slaves in the field.

"Agreed," they say as one.

"So, no Covenant, but you still want the secret? Alright, then…" Buiwong smirks.



File: 1571630650225.png (231.67 KB, 500x268, cursed.png)


"Let me begin from the top. I won't repeat those old tired refrains about how you're all going to die, that this is too much for you, so on and so forth. In fact, I really don't believe that that's the case. I don't like to take such a grim view of things. You might wonder, after all that I've suffered and done so selflessly for my people, why I'm so optimistic."

Buiwong grins. "It's because, like you, I have Faith."

"You've been hearing that word a lot, lately, right? Well, it really isn't some empty platitude. Amy, your attitude about the gods may not be so uncommon these days, the idea that the gods don't love you. But that's not quite the case. Mortalkind was born in an act of forbidden love, when the Eternal Architect, the Weaver of Fire and Water, the First Singer, the Creator God Br'veldus, defying the commands of his Father, Y'idryth, stole a piece of the fire of Y'idryth's soul and threw it into the ocean, giving rise to mortalkind. Mortals, whatever form they take, whatever they do, whether they be great or plain, wise or foolish, mundane or magical, godly or devilish, are all a product of Love. And Faith is another form of Love.

"Faith is what gives you power of all kinds. Martial might, magical prowess, even the power to wield fragments of Creation itself, the Primordial Aspects… you gain power through Faith. Faith in yourselves, Faith in others, Faith in gods, Faith in family and tribe, Faith in kin and country. All power, all heights of mortal might and gloriousness, is an expression of Faith. And Faith is, to repeat myself, Love.

"It is what drives you to keep living, even as you tredge through this dying World. This hostile World, once ruled by capricious demons that enslaved your kind for millenia. This hostile World, where all the lands, the seas, the skies, and the beasts that fill them, pose a threat to small, weak mortals. This hostile World was never designed to incorporate mortalkind. You were never designed for this World, and it was never designed for you. And yet you live. This world is cursed, and yet you find reasons to go on. Because it is better to live than to not. Better to fight for every moment of existence, than to lay down and die. That is Love. That is Faith.

"Now, refresh my memory a little bit, if you would… what was it that Mudi did to herself, in order to obtain her unimaginable power…?"


Pryce says happily.

But when Zjetya calls out their spy, Pryce turns as they all spot Busta, feeling an intense wave of embarrassment at having been watched during all of that.
"Y-You were here the whole time?"
He questions, until Zjetya says there was a reason, getting Pryce to regain some composure.
"What's going on? Is Buiwong about to do something to the others?"



Amy listens with a grim expression. She likes everything he says about love. Usually, she'd be smiling and giddy at the validation for her usual attitude. But, it was all marred by the pretense of gods. Even if the gods did at one point love mortals, they don't now.

"She betrayed someone. The opposite of love…" Amy mutters. "Are you going to tell us to wait for her to betray us first?"


"She betrayed someone she loved as an offering to the great whore of gehenna. The act sacrificed her bond with faith, is that right?"


Flaming looks on up at Buiwong, no small amount of disdain still lingering in her heart for the spider-zebra but, still, as she listens to his speech about where mortalkind came from, and how they've persevered despite all the odds stacked against them, from gods and world alike all driven by their faith, Flaming lowers her ears, and lowers her head, looking within herself to see if she still has that much faith with in her for both herself AND their future.

As he asks them the question, it is a much simpler answer. "She betrayed Regina and her sisters to get her power. An act of Love's anti-thesis, betrayal, gave them that power-"

She pauses, as she mentions 'Love' after hearing Buiwong speak it, her curiosity piqued. "What does that have to do with Faith, then?"


File: 1571632294760.jpg (72.68 KB, 1280x720, hedgehog.jpg)

"N-not the whole time, no!" Busta says. "Honest, I turned around during all the r-romantic parts. I didn't want to interrupt, but if I tried sneaking away, I'd just distract you, so I thought I'd wait until I got a moment to cut in."

He nods. "It's about Sir Estuary. There's someone here, who came with Flow, but Flow's busy at the moment. Anyway, this guy – he's a samurai, too. He says he wanted to help you even the odds."
"Even the odds?" River repeats. "You can't mean to fight him!"
"I don't think Pryce has much of a choice," Busta says.

"Regina," Buiwong says.
The Queen-Mother tilts her head, eyeing Buiwong with suspicion and poison.
"You said that for Mudi, trying not to betray someone is like for a mortal to try to go without breathing. But that isn't quite the case."
The fur on Regina's haunches begins to rise with bubbling anger.

Buiwong spreads his arms wide.

"Mudi severed her ties with Love by imbibing of the Substance of Betrayal, becoming one with Love's polar opposite. But that does not mean she is totally unaffected by Love's existence. She could not escape it entirely, for to exist is to be Loved. For Mudi, avoiding Betrayal is more like… how should I put it…? It is like a pious pony who is tempted by a great, mortal sin. Her favorite sin. A sin she was once obsessed with, addicted to, utterly dependent upon. It was a sin that defined her very identity. If she goes back to her sinful ways, she is satisfied for a time… but her soul is in peril. She no longer enjoys the benefits and powers that she obtained by being pious.

"So it is with Mudi. Love gives all of you power. It also opens you up to certain weaknesses. For to Love someone or something is to allow yourself to be wounded by them. How's the song go? 'You always hurt the ones you Love, the ones you should never hurt at all.' Yet, we continue to Love, in spite of that potential for hurt. We trust those we Love, trust them with the potential to hurt us. It is the Hedgehog's Dilemma. We carefully embrace our loved ones, embrace that weakness that Love gives us, because Love's strength and goodness is so much more.

"But for Mudi, she cannot gain power from Love. It can only make her weak. It drains the power that derives from Betrayal. But she is just like you, in one regard. Just because she can turn her back on the fire of Love does not mean she doesn't crave its warmth. She longs for bonds, just the same as all of you. That is why she clings to her Shades. That is why she longs to be worshipped as a God-Queen. As a Queen-Mother. But by her own doing, she is the eternal outsider, locked outside in the rain, looking in on the feast held by the fireplace, where one's family and friends are gathered and warm, held in an embrace of Love that nothing can dispel.

His smile shrinks, coming down to a fine, mischievous point. "So, have you figured it out?"



Amy's countenance is slowly grows more and more grim as Buiwong speaks. By the time Buiwong is done talking, her coat has grown black.

"You're just as sick and insane as I thought you were," Amy literally spits. "No, you're worse. You want us to love her - to make her love. That will weaken her so we can beat her."

"I'd be fine with that, but you began all of this by telling us to kill her. Regina was wrong about the absolute most important part of all of this. It doesn't change who she is. Yes, she's a traitor, but she is still a normal person. She's drawn to love just like anyone else. Which means we SHOULDN'T kill her. We can literally win this with love."

"But, you want us to do the absolute worse thing we can do. Make her love, then kill her. That's called betrayal. You're asking us to be like her."

"Why? Why would you want us to do that? It's not the best way! If we messed it up, it'd just make her stronger and us weaker! So, why-"

Amy stops mid-sentence. She glares at Buiwong. "You WANT us to be like her? Or is it that you want us to be weaker?"


"I -uh would prefer it spelled out, since this is so important."

"Though.. I cannot seem to wrap my head around this. Mudi could never become a god then if she does not benefit from love. Does that not mean success in her own right will mean her demise? And the shades, do they love her? Or are they a fetish of betrayal?"


"Oh, well, thank you for that."
Pryce says as Busta admits to turning away at parts.

When he mentions Estuary, Pryce tenses up, not prepared to hear that name here.
"He's right, but I never intended to run from this to begin with."
Pryce says at River's protest.
"I don't know if Sir Estuary would be willing to hear me out, but I can't turn away from this."
Pryce looks to Busta.
"Flow brought somepony who will help then? Sir Estuary must be close then. Lead the way."
He says, then looks back to River and Zjetya.
"Sorry to cut this all short, so suddenly."
He apologizes, realizing how sudden this revelation with the three of them was interrupted.


Flaming listens to Buiwong's continued story, before even the admittedly thick-headed buffalo starts to realize exactly WHAT Buiwong is implying.

"She isn't just strong because she embraced Betrayal… she's also strong because she SPURRED love! Which means, she can't afford to love because it weakens her! But *all* mortals have the capacity for love no matter how much she wants to avoid it, which means if we made her love… or even just loved her… we could strip her of her power?"

However, after Amy speaks, Flaming's face goes white. "S-she's right… we'd be making her love again, we'd make her weak… JUST to kill her? T-that's just as bad as what Mudi did to Regina! You ask us to show her how to love again only so that we can use it to destroy her, it's… it's acting just like her."


"Befriend Mudi. Gain her trust. Gain her Faith. Gain her Love," Cer'rog says.
"And then, when your bond has reached fruition…" Ba'drel says.
"Betray her," Buiwong says. "Plunge your Betrayal into the deepest recesses of her vulnerabilities, those that expose themselves from your Love."

"H-hold on," LJ says, appearing shaken in a very rare moment. "Y-you said you had Faith in us, Lord. You said you didn't think we'd fare as badly as everyone has been saying! Is this really necessary?"
"Faith isn't blind optimism, boy," Buiwong retorts. "When I say I have Faith in you, I mean that I have Faith that you'll make the right decisions when the time comes. That you'll do whatever it takes to finish your holy quest. And that means recognizing that you'll need to resort to some old tricks to get the job done. Do you understand why I was trying to get you to swear a Covenant with me to kill Mudi? Not out of vindictiveness, not out of a desire to see Mudi die. Because you will not survive if you can't do it. What do you think will happen if you don't destroy her once you have taken advantage of her weakness?"
"Is she truly that powerful?" Mirror Image asks.
"Let me put it to you this way," Buiwong says. "If you go against her at her full power – or more accurately, when she Betrays you at her full power… if you all went at her at once, if none of you die on the long road there… then maybe twenty-five percent of you will live. If, as is more likely the case, many of you succumb to Tartarus on the journey, you will probably be annihilated."
"You're lying…" Rus stammers.
"Believe whatever you want. Roll the dice. I have backups," Buiwong retorts.

"Go on, you just keep running with that naive ideal!" Buiwong scoffs. "Then, when she inevitably gives in, when she succumbs to her temptation, when she is seduced by eternal, untouchable power, you can cling to it as she obliterates you. Whoever told you that you can save everyone, that you can win everything by talking it out? It's been tried again and again, but when those with the will and the means to change the world try to take control, someone has to lose. Mudi's playing for keeps. Her conception of what the world should be isn't compatible with any alternative. When the time comes for her decision, she's going to make the one for herself, not for you. Her curse cannot be lifted. Wake up and see the truth, why don't you?"

