"Really?" Onyxia asks in disbelief as Sterling admits her other fancy. "I didn't get to know him that well, but if you say so…" She trails off, finding it hard to see what Sterling saw.
Onyxia can't help but let out a sicker as Beryl pouts, undoing any degree of maturity she tried to put on, even despite the ritual just performed.
"You're my little sister, so yes, you're a filly," Onyxia counters with the doting tone of an older sibling.
When the moment is interrupted by the patrol working it's way back around Onyxia turns to Steel.
"Pull us back into the Shadowscape. We can get out of the graveyard now and not have to worry about sneaking around in the streets."
Sterling nods in affirmation, "Tis just as I said. He hath a good heart, even if he doth not realize it…"
As you snicker at Beryl, she growls under her breath. "I did not bend the nature of reality to my whim and pierced the veil to be called a 'filly', thank you very much…"
Twonyxia gets on on the teasing, patting her on her head, "Whatever you say, 'filly'."
"You know, there are so many WORSE spells in this book I could try out on you two!"
Sterling scratches her head, "My word, how DID this rather disturbing literature get published?"
As you command Steel to pull everyone into the Shadowscape, Beryl quickly gathers up her supplies, erasing the magic circle she used from the pavement as best she could before his cape sweeps over the group, pulling them into the darkened realm as you hear the hoof-steps of the patrol pony approaching. Sterling looks around, "Ooooh… I almost forgot what this was like!"
"Let's start moving back to the train-station," Twonyxia recommends, "We don't have to go back home straight away but we should at least move in that direction."
Onyxia scoffs. "Aww, you wouldn't do that to your favorite older sister now, would you?" Onyxia says, giving Beryl a quick hug to tease a little more.
She nods to her twin as they reenter the cape.
"Right, I did promise Beryl we could take in the sights a bit. And it'd probably be a sight to see Canterlot even more in the future for Sterling."
As you hug her, she does not hug you back, but makes no attempt to break out of it either. "Well, that depends, I haven't decided which one is my favorite older sister yet. I might turn the other one into a newt for fun."
Sterling chuckles heartily, "Ooh, siblings art so much fun! Can'st though truly do that?"
"Well I think I'm about to find out…"
As you agree with Twonyxia's plan, your group swiftly moves through the graveyard, Sterling lazily flapping her wings but mostly relying on her own natural weightlessness to keep moving. Navigating out of the graveyard and to a safe distance, Steel dispels the cloak in an empty street as Sterling looks around a sleepy Canterlot, looking towards the royal, regal towers set into the side of the mountain. "Ah… it doesn't appear to have changed TOO much, thankfully. The grand towers of Her Majesty's palace are always a most welcome sight."
"If we have the time, I wanted to take a look at the marketplace. I hear there's no better place in Equestria to get magical components than Canterlot."
"Wouldn't most shops be closed by now?" Twonyxia asks.
Beryl grins, "Not the 'unconventional' ones."
"Just don't forget who brought you to Canterlot," Onyxia says, giving her one last squeeze before letting go. "Though a threat like that isn't really that much to a changeling." She retorts.
"It really is a sight to behold. And we're the only ones aside from Princess Celestia to see it from start to finish." Onyxia adds before turning to Beryl. "We can stop by some shops, if by unconventional you mean they're no worse than sneaking into a graveyard."
"I guess I'll keep that in mind…" Beryl says. "And, we're HALF changeling, we can't exactly turn into other ponies on a whim like Dad can."
Twonyxia raises a hoof, "Hey, I could have stopped you from going, but I decided to come along instead! Plus, I have seniority."
"I'll keep letting you two compete to not be toaded before we get back on the train… though, I guess that'd make it hard to explain tomorrow morning when we get back."
As you ask what she means by unconventional, she nods. "Oh, yeah, nothing legally questionable this time… unless what they're selling is. I just mean, they're gritty, you know… 'seedier'. Not afraid to tread on the side of cantrips less ambitious mages would be."
Sterling crosses her hooves, "Hmm, I begin to grow a bit concerned. I feel suspiciously like I hath been summoned into the tale of a evil sorceress origin story."