He shrugs. "Or, don't. Because I know of twelve who will."

"Her powers are a twisted form of Love, made tangible by her Vow with Gehenna," Buiwong says. "It's still possible for her to jury-rig something that is so far beyond even your level, that she may as well be a god spurned by love."

"You owe us," Zjetya says with a wink. "We'll put this moment on hold until you can pay it back."
"Oh, stop," River says playfully, batting River's arm.

Busta awkwardly leads you away from the grove, back to the feasting-area where the Witches still sit, talking with their Replica and Replicant sisters. There, sitting upon a solitary stump with a cup of some kind of strong-smelling alcohol, sits the spitting image of Sir Estuary.

Or… almost. He looks like a much younger version than the one you saw in Fantasia. His face is youthful, energetic, with none of the burdens of years that the older one has. But like the older counterpart, seven swords sit at his waist.

He raises a hoof, kicking back his conical straw hat. "Yo."


batting Zjetya's arm*



Amy's anger fades and is replaced with distrust. She glares at Buiwong as she works out his motives.

"You certainly seem to know a lot about Gehenna," Amy says slowly. "In that case, you must also know where Gehenna is now."

[1d10+2] Mantra of Equality with compassion for truth

Roll #1 9 + 2 = 11


Flaming glowers, "I'm well aware of just how dangerous Mudi is, Buiwong, I've seen what she's capable… I KNOW what will happen if we allow her to go all out, especially now that the very act of betrayal is what gives her power. But you're asking us to be JUST like her in order to beat her?!"

She shakes her head, "There has to be another way… you act as though it is possible for us to persuade Mudi to love again. That very possibility is the only thing that could let us defeat her in one brief instance when she lets her guard down and takes love in. But if it's possible to make her feel love and faith in others again, is it not possible to break her bond with Betrayal entirely? If there's a ritual to unite the two there must be some magic ritual of 'un'-doing it right?"


"I shouldn't be too long."
Pryce says, a little flustered by the wink.

He follows Busta out to the gathering area everypony was before, gathering back his stance to face whoever this samurai Flow brought is.
When he sees him, Pryce stands still, frozen at seeing Sir Estuary.
("You didn't tell me that it was Sir Estuary that Flow brought.")
He mutters to Busta under his breath. After a few moments, he speaks.
"I've been told you've been tracking me, Sir Estuary."
Pryce says cautiously.



"Betrayal makes her stronger. So, if she doesn't have a chance to betray us, there's no problem. If we betray her first, then she won't get that power."

"But, he wants us to take the same route Moody did… The question is why? What does he get out of it…?"


"I do Like how you insist on suming our odds of survival rather than our odds of success. Almost as if you feel it is guaranteed." Shei says to Buiwong.

Shei turns to Flaming and Amy.
"This could work. Mudi already feels the most of us on on her side. The exceptions are Pryce and I, and flow is a bit apathetic. It is because of Buiwong and I's cooperation in laying down the ground work that we have arrived at this point. She will be skeptical of me to the end. This can be accomplished if You convince Mudi that you are all on her side and that I am the odd one out preaching to deaf ears. Urge her to try to convince me, warm up to me. This will draw her closer into our family. And if we become attached even better. Mudi could be very well become a true blue friend. Because although we will betray her if my plan succeeds she will be pacified and her curse will be lifted from her. Infact… It does not necessarily ever have to be revealed that you are traitors. I could be the only known perpetrator in all instances."



"THAT could work…" Amy contemplates. "I mean, in a way, we WOULD be on her side. More on her side than even she is. We don't even need to make this a lie. We just need to do what's best for her. We CAN be her friends."


"You think he has another angle…? I thought he was just scared of Mudi and wanted us to get rid of her. Less competition for whatever it is he really has planned, right?" She whispers to him

"So, your plan is basically to betray her with your original idea to use Amy for the lake instead, only in this case it's not going to kill her and would instead be lifting her from her curse?"

Flaming lowers her ears. "Still feels like we're having to get our hooves dirty. Is it right to use Betrayal even if it's to help lift a curse of Betrayal?"



"Shei's plan is not only nicer, but it even feels easier. If all goes well, we can actually fix her. Then, we don't even HAVE TO fight her."

"Buiwong even told us to befriend her. He knows we could do it. Which means he knows we could do it. But, he wants us to kill her anyway. He wants us to fight her. He wants things to be more difficult for us, but I DO believe he wants us to win."

"So, why does he want us to betray Moody? It FEELS like our act of betrayal against Moody is just as important to him as our success. If not more important."


"Sometimes, you have to do things that your friend doesn't want you to do for their own good," Amy nods. "If everything goes right, she'll thank us one day."


"Does it matter? The ends justify the means."


("H-he said he was someone different!") Busta protests.
"Don't worry about it, I'll take it from here," the Memory says. He hops off the stump, and gestures for you to follow him deeper into the grove, away from bystanders and eavesdroppers. Busta protectively stands beside you, not letting you go with him. But, the Memory unbuckles the seven weapons at his side, tossing them to Busta. "You convinced yet?"
Busta looks to you for your answer.

"Haven't seen that old girl in a dog's age," Buiwong answers. "I couldn't tell you, even if I wanted to. Though, I'm quite intrigued as to why you might be asking."

"It is…" Buiwong shrugs. "It's not impossible, I suppose. But dealing with a Curse isn't the same as unweaving a spell, or breaking some other kind of standard magical effect by using anti-magic. Mudi's power was born from a Curse. Curses don't fade. They don't grow weak or weary with wage. They stagnate, perhaps… but they grow. They spread. They burn eternally. You can't just make it all go away with a few magic words and a gesture. Curses must be borne. Someone needs to take responsibility for them."

Buiwong tilts his head. "Well, I've said my piece. Think about it. Whether you want to survive or not, I've given you my blessings. My job here is done, and you aren't my only children to care for. The Scripture is yours to take."
"My Lord–" Ba'drel begins, stepping forward, but Buiwong tosses his arm to the side.
"No, it's nothing," Buiwong says. "Oh, but one last thing, if I may."

He turns to Shei. "What is Betrayal? Is it going in to something with a heart full of lies? Not quite. That's only a half-baked Betrayal. If you're never on someone's side to begin with, all you've really done is fool them.

"No, there are at least two sides to every Betrayal. A true Betrayal is one you never intended to do to begin with. If you try to do this to Mudi, and your hearts aren't in it from the start, then it won't work. A true Betrayal is one in which you Betray the other, and Betray yourself."

He looks to Regina. "Mudi knows that all too well. You said yourself that Gehenna's ritual involved the use of the Oath-Words, didn't you? Don't you know? Oath-Words cannot be invoked by a liar."

Regina starts to tense up. "What are you getting at? Speak clearly or begone from here."

"Mudi really did intend to come to your aid," Buiwong continues. "She had to have that true, honest, genuine intent, in order for the ritual to work. She invoked the Oath-Words that she would come and help you against your would-be kidnappers. She and Vizsla and Azawakh. And then, once the Vow was in place… it had to be broken, in order to produce the Substance of a True Betrayal."

Regina's entire body surges with magical energy, made black and electrifying with pain invoked by touching on these old wounds.

"Try to trick her, and you will fail," Buiwong says. "If your hearts aren't in it… well, you'll see."


"I don't need to be convinced. I've been expecting this for a while now."
Pryce says. He looks to Busta.
"I'll be fine. But hold onto those weapons tightly."
He then looks back to Estuary, and follows him to the grove.
"What happened in Vadahara wasn't what you think."
Pryce starts to speak once they reach their seclusion.



"Yes it matters! We want her and everyone else to believe in us! They won't do that if we're a bunch of traitors!"

see: >>726166

"Am I wrong, Booeywong? You don't exactly have a clean slate yourself. The other gods call YOU a traitor. Mortals call you the god of lies. You have a pretty close relationship with betrayal yourself."

"As a god, that SHOULD make you weaker, right? You're powered by other people's faith in you, right? Like you said, love and faith are the real power in the world. But you… you just keep getting caught up in all these betrayals. You're even trying to start more now."

[1d10+2] Mantra of Equality with compassion for truth


"If we have to make it feel real even to ourselves, then my way is the ONLY way that will work," Amy nods. "It's like I said, we need to try to help Moody. We need to do what's right for her and fix her. Yes, we won't go with her plan, but it's because we care about her."

"When we change the plan, it won't be a betrayal. It will be for her own good because we won't kill her. And, if we do the job right, then our plan will happen before she has a chance to betray us. Then, her betrayal is really just a retaliation, and that means she won't get stronger from it."

Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7


"THIS, THIS is why I wished to speak in private and decide whether to share the information. It would have been easier letting Amy do what she originally intended to do and unveiling our disaster at the last moment."

"I think… I will simply play things by ear for now." Shei-Sher smiles with an element of chagrin "Please, you all should do whatever feels most natural."



"You're pretty fond of betrayal too lately," Amy says slowly, looking to Shei suspiciously.

"AND you've been spending a lot of time with Buiwong…"


Flaming looks between them, pausing as she puts her hoof to her chin. "I guess…. I guess that kind of makes sense. We're betraying her, but betraying her in order to help her? I don't know if that makes it right, but, it's at least better than betraying her ONLY to help ourselves. You're right: sometimes you do have to do things your friends don't want you to do in order to help them."


Flaming looks up to Buiwong as he explains how the curse cannot be faded, or undone with some simple ritual. She says nothing in return, merely contemplating this before Buiwong moves on to the next topic, regarding the 'true' Betrayal that Mudi had to enact in order for the ritual to work.

"She… she really DID mean to help Regina? That's…" she turns to Regina, not knowing WHAT that must be doing to her right now. "I see what you mean… a true betrayal doesn't mean just hurting your friend. It's about hurting yourself."

She turns to Amy and Shei, "If that's the case then, our plan to betray Mudi… might it actually work? I'm already NOT feeling all that great about doing this to her, even if it's to help her, so… does that count as a true betrayal? Or is the fact that we are trying to help her at its core ruin it in a sense, making it less like betrayal than love?" She growls, shaking her head. "This is all too much for me to take in at once… I don't know where to begin wrapping my head around this."



"We don't need to betray her," Amy explains. "We just need to make her feel love. THAT is the part that weakens her."


Once the Memory finds a secluded pond, full of mushrooms and glimmering mossy rocks, he stops, listens to your opening plea, then starts to laugh, a profound and boisterous belly laugh.

"Jeez, guy. You've clearly had this on your mind for a while. You might as well discard all that stuff. I'm not the one who wants to fight you, and the real deal won't even listen to any of that. I'm a ghost, a specter of an old generation that never quite knew when to quit. I came here to give you a little pep-talk before the real one gets to you. Think of me as a premonition. A prefiguring, if you will."

He looks back at the path you took to get here. "Tch, that was dumb, leaving behind all those swords. Meh, Flow's gonna want one too, I bet. Best to not let you pick one before him. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah… so, Flow wanted to have this fight done before he goes down into Tartarus. I guess this accelerated timeline means you're staying behind, right?"

Regina's paws are shaking dreadfully, slowed only by Box's soft strokings. Her eyes are downcast, veiled in shadow.

"I like the way you're thinking, Amy. Fitting the pieces together, trying to poke holes in my tapestry," Buiwong says. "Maybe you're on to something. Maybe you're right. It's always how it seems to go, isn't it? At the pivotal moment, at the turning point of each era, there I am, to push one small thing out of place. Vadahara, and the Mournful Exodus. Accorsia and the Rapture, the One Night War. And every time, I seem only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I rose against the Devas, and was cast down upon this cursed soil. I broke through the Dome of Heaven, the Firmament, and chased them into the space between Worlds, only to be caught in a trap, and split thirteen billion ways across the cosmos."

He nods cynically. "You think I've learned something? Or am I just going to do what I've always done?"

He looks beyond you, beyond even the Saviors and Regina, even beyond the wall surrounding the Library's garden rooftop. He pauses, holding the silence for a long time.

"We might all be surprised when this story hits its curtain call."

A Dark Corridor manifests behind Buiwong. He turns to the Anathema Scripture and waves his hoof over it. It starts to shrink, diminishing down from the size of an easel down to the size of a spellbook, much easier to hold for people of your size.

"The night is upon us. Get some rest before tomorrow, yeah?" he asks.


Shei-Sher contemplates for a moment on what Buiwong said before turning back to the party. "Well we spoke to Buiwong, now it is time to speak with Crow-ley."

Shei calls over to Regina. "Is it fine if I use the pavilion for a contact ritual?"



Amy frowns at Buiwong. An act that she's done many times at this point. But, this time it's not out of anger or disgust or suspicion or guilt or any of the other things she's felt toward him.

This time, Amy feels pity. It is clear on her face.

"I don't know what happened to you, and at this point I don't know if I'd believe you even if you told the truth. And, that might not even be all your fault."

"I just want you to know two things before you go. First, I'll never trust you. And second…"

Amy actually tears up a little bit. "I'm sorry."


Pryce stares at Estuary, almost insulted as he laughs at his starting plea, until he clarifies he is not the real Estuary.
"You're not.. So why did you come then? If you want to help, then the real Sir Estuary must be able to listen to reason too," Pryce begins, "…But this won't end without a fight even if we do talk it out."

He looks at the Memory with confusion as he starts rambling about swords. But when he asks, Pryce nods.
"Yes. I'm staying on the surface. …But why does Flow want to fight? He doesn't need to get involved in this grudge."


Flaming looks at the Scripture with awe and fear as he shrinks it down, contemplating his words. "I guess it's just in your nature, isn't it… to shake things up. No matter what it does to you or anyone around you."

She growls, bowing her head. "We'll consider everything you've said. You've given us a lot to think about, and… as much as I hate to say it… it may JUST be what we need to win this. So, thank you for that. And just watch: we'll surprise you." She glares, "I promise you that."

She turns to face Regina and the others, "I won't just let you have it however you want it to go, though. And I'm not like Journey: I will never trust you."

Turning to Regina, she frowns, putting a hoof on her giant paw. "Regina… are you okay?" She blinks. "Stupid question, I mean… how are you holding up?"

"And then, if I understand right, while she's weakened we do Shei's ritual in Tartarus to cleanse her?"


"You know, it really is true what they say about generational gaps," the Memory says. "Your reasoning is just on a completely different level than Estuary's and Flow's… and hell, even mine. We're from totally different times."

His expression grows serious, but reassuring. "Whatever the circumstances, you ended Neo Advent's life. As his samurai, Estuary needs to fight you. It's as simple as that. But you? You're a little… mmm, how should I put this? Terribly outmatched! Body, weapon, even mindset. So, we're gonna see if we can't do something to tilt the odds, put our hooves on the scales a little. There's nothing that guys of our generation hated more than fights that ended too quickly. So we're gonna let you pick the venue, and I'm gonna let you take a sword. And you can even have your cheerleaders, too!"

He looks over your shoulder. "Ladies, I'll give him back in a minute, I promise!"

You turn about to see River and Zjetya poking their heads out from behind nearby trees, jealously eyeing you.

Regina turns away from your group, hiding her face. "This is goodnight from me. Fairy Castle will show you out when you're done, and tend to anything else unfinished."

She slowly starts walking away. Box follows for a pace, but then stops himself, looking up at the sky.

Night has fallen. The skies are a moonless deep blue, illuminated by patches of cloud-hidden stars.

Buiwong grins. An act that he's done many times at this point. But it's not out of overconfidence or snark or cynicism or arrogance or any of the other things you've seen him demonstrate against you.

This time, it is a masque. It is clear on his face.

He turns about toward the Dark Corridor, looking back over his shoulder.

"If you're saying things like that to someone like me, then you've already fallen into my trap, my Messiah."

Giving you a wave, he proceeds into the darkness, followed by Ba'drel and Cer'rog.



This time, it's something different!

An interlude in HolyQuest…

Flow went with Sister Renee to listen to Buiwong's secret, including Buiwong's speech about Faith, Love and Betrayal, and the varying reactions that the party had. Sister Renee, though she no longer considered herself a nun of the Union after all she had witnessed and experienced during the Rapture and One Night War, was particularly appalled by Buiwong's suggestion of betrayal against Mudi. Thus, when it had concluded, she turned away in a huff.

When she did, Flow noticed that Estuary's Memory had slipped away from him at some point. On top of that, Pryce, Zjetya and River were still nowhere to be seen. Concluding that the former had gone off in search of the latter, Flow and Renee went along to search for them in kind. After a little while, they heard from nearby Witches that that whole group, including Busta, had been sighted heading toward one of the many mossy ponds that circled around Regina's lake. Flow followed the trail of Busta's Magatsuhi until they found him hanging around a cluster of trees with the Memory's seven weapons in his hooves. Just past him stood River and a new mare that neither Flow nor Renee recognized. River and the new mare didn't notice Flow or Renee, as they were jealously looking at two figures standing beside a mossy pond. Those two, of course, were Pryce and Estuary's Memory.


"You know, it really is true what they say about generational gaps," the Memory says. "Your reasoning is just on a completely different level than Estuary's and Flow's… and hell, even mine. We're from totally different times."

His expression grows serious, but reassuring. "Whatever the circumstances, you ended Neo Advent's life. As his samurai, Estuary needs to fight you. It's as simple as that. But you? You're a little… mmm, how should I put this? Terribly outmatched! Body, weapon, even mindset. So, we're gonna see if we can't do something to tilt the odds, put our hooves on the scales a little. There's nothing that guys of our generation hated more than fights that ended too quickly. So we're gonna let you pick the venue, and I'm gonna let you take a sword. And you can even have your cheerleaders, too!"

He looks over your shoulder. "Ladies, I'll give him back in a minute, I promise!"

You turn about to see River and Zjetya poking their heads out from behind nearby trees, jealously eyeing you.


Busta hails you, but nearly drops the seven swords he holds in the process. "H-hey, there you are! What did we miss?"
"Something dreadful," Renee grumbles. "Be glad you missed it."
"Ooookay…" Busta mutters. He'll probably get the details from Box later. "Well, I guess your buddy got impatient. He took Pryce with him to talk shop. He's just ahead."
"Who's that, then? Another newcomer?" Renee asks, pointing at the mysterious mare with mane and tail of fire.
"That's…" Busta grins. "Actually, why don't you let her give you the introduction?"


in his hands*

Busta is a fly demon and has no hooves (though, incidentally, he's about a pony's height).



"I know he has to fight, I never say this going another way. I just hoped to talk it out of a fight to the death."
Pryce comments to the generation gap.

"Outmatched? I've fought against demons, gods, all sorts of trials," Pryce says, not out of bragging, but from unease that he feels Estuary's Memory is not lying on that claim, "…How outmatched am I?"

Pryce looks with confusion, turning back as Estuary's Memory calls out his cheerleaders to see River and Zjetya. He waves to them, looking back to Estuary a little flustered.
"They're not my cheerleaders. They're… more than that."


Flow’s interest is piqued at Busta’s remark.
“Hmm… seems like our entourage grows more exotic by the day…”

He leads Renee, and waves at the new mare.
“Oi oi! Aven’t seen ye yet!” he shouts, blissfully unaware as he leads Renee by the hoof.


The "new" mare turns about. Her whole appearance bears a striking resemblance to a phoenix alight with flame, poised at the moment of both its death and rebirth, apart from her gossamer, insect-like wings, which are styled like stained glass depicting a curling flame that resembles three pony's heads, folding into one another vertically in an embrace of love.

"Oh hey, Flow, wassup?" she asks casually with Zjetya's voice, not realizing you meant her.
"What do you mean, wassup!?" Renee balks. "Are you…?"
"Oh!" the "new" mare exclaims. "R-right. Sorry, didn't connect that you'd have trouble recognizing me. It's me, Zjetya. I've had a bit of a change, haven't I?"
"Yeah, I wanted to ask earlier, what happened?" Busta asks. "Is this a new… erm… what's the polite term?"
"A new disguise?" Zjetya asks with a smile. "Nope. It's me. Real as can be."
"She changed when she, Pryce and I had our first kiss," River adds with a tinge of a blush.
"I'm sorry… what?" Renee asks, her mouth ajar from the overload of new information.
"Looks like everyone's going to have a lot of catching-up and recapping to do tonight, huh?" Busta asks.

"You're fighting an old samurai; it's a profession whose occupants universally die young. And he's from the age when gods and mortals walked together on this same earth. And he's walked more Realms than you. So, you tell me."

As you look back, you see Renee and Flow talking with Zjetya, River and Busta.


Pryce is silent at hearing Estary's prowess.
"…Is it even possible for me to stand a chance? How much time is there before he finds me?"