Twonyxia shakes her head, "You aren't taking ANYTHING on the train we can't get through the station, Beryl. You know how tight security is everywhere these days, if we get caught carrying something bad, we are dead when they call Dad."
"Oh I was just exaggerating!" Beryl says, smirking. "Mooostly. I'm just saying, the shops I had in mind open this late probably sell some unique stuff."
She bonks the snowpony with the staff to turn her into a yuki-ponny (yuki-onna).
Then she puts in the secret code with the staves to keep going through the level.
Bonking the snow-pony into a elegant, regal looking sculpture of a wintery pony spirit, the Yuki-Ponny looks down with surprise, inspecting it's new form with intrigue. The Mirror Southern you picked up from the previous level similarly bonks Silky on the head, causing her to yelp out in pain. "Ow! Careful with that…"
The Yuki-Ponny continues to melt slightly under the intensified heat, leaving a small trail of water behind it as it follows you closely behind like a shadow, eying you with curiosity as well.
You look down at the staff as the numbers continue to grow and multiply over it, and occasionally you see an after-image of it appear next to it that quickly vanishes. Moving through the level, you begin to hear ominous heavy-metal playing as mutant enemies start coming from behind the ruined buildings, played up in their grotesque as they stumble towards you (although falling into wire traps you've set up along the way). Various guns/lasers are spread throughout the Level, and as you move on towards a large door leading to a Dome that looks like the exit, your radio begins to flare to life
>"….outhern… Bossa…. read me…?"
Static shoots in and out as he continues>"…computer….copying…"
Your strings form a protective barrier over Yuki that seems to protect her from the heat. Looking at her new found stability, the Yuki-Ponny forms a smile, moving to hug your arm as you try to walk around, the clingy snow-pony making it more difficult to move.
As you respond to the radio, it becomes more clear as you progress to the main dome door you saw at the start of the level, the mutant enemies and the rock music fading into the background as there's a response>"Finally, got through! Plasm knows how to fix this shit after-all, that's great. It's Bossa chief, we're still up on the top floor with those uh, 'new recruits' we mentioned. Haven't found anything else but Eonts and drones, seems this dome was run by a skeleton crew.">"We were looking into what we could from a control room we found: this Moon Dome has way more levels than G-777 did, but it's weird… it looks like most of them are virtual. Like, digital floors you have to go into the computer itself to access? I don't know it sounded like some really sci-fi nerd stuff to me, but Plasm and Bone seem convinced that's what it is.">"You're in there, right? We also found out some weird stuff was going on with Claw's staff, the digital floors are reacting to it somehow."
"Yup. We've gotten through most of them. Let's meet up. If we get our staves together it will probably be enough to get to the heart of the base."
>>755768>"Bone and Po-Yala already went down through another access point, I don't know how long it took you to reach where you are now but they should hopefully catch up soon. Plasm and I decided to stay up here to watch the new hirees and form a rear-guard, but I'm coming down if anything goes wrong in there.">"Anyways, the staves is sort of what I wanted to bring up. Plasm said from what he's reading, what the floors are doing to the staves appear to be scanning them, saving information from them to do… something with, I'm not really sure, but it looks like it's drawing data from it. Copy and pasting it, if that turn of phrase means anything to you.">"There appears to be an AI in the system as well that's keeping us locked out of most other functions, and I'm guessing it's fucking around in there too. You seen it yet?"
As you speak to Bossa, the massive door to the dome in the level opens up, revealing a two-story tall, demonesque minotaur mutant with a massive rocket-launcher built into its arm, roaring menacingly as it glitches out through the simulation. Silky is summarily spooked while Yuki / Mirror Point stand their ground, rockets fired from the demon-boss blasting off of your protective barriers. Behind it, you can see the exit, though it seems you can walk on past the large open boss-chamber would seem to suggest whoever made it wanted you to kill the boss first.
She slices up the boss and is on her way
>Previous Onyxia post
"I was more thinking of Chitus, but neither of them are good."
"I could make you a new set if you'd like, Sterling," Onyxia says as they go to take the long way around.
When they find the shop isn't on the other side, Onyxia almost feels bad at denying a stop to Beryl, until they see one shop that is indeed open still.
"There, see. We found a nice shop open that's not in a shady spot. And if they're open this late I'm sure they'll have something good for you," She says to Beryl, trying to lift her mood as they enter the store.
Sterling gasps, "Oh, could you?! Oh thank Celestia in her golden sun, I wouldeth be ever so grateful to be requiped, Onyxia. I feel rather exposed without a sword and shield at my side."
As you try to lift up Beryl's spirits, she rolls her eyes, but offers a small jovial smile. "They better~!" She says as she runs towards the store, going into it as a bell jingles with the opening of the door you're met with a few questionable aromas of various dusty and musty artifacts and ingredients, light string-music playing from within as the group enters the shop. It appears to be of an oriental design from far across the western seas of Equestria, a unicorn with a curved horn and a long grayed mustache situated behind the desk as he looks on at the late-night entrants. "Ah… good evening, welcome, welcome. Welcome to Tio's Shop of Exquisite Boons. I am Tio, please, take a look around. Not often I get customers at these dark hours…"
Steel nods as he enters, "Thank you for being open."
"Well, when you're the only one open at 3 am, you tend to have a monopoly on a rare and lucrative market, eh?" The unicorn says in response.
"Absolutely. When we get back home we can go to the forge and make you something worthy of a knight like you."
Onyxia follows behind Beryl, smiling as she sees her sister run into the store like a filly on Hearth's Warming morning. She looks around as they enter, having not seen a store like this, well, ever.
"Good evening, Tio," Onyxia says as the shopkeep greats them, leaving Beryl to find what she needs while she looks over some of the wares herself out of curiosity.
"Exquisite boons? So what kind of things do you sell?"
Sterling gives a little barely contained squee, clapping her transparent hooves together in excitement. "Thou art still the best, Onyxia."
Beryl is quickly enraptured in a great deal of components lined up along many messy shelves within the shop, prices hastily drawn along jars and concoctions and artifacts lined up one after the other as she starts to pick through them, opening one of her books for reference and picking up other ingredients and inspecting them with a critical eye, looking back and forth and mumbling to herself. Meanwhile, Tio smiles widely at you.
"Oh my child, what DON'T I sell? Why, within these walls, I sell enchantment, procure wonder, import mystery and deal in horror."
Twonyxia clears her throat, "Anything more…. specific."
Tio rolls his eyes, "Ach, everyone has to suck the mystique out of the mystic… well, I am a traveler and collector of rare things. Books, ingredients, antiques, junk, trinkets… I used to go all over the world in search of singularly interesting finds and put a price on them to share with my fellow pony. Though these days my kids are doing more of the adventuring," he cracks his neck, a loud *pop* filling the shop as he winces in pain. "Little past my prime, you see."
"Aww, thanks," Onyxia says as Sterling squees in excitement for her new gear.
"You've been all over the world?" Onyxia questions in awe, "Wow, you've must've seen a lot to fill a whole shop like this."
Onyxia starts to browse around herself with a little more interest after hearing the wide collection he's selling, curious to what lands outside of Equestria have to offer.
Tio lets out a chuckle. "Oh, my child, you have no idea… ancient ruins south of the Badlands, decaying castles in the Everfree, dragon-caves." He smugly smiles. "You would never believe it hearing it from me, but I even saved the world, once. Stopped the resurrection of an evil chineighse sorceress with nothing but a pair of chopsticks."
"Oh my…!" Sterling says, enraptured the tale wholesale. "Truly? That sounds like quite a tale."
Tio raises his brow, moving his hoof towards Sterling and putting it on her forehead, causing her to wince as he pats her head. "Ah… why are you see-through, exactly?"
Beryl looks up from a couple of open tomes, "Uh, conjuration! Yeah, I uh, made a projection of my imaginary knight friend to help me carry stuff. S-so get over here and help me carry stuff."
Sterling crosses her hooves, humphing as she moves over to help her. "Imaginary friend indeed… prithee, I am the small moral compass am I not?"