Flow blinks twice with the sternest smile he can muster.
“Oh,” he finally remarks.

He nearly asks why, until he looks at the wings, and purses his lips.
“Seems like you lot have ‘ad… a day,” he says in a somewhat playful tone.
“Speaking of which…I have to go an’ speak with Pryce as well. I’m sure the ol’ coot’s memory is giving him the rundown as we speak.”


The Memory just snickers. "Ah… heheh. Well, I'll put it to ya this way. Having you stand a chance is what we hope to accomplish."

River groans lightly after your reaction. "Pryce proposed the idea. I countered with the Church's history of stamping out the practice of widespread polygamy among barbarians during Accorsia's settling. Even a heretic like me could see the merits of the Union obliterating and outlawing such a practice."
Zjetya huffs.
"But I trust Pryce and Zjetya both," River says. "…I will see how it pans out."
Renee and Busta can both clearly feel the tension in the air, to say nothing of your heightened senses as a result of your newfound control over Qi. For you, the strain between Zjetya and River is palpable.

The Memory waves to Flow, beckoning him over. "Oh good! Glad you could make it, young master. Get over here so we can talk shop, will you? Leave the ladies at the grove's entrance, though! They'll just distract us!"
"Hey!" River protests.
"Hey!" Renee protests.
"Hey!" Busta protests.
"Nah, that's true," Zjetya agrees.


He glances back again as the others protest.
"So how do you plan on doing that?"


As thick as the air is, Flow can’t help but smirk, and shake his head at the subtle yet present tension between Pryce’s ladies.
“Just remember, it shouldn’t be a contest. If the lad believes he can handle you, let him try,” he advises before waving back at the Memory.

Flow takes Renee’s hoof and gives it a kiss before he leaves, winking at her after she protests.

“Aye lad, if I see something I fancy, I can’t help but want it,” he teases.


Zjetya shepherds the others back, and though they're not entirely pleased, they relent, allowing you to have your space for focus."
"Flow here wanted the battle to be tomorrow," the Memory explains. "I told him that was quite the accelerated timetable. The way things were going, you had quite a while before Estuary tracked him down, and even more time if you decided to cut and run. But with Flow going into Tartarus the day after tomorrow, this is his last opportunity to see the old guy himself, and die by his sword."
The Memory flashes a grin.
"Kidding, kidding. Well, let's say the fight is tomorrow night for the sake of argument. A full 24 hours. That's not enough for even the most skimpy of training routines. The average flesh-and-blood pony's body doesn't get stronger without time to rest and digest what it's gained. So trying to cram in last-minute training would probably backfire on you, Pryce. Flow – you've got an item that might make it a different story for you."

The Memory leans against a mossy rock, studying some small fish that dart about in the pond and stream below. "So that means the most I can fix for you is this:

"The time and place of the fight.
"And a weapon. One of the old guy's."


before Estuary tracked you down*
(The you being Pryce, obviously)


Pryce exclaims, looking to Flow as he joins the two of them.
"Flow, you don't need to get yourself involved in this.It's me he's after."

He looks back to Estuary's Memory as he explains what he can do to help.
"One of his weapons? Not to be disrespectful, but how much can that help?"


Flow puts a hoof on his chin.

“I’m pretty sure the coot told you this, but you wouldn’t understand,” he says, slightly coldly.
However, his demeanor brightens up in an instant.
“But enough about that, what in the bloddy hell have you lot been up to, eh? I get that Estuary’s pissed, but what else is goin on?”


"Help? Probably not much," the Memory says, leaning back against the rock with a carefree attitude. "A weapon is only as good as its wielder. But even if you can't figure out how to take advantage of a powerful weapon, you should at least be able to throw him off his game. Seeing one of his cherished blades in the hooves of his enemy would at least be able to make him double-take."

"Apart from that, the rest is up to you, you know," the Memory continues. "You'll need to coordinate a strategy for the battle; after all, there's only so much that I can do on your behalf. If nothing else, I can answer a few questions."


Pryce sighs as Flow dismisses his protest.

"We came out here on a mission for Eccelsia to scout and find anything that might be helpful for the Tartarus mission. We discovered a coven of witches turned this city into her home, and spent most of the trying to find our way through a morphing library."

"I've been adaptive with my weapons before, but they're all my own creations with magic. I should be able to use a real one just fine."
Pryce pauses.
"How is it that you have all of his weapons instead of him?"

Pryce looks back to Flow.
"What's your plan so far to fight Estuary?"


Flow grins.
“Don’t worry lad, I think Pryce and I can figure this one out.”

Flow takes a deep breath.
“Listen Pryce, there are things that just come to us swordsman… it’s an old code. Neo was his oldest companion, someone who saw potential in the ol’ coot. Now imagine hearin that some rag-tag group of misfits went an’ did something that Estuary couldn’t. I can’t let him harm any of my companions, especially one that’s been around as long as you.”

He draws out Schlangenschwert, and plants it on the ground.
“He has no right to fight you, and I’ll show him by defeating the old coot. If you think you can talk him down, be my guest, laddie.”


"He's got his own, and I have mine," the Memory says. "I'm a Doppelganger, aren't I? Might be a bit on the younger side, but he and I were always stubborn as donkeys. Don't worry; even if I gave you all of mine – which I won't! – he'll have all seven of his. Just in case you were worried you were going to miss out."


The Memory nods, then slides off the mossy rock. "If you'll excuse me for a few moments, I'm going to borrow a few of your friends for some help. I'll handle the challenge part of it. Once you have your time and place in mind, come find me, and we'll make sure he gets the message."


"Yes, I've heard him say you all have an old code," Pryce says, gesturing to Estuary's Memory, "But I'm the one he's after, and thankfully nopony else. I can't let you step in for my sake, the others will need you more."

"I wasn't worried on missing out. But if he has his own weapons, would he really be that affected by seeing me wield one against him?"


"Just trust me on that; it'll be a hoot," the Memory says as he slithers away.


Flow chuckles.
“No no, son. You don’t get it.”

He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath.
“Ponies like him and I… We’re part of an old guard. And old way of life. You still have your youth, Pryce. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Eventually, you just have to out them down,” he says gravely.

“However, I believe once I get his fighting spirit back, I can show him that… maybe old dogs are deserving of second chances,” he smiles sombery.i


Pryce sighs again.
"I guess there is no reasoning with either of you. He'll want revenge on me no matter what I assume from this old way of life you two keep mentioning. What if we fight him together?"


Flow chuckles and shakes his head.

“No lad, this is a fight between two swordsman. I’ve already had the others start spreading the word of my challenge to him. No self-respecting swordsman will ignore a challenge, let alone from the friend of the target of his grudge.”


"Are you that certain he'll take your challenge? I've heard of him tracking me from a few different creatures now, his grudge might be too much to be distracted."


“Trust me. I know the ol bloke. An’ besides, if push comes to shove, I’ll ave’ to make it clear that he has to come through me before getting to you, sonny.”


"You do?"
Pryce questions.
"Nevermind. If you're insisting on fighting him tomorrow, we need to decide where that's going to happen first. It can't be anywhere near the others, I don't want anypony else to get hurt from this. I don't know of many places we can get to quickly that aren't inhabited though, aside from the beach where we cleansed that glass disease, or Circadia, if all those demons were cleared away from that flood."


Flow closes his eyes and takes a very deep and
contemplative breath.



"…Are you sure we can get there in a day?"


“Without a doubt. There’s no better place to show him that our ways… our code.”
He casts his gaze downwards.

“Honor is what killed the samurai…” he muses.


>For reference: Shei can take you both there via Dark Corridor


"… I hope Vadahara is safe enough. It wasn't in the greatest condition before, and who knows if demons set up there."


Flow chuckles.
“Oh, I don’t think we’ll have to worry about that.”
He winks at Pryce.
“Us three in Vadahara? Unstoppable. No doubt about it, lad.”
He flashes him a proud and stern smile.


Pryce comes to a smile fitting for a knight.
"Good. The last thing we need is for any more trouble on top of this."


Last time, on HolyQuest…

After a long period of negotiation between Buiwong and the party, the party ultimately chose to have Buiwong reveal the secret to defeat Mudi the Young without swearing to kill Mudi, and without binding Buiwong by the Oath-Words. Such an action puzzled and intrigued Buiwong, as it allowed both parties an opportunity to lie to one another without repercussion. Deciding to follow through anyway, he told them the secret:

Although Mudi had sacrificed her ability to gain power through Faith (a form of Love) in exchange for powerful Witchcraft, it didn't mean that she was completely free from Love's call. Like all other living beings, she desired to feel the love of others, even though allowing herself that love would result in the weakening of her Witchcraft. Therefore, if the Saviors used Mudi's vulnerability and desires and became her friend, gaining her trust, and eventually her Love… they could weaken her.

And then, they could Betray and kill her.

The suggestion was controversial, to say the least. Buiwong maintained that it was the only way for the party to survive what he claimed was going to be an inevitable fight against her. In order to maintain her power, in order to achieve her goals, she would need to betray them at some point. It wouldn't be possible for her to become a god-queen using the Momentary Lake if she didn't. The party almost universally reacted poorly, if for no reason than inherent disgust at the use of a dark tactic like what he proposed. Buiwong left shortly afterward, but invited them to contemplate using his secret. He gave them some parting advice about the nature of Betrayal itself:

A true Betrayal isn't one in which only the deceived is hurt; a true Betrayal is one you never intended to do. In other words, a true Betrayal is one in which you Betray yourself as much as the other person. That was what Mudi, Vizsla and Azawakh did to Regina in order to gain their unrivaled powers of Witchcraft. And it is what the Saviors will need to do to Mudi in order to defeat her, or so he claimed.

Meanwhile, Flow and Pryce caught up with one another, and Estuary's Memory debriefed Pryce on the plans to help him confront Sir Estuary. Flow wanted to force Estuary to fight them in the ruins of Vadahara, all the way on the other end of the continent, to ensure that none of their allies or innocents could be caught in the crossfire. Without knowing the state of Vadahara after the many moons that passed since you were there, it was tough to say what the place would be like. But Shei could take them there at any time via the Dark Corridor.

With the aid of the Witches, they would send him a challenge for a fight tomorrow evening, in order to give Pryce and Flow as much time to prepare as they could. The Memory warned Pryce that this left them very little time to train. He couldn't gain powers suddenly like Flow had been able to as a result of the cross-contamination between himself and the Memory (brought on by Magatsuhi Overload). Thus, the best that Pryce could do was prepare mentally, and take one of the swords that the Memory offered him.