As you decide to take a look through the collection yourself, the various ingredients (ranging from plants to bottled jars of newts) are difficult to place their value, outside of the unique aromas they give off, but several of the trinkets on the shelves capture a variety of cultures both in Equestria and abroad. A half-decayed shield catches your eye, as you recognize its design… it is one of the very shields you made 600 years ago with Sir Temper back in the Expansion era, now worn and rusted away in value but priced at well over 1000 bits.
"Just chopsticks? How did you manage that?"
Onyxia asks, equally enraptured.
When Tio approaches Sterling and asks of her translucency, Onyxia has a minor bit of panic, having not realized she does look like a ghost and how that would be hard to explain to anypony else aside their group. When Beryl quickly covers, she gives a silent sigh of relief.
"We like to encourage her magic in any form."
As she looks over the wares, holding her breath past some of the exotic aromas, she stops on the old shield she made back in Equestria's founding. She smiles fondly, remembering that time with one of her first experimental jobs.
"Where did you come across this piece?"
"Ah, well, let's see…" Tio pauses, rubbing his chin in thought as a dawning look of realization appears over his muzzle. "I…. hrrrm…. hold on… I…" he winces, seeming to struggle with the memory. "Ah, it's always so fuzzy when I try to remember the details. Sometimes the old noodle just is not what it used to be. I know I used the chop-sticks on a seal, I'm pretty sure, just as she was about to return from a terrible ghostly apparition to physical form… darn it, this always happens when I try to remember story to tell guests."
As you ask about the shield, he smiles, "Ah, thankfully that is a more recent memory. Me and my son found that shield along the river that flows down from Canterlot under a pile of boulders. Magic tells us that it dates back over 600 years, before Canterlot was even finished, and it has a unique property to do with sound that I could never quite piece together. It is broken, I am pretty sure, but the mechanics are well preserved."
Steel chuckles. "Really, how fascinating. You know, my marefriend," he nudges you, "knows quite a bit about armor. Perhaps she could take a look?"
"Sure, but you break it you buy it! No refunds!"
"Oh, it's no worry. It is late after all," Onyxia says, not to stress the old pony too much. "Feels like you have a museum here with stories like that though."
"Under a pile of boulders?" Onyxia mutters, concerned over what could have happened to leave her shield in a place like that. She hopes it was left behind rather than the poor knight using it being crushed.
As Steel calls her his marefriend again, her coat sparkles lightly as she gently takes her shield off the shelf.
"I take the utmost care with works like these," She says proudly, assuring she won't break it. To be safe, she steps to a more clear spot of the shop so the soundwaves won't break anything, looking it over in her hooves.
"It is worn down… but it should work well enough to be noticeable still."
She holds the jammer shield tight, closer than one would normally hold it comfortably given the age.
"Test!" She says into the shield, letting it amply her voice.>I Made This: passive; Immunity to disarming, weapon durability damage, armour breaking, and other harm to your weapons and equipment. You know better than to use them in ways that would do harm to them.
"Hohohoho, indeed it is, and funny you should call it that." Tio says with a chuckle. "Museums ask all the time for some of my wares, occasionally find something of real historic value, but cheapskates try to guilt me into 'donating' it, as though I am running a charity here. My family put in too much sweat to give away precious goods like these out of goodness of our heart."
As you hold up the shield, Tio looks concerned while Steel and Sterling (still helping Beryl carry a small stack of books and ingredients but looking in your direction) smile smugly, and as your voice speaks into the shield, with your expert touch it springs to life, and a loud echo reverberates through the shop, rattling a few items but none falling or breaking as Tio is blown back by the increase volume.
"AYAH! WHAT in the great dragon's name was…?!" He pauses, looking at the shield with a bewildered look. "What did you do?!"
Twonyxia and Beryl suddenly are looking in your direction as well, both quite startled by the sudden noise. "It was like you spoke into a megaphone!" Your twin exclaims.
"Well… Couldn't you loan them? Or set up your own museum then? Just hearing the stories alone would be an experience itself," Onyxia suggests.
"I've done a lot of research on historical smiths and wares. This shield was made back in 417 AE, when Equestria was at war with the gryphons. These were designed for protection, and to use sound as a weapon or extra defense to repel attackers. It lacks the intended force, and practically needs to be held to your muzzle, but the smith did excellent work on the design for it to still function all these years later," She explains with pride.