>Flaming, Shei, Amy
Regina turns away from your group, hiding her face. "This is goodnight from me. Fairy Castle will show you out when you're done, and tend to anything else unfinished."

She slowly starts walking away. Box follows for a pace, but then stops himself, looking up at the sky.

Night has fallen. The skies are a moonless deep blue, illuminated by patches of cloud-hidden stars.


Buiwong grins. An act that he's done many times at this point. But it's not out of overconfidence or snark or cynicism or arrogance or any of the other things you've seen him demonstrate against you.

This time, it is a masque. It is clear on his face.

He turns about toward the Dark Corridor, looking back over his shoulder.

"If you're saying things like that to someone like me, then you've already fallen into my trap, my Messiah."

Giving you a wave, he proceeds into the darkness, followed by Ba'drel and Cer'rog.

>Flow, Pryce

You both stand among the slick, moss-covered rocks that surround the small pond. Just outside its boundary, you hear Renee chit-chatting with Zjetya, River and Busta.

You both recall the Memory's words about each getting to take one of the seven swords he carried. The Memory asserted that, even at his advanced age, Sir Estuary himself would be using all seven of those same swords. Strangely, he had a flippant air about the whole matter, saying to Pryce that it'd be funny for him and Flow to show up at the battle with one of those swords. Why not let you take all seven? And besides, there's also the matter of why he, a remnant of Sir Estuary, is so set on helping you two…



"I suppose we should tell him now so he can get the challenge out in time."
Pryce says, now that they've decided on where they would fight Sir Estuary. He walks out of the grove, heading first to the bustling chitchat of the four waiting outside to let them know they're done.



"Hmm," Amy frowns, watching Buiwong as he goes.

She turns to Regina. "Hey, Reggie, what do you think my witch power would be?"






Flaming turns to Regina as she starts to walk away, Flaming slowly falling behind her worried about her condition before she notices Box stopping. She points her head towards Regina, trying to subtly hint to him that he should follow her and make sure she's okay.

"Amy, about my idea… tomorrow morning, do you want to make a plan to go see Wineberry and see if she can help us look into Mudi's past? Or do you think, afte hearing all what Buiwong had to say, it's a foregone conclusion?"


“Aye lad. We haven’t got much time to set things in motion… not to mention prepare for the fight itself.”
Flow stays behind and gently dips his hoof in the pond, letting out a brief sigh as he stares down into the water.

He briefly remembers being able to sense the three different auras from earlier, and bows his head slightly to listen and feel his surroundings.
>Cultivate Spirit (Qi)

Roll #1 8 = 8



"I think it would be nice to know the whole story, but I don't know if I'll have time. I'm trying to be Amy-optimistic, but I also have to be realistic here. I can only do so much. And, right now I think I need more power. I want to see if I can get those witch powers Regina was talking to me about before."

"And, you should think about trying to become a god."


"There you are," Zjetya and River say simultaneously. They glance sidelong at each other. You can sense subtle tension in the air, and it doesn't take much to realize that Renee and Flow's reactions to the news have set them on edge. Who knows how the others' reactions will affect things?

As simple as taking in a breath, you fill yourself with an inner calm and tranquility, brought on by immense, controlled strength.
>3 charges of Qi gained.
>Magatsuhi (M): 3, Dhyana (D): 3, Qi (Q): 3

Busta clears his throat to break the tension. "The samurai went on ahead to get some Witches who will send a message to Estuary himself. While he does that, we should check in with the others. If they're still talking to Buiwong, something big might be happening."

"You should remember what I told you earlier," Regina says, not looking back as she walks away, her expression dark and moody. "For someone of your age, you have frightening potential, and a persistence that exceeds most, and rivals even mine. I want to be alone… I want to think. Go. Talk to Fairy Castle. She'll… she'll set you right."

Regina looks down at Box as he follows her, and sets a gentle claw on top of his head. "See you tomorrow morning."

Box blushes slightly, then nods.

"We'll make sure he's ready to go!" Tantra asserts. "Make sure you wear your finest for our boy here."

Regina holds up a peace sign, then continues to trot away.

"So… you like 'em big, huh?" Tantra asks.
"I like her because she's a treasure," Box answers simply.


"Sorry to keep you both waiting."
Pryce says, feeling the tension between them. He's unsure how to help this, as this sudden news about Estuary has really shaken him. He looks to Busta as he announces where the Memory went.
"Oh, he's doing it already? We just decided where it was going to be held…"
Pryce comments, surprised the memory is acting so quickly. He looks to River and Zjetya.
"Come on, let's see if we can catch up to him."
He says to them both, heading off to find the Memory, and also the others as Busta mentioned.



"Thanks Reggie," Amy waves to Regina as she leaves. "Looooove youuuuu!"

Amy then trots away to find Fairy Castle.


Flow exhales once he feels himself positively brimming with energy, and gets back on his hooves.

As he follows Pryce out of the vicinity of the pond, Flow ponders on just how strong the real Estuary is.
He quickly ejects the thought from his mind, and focuses back on the task at hand: finding the others.

Flow pulls Renee aside to tell her where he and Pryce plan to go.
“I figured it’d be fitting… if he lost his will after Neo Advant fell, perhaps we can bring it back. Perhaps we can remind him of what it means to be mortal,” he muses.
He takes a very deep breath.
“No one can save the world on their own.”


"YEah, I think we could use more power in general. I guess this is one situation where-"

"Become a what." She adds blankly mid sentence, looking bewildered.

As REgina walks off, Flaming bows her head in respect. "Sleep well, Regina. I hope you're brought good dreams."

She turns to look over at Box, smiling as she bumps a hoof into him. "Good going out there, by the way. I really liked how you stood your ground with her, I'm impressed!"

>She looks to see where Fairy Castle may have gone


Shei-Sher calls back at Buiwong as he exits scene "I will return to you soon with my offer again Buiwong!"

Shei-Sher sharply inhales "AHEM, everyone, I am sure most of you would like to turn in for the night but if you could stay a little longer I plan on making contact with my old master. And I would like to introduce him to my- to everyone. That is all."


As the faint light of the stars grows brighter in the tapestry of the night sky, all the various groups of the party start to reconvene at the lake where the gathered Witches, Replicas and Replicants set up their impromptu feasting tables. The celebratory atmosphere has calmed, and now the feasters have settled down into various small groups, talking and idling the night away with nary a care in the world. They appear at ease, having been set free of the terror they had of Queen-Mother Regina until now. Paper lanterns have been set up on the trees and rocks and tables, and they are full of glowing moths and various other kinds of luminescent insects.

The party members start spreading out, getting refills on their drinks and picking up various pastries, jams, preserves, cakes and puddings that have been set out for dessert. Near the drink table (where Yadala is the server), Amy finds Fairy Castle, who is in the middle of bickering with Prickly Pear about whether the latter should be able to have a sip of wine to celebrate the good occasion. Amy and Flaming can quickly tell that Fairy Castle's repeated "No's" are part of her trademark training method.

>You also notice the transformed Zjetya, standing next to Pryce, River, Renee, Busta and Flow some distance away. You don't recognize her as Zjetya IC due to her dramatic transformation.

Box bumps your hoof back. "It was everything I could do to not back down. She's got a really scary presence, but there was no way I could back out, short of getting a flat rejection."
"Something tells me you're not gonna get anything like a rejection anytime soon," Mocha says with a smile.

Deeper into the many rows of tables and gigantic flat mushrooms that the Witches sit and chat around, you see Estuary's Memory, chatting up a small group of Witches whose dresses and hats are strangely evocative of mailpony uniforms. A few of them tinker with hoof-sized magitech gizmos that are covered with dials and meters. One just wears a Caller Conch on her ear. Pryce notices Zjetyaca among them, who looks at Zjetya with surprise.

The Memory turns about as you approach. "There you are. Was just briefing my recruits on the gist of things. Got a time and place picked out?"

"You know, I was just thinking…" Renee mutters, then leans into your ear to whisper: "This copy of his, he kept talking about how much of a hoot it'd be for you to wield Estuary's weapons against him. It's such a contrast to what Estuary wants to do to Pryce. Do you think he's trying the same?"


Pryce walks with Zjetya and River back to the main gathering. He spots the others also rejoining, but first heads to Estuary's Memory as he sees him with what appear to be mailpony witches. Pryce nods as the Memory address them.
"Yes. We decided on Vadahara, tomorrow evening," He answers, looking over all the trinkets and gizmos the witches us, "…I have to ask, though. Why are you going through all this effort to help us?"


"I'm just a wanderer with a bad habit of sticking my nose into other people's business," the Memory retorts with a shrug. "What, you want me to butt out or something?"



"Become a god," Amy says simply. "Why not? We could use the power."


"Sure, just let me talk to Fairy Castle first."


Amy trots up to Fairy Castle. "I wanna be a witch," she declares matter-of-factly.


"No it's not that," Pryce responds with an apologetic tone, "It's just that this is you that's coming after me. You're giving us his weapons and telling us all about him. Wouldn't you want to help him instead?"


In the quiet reverie of the night Shei-Sher sifts through many groups of witches and friends to find Onion out in the crowd.

"Onion, remember that favor I asked of you this morning." Shei's referring to the song he wanted him to round a troupe up to play for the contact ritual.


Flaming turns to Shei, nodding her head. "Sure! After all this I am in NO way ready to fall asleep yet."

Flaming walks around the lake after they reconvene with the rest of the witches and replicas and replicants, partaking in a few more bites to eat but soon finds even her insatiable appetite satisfied, snickering at Fairy Castle's adamant 'no's to PRickley Pear but finding herself distracted by Zjetya's new phoenix-like form.

"Woah! Who's the new filly?" She asks, not recognizing Zjetya at first. But soon, she takes a whiff, recognizing the scent. "W-wait… Zjetya?!"

"Hey, keep that up, Box. I think ponies call it 'moxie'. Regina needs a stallion… or, box, that will push back, so keep whatever you have in place of a spine good and strong, got htat?"

"I-I…. wow. I don't know what to think of that."

She sits down on her rump. "A god? Me? I don't know, I'm not even that good of a CHIEF yet. How can I be a god?"



Amy shrugs. "How can you be a good anything if you aren't strong enough to save the world?"


"I was hoping to hear such a thing, Witchling!" Fairy Castle says, humming with a pleased glee and a few stamps of her forehooves. "Only, you've put me in a strange position. Your situation is unorthodox to say the least. Almost every Witch we've recruited – certainly every one that we've recruited while I have been the Shekinah of the Coven – has been recruited at a young age. There are only a few recorded instances of anyone joining after she has reached adulthood.

"In the normal way, we would have a year of initiation practices, aptitude tests, history lessons, quizzes, games, and so on, all for the sole purpose of teasing out the girl's Craft. That is, the slim sliver of reality where the girl's magical signature and personal interest intersect, resulting in a very specific, very potent form of magic, unique to the girl herself."

"A YEAR?" Volkama asks. "We've hardly a day!"

"Yes, yes, it's a shame, but not a major setback," Fairy Castle says. "What matters are not so much the tests themselves, but the girl's own development, her self-discovery as a result of discovering the world around her. Her strengths, weaknesses, aptitudes, deficiencies, interests and talents. That's the process by which we find a Witch's Craft. But for someone who has already gone on that journey, who has the soul-potential and the knowledge of who and what she is, the Shekinah who initiates her as a Witch can expedite the process somewhat."

She turns to you. "So was I right? Do you have some idea of what you want to do with this Craft? Choosing wrongly, choosing something out of accordance with you and your road, could be disastrous."

Onion nods, gesturing to a small gaggle of musicians of various races whom he's recruited from Fantasia. An eclectic band of rastabouts and rakes he's gathered. Not exactly the most normal-looking of people, but they've all got the instruments needed for the song."

"Showtime?" Onion asks simply, tapping his banjo-case.

The Memory takes on a more sober tone for a moment, and you can tell he's really contemplating your question. After a while, he clicks his tongue. "Nobody wants to be sent to his death, and no warrior wants to go into a fight that is over in one swing. You would both be disappointed if you went into this battle, only for you to be killed instantly. For you – well it's obvious why. Whereas for him, what would he live for then? His kingdom has fallen. His lord is dead. If you fall like a blade of grass under his sword, that's not even a hollow victory for him. It's emptiness. Nothingness. His existence would be a void."

He pauses, staring into the sky, for a while. Then, he slaps your arm in a bracing way. You feel a surge of vitality after he does. "Plus, for me, it'd just be boring to watch, ya know?"

Box nods, vibrating with excitement.

Zjetya turns, and River does as well, as you approach.

"Sup?" Zjetya asks.
"Zjetya, remember what's different now?" River asks.
"Oh!" Zjetya exclaims. "Y-yeah, sorry. So, I had a bit of a transformation, if you can't tell. It came shortly after… me, River and Pryce had our first kiss. As a couple."
"Couple?" River asks. "Mmm… how about trio?"
"Trio makes more sense, yeah," Zjetya agrees.


Flow doesnt answer right away, but curls his lips into a sly smile.

As they approach the table, Flow nods in response to Estuary’s memory.
“Vadahara… I certainly hope the old goo can still function after we beat some sense into him,” he chuckles.


The Memory nods and grins once you confirm the place and time. "Alright, I've got it from here, colts."

He turns back to the Witches, urging them all to lean in as he whispers something to them. He starts taking various scrolls and talismans out of his kimono, turning them in such a way that you can't see what's on them.
Renee double-takes at all this. "Sh-should we be worried?"


As Estuary mentions a quick fight, Flow begins to speak up, but shakes his head instead.
“Hmph… I haven’t seen a duel over in one swing in decades.”

He grabs Schlangenschwert and stabs it into the ground.
“So, what else other than this beauty will we be using?”


interests, disinterests and talents.*

It's an important thing to add.



Amy laughs when Fairy Castle says it's not a huge setback. "I'm glad you're so good at what you do," she says with a smile and nod.

"I get to choose?" she contemplates out loud, bobbing her head back and forth. "I guess that kinda fits with what Reggie said earlier. When I said I wanted to be able to take people's power away, she kinda just accepted that that would be my Craft."

"I've thought about it a lot since she said that earlier today. I want that power. I want to be able to stop people from doing whatever bad things they think they want to do. Some people are too stubborn and too stupid for their power. I still think I can talk it out with anyone if I have enough time. But, I don't always have enough time. If I could get that time by making them weak, that would be everything I've ever wanted."

"I fight because I want to keep the peace going long enough for us to figure out something better. Sometimes, though, I have to kill someone to keep that peace. And, that sucks. So many of the world's problems could be solved if people just weren't strong enough to fight."


"Not quite, quite, I just needed to see if you came prepared. It's quite the colorful troupe" Shei bows his head in greeting them "Hello, Thank you all for coming." Shei turns back to Onion

"I need to make ritual preparations. While I am doing that maybe you would care to share the band with the Musies? Have you seen them play? I gather it's their affinity. They could likely play anything simply by following along."


"So you want me around so he still has some purpose."
Pryce mutters in thought, until the Memory slaps his arm. He looks at him, unsure of how to feel about this, but smiles.
"I'll try to keep him going for a while. I just wish I had more than a day."

"Are you sure Sir Estuary can get to Vadahara in time?"


"I guess I see your point there." She huffs. "But it's so much pressure. I don't know if I'm… I don't know if I deserve to stand on the same stage as Vir-can. He's a LEGEND, and I'm just…" she sighs. "I mean I guess I'm a Savior but, still-!"

Flaming's eyes widen as she takes in her full, beautiful form. "Woaah…. you're beautiful, Zjetya. You kind of remind me of this legend from our village, about a beautiful bird that-"

She shakes her head. "Wait, couple? But I thought Pryce was with River?"

She glares angrily at Pryce, "PRYCE! Did you break River's heart?!"



"Yeah!" Amy says with encouragement. "You're a literal legend! You're so cool and strong too!"

"Plus, how cool would it be to be the two sisters: one a god, the other a demon?"


Pryce turns as he hears Flaming shouting his name, looking worried.
"N-No, I didn't!"
He says quickly to correct.


As you ask what weapons you'll be using, he spins around, motioning for Busta to bring over the weapons. Busta does, and the Memory takes them and sits on the ground, leaning on a nearby mushroom with his kimono open like a sleazy street vendor. He spreads the seven swords across the ground, one next to the other.

"Step right up, or you'll miss this deal-of-a-lifetime!" he says, totally acting the part of a sleazy street vendor too. "The most baffling bargain you'll ever see! Seven swords, all for free! But you only get one each!"
"Can I…?" Busta begins.
"No," the Memory answers.
"F-fine, I'm a fist fighter anyway," Busta stammers.

>The Memory goes on to describe each sword and what it does.

>Once you pick a sword I'll write up a lengthier description of skill and associated lore (after the session), this is just a brief overview.

Detachment – White katana with dragon scabbard
>Ability: Cuts through only those physical objects that the wielder wants it to cut through, leaving all others unharmed. Useful for targeting through walls and other obstructions, or for removing foreign agents within a body.

Schlangenschwert – Blue flamberge
>Inflicts counterattack damage on the foe equal to what the user took on a failure.

Memory-Pluck – Red wakizashi
>Steals an opponent's skill upon a hit, enabling the user to use it while the victim can't. Normal success = 1 use, Critical = 2 uses. Once you use the skill, the skill goes back to the victim. You can hold the skill indefinitely to simply deny its use by the victim. You can only steal 1 skill at a time.

Inner Animal – Silver tanto
>Allows one to take on the aspect of their spirit animal, using a separate H/W bar for the duration of transformation. Running out of H/W while in spirit animal form does not result in death, but ends the transformation prematurely.

Brother's Honor – Golden Arming Sword
>Reduces an enemy's bonuses. -1 across the board per swing. Cannot induce roll penalties; +0 is the baseline.

Avici – Black Claymore
>Exudes a sense-deadening mist through its strikes. 4 strikes results in total sensory deprivation. Victim can roll to shake it off (instant).

Last Stop – Neon Purple Beam Katana
>Reduces the number of sides on the dice that the victim can roll, keeping all DCs the same. Size is reduced by 1 on normal success, 2 on critical hit. Can be dispelled with antimagic.

The Memory dodges your first statement, instead gravitating to the second one. "Well… I figure he can meet with us, then you can use that magic portal thing that we used to get here. If you know about Vadahara, that means you've been there, right? Being to a location is usually the condition for being able to teleport to it… I think?"
"You're not too much of a mage, are you?" Renee asks.
"What gave it away?" the Memory asks.


Onion nods, hopping off his stool to go head over to the Musies, who are currently involved in what appears to be a group tap-dancing routine on a nearby mushroom. "Hoot and holler when it's time for prestaging," Onion says.

"Woah-woah-woah-woah!" Zjetya stammers, scrambling to get between Flaming and Pryce.
"We've… come to an arrangement," River says, sounding a little unsure of it herself. "We're just going to be… dating as a trio."
Box, overhearing this, turns with a puzzled look.

In an act of divine providence, Vortigern and Rus Tea are out of earshot, but a few of the other party members are looking Flaming's way after her shout.

Fairy Castle shuts her eyes, nodding contemplatively. "Well then. I can see why Regina described you as so terrifying, earlier. Alright. Give me some time, and I will gather the proper reagants for you. Oh, before I do: Wand? Grimoire? Staff? Rune-stones? Talismans? You have a preference?"


>Correction on Avici: requires 6 strikes for total sensory deprivation



"I don't think it's scary…" Amy frowns. "I just want to make friends. Sometimes, people just make it hard. I just want to make it easier."

"Up until now, my magic has kind of… come from inside me?" Amy states as much as she asks. "I guess I have this…" she says, looking to the Starlight Fragment around her neck.

"So, would you call that a talisman?"


"TECHNICALLY, it's an amulet," Fairy Castle corrects. Behind her, Prickly Pear mockingly mouths the word 'technically' with a silly expression on her face. Without even seeing it or turning around, Fairy Castle bops her on the head with her staff. Prickly Pear goes back to her homework.

"Right. Anyway, I'll get you one," Fairy Castle says. "If you don't have any other questions, I'll be off on my search."


Fow puts a hoof on his chin, and stares intensely at the seven swords up for grabs.
His eyes are naturally trained towards Schlangenschwert out of familiarity, but shakes his head with a smirk.

Once his eyes glaze over Detachment, something clicks in his head.
“That sword…where have I seen it before?”
Flow reaches out to grab the white katana.



Amy snickers at Prickly Pear gets bopped on the head.

"Do I need another talisman, then?" Amy asks curiously.


"It's traditional to receive one's magical catalyst from her Shekinah once the initiation is completed. What, you don't want one?" Fairy Castle asks, dramatically giving you big sad eyes.



"No, I guess I can just use two at once," Amy says with a smile. "Thanks."