"She brings up a good point," Twonyxia chimes in, "Loaning them means you still own them, *and* if they're in a museum, that actually means more people will look at them, more potential buyers who could see them and want to purchase. Not to mention good advertisement for your shop."
"Bah…" Tio says with a wave of his hoof, "Even then, museum probably would take a cut, 'finders fee' and all that."
"Maybe… but if it's just sitting on a dusty old shelf in your shop, then it may never get sold at all."
"Hrrrm…" Tio says with contemplation, "Too late to be re-thinking business practice. Will give it more thought in the morning."
Steel chuckles, "And I'm sure that excellent smith was plenty humble, wasn't she?"
As you proceed to explain the shield's history in great detail due to your own particular history with it, Tio looks on in amazement, as does Beryl who seems quite impressed at your ability to seemingly know so much about history. Tio shakes his head, "Incredible… I could tell the age from a spell but, you know the specific year and its function just from looking it over?!"
Twonyxia laughs, "I'm impressed it still works. I know magic's magic, but it looks like it's been put through quite a lot."
Tio grins, "You ah… perhaps might be interested in assisting me with researching a few more of my goods, some time perhaps? I have had years to look at some of this jun- ahem, precious relics of bygone eras, and feel like I have only scratched a teeny surface."
"I'm sure they were. But, it's hard not to be proud of a craft such as this."
Onyxia looks over to Tio.
"Like I said, I have done plenty of research, and I am a smith myself, so I have an eye for these things."
Onyxia looks down at the shield, imagining the history it had.
"It does… I hope it kept whoever used it safe throughout their journey," She says, starting to get sentimental before Tio proposes a deal.
"Well I could only really help with smith wares, I'm not too knowledgeable on relics outside of that field," She says, pausing in thought a moment. "I could help next time I come by Canterlot, if
you donate this piece to a museum."
Beryl comes over with a collection of animal parts in jars, herbs, little gems and rocks of various qualities and a couple of tomes in both her and Sterling's grasp, setting it down on a shelf. "Still, that was pretty cool, just getting that from a glance."
As you ask if whoever owned it was kept safe, Sterling's ears flop, "Pardon, sir… you said you found this under a pile of rocks? Was there nothing else besides it?"
"There were also armor and broken sword, worthless in their state, worn away by time and pressure, only shield was in any sort of state worth selling. No bones or other signs of a body though, like someone just left their equipment."
"I see…" Sterling says, letting out a sigh of relief. "Perhaps somepony kept it there for safe keeping, but never returned. Some knights would retire but did not want mementos of their heroic career for one reason or another, perhaps too painful a memory, and so they would hide them where they could find them if the need rose to use them again." Sterling blushes, "Oh, or ah… so that I read, not that I would know from PERSONAL experience of course."
"Well of course not, you are a figment of young filly's imagination. Duh."
"Yes. Quite duh." Sterling nods her head.
As you insist on offering assistance only if you donate the shield to a museum, Tio's eyes open wide. "Donate?! Like, for free? That horrible business practice, if anything I should double the price on that shield now that I know it still work, at least!"
"It's one of those trade secrets you pick up."
As Sterling questions the founding of the shield more, Onyxia feels relieved that it does sound like it was left behind consciously and not by death.
"I wish I knew who used it. If only this shield could talk, the stories it must have saw…"
Onyxia trails off a bit before focusing back to Tio.
"If I'm able to uncover the use or know the history of anything else here, you can always increase the price on those. Think of it as an investment."
"Truly, I do as well…" Sterling says, looking at the shield with a fond sigh. "Whoever it belonged to, I can only pray to Celestia they would be at peace now. Sadly, knights did not make a habit of writing their names on the back of their shields… well, at least most did not." She crosses her hooves, fuming. "So what if I never lost my shield, Code, if I *did* then who would be prepared, hmm?"
As you bargain with Tio, he looks at you with a hard glare, seeming to see how much he can barter before he even gets started. "…I put it out on loan, you come back and help me research more of my stock. Find anything good, I donate shield completely. If not, at least I get at least some profit. Sound fair… apologizes, what was your name again my child?"
"I know, I know!" Twonyxia says, trying to calm everyone (including herself) down from the implications. "We're not doing that. I'm sorry for suggesting otherwise, Sterling."
Sterling nods her head, "Thou needeth not worry for my sake, I am only sorry to be proving any sort of burden."
"You're not. We'll figure it out, I promise."
As you mention Sting, Sterling turns her head. "Who?"
"Little brother," Beryl clarifies, "He'd explode if he knew what we were all up to tonight."
"Awwww," Sterling says, "I would like to meet thoust youngest, he sounds most adorable."
As Onyxia suggests calling over Boo and Screech, Beryl raises her brow, "Who?"
"Boo and Screech are still alive?!" Sterling says with utter shock, "I… but… I died, but they did not?"
Steel looks at her with a weird stare. "You sound disappointed."
"No, no, just… shocked. I mean, no offense to either of the bat-ponies, I would never wish harm on either of them, but did you see them in combat?! How in Equestria was *I* the only one to fall against the Order?!"
"Oh. Well… don't beat yourself up, cowards live longer by design."
"He is," Onyxia says pridefully as an older sister, "And after tonight, I'm gonna need to do a lot to make up for him tomorrow."
"They're two bat ponies we met in the Nightmare version of our time that joined up with us," Onyxia explains to Beryl. She then looks to Steel. "Do we have a way to get in touch with them? It's been a few days, I don't know if they're in Ponyville still."
"They're not cowards, they just avoid fighting. I was the same when I first got into this time travel adventure," Onyxia defends on their behalf.
"Perhaps, but you at least found your courage. Boo and Screech would be hard-pressed to see it if it were pressed in front of them."
Sterling sighs, "Tis not they are even THAT timid, honestly, tis just… well, somewhat deflating I was the first and only to go. Were I still in it, I'd be rolling in my grave!"
"As far as contacting them…" Steel pauses to think. "I do not have a radio of any sort, but I don't think they would have any reason to leave Ponyville and Twilight's castle. Being friends with her niece," he turns to Twonyxia, "I don't suppose you'd have any way of contacting Princess Twilight?"
Twonyxia shakes her head, "I don't have her number, but I DO have Ulmash's. She could get in touch with her, but, I don't know if calling her at like 3 AM is such a good idea."
"That… I can't argue with. They're nice, but they do keep away from trouble."
"Look on the bright side Sterling. You're back, and I don't think anypony can beat you now," Onyxia says to try and lift her spirits.
"Yea, that would raise questions for sure. We could try it in the morning at a more normal time, assuming they don't sleep in late. We'd just need to keep Sterling hidden until then, unless there's a phone spell in one of your books," She says off-hoofedly to Beryl.
Sterling crosses her hooves, flapping into the air on translucent wings as she shouts, "Of course! I was nigh-unbeatable in life, but now that it has been taken, I can't hardly be killed again, now can I? Why, whoever heard of killing a ghost!"
"Technically," Beryl brings up, "Your form here is basically held together by sorcery. If you take enough damage, it breaks apart, and then you go back to wherever you came from."
"And then, thoust simply summon mine eternal spirit again. See? Invincible!"
"…huh," Beryl says, rubbing her chin, "Good point."
Twonyxia nods, "Yeah, I'm sure Ulmash can get us in touch at a reasonable hour, so let's just hold on and keep Sterling hidden until then, and then we can get in touch with your bat friends."
"I… admit, I would greatly prefer to see your home, but" Sterling raises a wing, "IF my presence would prove troublesome, I suppose I 'could' also fly to Ponyville? I'm fairly certain I know the way there from Canterlot… that is, if you wish to see that Boo and Screech look after me until thou hast had time to explain to thy parents?"
"It is, but we won't need to worry about that. You won't fight any foe alone again, Sterling," Onyxia says with the sternness of a knight vowing to protect their friends.
"Not at all," Onyxia says with a dismissive wave of her hoof. "You can hide out in our room tonight, then in Steel's cape in the morning until we Boo and Screech show up. Oh! We could even meet them at the train station so we could get this whole plan talked out with them to cover bringing you up too! It works out perfectly."