Flaming snorts, "Stop it, you're embarrassing me…"
"Yeah, I guess it WOULD be pretty cool for a god and a demon to be sisters. But, I don't even know how I'd go about becoming one. I'm not really always looking into that sort of thing like Shei is."

Flaming growls at Pryce, "Then what do you mean that you two are-"

She pauses, looking over to River and Zjetya as they interject. As they proclaim they plan to date as a trio, Flaming raises her eyebrow.
"Uh… huh? I… you can do that?" She asks, completely bewildered by the revelation. "But how does that work?"



"Fairy Lady said she could do it."


Pryce holds up a defensive hoof to calm Flaming as she continues to shout, not liking the growing attention.
"I'm not entirely sure… But, it's what I've chosen to do."
Pryce answers.

Pryce looks at the Memory, baffled at his display. He then looks over to Busta as he shows interest in them too.
"Oh, Busta. I do have a weapon that nopony else showed interest in. I got it from Camelzotz when I helped him the other day, and I'm more of a magic fighter anyways."
He takes out the Bladed Braclets from his cloak, levitating them over to Busta for him to see.

He turns back down to the swords, looking over them and his quick descriptions. He isn't sure which one to pick, he's more used to his own magical creations that he's never needed to think or worry about a physical weapon. He stands there in thought for a good time, before stepping to the wakzashi and picking it up in his hoof.


"Thank you again Onion! You have my favor whenever you may need it!" That was shei saying he owes Onion one.

Shei-Sher follows back into Regina's ritual room to borrow some incense, candles, and a brazier. Shei-Sher is seen hauling the items out to a pavilion by the lake. He draws the mark of the beast onto the pavilion floor. And lines the circle with candles. Shei sets a table for the altar at the head of the circle. Placing items of Alie's affectation on it. A copy of liber legis, a clove of obsidian, his witching lantern, a cup of wine poured from Shei's dwindling reserve of y'dryth touched blueberry wine. He mixes it with Dark Matter for godly decadence. The Incenses of auburn, mahogany, charcoal, jasmine, ginger, cumin. Luxurious, expensive, together they are like the cologne of a noble man ready for a night out. And of course a standing sign of the Thelematic Star on the altar table. Shei-Sher places the bazier beside the table. And spends the next half hour hauling wood and making duplicates of his crows blood vials, which he collects into a large bowl.


File: 1572233978319.gif (2.97 KB, 136x135, Mark_beast.gif)

forgot pic


"OH! THat's right, she *did* say the power she had was like, touching into the realm of the divine. But I still need two Aspects I haven't even touched yet before she'll teach me."

"You're not sure…?" She turns her head.
"You guys are so weird. Why are you going to try it out if you're not even sure how it works? I mean-" she turns to the two of them. "Which one has the babies? Both of them?" she puts really bluntly, but innocently.


"We do have that…" Pryce says, having forgotten about the Dark Corridor, "Would he be patient enough to follow us without attacking?"


"You may have come across counterfeits and cheap copies," the Memory says. "The ability for a blade to cut selectively, to cut through only what the user wants it to cut, and protect all else, is highly prized indeed, but incredibly hard to enchant. It's something sought by collectors and warriors alike, but mine and Estuary's are the only ones. I used it on you earlier, in fact."

Fairy Castle nods, then heads off in the direction of the fairy ring that you used to travel to Regina's lair earlier in the day. Prickly Pear reaches for an unguarded wine bottle, but Fairy Castle taps her wrist scoldingly. Prickly Pear goes on ahead at Fairy Castle's command. Then when Prickly Pear isn't looking, Yadala hands Fairy Castle a bottle of very mild, very weak wine – and it's easy to guess who it's for.

"It used to be done in some parts of the world, namely Accorsia before the founding of the Accorsian Empire," River says. "It was stamped out by the Union Church as Prime King Veda Saga conquered more and more of the barbarian tribes that once ruled the land. It was not beneficial for mares at all, leading to some truly abhorrent practices and cruelties that the Union was entirely justified in exterminating."
"But, we've talked about it," Zjetya says. "We both trust Pryce, and it's not like we can cut him in half, so… here we are."

When more and more of your allies start to take notice of Zjetya's transformation, they start to gather, picking up snippets of the conversation and talking among themselves.

Busta slides them on, clearly liking their feel and look. He takes a moment to flex too, showing off for some giggling witches.
"Hell yeah," he says. He holds his fist out for a bump, but thinks better of it and retracts his fists. "Thanks, Pryce!"

"That your choice?" the Memory asks.

The Memory nods, holding up a hoof as a sign of peace in the form of the Abhaya Mudra, the mudra you once saw made by an angel after the fight with the Bodhidharma, ages ago. "Relax, I've got it. He won't renege on the agreements of the challenge. He has waited this long to take you down. He will wait a little longer."

As you prepare the ritual space, you attract much attention from party members and Witches alike. They avoid your path, giving you plenty of space to conduct your preparations carefully and precisely.



"Thanks!" Amy says to Fairy Castle as she leaves.

She then turns to Yadala. "Squadala! Are you feeling better?"


"Ooooh…" Flaming says in slight understanding, nodding as River explains the practice. "Well, it still sounds weird. Buffalo mate in pairs only, more than one boy or more than one girl sounds… complicated."

As they comment that they cannot cut him in half, Flaming's ears perk up. "Er… well, apparently you CAN. Remember his kid self? What if you did that again but just kept the new Pryce a little older this time?"


Shei-Sher amasses lots of viscosious crow blood, and fills the brazier up with wood. He lights the brazier, stoking the woods until they can burn on their own and then sets out in a hurried pace.

Shei brushes past the onlooking witches "Pardon." He finds Gadriel and informs him "Hoy, the time is nigh. I will performing the ceremony at the pavillion. Be sure to follow in soon so you don't miss Crow-ley."

Shei-Sher passes the message along to Onion too, and everyone in his band. "I'm nearly ready, you can all start assembling your instruments by the pavilion. I assume you are all familiar with the sheet music. If you need me to make copies I can do so in an instant, be sure of yourself to ask."

And then Shei-Sher finally passes by Amy, interrupting her conversation with Flaming "Amy I need you for a very special part of the contact ceremony."



"I sure hope it isn't the virgin sacrifice," Amy laughs.


As he holds the sword, Flow’s smile grows more and more apparent.
“So that’s where I remember this from,” he acknowledges.

Flow holds the sword on his hip, and slowly draws it out to appraise its blade.
“A blade that can cut with an uncanny precision?… It sounds almost like some sort of, spirit blade or whatever. And boy have I heard tales of such swords.”


"Because I want them both to be happy."
Pryce answers straight to the first part of Flaming's question. At her second, his face runs red.
"Th-That's… not something you should really be asking about Flaming."

"You're welcome. I'm glad somepony can make use of them."

Pryce looks at the sword, then nods to the Memory.
"Yes, this is the one I'll pick."
As the Memory assures that Estuary will hold until they reach Vadahara, showing the sign of peace as well, Pryce feels relieved.
"Good. Thank you."

Pryce looks back to the others, now noticing the growing crowd to Zjetya's new form, starting to get more and more flustered at realizing they'll need to explain their relationship to everypony to explain why she looks as she does now.


Yadala gives you a smile with a tiny bit of pain behind it.

"N-not quite. It's still a shock to hear that I came into this world just recently, that my existence began as a continuation of someone else's… that things I thought were memories were just stories. But that doesn't mean I want to just run off either. I like being alive. I like being with my Coven. And Regina… she's not who I thought she was. You know, even before I knew the truth, I was as terrified of her as all the others were. It struck me as strange once I learned the truth. Why would Regina make a Replicant that feared her, that could hate her? You would think you'd make a loyal, thoughtless puppet. But I think… she wanted me to be genuine. She wanted me to be free to make my own choice, not ones she made for me. How could I hate her for that? She gave me existence. Gave me freedom. Perhaps she hid the truth, but I can forgive her. So… it's complicated. I'll figure it out in time, I think."

"And now you've got the genuine article," the Memory says, scooping up the remaining swords. "Think you can handle him? We can have a few test runs tomorrow so you can get a feel for his weight and balance."

"There's a whole HOST of ethical mixups about the idea of making a doppelganger of someone just to date them," Zjetya says.
"I don't think either of us would settle for an artifice," River says.
"Well, anyway, here we are," Zjetya says. "Not like he's twisting our arms. I'm not really opposed to ladies myself."
River scoffs and blushes. "Way to put it so plainly."
"Am I the only one? I don't think I am," Zjetya counters.

Pryce hears a coughing off to the side. There, Rus Tea and Vortigern wait, their arms folded as they just glare at him with a "You want to explain yourself?" kind of look.
The Memory gulps. "Welp, you might not even make it to Estuary at this rate."

When the others see that Rus Tea and Vortigern are about to mulch Pryce over what he's done, a lot of them start to head toward the ritual site, using Shei's summons as a convenient excuse to get away from that whole situation. Onion's band, accompanied by the Musies, take their places nearby, having Shei make copies of the sheet music with alchemy so they can perform their role properly.


Shei laughs "ehehehah, I would be out of luck if that were the case. It is something like sex though. It is the sort of sensuality you perform at weddings, and parties, and in front of friends, and it is completely okay and does not make people feel uncomfortable -usually. Can you guess what it is?"



Amy thinks for a second, then her face lights up. "A hug!?" she asks excitedly.


Amy nods at Yadala. "It's sort of like getting a nickname," she contemplates. "But it's more than just your name that's not yours. It's all of you. But, a lot of people like the nicknames. It's like they got to choose to be more than they were made to be. The name means something, but you get to choose what that something is."

"That's you now, but not just your name. All of you. I think you're gonna be okay, Squadala," Amy says, giving her a hug.


"Wait, so that was just you giving me a nickname!?" Yadala exclaims partway through the hug.


"More dopplegangers don't really sound like the safest idea."
Pryce comments as Flaming brings up another KP.

"Does this all really need to be said out loud?"
Pryce protests as Zjetya comments on her tastes. The coughing comes to luckily distract him from such a topic, but looks over to Rus and Vortigern feeling like a prey animal caught in the sights of a hunter. He sets his sword back down before the Memory.
("…You might be getting to keep that.")
He mutters lowly to him, not looking away at the two gazes locking down on him, but not backing down from them.


The two continue to stand there, waiting your explanation. When Zjetya and River see Rus and Vortigern, the former two stand by your side, in resolute solidarity. Neither party says anything, allowing you to take the stand and make your case.