As you give your stern declaration she won't fight alone ever again, Sterling has a somewhat unsure look on her face. After a few moments, her smile returns, and seems to hesitantly nod, "Of course I shan't… I have a true friend who would stand at my side in battle, it would do a dishonor to both of us were I not to accept it, yes?"
As you insist it works out hiding out at your house, Twonyxia tugs everyone along towards the open-train doors as the speedy, streamlined train arrives at the station. "We can work out the details on the way, we're gonna miss our train if we don't hurry up! Beryl grab your stuff, come on…"
Sterling nods along with you as she heads for the train, "It does sound like a good plan, so long as thou art sure I shan't cause any grief on thy parts. Then, let us be off!"
"So, you're gonna hide her in your room?" Beryl asks. "Kind of cramped in there as it is, isn't it? With the three of you?"
"It's what friends are for, being there for each other," Onyxia says with a nod.
As Twonyxia brings up missing the train, Onyxia helps Beryl with her new trinkets as they hurry on inside.
"I don't think it'd be too cramped. Sterling is floating, and none of us are really using the upper part of the room anyways."
Sterling gives another firm nod in agreement, a broad familiar smile across her muzzle, but note her eyes flicker with a twinge of unease as she floats over towards a nearby seat. Following your helping Beryl (who returns a grateful nod) into the train with her bag of books and remaining components from the ritual, you find yourselves onboard in the nick of time as the intercom sparks to life with a statement>"NOW CLOSING TRAIN DOORS. PLEASE TAKE YOUR SEATS FOR DEPARTURE FROM CANTERLOT CENTRAL STATION."
Twonxyia slumps into her chair, letting out a loud yawn as she seems to be exhausted from the night's activities, as Beryl curls up besides you, holding her books close. "I mean, I guess if you want your friend to have to sleep on the ceiling, sure…"
Sterling chuckles, "I actually tried that once. Fun fact: it's VERY hard to keep your wings flapping whilst unconscious."
"Ooooor… No one's in my room 'cept for me. I could put Sterling up." Beryl asks.
Onyxia sits down in her seat, letting out a sigh of relief after all the walking through Canterlot and the excitement.
"That would work, if you don't mind it." Onyxia says after some thought.
Onyxia looks over to Sterling, noticing the loo in her eyes.
"Is everything alright Sterling?"
Beryl shakes her head, "Would I mind having a honest to gods GHOST sleeping in my room? No. No I would not mind at all."
Sterling huffs, "Well, be careful what you wish for, miss… if thoust misbehavior continues, I imagine I can quickly pick up the art of the haunt, you know."
As you ask Sterling if anything is amiss, she looks at you in shock.
"What? Yes, of course! Why wouldn't anything be alright? Why, I am the very picture of alrightness, thou shan't find a knight more alright than…"
She pauses, puffing up her cheeks and blowing out a whinny as she sinks into her seat. "And, I continue to be fairly poor at hiding my true emotions… but, it is nothing major, Onyxia, tis rather silly now that I think on it. Let it not concern you my friend."
"Don't get too loud if she acts up tonight. You can go full ghost story after we get our cover story done," Onyxia jokes.
Onyxia frowns as Sterling poorly plays up how alright she is, before falling into her seat and admitting the truth.
"You can tell me. Even if it's minor, I want to help if I can."
Sterling chuckles, "Oh, of course, of course. I meant strictly after things have been smoothed over with thy parents."
Beryl raises an eyebrow, before letting out a yawn, "You know, I think I can handle it. No offense but, you're about as scary as Sting on Nightmare Night."
As you prod Sterling for the truth, she flicks her ears, and sighs. "Well… it's just, never fighting alone again… Celestia, this sounds so petty to say out loud." She takes a breath. "Thou… doth think I COULD still win on my own, yes?"
"Oh, oh of course! I never meant to imply you can't handle yourself!" Onyxia apologizes profusely. Her face then falls, coat dimming a bit as she starts to think back. "It's just, during that fight… Steel and I found Sight. After our talk with him, he showed your fight to us with a spell. When I saw you fall… I… I felt so powerless. There was nothing I could do while he taunted us. You helped us so much, but I couldn't the same…" Onyxia pauses, taking a breath to collect herself. "I don't want to let that happen ever again."