Flaming grumbles, "Hrrm… okay… but it still sounds weird to me."
She turns her head, "Huh? Why not?" She asks when told she shouldn't be asking about foals.

Flaming looks between the two of them, her confusion deepening. "Huh? Why would you be opposed to ladies, you live and fight with them every day don't you?" She says innocently, not quite grasping the idea Zjetya is putting out there as it were.

She turns to look towards Vortigern and Rus, full on ratting Pryce out. "Pryce is going to date two mares at once. Weird, right?"

When Shei makes his summons, she turns her attention towards the procession of Onion's band, her curiosity piqued. "Huh? What's Shei up to THIS time?"



"Whaaaaat!? Nooooo!" Amy exclaims coyly.


"Oh wow there's an entire crowd" the words wiggle with nervousness as Shei makes his way back to the pavilion. There are butterflies in his stomach. What he is about to perform is so private, he's never had on lookers before besides his old master who would coach him through such movements.

Arriving at the instrument assembly Shei begins dissiminating instructions. "Right-o, so as the ritual goes I will say 'Hail Yd, that goest in thy bark' that will mark the beginning and when I say the line 'With light and musick in my hand!' that will be your sign to play on your count."

"Now who is on bells" Shei goes to the person paying xylophone "On the percussive phrases I need you to strike the bells 11 times, each phrase. It is incorporated into the ritual." Shei begins using his hoofs to draw tempo, moving them back and forth like a maestro would "33-35-555-53-33 whoo~ whoo~"

"Ew, gross no, not in front of a crowd. Dancing We will be dancing! And I need you to light the lantern as will as the ritual begins. But then you will be dancing with me in the circle."


"You're a Witch and a demon to your core," Yadala shoots back, laughing as she squeezes you. "Alright, I'll let you get back to whatever it is your special somegoat is up to."


"I'll explain when you're older," Zjetya says with a smile.

"Yes. Weird," Rus growls.
Very weird, Vortigern mouths.


Flow draws the sword out from its scabbard once more to get another look before he rests it on his hip.
“Aye, I’ll need some time to get used to… well, you know. All these new auras I can manage. I’m not even fully aware of what I can manage, let alone in the heat of a battle.”

He chuckles and closes his eyes.
“However, I’m confident this’ll go well.”

As everyone else begins to gather up, Flow grins and shakes his head.
“Hmph. You reap what you sow,” he mumbles before following the others.


The performers nod, quickly memorizing your directions for the show. "Don't worry, I got quality guys," Onion says. "Combed every nameless back alley dive, hidden alley grottoes, abandoned squats and vagabond trails for these rastabouts."
The other bandmates nod in affirmation.


The blade is incredibly well-made. In a single glance, it appears both virgin and veteran. You can tell it has tasted thousands of battles across hundreds of years, yet its moon-colored mythril is unvarnished, without defect, immaculate and pure. Light inscriptions in Jibayin text line the forte of the blade, running vertically in a few lines that strike you as a kind of poem.

"Oh trust me, you'll find out soon enough," the Memory says. "I don't think we'll see the battle's end until you do."


"Because. You just don't ask those kinds of things about somepony else's relationship."
Pryce says dismissively.

Pryce feels slightly better as River and Zjetya take his side. He looks to Rus and Vortigern, unsure of how to start.
"…I know you gave your stance on this Vortigern, But, I just couldn't let either of them down. I care too much for them both, and I've sworn myself to give them the equal dedication they deserve."
He says, hoping his convictions get through. He then looks to Rus, feeling a bit more intimidating.
"I'm… assuming you don't exactly approve either?"
He asks, unsure of her stance as he hasn't spoken to her about this today as he did with Vortigern and Volkama.


Flow chuckles.
“Well, there’s no telling the future. But that doesn’t mean I can’t at least have confidence in us,” he says with a proud smirk.

Flow can’t help himself, and he continues to inspect Detatchment’s curved blade and intricately beautiful design. The poem catches his eye, and he turns to the memory.
“This language, seems familiar. I can’t place my hoof in it though,” he says, oblivious to his prior utterances after meditating.


Vortigern glowers at you with a stare that could pierce a fortress' wall all the way through.
Rus looks down at you with a far more even and calm, almost stoic demeanor, but her arms are folded still.

"I just look out for Zjetya against any kind of foe or danger… it's a weird arrangement, alright. But I know you, Pryce. You can have your moments, but it takes far, far more for you to be pushed into making a bad decision than others. You're rooted. You're stable. You're not cruel. You're caring. You're strong…

"So if Zjetya and River both did it because they wanted to do it, and you think you can do right by both of them…"


Rus extends her hand for a shake, her gaze not wavering for a second. "Then let's shake on it."



"O-oh," Amy says somewhat uncomfortably. "Okay. I'm more of a musician than a dancer, but I guess I'll figure it out. Just tell me what to do."


"It is written in the mystic script of Jibayin's onmyoji," the Memory answers with a smirk. "Inscribed by Neo Advent himself. They trained him in the art of spiritual metallurgy. It's what led him to make so many swords for his trusted knights, especially Estuary. If you wanna know what it says… well, we can consider that the prize for winning the fight."


Flaming puffs out her cheeks. "Everyone keeps saying that when they don't wanna tell me something…"

Flaming lets out a sigh, "Alright, fine. I won't bug you about it anymore. And, I hope it works out."

She stares at Pryce, "But listen: you make EITHER of them cry, Pryce, and I'll make sure you answer to me. Got it?" The little buffalo lets out a confident nod towards the older stallion.


"I got it. I wouldn't want anything less than the gods themselves descending upon me if I hurt either of them."

The stares weigh down on him far more than any other trial he's been through. He looks up at Rus as she speaks, not breaking her gaze.
"I know I can do right by both of them."
He answers, raising his hoof to shake.


Rus takes your hoof in her massive, vein-lined hand, and starts to squeeze down hard, never breaking eye contact even to blink.

>Roll resistance / endurance


File: 1572238861733.webm (5.2 MB, 640x360, y2mate.com - foxtrot_movi….webm)

"It's easy just move the way the music makes you feel. Other than that, light the lantern. We need to be starting now.. So many people are waiting!"

Shei-Sher takes Amy's hoof and leads her past the crowd into the pavilion center where the ritual items and circle have been arranged.

Shei addresses the crowd before beginning "Oy, Welcome! hehehe I really was not expecting a such a crowd for the occassion. What I am performing is a bastardized daily ritual for making contact with the New God of Thelema and my old master Aliester Crow-ley. It is called the Mass of the Phoenix, please enjoy." Shei-Sher bows.

Shei-Sher lights the candles, and the incense, the air is dark and solemn while the rebellious scents of youth and manhood fill pavilion.
Shei pours the bowl of crows blood into the brazier and a plume of wine colored smoke flys out of it in a volumous plume.

"Hail Yd, that goest in thy bark"
"Into the caverns of the Dark!"

Shei touches his right hoof on his lower lip, he signs with his staff pointed towards the xylophone bells, Shei waves his hoof to signing at his Witching lantern and Amy.
"East of the Altar see me stand"
"With light and musick in my hand!"


The music begins playing, Shei has Amy light the Lantern flame.

>>webm related

Shei begins to move jaunty and erratic in tune, with vivacious moments entwine. It all seems so lurid. He holds his staff sometimes like he were holding a lady and other times like he were hanging from a ledge. The dance is feminine yet not female. It is perturbing to witness, boldly sexual, though beautiful in its own right. It's a side of Shei-Sher that has never been seen before.

He plants his staff and hangs from one arm as he swings around. Flank planted to the floor, he performs the splits. The kid's face files up his erect staff. Beseeching heavens member
"I strike the Bell: I light the Flame;"
"I utter the mysterious Name."

The name reverbs, deeply intoned. The kid snakes up his staff, legs seemlessly sliding upright.
"Now I begin to pray: Thou Child,"
"Holy Thy name and undefiled!"


Pryce is surprised at the crushing grip, but he doesn't show it. He doesn't break eye contact, and withstands her grip as best he can while grasping hers in turn to show his resolve.

Roll #1 4 = 4



Amy lights the lantern when she's supposed to and participates in the dancing. Though, she's mostly distracted by Shei's dancing.


Rus Tea leans in, her expression never changing all the way through. She leans in for a full minute, and every second drags out unto an hour. She doesn't stop until her face is a centimeter from yours, and she holds that position for another entire minute.


And eventually, she lets your hoof go, red and stinging. She smiles at Zjetya, who is currently sweating bullets, and at River, who is looking at your hoof, desperate to heal it, but not even daring to move. She then smiles back at you, and walks off to join the others.

Then, Vortigern steps forward. She extends her hoof now.

The rest of the Saviors are unnerved by the unusual combination of groovy music and dark intonations, mixed with the wonderful incense concocted for the sole purpose. It seems like Volkama and Deriva are the first to break the awkward tension, as Volkama, taking his semi-mute demon wife by the hoof, twirls her out into the pavilion. He leads her in a dance of his own, shuffling, stepping, kicking, twirling, hopping and sliding across the dance floor with moves that are completely out of date by today's standards. Yet Deriva loves every second of it, losing herself in his lead and following his every step with her own imitation. Volkama fills the air with small, colorful bubbles, refracting the light of the stars and flames.

Soon, Tantra, LJ and Mocha get into the spirit of it, followed by Onion and _____. Gadriel glares at the dancers, judgmentally shaking his head, but Chorazin takes him by the claw, sweeping him off his feet and forcing him to dance with the others. Eventually, even the very reluctant ones get into it, caught up in the exhaustion of the day and the joy of the many victories hard-won as part of it.


Pryce holds his stance steady, though his legs start to shake slightly from the vice grip Rus puts onto his hoof. But he doesn't turn away or avert as she draws closer to him, staring into the depths of his self with barely any separation in their gaze.

His hoofs stays in the air after Rus let's it go, putting on a smile to her as she shows what he hopes is approval to the three of them. Before he can lower it or treat it, he turns his head to Vortigern as she steps forward now. He knows what to expect now, bringing the same hoof to hers to shake.


She nods, "Good! Because as it may turn out, I could turn out to be ONE of those gods descending on you."

Flaming moves to the pavilion as she watches Shei begin the ritual dancing, her eyes widening and her jaw dropping as she sees the tiny winged goat pull off some IMPRESSIVE choreography she didn't know he was capable of.

"W-woah! Go Shei!" Flaming shouts in encouragement, stomping her hooves as he moves about the pavilion to the music

As Volkama breaks into the dance as well, she ch