Sterling looks to you as you explain how you were made to witness her fall, and her eyes open wide, her hooves shooting up over her muzzle as she fights back a gasp. "You… you saw? Oh… oh, forgive me, Onyxia, I truly did not know. I can only imagine how difficult it was to watch."
She sighs, "In the moment, even I felt… triumphant, even as I laid cold. It's so blurry now that I think on it, but I felt like I had fulfilled my destiny as a knight. I fought hard and gave my life for Equestria, a fate I as always prepared to meet. I was certainly not happy with my own demise, and I had regrets, but I felt like I had at least accomplished the task I always felt was meant to do." She flops her ears down. "I'm… only realizing recently, what my loss might have had on others. I always had friends but, Code and Pound always knew the risks as well and so I was not overly concerned with…" she shakes her head. "Forgive me, I am rambling… I just mean to say, I understand why thou art so concerned for me."
She sighs. "And, I would gladly take your aid in any battle thoust would offer it. I just… don't want to be seen as a burden that thou feels thou must ALWAYS protect, either. I am a knight. Tis my duty to protect others."
"That is the way of the knight, isn't it. Just like whoever was using my shield that Tio found. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply you were anything but a knight.," Onyxia apologizes again, feeling like she hurt Sterling's honor. "I know you don't need protection, I just don't like the thought of somepony being alone in a moment like that."
Sterling shakes her head, "Thou hast nothing to apologize for, I know that is not what thy words meant. I am the one who should apologize," she closes her eyes. "I did not think of just how hard it must have been to watch… unable to do anything. I could at least act, imagining how helpless thou must have felt… I can understand not wanting to ever feel like that, like thoust cannot do anything to help thy friends."
She perks up, "What say we make a different promise that fits us both? One that allows for me to act as I must, even if I must act alone in the interest of protecting our friends and country, AND sees that thou shalt always be able to protect me, and never watch with helplessness as your friends need thy help?"
"It was horrible. Since then, Steel's been helping in training me to fight so I can avoid that from happening again."
She looks up as Sterling suggestions a new promise.
"Oh? What did you have in mind?"
"Oh." Sterling says in response, a slight red glow appearing in her cheeks as she scrunches her muzzle. "Ah… I was hoping thou might have had an idea. I had a goal but, not really a 'plan'. Suggestions?" She says, offering a sheepish grin.
Twonyxia lifts her head lazily, smirking. "Well, I think I have one… think, however could a BLACKSMITH protect a KNIGHT from danger even when they're separated?"
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>"The world you seek shall burn. I offer you salvation." Claw's voice echoes from the mechanical apparatus of his beak as you pick up the Bell of Black Omens, gathering the massive object in your strings as Silkie turns to you as you prepare to rip and tear through the moon-base, setting off from the bottom of Level 12 as she asks, "I'm… I'm sorry that happened to you. What you said, about your family…"
?Yuki and Mirror continue looking around, then at each other as they seem to grow more and more cognitive, but little time is given to their development as your wires tear through everything they can touch through out the level. You ascend upwards from this area, but you can hear Claw's voice reverberating throughout the beams as you see them growing more and more dense ahead of, the way you took into this place now seeming like a tunnel that continuously grows longer and longer as you try to move out.
>"This world is MY salvation… you have taken everything else from me. You will not take this moon! You are not the only god here, Southern Point." He cries out as the beams all start to collectively close in on you, creating a crushing sphere of influence that piles on top of your wires as they catch and shield you from them.
>Meanwhile, Mirror looks to you, speaking in your voice. "This moron doesn't like it when you break the rules of his stupid game. I think that's what everything is to him, even this. We need to shut it off."
"I've taken everything?" Southern asks. She looks around with divine sight, not at the false world surrounding her, but at what's truly beyond. Her eyes settle on where Claw really is. "Not yet, I haven't."
A storm of wires tears through the shell of metal and rips Claw to pieces.